Gekka no Utahime to Magi no Ou - lightnovelgate.com
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She was frightened.
The girl was feeling fear.
There was something that she did not understand, something that she should
have understood. Without knowing why, the girl trembled.
Feeling fear, horror, and after trembling—the girl finally realised it. That she
was a mere lass who knew nothing. A tiny, worthless and insignificant person.
That became her pride.
And that pride still remained within her heart, even now.
Upon waking up in the morning, Lyle saw that the shoes he had taken off last
night before going to bed had been slightly shifted. Shaking it upside down, a
great number of nails and screws spilled out of it.
".......My bad for not falling for it, Hazel."
Facing the empty bed opposite, Lyle sighed and apologised.
Just before he left the dormitory, he borrowed some suitable ingredients
from the fridge and wrapped them in cloth. On the way to the laboratory, he
thought over and over about what kind of face he should put on.
"Hmm........ It'd be awkward........"
There had been something irresistible about seeing her crying face, but he
already understood that girls functioned without logic nor reason, from his
experience with Maria.
The safest option would be to honestly apologise....
".........She'll keep insisting that she was not crying, huh."
She might have had some serious reason behind her obstinacy, as Lunaria
had firmly denied her tears. Probably, her desperate manner might have
been due to the same reason.
Whatever the case, she seemed to think that she was 'one without any
".....I don't like this one bit."
Once, Lyle's master, Erllua Azoth had said that magic was 'simply waiting to
disappear'. Indeed, that had been ironic. As his master's face briefly flashed
across his mind, Lyle felt a faint sorrow pass over him.
And thus, even when Erllua was instructing him on science, Lyle never
stopped his research on magic. There was nothing that did not have worth.
Nothing that simply disappears. That was what he had thought.
If he had to come up with a reason for saving Lunaria—it was probably that
she had been the exact opposite of Lyle's desires and wishes.
".....Her denying that she was crying is going to do her no good."
Renewing his determination, Lyle trudged towards the laboratory.
Climbing the creaking staircase, leaving the dim corridor, Lyle then inhaled
and knocked on the laboratory door.
*Knock, knock*—*Thump, bang!*
Almost like that was the sound of books that were carried had been dropped
onto the floor in surprise at the knock—that he heard.
Timidly opening the door to his own laboratory, it looked like the dust cloud
in the air had been just formed.
To make matters worse, the skirt of the girl who was half-buried by the
mountain of books was lifted up, and the revealed underwear was facing
right towards Lyle.
It was an awkward silence.
The slender legs struggled noisily, and dragged out the upper body that was
buried in the mountain of books.
"...A good morning to you, Lunaria."
"Good morning, Master Lyle."
Without any lingering trace of her tears last night, Lunaria looked back at Lyle
with her usual expressionless face.
Lyle closed his mouth thinking of what to say while Lunaria held her gaze
The awkward silence continued.
With that one leaked out whisper, Lyle jumped up with a start.
Turning around in a circle, Lunaria begun to pick up the books that had fallen
onto the floor.
"What is it, Master Lyle?"
Lunaria replied without even looking back, in her usual monotone.
"....What are you doing?"
Holding an armful of books, Lunaria went to place them on the bookshelves.
"I had knocked them onto the floor. Am I not your assistant, Master Lyle? If
so, it is my responsibility to keep this room tidy and neat."
Her pale silver hair swaying, Lunaria went about arranging the books
However, her movements were strangely awkward, and when she tried to
stack up the books,
—*Thud, thump, thud*—
—*Thud, thump, crash*.
"Need a hand?"
"No, I am plenty fine on my own."
Lunaria said while feigning total ignorance.
"......Please feel free to go for a stroll while I put things in order. Or perhaps,
Master Lyle, are you not satisfied with just a girl's tears, and would go as far
as to take pleasure from the sight of her sweating from toil?"
Though what she had said seemed like hypocritical courtesy, her ears had
been dyed red.
Frantically stifling his smile, Lyle quickly left the room before he reached his
"Hnngh, heh..... she's the surprisingly clumsy type, eh."
Unexpectedly, her base personality might be that of a contrarian who hates
losing. On top of that, she was pretty bad at hiding her emotions even though
she wore that expressionless face.
Lyle's mood became pleasant, and placing the wrapped up breakfast in front
of the door, he left the laboratory behind.
The academy grounds were still quiet. It was finally a holiday, after all. The
boarding students might have stayed out after a night of playing, or were
indulging in inactivity even now.
Walking with a destination in mind, he somehow ended up in a rather lively
place in the midst of all the quiet. Many students were going in and out of a
traditional dance hall.
"Come to think of it, the ball that the student council is organising is
The Vergenheim Academy organised many such refined functions like garden
parties and balls, for the numerous high class citizens and sons of nobles.
The ball held on the last day of the Springfire Festival was one of the most
popular established traditional event. Before the short holidays, many guys
could be seen confessing to girls everywhere in their search for a partner.
Finding a familiar face in the midst of the diligently working students, Lyle
raised his hands lightly and approached.
"Good morning, Haz...el........."
"......Morning, Lyle Waldstein."
Looking over with sunken, skeleton-like eyes, Hazel returned with a shadow
of a greeting.
".......Are you really Hazel?"
"Who else could you possibly be looking at!"
Hazel threw the carpenter tool he was holding in his hand and shouted.
"You, you... cannot be forgiven......"
Wanting some help, Lyle faced the other students who had noticed the
disturbance. However, they too returned the gaze with the same grim look in
their eyes as Hazel did.
"W-What is it.....?"
"Do you understand who are these people that are making the preparations
"Kindhearted people who are helping the student council..... That's probably
not the answer, eh......?"
