64. I Don’t Care, So Let Me Go Home!
Idle Talk: It Doesn’t Matter, but the Boy Pushes Ahead
I saw Lady Rururia desperately trying to escape Michelle-san’s grasp.
At that moment, I saw no traces of bravery. She was just an ordinary girl.
Even though she had been physically healed from the last confrontation…
It shouldn’t be normal to see a Dragon on her lap, but such a sight felt normal.
…Why was that? What’s changed in me?
…No matter how long I looked at her, I could never understand.
My mouth just fell open on its own.
I was born on the Frontier, side by side with demons.
I grew up surrounded by brave men and women that sometimes faced off with Dragons.
When I was small, I was basically the same as the other kids my age… Maybe just a little paler.
But everyone else got taller, tanner, and more mature.
…Meanwhile, I stayed pale, thin, small… And weak.
My mother was physically weak, and it was said she wouldn’t have another child.
This left me as the only remaining heir to the Margrave Family that could protect the Frontier.
But they called me the Weak Heir, an Unreliable Youngster, the Frontier Princess… And a lot more.
I heard these things being muttered from the shadows ever since I was old enough to pay attention, my confidence and pride steadily declined.
That’s how I came to hate myself.
The me that can’t meet anyone’s expectations.
“…I’m only here for myself, so save your thanks.”
On our way to the Royal Capital, our carriage was attacked by bandits and thrown into the valley.
Just as my father was about to be stricken by a rock while defending my mother… Lady Irene suddenly appeared out of nowhere and saved us all.
She even saved me, who was too terrified to move… Even though she was thinner than me.
No matter how much I thanked her, it wasn’t enough.
…Lady Irene spoke in a voice that was too soft to hear, with a smile that seemed beautiful and lonely.
She was lovely, too delicate to touch… And was truly admirable.
As ordinary as I am, I was enraptured by the presence of such a timeless woman.
…Ah, I want to be as humble and robust as her.
And if possible, I’d like to be worthy enough to stand by her side one day.
I wanted to be a little closer to her, so I began to train desperately.
Whether it was day or night, rain or shine, hot or cold…
“I am honored to bestow this upon you.”
My father said as he handed me the Mega Hammer.
The Mega Hammer that was passed down from Margrave to Margrave for generations.
When I took and had it in my hands, I felt a great, satisfying weight to it.
To fit such a weapon, I must find the dignity and confidence to match.
…I’m still just a Frontier Princess right now.
But I had succeeded my father as Margrave, as he had just fallen ill.
Some said that it was still too early, but whenever I shook Mega Hammer cheers would erupt, and gradually the lords and soldiers of the territories accepted my accession.
…But I’m still just a weak little sissy.
I think they’re all only polite to me because I’m the Margrave now.
They still laugh behind my back that I’d be just a kid if not for the Mega Hammer.
If not for my father, would I be able to repress my feelings of sadness?
Maybe, maybe not.
I can’t rely on myself. I won’t get any taller… Or any more substantial. I’m just an ordinary guy that can’t live up to everyone’s expectations.
To even think about how I could stand alongside the extraordinary Lady Irene… It was merely a dream.
I have a lot of things to do… But I can’t right now.
I have only dissatisfaction building up inside me, I can’t let go of this hammer just yet.
Without it, I can’t even eat nor sleep.
…I know these problems were all my own fault.
Then, one day, the Lady Rururia who could control a Dragon appeared before me.
A woman with two nicknames: the Dragon Knight’s Bride and the Saint of Salvation… Though those didn’t really seemed to suit her.
I had expected a dignified ladylike Irene or someone as powerful as the left and right Marshals.
…She wasn’t all that.
She had no intimidation nor dignity like what I had expected.
She had plain hair and eyes, coupled with an unremarkable appearance… An expression that showed her exhaustion from a long trip.
Lady Rururia looked like an ordinary girl.
…Were the rumors true that she was just like me?
She was completely different from the company she kept.
The Magician Bezalel, with his fiery red hair exuding extraordinary beauty, Leonardo with his soft-spoken, well-kept appearance, who constantly activated detection magic around himself, and the keen beauty Michelle, with her shiny silver-white hair.
They were talented people, different from someone ordinary and weak like me.
Compared to them, I could only think of rude things about her.
…But I soon realized that I was wrong.
She behaved with dignity even in front of my father, and when I saw how easily she tamed a Dragon, I felt a dark sensation bloom within myself.
…So, she wasn’t ordinary like me.
