The following day, Lecan went to Norma's medical center after breakfast. Eda had gone for shopping and some other business to attend, so she's not with him.
Eda's circle of acquaintances saw a huge increase lately.
Married women in the neighborhood really pamper her. They often invite her for tea and she's even learning cooking from them.
She's also been building up acquaintances with the people selling vegetables, fruit and grain.
Apparently all of them were indignant when they found out Eda was an adventurer at such a young age.
They thought Lecan was nothing more than a good-for-nothing.
Thus Eda told him while laughing.
Good to see her getting along well with the neighbors, thought Lecan.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
Norma was in the middle of treating her patients. Lecan was gonna head back at first, but he was told to wait, so he did in the break room while having tea.
Jinga was the one initiated the conversation, unusually enough.
"A messenger from Mashajain had come by here."
"I am told that Marquis-sama has passed away."
The marquis would be an older brother of Norma's father. Since Norma's father was supposed to be the sixth son of the previous marquis, his older brother must have been quite old himself.
"Written in his will, I was to be granted a not insignificant bonus. That was to be the last messenger that would come here."
Meaning, the marquis house had been sending out regular messengers here to get in touch with Jinga.
And Jinga must be meaning to say that he has not told the marquis house about Eda when he talks to Lecan about this.
"I have returned my status as a knight of Marquis House. I am the handyman of this medical center in earnest now."
Jinga's eyes gazing at the garden as he enjoyed the tea looked somewhat lonesome somewhat relieved and in peace.
Looks like the connection between Jinga and the Marquis House has been severed. Which means there's no more second guessing him reporting Eda to the house from here on.
"Have you told Norma about the marquis's passing?"
"Yes. I have."
"Were Norma aware that you were a watchdog dispatched by the marquis house?"
Jinga glanced at Lecan. His eyes looked amused.
"Well now, I wonder about that myself. I have never told Norma-sama about it directly, nor has she ever brought the matter up."
Jinga gazes at the garden yet it as if that gaze is partly directed at somewhere else.
"I was ordered by the previous marquis-sama, no that would be past marquis-sama now is it, to watch over Norma-sama's mother. Then her mother entrusted me to take care of her husband and daughter in her deathbed."
Lecan listened to Jinga without saying anything.
"When I mentioned that to the previous marquis, he said to me, 'my little brother is going back to his town, you go with them, protect them both'."
The previous marquis said 'Protect them both'. What did he mean by that.
"He also spoke this back then. 'Officially, your mission is to protect and monitor Norma, and to report back if you find a new <Purification> user'. At the time, many people at the marquis house had high expectations of Norma-sama manifesting <Purification>, I believe marquis-sama had put that into consideration when he said that."
Jinga closed his eyes. Like he's repenting over something.
"However, I failed to fulfill the mission given to me by my two masters. Norma-sama lost his only father."
This man who lived by his loyalty must have lamented over it really hard back then.
"A letter from Marquis-sama was delivered here, unusual for him. 'I will absolutely avenge my little brother. You stay there protect Norma', were written."
This surprised Lecan a bit. Looks like the previous marquis had a little sense of kinship with Norma's father.
"Ten days later, a wand was delivered here. That was Norma-sama's mother's keepsake. Norma-sama weeped in tears once I passed it over to her."
Jinga put his teacup on the table, took a handkerchief and lightly brushed his nicely-fashioned moustache with it.
This means the one who retook the wand keepsake was the previous marquis.
When Lecan heard about this story from Norma before, he was told that the previous marquis handed down punishment to the people who murdered Norma's father to save the marquis house's face.
That might have been true, but it was not everything. The previous marquis avenged his little brother. However, he kept that fact only to himself and to few people he truly trusted.
"Ever since that day, I have always stayed with Norma-sama. Once or twice a year, the previous marquis would send my salary. But that is over now."
"Don't you have a home at Mashajain town? Aren't you going back there?"
Jinga looked at Lecan with curious eyes that could only be replicated by those with ages.
"This place is my home. There is nowhere else."
That explains it, thought Lecan.
Lecan could never get why Jinga challenged Lecan instead of reporting to the marquis house when Eda's <Purification> was made clear.
His decisions would make sense had the one who manifested <Purification> was Norma. He would be conflicted between protecting Norma or following the marquis house's orders, and end up choosing to duel Lecan. He drank red potions before the duel because that was virtually an attempt at suicide.
But then, the one who manifested <Purification> turned out to be Eda. If he had just reported Eda to the marquis house, he would have secured Norma's safety, and fulfilled his mission. It should have been very preferable to him.
And yet, why did he choose to challenge Lecan in a duel instead.
It was the result of a conflict between a sense duty to fulfill his obligation to the marquis's house, and a sentiment to honor the previous marquis's wish.
His official orders from the marquis house were to protect and monitor Norma, and to report back if he finds a new <Purification> user. However, the previous marquis himself personally wanted Norma to live a peaceful quiet life in happiness. He had never wished for a new <Purification> user.
Then, after years of living in peace, suddenly Eda manifested <Purification>.
Jinga would have to report it back due to his loyalty to the marquis house.
But by doing that, the marquis house would abduct Eda. Norma would find out about how he was there to monitor her, and she would blame herself for the loss of Eda's freedom. That would run counter to the previous marquis's wish of wanting Norma to live peacefully.
After suffering through the conflict between those two sentiments, this elderly knight chose to fight Lecan to death.
But still, it's weird how Jinga just so happened to be present there, thought Lecan. Jinga was already right by Goncourt House when Lecan rescued Eda. Then he followed after them and challenged Lecan to a duel.
(Hold it. That couldn't have been a coincidence. Which means.)
Which means, Jinga had considered the possibility of Goncourt House plotting something to Norma and secured some means to obtain intel on Goncourt House. His sources could be a merchant or a servant of the house. Then he found out about Eda's abduction and rushed over to Goncourt House. That's the only possible explanation.
But why did he rush over.
Perhaps, he was planning to aid Lecan.
This man would never answer that question even if he was asked.
Jinga talking to Lecan about the previous marquis could be his way to ceremonially sever his connection with the marquis house. So thought Lecan.