This was when Montavo Gilles Gingait was a pure and fastidious young boy.
The pressure against his lack of tenacity for results was strong.
You’re a disgrace, his parents and siblings would severely scold him.
However, Montavo was not alone.
— he had a reassuring ally.
The head maid of the Gingaits, Phryne.
An old maid whose wrinkles on her face looked like cracks.
‘Bocchan’s way of thinking is wonderful. That’s right, it’s better in the beginning to know the right form and have the right heart rather than being a stickler for results’
She won her fame as a female swordsman when she was young, and she left to be a sword master for Montavo.
Under Phryne’s strict guidance, Montavo steadily exhibited his sword talents.
Half of the training Phryne assigned him were practice swings.
She made Montavo earnestly swing the sword from morning to evening.
Montavo silently performed the plain, harsh training.
‘The way the sword moves shows the user’s personality’
That was Phryne’s favorite saying.
‘A sword wielded by a person with a warped heart will swing in a warped path’
That may be true, thought Montavo.
The way his father and brothers’s swords moved was warped, they were dull.
‘They way bocchan‘s sword moves is wonderful indeed’
Phryne was strict, but time to time she would praise Montavo.
‘I have never seen a sword move so straight and true. It will take time but bocchan will surely become the strongest swordsman one day’
Seeing Phryne’s proud eyes — being seen by such eyes made him happy to no end.
As he continued swinging his sword, the path left an image in his eyes.
Montavo’s sword flashes were comfortably straight.
— this is the path I will walk.
Montavo loved his family, but he could not walk the same path as them.
Even though they’re related by blood, they were not him.
He admired their energy that would go after results no matter what, but he couldn’t do it himself —
If the Gingait family abandoned their stubborn third son Montavo then the story would end there.
Montavo would break away from his family and walk his own path of the straight sword.
However — Montavo’s family was attached to him.
They noticed it.
Within their third son Montavo, an excellent and strongly shining talent.
— That would be hard to let go of.
Their third son had the genius to excel at various fields.
If only he wasn’t so fixated on correctness, if only he wasn’t so selective on the means, Montavo would soon win fame on any field.
His whole family was desperate to have Montavo to come over to “their side”.
They wanted to plant the Gingait values in Montavo —
The means they chose to win Montavo over — was a carrot 1
Montavo’s family decided to treat him nicely at first.
Then they talked to him, teach him the way of the Gingait family.
If they forcefully told him to “do it this way!”, Montavo would surely resist.
However, he wouldn’t grudge his family for speaking to him nicely.
His family’s words, the Gingait values, slowly soaked into Montavo’s body —
Montavo’s heart began to waver.
— Shouldn’t I live more tenaciously, to more efficiently aim for the top?
However, Phryne scolded Montavo.
‘Bocchan. You shouldn’t choose the easy way. The way to the top is the right way!’
Montavo was lost between Phryne and his family.
— Meanwhile, Phryne fell to illness.
His father locked Phryne in a room inside the mansion.
He strictly ordered his son, “Phryne caught a contagious disease. Don’t come near under any circumstances”
He was even forbidden from visiting.
Since Phryne was gone, Montavo gradually adopted his family’s values.
Never mind grace, results is what we want.
Loss is the end, only victory has value — that way of life.
His family was happy that Montavo became “one of them”, and hurriedly taught him rulership.
The mood in the house became better, it became comfortable.
But Montavo was looking back.
(Phryne would be disappointed if she saw me now …)
He wanted to go visit her, but Phryne’s illness didn’t heal even after three months.
She had been locked in the small room the whole time.
Even after half a year, Phryne’s illness didn’t show any sign of getting better.
Montavo, of course, became doubtful.
— Did Phryne receive proper treatment?
She should have.
She really should have …
Montavo came to Phryne’s room several times, but he didn’t open the door.
His father strongly told him not to open it, also, he didn’t want Phryne to see him now that he had gotten clever.
And that night finally came.
That night, Montavo couldn’t sleep no matter what, and left his bed.
He walked down the corridor to get some air — and then he noticed a suspicious sound.
— From the first floor, he heard the noise of something being dragged.
He approached with quiet steps, and there was —
A thinner Phryne was there.
She was crawling on the floor with a desperate look on her face.
He hurried to save her, but Phryne told him with hard breaths.
“Bocchan … please listen to what I’m going to say now …”
What Phryne told him was about this Gingait house.
Phryne had worked with the Gingait since the days of the former head.
