The journey started with a morning filled of unease, and the journey was long precisely because of how much distance was traveled in close to one month. However, no significant accidents happened along the way.
They went straight along the main road towards east. It was a boring journey where nothing happened.
[Subaru: It was like that with the round trip to Priestella, and it was like that with Lyfus plain……but the peace of the Lugnica kingdom along the way is pretty nice.]
[Julius: The patrolling to maintain the main road and to maintain public order is essential to protect the kingdom’s peace. Lugnica is particularly thorough with things like that, even when compared to other countries. They should have low rates of damage from groups of bandits and mabeasts.]
[Subaru: Are you saying other countries aren’t like that?]
[Julius: The Gusteko kingdom isn’t able maintain their main road smoothly in the first place with how it’s always covered in snow. It’s deep in the snow that was there from the start. As for the Volcanica kingdom and the Kararagi city-state, there are people with different manners and customs in proportion to the many races jumbled together. In that sense, it may be hard to say that public order is kept there.]
[Subaru: I see.]
The two earth dragons’ heads were lined up, and they were running energetically as Subaru and Julius had a conversation.
Subaru’s Patrasche and Julius’ equestrian dragon were leading them ahead and were pulling the large dragon carriage with their heads.
Everyone in the dragon carriage would be late to react to the occasion of emergencies. That was the lineup they had, but as you could see from the conversation they were having out of boredom, the journey was peaceful.
On top of the journey being boring, once he saw how the scenery wasn’t changing, he started to yawn. Subaru put his hand on his mouth and became full of drowsiness, as Julius gave him a blaming look.
He had his body on his loving dragon. He quickly lifts his bangs that were kept from swaying through “Windbreak divine protection”.
[Julius: I understand that you want to get rid of this feeling of tension, but the moments you loosen your stiffness are the most dangerous ones. I won’t say that you’re letting your mind wander off, but I won’t allow you to act in a way that anyone would perceive as lazy.]
[Subaru: Just how much are you gonna say just because of one yawn? Even you at least yawn too. Right?]
[Julius: Of course I have those kind of bodily functions. But, if you have the self-consciousness of a knight, then it’s possible to hold it in when in front of other people, you know? That what you’re still missing.]
[Subaru: Yeah yeah.]
He was pressing for a reaction with piercingly sarcastic force, but Subaru was already becoming a master of parrying it. It was already nearing 20 days in this journey where he was accompanied by Julius. Making the earth dragons that were always side by side run from Priestella to the mansion, and now the Augria Sand Dunes, would allow him to learn to deal with Julius.
[Julius: I thought it was a part of manners to look at the person you’re talking with when having a serious conversation?]
[Subaru: The person is looking away during the serious conversation because of the timing. You should take it easy too. You’re straining yourself too much.]
[Julius: You and I aren’t watching out, and why……]
[Subaru: You don’t have to tense up that much. They won’t attack us so quickly. If they try to fight us, we won’t get killed at such a spacious place.]
Subaru interrupts him, and says that as he cracks his head. Julius blinks his eyes, as if Subaru had said something unexpected.
After that, this handsome man let out a small sigh.
[Julius: Is it clear that I’m flustered right now in your eyes?]
[Subaru: Yeah, I have a feeling it’s a shot in the dark, though. But, I feel like everyone thinks you’re straining yourself. More than usu…actually, you might just be acting like your usual self……..]
[Julius: As of right now, you’re the only one who knows that it’s just me being my usual self, after all.]
When Julius’ lowered his tone, Subaru also naturally dropped his.
They couldn’t hear the girls’ conversations in the back in the dragon carriage, so the girls shouldn’t be able to hear their conversations either.
They were bros, and they had various complications in their positions, but as of right now, they were working together.
Perhaps this was the time when he should speak a little more frankly.
[Subaru: It’s been talked about with Roswaal before, but how are your quasi spirits?]
[Julius: It’s just like I said before. The buds are gathered around me, but they wont rest their feathers on the arm I hold out as a perch. It seems my words won’t reach them either.]
Julius raises his arm in response to Subaru’s question, and he reveals the quasi spirits.
The six quasi spirits shining faintly still had been floating around Julius, who made the earth dragon run. However, they flickered on his held out hand as if in confusion, in attempts to go away.
