Speaking from the results, Harold magnificently passed the enrollment examination. That was obvious since he had taken on about more than 30 knights and defeated them while he had been almost completely uninjured. Since dealing with movements that didn’t stick to the characteristic motion would be nothing if one had Harold’s reflexes and physical ability, in the latter half, him getting used to it also helped and it was to the extent that he felt as though he was doing some monotonous work. When he realized it, even the high he had felt in a long time had lessened.
But although he passed, there were also problems. It was the fact that although it was an extremely difficult matter, a part of the people couldn’t feel anything good towards the newcomer who had beat up his seniors.
「The newcomer called Harold, is that you?」
「Since it seems as though you have a huge attitude, we were thinking of teaching you how the newbie should behave」
That is, what he was trying to say was, without even 10 days passing after his enrollment, situations where he would quarrel with senior knights whenever there was any time, started occurring. ‘Is it fine for Knight-samas to be like this’, were Harold’s frank thoughts. Even with them, who were brave and honorable when seen from outside, it seemed as though not each and everyone was a good person.
That said, thinking how they could do such things so coolly, when he questioned Shido about it, it seemed as though personal fights using weapons or magic were prohibited. And it also seemed as though a considerably heavy penalty would be given if one broke the ban. That was why they attacked with their bare hands. And obviously, they attacked Harold aiming for when he was unarmed too. It seemed as though it was done under the pretense of unarmed combat training and not personal struggles without weapons.
After doing the laundry which was assigned to the newcomers and drying them, in front of Harold, who was returning to the barracks, were 4 senior knights standing shoulder to shoulder. Harold openly breathed out a sigh. He didn’t care if that attitude conversely instigated them even more. For them, no matter what Harold did, it would get on their nerves. ‘If a person is detestable, then even their clothing is detestable’, was a saying that was well said. Even if they were to thrash Harold, they would probably still be unable to stand him.
If so, it wouldn’t be alright to simply get beaten up. If he couldn’t avoid being hated then he was fine with leaving it like that. Frankly speaking, it was meaningless to simply keep them company. There was only a single action that Harold could pick here.
Bending both his knees by a little, he dropped his center of gravity. Looking at the posture where it seemed as though he would throw himself upon them even now, the four of them increased their vigilance, but that backfired. Unleashing the strength stored in his legs, Harold’s figure disappeared leaving behind a ‘whoosh’ sound of cutting through the air. Due to their visions narrowing because they were too concentrated on Harold in close-range, their eyes weren’t able to keep up with that speed. As a result, they were late in reacting.
By the time they became aware that Harold had disappeared, he had already kicked the stone wall present on the right side and had accelerated towards the front. With that action that didn’t even take a single second, he had left behind the 4 of them and instantly opened a gap of more than 20 meters. With this, there was nothing the 4 of them could do to catch up to him. By the time they turned back, Harold’s back had already become distant.
Ignoring the angry 「Wait!」s that could be heard from behind, he headed towards a busy place. Because if there were some people, it would be hard for even them to start a quarrel. If he just let it go like this, it would end without needing to take them on.
(At any rate, if there are a huge amount of people like those guys, then even Vincent wont’ be repaid, huh)
While steadily pulling away, Harold was thinking about such things. Although Vincent was a person who would become a powerful enemy in the game, he himself was a good person at heart. As a human, as a knight, his personality was to always be righteous.
『Knights are the sword of the Kingdom and also its shield』
That was his belief, but what Vincent was trying to protect wasn’t just the King. According to him, a Kingdom was all its citizens.
Borrowing the lines from the narrative –
『A nation exists only because of it’s citizens. If there is no nation, then there is no need for a King. That is why, leading the nation and creating a bond (means) of peace for the citizens is the duty of the King. In that case, so that both parties fulfill their own duties, us knights are the ones that eliminate the threats that attack them and the ones that open up the future of the nation!』
Vincent was a man who honored justice, valued etiquette, saved the weak, remonstrated the ones who were wrong and mercilessly slayed the ones that would harm the citizens.
