20: Each Suffering
“Our division has fallen into an unprecedented crisis.”
When Bernier, the deputy division commander of the Fifth Division, spoke while hardening his already stern face, the people gathered in the conference hall also nodded with a grave look.
“Bernier, what is the detailed damage situation?”
“One is heavily injured, thirteen are slightly injured, which is trivial in terms of numbers, but those who have suffered from mental trauma are innumerable. Many of them are complaining about insomnia due to trauma. Among them are even several people whose sexual functionality as a man has remarkably declined and because of this, are now inflicted with an inferiority complex.”
“So the situation has devolved that far, huh….”
“However, there weren’t that many bandits, right?”
“True, but after hearing about the incident from the victims and the eyewitnesses, the fear and panic have been spread over the knights who weren’t there at that time.”
“It’s pathetic. For the knights of the glorious Fifth Division to be like this…”
“Still, this situation would make even the most seasoned warriors tremble.”
In the corner of the room where the division’s superior gathered to exchange their opinion, I, Julio Fidel, was single-mindedly making my body as small as possible.
I wondered why I had been called to this place.
This was the barracks’ conference room, in the stronghold of the Fifth Division. The division commander, deputy division commander, Bernier, regimental commander, and other eminent figures have gathered to face each other with grave expressions. The topic of discussion was the attack on our Fifth Division dormitory building just the other day.
It was a horrible incident. In the middle of the night, more than ten homo machomen appeared out of nowhere and attacked the division’s young members one after another. Of course, we weren’t as fragile as amateurs. However, their force was so bizarre that those of meager practical experience were taken prisoner and subjected to things we can’t even say. Although they were able to protect their chastity, the act of robbing a man of their manhood had deeply wounded many of them, and the division was now experiencing significant difficulties in its operations.
To cope with the situation, the division leaders had gathered to discuss the matter. The majority were either married or had separate homes, so none stayed in the dormitory; hence, none were victims. I was now in this meeting alone, sticking out like a sore thumb.
I could guess why I had been called out here, but I hoped it was not like that. That was why I was standing still like a rock and eagerly trying to erase my presence.
But now that I was called, there was no way I could just stand there.
The division commander’s voice echoed in my being, and I straightened my back and replied.
The Fifth Division’s commander, Emilio, was 37 years old and one of the youngest in all five divisions. He was of commoner origin and was recognized for his outstanding prospects, married the daughter of a baron house, and climbed up to the rank of division commander at the age of 33; this was this person’s success story.
He had short black hair, a rough and neat appearance but a shapely countenance, and when he smiled, wrinkles formed in the outer corner of his eyes, increasing his charm even more. His wife, the daughter of the baron family, also fell in love with him even though it was a political marriage.
He was the father of two children and was known as a devoted husband and doting father, and this person, who had both fame and individual happiness, was our idol, the commoners’.
“You weren’t in the dormitory at that time…”
“Yes, sir! I was in barracks for my night shift.”
“I see. So, have you heard about the aforementioned raid?”
“What do you think about this? Was it that person’s instigation?”
Subconsciously, I looked around restlessly. Although that person shouldn’t be here, I still did so to confirm my surroundings.
“I… No, I also had the same thought. That day, one week ago, when that person and Master Chimenti came into contact, he learned that Master Chimenti belonged to the Fifth Division.”
Just by remembering His Excellency’s smile at that time, my body shivered.
Although he had a beautiful appearance as if an angel had turned into a young man, I wondered why he only looked like a devil when he smiled.
The conference room buzzed at my words, and the division commander exhaled a heavy sigh.
“I see. As expected, I didn’t misunderstand. But since we couldn’t find out anything about the attacker’s background, we have nothing to prove.”
“Only that person would’ve been able to instigate such a pungent… my discourtesy, I mean such a shoddy and ill-natured attack. I’ve always had a feeling that he has set his eyes on us, but I think it’s safe to say that he holds animosity against us.”
The air around became heavy at the deputy commander’s words, who had harbored such concern for a long time.
The person whose name had been withheld since earlier was the stepchild of the Duke d’la Love’s second wife and currently the fiance of the legitimate eldest daughter. Still, it was rumored that he’d been considered the influential Duke household’s true successor, and he was already holding considerable power.
The Fifth Division’s future didn’t look bright from being stared down by such a person.
Originally speaking, it was my responsibility to avoid it, but apparently, the division commander and other superior hadn’t called him for interrogation.
“I suppose the only thing we can do is accept the offer His Excellency the Duke has been making for some time.”
“Ah, that thing.”
When I tilted my head, wondering what he was talking about, the deputy commander explained.
