Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 01 Chapter4 - MTL
|This text is a machine translation (MTL).
Be warned that the degree of translation error may be higher than usual.
This page was created before the updated (July 19, 2015) MTL guidelines and has not been reviewed.
Chapter 4 - The Life of a Public Official
It had been ten days since Tigre declined Elen's invitation.
His life as a captive was peaceful and monotonous.
First of all, he would wake up at noon.
He called the soldier in charge of him and headed to the kitchen.
The soldier's name was Rurick, the man who gave him a poor bow. For some reason, though, he had no hair on his head.
Though his black hair, which went down to his shoulders, suited his natural face and gentlemanly manners, his bald head was also impressive.
“Lord Tigrevurmud. In the future, I, Rurick, will serve to monitor you. Well, I'd rather you not have an unpleasant time, so please call for me.”
He had a refreshing smile and bowed, which took Tigre by surprise. After hesitating, Tigre decided to speak frankly.
“Um... Your hair?”
“It was shaved.”
A curt response.
“Vanadis-sama ordered I take what I valued most after my life. Normally, I would be put to death. It is thanks to Lord Tigrevurmud's benevolence that I still live.”
--- So it was because of me.
Tigre wanted to apologize somehow, but Rurick suddenly kneeled down.
“Although it is late, please excuse my shameless actions and accept my words of gratitude. Also, I was truly impressed with your superhuman skills with the bow. I am quite confident of my archery, yet now I feel it immature.”
He spoke seriously.
“I, I see. Well, I'm in your care.”
Though Tigre learned of what happened earlier, he still felt anxious. Rurick noticed his expression and acted as if it were not a cumbersome task at all.
He was unexpectedly friendly.
As he reached the kitchen, lunch had already finished, so Tigre took the leftovers.
He was able to eat immediately.
The maids in the kitchen were willing to make food for him, but Tigre could eat immediately and he felt better, since he was not so mindful of the time.
“Tigre-san, I'm sorry, but could you help me?”
Occasionally, he was requested to help for some of the kitchen tasks such as skinning rabbits, birds, and elk. Tigre took to the tasks happily.
“What do you need done?”
“We'll be using Elk tonight.”
After guiding him to the back of the kitchen, Tigre was handed a knife.
A splendid deer lay on the table in the corner. Tigre quickly and cleanly dismantled it.
He peeled the fur, cut the meat into even cuts, and sorted out the entrails.
While Tigre moved methodically, not even raising an eyebrow to the sight or odor, Rurick looked on in admiration at his finesse.
“No matter how many times I see it, you're very good. How many times have you done this?”
“I suppose I'm accustomed to it, since I have spent many days living in the mountains.”
Since bringing his game home for storage was not suitable, he often did such things on the spot.
In fact, judging livestock, such as cattle and pigs, was something Tigre was poor at. Although he could make direct comparisons, there was still a large difference in his skill set.
When he was finished, Tigre left the kitchen and was rewarded with copper coins, a cake, and a fine wine.
He then began exploring the area.
He continued to walk through the Imperial Palace until Rurick said, “It's forbidden to go any further.” He made sure to remember.
When the sun began to set, they headed to the training area to practice archery.
“Even in the kitchen, is it really good to let a prisoner get a hold of an edged tool so easily?”
While practicing with the bow, he asked that question.
Tigre was confused at how easily he obtained such permission.
“It hurts me to say this, but should you have showed any sign of holding someone hostage, I was to cut you down without mercy.”
Rurick spoke with an earnest face.
“I'm sure you know this, but when handling the creature, not once did you bring the knife toward another person. If you had attempted to attack anyone, I would have placed myself before them.”
“But isn't that dangerous?”
“I am aware.”
Rurick's bald head reflected in the sun. He laughed in a refreshing manner.
“Honestly, even with your skill, you do not miss training. Really, I am impressed again.”
Being praised in such a manner, Tigre was embarrassed. It was difficult for him to say anything more.
So as to not dull his archery, Tigre continued training. Some day, he wished to win against Elen. Tigre's defeat in Dinant was a considerable shock.
He was training with Rurick and the other archers.
Soon, Tigre was in a position to teach the others, from his posture to how to ready his aim, even to materials and maintenance of the bow.
“For someone like Lord Tigrevurmud, I did not think you would put much effort into the bow. With your amazing skill, you could use an inferior bow.”
“Still, if you wish for the arrow to fly better, it is best to use good materials. I've broken bows and bowstrings myself...”
