Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 01 Chapter5 - 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 5 - The Vanadis' Castle
On the mountain north of Zhcted, the snow was present all year round. The sea, Muozinel, and Brune bordered to the east, south, and west respectively.
The country had a cold climate with longer winters than other countries. It was occasionally referred to as the [Land of Snow and Forests] due to its scattered coniferous forests. They could produce potatoes and apples, catch fish from the sea, and there was an abundance of gold and silver mines in the center of the kingdom.
It was made approximately three hundred years ago.
At the time, there were more than fifty tribes fighting to control a hegemony.
The war lasted more than a century. At least thirty tribes were destroyed or absorbed into other tribes in the process. Then one man casually appeared on the land.
“I am the incarnation of the Black Dragon.”
The man referred to himself as such. So long as he was King, he would bring victory.
Though most tribes mocked him, seven tribes believed his words and followed his lead.
As proof of their loyalty, the seven tribes each presented a beautiful woman who excelled in martial skills as a wife. To those seven wives, he granted them a weapon called a Viralt[Dragonic Tool].
“You, from this moment on, will be [Vanadis].”
Afterward, the seven tribes led by the man suppressed the other clans and won the war.
The man continued to fight, even after unifying the tribes, conquering neighboring countries and significantly expanding his territory.
And so, the Kingdom of Zhcted was established.
The man made King had seven Dukedoms within his country. The ability to collect taxes and various autonomous privileges were granted to each of his wives. No matter what distinguished services a person received, the only one ranked above the Vanadis would be the King.
The King made a declaration before the Vanadis.
“The Vanadis will offer fealty to the King, protect the King, and fight for the King. Do not forget it.”
The candle near the King's throne cast a dark shadow across the floor.
The shadow did not conform to a human shape but was that of a Dragon.
“... Though it's a myth, I don't really get the point of it.”
Those were Tigre's first words upon reading the history of Zhcted.
He was on the roof of the Imperial Palace.
The sky was clear, and the day was warm.
Tigre had borrowed a book from the library and sat cross-legged on the slanted rooftop as he read.
The reason he was on the roof was simple. The library was dim, the weather was good, and, if he looked down, he could see the courtyard decorated with tall trees and flower beds.
The Imperial Palace was enclosed by a rampart and tower. Though he could not see beyond that, the sky continued on, sending a cool breeze to his seat.
If he had not slept enough, Tigre would certainly take a nap.
“This is the easiest history book to read...”
With his face looking like he had taken medicine, Tigre opened the book on his knee.
Tigre was not familiar with Zhcted writing, so it was more difficult for him to read than he imagined.
Furthermore, it used old words and terminology. Since there were many expressions as well, it was difficult for him to read anything. More than half the book was unreadable.
Rurick, who was still monitoring him, stood in the hallway below the roof Tigre sat on. When he asked for help, the following words came to him.
“Lord Tigrevurmud, I am more than willing to help you; however, I cannot understand such difficult language, either.”
Though he had trouble reading, he was still an Earl. He had been given an education to match his status, so he was better than most.
“No, don't worry about it. It was not unreasonable.”
He was a soldier, not a scholar.
“Do you know anyone who can read things like this?”
“I do not.”
Rurick gave a difficult expression.
“Though it is difficult to say, I do not believe anyone could read better than you, Lord Tigrevurmud. Perhaps you should try asking Vanadis-sama or Limlisha-sama.”
“I wonder if they would help...”
He considered it, half to kill time, and half out of hesitation.
However, there was something worrying he wanted to hear from Elen.
When he folded his arms, a small shadow flew to the roof. It was the young Dragon, Lunie.
Though Tigre reached out to the Dragon with a smile, it did not seem interested once it climbed to the roof. Lunie began basking its round body in a sunny place.
--- This Dragon is quite like a cat.
Not wanting to disturb it, Tigre stood up.
When he casually looked at the view before him, he noticed Elen at the edge of his sight.
She moved quickly between the trees, as if trying to avoid being noticed. She approached the rampart, not noticing his gaze most likely.
“Rurick, I'm going to see what Elen says. I'll return to my room right after I talk to her.”
After hearing Rurick walk down the passage, Tigre held the history book beneath his arm and jumped off the roof.
Grabbing the branch of a tree directly below him, he softened his fall and used the recoil to hit the ground.
When he stood up again, the gardener taking care of the flower bed looked at Tigre, her face full of surprise.
