“Hilda von Gardener. Step forward.”
Finally the turn of the young aspirants came. Soon it would be Karl´s turn. Willian was looking at Karl, who was beside him. Because had his hands full just on himself, he hasn´t been paying attention to Karl. But then, just to be sure, Willian….
Karl was frozen stiff. Despite seeing that, Willian let out a smile instead.
“…I guess it will be difficult even if I was to tell him to calm down.”
As he was trembling, Karl turned his eyes to Willian.
“Wh-wh-what should I do. I-If I do any mistake in front of his Highness, my family will…”
Destruction would befall the Teirah family. It was obvious. This was the place Karl and his family were standing at. This was the feeling of tension of not knowing which words would inquire the anger of the monster that supported a kingdom in its back. It was more unreasonable to tell him not to feel pressured.
If there was the chance that the people Willian cared for were to get involved with that problem, he also wouldn´t be able to stay calm like he was now. Family was something distant in the past; him being by himself was the reason for his carefreeness. Perhaps in a certain sense this could be considered not being restrained by that heavy pressure.
Hence, Willian thought it should be fine if he was to lend his shoulder to Karl for just a little bit.
“That´s right… If you fail…”
With words of failure being spoken, Karl´s tension increased.
Hilda, who had received a special reward, was glancing at Karl´s direction with a worried face. If Karl was to fail, Lutogarde would also suffer for that. Perhaps it was because of that that she was being worried, or then, it was the pity of seeing an acquaintance suffering. If not, then perhaps…
“If you fail… then let us crumble together.”
Karl spat out in a weird manner. Fortunately, because the two were in a far away place, nobody heard it. Of course, something of this sort is to be taken into consideration. (TL note: Like when you spit what you are drinking when people get surprised at TV shows and so. I really just can´t find a verb for that anywhere -.-)
“I will take the prince as a hostage and have negotiations with the king. Then, we would seek asylum in Ostoberg or Garius or some other kingdom. While it would be a long travel, it would also be interesting if we were to go to the distant Arkland. How is it? Doesn´t it make you excited?”
Willian was saying absurd things. Even Karl knew all that were just dreams.
“This is not the time to be saying jokes.”
One after another the young aspirants were being called. It wouldn´t be weird if Karl was to be called next now.
“I´m not saying this as a joke. If you make any mistakes there, all I have to do is to simply do that. I have already visualized how it would happen. I will protect Louran-sama, Aianhart-sama and Lutogarde-sama too. From the beginning, since that time, I became your sword. I am not serving Arcadia; I am serving Karl von Teirah.”
In the inside, Willian was filled with lies. Willian felt a bit uneasy on how he was able to tell all that so smoothly. It was because of how it felt as if he was telling the truth that…
“Am I unworthy of it?”
Willian looked at Karl´s eyes. The eyes tell as much as the mouth. And that was why…
“You aren´t, you are good enough!”
Karl´s trembling stopped. It´s body that was stiffened had some of its limpness returned.
“Karl von Teirah, step forward.”
Karl´s turn came at last. Before, it wouldn´t have been weird if Karl had fainted at that moment. However, right now…
He stuffed his chest with pride and walked forward.
“Be calm. I will be following behind you.”
Karl advanced forward. Willian was the sword that protected Karl´s back. A sword of such loyalty that approached the extents of absolute sincerity. Karl didn´t have any doubts on such absoluteness. Because of that, Karl walked forward filled with confidence.
“Hou, so that´s the one of the Teirahs.”
The surrounding eyes slightly changed seeing his imposing standing figure.
Hilda too showed surprise at the change Karl, who she knew since they were little, had.
“”Willian is together with me. He told me that. In that case, all I need to do is to believe.””
Without hesitations, his sight was directed to heavens. He looked at Eahart von Arcadia.
“”To me, Willian… is even higher than his Highness.””
Wind blew. Although for only an instant, there was no mistake. It was only a breeze, but it definitely happened.
This was the growth that not even Willian…. No, it was because it was Willian, who had been together with Karl all this time, that he had never expected: the growth of Karl von Teirah. It wasn´t just Willian to have come to that realization.
Karl got down on his knees and bowed his head down. His conduct was what was expected of a noble; it was refined.
“Ten-man leader Karl, the rumours about you have reached even my ears. Your military results were incredible. In the whole history of Arcadia, there hasn´t been any ten-man squad that has made as much excellent achievements as you. Therefore….”
Eahart took out the sword in his waist.
The place became in uproar. Cold sweat ran through Karl´s back as he wondered if he had committed any mistake. That was an instant of tension for Willian, who was watching that scene. If what he thought it was going to unfold happened to be the case, he would need to make his move.
