That night, Montavo was terribly drunk.
Kai had declared a break in the training tonight, so he drank with his friends until late.
“Kh … I’m tottering. I suppose that was too much drinking for my noble and heavy drinker self …”
He was unsteady on his feet, Montavo was tottering and staggering.
He didn’t have a constitution that takes to alcohol well to begin with.
He had many failures due to alcohol many times now.
But still, he had to drink.
In order to run away from “that voice” in his ears.
Then, right that moment.
“Help! Anyone …! Help!”
It came from somewhere, a voice asking for help.
Another hallucination again?
“… it has nothing to do with my noble and coldhearted self”
He doesn’t want anything to do with saving commoners — however.
The image of the townspeople floated into his mind.
The faces of the people rooting for Montavo.
“… what the hell’s wrong with me, dammit”
Montavo stopped walking and shouted.
“Where are you! The one asking for help from my noble and godly helpful self!”
“This way … please, help …”
The voice came from an alley.
There was a young girl there.
The young girl’s body, illuminated by the moonlight, was covered in blood.
“Hmph. you’re a lucky commoner, being found by my noble and angelic self. — come now, stand”
Montavo reached out to give the girl a helping hand — but then.
[— bocchan … why … why … why …]
The voice rang inside his ears.
The voice from that day.
That’s right, he had no business helping people now.
He was a person who lives a life of evil.
That was what he decided that day.
Montavo turned around.
He abandoned the fallen girl and ran away from there.
Out of breath, he ran through the streets —
“— oi, Montavo!”
He was pulled by a hand from behind and was forced to a stop.
When he turned around, there was his master Kai.
“Kai!? Where did you come out from!?”
“Never mind that. Montavo, why didn’t you save that girl?”
“… you saw?”
“Yes, I saw. Don’t worry about her for now. She’s something of an illusion I was showing you. — say Montavo, why do you always stop the moment you’re about to save someone?”
Montavo couldn’t answer.
He didn’t have to answer. Even to his master —
“So you’re not going to answer. Well, it didn’t look like it’s something easy to say — here”
Kai threw something at Montavo.
“What’s this all of a sudden”
Montavo caught it in a fluster.
The thing in his hands —
“My Sacrament Cage …”
It was the rare magic item Kai took from him before.
“I’m giving it back, the Sacrament Cage. So in return, I want you to tell me about yourself, Montavo Gilles Gingait. What kind of person are you?” Kai asked with a serious look.
“Why do you ask that now of all times … with this back my noble and free self has no reason to listen to you anymore …”
The reason Montavo obeyed Kay was to get the Sacrament Cage back.
If he had gotten it back, the (forced) master and student relationship was no more.
Was supposed to be no more.
“Alright. Then we’re now equals. With that in mind, I want to ask you this — Montavo, what are you running from? The reason you studied in the continent was because you’re running away from something, am I wrong?”
“… why do you want to know so much about me?”
“Beats me. Well, if pressed to answer … I’d say because the more I know the more I can make a good story, I suppose”
Kai’s eyes were clear — so Montavo thought.
“Haah … really”
Thus, Montavo decided to talk.
The story of himself until he transformed into a “Scoundrel”
Montavo was the third son of the Couran noble family Gingait.
Despite being nobles, the Gingaits had been merchants until three generations ago.
Their family tradition was far from elegant.
They were so hectic that one can say they’d die if someone stopped.
The Gingaits do not posess the notion of “Steadiness”.
They continued climbing in all fields, aiming for a higher place.
They never stopped moving.
The source of the overflowing vitality — was a complex.
[Even though we’re nobles we’re upstarts. When an upstart fails everything ends. Our family shall never ever fail!]
Don’t fail, don’t ever fail — those were the words of Montavo’s father.
You don’t want to be made light of, do you.
Make up for our lack of history and our low status with results.
His father raised his children with zeal.
He wanted his children to excel in various fields.
— and the Martial Arts.
His father was particularly zealous in teaching the art of the sword.
He wanted to give raise to a knight unparallelled under the sky from his family.
The coach the father hired taught the children the “Undefeatable art of the Sword”
An everchanging form, always reaching for the enemy’s weak spot.
Surprises, taunts, smidgens of foul play.
Devoting one’s whole mind and body to grasping the victory at hand at any means — that kind of sword.
The childen won and won at martial arts tournaments.
Even if ridiculed as unrefined, if they won they joined the royal army.
All the upstart family needs were victories.
That is the way of the Gingait family.
The whole family greedily aimed for victory.
— only one, the third son Montavo, was the exception.
Montavo was a shiftless young boy, too shiftless to be a Gingait.
He had no interest in fame or victory.
The young Montavo purely pursued the sword.
The optimal forms, footwork with little loss, strong stances — he constantly explored.
Without fussing about victor, Montavo immersed his own limbs in the forms of his predecessors.
His win rate was low.
He didn’t want to sacrifice his form just to win a sham battle. If he could eventually reach the strongest with that, then it’s fine — that was Montavo’s way of thinking.
His parents and siblings who adhered to the family ways blamed him.
‘What are you doing! Win, win, win!! Attack their weak point!!’
But Montavo was obstinate.
‘Winning with tricks is meaningless — you’re so fixated on the immediate victory, you won’t become the strongest’
His will was as hard as iron, welling up in him like a spring.
That time, Montavo was still an honest young man.