Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 03 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 - Black Knight
To the west of Brune Kingdom lay the Kingdoms of Sachstein and Asvarre.
The primary relation between the neighboring countries was one of discord. There were frequent skirmishes, especially with Sachstein.
Though the lands to the west held barren wilderness and steep mountains, there was no King who resisted the thought of expanding his lands. While using childish reasons to fight, the results would be obvious with victory.
And so, the fighting along the western border did not end. Five, six years ago, Sachstein was defeated.
The one to lead the defense of the western border was Roland, the [Black Knight].
Three thousand soldiers roamed the barren wilderness which was devoid even of weeds. Present on a flag hoisted above was the symbol of Furesburg. It was said the souls of the dead would be sent to heaven in peace by this entity, and it was the symbol of the Kingdom of Sachstein.
They were the Sachstein Army. They had passed the border and were currently invading Brune.
One thousand cavalry stood at the front followed by two thousand infantry.
Behind them rang the shrill sound of oxen and horse-driven caravans and catapults. Many towers and boulders were visible.
As they left the wilderness, the Sachstein Army entered a mountain path surrounded by cliffs.
A single horseman appeared before them.
His helmet, boots, and waving mantle were solid black. In his hand was a large, deep black sword. A dignity exuded from his very presence.
“Sachstein, it seems you have not learned the strength of this country or land from your prior experiences. I will do nothing should you choose to flee!”
The sonorous voice of the Black Knight echoed through the desolate mountain path. Rather than anger, soldiers from the Sachstein Army held fear.
With a force of three thousand, it was foolish to stand before them as a lone soldier.
However, the Sachstein Army knew. This knight easily had the power to match one thousand.
Many Knights and Generals fighting beneath the Sachstein banner had lost their lives in the past five years. The common soldiers did not understand that.
The Sachstein Army did not respond to Roland. A single horseman, covered in heavy armor, advanced carrying a spear with both hands.
The man brandished the spear and made his horse run forward silently. Roland unsheathed his sword as he kicked the belly of his horse. Roland held the sword aloft, a large blade which would be difficult to wield with both hands by a common man, with his right hand alone.
The distance between the two shrunk quickly, a sound similar to thunder shook the atmosphere.
The Sachstein cavalryman in blue armor facing Roland slumped over.
His red corpse fell to the ground, his blood soaking the dry earth. A groan sounded from the Sachstein Army.
Roland did not stop his horse. He charged at the enemy brandishing his large sword, wet with blood. Crushed by fear, a cry was heard from the troops of Sachstein. The man nicknamed after the God of War pounced on the enemy as a single horseman.
“May the God of War, Tyulare, grant us protection!”
Two amongst the Sachstein cavalry rapidly approached Roland, thrusting toward him from the left and right. The next moment, their spears passed through empty space; their necks hovered in midair above a trail of fresh blood.
Every time Roland swung his sword, the blood and a scream of a Sachstein soldier appeared. Countless corpses fell to the earth, releasing unknown amounts of blood.
Though infantrymen rained arrows upon him, Roland used his large sword to cut two arrows, while three bounced off his jet-black armor.
Roland showed no fatigue, no matter how often he cut, nor did his sword become dull. Even when surrounded by four or five people, not a single scratch marred his armor; rather, only the dead bodies of Sachstein soldiers littered the field.
Suddenly, a battle cry was heard atop the cliff. A Knight dressed in armor carried a flag depicting a horse head; it was the symbol of Brune fluttering in the wind. They were the Navarre Knights who defended the western border.
The Sachstein Army, having focused on Roland, failed to notice the soldiers surrounding them. Even if they killed Roland, they would be overrun.
The Knights of Navarre ran down the steep slope together. With Roland at the lead, the Sachstein Army collapsed. The cavalry turned their horses around, and the infantrymen began to flee.
Roland joined the Knights of Navarre.
“Did we come too early?”
Leading the Knights, speaking to Roland with a smile, was a slim man. He was the Roland's right hand man, Olivier, who served as Vice-Commander. As Roland tried to respond, the Sachstein forces began to flee.
The air swelled. Boulders, likely pulled along by five or six men, flew near Roland, destroying the earth beside him.
“--- A catapult."
He was surprised. Roland soothed his horse as he muttered fearlessly. His face betrayed no sign of amazement or impatience.
“What's with that. That thing is for a castle siege.”
Another boulder was launched. It hit the wall and landed with a heavy noise. The Knights avoided the rock in a panic.
Roland held his large sword high and ran forward on his horse.
“Follow my sword!”
The wind sung, and the stones came flying. Roland did not try to avoid them as he moved straight forward with his horse. The boulders could not keep up with the Black Knight's terrific speed.
--- One cut.
Roland's large sword cut a boulder in two. As it landed, it shattered into countless fragments. Cries of astonishment could be heard from the Sachstein soldiers while cries of joy were heard from the Navarre cavalry.
With their spirit gone, the Sachstein Army turned and ran. Roland chased after them, tearing any enemy he caught with his sword.
