Chapter 161 – Details & Deals (Part 2)
Almost a second after he’d spoke a startled shout behind Daichi put him on high alert as Lydia entered the room with wide eyes shouting “You know the queen!?”
Daichi’s expression only wavered for a moment but his mind was shaken. He’d had his suspicions, but they were unfounded and just a random hunch based on a feeling. Things he normally didn’t put much stock in, but it seemed he hadn’t been off the mark.
“Hannah Guresu was the Queen of this city?”
Lydia couldn’t even cover up her shock, it was only as Stanislas coughed that she straightened herself as a blush appeared on her face. She felt rattled.
Daichi ignored Lydia turned to look at Stanislas. “Care to explain?”
Only moments ago when Daichi had walked in, his mask had already begun to crumble away and hearing about Hannah his instinct took over.
Daichi’s eyes suddenly grew cold again. His whole face changed, his mask falling away. There was nothing there, no expression except an awful coldness. A pure indifference that seemed to lower the temperature in the room and caused Stanislas’s blood to run cold much as his daughter’s had only minutes ago.
Stanislas’s mind immediately wandered to a time long ago when he was still a child, and he’d wandered too far into the forest outside of the city. Alone and scared he’d come across a massive Shadow leopard who’d stared at him with these exact same eyes.
They were eyes with no emotion and Stanislas understood now when he’d understood then. The thoughts behind these eyes were so alien, they could only come from a creature from another species, another planet, of something else. Something that had the confidence and could kill him, skillfully, efficiently, because that was what it was meant to do, if it was hungry, or annoyed by some other creature.
Stanislas’s eyes darkened as his face turned firm. He had no similar expression, no part inside of him that could match this look, and its meaning, but he was a man that had long found something to fight for. He was a protector, and for the things he cared about he would commit even the most atrocious acts to make certain those he cared about, his legacy and home would remain long after he’d passed.
The look in his eyes as his gaze met Daichi’s was resolute and certain of itself. It wasn’t one that looked death in eyes defiant until the end, it was one that looked death in the eyes meaningfully acknowledging its own mortality with a burden far great than one’s own life.
Stanislas didn’t faint from fear or run screaming. He didn’t drop to his knees cowering in fear nor did his heart lurch in on itself, but it took effort. It took will. “You’ve made your point. Enough with the ‘killer-gaze’. If we were enemies, or if I meant for us to me enemies we wouldn’t still be talking, and my daughter would not be in the room. I will talk to you as an equal.”
Daichi’s gaze remained unchanged as it lingered. It didn’t simply revert to normal in an instant, but took a few moments to warm up, like a slow heat melting away at ice. Humanity slowly wormed its way back into his eyes as Stanislas remained solemn and Lydia remained frozen by the door.
Much like his daughter Stanislas was thinking that he too hoped that the day would never come when that look came upon him with the intent to kill. If it did, for the first time in years he was left uncertain as to whom would die, his confidence in himself wavered for the first time in years.
It left him inwardly shaken and filled with hope. Daichi’s eyes were warm and unmoved as a lazy smile formed on his face. A good ol’ boy smile that seemed natural, giving him a very ordinary appearance all of which served to strengthen Stanislas’s resolve.
“I’m going to be frank. The reason why I let you into the city so easily, and even let you train under Lydia was to keep an eye on you. I knew who you were based on the description the Queen left to all those who would succeed her. She left your description, name and details fully confident that one day you would arrive here, within the city.”
Daichi’s smile remained friendly, waiting for Stanislas to continue.
In reality his friendly expression was no less disturbing to Stanislas as the one of indifference he’d shown just moments before. Daichi’s ability to wear masks left him unsettled and wondering what his true face was.
“She was the Queen but never the headmaster. That job was given to her closest colleague, who only one went missing a few years ago in an effort to search for her location. Your information was given to him, and it was to be passed down to all headmasters and vice-headmasters.”
“You knew who I was based on a description?” Daichi asked.
“The cincher was the swords you carry. The two swords aren’t easy to recognize for what they are; mithril blades not commonly found, even before the world ended. Even that could be a ploy, I have many enemies, and this information could have been leaked. I trust very little and even fewer people these days, but the crests on the hilt of those swords… They belong to the Kajiya family, yes?”
A light bulb went off in his head, as he fought the urge to look down at the hilt of his swords. “Do you know the Kajiya family? Are their any descendants left?”
Stanislas smiled, but it was a wistful smile “There were many… But they all left with the Queen the night she disappeared. It was almost as great a loss as the Queen herself. They were the greatest and most knowledgeable of the craftsmen within the city. Even within the academy itself. They had craftsmen of every profession within their household, but their blacksmiths were at the peak of the profession. The knowledge they had, is probably amongst the many books within the library, but there is not a single person within this city that can apply that knowledge in a similarly useful way. Shame.”
Daichi released a slow breath, it was natural as he’d long expected this to be the case. He’d considered paying their household a visit and giving them a token of penance for the loss they’d incurred at his hand, but it seemed as if that would be unnecessary and impossible now.