“Are expensive things better?”
“Even if you use one that is difficult to obtain, doesn't it come down to how easily you can repair it? Do you know what bamboo is? It is a plant which grows in a country far to the east, across the sea.”
“I've seen it once. I wasn't sure whether it was a tree or not.”
“Though the material is nice, it's rare and difficult to obtain, so it's expensive.”
“I'd like a bow made from a Dragon.”
Rurick smiled wryly while shrugging his shoulders toward Tigre.
He referred to something that did not exist.
Dragons themselves existed.
They live deep in forests and high in the mountains. They inhabit areas which are not crowded.
Both Bertrand and Mashas have lived more than fifty years in a secluded land, yet they had never seen a wild Dragon.
There were many that thought that dragons did not exist, that they were merely a legend, but those were hardly few in number.
During one hunt, Tigre encountered a Dragon. Even when recalling the memory, he felt a chill.
It was that kind of experience.
Nothing was as hard as a Dragon's body.
It was impossible to process. The claws, fangs, scales, no matter what, were difficult to work. Blades would shatter, hammers would break. Even if heated for tens of days, nothing would happen.
Therefore, nothing made from a Dragon existed.
Such objects appear only in legends and fairy tales.
After a half koku (approximately one hour), when training ended, the other soldiers spoke to him.
“Oh, Rurick, Tigre-san, are you free?”
It was an invitation to play. They would play games like cards, chess, and other such games.
Since they fundamentally bet, Tigre had to borrow money from Rurick at the beginning.
“All cash in hand and ready to cry. I'm in.”
“Tigre-san, are you going to beg Rurick for money again? Or perhaps you'll steal some wine or cake from the kitchen.”
“You, how many times will you call Lord Tigrevurmud like that... He's the Vanadis-sama's prisoner.”
Though Tigre was not particularly strong, he was able to win enough to return Rurick's money somehow as well as collect some for himself.
He had not heard anything new about Brune.
He heard information only once, though, of course, he was asleep.
“Sorry. Limlisha-sama told us not to speak of Brune in front of you.”
Since he was not a child, he decided to give up.
Besides, even if he asked, he would hear nothing.
When the sun set, the men gathered in the training ground to play.
Though there were public baths, the allotted time was determined. The firewood needed to be carried and the water boiled. Tigre often used it as well.
After that, he returned to the dining room for dinner, ate his meal, and returned to his room.
In such a way, Tigre seemed to have adapted to his prisoner's life.
Although he had adapted to his lifestyle, Tigre could not say he was entirely enjoying it.
Deep in his mind, he was always questioning the situation.
He had two choices if he wished to return to Alsace.
Either pay the ransom or escape.
His means of escape had been sealed.
In addition, though his archery skills was superior, it was impossible for him to break away from Rurick and defeat the soldiers, especially if he could not prepare the required number of arrows. If Elen came out, it would be impossible for him to win.
“Money, is it...”
In his room, while sitting on the bed, he toyed with the dozen copper pieces in his hand. The amount was hardly enough for a ransom.
He had even contacted Elen.
“Is there any job where I might earn some money?”
“Will you become my subordinate? Or perhaps you could work in a Muozinel galley ship. If you simply rowed for a year, I could consider introducing you to the job. Even if you die, the amount you earn will be deducted from the ransom and returned to your family.”
“... So if I don't become your subordinate, I'll have to work to death.”
“You can't remain a prisoner of war for very long, right? It's still not too late.”
Since he could not think of anything good, Tigre could only surrender to Elen.
… It is possible Titta and Bertrand or Mashas can prepare the ransom.
Still... it was unpleasant that it was necessary to rely on them.
It was not that he distrusted Titta and the others.
He just did not want them to perform so much unreasonable work to prepare the ransom in such a short amount of time.
--- I have no choice but to escape, but it will be difficult.
Though he took a stroll every day, the guards defended all the vital areas.
In addition, he did not understand the security near the ramparts, since he was never allowed near them.
Also, there was more than one wall.
Even if he could escape from the Imperial Palace, it was impossible to pass the wall encompassing the castle.
After that, he would reach the city.
--- I will have only one chance, so I'll investigate it properly.
Until the ransom date, there was still time. Tigre persuaded himself as such.
“Tigre, can you use anything other than a bow?”
One day, Tigre was called to the office and asked by Elen without any explanation.
“I am poor with other arms.”
