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Chapter 160 – Dear Tenma, Men Are Creatures That Are a Little Insensitive, Aren’t They? IV
“Even after you were made a fool of that much, you still want to obey her?”
The one who spoke with a rough tone was Evert.
After Sophie left the black star behind, the first words that Gerald said to them were to continue to escort her and not disobey her. Evert had spoken his disagreement.
“She already declared us as unnecessary and cut us off. There’s no longer any need to obey her, isn’t there?”
To be honest, for Evert, the purple star girl, Sophie Linier, was neither an object of interest nor an object of exclusion.
The first prince sure gave a peculiar command, such was his faint impression about her. Until today.
No matter how much Evert behaved unlike a black star, he still had pride for being one. Having such pride being trampled upon by someone younger than him, and it was a daughter of a baron family to boot, made him unable to stay calm.
Evert’s argument seemed to be something that other black stars agreed with, and they didn’t hide their bitter attitudes. Even though Gerald felt that, he squinted and instead asked back,
“Do you think black stars have other options than obeying?”
They didn’t have the right to refuse from the beginning.
Even Evert’s rebuttal would be considered a great crime if it was directed at the purple star.
“Originally, it wouldn’t be weird if they were regarded as rebellious acts. Isn’t it great that the matter was dropped by the other party?”
“There’s no way we could be convinced by that… We also have our pride.”
“If it is a matter of pride, then, should the situation continue, I can only see it getting worse without room for improvement.”
Gerald’s emotionless voice was the same, regardless of the situation.
It didn’t change whether he spoke to the purple star girl or to a friend who studied in the same generation.
“She should be able to accomplish her task with great success. If, at that time, the black star didn’t help her, what would happen?”
Originally, Gerald wasn’t the type to speak of an unseen future.
There was nothing absolute in this world.
He didn’t have a thought process filled with wishful thinking.
Even so, Gerald said she would achieve great success.
That was neither an attempt at persuasion nor a threat toward Evert and the others.
When he listened to the cold words of the purple star girl, Gerald noticed something obvious after all this time.
In order to make the black star follow his lead, Gerald put on a performance by kneeling and bowing his head.
And when he couldn’t see the girl in front of him with his sight but could only listen to her words, he finally realized.
Sophie Linier would surely achieve great success on the task that would appear to be extremely difficult to anyone else. It was due to that confidence and ability that she came to this place (The King’s Sword)――
That was obvious. There was nothing to wonder about. The girl in front of him wasn’t a fool who would make a reckless bet without any chance or calculation just to earn a purple star. She wasn’t a naïve person who thought that things would work out anyway with the help of someone else.
She was a fourteen-year-old girl, a daughter of a baron family, who had a neat appearance.
In the male society, it was understandable to get rid of things that were foreign to them.
If she were a man, older than they were, and had a decent family pedigree―just like Lorenzo Forsell—then Gerald was sure it wouldn’t have taken him this long to notice such an obvious thing.
In the end, Gerald also looked down on Sophie Linier as merely the “lover of His Highness Ferio.”
As if to swallow his own unsightly behavior, Gerald continued his words.
“When all other stars helped her and only the black star didn’t, then that would mean we turned our back on the next king. The people with greater and lesser statuses than the black stars would consider that as a stain on the black star. Do you have the resolve to live with that?”
“It is true that I looked down on Sophie-sama as a mere daughter of a baron family. I underestimated her, and that was stupid of me――”
“――So, why are you here again?”
The next morning, Sophie took an imposing stance as she stood on the outside stairs and looked down at the man below her and spoke with displeasure.
Her voice abandoned the ladylike attitude of Sophie Linier and exuded her irritation.
She felt she was gradually getting used to looking down at this man(Gerald), but she didn’t want to get used to it.
“Is it strange for an escort to pick you up?”
Gerald answered with a voice without intonation.
“You came after what happened yesterday?! Did you forget what I said yesterday?!”
“I wasn’t told that I was dismissed as an escort.”
“Isn’t it normal to not come after being told that much?!”
“Escorts have no right to choose whether to come or not.”
An obvious thing she said was responded calmly with another obvious thing from Gerald, which stupefied Sophie.
Eh? I could actually dismiss him?
However, Sophie couldn’t afford to be imprudent to request his dismissal just because of this. Gerald seemed to understand that Sophie wouldn’t go so far as to request his dismissal.
As Gerald tried to serve as her escort as if nothing happened, Sophie raised her right hand as if to stop him.
“Wait a minute! Is that the consensus of the black star? Is it the result of a proper discussion?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m talking about the fact you are here!”
“Is it strange for an escort to pick you up?”
The conversation returned to the beginning.
Is that on purpose?! Did he do that on purpose?!
Was it payback for yesterday? No, in the first place, Gerald didn’t seem to care about Sophie’s opinion even once.
“~~! I’m asking if that uselessly glittery man actually consented to you coming here!”
“Uselessly glittery man… do you mean Evert? Why is his consent necessary?”
“Isn’t he your best friend?! In that case, you ought to talk to each other more to find the best direction!”
