Chapter 44: A Secret Meeting With Grandparent
The second day after Gouki came to the village.
Rio’s existence couldn’t be announced to the public, due to how they treated Ayame, so it was decided that the meeting between Rio and the royal couple[king and queen] would be conducted in secret.
Currently, he was staying in the royal castle as a visitor; the people who knew of his parentage was just the royal couple and Gouki, who became his guide.
For the sake of not causing a disturbance, if he become known, no one was told of his parentage, even ones part of the upper echelon who know of his parent’s circumstances.
And then, in one room inside the royal castle of the Karasuki kingdom, Rio went to meet with the royal couple, who were his grandparents.
Being guided by Gouki and Kayoko, when he’s entering the room, Rio was greeted by queen Shizuku and king Homura.
「Oo, is he the one called Rio?」
Homura spoke Rio’s name in fluent way, with a delighted tone.
Shizuku looked intently at Rio’s face, as if being overcome with intense emotion.
Prior to meeting his grandparents, he always wondered what kind of people they were. Though he always imagined about them, he could feel some kind of dignity embracing them, giving an impression that they were unexpectedly friendly people.
That soft and tender countenance, the eyes that shined brightly, deep inside, was filled with deep affection towards Rio.
When he was thinking about the conversation, it might have been arranged, and was highly possible, that they would talk after this. Though he couldn’t help but be pained when seeing their warm expression, he somehow kept his neutral expression.
「Yes. This is the first time we’ve met. I’m called Rio」
Rio greeted them formally with polite conduct.
He did that without showing a strained face, with a calm and conducted tone.
「Since it’s a reunion with our cute grandchild. There’s no need to be so formal in this room. Please stop with that kind of boorish etiquette」
「That’s right. You’re our grandchild」
Maybe because they felt distance when Rio spoke to them in a formal way, the royal couple showed a troubled expression.
Rio responded to the words of his grandparent while smiling wryly.
Someone just suddenly said that his mother was royalty, in that case he was also royalty. Rio’s nerve weren’t that shameless, just because he could wear the borrowed mantle of authority and misuse it.
Rio was measuring in what way he would talk to them.
「We won’t be perplexed even if it’s a lie」
Guessing what he was currently thinking, Homura said that words with clear voice.
Apparently the royal couple was also perplexed.
「But, now, we’re happy that we can finally reunite this way.」
Homura said that with a tender smile on his face.
Shizuku also nodded, as if approving of what her husband just said.
「First, why not have a heartwarming family moment after not seeing your family for a long time」
「Yeah, we also have many things we want to ask. Though the time we can meet is limited, let’s do our best to tell your story」
Gazing straight into Rio’s eye, the royal couple showed a relieved expression.
It would also feel awkward if they suddenly said that they wanted to hear his heavy story from the very beginning.
Nevertheless, now he needed to prepare himself for the moment when he must tell them about “that” story, even just a little.
While thinking such way, Rio’s grinned slightly wider and answered.
「I wonder if it’s okay to sit first？」
「Of course, sorry for our discourtesy」
Rio sat on the chair recommended by Homura.
And then, as if saying that there was no need to wait for them, the royal couple conversed with Rio.
They were trying to break the ice with a mild and easy topic first.
Or maybe they were intentionally avoiding when it came to topics regarding Zen and Ayame.
Rio answered their questions with a calm tone, without showing a tense expression, and sometimes looking at the taken out cup with tea inside it.
「Your atmosphere truly resembles Ayame」
Maybe because Rio’s current calm and tranquil bearing was piling up with her deceased daughter’s, Shizuku said that while smiling gently.
When his mother’s name suddenly came out of nowhere, Rio looked at Shizuku with slightly perplexed expression.
「Is that so ？」
Even though he asked that question himself, Rio’s looked intently at Shizuku.
Thanks to being a user of spirit arts, Shizuku still kept a youthful appearance.
If Ayame was still alive right now, they could be seen as sisters separated by age.
He was imagining that if the Ayame inside Rio’s memories passed her age normally, she might have looked like Shizuku.
「Yeah, it’s true」
And that Shizuku smiled at Rio.
Even Rio smiled lightly, as if being drawn by her soft and tender smile.
He perfectly understood Shizuku’s personality with just this smile.
Rio sensed the face of his late mother in Shizuku.
「Will you let us hear about it？ About Zen and Ayame」
Shizuku spoke of that topic with completely changed, stiffened expression.
It was not a question just to satisfy her curiousity.
The information regarding the death of Zen and Ayame was already known by Homura and Shizuku.
Though they didn’t know the specific reason for their death, they could imagine it, for Zen and Ayame who left towards a foreign land, far away from their own homeland. It was easy to imagine what kind of cruel life waited for people walking such a life.
That was why they were not thoughtlessly asking about such a question.
