44 – Butterfly Nightmare
Iria’s older brother, and the eldest son of the Orlando house…or, was.
“Aye. …Five years ago…he died.”
Seto Orlando had been a genius.
He was blessed with talents, exceeding his own father as a swordsman and a leader. And there was something about his personality that drew others in.
“Iria was very fond of her older brother. The two of them used to play in the garden all of the time…”
Everyone had high expectations for him, as the future Count.
The Orlandos were a prominent noble family with strong ties to the military, and their importance within the frontier forces was exceptionally noteworthy.
The Count, Beriol Orlando, had been a general who led the frontier forces in the south during the war, and his son was expected to follow in his footsteps.
And that was how he had been raised.
After graduating at the top of his class at the officer academy, he joined the frontier forces. And with a little encouragement from his family, distinguished himself in the blink of an eye.
However, that was when it happened.
A village near the border was attacked by monsters.
An attack of this nature was not completely unheard of.
Malfunctioning monster repelling machines, attacks from unexpected routes. Especially with small villages, there was always a risk.
And it was the duty of the imperial army to deal with such dangers.
But it was always simple work, dealt with swiftly.
And on that day, Seto Orlando was leading the monster extermination team.
“But it was a mistake. That was a trap.”
With one village as poisonous bait.
Not only that, but…
The poison was to kill Seto Orlando alone.
After arriving at the village, they were surrounded by armed forces and annihilated.
It was a brutal hunt.
All communications were obstructed, and only one person survived. Just one messenger who had been ordered by Seto. He had desperately escaped the net.
“After that, a large-scale team was assembled, and headed to rescue them. But not a single one was alive. And my son…”
The Count clenched his fist.
Seto Orlando…had returned.
As headless corpse.
“That’s when it happened. My daughter changed…”
Up until then, she had been a quiet girl who loved to read books. But she then became obsessed with training with swords.
Perhaps it was to follow her brother. Perhaps it was to shake off his shadow.
“Her sword. It is like she is a complete copy of Seto.”
And that’s why he couldn’t stop it.
He had had a bad feeling about it since the beginning. But the nostalgia he felt from her made him avert his eyes.
“I was foolish… Iria was listening…that time…”
The report that was brought to the Count.
The armed men who had attacked Seto. The bandits with butterfly tattoos.
They were an assassin organization that worked in the shadows of the Empire… An especially dangerous group called the Black Butterfly.
Appearing suddenly and disappearing. Like an urban myth with no shape.
The government believed that they were backed by their neighbor, the imagined enemy country of Seshilia.
“If she chased after the man after seeing the butterfly tattoo, then there is no doubt about it. My daughter…knows. About the people who killed her brother.”
In other words.
The reason that she had pursued power to such a degree…
“Revenge. Up until now, in order to get revenge for Seto, Iria has…”
The Count muttered, and I closed my eyes.
I thought back. On how desperately she had swung her sword.
Then I got up to my feet.
“…Lord Count. I will go.”
“Yukito. My daughter…”
“I will bring her back. I promise.”
I had to go.
There was something that I had to tell her.
“Kuro. Will you come with me?”
I squatted and petted Kuro, and he replied cheerfully.
Perhaps there was not much time.
I could regret my actions later.
So right now, I just had to hurry.
I looked at the garden.
The sky was cloudy, and it looked like it would rain at any moment.