The former head was unusually selfish, but he lived by the rules as a merchant, he respected Phryne.
However, since Montavo’s father took over the headship, everything changed.
The current head, his father, was an unscrupulous person.
He viciously cheated people out of their money and eliminated competition — it was in a small way but he went too far.
The Gingait house had completely changed.
They had become cowards.
Only the third son wasn’t stained with those values — Phryne desperately, as his sword teacher, instructed Montavo on the “proper” way to live.
Also, Phryne as the head maid, bit by bit gathered evidence of the current head’s evil deeds.
She was going to prosecute him someday.
Then just when the evidence had been gathered — Phryne fell ill.
Phryne was diagnosed by the doctor as having caught a contagious disease and was locked inside a small room in the mansion.
But — did Phryne really did catch a disease?
“… I think I might’ve been poisoned. Master … noticed what I was doing, and … he must’ve disagreed with me, trying to teach bocchan to live right … — bocchan, please …”
With shaking hands, Phryne gave Montavo a memo.
Written within was the locations where the prosecution materials Phryne had gathered.
In order to give it to Montavo, Phryne desperately broke down the lock and escaped her room.
“In my stead … please, return this house to the right path … bocchan, you can do it …”
Montavo looked at the memo and froze.
He knew what he should do as a person.
To use Phryne’s materials to prosecute his father and brothers, and return this house to the right path.
No, before that, take Phryne to another doctor and cure her poisoning.
The Montavo a few months before would not hesitate to do that.
But Montavo was no longer the person he was before.
Stained with his family’s values, knowing the world, he was now able to act on self-interest.
The strength that allowed him to push on along his own path no matter what people say, was no longer there.
If, Montavo thought.
If father and my brothers acts came to light — this house would be done for.
Montavo would lose money and fame, and had to live as if in a wilderness.
(No … I can’t do it anymore …)
Montavo half impulsively tore Phryne’s memo and crushed it — and he gulped.
Phryne, with a face of abject terror, stared into Montavo’s face.
“Bocchan … why … why … did you …”
Montavo did not answer Phryne’s repeated questions and took her back into the room.
He then laid her on the bed.
Leaving the poisoned Phryne and the room, Montavo closed the door — Montavo’s transfiguration was complete.
— Perhaps because of despair, Phryne died a few days later.
Even with her gone, Montavo’s life did not take a turn for the worse.
Rather, everything went on smoothly afterwards.
He fully used all his cleverness and wisdom he was born with, and gained dazzling results in business and in the art of the sword.
There was nobody in Coura and Sephor who didn’t know the name Montavo, and his study at the continent was decided.
Montavo gained excellent results in the royal academy he went to.
The current head of the Gingaits decided to turn over the family headship to the third son and called him home.
His older brothers made no complaints.
That was how excellent Montavo was.
Everything, everything went well.
The path of the sword that Phryne once taught him was warped beyond any help.
And that was how Montavo’s past story ended.
I see, I nodded.
“I get it now. Montavo, the reason you stopped yourself from helping people was because you were reminded of that Phryne, weren’t you?”
I asked, and Montavo weakly nodded.
“Yes … every now and then, when I try to save someone at a whim, I could hear Phryne’s voice that day saying ‘why …’, why didn’t you save me back then”
Right, now I can understand Montavo for the most part.
The former honest young man Montavo was poisoned by the values of worldly life, committed crimes, and lost the core of his being.
The reason he would always call himself “noble” or “elite” was because he was helplessly insecure.
He wanted to proscribe who he is, to stick a label on himself.
Behaving like a bad boy was part of that too.
The label of “scoundrel” is fine too, just stick one on me.
As a result, he continued staining his hands with dirty deeds.
His family never stopped him, even encouraged him, and moreover the specs he was born with was so high he was incorrigible.
“… sheesh, what a pain you are”
You only wanted Phryne’s forgiveness after all, you’re only making it worse.
“Then let’s start by visiting Phryne’s grave. You haven’t gone there anyway, right? You at least know its rough location don’t you? Show me there”
“Wha …!? There’s no way I can go there …!! I killed her, I can’t go see … no, she definitely won’t forgive me …”
“You idiot. Not asking for forgiveness because you don’t think they’ll forgive you is weird don’t you think? Don’t expect them to forgive you. It’s an apology because you do it even if you won’t be forgiven”
I dragged the reluctant Montavo to where the grave was.
… I don’t know whether I was trying to capture Kirisha or Montavo anymore.
- TN: as in carrot and stick, reward and punishment ↩