SETP Vol. 1 Chapter 14
Chapter 14 – Fay Hanse Diestburg
“Allow me to…report…”
The man, clad in knight armor, kneeled with one knee on the ground and spoke gravely. His voice, however, appeared to be trembling. The unreal reality he had witnessed shook his heart deeply. Even so, he had to carry out his duty. To report the incredible things he witnessed.
“The western side has been annihilated. We believe they are all out of commission…!”
The man listening to the report seemed to have expected such a development.
A miracle might happen. Such expectations, as well as the guilt of causing the death of people with long lives ahead of them, filled the tone of his reply. Among the “annihilated” were likely to be the “Trash Prince”, Fay Hanse Diestburg, and Mephia Zwai Afillis, who led the troops that went to act as his rear support.
Even so, they were currently engaged in a war. Knowing that those who stood above others should not show weakness, the man who listened to the report -King Leric Zwai Afillis- simply frowned slightly.
That was how it was. How it was supposed to be. Yet…
“In addition to the annihilation of circa 10,000 *enemy* troops, the Hero ‘Game of Illusion’ Indies Farizard has been reported as slain…! It is Afillis’ victory…!”
The king thought his hearing had suddenly gone bad. The knight’s words, however, stated that the unbelievable report was no mistake.
“Our casualties are zero. The 3000 troops from the Diestburg kingdom can even now head to the eastern front as support.”
“…wait. That ‘Game of Illusion’ died?”
With the addition of the Diestburg forces as rear support, Afillis’ forces amounted to about 5000 troops. They might have been fortunate enough to be able to push back a force five times superior. That was still believable.
With the enemy’s morale so high because of their advantage, a reversal was simply not believable.
“Our casualties are…zero?…when did I ask to receive a false report?”
King Leric’s tone, differently from when he spoke to Fay or few others, was firm with authority as he cast doubt on the knight’s words.
“…Your Majesty, I too feel like what I am saying sounds absurd. However, this is the truth…”
The knight took out the document he kept in his breast pocket. He was ordered by his captain to report it to the king. He didn’t look at the contents, of course, but he could imagine what was written in it.
The princess normally never showed any signs of weakness. The knight’s captain was indeed the princess of the Afillis kingdom, Mephia Zwai Afillis. A person strict with herself and with others.
Despite her position as princess, she took up the blade and fought on the frontlines, always a gallant and inspiring display on the battlefield. The number of citizens who volunteered to become soldiers out of admiration for her was not small.
Before a “Hero”, however, even the princess was powerless. Mephia realized it and understood.
Most of the loyal soldiers she led had fallen in battle. Even so, she didn’t stop fighting. She kept struggling, even after realizing that she couldn’t compete with a “Hero”. Because of this, the knight could tell what she must have felt as she wrote the missive for the king.
“…why am I not the one standing there?”
Mephia spoke while looking at Fay Hanse Diestburg who returned, a bit unsure on his feet, after slaying Idies Farizard.
The knight next to her spoke with a pained expression on his face.
The man who deftly manipulated eerie shadow blades to annihilate the enemies. Skilled enough to fend off the enemy’s attacks even while being deceived by illusions and, in the end, even capable of taking down the “Hero”.
Not only Afillis’ soldiers, but even the ones from Diestburg were utterly shocked; among them, only Princess Mephia looked at Fay’s movements intently, as if etching them into her memory. Forgetting that the man who crushed the “Hero” was that “Trash Prince”.
“If I was as strong as prince Fay, then no one would have died, I’m sure.”
“You must not accuse yourself so…”
“I’m envious, though. I envy his power, wonder why he kept it hidden…there are a lot of things on my mind, but I feel envy more than anything else. I mean, look.”
Mephia was looking towards the Diestburg troops and Feli von Yugstine among them.
“They’re all there. Safe and sound. That’s what I envy the most.”
Why did you hide your true ability?
Mephia wanted to interrogate him, but seeing that not only Afillis’, but also Diestburg’s soldiers were completely surprised, she already gave up on it.
“How did you get so strong?”
Work hard till you bleed? I do that already. I accumulated as much experience as I could. My hands are full of sword bruises, they’re as unprincess-like as it gets. Even so, I couldn’t even make the Hero pay for what she did.
