6 – 3
Immediately after Camilla left with the envoys, Klaus galloped into the duchy’s capital.
Without even giving Camilla time to prepare, they insisted she leave with them straight away. Arriving at the mansion almost as if he and Camilla had been swapped, amongst the throng of depressed looking servants, Klaus immediately spied Alois in particular.
Even though there were so many people around, the mansion had a strange aura of sullen silence blanketing it. Everyone’s faces looked melancholic. They spoke in hushed tones, their voices tinged with despair. ‘The Montchat family is facing ruin, even the royal family has become their enemies,’ they would say.
Klaus used his imagination to fill in the gaps of what he had missed. He was too late. Camilla wasn’t here anymore, and he’d be willing to bet that Gerda wasn’t in town anymore either.
“Oi, oi, Klaus!? The hell are you doing here…!?”
The first one to finally speak out to him as he stood in the entrance hall was Günter, his former boss. That rugged face of his was full of some barely contained passion, as he looked at Klaus as if he was hallucinating.
Well, that was only natural. Klaus was a member of the Lörrich family, after all. The same Lörrich family that was in open rebellion against Duke Alois, alongside the houses of Meyerheim and Ende.
The eyes of the people who turned to look at Klaus as he entered the hall were not warm. But, more than suspicion, rather they looked bewildered by his sudden appearance.
“Just what did you come here to do- no, wait a sec. You… what in the blazes happened to your face?”
“What? Did I become even more handsome?”
Günter looked astonished as Klaus flashed a fearsome smile, despite the scar running down the left side of his face.
After leaving Günter, who was stunned into silence, Klaus approached Alois.
Alois’ fringe hung low over his eyes, casting a dark shadow across his face. He could barely see those red eyes of his, slowly blinking as he stared at the ground. His hand was over his mouth, and it almost seemed as if he were hyperventilating.
He looked totally depressed. No, rather, that doesn’t even cover the scope of it, does it? Klaus found it hard to imagine just what kind of torment Alois heart must be going through, considering how badly it was torn apart like this every time he tried to take a step forward. He struggled to even find the words to say.
“Alois, this isn’t the time to give up. It isn’t over yet. Camilla is still-”
“…I know that.”
Alois answered, but didn’t raise his head. Klaus was surprised by how calm his voice was.
“She was taken back south for ‘protection’ by royal decree. It sounds reasonable on paper.”
Abusing royal prerogative like that, the Ende family could order whatever they wished. They didn’t even need a pretext like that to take Camilla away if they so pleased. If they didn’t care about indignation or criticism, they could wield the power of the state like a cudgel.
Yet, despite that, they still prepared such a pretext. It was a hard thing for Alois to refuse, and to anyone who heard about it, it would seem like an example of royal benevolence.
Then, why? The answer was that they desired to retain legitimacy. They still felt the need to proceed as though they were in accordance with the ‘law’. To present a supposedly logical case in a seemingly upright way, that was how they would maintain their image.
Therefore, Camilla should still be safe from harm, for now. The decree bearing the seal of the King still remained with Alois. If anything untoward should happen to Camilla before he returns to the capital, that decree could be wielded like a weapon against the royal family.
“Whilst our enemies remain quiet, we still have time. Therefore, I won’t give up.”
Alois spat those words out as he stood up. Despite how calm they seemed, those eyes of his were lit up with a quiet passion as he looked at the members of the household who had gathered in the entry hall.
Klaus felt himself hold his breath. His gaze was transfixed. The words of comfort he was trying to say died on his tongue.
“I’m a fool. I’ve let Gerda escape, been betrayed by my vassals, and even had the most important person in my life taken away from me. I don’t have the strength nor the wisdom to turn such a disaster around. I’m sure that everything that’s happened because of me has put you all through no shortage of stress either.”
Contrary to how defeatist his words seemed, Alois’ voice resounded strongly. Puffing out his chest, he stood tall, letting his eyes affirm his feelings.
“We’re still in a bad situation. But, even so, I will never give in. As long as she waits for me… so long as she still believes in me.”
When the rebellion broke out, a number of people had fled from the mansion. Many of them were people related to the Meyerheim and Ende families. Alois, although kind, also seemed to be a naïve sort of Lord. Was he truly a man that could be relied upon to rise to the occasion when a crisis loomed?
