Just Keep Boldly Smiling
I dragged my heavy feet and ran towards the place of the incident.
Maybe it was because I now felt the rulers of this empire weren’t so bad after all. I’ve come to know the oddball emperor who didn’t seem very kingly at all, Lilinor who wasn’t much different from a normal girl, the witty Sieg, and Margrave McBurn, after all.
But that was a huge mistake.
Humans acquired reason and intellect and evolved from beasts. These two qualities were absolutely necessary for someone to be called a human. And it was the politicians of the upper-class who tied up and suppressed these two qualities for dozens of centuries. They took on several forms, replacing statues, and burying scientists’ and mankind’s legacies all in the name of protecting their miniscule wealth and positions.
“This was my failing,” I muttered.
Humans make mistakes, and irredeemable ones span across eras and civilizations, scattering misfortune upon the world. Wasn’t I fully aware of this in my previous life?
That’s right. While clearly recognizing the cancer spreading throughout the empire, I didn’t spare a second though and allowed the problem to persist.
To make matters worse, I had only given Roche and Lyase recovery magic. If I had at least given them some form of attack magic, they might have been able to at least escape from this idiotic farce.
And my fatal mistake had penalized not me, but my weaker comrades.
“Zem, don’t get hasty!” I thought.
Zem had not only mastered the high-rank holy magic spell, but his combat sense was quite high as well. Even if he were severely outclassed physically, he should be able to at least run away from that false hero.
No, my fears didn’t lie there. What I actually was afraid of was that frank idiot trying take responsibility himself and ending it all there.
“Please, just fight back with everything you’ve got!!” I wholeheartedly prayed.
Soon, I arrived at the scene.
Yes. I should have known. Known that the things I truly wish for always seem to slip out of my grasp.
I opened my eyes to see Zem, bent over in a puddle of his own blood with several swords pierced through his body, and I quickly became aware of the worst-case scenario.
A groan slipped out of my mouth as a faint pain shot through my head. The pain then morphed from a prickly needle into a giant hammer as it slammed onto my brain.
“Hey, hey. Put up some resistance, you small fry!!” Mawlek yelled in ecstasy as he repeatedly stabbed the now motionless Zem.
Small fry? Zem shouldered an entire portion of the organization and had tried to settle things on his own.
I dashed behind him, grabbing his neck and tossing him aside. I then ran up to Zem and removed the swords, immediately casting recovery magic.
“R-recovery magic!!?” Yukihiro gasped.
A stupid brat was screaming his head off, but I simply ignored him and continued to cast 【High Heal】onto Zem’s wounds.
“Won’t work, huh.”
I had closed up his wounds for now, so he should live at least a little longer, but he had already lost so much blood and his breaths grew weak.
Magic couldn’t beget miracles—it was just another phenomenon. Naturally, it had its limits.
I was sure that in just a few minutes, no, in even less than a minute, Zem would die.
Zem’s eyes fluttered open and fixated upon me.
So he can’t even see anymore.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“I see. You made it in time.”
“Thanks to your efforts.”
Zem nodded in satisfaction and then asked, “Am I going to die?”
“Yeah, you will.”
“I see……I’ll leave Aquido and the rest to you.”
“Yeah, leave it to me,” I declared as forcefully as possible.
Then, Zem reached out to touch my face with a shaky hand. His lips curled up as he muttered, “That’s not like you……Don’t cry here. Just keep……boldly…… smiling.”
Soon after, his arm lost all strength and slumped onto the ground.
I wasn’t so young as to get flooded with emotions every time someone died, at least, that’s what I had thought. And yet, the emotions I had felt after reincarnating into this world and experiencing so many new things had all tangled up and had driven me mad.
“Oi, answer me!” Yukihiro yelled. “Why can a scrawny kid like you use recovery magic!?”
What an annoying brat. You’re not even worth a pebble on the sidewalk right now. I faced my left palm at this shitty brat and chanted, “【Cetus】”
I had infused the most easily usable ice spell with a ton of magic, which should be plenty for an insect of this level.
Four ice dragons crashed into him from all sides and entangled around his limbs, biting them.
The shitty brat (Yukihiro) let out a scream for but in instant before his limbs froze over.
【Cetus】was a high-rank ice spell that certainly wasn’t anything special, but under my command, it became one of the most powerful spells. Basically, the spell had the special characteristic of scaling with the user’s Magic. My Magic was S-, so Yukihiro would have no way of defending against it with his meagre C- Magic Endurance.
“Zem, just wait a bit,” I said. “I’ll bring you to your family before long.”