“Karl von Teirah will be promoted from a ten-man squad leader to a hundred-man commander. In addition, I will grant Karl von Teirah the title of knight!”
The place was in clamor. There were many that expressed their surprise with loud voices. Karl himself was also surprised. He was desperately making all his efforts to not let that feeling out of his mouth. However, sweat only increased on his back. What happened was something out of expectations for Willian. A ten-man squad captain receiving the title of knight was something unheard of. Moreover, among the nobles, Karl was only an emerging low-class noble family that didn´t even have any connections. What just happened was impossible.
“Do you swear you will become a sword for the kingdom?”
The sword was softly put onto his shoulder. An impossible occurrence was happening.
“I swear on my sword.”
Eahart smiled when he heard that answer. He sheathed his sword and went back.
“Karl von Teirah, you may go now.”
It happened for only a short time, but to Karl, it was like eternity. He had resolved himself and walked forward, but he couldn´t have expected that what awaited him was such an overwhelming thing.
“Th-this is bad Willian. I can´t breath…”
“You´ve done well. Even I was surprised. Who would have thought you would become a knight. And not only that, but even someone of the royalty was present.”
With his arms. Willian supported Karl, who had his strings cut by all his tension, and started to think.
He started to think about the reason why someone from the royalty was present in the party. The reason was simple. Let aside knight titles, even giving nobility titles was limited to the royalty. Karl received the title of knight, and therefore, someone of the royalty went his way to come here for the sake of granting it to him.
“At last… Willian Rivius, step forward.”
Before, the place was all boiling with excitement with Karl´s entitlement to knight. That same place immediately became silent.
Karl was surprised. Once again, for Willian to be called was something that was the most unexpected out of the things that were outside of expectations. It may be possible for people being nominated centurions to be called, but it was impossible for people being nominated a ten-man squad leader to be called there. In that case, why in the world was Willian called?
For the moment, Willian had to walk forward. Moving Karl out of the way, he stepped forward. The voices of the many people gossiping about things such as “That guy is a foreigner, isn´t he?” “He isn´t even a ten-man captain yet” “Why is the white mask being called for?” “Could it be he got his Highness displeasure?” reached Willian´s ears.
Willian arrived in front of the stairs. He turned his eyes to heavens. The golden monster was right in front of him.
“”He seems tasty.”
Drool overflowed his mouth. He slurped it back. With his tongue, he hurriedly held back the saliva that was about to drip out of his mouth. Willian started feeling like laughing. Having to step forward to such place and getting into a situation he knew nothing of what was about to happen, Willian enviously desired the man in front of his eyes. He desired to steal from him from the depths of his heart. He wanted that light. If he stole it from him, his thirst, his hunger would definitely be satiated.
“Now then, first I would like to apology for having suddenly called you. This might sound like an awkward question, but…. Could it be you are an ugly person?”
Eahart suddenly asked Willian something unimaginable.
“I cannot decide for myself whether I am ugly or not, but I have confidence my appearance is fine for exposure to the public.”
Willian laughed under his mask satisfied. This was a question about his mask. In that case, many answers could be thought about. If Willian had been brought here only for the sake of this question, then this was something that he could be thankful about. This place was somewhere that made him stand out very well.
“Then, do you wear this mask for some reason?”
Just like Willian had thought.
“This is a tool to separate my warrior self from my normal self. At the battlefield, there are times I start feeling a deep killing intent. At those times, due to my mask interposing between the two, I can have composedly make objective decisions.”
“Is that the motive behind Karl´s ten-man squad success?”
“All achievements were accomplished by Karl-sama´s strength, of course. My strength is nothing but negligible. Moreover, if your Highness were now to ask whether this mask is important to me, the answer would be yes, your Highness.”
Willian kept his head bowed. Eahart looked at him from above.
“Fufu, I won´t make such inelegant action such as taking the mask away from the white mask. All I wanted is to ask about it. Now then, to the main point at hand.”
It seems Eahart didn´t call Willian here to chit-chat. He called him with a motive. Something must have happened.
“I´ve heard a lot about your achievements. You´ve taken down the high-ranked centurion Haian at Raconia. At Tayar, you´ve also taken the high-ranked centurion Urkeus. A few days ago, you´ve even taken down the [Polar Bear] of the small northern country of Ratolukia, the centurion Shulvester Niklainen.”
The people that had military connections to Baldias´ troops became open-eyed at that information. Hilda and the other youngsters were also open-eyed in surprise.
Shulvester Niklainen, the [Polar Bear], was an old experienced centurion that boasted of his tremendous popularity with the populace. He left his name in history when he battled Baldias at the days Baldias was still a centurion. Because he was a commoner, he couldn´t be promoted higher than that, and much more now that he became old, he had been battling in the frontlines of Ratolukia. Willian had killed this caliber of a man.
