“That concludes my report, sir.”
“…hmm, I see.”
It was the day after Herbert landed a hit on Rodeo.
During the duke’s regular meeting with his knight order, Rodeo immediately informed Maxim of the situation regarding Herbert.
Rodeo didn’t really know how to best tell it, so he just told Maxim everything he knew of. From the duel, which the duke was already aware of, to Herbert’s change and renewed interest in training. Even Herbert’s ability to use spacetime magic.
The duke heard from Princess Isabella that Herbert had won over Marlon, a scholarship student and someone the princess regarded highly of.
However, the duke wasn’t aware of the fact that Herbert was getting along with Marlon and that they were having sparring matches every noon. He was also unaware of the fact that Herbert had continued training with Rodeo even after the said duel was over. And above all else, he didn’t know that Herbert had become the second person in history to use spacetime magic.
This was the first time he heard any of it, and that last one left quite an impact. So much so he unconsciously asked Rodeo to repeat it.
“It’s just so hard to believe…I mean, Herbert, Lindner’s second ever sage…?”
“I’d react the same if I didn’t see it myself. It’s not something that runs out with each use, so I think it should be fine to have him show it to you.”
“Spacetime magic, huh…”
The son who stopped making an effort, refused to talk with him, and did awful things under the protection of his status as a duke’s legitimate son…the duke couldn’t believe that same son was the first spacetime magic user in several centuries.
Maxim knew Rodeo wasn’t the kind of man who could skillfully tell a lie. Even so, he just couldn’t bring himself to believe such an implausible thing.
Herbert had that much talent lying dormant in him…but can that really be true? Or is it just Rodeo, out of concern, making an opportunity for me to talk with Herbert? It’s an unnecessary consideration, but…I did think it is better to talk with Herbert himself at least once. Alright, I’ll make good use of this chance.
Maxim kept on wondering in his mind until he came to that conclusion.
He looked at Rodeo, who was in turn looking at him with worry, and then nodded.
“Very well, arrange for the two of us to meet later.”
“Yes, sir. I deeply apologize for making such a meddlesome request.”
“It’s fine. If what you said is true, then I also think this is the right course of action.”
Maxim said so with a tone that suggested some unspoken meaning.
And yet, Maxim saw no changes in Rodeo’s expression. That made him produce a quiet grunt.
After a moment, Rodeo turned to take his leave, without uttering anything.
“Maxim-sama…I really do hope you confirm everything with your own eyes.”
After saying so, Rodeo closed the door, producing a small sound.
Now, it was only Maxim and a nearby servant in the room.
Maxim tried to stand for a moment…and then feebly dropped back down to his seat.
After hearing from Rodeo, Herbert felt a sense of accomplishment at the thought that he accomplished his goal.
He felt like a climber who has reached the top of the mountain…but upon reconsideration, he realized this was but the early steps. At that, his joy turned into that of anxiousness.
“Would you like some herbal tea, Herbert-sama?”
“Ah, thanks, gramps.”
Kevin immediately sensed Herbert’s change of mood, and offered some tea.
Meanwhile, Herbert, seated, felt a bit embarrassed that he was that easy to read.
“Why don’t you have some as well, Rodeo?”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
It was right about time for their bodies to cool down after sweating from training. A warm cup of herbal tea was just right to avoid catching a cold. His mind calmed down by the tea’s soothing scent, Herbert breathed a sigh. As for Rodeo, he quickly gulped down his cup and was asking for another serving.
“Can’t you show more appreciation for the tea?”
“What’s the matter? It’s just flavored water. As long as it quenches the thirst, it’s all the same.”
“You never change, do you…”
While listening to Kevin and Rodeo banter like that, Herbert moistened his lips by drinking from the cup.
The time has finally come…
He knew that he had to meet with his father, but even so, his feelings about it weren’t so cheerful.
Even though things have slightly changed in school, Maxim’s impression of him has remained really low. As long as that was the case, Herbert’s fate of being banished was still bound to happen. The problem was, he had no idea how to make his father’s impression of him improve all at once.
Father’s as bullheaded as me, after all…
On one side, there was Herbert who, due to his pride, had been unable to change. On the other, there was Maxim who, for the longest time, kept believing he could do something to change Herbert despite being betrayed at each turn.
Without a doubt, the two of them were really blood-related father and son.
“Young master, what’s troubling you?”
The flabby-bellied Rodeo who had just downed his third cup of tea asked so after seeing Herbert’s displeased face. Rodeo looked puzzled, leading Herbert to conclude that the former really had no idea what could be on his mind.
“I was just wondering what to talk about with father…”
“Speaking of which, what do you talk about with Tina, Rodeo?”
The one to help Herbert when he seemed hesitant to continue was Kevin.
After thinking on it for a little while, Rodeo gave an answer.
“Things that happened recently, what we ate the previous day, stuff like that.”
“That’s…quite mundane, isn’t it?”
“Well, it’s not everyday that something interesting happens. That’s just the way father and child conversations go.”
“So, it’s fine even if we talk about normal things?”
“I guess…just talk like you usually do, I say, young master.”
Herbert was quite surprised with Rodeo’s advice.
Speaking normally…meant being frank for Herbert. Which, considering that his usual attitude pretty much brought this all on, was not something he was eager on. Rather, he wanted to be anything but his usual self.
Upon replying like that, Rodeo laughed heartily, reminding Herbert that Rodeo was indeed a former adventurer.
“You’re thinking about it too hard, young master. It’s so much easier to have your true feelings out in the open, you know. You should say something like ‘father, I’ve turned over a new a leaf! Watch me prove it!’”
“…if I don’t do it perfectly, I might get disinherited and sent off to a remote place, you know.”
“Worry about that after you’ve actually been sent off!”
“That’s too careless…”
Herbert was shocked at Rodeo’s advice at first, but after thinking some more on it, he just kept on circling back to Rodeo’s advice.
Fortunately, his future self had told him that his father, even now, still cared for him.
Also, if it did turn out that he gets sent away, the events experienced by his future self would play largely the same. In that case, it would be easier to predict the future.
Of course, he would have to lose a lot first…
What Rodeo says might be correct. There’s obviously no way I can be that frank…but I’ll try to do it like my life depended on it.
Herbert steeled his resolve like that and a few days later, the fated day arrived.