He is one of the students learning in Rotsgard.
But he is not a simple student.
A big noble that everyone in Limia recognizes, Hopelace’s second son.
On top of that, he excels in literary and military arts, and has a strong sense of justice. Truly a thoroughbred.
Because the eldest son has to follow his career, he is participating in the demon race fight at the frontlines, and the second son knows of the danger the eldest son is facing, so he took the elite education of the Academy.
In other words, in case something happens, he will be treated as a spare, an insurance.
But that’s not something strange in the household of nobles, and Ilumgand Hopelace understands this reality and accepts it.
Then, is he an obedient second son towards the head of the family? The answer is no.
Ilumgand disagreed with the decay of the nobles in Limia, and can even be considered hate. Even so, he obediently followed the idea of his father because he has to act the submissive child.
Hidden inside him is his wish for the reform of the nobles.
The responsibility of the people in higher class.
That’s the ideal of Ilumgand.
Since he was born as a noble, he will live a life that doesn’t shame that blood, protect the weak ones, become their sword and shield.
He will swear genuine loyalty to the king, and consequently, be given a land to manage.
He holds a conviction and wants to build up a righteous government, that’s why the people that live in their territory adore the nobles that work as their feudal lord.
He wasn’t great because he was a chosen one since birth.
In the nobles of Limia, this is a really unusual ideology.
The ones who bestowed him this way of thinking were two.
The first one is a girl of a household they were friends with.
When he voiced out his childish ideals, she affirmed those with a broad smile and applauded him.
The words that were more of a cool front and for show, at that moment, had turned into a dream for Ilumgand. The sound of the applause at that time and her smile, for him, it was a more solemn memory than the blessing of the Goddess, and has remained in him vividly.
The other one was the female hero that recently descended to this world.
The hero that suddenly descended one day.
She said things that were not chained by the noble doctrine and the monarchy. Words filled with freedom.
She steadily learned to mind her words, but it isn’t like the foundation of her ideology has changed.
For many nobles, that opinion of hers is dangerous, but Ilumgand felt that she would be able to provide the marrows of his vague and overly large dream and ideal. He was strongly conscious of his dreams and reform plans. And it was when he met the hero that this dream began to take definite form.
That’s why he secretly went to hear the talks of the hero that had ordered him to not involve himself with his father more than necessary.
At times, he also cooperated with her in an extent that allows him to.
The growth of the hero, Otonashi Hibiki, was tremendous, and easily left Ilumgand in the dust, but he didn’t even feel jealousy towards that otherworldly growth of hers.
So instead of lending his skills to her, he mostly provided her information or helped out in the financing area.
“When you graduate, let’s fight together”
One day, he finally received an earnest petition from Hibiki.
In honesty, he wanted to be her strength even if he had to leave the academy. And he wanted her to tell him more about those ideologies.
Ilumgand heard that she was around his age, but he felt like Hibiki was somewhat mature. Maybe because the words of Hibiki were something he is aiming for, and her thinking was several steps into the future.
But Ilumgand Hopelace considered his household’s intentions, and decided to attend the academy until graduation.
The war with the demon race is in a scale that will not be finished until several years later, so if he ever gets into a position where he will succeed the Hopelace household, it would be convenient for the reform of the nobles.
For the sake of cooperating with Hibiki as well, he couldn’t waste the opportunity of learning in the academy and the connections he could obtain in it.
When thinking back at it, this was when he diverged.
In the spring of that land.
At a holiday in academy town, he reunites with a certain girl.
Both of them have changed quite a lot in appearance. But because of the characteristic accessory, Ilumgand was able to tell that it was her.
A black choker that has a bell and ribbon.
The young her and the current her had the same accessory but the atmosphere that’s given out was obviously different. He was able to accurately connect the person in his memories and the one in front of him as the same person.
“Ruria? Are you Ruria Ansland?”
With a spaced-out voice, Ilumgand reflexively calls out the girl that was about to pass beside him.
It was the name of an incredibly unexpected person.
For him it was unforgettable, but it is the name of a girl that he was supposed to never meet again.
Being called by her name, the girl turns around.