“But… I suppose that the reason you asked wasn’t truly because of the Kajiya’s themselves, but because of one particular member. I don’t suppose you were truly inquiring about one specific girl…?”
Daichi’s left eyebrow tilted up, he could tell the sly old man before him was playing games, but he was moderately amused. Now that he was more or less certain they were not likely to trade blows, he exercised his long earned patience.
He would get his answers, even if it took all day, and he would savor the company while he did. “I’m in no mood to be led by the nose like a dog. Is this how you treat your equals?”
“I said I would talk to you like an equal, but that does not mean we are. In a battle, it is the strength of one’s fists that decides the victor and the loser. In a conversation there is a dance to be had, but the true power will always lie in knowledge.”
Daichi deduced that for whatever the reason, Stanislas wanted him to be the one to say her name, “I asked, because of Ava Kajiya.”
Stanislas solemn expression eased a bit further and a small smile tugged at his lips. “I assumed as much… Perhaps only you would have asked of her.”
“Did you know her?”
Lydia stood at the door confused by the turn the conversation had taken, normally she’d have already left to bring refreshments as was her custom her father had taught her, but she was far too curious as to how things would progress.
“I did indeed. She was the following the Queen at her side before the Queen and Kajiya’s disappeared.”
Finally, Daichi’s lips twitched and a sliver of surprise cracked his carefully constructed good ol’ boy façade. ‘She was dead! I’m sure she was…’
“The fact that you knew this… Is proof enough of your identity. I have no more doubts… As no one other than the Headmaster himself knew of this aside from me. This much I am certain.”
“How what?” Stanislas’s brow curved not understanding the question.
Daichi himself didn’t know how to ask it either. “Who else followed her? Was there anyone else?”
Stanislas took a moment, seemingly deciding what to say “Yes…”
Turning to look at Lydia and motioning for her to close the door. Daichi’s look turned a little curious as Stanislas chuckled.
“The room if sound proofed with my mana, and I am certain no one else has heard or seen what I have said, but this old man here still has his habits and this is one of those things that has never left my mouth and under any other circumstances would never be spoken of by me, unless at my deathbed.”
Lydia had closed the door and uncertain as to what to do, came over and sat down with a chair in between herself and Daichi.
“Lydia… The things you’ve heard thus far and the things you will hear about now must never leave your lips. I have only let you in as much as I have to today because of your relationship with Daichi and the current state of things, I was uncertain before but I have now made up my mind. In the future you will succeed me and become the next Headmaster. My fate is now tied to Daichi’s whether he understands this yet or not, and so will either die together or thrive together.”
Daichi’s smile grew as he wondered what Stansilas was talking about. Before he came into the office he was half certain that there would be a fight, bloodshed and possibly death but now the situation had taken such a strange turn he himself couldn’t believe it as he soaked it all in.
“The Queen met with Taeger and myself the night before she disappeared. She was not alone. She had a girl and a boy who seemed no older than herself with her. One of them she herself identified as Ava Kajiya. The boy she never mentioned, but it was evident that she cared about him.”
Stanislas didn’t mention how the boy had been an aberration from his perspective. The boy was the first person he’d ever seen the Queen look at like a real person. The way she looked at him, was as she loved him. A look of emotion he’d never seen on her face in all the years he lived and known her.
Daichi took the information in without batting an eye. Unsure if it was meaningful or not, and finding no definitive answers.
“Why didn’t you tell me what you knew about me?” Daichi asked good naturedly.
“Am I supposed to share all my secrets with a stranger? Someone of unknown origin with possibly dangerous capabilities? I am responsible for the continued existence of this academy. This academy might very well be the last bastion of protection and learning for the last stronghold – the last city in human existence.”
Daichi couldn’t fault him there. He himself would have likely not done things any differently. Hearing it from the horse’s mouth helped him ease himself a bit further.
“Is Haeru Seishin related to me?”
“No… But his family is.” Stanislas said with a straight face causing Daichi’s eyebrows to scrunch in furthered frustration.
“Haeru is an adopted child. The last of the Seishin line, his father has been unable to produce a child despite his philandering ways… Years ago he took Haeru in. It was the solution he’d found to his problem. It was why that book you currently have in your possession was so readily available to me. It is because Haeru’s father graciously donated the hand written copy to the academy as a token, and out of hope. He himself has read and I’m sure imparted the knowledge within to Haeru, but it was worthless to be kept in the family any longer.”
Something clicked inside of Daichi’s head as a relief overcame him. He felt relief wash over him even if he failed to understand why. In part it was due to the frustration of believing he’d met some long lost relative and feeling so disconnected he’d even failed to realize it.
Watching Daichi intently Stanislas and Lydia both found it amusing that this news seemed to bring Daichi some relief, his face had been unreadable this entire time except for right now.
“There is something else I would like to speak with you about. It’s a story I would like you to hear.”
Daichi nodded in a trance his mind still on his possible family.
“Let me begin by saying… There was one more reason I could not simply trust that you were who you said you were when you first arrived.”
Stanislas sighed but his face straightened “The Queen left your description with the express order that should you ever arrive here… We were to kill you on sight.”