「…So, who told you that?」

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Anorn glared at Albert with the eyes of an enemy.

「From the journals of my ancestor, five generations ago.」

「That sexual harasser! I didn’t know you were so light with your hands as you are with your mouth! There are some templar knights like him, I’ll give them to that.」

「You have every right to be angry, but before you do, would you please listen to what I have to say?」

Albert responded in an effort to sound calm.

「Sure! I’ll rip your head off if that’s what it takes.」

「Much obliged… Do you know why we, the Lazaar family, exists?」

「Or course.
Protecting the Master Bishop, right? Even with your life at stake.」

「That is true, but it is not quite what you think it means, Miranda-sama.」

A moment later, Miranda grabbed Albert by the collar and slammed him against the wall.

「Who said you could call me by that name? Only the Master Bishop can call me by that name!」

「My apologies… may we continue our conversation?」

「Tsk! Go on!」

Anorn roughly dismisses Albert and leaves in an embarrassed manner.

「Our raison d’etre is to protect the Master Bishop.
However, it is not only our lives that we protect, but Lazaar has been instructed to protect all of his, for all generations.」

「Everything? What do you mean?」

「I don’t know how to say this, but it seems to be the first order of business when our family became Templar Knights, and those who cannot do so will not be qualified to bear the name of Lazaar.
At the same time, it also means that those who do not have the ability to call themselves Lazaar do not have to belong to the Church of Arnelia.
I can’t tell the exact reason at the moment, but I think the exact meaning is that we must 『never leave the Master Bishop alone.』」

「What? I’m getting more and more confused.」

Anorn tilted her head.

「… Actually, the Master Bishop has been alive for over 800 years.」

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「I know that… Wait, eight hundred years? Then…」

「The current Master Bishop is the one who created the Arnelian religion.
She said that shr didn’t know her exact age, that she must have lived for well over a thousand years, but that she didn’t know if it was 800 or so.
She said that her memory of the past was slowly becoming fuzzy.」

「So that’s what she said.
I had a vague idea, but…」

Eight hundred years.
Eight hundred years, that is a long time to live.
Anorn has lived for 300 years, but even she found 300 years disgustingly long.

「(It’s been a long, long time since I became immortal.
300 years is disgusting, but 800 years…)」

「She is a lonely person.」

Albert continued.

「As you can see, she cannot tell anyone that she is immortal, and she can change appearance, and act as a different person every ten years or so for official events.
It would be suspicious if the Master Bishop remained the same.
She can pretend that her former self is dead, or she can simply pretend that she have left Arnelia, but either way, she will have lost everyone she know each time.」

「That’s something… I understand.」

「That’s why the first generation left this oral tradition.
At least we wanted to be there for her, so that she would not be lonely.
That’s how we understand it.」

「I understand that, but why does it have to be the Lazaar?」

At Anorn’s words, Albert turns his slightly melancholic green eyes to Anorn.

「…Do you notice anything when you look at us?」

「…..No way!」

「That’s what I mean…」

Albert made an unusually sad expression.

「Of course, there were those who were not satisfied with the mission, but most of them stayed in the Arnelian religion in one way or another once they learned of the person’s situation.
However, five generations ago, Richard-sama added to the mission of the Lazaar family.」

「…What?」

「The first thing they must do is to serve the Master Bishop until the end of her life.
And our second priority is to protect Miranda-sama.
This is a matter of individual opinion, but she is worthy of serving as a knight and must not be lost.
Her existence is far more important than our lives.」

Anorn was completely taken aback.

「Eh… Richard, he never said a word about that to me…」

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Anorn’s memory recalled Richard’s frivolous attitude.

「(He touched people’s breasts, butts, and whatever else he wanted, but his eyes were always kind.
When I was picked up by Master, I had lost all my will to live and was good as a cripple.
Seeing me as a dead person, no one would call out to me.
But come to think of it, it was Richard who first approach me— he always approached me when I was alone and depressed.
So was worried about me… the he should have behaved in a more obvious way…)」

Anorn was grateful for Richard’s thoughtfulness, as it was answered a long-standing question.
The only thing she was really annoyed about was the way he had touched her chest and butt.

「But then why didn’t he just tell me that? I’m glad that he cares about me, but at the same time, he’s giving me a hard time.
It’s a bit of contradiction in terms.」

「The fifth generation’s memoirs are here.
J think you will find the answer in here.
It was his last will and testament, which he asked me to open after his death, when his wife and all his mistresses were dead.
Would you like to read it, Ma’am?」

「Give it to me.」

Anorn was flipping through the journal she had borrowed from Albert.
At first, Anorn was reading the journal without a second thought, but gradually her face changed to an expression of surprise, and she became pale, and then she began to tremble and finally began to burst into tears.

「N-no… there’s no way…! I… I— what a terrible thing I’ve done.
I didn’t understand anything about him, about Richard.
He was always looking out for me, worrying about me, and trying to be there for me!」

The tears that spilled from Anorn’s eyes showed no signs of stopping.
Anorn grabbed at Albert, not even trying to hide her sobbing wet and soggy face.

