Chapter 190 Beyond Contradictions
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
On the night when Viscount Hedmar and his wife left the settlement, I, who had finished bathing, was lying on the bed in my bedroom, contemplating the contradictions I faced.
The contradiction presented to me by Viscount Hedmar, the contradiction of being a noble of the empire while despising that existence, I wondered if there was an answer to this problem.
”Sigh… Shall I rely on it again?”
Realizing that I wouldn’t find a solution by pondering alone, I got up from the bed and took out a wooden board hidden on the side table next to the bed. It was a wooden board with the formula for interdimensional magic written on it.
When I poured my power into it, a portal to another dimension would open, and peering inside, I could see a staircase leading downwards. This was a secret passage I created without Diana and the others knowing, for the purpose of secretly leaving the bedroom.
”What would the other mages say if they found out that I’m using such powerful magic for storing alcohol and installing secret passages?”
Uttering self-deprecating words, I descended the long staircase leading to the underground.
The hidden passage did not end after descending the stairs; even after reaching the basement, the path continued for a while.
By the way, the reason why the stairs were extended to the basement was that if a passage was created on the first floor, there was a risk of interference with the alternate space of the new type of item box.
Therefore, to avoid interference, the stairs were extended to the basement. So, after advancing through the alternate space created underground, I climbed the stairs to the surface and exerted force on the wooden board to open the entrance to the alternate space.
I emerged in the carriage parking lot next to the mansion, and as I approached the covered wagon with the curtain down at the entrance of the cargo compartment, I called out towards the cargo compartment.
”Excuse me for disturbing you at this late hour. Niya-san, are you awake?”
That covered wagon was used by Niya-san and served as both a means of travel and a home. Iko-san and Mio-san were on a journey, and Moona-san was living in a store that she had remodeled with a female slave she had purchased. Therefore, only Niya-san and Momoka were living in this covered wagon.
Through the gap in the sagging curtain, Momoka pokes her head out.
”I wanted to talk to Niya-san about something, is it okay now?”
”No problem, come in.”
”I’m sorry for intruding.”
Although there shouldn’t be anyone coming to the carriage house at this time, I want to avoid attracting attention as I sneak out of the house, so I quietly climbed into the back of the carriage without checking properly and was invited on board.
The inside of the carriage is dark, and as I strain my eyes in the darkness, suddenly the lights come on, causing me to instinctively close my eyes due to the brightness.
”Sorry, was it too bright?”
”No, it’s fine–“
As I was about to reply to Momoka’s words, I am frozen by the sight that meets my eyes.
Because Momoka, illuminated by the light, is wearing revealing underwear with very little fabric.
”Why are you dressed like that!”
”Well, because they only sell nightwear that nobles would wear, and they only sell underwear like this.”
Certainly in this world, bras and panties are treated like the work clothes of prostitutes, and it was previously mentioned by Moona-san that the designs are generally provocative. However, there should be plenty of options for undergarments other than bras and panties.
”Don’t they have things like chemises that aren’t so revealing?”
”Well, those feel kind of chilly and I don’t feel comfortable wearing them. Plus, it’s better than just wearing a smirk.”
Before my brain could process the meaning of those words, I caught sight of a moving shadow in the back of the wagon.
”Um… Momoka, what’s all the commotion about?”
Niya-san, who seemed to have been sleeping until now, sat up and the cloth that had served as a makeshift blanket fell, revealing Niya-san’s naked body.
”Niya, Master Neil wants to talk.”
”Hmm… I see. Then I should change and go listen to what he has to say.”
”It’s okay, he’s already here.”
”What…? Does that mean he’s waiting outside? Then I need to hurry and change…”
Did her mind start working again in that half-stopped state, because her tone gradually became firm, and when Niya-san stood up in a hurry, her eyes caught sight of me. After silently staring at each other, Niya-san quietly picked up a fallen cloth from the floor and covered her body with it.
”…I apologize for showing you such an unsightly sight.”
”N-No, it’s not your fault. I should have properly checked before coming in.”
I knew that Momoka lacked any sense of shame when it came to being seen naked during the shower incident. At that moment, I should have questioned her “I’m fine” statement, and while reflecting on that alone, I couldn’t help but be at a loss for where to look, so I asked both of them to put on clothes.
However, I never expected Niya-san to be a nudist when sleeping. It’s quite surprising.
”I’ll say this just in case there are any misunderstandings, but I don’t have an exhibitionist streak. Compared to the world I used to live in, the undergarments in this world are of poor quality, and the lining rubs harshly against the skin. Wearing undergarments makes it difficult to sleep well, so I have no choice but to sleep naked.”
”Niya is different from me and Iko, with a more intellectual type of mind. Because she uses her brain more than anyone else, the quality of sleep to rest her brain is very important.”
”I see… So it’s necessary, no matter what. But if that’s the case, the current environment doesn’t seem to be conducive to good quality sleep, right?”
The thin mattress directly laid on the floor of the loading platform, and the fabric used as a substitute for a blanket, didn’t seem to be of poor quality, but it was probably intended for a different purpose, and its suitability as bedding was questionable.
”You’re right. In fact, since coming to this world, I’ve clearly felt a decline in my thinking ability compared to before.”
”I also wake up feeling worse. Before, I used to wake up instantly, but now I feel incredibly sluggish.”
”…You don’t need to say things like that.”
It was quite embarrassing for Niya-san to be seen waking up like that, and she blushes as she responds to Momoka’s clarification.