“Is that so? It's not good, even if you hide it.”
Elen looked at Tigre, as if doubting him. Rather than making fun of him, she doubted him.
“I have no reason to lie about such a thing. If I could use a sword or spear, I would have picked up a weapon at Dinant when my arrows were exhausted. I could have ambushed you.”
Tigre shrugged his shoulder. If he had experience with the sword or spear, he would never have been made a fool of in his country.
“Don't sulk. Your bow technique made such an impact on the people here. Even Rurick is attached to you. I'm quite surprised.”
Tigre played with his hair, slightly embarrassed.
“Was there any point doing that to his hair?”
“He needed to be punished. Rurick gladly shaved his head.”
“There are two reasons. The first is because you spared his life, so he was moved deeply. The second is because he admires your bow arm, since Rurick is the one who most excels in archery here.”
Because Rurick was skilled with the bow, he understood how difficult it would be to aim at an enemy with such an inferior weapon.
Yet Tigre managed to accomplish it without difficulty.
Rurick experienced such a shock that he completely shaved his head and ignored the fact that Tigre was a prisoner of war.
“His popularity with women seems to have taken a dive, but he doesn't seem to mind it.”
“Ah, well, I suppose that's fine.”
Tigre agreed in an impolite manner, though he could not declare it was nothing.
“He also willingly accepted being your watchdog. Actually, he asked to do so.”
Tigre tilted his neck. He misunderstood things because of Rurick's tone and attitude.
Though he was the one watching over Tigre, the role originally left a gloomy image.
It was annoying to do excessive work.
“Everyone is interested in you. Of course, that includes me.”
Elen smiled involuntarily at him.
“I want to know what you have. It's possible you have some unexpected talents. I'll try a few things with you tomorrow.”
Since he was a captive, it was impossible to refuse.
And so, the next day came.
In the training area, only three people, Tigre, Elen, and Lim, were present.
Before Tigre, Elen held a spear in a simple posture.
Tigre confronted her as well, a spear grasped in both hands. Of course, since they were practicing, the tips were removed.
Lim silently watched the two from a distance.
Beside her was a javelin, a battleaxe, a large hatchet, a club, a scythe, a chain, an arbalest, and many other weapons.
“... What should I do?”
“Do as you like.”
Elen smiled at Tigre, who was at a loss for words.
For the time being, Tigre, as per the basics, thrust his spear at her. Elen lightly parried it with her wrist.
Along with a dull sound, a heavy impact transmitted to his hand.
“Can't you do this a bit more aggressively?”
She provoked him by destroying his posture. Tigre, annoyed, attacked quickly.
Smashing from above, cleaving from the side, jabbing from the front.
However, Elen received everything.
She had not used her sword.
Though Tigre was impressed, it was still mortifying.
--- However, he was poor with the spear and only knew the basics. He had only used a spear to kill a brown bear while hunting.
Suddenly, an idea flashed in Tigre's head.
Though it was called training, Elen understood Tigre's ability based on his offense and defense. She had an attitude as if she had strength to spare.
--- I'll do that once Elen relaxes her guard...!
Gripping the spear, Tigre rushed forward and shouted, thrusting the weapon at her.
Elen smiled wryly and hit the weapon upward; however, Tigre did not stop his feet.
Though he staggered from the impact when the spear was parried, he rammed his shoulder into Elen. Surprised, Elen could not avoid it, and the two fell onto the ground.
“How... about that?”
He tried to pin Elen and seemed to have failed.
Below him, Elen's face showed surprise. Soon, it was dyed red as she looked intently up at Tigre.
After that, Tigre noticed a soft feeling beneath his right hand.
When he moved his glance, his right hand had grabbed Elen's chest.
“Ah, no, that's not, this...”
Though he was looking for an excuse, his words did not come out.
Lim, immediately afterward, ran up and struck Tigre's head with the sheathe of her sword.
Tigre crouched, holding his head in agony.
Elen stood up, her clothes now dirty, with a complicated expression.
“Eleanora-sama, please, give me an order. I shall take this man's head.”
“It, it's fine. It's not such a big deal.”
Elen tried to put on a good expression but failed. Her voice was shrill and her face was red. While brushing the dirt from her clothes, she strongly touched the place Tigre's hand grabbed.
“Pushing a Vanadis down, is that not enough for capital punishment?”
Lim looked down at Tigre, full of murderous intent.