The soldiers who escaped from Roland could not fend off the blades of the Knights of Navarre who followed close behind him. Struggling amongst a sea of corpses, the Sachstein soldiers discarded their weaponry and tried to run away.
Roland stopped his chase when the enemy stepped outside the borders.
He ordered a withdrawal and held his sword to the sky. It was a blade the color of steel, decorated with a golden pattern. It boasted a sharpness and strength impossible for normal alloys.
Durandal was its name.
It was called the [Sword of Invincibility] in Brune. Roland was granted the sword from the King when entrusted with the defense of the borders.
He was not born of a noble family, and there were objections when he was given the blade at the age of 20. The King merely spoke calmly to any who showed sign of unrest.
“Bring forth a Knight greater than Roland.”
No one could return a word. They remained silent and withdrew.
In fact, Roland had never been defeated once he became a Knight at the age of 13 due to his ability with the sword and spear and his skillful manipulation of a horse. He had spearheaded all his battles.
He wiped the blood off Durandal and leaned it against his shoulder. Roland quietly clicked his tongue.
Why had Sachstein moved at this time?
--- They must have heard our army has fallen into disorder. They definitely sent soldiers to explore.
He became angry upon remembering. It was not Sachstein's attack, but the attack against his land.
--- What are those idiots back in the Royal Palace doing while I protect the borders from the predators outside Brune...!
While Roland waited to lead his Knights, excited over their victory, to their castle, a messenger from the capital, Nice, arrived.
He received the letter presented to him. Roland opened it and read it with a grim countenance.
“--- I understand the situation.”
He folded the letter and put it in his pocket. Roland spoke to the messenger quietly.
“I will head to the capital immediately. Please report to Duke Thenardier.”
The messenger left in a hurry. Roland hid his expression from Olivier, who stood to the side.
“It was a notification to subjugate some thieves.”
“Earl Vorn, have you heard of him? He is a man who led a revolt and brought the Army of Zhcted into our country.”
Though Olivier's expression showed his astonishment, he recovered quickly and spoke calmly.
“If we're taking care of this, what about the West?”
Without Roland and Navarre present, Sachstein's suspicion would become certainty. They would quickly attack. That much was easily understandable.
“Duke Thenardier will negotiate for a temporary armistice.”
“Indeed, if it's that man, he could...”
Olivier sounded dissatisfied.
“So, all we need to do is kill Earl Vorn.”
Roland spoke harshly.
Duke Thenardier was preparing to fight against Duke Ganelon. They could not move their soldiers without causing a problem.
“So how many are we bringing?”
Olivier asked his true intent, having heard his response to the messenger. Olivier could not immediately judge the severity.
“The entire army”
Roland responded curtly. Olivier gasped.
“All of Navarre?”
Olivier repeated his question.
“We will empty our fort?”
“Vorn seems to lead a five thousand strong army composed of Zhcted troops. It is said the undefeated Vanadis is a match for one thousand men.”
The names of the seven Vanadis were known even to Olivier and Roland. They were touted as bearing an uncommon bravery and were famed for not knowing defeat on the battlefield.
“It seems we are settling this rumor straight away... We should get within a one koku march and secure victory as quickly as possible. Duke Thenardier will be negotiating desperately, after all.”
Though the Knights of Navarre totaled five thousand, they were by no means average. They were considered amongst the strongest Knights in Brune.
Every day, they were trained in skirmishes at the western border.
Roland, bestowed with the holy sword Durandal by the kingdom, commanded those Knights at the young age of 27.
The next day, Roland drew the Knights to the courtyard.
Tigrevurmud Vorn had invited the Zhcted Army within the country, and there were several nobles aligning themselves with his cause.
“We shall first set off for the Royal Capital; however, our final destination is Territoire.”
Roland returned the [Sword of Invincibility] to its sheath and spoke with a deep voice.
“--- We will quickly attack the enemy and fall back.”
It happened in a dream.
In the dream, Eleanora stood near a river.
Before her eyes stood a beautiful girl; she placed her hand in the river and spoke with a smile.“Nice to meet you, Vanadis of the Silver Flash. I am Alexandra Alshavin. It is a pleasure.”
When Ellen was chosen as a Vanadis, her predecessor had already departed from the world.
They met for the first time, perhaps so she could teach what was necessary. Sasha – Alexandra, had deep black hair hanging to her shoulders. She spoke with a masculine tone and gave a strong impression.
Though the two had different personalities, they hit it off immediately, strangely enough. They started referring to each other as Sasha and Ellen on the same day.
“When crisis approaches, when the King commands, you will be bound. You will run to his aid. It is not a promise, it is an oath.”
In the dream, the two now sat in a small room.
Sasha, sitting before her, said to be cautious and not to abuse the Dragonic Skill. “It is a force beyond human intellect. If you rely too much on it, you will become mentally weak. Your mind and skill will dull.”
Ah, I vaguely remember this memory. It happened two years ago, when I became a Vanadis. This dream is no different from what happened.
“But... Can I really do this with just a strong will?”