The girl, who was wearing waitress clothes, judged that the owner of the voice was Ilum who’s walking around town with his friends, and looks at him.
It’s a girl that had cold eyes and felt as if she had no ambition.
The bell of the choker didn’t ring, and showed that it is just a simple decoration.
“Why are you…?”
“Who are you? Have we met before?” (Ruria)
“It’s me! Ilumgand! Limia’s, the Hopelace household’s! Haven’t we met several times at Kaleneon, in the Ansland territory? You don’t… remember?”
Not the words Ilumgand, nor Hopelace; the girl called Ruria reacted to the word Kaleneon and stiffened.
“I remember. We played in the flower beds of Agarest. Oi Ruria, what is it?! Why are you trying to leave?!”
“I-I don’t remember student-sama well. Excuse me!!” (Ruria)
Ilumgand grabs Ruria’s hand, and restrains the movements of the girl that was trying to leave.
At that moment, her body trembled greatly and looks at the arm of her that was grabbed, with fear in her eyes.
One of the persons accompanying Ilumgand made a gesture as if thinking about the name of Kaleneon.
“Uhm, Ilum-san. When you said Kaleneon, you mean the country that was around Elysion and collapsed in the early stages of the demon race invasion, right? The name of that place came out in a previous class”
“Y-Yeah, that’s right. She is a noble that prospered in that Kaleneon. Ansland household’s daughter”
“Isn’t that strange? If I remember correctly, that country was destroyed immediately in the momentum of the demon race invasion. In that case, a noble that was prospering in that land should have fallen as well…”
The words that could be taken as insensitive were remonstrated by Ilumgand.
The question he held was pretty natural, but Ilumgand who was practically sure the girl in front of him was an acquaintance of him, thought about the emotions of Ruria and stopped him from continuing what he was going to say.
“Ah, sorry. No well, you must have confused me with someone similar” (Ruria)
“You should be Ruria. That choker that is around your neck, and the bell that doesn’t ring. If I remember correctly, she also wore the same thing. Also, you certainly reacted to what I said. You are… Ruria, right?”
Ilumgand uses an insecure tone that’s not normal of him.
Excelling in literary and military arts, he already overflows with self-confidence, and yet, this is the first time the companions around him have seen him bewildered.
Kaleneon is one of the countries that has been destroyed completely by the demon race.
The chances that one of the nobles from there, Ruria, has survived, were so low that it made Ilumgand lose his confidence.
“… Yes. I am indeed Ruria. I don’t remember my childhood that much, but it is probably not wrong that I have met you before” (Ruria)
In time, because of the unwavering gaze of Ilumgand, Ruria admits it as if giving up.
That she is a noble from a ruined country.
And in truth, it wasn’t as if Ruria was feigning ignorance.
Ruria and her sister Eva escaped from the fires of war by the hands of their parents, and have received a terrible treatment because of it.
That’s why she has been subconsciously forgetting the memories of her childhood, and in reality, she practically doesn’t remember anything of her life in the Ansland territory.
It is true that she got scared of the keyword Kaleneon and tried to leave because of her feelings of not wanting to get involved though.
“Sorry but, can you please release me already? It hurts” (Ruria)
Pointing out the hand that was being grabbed to the point of hurting, Ruria asks him.
“Don’t mind it” (Ruria)
The two who were unable to properly connect words.
It is a conversation of a person that wants to leave as soon as possible, that is troubled about how to cut it off, so it is obvious it would turn out this way though.
“Ruria, why are you in this town? You, your country should have fallen in the fight with the demon race”
Ilumgand’s words were slightly different from how he truly felt and were released onto Ruria.
In truth, he wanted to be happy about Ruria’s safety and wanted to embrace those feelings.
For him, Ruria is, without doubt, his first love. Moreover, she is the girl that has given him a beautiful memory that is coated with dreams and ideals.
But because he is together with his companions, he held back from doing it.
What came out in exchange was the way nobles should act that has always been lying in his heart and the inconsistency of Ruria’s safety.
“I was… led to escape. By my parents” (Ruria)
The words of Ruria gave a big shock not only to Ilumgand, but to his companions as well.
