Thank you for the Ko-fi Kay!
Lucerne was first driven to war at the age of fourteen. The place he was sent to was the gates of the Elpirim Mountains.
‘If it’s the Elpirim Mountains… … .’
Elisha heard of them, too. It was once the zone most overrun with monsters in the empire. Now, all the monsters were cleared out, and it was an area known for its plentiful manastone mines.
Additionally, the Elpirim Mountains were the beginning of Lucerne’s heroic story. It was because the boy commander had succeeded in organizing the place.
“There was a place called the Masar Mercenary Corps. They were competent mercenary army, trusted by nobles. Unfortunately, they were caught up in the rebellion of the remnants of the Old Kingdom Alliance. Since many of them were from the Old Kingdom most of them were falsely accused and purged. At least the survivors, including their bereaved families, were driven to the Elpirim Mountains along with Lucerne. It was a place to die. And with the people of the Masar mercenary corps they were destined to be buried together.”
“… … .”
Elisha listened carefully to the story.
“And I heard that it was the Cartier family who sent the mercenaries there.”
There were some stories she knew and other stories she didn’t know. At the time, being sent to such a place was a death sentence, and Lucerne seemed doomed to die. However, the shadow demon dwelling in his body awakened and saved everyone.
“I heard later that Lucerne was not normal at that time. That … … . Merha—that damn bastard to Lucerne-nim… … .”
So when the mercenaries met Lucerne for the first time, what they encountered was a child that resembled a beast more than a human that was accompanied by a guardian deity.
Among them was a young man named Pian. Pian was a fairly famous mage at the time, but he was sent there after being accused of treason with the Old Kingdom and condemned by the Cartier family.
Pian was also famous as a teacher of royal studies in the Old Kingdom. There were many monarchs in the Old Kingdom Union, so they all wanted to entrust their children to him. Such a mage named himself Lucerne’s subordinate and teacher.
Chris was there too. He was an outstanding knight and swordsman of the Kingdom Union. Elot was 14 years old at the time, a genius wizard similar to Lapis and Lazuli now. Elisha felt dizzy.
‘I drove that precious wizard to death.’
There must have been numerous political reasons in between. It was already 20 years ago that the Old Kingdom coalition collapsed. Shortly after Elisha’s birth, she was told that the kingdom’s union had collapsed.
For the next 20 years, the territories from the Old Kingdom Union became prey for neighboring powers. Indeed the Lor estate was also consumed by the Cartier family.
It was highly likely that the Masar mercenaries were the ones the Cartier family mistakenly caught while plundering the territories. Without doing so, there was little chance they would be driven to death along with Lucerne, not anyone else.
“They survived there for three years and cleared the Elphirim Mountains. And after returning to the capital, Lucerne made most of them knights.”
Lazuli said calmly.
“And then what?”
“Everyone betrayed Lucerne.”
She had heard the story before and knew it. Jacob’s father, Stevan, was alive at the time. He was said to be a wicked and charming trickster who cruelly played with people’s minds.
“Some had the lives of their families held hostage, while some were bribed with money. Everyone abandoned Lucerne. Not only that, but they were forced to cut ties with him. I don’t know what cruel things transpired in between but in the end, that’s what happened.”
“So that’s why he mistrusts people?”
“… … He wants to protect people.”
Lapis added hastily. Then Nora opened her mouth.
“Stevan coaxed them all out and slaughtered them overnight. And he declared mockingly, ‘Everything that comes into my hands is mine. I can handle them however I please and you can’t do anything about it.'”
“… … .”
“The Cartiers are such people.”
Elisha couldn’t say anything. Lucerne wasn’t even an adult at the time. But during such formative years, he had encountered all kinds of humans; his family, subordinates, and friends.
And he was betrayed by and lost every one of those people.
“What do they have to do with you?”
Elisha asked calmly.
“… … We are the reason Pian-nim betrayed the general.”
“He did it to save us. The general took us in and protected us. Because he’s that kind of person… … .”
She saw the guilt in Lapis’ eyes. She wanted to comfort him.
“What about Nora?”
“I was a distant relative of Chris, a retired knight and mercenary.”
Elisha deserved to know the circumstances.
“There are just things like that in the world. In that case, who could resist?”
At her words, Lapis, Lazuli, and Nora fell silent. Elisha took a spare lily from their hands and set it afloat in the river.
“So you’re not at fault.”
But what they needed was Lucerne’s forgiveness. Unfortunately, Elisha couldn’t give it in his stead. So all she could offer was a sigh of tenderness.
“Where have you been?”
When Elisha entered her parlor, Lucerne was reading the papers nonchalantly. Finally, she sat down next to him.
“I drank tea at the cafe.”
“Elisha, you know I get reports about your day.”
She looked at him. She was even more confused, and her heart ached.
‘Why on earth did he spare me then?’
The day Carola mockingly invited Lucerne in her previous life. He had slaughtered everyone in the building. His anger was now understandable.
Elisha should have died then. Instead, she enraged the snake and, somehow, managed to be the only one who escaped its deadly venom.
She even went so far as to mention she knew Pian. It was obvious how Lucerne must have taken the situation. Elisha must have been another betrayal of sorts to him. Besides, people were even more upset after being stabbed in the back by an insignificant being.
“I went with Lapis, Lazuli, and Nora to the riverside.”
“… … I know.”
“I am not snitching. After all, Nora will answer honestly if you ask.”
“That’s true, too.”
She approached Lucerne. She came close to him.
“I’m sure that big-mouth Lapis said spilled everything about my past. Do you think this will ease my anger?”
“You said you wouldn’t be angry with me.”
“… … I did.”
Elisha looked into his eyes. Since she was rarely affectionate, Lucerne stared at her without moving and then, with a suspicious sidelong glance–
“Are you sympathizing with me?”
“Are you crazy? Who am I?”
Is there anything more foolish than a herbivore worrying about a predator? Elisha was straightforward and severe.
“Yes, of course, you are.”
Lucerne was baffled. Silence passed for a few seconds. But eventually, Elisha spoke up first.
“… … are you okay?”
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