Some of those in front of him must have held those doubts as well, as Alois looked at each and every one of them.
“I want you all to lend me your power. For the sake of me becoming the true Lord of Mohnton.”
His face looked both undaunted by the situation and sincere in his words. That white hair, the pride of his lineage, swayed gently in the cool night air. He looked like a man who believed he could achieve anything, no matter how little power he truly possessed. A brave and honest fool, laying his soul bare.
Those eyes of his twinkled like the sun, even in the dim light.
Alois didn’t need anyone to comfort him. Instead, it was the people who found comfort in him, as they were captivated.
Standing behind Alois, Klaus frowned.
Klaus was undeniably someone who could think circles around Alois. He was the type that could master almost any skill he set his mind to. What’s more, he had always possessed much more charisma than he ever had.
But, no matter what, Klaus somehow knew for sure that he would never surpass Alois again after this night. He wished to do everything he could for that man. He also realized that in making that wish come true, Klaus had been defeated.
“Honestly… don’t be surprised if I come to hate you again.”
As Klaus said that with a self-derisive laugh, Alois turned around. There was something about the way he looked confused at Klaus’ laugh that only made him angrier.
“Give me a look at the map. Just what is the situation? How many soldiers have deserted? You’re a pacifist, so you probably don’t know a polearm from a gambeson.”
Alois blinked in surprise. Then, trying to maintain his composure, he spoke.
“The House of Lörrich are helping to lead the rebellion. Are you really okay with fighting against Rudolph?”
“Yeah. In fact, I’ve already gone ahead and robbed him of the Lörrich family. It’s all mine now.”
With a ‘hmph’, Klaus snorted derisively. Besides, it wasn’t as if the Lörrich family could have ever truly fought against Alois. It relied on Blume as its power base, after all.
“There’s no way the people of Blume could turn a blade against you. You helped set up that whole stupid festival for them, and now you’re supposed to kill each other? Don’t make me laugh!”
The people of Blume had sung and laughed with Alois and Camilla, dancing arm in arm. With those memories still fresh in their minds, it was impossible to think they could suddenly become enemies.
Klaus felt the same way. His own insecurities. His relationship with his conflicted brother. The only reason he could solve those two dark clouds hanging over his life was because of Alois and Camilla.
He knew just how dire a situation they found themselves in. But, if this guy managed to save him from his own foolishness, it only felt right that he return the favour.
“I’ve got your back! I, Klaus Lörrich, in the name of both the House of Lörrich and the town of Blume, swear myself to you, Alois!”
Alois’ words trailed off, suddenly swallowed up by another loud shout.
“Me too! I’ll always be on yer side, young master!”
It was Günter. Yelling that out even louder than Klaus did, he rushed over to Alois.
“Even though we Brandts have always lived like criminals, you dragged us back out into the light. Young mas… no, Lord Alois. I can’t swear any kind of noble house to ya like that guy can, but I can at least guarantee you these arms of mine.”
Looking at Alois, Günter slapped those skilled arms of his that had produced so many delicacies with a grin. Ever since Alois had first become a lord, Günter had always been his ally. No matter how bad things got, that had never changed.
“I know who you are, and what you’ve been through. We all believe in you, Lord Alois. If I open up a new restaurant, I don’t want it to be in a boring land where you can’t even hum a tune without someone lookin’ at ya funny! So, my strength is all yours, Lord Alois!”
Following Günter’s words, all the chefs raised up their voices in support. It wasn’t just for Alois’ sake. They already considered Camilla an irreplaceable part of their kitchen.
“Lord Alois… Me too, I won’t run away.”
He heard a voice from beyond the throng of people surrounding him. As he looked, Alois saw Nicole standing on the steps leading up to the first floor, staring down at him. Nicole’s face was pale, but as she clenched her fist, she spoke as loudly as she could through her trembling voice.
“I’m the Mistress’ personal maid. So, we have to bring her back, no matter what…!”
One after another, people spoke out around him.
Not everyone fully believed in Alois. But, they still trusted Alois as their Lord, and even that small trust could one day blossom into belief.
So, there was no way Alois could back down.
After all, it was a Lord’s duty to repay the trust of his people.
Good news, Yasesasetai will be getting a second LN volume next month! I’ll likely be finished with the web novel by then, but I’ll make a post with the illustrations once I get my hands on them. (Source)