Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 02 Chapter 1 - 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 1 - Dream of a Distant Day
Titta awoke in the night, just before dawn broke.
She washed her face with water she had prepared the previous night and tied her long, chestnut-brown hair along the left and right sides of her head into a twin-tail hairstyle. She opened the shutters throughout the house and began cleaning the kitchen and dining room with practiced hands.
After donning her maid's uniform, she quickly prepared breakfast.
“It's about time for him to wake up."
With the morning sun now shining through the window into the kitchen, Titta stood before the mirror while putting on her apron and thought about the Lord she served. Naturally, she began to smile.
“--- Good morning, Tigre-sama.”
Okay, all good.
Titta lifted the hem of her skirt as she walked up the stairs. She headed from the main area to a room deep inside on the second floor. Titta held a strange sense of duty to wake up this man who would sleep through the entire day if he did not have any business to take care of.
“If I don't do this, who will wake Tigre-sama?”
Tigrevurmud Vorn was the name of the Lord Titta served.
It was an exaggerated name the person in question did not seem to dislike, but for those more intimate with him, it was easier to simply call him Tigre.
Ever since they met when they were small, Titta did not stand much on ceremony and continued to call him Tigre-sama.
“He was up late last night, so he will probably sleep until mid-day... But I should still wake him up.”
While muttering to herself, she stood before Tigre's room. After taking a few small, deep breaths, Titta knocked on the door. Confirming that there was no reaction, she quietly opened the door.
A dazzling sword was pointed at Tigre as he slept on the bed.
Her face turned pale as she said those words. Titta quickly ran over and looked at the person hunched over Tigre, as if embracing him while holding the longsword.
She wore blue clothes and had impressive silver hair which reached her waist; she was a beautiful girl. She looked down at Titta in surprise.
“Y, you... Wha, wha, what are you doing...!”
Titta's voice trembled with surprise and anger. The girl with silver hair sheathed her longsword in a panic.
“No, sorry. I wasn't intending to threaten him.”
“Then what were you doing! In the first place, how did you even get in here?”
The girl with argent hair readily pointed to the window, which was currently wide open. She folded her arms and began to give an explanation.
“He wouldn't wake up no matter how much I called him, but then I remembered he awoke when a sword was put in his mouth. I wondered if he reacted whenever a blade was brought close... Well, I was having a bit of fun as well.”
She had become inarticulate toward the end seeing Titta glare at her, whose hazel eyes were now blotted with tears. The girl with silver hair became embarrassed.
“I wasn't going to hurt him, it was just some innocent fun.”
“Even if you didn't intend to, you could have hurt him!”
It was a just argument. The girl sunk into silence.
At that time, Tigre began to move beneath Titta.
Hearing a drowsy voice tickle her ear, Titta hastily parted from him.
With his red hair disheveled, Tigre sat up. After glancing at the two girls gazing at him, he looked to the open window.
As he looked at the light blue sky, a fresh breeze quietly stroked the three peoples' hair.
“What's with all the ruckus? It's still morning.”
“It is already morning.”
Titta firmly responded while blushing. Tigre, without noticing her appearance, looked about reluctantly as if he had no more choice. The girl with silver hair looked at him in embarrassment.
“What's wrong, Elen?”
Titta explained the situation on Elen's behalf. Once she finished, Tigre nodded and smiled at Elen with a carefree look.
“It seems you saw something troublesome.”
Titta shouted, making Tigre and Elen cower on reflex. It was a childish gesture as she scolded the two like a mother.
Tigre, Titta, and Elen sat around a table in the dining room.
At the table was rye bread, milk, soup with smoked fish, thinly sliced meat, and boiled egg.
Elen sat at the table as if it were natural. Titta wished to say “I have not prepared enough for you,” but prudently remained silent.
Though she did not take well to the circumstances, she was Tigre's guest. As a maid, she could not be a disgrace.
--- I'll give her some rice while we eat.
Until today, Tigre and Titta had eaten with just the two of them. She wanted to return to the days before Tigre left for Dinant.
“So you eat your meal with your maid.”
While holding bread in her hand, Elen asked as if it were unexpected.