“It was my mistake. I took it easy to test his strength. If you show your frustration any longer, it will be a mockery to our names.”
“... If Eleanora-sama says so.”
Lim put her weapon away reluctantly. Elen held a hand out to Tigre and quickly spoke.
“Can you stand?”
“... Thank you.”
While rubbing the back of his aching head with his left hand, Tigre used his right hand to stand up.
“I think my head broke.”
“Bear with it. I did not hit you out of malice.”
“There was clearly a thirst for blood.”
“It could not be helped.”
After laughing lightly, Elen muttered in a small voice only Tigre could hear.
“You touched a woman's chest. It might not always end so safely.”
Tigre looked down and averted his gaze, seeing Elen's face straight on for a moment.
“All right, let's continue.”
Elen finally regained her composure, and Tigre's returned as well.
“When it comes to you, I won't be let down at all. I suppose I'll attack mercilessly when testing you.”
Seeing the mountain of arms, Elen gladly spoke with a nasty tone.
After finishing with all the weapons, Tigre lay spread out on the spot.
Sweat covered his body, and his breathing was rough. His chest moved up and down heavily, and his arms and legs felt a pain they were unaccustomed to, since he was mercilessly beaten.
“You really are useless if you are not using a bow.”
“That's... what I told you...”
Lim looked down at Tigre with cold eyes as he returned an exhausted reply.
“It was not like you were terrible. New recruits are like you. If you were my colleague or subordinate, I would train you from scratch.”
“You shouldn't tease him so much, Lim.”
Elen pat Lim's shoulder while throwing out those words. The two were faintly sweating.
The two acted as Tigre's partners, taking turns. Neither Elen nor Lim were as tired as Tigre.
“Still, his bow is excellent.”
Folding her arms, Elen nodded her head joyfully.
Because she understood his capability with the bow, she had him do a successive discharge earlier.
To do this, he shot thirty arrows in quick succession trying to hit a target accurately. He fired quickly, pulled an arrow from his quiver, nocked the bowstring, and repeated his actions. The time was measured until he hit the target.
Tigre had achieved a result such that no one could match him.
“I shall put these away.”
Lim turned her back on Elen and Tigre, weapons in hand.
“Shall we help?”
“... It is fine.”
He proposed that while lying down and was quickly turned down.
Seeing Lim's back, Elen's shoulders were shaking as she held back a laugh. She smiled bitterly as she turned to Tigre.
“Don't feel so bad. She was pretty much saying, 'Go to sleep and stop thinking about strange things.'”
“She didn't look any different from usual.”
“Lim is evaluating you in her own way. If you formally become my subordinate, she will show more respect.”
She was asking if he wanted to join without directly saying the words. Tigre let out a deep breath. Though he was interested, it would be impossible, since he could not bring himself to truly work under her.
Elen nodded slightly and held her skirt.
“I'll help Lim. You go rest in your room.”
Tigre was indirectly saying he might escape.
Rurick, who watched him, was not present. Before testing the weapons, Lim had told the others not to come.
Also, the day was nearing its end.
Within a half koku (one hour), the sky would become dark.
“I'm sure you remember the way. If you get lost, just ask a maid or a soldier.”
Elen smiled as she walked away.
Tigre looked up at the red-tinted sky and sighed.
“... She got me.”
He knew he would never forgive himself.
He felt comfortable here. Of course, the best place would always be Alsace.
He was a captive. There was a limitation to where he could go, and he was attended to by a guard.
However, he had never suffered abuse or harassment. Both his room and clothes was cleaned as well.
Even when he slept until midday, no one said a word. Though Lim showed her disappointment, there were no complaints.
His meals were no different from the soldiers'.
By luck, he was able to have a baked butter apple dumpling, grilled trout, soup with pickles, beef, and potatoes, and a nice citrus juice.
The seasonings and fragrance of the trout and the moderate acidity, though hardly grand, was simple and filled Tigre with warmth.
The texture of the beef was exquisite, and the potato was well made.
“It really was delicious. I wonder if Titta can make it some day...”
Such thoughts came to him.
Above all, his archery skills were accepted here.
Lim disliked Tigre, though only with things “not dealing with the bow.”
He recalled Elen's words.
She asked him to become her subordinate. She looked him in the eye.
She appraised him based on his abilities.
--- For me, there is only the bow.
He thought he should be in a place where he was accepted. That was hardly unnatural.
“Well, it can't be helped.”
Still, Titta and Alsace were important.
