As per last chapter, I’m posting quite late due to trying to catch up on work and life.
Though it’s Ainushi’s anniversary!!! *pops confetti* We’ll be releasing quite a number of chapters for this whole week before we go back hibernating for a bit. :9
For now, enjoy! (Also, if you like what we do, chuck a $1 or $2 our way! The money goes down to the site and raws so none are pocketed).
P.S. Still hiring for TLC, Translators and a PR guy! Email me for details!
Chapter 5: I was Summoned
TL : Cnine
ED : Januva, Krrizis
PF : Momielxai, Puissansa
Kamui and his friends’ attempt at gathering information by using Lutz as bait almost ended in failure.
Lutz’s swordsmanship was exceptional, but it can’t be helped that he was not skilled enough to gather the information that was passed along by the two forces. He instantly shrunk back from the overzealous invitations, bluntly rejecting them as long as they weren’t deemed acceptable by Kamui.
During this period of two weeks, the information gathered by Lutz was practically equal to zero. Moreover, since it was Lutz reporting, he would immediately go straight to Kamui’s place to talk.
(I want to speak to you)
Messengers from both Diefried of the Earl of the West’s house and Hildegard from the Earl of the East’s house approached him, announcing this. Moreover, it was on the same day, as if they had arranged it as such. Though he thought of refusing, he knew it wouldn’t do to lose this opportunity to speak to them, thus Kamui headed towards the appointed location.
The room he headed to was a clubroom used for extracurricular activities in the Academy, christened by someone as the Star Lily room. It was the salon in which the Hilda faction gathered.
「How the hell did they find the time to prepare all this?」
Kamui was disgusted when he arrived at the door of the room. There were numerous small flags bearing the house crest of the Earl of the East – the lily flower – lined up on the floor, decorating the front of the room. He thought of it as nothing but a display of their strength.
Though Kamui honestly wanted to turn back when he saw that, he knew that even if he escaped today, he would just be summoned again. So, he resolved himself and knocked on the door.
A male voice came from inside the room. He smiled wryly in response to that formal interaction.
「Pardon my intrusion」
As he opened the door, what met his eyes was a huge desk in the middle of the room which was surrounded by students. Hildegard could be seen in the innermost part of the room, at the head of the table.
「Please take a seat」
Kamui sat on the seat that she indicated to, which was closest to the entrance, at the foot of the table and quite a distance from Hildegard.
「You are Kamui Kreutz-dono, I assume?」
「You are Kamui Kreutz-dono, right?」
「Can I answer personally?」
「It’s nothing, I’m just wondering if I have to answer without a mediator」
「Such worry is unnecessary. We’re students after all」
「Ha~h, understood. I’m Kamui. Nice to meet you」
No one showed any reaction except for the wry smile of the student who sat on Hildegard’s left. It seemed that Kamui’s sarcasm did not get through to the other students.
「Nice to meet you. I am Hildegard Eizenberg」
Looking straight at Kamui with her blue pupils, Hildegard introduced herself with a sweet smile. It was a superb smile that could charm anyone.
Naturally, Kamui was not swayed by that smile. He replied with a ‘what-do-you-want’ attitude.
「I see … I’m glad then」
Hildegard showed a somewhat disappointed look, proving that she had been expecting a smile in response.
「So, what’s the matter you wanted to talk about?」
「I invited you because I’ve been wanting to speak with you for a bit」
「Yes. What would that be with regards to?」
Kamui wanted to finish the conversation as soon as possible and leave, but his intention to dive straight to the main topic at hand did not reach Hildegard.
「Is your wound alright?」
She was beating about the bush. Going directly to the main topic was unbecoming of a noble – that was how Hildegard was educated.
「Yes. It has already healed」
「I heard about it. It was a subordinate from your household, wasn’t it?」
「Nope, you’re wrong」
「Ehh? I received a report that it was the scheme from the Hohenfried?」
So saying, Hildegard directed her gaze to the student on her left.
