Editor: Misaki Yata
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Chapter Four: Gloomy Prospects (06)
By the time he had changed his clothes and tended to his wounds, the townspeople, having heard the ruckus, had already come over.
Gardener Ed, currently on a holiday, arrived with the concerned crowd and was stunned by the miserable state the garden was in.
“Sorry, Ed. After all the time you spent tending to it…”
Vio stood beside Ed as he apologized with downcast eyes. It wasn’t Vio’s fault, but he knew exactly how hard Ed had worked to build the garden to what it was, and felt distressed for what Ed must be feeling.
Just as Vio was about to inquire about Ed’s grievances, Ed drew near to him, his face pale.
“Are you alright, Young Master?!”
“Oh, this, you see…. I was attacked by a knight on a Kiryuu, but Legion chased him away.”
“I see! Aah, thank goodness. —Well, a garden or two can be rebuilt in no time!”
Ed replied with a gentle laugh, but then immediately observed with concern.
“But Young Master, is it alright for you to be outside?”
“Ah… I’m receiving shock-therapy or some such thing for it, so not to worry, I won’t have a seizure.”
Vio took a deep breath.
“And moreover, being outside is nice, and the fresh air is quite pleasing.”
Ed stopped when Vio grinned. After all, Ed had been silently crying to himself when Vio had questioned how angry he was.
“I’m glad. The garden being ruined might have been a sign that it is of no use to anyone any longer. All the work I’ve put into the garden was with the sole purpose of comforting the Young Master who could not go outside.”
Vio broke into a smile, delighted at the admission of Ed’s gratification.
“Thank you, Ed. But if it’s quite alright with you, I would wish for you to rebuild the garden. The garden that you’ve put your hard work into is certainly the most beautiful.”
“Yes! Of course! It would be a joy, Young Master.”
Whilst Vio laughed with Ed, the townspeople at the entrance of the manor raised their voices.
“Going in alone, Ed?! You shifty rascal!!”
“My god, what’s with this garden! Looks awful. Is it true that a dragon attacked, Lord Violant?”
“Are you alright?”
Legion gave the impatiently bustling people a sharp glare.
“Hey, you’re too close! Behave yourselves!”
“It’s alright, Legi. Thank you for your concern. I apologize for the disturbances occurring every day, everything is alright now.”
At Vio’s assertion, one of the townsfolk raised their hand with a wry smile.
“Yes, yes! I’ll help with the cleaning up!”
“Ah, that’s unfair. I’ll also help!”
“Oi, everyone, bring along some tools. Shovels and hoes are necessary.”
“Carry the flowers that seem salvageable to the side.”
And in no time, the garden was flooded with the town’s residents. Under Ed’s guidance, they started to mend the ruined garden.
While watching them with a blank stare, Vio noticed the laughter bubbling among the townspeople.
“Around these parts, there’s usually heavy snowfall. So when something happens, it’s normal for everyone to work together.”
“Yes, yes. That’s why the mayor should stop worrying and get some rest. Your face seems pale. We’ll take care of the rest.”
After having heard this, Legion started guiding Vio to the mansion.
“That’s true, Lord Violant. Please go inside. I too will go help.”
“I see, you are pampering me with your words. Thank you, everyone. I’ll count on you then.“
When Vio said so to the people around, they cheerfully replied in chorus.
As he entered the drawing room, Karia, sitting next to Flora and sipping tea, hurriedly stood up.
“Ah, it’s alright, sit down. Lil, may I also have some tea please?”
Seeing Lil’s figure leave the room with a sideways glance, Vio took a seat on the chair in front of Flora. Inspecting the bandage wrapped around Karia’s head, Vio inquired, “Miss Karia, how is your injury?”
“We’ve consulted the town’s doctor, but there doesn’t seem to be anything serious .”
“That’s good news then.”
While their exchange took place, Lil had already returned to serve the tea.
After drinking a cup, Vio finally felt relieved.
“Hah, that really was unpleasant. But I didn’t think that it would be Erik.”
“I did not notice until we met again today, but the man that called out while we were in the town was also him.”
Flora replied, her voice gloomy.
“Even after giving you such a severe injury, brother is still a target…”
“That’s unlikely, Flora. It’s more credible to say that he’s jealous of the Lesserhain family.”
“So this time, his plan was to aim for Flora in quick succession?”
Vio nods to Karia’s question.
“He must have noticed that it would be a bigger blow to Father if he aimed for Flora instead of me. Even if I were to die, my Father and Brother wouldn’t mind, but such is not the case with Flora. You are the apple of their eye, and they adore you.”
“That’s not the case Brother! Father and Brother Rupheus do care about you!”
Vio smiled back gently.