“Anyway, I'll be forced to wake up early if I become her subordinate.”
Lim would likely mercilessly wake him up. Also, there would be work, and it would be impossible for him to go hunting.
A wry smile rose to Tigre's face as he imagined it. Tigre stood up, his clothes drenched in sweat and sticking to his body. His body felt unpleasant.
--- I'll go wash up.
Tigre headed to the well near the training area. All the soldiers, when finished with training, headed there.
Though there was a bath for the soldiers, there were specified times they could use it, and, of course, they were required to carry and boil the water.
That is why the well was used more frequently.
In a place where the well came to view, Tigre stopped his feet.
Apparently, thirty soldiers had gathered around the well, having just finished training. There were more than ten people in line.
--- Perhaps I'll look for a change of scenery.
Without letting them find him, Tigre changed the direction he moved in.
When playing with the soldiers, he had to bet something. Not being well acquainted with the soldiers, he did not wish for them to lend him anything.
Naturally, there were still those who thought poorly of Tigre's presence.
Right now, that group was bathing. He wished to avoid unnecessary friction.
And so he left.
Tigre turned the corner of a building and entered an inconspicuous foot path.
Beyond this, another well existed. He found it one day while taking a walk.
A short tree grew thickly, blocking the view of the path.
While approaching the well, he heard the sound of water pouring.
“I wonder if someone else is here.”
Tigre reached the well while thinking so. Immediately, his breathing stopped, his eyes opened widely, and his body stiffened.
Elen, without a single piece of clothing, was bathing. A rugged object the color of green rust lay at her feet.
“Hm? Ah, it's you.”
Elen, without any sign of shyness, looked at the stunned Tigre. Elen let out a small laugh without trying to conceal her body.
Tigre did not speak. He could not move a finger while he stared intently at Elen's body. Her argent hair stuck to her fair skin, her breasts were accentuated by the water, the line of her soft, round buttocks and tight waist was sensational. Because of that, even her usual smile seemed amorous.
Water ran down from the nape of her neck to the valley between her breasts.
“... Even I'll get embarrassed if you look at me so much.”
Elen's voice was faintly dyed in shyness.
At last, Tigre returned to reality. He turned around in panic.
“I, I'm sorry. Although I heard someone, I, no...”
He spouted out words, attempting to find a proper excuse.
His face flushed, and his heart danced wildly.
Even if he panicked and shut his eyes tightly, her white body was firmly engraved in his mind.
--- Just a while ago, I touched her there.
He recalled the soft feeling in his right hand. It was too intense for Tigre in a variety of ways.
“You don't have to apologize. You came to bathe, right? There's no need to go back.”
Tigre did not understand.
“Um, is it normal for a man and a woman to bathe together in Zhcted?”
His mind was not operating normally, yet he somehow managed to squeeze words out.
“It would no longer be amusing if the two were older than 6 or 7 years old.”
She was clearly amused. She had not gotten angry, either. Tigre buried his head in his hands and stooped down on the ground.
“I told you before, it's a bit embarrassing, but as a Vanadis, as leader of Leitmeritz, I must speak and act as is appropriate to my position. Even if it was surprising to be seen naked, I can't speak or act like a little girl.”
“Ah, ah... I see.”
If Tigre was calmer, he may have noticed Elen was washing up quite quickly. She had not spoken formally, either.
“Are you here with your guard? Or are you alone?”
“I'm alone now. If she stuck around me all day, it would be stifling. Besides, I was looking to take a bath anyway.”
“Aren't you too defenseless? You were attacked by an assassin the other day.”
Though she had spoken of the assassin, Tigre had not seen the assailant himself.
“I'm not defenseless. My sword is nearby.”
When she said that, he recalled the longsword propped up against the well. Still, he was anxious.
Suddenly, Elen spoke up.
“By chance, did you come here not knowing this well was for women only?”
“Is that... so?”
“I often use it since it's near my room and office and the soldiers always kept their distance. Once Lim and the maids learned of it, they began using it. It became women-only before I was aware. Maybe I should have told you this.”
“Really, I'm sorry. I'll be careful next time.”
“Yeah, that's good. It's fine if it's just me, but if it's Lim or someone else, they would scream. Even I cannot protect you then.”
He could not imagine the expressionless Lim screaming.
Again, he heard the sound of water.
“Are you not coming?”
“When you are finished.”
Though he thought she was teasing him, her voice sounded natural. It was hard for him not to answer curtly.