「Hildegard-sama. He’s saying that his house isn’t the Hohenfried’s, it’s Viscount Kreutz’s」
「Ah, is that the case. I see, that was my mistake. My apologies」
「It’s fine, don’t mind it」
At least she had the ability to apologize frankly for her own faults. Kamui’s evaluation of Hildegard rose slightly.
「That was a disaster. It’s good to hear that the culprit is now reaping what he sowed. How could they resent you when it’s a result of their own actions」
Since that event happened in the Imperial Academy that was estabilished by the founder, the investigation was carried out quickly and thoroughly. The criminal was immediately caught and at the end of the harsh interrogation, he confessed that he received money from the Hohenfried’s.
Their motive was truly absurd. Many of the other houses announced that they had severed ties with the Hohenfried house following the disinheritance of Kamui. The reputation of Sofia, Kamui’s mother, had not faded away even after her death.
Being aware of it, the Hohenfried house hurriedly thought of calling Kamui back to them but by then, Kamui had long since been adopted by the Kreutz’s household. Since things had turned out like this, it was hopeless for the Hohenfried house.
After the other nobles had announced their estrangement, none of the merchants were willing to have any kind of transaction with them. Due to their debauchery, they were forced to repay their accumulating debts and their assets were stripped from them one after the other. Just as the Hohenfried household lost their standing and were pushed to the brink of bankruptcy, they heard news of Kamui’s return to the Academy.
They resented Kamui for heading back to school in a carefree manner while they were suffering. It was an unjustified resentment.
They knew killing him would make their house the primary suspect. Their aim was to make others think that Kamui was disinherited for a good reason. For the sake of winning the match, Kamui was the kind of cowardly person who would use poison. That was the outline of their plot.
「It’s because they’re that kind of house」
「The Hohenfried house will be dissolved」
「… Are you fine with it? Though they were a horrible household, aren’t they your blood relatives – your cousins, grandfather and uncle?」
Kamui’s reaction was different from the one that Hildegard had expected.
「I gave my word when I left the Hohenfried house. From then on, we will have nothing to do with each other. Even our blood ties were severed then」
「I see. So they have nothing to do with you now?」
「Naturally. Causing a scandal in the Academy that was founded by the first emperor is an inexcusable act as a noble of the empire」
Kamui expressed them without sincerity. He wanted to leave a good impression on Hildegard.
When he said so, Hildegard couldn’t help but agree with him. She once again looked towards the student who sat on her left. Looking at that, Kamui finally understood what Hildegard was trying to say. Basically, she had expected him to say that he did not want the Hohenfried house to be dissolved. That was what she wanted him to say.
She had been expecting him to lose his cool when he heard that his house was going to be dissolved. It seemed like they had intended to lend him a hand in order to make him owe them a debt.
Truly typical of nobles. They just couldn’t bring themselves to lower their heads and ask him to hand over Lutz in an honest manner. That was Kamui’s judgement. Naturally, his evaluation of them dropped.
「Is this all you wanted to discuss with me? Although I have nothing to do with that house, I’m grateful that you told me the punishment they received」
「No, it’s nothing much」
「Well, in that case, I’ll excuse myself」
「Ah, there’s something I want to discuss with you, is that alright?」
The male student who stood at Hildegard’s left called out to Kamui as he left his seat. It seemed like he could not continue watching Hildegard fail in carrying out the discussion.
「Excuse me, you are?」
「Matthias Schneider. Nice to meet you」
「Same here, I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. Well then, what is this conversation going to be about?」
「A few days ago, when you were injured, I had a match with Lutz-kun from your group」
「Did you not witness it?」
「I’m sorry. Since my classmate was being noisy, I didn’t have the chance to see it」
That is only partially true. He really had quarrel with Selene, although even if he hadn’t, he would not have watched the match anyway.
「I see. Then, do you know the result?」
「Oi oi. Shouldn’t you have at least heard about your subordinate’s results?」
「You’re right. I’ll do it next time」
If Lutz really went all out, there would be no need to speak of the result.
