Asyut picked up a piece of the report that was spread out in front of him and then tossed it aside after a glance.
Unable to feel motivated, he stood up from the sofa and poured himself a glass of water from the shelf before draining it in one go. –As he thought, work wasn’t something to be brought into his private room. Along with his sigh Asyut felt that keenly. But there was a mountain of problems and they were all serious matters that could not be ignored. During the day, he was up to his neck in dealing with business that the only way to think slowly over these problems was to set aside a short time at night.
The environment surrounding the Saint Celiastina was once again starting to change greatly.
There were many points related to her that he was concerned about. First, the most immediate problem was the matter of her bodyguards. Ever since Neisan, a victim of the Holy Jail, was announced as a candidate to be her bodyguard everyone’s doubts began to swell again.
The same situation occurred when Aeneas became one. Why did he expressly want to serve as the hated saint’s bodyguard? Was he not hiding a plot to avenge himself? If that was not the case then, conversely, was the saint the one who appointed him as a bodyguard again? If so, then for what reason?
Certainly, the surrounding voices gradually became smaller as Aeneas did his work with devotion. From an outsider’s view, the master and servant relationship was also favorable and, from the start, Aeneas’ nature made it hard to associate him with shadowy actions like deceiving people for revenge.
But what about Neisan? Those who had knowledge of him, knew him. Originally, he was a man whose specialty was gathering intelligence and assassination. Various factors, which happened in a row, led him to walking a path as a squire but, even if his title changed, he might still be acting behind the scenes of the royal palace as a “shadow”.
(Just when everyone was gradually starting to accept her.)
She had been a saint who pushed the limits of cruelty but, since she lost her memories, her earnestness was certainly changing the atmosphere of the royal palace. That all her hard work would come to nothing was something that vexed Asyut.
Of course the problems weren’t just the talks from their surroundings.
Currently, even Asyut did not know what Neisan’s intentions were. He hadn’t shown any noticeable movements so far and his work attitude was as serious as always. But still, Asyut thought that he was certainly planning something. And yet.
(My head hurts…)
What exactly was he really planning? The person in question had actually just visited Asyut’s room. Once he said that he had something to report on Lady Celiastina, even Asyut was unable to coldly send him away.
What he heard was that, about an hour ago, Celiastina slipped out of her room alone. Furthermore, she met with Linus at a courtyard. In the past, he had heard that this frequently happened but for that to continue even now… there was something about that which made his heart noisy, but the problem was that her movements had been caught by Neisan from beginning to end.
Asyut had told several of his subordinates to keep a watch over Neisan’s movements. That none of his subordinates reported anything meant nothing other than that Neisan was able to circumvent them. This was exacerbating the impending danger and just as Asyut knew without a doubt that he couldn’t leave Neisan as a bodyguard Neisan continued to give a more detailed report in an indifferent manner.
There was a strange point to the two’s conversation. They should have been talking about Celiastina herself and yet it was a very objective and calm talk. They treated her past and wrongs, and the circumstances that led up to her committing those wrongs, “as if it were the problem of a third person, who was not there”–.
He could understand that portion of Neisan’s report. Neisan didn’t know but Celiastina was currently experiencing memory loss. It wasn’t strange that she was talking together with Linus about past events objectively in order to regain her memories.
However, at the same time, there was something that caught at Asyut.
Like Neisan mentioned, Asyut had also thought many times that Celiastina’s speech and conduct was very much like a third party. It didn’t feel like it was because she couldn’t experience the emotions of her past with her memories lost. She could be seen as a completely different person, sectioned from the past Celiastina.
For example, it had been like that during the time they stood together in the flower field. When Asyut said they could come back next year to see the torch bugs together, she looked like she had been about to cry. She soon smiled and nodded but he was unable to forget the expression she just had. It was a look like she had given up somewhere and that she realized, next year, that it wouldn’t be her who would stand beside him in that same place.
The current Celiastina was always standing at a distance one step away. Even though she focused on the future and dealt with everything positively, she didn’t create a place for herself to belong in that future. It was as if she were intentionally thinking about distancing herself from there. They weren’t the same. They weren’t the same person. It was a completely different existence, not Celiastina…
When he thought that, Asyut wondered if this was nothing more than a delusion from his own desire. In reality, it was an idiotic thought. The experience of falling down a cliff and nearly losing her life created another personality inside of her. Wasn’t there a report that made such a conclusion to Celiastina’s sudden change? But it was clear that it wasn’t just him and that other people felt the same strangeness towards Celiastina. What was the truth?
During the time Asyut was thinking, Neisan silently watched Asyut. He might have expressly come here to report to Asyut, thinking that he might know something. He was hoping that, if Asyut knew the answer to that strangeness, then at least Asyut might show a reaction that could be a clue.
If that was the case, then would Neisan’s actions change depending on the answer? If he was personally out for revenge on Celiastina then, possibly, just knowing that she had no memories of those days might be a chance for him to give up. However, if he wasn’t acting as an individual, and was acting as a member of an organization then–.
That was another large problem related to Celiastina.
Recently, the people who were driven out of the royal palace due to the past Celiastina’s tyranny had gathered and created an organization stating that they were against the saint.
The existence of such an organization was known by them long ago. But it wasn’t anything they needed to be concerned about and so they didn’t particularly do anything and left the organization alone. However, it seemed lately that their numbers have increased and their unity has strangely strengthened. On one hand, there were written protests calmly distributed through towns, but it was said that recently there was an increase in people who carried arms and declared their intentions. Before they became a stronger organization, the royal palace needed to take measures.
And if Neisan was involved with such an organization then…
(As I thought, I had better remove him as Lady Celiastina’s bodyguard, by force if needed.)