“I got it. Wait a bit.”
The sound of water continued as Tigre looked up at the dim sky.
If he turned around, Elen would be there naked. He could not settle down. The sound of water was clearly audible.
--- I should have left immediately after apologizing.
Since she said to wait a little, he felt it difficult to move.
The sound of rustling came from behind as something approached his feet. It was a young Dragon with a stocky body, its length about four chet (approximately forty centimeters).
It was a living creature with wings similar to a bat, fluttering at an angle. Two horns grew from its head. Covering most of its body were rugged blue-green scales.
The Dragon reared its head and looked at Tigre with sharp eyes.
“This is my Dragon, Lunie.”
He heard Elen's voice from behind. Incidentally, this creature was near her feet a while ago.
The Dragon named Lunie narrowed its eyes and rubbed against Tigre's leg.
“You're quite unusual.”
Dragons were said to have high intelligence. Even at a young age, they could accurately identify a human face.
This was the first time Tigre had seen such a young Dragon. He quietly bent his waist to get a better look. Lunie stopped moving and watched Tigre quietly; the wings on its back lightly shook.
--- Its wings are moving firmly. Perhaps it's a VyfalWyvern.
“Is this your first time seeing a Dragon?”
“No. Two years ago, I saw one when hunting in the mountains. It was in an isolated area, about sixty or seventy chet (approximately six or seven meters), though it was an SuroEarth Dragon.”
An adult Dragon ranges from one hundred to one-hundred-fifty chet. Though man can keep them while they are young until about half their adult size, it was still more than fifty chet.
“You've got good luck. I've never seen a Dragon other than Lunie up until now.”
“This Dragon has two eyes.”
As he reached a hand out to stroke Lunie, it ran from Tigre and returned to its master. Elen smiled at the Dragon and lifted it in her arms, as if soothing a child.
“An SuroEarth Dragon with one eye? What happened?”
“It attacked me. After fighting it off, I somehow managed to escape. I thought I would die then.”
A Dragon's combat efficiency was different from other animals.
The large Dragon stamped the earth and mowed down trees. Tigre kept an eye on it while evading death many times. He somehow managed to defeat it using the terrain.
“Fighting against a Dragon and winning is wonderful. By the way, what color were its scales?”
“It was a brass color. Is there something wrong with that?”
“Ah, that's good. In this country, it is not permissible to kill young or Black Dragons.”
Tigre imagined the flag in his head upon hearing those words.
Dragons were in the mythology of many countries. Dragons inhabited remote areas, even in Zhcted. Of the Dragons in Zhcted, the Black Dragon was a mythical creature.
The Dragon with black scales granted protection to the person closest to it. It was a well known story.
“My country does not have such things. Are there Dragon trainers in Zhcted?”
“I don't know about individuals, but Dragons are not kept as a part of the army, since they're big eaters.”
The latter half of her words were likely directed toward Lunie.
“Still, you were not accepted, even though you defeated a Dragon?”
“I couldn't show them the corpse. It was impossible to cut off any part of it, and I was tired. I thought to come back, but when I returned, a mudslide had covered it up.”
“No, it's fine.”
Silence followed. Only the sound of water could be heard.
“... May I ask you one thing?”
While looking up to the sky, Tigre anxiously asked a vague question.
“Since there are assassins, can't you depend on His Majesty?”
Seeing his doubtful reaction, she muttered in confusion.
“Unfortunately, His Majesty will not move if there is no evidence. Since the enemy knows this, they come with the resolution to be crushed.”
“... It's a serious situation, isn't it?”
Tigre had a complex face. The King of Zhcted, the King of Brune, both just ignored things.
“Let me ask you something.”
While Tigre bitterly thought about reality, Elen asked a question.
“What kind of place is Alsace?”
“Are you worried?”
“A bit. Though I gave you some good conditions, you rejected me without hesitation, so I was a little hurt. I'm a bit interested.”
“I also thought the conditions were good.”
After he replied, Tigre loosened his mouth.
“Simply put, it is a country made of forests and mountains. The main highways do not pass by. To reach the capital, I must head to the neighboring territory to reach a good road. It can take many days.”
“You speak of it fondly.”
It was the important town he was born and raised in.
Even if he spoke of its faults, he was still proud of it.