"Yeah. The ones here are those without any arrangements with a girl, and are
left with no choice but to work their asses off, a bunch of miserable
The guys whose confessions had been rejected before the holidays, had a
shining glint in their bloodshot eyes.
And then Hazel said to the overwhelmed Lyle with an overly tender voice.
"Hey, Lyle? Don't you think that there are only two types of guys in this
"........Let's see. You can't really say that there are only two types, can
"No, actually, there are only two major types. Guys who have no luck with
women...... and guys who have luck with women."
Hazel and the others stamped their feet simultaneously.
"........Surely you must be different from us, Lyle Waldstein, as one who is
burdened with a partner for the ball."
"No, in the first place I completely forgot about the ball—"
"Stop screwing around! Are you telling us that it's nothing to panic about!"
"Kuh, it's not something to feel envious about, is it!"
"Not staying as childhood friends with [The Rose of Fire], whom all guys
yearn for, Miss Maria Highline."
"Hiring an adorable assistant, and doing this and that!"
Somehow, the news about Lunaria had spread really fast. This time, he had to
try turning the transmission of the rumours into a numerical formula—if he
were to survive this safely.
Lyle slowly increased the distance between him and the guys who were
thirsting for blood and women.
"Let us carry out the Men's Inquisition!"
Hazel called out to the other guys at his back loudly.
"The accused, Lyle Waldstein, what charges do we have against him!?"
"One of the major crimes would be sexual misconduct!" "Sexual
"Guilty or innocent!?"
"Then, what sort of punishment does he deserve!"
"If it's larceny, chop off his arms!" "If it's perjury, cut off his tongue!" "If it's
sexual misconduct—we have to lop it off!"
Accepting the decision of the jurors, Hazel turned towards Lyle.
"W-Wait! Those are false accusations! A misunderstanding! Give me the
chance to defend myself!"
"There's no room for defence or extenuating circumstances. To the Men's
Inquisition, there is only judgement."
"What kind of trial is this!"
"Be at ease. We won't really cut it off. That was just an expression of speech."
"We'll just disseminate delicate details like its size and length to the entire
"Isn't that just as horrible as piking a decapitated head!"
Hazel and the others were holding tape measures and set squares, even
balancing scales. Truly feeling their seriousness, Lyle started breaking out in
He stood on guard against them—waiting for an opportunity to come.
"—This looks pretty interesting."
At the sound of that soft yet powerful voice, all who heard it ceased in
"You're all so lively in the morning. Impressive, impressive."
And at the second time they heard it, everyone's gazes turned at the same
That taut, tall figure of the young man was clad in high grade clothing, with
everyone's gazes fixed upon him.
Charisma, was it? The presence he gave off was like a sharp, keen sword.
Giving off said presence, he carried a strange attraction that drew the
attention of others.
"—Greetings, Lyle Waldstein."
Vilhelm Zest turned his smiling face towards Lyle.
And then, he also smiled at the male students who were carrying measuring
"Would you mind if I borrowed him for a little while? I have some business
As if their maliciousness had been extracted out of them, Hazel and the
By simply arriving at the scene, Vilhelm Zest had changed the entire
Vilhelm turned that powerful gaze once again towards Lyle, and closed his
eyes partly as if to make Lyle feel at ease.
"And there we have it. Would you mind?"
".....Not at all."
Lyle nodded while maintaining his vigilance, and followed after Vilhelm.
With Vilhelm leading the way, Lyle was brought to a deserted gazebo
constructed next to a lotus pond.
Sitting down facing each other at an already prepared table, Vilhelm
promptly bowed his head.
"—I must apologise for yesterday. I am partly responsible for the recklessness
Gerim and the others have indulged in. I am truly sorry."
Lyle was unnerved by the polar opposites of dignity and meekness that was
Upon raising his head, Vilhelm smiled as though he was relieved from the
bottom of his heart.
"I'm glad that you are not hurt. Yesterday and earlier, both those occasions. It
would be our country's loss if you had suffered any harm."
"No way, you exaggerate."
"Such humility, from one who is both a scientist and a mage, «Disciple of the
His body stiffened instantly at that.
If only for a moment. While correcting the position of his glasses, Lyle played
"What do you mean by—"
"Ah, there's no need to be on guard. I am not taken aback that magi or their
like exist. We, the Zest Margrave family are a border chivalric order
responsible for guarding the east. Being in that position has granted us many
opportunities to patronise engineers and technicians. Excellent warriors,
great architects, builders, and—brilliant mages. During the Dark Ages, we
sheltered many a magus, and have even exchanged secret agreements with
Even though magi and Phantasms have gone into seclusion with their dislike
for the state of the world, those who had connections with them would
naturally still exist. And amongst them had to be influential people who had
"....And so, Lord Zest."
"You can call me Vilhelm. Or if you like, I don't mind if you call me 'Vil' for
Vilhelm corrected him, smiling.
He was unusually friendly.
While trying to imagine what had made him this pleased, Lyle continued the
conversation without changing.
"......Lord Zest. I understand that you are well-acquainted with magi.
However, the fact is that in modern society, 'magi' are assumed to be nothing
more than a superstition. What are you planning to do about me?"
"Calling me Vil would have been fine."
Vilhelm's brows wrinkled. It was an expression that seemed like he was really
"—What do I plan to do about you, eh? Without beating about the bush, I'd
say, 'let us start from being friends', how about that? I did not think of
anything like, say, starting an out-dated Inquisition, or trying to destroy the
public opinion of you."
"Are you serious? Even though those guys from yesterday, hated me as
though I were some eyesore of a bug?"
"That's because they are fools."
The natural-born noble bearing a court rank, scoffed at the youth nobles with
a smiling face.
"Do you know what is of the utmost importance to a noble? Power?Wealth?
Or is it lineage? They are all wrong. Those who are known as nobles, what
they must have, are eyes that can judge worth."