「But not on the same level as Matthias-san?」
「Are you perhaps aware of my strength?」
「No. However, I do know of Hildegard-san’s strength and I can see her faith in you」
Hildegard kept looking towards Matthias. Anyone would be able to tell just by seeing that.
「I see. …We can dispense with the formal language. The peerage of our houses are the same. We’re also of the same age」
「No, I pay careful attention to my speech with anyone other than my friends, as there are people who would mind it when I don’t do so.」
「I don’t mind it though」
「I can’t change my way of speaking that easily, please understand」
Kamui was totally not giving any leeway to Matthias. Although he felt that they could be good friends, Matthias was obviously Hildegard’s most trusted aide. He decided that it wasn’t worth it to be too friendly with him.
「Well, it can’t be helped then. Regarding the match with Lutz-kun, I more or less won」
「As I suspected, you’re strong」
「It was a close match. One mistake and I would have been defeated」
「Is that so? I think Lutz will be happy to hear that」
Matthias believed the outcome of the match was achieved by paper-thin difference. Lutz may be clumsy at strategizing, but it’s a different story when it comes to his swordsmanship.
「It’s about Lutz-kun though」
「What about Lutz?」
「Have you not heard? He was invited to serve under Hildegard-sama」
「Lutz is my retainer though?」
「Yes, we felt bad about it, so we wanted to talk to you about it today. We want to get your approval.」
「Why do you want Lutz? May I hear your reason?」
Kamui directed the question at Hildegard.
「As members of the house of the Earl of the East, it’s natural that we would want excellent personnel」
「Is that so? But that’s unreasonable. Lutz is my subordinate and above all else, he’s my friend. Since you brought up the topic with me, that means Lutz rejected your invitation? I’ll like to respect my friend’s decision 」
「Since he’s your friend, shouldn’t you think about his future all the more?」
Matthias showed a bitter expression at Hildegard’s words, since he felt that it was not a good response. From the moment she replied, Kamui had already decided to judge Hildegard based on her response. Naturally, it was the worst evaluation.
「What do you mean by that?」
「Serving under me means serving the house of the Earl of the East. Don’t you think that it’s somewhat of a promotion for him?」
While he expected such a reply, having it said directly to him still felt unpleasant. It implied that the Earl of the East – Eisenberg house – was above Viscount Kreutz’s house.
「Hildegard-san, will you be succeeding the house of the Earl of the East?」
「…No, the house has arranged for my little brother to succeed it」
「Doesn’t it mean that Lutz will not be serving the house of the Earl of the East? Can it be called a promotion if he’s not serving the successor?」
「IMPUDENT! HOW DARE YOU BE RUDE TO HILDEGARD-SAMA!」
This time, it was the male student on her right. From his voice, Kamui knew it was the student who shouted at him to enter before he entered the room. Compared to Matthias, this person gave Kamui the impression that he wasn’t someone Kamui could be on friendly terms with.
「Excuse me for this. Hildegard-sama, please pardon my rudeness」
Kamui hid his inner thoughts and meekly offered those subdued words. Again, Matthias smiled wryly. He probably noticed that Kamui had deliberately used -sama.
「No, I don’t mind it. … It’s not something that can be concluded right away. Please consider our offer」
She didn’t answer my question. Although by the time of that thought, Kamui was already fed up with the conversation.
「Alright. I’ll keep your words to heart. Well then, can I excuse myself now?」
「Yes. That’ll be all from us」
Leaving his seat, he headed towards the door. Just before he left the room, Kamui turned around and gave a bow but he looked only towards Matthias.
Upon seeing it, Matthias lightly nodded his head, and once again, Kamui only bowed towards him, and left the room.
（…That was tiring. But well, I got the gist of it. For better or worse, this is how a noble should feel like, but the person I should be careful of is that person, Matthias. What a waste. No matter how you look at it, he is more capable of being a leader compared to her. Well, onto the next?）
Although he was finished with Hildegard, there was still Diefried Oppenheim. Despite feeling quite depressed, Kamui headed towards the room where Diefried was waiting.
