Chapter 183 Former Friend
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
The next morning, I sent Lewya out and called Ronim-san to the mansion. I told Lewya not to mention the specific details but just let Ronim-san know that I was calling.
As I waited anxiously in the reception room for Ronim-san’s arrival, I heard the sound of knocking on the door from outside and Lewya’s voice through the door.
”Neil, I brought Ronim with me.”
”Thank you, let him in.”
When the door to the reception room opened, Ronim-san entered with an unhappy expression, stomping his feet. Although I had told her not to mention the purpose, I wondered if he had somehow figured it out.
”What’s wrong? You seem upset.”
”On my way here, I saw a carriage with an unpleasant emblem. I knew some noble was coming, but I never expected it to be them… Is their presence related to why you called me?”
Oops, I had forgotten about the carriage that Viscount Hedmar was riding in. Since trying to deceive Ronim-san here would only worsen their mood, I decided to be honest.
”Yes, but even though I thought that, you still came all the way here.”
”When I saw their carriage, I considered turning back, but I had already told Lewya that I would ‘follow along.’ Once I said it, I couldn’t go back on my word. If they were waiting here, I planned to give them a piece of my mind before leaving.”
”You wouldn’t really do something like that out of the blue, would you? They would truly be angry if you did.”
”Of course! I don’t want to even face them, let alone have any involvement. But the fact that I’m still here is because Master Neil didn’t pull a stunt like that. It’s frustrating that you knew I disliked them and kept their existence hidden, but I’ll overlook that.”
Phew, it seems like he will at least listen to what I have to say. I was most afraid that he would refuse to listen once they realized it was about Viscount Hedmar. So, I can consider the first hurdle cleared.
”So, what did you call me here to talk about?”
”Actually, last night, Viscount Hedmar consulted me about wanting to reconcile with Ronim-san. He asked if I could mediate.”
”Reconcile? The connection between him and me has long been severed. There is no bond to repair.”
”I see, so you have no intention of reconciling.”
”May I ask, did you think I did?”
”No, not at all.”
When I heard about Viscount Hedmar from Ronim-san before, it was clear that there was no chance of reconciliation. However, I had a reason for accepting this request.
”But even if Ronim-san has no intention, what about Zora?”
”What about her?”
”Zora doesn’t know about her real parents, right? And Ronim-san mentioned before that Zora is aware that she is not a dwarf.”
Zora often says, “I am a dwarf,” during conversations. It’s like a self-suggestion born out of the realization that they are not a dwarf. It’s a defense mechanism to protect their own heart by averting their gaze from the difficult reality. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a healthy state of mind.
”Is it really beneficial for Zora to continue living with this lie?”
”I see. Normally, Master Neil would avoid troublesome matters, so I wondered why you were getting involved in our affairs. I see now. You truly are a meddlesome person, making it too easy to understand and even comforting.”
Ronim-san’s expression softened for a moment as he spoke with a hint of exasperation, but it quickly returned to its previous state.
”But I’m sorry. It’s our problem, and outsiders have no right to interfere.”
”Well, when will this problem be resolved? It seems like you’ve been carrying it for almost twenty years because the parties involved couldn’t resolve it themselves.”
”That’s a difference in perspective. I have no intention of resolving this problem. In fact, I don’t even consider it a problem. For me, this issue was already settled twenty years ago.”
”That may be true for Ronim-san, but it hasn’t been resolved for Zora or Viscount Hedmar. I’m not asking for Viscount Hedmar’s sake, but could you please have a discussion with him for Zora’s sake, just once?”
”Will it be resolved through discussion? Master Neil seems to underestimate the nature of imperial nobles.”
”Is that so…?”
I myself am an imperial noble, so I believe I understand the troubles of imperial nobles. However, my knowledge of imperial nobles is mostly based on hearsay, as I have actively avoided dealing with them due to my dislike. Therefore, I don’t have enough confidence to assert that such things don’t exist.
”In the minds of imperial nobles, there is only the pursuit of their own interests, with no intention of making concessions. Even if I was to have a discussion with such people, it is unlikely that we would find a compromise that satisfies both sides.”
”I will make efforts as a mediator to prevent that from happening.”
Since they asked me to mediate, I don’t think Viscount Hedmar would do anything to ruin my reputation as a mediator, and I believe he will surely make concessions. I was trying to convince Ronim-san when a voice from outside the reception room stopped Lewya, and just as I thought someone had arrived, the door to the reception room opened and Viscount Hedmar and his wife entered.
”What… why are you here?”
I was about to ask why Viscount Hedmar and his wife suddenly entered, but Ronim-san’s voice, filled with anger like I had never heard before, completely drowned out my voice.
Ronim-san stood up from the sofa and approached Viscount Hedmar with an intimidating air, as if he was about to attack him.
”How dare you appear before me!”
”This face, Ronim… It’s good to see you’re doing well.”
”Tch, unpleasant. Get out of here!”
Ronim-san, who seemed to want to leave this place even for a second, but Viscount Hedmar and his wife did not move from in front of the entrance they came in through.
”Ronim, please listen to us.”
”Shut up! I don’t want to hear anything from you!”
”We won’t leave until you listen to us. If you say you’ll go through even if we say that, then we’ll come in by force like we used to.”