Without a mistake, he was righteous. And he was strong enough to also assert and put that righteousness into practice. Although, it could also be said that he was like that because he had compelled himself thinking that it wouldn’t do if he weren’t like that. As a result, after the game’s Vincent had stuck to his beliefs, he had been crushed by his own ideals and his heart had broken.
Although the topic had digressed a bit, to put it simply, picking on others in the name of training that stuck inside the chivalric order like some bad tradition, was very far apart from the ideal knights and the state of organization that Vincent wished for. There was no way he would forgive these kinds of things, and he would most probably completely eradicate it once he became the Captain.
Thinking, ‘I’d be happy if he could do so as fast as possible’, as though it were other people’s affairs, without slowing down, he managed to run away. The time was already past noon. While thinking of having lunch, he returned the wicker basket used for laundry to the barracks and went towards the grand mess room. If it was there, since there would be many people at this period of time, they wouldn’t blatantly try to quarrel with him.
This was a completely digressing topic, but the dishes in the basic menu in the grand mess room was free of charge. In the case of high grade dishes or when a side menu was supplemented, it would generate some money but it wasn’t a considerable amount.
With the meals being neither too much nor too less, Harold, who wasn’t picky, innocuously ordered the basic menu and quickly sat down in an empty seat. And naturally, he was eating alone.
Harold, who frequently quarreled, was obviously avoided by his seniors and also by the other newcomers. Although they were called newcomers, there was certainly some kind of wall due to there being a difference in the time and circumstances when they had joined, but the primary reason was still that Harold would get caught up in a quarrel every single time. Since they were afraid of getting involved if they were with him, it couldn’t be helped that they were hesitant to get close to him.
「Scowling today too, huh, Harold」
That said, there were always exceptions no matter what the situation. There was a man who sat in the empty seat right next to him. It was Shido. And as though they were being lead by him, both Robinson and Aileen sat down opposite Harold.
「What do you want?」
「Since there was a sad junior who was eating alone, the senior whose heart was aching thought of sharing the table with him」
「That’s an unneeded favor. In the first place, even you don’t have any good friends, do you? I haven’t seen you with anyone other than these guys」
「Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not Robin」
「I wish you wouldn’t say something I can’t deny……..」
Being suddenly hit by a stray bullet, Robinson became depressed. That figure of him mixing his soup with a spoon while hunching his shoulders was like a timid child.
Frequently meeting him since after coming here, even Harold had understood that the youth with this face and big stature called Robinson, contrary to his appearance, was timid and delicate, and on top of that had a quiet temperament. His appearance and insides were completely opposite.
And so, there was no need to fear him, but still it would take some time to get completely used to him. If he were suddenly appear in his vision, Harold would reflexively freeze up.
「By the way, you’ve become quite popular. Must be difficult to keep the seniors company」
Shido lowered his tone by a little and said that. It seemed like there were people who didn’t think well of Harold in his surroundings too. Looking at how he was interacting in a friendly manner like this without getting influenced by them showed that Shido was a good person. Even Robinson and Aileen were looking at Harold with their eyes filled with concern.
「…….Certainly. Right now, I’m being surrounded by troublesome guys」
「If you can say that much, you seem to be fine」
Without even making an unpleasant face at those harsh words, Shido laughed loudly. In contrast to that, Aileen breathed out a sigh.
「Good grief, you’re not adorable to an unbelievable extent. If you’re like that, you won’t be able to make any friends or find a lover」
「Buhahaha! You say lover, but you’re the last person who should say that!」
「Did you say anything? Shido」
Before Shido could finish his sentence, Aileen’s left straight burst forth. The thing that captured that fist was Shido’s face. Shido, who had asked for the fist that had been swung without any mercy, had a red line flowing out from his nose.
「Ha, unfortunately I don’t need such things」
「Well, that’s right」
The moment he replied back to Aileen who was emitting an intimidating air, appearing out of nowhere, Cody put his hand on Harold’s right shoulder. That face had its usual faint smile. Maybe because the other 3 were used to him appearing in this manner, they didn’t show any great reactions. Although even Harold wasn’t much different from them on the surface, inwardly, his heart was pounding.