Saying that, Vilhelm focused his gaze onto Lyle.
"—A noble is one who manages others. As the times change, if nobles want
to remain as nobles, then they have no choice but to continue thus correctly.
You have 'worth'. If Gerim and the others failed to see that, then all I can say
is that they are incompetent."
".....I doubt that that's the correct judgement. Isn't your judgement being
clouded by the nickname of the «Disciple of the Last Hexe»?"
"And again, such humility. Then how would you explain the [Introduction to
Steam Calculation] you proposed three years ago?"
And this time, Lyle was rendered speechless.
Vilhelm smiled even wider as he had hit the nail on the head.
"As I thought, huh. The automatic machine that moves because of the steam
engine—that thesis of yours was truly astounding. It was officially spread
with Erllua Azoth's name, but it was something that was based on your ideas,
"..........Why do you know that?"
"The Last Hexe who was never interested in publicity stunts, had proactively
publicised that. And as I was wondering why, I thought of this. It would fit
together all of the pieces of the puzzle—wasn't it in order to safeguard your
talent, as you were still young at that time?"
Lyle was silent. It was just as Vilhelm said.
"You, who had came up with such a thesis at the age of thirteen, have
already exceeded what is known as a genius. Based on that, I will ask you this
again—Lyle. Come with me."
Vilhelm held out his hand towards Lyle.
"I want you. Your talents hold massive potential. And to that worth, I hold the
utmost respect. Will you let me lend you a hand in accomplishing the things
that you want to accomplish?"
Those were the words of the young Margrave who had succeeded his family,
filled with a force that fascinated others. Men would bow their heads, while
women would be charmed.
The voice of one who manages—or a leader.
Even Lyle felt the sway of wanting to serve this man.
".....It is an honour, but I must refuse."
Lyle said while shaking his head.
Vilhelm let out a small groan with a seemingly surprised expression.
"Because I don't have that kind of worth. At least, that's what I think."
"Humans are unable to accurately judge their own worth. You yourself will
not be able to comprehend your own."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah.Because that holds true for me as well."
Vilhelm said, gracefully shrugging his shoulders.
"I too, am unable to understand 'one's own worth'. And that is also one of
the things which drives me forward. In order to understand my own worth, I
will continue to accept whatever challenges I may face."
"One's own worth....."
"You are the same. What is different, is that I push my own excessive self up,
while you are content with yourself—no, you try to be so. Am I wrong?"
"Not true, is it."
A smile as though he were facing a stubborn child flashed over Vilhelm's face.
"Those are not your true feelings. It's merely natural that you should want to
exercise your power."
"What you fear about your own power is that it might be the only thing Miss
Maria requires of you, and you suspect that, am I right?"
"Heh. Having the things you realised pointed out to you renders you
speechless. How cute."
"Please do not make fun of me."
"I'm not making fun of you. Wondering whether the goodwill from the girl
you are intimate with is directed towards 'you' or your 'talent'.... that is a
rather cute worry. It seems that you can make a decision even right away."
"Yes, go ahead and display your talent. That talent is also your power.
Wouldn't there be nothing to worry about if you just exhibited that power
and won her favour? Don't you think that my coming would be a direct
shortcut to that? Establishing your power, and doing so, your relationship
with her would be fine. Right?"
Lyle stared at that outstretched hand as though drawing it in. Instinctively, he
raised his hand.
Vilhelm narrowed his eyes, looking pleased.
"—Aren't you being a little too hasty, Lord Vilhelm Zest?"
At the same time as the dignified voice, a hand stretched out from the side
and grasped Lyle's wrist tightly.
And then Lyle's field of vision was filled with copper-coloured hair.
While feeling just the slightest bit of guilt, Lyle called out the name of the girl,
his childhood friend.
Maria, who was heading to the academy first thing in the morning, clicked
her tongue when she saw that Lyle was neither in his laboratory nor in his
Searching the academy grounds, she found the group of people who were
making the preparations for the ball at the dance hall.
"A good morrow to all of you. It is rude of me to interrupt you in the middle
of your work, but would you mind telling me if you have seen Lyle
Although Maria did not care much for etiquette and the like when she was
young, she seemed to have grasped how to be an elegant Viscount's
daughter during these recent years. It had been because she realised its
Therefore, Maria Highline was the target of the affection of many, regardless
of gender. There were only a few nobles that truly scorned the nobles who
had bought their nobility.
The men that she had called out to straightened their backs sharply, and
smoothly answered Maria's question.
"Thank you, and for your hard work as well. Please keep up the good work!"
Upon her giving them a smile and words of praise, the male students fainted
with a seemingly charmed smile on their faces.
Then and there Maria quickly exited the scene. When she was out of public
sight, she broke into a run at full speed.
Perhaps it was because her prayers had gotten through, that she immediately
However, the one who was speaking with Lyle was, of all people, Vilhelm
No sooner than she found him, it seemed she had been just in time to see his
face turn into a look of surprise.
Though there were many things she wanted to say, but what she did first was
to glare at the man before her eyes.
"......How scary. Being looked at with such an expression would stop my
heart, Miss Maria."
"If it stops from a lass' glare, then the Lord Zest of the current generation
must really have a delicate heart."
"A lass, eh? They say that even a lioness protecting her young would loosen
her guard every alternate night. Aren't you being a little overprotective?"
"Oh? Since you've said that, it does look like you understand what you're
trying to do, don't you."
Sharpening the look in her green eyes, Maria then said, as though she were
slashing with her words.
"—Please turn back and leave with haste, Margrave Vilhelm Zest. That is, if
you do not wish for another mark on your cheek."
"Dear me...... It seems I'm not welcome."
Vilhelm sighed, looking really sad.