With a bitter smile, Tigre left the courtyard at a trot. Moving between the trees, he caught sight of Elen.
“What are you doing?”
When he called, Elen's shoulders shook in surprise as she looked back.
“Wha, wha, wha, what are you doing here...!?”
Blushing, Elen glared at him, her face red with surprise. It was the first time he had heard her stutter.
Her appearance was different. Her long, silver-white hair was braided and tied near the nape of her neck. Her hemp dress gave a clean appearance.
Her sword was sheathed at her waist, inconspicuously covered in cloth. She looked like any girl on the street, though it was unlikely any girl would be so beautiful.
“I wanted to ask you something, and I saw you.”
Though he was curious about her attitude and attire, Tigre responded honestly.
Elen looked at him suspiciously, thinking it impossible that she could have been seen. She gripped Tigre's arm and pulled him toward the rampart.
“Can't be helped. You come, too.”
Outside the rampart, the two descended a gentle slope. The castle town was about a half belsta (approximately five hundred meters) away.
The streets were lined with stone houses with black or brown roofs.
The street was wide enough to comfortably allow a large wagon, and it was neatly paved with cobblestone.
Travelers, citizens, merchants, officials, artisans, many walked along the stalls at the edges of the streets.
Many housewives were chatting, the merchants called out. A minstrel played a harp at an intersection.
“It's much busier than Nice.”
Unlike Nice, the capital of Brune, which he had visited only once or twice, it made Tigre smile broadly. The dialect of Zhcted and the movement of copper and silver coins was a common sight.
Tigre was impressed by the unglazed pottery and glass-work of various shapes and sizes.
Fresh, bright fruit overflowed from wooden crates, slabs of meat were hung from hooks, and the fragrance of potatoes made him swallow his saliva.
Suddenly, girls his age passed by, laughing as they noticed Tigre.
“Does he really want things like that so much?”
“Maybe she wants something, too.”
In response, Elen extended a finger to Tigre's hair.
“So they wear these kinds of things outside the walls?”
In Elen's hand, who was laughed at and ridiculed, there was a leaf.
Due to its lightness, Tigre had not noticed at all. He gave his thanks.
“Where did you get this? Did you stick your head in some bushes?”
Tigre finally explained how he found her.
There was only silence until Elen entered the castle town. It was not an atmosphere he could ask questions.
“What are you, a monkey?”
Elen spoke coldly as she looked at him in amazement. Tigre was hurt.
“Really, the roof? Should I take that into consideration...? No, you're probably the only one who would do those kinds of things...”
“I'd like to ask a few questions sometime, if that's fine with you.”
While Elen was looking down deep in thought, Tigre called out hesitantly.
“Why were you trying to sneak out of your castle like that?”
Elen looked dubiously, not understanding Tigre's intent in asking the question.
“Shouldn't that be obvious?”
This time, it was Tigre's turn to tilt his head.
In front of the potato stand, the two people looked at each other mysteriously. The salesman coughed.
Tigre left after purchasing two potatoes. He used money he won while betting with the soldiers.
As they ate their potatoes, they walked along, looking at the unglazed pottery. The heat made the potato seem to melt.
The sweet fragrance of butter mixed with the rising steam, stimulating Tigre's appetite.
He entered the square with Elen, and they sat side-by-side at the edge of a flower bed.
Using small bites to eat her potato, Elen smiled, savoring her meal.
“I chose good ones. Praise me.”
Tigre was surprised by her theatrical tone and dramatic smile.
“... Can you really tell between the good and bad ones?”
Tigre asked with a burnt tongue as he enjoyed the texture of the potato.
“There were plenty of bad ones. Small potatoes, ones that don't steam enough, ones that are too cool, there are plenty of things that could be lacking... This degree of melting is just right. I'm impressed with the amount of salt used, too.”
“You must like them.”
Elen smiled broadly before looking away into the distance.
The subject of her gaze was a group of children gathering around a puppeteer.
“The winters of Zhcted are so cold; sometimes there are reports of people freezing to death. The cold air slips through the thick stone walls in the evening and steals them away without mercy. Children often gather around the hearth, wrap up in blankets, and eat hot potatoes to live through it all.”
Tigre imagined a warm, pleasant sight.
Tigre looked at Elen's profile with wonder in his eyes.
Her expression was as if she missed her distant past. He felt uncomfortable.