He thinks, “I see, it really does seem like Julius has lost his contract with his quasi spirits.”
[Subaru: Can you not re-contract them? You’re attracting them somehow, so doesn’t that mean your divine protection is working?]
[Julius: It seems like “Divine Protection of Gathering Spirits” is still going strong. And on the contrary, that’s involved in the mysteriousness of their recognition. It’s like having certain large, incomprehensible, unmanageable emotions.]
[Subaru: Not sure if I should say it like this, but how about taking measures through other spirits?]
[Julius: I would have considered that idea if I was a spirit user that could borrow the powers of lesser spirits that go everywhere like Emilia-sama…….but I can’t bring out the spirits’ powers perfectly that way. I needed a few years to bind with the quasi spirit buds too, after all.]
[Subaru: …….Well, it is true that Emilia-tan can’t bring out Puck’s average power from other spirits too. I guess becoming partners with a spirit is a special thing after all.]
[Julius: Emilia and the great spirit. And like you and Beatrice-sama.]
It was rough. Subaru couldn’t say something like “Go find the next spirits” right away as someone who was a spirit user like him. It would be like asking him if he’d let go of Beatrice after bonds were cut off. Of course, he would raise his middle finger and refuse as a response.
As for Julius, his relationship with the six quasi spirits were the exact same thing.
[Julius: Therefore, as of right now, I can only use sword techniques to fulfill my duties as a knight. Of course, I don’t think the sword is inferior to using spirits, but it’s true that my abilities make it insufficient.]
[Subaru: This is also a journey to get that back, and you saying that with your sword skills is mere sarcasm. And if you’re fighting me, it’s even more sarcastic.]
Julius was talking about his damaged, insufficient ability with spirit techniques.
Subaru surely did become exhausted from that strength a year ago at the capital’s parade grounds. Subaru did become better compared to back then, but he didn’t feel like the difference was covered.
From Julius’ point of view, fighting Subaru at that time was like taking candy from a baby. It was like he was fighting a 5 year old Subaru. That was just about how different their levels of strength were.
[Subaru: Reinhard is also like that. You guys have a bad habit of underestimating yourselves, huh. Trying to be too humble will turn into arrogance! I think those type of words are used everywhere.]
[Julius: I wanna return the same phrase to you, but hmm. Forgetting about you and I, Renhard isn’t being humble or underestimating of himself. Most likely.]
[Subaru: Not being humble or underestimating…….?]
At the same time, he imagined him as the redhead hero, but he puzzled his head at the difference in recognition.
He never thought that he’d run into differing opinions on Reinhard, because from anyone’s perspective, he was the strongest, completely peerless superman.
In response to Subaru’s doubt, Julius said “Nope” and shook his head.
[Julius: In regards to Reinhard’s true strength, you and I both have the same high evaluation for it. Most likely, everyone he knows shares the same sentiment. They all think that he’s reached the end of humanity, or that perhaps he’s transcended it.]
[Subaru: It’s amazing how that isn’t an overstatement.]
[Julius: He himself is fully aware of how it’s not his true strength. I first met him when I was around 10 years old……..but it’s never changed.]
[Subaru: Ever since you met him when you were 10? Seriously?]
Subaru becomes astonished at Julius’ recollections while he gripped onto Patrache’s bridle.
Just when did Reinhardt become the person who he is now? He thought it was quite the philosophical question, but at the very least, it seemed that the version of himself from close to 10 years ago had been completed.
Which meant that he carried a very heroic fate on his shoulders.
[Subaru: Reinhard has been a “sword saint” since then?]
[Julius: He was still 5 years old when he succeeded the “Sword Saint’s Divine Protection”. The previous “Sword Saints” was Thearesia van Astrea-sama……she died in the great conquest 15 years ago and the divine protection was transferred through Reinhard’s grandmother.]
[Subaru: That’s…how it was, huh.]
She died after fighting with the white whale and still continued to be the “Sword Saint”, humiliated after death.
She was Reinhard’s grandmother, Wilhelm’s wife, and this time her spirit went back to the heavens.
But 15 years ago, the divine protection was inherited inside of Reinhard.
[Subaru: How does he feel…]
[Subaru He took over his grandmother’s divine protection ever since he was five, and to make matters worse, he’s succeeded hero’s blood, right? I can’t imagine how he feels.]
