Chapter 14.1 — The Captain of the Royal Knights is supposed to have a fiancée…7
Ruth felt his senses returning as he woke up, and sat up.
Dawn had barely broken when he noticed that it was still dim outside.
“…Somehow, it feels like I just had a really nostalgic dream.”
When Ruth suddenly remembered the memories of his previous life, he was stuck in a whirlpool of information that attacked him all at once, leaving him panicked at the feeling of losing grasp of the border between the memories of his previous and current life. Not only that, but the fact it happened in the jam-packed village square was a problem in itself. Immediately afterward, everyone in the village knew about Ruth’s eccentric behavior.
Furthermore, Ruth wasn’t able to leave his room for a while after that. In order to sort through the 31 years worth of extensive memories from his previous life inside of his current 5-year-old brain, he lapsed into a high fever. Because of that, he was bedridden for more than a week and that just increasingly roused up the villager’s uneasiness. Back then, there were friends who came to visit while he was sick, but because he was still processing the memories in his head, Ruth drove them away. That worsened the situation even more and people started to say things like, “He’s been possessed by a demon” or “He’s gone crazy after getting sick”. And so, all of Ruth’s friends, besides Alec who always stood by his side, ended up distancing themselves from him.
(Well, it couldn’t be helped.)
Perhaps it was after that event that Ruth’s aura changed. After he sorted out his memories, he regained his composure, but he couldn’t go back to being a naive 5-year-old. Although he hid it, Ruth knew that people sensed that something about him changed.
Inside of Ruth’s mind, the shelf holding his current memories from the past 19 years of his life and another one holding his 31 years’ worth of memories in his past life were placed parallel to each other. By considering the memories of his previous life as “re-reading a biography left on the bookshelves” instead of “his past”, he was able to rest easy. If he didn’t do so, he would’ve been plagued with philosophical questions such as what it even meant to be “himself” in the first place. It would’ve become a burden to his everyday life.
(But, there’s so much missing from this ‘bookshelf’…)
Although Ruth remembered his previous life, the contents weren’t completely clear. He remembered the details of his days as a young student, but his memories as a working adult, especially the years before he died, were a blank slate. It was as if someone intentionally took them away. However, he vividly remembered the very moment before he died, so perhaps it was a good thing that he never had any misunderstandings about whether he ceased to exist in that world or not.
“Now then, let’s get out of bed.”
Ruth, who didn’t feel like going back to sleep, stood up from the bed and decided to change his clothes.
He changed into his usual outfit: a thick belt tightened around a navy blue knee-length tunic, beige pants pulled through his legs, and olive-brown boots that go up to his calves. As he was about to check on his hunting weapon, he realized his knife was gone.
“Ah, right… the baal took it with it yesterday.”
It was a fairly expensive cast iron knife that his older brother, Clark, bought for him. He used it quite sparingly and so when he remembered that he lost it, he let out a sigh. Since it wasn’t easy to obtain knives of that same quality, Ruth has no other choice but to use a lower rank knife for a while.
“I wonder if the one I used before is in the storehouse.”
Ruth left his room and headed straight towards the back of the inn where the storehouse was located. He squinted at the dark sky he saw through his window and he soon noticed someone in the field behind the inn.
“Good morning, Maxim. You’re up early.”
“L-Lady Ruth! G-Good morning.”
The one standing in the dim-lit field was Maxim, holding a sword. Whether Maxim was practicing swinging his weapon or doing something else, he was slightly sweating and his cheeks were also flushed red despite the chill at that hour. Ruth thought to himself that Maxim’s physique coupled with his handsome looks was supposed to be a refreshing sight, yet he’s not surprised at the sexy allure overflowing out of him. Ruth was a bit troubled thinking about how if he had this sort of sensuality, perhaps the girls in the village would show a little more interest in him.
“Is this training?”
“Indeed. If I do not diligently train every day, my strength will quickly diminish.”
True to Ruth’s thoughts, Maxim is just as earnest as he seemed. The position of Captain of the Royal Knights doesn’t require standing in the front lines. A majority of its role is to give commands from the rear. Because they scarcely fight in battles themselves, there is also no need for them to train to that extent. Despite that, it doesn’t look like Maxim has any intentions to stop training just like any other soldier. Perhaps precisely because he’s leading them from the back, he believes it’s necessary to discipline himself.
When Ruth heard that, Maxim’s smiling face became slightly clouded.
“It’s because, other than strength, I have no other means to lead everyone.”
“No, it is nothing.”
When Ruth asked again, Maxim immediately returned to the smile he had before and started swinging his sword again. Maxim’s sharp and refined swordsmanship were enough to show how much he has trained himself to hone that overwhelming strength. Just watching from the side, Ruth trembled and was mesmerized at Maxim’s vigor. He honestly thought Maxim looked outstanding. If it’s just by swordsmanship, Alec might not be able to match up to him.
However, after the knight swung his sword, Ruth noticed a small stray sigh slipped out from Maxim’s mouth.