“Thank you, Flora…”
Flora too would eventually discover the truth concerning Vio. With her best interests in mind, he avoided divulging the details. It being best to leave the grief until it was the proper time.
Flora leaned forward, inquiring.
“Now that you can once again go outside, you will be returning to Nada, right Brother?”
To Flora, whose eyes shone with expectation, Vio flashed a wry smile.
“No, I don’t intend to go back.”
“But why? Mother would be delighted to see you.”
“I like it here, so I wish to live here. But Flora, I know that you’ve just arrived, but you will leave here and return to Nada in three days. It is much safer there at the Lord’s house… Actually, it might be better to evacuate with Mother to Grandfather’s place.”
Mother Viola was the daughter of the former King, who has already moved out of the castle after having stepped down from the throne. The former King and Queen now lived in a fortified palace in the outskirts of the Royal Capital. Were she to ask for his help, Grandfather was sure to give it.
Flora’s face made a perplexed exression.
“—Is it due to the previous matter?”
Vio nodded to Karia’s question.
“Miss Karia’s story holds an element of truth, so the quicker it is dealt with, the better. If prolonged, it might become impossible for Flora to return. Therefore, I’m counting on you, Miss Karia. If the time comes, retreat to Grandfather.”
“Wait, what are you two talking about?”
Flora looked as though she was on the verge of tears. Even while failing to understand what was being said, the direness of the situation was comprehended.
Vio said to Flora.
“Flora, everyone has a role. Mine is to protect Leca and Amade. And yours is to protect Mother.”
“Yes, to protect Mother, and yourself. You need not concern yourself with Father and Brother.”
As she listened to Vio, Flora failed to understand, yet nevertheless, nodded in response.
Well anyhow, regarding Father and Brother, they would most likely say that it is a disgrace for a warrior to be protected by women and children, so it’s useless no matter what I say.
While laughing self deprecatingly to himself, Vio looked at Flora intently.
I am glad that I was able to meet Flora. This may be the last time…
He didn’t know how history would unfold, but if this country were to go to war with Ruslan, they were sure to lose. The people of Lesserhain, the cornerstone of the defence, were exhausted by the oppression of both Father and Brother. Things cannot go on as before.
As Erik said, it is sure to happen in the near future.
It is best to proceed with the preparation now, before it is too late.
By evening, the flowerbeds demolished by the Kiryuu had been tidied up, the uneven craters filled and levelled with soil.
Vio, while seeing to the townspeople returning home, having finished helping with the ruined garden, threw the devastated backdrop a pensive look.
Legion unwittingly gazed at the fair hair that looked like silver threads in the wind.
“Does Erik Kahland bother you?”
Vio shifted gaze to him, violet eyes blinking in surprise. Legion quietly revelled in satisfaction as Vio faced him.
“Does it bother you?”
As Vio returned his words, Legion denied.
“No, not particularly.”
“That’s a lie. It’s not me who is bothered, but you.”
Feeling uncomfortable by Vio’s silent knowing, Legion shifted his gaze.
“Wasn’t it an uncomfortable question?”
“Of course it was uncomfortable. Understanding that much is easy.”
Vio gave a light chuckle, murmuring.
“I, you see, can’t come to hate him, no matter what…”
He knew who it was even without any mention. It’s about Erik.
His annoyance seemed apparent on his face, for Vio chucked in amusement.
“It seems like you dislike it.”
“Of course! I was called a junior, and that too by a traitor! To be treated the same by that irritating scoundrel!”
Just thinking about it left him seething.
“After thinking about where he was, and what he was doing all this time… He seems to be in good health more or less. He intended to go scouting, but couldn’t control himself upon catching sight of Flora. Erik’s short temper is still the same as ever. The fact that he’s still holding on to the infraction of stabbing me… It would be for the best if didn’t tether himself to it and moved on instead.
Vio, who uttered as such, looked unwittingly forlorn.
However, seeing Legion at a loss on what to say, Vio swiftly changed the topic.
“Legi, I have asked Flora to return to Nada. From now on, I expect things to get much more hectic, so I’m counting on your assistance.”
Vio nodded, and as if to turn down further questions, left for the mansion with hurried steps. Feeling ashamed, Legi saw him off.
Vio only had to say the word, and Legion would happily devote himself to chasing Erik, no matter if it was to the next country over, or to the ends of the earth.
If Erik still intends to target Vio, unlike this one, their next meeting will end with him six feet under!
He muttered a dark resolution in his heart.
Vio, cast out and expelled by his family, has, at last, found peace in these lands. If there was anyone who wished to destroy this, no matter which adversary, he would, without doubt, eliminate them and protect Vio.
Legion stared beyond the Alpè Mountains and turned back.
Not the obsolete method used to treat mental illnesses, this means abrupt or drastic measures.