To Kamui’s disappointment, he soon arrived to his destination. The room Diefried was waiting in was on the opposite end of the same floor. Within just a few minutes, Kamui reached it. He didn’t even have time to prepare himself.
Sure enough, the front of the room was also decorated with flags bearing the crest of the Earl of the West. If the Earl of the East’s crest featured a sword and a lily on a red background, the Earl of the West’s crest was drawn with a sword and a falcon on a blue background. He felt some sort of indescribable feeling.
Pulling himself together, he knocked on the door. The door opened immediately and a student inside greeted him.
「May I know who you are?」
「It’s Kamui Kreutz」
「We have been expecting you. Please come in」
Even if they are from the same type of Earl households, their methods of receiving people are different, Kamui thought as he entered the room.
「Diefried-sama, Kamui Kreutz-dono has arrived」
「Ah, guide him to his seat」
「Yes. Please follow me inside」
When he entered the room as invited, he came upon a large desk with two sofas facing each other placed right in front of it.
「Please have a seat on the sofa」
The male student who was seated at the desk greeted him. It goes without saying that he was Diefried. Just like that, Diefried got up from his seat and moved to sit in front of Kamui.
「This is our first time meeting each other, isn’t it? My name is Diefried Oppenheim. Sorry for making you come all the way here」
「It’s fine. I’m Kamui Kreutz」
There was no one else sitting with them. When he secretly looked around the room, he noticed that all the other students were seated near the wall and were working on something.
「Ah, please don’t mind them. They’re busy with their studies」
「You must be busy as well, so shall I cut to the chase? 」
「If you would」
「I suppose you’ve already heard from the person himself. I’ve invited Lutz-kun to join me」
「Yes. However, Lutz is my retainer」
「My apologies. Originally I was going to talk to you first, but our side was a little too anxious. Didn’t Hildegard invite you over as well?」
「I’m aware. Also, I’ve just come from speaking to Hildegard-san just now」
「Ah, damn it. I’m beaten to the punch again…」
Kamui felt a friendly atmosphere, which he could not imagine would come from a youth of great nobility like Diefried.
「I’m sorry. It’s because their side got in touch with me first」
「I see … May I inquire about the contents of the discussion?」
「Same as yours. I was told to hand over Lutz」
「I thought as much. And the results? 」
「I declined their offer. Though it seems they won’t give up」
「I see. Well, though that is something that I should be glad about, I wonder if the result would be the same if I make the same request of you?」
「May I ask you a question?」
Though he had decided on his answer, Kamui decided to ask Diefried the same question he put to Hildegard. It was for the sake of knowing Diefried’s nature.
「Why do you want Lutz?」
「Ah, that’s right. I should first explain that. Do you know about the athletic meet that will be carried out in the Academy?」
Kamui was slightly bewildered as the subject of the conversation was completely different from his expectations.
「You don’t know? The athletic meet is carried out once a year in the Academy. Participants from the middle school section are mostly the second year students」
「In short, the athletic meet is a swordsmanship tournament to determine which group is the strongest. The tournament format is held with five persons per team」
The athletic meet was a tournament that determined the strongest team of that generation. Despite it being only an intra-school event, to the Empire that is proud of its military force, the tournament attracts lots of external attention.
「And you want Lutz for that team?」
「Indeed. You are aware that I’m from the house of the Earl of the West right? 」
「It’s quite troublesome. The reason being is that I’m the son of an influential noble. The issue of whether I’ve achieved something in this tournament greatly affects the reputation of my house」
Many of the teams that appear during the tournament were in charge of representing their houses. With that being the case, the outcome of the tournament ends up having an effect on their houses.
「Yes, I see」
Though it was not something Kamui was interested in.