“”Rumours travel fast. I thought this time it wouldn´t be included in the investigations.””
Willian having killed Shulvester was really recent. Recent to the point that even Baldias wouldn´t have been able to know about it. For Eahart to have caught such information so fast, it could be seen he wasn´t a simple royalty. But even so, there should be a reason for that…
“Of course, your achievements until now have been incredible. However, it is not enough to call your achievement of having killed the [Polar Bear] just incredible. Do you know why is that?”
The battle against Shulvester has indeed been heroic. Even with how Willian was now, he had been considerably puzzled when making his decisions. Because Shurvester himself was old, he had lost his edge. Not only that, Willian barely defeated him.
Cooperating with the centurion responsible of the front, they had encircled Shulvester, and when he was about to forcefully break out of the encirclement, Willian attacked. Despite how Shulvester was supposed to be all weakened and full of wounds, he was much more powerful than before. After Willian and that monster having clashed their swords many times, Willian was finally able to kill him.
For having killed such monster, it wasn´t weird that Willian was receiving that extend of praises. It wasn´t weird, but in the end, it was the leader who received the price; the centurion. Besides, his golden days of fame had passed long ago. He didn´t think he would get something special from having done that. In the end, it would be considered as if he killed nothing more than just some simple soldier…
“Ratolukia, you know, has surrendered to Arcadia. That was something I´ve heard last night though.”
Willian was still with his head down. Karl looked at Willian. It wasn´t only Hilda and the other youngsters, but rather, all people in the whole place were open-mouthed. This was how much it was a shock to them.
“Originally, that country didn´t have resources left. They were in a condition which their land was becoming barren and infertile, and they were starting to stray from the image of what a nation is supposed to be. It was only a question of time until they crumbled. However, this last push was the defeat of the hero [Polar Bear]. It was the victory of Karl´s undefeatable ten-man squad and the centurion responsible for that. I thought not giving anything for the one responsible of bringing down a whole country was something improper as to be expected. That was why I have come here.”
While there was the reason of giving Karl the knight title, this was the main reason. Willian was finally able to understand. He also understood the reason why Baldias didn´t know about it, and only Eahart knew of that. Matters about a country crossed over the jurisdiction of the military; that was the territory of the government. Eahart took his information from there.
“However, you are still not even a ten-man squad leader. Even considering your achievements, this is still a fact. While I believe saying this makes it too small of an evaluation of you, it is difficult for me to promote you in one go. Besides, Karl-kun is from noble descendancy while you are a foreigner. Giving you the title of knight so suddenly is difficult.”
Eahart drew his sword.
“Therefore, I will grant Willian Rivius the status of a second class citizen. Of course, with the condition you will continue to work for the sake of our kingdom as a ten-man squad leader.”
Even if one was to marry someone, while the born child would be a second class citizen, the person himself, who was a third class citizen, wouldn´t have his social position changed. This was the exceptions among exceptions. Perhaps for Karl and the other nobles it didn´t feel like that big of a deal, but to Willian, he could only feel surprised.
He believed that he could get detached from his third class citizen status by becoming a noble. This was a very narrow path. Willian believed those were matters that were still distant in the future.
“Do you swear on becoming a citizen of our nation?”
It wasn´t like anything would change if he was to be recognized as a citizen. It wasn´t like his privileges would increase, and his standing and merit simply became that of a [normal citizen], which was so distant from him before.
“I swear. I swear on my life.”
However, Willian was showing a smile on his face. He had finally went up a step that was actually definite. It wasn´t like Willian wanted to rise in the military. At most, the military was just a tool for him to step onto. This was the only method.
“Willian Rivius, you may go now.”
His objective was to rise in power in this country. It was to eat up all the people that would scorn at him as if he was lower than worms. The has finally decided the reason behind this goal [now].
It was possible for the king to give position to people. This power was one similar to the one of god. Something like that was only possible after standing over ten thousand people. In that case, all he aimed for was only one thing.
The top of people. In other words, [king].
Willian turned around and saw the scene that had been unfolding behind him. Nobility, nobility, nobility; the bunch that were chosen. Willian once again realized that this was still half-way. He realised that he was still at the bottommost position, and that his origins were the lowest. It was because of that that all this had meaning.
“”くひっ”” (TL note: Onomatopoeia? .-. I have no idea ‘ 3’)
It would be interesting if a lower class was to eat up all this. It would suffice as a comedy show, truly.
“”I will eat all of them. But that after I am done eating the ones at the back.””
Under the white mask, a beast of greed quietly boiled.