“There are wolves and brown bears in the forests and mountains. Occasionally, snow leopards appear. There are many nuts and wild herbs to be found, and you can manage to live through the winter with little food if you have a bit of knowledge. The people under my charge are nice, and it is peaceful. Though the winters can be severe, sleeping while wrapped in blankets before the fireplace is the greatest feeling. On the contrary, summers are cool, and there are many fine, sunny days. Atop the hills is an ocean of green, as far as the eye can see, and when the wind comes out, you can relax and bask in the sun.”
“You just like sleeping.”
Elen smiled bitterly.
“Do you... not yearn to become King?”
“It's not like this is particularly a good reason, but that dream is a bit too much.”
He could handle being mocked as a country person because it was a fact.
However, there were no memories he wished to forget.
“I had heard the bow was scorned, but I did not think it would be so exaggerated.”
In Alsace, Titta included, there was not a single person who had to take practice swings.
That was why everyone believed in Tigre.
“It's more than you can imagine. In all military literature, the tone changes completely when dealing with the bow. In Alsace, even aristocrats and Knights who had valorous deeds were clearly scorned. Even the women and their daughters ridiculed them for being cowardly. Though it has its value, the bow is always ignored.”
No darkness could be heard in Tigre's voice as he spoke.
“Your father taught you the bow well, given the situation.”
“Though I don't remember, it seems I often played with a bow before I was of an age to think about it. Father saw that and encouraged me to continue if I was interested. Well, all my ancestors were hunters.”
“Then I suppose I should express my gratitude to your father. After all, I met you – Then again, I would not have been pushed down or seen naked.”
She spoke her last words with an ill-natured tone and growled at Tigre instinctively.
“I'm finished. You can turn around now.”
Looking back, Elen stood before him, having changed into a short robe, her longsword at her waist. A thick cloth wrapped about her long, argent hair. Her white hands and feet popping out of her short robe presented a slightly amorous appearance. Since he could not look straight at her, Tigre stared at Lunie, crouched by her feet.
“It was an interesting conversation. See you around.”
The young Dragon followed after Elen and disappeared into the road covered by the trees. Tigre sighed as he decided to quickly clean himself.
After his clothes were taken off and thrown aside, he headed to the tub and poured water over his body many times to forget the sight from a moment ago.
That is why he was late in noticing the approaching footsteps.
On the other side of the tree, Lim appeared wearing a short robe while holding a tub.
Lim, at a loss for words, saw Tigre's figure before she could finish responding.
Usually, her face lacked emotion, but she was clearly stunned now.
Tigre, too, was petrified. The lower half of his body was quite shameful to look at, having seen Elen just before.
After a few seconds of silence, Tigre uttered a noise, though he was still confused.
He intended to find suitable words while looking for a means of escape.
“Behavior befitting my position...”
He thought of his earlier conversation with Elen.
“You do not need to worry about me.”
Though he tried to conceal his embarrassment with dignified words, the tub was thrown at him along with a scream.
“Ho, so you saw him.”
Elen returned Lunie to the stable where the young Dragons were held and returned to her office. Her chest was shaking, ready to burst, as she heard Lim's story.
Her silver-white hair shined with moisture, just having finished her bath.
“I haven't seen it yet. What was he like?”
Her indignant complexion accompanied the rage in her blue eyes. Lim let out a heated breath.
“You must restrict his movements more.”
“Even though he's become adapted here? He's on good terms with the soldiers and the cooking staff.”
“Has there ever been a captive accustomed to such a life?”
“I'm still waiting for him to ask to be my subordinate, after all.”
“There are also those amongst the soldiers who dislike his behavior.”
Lim implied there might be a conflict between those who like Tigre and those who do not.
“Would confining Tigre to his room really solve everything?”
“Sooner or later, he will return to his home in Brune if the ransom is paid, or he will be sold to a merchant from Muozinel.”
“That's why I gave him the choice to become my subordinate.”
Elen took a document from the pile on her desk and showed it to Lim. Lim's eyes looked dubious as she read it, but soon her anger disappeared.
“... Brune seems to be in a terrible situation.”
“I was surprised as well. Only a month has passed since the incident at Dinant, and already the situation is like this.”
The document was a summary of the situation from a person of Zhcted living in Brune as something of an ambassador. The person disguised himself and traveled about Brune as a peddler, exploring the situation on his own, and reporting back periodically.
It could be explained in a single phrase.
[There are signs of a civil war in Brune.]
[The King who lost his son, the Prince, is simply an empty shell. He has given up political affairs and has shut himself in his room. He is not stopping the behavior of the stronger aristocrats.]