――Subaru somewhat understood the weight of having parents’ expectations.
Subaru knew the pain of being crushed by the weight of the expectations people had around him.
Of course, the weight and the responsibilities Subaru and Reinhard carried were extremely different, so comparing himself to him may have been rude in itself.
[Subaru: I really am strong. I’m so strong that I don’t have nights where I wish to have an excessive amount of strength, only having sad thoughts about how I’m weak and am not good enough.]
[Julius: I feel like that’s pretty groundless.]
[Subaru: Shut up.]
Subaru gets made fun of in the middle of his important talk and he clicks his tongue.
[Subaru: Anyways, I personally feel the worries of the other extreme. I don’t think Reinhard is the same as he was when he was 5, but I do wonder how he felt.]
[Julius: As you’d expect, I also don’t know what he felt back in those days. But…]
That was the one time when Julius lifed his face as he cut off his words.
Julius grips tightly onto the bridle, looking in front of him, and squinted at the sunlight he bathed in.
[Julius: ――The time I saw Reinhard was the big turning point for me.]
You could even somehow hear the triumph in those words.
Julius was squinting from the sunlight, but perhaps he may have not been squinting because of the sun.
Perhaps he looked at Reinhard at that time with the same type of eyes.
[Subaru: Which means that you and Reinhard have known each other for about 10 years, I guess. I do think that barely satisfies the requirements for you guys to be childhood friends, but is that right?]
[Julius: No? Yes that was when I became aware of Reinhard, but he found out about me long after……he’s known me since I was appointed as an imperial knight. That happened when I was 16, so I’ve known him personally for six years.]
[Subaru: …….That’s a very big empty period of time, isn’t it?]
[Julius: At that time, I had no capabilities that he had, as he took over the title of the “Sword Saint”. He made me realize that to the point of it being painful, and that was my beginning.]
Julius said his words quietly, while his tone of voice was passionate on the contrary.
In response to the distant look he had in his yellow eyes, Subaru nodded at that one word: “beginning”.
On top of those obscure words, that day was probably vivid within Julius.
If that was Julius’ beginning, then it was a given for it to be clear in his memory.
Subaru’s own memory of his own beginning was hot in his chest, scorching his soul.
The time he was saved by Emilia in a different world, the time Rem supported his broken back, the time when he took Beatrice’s hand in a fire, all of those times were the “beginning” to Subaru.
[Subaru: When you say it started from there, does that mean you were surprisingly naughty as a kid? Like a profligate noble or a profligate son.]
He goes against the flow of his self-inserting feelings and said that with an intentionally teasing voice.
There’s no way he believed that it was limited to just Julius, but he really did think that he was a young gaudy noble when he first met him. And if it were to be a story, the type of haughty life this young noble lived in his boyhood seemed to be clear.
Subaru put in those feelings, and changed the topic to change the flow of the conversation, which makes Julius suddenly loosen his lips as he says
[Julius: I’d like you to change the way you express it. Just a little……but there are parts that I can’t deny.]
[Subaru: Seriously!? You really were a gaudy noble!? Did you kick commoners from the top of a horse, and did you persistently pressure servants by bullying them!?]
[Julius: I can’t help but wonder why you started to be that gleeful.]
Julius gave a cold look at Subaru, who got excited. After that, Julius peeked at the back.
He wasn’t only interested in the dragon carriage, but the girls in it as well. Of course, he didn’t have to go through lengths to confirm that he couldn’t hear their conversations, but it was a matter of him feeling like doing it.
[Julius: How much do you know about my lineage?]
[Julius: You answered so immediately that it seems you felt good about it.]
He really did have zero background knowledge.
Subaru dexterously threw out his chest on top of the dragon, and Julius smiles wryly at him. After that, he felt his knight sword on his waist. Perhaps it was handed down through Julius’ family. From his face, you could see that he had hesitation about whether he had the qualifications to wield it himself at this time.
[Julius: ――I am not the original eldest son of the Juukulius family.]
[Julius: To put it more accurately, I should say that I am not the official eldest son. Alviero Juukulius is the real head of the Juukulius’ family. Klein Juulius was his younger brother, which makes him my father, although he’s already passed away, and the son-in law is the head of the family.]
Subaru did not respond to the words that were more surprising than he expected.