「Since Harold-kun already has a fiancee. There’s no need for him to make a girlfriend now, right ～」
Without even any special warning, Cody casually dropped a bomb. Due to being completely surprised, Harold wasn’t able to react immediately. On the contrary, he committed a fatal error.
「……….Why do you know that?」
He ended up asking that question. With this, it became as though he was affirming that Cody’s statement was true.While clumsily wiping the red liquid dripping down from his nose with his cuffs, Shido grasped Harold’s open left shoulder.
「Let us hear it in detail, Harold. It seems as though you have a fiancee?」
「Right, right. Graceful and elegant, a very lovely girl to whom the words ‘Refined young lady’ suit perfectly」
Towards the question asked by Shido, who was drawing closer, for some reason, the one who answered was Cody. Although that too was irritating, more than anything, the problem was the way he spoke, as though he clearly knew about Erika.
「Oi, why do you know about her–」
「Her? Did you just say her? At that age, you’re already acting like a husband!?」
「Eei, don’t scream, it’s annoying!」
「Well then, I’ll return to my work. You guys, keep the clamoring within limits」
While he was having a hard time tearing off Shido, who was clinging to him asking for the details, the source that invited the clamor left while waving his hand languidly.
But there was no way this place would settle down with only that, and he was stuck dealing with Shido who was shouting, 「It’d be fine if it were a girlfriend, but a fiancee!」, and a shocked Aileen who was saying, 「To lose to a younger guy and that too, to one who is so unsociable like this……..」. Robinson was nothing but flustered trying to pacify the 2 who were like that.
It was quite a noisy noon.
More than half the members lived within the barracks that dotted the chivalric order’s headquarters. As a general rule, until a few years from enrollment, it was a cramped condition with 6 people in a room, but the treatment would gradually change depending on the years of service or the post as it would become 3 in a room or 2 in room. On the other hand, the people who had a family could live in their own house, and if one were to fulfill the established criteria, it would be possible for them to move out of the barracks even if they were single. The only thing that was absolute was that it was a necessity for one to live in the barracks with others for a minimum of 4 years from enrollment.
That being the case, if one were to become the Vice Captain of the chivalric order, they would be given a completely private room. Accurately speaking, they would be given an exclusive office that would act as a joint establishment of their residence, study and reception room.
As far as Vincent was concerned, it was something that was too much for him, but a space where one could live without minding the surrounding people was a well appreciated thing.
That was why, when Cody, who was an old friend, stepped into this place, his usual lax attitude grew worse. Since the need to mind each other’s position completely disappeared. Even now, he had completely occupied the 3 seater sofa in the reception room by lying down face up on it. He had his knees raised and legs crossed, and while using his left arm as a pillow, he continued reading a report held in his right hand while skillfully turning the pages with only one hand.
「Hmm, from about 3 years ago, he applied to and participated in the subjugation expeditions, huh」
The report in Cody’s hand contained all the information regarding Harold. But it was still just limited to the information obtainable from the outside though.
The reason why he knew about Erika was also because of the fact that in a previous investigation report, she had been named as his fiancee and even her portrait had been placed. That too was also one part of the information that Vincent had asked to be gathered regarding Harold. After looking through it, Cody rose up and asked Vincent, the one who gave him this, of his real intentions.
「So then, what are you telling me to do by making me read this?」
「Soon, I’ll put Harold in your squad. I’m sharing this information because of that」
「Oioi, it still hasn’t even been a month since Harold enrolled, has it? Normally, enlistment is only after clearing the basic training curriculum, right?」
「I’ve judged that is is unnecessary. Just in case, I’ll have him take up the final examination of the basic training curriculum, but if it’s him, he will probably be fine」
「That is, well, you’re right. But still, it’s an exception among exceptions」
「Harold is outstanding. Due to that, there’s no need to stick to the norm and a suitable training must be given. In the first place, since he has enrolled at an age of only 13 years and as the youngest person in history, no matter what is done, it won’t change the fact that he will gather attention」
「The thing called following experience? But he’ll stand out. More than presently」
「That is why I want you to become his windbreak」
For a short while, both their gazes collided. But even that didn’t last long, and Cody, who was the first to avert his gaze, breathed out a long sigh.
