A Chance Meeting – Dimer McGwire
“At least let Gu-chan stay with us until he grows up,” Anna McGwire wailed as she clung to her father.
“You know we can’t do that,” the father, Dimer McGwire, said as he reluctantly shook his head.
To Dimer, Grey was the grandson he had been waiting for; it’d be a lie to say that he didn’t want to dote on Grey. But there was a reason that he had to give up his beloved grandson to the Millard family.
Currently, the question of succession had arisen, and the McGwire family had split into two factions.
The first supported the current head, Bart McGwire.
Bart and his wife had two children, but as they were both female, they couldn’t succeed the position. Some said that Bart should just take in a mistress, but Bart was an unusually devoted husband and firmly refused any mistresses. As a result, he should have ushered in a noble who had failed to succeed the head. Yes. Until Dimer’s daughter, Anna, bore Grey.
Any noble would hate the idea of being ruled by another family, so naturally, a faction supporting Grey soon appeared.
Now if Grey had any magic talent, the story would end here, but he had absolutely none.
In this empire, those without magic talent generally couldn’t succeed their family. Of course, this wasn’t an actual law or a rule, but something more akin to a custom. Still, customs couldn’t be ignored, especially to the local clans.
Dimer didn’t want to see the children fight over the family inheritance, and so he gave up Grey to the Millard family.
“Forget about Grey and find someone to marry or something,” said Dimer.
As expected, his beloved daughter soon burst into tears. She had cried every day after giving Grey away, but today was especially bad, largely because of the dark rumors surrounding the lady of the Millard family, Valeria Millard. She apparently manipulated the current head, Rais Millard, like a puppet, and imposed a tyrannical rule over the family. Anna had gathered info from the main village of Millard, Mirage, and had heard rumors that Grey was currently eating with the servants, among a couple others—It was obvious how they were treating Grey.
Rais Millard wasn’t a bad person by any means, but he also wasn’t a good person; he was a pitiful man who couldn’t even keep his wife under control.
In any case, Dimer couldn’t entrust his beloved grandson to that filthy family. Most of all, Anna often became bedridden lately. Dimer wanted to grant her wish as soon as possible, but life wasn’t so easy.
In reality, Dimer had tried to take custody of Grey and had negotiated several times with Rais Millard. Sometimes Dimer tried yelling, and other times he tried offering vast amounts of money, but Rais never nodded his head yes.
To the empire, Grey was already a Millard. No matter what Dimer said this late into the game, he couldn’t overturn that fact.
His chance was once Grey turned 13 and left the Millard family, but it would be quite difficult given Rais’s obstinate stance on the matter.
And soon, the turning point approached.
A swarm of undead had suddenly appeared from the north and soon swallowed dozens of cities and forests, swelling up to hundreds of times their original number as they headed south. And during this crisis of a lifetime, the McGwire’s also received orders to dispatch soldiers.
Dimer had already retired from active duty, but as Bart had finally gotten used to his duties as the head, Dimer hadn’t much left to help him with. Now just imagine if Bart died in the war. Not only would McGwire family have nobody left to succeed the position, there was also the danger of the central court nobles swooping in to hijack the family. Dimer wanted to avoid that at all costs, and so had no other choice but to return to duty.
Once he arrived in Sutherland and stayed on standby, he noticed several retainers tilting their heads in confusion as if they had seen a ghost in broad daylight.
“What happened?” Dimer asked.
“I think I mistook someone, but I just saw The Holy Woman,” one retainer replied.
“I see, the Holy Woman……This war is truly a crisis that affects our entire country, so she was probably called over temporarily to raise morale,” Dimer guessed.
The Holy Woman—her Highness, Princess Lilinor Rose Archive, was one of the few people in the empire who wielded middle-rank holy and recovery magic.
The imperial family was certainly famous for doting on her Highness Lilinor, so bringing her to such a dangerous battlefield was extremely strange indeed.
However, this crisis affected the entire country. Her Highness, was extremely popular among everyone from the court nobles all the way to the local clan leaders, so the standpoint of bringing her Highness here to raise morale certainly made sense. In addition, if her Highness were to proceed to the battlefield, if only but for a short time, it would look like the imperial family had put their fair share into the war—an appropriate choice.
“Well………the person next to The Holy Woman was Grey-sama,” the retainer replied.
“Haa?!” Dimer shouted as his grandson’s name was suddenly brought up.
“No, it’s probably just a mistake. It’s been several years, and most of all, there’s no way Grey-sama would be here.”
