Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
It was finally the day of the big festival.
Heathrow, dressed in the finely-ornamented robes of the festival’s executor was standing on the balcony that was overhanging the main entrance of the Great Temple and was waving his hand at the gathered crowd, blessing it with his gentle smile. The cover-up of him taking the executive role was that Klanven had suddenly felt ill and couldn’t perform his duties as a result.
As for the series of incidents directed at Klanven’s life, just until yesterday the official court statement was that no such things ever took place, but since Heathrow took the role of the executive of the festival, the more clever people around the court, like the Princess, eventually caught on that something was going on. Still she chose to stay silent about that, probably wanting to not complicate matters further for her family.
Thinking back at all that happened, I couldn’t help myself but to scowl at Heathrow’s back, looking at his back from the depths of the room inside of the temple, one which couldn’t be seen from the outside.
「Oh my, Filmina, is there something wrong?」
Asks the Princess upon noticing my expression, cocking her neck just like a cute little bird. I tried to laugh it off.
「No, it’s just that, I was just thinking that it all feels weird for me to be standing here.」
「That’s not true at all. After all, you are Agedilius’s wife. Rather, attending such an important social event is part of your duties.」
The Princess laughs elegantly as she says that to me. For today, she was wearing a pure-white dress adorned with silver threads and ornaments, making that dress look much more like a wedding gown rather than formal attire. She looked so cute and elegant in that attire that even I, who was of the same sex, couldn’t help it but to feel engrossed in her appearance.
I, on the other hand, was wearing a dress that was prepared by my parents. This dress, rather than squeezing your waist to accentuate on one’s bust and hips, was made out of a loose fabric that was gently falling all the way onto the floor. It also had no frills and lace whatsoever, which was giving it a simplistic design. It was supposed to be the dress that was “good for any kind of occasion out there”.
During the festival, it was a tradition for women to dress in costumes that would resemble robes that the Goddess was wearing. This year my family felt especially happy about the festival and they utilized that energy while making this dress for me. Somehow, I felt kind of guilty that they were doing that.
To Princess’s words, I could only drop my shoulders in resignation.
That is right. Every Hero who participated in defeating the Demon Lord was currently present here, on this balcony, being a kind of decoration for the festival, its crowning jewel of sorts. The crowd in front of the temple was bigger than usual, with many people coming from all over the country for the occasion, bringing their flower crowns with them and filling the plaza with a nice flowery scent.
I was convinced that I wouldn’t have to be a part of that, but for some reason or another, I was told this morning that my presence on the balcony would be required as well. Now, even if my role would be to just stand next to that man and smile at the crowd while waving my hand, it was something I would much rather avoid if I could. Of course, there was no way for me to weasel my way out of this, so here I was, mixed amongst the greatest Heroes of our time.
It was just as the Princess said: it is my duty to accompany that man in his official duties, but that fact alone wouldn’t be enough to stop me from sighing again and again.
There were also Knights present in front of the temple, sitting in the chairs in their formal attires and looking at the Heroes with really sad expressions.
「Even though I knew that Agedilias had a wife, I have never even saw her with my own eyes, and I have no idea what kind of a woman she is. Well, good luck with that.」
Rather than follow on that mean comment, a young knight with a holy sword hanging at his waist spoke up. He was wearing a formal attire that was similar to that of the knights, but there were some slight differences.
「Now, does it really matter? When you are getting dressed you might as well dress in something comfortable. Besides, that dress looks really great on Filmina, and as Agedilius’s wife, she should feel proud.」
「…… If that’s what you think, Yuli-sama, then it must be like that.」
When I said that to him, his smile twitched for just a second.
「B-besides, you know, it surely is a huge crowd! I would never see something like that back in my hometown……」
「That’s right, Yuli. You said something similar back during the Triumphant Arch. 」
When the captain of the Knights said that, the face of the young Hero got so bright red that one might think that it was on fire. After laughing for a short while, the eyes of everyone gathered on me again.
If I was supposed to survive through this ordeal I had to keep on wearing the best smile that I could show them all the time. That being said, I could also see that one of the people gathered here, Widnichol, was nervously looking behind his back towards the door all the time.
「Widnichol-sama? Is there something wrong?」
「Eh!? Ah, no, not really, it’s nothing!」
Hearing my voice so suddenly, Widnichol grasped his staff even tighter than before and jumped a little bit. That’s how startled he was.
「Oi, what’s wrong with you?」
「Eh, umm, it’s just that…… I was wondering where my Master could be. It is almost time right?」
To Widnichol’s words, everyone present looked at one another as if realizing that fact.
「…… Now that you mention it, he really is late.」
「You don’t think that he decided to leave Filmina here and ditch the ceremony by himself?」
Yes, that’s right. The Hero Wizard was nowhere to be seen. Actually, I haven’t seen him since the early morning, but I didn’t really think much of it…… Surely it wasn’t because of yesterday’s wound!? I couldn’t shake off those nasty premonitions that kept on popping up in my mind one after another.
