The Count’s Past
Once Demon King Ashtaroth was out of sight, the old knight in the back opened his mouth.
“My lord, you should have run away with the Demon King…”
He said, and then cut down a Hive Worker with his broadsword.
The count explained.
“Look at this wound. I cannot be helped now. In that case, it is my duty to my ancestors to stay in this castle until the end.”
He paused and then continued.
“Besides, there are all those men who died because of me. I want them to know that their lord was brave and did not give up in the face of these ants.”
The old knight fell silent. He seemed to be full of emotion.
‘In that case,’ he seemed to say as he cut down even more Hive Workers. And one after another, he slaughtered the ants.
In the meantime the wounded and bleeding Count Ismalia sat on his throne as if collapsing.
He then took out a small portrait from his pocket. While there was blood on it, it bore a depiction of a beautiful woman. She looked like Jessica, but was not. It was her mother.
And then Count Ismalia said the person’s name.
It was the name of his dead wife and Jessica’s mother’s name.
She had passed away when Jessica was born, as she had very poor health.
She had not been fit to have a child to begin with. And they had not planned to have any, only before they knew it, she had become pregnant.
And while his wife had died, he had no regrets. If he did have any regrets, it was that he had spoiled Jessica too much, as she reminded him of her mother.
“…Well, it’s in the past now.”
He said self-deprecatingly. And then he thought back on how he had met his wife.
His wife was the daughter of a noble from the neighboring country. Their families were of the same class, however, the heads of the family did not get along. The count met her at a party and fell in love, but due to their families being enemies, he did not know how he could continue with his courtship.
While the count was not a strategist like Demon King Ashtaroth, for that time only, his head was filled with plots.
Realizing that traditional methods would not work, he created ill rumors about her other suitors, and paid off fortune tellers to claim that someone like him would be the best candidate.
He went through much trouble to marry his wife, but she was worth it. Those days after their marriage was like a golden age.
It was the best time of his life.
–However, all of this would have been nothing but a veneer for those who watched.
One day, the wife knelt before the count.
“I am with child.”
Why was she apologizing over that? Was it not good news? That was what he thought at first. But his wife shook as she continued.
“It is not your child.”
While these words came as a great shock, he quickly realized whose child it was.
In fact, his wife had been engaged to a different nobleman. And that nobleman had not actually agreed to have the engagement broken. So he must have had her before the wedding.
The wife confessed this with eyes filled with sadness. But the count was surprisingly calm.
“…That is a courageous confession. And life must not be wasted. Not yours or the child.”
“…But this will be an illegitimate child. If not the child, then I should be punished.”
“And what lord would punish his own wife? I love you. And if the child is born, then I will raise it as if it were my own. If it’s a boy, then he will be my heir, and if it is a girl, she will marry the finest man in the world.”
After that, she cried in the count’s arms. The count never spoke of the matter after that. Not when she was alive or after her death.
The only person who knew was the old knight who swung his sword in front of him now.
He did not tell this secret to anyone, and continued to serve the count until this day. And he protected the count until the very end.
He was the most loyal of servants. If there was another world, then he would want such a knight to work for him again.
It was as the count reminisced of such things that the time came. He had lost too much blood. His vision swayed.
“I wish that I could have kept my promise to my wife…”
It had been to find the best man for Jessica. At first, he had assumed that his wife would be happy enough if it was Demon King Ashta, but that was a big mistake.
Be happy? No, there was no other choice now.
He was calm and could make precise decisions. He was clever and always calculating. Even as a sorcerer, warrior and military ruler, he was brilliant.
And the Demon King was also kind. A merciful king.
He had forgiven the count after being tricked, and braved the danger in order to help him. And after fighting the ants, he had taken his daughter to safety.
If Jessica were to marry such a great man, then her happiness was guaranteed.
While he thought this, he was disappointed that he could not see them get married.
The count let out a great sigh. And at the same time, his soul left his body.
And like that, the lord of Ismalia died.
He was forty-seven years old. It was a short but rich life. No one, not him or the people around him would deny that he had been happy.
Once the old knight confirmed that he was dead, he shed one tear and said,
“…My lord. Young master. You lived well in this world of chaos. But now you must rest. Watch us from the heavens.”
And then he took out the will from the count’s pocket and put it in his own.
Then he raised his sword and cut off the count’s head.
This was because he didn’t want the Hive Workers to take it. He could not let mere ants take the head of his lord.
The old knight carefully wrapped the head up in his cape, and slung it over his back. And then he ran out of the room.
He would escape and carry out his master’s final wish.
It was to see Jessica happily married.
Now that the count was dead, the old knight could not allow himself to die as well. He would have to live a few decades and watch Jessica living happily.
That was his duty as his lord’s knight.
While the ants had already taken over the castle, they could not make the knight yield in the end.
“As long as I am here, and the princess is alive, then this place is Ismalia castle. Listen, you monsters. I will return one day. And I will take back this castle.”
He said with burning conviction before charging into a group of ten ants.
–Blood danced in the air.