“It seems Thenardier and Ganelon are the two largest aristocrats. Every day seems to be a violent conflict between the two.”
Elen did not speak as if it were another person's affair.
Leitmeritz was the territory adjacent to the Kingdom of Brune.
If Brune became entrenched in war, there was a possibility her land would be involved.
“They can't possibly afford to concern themselves with Tigre's situation. Alsace is alone here. They will not be able to prepare a ransom.”
“By the way, why was the sum so large?”
Tapping her desk, Elen sighed.
“When holding an excellent swordsman captive, don't you increase the ransom based on his skill? Though the countries reviewed the agreement regarding the ransom amounts, they set a severe amount for archers. To Brune, that was a trivial issue.”
When Lim heard Elen's words, her pale face turned expressionless.
“Though I can lower the amount, I don't want to create a precedent out of sympathy. I don't have any reason to disregard the treaty, either.”
“... Then Lord Tigrevurmud cannot pay the ransom.”
“Though I intended to use Muozinel as a threat, it might come true at this rate.”
“So that's why you want him to become your subordinate?”
“It would be regrettable given his archery skills. His personality isn't an issue, either. If I taught him properly, he could become a good aide, he only needs a bit more work.”
“I will offer my hand once more on the final day. He's rejected me once, it wouldn't do for my honor if I was rejected twice.”
Lim pulled herself together and asked a question.
“However, will it really not be paid? Either Ganelon or Thenardier might take advantage of the situation and pay the ransom for Lord Tigrevurmud. One could show he is not a man who would abandon a small aristocrat to the land of deserts.”
“As far as I can tell, Tigre would prefer not to serve under Ganelon or Thenardier. It wouldn't benefit him at all. Do you know how severe the treatment would be under either of them? They are genuine Brune aristocrats who scorn the bow.”
Elen had a difficult expression remembering her conversation with Tigre.
“Either way, tell the soldiers I will hear any complaints they have.”
“Ho, Earl Vorn...”
The aristocrat who heard Mashas' story had a pitiful expression.
“We lost more soldiers in Dinant than we have in recent years. The damage was severe, and many nobles died.”
“Yes. However, though captive, Lord Tigrevurmud is alive. As a friend of his deceased father, I wish to save him.”
Mashas was in the mansion of an aristocrat acquaintance.
He had a prosperous life. In the drawing room Mashas passed by, there was an expensive tapestry made in Muozinel with an image of a bird with gold wings decorating the wall. On the chair was the fur of a snow leopard. Expensive wine was poured into a crystal cup and served to Mashas.
--- This is the fifth person. If this does not work, I have no one else to rely on.
If he could not depend on others, he would not make it by the deadline.
While praying to the Gods in his heart, Mashas bowed before the noble before him.
“Please. I will return the money, no matter how long it might take. Will you help me?”
Only silence remained.
Though the aristocrat threw a sympathetic glance at Mashas, he quietly spoke the word to break the silence.
Mashas desperately clenched his fist, holding back the tears he wished to shed, despite his age.
“Before Dinant, I would have answered your request, Lord Mashas. However, given the recent developments...”
The aristocrat continued to speak with a heavy tone.
“--- A civil war will soon take place in this country.”
“... Between Dukes Ganelon and Thenardier.”
Mashas responded without power in either his face or his voice.
He had heard the story recently.
Due to the shock of Prince Regnas' death, the affairs of the state were thrown aside. He had confined himself in his mind.
The man was a well known aristocrat who could indulge in such a fine life.
Ganelon and Thenardier were distant cousins to the King, and their confrontation deepened day by day. Apart from them, there were many other nobles who, given the circumstances, needed to act with discretion. Any mistake could make the situation worse and could even destroy a house.
However, they might have some spare gold, information, or associations with other aristocrats. Since it was an emergency, even if they had much gold, they were unwilling to use it.
Though he was a close friend, they would not lend him the money.
Mashas left with heavy steps.
“... So it was useless.”
The sun had sunk and the sky was a dark gray. With how the clouds looked, it would soon rain.
Mashas could not blame them, since Mashas did not have the money to help Tigre, either.
Many people worked in his residence, and it was necessary to maintain his soldiers and territory. There was a limit to what he could do.
--- Tigre, sorry... Titta, Bertrand, I'm sorry... Forgive me...
Mashas silently returned to the house as the rain descended.
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