That gesture was truly refined, as one would expect from the young noble
who could charm women as though it were child's play, but Maria did not
loosen her intense glare even for a bit.
The young Margrave—a high rank even among nobility which he had
succeeded, was still an illegitimate second son. Though he should have gone
through unimaginable hardships, he had adapted himself altogether to the
trials and tribulations that were imposed on him.
He was different from those idiots who had gotten their ranks just by
opening their mouths. He possessed both an extraordinary spirit that denied
his limits and burning ambition, a person worthy of being respected, even
Maria felt thus.
However, that was only initially. After meeting him and exchanging a word or
two, her impression had been turned around, and that was when she started
swinging her hand.
She did not have a clear and distinct reason for that. In other words, it was a
She did not like this man. She could never understand a person like him—No,
it should be said that she must never understand him.
And that thought, did not change even now.
".....Somehow, it looks like it would be best if I took my leave."
Shaking his head, Vilhelm got up.
"Ah—before I forget. Miss Maria, would you care to hand over Gerim
Schwatten and the other four that you captured yesterday over to me?"
"...I cannot do that. They had pointed a gun at Lyle, and that makes them
fully-fledged criminals. The ones I should be handing them over to are those
in charge of administrating justice."
"Of course, it won't be completely unreasonable. I will silence their tongues.
Wouldn't that save you the trouble of stopping them from spinning out some
"Do you think we would believe the words of a man who might have
instigated them in the first place?"
"At the very least, I see Lyle as someone with immense worth. I'd like you to
trust me on that."
With a stiff expression, Maria nodded her head in assent.
The 'worth' that she herself had placed on him told her that it was unlikely
that he would double-cross them. Based on that alone, she could trust him.
"I'll send a messenger tonight. That concludes things, I believe, Miss Maria
Highline and Lyle Waldstein."
With a smile brimming with confidence, the young Margrave departed.
As the sight of his figure disappeared completely from her line of sight, Maria
finally let out a slow breath of relief.
".........When they say someone can't be dealt with with ordinary means, they
must refer to someone like him."
Upon him calling out to her, Maria sternly glared at Lyle.
".........What were you thinking?"
"Were you thinking of joining forces with someone like him?"
Without minding the fact that Lyle was cringing, Maria narrowed her eyes.
"Leaving me, whom you've had an inseparable relationship with for over ten
years, for that kind of guy?"
"Ma-Maria, calm down...."
"Calm down? I am already calm enough!"
Contrary to her words, Maria raised her voice.
Maria thought it was mortifying.
As she feared, she only meant that much to Lyle.
"........I am no longer the girl who only ever got lost, y'know? I'm begging you,
at least discuss things with me first. At least share with me your worries........"
Involuntarily, her voice had dropped down to a softer tone, and Maria cast
her eyes downwards. It was rare, for the girl who was always trying her best
in front of Lyle.
To Maria, Lyle Waldstein was a very important person. He was a youth who
was said to be a memento of her family's benefactor, her trusted childhood
friend, and more than anything, the 'benefactor of her soul'.
That was why the fact that Lyle did not rely on her, vexed her this much.
At the depressed state of Maria which he had practically never seen before,
Lyle went into a panic.
"I-I'm sorry! I didn't consult you because I was in a miserable state, and I
didn't want to show you how awful I was! It doesn't mean that I was ignoring
you or anything! I'm sorry! Really sorry! I apologise! I'm sorry, Maria!"
Maria was surprised that her childhood friend was desperately apologising.
Lyle was someone who always brushed off her advances. It was unusual that
he would proactively be concerned for her.
Inside the depressed Maria, hope and expectation were starting to well up.
It was also convenient that she had not let go of his hand. Like a spoiled child,
Maria brought Lyle's arm to her body.
"......Are you really sorry?"
Lyle nodded, his face gradually reddening due to the softness of the chest
that was pushing against him.
Sticking her body close to him, Maria's face was blushing bright red. If he
were not at least embarrassed himself, she would definitely not be able to
".......If so, will you be my partner for the ball tomorrow?"
"S-Sure..... wait, what?"
Lyle blinked. Recovering his composure, he eyed Maria with a suspicious look
in his eyes.
"..........Were those crocodile tears?"
"Hmm? I have no idea what you're talking about, y'know?"
Treating it like a contest, Maria rubbed her chest against him hard. He was
fearful that his heart would burst any moment with how fast it was beating,
as her expression was full of a woman's sensuality, her eyes looking at him
"You said 'sure' and agreed, didn't you? Since you've already said so, you'll
keep your word, won't you?"
"........I understand. I'll promise you, Maria."
Lyle nodded, having seemingly given up.
Crying out inside with joy, Maria hugged Lyle by the neck with all her
"Thank you so much, Lyle!"
"Whoa whoa! Maria— !"
Being hugged this suddenly, Lyle lost his balance.
Overwhelmed by Maria's vigour, Lyle fell down brilliantly.
Groaning with a voice like that of a squashed frog, Lyle had naturally fainted.
It was Lunaria Nebulablut's first time doing something like cleaning. Being the
first to be born to those of the Bloodline of the Fog (the Nebulablut) in
roughly a century, she was brought up by her brethren like a princess.
Hence, it was natural that she would be poor at it. That was how Lunaria
made an excuse for not making any progress at all. Afterwards, she had been
rather surprised at herself when she thought back about it.
Speaking of surprised, those humans who had quite some years on them—all
of them who had the occupation of a 'professor'—had come to visit Lyle.
"May I ask who might you be?"
After they had gotten over their surprise after hearing her answer that she
was the newly hired assistant, they had said, 'I see, he's finally got around to
it..... but he sure did hire a cute young lady. My assistant is a naggy old hag
instead'. After complaining, they passed Lunaria some documents and left.
Closely packed numbers and symbols were written on those documents.
