Chapter 274: Intertwined and Unraveling Threads
The Heraldic tent was filled with an indescribable atmosphere. Everyone wanted to say something, yet they didn’t say anything. It seemed that everyone was waiting for something.
Only one voice echoed.
「…Sometimes I think that I might have done something that you hated.」
Sitting right next to me, Filaret La Volgograd spoke with a stiffened tone while staring at me. It was a very tense voice, which was quite rare for Filaret. It seemed that her whole body was filled with tension.
Well, I didn’t say anything stupid to Filaret, and I didn’t remember treating her badly. Why was she talking that way? I shook my shoulders and eyebrows since I couldn’t think of anything.
Perhaps, she didn’t like my expression. Filaret’s black eyes narrowed and her sharp eyes burned my cheeks. I didn’t know why, but my lips got stuck. I couldn’t say anything back.
So as if to avoid this tension, I reached out to the cup that was placed in the table. Strangely, I was thirsty. If I moistened my throat with cold ale, unexpected words could easily slip out of my throat.
Then, the moment I picked up the cup, it was stolen by slender fingers in front of me. They came from the left side, and I knew who they belonged to. They belonged to the silver-haired swordswoman, Caria Burdnick. No matter how many times I looked at them, I couldn’t imagine how those white fingers wielded the longsword.
Caria mischievously tilted the cup, moistened her lips with ale, and then said. Unlike Filaret, Caria spoke with a light tone.
「What a surprise Filaret, me too. I’m a companion, I’m a shield, but I’m left behind in the event of an emergency. Like you, I’m sure that I feel contemptuous feelings at the bottom of my heart.」
No, this was different. Caria was behaving as if she took it lightly, but parts of her voice were hiding her true feelings.
It felt as if she managed to push her uncontrollable emotions deep inside of her chest. At the same time, I felt a great danger, because everything would crumble right next her with just a single mistake.
It was bad. It was very bad.
Whether it was Filaret or Caria, it didn’t seem like peace time. Well, it was not that I didn’t understand the circumstances behind it. Even so, wasn’t this a bit too much?
While desperately searching for the words to speak, I picked up the chewing tobacco from my pocket to create a gap. I wondered if my fingertips were still tense, even though it should be a familiar movement. I held it with my lips in the same way as I always did to regain my composure.
Then, without having time to feel the flavor through my nose, the chewing tobacco was picked up by a hand extending from behind my back.
「That’s right. Words must be accompanied by the heart. I don’t think I’m cheap enough to be fooled by words that don’t have a heart…Hey, what do you think. Lugis, my knight.」
Leaning against my back, Fin Eldith dexterously played with the chewing tobacco she stole from my lips with her fingertips. The voice whispered in my ears seemed to put the depths of my ears in turmoil. As it was, Eldith continued the same speech professed by the other two. The back teeth made a distorted sound.
Give me a break, why was I being deprived of ale and chewing tobacco? Wasn’t it a bit heartless to take them all away? At least, leave one behind.
The moment I stretched out my fingers to get the chewing tobacco back, as if to see through my thoughts, Saint Matia, who stood in front of me, opened her mouth.
「We’re telling a very legitimate story right now. In such a place, neither ale nor tobacco will be necessary. No, Lugis. Who do you think is wrong? 」
Matia, who looked straight at me, had a gentle expression. But soon I understood. Only her facial expression was calm. She looked at me with a strong presence, as if her eyes were eating away her smile and calmness. She was like a bird of prey staring at her defenseless prey.
It was useless. Everyone had heat in their eyes and skulls. It was not a situation where I expected help to come.
As long as Saint Matia and Fin Eldith were in the tent, I couldn’t expect reinforcements from the outside. Rather, their presence should prevent anyone from entering the tent.
Then, I shifted my gaze to the side and gazed at Largud Ann, the only human remaining in the tent beside the other four. I liked her way of solving things, even when I got entangled with those women. If so, I wondered if I could expect some help today as well.
With that in mind, I moved my gaze to exchange looks with Ann.
Her small body probably noticed my gaze soon enough. Her eyes stared at mine. Then, she showed an innocent smile on her face. It was a weird smile.
