How many days have passed? A few weeks, maybe a month? Six months have yet to pass, but I spend everyday just eating the meals that are brought to me.
The nights were getting colder. When, one night I was awoken by an angry voice coming from somewhere nearby.
“…What? Is someone fighting?”
I strain my ears to try to hear more clearly. And what I could hear was a man, then a faint scream followed by the word ‘bandit.’
“A bandit……in the mansion? That’s ridiculous.”
Not all of the knights of the Grances family are in the mansion. Rather, many of them are deployed to various places in the Grances’ territory.
Still, the number of guards in the mansion is much more than that of a house a merchant would live in. It is impossible for a bandit to enter such a place.
Despite this, the noise coming from outside continued.
“Hey, someone! Isn’t there anyone!?”
I shout while pounding on the door. I can’t tell what’s going on outside, but there is a possibility that there is actually a bandit out there. I may not be able to help as I am, but I can’t just sit here and do nothing.
Above all else, I am worried about Alice and Claire. Though, Claire may be protected by surrounding people, but Alice doesn’t have anyone.
“Someone! If someone’s there please answer me!”
I desperately pound on the door for a few more minutes.
“- Leon-sama, where are you Leon-sama?”
A voice I had been anxiously awaiting to hear.
“Alice, over here!”
Footsteps approach the door. And shortly, I hear a small *click* and the door swings open from the outside.
“Leon-sama, are you safe?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I heard a bandit, but what on earth happened?”
“There’s a lot of confusion and I don’t know the exact details, but there appears to be bandits attacking the mansion.”
“Attacking……That’s insanity, to try to attack the mansion of an Earl, right?”
“Yes, but recently there have been many sightings of bandits in the territory. So, the bandits seemed to have attacked the mansion after many knights were dispatched out to the surrounding lands.”
“You’re saying this was their plan?”
“I don’t know……it is true that the knights are being pushed back. I think that it’s only a matter of time until a bandit breaks into here.”
“Is it really that bad….”
It’s hard for me to believe, but it is a fact that I can hear a lot of confusion coming from outside. If I don’t act now, I may end up in a terrible situation stuck in here.
“Leon-sama, let’s first find a safe place to hide.”
“Well… Ah, wait, I need to find Claire, do you know where she is?”
“Claire-sama? Sorry, I haven’t seen her for a while now.”
When I last saw her, she said she would be going through bride training….If Alice didn’t see her, she might be trapped in her room.
“Okay, let’s go to Claire’s room first.”
We decided what to do first in the hallway. I borrowed one of the lanterns placed on the wall and headed to Claire’s room, relying on the dim light from the lantern.
But on the way, I found the body of a Grances knight and a bandit-like man.
“There was clearly a fight here.”
I do my best to hold back the nausea I feel as I observe the two bodies. It looks like it was a double knockout. There are fatal cuts on both bodies.
I’m not sure how skilled the Grances knights are……but for a bandit to equal a knight. Are the bandits of this world really at that level?
…Well, I can ask questions later. First we need to find Claire and go to some place safe.
But before that – I look at the bodies.
There is some moral resistance to doing this, but in this situation I have no choice. I begin to search through each of their belongings to see if anything could be used.
“I know what you want to say, but be patient for now. We need to do everything we can to survive here.”
“You’re right…..I’m sorry.”
“Good. Keep watch for anyone coming.”
I resumed searching the dead bodies. I collect the swords that each had and the oil pots that the bandit had. I give Alice a sword and hand her two oil pots.
“…… I….I’m not good with swords.”
“I know. I’m not good either, but it’s better than my bare hand. If we get into trouble, use it to create a chance to escape.”
Alice gives a small nod in acknowledgement.
It’s gotten late, but Alice is showing how brave she is, she seemed to have been traveling around the country until she became a slave. Maybe she’s used to getting into dangerous situations like this.
Anyway, I was thankful for her being so calm – at that time, I heard a scream of a woman coming from further down the hallway.
The moment I heard it, my body moved on it’s own and I ran towards the voice.
As I turned the corner, what I witnessed was the figure of Caroline trembling behind Father who was fighting hard, but had already lost a hand.
“Father, behind you!”
Seeing enemies approaching from behind Father – I cry out – but Father who was busy with the enemy in front of him was unable to defend against them. And so — a large red flower bloomed in the hallway.
But Father was not cut down and was standing there with a stunned expression. Then, before Father, the figure of Caroline slowly collapsed while staring at him.
Father returned to his senses and was filled with anger. The bandit that attacked Caroline had his head cut clean off. However, the enemies that Father had previously been fighting –
“Bring it on!”
I threw the sword I was holding.
That is to say, I threw it haphazardly at the bandits, and it wasn’t likely to hurt them, but Father had time to recover and was able to cut them down.
“—-Carol! Please, Carol!”
Father kneels at the side of Caroline and raised her bloodied body with one arm.
“Dear….are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine! But why, why did you protect me! You must have hated me! So why did you protect me!?”
“Yes, I resented you…..because you never noticed the way that I felt…about…you…”
“…Wh-what…what are you talking about!? You felt that way!?”