I felt a heavy digging sensation on my shoulder, that made me grip the Mega Hammer tightly.
Rururia’s Dragon called out and released some Dragon Breath.
I immediately raised up a barrier to avoid the heat.
Even so, the black tendrils were coming towards us.
…This black object hadn’t reacted to any expeditions that had drawn close to it over the last few months.
It must have been Lady Rururia and her Dragon that had triggered it.
These unexpectedly moving black objects had me too scared to move. A testament to how weak I actually were.
While seething in self-hatred, she looked at me, wanting to decide our next move.
…She had a slight burn on her arm.
I was shocked… A burn meant that my barrier hadn’t worked.
Any burn that could get through were ones that magic couldn’t heal.
…Or could it be that Lady Rururia was really just weaker than me?
As I sat stunned by such a notion, the black tendrils came again.
Facing such bottomless blackness, I felt myself fading out of consciousness.
“Let’s get out of here.”
I heard Lady Rururia’s voice as she tried to pull me away, but I still couldn’t move my legs.
The black tendrils covered the sky, striking a feeling scarier than death that sapped my courage away.
As they approached, I was sure I would die.
I should have used my Mega Hammer as a shield, but I could only tremble as I clenched at it.
Lady Rururia stood in front to protect me.
Processing what was happening before me, everything went blank… Embarrassment flushed through my entire body.
I really must be pathetic, needing the protection of a weak female like Lady Rururia.
I watched as she flew off on the back of her Dragon.
I saw the black objects chasing after her… I should have done something to help, but I still couldn’t move.
My whole body trembled with shame… Ahhh. I just want to disappear.
At some point, Chief Magician Bezalel had drawn close and called out to me, but I wasn’t able to muster a reply.
…It truly was a disgrace that I held the title of a Margrave.
Ah. Please go and tell father to disown me…
“Don’t look so confused… Remember who and where you are!”
Bezalel hit me on the head, looking at me with great annoyance on his face.
…Honestly, I’m annoyed that I existed, too.
I was hit twice, my face going white coupled with the pain.
“We just need to focus on saving the lady right now.”
Me? I’m just the pathetic guy that needed her to protect me…
“With that many tendrils, they’ll eventually catch Lady Rururia and her Dragon… That’s why we have to stop them.”
“Stop them? Those black things…? I have to help, too?”
Even me, who had no semblance of any reason to exist, let alone confidence, was needed to save her?
…As Bezalel raised his fist again, I stopped thinking and was made to hurry.
Was he reading my thoughts somehow…?
“That Mega Hammer you’ve got should be able to stop it. You need to beat them down and distract them.”
“Uhhh, beat them?”
“Uhm, yeaaah? Yeah.”
I couldn’t help, but reply to Bezalel’s forceful encouragement.
He seemed satisfied to hear my response.
…Should I be scared?
Oh, never mind, this was nothing!
As Bezalel had instructed me, I assumed a battle stance and advanced towards the black object.
An enormous number of black tendrils were headed towards Lady Rururia and her Dragon… I took a deep breath.
…I had wanted to stop existing not so long ago.
Was getting sucked up by these black tendrils really so different?
I swung the Mega Hammer and struck the tendrils that were aiming for her.
A shockwave passed through my body, and the black tendril bent severely.
…Huh? Was I able to bend it?
I looked up at the sky incredulously.
…Up there, I saw the Dragon flying in the sky, with a bit more space around him than before.
That means… This was something that even I can do.
I’m not a soldier. I’m not my father. I’m weak and pathetic, but I can do this.
I grasped my Mega Hammer and swung away at the black tendrils grasping at Lady Rururia.
…There was no way I’ll let them get to her.
Large magic circles overlapped, impacts radiating over them.
…Ah. It looks like it’s over.
…Did I protect her, at least a little bit?
My body felt strangely light.
Does this mean I’ve grown…?
Later I found Lady Rururia, tired in her bedroom, surrounded by Bezalel, Lenardo, and Michelle.
I’m really, really glad that Lady Rururia was safe…
“By the way, Your Excellency the Margrave, What’s with that hammer you have? It seemed to be nothing but a handle…”
Lady Rururia had pointed it out with a mystified look on her face.
…Mega Hammer was just a handle? That can’t be…
I reached behind me, with the intent of taking it out… But there really was just a handle.
“Huh!? You didn’t notice??”
“…Uhm. Well, I wouldn’t say that…”
“Hmmm? Was it broken?”