However, her lips did not seem to open at all. I see, so she didn’t want to help.
While sighing greatly from the bottom of my viscera, I raised my hands and said the following words.
「Okay, I was wrong. I’m aware of it. But there’s no need in increasing the heat as if it’s burning. Those flames are already in my stomach.」
After uttering those words, a momentary gap of silence was created. I could see that the surroundings were intertwined and heated, and thus, the weight in the air increased silently.
Speaking of air, it was cold, as if the heat was intertwined in it. This cold air was brought by the season of dead snow.
After a moment of silence that seemed to last endlessly, Matia opened her lips, as if it couldn’t be helped. She spoke after sighing intentionally and loudly.
「…We don’t have much time. Let’s speak about important things right now. This gathering is not happening just because we want to blame you. Ann, get to the point.」
I leaked a sigh of relief to the extent of making a noise. However, my shoulders were still weak. After all, the air did regain its momentum after Matia professed those words, but it still had some tension lingering around.
By my side, Caria was sharpening her lips as if she wasn’t entirely convinced, and it was the same for Filaret and Eldith.
I felt like I was sitting in a thorny chair with thorns surrounding me from every corner. I didn’t feel comfortable to be alive.
Ann nodded lightly when prompted by Matia, placing some round stones on a large map on the table. Looking at the position on the map, it probably indicated an area under the influence of the Heraldic Order. Of course, it was still influential as long as the Great Holy Church didn’t spew its breath.
「Well then, it’s presumptuous of me to say this, but I can say that the result was good regardless of Philos’ incident. It’s my fault that Roseau became a rebel, so I can’t be entirely happy. But let’s move on.」
While the tone of her voice was slightly weakened, Ann summarized the current situation without pausing.
I thought her art of telling a story was truly on a different level. The words she spoke touched the ears, easily as they entered our skulls. She often chose the words that were easy for people to hear.
The Philos’ incident. This was the case in which the rebel Roseau deposed the ruler, Philos Trait, and temporarily took control of the city of Philos. It ended with the death of Roseau and the rescue of Philos Trait.
To be precise, was it correct that the intervention of the Heraldic Order forced its end? I bit the edge of my lips slightly, and then, narrowed my eyes. My mouth felt lonely, probably because there was no chewing tobacco.
「Roseau, the traitor, lies on the ground, and the original ruler, Philos Trait, is in the hands of the Heraldic Order. There is no organized antagonistic force in the city of Philos anymore. It would be no exaggeration to say that they went into our influence.」
Of course, it was necessary to pay close attention to the future governance. Ann concluded her talk about Philos. When I heard her words, I rounded my eyes without hesitation.
The original ruler of the city of Philos, Philos Trait, was still recovering, and the city of Philos had been incorporated under the influence of the Heraldic Order. This was not a mistake, but a clear fact. However, the process was by no means gentle enough to be talked about lightly.
After all, the citizens of Philos were those who once turned their blades against our Heraldic alliance and their ruler, Philos Trait. Just because Roseau, the leader, had fallen, that didn’t mean the Heraldic Order would be accepted so easily.
To be honest, Matia and Ann had the guts to trample the city of Philos with a spear and sword so that they wouldn’t be underestimated. Then, there was a great chance that a choice would be taken.
However, it would be regrettable to lose Philos, who could be at the forefront of the future confrontation with the Great Holy Church. Burning a city was easy, but re-growing it was more difficult.
If so, it was necessary to turn Philos into a complete puppet city to avoid repeating the same mistake. Not only in taking Philos Trait under the command of the Heraldic Order, but also using a method that forced the city of Philos to be rebuilt under its influence.
A method could be to dye a part of the city red at times. At least, it would remind the citizens of their previous actions.
Ann showed a slight fatigue on the edge of her eyes, but still tried not to show it on her face. I saw her little lips rippling hard.
「The current problem is…how to overcome the age of dead snow.」
Ohhh Lugis, you always dig your own grave… Oh well, at least they love you instead of hating you. Not everything is bad, right? ahahah 😀
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