“So long as you are confident; however, Ellen, it is not that simple. Remember, you control your will. The blade will not respond to a weak fool.”
Ellen tried to object from a different angle, since she did not simply wish to accept what was told to her.
“But if that's the case, I think it would be better to live alone so the soldiers don't die.”
Ellen's eyes gazed directly into Sasha's.
“The soldiers will not follow just you, but the ViraltDragonic Tool.”
--- Jeez, I can't win against Sasha.
Though I understood later, it was not a thought belonging to Sasha alone. Both Sophia and Ludmira had a similar feeling.
“Naturally, when a crisis approaches, I will use my body. There will be times when I can't help but use it to confront an enemy, but there are also times when the simple strength is needed.”
Ludmira spoke as usual. Sophia naturally spoke quietly.
“This is the skill of a dragon. The Vanadis can only exercise such techniques after obtaining a ViraltDragonic Tool; it is not my own. I will only use it when I have the proper opportunity. When thinking of it that way, it is natural for me.”
Based on what she was told, the Dragonic Tool was used in a manner opposite what she thought. Ellen continued to ask herself and finally came to a conclusion.
Arifal was not a simple sword; it has a will. If it deemed Ellen unworthy, it would immediately part from her hand, though she did not understand how it judged who was and was not qualified.
Currently, Ellen found her own answer.
“I should fight those who challenge me on the battlefield with ingenuity and skill.”
[Ley AdmosCleave the Wind] was a highly destructive power. It could cleave through the scales of a dragon, protect the Vanadis like iron, and deflect assassin attacks from the shadows. She had experience with it.
Still, it was not necessarily the right answer. Only two years have passed since she became a Vanadis. She worried about failing Arifal's expectations and continued to ask herself such questions.
The early morning sky extended slightly above the clouds, and a cold wind blew the dry grass.
Six thousand soldiers gathered on the west side of Territoire. It consisted of one thousand men from Brune and five thousand from Zhcted. A base was established, and in the center waved the BayardRed Horse Flag and the ZirnitraBlack Dragon Flag.
A large force consisting of troops from two countries was particularly conspicuous
It was divided into a place for the Commanders and another for the Vice-Commanders.
One barrack was set up for men and one for women.
Three girls were in the midst of waking in the women's barracks.
Brune had a relatively mild climate, but it was still quite chilly in the winter morning. Cold air and moisture was evident on the ground. The men wrapped themselves in cloaks of thick fur and blankets. Straw was dried out during the day for use and then burnt as fuel at night.
Amongst the three girls, one was a maid who served Tigrevurmud Vorn, the General leading the troops. Beneath her chestnut-brown, twin-tail hair was a childish face.
As noiselessly as possible, Teita passed her arms through the sleeves of her black and white maid outfit and left the tent quietly. In the silence, she could occasionally hear the soldiers stifling a yawn.
Wearing a dress and walking in the cold, her breathe was white. She moved about, loosening her body.
--- Tigre-sama must still be asleep.
He was the Lord whom Teita served and whom she intimately thought of. While imagining his sleeping face, she heard a voice from behind her.
“What's this, you're up already.”
After almost jumping up, Teita looked back.
Behind her was a girl with argent hair extending to her waist. At her waist was a sheathed longsword. She had some slightly disordered bed hair.
She bowed and spoke carefully; Teita's expression clearly showed her disappointment.
Her name was Eleanora Viltaria, known as the Silvfrau[Wind Princess of the Silver Flash]. She was one of the seven Vanadis of Zhcted Kingdom, and she and her soldiers were present in the encampment.
As a maid, she was not someone Teita could simply converse with, but she was candidly called out to. Tigre called her by her nickname, Ellen. As Ellen nodded in understanding, she noticed the pail Teita's held.
“Are you going to draw water now?”
Teita felt she was seen through, so she could not help but answer reluctantly.
“I'll go with you.”
“... Thank you.”
Amongst the six thousand strong army, there were only three women: Ellen, Teita, and Ellen's adjutant, Limlisha, who was currently still asleep.
Apart from Ellen and Lim, who held rank, Teita was not called for often. She tried not to act alone as much as possible.
Batran usually accompanied Tigre, but he was likely still asleep this early in the morning.
--- Though if asked, Batran-san will get up immediately.
However, he had taken care of Teita since she was small, She did not want to overdo things.
Thinking about it, she appreciated Ellen's company. Even in an army of six thousand, it was still dangerous to walk alone.
Teita and Ellen walked away from the soldiers on lookout and left the formation toward a narrow river to the north. They passed soldiers who were returning from drawing water. Teita walked silently, so there was no conversation.
--- If this were Tigre-sama.
Teita thought it easy to walk along with Tigre and imagined it.
Tigre's face, still showing signs of not sleeping enough, would walk next to Teita with a yawn. As she washed her smiling face, careful not to fall into the river, Tigre would turn and lightly pat Teita's chestnut-brown hair.
Just remembering the many exchanges they had in the past made Teita happy.
Suddenly, the wind blew. The beginning of winter coldly tickled Teita's neck. She sneezed involuntarily.