“Titta and I are the only ones living here. It would be troublesome if we ate separately, and it's better for talking, especially since Titta takes care of the household for me.”
“You're a busy one.”
“I'm used to it.”
Elen glanced at her admirably. Titta simply bowed and responded curtly.
“By the way, what happened so early in the morning?”
Tigre asked after sipping his soup. Elen took a drink of wine and responded.
“I'll be leaving here. I wanted to hear your future plans.”
Tigre fixated his gaze on the table as his hands stopped moving.
Tigre was an aristocrat of Brune. He had lost his father two years ago and succeeded his title and the land of Alsace.
On the battlefield of Dinant Plains, he became a prisoner of war to one of Zhcted's Vanadis, Eleanora Viltaria – Elen. When told Duke Thenardier, a powerful noble of Brune, would burn Alsace to the ground, he borrowed her strength and returned.
Three days ago, Tigre defeated Duke Thenardier's forces. That night, his people and the soldiers were intoxicated in the feast of victory.
The day after that – two days ago – things had changed radically.
The dead were buried, funerals were held, and there were people walking around the town, rebuilding what had been burned down.
It was not just the people of Alsace but the soldiers under Elen's command. Though they managed to salvage much of the buildings, it took until late last night to complete.
Today, he would have to think about what to do in the future.
--- Duke Thenardier will come since I killed Zaien.
The general of the Thenardier Army which attacked Alsace was Zaien Thenardier. He was the son of the Duke and future heir to his name.
Duke Thenardier was from an old, distinguished family which boasted enough power that it could not be ignored. He could easily move ten thousand troops, and, with the aid of his many aristocratic relatives, could gather a force which easily exceeded thirty thousand.
On the other hand, Alsace could gather at most one hundred men.
Though he could increase that number to three hundred, he would lose all the young men who were the main workers. The towns and villages would essentially stop functioning.
--- At best, ten thousand, at worst, thirty thousand...
It was an overwhelming difference. Tigre's face stiffened in tension and fear.
How did I get myself into this trouble? What should I do?
The anxiety which lurked inside him was that he had missed Duke Thenardier's true intent.
A happy voice touched Tigre's ear. When he looked up, he could see Elen smiling.
She stood up as if she were going to say something to Tigre before turning away.
“Decide what you want to do by the time we next meet. I'll leave most of the soldiers here. You'll be working as Lim's aide.”
“This land belongs to me now. From your standpoint, you'll be assisting Lim.”
Elen put on her mantle and gallantly walked forward. She threw a question to Tigre who was staring at her.
“Are you going to think about what to do from now on?”
“I'll rack my brains with Lim so we won't lose this land.”
While listening to Elen's footsteps as she walked away, Tigre sighed deeply and leaned against the backrest.
After finishing breakfast, Tigre went to the second floor. Rather than going to his room, he went to a small room at the end of the hallway.
It was a narrow enough room such that Tigre, who was average build and height, could not lie down. Leaning on a splendidly decorated stand was a single black bow.
The bow and bowstring were black, as if they were a condensation of the darkness. Rather than being dyed, the material itself was black. Tigre could not understand its character.
It was a family heirloom used by ancestors of the Vorn family who were hunters. He used it in the Molsheim Plains to shoot down Zaien and his VyfalWyvern. Tigre corrected his posture, steadied his breathing, and grasped his fist before his chest.
Tigre had greeted this bow, which had been passed down from generation to generation, immediately after he woke up every day since he was little. After pushing back the Thenardier Army, he greeted it after breakfast.
He needed physical strength, energy, and courage to stand before the bow.
--- This isn't a normal bow.
He heard a voice echo in his head when Zaien took flight on the Wyvern.
At that time, he shot down the Wyvern.
The arrow was normal. It should be impossible to hurt it, let alone penetrate its scales which could fend off sword and spear. He knew that best.
When he encountered an SuroEarth Dragon in the recesses of the mountain two years ago, every arrow Tigre shot left it unwounded. It was not a question of his capability.
However, after hearing the voice on the battlefield, his arrow flew and literally crushed the VyfalWyvern.