I could still feel it in my hand. The terrifying feeling of steel in my hand and the blood gushing out of the wound. He used his magic to treat the wound immediately, but what if the stab proved to be fatal and his magic couldn’t have saved him? That would mean I would be the one who killed him. I couldn’t stop my body from shaking when I thought about it.
The more I think about it, the more it torments me with anxiety, and finally I stand up from my chair.
「I’ll go look for him.」
The people start looking at me strangely, and I respond to them with a faint smile before eventually exiting to the hallway. I think that someone tried to stop me from leaving, but I wouldn’t listen.
Because it was the festival time, the vast majority of priests and their servants were out for the moment, and the corridors were empty and tranquil. It wouldn’t be an over exaggeration to say that the temple was too quiet, and the only real sounds that I could hear were the sounds of my own shoes striking against the floor as I ventured towards the room that was assigned for the man to get dressed in. It was then that I heard a silent voice.
「Oh, well, well, if it isn’t Filmina!」
Looking towards the source of that voice, I saw Klanven with his platinum hair neatly trimmed. As he walked over to me, I thought that short hair suited him as much as the long hair, but it made him kind of stand out in this place. Although Klanven didn’t seem that surprised about my stare. He only tilted his head slightly.
「The main event of the festival is about to start soon. What are you doing here, wandering around like that?」
「I just thought that I might pick Edi up and walk to the balcony together.」
「Fufu, oh yeah?」
I could have told him about what was worrying me, since he was there yesterday and he saw the whole thing with his own eyes, but I do believe that his only real reaction would be to smile gently at me, as he always used to do. I wanted to ditch him and go to that man right away, but then I saw his usual smile turning kind of bitter.
「We still have some time left, so how about it? Since you’ve been putting up with my selfishness all this time, I would like to talk to you about the truth. I thought that this is the only way for me to be fair to you after everything you have done for me during this past month.」
When he said that, I looked at Klanven in surprise. Despite his words, he was just his usual self, with a gentle expression and the warm smile on his lips.
「Wasn’t the true purpose of me assisting you to capture Heathrow’s subordinates?」
「Of course there’s that, but that’s not the only reason.」
Klanven giggled there for a second, but after seeing that I didn’t get it, he leaned closer to me and continued in a hushed voice.
「Several months ago, the magic of your beloved husband, Agedilus Von Lancent, went berserk. Maybe you are familiar with that story?」
I held my breath. How did he know about that?
If he was talking about that man’s magic running berserk, he must have meant the incident that happened five months ago: that time where that man used almost all of his magic against Celves Sin Ronein, an incident during which I was harmed in.
Although I was mostly unconscious during that event, the Princess told me everything afterwards, saying that “I should know about that”. When I first heard about that I couldn’t quite believe it, and I would never think that this topic would ever come back to haunt us again, but here we are.
「Even though this incident was kept strictly confidential, the head of the temple know about it. There were even rumors that Agedilus Von Lancent might even be the new incarnation of the Demon Lord.」
Hearing that, my whole body trembled. What was that thing about a new incarnation?
「S-such a thing is……!」
Looking at my shivering self with slight compassion, Klanven speaks even further.
「This time around, the purpose of this incident was to purge the Heathrow faction of any extremists, but also to see whether or not Agedilius Von Lancent must be considered a serious threat. While I was at it, I also decided to investigate you as well, since you are so close to him, but it was more on a whim than an official order or anything like that.」
I was at a loss as to what to say to those revelations.
If Klanven’s words were true, doesn’t that mean that both that man and I were taken for fools, lead by the nose all this time? Upon realizing that fact I clench my hand into fists so hard that they start to hurt.
Looking down at me, Klanven’s smile was all but gone. He then spoke to me with a kind of voice that I have never heard from him before.
「As far as we know, Agedilus Von Lancent can be either the Hero of Salvation or a dormant Demon Lord. And if there’s even the slightest possibility of him being the latter, it is something that cannot be ignored. Please remember that.」
There was no warmth in that voice of his, no sympathy. He was like a stone-cold machine, only speaking in facts and nothing more.
「 –––– No. No, I don’t think that’s the case.」
I clench my fists so hard that my nails bite into my skin, causing slight traces of blood to drip down my knuckles.
「Edi might not look like it, but he is a very kind person. He’s clumsy, short-tempered, can’t read the mood and is sometimes unbearable, but his kindness is truly real.」
You must have seen it as well, Klanven. How hard he was working for the children at the orphanage.
The man I knew couldn’t be the dormant Demon Lord. He didn’t have what it takes to be considered the next Demon Lord. But if turns out to be true by some cruel trick of fate…… Then I won’t let him become one. And even when I’m gone, there are other people that will stop him from straying from the right path.
Would the Demon Lord be capable of gently holding my trembling hand in times of need? Could the Demon Lord’s eyes be filled with so much kindness? Could the Demon Lord truly pretend to be a good person for so long?