“Are you cold?”
Ellen voiced her question. Teita then felt a soft feeling wrap around her shoulders as Ellen took off her mantle and placed it on her.
“Th, thank you.”
Slow in expressing her thanks, Teita looked at Ellen curiously.
“You too, aren't you cold?”
She was wearing a long sleeved-shirt that covered her up to her shoulders and her legs. In comparison, Ellen wore a short skirt and had bare legs and shoulders. Still, though not thick, her clothes were made of several fine-quality fabrics.
“I'm fine. The winters in Zhcted are much colder than this.”
Teita did not know the weather in the neighboring country, so she could only nod absent-mindedly.
“By the way, Teita, I had a question I wanted to ask you.”
“... What could it be?”
Teita's voice was stiff. She prepared herself to respond, no matter what question might come.
“Do you like Tigre?”
The question was far too frank, so it easily pushed past the guard erected in Teita's heart. Teita's now crimson face looked back at Ellen as she shook her hands.
“Wha, what are you suddenly saying...!”
“There's no need to panic. It's not unusual for the maid to have feelings for her Master.
With her hands at her waist, Ellen looked at Teita happily. Teita, in a fluster, tried to protest.
“I am Tigre-sama's maid. Certainly, I have yearned for him for many years, but I do not find our relationship lacking....”
“Is that so. So is there someone he likes?”
Ellen moved on to the next question without hesitation. Without going further into Teita's thoughts, she shook her another way.
“I do not believe so. I have never seen nor heard of a woman frequently meeting with Tigre-sama.”
“He may be a 16 year old like me, but he's a noble with a territory, right? There haven't been any stories?”
Ellen showed some doubt in her face. Even if they were only 16, it was not abnormal to think of marriage. Furthermore, Tigre was not some youth on the streets. He had an obligation to continue his blood to prevent the eradication of the Vorn family line.
“Tigre-sama is a serious person.”
Teita spoke proudly, as if speaking for herself, though it did not last long.
“Though you say he's serious, he could still be interested in women. He seemed interested when he saw me naked.”
“I was bathing at a well.”
Ellen responded casually. Teita could not articulate naturally for a while. When she was young, she did not mind being seen naked, but, of course, that changed when she became aware of her femininity.
“Don't put on a face like that. He didn't come to see me, it was more of an accident.”
Was Teita's reaction really that odd? Ellen looked at her, nearly laughing. The chestnut-brown haired maid looked into the eyes of the Vanadis with reproach. Though mortifying, she did not have the reckless courage to show her bare skin to Tigre.
Looking at Ellen's body, she sighed inwardly. Though Teita's body was not unattractive, she could not match Ellen's bust size or thin hips.
They continued walking when a question suddenly appeared in Teita's head.
“--- Why are you worried about this?”
Ellen walked next to her, looking at her curiously. Teita made her question more direct.
“You as well, do you like Tigre-sama?”
Ellen's straight face turned rigid. Her wide eyes gazed at Teita. The wind fluttered through her argent hair, bringing her back to her senses.
“That's right. Well, I don't hate him, I guess....”
Ellen's fingers fiddled with her hair. Teita gently pushed forward.
“...So you like him?”
Ellen frowned slightly and crossed her arms.
“Liking him and not disliking him, it's not really that simple.”
“Certainly, but I believe I can apply that to you.”
Teita's words would not permit running away, forcing a small moan to leak from Ellen. Withdrawing her gaze and placing her hand on her longsword, she gently patted it as if touching the head of a small animal. As if in response, the wind of the Silver Flash lightly blew.
“Assuming I like Tigre as you say, what will you do?”
“That...I do not know, but---”
While overlooking the meadows, which were mostly a dull yellow, Teita continued to speak. It was not something she had thought much about.
“I am happy enough, so long as I can see Tigre-sama smiling happily, and, right now, you are necessary for that.”
She hardened her determination and stopped walking. Teita looked back at Ellen. With her face flushed, she looked strongly with her hazel eyes.
“That is why, I will remain by Tigre-sama from now on, and I will watch you. I will not forgive you should you do anything terrible to him!”
Teita understood. All Tigre needed were peaceful days.
He needed the soldiers to fight Duke Thenardier, an excellent leader, and food and water to maintain them.
Ellen could prepare them all, it was something Teita could not do.
Ellen was more necessary for Tigre in private as well.
It was precisely because she understood that she said nothing more.
Though Ellen looked at Teita in surprise, she burst out in laughter hearing the desires of the maid, one year her junior.
“Wha, what is so funny?”
Teita drew closer, strongly clutching the pail. Ellen smiled bitterly and shook her hands.
“No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make fun of your determination.”
Though she was envious of Teita's single-minded and brave nature, she could not say it aloud.
“I'm one of the seven Vanadis. Even if he liked me, we would just be too unbalanced.”
Though relieved, Teita had an expression showing her mixed feelings. Though it was her selfish desire, there was also an imbalance between them.
Though she was not necessarily seen through, Ellen looked at Teita with happy, bright red eyes.