They looked like they had wanted to pass these documents over to Lyle. It
seemed as if that youth could decipher these codes that could even be a
match for the language of faeries and spirits.
Over the day, the laboratory was returned to its original disorderly messy
state, and then the owner of the room returned.
"—Lend me the sofa."
Maria Highline who had turned up and promptly left earlier, said that while
pointing at Lyle who had fainted for some reason.
"...Did something happen?"
Upon Lunaria's enquiry, Maria left the room while whistling.
Was that whistling some sort of prayer or something? I still don't quite
understand the traditions of humans.
Swiftly returning, Maria had a wash basin filled with water in her hands.
Moving the side of Lyle who was lying on the sofa, she soaked a handkerchief
and applied it to the back of his head.
Although Maria looked embarrassed, the movements of her nursing Lyle
were filled with affection. Bringing a chair over to the sofa, she smiled while
gazing at Lyle who was lying there, sleeping. And at times, she reached out to
stroke his forelocks.
While waving her finger, Maria corrected.
".....Honorifics like 'Lady' are used for formal situations."
"........Then, Maria, have you known Lyle for a long time?"
"Hmm... it's already been nine years, seven months and eighteen days since
I've known him, I think."
Maria said in specific detail.
Her meeting with Lyle had been so astounding, to the extent that she could
still clearly remember the day they met.
".......The first time I met him, was at a villa in the countryside."
Although there was no way she could have read Lunaria's inner thoughts,
Maria had started to say while giggling, with a nostalgic expression.
"My mother had a weak constitution, and in order for her to recuperate, I
accompanied her to the countryside. And in that countryside, lived the
Highline family's benefactor, Madam Erllua Azoth."
"She was Lyle's master, and also a foster mother to him. When Madam Erllua
had paid us a visit at the villa, she had brought with her Lyle, whom she had
just taken custody of. He was so skinny and frail, that my first impression of
him was that he was a 'weak, gangly kid'."
'Even though he hasn't changed that much', added Maria, looking down at his
"Because of that, I made Lyle into my sidekick and dragged him around. 'I'll
train you hard!', I said at that time. Thinking back.... it was amazing that he
didn't hate me for it."
The side profile of the wryly smiling Maria, could not be mistaken as anything
other than an expression of a 'maiden in love'.
"Ever since then—Um, you have liked him ever since then, right?"
She started to stutter halfway through her question.
Lunaria who had absolute nil experience regarding the matters of love was
engaging in a discussion on it for the first time.
Maria responded with a groan and frown to Lunaria's enquiry.
"You wanna know?"
"No...... no, I would like to know. Master Lyle is my employer, after all."
"Hm..... well, the closest thing to describe him with would be a 'cowardly
disciple'. At that time, I was a dreamer, so I said things like 'you have to be a
stronger man than me' to him."
"So.... why did you do that?"
"That's a secret."
Cutting it off with a dignified voice, Maria stood up firmly.
"—In just one day, you've had a lot of changes in expression, haven't you. Till
yesterday, you didn't even have the will to die."
After being told that, Lunaria was doubtful of its veracity.
"Did Lyle say something to you? No—rather, he said nothing to you, right?"
Maria had a strained smile.
"I'll be heading back. I've something on tomorrow night, so there are some
preparations I need to do. I'll leave things to you."
Waving her hand, Maria started to leave the room.
Lunaria, without thinking,
"What is it?"
"......Are you fine with this? If he is with someone like me..... Do you not find
Even Lunaria herself did not quite understand why she had asked a question
"Yes, it's unpleasant alright. So much so that I want to pluck out my heart."
Hearing that answer, Lunaria felt a chill in her heart. Previously she had felt
that it was closer to dislike, but that chilling feeling that she thought had
faded away—was actually the feeling of loss.
Could it be, that she had not wanted to lose anything anymore?
She who had nothing to lose, she who simply wanted to fade away, was she
truly thinking that?
But—what was it exactly?
"It's unpleasant, but I don't mind. I will win Lyle over through my own charm.
I won't let something like having one or two more people stop me."
At Maria's words, Lunaria who had unconsciously cast her gaze downwards
raised her head.
The girl with the copper hair suddenly relaxed her frowning expression, and
shrugged her shoulders.
"—Lyle would neither permit it, surely. After all, he's a very prideful and
softhearted person who'll insist that it's for self-satisfaction, even if he gets
hurt, and even if it's hypocrisy."
A very prideful and softhearted person.
Although she was expressing her feelings about that youth, she had a rather
"And so, do as you like. Because that's what I'm going to do."
Saying just that, with her copper hair swinging around, Maria departed.
Dumbfounded, Lunaria could only stare at the door which Maria had left
She was a really impressive girl.
For some reason, Lunaria thought that she herself was miserable. Both
reason and worth for harbouring thoughts of shame, just a little more and
they would have meant nothing to her.
And what was it that had made that girl seemed so dazzling?
Was there a reason for her proudly saying that it was a 'secret'?
".......If I get to know that 'secret', would I too understand you?"
Lunaria whispered while looking down at Lyle.
He who made a mess out of other's hearts, the fainted Lyle was a somewhat
"...........He is truly a hateful man."
Gerim Schwatten and his other four cronies were released deep in the night.
As the coachman who was the messenger dispatched by Margrave Zest
started the horse carriage, they leaked out a sigh of relief at their regained
However, noticing that the horse carriage was heading to the outskirts, one
of the youths called out to the coachman.
"Oi, where are we going?"
The coachman did not respond. Though they scolded him for his disrespect,
the human-like figure remained silent.
Where the horse carriage was stopped, it was in the middle of a field in the
outskirts of the royal capital. The sky was covered by thick clouds, and it was
impossible to accurately determine their exact location.
