After taking Ilsa to her bedroom to rest, Sebastian left things to Cecilia and the others, and led Lyle to one of the rooms.
“Now, where shall I start…”
The old butler pondered while choosing his words. However, seeing that Lyle was in a state of calm, he engaged in eye contact and begun his tale.
“—I think you’ll have realised this by now, but this place is not meant to protect Lady Ilsa, but to hide her.”
“Is ‘Weissburg’ a pseudonym?”
“Lady Ilsa’s circumstances are complicated indeed. If it were made known to the world that she is being haunted by evil spirits of that like, it’d cause no small amount of trouble for her family.”
There were things Lyle wanted to comment on about ‘being haunted by evil spirits’, but he withheld it and continued to listen quietly.
“This is also the reason why Cecilia has been so terribly rude to you. Before you came, there had been many other tutors we hired. And they had resigned from their jobs upon seeing the same sight you did.”
“……So that was what it was.”
If they were going to run away with their tails between their legs, then she might as well chase them off from the start.
“…Since when has Ilsa been this way?”
“It’s already been six years… and seven, in the coming month. Ever since the day after her fourth birthday, Lady Ilsa has spent her life on these very grounds.”
Lyle was shocked. He had not quite expected it to be that long. Next, came an abrupt feeling of anger.
“…I’d like to meet Ilsa face-to-face. Can that be arranged?”
Though he seemed hesitant, the old butler gave a small nod and led the way.
Before the bedroom within the residence, stood a stern-faced Cecilia, who threw a severe look at the old butler the instant she saw the sight of Lyle.
“Sebastian! What is the meaning of bringing him here!”
The girl raised her voice, turning her gaze which was as sharp and austere as the military uniform she wore towards Lyle.
“…Please turn back at once, Sir Lyle Waldstein. Your job is already done. Forget what you’ve seen here, and return to your life as a student.”
And if by any chance, should you let a word of this slip…her dark grey eyes seemed to say, glinting with threat.
However, Lyle did not falter.
“…What are you trying to do?”
“Just what are you trying to accomplish by leaving a girl as small as her all alone?”
Lyle’s voice was not loud, but it seemed to have a volume greater than what it had.
Cecilia found herself at a loss of words, but she glared back at him. You don’t know anything, she thought.
“Too many times has Lady Ilsa been hurt by thoughtless words of that like…you’ll never understand her pain!”
“If so, you would know exactly how she is feeling now, won’t you? Please, let me through.”
After saying that as if he were telling off an unreasonable child, Lyle opened the door to the bedroom.
In the spacious, elegant bedroom, there was a large canopy bed. On that bed was the little girl, sitting quietly. The moment she took notice of him, both her blue left eye and her right Eye of Amber that had been hidden by the eye-patch widened.
She hastily tried to hide her right eye, but it was already too late. She clenched her small fist, and faced Lyle with a lonely smile.
“…You were surprised, weren’t you? I’ve been this way for the longest time. I’m being possessed by something evil, and sometimes that evil breaks free and does things. Things like what happened earlier.”
“I’m sorry for keeping quiet about it. But there’s something I want you to understand. It’s inexcusable of me to have given you such a shock, but since you know about it now, it’ll be a problem, for both me and my family. Thus, I beseech you to keep this confidential. You’ll be duly compensated, so please…”
Mistaking Lyle’s silence for something else, Ilsa bowed her head deeply. Seeing that, Lyle gritted his teeth.
Those were not words a girl at such a tender age should be using.
Drawing a deep breath, Lyle suppressed the growing anger inside him, and exhaled slowly.
“‘Atavism’, that’s the term my master and I used to refer to people like you, Ilsa.”
Ilsa was bewildered. Lyle continued as though he were giving a lesson.
“Though some call it a ‘haunting by evil spirits’, or a ‘cursed child’, there’s naught to be worried about. A peculiar constitution of certain humans which causes them to store magical power, that’s all it is. What happened earlier, a ‘poltergeist effect’, is simply nothing more than overflowing magical power going out of control.”
Ilsa, Cecilia and Sebastian were all dumbstruck at Lyle’s sudden explanation, filled with terms a commoner would be clueless to know.
Lyle, who had calmed down enough to be giving an explanation, circled around the large bed and crouched down near Ilsa.
“W-What is it…”
Lyle smiled in order to calm down his student, whose shoulders had shirked back in apprehension.
“To tell you the truth, I have a secret of my own. I’ve never told you about it but… I’m a magus.”
Looking at the index finger he stuck out, Ilsa blinked both her sapphire and amber eyes.
“You don’t believe me? Well then, I’ve got something to show you.”
Digging through his pockets, Lyle fished out an amber, holding it between his fingers. Then,
“—That which exists at the end of light, the end of darkness. That which denotes the origin of wind, the origin of fire. Of forgotten dusk, of heretic gold. That which is the cradle of time…”
As Lyle chanted the Oracio, all others present at the scene could only look on wide-eyed. The amber in Lyle’s hand was glowing with dusk-coloured light—the same colour as the light given off by Ilsa’s right eye earlier.
The magical power grew in conjunction with the excitation light, and Lyle crafted the ‘magic’ within the recesses of his mind—the calculations to alter the laws of physics resonating.
(—Setting the mass to be at 10 kilograms—vectors of the gravity field of both the moon and land—grasped.)