It seemed the three adults had noticed too, well, not all of them. It seemed Bezalel hadn’t noticed.
I placed a hand on Mega Hammer, now just a handle, and looked at it in a daze.
…I hadn’t noticed at all.
That Mega Hammer had been my spiritual support. I had relied and depended on it.
…I even forgot the feeling of its weight.
People started to laugh raucously.
“…Well, that’s it then, isn’t it? With your prized possession broken, you’re broken too, aren’t you?”
“That was really important to him, Rururia-chan… So, what will you do to make up for it?”
“There’s nothing that can be done, is there? Do you even know where the fragments fell?”
“Nah, he’s fine…”
“Shut up, Chief.”
Even though they were right beside me, they just talked about me like I wasn’t there.
I really wanted them to stop, but they just kept on laughing.
“I know! We’ll find the pieces and put them back together with magic glue! It will be good as new…! Look! Wake up, Dragon! We’ll need your nose!”
“Hey, now! Don’t wake up a sleeping Dragon!”
“…Huh? Do Dragons have strong noses or something?”
“Do the fragments even have a distinctive smells?”
My father, who had been quiet until now, burst into laughter like he couldn’t hold it in any longer.
“You sure are nice fellas, ain’t you!? Lady Rururia, can you really fix Mega Hammer with glue?”
“Uhm… Well… I thought it would be fine with an all-purpose glue…”
For some reason, Lady Rururia started to take some glue out of her storage stone.
…Why did she even bring something like that on this trip?
“But haven’t you lost the fragments anyway?”
“What do you mean!?”
“Shut it, Michelle.”
Michelle gulped intensely at my father’s words… That’s quite unfortunate.
While I was looking at them, Lady Rururia approached.
“Uhm, well, I know you were hitting all those black tentacles… I’m sorry, but you really helped me, so thank you.”
I couldn’t believe she was apologizing to me and even thanking me.
I should be the one to apologize to her for not being able to protect her enough.
There was no reason for Lady Rururia to apologize to me.
…To think that she’s even thanking me, who couldn’t even move until Bezalel did something.
Suddenly, I remembered Lady Irene’s words.
“I only did it for myself. So don’t apologize to me nor thank me.”
That’s really how it was… I swung my Mega Hammer for myself, and I broke it myself.
Maybe now I can understand a little more about how Lady Irene was feeling.
“Huh? Is that so? In that case, I’ll do what you say.”
…No, I didn’t mean it that way.
Hearing her talk to me, I felt a bit gloomy, like my training hadn’t been enough.
“But you see, Margrave… I mean, Siegbert-sama, I’ll do what you ask of me.”
Lady Rururia looked directly at me.
“You helped defend me and let my Dragon fly freely, even to the point of destroying something that mattered to you.”
I felt my cheeks flush.
I felt so happy to have someone talking not to me as a Margrave, but as a person, that I struggled to reply.
Even so, Lady Rururia waited for me.
“You… You’re welcome…”
I felt like something had clicked inside me.
“Was that okay?”
“…Yeah, it was good.”
I answered my father while looking at the noisy crowd.
I reached over my shoulder habitually, but there was no familiar leather grip to feel.
…That Mega Hammer that I was obsessed with was now gone.
I didn’t feel its weight on my shoulders, however I didn’t feel any anxiety either.
“I don’t need its weight anymore.”
As I said that, I remembered the time when wanted to be anyone else.
I wanted to be anyone that had what I didn’t.
A strong arm, a big back that was worth relying on, self-confidence, a strong will… If I had those, I wouldn’t hate myself anymore.
I’d be what everyone wanted me to be.
I remembered that Dragon flying in the vast blue sky.
It was the person that I hated so much that allowed such a sight to occur. Me, a sissy servant who had just wanted to run away.
…Honestly, I still don’t like myself yet.
My father looked me deep in the eyes, seeking confirmation.
I stared right back.
“I won’t run away from myself any longer. I will protect this Frontier, and all these people, on my own.”
“Ah! Then I’m looking forward to it!”
My father straightened up at my words. He seemed really happy.
…I think he’d been worried about me all this time.
As I watched Lady Rururia playing happily, I felt my heart lighten.
I felt like it was okay for someone weak like me to be here. Why was that?
…Ah. She really was such an unusual girl.
Usual, unusual, weak, and strong… No words could ever give her justice.
I wonder if I could be closer to someone like her?
…A girl that fights even when it’s not her struggle.