Trell scowled after seeing the entrance that Zich had disappeared out of.
‘What is it? What is he thinking?’
Trell thought that Zich had planned everything to create a scenario that would increase his chances of becoming the Count’s heir. But that thought lost credibility the instant that Zich threw away his right as the heir.
“What does Sir Zich want to do exactly?”
Chris Nunn, who had been restraining the Count, seemed to have the same thought as Trell as he asked this question quietly. Fortunately, the Count had calmed down by then.
“I don’t know. He made the situation more advantageous to him in every way and then kicked it all away.”
Chris Nunn clicked his tongue.
“Is he really planning to leave?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Maybe he decided on it at the spur of the moment. In his youth…”
Chris Nunn seemed to have thought that Zich would not truly leave the family.
“But I am sure of this. Since he has given up his right as heir in front of so many people, Greig will become the heir for sure.”
Trell let out an uncontrollable burst of laughter. From what he knew, Chris Nunn was among those who supported Greig. He should be happy about the situation, but Chris Nunn couldn’t hide the deep sense of regret in his voice.
‘No, it’s not only Chris Nunn.’
A lot of people probably felt the same way. Truthfully, Trell couldn’t hide his feelings of regret and stared at Greig who had collapsed onto the ground.
‘He is a bit lacking, but we have no choice but to expect Greig to—!’
“W-what are you doing?” Chris Nunn asked in surprise, but Trell couldn’t answer.
‘Lacking? I just thought that, right?’
Steelwall’s image of Greig was the ‘capable heir,’ but it was different now. After losing to Zich’s schemes and strength, Greig’s image had greatly diminished. It was enough to make Trell unconsciously think that Greig was a bit lacking.
‘People will continue to compare them. Since they all saw how talented Zich is—from now on, whenever Greig seems a bit lacking, they will see him in a new light.’
And that would create a feud in Steelwall.
‘It may not be significant, but it could become a bigger issue than I imagined.’
Fortunately, Greig had many supporters.
‘Still, those who are neutral and the very few Zich supporters will raise their concern, especially since the talented eldest son was harassed into leaving.’
It was acceptable up to this point because Greig was the heir and he had above-average skills. If Greig showed skills that were above average, the concerns wouldn’t just evaporate into thin air, but they wouldn’t spread outside of the family either.
‘But what if Sir Greig fails to be like his old self?’
Like a deranged person, Greig was absent-mindedly staring at the place where Zich had disappeared. This incident could be a moment of shock for him, and Greig could learn and progress from this experience.
‘But what if he never shakes off the shock?’
If one factor in the shocking process of the duel, the stern gazes that would continue to follow him after his loss, and how Greig had looked down on Zich all his life, there was a good chance that Greig would never pull himself from his shock.
And if that happened…
‘With young master Zich’s renouncement, if Sir Greig also becomes ruined, Steelwall will not be able to survive.’
When Trell thought that far, his back seemed to ache; he felt like he began to understand the meaning behind Zich’s incomprehensible behavior.
‘Young Master Zich did that not for the Steelwall’s heir. It was all for revenge!’
If Trell’s worries became a reality, Steelwall would not only falter— it would collapse.
“What is the problem, butler?”
“I think he really left.”
“I mean that the young master, Zich, really left.”
He left Steelwall while leaving behind a massive bomb. Trell looked away from Chris Nunn’s surprised gaze and bit his lips.
* * *
“Haa! I feel so~ refreshed~!”
Zich shouted while untying the bandages on his body. His fresh voice seemed to release the stress of everyone who heard him. However, Hans looked like a convict on death row, heading to the gallows closely behind him.
Zich didn’t have a particular reason for bringing Hans.
‘It will be comfortable to have a luggage carrier while traveling alone. I’ve forgiven the guy who defied me with just some labor—this is already too kind.’
Surprisingly, Zich was interpreting what Glen Zenard had told him before he died—‘If you are born again, I hope you will be someone who does good!’ in his own way.
“Are you really leaving Steelwall?”
Hans’ lips twitched after hesitating whether he should speak or not.
“C-can you think about it again? Even if you go back now, the Count will not talk to you harshly. Considering your talent, won’t it be easy for you to succeed the family’s name?”
“I don’t want to.”
Hans looked like he was about to cry.
“Anyways, what is your relationship with the Countess? It didn’t look normal.”
Even if the Countess responded more sensitively to the situation because it involved Zich, the way she treated Hans was not like the way she treated the other servants.