Lyle pointed at a flower vase with the fingers that were holding the amber. In accordance with the magic he had crafted, the vase floated into the air, the effects of gravity severed from it.
All who stood inside the room were rendered speechless.
Lyle waved his fingers, and the floating vase suddenly shifted. Round and round it drew arcs in the air, but before long it came to a stop, as though it had remembered the laws of physics it once abided by, and fell to the ground.
The sound of it hitting the ground seemed to unfreeze time.
Cecilia, who had been taken aback, drew the sabre at her waist and thrust it towards Lyle’s neck.
“You… what manner of devilry was that?!”
The tip of the blade was pressed against his neck. A trickle of blood formed.
“…Please stop this, Cecilia.”
Cecilia looked at her young mistress with a stiff expression.
“This man is an envoy of the devil! Letting him go would bring danger—”
“This is an order. Stay your blade.”
“But Lady Ilsa!”
“If what my teacher did was the work of a devil, then that would make me demonspawn.”
“If you point your blade at him, then it’d be hypocritical for you not to turn your blade against me…isn’t that so, Cecilia Grazer?”
With a disheartened expression Cecilia sheathed her blade. Lyle took a deep breath and rubbed his neck.
“…Mr. Lyle, just who on earth are you?”
“I’m just an upstart youngster, an immature student. That’s what a certain someone said about me.”
When he turned to face those accusatory stares, Lyle saw the girl in the military uniform stirring uncomfortably.
“…Why did you reveal a secret this big…?”
“That would be because I found out about my student’s. It wouldn’t be fair of the teacher if he didn’t, right?”
Ilsa’s expression turned into one of surprise upon hearing him speak the words, of ‘student’ and ‘teacher’.
“…Are you still going to continue being my teacher, Mr. Lyle?”
“If you’re okay with it.”
“Mr. Lyle…you’re not afraid of me? Aren’t you scared of being cursed?”
“Atavism is simply a difference in your constitution. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s no way I’d be cursed. Trust a magus on that.”
Ilsa gulped, drew a deep breath and asked timidly.
“…Are you on my side, Mr. Lyle…?”
“A teacher will always be on his student’s side.”
Lyle answered her doubts without the slightest bit of hesitation. Ilsa’s face lit up like the bonfire during the Springfire Festival.
—Yeah, that’s more like it.
Seeing Ilsa’s smile, the anger in Lyle’s chest was swept away.
“Yes, Lady Ilsa.”
The old butler promptly responded to the girl’s call.
“Arrange for a new study room at once! Even though you’ve already prepared the bed… Oh, and a change of clothes, please.”
“Right away, Milady? It’s already getting late…”
“We’re still in the middle of a lesson. If you don’t get to it properly, my efforts yesterday will have been for nothing.”
Ilsa’s cheeks were flushed red. The old butler turned to Lyle, as if to verify it.
“I don’t mind.”
“Very well…I will make preparations, in that case.”
“Mr. Lyle, please wait right there. I’ll be right back.”
“I hear and obey, my princess.”
Lyle replied, poking fun at her, and Ilsa smiled wryly. Then, while looking down in embarrassment,
“Um…… Thank you very much.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Because of how pleasant it was, Lyle stroked her golden hair. A soft and silky sensation it was. He thought he might have gone a little too far, but Ilsa was like a cat being stroked down its neck.
“Well then, see you in a bit.”
Lyle said to the reluctant-looking Ilsa, and left the bedroom.
He stepped into the corridor, where the girl in the military uniform was waiting.
“…I must apologise for my words earlier.”
Lyle was surprised at her sudden, admirable shift in attitude.
“…That’s surprising. You’re unexpectedly docile.”
“It’s nothing you should be concerned about.”
Raising her lowered head, Cecilia glared at Lyle, her face red. That was charming in its own way, but she still bore a grudge against him, so Lyle felt the urge to tease her.
“—Really, colour me surprised. You look really cute when you’re all mad.”
“Sorry. I’m just kidding.”
The colour of her face turned into a shade of red like that of a ripened apple. It might have been due to her overly serious personality that even her reaction to jests was this honest.
“…The same goes for me. At the fact that you can be malicious while having such a good-natured expression.”
Lyle did not reply, but smiled and shrugged. The part about her being cute wasn’t a lie, but he felt she would have been really angered if he said it out, so he kept mum.
“…It’s been a while since we’ve seen Lady Ilsa smile so happily.”
Cecilia coughed lightly, and continued.
“To be frank, I still cannot bring myself to fully trust you. You are clearly no ordinary civilian… However, you brought a smile back to Lady Ilsa’s face. For that, you have my utmost gratitude.”
A hint of embarrassment flickered across Cecilia’s all too serious expression.
“…I really cannot tell what you’re thinking. One moment you’re an ordinary person, and the other you’re performing strange magic, and immediately following that, the words you spoke were so obvious to the extent they were laughable. It’s mysterious… or rather, you’re a strange person.”
Lyle wasn’t sure whether he was being praised or not, but one thing was clear to him.
With a serious look in her eye, Cecilia then asked Lyle, who could not decide what sort of expression he should put on.
“However, I ask you once more. Sir Lyle Waldstein… who exactly are you?”
“—I am the Disciple of the Last Hexe. That’s all I am.”