With the weird coachman leading the way with a lamp, they finally reached a
pit that suddenly opened up in the ground. In the middle of the field covered
with grass, was a part that was paved with concrete artificially.
The coachman descended down the staircase that continued into the bottom
of the pit. The youths reluctantly followed.
......For how long did they descend downwards?
They finally arrived at what looked like an immensely wide space. The only
source of light that was the coachman's lamp was nowhere enough to dispel
the thick darkness.
However, it was enough to illuminate the faces of people there.
The young Margrave, with his sword as a cane, had been waiting for them.
Almost falling over, the youths ran forward, bowing their heads toward
"P-Please forgive us, Lord Vilhelm... for our terribly disgraceful behaviour....."
"However, we have good news! That Lyle Waldstein is a user of suspicious
"He had even kept a fiendish devil wearing the form of a girl as a pet! We
need to call for an Inquisition immediately!"
Vilhelm listened to them motionlessly. No, he only looked as if he were.
Before long, they had ran out of things to say, and Vilhelm, without turning
Leaked out a tiny sigh.
".......How could you even mention something like an Inquisition in this time
and age? Have you forgotten the history of the Kingdom of Ilsestein? For
those words to come from the descendants of nobles who had fought against
the despotism of the Church.....was that meant to be a joke?"
—Was anyone from the group of youths able to notice that subtle change?
That Vilhelm Zest had made a decisive judgement.
".......I realise my folly."
"And on top of that........ I made a promise to make them keep quiet, huh."
Saying that, Vilhelm drew his sword without any enthusiasm. The sword was
brandished as though it were a reward, and as natural as if it were merely a
shrug of the shoulders. The youths inhaled their breaths at its sight.
A flash, two flashes—there were four strikes in total.
As though it were a prearranged act, four of the youths collapsed
The coachman carrying the lamp, as though having seen nothing, did not
move at all.
The only one remaining was Gerim, who was wondering what had brought
this upon him. The power had drained out of him, and he scrambled about on
the ground in fear in an unsightly manner.
"—There's no particular meaning behind this. It was pure chance that my
sword had been swung in this order."
Vilhelm said with a composed tone to Gerim whose voice had been rendered
"I must express my gratitude. Thanks to all of you, I have been able to grasp
the general idea of the power belonging to the major nobles, and also how
they use their assets. I'll be able to do as I please, from now on."
Gerim's face paled.
Taking control of influential nobles. That was what Vilhelm had said.
"Y-You deceived us......"
"That's ridiculous. If you had been more capable, we could have been on
friendlier terms. However, no matter which way you consider it, I'm far
better than you. What you should hate is your own limit, GerimSchwatten."
That had been nothing more than the product of aristocratic spirit.
Whether they had any use to him or not—this man had almost committed
the merciless one-sided slaughteronce done by nobles of the past to the
Right before the eyes of Gerim who was deemed useless, the sharp point of
the sword was thrust at him.
Elegant it was, but the long sword also gave off an ominous feeling. The blade
gave off a faint reddish sheen, looking as though it would drip blood at any
moment. Although the craftsmanship was exquisite, what attracted the most
attention was the mysterious shining gem on the hilt. The dusk-coloured
gem—more commonly used as fuel nowadays, but since time immemorial it
had been known as the mysterious magical stone—amber. As though glaring,
it glowed with a glittering light.
"W-Wait! Please wait! Anything—I'll do anything!"
With a small sigh, the blade sliced through the air.
On the last day of the Springfire Festival, the masquerade ball planned by the
academy's student council on the last day of the holidays begun without a
As the sky darkened, people in all sorts of fantastic get-ups started to appear
from every corner of Vergenheim Academy. There were girls wearing
kimonos that came from the Oriental East and guys geared in full metal
armour. There were also those who had put on skull-shaped masks imitating
the Grim Reaper or the classic white mask of a jester.
Looking at the students in different elaborate outfits in the dance hall of the
academy, Lyle felt dizzy.
Lyle himself was dressed in a normal suit with an owl mask that covered the
top half of his face. Although, in the midst of people wearing tiger or lion
pelts, that could be considered rather mild. Besides his mask, he was as
normal as it got.
Idling away at a corner of the hall, he was abruptly clapped on his shoulder.
Looking at the person who had nonchalantly done so—Lyle groaned.
"It's you, Lyle, isn't it? It's me, your pal."
The grotesque zombie before him with arrows sticking out of his head,
complete with fake eyeballs popping out—the person dressed up like a
zombie before him, called out to Lyle with a familiar attitude.
"...Are you Hazel?"
With energy unlike that of a zombie's, Hazel puffed out his chest, proud of his
"So, whaddya think about this costume?"
"...It's pretty good."
"Yeah! The troupe I was working with as a part-time job dressed me up with
their stage props. Just what you'd expect from true professionals. Did it scare
"Yep. It sure did."
"With a get-up as awesome as this, I'm gonna stand out more than any of
those bastards out there. The ladies are gonna go gaga at me."
Although Hazel seemed pretty excited, Lyle simply nodded his head in
"But, how did you know it was me?"
"'Cause you were just standing there without looking like you had any
interest in the ladies. Look, the impatient ones are already starting."
While some people were making small talk, they could also see others that
were whispering into their partner's ears. In masquerade balls, guessing the
names of the other party-goers was but one of the games. It also provided a
good opportunity for people to make romantic confessions, with lines like, 'I
finally found you'. Although there were also rumours that lovers who took
part in the ball together would end up breaking up if they could not find their
"They're really desperate, aren't they? Especially those guys who couldn't get
a girlfriend, but it's not like they can do much about it. Well, someone who's
got it real good like you wouldn't care about them, would you..."
"I'm begging you, don't put that face so close to me..."
