Chapter 120: Sudden Expectations
The treasure sword drew a purple line, cut off a piece of Bruder’s neck, and stopped. No, I had to stop. The hidden needle of Bruder’s hand pierced my chest slightly.
I could not move. Actually, none of us could. If I took a step further, then our lives would leave our body. On this very moment…
「…Both of you. Put your weapons down now. There is no way that your stupidity will lead you to better results.」
A voice with a sense of heaviness echoed in the back alley. This voice made the air itself heavier.
This voice directed at Bruder and me. We were the only ones on this back alley. Unmistakable. When that voice hit my ears, I felt that even the breaths exhaled from my stomach were weightier.
A familiar voice. This voice, which crushed my spine with its heaviness, belonged to the Steel Princess Vestaline, which I once heard.
Bad. This was no good at all.
It was actually the worst to see her here. Once I grabbed her attention, whatever I did in Belfein afterwards, her eyes would follow me everywhere.
I had no choice but to stop. Holding a weapon here was far from being wise, an option that was far from being clever.
It was the same for Bruder. For him, who lived in Belfein, there was nothing worse than being on bad terms with the Steel Princess.
「Are you mercenaries or vagabonds? Don’t waste your time in a place like this.」
Her words had an indescribable weight. She had the strength to subside any frictions. Of course, all we had to do was to remain silent, put down our weapons and swear to her that we wouldn’t behave like this ever again.
Ah, that’s right. What mattered now was not whether the Steel Princess was right or wrong. The important thing here was that she was the only daughter of the Lord of Belfein, an upper class person. While we were just inferior ordinary people.
It meant that we must kneel, whether or not it made sense. We were not the rulers of this land. Therefore, we had to obey the true rulers, the Steel Princess Vestaline, a human with great authority.
By the way, did the same thing happen, when I visited Belfein before? I remember her coldness and contemptuous gaze at that time.
Well, I had no choice whatsoever. That’s it. The upper class was power itself. Things that could never be overturned. I completely forgot about it. There were too many different ranks and classes. Yet, I experienced something new since I came to this timeline. Many people respected people like me. I never really felt this way before. That’s why I forgot about the reality of this world for a moment.
My line of sight overlapped with Bruder. Then, without blinking our eyes, we slowly and silently pulled each other’s weapons from the vital points of our bodies. This was the right and wise way to behave, and thus, saving our lives.
「Good. I hope I won’t see another quarrel in Belfein again…The vagabonds always try to pollute Belfein from within.」
I see, she did not ask for my name. Her existence reflected at the edge of my eyes.
I had mixed feelings. First, I felt relieved. Otherwise, all my plots would crumble. It was great, no problem. Then, I felt upset with this rough treatment.
Indeed. My heart began to melt as if fever consumed it. My skin felt painful barbs, as if they were tearing apart my own flesh. My spine burned and my blood circulated viciously.
Humiliation. Yes, humiliation. Now I felt like being thrown into a dark and cold coast. My body froze in the cold as I deprived of dignity. My insides boiled with shame. Nonetheless.
The Steel Princess, Vestaline, usually gave no mercy. I did not really care about this fight. I never found any meaning in fighting with Bruder. It did not matter how proud Bruder and I were, no matter how hard we were determined to wield our weapons. Against her, we were nothing.
I came back in time so that I would never experience this kind of humiliation again. Why did this happen again? Why did I let someone trample on me again?
Yet, I still bowed at the daughter of a Lord in a city like this. Ah, regardless of my hidden feelings, I still had to thank her, because she finally showed some mercy.
Why was I accepting this humiliation? Because my goals were not yet put into motion. Sincerely, I truly wanted to thank her.
The horse-demon beast of the Steel Princess Vestaline moved its head and turned to the opposite side of the back alley. There was no use for her to stay in such a dirty place anymore. The strong hooves “told” me that we mustn’t get in her way.
『…You only look down from that horse. And the only thing you can do is wear iron, huh?』
Bruder’s voice overlapped with the sound coming from the hooves. The choice of words were different from usual. In fact, the tone of his voice contained some heat.
Bruder’s voice echoed right next to me. He didn’t spoke with a loud voice, but he spoke with such a clear tone that reached the back of the Steel Princess.
His voice shook the spine of the Steel Princess. Her face turned around and she looked back at us for a moment.
Then, she responded with a strange smile on her face. I never imagined that I would ever see her with a different face than her usual expression of iron.
「…I shall remember your faces well. Do not think that you are going to live a peaceful life in Belfein again.」
She spilled those words that were hard to chew. As it was, the Steel Princess slowly left the back alley as if the horse swayed her away.
Ah, no good. He ended up belittling her.
「I never thought of myself as a clever person. But I wonder if I did a foolish thing earlier.」
I got an invitation and entered a cheap hotel in the red-light district. Apparently, Bruder lived in this sort of place.
This guy. I remember that he used to live in the same place. Did he really like brothels this much? However, I never saw him indulging in such practices. Anyway, I unknowingly put my elbows on the table and sighed deeply.
He aimed for my life moments ago, but now, I was breathing in the same room with him. What a strange thing. Was he having the same kind of mercy? At any rate, now we were in a bad state. The Iron Devotee, the Steel Princess and ruler of this city, was watching us now. Mercenaries yearning to corrupt the Steel Princess could end up losing their lives. Disobeying her was also a no-go. Something that had to be avoided at all costs.
「Ah, yeah. I know that. I never thought of you as a clever person. In fact, you were born as an idiot.」
He was such a big fool no matter what one thought about it.
The situation only got worst. Why did he open that mouth of his? That did not make sense. There was no justification nor a piece of wisdom. It was like stepping into a pit of fire. How foolish.
「What? Those were certainly not very wise words. I know that. But I don’t despise them. They weren’t that bad words, you know.」
Those words seemed to be Bruder’s straightforwardness. He never spoke clever words. Sometimes, he did not make sense at all. However, Bruder was someone who was always straightforward.
Bruder smiled after acknowledging his lack of cleverness. But he didn’t seem to have regrets about speaking his mind to the Steel Princess.
It was a subtle way of getting credit. Yes, of being someone different, special. I thought it was unusual for people to be recognized and trusted when they lacked talent. But Bruder was different even though he was someone ordinary like me.
Anyhow. There were no chairs in this room, and the only furniture available were a table and a creaking bed. Bruder raised his cheeks and tilted his hat, while sitting on his bed. His hands were pouring cheap rum into the pottery.
He did not open his mouth after filling it up. It was as if he was waiting for something. This kind of gesture told me what he waited for. He was clearly listening to me now.
I knew him too well. He probably thought that it was a shame to avoid hearing the story. Yes, the story that he refused to hear when I tried to talk to him.
While recalling the nostalgic days, I gradually opened my mouth and showed my teeth. Words leaked from my throat. The lustrous voice of a woman who devoted herself to the red-light district business echoed from the surroundings while I spoke.
「Bruder. If you’re still going to stay in this city, then listen to what I have to say. As I said, I want to hire you as a mercenary.」
I threw some rum onto my mouth. It burned my throat as a result. Ah, this guy really liked poor quality rum.
「The job is…The two wheels running in Belfein. We are going to remove one of them. That’s all.」
I could see that Bruder’s narrow eyes opened wide. The confusion of what I was saying and the hesitation of what to answer made his eyes quiver.
But he already knew the answer. Although he felt some fluctuations with his feelings, his heart was determined.
After all, my old friend Bruder, the reason why you stayed in Belfein was exactly the same reason why I sought this job.
Will Bruder accept Lugis’ proposition? What do you think, dear readers?
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!