"I came all the way here to save our missing unit member under the Commander's order. And I'm almost done with that order. That is what I'm supposed to do as the Assistant of Cavalry Commander. But what about you?"
"Is it your job to run into me again, blinded by personal anger, unable to protect your subordinates, putting your life in danger, and not even able to properly judge the situation? Is that all you can think of as a noble aristocrat? Knocking me down is more important than what to do in this situation and in the future? Then why the hell do you have a head?"
Kiolle's eyes and lips trembled.
"Whether you are a noble or a commoner, you're dead if you're killed. If you're stabbed, the blood is still the same red. Do you think your lineage is that important here?"
Finally, as if Kiolle understood something, he swallowed what he was going to say and shut up.
"You didn't mean to save me. Yeah... that's why you left me alone until the end.......... To get revenge on me......."
'What would I get revenge on you?'
But the frightened look wasn't bad. Yuder didn't correct his misunderstanding, but opened his mouth coldly.
"Convince me why I have to save you. If you don't, you're dead here, Kiolle."
"Con, vince you? Me?"
With his eyes wide open, Kiolle asked back with a stupid face.
"Then you, won't kill me? For real?"
"If you persuade me properly."
He thought it was a joke. His eyes looked at Yuder with that meaning. But as time went by, his face slowly began to twist as he saw Yuder waiting motionlessly.'He never thinks about whether to live or die.'
Or perhaps he'd rather die than try to persuade Yuder even in this situation. He wanted to believe that it probably was that.
Yuder watched Kiolle's expression change interestingly diversely. Doubt and confusion, faint hope and self-esteem struggling in it, anger and pain, and... all that slowly crumbled down to the one emotion left behind.
"... If you let me out of here, that's right. My father... he will reward you."
Finally, the first thing Kiolle said was something that didn't go against Yuder's expectations.
As soon as Yuder shook his head, Kiolle shouted with a red face in anger.
"I don't need it. Next."
"You don't need it? It's House Diarca! It's House Diarca's reward! Commoners like you would die to get the money! What else do you need? Treasure? Or is it jewelry? Or a sword? Do you want a horse?"
"I don't care if it's money, jewelry or treasure. I don't need any material stuff, so convince me with other things."
"Fuck it! Then... status. I will give you status. Would it be enough for you to become a regular officer in the Imperial Palace Knights?"
There was no point to be in the Imperial Palace Knights when he was already in a prestigious organization in a few years. Yuder shook his head with a frown, not wanting to hear that twice. There was a mixture of anger and anxiety in Kiolle's face.
"... Ah, alright. Then I will talk to my father and ask him to put you up as the Commander of the Cavalry. This can't be done right away, but you'll be satisfied with it."
Commander of the Cavalry? Yuder almost burst out laughing. Not only that was the most terrible proposal Kiolle had ever made, but it was ridiculous that a man who was only one of numerous children of the Duke of Diarca, not even the successor, spoke so easily about putting him as the Cavalry Commander.'I can see how House Diarca thinks of the Cavalry.'
Yuder responded coldly, thinking it was fortunate that Kishiar was not here.
"How many times do I have to tell you that I don't want to hear that twice? No more status stuff."
"What else can you ask for, you son of a bitch!"
"Can't you persuade others without giving them something? Also, none of what you say can be given with your own power. I wouldn't call it persuasion."
At that moment, Kiolle's expression seemed as if he never thought about it.
"What I asked for is the reason why I should keep you alive. Not for money nor status that I don't need. Do you really think you're better than dead if you can't even present that simple thing?" (Yuder)
The dead Kiolle would know he should at least kneel before the enemy in order to survive. Of course, it wasn't a good way since he died in the previous life. But at least he was better than Kiolle was right now.
"The reason they kept you alive here is not because you were great, but because they just wanted information about your family. Which means there is no reason for you to live if they don't get it. Why should I save you from dying anyway? If you were in my position, would you want to save the guy who insulted you and running into you?"
Yuder saw Kiolle gasping with his mouth wide open as if he had been beaten in the head. No one would've ever said that to him. Because he was the son of House Diarca, he would've thought it was only natural to be treated preciously before anyone else.'But I will let you tell yourself that it's not natural.'
Kiolle had to be let out of here alive anyway. Then, wouldn't it be worth saving at least that much? He had to put in this much effort for the rest of the day.
"B, but, the other prisoners. You just saved them....... Why am I the only one......."
Seeing Yuder's chilly gaze, Kiolle's voice became even smaller, as if he was sure that his status or power really meant nothing in this situation. For the first time in his life, he was feeling denied from his roots.
There had been countless times Kiolle saw those speaking badly of him, but they had never ignored the name Diarca and his status as a noble.
Identity and power were the strongest armor that supported Kiolle Da Diarca. But now that the armor was gone, Kiolle was gripped by indescribable fear and despondency.
"They are innocent people of the Empire that happen to be Awakeners, so of course I must save them." (Yuder)
"So I'm... worse than those commoners?"
Yuder replied sternly.
"How can you be the same as them? They know how to be grateful, but you can only continue aiming your meaningless sword without acknowledging how weak you are after losing to me twice. Even beasts would give their tails to the opponent stronger than them. Unlike you."
"J, just, now, how dare you, compare me, to a beast......."
Kiolle stuttered, pale with shock. Looking at his expression, he would faint if Yuder said one more word.
"W, whatever. I don't care if you don't save me. They're not going to kill me anyway. If I wait a little longer, my father will definitely come to my rescue!"
"Will he really?"
His low voice distorted Kiolle's expression.
"No one knows that you're gone now. How could your father know when the other knights who came to train with you aren't coming looking for you? There's enough time for those guys to kill you and bury you."
"Nothing will change if you die, Kiolle. It wouldn't be surprising if a child, who is not even the heir, died in an accident during training. Even if the culprit is found, the matter will be buried because the dukes don't antagonize each other on the surface. It's just that much."You're just worth that much.
The cold declaration stopped Kiolle's gasping breath. No matter how stupid he was, he was still a member of the duke's family and must have realized that what Yuder said was true. Yuder was right, so he couldn't argue.
Seeing that he couldn't get angry, he finally realized the real reality in front of him. When Yuder looked at Kiolle's expression, he felt that he had finally broken the roots of his insistence.
"Well, I wouldn't stop you if you wanted to die. How far is this conversation going?"
"Okay, I don't think there's anything more to say......."
"... W, wait."
Kiolle urgently called Yuder.
"Al, right. You're, stronger than me. I... I admit it. I will apologize."
Yuder, who was about to turn around, stopped moving. Kiolle wriggled as hard as he could to get a hold of him.
"If you were angry at me calling you a commoner, I will take that back. If you let me out of here... I promise I won't challenge you to a duel again. Besides that, if you ask me to, I will do whatever I can!"
The hands tied to the rope clasped Yuder's uniform.
"So, s, save me. I don't want to die here......."
Finally, the answer he wanted came out.
But Yuder leaned slowly, not showing it to his face.
"You'll do anything?"
"Even if I tell you to betray your family and your Knights Brigade?"
At that moment, Kiolle's gaze froze.'Oh, come on. Scared already? He's such a baby.'
Yuder looked down at him and shook his head.
"Of course I won't tell you to do that. Because you're not capable enough.'
"You, you bastard....... You're playing with me...!"