”Han! Fine! I’ll make you cry like a baby, just like when we were kids!”
Just as Ronim-san was about to attack Viscount Hedmar, I restrained Ronim-san from behind.
”Hey! Don’t stop me!”
”Please calm down! It’s unwise to lay hands on a noble! Ronim-san, you understand what will happen if you do something like that, don’t you!?”
This is a trap set by Viscount Hedmar. If he lays hands on him, he will be used as bargaining chips and I will be forced to comply with their demands. Ronim-san seemed to understand that it was unwise to lay hands on him, as he lowered his raised fist, and I slowly released my restraint on Ronim-san.
”Ku… Sorry, Master Neil. My blood boiled as soon as I saw his face.”
While still glaring at Viscount Hedmar, Ronim-san, who had calmed down somewhat, turned on his heel and sat down forcefully on the sofa.
”Just sit down already. I’ll listen to what you have to say.”
Saying that, Ronim-san gestured to the sofa opposite him, and Viscount Hedmar and his wife moved from the entrance to the sofa and sat down. I sat next to Ronim-san.
”How much did you hear from Lord Neil?”
”I heard that you want to reconcile with me. I don’t know anything else because some idiot interrupted the conversation.”
”You still have a foul mouth… But Ronim, I apologize for not consulting you. However, please understand, at that time, there was no other way to save Mire.”
”No other way? You just jumped at the possibility without thinking properly. How convenient!”
”We had no other options back then, with no power or means to save our family or protect Zora.”
”Shut up! Don’t act like Zora’s parent after imposing your own selfishness! You have no right to claim to be Zora’s parent! If you truly loved her, why did you let her go? Why didn’t you try to protect her with your own hands?”
”We didn’t want to involve our child in our selfish desire to save the family. We believed that was the only way for her to live peacefully.”
”That’s ridiculous! Abandoning your child because you don’t want to involve them in your own selfishness, isn’t that a selfish act itself? And Nashe, the one I know, would never use such weak words like ‘there was no other way’! No matter how beaten down or desperate the situation, he would never give up and would keep standing up, the man I called my friend!”
Viscount Hedmar calmly responds to Ronim’s outburst with raw emotions.
”That’s a story from when I was still naive. Locked in the dark mines by the lord’s policy, I lost that naivety over the years. Ronim, we learned the harsh reality in that hell. We realized that we couldn’t survive on idealistic dreams alone.”
”What did you realize? You just interpreted it to suit your own convenience, in the end, you just gave up.”
”Hmph… You really have no mercy, Ronim.”
Viscount Hedmar remains composed despite being blamed, and Ronim’s suppressed emotions start to emerge.
”Why? Why don’t you say anything in response, Ronim?”
”What are you talking about? I am responding to your words.”
”No! That’s not it! You can say whatever you want to me, but you won’t even make a sarcastic remark! Don’t you feel frustrated? Don’t you find it hateful?”
Unlike the anger-filled words before, Ronim’s current words contain a mix of sadness.
”Don’t you even have a heart to feel such things anymore? Or maybe, am I no longer someone you can speak your true feelings to?”
Struggling to hold back tears, Ronim speaks with a strained voice.
”I guess you’re no longer someone I can speak my true feelings to!”
Ronim, with his true feelings pouring out, speaks to his former friend hidden within the vulgar insults. He stands up quietly and walks towards the exit of the reception room.
”I have nothing more to say. It will only become more painful to continue talking. The Nashe I knew is no longer there. What remains is an imperial noble I want to avoid.”
Without looking back, Ronim leaves the reception room. His back looks so sorrowful, and I can only watch him leave without being able to stop him.
”I’m sorry. Even though you agreed to mediate…”
”Oh, no… I didn’t do anything significant, and I couldn’t even intervene in your conversation.”
”Don’t worry about it. We were the ones who acted on our own without considering your plans.”
Indeed, the conversation between Ronim and Viscount Hedmar started unexpectedly, but even if I had followed my plans, it would have been difficult to convince Ronim to have a conversation with Viscount Hedmar, judging by Ronim’s previous behavior.
For a few minutes, no one says a word, and unable to bear the silence, I slowly stand up.
”I’ll go check on Ronim-san.”
Viscount Hedmer called me as I was leaving the reception room.
”Take care of Ronim, will you?”
”Yes, I will.”
I left the reception room, trying not to think about whether he meant to ask me to take care of Ronim-san as an old friend, or to ask me to mediate with Ronim-san as an Imperial nobleman.
In the reception room where only his wife and he were left, Nashi Hedmar let out a slow breath and leaned back on the sofa, gazing absentmindedly at the ceiling.
In response to his wife’s anxious face, Nashi recalled what had happened earlier.
”That Ronim, he hasn’t changed a bit. He was able to speak so freely to me, even though I became a noble.”
”Perhaps it’s because he saw you not as an imperial noble, but as a friend.”
”…A friend, huh. He really hasn’t changed.”
Old memories were brought to the forefront of their minds.
It was a childhood past spent with Ronim before becoming an imperial noble, before being trapped in the mines.
”We can’t go back to the past, Ronim…”
With a hint of melancholy and a firm resolve in his words, Nashi bid farewell to the nostalgic memories.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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