“I wouldn't mind, but would you try to become his mistress? He's mine. There won't be anything interfering with us getting together.”
“No thank you!”
While Teita had spoken with a large voice and a crimson face before, she now turned her back to Ellen indignantly. She was being teased, but was surprised to hear of herself as a mistress. --- Tigre-sama, what should I do?
She had just told Ellen she would remain by Tigre's side.
However, seeing her and Lim, she was acutely aware of how little she could help.
Of course, it was a misunderstanding. Teita's role was not in the realm of warfare. She took care of personal needs, prepared delicious meals, and readied the warm beds for the tired individuals in the evening.
She was modest, to say the least. She did not understand the result of her actions. She never thought to ask Tigre.
“May I ask you one more question?”
With a question suddenly thrown at her, Teita panicked.
She felt a force weigh down on her.
Her heart beat rapidly, and even her breathing stopped as Ellen watched her. Because she was told to give up so suddenly, this silver-white princess was not being careless. Ellen, her red eyes shining curiously, asked Teita happily.
“What part of Tigre do you like?”
“Even his habit of oversleeping?”
Teita found herself at a loss for words. To disentangle the heart of the maid, younger by one year, Ellen spoke with a smile.
“I don't doubt your feelings, but as someone who has been by his side for years, I'm curious. What are his virtues, and what are his faults?”
Was it different from what Ellen found in Tigre?
“His gentle nature....”
When asked, Teita stopped her feet and looked up at the clouds in the sky.
“...I will tell you what Batran-san once said.”
Little by little, Teita formed her words.
“Tigre-sama has ruled the widely spread land of Alsace alone.”
Ellen wore a dubious face when she heard it called wide, but was immediately convinced.
Celesta, the city in the center of Alsace, was a place the maid rarely stepped foot out of. To her, Alsace must have been extraordinarily wide.
“When he became Lord, Tigre was a simple child, no different from any other. There were many who looked poorly upon him, though they were never angry. Still, I think it amazing.”
After a single breath, Ellen nodded silently, encouraging her to continue.
“He lost his father, attended the funeral, and, with no time to rest, became Lord. He had many people to help and worked many days without rest...however, Tigre-sama himself never changed. Thanks to that, I could continue to feel at ease with him.”
Tigre became Earl and succeeded his territory at the age of 14. He did not take time to mourn for his father and immediately took up his duties. Even so, there was pain, suffering, and conflict.
Still, Tigre's attitude did not change, touching the lives of Teita, Batran, and many others.
“When I saw that, I wanted to help Tigre-sama, even just a little.”
Ellen nodded in satisfaction hearing Teita's words. Her silver-white hair fluttered in the wind.
… Certainly, he's a very flexible person.
He doesn't let a situation pass, but he's not too self-assertive.
--- It's hard, as a woman, to tell if he's suitable or unsuitable.
She could only smile bitterly as she reflected upon Teita's story as well as her and Lim's reaction.
Teita called out in a rather conservative voice, restoring Ellen's presence of mind. She gazed at the maid's hazel eyes. There was a wariness within them. Thinking about it, she had given an expression that was not quite expected. Cheerfully, Ellen tapped Teita's shoulder.
“I'll have to give you my thanks. I'm liking the boy more and more.”
Teita's face was shocked. Ellen laughed once again.
“I'm feeling good. When I return to Zhcted, I can leave him in your care.”
When Limlisha awoke, Ellen was heading out. Though she tried to accompany her, naturally, she was refused.
Reluctantly, she wrapped herself in a blanket and waited until the scheduled wake-up call.
“What if an assassin aimed for your life?”
Though she wanted to say that so that she could accompany her, Lim had fallen when a group of assassins attacked her the other day.
Despite the chill of the early morning, she quickly washed her face with water and cleaned her golden hair as she passed her left hand through it. She changed clothes and wore a thick, blue, overcoat as a measure against the cold.
She told herself it would be fine. Ellen was not guarded by only herself. There were many soldiers watching over the area, and she had the ViraltDragonic Tool granted to the Vanadis. Even if a poisoned arrow flew from great distances, Ellen could defend against it.
She clutched her favorite stuffed bear, which could fit in her hands, to calm her mind. Lim left the barracks with her sword at her waist. When she asked for Ellen's whereabouts from the soldiers beside the tent, she was told they still had not returned.
--- What should I do?
She asked herself. She seldom hesitated.
At present, there were others who could assist Ellen. It was not like everyone was asleep at this time, except for perhaps a young man who slept until noon. He had still not gotten rid of that habit, so Lim had to scold him on more than one occasion.
--- I suppose Eleanora-sama will be fine.
Beneath the wind were two banners fluttering. She called for the soldiers on guard.
“Is Lord Tigrevurmud awake yet?”
As expected, the answer was negative. She was told someone was sent.
In the large tent, the young, red-haired man was wrapped in a blanket, breathing deeply and quietly. His black bow was propped beside it. Though there should have been an elder man serving beside him and a young maid, neither could be seen. Perhaps they already left.
“He really is a deep sleeper....”