It was difficult to say how much the structure of this world’s noble society meshed with Subaru’s knowledge of the society he knew, but Julius’ position definitely was complicated.
Also, in that case, then how’s the position of his younger brother, Joshua Julius’? He missed his older brother Julius, and as of now, that boy was lost from the memories of the world.
[Julius: I don’t know what relationship the actual me has with Joshua, who is left at Priestella. Just from him not being left in me, perhaps he is a younger brother that has succeeded the blood of my real father, Klein Juukulius. Or maybe he really is a legitimate child that succeeded the blood of my foster father, Albert Juukulius.]
[Subaru: ……..What if it’s different?]
[Julius: “Siblings” is only a figure of speech, so perhaps our relationship would essentially be cousins. In that case, Joshua Juukulius would most likely become the head of the Juukulius family.]
Julius said that calmly, and just from that, it thrusts at him as the truth.
At this point, Julius himself didn’t understand the complexity of this way of speaking, even though he really was the one with the position. If Julius and Joshua were real siblings, then Julius would be the one to succeed the Juukulius family. However, if Julius was not Joshua’s real brother, then it would be correct to say that Joshua would be the successor of the Juukulius family.
And then Julius did not know how to confirm that; Joshua’s existence was taken away from the world, and Julius had lost his memories of his brother and he did not know where he was.
[Julius: It was something unavoidable, but when I think about that, it makes my position very complicated. Not knowing about your own tomorrow isn’t very appealing, although as of now, I should worry more about myself staggering than I should about the future of the Juukulius family.]
Julius said that in a seemingly joking way, perhaps because Subaru received a surprising shock.
Subaru’s mouth was dry. He grinds his teeth while feeling irritation in his stomach. He was ridiculously worried about Julius with how he was right now.
[Julius: Since I had that type of history, I was unsteady back in those days. My foster father lead me up to the royal castle, and that’s when I showed the poor etiquette I was taught and I sought to go home. That’s when I saw Reinhard, who was still eight years old. ――That’s all there is to it.]
Julius chose to end the conversation in a bit of a forcing way.
He didn’t have the courage to give a retort or give some sort of clever remark. He saw Julius look ahead in a lonesome way, and he stopped biting his molars.
And then, what came out right away was a question.
[Subaru: Why’d you suddenly feel like telling that to me?]
[Julius: I did feel like you were the one that was listening to me. Perhaps I was mistaken?]
[Subaru: No, that’s true and all…….that’s my bad, but that not what I’m getting at. Isn’t it weird for you to have this kind of talk with me?]
[Julius: No it isn’t. That stuff was common knowledge for Reinhard and Ferris…people among the imperial knights. Of course, Anastasia-sama also knows too. It’s not anything special.]
Subaru did not understand one bit, as his face turned into a frown.
Even if he said that everyone knew about it, that didn’t mean it was something he could spread around. As expected, he felt like they seemed to be unnatural words.
Perhaps Julius understood Subaru’s discontent from his frown.
He pulls onto the bridle, and quickens the love dragon’s pace just a bit.
[Julius: Yes, it’s something that everyone knows. ――So that’s why I might’ve wanted you to know about it now. I might’ve wanted you to know, the person who knows me the most in this world right now.]
The blue earth dragon accelerates while swinging its tail, and Julius’ expression could no longer be seen.
That being said, he wasn’t going so fast that he’d leave him behind. It was a way of him being as smug as usual by simply declaring to end the conversation.
[Subaru: Hm, it’s fine. Thanks for taking care of me, Patrasche.]
The running jet black earth dragon lifts her head, and peeks at Subaru. In response to her gesture of saying “Shall we rival the earth dragon ahead?”, Subaru showed his thanks and petted the head of that lady.
[Subaru: …….That was uncharacteristic of me.]
He poured out those small, perverse words from his mouth.
Was he becoming weak? Or perhaps, was he putting on airs as a protagonist of a tragedy?
As a matter of fact, “irritating” was the only way to express his feelings.
[Subaru: Ahh, dammit. What am I, an idiot? No, I am an idiot……]
Subaru scratches his head, and he released his irritation only from his mouth.
In the end, he had no precise response to what Julius said this time.
And he would have no precise response until they were before the Augria Sand Dunes.
An answer wouldn’t come even when the party arrived at the “Milura” town that was near the sand dunes.