--- She speaks as if she grew up in a small village.
It would be too simple to think she was a girl raised in the art of war as a duchess.
--- Perhaps I'm wrong? Still, it's not like I can just ask.
For a time, the two silently ate their potatoes. Tigre spoke up as he finished eating.
“... Is it possible you came to inspect the area surrounding the castle?”
Elen now looked at Tigre's face.
“Have you never left your castle incognito?”
“I left normally, there was no need to be stealthy.”
Elen sighed with a face that showed the emotion at the bottom of her heart.
“It is one of my few pleasures to pretend to be a normal girl having fun. It lets me stroll around the town.”
In Elen's life, being attacked by an assassin was not uncommon.
When walking through town, she required a large escort.
“So why did you panic so much when I called out to you like that?”
“You surprised me, really.”
Tigre apologized sincerely.
Elen forcibly dragged Tigre along to avoid having her behavior exposed, probably to Lim.
She must also want to spend some time alone.
“We'll call it even with this. Don't worry.”
Laughing, Elen threw the unglazed clay bowl to the ground as she finished eating her potato.
“Is it fine to throw it on the roadside?”
In Nice, the capital of Brune, it was considered a disgraceful act, so Tigre asked tentatively.
“Whether it's on the the stone pavement or the ground, it doesn't matter. There are those who collect such things and earn small change.”
“Ah, that's true, I guess. If it's broken, they can mix it in with new clay.”
While responding to Elen's words, Tigre's bowl, now empty, was also thrown away.
“Tigre, you had business with me? Does it have to do with that book you've been carefully holding?”
“I wanted to ask you a few things, but it's fine to wait until next time.”
As he nodded, Elen extended her hand to Tigre.
“Then stay with me until I'm satisfied. It's unexpectedly refreshing to walk with another person.”
Tigre and Elen looked around various places in the town.
As someone who rarely left Alsace, everything was novel to him. There was a vibrancy in the town, it seemed to have everything.
“It's a rye-based alcohol. Since it's not strong, children often drink it. Do you want a try?”
After a cup was poured for him, Tigre drank it in one go while looking at another stall.
“Steamed mushroom and potatoes. It looks like there are also pickles.”
The pan-roasted pickles gave a savory sensation to his mouth and stomach.
“It's a stir fry.”
He looked at a fried dish.
“That's apple jam on honeyed bread... Why are you only interested in food?”
Elen was amazed to see Tigre gnaw at the bread. Tigre continued to repeat his cycle of questioning and eating.
“They're all delicious. I've never had them before.”
“Well, it's your money, so I guess you can do what you want.”
Though she said that to Tigre, Elen ate the same things. Rather than dividing between the two, they each got one.
“Well, I guess I am eating a lot.”
“Long ago, there was a potato eating contest in the castle. I ate thirty potatoes with butter, about the same size as the ones before.”
Elen spoke with pride while Tigre continued bringing bread to his mouth.
It was difficult to imagine with her small mouth and body devoid of excess meat.
“... When food disappears from the kitchen, you must be the first they suspect.”
“I stole some food once before, but when they found out, they bowed respectfully, since Eleanora-sama was the one who was proudly and stealthily eating their food.”
She stopped. Tigre looked mortified.
“They're good people. If I have more than a nibble here or there, they might get angry.”
“It's fine eating alone in the kitchen. That's preferable, I think.”
--- I have only a maid by my side, though she is younger.
ellen, looking proud until now, began speaking again.
“I'll tell you this now, but I wasn't always eating.”
Elen stressed her words as she shook a skewer with fried food on it.
“Meals at the Imperial Palace are normally moderate. Because the townspeople do not come to the castle that frequently, we must bring out a novel dish when they do visit. It's a little difficult, but it's best to learn about their lives in detail.”
“You aren't particularly convincing with jam around your mouth.”
Tigre took out a handkerchief and wiped Elen's mouth.
Ellen's eyes opened widely in surprise. She averted her face, now dyed red, in a panic.
“No, no, it's nothing... Really, I let myself go whenever I'm here.”
While muttering softly, Elen shook her head strongly, ruffling the feather ornament in her hair.
“Ah, you've got jam on your mouth, too.”
Her bright red Irises were laughing. Elen extended her thin, white fingers.
She wiped the jam at the edge of Tigre's mouth and brought it to her own.
Seeing such a lovely and embarrassing gesture, Tigre turned his face away shyly.
