During the last week of summer break—
Having finished our journey around the Luminous territory, I stopped by my home with Laura.
“I bid you welcome, Lord Albert.”
Sebastian welcomed us.
I planned on sojourning here for a few days to alleviate the fatigue of our travels, then returning to the academy via teleportation circle.
“HAWAWAWAWAWA! HAWAWAWAWAWA! ALBEEEEEERT! THE LIFE OF A MARQUIS IS TOO AMAZIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!”
Laura was astounded by the rich marquis lifestyle for the second time.
While we were leisurely spending our time doing this and that, Sebastian promptly called out to me.
“What is it?”
“Master calls for you.”
I didn’t feel as pressured as I did last time; I was surprisingly up to the idea of talking with him.
“Understood. Lead the way.”
—I was able to speak without any hesitation.
I headed toward his office and found him sitting down.
I was convinced that Father would be in a laid-back mood like I was, but the room was enveloped by a strange mood.
…Are there still more difficult things we need to talk about…?
“Thank you for returning, Albert. I’m sorry for doing this while you’re tired, but there’s a few things I want to ask you about.”
I stood in front of Father.
“What is it?”
“Hm. The thing is… I’ve heard some peculiar rumors.”
“That’s right. I periodically send someone to patrol the remote villages to see how they’re faring, but there’ve been reports saying that all the goblins and orcs considered as dangerous were being defeated. This was happening in several—no, a considerable amount of villages at that.”
That reminded me of all the things we did…
“When I asked the villagers, they said a man named Albert came and defeated the monsters for them, but—”
Father intently stared at me and continued.
“Is that ‘Albert’ person you, Albert?”
…I mean, I did everything within the territory without using an alias; it was only natural that Father would get word of my actions.
That being said, it wasn’t really a problem if Father found out.
That’s why I responded like so:
“Yes, it’s just as you said.”
“…I knew you were going on a journey, but… I never would’ve thought you were doing all that…”
“I believed I could kill two birds with one stone by helping the Luminous people and hearing their genuine opinions after gaining their trust.”
“You’ve done well to help the Luminous people. I give you my thanks, Albert.”
“Remote areas tend to be short of hands in the first place. There’s only so much people and budget that we can allocate. To make matters worse, it’s been an especially rough year so far. It’s been hard on the citizens…”
“This year? Why?”
“It’s because of Alencia’s expedition. Since the Luminous was in charge of the army, we needed to prepare a large number of soldiers. Because of that, the soldiers protecting the territory are spread thin.”
Then, he breathed out a sigh.
“Alencia bore the responsibility of managing domestic affairs, but his death isn’t the only reason for our plight. Our financial situation has seen better days, and there’s a shortage of workers. A territory has to deal with lots of problems, you know.”
Then, Father continued in a joking tone.
“Whoops. This isn’t something I should be saying to you, the successor, of all people. Don’t go saying you’ll give up on being the successor now, alright?”
It seems like Father was attempting to shorten our distance.
How long has it been since I heard Father tell a joke? It must’ve been way longer than 10 years.
I responded with a slight smile.
“Of course I wouldn’t say that.”
Then, I continued.
“If you’re searching for people willing to become soldiers, I have a suggestion.”
“What is it?”
“How about getting in touch with the vigilance committee
of the villages?”
I went to numerous villages, and there, I saw both young men and women alike devote themselves for the sake of their village. A large majority of them earnestly tried their hardest to protect their village.
Even if they became Luminous soldiers, they would do their jobs with a firm sense of responsibility. I’m sure they would grow into exceptional people that care for the villages.
“I’ve just taken care of the monsters that threatened their villages; they must have the leeway to spare some people. Even if they’re hired as soldiers, I believe the villages won’t be put in any danger.”
“…I see, that isn’t a half-bad idea.”
“Please give it further thought. I will give you a list of the people that stood out to me when I went around the villages.”
Father’s eyes shined as he looked at me.
“Ooh… Albert… you’d even go that far…!”
“It only matters if it proves useful.”
I felt a slight feeling of satisfaction as I said that.
There was meaning in what I’ve done. All sorts of different things led up to this moment. This was quite a nice feeling.
Father looked directly into my eyes.
“…Albert. You’ve journeyed to remote villages and had all sorts of conversations with the people living there.”
“The reality is that remote villages face a wide variety of problems. They live in a place where the light of the government doesn’t reach… How about it? This is a rare opportunity. Why don’t you try and come up with some sort of policy to help them out?”
He’s trying to take me for a ride…
I said I wouldn’t do any of the actual work, so this conversation was off-limits. Father was probably ignoring that while being fully aware of it.
It was easy to say no.
However, I’ve come to understand—about the various people living in remote areas. They were also citizens of the Luminous territory.
If there was something I could do for them, then I should do it. After all, they put their faith in me and talked about all sorts of things.
“…As incapable as I may be, I will give it some thought.”
“You don’t need to take it seriously. It’s fine even if nothing comes to mind. I’ll take care of the finer details.”
Father spoke in high spirits.
I changed the subject.
“I have something I need to report about a certain remote village.”
“What is it?”
I told him everything about the village that had been preserving the Hydra’s seal all this time.
Father let out a stiff voice after he finished listening.
“…So there was a village like that, huh…”
“Yes. The peace of the Luminous territory was built upon their sacrifices.”
Then, I continued.
“I am aware that we are in a tight spot financial-wise, but I want to recompense them for their hardship. I would like you to consider constructing a memorial building or something of the like for them.”
“…Of course! I’ll personally pay them a visit and listen to their story!”
After giving a firm nod, Father threw another question at me.
“And what of that Hydra?”
“I defeated it.”
That must’ve taken him by total surprise, as he recoiled backward.
“You defeated… a dragon?”
“…Ooh… oooh…! Albert! Albert, my boy! You… you really are…!”
Father excitedly rattled on and on, seemingly unable to put his emotions into words.
After regaining some composure, Father spoke.
“I take utmost pride in you!”
Then, he loudly declared:
“You are Luminous’ hero!”
…I’m… Luminous’ hero?
“You wished to exist as both Albert and Albert Luminous, but—that might’ve been the correct decision. You go beyond what a single title of lord can contain. Continue to follow your heart and do the right thing!”
This was the biggest compliment Father has ever given me.
I never thought I’d ever hear those words from him, so I was overwhelmed with emotions.
I was unable to think of the proper thing to reply with.
Just saying this was all I could do:
“…Thank you very much. I hope to lead a life worthy of your praise…”
Today’s first chap. Was a bit late on this one, but I’ll try and get the next chap out. This marks the end of the fourth book, next one will focus more on his school life.