Though Shizuku was the one who asked that question, he could see a decisive resolution dwelling in Homura’s eyes.
「Both of them died during my childhood. Regarding father, I don’t remember anything about him except for what was told by mother. Though I vaguely remember parts about him, if you’re okay with just ……… 」 [TL : Poor Zen]
And, Rio said that while surpressing the the wrings that happened with his feelings[emotion/heart].
「Of course, we don’t mind about it」
Reacting to their sincere looks, Rio took a deep breath, and spoke without hiding anything regarding Zen and Ayame.
The contents were mostly identical with the one he told to Yuba.
He had almost nothing to talk about Zen, it was mainly about Ayame.
To Ayame’s story told by Rio, Homura smiled as if dearly missing her, while Shizuku cried softly.
The story kept going on; soon it reached the topic about Ayame’s death.
「And then, mother died when I was 5 years old」
As expected, he was hestitating whether to tell them the fact that she was murdered after being raped; Rio just told them that she was dead, while leaving out the cause of her death.
「5 years old ……… then …….. How did you live after that ？」
Shizuka timidly asked him.
Though she was thinking about asking the details regarding Ayame death, it seemed that the impact of him who became an orphan when he was still just 5 years old was stronger.
Yuba asked the same things.
When Rio noticed that, he took a deep breath and felt relieved.
「………. Orphan. lived their life in slums of the royal capital」
When Rio casually said that he was an orphan before.
The royal couple was slightly overwhelmed by his tone, that didn’t have any hint of dissatisfaction for his bygone past-self.
But, when Shizuku suddenly cried.
「But, I was an orphan till I was 7 years old」
Rio told that fact while smiling wryly.
「I see ………. then, what kind of life did you live after you were 7 years old ？」
Homura asked about Rio’s livelihood after that.
「After 7 years old, I was attending an educational institution of that country due to some trifling incident」
The topic was naturally shifting to Rio.
「Educational institution ？ Though there some places like that in this kingdom, that …… 」
By no means was it a place in which an orphan could go.
The reason for that was, that establishment was mainly aimed at wealthy people.
It didn’t seem to be any different no matter what country it was.
Just how did Rio, who was an orphan, attend that kind of place? Though he wanted to ask him about that, it was clearly an extraordinary matter; Homura couldn’t bring himself to ask Rio.
「By some unexpected event, I unexpectedly saved an important person of that country, thus I was able to receive an education in relation to that event」
Rio then told them the details regarding that event, omitting some behind the scenes events.
「I see …….. the fact that you can still save others despite your adversity is something you must proud of」
Though there was no facade in those words, Rio might still have hided something.
And Homura held that doubt in his mind.
His eyes closed slightly, as he was unable to detect if there was a change in Rio’s expression.
But, even Homura, with his wide array of experience in facing many kinds of people as a king, couldn’t read what transpired in Rio’s heart.
In that time, Rio briefly spoke about his live in the royal academy.
When he heard Rio’s story, Homura ignored his doubt for the time being.
Rio’s story was mainly about his gratitude toward Seria, while he was not mentioning about the bullying he got from the noble kids who lived in academy. [ED: a gratitude he repaid by forgetting the one thing she asked; sending letters]
Thus Rio didn’t tell everything about his hardship during that time, but there was no way for him, who was originally an orphan, to live a life without any hardship in that kind of place.
The royal couple who heard his story somehow smiled sadly when they noticed that he didn’t tell them any of hardships he experienced during that time.
「Well,various things happened after that, thus I began my journey toward Yagumo while thinking that I must hold a memorial service to father and mother in their homeland, when I was 12 years old」
「……… That was truly hard life」
Homura muttered in a low voice.
[They could tell] just by hearing the outline of Rio’s story, even if it was unpleasant, that Rio lived a cruel life.
Becoming an orphan at 5, crossing over towards the Yagumo region from Strahl region to hold a memorial service at 12, normally that was something unbelievable.
Even Gouki and Kayoko were speechless and showed a gloomy expression when they heard his story inside that room.
「No, I’m glad that I came to this country. And learning about my parents past. Even if it’s the only result of coming to this country」
Smiling lightly, Rio said that with a clear, bright tone, as if trying to wipe the unbearable mood that everyone in the room felt before.
Homura gasped on seeing Rio’s smile.
「I see ……」
Homura stayed silent while keeping his eyes closed, just barely managed to smile wryly.
The room was enveloped by a short silence.
Homura was took one deep breath, and opened his mouth to ask about that muddled fact[hidden fact] to Rio.
「By the way, aside from Zen’s death, I didn’t hear anything regarding how Ayame died. Won’t you tell me about it? 」
It meant that he wanted to hear the actual facts without any hidden parts in that story.
Though he expected for the reason why Rio hid that fact, Homura still wanted to know about it.