“All right, let's go there next.”
Ignoring Tigre's reaction, Elen pointed to a stall a small distance away with a cheerful voice.
The aim was to shoot Knight dolls over with a cork-shooting toy crossbow. Depending on the dolls knocked over, different prizes could be won.
The size and pose of the Knights differed. The dolls for expensive looking prizes would not fall easily.
“Which should I knock down?”
Though a toy, a crossbow was a crossbow, so of course he would be able to use it.
Due to the mechanics of a crossbow, he was not fond of using it, but Tigre was unexpectedly enthusiastic to play.
“Hm, how about those two.”
One of Elen's targets was a conspicuously large doll by a large figure which would not fall over so easily. It had large feet and a low center of gravity, giving it a large amount of stability.
“You can take up to four shots. Will you manage?”
While passing a copper coin to the man sitting at the stand, Elen asked him naturally.
“Well, I'll give it a try.”
Tigre received the toy crossbow.
The first shot struck it easily.
It hit the head of the doll, bounced over the curtain, and landed in the back of the stall. Since he was looking for the trajectory, he did not particularly mind.
Tigre aimed at the smaller of the two dolls Elen specified.
Despite a direct hit to the head, the cork bullet was light. The doll shook, but did not fall.
“Mu, too bad.”
Elen spoke with regret, bringing her hand to her mouth.
--- Did you really not notice?
Tigre looked at Elen, his eyes filled with doubt for a moment. Elen looked back at him suspiciously. He shook his head as if it was nothing and returned his gaze to the dolls.
--- She really didn't notice, though I suppose that's trivial. It's fine.
Saying those words in his mind, Tigre thought about what to do with his third shot.
From how the doll shook, Tigre knew there was a support behind the doll.
Though it would not be a problem to knock them down, it was what might happen afterward that could be an issue.
He shot the third cork. It passed between both feet of his targeted doll. It rebound off the stand wall and hit the doll.
The doll, pushed from behind, pitched forward easily and fell from the stand.
Elen looked like a happy child as the stall owner picked up the doll, clicking his tongue in annoyance. He glared at Tigre.
“That shot is invalid, since it hit from behind.”
Tigre ignored the man's words and took his fourth shot.
It flew at the second doll and hit it from the side. The doll shook and fell down.
The man gazed at the doll in surprise.
When Tigre tapped the man's shoulder with a refreshing smile, he whispered to him.
“It's only these two. Are you sure you won't let me off here?”
“... What do you mean?”
“Will you let me have these? I wouldn't want to make a fuss about you cheating. I can just pretend not to know and you can run your shop quietly, if you know what I mean.”
“... Please, tell me one thing.”
While in a cold sweat, the man looked at Tigre uncomfortably.
“With only one or two shots, how did you understand?”
“Humans do these things, no matter the time or place. When I was younger, I had to deal with many similar tricks.”
Tigre shrugged his shoulders, and the man laughed.
The deal was struck.
The prizes were a large stuffed bear, about the size of a small child, and a purple decorated ribbon.
“It was pretty cheap, and the prizes are pretty good.”
Tigre spoke in admiration, The man laughed loudly.
“If you don't set up good prizes, the visitors will stop coming.”
--- Indeed. Because there were good prizes, they did not pass the stall up. Tigre put the large bear in a sack and threw his history book into it. Elen took the ribbon and put it in her hair.
“How is it? Does it suit me?”
Tigre was at a loss for words momentarily. Her flowing, silver-white hair and the purple ribbon matched perfectly. He did not think any other combination would work better.
“Yes, how beautiful.”
He obediently responded. He was mortified he could only use ordinary words.
“Is, is that so? That was unexpected.”
Elen touched the ribbon quietly, her face dyed red.
“I, I've never had that much interest in these things. Since I always came alone, I never had anyone to show these things to. Yeah, it's good to come with someone occasionally.”
She spoke rapidly like a child to cover her embarrassment. Tigre felt it was adorable.
“Still, the stuffed animal is certainly an unexpected hobby.”
“Ah, that's for Lim, not for me.”
Surprising words came back to him.
“She'll yell at us when we get back. She'll be in a better mood if we give that to her.”
“It'll work. I brought her a stuffed animal before and her face lit up, bright red. I'm sure you'll see it soon as well.”
Tigre could not imagine it at all.
The two walked to another street while avoiding the crowd.