Just as Lyle winced due to Hazel's visage of death drawing near him, a stir of
wonder began to spread throughout the hall. Following where the masked
guests were looking at, they found themselves shifting their attention
towards the entrance.
The Goddess of Fire—the collective attentions of the party-goers were
concentrated upon the woman so gorgeously dressed.
A deep crimson dress that adorned her slender body. Her back and shoulders
were daringly exposed, yet it gave off the impression of sheer grace and
beauty. Wrapped around her chest area were many layers of thin cloth that
resembled a plumage.
She wore a glamorous mask crafted of scarlet-dyed feathers. Even from just
her red lips and fine jaw, they could tell that she was beautiful. And
combined with her copper hair, her outfit was truly magnificent, as though
she were a phoenix.
"Absolutely gorgeous and filled with glamour, yet there's not even a single bit
Hearing Hazel's thoughts, the charmed Lyle came to his senses. While
rebuking himself for having lost his composure, he approached the [Goddess
of Fire] who had been encircled by people.
"...As promised, I have come to be your escort, Lady Maria Highline."
"Thank you, and let us enjoy the evening , Sir Lyle Waldstein."
Curtseying with perfect etiquette, Maria who was dressed up as the Goddess
of Fire then reached out with her hand, placing it on top of Lyle's.
"Sigh~ I knew it, it's Lady Maria."
Startled by the approaching zombie, Maria reflexively threw out her fist.
"Maria! That's Hazel! He's Hazel!"
"Oh. Oops. He was a little too disgusting, so I......"
"U-uu... that hurt......"
Hazel who had been struck right in the liver, rose up totteringly as though he
was about to die.
Looking at the overly eerie face of Hazel, Lyle and Maria then exchanged
glances with each other, and turned around to face the commotion that was
rising up once more.
"Whoa! Look at that!"
Hazel who had seen the source of the commotion, departed as though he
were a fresh new zombie.
The one who had caught the attention of the party-goers, this time, was a
slim, slender girl in a black dress. The dress was elaborately cut, though it had
a simple design, which emphasised just how ephemeral the girl was. Her
mask was black like her entire outfit, which further highlighted the clarity of
her pale silver hair.
The Princess of Moonlight—that might have been the best way to describe
Her ephemeral atmosphere stimulated the guys' protective instincts, and
hence a lot of male students approached her asking to be her escort. And
amongst them was a certain zombie (Hazel), shoving his way through till he
reached her. With exaggerated gestures, Hazel made a speech, but the girl
lightly brushed him off with one or two word answers, and he fell prostrate
onto the floor of the hall.
"......I feel sorry for him."
Just as everybody's attention were focused on the creepy 'body' that was
more realistic than the real thing itself, the [Princess of Moonlight] slipped
out of the crowd of people. Coming over and stopping before Lyle, who had
watched the entire thing from start to end, she made a curtsey.
"......He really invited you, didn't he."
Pouting her lips, Maria then turned and faced the [Princess of Moonlight]—
"A good evening to you, Lady Maria. —As tonight calls for formality."
"Uh-huh. Good evening to you too, Lunaria."
"Thank you... and a good evening to you too, Master Lyle."
"You too, Lunaria."
Though he was a little concerned with Maria who was trying to hint at
something and Lunaria's appearance, Lyle pointed at the 'corpse' being
carried away and said,
"...What did you say to him?"
"I refused Sir Hansel, telling him that, 'Master Lyle keeps me busy all night,
and thus I cannot lend anyone my body.'"
Although it was true that she was up busy cleaning even at night, her words
were nonetheless misleading for someone still going through his teenage
For a few seconds, Lyle made a silent prayer in his heart for Hazel, whose
name had not even been remembered.
"More importantly—is there something that is making us the centre of
Lyle surveyed the surroundings, after hearing Lunaria's words.
The many students within the grandiose hall were focusing their attention at
Lyle—rather, at the [Goddess of Fire] and [Princess of Moonlight] who were
waiting upon him.
Both Maria and Lunaria were exceptionally beautiful girls who gave off
different impressions. Their masquerade tonight only served to further
enhance those impressions others had of them. It was not surprising that
they were in the spotlight.
"Still, it looks like there are some pretty scary looks mixed in there."
Stifling her smile, Maria took Lyle's right arm.
Those scary looks—namely, the looks coming from the guys, intensified. Lyle
could feel the intensity of the stares of those who were gritting their teeth in
jealousy both in his heart and on his neck. The bloodthirst focused upon his
vital points were rather unnerving.
"Master Lyle, your hand."
Saying that, Lunaria entwined her arm with his, on Maria's opposite side.
From somewhere, he could feel the voices cursing him, going, '...Ain't he one
hell of a bastard no matter how you look at it?', 'I'll kick his ass later'.
"L-Lunaria? I'd really appreciate it if you would let go of me..."
"It would not do for me to be separated from my master."
Hearing Lunaria say that, the grinding of teeth could be heard.
(...Is she doing this on purpose?)
Looking at Lunaria, Lyle thought that even if she wore a mask, there really
was no difference given her usual expressionless face.
"Isn't having a lady on each arm a man's dream, Lyle?"
Maria who was on his right could not hide the teasing smile worn on her lips,
and pressed herself closer to him, as though emphasising her cleavage.
Instantly, the ripping sounds of handkerchieves that were being gnawed
upon resounded from all over the hall.
(......They sure have put me in a tight spot.....)
Lyle's childhood friend whose purpose in life seemed to be teasing him
endlessly was indeed a massive headache-inducing existence for him.
Having these troublesome girls on each arm, Lyle was dragged to the middle
of the hall. With each step he took, the killing intent that he felt increased
—If he were to get killed in the near future, they would not have a shortage of
suspects, for sure.
Just as Lyle was despairing over his future, a waiter called out to them with
an "Excuse me."
