「………What do you guys think? About Harold」
When they had started preparing for camping since the sun was sinking, Aileen lowered her voice and asked. Being questioned, Robinson and Shido exchanged glances, and after a short pause they each answered respectively.
「Isn’t he a good kid?」
「I do think that he is somewhat strong, but there’s no way he’s a good kid」
All of a sudden being insulted as a miserable small fry lower than a kid, there was no way Aileen could accept Robinson’s opinion.
「Is that so?」
「After all, it’s just that Robin is thinking like that because someone wasn’t afraid after meeting you for the first time」
「That is, well……..」
He couldn’t deny that his impression of Harold, who didn’t even seem to be afraid or perturbed regarding his greatest complex, was certainly high.
「Either way, since he wasn’t frightened by Robin, doesn’t it mean that he has gone through his fair share of fights?」
She couldn’t voice up any objections towards Shido’s opinion. All of them mostly had the same opinion. Frankly speaking, it wasn’t wrong to say that Robinson’s face was a deadly weapon. His appearance was so atrocious that even an adult would quake in fear. All the more if it were a kid, and for a kid around Harold’s age, it wouldn’t be strange for them to burst into tears. That was the three’s common perception.
Although it wasn’t particularly arranged beforehand, the three’s gazes simultaneously concentrated on Harold. That appearance of him adding twigs to the fire while making a displeased face could only be seen as a kid appropriate for his age. But in reality, since he was recommended for the chivalric order at an age of only 13 years, he must be hiding an absurd amount of power.
They couldn’t affirm it because they still hadn’t seen his strength with their own eyes, and also because he was acknowledged by Cody, whose irresponsible behavior was standing out, they couldn’t believe it. Although, they knew in their heads that there was no way he would invite him as joke. And suddenly, Shido muttered.
「Or rather, let’s try to directly talk to him」
No sooner had Shido said that than he quickly finished constructing the tent. And then, he plonked down without any reservations in front of Harold, with the fire in between them and started talking to him.
「Yo, Harold. Is it fine for a bit?」
「What is it?」
「It’s nothing much, just that we only know each others’ names, so I thought maybe we could deepen our friendship a bit」
「…….Do what you want」
Even while making an annoyed face, Harold accepted Shido’s proposal. Seeing that reaction, Robinson and Aileen also got closer.
「By the, I had wanted to ask from before, but where did you meet the Squad Captain? The person himself isn’t telling no matter how many times I ask him」
「At Delfit’s fighting tournament」
「That’s where we had been garrisoned………」
「Ah, are you perhaps the child who knocked down the drunkard?」
Robinson’s memory flashed back. Because Harold was far, Robinson couldn’t confirm his face, but when he thought back to it, his physique and atmosphere was quite close to the boy in his memory.
「You knew about something like that, huh」
「But I think that Captain didn’t invite you at that time though………」
「That guy came right after the first day of the tournament got over. He didn’t open his mouth because him slacking off might have gotten out. Since he wasn’t wearing the armor」
「…….Come to think of it, there was a day where he left all the patrolling to us and disappeared somewhere」
That day being hectic due to Cody abandoning his duties was still a recent event in the three’s memories. Listening to Harold, Aileen groaned, 「Squad Captaain ～ ?」, in such a low voice that it seemed to creep on the ground and went towards Cody. Her eyes were glazed over.
「What happened to that girl so suddenly?」
「Aah, she went to drop lightning or something on the Squad Captain. It’s usual」
Although he was severely remonstrated after the fighting tournament, it seemed as though that anger had returned. While Shido laughingly explained to Harold that this was a scene that he would get used to even if he didn’t want to, Robinson, who had a puzzled face for some reason, entered his vision.
「………..It seems as though Harold-kun participated in the fighting tournament, but was it in the under-13 division?」
As though implicitly wanting to say, 「So what」, Harold narrowed his already sharp eyes even further. While being somewhat pressured, Robinson continued talking.
「What was the result?」
「Isn’t it obvious that I won」
Harold declared as though it was natural. Shido, sensing Robinson’s intent in asking that question, closed his mouth, choosing to see how things would go. And then, Robinson approached the heart of the matter.
「……..That day, when we were patrolling the town, an enormous bolt of lightning struck from the sky. And from what I’ve heard, it seems as thought that was a magic used by the victor of the under-13 division」
That is to say, the one who brought down that lightning bolt, if the rumor he had heard was right, was Harold. If that lightning strike had indeed been brought down by Harold, then could agree with Cody recommending him for the chivalric order without waiting for the stipulated age. That was how tremendously strong that magic was.
「Was that your magic?」
With the sun about to completely sink, a flash cut through the dusky sky. A single long lance of lightning fired off towards the sky rose up to higher altitudes. The bolt of lightning that seemed as though it would disappear beyond the sky like that itself struck a monster, a large ominous bird that was about 3 meters, and knocked it down. The monster that was burnt black was completely annihilated.
「This is the answer. Are you satisfied?」
Harold, who had annihilated a monster with a single strike of magic that was activated with no preliminary actions or chants, without changing his expression by even a little bit, spat out in an annoyed tone.
Robinson and Shido were dumbfounded at the event that was too abrupt. At a place a little away from them, even Aileen, who had been scolding Cody, was gaping blankly without being able to grasp the situation. Cody, who was the only one that wasn’t perturbed, escaped from the lectured with an ‘Alright!’ expression on his face.