“M-my grandmother was madam’s nanny.”
“Ah, no wonder.”
That must have been why she was so defensive about Hans.
‘I snatched her precious servant away, so she must be suffering a bit.’
A smile naturally crept up Zich’s face. And because it seemed like he could talk to Zich to some degree, Hans asked, “Could I perhaps ask about your future plans? Such as your destination or the goals that you want to achieve…”
“I don’t have any specific plans. I am thinking about wandering around the world and doing good deeds—that’s all.”
‘Since I, the Demon Lord of Strength, lost in a head-to-head battle, I should do what that Glen guy told me to do.’
Although Glen was a jerk, he was still the hero who had defeated Zich, so this was Zich’s way of showing Glen some respect.
“You are going to do good deeds?”
“Of course! Isn’t a man supposed to live while doing good work? After doing a good deed at Steelwall, it feels really rewarding.”
‘Has he really gone crazy?’
Hans’ expression seemed to show his disbelief intensely.
Thankfully, he didn’t blurt out whatever was on his mind like he had done in the past, but he couldn’t agree that Zich had done a good deed even if his mouth was ripped open.
‘All he did was turn the Count’s residence upside down.’
Hans couldn’t think as deeply as Trell, but he at least knew that Zich had not done a single good deed; but surprisingly, Zich was sincere. Moreover, Zich had surprisingly acted in good faith.
‘Since Greig was left in a state like that as the next pivotal center of Steelwall, he will be in a state of shock for a while. However, if he gets past the shock and progresses to the next level, he can be an even stronger Count.’
Greig couldn’t compare to the ultimate genius Zich, but he also had talent. If Zich had just left him alone, Greig would’ve still been a splendid Count, so Zich just sounded like he was giving excuses. But it was different this time.
‘Steelwall can’t go on like this. If Greig grows up well protected, carefully and bit by bit, Steelwall’s future will not change.’
And according to what Zich knew, Steelwall would collapse into ruins in the near future—very thoroughly too, where even a servant’s family wouldn’t survive.
He didn’t know the reason for their fall. He only found out when he asked one of his subordinates to see how Steelwall was doing out of a moment of fickleness. After that, he lost interest because Zich thought the Steelwall family was completely unrelated to him.
‘If Greig falls like that, it will increase the likelihood of the Steelwall family’s collapse. But they are already destined to ruin, so…’
He had already lost all love for that family. Creating an opportunity for them to change was already a tremendous act of kindness.
“Um, young master.”
“It’s not young master. Call me Sir Zich from now on.”
Since they left the Count’s residence, there was no need for Hans to call Zich ‘young master.’
“Sir Zich, should we prepare before going? Is it really alright for us to go without anything, sir?”
The only things that Zich possessed were a bloody training sword and a luxurious cloth that was ripped into two. Hans only had the clothes that he was wearing. Both of them didn’t even have two coins to rub against each other.
“Don’t worry. I have something prepared.”
“I-I understand, sir.”
Hans forced out a reply, but his despair seemed to deepen to another level.
‘If he has made preparations, then that means he is really determined!’
Hans’ hope of returning to the Count’s residence diminished.
“I am just saying this for extra caution, but don’t even dream of running away. As you saw before, the Steelwall family is a military family. Since I brought you out after winning a duel, they won’t accept you back even if you escape. You could escape elsewhere, but do you think you can live in some other place after living a protected life in the Count’s residence this entire time?”
Hans tugged his hair. He had to admit that he was inside the palm of Zich’s hands.
They both walked through the city. In contrast to the stadium that had fallen into panic, it was peaceful outside. However, everyone was staring at them. They were wary after seeing Zich covered in blood with his ripped clothes. But Zich didn’t pay them any attention and continued to walk.
‘This place is!’
Previously anxious about his foggy future, Hans opened his eyes wide. They arrived at a temple that was a bit far off from the city center, but it wasn’t just any temple.
‘Isn’t this where the Count and his family’s ancestors are resting?’
Like Hans thought, this was the public cemetery for the Steelwall family.
‘W-what did we come here for, sir?”
“I thought I should see my mother before I leave.”
Zich’s voice, which had been bright all along, became a bit lower.
“By your mother, sir, do you mean the previous Countess, sir?”
Zich went inside the temple.
Priests who managed the temple gathered their hands to greet him. They were taken back by the state Zich was in for a moment but recovered immediately.
“I came to get back what I entrusted.”
The priest commanded the lower-ranking priests around him. After a moment, a lower-ranking priest came back with two huge bags.