「I understand what you are saying– the superficial reason」
「……… You’ve seen through my thinking, huh」
「It’s not particularly to that extent. But if it were only for that reason, there would be no need to do this much, right?」
Saying that, he flung the report in his right hand on top of the desk. Cody’s point was rational. And right from the start, Vincent had no intentions to hide his plan from Cody. It was only a conversation for formalities sake up until now, and the real issue was from here on.
「Say, Cody, looking at the way Harold fought during the enrollment exam, what did you think?」
「……..Needless to say,”Impossible”, was what I felt. No matter what, him being able to move in that kind of way, where the countermeasures against the chivalric order was optimized enough for it to be conveniently done, was outside my expectations」
It seemed as though he too had hit upon the same doubt like Vincent. That was how inexplicable the movements that Harold had shown were.
「Even I agree. There is a need to investigate where he learned a fighting style like that」
「But Harold is a full-fledged noble, you know? That too, he’s one of those stiff pure-blood faction that are rare these days」
Seeing through Vincent’s thoughts, where he was having apprehensions that Harold had connections with organizations that were hostile towards this nation, Cody talked as though telling him to calm down.
「As a result, he might’ve killed a servant’s family」
「Ah, I can’t deny that……… but there were things like how he had been injured due to protecting soldiers, so you can’t just simply judge him like that, right?」
「For the sake of making sure of that is also another reason for his immediate enlistment. There is a need to check his background and personality. These are jobs that I can ask only of you」
「In other words, you want me to monitor him, huh. I doubt that there is a need to do things to such an extent though」
「I can’t just imprudently believe in him just because he is a noble. We have experienced that firsthand 10 years ago with Noheik’s treachery」
Towards Vincent’s words, Cody couldn’t help but be silent. He didn’t even want to remember it, the betrayal of the one who was even called as the King’s confidant, Kalem Noheik.
Kalem, who had also been the head of the historic house of Noheik, had leaked highly classified information and had received a large amount of money from the company he had been colluding with. Even the fingers of both hands weren’t enough to count his charges. And among them, leaking information regarding the Saint King’s chivalric order had also been included.
Kalem, who had been imprisoned, hadn’t given a testimony with regards to the incident and had committed suicide by banging his head a number of times against the wall. As a result, the incident had ended with the company he had colluded with being penalized, and even until now, they hadn’t been able to properly grasp where and how much of the classified information had leaked out.
Kalem’s betrayal and death had given a greater shock than due to the damage suffered by the nation because starting with the King, he had obtained the trust of his colleagues and even the masses.
「Besides, I haven’t thought that that incident has been resolved. The negative inheritance he left behind, the people who conspired with Noheik in those days, are still lurking behind the center of the nation」
「………If you are going to this extent, then it seems as though you’ve grasped something. And so, you are saying that those guys might be there behind Harold, huh」
「Or, there might also be a possibility that there is a third party that obtained the information that Noheik leaked, but in either case, we can only just speculate. I do feel sorry for you and Harold. But still–」
「Understood. Alright, I’ll do it」
The words, ‘I have to doubt him’, were overwritten by Cody.
「Why is it that you are apologizing here. It’s fine to say thank you or something. You are too earnest, much more than required」
「Because the guy who was always next to me did nothing but slack off. I might have become serious for his portion too. Even now, if he were to change his mind a little, it would be helpful」
「Oh, my ears hurt. Disperse, disperse」
Cody hunched his shoulders, stood up, and left the reception room in a hurry. Looking at the door, which had been closed with a snap, that seemed to have been superimposed by his old friend’s back, even though he knew it wouldn’t reach, Vincent spoke out a word of gratitude. Only a single 「Thank you」.