In the first place, the faint first love of Ilumgand was what created his current ideals.
For him, Ruria is the partner that he pledged that ideal with. And she was supposed to have sacrificed herself as a noble to protect the people.
That’s how deep she was edged in his heart.
But the reality was that she is still alive, moreover, she abandoned her people and escaped.
An intense conflict occurs inside Ilumgand. Several emotions were born, clashed, and bounced off.
What could he say? He couldn’t collect himself.
‘What happened to the pledge of that time?’
‘If she is alive, that in itself makes me happy’
‘For a noble to survive is an embarrassment’
‘It must have been harsh to lose your parents’
‘The hero-sama is right now in the vanguard and protecting the people from the demon race’s deadly grasp, fighting with all they have, and yet…’
‘It is fine. From now on, I will be here for you’
Those kind of contradicting emotions and words were clashing inside Ilumgand.
“… You abandoned your country and people, and escaped?”
One of his companions spitted out words to Ruria with eyes of scorn.
“You are the worst. If you are a noble, you should be the first one to clash swords with the enemy to protect the people”
“You even fell to the point of being a waitress to protect your life? Know shame”
The first words served as a spark and more words of disdain were spitted out towards Ruria.
They were cruel words.
But a part of Ilumgand also felt this way. Even if it’s not completely.
That’s why he was unable to hamper the words of his companions.
Ruria made a face as if she had given up, as if saying ‘just say whatever you want’.
There was no objection.
Seeing her like that, Ilumgand was unable to hold back his emotions.
“… An embarrassment of hyumans. Ansland and you. Even though we are learning at the academy every day to defeat the demon race. Just like everyone said, for a noble to fall into the streets just to survive, that’s only an embarrassment!”
“… Even though you have never experienced the possibility of dying. You don’t even know how I have lived until now, so please don’t go talking as if you know” (Ruria)
Hearing the words of Ilumgand, Ruria’s brows slightly trembled and she refuted.
A small and weak tone.
But without pausing, she was able to say it until the end.
It isn’t like she was just allowed to escape and has lived an easy life.
She has taken the job of being a waitress in this town, and before obtaining her current lifestyle, she has received severe treatment and has been suffering. Even in her current life she has been chased by the ghost of her past, and she isn’t sure of how long she can continue like this.
Saying all those things when living in a prosperous environment and passing their days in the academy with no inconveniences, she probably couldn’t stop herself from voicing out her feelings.
“A traitorous and cowardly noble is insulting us?!”
“Like hell I would run away from a fight and cling to my life like you!”
“I have the resolve to die uprightly!”
“People that say such high and mighty words only know how to persecute the weak ones, you know? You are in such a disjointed place from the fight and comfortably studying. Do you think you can do something like war?” (Ruria)
The companions of Ilumgand couldn’t take Ruria’s rebuttals anymore and they pushed her shoulder.
Ruria staggers and steps back. But the heat in her eyes didn’t back off and were simply looking at them.
“Ruria… you, just how far will you… Even so…”
“Hey, say something!”
While Ilumgand was surprised by Ruria’s change, her existence was stirring up inside his heart.
His first love.
She is alive.
The girl that was supposed to share the same ideals as him, has fallen and lived a life of disgrace.
At any rate, he couldn’t maintain his composure.
‘I have to say something’, and the moment he was about to open his mouth.
“Ah, can you leave it at that?”
A group of two cut in between them.
Both of them were dressed like magicians.
But what stood out was the face of the small height man.
He had quite the ugly face.
By the standards of the hyumans in this world, there’s no doubt it is at the lowest.
A beast-type demi-human. Right, an appearance that would fit that of a monkey demi-human.
But he is probably scraping the line between both. This was the first time he held a rude impression of someone since coming to the academy.
Right now that’s not the problem though.
“… Who are you guys?”
“Oioi, can’t you see these clothes? Are you guys stupid?”
One of the companions pointed out the Rotsgard Academy’s uniform, and tried to drive away the two.
Without being able to switch his emotions of just now, he talks to the two who look like they are not related to the academy, with a severe attitude.