Elen stopped in front of a certain bar.
“This shop serves good meals. I'm not sure if it's empty or not, so wait a moment.”
Tigre waited in place while Elen pushed the door open.
A dirty lamp hung from the ceiling, bathing the interior in a dim light. The little tables were filled with people from Zhcted. Nearly thirty guests were cheerfully talking, burying the shop in noise.
Elen looked inside the store and found a small, empty table. It would not be a problem with just her and Tigre.
Though Elen tried to go out to call Tigre, her legs stopped moving. The voices of some customers reached her ear.
“How is Brune?”
“It's hardly good, since a civil war may start soon.”
The man shook his head as if it were absurd. Given their appearance, the two were merchants.
“Lords Thenardier and Ganelon did their own things, ignoring the King before, and now it has gotten worse. Any village acting against them is burned and the towns are thrown into ruin. It's only a rumor, but it seems aristocrats who show loyalty are granted Knighthood or a government office.”
“So that's the reason you came back.”
“Yeah. I'd rather not get involved, so I'll be staying for a while.”
Elen left the shop silently and smiled to Tigre while shrugging her shoulders.
“It's full. Let's go somewhere else.”
Since they could not find a good shop, Tigre and Elen sat in a square with a baked apple and rye alcohol.
“By the way, what did you want to talk about?”
With all topics exhausted and the day settling, Elen asked as she took a drink.
Tigre glanced at the sack with the stuffed animal and history book, then turned to look at the object at Elen's waist. After hesitating a little, he took the plunge and spoke.
“I've only read one of the history books, but there was a word I noticed. Arifal, is that the name of your sword?”
Elen named the sword wrapped in a white cloth. Using a single finger, she revealed it.
The small portion between the sheath and the guard was tinged with an unnatural, undulating light.
The wind clung and tickled Tigre's hair.
“So this has been on your mind.”
“... It's as if the sword has its own intent.”
Tigre spoke while stroking his hair which was touched by the wind. Elen laughed as she sheathed the sword.
“It is also called Koma no Zanki[Brilliant Beheader of the Fallen Spirit]. It is a weapon permitted only to the Vanadis.”
Tigre could not speak immediately. Though it was difficult to believe, Tigre had experienced it twice before. Including this time, it was his third time.
“The history books call this a Viralt[Dragonic Tool] which controls [Wind]. I don't know all the details, but... is this sword the cause of the wind?”
“To be more accurate, it can manipulate it. You've seen it before, but it was able to divert the arrow and lift an entire horse.”
“... Why did you not use it in Dinant against me?”
It was a desperate fight, which is why he felt it annoying that she had cut corners.
“Because it was fun.”
Tigre frowned upon hearing Elen's prompt answer.
“At that time, I could have used it to strike your other arrows down, but I wanted to compete with your bow with only my skill.”
“You did a dangerous thing.”
Tigre looked at her with both amazement and confusion.
“It went well, so don't worry. What else did you want to talk about?”
“Do the other Vanadis have similar weapons?”
“Yes. They also have a Viralt[Dragonic Tool], though they aren't the same. Well, in all respects, they are tools beyond understanding.”
Removing her smile, Elen spoke seriously, as if on the battlefield.
“The Vanadis is said to be able to fight one thousand troops. In reality, though a Vanadis is an excellent soldier, each wields a [Dragonic Tool] giving them the capability to fight an army of warriors. There are stories of Vanadis fighting three thousand, even five thousand enemies single handedly.”
Though monstrous words were stuck in Tigre's throat, he forced them down.
“Strange. Why didn't you invade Brune or Muozinel?”
Each of the seven people were, quite literally, a match for one thousand.
Even if half the troops were left behind to defend the country, if three or four of them were to fight, they could vastly expand their territory. They could not be blamed for their invasion if they won.
--- Perhaps the King does not want such a thing.
Elen crossed her arms and looked at the sky, giving thought to an answer.
“Ultimately, it is because the King has not ordered us to.”
Due to the unexpectedly light remark, Tigre had no words to say.
Her words held no affection for royalty, she had spoken as if it were a joke. There was neither good will nor respect.
“... Do you dislike the King of Zhcted?”
“Though I don't hate him, I don't particularly like him. He is the King now, so I only contact him occasionally.”
As if remembering something displeasing, Elen's beautiful face turned bitter.