Just as his decision was settled alone.
“Asyut, you free?”
A loud voice was heard clearly through the door. It was the Vice-captain of the Order of Holy Knights, Siegcrest.
“Yeah, the door’s unlocked.”
Asyut replied to Siegcrest while feeling somewhat relieved. Noticing that he had deep furrows between his eyebrows, he pressed his right hand against his forehead and sighed.
Siegcrest entered the room in an easygoing manner. It seemed that he had finished his work already and thrown off his military uniform to change into his simple civilian clothes. Although he was armed with a sword, any one or two ruffians would be thrown to the ground and ended by his thick arms.
“Were you heading to bed?”
As he spoke he sat down on the back of the sofa as if it were a natural thing to do, but Asyut didn’t bother rebuking him.
“I see, that’s good.”
“So, what’s wrong?”
When asked, Siegcrest returned a silly “ahh” noise.
“I thought this place might be getting noisy again.”
It seemed like even Siegcrest was thinking the same things that Asyut was.
“On Neisan’s matter, the criticism from the outside must have gotten stronger again, right? Including Aeneas, they’re saying it’s strange that those two are acting as bodyguards for Celia.”
“Those guys are doing their best but I also feel a bit sorry for them.”
When he remained quiet, Siegcrest looked at him with searching eyes.
“You thought the same, which was why you let the two be bodyguards, no? Especially Neisan; this time I thought you wouldn’t allow it for sure.”
Of course, he had intended not to allow it. But he had been unexpectedly struck by Celiastina’s strong entreaty and went with that flow on the spot.
“And what do you personally think about those two? Particularly Neisan, and what he intends to do by coming forward as a bodyguard.”
Siegcrest, who was asked, twisted his large mouth and groaned.
“Yeah, I think it’s an actual problem and really suspicious. Personally, I don’t hate the guy. He’s certainly good at his work and a dependable subordinate. To the point where his direct supervisor entrusts hard jobs to him. But, when he unconcernedly completes his jobs, you don’t know what he’s thinking. He’s not easy to understand like Aeneas, though I’m also easy to understand.”
Really suspicious, huh. Asyut took those words down in his mind.
Siegcrest was thoroughly sweet to the people who entered his heart. He would often cover for or clean up after his subordinates’ mistakes and when his friends wanted to cut loose and drink he would more or less match their mood and accompany them, even if he was tired. However, despite being good-natured, his mind was different. He was able to judge things accurately and calmly.
“Actually, just a while ago, Lady Celiastina slipped out of her room alone.”
“Neisan noticed that and escorted Lady Celiastina back to her room.”
“Lady Celiastina was returned unharmed and without incident… Do you still think Neisan is suspicious?”
Uhhh, Siegcrest scratched his head roughly.
“Looks like something absurd just happened. Well, but, even still he’s suspicious. It was definitely an ideal opportunity to do something to Celia and it doesn’t make sense to let that go by. But, though we see it as an ideal chance, there might be reasons it wasn’t for Neisan.”
“Reasons it wasn’t?”
“For example, it was an ideal chance to kill her there but maybe it wasn’t time yet so he let her go. You could say the go sign wasn’t given.”
“You know already. Those anti-saint faction people.”
Of course they would arrive here, huh. Asyut nodded.
“Well, anyhow, everything’s nothing more than a guess. It could be that it’s completely unrelated to the anti-saint faction and, while he was together with Celia, the poison in him was removed. Like you.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Although Asyut replied like that, he was unable to strongly object.
“At any rate, there’s the thing with the bodyguards, but we need to keep our eyes firmly on the anti-saint faction and make a move. Rather, that one is more important right now. Apparently there was a brush with them close to the royal palace today. There was a Molotov cocktail thrown at the royal army’s office.”
“Was it unmistakably the anti-saint faction’s work?”
“They were kind enough to leave a letter claiming responsibility.”
As he thought, was the situation heading in a bad direction little by little? If it was just a thrown Molotov cocktail then it wasn’t something that Asyut and Siegcrest could publicly act on. The problem was that the faction held enough organizational power that their anti-saint controversies were gradually extending to the royal palace. Up to now, the anti-saint faction only had small activity in rural areas. However, when looking at their recent actions, their area of activity was definitely spreading. This was by no means preferable.
“I’m annoyed. We should move loudly and soon with our current forces and crush them in one blow.”
In reality, they were unable to grab the necks of the spies just from this skirmish. With Siegcrest’s spirited personality, it must be a terribly irritating thing.
“Well, anyway, the first thing is Celia’s safety. If she learns about the anti-saint faction she’ll surely trouble over this and that and move around. You’ll have to keep her in mind from here on too. That girl, even though she listens quietly and agrees to do what people say, she actually goes on all by herself. Sometimes you gotta take her by the hand and stop her.”
Asyut had a stifled and difficult expression.
“From here on, huh.”
At that murmur, Siegcrest looked at him blankly.
“Haven’t you already been watching over Celia? That’s why I’m saying to keep doing that from here on too.”
Siegcrest looked at Asyut’s face with amusement.
“Or did you not plan to do that?”
Asyut did not answer and cast his gaze outside the window. Tonight was a cloudless starry night. This night sky was spread out equally above everyone and anyone. For some reason, Asyut thought that Celiastina might also be looking up at this wide sky.
(T/N: This was a short chapter so, as an apology to how long the last update took, you guys get another one in a row! The next one is a HUGE chapter though so it’ll take a while. For comparison, this was 10 pages but the next one is 42. It’s good though. REAL good, trust me. Also, all this Neisan hate :( poor dude.)