(Since he’s the Captain of the Royal Knights, I wonder if he has a lot of troubles too… he’s still quite young too.)
But, judging by his ambiguous words, Ruth knew that Maxim didn’t want him to delve into the matter and ask about it. He might have thought it wasn’t appropriate to talk about himself to a woman (as Maxim mistakenly believes) he just met in a small village. If Ruth asked any further, it would probably sound like he was being too nosy.
Ruth walked away as to not bother Maxim and turned around to head to his original destination, the storehouse. Along the way, he casually asked Maxim a question.
“I believe this may be rude, but…how old are you, Maxim?”
“Oh, my age? I am 28 years old, but I will soon be turning 29!”
“Becoming the Captain of the Royal Knights at that age is amazing.”
Ruth, who was surprised that Maxim was younger than what he thought, opened the door to the storehouse and turned back to see Maxim’s face.
As Maxim gave Ruth’s expression of upfront admiration a fleeting sidelong glance, he let out a slightly embarrassed laugh and put down his sword to wipe his face with the cloth hanging around his neck.
“That is…not the case at all. When the previous Captain of the Royal Knights suddenly retired from service because of his illness, due to the faction disputes, he merely chose me since he deemed me as harmless.”
“There are also various factions in the Royal Knights… unfortunately though, even being the most renowned knights does not mean they will be chosen to hold the top position. Before becoming the Captain of the Royal Knights, I was also the commanding officer for a few years and I was someone who was not very popular nor did I have adequate experience being in a high position. If I had to say there was something that I took pride in…it would be nothing but the sword.”
Maxim had a towel hanging on his head as he reached out to tightly grip his sword. Even when it seemed as if he was only holding onto it, there was an unyielding feeling to it as well.
“I must be strong. Stronger than anyone else, if I am not powerful enough for everyone to fear me, no one will follow me. That is why I mustn’t neglect my training.”
After he said that, Maxim took off his towel and began swinging his sword again. As Maxim had a stern expression, what Ruth saw in his swordsmanship was a painful resolve and loneliness.
(This person is also suffering…)
It seemed like it would be a smooth sailing road of success for a 28-year-old handsome man of noble origins taking the position of the Captain of the Royal Knights. But he must have mountains of worries and it would be hard for Maxim to consult others about it. Just judging by when Ruth saw them yesterday, it seemed like they got along and trusted each other. Ruth never would imagine Maxim had these sorts of thoughts, but as expected, one’s inner heart is not that easy to read.
If Ruth had to say it in terms of his previous life, it would probably be like becoming the Chief of the Metropolitan Police while being that young. Ruth cannot completely understand Maxim’s troubles.
As expected, just because there’s nothing he could say, it would be awkward if he just left. While he can’t understand, he can say some comforting words. Plus, since he has already heard this much, it’s hard to keep quiet.
Ruth turned his back to the silent Maxim, who was still swinging his word, and while searching for his knife in the storehouse, he calmly voiced out his thoughts.
“But that’s not what it seems to me. I wouldn’t think that everyone in the Royal Knights right now was following you because of fear.”
“…That’s because this time we have a mission.”
“It may be the mission, but… wasn’t everyone having fun back at the inn? I think that that sort of thing isn’t something possible for subordinates that fear you.”
“Is… that so?”
After hearing a slightly surprised voice, Ruth turned around while holding onto the knife he was looking for.
“It is. When you are there, everyone looks really happy, so that’s why I don’t think that they’re only following you because of your power. Didn’t everyone desperately search for you during that incident with the baal? I believe that’s because they have high regard for you as their captain. Of course, I think they also respect your strength, but by no means is it out of fear.”
Maxim stared intently at Ruth. Before he knew it, the sword he was holding with both hands stopped.
“Your subordinates would probably be disappointed if they discovered you thought that it was all about power. Well, at least if it was me, I would be sad.”
If Alec ever considered Ruth had become his best friend just because he was intimidated by his power, Ruth would be saddened to the point of tears. It’s fun when Ruth is together with Alec and because Ruth wants to support Alec, he stays by his side. He couldn’t imagine what else to be more painful than having those feelings being misunderstood.
(Ah, but maybe I said too much.)
Based on Maxim’s lack of response, Ruth thought that perhaps he said too much to someone older than him and averted his eyes as if trying gloss it over. He then nonchalantly pretended to check the knife in his hands for any damages and proceeded to put it on his belt around his waist. It’s not the best, but it can’t be helped.
“You got me…”
However, when Ruth heard that, he lifted his head and saw Maxim with a bitter smile scratching his head. With some bashfulness mixed into that expression, he looked a bit childish. Despite that, there was no sign of anger on his face.
Thank you for waiting~ The new cover for volume 2 of THWISE came out!! Please support the author by buying it here!! And as always, please let me know if there’s any mistakes ^^
Ruth and Alec both look so good in the cover ;w; my boys….