Her voice was positive as she spoke in amazement. Lim compromised and got to her knees before Tigre, lightly shaking his shoulder.
“Lord Tigrevurmud, it is already morning. Please wake up.”
There was no reaction. Either he was deep asleep or he was catching up on lost rest.
“The soldiers have already begun preparations for breakfast. As the General of an army, how can you oversleep?”
She scolded Tigre with cliched words. She shook him more strongly, but received no reaction.
--- The last time, I thrust a sword into his mouth.
Tigre, at the time, was a captive, and Lim was strongly hostile. She could not do it now.
For the two...Their relationship changed a great deal in a short amount of time.
Comparing the past and present, she indulged in a strange, deep emotion.
Tigre, General of the forces, was taught by her. Lim noticed her position and was slightly surprised.
“Really, you are a mystery.”
With a smile, she brought her hand from Tigre's shoulder to his red hair and gently stroked it. Tigre did not wake up, but distorted his face as if he had an itch. He brought his hand to his head.
Or so it should have gone.
Their hands overlapped.
Lim deeply and involuntarily inhaled and gazed at their hands. Warmth came through her hand; her face dyed red. Many seconds passed like that.
“Wake up, Tigre. I came to get you personally.”
At the entrance, Teita and Ellen rudely walked in. Lim shrank out of surprise and looked back at her Lord with argent hair.
“If it isn't Lim. Why are you here?”
Though it would end if she said she came to wake Tigre, she was shy from what had just happened and could not speak. Lim looked up in confusion as Ellen walked toward her with narrowed eyes.
“You, even if he's difficult to wake up, to try and pull his hair....”
“I was not---”
She tried to suppress her intense emotions and spoke with a large voice, pulling a few hairs out of his head as she shook her hands.
“Tigre-sama, are you okay?”
Confused by the situation, Teita ran up to Tigre in a hurry. After confirming his well being, Teita looked at Lim accusingly.
Unable to remain still, Lim bowed deeply and apologized for her impoliteness.
“It's fine, though try to limit it so I don't go bald.”
Tigre's response was mixed with a yawn; Lim was saved at last.
In the tent, there sat one young man and three girls surrounding a map.
Ellen, Lim, Teita and Tigre, making four people. After Tigre had breakfast, they held a meeting, though Teita was only present to remove the meals.
“Four days have passed since we reached these plains, have we found anything?”
The meeting began as usual. First, they would hear Lim's opinion, whose turmoil from the morning disturbance was now gone. She looked at Tigre and spoke in a straight expression and voice which did not display her emotions. She was young, only 19 years old, yet she was well versed in political affairs and the military arts.
“There were many troublesome issues, but nothing serious.”
Tigre responded in a calm manner. He was 16 years old and had rather short, dull hair and dark eyes. His features were sober, and his mild smile suited him well. He wore ordinary hempen clothes with leather shoes and looked no different from any villager in the area.
This was how he always dressed, though he was a General commanding six thousand troops.
“The number of fights has increased and our food and fuel are getting tight. That is the current situation.”
“Don't forget, your debt is increasing.”
Ellen added those words with a straight face while sipping some soup.
“What we eat isn't free, after all.”
The stewed soup was made with two kinds of salted fish and mussels and three herbs. Though the salted fish was strong enough to make it difficult to eat, the taste became moderate once boiled.
The breakfast also included a hard bread and cheese as well as a bit of wine. The soup was the only thing different from the soldiers' rations.
The food was bought from the towns and cities in the vicinity. Also, not a single person from the Zhcted Army showed his face. The Brune soldiers were the ones in charge and took control of the Zhcted gold.
“We have entered Territoire which is under Viscount Augre's command. If we asked, we could requisition food and fuel, but I would rather not cause any trouble for the locals if possible.”
That was the general consensus.
Very few Brune nobles were willing to aid Tigre. Tigre's soldiers, the soldiers of those intimate with him, and the soldiers Viscount Augre was able to procure numbered one thousand.
They were now all gathered together.
“By the way, Lim.”
After finishing her soup, Ellen looked to her expressionless subordinate.
“Do we have a formal name for the army?”
Lim frowned lightly. Though it was difficult to see such a minor change, Ellen and Tigre noticed.
“I don't think that is a particularly important issue, but....”
“No, I just thought they could be called the Unstoppable Silver Flow[Silver Meteor Army].”
Ellen smiled happily as she continued egging the two on. Lim and Tigre noticed her intent to tease them.
--- The Silver Meteor Army, is it....
It seemed to be a fairly exaggerated name for the army Tigre led. Lim was reluctant to agree.
Before the soldiers under Augre's care joined, she was questioned on what to call the army.
“The core of the army are Lord Tigrevurmud and Eleanora-sama. I think it fine to call it [The Alsace LeitMeritz Allied Forces].”
Lim proposed that. Tigre also considered it in his own way.
“We can't forget the aristocrats who helped us, so it might be best to call it [The LeitMeritz and Feudal Lords of Brune United Army].”