Grey was with the Millards. There was no way he would be in the battlefield during a time like this, or so, Dimer thought. However, reality strayed far from his expectations.
Several lords had already gathered inside the expeditionary force tent. They seemed to be talking about the veracity of the rumors of the existence of a mastermind controlling the undead.
“A mastermind who can control the undead. I still can’t readily believe such a thing,” Dimer thought.
Even if the undead were all just controlled under a single will, their threat level would instantly jump up.
Moreover, the brave and famous General Lamperts had died at the hands of mere undead—a strange story.
We were truly cornered like mice here, so it was no wonder they would doubt the veracity of such rumors.
“Sir Dimer, it’s been a while,” a voice called out.
“I-if it isn’t Margrave McBurn, it has been a while,” Dimer replied as his voice cracked at the sight of the masters of the McGwire family.
“What do you think about this expedition, Sir Dimer?”
“How do you mean?”
“About the rumors scattered around the streets, of course.”
“I want to think that there being someone controlling the undead is just a bad joke.”
“I agree……However, if that is the truth, then the ones who had devised everything may very well be hiding among our own comrades,” Margrave McBurn said as he awkwardly gave a dry laugh. Then, Count Hartwig and the great sage, Siegfried Granbull, entered the tent.
“What’s this? So that demon still hasn’t arrived yet,” Sieg-dono said as he angrily sat down and began restlessly tapping his finger on the table.
“It seems that way; he seems to have a good relationship with her Highness after all. It’s no wonder.”
Demon? A good relationship? Must be about a fiancé or something. Still, her Highness is still only 14 years old; it’s a bit early for this kind of love-talk.
“Even though Alisa is available,” Margrave McBurn said. “How troubling.”
“You’re trying to set your own daughter up with that demon?” Sieg asked incredulously as his face began twitching.
“Yes. He’s an excellent man on all fronts, after all. I could rest assured leaving my beloved daughter and the McBurn family to him.”
“You’re quite insane yourself,” said Sieg.
Margrave McBurn gave him a thin smile and a shrug, but Sieg just crossed his arms and shut his eyes in response.
“It seems he’s arrived,” said Count Hartwig, as everyone focused on the entrance of the tent.
“Grey! Are you Grey!?”
There, was Dimer’s beloved grandson.
It was extremely difficult to believe, but Grey was currently serving as the representative for the Millard family in the war. In what world were there cowards who sent their own 12-year old children off to war? That damn Rais; he’s fallen even lower than I thought he could……
As stares of pity concentrated on him, Grey quietly began outlining the search-and-destroy undead operation.
Grey’s explanation consisted of luring them over and then dropping them into pitfalls—truly something a child would think up.
And as expected, the lords fiercely criticized his plans, but as if they were mere flies buzzing around him, Grey easily brushed off their complaints.
Grey, who was enjoying this mind play, slowly, and forcefully, dragged everyone in.
Because of that, we began to understand several conditions we needed to fulfill during this crisis.
First, since the empire was already weakened, we couldn’t afford to lose anything more.
Second, The Amrzs Kingdom and The Holy Kingdom of Esters were on the prowl, so we needed to show off our strength.
Third, we needed to find and eliminate the ringleaders.
If we didn’t fulfill these three conditions, the empire would be done for. What a disadvantageous war.
However, these clauses made perfect sense if you thought about it.
The empire’s strength has already declined remarkably. So even if we won the war, any large-scale reconstruction would have to wait, and trying to prepare against other countries bordered on impossible.
Then what should we do? Leaving aside the smaller empires, there’s no way large countries like The Amrzs Kingdom and The Holy Kingdom of Esters would leave our weakened empire alone! They would surely come marching with large armies. The empire, already wounded by the undead’s attacks, didn’t wield enough strength to stop such an attack.
Additionally, even if we miraculously won the war without any sacrifices and succeeded in entrapping the two countries, another similar crisis would soon follow if the ringleader lived.
We had to fulfill all three conditions at the same time. Only then, did our fatherland have a chance to survive.
“You’re basically saying that they’re there!!” a lord cried out.
It was no wonder. Grey had just said that the demon who plotted our fatherland’s downfall actually lay in our own army of all places, after all. He hinted at the possibility that the enemy actually lay in the expeditionary force, too. And yet, for some reason, Grey easily spilled the details of his plan here.
“Yes. That’s why I’ve only told the full details to his Majesty the emperor. What I’ve explained here is only a small fraction of the plan; it was his Majesty’s intention to give out a portion of information to keep things fair,” said Grey.