「Are you shocked? I can make excuses one way or another, though it’s not just for the sake of my household. If I can raise the prestige of my house, it will also increase the influence of my house. … It’s unacceptable as an excuse right? Well then, doesn’t it seem like it’s my personal desire?」
「As you said」
「… You are rather blunt, aren’t you?」
「Ah, my apologies」
「No, it’s okay. It is the truth. Even so, please accept this excuse as a fact for now. The House of the Earl of the West has influence in it’s own way, even in the Empire」
Merely “in it’s own way” is out of the question. The influence of the four cardinal Earls in the Empire were many times more than the other houses. Even the Emperor can’t completely disregard the four Earls’ houses.
「Becoming more influential in my house also means having a stronger influence on the Empire. Well, I’m still a long way from it though. Even so, I want to do what I can for the sake of achieving this」
「How are you going to strengthen your influence?」
Though Diefried was making his excuses, the conversation wasn’t moving along. Kamui, feeling annoyed, asked somewhat bluntly.
「…What do you think of the current state of the Empire?」
His reply was unexpected to Kamui. It seemed that Diefried wanted to get into the core of the matter as well.
「I’m still a student」
This was not a question he could carelessly answer. For now, Kamui tried to evade it.
「…That’s true. It’s not a question that you can answer in your position. Let me say it. I think that the current Empire is heading in a bad direction」
「Is that alright? For you to say such a thing」
「It’s a fact. Moreover, you seem to be a person who hides what you really think and won’t say a word. In order to know more about you, I must first expose my own thoughts, right?」
「That’s … 」
It was exactly as he said. Kamui was someone who would not reveal his thoughts, even if the other party did.
「Let’s continue. I’ve been thinking about what I can do for the Empire. For that, I need to be recognized; not just by my own house but by the Empire. I can’t tell you the details of what I plan to do. In the first place, I’m still troubled over how I should do it. Winning the athletic meet is one of the means to do that」
「I see. I roughly understand the reason now」
「I’m glad you do」
「However, in Diefried-san’s place, aren’t there already various talents?」
Since he knew that Hildegard of the Earl of the East’s house had them, he was expecting the Earl of the West’s house to have capable personnel as well, allowing him to stand on equal footing with her.
「Yes, there are people I can trust. But, if I want to win the athletic meet, it’s impossible with my current attendants」
「You can’t defeat Hildegard?」
「Hildegard and Oscar. It’s both of them. I can’t win against either of them」
「It’s a team competition, right?」
「I can’t even beat the second or third place winners. Hildegard has both Matthias and Rank. Unfortunately, there is nobody on my team who can win against them. Even if we win against the other two in her team, it’s still our loss with a 2 : 3. And on Oscar’s side, though no one except Oscar stands out, they are powerful overall because all of them are from knight families. We can only beat two people in their team. Either way, it’s a loss」
「Wouldn’t it be considerably wise if you join forces with someone?」
There was no need to purposely face them head on with a lineup that cannot win. It was better to compare each other’s strengths and devise a winnable lineup.
These were Kamui’s thoughts, however…
「I will do so if this was an actual war. But the athletic meet is a fight to raise my honor. There is a rule that it begins with the strongest person on the team as the vanguard」
「…It’s a meaningless tournament if one knows the result right from the beginning」
「I feel that way too. Even so, it can’t be helped」
It was a rule designed for the nobles. Kamui thought that both Diefried and Hildegard would be bound by it.