“Our country is maintaining peace and stability for now. We have had decades, even a century in which we were unable to expand our lands. Though every King has been excellent in his own way, none were able to properly conform to the presence of all seven Vanadis. Often, because they fear the Vanadis, they came to argue with us. Now, the Vanadis, while pretending to follow the King, scheme to appoint an appropriate person to lead.”
While frowning, only those words could be expressed.
“None of the Vanadis wish to become king?”
“The Vanadis kneel to the King. The King is to be defended. Those who fight for the King cannot become the King.”
Tigre inclined his head upon hearing her response.
--- Is there some restriction they are bound to?
Though it was beyond his understanding, it was not an impossible story.
The existence of a power that surpasses common sense, Tigre had already witnessed it.
“The present King is such a man. While the Vanadis kneel superficially before him, he does not have the ability to make them sincerely follow his lead, nor do we hold a will to do so. He doubts us and is alert for any sly actions. He thinks of how to reduce our power in fear it may turn on him. He is neither wise nor bold enough to attack another country.”
Elen shook her argent hair and let out a deep sigh.
“I wish for someone with both traits, someone fluent in politics, someone who can be both kind and harsh. I wish for a King who is not swayed by emotion and overflows with a sense of justice...”
“It seems you've been having trouble.”
“--- There's no point in me complaining anymore, but really, I would like a better King.”
“... I see.”
--- If only His Majesty, the King of this country, were a little better...
Tigre had trouble thinking of this as another person's problem.
“However, if asked what I would change about the country, I would hesitate to say something. It is by his power that the citizens of Leitmeritz have a peaceful life. I don't think I would make a better King, since I would advance my own directives.”
“You shouldn't insult yourself so much.”
Tigre stopped her, hearing her self-ridicule.
“My family creed is [A hunter does not hold the arrow too long nor hunt the beast too often].”
“What does it mean?”
Elen listened to Tigre's words with interest, her eyes wide open.
“Although the arrow is necessary to hunt, if used too often, it corrupts the land. Simply put, hunting in the mountains and forests is only fun if you don't do it all the time.”
“... You mean, everything in moderation?”
“Though it may sound arrogant of me, you believe too little in your ability. You should understand, having seen the town. The land now is not bad.”
Ellen's bright red eyes looked curiously at Tigre, who spoke earnestly.
Her murmur was overshadowed by the blowing wind.
The cold air accompanied the wind, stroking her argent hair. The night sky approached.
“Just now, what...?”
Though Tigre asked with a frown, Elen stood up energetically without responding.
“I did not think I would be comforted by you.”
She looked back at Tigre, the usual vibrancy returning to her smile.
“I'll say my thanks, though. I feel a bit better.”
Is that so. It was odd, given their position, that he could cheer her up. Still, Tigre obediently thought it good.
Though Elen tried to throw away the basket holding the baked apple, she stopped, hearing a small cat with black hair at the root of a tree.
Elen smiled happily and bent over, giving the apple core to the creature.
“Do you like cats?”
“I kept one long ago, since they were useful to ward off the rats. Right now, I only have Lunie... Do you have any?”
“Rather than saying I had a pet, when I was small, I helped take care of an old retired sheepdog.”
Tigre recalled those days, tilting his head.
“His body was large and he was always sleeping.”
“His body must have been a great pillow for a catnap, right?”
Though Elen had a boastful face, her words did not continue.
Elen let out a lovely scream and jumped aside, hanging on to Tigre. As she held him, Tigre inadvertently felt something unnecessary.
“Wha, what? What's with that voice that doesn't suit you?”
She lifted her foot and stamped down.
“Get back in that alley. I'll cut your tongue off so you can't say anything impolite again.”
The sound of her sword rang as she pulled it from her waist. She glared at Tigre with a red face.
“No, sorry. That was inappropriate.”
“Really... I've never screamed like that when faced with bears or boars.”
“--- You're thinking about it?”
The sword at her waist, the blade of silver-white, returned.
“I'm not, I'm not!”
Tigre denied while waving his hands hastily.
“But what could surprise you so much?”
Tigre looked at Elen's feet and saw a shiny black insect, now twitching.
Tigre looked amazed, seeing the insect drive her to her tiptoes.
“Do you not see these often? The Imperial Palace... is well cleaned, and I suppose you wouldn't notice them on the battlefield.”
Tigre said that aloud out of sympathy.