The existence of this uncanny bow weighed heavily in Tigre's mind alongside his issue with Thenardier. Since it was an inherited family treasure, he could not treat it poorly, but he could not help but look at it as if it were a monster when he recalled the spectacle.
“What on earth are you?”
Tigre muttered before the voice.
Still, the bow did not answer.
Upon exiting Tigre's mansion, Elen headed to the temple.
Though the one thousand troops Elen had led to Alsace were spending their time in the plaza and vacant houses throughout the town, those who took command, including Elen's adjutant, Limlisha, stayed at the temple.
Brune and Zhcted believed in the same Pantheon of Gods, so the soldiers were not particularly resistant to the idea. They could look up at the statues which enshrined the Gods they looked up to and remember their hometowns.
In the past two days, the soldiers had spent their time cleaning the town of all the stones and repaired houses which had started collapsing. It was worthwhile spending their time building something rather than destroying it.
The temple soon came into her view. As she opened the door, Limlisha – Lim – came into view. Elen called out to her,
Lim noticed Elen and returned a salute with a grave expression.
She was a tall, beautiful woman with golden hair tied on the left side of her head. Her face did not hold a single fragment of affability. She wore clothing the same blue as Elen's and had a sword held at her waist.
She could be called Elen's right arm. She served as an assistant in both military and political affairs.
“Do you have business you need to take care of right now?”
“No. I was going to visit you to ask the same, Eleanora-sama.”
“No need to do that especially. Did you finish selecting the soldiers?”
It was a confirmation rather than a question. Lim nodded without batting an eyebrow.
“Rurick was made commander and he has chosen one hundred cavalrymen.”
“I leave the rest to you. I need to return to keep the King silent. He's in your care until then.”
Elen began to laugh in a casual manner while Lim simply looked unhappy.
“Eleanora-sama, you seem to trust him quite a bit.”
“I thought you did as well.”
“Though I evaluate him to be reliable, I do not trust him.”
Seeing her subordinate's stubborn attitude, Elen shrugged her shoulders with a bitter smile.
“I got it, I got it. Anyway, I 'm leaving Tigre to help you.”
The Vanadis with silver-white hair waved her hand as she turned away while Lim saw her off with a bow. When Elen disappeared from her sight, she leaned against a nearby fence and looked up to the sky.
The brightness of the blue morning sky still remained.
“I wanted to avoid getting more deeply involved... But there's no other way.”
Elen moved her army due to good will toward Tigre.
Alsace was a barrier to prevent the spark of civil war from reaching Leitmeritz. They needed to confirm Duke Thenardier's intent and would intervene according to the turn of events.
--- Still... That battle at Molsheim Plains has changed a lot.
Though Lim had not seen it herself, many soldiers, including Elen, had.
Tigre's arrow tore through the atmosphere and pierced through the VyfalWyvern with a speed and power impossible by normal means. It dispersed the clouds and disappeared from view.
She could not believe the tale so suddenly. The scales of a Dragon were strong enough such that blades of iron could not pass through. Furthermore, it would be impossible for an arrow to reach the Wyvern which flew high above.
--- But Lord Tigrevurmud pulled it off.
According to Elen, Tigre's bow seemed to respond to her long sword – the Silver Flash Arifal. Though she had never heard of a weapon which could respond to a ViraltDragonic Tool, Elen was sure she had not made a mistake.
--- Even if ignoring her attachment to him... it would be best not to part ways now.
If another Vanadis learned of Tigre and the existence of his bow, they would act to take control of him. They may use him as an ally, or they may try to kill him.
--- Thinking along those lines, it is best to help him.
If a person with a power rivaling a Vanadis became an ally, it would be easy to maneuver in the future. Even disregarding that power, Tigre's skill with the bow was unusual, and there was no problem with his character as well.
However, a Vanadis prying into a civil war in Brune, especially one which involved a powerful noble, would cause a significant change.
Though Lim gazed at the sky while thinking, she eventually let out a small sigh.
“... This is for Eleanora-sama. I should do my best.”
When Lim visited his mansion, Tigre was placing his saddle on the horse in the front garden. At his feet was a bag full of water and food. Nearby, the maid with chestnut-brown hair was locking the door.