“With that kind of name, there won't be any morale. What do you think the soldiers would say to these names?”
Ellen rejected the idea while sighing deeply with an exhausted expression.
“Then, do you have any ideas, Ellen?”
And so, Tigre asked Ellen. Ellen nodded with a confident smile and spoke her thoughts.
Although there was a dissenting opinion, since there were no alternative names, it was decided the name of the army would be the [Silver Meteor Army]. Tigre aside, Lim did not seem satisfied to the very end.
“Si, Silver, Meteor....”
Though Lim's expression did not change, her voice was small as she squeezed those words out. Tigre decided it was a bit pitiful and offered his help.
“Regarding our conversation of food and fuel a moment ago, how much do we have left?”
Lim showed relief on her face and nodded to Tigre. Though Ellen noticed what Tigre was doing and sharpened her eyes, she listened without saying anything more.
“As we are equipped now, we will last for twenty days, though we have a little leeway on our money. Because of that, we should be able to manage through the winter, so long as the neighboring towns continue selling goods. However, we will have problems should anything unexpected happen.”
“What do you mean?”
“For example, if some aristocrat commanding two or three thousand men allied with us, we would not have the food ready.”
Imagining what might happen, Tigre's expression darkened. Though he welcomed more allies, the consumption of food would also increase.
“Also, we will be in even more trouble if Duke Thenardier interferes with the distribution of food and fuel.”
“Though it is possible Duke Thenardier could do so, it is unlikely.”
“While the townspeople are generous, we should still consider measures.”
When Lim finished, a young Knight entered.
The man was tall and had a well appearing face, but there was no hair atop it. He seemed proud, looked on with a fearless attitude, and spoke with an imposing tone.
“Lord Tigrevurmud, it looks like we've got a bit more trouble.”
He spoke to Tigre in a somewhat happy tone.
“Really, Rurick, what is it this time?”
In contrast to this Knight – Rurick – Tigre stood up with a wearied look. Hanging the quiver to his waist, he grabbed his black bow.
“I will return and finish my meal. Please leave things as they are for me.”
“But your soup will get cold.”
“It's good even when cool, since you made it.”
He responded with a smile. Teita looked up with an embarrassed face. Tigre glanced at Ellen and Lim.
“I'll be back in a moment.”
“Got it. Hurry up and take care of this.”
Ellen waved her hand comfortably. Lim, next to her, silently rose.
Just by calling to her, Lim was held back.
When Tigre and Rurick left, Ellen watched as Lim set the soup aside.
“These days, aren't you hanging around Tigre a bit much?”
“I suppose that is the case.”
“Before, you would have said he failed in dealing with trouble and would withdraw his meal.”
“We are on a battlefield. With battle possible at any moment, I cannot afford to say such things.”
Lim responded curtly before sipping her wine.
“...Like I thought. Did something happen? Well, he is the first person to have felt your chest, and he even sucked out poison from them.”
Lim choked. Though she did not spit out her wine, she coughed several times as Ellen glared at her lightly.
“I could say the very same of you. You were quite defenseless, Eleanora-sama, when Lord Tigrevurmud saw you bathing, as well as when he pushed you down---”
Lim suddenly stopped speaking, having felt the weight of someone's eyes on her. Teita held the tableware, her face pale, as she looked at Lim, urging her to continue.
Lim looked back shyly before gazing at the floor. She stood up, finished her wine in a single gulp, and placed it on the table.
“...I will have a look at the troubles here.”
“Shouldn't you say you'll be helping Tigre?”
While sipping her soup, Ellen responded in a clear, unyielding tone.
“This will be a good experience for him. With his experience, six thousand troops is just about right. If he fails, you and I can manage it somehow.”
“You are willing to let him fail?”
Hearing Lim's question, Ellen looked up with a dangerous smile on her face.
“Everyone will face the frustration of failure at some point. Even you and I have, I believe.”
A faint, bitter smile floated to her unsociable face as Lim bowed.
Ellen finished her soup and gave the bowl to Teita. After that, she noticed the woman with chestnut-brown hair hesitating.
“I will say this for him, but I told you it was a bit different while we were drawing water this morning...I think.”
“I, I see. I suppose you're right.”
Though she nodded, she was still dubious.
“If you have difficulty ignoring these things, it's fine to ask Tigre.”
--- I will leave this to Tigre. It should be just the right amount of experience.
Having him away nonchalantly, Ellen sipped her wine calmly.
“This is the cause of the fight?”
Clutching his black bow, Tigre left the tent with Rurick. He carefully asked so as to hide the bitterness in his expression.
A line of soldiers lined up outside the tent. As the General of the army, even if he was in a bad mood, he could not express his emotions so openly.
The smoke of cooked foods silently rose and disappeared in the morning sky.
While walking next to Tigre, Rurick pointed to the sky. Tigre looked up at the cloud.
“This is a first for me.... One of the Brune soldiers noticed the cloud. You can see it resembles a horse.”
“I see. So what about it?”
He spoke as if it were obvious. After all, Tigre was born in Brune as well.