By the way, Tigre was accustomed to seeing them, since they were on the mountains and in the forests when he hunted.
“If it's noticeable, no matter where, you hate what you hate.”
Ellen's expression clearly said she feared it rather than hated it.
Her face and gesture, much like a child's, was adorable. Tigre inadvertently laughed.
“Wha, what's so amusing?”
“No, I'm quite relieved to find even you can be weak to something.”
Ellen's face was dyed crimson as she had trouble countering Tigre's words. With a snort, she changed tactics.
… She would go on the offensive.
Tigre was perplexed. Though his words were earnest, they may have offended her in some way.
However, he did not worry too much. Elen took a few steps forward, her argent hair shaking as she moved. She looked over her shoulder and glared at Tigre.
Tigre ran after Elen in a hurry.
When they returned to the Imperial Palace, Lim stood at the castle gate.
Though she normally did not show emotion on her face, it was clear from her ice-cold Irises that she was angry. Tigre involuntarily shrank back.
“You took your time.”
“The day hasn't ended yet. Here, a souvenir.”
Warding off the thorny voice, Elen passed her the bag with a stuffed animal, and spoke in her normal tone. Though Lim had a face as if she wanted to say something to Tigre, she held back until she looked in the bag.
“... This, this is.”
“Do you like it? I wanted to get you a present, so I went to town for it.”
Elen spoke fluently, proud as a peacock. It was not just anger flowing from Lim's body.
“By the way, were you looking for someone?”
“Unfortunately, it was you.”
“Got it. Still, I had company this time.”
After that, Lim cast her gaze to Tigre.
“... Why did you return? It must have been a heaven-sent opportunity for you to run away. Do you have the confidence to return? Are you foolish? Or perhaps you do not understand your situation.”
“You should applaud me for letting the opportunity pass.”
“I see, so you are a fool.”
Lim pointedly responded to Tigre's words.
“You shouldn't be so harsh. He came back, after all, and Tigre was the one to get you the present.”
When Elen mediated from the side, Lim sank into an awkward silence.
“Lim, you may return to your room. I will guide Tigre.”
Elen waved her hand away. Lim sighed and returned an unfriendly expression.
She bowed in silence and walked away while holding the bag. Tigre vacantly noticed her gait was light.
“Well, that's done. Now then, let's follow her.”
Tigre looked at Elen suspiciously.
“I'll show you something interesting.”
Elen walked briskly with Tigre following after her. The soldiers saluted when they noticed her. Elen lightly waved to them and returned their salute. Tigre noticed they nodded to him.
“I don't recognize the place we're going to.”
Tigre asked the question, since it had always been Rurick guiding him around the Palace.
“I suppose it's not unusual? The women's rooms are around here.”
They were in a straight corridor lined with rooms spaced at regular intervals. Girl's voices could be heard in some rooms.
“Is it fine?”
“I'm giving you permission. Walk quietly.”
Elen halted in front of a certain room. After confirming no one was in the surroundings, she carefully drew her sword and uttered a small incantation.
The air moved. Tigre understood Elen used the power of the Silver Flash. The face of the argent-haired Vanadis looked like a child playing a trick.
“Even if the door is opened, Lim will never hear a sound.”
“... Your sword will cry. At least, I would.”
Indeed, Tigre felt sorry for the sword. Tigre felt something at the scruff of his neck. It seemed as if the wind was grumbling. The sword seemed dissatisfied.
“Look, you. Don't you want to know what she'll do with our present?”
Certainly, Tigre was anxious when he saw the stuffed animal.
--- Elen said she wouldn't treat it poorly.
Though there was no sound, there was a possibility he would be noticed. Tigre carefully opened the door, leaving enough space for the two to look through the crack.
Lim sat on the bed, hugging the bear. Though her face was not visible, it was easy to imagine her expression given her actions.
Tigre was amazed. More than what he saw, the number of stuffed animals inside surprised him.
It was unusual, given her cool impression. He had never considered it.
Tigre and Elen continued to watch. Lim closely and happily embraced the bear.
“What should your name be. Alexei... I haven't used that yet... Your eyes are the color of a pomegranate... I wonder.”
--- She's given it a name! Every one of them!
It was his limit. He continued to erase his presence.
Tigre quietly closed the door and looked at Elen. Her face showed her amusement.
“That's how it is. Yours, too, so you might want to give her another stuffed bear. She usually forgives me with that.”
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