“Are you going somewhere?”
Lim spoke with a tone as if cross-examining the two. Titta's body shrunk back in surprise as she heard the voice, while Tigre responded with a vacant expression.
“We'll be heading to the Village of Hunawihr for a bit. We should return by nightfall tomorrow.”
Lim was confused; Tigre answered as he checked the condition of his saddle.
“It is a village I can reach before day's end on horse. It's to the northwest, and Duke Thenardier will have to pass close by before he comes here.”
“Are you having the residents take refuge?”
“There are reports that they have fled to the nearby woods, but I wish to make sure.”
In Alsace, there were four villages in addition to the town of Celesta; however, the other three were far from Thenardier's path. Still, since there was no news of it being damaged, it was unnecessary for Tigre to check it immediately.
--- Though it is not as if I do not understand his feelings...
Though she understood, Lim could not help but feel irritated. They did not have the time for such leisurely activities since they would be fighting Thenardier's Army from now on.
Tigre's tone and expression were lacking. This brought Lim's emotions in a negative direction.
“Your maid will be accompanying you?”
Lim asked him because the saddle placed on the horse was large, and Titta was not wearing her maid's dress but thick, hempen clothing.
“Titta will feel anxious if I'm away from the mansion for too long.”
--- I do not think he is getting cold feet. The bow in his saddle is not the black bow but his normal one.
Tigre tried to run from the Imperial Palace to save the people in his territory at the risk of his own life. It is one of the few things Lim evaluated him highly on.
“I see. Before you return, I would like to examine the records and documents related to Alsace. Will that be fine with you?”
Putting his motive asides, Lim asked him for permission. Still, while her voice was empty, it contained a few thorns.
“I understand. They're in my room and the study. To get there, you---”
While explaining the location to Lim, Tigre turned to Titta who consented. Though dissatisfied, Titta handed the key to the residence to Lim.
“Do not worry. I will not touch anything other than the documents and records as promised.”
Lim relaxed her face and slightly smiled at Titta. After she bowed, she ran to Tigre in a panic.
Lim saw Tigre and Titta off as they rode out of town on the horse, seeing Titta snuggle up closely against him, before entering his residence.
The roads laid within Alsace were not good.
The weeds ran rampant, the soil was not flat, and the fence put up near the forests was in poor condition.
Titta, behind Tigre, rode sidesaddle. Though she wanted to hold on to Tigre, she gripped the saddle with both hands so as not to be a hindrance.
Since the horse was carrying two people as well as supplies, it was not very quick, and since she trusted Tigre's equestrian skills, Titta rode in comfort.
--- It was a little unreasonable, but I'm glad I asked him for this.
When Tigre said he would head to Hunawihr, Titta insisted that she go with him. Though Tigre was confused, he eventually gave up due to exhaustion.
There were two reasons she wanted to go.
One was to be close to Tigre.
After Tigre left for Dinant, Titta had spent many days and nights alone. Her anxiety was severe, especially after learning of the defeat of the Brune Army. During that time, she went to the temple and prayed on a regular basis.
Everything happened in an instant.
Tigre headed for the battlefield with the Zhcted Army. When she thought it possible to meet him again at last, they had become busy with reconstruction of the town, so they did not have time to speak.
She felt Tigre's warmth as she leaned against his back.
“What is it?”
“I don't know what you are thinking, or what will happen in the future, but I will follow Tigre-sama everywhere.”
Titta had noticed Tigre's gloomy appearance since early that morning. That was another reason she followed after him.
--- If it were the usual Tigre-sama, he would say today is a good day for hunting. His expression hasn't changed at all, and he went upstairs immediately after breakfast. It must be something difficult to say to me.
Titta did not understand what Tigre worried about. Even if she knew, as a simple maid, she could not do anything to help him.
Still, Titta wanted to be with Tigre.
No matter what, Titta would be his ally.
“--- Thank you, Titta.”
The words he returned were full of emotions. Titta was glad the usual Tigre had returned.
Hunawihr was a small village with fewer than two hundred inhabitants.
