“…I see, so the culprit really was Cardinal Clavell?”
Chastel murmured somewhat sadly within a guest room in Zagan’s castle.
Other than her, Zagan and Nephie, along with Fol, were gathered in the room. Zagan had just told Chastel of Clavell’s death, and that the one to try to assassinate her was none other than him.
“He was someone that had no doubts as to the ‘rightness’ of the church.”
So he had been able to decide that not only were mages evil, but that Chastel, who supported one, was also an enemy.
Nephie questioned her hesitantly.
“Chastel-san, did you know?”
“I had a faint idea… I didn’t want to believe it, but he was always the one unconcernedly brewing tea.”
That was probably why Chastel had drunk the tea without thinking about it.
“Pathetic. There’s no one decent amongst those proclaiming justice.”
“You said that before.” That was the first time they had fought. Understandably saddened, Chastel slumped. “But even so, is it so wrong for a person to believe what they’re doing is right.”
“It’s their prerogative to believe so. But the instant they doubt themselves, they will hesitate. By that logic, the one to try and kill you was correct, because he didn’t hesitate to do so.”
That was what justice was. To have no hesitation, because you were right. If it was done too blindly, it became fanaticism, and a great strength. That was the basis of the church’s power.
“You’re always so harsh.”
She had a pained smile, but it wasn’t the expression of someone stricken by grief. Chastel took a sip of the tea next to her and stood.
“I’ll return to the church. I think it’s going in the wrong direction at the moment. I’m not conceited enough to say I will correct it, but I’d like to change it at least a little.”
Chastel gave another pained smile at his short answer.
“You can’t say anything other than that, even at a time like this.”
At that, he felt like he might have done something he shouldn’t have. He was still unfeeling, but he worried a little being told that.
So, Zagan pointed at her cup.
“Actually, that tea is poisoned.”
She seemed like she was about to drop the cup as she yelled in panic.
She starts shaking right after being told.
After watching her panic for a while, Zagan spoke disinterestedly to her.
“…It’s a joke, you should really doubt what people tell you.”
Well, she would have probably realised even if he had said nothing. She picked up the cup and glared at him.
“…That was in poor taste, don’t you think?”
“Of course, Nephie brewed it, right? And yet you made me spill it.”
Zagan tilted his head at the criticism.
“Nephie didn’t brew that tea though?”
“Eh? Wait, eh…? Then who did?”
He answered evasively, but of course, Zagan didn’t know how to brew tea. Chastel finally looked towards the only person left, Fol. Well, Nephie might have taught her, but she didn’t think that Fol would brew it for her.
Chastel herself knew that.
Ceremoniously, she knelt in front of the young girl.
“We never did get to talk properly in the end.” She said, and reached out her hand to stroke Fol’s head, but Fol immediately hid herself behind Zagan. “Haha ha… Well, looks like it’ll be hard to get along.”
With nothing else she could do, she smiled and stood up.
“…Come again… Chastel.”
Fol spoke quietly, but clearly.
Tears welled in Chastel’s eyes.
“Uuu… finally… finally, you used my name!”
“You’re still crying?”
Fol let out an astonished sigh.
Chastel finally stopped crying and went to leave.
“It wasn’t a long time, but thank you for your care. I don’t know about being responsible for the symbiotic faction or anything, but I’ll do my utmost to make this a world you can live at least a little more easily in.”
Then, a hoarse voice interjected.
“I see. You’ve resolved yourself.”
“I think it’s beyond me, but I’ll try.”
“If anything troubles you, tell me. What I can do with one arm is limited, but I will help you.”
The owner of the voice was a man that had appeared soundlessly, carrying a tea set in his single arm.
“I thank you, Lord… Raphael…?”
Chastel suddenly raised her face as she spoke.
He was standing there, so tall she had to crane her neck.
“Should you be up? Raphael.”
Indeed, it was Raphael. As thanks for treating his wounds, he had prepared the tea that morning.
“Indeed, I have Orobas’ protection. With that Elf’s sorcery, this kind of wound is not enough to take me.”
That said, he hadn’t been able to regain his arm. His strength as a holy knight had been greatly reduced.
Zagan glanced back at him.
“Can you still wield a holy sword like that.”
“It is not so much that I can’t fight. Besides, I am old, the holy sword should choose its next wielder soon.”
“I see. Then I’ll have you use it as much as you can.”
“Fha, it’ll cost a lot to have me use it.”
That was probably Raphael’s way of telling Zagan to pay him. It was a somewhat hard-to-understand way of putting it, but Zagan might seem the same. At that thought, he slumped slightly.
“Wait, what are you pair chatting away so peacefully for!?”
“Quit your yelling. Is there a problem with that?”