That’s not how he should act, this is not the way a hyuman who is supposed to stand on top should be acting. Ilumgand also understands this.
But right now, his head is still completely filled with Ruria.
‘At any rate, I want to talk with her, just the two of us’
That’s what he thought.
Those two, Raidou and Shiki, interfered with Ilumgand’s wish completely, and will become a big wall in his way.
That’s the strength Raidou and Shiki showed.
For Ilumgand, that was a memory that remained vividly.
He was somehow able to locate the place Ruria was working in.
Gotetsu, a restaurant that also doubles as a bar.
But since the time Raidou and his follower Shiki defeated them, every time he tried to meet Ruria, they would get in the way.
Accurately speaking, the Kuzunoha Company got in the way.
He didn’t meet Raidou himself, but every time he tried to meet with Ruria, an employee of that company would obstruct him.
In times, with schemes.
In times, with power.
It was humiliating.
The impatience in Ilumgand’s heart piles up.
The words he said in their reunion might have been too much, is what he thought.
‘That’s why I will meet her again and apologize’
Anyways, he wanted to clear the misunderstanding.
After all, there’s no doubt that he is happy that she was alive.
But he was unable to fulfill that at all.
Receiving money from his household, he requested assistance and hired people, but that didn’t work either.
‘No matter what regret I have, you will get in the way huh’
The anger of Ilumgand towards the Kuzunoha Company slowly changed into hatred.
Actually, in this matter, Shiki and Raidou had no part in it.
When the employees of Kuzunoha Company went to Gotetsu to have a meal, Ruria indirectly told them that Ilumgand has been following her around and asked them to please check him out.
Lime Latte was the first one. Then the Forest Onis, Akua and Eris, and also the Elder dwarf.
They worried about Ruria, and while being ordered by Raidou to protect Ruria from a different matter, they also obstructed Ilumgand and anyone related to him from getting close to Ruria.
Ilumgand didn’t know of that.
That’s why the Kuzunoha Company and Raidou became targets of his hatred with no distinction.
“Ilumgand Hopelace-sama, right?”
“Who are you?”
“Don’t you want power? From what I have heard, things have not been going well for you”
At that time, an unknown student talked to Ilumgand.
Ilumgand’s words were mixed with caution.
To begin with, the Rotsgard Academy is immense.
There are many students he doesn’t know.
It isn’t strange to have a student he hasn’t seen before talk to him.
Just that, Ilumgand was cautious because he was called out when he was alone and in a place where there were few people around.
“Power? Are you saying that knowing my strength?”
“Of course. Your strength and also your heart that wishes for more power”
“This may be rude of me, but at the current rate, it is questionable if you will be able to help the hero-sama. Someone that’s not even able to deal with one hindrance. That’s what you are thinking right?”
“You, who are you?!”
“Your ally. I have something that’s being developed in the academy. A magic medication that will raise your physical and magical power. A groundbreaking creation. When testing it in a common student, it was confirmed to show a certain extent of effectiveness. It should be a student you already know of, Ilumgand-sama”
Several names of students Ilumgand knew were mentioned.
Students that showed growth to the point of being abnormal.
The heart of Ilumgand wavers.
“There’s no secondary effects, and it is also an article that’s approved by the academy, so any inspections won’t bring out problems. After confirming how much effect it has on someone as excelling as Ilumgand, the academy plans on spreading it. How about it? It may be a rude way of saying it, but will you cooperate as a sample?”
“The academy approves of it… Medicine that will make me stronger”
“Yes. You will obtain the power to make your wishes come true”
“… Got it. I will cooperate. Do you have any conditions?”
“It is fine to just report the progress to my superiors and the people in duty”
Taking out a bottle with pills in it, the student holds it with its thumb and index finger, and presents it to Ilumgand.
Hopelace’s second son extends his right hand and opens his palm.
“Please drink one every day. There’s no problem in consuming more, but there’s no effect either, so please do hold back from doing so. If you tell a superior before you finish it, I will bring more”
Ilumgand looks at the bottle that he received, and the student tells him a simple advice.
After looking at it for a while, Ilumgand raises his head again, but that student had already left.