「What’s wrong, Harold-kun. I’ll be startled if you suddenly use magic though」
「Because you couldn’t explain about me since you ran away wanting to protect yourself. Don’t make extra work for me」
「If you say it like that, Onii-san will be troubled since I can’t say anything in response」
Without even looking troubled in the least bit, he laughed away the harsh words from Harold. And then, he made a ‘pon’ sound with his hands as though he had hit upon a great idea, and without even seeming to feel even a bit of the heavy atmosphere, he changed the topic.
「But, well, leaving that aside, even the sun has set, so how about we have dinner soon. Wasn’t there some pickled kujimana1 still remaining?」
As though nothing had happened, Cody rummaged around for the snacks for alcohol. Looking at him, not only Harold but even the other three sighed as though they were exhausted.
Inside a tranquil room, only the sound of a pen running over a parchment was heard in a constant rhythm. There were no gaps within the bookshelf furnished on one side of the wall, and looking at the books arranged in the order of their titles, the methodical personality of this room’s owner revealed itself.
The owner, Vincent Van Westerfort silently continued moving the pen. Maybe due to facing the mountain of documents for a long period of time, he lifted his face while massaging his shoulders which as expected were feeling tired. Facing him was his aide, Shannon, who was also immersed in paperwork like him.
Thinking about taking a break soon, when he was about to call out to her, he suddenly realized that it quite noisy outside the window. While thinking whether there was any training or something today, he peeked outside and found out that a crowd had formed in the training grounds.
「Vincent-sama, did something happen?」
「Shannon, was there any joint training for today?」
「There shouldn’t have been any schedule issued for it……….」
To Shannon, who was inwardly tilting her head due to not grasping the reason for the question, who replied like that, Vincent pointed outside the window.
「That is………. it seems as though the people from the platoons have gathered there. I can see some of the Troop Leader’s faces」
The question was what they were doing there. Thinking from how Vincent hadn’t heard about it, it might be a matter that could be solved by their own judgment.
「Ya-hoo. Is Vincent here?」
While he was puzzling his head over what kind of gathering that was, the door to the office was rudely opened without even being knocked. The voice that came simultaneously with the door opening was one that couldn’t be simply expressed as one that he had gotten sick hearing, of his crony’s.2
That old friend’s name was Cody Rujial. Although there was a difference of heaven and earth between vice captain and squad leader, their relationship was one where they knew about each other so thoroughly that it was enough to make them sick.
And so, since Cody had appeared here, he instinctively perceived that the clamor in the training grounds was his scheme. When he thought about it, he hadn’t seen Cody’s appearance for the past few days. During that time he might have plotted something.
「It’s you, huh. What is this clamor?」
「It’s not good to make assumptions, Vice Captain-sama…….. though you’re right. There’s going to be an enrollment exam held for a newbie right now, so please pay attention」
「Really, you are…….. I just beg you not to cause any problems」
「That depends on that guy」
‘Kukuku’, laughed Cody trying to stifle it. Even for Vincent who had known him for a long time, that laughter, as though Cody was really enjoying himself, was something he hadn’t seen for a long time. Was the existence whom he called ‘that guy’ making him do so?
「For now, look at the training grounds from here. Perhaps, you might be able to see something amusing?」
After saying only that much, Cody left without even closing the door. In the room that had once again regained silence, sighs from the 2 people overlapped.
「That person is as boisterous as always」
While closing the door that was left open, a little bit of disgust came out of Shannon. For a diligent person like her, Cody, who behaved irresponsibly, wasn’t a very likeable existence. Although she wasn’t harsh because she knew about his personality and him being Vincent’s old friend, her true feelings were that she wanted him get it together.
「That uninhibited nature is by birth, there’s no way it would get fixed after all this time. And also, in public places, he is a person who can behave suitably」
「I understand, but………… I think that how Vincent-sama deals with him is soft」
Hearing the word soft, Vincent’s heart ached as though it was pricked. From when was it that he had started feeling guilty towards Cody? If it looked as though he was dealing with him too softly, the cause was surely because that.
Originally, Cody wasn’t a person who would fit into an organization like the chivalric order that honored tradition and law. The person himself understood that. But still, he had lived here for more than 10 years. In this place that was suffocating him and wasn’t suitable for him.
「……….No, the one that isn’t truly suitable is me」
「Did you say something?」
As though wanting to avert his eyes from the negative feelings that were welling up, he shook his head. While trying to gloss over the words that unintentionally leaked out, Vincent threw open the window. A gentle breeze blew into the room. While being brushed by that wind, he breathed out heavily.
「Let’s take a break for a while, Shannon-kun」
「Then I’ll prepare some black tea」
「Ah, thank you」
Although he couldn’t grasp Cody’s true intentions, since he said that much, there must have been something that he wanted to show him. It was that guy. There was also the possibility that he would show something worthless.
But, that smile of Cody’s just now crossed through his mind. It was carved long ago into his memories, something that made Vincent remember his longing. That’s why, he felt that he wanted believe in it. A nostalgic Cody’s smile, like a boy unable to contain his amusement without being able to wait to see the other person’s reaction.
1. Some kind of eatable in that world maybe.
2. The word used is kusare en which translates to undesirable but inseparable relationship.