But before that, I had a fight to settle. I had no intention of pretending that this was a righteous revenge— I was aware that I would just continue the cycle of hatred by returning violence with violence.
However, I was neither a person like Gandhi who believed in other peoples’ good conscience, nor a person so upstanding that I could criticize others. In fact, I was the opposite.
“M-my hands! My feet!!” the piece of garbage wailed in despair.
I began walking forward.
“Don’t come any closer!!” You m-monster!!”
“What a loudmouth,” I said, and incanted a small 【Cetus】 onto his jaw that sealed his mouth.
The piece of trash squirmed his body around like a fish on land.
“This is a warning. Don’t struggle too much,” I advised.
He quickly lost his balance and tumbled onto the ground, after which the sound of shattering glass reverberated.
“I told you so.”
A shriek erupted from the piece of trash named Yukihiro as he clumsily rolled around on the floor. His four limbs had completely shattered, and half of his chin disappeared into fine particles.
The piece of trash looked up at me, his face full of tears and snot.
“I feel for you just a bit,” I said.
I craned my neck and observed my surroundings, but everyone just stood frozen in place as they stared at me with pale faces, not even making a single sound. Even if he was the Hero, their connection to him was just that.
I picked up Zem’s sword that was lying on the ground, stepped on Yukihiro’s chest, and placed the tip of the sword onto his forehead.
“I’m going to start slowly pushing this sword into your skull. Rejoice, because your measly life can repent for the foolish crime you have committed.”
Yukihiro shook his head frantically, but I pushed the tip deeper.
It pierced through his skin and a small stream of blood began trickling out.
“I’ll slowly, slowly split your skull open until it reaches your brain, and then you’ll die. You’ll die on the edge of pain and itchiness. It’ll be quite the sensation for you, so enjoy it while you can before you go.”
Finally, Yukihiro passed out, and the puddles around him began steaming.
“He’s critically lacking in guts. Well, that was plenty obvious before, though,” I muttered to myself. “I won’t heal you, so cling to Sieg’s good conscience or something.”
I stabbed the sword into the ground before turning to the golden-haired man who was plopped on the ground, staring at me in fright.
He was Duke Cyrus’s next head—Mawlek Cyrus, the main culprit of this irreparable farce.
“W-w-wait. Please wait! Your power, it’s amazing! If I introduce you to my family then—” Mawlek began, but I kicked off the ground and immediately closed the distance, shutting him up with a swift kick to the mouth.
“Even with all that’s happened, I was still prepared to talk to you guys if Zem hadn’t died, you know?” I said.
But it was impossible now, even if the world were to turn on its head.
“Sorry, I have no idea what you’re saying.”
I stomped on his jaw.
“I’ll say this much. This is purely self-satisfaction; there’s no justice in my actions. This was originally your father’s job, after all.”
What I was currently trying to do amounted to disciplining a bad-mannered animal. Nothing more, nothing less. It was simply a meaningless act.
“Mawlek, I’m going to start pummeling you. But don’t worry, I’ll make sure to heal you too. Just don’t think that I’m saving you or anything.”
I grabbed his collar, clenched my fist, and began beating him up.
After battering his entire body, I casted 【High Heal】 before returning to my punches. Over and over, the cycle continued.
“That’s enough!!” a voice called out as my blow was stopped by a dark cane.
I moved my eyes over to see a white-haired old man in white robes standing there.
“That was quite fast,” I said.
“This isn’t the time for sarcasm! How reckless!”
Sieg’s eyes widened in surprise at Yukihiro rolling on the ground, but he quickly ran over and began casting recovery magic.
Yes. Sieg’s arrival meant the end of this useless disciplining. I should hurry up and bring Zem over to the others.
But before that—.
I gripped Mawlek Cyrus’s hair and lifted him up before forcefully slapping him awake.
Having regained consciousness, Mawlek shrieked as his face warped in fear.
I punched his face a couple more times to shut him up.
“Listen here. I will never forgive you. Don’t think you’re getting off with just this. I’ll stake my entire life on making you pay this back. Tell that idiot hero what I said when he wakes up.”
Mawlek then frothed at the mouth and passed out again, so I tossed him back onto the ground and walked to pick up Zem.
“Let’s go home, Zem.”
With Zem on my back, I walked back to the Millard tent.
I gathered the employees of Sagami Co. and all the members of the Scarlet Phoenix at Straheim’s commerce building, where I informed them of Zem’s death.
I wanted everyone to have time to grieve over his death at least for tonight, but the undead attack was soon to come in just a few days. We couldn’t lose a single day.