When Sophie said the word with momentum, Gerald repeated the word “best friend” as if to ponder the meaning of the word.
His facial muscles that hardly move actually did their job this time, as the wrinkle between his eyebrows was so deep that it seemed to connect his two eyebrows. For some reason, it looked subtle.
Looking at Gerald’s eyes, which seemed to be mixed between suspicion and bafflement, Sophie guessed their relationship hadn’t reached that far (best friend) yet, so she dropped her tone a bit.
“W-well, even if it’s not to the point of being a best friend, you’re still friends, right?”
“If you meant we often act together, that would be right.”
“…Wait a minute. Why did you explain the meaning? When you’re asked if both of you are friends, affirmation would be enough. Does that mean if you don’t often act together, you won’t consider him a friend?!”
From Gerald’s perspective, it wasn’t like he had a deeper meaning when he said it, but it got pursued for some reason. Apparently, Sophie didn’t like his answer.
“If I received such a treatment from my best friend, I’d make sure to say my complaints to that person!”
“…Is it normal to strongly desire empathy and connections because you’re a woman?”
“I mean the relationships between fellow men!”
Gerald didn’t understand why Sophie spoke of a man’s perspective despite being a woman.
In the first place, was that even that big of a deal?
Gerald felt they gradually went off the topic, but Sophie was heated up about it instead.
“Besides, why are you one-sidedly deciding that I desire connections because I am a woman!? You’re clearly disregarding the existence that decided to walk together on the same path as you!”
Listen, people called friends are, said Sophie, as she began to speak passionately about “friends” for some reason.
Gerald had met the girl in front of him quite a while ago, but they hadn’t had a decent conversation until now, but it seemed she was more talkative than he expected. Gerald couldn’t help but feel exasperated by how her words kept coming one after another and it lasted for a long time.
Due to the amount of heat and protests she spouted, Gerald couldn’t help but want to take a step back.
“If a crack appeared from a trivial manner, unless one side or both sides try to mend the crack, there’s a possibility the friendship cultivated until now would end! Being weirdly obstinate and destroying the relationships that had been built over long years is an action that denies the life you led until now!”
――I don’t understand what she means.
Personally, Gerald was prepared to receive bursts of sarcasm with the tone she said yesterday.
However, this wasn’t what he expected.
What time is it again?
Gerald thought he would receive words that would pierce his core, but it unexpectedly turned into words that would mistake her to be childish.
Gerald found it so incomprehensible that he ended up missing most of the girl’s fervent speech, but he thought it would be bad if he didn’t listen to the words of the purple star, so he tried to listen.
However, the topic reached its end. The girl, who spoke with the momentum of a lightning strike, asked, “Well then, you should be able to understand it now, right?!” to end it. Rather than asking, it was practically her forcing him.
There was no way Gerald could admit he actually missed most of the things she said, so Gerald thought using the partially obtained information and answered.
“I understand. I will withdraw my statement.”
“Of course you will!”
Sophie nodded in satisfaction, thinking Gerald finally understood, he then continued,
“He is a fellow student from the same generation.”
“W-why did it go away from the concept of friend?!!”
Sophie never thought the friend would be degraded to a fellow student, which made her eyes go wide.
“By summarizing Sophie-sama’s opinion, I came to the conclusion that Evert didn’t fit the framework of a friend.”
“Why?! How did you end up drawing such a conclusion?!”
“I didn’t feel the feelings of what Sophie-sama said one would have toward a friend toward him at all.”
“N-not even a bit?”
In the first place, from the time Gerald was born until now, he had never fostered, respected, or relied on friendship. Things called friends were merely people who he talked to more often than strangers. That was Gerald’s recognition.
The feeling that Sophie talked passionately about was something that Gerald didn’t feel not only toward Evert, but also toward anyone at all.
If the feeling that Sophie spoke of was that of a friendship, that would mean Gerald didn’t have any friends even now, but he didn’t mind. It wasn’t like it was something he particularly needed in his life anyway.
When Gerald conveyed that with his short words, the girl in front of him stiffened with her mouth hung open.
“B-but, you spent several years together as fellow classmates, right? I’ve heard you don’t have anyone else that acted together with you!”
“Is acting together something that special?”
Knights often acted together in organizations or groups. The purpose was to avoid attacks from the enemy and to monitor whether there were spies from the enemy nation among the group. There were various reasons, but they basically gathered when there was a need, and it had no greater meaning.
“I knew that Evert also acted beside me because our interests aligned, not because of the feeling that Sophie-sama spoke of, though?”
When Gerald casually said that, Sophie slowly turned her face down. Her momentum from earlier disappeared, and she didn’t even twitch, like a toy that ran out of battery. Even her back, which always stretched straight, was also bent forward a little.
Gerald realized Sophie’s fingers trembled and thought Sophie might be sick, so he was about to reach out toward her. But faster than that, he heard a small muttering,
――I take back my words!! This man isn’t similar to Tasuku at all! I wasn’t this terrible back then!
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