「……….. It’s not something pleasant to hear, is that okay?」
Rio, who was indirectly asking for their resolution to hear that story, made Homura raised his vigilance.
Do you really want to hear about it?.
That story was certainly a nauseating story for them.
「It’s something that we must know. We were the ones who caused such hardship to befall upon you, by driving out that child from this kingdom, after all」
「Yeah, even if we know that talking about that fact is cruel to you, we cannot help but want to know about it. Sorry for bringing such cruel request ………. 」
Even though her head was slightly hanging, when Shizuku said those words, he could feel her strong conviction.
The royal couple knew that they were hurting Rio by made him to recall his painful past with their questions.
Even if they knew that, they were being selfish by doing that, even if it was likely that they were going to be cursed by Rio, they still chose to ask the reason for Ayame’s death to RIo.
Thus, Rio muttered with weak voice.
He shut his eyes as if being perplexed by something, a taking a little deep breath.
「Mother ……….. was murdered. In front of my eyes」
Thus after resolving his heart, Rio bluntly told them that fact.
Though he expected to some extent, Homura, who received such great shock, was unable to hide his shoked expression.
Though it was obvious that they needed some time to hide their shock, Rio already started to tell them the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death at that time.
「First, the one who killed mother is a man called Lucius」
In the 5 years since Rio’s father, Zen, passed away, Rio has live with his mother, Ayame, in a simple house somewhere in the royal capital.
With her beloved husband passed away before her, Rio, who was still a baby, was the only one left for Ayame.
In addition, she was unable to leave Rio alone for work, so she have no choice but to live from her savings.
Thank god that Zen and Ayame lived frugally, she had some amount of savings, enough till Rio grew to some extent.
But, live was more difficult than prediction, she couldn’t even take her eyes off Rio, even if she just went out to market for a bit.
An adventurer called Lucius was the one who saved Ayame during that time.
The first time they met was when Ayame and Zen were going to the adventurer’s guild of Bertram kingdom for the first time.
The one that called out to foreigner like Zen and Ayame, who were yet to familiarized themselves with the foreign country, and looked after them was Lucius.
He Introduced a productive job to Zen by the time Ayame was pregnant with Rio, and occasionally formed a party with him.
Though at a glimpse Lucius had a vulgar appearance along with an unshaven beard, he was a true gentleman.
Lucius assisted Ayame, who was raising Rio alone after Zen’s death.
Rio even remember that Lucius occasionally visited Ayame.
Playing with Rio with friendly atmosphere.
But, that was acting all along.
Someday when Rio already 5 years old, since there was a job that she can’t leave alone, no matter what, Ayame entrusted Rio’s rearing to Lucius.
That day, Lucius suddenly transformed into a cruel man, as if he was a different person.
Right after Ayame went out, Lucius’s expression filled with joy, as if his repressed emotions suddenly exploded.
Looking at Lucius’s expression, Rio unintentionally retreating, as he feeling dread from it.
But, Lucius’s raised his leg, and kicked hard at Rio’s abdomen.
Rio’s still young body danced in the middle of air while letting out a dull sound.
Rio’s body was attacked by a great impact following right after that.
「Oy, you can enter now」
Leaving Rio who was suffering in pain, Lucius left the house and invited unfamiliar men to enter the house.
Rio looked at that scenery with his hazy consciousness.
Why you kicked my belly?.
Where has that kind Lucius gone to?.
Rio asked that question with his gasping breath.
「Why？ Coz it’s ripe enough to be harvested ya’know」
Lucius mouth warped sinisterly and only saying that.
「That’s why. Sleep for a while, Rio-kun」
He then clogging Rio mouth with a cloth soaked in some strange drug, and Rio lost his consciousness.
And then, by the time Rio opened his eyes, Ayame had already been raped by Lucius. [TL : damn it, I hate this chapter] [ED: Really hate it]
Though the Rio at that time didn’t know what Lucius did to Ayame, he knew that it wasn’t something liked by Ayame.
When he noticed that Rio has woken up, Lucius keep on raping Ayame, as if to show that to Rio.
Though Ayame hated it, she just following Lucius words silently, if he said that he’d hit Rio.
「Oy, throw this brat to slum」
After Ayame was strangled to death by Lucius, as it was something that couldn’t be undone, Lucius ordered his subordinate to throw Rio into the Slum.
「Hee, you’re not gonna kill him？」
Someone asked with curious tone.
「Oyoy, doing something like that isn’t interesting at all. It’s not the time to harvest this brat yet」
The man spoke in an excited tone, hearing Lucius saying that in a good mood.
「If this brat survives, he’ll come to get his revenge to me. Killing him who’s trying to get his revenge for his family is the best feeling ever」
「Ha-haha ……. 」
In his dim consciousness, the figure of Lucius laughing in madness was imprinted in Rio’s mind.