Caroline, with the light in her brown eyes fading, smiled weakly. Father, who could not believe it, was only able to show an expression of shock.
“Always….of course……I’ve…..for a long time, Dear….ever since we were kids…I’ve loved you.”
“Carol!? Stay with me! Don’t die, don’t die! Please wait, Carol, please! Please wait! Please wait!”
As Father desperately called out to her, Carol’s body went limp.
“Carol! Don’t die! Don’t leave me! Carol!? Carol, say something, say anything……Please answer me…Carol, Carol……”
Caroline died. She wasn’t sick. It wasn’t an accident.
For the first time I witnessed someone take another person’s life. Before that shocking sight, I was left speechless.
Still, it is unsafe to stay here, I managed to squeeze out a hoarse voice.
“Father…..it’s dangerous to stay here.”
“…….Leon? Why are you here?”
“I came to find Claire.”
“I…see. Don’t worry about her, she’s at the monastery.”
“She was sent there by Carol for bride training.”
There are things I’d like to say, but I don’t want to speak ill of the dead. Besides, because of this, Claire is now in a safe place.
I force myself to calm down and forgot about what I’ve just witnessed.
“Then, we are the only ones left?”
“……Yes, Blake was escorted out by the knights and the employees were ordered to escape as well. Only some that were able to fight remain inside the mansion.”
“Okay…then, let’s escape together…we need to find some place safe to bandage your arm.”
Blood continues to flow from his arm. It will be too late if I don’t stop the bleeding soon.
I can hear bandits near the bedroom, which can be considered the innermost part of the mansion. There is fighting echoing out from there, and it’s only a matter of time before the enemies make it here.
There’s no time for us to waste.
Although saying that, Father slowly shook his head.
“Sorry, but I can’t leave Carol.”
“….Then Father, you must carry her body.”
Although one of his arms is near useless, I propose that it would be better if we carry her out, but Father again shakes his head.
“That’s not it. I won’t let Carol face this journey alone.”
–He intends to die with her?
“…….Father. I know how you feel, but if we run away we will be able to survive.”
“Leon, I’m sorry, but I will not run.”
“Father! She sacrificed her life to save you!”
“- I know – but I didn’t notice Carol’s feelings and she has been lonely for such a long time. So, in the end I would like to do at least this much for her!”
It would be a lie if I said that I couldn’t understand Father’s feelings.
Because……I felt the same way when I lost Saya. I knew I’d die shortly after Saya, that way I could be with her and she wouldn’t be alone.
But Father is different. The bleeding is terrible, but if we hurry he could survive.
“Father, please reconsider.”
“I’ve made up my mind.”
“What will happen to the Grances house!?”
“When he isn’t fighting with people, Blake is a good successor. Even if you choose to not marry into the Sfir family, our families have had a close relationship for a long time, so they will undoubtedly lend a hand to you and Blake.”
I bit my lip after hearing Father’s words. I was honestly not worried about the Grances family. I just said that, in the hopes that it would convince him to live.
My Father murmured this.
At his apology – I forced down the words I wanted to say. I have no time left to spare. The noise of the bandits was getting closer.
Is it impossible to change Father’s mind? I still have a lot of things I’d like to hear, leaving things like this……
“Don’t make such a face, you have Milli, Claire, and Alistair, right? You seem to have made a lot of friends.”
For a moment I did not understand his meaning.
“Father, how do you know all of this?”
Father doesn’t respond to my question. Instead he just gave me a meaningful look. As I looked at him, I thought back to the events that happened during the influenza outbreak.
At that time my father, just like now….
“- Leon-sama, it’s about time.”
My thoughts were interrupted by Alice.
There are many things I want to ask. There are countless things that I want to say. But, I can not afford to die yet.
So, I decided to leave my father.
“Father, I’ll escape. I’ll escape and survive.”
“Okay… that’s good. There is a hidden door in the hallway on the second floor, there is a stairway that leads to the basement. If you move quickly you should be able to escape to the outside from there.”
I try to leave like that, but because this is the last goodbye to my Father I was reluctant to leave. I turned to say one final goodbye.
“……is there something else you need to say?”
I didn’t want to say something like, “I love you,” like the final scene of a foreign movie. However, just once, because we are family….
“Right….You must protect Milli and Claire.”
“….You’re keeping this up until the end…”
Various thoughts swell within my chest and I almost let some of these slip out. But, I desperately forced them down, and I engrave Father’s words on my heart.
“…I understand…I will always protect them both.”
“I see, if that’s true then I can die peacefully. Knowing I can be proud of my son.”
I wonder what the feeling was I felt at that time. Joy? Or was it anger?
……I don’t know. The only thing I know is that all of this was too late.
“Now, Leon, you must go, the enemy will be here soon.”
I don’t need Father’s words to tell me this. I can hear footsteps fast approaching us.
It’s only a matter of time before they get here. So I hold back all of the words of gratitude, of hate, everything I wanted to say.
I say my final good-bye and grab Alice’s hand, heading in the opposite direction of the footsteps.
“Carol……I’m sorry, I never noticed your feelings, I never even noticed my own feelings, but I finally understand, these feelings I’ve only noticed after losing you….”