Chapter 188 The Answer to the Contradiction
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
The next morning, I was at the front entrance of the Viscount Hedmar’s residence with Lucena-san to see off the Viscount and his wife.
”I apologize for suddenly intruding. Next time, as an apology and a belated birthday celebration, please let me give you something.”
”Thank you for your concern. We apologize for not being able to offer you a proper welcome.”
”It was I who said something unreasonable, there’s no need to be so formal. By the way, have you thought about what you want to ask me?”
I nodded firmly at Viscount Hedmar’s question and replied.
”There were two things I wanted to ask, but I was told that I could only ask one question. I thought about it for a while, and I’ve made my decision.”
”Then, go ahead and ask. What is it that you want to ask me?”
”What I want to know is about Ronim-san. Do you still feel friendship towards Ronim-san?”
”…So that’s the question you wanted to ask me after struggling with it. Wasn’t there something else you should have asked?”
As if for final confirmation, Viscount Hedmar asks me that.
This reaction, could it be that I made some mistake?
The reason is that instead of answering immediately in that situation, Viscount Hedmar deliberately gave me time to think. For a moment, I wondered if there was some intention behind it, whether there was something to suspect about the other person, but I had decided not to imitate such behavior and dismissed that thought.
From Viscount Hedmar’s current reaction, it seems certain that there was some intention, and I seem to have unintentionally deviated from that intention. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing for me is unclear, but now that I’ve come this far, there’s no choice but to continue like this.
”I did have some hesitation, but it’s the conclusion I reached after thinking, so I have no intention of changing the question now.”
”……I see, since I never had the authority to decide on the matter in the first place. If you say it’s fine, then I’ll answer.”
After a brief pause, Viscount Hedmar begins speaking.
”I have, to some extent, felt a sense of friendship towards Ronim.”
”So, does that mean you wanted to reconcile with Ronim-san not as an imperial noble, but as a friend?”
”That would be the second question, wouldn’t it? Well, there are many overlapping aspects with the first question, so I’ll answer. The answer to that question is that there were indeed such thoughts. It would be a lie to say that the idea of returning to how things were in the past didn’t cross my mind when I saw the unchanged Ronim. However, I am now an imperial noble, and I would prioritize the benefits that come from connecting with the Sincere Dwarf over my friendship with Ronim.”
Being an imperial noble, prioritizing benefits over friendship, those words were exactly the same as what Ronim-san said yesterday. Although their positions are different, the two of them had already reached the same conclusion.
”Because I am an imperial noble, because he is the representative of the Sincere Dwarves, is it impossible for you to cultivate pure friendship?”
“Impossible. As long as there is profit to be gained from the connection, I will pursue profit. I am not naive enough to abandon the profit that should be obtained for the sake of emotions like friendship. That’s what it means to be an imperial noble.”
”…Don’t you find that sad?”
”Sad? Such emotions have long been lost to me. As an imperial noble, I can’t afford to be constantly saddened. Otherwise, I would have been crushed by my own actions and already committed suicide… That’s why–“
With just a slight hesitation, Viscount Hedmar continues his words.
”Now, strangely enough, I feel relieved.”
”Relieved? What exactly are you relieved about?”
”That I didn’t involve Ronim in my circumstances. It seems that I still have enough conscience left to hesitate to put friendship on this unfair balance that will always tilt towards profit.”
Saying that, Viscount Hedmar lets out a self-deprecating remark and looks straight into my eyes.
”So, have you learned what you wanted to know?”
”…Yes, thank you.”
In the heart of Viscount Hedmar, there existed a strong friendship towards Ronim-san. However, in order to regain their past relationship, Viscount Hedmar had become deeply influenced by the imperial nobility, to a point that it was truly saddening.
I foolishly thought that if there was still friendship between them, there might be a possibility to restore what they once had. But the relationship between Ronim-san and Viscount Hedmar had become so complicated and tangled that it could not be resolved by their feelings alone.
”Yes, I cannot provide an answer, but may I ask about another question that I was contemplating for reference?”
”Huh? That’s fine, but the question I was contemplating asking was about what you think of Zora.”
Personally, I wanted to be of more help to Zora than Ronim-san. That’s why I wanted to know how Viscount Hedmar truly felt about Zora. However, it seemed that Zora had already come up with some kind of answer, and I thought that even if the birth parent’s opinion of themselves changed, Zora’s answer would not. That’s why I prioritized asking questions about Ronim-san.
Judging from the Viscount Hedmar’s previous reaction, it seemed that the question about Zora was also off the mark of his intentions, and as expected, when Viscount Hedmar heard it, he had a look as if he wanted to say that it was unexpected.
”Is that all? When asked to answer honestly, is there nothing you wanted to confirm?”
”Something I wanted to confirm? No, I only thought about that yesterday and I’m still trying to think if there’s anything else I want to ask, but nothing comes to mind.”
”…Haha, I see, it seems that you are a curious person by nature.”
”Cu-Curious, Viscount Hedmar?”
In front of Viscount Hedmar who suddenly started laughing, I became unsettled, not knowing what caused his laughter.
”To be more interested in others than oneself.”
”About myself? Was there something I had to ask Viscount Hedmar about myself?”
”You should think about that yourself. Well, for now, your mind is filled with thoughts about others, so you will eventually come to realize it without thinking. On the other hand, though it may not mean much, let me give you one piece of advice as a mentor in life.”
After such an introduction, Viscount Hedmar approaches me with a serious expression.
”You possess something emotionally akin to a dwarf. You dislike the ways of the imperial nobles and consider their existence a sad thing. But your current position undeniably aligns you with the imperial nobles. Your current state is in great contradiction. Don’t you have that awareness?”
”Let me prophesy. If you continue as you are now, you will soon meet destruction.”
At the words thrown at me by Viscount Hedmar, I am left speechless.
Without paying any mind to me, Viscount Hedmar continues speaking.
”You must find an answer to that contradiction. Will you accept my way of being as an imperial noble? Or will you, like the dwarves of old, quit being an imperial noble for the sake of your beliefs?”
As I stand frozen in front of the two options presented, Lucena-san, who had been standing behind me, steps forward.
”Please pardon my rudeness for interrupting your conversation. And please refrain from further confusing Master Neil.”
”I am merely stating pure facts.”
”Master Neil is the eldest son of the Count Atmiras. Even without such words, Master Neil will surely pave his own path.”
Lucena-san, who had never interrupted a conversation before, couldn’t overlook the current statement of Viscount Hedmar as someone serving Count Atmiras. Instead of me, who was unable to move, she spoke directly to Viscount Hedmar.
”I see. So even if you serve others, your nobility remains unchanged. Very well, we shall take our leave. Neil, I look forward to hearing your answer when we meet again.”
Just as there was nothing more to say, Viscount Hedmar stepped onto the carriage’s step.
”Wait a moment!!”
A voice of restraint came from the wide-open main gate. Everyone present turned their gaze toward the gate, where two small figures could be seen. One was Ronim-san with a sullen expression, and the other was… Zora.
”Allow us to hear your story, both of you.”
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.