“Of course there is! I was sure that Lord Raphael had died…”
When they had last parted, Zagan had thought so too. But he had honestly come to Zagan’s castle to offer his head to Fol. Chastel had passed out from exhaustion, so he hadn’t greeted her.
Zagan pointed at Raphael.
“In the first place, he was the one that told me that Clavell was dealt with.”
Otherwise, rumours of the Cardinal’s death wouldn’t have reached the castle, and the church would have made plans to suppress the information.
Helplessly, Chastel fell to the floor.
“But, if you’re alive. I’m a little relieved.”
“You’re naive, act like that and you should have no complaints about being stabbed in the back, right?”
His tone was as if he might cut her down there and then, and Chastel’s expression stiffened.
“Ah… he means that it’s dangerous to think like that when you might be betrayed at any time.”
Zagan calmly explained, and Raphael nodded deeply.
“Of course, my King, your discernment is laudable.”
“No, I more or less got it too… Wait, ‘my King’?”
Raphael nodded plainly at her shock.
“I didn’t say, did I? I have been employed as Lord Zagan’s butler. I am retiring as a holy knight from this day forward.”
Zagan covered his ears from Chastel’s yell and remembered Raphael and Fol’s conversation.
“As promised, I have come to deliver my head.”
Zagan had sensed Raphael’s exhausted form at the door with his bounded fields, and other than Chastel, they rushed to meet him, and that was the first thing out of his mouth.
He had not directly killed Orobas, but he could be called a foe. So it was Fol that would decide how to deal with him.
After worrying for a full minute, this is what Fol answered with:
“Then devote yourself to Zagan and Nephie, and that will be for me.”
And thus, Raphael had come to work at the castle as well.
This should advance my research into the Demon Lord’s Seal.
He had gained books on holy swords from Marchosias’ legacy, but having the real thing was something completely different. If he could decipher the crest engraved into the holy swords, he should be able to figure out the true form of the Demon Lord’s Seal as well.
And even if not, there would never be enough people to help with maintaining the castle and managing the Demon Lord’s Palace. If they were trustworthy, he would have no complaints with a mage or a holy knight.
Besides, I can’t just think of him as some other person.
Zagan himself may have ended up like Raphael if he hadn’t met Nephie.
Fol looked steadily up at Raphael.
“What is it?”
“Is it… hard, having one arm?”
“Hmph, it’s nothing you need to concern yourself with.”
“…Wait a minute.”
Leaving those words behind, Fol left Chastel’s room. Chastel felt she had lost her chance to leave, and entwined her fingers around each other.
Before long, Fol returned.
In her arms was a huge left arm of armour, the papier mache one she had used as the Apparition when she came to the castle.
Raphael knelt, and Fol put it on his left shoulder. She then muttered something and the empty armour shone faintly.
“It should move.”
Raphael let out a sound of admiration. This was the magic Fol had used to control her armour as Valefar, she had used it to let Raphael control it.
“To think that after Orobas, I would also be indebted to his daughter. I offer my life to thee.”
She turned her face away, but her cheeks were dyed red.
Chastel then spoke awkwardly.
“Ummm… So I’m the only one leaving?”
“Well, it looks that way.”
She had chosen to herself, but Chastel began to cry again.
Reluctantly, Zagan opened his mouth.
“You can come whenever you like, alright? Nephie and Fol will be happy.”
“…I will be?”
“You will, right?”
Fol looked like she would say otherwise, but didn’t deny it.
Chastel looked up at Zagan.
“And you, Zagan…?”
Zagan hadn’t expected her to say so, and his eyes widened. Then, he spoke helplessly as he scratched his head.
“…Well, we can have a drink together, sometimes.”
Chastel’s face cleared.
“Right! I’ll do my best!”
So saying, this time, the Maiden of the Holy Sword did indeed leave.
“Honestly, she’s so noisy…” He spoke as he stood next to Nephie. For some reason, she faced away from him, and her cheeks were slightly puffed up, and he felt she looked displeased. “Nephie?”
“What is it?”
“…Why are you angry?”
Nephie tilted her head as if she didn’t understand.
“Do I seem to be?”
“It’s because you do that I asked…”
At that, Nephie tightly hugged on to his arm.
“Then take a guess.”
Two soft mounds pressed into him, and he could feel her heart racing through them. Her pointed ears were slightly red at the tips, and he could tell she was shaking slightly.
She’s angry, but what is she expecting?
He worried over the difficult demand, and then put his hand on her cheek.
“I’m sorry for leaving you yesterday.”
Nephie’s eyes widened in shock, and she buried her face in his arm.
“…Zagan-sama, you’re not fair.”
Was Zagan’s answer right in the end?
Regardless, Nephie seemed to have regained her cheer.
“…Raphael, I can’t see.”
“It’s too soon for you, Fol.”
And thus, the new residents of the castle watched their conversation.