”Let’s end this conversation here. But before that, I would like to hear about Master Neil’s consultation.”
”Yes, but as a prerequisite, there are some things I want you to know before the consultation.”
Before the consultation, I briefly explain the incident with Viscount Hedmar to Niya-san and Momoka.
”I see, so that’s what happened.”
”I heard that a different noble would come instead of Master Neil, but I didn’t expect it to be Zora’s parents. I was surprised.”
”What I want to discuss is the contradiction pointed out by Viscount Hedmar.”
”The one that says, ‘Although I have feelings close to a dwarf, my position is that of an imperial noble,’ right?”
”Yes, do you remember when I talked about wanting to change before, Niya-san?”
”Of course, I remember.”
”Back then, I simply thought that I couldn’t stay the way I was. So, I wanted to change, believing that any change would be better than the current state. But when Viscount Hedmar presented me with two choices, I realized how thoughtless I had been.
At that time, I only vaguely thought, ‘If I could change for the better,’ without trying to come up with a clear answer. It was merely a vague idea of finding a balance between my ideals and reality, and becoming capable of smoothly managing the development of the frontier as a ruler.”
”Was that wrong?”
”It’s not a story about being wrong, but rather a story about not deeply considering what it means. I realized this when I saw the figure of Viscount Hedmar, who had completely changed from the past to the present.
If I continue to compromise with ideals and reality, I will eventually become like Viscount Hedmar… gradually, little by little, my heart will be worn down. I thought that it was inevitable to get involved in the ways of the imperial nobility in order to protect what I wanted to protect, and that I would be stained by it. I started to fear that the current figure of Viscount Hedmar is actually the future version of myself.”
In order to save his family, Viscount Hedmar became an imperial noble with such noble intentions. But now, he has become just like any other typical imperial noble. No matter how noble the goals or how noble the heart, history has proven that such things become meaningless in the empire.
”I can’t really put it into words, but when I visited the settlement a few days ago with Diana and the guards, I felt like I had changed compared to before. Diana and the guards were happy about that change, calling it a “good” change.
But what exactly is this “good” change measured by? From the perspective of someone serving a noble, it might be a good change for their master to become more noble-like. As for myself, as the ruler of the settlement, I think it’s a “good” thing to consider making governance smoother. But in my heart, I can’t see it as a “good” thing.”
This is a contradiction. It’s not exactly the same as what Viscount Hedmar, Ronim-san, and Zora were facing, but I also have a contradiction similar to what the three of them had.
Viscount Hedmar chose to give up friendship because he could only choose profit while facing the contradiction of profit and friendship.
Ronim-san is facing the contradiction of wanting to forgive his friend who became an imperial noble but being unable to give an answer.
And Zora found a new answer to the contradiction of having two lives, neither affirming nor denying either side, but accepting both. I couldn’t find an “answer” to this contradiction, whether to give up like Viscount Hedmar or continue to struggle like Ronim-san, or find a new answer like Zora.
”I like the current Master Neil. I’m sure everyone else thinks the same. So, I don’t think there’s a need to change.”
”Thank you, Momoka. But it’s not enough to stay like this. As Viscount Hedmar said, if I remain in this half-hearted state, I will eventually be destroyed. That’s why I have to find some kind of answer.”
”And for that, you’re sacrificing your own heart?”
”…At least, I can’t choose to escape from the position of nobility and protect only my own heart.”
Just like the former Dwarf, who discarded their status as an imperial noble in order to uphold their convictions.
Perhaps that is the answer closest to the tranquility I seek, but choosing that option would require me to let go of too many attachments.
”I truly want to change from the bottom of my heart, but at the same time, I’m scared of change. What should I do?”
”…Even though I’m here to provide advice, I cannot offer any answer to this contradiction. It is a matter of Master Neil’s heart, and even if I were to provide a response, it wouldn’t truly satisfy Master Neil unless he wrestles with his own thoughts and confronts his own heart.”
”So, does that mean I have no choice but to think about this contradiction on my own?”
“Exactly, but there’s no need for Master Neil to worry alone. Even if I can’t give you the answer, I can help you think and find the answer together with Master Neil. Because Master Neil has the strength to confess his weaknesses to others, and there are many people who will respond to that.”
”The strength to confess weaknesses and people who respond to them…”
As I pondered over Niya-san’s words, I deeply contemplated the meaning behind them. Ah, I had thought that I was standing in the same place as the imperial aristocrats like Viscount Hedmar or those who walked the same path as Viscount Hedmar. But that wasn’t the case. I had something that they didn’t have, a path that they couldn’t choose.
”Hahaha… Thank you very much. Somehow, I feel like I understand the path I should take.”
”Now, do you think there will be anything to worry about next time?”
”Well, who knows? I’m fully aware that I’m about to embark on a ridiculously foolish path, even by my own standards.”
“Despite that, you have a very refreshed smile on your face.”
”Yes, Master Neil, you seem happy.”
”Do I look like that? Even though I was troubled just a moment ago, I am truly amazed at myself.”
Ah… I’m truly amazed. The path I am aiming for is undoubtedly a thorny one. Surely, anyone who hears this will doubt my sanity.
What was born within me can only be called an “answer,” but it is still an immature one. However, until the day comes when I can call it a true “answer,” I have no choice but to continue down this thorny path.
In order to prove that this choice, this determination, is not a mistake, I stepped forward towards the contradiction of being an imperial noble yet not being an imperial noble.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.