The forests spread out in the nearby vicinity, and the residents often entered it. As a child, he had played in the forest, and when older, he gathered firewood, nuts, and mushrooms.
Though there were wolves and wild boars in the vicinity, they would rarely attack a group of people so long as their territory was not trespassed. It was a peaceful village.
One koku had passed after midday by the time Tigre and Titta arrived at the village. They took some time to rest and have a meal so they would have the energy to complete their task before the sun set.
When farmers who cultivated the field saw Tigre, they ran up with short steps. Tigre pulled his horse to a stop and helped Titta after dismounting.
“Everyone, are you safe?”
“Yes, Lord, thanks to you.”
A middle-aged man had his hand on his head and smiled. The other farmers, as well, followed suit.
“We hid in the forests like you said. They passed by quickly.”
“Really, there were many people running away two days ago, Lord.”
Tigre heard the farmers' stories one by one before separating from them. He headed to the village chief's while pulling his horse along.
Soon, he saw the village chief who was cultivating the fields, just like the other farmers.
The man was in his mid-forties. His figure was like a barrel and his arms and legs were stout. His skin was tanned and his face was red due to sunburn from spending his time working the fields.
When he noticed Tigre, he walked out of the field.
“Did you come to help with the fields, Lord?”
“Though I can help, won't you just do it all over again?”
The village chief feigned ignorance as Tigre laughed and shrugged his shoulders. In all actuality, Tigre had gripped the hoe only once the last time he tried to help, so his work was terrible.
“Haha, excuse me.”
The village chief laughed, his belly shaking, and smiled at Titta. Tigre asked about the damage to the village.
“It's as you see. The fences around the village were destroyed, but we have no injured or dead.
After saying that, the village chief looked serious.
“By the way, I heard a rumor that the Zhcted Army has come...”
“They are allies who I have employed. Don't worry about it.”
The village chief looked relieved and laughed after seeing Tigre's confident attitude.
The village chief wanted to celebrate his victory in Molsheim, even if the party would be small. Though he offered a seat to Tigre, Tigre refused since it would take place early tomorrow.
At dawn, Tigre said his farewell to the chief and headed to Celesta on horseback.
Titta did not think he looked well, and, out of consideration, spoke up.
“Tigre-sama. Will you be taking a nap on the way?”
Tigre's legs loosened from around the horse as he heard the unexpected words.
“It's unusual you would say this. Did you not sleep well, Titta?”
“I am still a bit tired...”
Titta answered modestly. Tigre smiled wryly, but he did not reject her. He felt it would soon be time to take a break, regardless.
The sun shined brightly in the blue heavens. The fine weather was no different from yesterday's.
“I wonder if I can trouble them. If I remember, there should be a hut nearby.”
Tigre left the road and headed toward a small hut at the top of a hill. It was built from logs, and Tigre had used it numerous times before.
He dismounted and saw no one inside.
In the middle was a plate full of ash. It was used to build a fire, but, from its current state, it had not been used for the past several days.
He tethered the horse outdoors, wiped its body down, and gave it water to drink. Titta helped him as well.
After finishing, the two entered the hut. Titta lay on the floor.
“Titta, you should get some rest. I'm sure it's tiresome riding the horse all the time.”
“If I do not stay up, who will wake you up, Tigre-sama?”
Tigre scratched his head upon hearing her joke.
“I got it, but don't do anything unreasonable.”
He spoke gently and closed his eyes.
Perhaps fatigued by constantly thinking to himself, Tigre fell asleep immediately.
There was a ten year old girl before his eyes.
She spoke with a lisp and had chestnut-brown hair tied on the left and right side of her head. Titta's hazel eyes shined brilliantly.
“Tigre-sama, over here.”
Titta laughed innocently as she walked along, gripping Tigre's hand. Tigre quietly followed after her.
Seeing his hands, Tigre realized it was a dream. He was the same age when he met Titta.
The boy and girl walked along the narrow road as fields stretched along both sides.
Before he noticed, Tigre stood before a certain field.
One man walked there. It was his father, Urz Vorn, who had died two years ago.
“Come, let's plow.”