The five divisions in this country were the national army and were all currently under the command of His Majesty the King. Still, in the past, the other three were independent local armies and each one with their own noble guardian, except for the First Division. I learned in the history lesson that this was because the national treasury didn’t have enough leeway to cover such a large standing army.
As remnants of this, the First Division still bears the emblem of the royal family. The rest of the divisions still display the emblems of the nobles who originally protected them, symbolically in addition to the official division emblems. Only the Fifth Division that had been established in the royal capital to maintain security in recent years didn’t have this. It seemed that Duke d’la Love had offered to become their backer and emblem since a while ago.
Of course, the final right to command was presently still held by His Majesty the King, so becoming their backer didn’t have the same meaning as it did in the past. But when your opponent was a noble, it was essential to demonstrate the backing of leading aristocrats, and it was even more necessary for Emilio, who had risen from the commoner family.
As a person with impartial character, I thought the division commander didn’t want to accept the proposal to become affiliated with a noble, even if it was just for show. However, in these circumstances, he switched over to the mindset of he ought to use what he could and laughed.
“If I accept His Excellency the Duke’s offer, perhaps his son won’t meddle with us unnecessarily.”
“One in a million chance. If His Excellency the Duke were to die, I have a feeling that all rights of life and death would be in the devil’s hands.”
“You’re being pessimistic, Bernier. Even if something happens out of the blue, the next successor is set to be Lady Philia. I heard she’s a sensible and benevolent person. I’m sure she wouldn’t let anything bad happen to us.”
“Seems like the division commander is being optimistic…”
The pessimist deputy commander showed his reluctance, but since there was no other effective countermeasure for this, the division commander’s proposal was eventually passed by everyone.
And so I couldn’t help but lament why it turned out like this.
“My my, so Julio’s the receptionist. Thank you for your hard work.”
“No. Well, besides that, why are you here?”
“I have come here as a proxy of Duke d’la Love. Since I would be the one taking over as next successor, I have come here to inspect the Fifth Division, whom our noble family will support.”
“That’s… It would be an honor.”
I couldn’t help but cower uncomfortably at the entrance of my territory, the Fifth Division barrack.
A huge carriage from the Duke family stopped at the vacant lot designated for parking them, then Lady Philia and her fiance, Lord Luca, descended from the carriage and approached me.
Lady Philia’s face was more formal and indifferent than usual, but her ice-blue eyes were glowing warmly. Honestly, she should be an out-of-reach and untouchable princess, but even so, I didn’t feel that way.
Even more terrifying was Lord Luca, who was escorting Lady Philia. His face was usually expressionless, but his green eyes were glaring daggers at me. If the gazes were corporeal, I would have already been chopped. Each time Lady Philia smiled at me, his haze became harsh, and I felt like it was piercing me more and more.
Lady Philia was wearing a semi-formal dress that didn’t expose too much of her skin, but her innate beauty had become more lustrous, and just a slight peek at her nape gave off bewitching allure. It went without saying that the curves of her body were always troubling.
Normally speaking, if such a beauty visited the barrack, the knights, mostly young men, would be in an uproar, but there was not a single soul in the surrounding. Everything was in deathly silence. It had become common sense that approaching Lady Philia was terrifying recently, let alone Lord Luca.
Even though I wanted to escape if I could, this was the division commander’s order. Besides, I didn’t want to do something like avoid my friend Lady Philia. She was neither arrogant like a typical noble, nor was her character that bad. Still, I was her only friend, so I was sure she would feel lonely if I began avoiding her.
“Are you going to show us around today, Julio?”
“No, the division commander and deputy commander are on their way.”
Before I could finish, I heard footsteps approaching from behind me.
“I apologize for not being there in time to greet you.”
Undaunted by the glittering pair of Lady Philia and Lord Luca, the division commander gave a dashing military bow.
“Lady Philia d’la Love, I’m really grateful for you to come here today so expressly. I’m Emilio de Giraldi, who has been appointed by His Majesty as Division Commander of the Fifth Division, and this is my second-in-command, Bernier.”
“Everyone calls me Emilio. I’m not that accustomed to being called Lord Giraldi since it’s my adopted surname. If you don’t mind, I hope Lady Philia can also call me Emilio.”
“Oh, understood, Lord Emilio.”
I didn’t know why, but I felt like Lady Philia was staring at division commander Emilio. It was as if her ice blue eyes looked somewhat ecstatic… no, it shouldn’t be. Such a frightening thing shouldn’t be possible.
As I shook my head to drive off my ominous thinking, I suddenly recalled something. Lady Philia didn’t usually perceive me as someone of the opposite sex, so she invited me for tea and often talked to me straightforwardly. Among our talks, there were also topics of which type of man she liked.