Then, they dump Rio in the slum, though he finally managed to going back to his house after walking in the royal capital, following his vague memories, the key of the house was shut tightly; he even lost his property.
Since there was no decent family register, he didn’t even have any means to prove that he was Ayame’s son.
Thus, Rio wandered around the slum for two years.
「That’s all of it」
Rio told that story with a cold, and indifferent tone, with calm smile.
A gloomy atmosphere filled the inside of that room.
Homura keeped his eyes closed while his body trembled, Shizuku was weeping and covered her face with the palm of her hands.
Gouki angry expression laid bare, Kayoko’s expression was as cold as ice itself, all of them thinking.
They were staring at Rio.
「Rio, you must resent us for what we did to ………… For us to make Ayame go through such things …… 」
As if being unable to bear Rio’s silence, Homura muttered in a somehow low and subdued voice.
Rio said that clearly wthout any shred of hestitation.
Though they were preparing themself to receiving his resentment, that single phrase pierced deeply into their hearts, their body started to tremble.
But, his next sentence brought them back to reality.
「Though it’s not strange if someone said those words in this kind of situation, I didn’t have any particular resentment towards all of you」
Rio smiled wryly.
Homura and the other were looking at Rio with dumbfounded expression.
Then, why did RIo was showing the same surprised expression as them.
Rio was astonished that he unconsciously mislead Homura and the others, like a villain.
Thus he created a strange atmosphere that way.
「I really didn’t have any kind of resentment towards you guys」
Rio was somehow smiling dejectly, shaking head from left to right while saying those words.
「I already heard the circumstances of that time from Gouki-dono, the situation at time left you with no choice but to expulse father and mother —-」
Though they were driven away from the kingdom to keep the honour of the kingdom, Zen and Ayame still obediently left their kingdom.
Since they couldn’t marry if they’re not leave the kingdom.
「Since I could be with my mother, despite it only for a short time —」
Ayame never regretted being forced to leave her own kingdom.
「Thus, I know that mother was blessed with happiness. It feels wrong if I resent all of you because of it, right」
Rio looked at the horizon, as if recalling the memories with his mother.
Even if Zen passed away, Ayame didn’t grieve on her own fate.
Ayame cherished everyday she spent along with Zen, she poured same amount of love to Rio, similar to Zen.
Ayame’s expression was full of happiness when she told Rio about Zen, when she was looking after Rio, and never any pain in front of Rio.
She never even felt an ounce of regret in leaving her kingdom, no need to say that she’s also did not resent her parent and Gouki.
In that case, his resentment missed the point if he resented them.
The one he should resent is the person who killed his mother.
「I see ……….. 」
Homura hung his head deeply, his body was trembling on hearing Rio’s words.
After Rio said his word of resentment[fake] sometime ago, Rio current words pierced deep in his chest.
He couldn’t help that he feel weak when he recalled those word.
「Ayame …….. 」
Shizuku’s sobbing voice resounding inside of the room.
No, it’s not just Shizuku’s.
Everyone inside that room except for Rio was crying.
Thus time flowed by.
Shizuku’s crying voice subsided before long, and a silence descended in the room.
At that time, Homura rose his line of sight ——-.
「That man was called Lucius, right? Rio, are you going to ………………….. Are you going to get your revenge on that man? 」
Those words suddenly coming out like water bursting from broken dam.
Since everyone who had their important person snatched away would think about the same things.
That might be why Homura suddenly asked that question.
Homura took a deep sigh in his heart, his facial expression was as if he was enduring it on hearing an already expected answer.
「I see………. I also loathed that man. But, there’s something that I must say if you’re going to walk on this path」
After saying that, Homura squinted his eyes, looking at Rio as if trying to measure his resolution.
「What is it？」
Rio asked while directly receiving Homura’s line of sight.
「Revenge isn’t justice. Some even say that revenge is revenge. Do you understand that? 」[ED: and people die when they’re killed…][TL : And resurrected, in most of Xianxia]
「I see, Even so you’re going to kill him right？」
「Yeah, if that man is still alive till now, I’ll kill him with my own hands」
Rio declared his will indifferently, with calm and clear voice, and without warping his dignified expression.
It was not the eyes of someone being imprisoned by his revenge, nor someone trying to deluding himself, nor someone eager to get his revenge.
They were the eyes of someone who was resolved to go through following his resolution, even though such resolution didn’t exist in this world.
「I see. In that case, I won’t stop you」
Someone’s emotion weren’t something so light that they could be erased with just lip service.
If Rio had lost his himself, he was going to advise him to not go through such a thorny road, as his grandfather.
But, the current Rio didn’t show the signs of losing himself.
Homura, with his long years of experience as a ruler, knew about that.
「……. But, you must know too, that some degree of power is needed to accomplish that. Won’t you try to have a match with Gouki? 」
Homura said those words after a brief silence.