Tigre's father passed him a hoe.
--- Now that I remember, this happened before.
Tigre's thoughts were hazy as he held the hoe.
He was probably 10 years old at the time. His father was inspecting the village. It was the one time he had been given a hoe.
Though he thought he could do it, his entire body hurt after only a quarter koku. The next day, there were many bean-like injuries on his hands. Titta took a handful of bandages and treated him.
Having held the hoe, his range of vision had changed drastically.
Tigre stood on top of a hill alongside his father.
Before his eyes, green grape fields extended as far as his eye could see.
The father spoke gently to his son.
“They cultivate the fields every day. They scatter the seeds, water the plants, and drive away the insects and birds, and scare away the hares and wild boars that come to the village. They worry about droughts and fear storms. After harvesting the fields and cleaning them up, they repeat the process again.”
As a hunter, I am the same. Tigre answered in that way. Just before, he had caught a large deer.
“Your skill with the bow is splendid, especially for your age; however, it is different from hunters. We do not hunt to live.”
Tigre nodded strongly because he did not understand what it meant to live.
“Everyone works the fields to live. Do you understand why it is that you do not do this?”
Because of you, Dad. Because I am the Lord's son. This time, Tigre answered firmly. He could not help but blush in embarrassment when recalling the memory. His father was not angry with his response.
“Then why do I not need to cultivate the fields?”
Because you are great. When he said that, his father slowly shook his head.
“Listen, Tigrevurmud. We are here in case there is an emergency.”
“That's right. We're there for situations which are difficult to solve. Landslides, floods, bandits, epidemics, poor harvests, disputes amongst villages, clashes with neighboring aristocrats over the rivers and mountains, there are many other things... I am there to try and resolve those problems. Our work is to ensure they live their lives in peace.”
“But why do you have to...”
Again, his father shook his head slowly.
“The more people there are, the more trouble that appears. Though Alsace may be small and peaceful...”
At that time, his words stopped. Tigre's father placed his hand on Tigre's head. Even in the dream, Tigre could feel the weight and warmth of his hand.
“Do not forget, Tigrevurmud. This is the Lord's duty.”
The feeling of the hand disappeared. His father walked away quietly. While watching his back, Tigre could not walk. Even if he tried to chase after his father, his feet would not move.
“Dad... Dad – Father.”
Then he awoke. He saw the ceiling of the hut and heard the cry of birds outside.
How long has it been since I've dreamed of father?
He tried to sit up, but felt a weight and faint heat on his body. Tigre looked down.
Titta was clinging to him, calmly breathing as she slept. Though it surprised him, Tigre quickly regained his composure.
--- Did you bring me to meet my father?
In the dream, it was the young Titta that took him to his father. Warmth welled from within his chest. Tigre hugged her gently.
After a while, Titta woke up.
She let out a noise as she looked up at Tigre, half-asleep. Her eyes were unfocused.
Titta stood up in a panic as soon as she understood the situation. She waved her hands about, and her face was red. She made many incoherent excuses.
“Ti, Tigre-sama, it's something different. Ah, um... I didn't want to take too much space in case someone entered...”
Tigre smiled wryly as he saw Titta's panic as he thought about his emotions.
Having recalled his father, he was engrossed in sentimental feelings and closely embraced her. In the summer atmosphere in a dim hut, Titta's reaction calmed Tigre down.
Hearing Tigre call out to her in a calm voice, Titta began to settle down.
“Thank you. I owe you one. It was quite refreshing.”
Seeing Tigre look as though he were about to laugh, she was relieved the shadow in his face had disappeared. After borrowing the Leitmeritz soldiers from Elen, he had pushed the Thenardier Army back and had not gotten any rest.
Anxiety and fear entered the gap it opened in his heart.
--- I can't stop now.
There were many things Tigre had to do.
He had borrowed the strength of the Leitmeritz Army to fight Thenardier's troops.
Though he was anxious about the power of his black bow, he lacked enough clues to find any more information on it. For now, he would put it aside.
“Let's go, Titta.”
Tigre stepped out of the hut refreshed. He looked at the cloudless sky.