“I absolutely prefer older men. Astringent older men are so nice. Preferably if they’re tall and reliable, with normal looks but cute lovely faces!”
Good Lord! It was all true.
I felt the blood drain out of my body. This was a crisis that could destroy the Fifth Division, and not only Master Chimenti. I stealthily took a glance at Lord Luca.
Lady Philia’s expression was suspicious, but he might not have noticed it because she was not balant in her action.
But I was naive.
There was no way Lord Luca would not notice Lady Philia’s appearance, which even I spotted.
It was a disaster. As the sign of a terrifying calamity flowed, I smiled slightly and compared Lady Philia and the division commander.
“What’s the matter, Julio?”
“Lady Philia… There’s an important story I want to talk about.”
I drew out Lady Philia and screamed in a low voice.
“W-Why are you being fascinated by division commander?”
“Oh my, you noticed, huh. It’s embarrassing.”
“Please don’t blush…”
You won’t be able to deceive even if you make such a cute face. I was scared just thinking about the later part.
“But you already know, don’t you? Lord Emilio is my ideal man.”
“What an apocalyptic remark! The division commander is married! Are you aware he’s a devoted husband and father of two kids?”
“Oh, what a shame… But a devoted husband is even more fascinating.”
“Don’t you already have one? Although you aren’t married, there’s no doubt your fiance is also a devoted husband. Why are you getting so involved with other people…”
“Isn’t it obvious? What are you saying, Julio?”
After putting me in suspense, Lady Philia looked at me in astonishment.
“The only one I like is Luca. I won’t get entangled with other gentlemen, let alone a married person.”
“Geez… Then please stop your reckless speech and conduct if that’s the case.”
“It’s because Lord Emilio is my dream man, or rather, it’s like getting excited when your favorite type manifests in the real world.”
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s not love at first sight, is it?”
“Not at all. It’s like I was fascinated by a well-made sculpture.”
After all, Lady Philia was just as eccentric, even though there was a sculpture-like, outstanding handsome man next to her. The division commander was indeed a very nice man, but when it came to artistic beauty, I don’t think he was even a match for Lord Luca.
Just as I took a sigh of relief, a sudden chill ran in my spine, and I hurriedly turned to look.
Without me being aware of it, Lord Luca appeared behind me and looked at Lady Philia as if watching right through me. He was laughing, but I was insanely scared.
“Phi… I don’t want even a sculpture to snatch away your gaze.”
“Today’s inspection is suspended. We’ll head back. It’s better to make sure you understand the definition of cheating before marriage.”
“What do you mean by c-cheating…”
Lord Luca held Lady Philia so easily that it made others wonder where that power came from in his slender body. Then he turned to look at both of us, who were stunned.
“I will be here for the next inspection… Be prepared.”
The Fifth Division’s suffering had yet to cease…
“Did you understand, sister?”
Luca said with a serious face as I lay limpid on the bed, exhausted and being robbed of various things.
“It’s cheating to look at any other man except your husband. No matter if it’s a portrait, sculpture, or animal. All of it is considered an act of unfaithfulness.”
“At least exclude inorganic objects…”
“Not possible. Receiving your passionate gaze and being touched by these fingers is only my, your husband’s privilege. I don’t want to share that right with anyone, even if it’s a block of stone.”
It was an absurd and illogical argument.
Maybe he was upset by an earlier matter and wouldn’t say such things once he calmed down… Or so I want to think.
“I can’t help but be annoyed that other men have their hearts set on you. You’re just too beautiful. But I will absolutely never allow you to lean even a bit toward other men.”
Luca’s one part that had been inside me ever since we returned to my room in the Duke’s residence once again began to increase in heat and firmness.
Recently, he was careful about my physical burden and contraception, but for the first time in a long time, he got out of control.
Luca swung his lower body leisurely and caressed my flower bud as if teasing me while a suspicious light shined inside his emerald green eyes.
“Sister, please swear to me before you swear to God. You will continue to love me for a lifetime. You will neither think about other men even a bit nor will you let them enter in your vision.”
I felt like these vows were a lot different from marriage vows, but for now, I nodded as I just wanted to rest.
“I swear, I… you are the only one for me. I will only love you…”
I thought he would be satisfied once I vowed, but he became even wilder.
Our vows of love were thus exchanged without sentiment or sanctity.
After this, I was loved so relentlessly that I couldn’t even pass out, and I was challenged to the limits of my physical strength.
And I made up my mind to absolutely protect my vow because I felt an impending sense of crisis…