"I have a message here for you, Milady."
With that, he handed an envelope to Maria. She then opened the envelope
and took out the letter inside, with a suspicious look on her face.
"......Hmm. Sorry about this, but excuse me for a while, Lyle. Something just
Shrugging her shoulders, Maria reluctantly let go of Lyle's arm.
"Got it? Until I get back, don't make a fool out of yourself!"
Emphasising her words by pointing at him, Maria then followed behind the
Lyle who had been left there, felt the slight lessening of killing intent, and
heaved a sigh of relief instinctively.
"...Oh well, let's enjoy ourselves, shall we?"
"Yes, Master Lyle."
With that, Lunaria pressed herself onto him.
The feeling of her body he felt on his arm was surprisingly delicate, and that
made the softness of her slight chest a little more prominent.
Though Lyle tried to break free, she grabbed on with even greater strength
that he did not expect from such a slender arm, and gave up trying to.
Immediately following that, the hall was filled with dance music. Beneath the
crystal chandelier, men and women in all sorts of eccentric get-ups began to
dance a waltz, with steps that had grace unlike their costumes.
"Are you going to dance as well, Master Lyle?"
"I'm afraid not..."
He did learn a bit of dancing before, but his teacher had told and emphasised
specifically to him, 'Got it? Lyle, you can't dance with anyone else besides me,
understand? Definitely not!' There was no doubt that he must have been a
really bad dancer.
"What about you, Lunaria? You seem like you'd be good at it."
"...I have been taught how to dance, but I was never skilled at it."
He was a little relieved that he was not alone in that, and with that, they
found themselves with nothing to do.
As they were wondering what to do next, their heads tilted in contemplation,
the music ended, those that were dancing dispersed, and a new group of
people stepped onto the middle of the hall. The orchestra started to set up,
and the conductor was stretching his shoulders.
"...That reminds me."
An idea suddenly struck him. Grasping Lunaria's hand, Lyle brought her to the
The orchestra was formed from the students from the music club. Lyle
bowed his head to the student conductor.
"Excuse me, but this lady here would like to sing a song. Would you be so
kind as to let her have the floor?"
Even though she had her mask on, it was evident that she was completely
Throwing Lunaria a fleeting glance, the conductor nodded his head lightly,
and let them have the conductor's stage.
"Well, if you please."
"You may not be that good at dancing, but singing is your forte, right? Just
give it a shot."
".....As you wish, Master Lyle."
Lunaria whispered as though in surrender, got up onto the conductor's stage
and bowed her head to the orchestra. After a discussion with the leader of
the orchestra, they decided on a rather antiquated piece of music.
Couples who had found each other were gathering in the middle of the hall.
At the sound of the leading violin, the music started.
Lunaria synchronised herself with the rhythm, and—
The moment she started her song, everybody froze in place, and turned their
heads to the source of the song and the music which accompanied it. The
members of the orchestra who had been in blank amazement stopped their
playing of the instruments, but quickly resumed in a panic. The conductor
beside Lyle was completely caught off-guard by Lunaria's singing voice, and
could not take his eyes off her.
(......Once again, I'm reminded of how truly beautiful her voice is.)
There were many legends of Phantasms that related to their 'singing voice'.
Lunaria's song was fitting for a «Nosferatu», those who were the children of
the night, giving off the feeling of a clear night sky with a silent moon.
When her song ended, the students who were dancing broke into hearty
applause at the songstress who had suddenly took the stage.
Although Lunaria had stiffened up on the conducting stage, before long, she
made a small bow and stepped down.
"Good work there."
"......It's the first time that I have gotten such an applause."
Mumbling in a small voice, Lunaria tugged on Lyle's sleeve.
"Lunaria, you sing really well."
"......I must confess that I do not have much of a liking for dancing... and that I
practiced singing for the purpose of covering that up......"
Lyle could not see her expression underneath her mask, but somehow it
appeared that she was rather pleased, and so he was relieved.
"—Erm, excuse me."
The voice of the student conductor reached their ears. It seemed like they
wanted an encore because of her popularity.
"Yeah. It's alright, go ahead."
"...Please excuse me then. Thank you very much."
Bowing her head, Lunaria went off to join the orchestra members in a halfrun. With that, she would be able to enjoy herself despite her inability to dance,
which Lyle was thankful for.
The melody of a moonlit night begun once more. And so, Lyle closed his eyes
and enjoyed it.
Maria ascended to the second storey of the hall.
Looking down from the atrium, the masquerade ball of fantastic outfits
seemed almost like a zoo.
Maria was led to one of the private spaces that had been partitioned off by
curtains, and she frowned behind her mask.
"Greetings, Miss Maria."
The one who welcomed Maria was the young Margrave, Vilhelm Zest. The
militaristic uniform he wore suited him well, but for some reason he was not
wearing a mask, even though it was a masquerade ball.
Holding back a sigh, Maria curtseyed before him.
"It is my honour to be invited, Lord Zest. I understand why is it you have
called for me."
"There's no way I could mistake another woman for you―saying that out
loud does sound rather impressive, hm. By the way, would you care to bring
me to a boutique and give me a few pointers on how to pick a mask and an
Maria could not hide the indignation on her face at how rudely she was
invited, and Vilhelm raised his hands in surrender.
"I apologise for my rudeness. Won't you let me make it up to you over some
Of course, she could have forcibly left, but it seemed like doing that would
bring a fair amount of trouble later on.
Maria took a seat violently. She did not even so much as take a glance at the
food that had been prepared.
"Do you not like the tea that had been prepared?"
"Not at all. I do enjoy tea, but I like them best when you have some milk to go
Blocking out the mellow fragrance of the tea from her mind, Maria then
"And so? You came to a masquerade ball without a mask, care to share