--- If nothing else, at least the weather is good for hunting.
From behind, Titta spoke in an angry tone.
“Are you thinking of hunting right now?”
“... How did you know?”
“I know. How many years do you think I have been serving you?”
After answering, Titta smiled happily. Realizing she was joking just a moment ago, Tigre smiled bitterly as he helped her mount the horse.
While riding, Tigre called back to Titta.
“Titta. We'll be busy when we get back to Celesta. Our situation is a bit problematic, so I want you to go to Lord Mashas' place for a while---”
Titta hugged Tigre from behind.
“I said it yesterday. I will follow you everywhere. You have helped me. It is my turn to help you now.”
Tigre gently placed his hands on Titta's.
Her words were happy, though there was sadness in them. While he was busy worrying, she had long since determined her course of action.
Tigre let go of Titta's hands and kicked the horse's belly.
“Hold on tight.”
As if reflecting his heart, the horse fiercely sped up.
The faint warmth and weight of the girl on his back comforted him.
Tigre and Titta arrived at Celesta a half koku faster than scheduled.
Once they returned to the mansion, they noticed a horse in the stable that did not belong to Tigre.
They had often seen this horse; it was white with a black mane which ran down its body.
“This horse is Mashas-sama's...?”
“Yeah, no doubt.”
Tigre responded to Titta's surprised voice.
“Titta, can I leave this to you?”
“Yes.” Titta nodded and smiled brilliantly. Tigre ran out of the stables and impatiently opened the doors to his house, ignoring the mud on his leather shoes.
He first went to the dining room but found no one there. When he opened the door to the drawing room, he saw Mashas Rodant sitting in place.
Tigre swallowed his voice as he tried to call out the man's name. The room was wrapped in a dangerous atmosphere which would likely make children cry.
Mashas and Lim were staring at each other across a small table.
--- Did they not notice me...?
He closed the door and returned to the stable. He asked Titta what was for dinner. He thought it was the best course of action.
“--- So you're back, Tigre.”
Mashas turned his head to look at Tigre. His short stature and stout body was wrapped in clothes with muted clothing. His gray beard gave off a dignity fitting for his age.
“You're safe, above all else... I wanted to hear what happened from you. When I came, I saw a woman who was neither Titta nor Paula in the house. Isn't this quite a surprise?”
Paula was a housewife in her 50s who lived in the area. She worked as a maid for Tigre's father, Urz, when he was still alive, and she came to help when times were busy.
Though Mashas continued speaking with the good-natured smile the elderly might have, his eyes were not laughing at all.
“And now we have a deputy from Zhcted in Alsace. By all means, please tell me the entire story.”
Tigre looked with his eyes toward Lim. She silently sat with her usual expressionless face.
The moving reunion he imagined in his head was nowhere to be found.
Thenardier saw as his army had barely arrived in Nemetacum having barely escaped Alsace. The punishment was severe.
Those who were guarding Zaien, the son and heir of the household, and those assisting him in commanding the soldiers were punished with floggings. The ones who whipped them were the bereaved families of soldiers who died in battle.
The whip was intended for use with torture. At each of the ten straps were thorns. The skin tore whenever they hit the back, and the flesh was scooped away. Blood sprayed about with increasing frequency. Since they would be whipped more if they screamed, they clenched their teeth and endured the pain.
The other soldiers were hit hard in the back with a heated iron rod.
Duke Thenardier watched the scene in silence as he poured wine into a silver chalice. Though expressionless, it was clear to anyone who saw that he was angry from the bottom of his heart.
--- Zaien was an unreliable fool for his age.
Even so, he was still an important son.
Zaien led an army and lost a duel against Tigre. Zaien's corpse sank into a marsh in the Molsheim Plains.
--- That damn brat... Zhcted...!
Should the situation permit it, he would lead the army himself to invade Alsace and take Tigre's life.
The Duke was 42 this year. His large body was tight and forged, and his skill with the sword, spear, and horse was on par with, if not superior to, a Knight's. His distinguished services on the battlefield were many in number, as well.
Though he had withdrawn from the front lines, he still continued training.