I wanted to scream my lungs out at what those pieces of trash did. And when I thought about how their attempts to protect their own vanity had considerably affected the execution of our plans, it made me want to just have the army face off against the undead.
But because I couldn’t let Sutherland fall, I couldn’t just throw in the towel halfway in.
I informed the members of the Scarlet Phoenix that they didn’t have to help set up the explosives tonight, but everyone still dutifully began working.
The next morning, we held a funeral for Zem.
This world had the custom of burying the dead, so I purchased a cemetery on top of the hill with the best view in town and buried his corpse there.
All the members of the Scarlet Phoenix, as well as Satella, and the others, grieved over his death and gave a silent prayer.
“It’s my fault……” Roche murmured to himself. “It’s because I ignored his orders and went off on my own!”
His face was as pale as a corpse and looked like it had been drained of all its vigor.
“That’s right. Roche, your actions caused Zem’s death,” I said.
“Grey—” one of the members of the Scarlet Phoenix began to protest, but Aquido raised his hand to shut him up.
“However,” I continued. “I’m sure Zem takes pride in you.”
Looking at Aquido, Zem, and the rest of those in the Scarlet Phoenix’s frankness, even if Zem were there, the end result probably wouldn’t have changed. But that’s exactly why I employed those helpless idiots.
“That’s a lie!!” Roche cried out.
“Whether it’s a lie or not depends on you,” I said and looked around.
Everyone just looked at me while crying their eyes out.
“Listen. At this very moment in time, you guys are now my family. This is my first order as the head: no matter if you have to drink muddy water or get jeered at; even if it’s shameful, live your life with a smile!!”
I turned my back to Zem’s grave and teleported back to the Millard tent.
I sat down on a chair in front of the Millard tent and gazed at the maddeningly beautiful blue sky.
I need to go back to square one.
Until now, I’ve thought that advancing this world’s civilization was the key to reaching the truth.
However, what happens when you try to advance science while egotistical men like Duke Cyrus rule the useless nobles.
I could see them commiting even worse tragedies all over the world, and they would probably hoard the wealth and hide the technology.
So even if I were to conduct experiments as I pleased, I would need to eliminate those meaningless, counterproductive nobles.
In addition, Duke Cyrus and the other court nobles wielded tremendous authority in the empire. This idiotic and deplorable tragedy is happening all over, so things would probably look a bit better if I eliminated all the court nobles.
Still, it wouldn’t last long. In just a couple of years, or maybe even tens of years, another Duke Cyrus would come into power. Originally, humans were never strong or honest, something I’ve come to fully understand after the recent incident.
So what should I do?
“No, let’s stop thinking about this,” I muttered to myself.
The answer was obvious. Just, that method was extremely cruel and would spill a lot of blood, so I had excluded it.
But this world wasn’t so kind as to allow a revolution that didn’t spill any blood to succeed, and the recent event only proves this fact.
I needed to have the citizens dye their own hands in blood. It was neither just nor proper. It was an unorthodox act, just like Duke Cyrus and the others. And if the empire didn’t do this, they would never run away from the curse of the nobles.
“Kuhaha……what a masterpiece. When did I become a filthy politician?” I soliloquized.
But I had to do it, at least, if I wanted to reach my goals. I had sworn that I would reach the source of knowledge no matter what methods I had to use, after all.
“So they’ve come.”
I raised my head to see several dozen soldiers marching up to my tent led by the thinly mustached man with a bad taste in clothes who I had seen not too long ago.
“Grey Millard, why have you done something so stupid?” he asked in discomfort.
“You want to know?”
The thinly mustached man shut his eyes and shook his head back and forth before saying, “Arrest him.”
The soldiers quickly surrounded me with blades.
“He’s still a child. Don’t point your swords at him,” he commanded.
“H-however, Baron Hakurou, he……to the Hero—” one soldier stammered.
“Did I stutter? I said don’t point your swords at him.”
A vein bulged on his forehead as the thinly mustached man, Hakurou, sent a killing glare at the soldiers.
“How unexpected. Were you always such an upstanding guy?” I asked.
“Ha! What kind of an adult takes pleasure out of hurting a child? Even if that child is a disgusting brat like you.”
“Seriously,” I agreed.
Hakurou clicked his tongue in response before raising his hand, saying, “Grey Millard. You are under arrest for the crime of assaulting and wounding Duke Cyrus’s son, Mawlek Cyrus, as well as the Hero, Yukihiro Kazama-dono.”
And so I was detained by the empire.