“Here they are.”
Zich hung the small bag around his shoulders and laid the other bag down in front of Hans.
Hans had no choice; he quietly slung the bag over his body. It was quite heavy.
“I’m going to see my mother for a bit.”
“I understand. Please follow me.”
Zich followed the priest, but he asked for their understanding and changed into clean clothes before he continued.
The priest guided Zich to the insides of the temple. Tombstones tightly filled the wide, dirt ground from spot to spot, and the priest guided Zich to one of the tombstones. Among the many tombstones, this one looked the newest.
The inscriptions on the tombstone stated that the owner of the grave was the original owner of the Countess’s seat and was Zich’s birth mother.
Zich got lost in his sentimentality.
‘I guess she is the one who gave birth to me.’
Zich had pushed thoughts about his mother to the back of his mind since his regression because he had been occupied by other matters such as grasping his immediate situation, understanding his relationship with the Count, and thinking of ways to screw Steelwall over.
Zich tried to recollect thoughts about his mother. He didn’t remember well since it happened a long time ago, but after trying harder, he began to recall memories about his mother bit by bit.
The beautiful memories of his mother who was pitifully pushed away by her husband and filled with worries about her son…
[How can you still not remember this one thing?!]
Zich was instantly taken out of his memories. No, that wasn’t even a memory.
‘What was that?’
It felt like he had just opened Pandora’s box; sweat, which he hadn’t even shed in battle, began to wet his back.
Carefully, Zich tried to recollect memories about his mother again.
[How are you going to be the Count if you are so weak! What will be your use?!]
The only things he could remember were the scolding and contempt. Up until this point, it was possible to think that his mother was just strict—although she had gone overboard. However, Zich remembered more.
[What the hell is this?! Didn’t I always tell you to maintain cleanliness in the Count’s residence! Are you ignoring my commands!]
He recalled the sight of her pointing fingers and nagging servants at a bit of dust left on the window.
[Can all of you knights learn some manners?!]
She nagged at the knights for acting rude when they couldn’t help but be a bit rough as the forefront of the kingdom.
[Are you telling me that I, the Countess, should live with such a low allowance!]
Zich saw his mother raise her voice at the butler who managed the Count’s household.
[How could you, a lowly wench who swayed the Count with your beauty alone, act like my equal?!]
He had seen his mother bully the second wife at that time, Greig’s mother, Florel Steelwall, with lowly tricks.
[I guess you can’t betray your lowly birth!]
He recollected the scene of his mother yelling at Greig when he was only a child.
[Because you ignore me, other people look down on me!]
His mother seemed to show no mercy even to the Count.
Even Zich was surprised by these memories. He placed his hand on his head and tried to organize his thoughts.
‘That’s right. Mother was always that kind of person.’
The reason why everyone outcasted Zich, including the Count, was because of his mother. Technically, everything that Zich mentioned was what his mother, Sara Steelwall had done; but humans were not creatures who acted only on logic.
Furthermore, in comparison to Sara Steelwall, the second wife, Florel Steelwall was basically an angel. She treated Zich harshly, but that was only because Zich was Sara’s son and Greig’s rival; to everyone else, she was quite caring and kind. That was why everyone leaned in favor of Florel and Greig.
‘Many people must have been relieved that my mother died so early.’
Maybe it was because of her nasty temper that she died prematurely. Then, Florel Steelwall took her place as the Countess, and Zich became a lasting eyesore to the Count.
“What do you think about my mother?”
“M-madam? Of course she is a good person, sir!”
Hans made a subservient smile, but his shaking pupils seemed to reveal his true feelings.
‘Wait a moment. Wasn’t there a young servant that my mother used to especially torment?’
The servant was the grandson of the current Countess’s nanny.
‘It was him.’
The way Zich looked at Hans changed.
“Give me the bag.”
Zich snatched that bag Hans was carrying and took out some items. They were heavy items that Zich had thrown in the bag to screw with Hans. He placed some of these items into his bag and gave the bag back to Hans.
Zich turned away from Hans’ blinking eyes and stared at an unfamiliar view in front of him: it was where the Steelwall palace was. Zich had no reason to be sorry to the Count’s family. But if he thought about how severe his mother’s actions had been, he couldn’t help but sympathize with them.
Zich scratched his head and thought in his mind what no one in Steelwall could hear.
‘If something happens in the future, I will help.’
He thought that it wouldn’t be bad to lend a helping hand to the family he had once been part of.