With this, chapter 1 is now complete. Episode 61 will be the start of chapter 2.
There’s a seasonal word [Yukibare] (1)
Today is such a day.
The earth sparkles with white while the sky is a never-ending blue.
It’s so dazzling it’s hard to keep my eyes open.
I was digging Chasers grave on such a beautiful morning.
The frozen ground was obviously hard but my friends helped me without saying anything.
I turned towards my friends on the gently sloping hill I had buried Chaser on.
“Again, thank you all. You came looking for me and helped me bury Chaser. Thank you.”
Everyone just shakes their heads silently and Patty placers her hand on my arm.
“Let’s return to Nepia Ippei.”
That might be nice.
My trip has ended here, in this place.
You should always move forward as long as you live but sometimes a little rest is necessary. Though if you can, try to put those rests near the end.
“Yeah, however, before I return there’s somewhere I need to go first. It’s a small town called Chipham……..”
My voice chokes up.
Just thinking of Alma and Casey makes my hands shake.
How weak am I?
Patty’s hand strongly grasped my arm.
“Let’s go to Chipham.”
Thank you Patty.
I’m scared. I’ve explored the labyrinth but here I am frozen in fear from the thought of meeting a mother and daughter.
Then something strange happened. It was like I heard a voice from heaven.
“Please finish Chaser’s story.”
It’s a strict voice but tender at the same time. I was told not to run away.
Alma welcomed me with a smile at her house.
“Hello priest-sama. Are you alone today?”
“She’s at school today.”
I felt a little relieved at her words.
Alma started to look uneasy at my expression and her smile clouded over.
Tears fall from Alma’s eyes.
“When you came alone I had a feeling somehow. He never came out and said it but he had wanted to die for a long time.”
“I guessed as much. He seemed to expect his fall but I don’t know why.”
“Do you know why he quit being a knight?”
“Over tax collection though Chaser called it looting. I heard he let some people escape and went against his superior officer so he was cast out.”
“So it goes and that’s the official facts but Chaser wasn’t fired. He quit himself.”
“What happened to him then?”
“Chaser started letting the villagers escape but not all of them would leave. They were desperate. If they gave up their crops and money a lot of them would not survive the winter so naturally there was resistance.”
“So in other words…….”
“Yeah. Chaser had to kill the people he was trying to save. Even if the women and children escaped, their husbands, fathers and brothers had died. Perhaps the women and children were hurt by the horse’s hooves while trying to escape in the panic? Chaser never talked about it though. This is what I heard from various people later on.”
It might have been legitimate self-defence.
The tax collection may have been legitimate.
None of those things would have mattered to Chaser.
Individual ethics are ignored in an organisation because the benefit of the person at the top or the organisation itself will always be given priority.
Usually the latter.
Even if the person at the top has a good moral code there are many cases where this threatens the organisation so they have to throw them away.
The state will always sacrifice people for the good of the state.
A common story.
Is that a good or bad policy?
Whatever the case may be Chaser could obviously not bear it.
“That person lived proudly as a knight so for him, it was extra painful.”
What would I do?
Would I follow orders or would I help the villagers?
It’s not a simple answer. Even a soldier who’s part of an unprovoked invasion would not easily betray his army.
Would I murder someone in silence?
I then realised something.
It’s a terrible thing to be near power.
What if I become a noble?
I don’t want such a thing.
I was aiming at becoming a noble.
I thought it would be possible if I made full use of my production capabilities.
I have no love for the aristocracy but I thought it was necessary so I could be with Patty, however, the thought of becoming a noble now fills me with hate.
I love Patty and that hasn’t changed but becoming a noble and being part of the national authority doesn’t sit well with me.
I feel bad for Patty but I can’t suppress this feeling.
Like Chaser could not be a knight I cannot be a noble.
“Here’s Chasers spear Alma-san.”
“Why don’t you keep it priest-sama. It’s too heavy for me to use. I am……..not strong enough to live with this spear.”
I understand. It’s probably too cruel to leave the spear with her.
“I understand. What about Casey?”
“That is my duty as her mother.”
“I see…..do you want to hear about his final moments?”
I talk about Chaser’s death without any feeling. I explain his actions and last words.
After that, it is up to Alma-san and Casey to judge the man named Chaser.
I talk to Patty while being shaken around by the horse.
I tell her everything from the beginning of the trip right up to Chasers death.
I left nothing out. I told her every minute detail.
“I love you Patty but I don’t want to become a noble.”
“I know that. It was probably impossible for Ippei to become a noble anyway. It’s impossible for me as well. That’s why I work as an adventurer. I can’t deal with all the showing off.”
Patty’s smile pierces my heart.
“Do you want to fight against the country with 2 people?”
It’s scary how serious Patty sounds.
“That’s a little……… I shouldn’t expect unrealistic things even if I have the passion. That way leads to unhappiness.”
“I guess……..I know. I’ll step down as a noble.”
“Is that even possible!?”
“It is. On the other hand, I have no doubt that the Cherrycoke family will be demoted.”
“So what we will do is raise my family up to Duke and when I step down the Cherrycokes will be demoted back down to viscount. It evens out and father won’t be too bothered.”
“All right. I’ll think about it in that direction.”
“Let’s be adventurers together Ippei. I want my freedom too.”
I didn’t want to say that freedom doesn’t really exist.
“Someday lets take the magic train down south. It’s warm and there’s a town down there with a beautiful ocean view.”
I doubt there’s freedom there but the suggestion is very nice.
“That’s a nice suggestion. Would we be free then?”
The winter sun sinks dying the dead tree’s red.
We reached out and grasped each other’s hand firmly.
Chapter 1 end.
(1) Yukibare means “clear weather after snowfall” and from what I can gather seasonal word are used in haiku a lot.