When the punishment ended, he walked indignantly down the corridors of his grand mansion. The Duke returned to his private room on his own.
Though he had emptied four bottles of wine, he was not drunk. He was filled with a murderous intent; the pressure alone could suffocate those nearby.
Though the Duke's room was not fancy in appearance, any who saw it would be reluctant to enter due to the tension.
The carpet was finely embroidered, and the desk was made of ebony. The candlestick was made of gold, and all the accessories were made of silver or gold.
However, the Duke walked violently into the room and dragged the chair from the desk before sitting.
He grasped a bottle of liquor from Asvarre on his desk and poured a glass before drinking it in a flash.
“--- You seem out of sorts.”
Thenardier glared at the unexpected voice.
A short old man in a black robe stood in front of the open door. He wore a hood over his eyes, covering his face.
The Duke nearly spat out the liquor in his mouth and almost knocked the empty bottle over. The old man bowed as he held back his laughter.
Drekavac had served the Thenardier family as a soothsayer for many years.
In this residence, no, even throughout all of Brune, the old man was the only one permitted to speak insolently to Thenardier. If a servant had done the same thing, he and his family would likely be executed within the same day.
“I believe you have heard the stories.”
“Zaien-sama has died. You have my condolences from the bottom of my heart---”
“There is no need to say it. I don't expect such things from you.”
Thenardier interrupted Drekavac's words and stared at the elderly person's face beneath the hood.
“I am grateful; however, you are far too lenient in your punishment, Your ExcElency.”
“It is regrettable, but I need the soldiers now. I cannot just kill them as I please.”
In fact, he had lost two thousand soldiers and two Dragons. It was an unexpected blow. An unknown aristocrat in a remote place should not have been able to do that.
However, it appears Tigrevurmud Vorn appeared with the Zhcted Army and killed Zaien and both Dragons, and three thousand of his men had scattered.
“Ignoring the soldiers colliding against one another... Was it the boy from Alsace or the Vanadis from Zhcted that killed the dragon?”
Catching Thenardier's fierce eyes, Drekavac slowly nodded.
“I should first inform you. The seven Vanadis from Zhcted possess a weapon known as a ViraltDragonic Tool.”
“... I have only heard of its name. Is this Dragonic Tool truly so powerful?”
“There is nothing that can compare. It can cut through a soldier with ease and has a special power which allows it to crush a Dragon.”
Though the Dragons truly were killed, Thenardier would simply laugh those words off if they came from anyone other than Drekavac.
“What is the weapon made of?”
“It is not made of anything found in the earth.”
Thenardier's black beard trembled hearing Drekavac's response.
“I see. So it can easily cut through a Dragon's scales which can easily fend away steel.”
“It is such a weapon.”
Thenardier simply believed those words which normally would seem like a joke.
“I understand. Can you prepare new Dragons?”
“I can finish it by the new year, though I will need some money.”
Drekavac bowed as Thenardier agreed. Though he thought to ask whether it could be done sooner, he understood it would not be possible any sooner due to their long association.
Thenardier picked up a bright silver bell on his desk and rang it.
He ordered his attendant to quickly prepare a bag the size of a human head to be filled with gold.
“By the way, what of Earl Vorn and the Vanadis?”
“I will take care of it. Please hurry with the Dragons.”
The Duke waved his thick hand as Drekavac soundlessly disappeared. When the door closed, the Duke tapped his temple with his finger. He was finally feeling the effects of the alcohol.
“... It can't be helped.”
Thenardier muttered bitterly. He wanted to kill Tigre with his own hand, but he had only one body and could not prepare an infinite number of soldiers.
“Though it may seem like using an axe to slaughter an insect, perhaps I will use the Sherash[Seven Chains]. Also---”
He rung the bell again, summoning a second servant. He quickly gave orders and then quickly drank a cup of water.
“Use a Knight for a Knight, a Dragon for a Dragon... and a Vanadis for a Vanadis. I suppose I could use that connection.”
While looking at his reflection in his silver chalice, Thenardier slowly muttered to himself.
“Speaking of which, I believe Ganelon also has an association with one of the Vanadis of Zhcted. I wonder what that man is up to...”
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