“Please, tell me. Prince Fay.”
Fay returned, his pace perfectly calm, and Mephia asked him that question. She asked while doing her best to hide her frustration and hold back the tears.
Fay played dumb. What he found after obtaining strength was only solitude. To Mephia, who still had people concerned about her close to her, he didn’t feel like talking about it. He understood that she wished for power in order to protect others.
Because of twisted love. In order to survive. For Fay, who obtained his strength because of such motives, Mephia was purely too shiny to look at.
“As far as I can see, your vassals wouldn’t want you to fall so low as to become a beast like me.”
During the trip from Diestburg to Afillis, Fay heard from Feli about some rumors concerning Mephia.
Afillis’ war maiden. That was her nickname. She probably fought in a way that earned the admiration of others. Her fighting style was probably beautiful. Fay thought that she probably led her soldiers that way.
Fay’s fighting style and way of thinking were the complete opposite. Fay Hanse Diestburg was a human being whose heart was destroyed, someone who killed without hesitation. He was sure that the strength that Mephia sought was something he did not have. She was simply temporarily lost.
“Besides, someone who loathes the sword isn’t going to talk about it. As I already said, I had no intention of wielding my sword. Even if you ask someone like me, you have nothing to earn.”
Fay quickly set to leave, clearly expressing that he had nothing else to say, but Mephia’s words stopped him.
“Then, why did you wield the sword?”
Why did I wield it? That’s a good question. I planned to live a life of sloth after all. Why did I end up wielding the sword again?
Why did I end up killing again?
Why am I swinging my sword again, before I realized it?
<<Live for…the sake of others.>>
That time, that moment.
The words exchanged with that knight come back to mind.
<<Not for my own sake— >>
But to live for the sake of others. Take up the sword in order to protect. That is what I felt I was told.
“…because I was fascinated, I think.”
The reason why Fay took up the sword in this life. That was simply because the knight Logsaria Bornest fascinated him. Meeting the knight sparked something within Fay. It was an undeniable truth.
“I’m weak to the words of people who die while looking all happy, with a smile on their face.”
They were all like that. Around Fay, no one died with regrets. When he looked at someone dying with a smile on their face, he recalled the faces of those important to him.
“In a word, it’s because of admiration.”
I wanted to die while smiling. But I didn’t want to wield the sword. Because I knew what awaited at the end. What a contradiction. But I suppose that this was like me too…
“…It sounds very complicated.”
“It took me years to find an answer too. If you find it right away, I’ll look like a fool.”
For the first time in a long while, I laughed. I smiled naturally. I think that a day like that isn’t bad either.
“A certain knight made me promise to protect your dad and you, no matter what happened. I’ll be in your care till the end of the war.”
Pain jolts through my head. The effects of overusing my bloodline technique wouldn’t disappear so quickly. I didn’t show it, however, and turned away from Mephia.
—do you want now? Is what I mean to say, but my words stop. When I turn around I see Mephia bowing down to me.
“I wish to apologize on behalf of my soldiers for treating you with disrespect. My humblest apologies.”
Courtesy begets courtesy. No matter the process, no matter the reason. The fact that Fay saved Mephia and Afillis was the truth. Mephia thought that she needed to apologize about addressing the person that put his life on the line for them as “Trash Prince”. Thus she bowed to him.
Despite her position as princess, she did so without hesitation.
Mephia’s vassals were surprised at first, then shaken by her actions, but she didn’t stop.
“…Thank you very much for saving us! On behalf of my kingdom, I give you my thanks…!!”
Mephia might have been terrified. Terrified of the possibility of causing the deaths of more soldiers, more vassals, even if they were just rear support. For Fay, it was just a side effect of the request he accepted, of the promise he made, but for her it was different.
—indeed, this isn’t bad at all.
He had rarely ever been thanked by anyone. It made Mephia’s words feel fresher. For Fay, it felt like the first step of his new goal.
It was nothing.
The usual Fay would have said something like that. Mephia, however, wasn’t waiting for words like that. What she probably hoped to hear was…
“You’re very welcome.”
Something like this.
It was the first time I had been thanked for wielding a sword. A new sensation. It felt strangely pleasant.
Yes, it was really true…a day like that wasn’t bad at all. I found myself thinking about such thoughts.