「I… I don’t know what to do! How can I repay him?」

「I don’t know… but I read the same memoir and I think that maybe he just wanted you to live normally.」

「Live… normally…?」

「Yes.
Maybe live a normal life, make friends, joke around, laugh, have a boyfriend…」

「That’s… I can’t do that now yet.」

Anorn slumped down.
A silence enveloped them both.

「…This is my personal opinion, but as long as you are alive, it is never too late.」

「As long as I… live?」

「Yes.
You have an infinite amount of time.
You may change your mind someday, but if you go to get it back now, it won’t be too late.」

「I see… do you think so?」

「I can only say probably.」

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Albert continued as the knight knelt to his master.

「You must survive tomorrow’s battle to know the answer.
At all costs, you mui return safely with Alfiris and Lisa.
You must not lose them.
For that purpose, please feel free to use my life… I hereby swear to fulfill this promise; with my honor, pride, and sword.
Whenever and however the Lord of Swords’ wills that my promise be fulfilled, return my life and my soul to heaven with this sword.」

He drew his sword, slashed his own fingertips, dipped the blood into the sword, and offered the hilt to Anorn.
This is a formal knight’s oath, and is usually only taken to a loyal master.

Anorn, or rather Miranda, closed her eyes and pondered for a moment what to do.

「Albert Fidelity Lazaar, thou shalt receive the sword.
My name is Miranda Ravenworth.
I am the master of thy sword, and the keeper of thy life and soul.
I swear to you that I will do everything in my power to make you worthy of my sword!」

Anorn does the same, slashes her own finger with the bloody part of the sword, kisses the hilt of it, and raises it above Albert’s head.
Then, for three seconds, she draws his sword and returns it to Albert.

He then kisses the hilt of the sword and raises it above his head.

「It’s up to you.」

「You’re no different from him in that you’re so blunt…」

「I’m ashamed.」

Anorn smiled helplessly.
It seemed to symbolize the loneliness she was feeling.
But at the same time, Albert was very happy to have met her in his generation.

To be honest, when he had been told about his mission of the Lazaar family at a young age, Albert had not understood what it meant.
He had been trained to wield a sword his entire life.
Why would he have to give up all the pleasures of his life to do so? He was also not convinced that the person he would use the power he gained from his training on was predetermined from before he was born.

When he was fourteen, he was appointed to the Master Bishop’ guard.
He was not a captain at that time, but serving Miliazar gave him a sense of the kind of person he should be able to use.
And as he learned more about Miliazar’s personality, he was convinced that she was worthy of dedicating his sword to.
For a knight, it is fortunate to be able to meet someone with whom you can bet your life.
After that, he worked even harder on his sword training, but for some reason, he still felt unsatisfied.

But Albert was blessed with talent.
When he became an adult at sixteen and his father entrusted him with Richard’s journal, the meaning of wielding a sword became even more important to him.
There were two people to protect.
In his ancestor’s journal, there was a sketch of her.
It was of the Miliazar of that time and a young woman smiling at each other.
When he saw it, he understood, 「Oh, I was born to protect this scene, and I am training my sword.」

From then on, Albert’s training became even more intense.
It was so rigorous that even the Lazaar family feared that Albert had lost his mind.
But Albert was satisfied.
He didn’t mind the pain he had to go through in order to protect that scene.
Considering the fact that many people end their lives without knowing what they are supposed to do, he could think how lucky he was.

And now that he saw her, he realize even more strongly that there are people who are worth risking their lives for.
He also shed some serious tears for his ancestors.

「(Surely I would not hesitate to protect this woman even without his memoirs.)」

That was Albert’s untruth.
There was another thought that came to his mind when he saw the journal, but he decided to keep it quietly in the back of his mind for now.

「I never thought I’d see the day when I’d take the knight’s vow.」

「They say life is like flowing water.」

「What did you say?」

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「My apologies.」

Anorn smiled.
Seeing that smile, Albert was sure that he had done the right thing.

「Then my first order as your Lord.」

「Anything you want.」

「I want the four of us to go home.
And don’t you dare die!」

「Yes, ma’am.」

「And when we’re alone, you call me Miranda.
I’m gonna miss having someone to call by my real name.」

「Yes, ma’am.」

「One more then! Turn three times and say one!」

「Yes, ma’am.」

Albert puts down his sword and starts preparing to turn.

「Wait, wait, wait! That last one was a joke!」

「They say that once you say something out loud, you can never take it back.
As a knight, I will only what the Lord tells me to do.」

「Why are you so stubborn!」

「When a knight is told to die by someone to whom he was sworn allegiance, he dies on the spot without question.
Especially since I’m so clumsy.」

「Y–You, you know what I’m talking about! You’re a bloke knight and a pain in the ass, so stop it!」

The two of them were making a lot of noise, it’s like the days when she used to fool around with Richard—— Anorn, or Miranda for this moment—— She thought to herself.

However, the soundproofing magic had somehow been turned off, and Lisa was listening to the joke.
And the next day

「You had fun last night, didn’t you?」

Lisa was teasing Anorn a lot.
Alfiris had no idea what they were talking about.

In the meantime, the night was drawing to a close.
They still don’t the fierce battle that is coming tomorrow.

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