「… This won’t happen till another two years, wouldn’t it? Won’t you become stronger than the other by then?」
「My opponents will be stronger too. If they weren’t actually dissatisfied with their current capabilities, they wouldn’t have extended an invitation to Lutz, would they?」
「So it’s a scramble for military strength … If I say “It’s just an athletic meet”, would you be angry with me?」
「I won’t be angry but it is important to me」
「At the very least, Lutz won’t go to Hildegard-san or Oscar-san. Will this be enough for you? 」
「Unfortunately, no. If the status quo is maintained, I would be troubled by it」
「However, I’m the person feeling troubled」
「Well, he’s your precious subject, isn’t he?」
「Well there’s that but if Lutz goes to you, Hildegard-san will keep an eye on us. It would be the same the other way round. I have no desire to be under the watchful eyes of both your houses」
「… And if I were to somehow deal with it」
「That would be like you wagering your own household, Diefried. I cannot make that call nor is it what your father wishes for. Are you aware that the earls of the border territories wishes for neutrality within the Empire? Calling it neutral isn’t quite right though. The border territories have always been under His Majesty The Emperor. They are his territories」
There was never a time where the lords of the border territories would become subordinates to another noble house. The border territories were treated roughly the same as the areas under the Emperor’s rule. Even if a man from the other noble houses was sent to the border territories, he would be in the position of a government official from the Empire and will certainly be replaced when his term is over.
It is only through marriage that other noble houses can achieve having influence on the border territories.This was the situation that Selene was aiming at.
「To be honest, I’m also troubled by the current situation, since no matter whom I side with, I’ll be leaving a bad impression」
「Our side is fine. I promise that we won’t hold any grudges against you」
This meant that Diefried had given up on inviting Lutz. Kamui felt relieved from the bottom of his heart, since the problem on one side has been resolved for the time being.
「I’m indebted to you」
「But I do have one request」
「… What might that be?」
「Can we continue associating with each other? 」
「What do you mean by that?」
「As a matter of fact, I’ve also taken an interest in you」
Where did I make a mistake?, Kamui thought. Diefried told him the answer soon after.
「It was your actions when you were injured. You aren’t like what the others think of you, are you?」
「What about them?」
「That was a good choice of actions in that given situation. Both Lutz-kun and the other person. If I’m not mistaken, he’s Alto-kun. Though their initial responses were also prompt, the rest was as per your instructions, weren’t they? Realizing that there was poison applied on the sword, you immediately assumed it was an assassination. That was why you didn’t let anyone get close except for the people you trust」
「It was just by chance」
He had no time to mind his surroundings then, but it had drawn someone’s attention, so Kamui was now greatly regretting it from the bottom of his heart. Even so, he played dumb and did not reveal his feelings. Although he knew that it was probably futile against an opponent like Diefried.
「Moreover, there was the medical treatment after that. I wonder why you know so much about treating poison?」
「That was also by chance」
「And thus from our conversation today, I’m convinced. You have a mind like a steel trap. On top of that, your complexion didn’t even change when I criticized the Empire. The person in the rumors and the person that appears before me seems different」
「Aren’t you the smart one? What do you gain by flattering me like that?」
「… Even this is pointless huh. As I thought, it seems that I’ll need time to get to know the real you. So won’t you give me that time? Not time used to expose your true nature but for you to get to know me as a person」
「…Diefried-san, you’re very much like a con-man, aren’t you? That was expressed very well」
「Is that praise?」
「That’s right, I’m praising you. Well then, it seems you’re overestimating me, but I guess it’s fine. It’s not like I’m going to avoid you. I know you’ll be disappointed after you get to know me」
「I don’t think so but I’m satisfied with just receiving those words for now. Well then, I’ll be in your favor from now on」
「Within a permissible range」
Although he was not refused, his plans to get closer to him was rejected by Kamui.
「…You’re really cautious, aren’t you」
「That’s just how I am. Well then, may I excuse myself?」
「Aah, sorry for taking up your time」
Kamui left his seat and headed towards the door. Before he could even reach out his hand, a student nearby opened the door for him.
When he turned around and tried to bow, Diefried lightly waved his hand. Responding with a wry smile, Kamui exited the room.
「And yet again, that was something unexpected」
A murmur unintentionally leaked out of Kamui’s mouth when he left the room.
Diefried gave off the impression of someone who was a natural leader. It seems that even the Earl of the West’s household was unworthy to Diefried.
If he’s aiming that high … Diefried might have the potential to achieve it. He could become the most dangerous person, but for some reason, Kamui felt a sense of security instead of danger towards him.