“I see, so the emperor wants to believe in us,” Sieg said, as Dimer began to vaguely understand the emperor’s intentions.
If he were to limit the people who knew of the plan, it would engender discord and suspicion between those who knew and those who didn’t. On the other hand, it would bring many benefits to the table.
More specifically, the suspicion would keep both parties in check and seal off the enemy’s movements. Additionally, the suspicion would clear up if the mastermind’s existence were to come to light, so the risks wouldn’t continue forever.
Still, the emperor didn’t want his retainers to doubt each other, even if it were only for a while.
“What a generous man. Unfortunately, I’m not as kind as the emperor. I’m fine with the filthy rats that have sacrificed thousands of lives lurking around, and it would be quite interesting if they were hiding in the Imperial Council. I’ll have them dance around like the clowns they are,” Grey said before pausing a moment.
“I’ll make them pay interest for their crimes.”
The air around him shifted.
A thin, demonic smile warped onto his face and his eyes seemed to glow crimson. Most of all, he exuded an abnormal pressure like he was a starving, wild beast trapped in a cage. That overwhelming and destructive image sent shivers down Dimer’s spine.
Nobody said a word. No, they couldn’t. In an instant, everyone couldn’t help but fixate on the abnormal monster in front of them.
As Grey touched his lips, he returned to his usual benign face, and the lords were finally able to let out a sigh.
Sieg-sama and Margrave McBurn assented to Grey’s plans, but nobody was listening. It wasn’t a question of trust—everyone understood from the bottom of their hearts that the monster before them had spoken the truth.
After Grey exited the tent with his companions, Sieg-sama, Margrave McBurn, and Count Hartwig soon followed. Finally, this insane meeting neared its conclusion.
One lord sitting next to Dimer chugged his glass of water.
“Sir Dimer. Is he really your……grandson?”
Dimer somehow nodded.
He wouldn’t mistake his cute grandson for anyone else. He was definitely Grey.
However, no vestiges of the innocent grandson remained in that little body full of insanity. It was like he was a different person altogether. Dimer himself became extremely disarrayed at that inexplicable contradiction.
One of the heads placed his hand on his lips and mumbled, “He’s the representative for the Millards, which means it’s already been decided that he’ll succeed the Millard family?”
“What are you saying! Didn’t you see!? Do you really think he’s the kind of man who would settle to be the head of a poor noble family in the middle of nowhere!?”
“I agree. In the first place, a local clan leader is directly reporting to the emperor, and it’s absolutely unheard of to share information about the war. It’s quite obvious that the emperor places an enormous amount of trust on him.”
Margrave McBurn was a distant relative of the emperor, and Count Hartwig used to be a court noble—they weren’t simply local clan leaders. Other than those two, it was unthinkable that anyone else would know of the full plans.
“An important turning points is coming up for this empire. Something lifechanging is surely soon to happen.”
The empire was going to change, for better or for worse. It was almost set in stone.
Dimer didn’t know if that change would be its destruction, or a period of prosperity. The only thing he could say was—.
“He’s a hero born from us local clan leaders……” someone muttered.
That sentiment soon spread throughout the tent.
The Hero, Yukihiro’s guardian was Sir Cyrus, the ringleader of the court nobles. He could easily slaughter an entire battalion of battle mages. In fact, Margrave Salzburg, lauded as the one who would succeed Margrave McBurn, perished under the army lead by Yukihiro during a conflict over the mines.
After Sir Cyrus had tracked down and killed Margrave Salzburg, Sir Cyrus officially became the most influential man in the empire. This, in turn, greatly boosted the court nobles’ influence. Now, it was undeniable that both Margrave McBurn and Count Hartwig were second rate compared to him in terms of both economic and military power.
And during this time, a monster-class existence suddenly appeared in the empire. To the lords wanting to break away from the tyrannical rule of the court nobles, that existence was the best flag to gather under.
“Please stop. Grey is just 12 years old; he’s a mere fledgling,” Dimer said.
Even still—even if he had turned into a completely different person, Grey was still Dimer’s precious grandson.
Ever since that day, Dimer had dreamed of the day he had to separate from Grey several times. He had dreamed of his crying face, full of unease on the day he had to leave the estate. But that child still headed off to the Millard family in order to protect the useless fetters that tied us together.
That’s right. This was probably God’s last message to the cowardly Dimer.
He tightly clenched his teeth and declared
—This time, I’ll protect you. No matter the cost!