9. Your friend and me.
"Who could you be, and what could you become to Kaid?" "......I, do not know." "Could you be someone that will liberate my friend?" "I do not know."
With a grin, Isador stretched out his long fingers and grabbed up my chin. My face distorted slightly from the pain as I looked up at the face that approached.
"I wonder blame you even if you can't liberate him. Since it could still spark the hope of him living not as a lord but as Kaid. But I wonder forgive you if you hurt him. I won't let him have more burdens. If it's just longing, leave now. If you're not ready to be there to the end, step back before you hurt him. If it's him, he won't think he is bruised...... What do you mean, 'the Wolf'. You people call him that as a sign of strength, but wolves are creatures that live in packs. You are leaving such a thing alone with burdens. He's cast outside the packs of people, yet the pests hang on."
I could feel disgust in his voice.
"............Isador-sama, do you dislike these people...... no, commoners?"
He is not just talking about Laius. The sweet face that women like shifted in a blink. Not just the tone, but his expression too was flaring, like a blade.
"Do you think I like them? Just weakness isn't bad. I don't criticise people for their weaknesses outside their control. But why must they use that weakness as a spear to denounce my life? The weak aren't sinners. But the strong are? Are the strong unless they let themselves be deprived? Is it a sin to not use my strength for others? Is it arrogance to use my own strength for myself? Do I have to feel pleased to see my friend sacrifice himself? Calling such things as noble's duty and using their lives as stepping stones, yet they call that sacrifice. I am not a kind person like Kaid. I'm not that magnanimous."
It was too grim an expression to be called a smile. It wasn't the first time I saw a commoner-hating noble like him. So I'm not scared. But it hurts. He dislikes commoners. He does not scorn them. He dislikes.
It has been decided that he must stand on top of people from his birth. Even if he did well, only death might wait at the end. Even if he doesn't commit evils like my family and it's just the flow of the period, he is a sinner unless acknowledged by the people. Ignorance, incompetence, powerlessness, those are all sins for a noble. It's on the bright side if it ends as a light crime. Expulsion is good. Even if it's banishment, there's still life. There are people like us who were executed. We received just punishment, but there were kind people among the others. Just, normal, not exploiting the status, not extorting money nor land, not murdering to get women. There were normal, good people like that. But no achievements. No glory. Powerless. Not predicting the future. Not preventing famine. Unable to make rain. Unable to suppress the plague. Unable to capture rampaging bandits. Not bringing stability like in other places.
No devils, them. Just, not skilled, either.
If born as a noble, one is born to stand on people. Yet, some find happiness in humble everyday life. There are people who just wish to protect their family. They would normally be considered as kind, but those people are considered incompetent as rulers. Ill-fitting. That is unforgivable. Couldn't do it. Didn't know it. Those are directly linked to death. For the people and for themselves.
Sacrificing themselves for the people that might one day kill them. Those are rulers.
"People can choose their lords, but lords can't choose their people. It's a really unfair system." "That must not be all the world. I hear that there are places where the weak and the strong do not exploit each other..." "Well, I don't know...... such an ideal world can only exist in wishes. Kaid too knows that. He knows, yet he'll keep being a lord. Since he resolved to do that, a friend's job is to support him. However, I cannot look over nuisances."
The fingers pressing my chin grew more forceful, almost as if they would bury themselves in my bone.
"Which side are you on? A battle between the strong. I wouldn't mind that, but if you drag him down from your weakness, I'll have to remove you now."
I stared at the eyes that came closer. There were maelstroms of hatred there. Disliking commoners, that was too lukewarm. He hates. He detests the inequality. But that's not all. He worries. About his friend, about where his friend is going. For Kaid's happiness. From back then, unchangingly, he worries for Kaid.
I grabbed the hand gripping my chin.
"You've always been friendly with Kaid... Helt."
His eyes distorted open wide from discomfort.
"I'm sorry, Isador-sama, but I have damaged your cherished friend beyond repair. As you say, I am his shackle."
Strength left his hand and fell away. Not quickly as if swatted away, but suddenly losing strength.
I grabbed his falling hand with both hands.
"I wonder if you can wait a little. ......I'm sure, Kaid also knows. He knows and we both are looking for it. The words...... and the way to end the second time."
Once, long time ago, I had grabbed his hand like this. Before, he did not hate commoners and dreamed of becoming a splendid lord like his father, his eyes shining bright. I wonder when it changed. Fifteen years is long. It has been long for anyone. And there was another person back then.
"............You people, did something happen?"
Indeed, you were there.
With an expression of both surprise and exasperation, Kaid was standing there. The awkwardly positioned hand wandered confusedly and settled down in the end. The appearance of the tall man with his arms crossed can only look imposing to people passing by. Naturally, people avoided him. Sometimes, there were people who were looking at us pitifully. I let go and Isador's hand and turned around to Kaid. Then I deeply curtsied to him.
"Welcome back, master." "Ahh, I'm back......" "How did it turn out, sir?" "......Did Isador tell you? It didn't increase as much as I had expected. Considering that it's near the festival, there's not a lot. Other than the related ones, I handed them over to the police and that's all good... but, what were you doing?"
He gazed at Isador and me, but as Isador was looking at me, Kaid's gaze was also fixed on me. I grabbed my index finger and middle finger and thought a bit.
"I was listening to how magnificent master is." "Oi, Isador, what did you blow into her."
Glared at sharply, Isador hemmed and hawed. The eyes that wandered between Kaid and me often ultimately turned towards me.
"W-Well......" "You should ignore this guy's words. They're a mixture of facts and fiction." "I don't lie though."
To Isador who said something while looking at me, Kaid made a strange expression. Then he looked towards me.
"I also don't lie, sir." "Ahh, no, I don't doubt that."
Still not looking satisfied, Kaid looked back and forth between the two of us. I took a step in front him. While looking at the person who was showed a surprised expression to me, I smiled. I couldn't feel any crooked twitching.
"I lied enough already."
I wonder if I smiled properly this time.
"A long time ago, I told an awful lie." "............Not had to tell, but told?"
Definitely, there's nothing I can do for Laius. However, there's something I can do for this person that is protecting Laius.
He protected this land that was ruined because of us. For this person that lived for the sole purpose of cleaning up after us, there's something I can do for him. I can take back the burden I forced on him.
"I'm a liar."
Bowing deeply mid-curtsy, I stopped any further conversation. I could feel that they wanted to say something, but I risked being rude and bowed further. Please wait a little more. I will, tell you your mistake. Then I must apologise for my lies to you. I will apologise. I will definitely apologise. For that purpose, I'll muster up my courage.
So please, just for a little more, give me a little more time.
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