“It is like Bayard, the horse found on the battle flag of Brune Kingdom.”
The founder of Brune Kingdom, Founder Charles, rode Bayard, a magic horse with a red body and black mane. It is thought he mounted his steed and rode about the domestic grounds, anywhere in an instant. It was said at his postmortem that his soul had run to heaven.
“In our country, it is a sign that Zirnitra has passed by.”
Tigre looked satisfied.
Zirnitra was the Black Dragon of Zhcted Kingdom. The King who founded the country was an incarnation of Zirnitra according to his proclamations.
“So, for some reason, this little argument erupted, and now people are fighting?”
“Right now, nothing has happened, but the atmosphere is tense.”
Tigre listened to Rurick's words, who was clearly amused. The bald Knight seemed interested in how Tigre would handle the situation.
Though, normally, the General should not deal with such issues, the reason Tigre came to personally address the situation was to acclimate himself to his position in the army. He would rather not leave everything to Rurick.
This was especially true if it dealt with a quarrel between soldiers.
He arrived at the scene and saw the trouble. The Zhcted soldiers outnumbered those of Brune by nearly ten to one. They were glaring at each other with their teeth bared. As Rurick said, though they were not fighting, the atmosphere was volatile.
Tigre stopped his feet, took an arrow from his quiver, and nocked his bow.
“Are you aiming at their feet?”
Rurick asked a dangerous question. Actually, if he shot an arrow at their feet, it would hardly be a threat. It would be more intimidating to shoot it at the level of their line of sight. Regardless, the legends of each country were inconsequential.
“A wounded person can't fight. I have no reason to injure anyone.”
“Certainly that is true....”
After speaking, Rurick looked at the arrow in Tigre's hand, showing interest.
“What is that?”
“It's an arrow I received from Viscount Augre. Apparently it whistles.”
The arrow had a slightly different shape from usual. Below the arrowhead was an oval nut with small holes cut into it.
Tigre casually drew his bow string to its limits and shot the arrow to the sky. The mysterious sound blared in the wind, similar to the song of a bird.
The arrow flew in a small arc and stopped right before the soldiers, who were stunned by the strange sound.
“--- What is this commotion?”
After confirming they were no longer heated up, Tigre called out in an overbearing tone. To suppress their hot-blooded nature, it was necessary to act a little aggressively. He was well accustomed to such things as ruler of Alsace.
Though the soldiers wore awkward faces, they appealed to him and expressed their opinions. It was as he heard from Rurick.
“In other words, the disagreement comes from whether that cloud is an omen of Bayard or Zirnitra? Is that really the source of your dispute?”
The soldiers nodded seriously. They all looked for Tigre's reaction. All the young soldiers were curious how their General would act.
Hearing Tigre's words, the soldiers responded with vacant faces. They twisted their heads, since his answer did not follow Brune Scripture.
“... Is that fine?”
“Whether it's Bayard or Zirnitra, not everyone here has heard both stories. It's appropriate enough that you think it can be both.”
His words cut through their momentum. Tigre was fairly well versed with the mythology of Brune, but he was not particularly knowledgeable of the myth of Zirnitra. Lim, his teacher, postponed the details of the old stories.
“Whether it is Bayard or Zirnitra, you can think of it in your own way, but if you wish to disagree, I will be more than happy to be your opponent.”
The soldiers glanced at the ground where the arrow was thrust.
“No, we have no objection.”
The Zhcted soldiers withdrew first. They knew of Tigre's skill with the bow, and they noticed Rurick's presence.
“I hope none of you have anything more to say.”
Beneath Tigre's gaze, the soldiers of Brune withdrew. Though they despised the arrow, they could do nothing before Tigre's attitude.
“Very well. As punishment for this commotion, today and tomorrow, all of you will have a reduced supply of fuel.”
It was a light punishment. Neither opposition nor complaints were raised.
The soldiers scattered. As Tigre retrieved the arrow, calm returned to the surroundings. Rurick walked next to him and whispered praise.
“That was well done.”
Tigre responded with a sigh and bitter smile.
“It was likely due to the gaze coming from behind me, right? Thank you.”
“I was simply offering words of gratitude. There was no need to say anything for that level of action.”
“Even if it is trivial, it is proper to acknowledge your action.”
“Even if it is justifiable, its importance will decrease. It is no different from saying you love a woman. There are times when you should and should not use it.”
Tigre smiled sarcastically after hearing Rurick's words.
“That's an easy to understand comparison.”
The army within Brune, the [Silver Meteor Army], had an odd configuration of forces. A foreign army composed more than 80% of the troops, and the General was an obscure 16 year old.
Though it was obvious quarrels would happen, Tigre's opinion was naive.
While building their camp, more than two dozen commotions had occurred that Tigre was not aware of, probably even more.
Neither Brune nor Zhcted had large differences in language, and most of the Gods they worshiped were the same. Though there was hope the two would be able to work together, minor differences sparked larger conflicts.
There was not too much a problem between Alsace and Territoire, but the remaining soldiers were from the Zhcted Army.
However, no one was interested in causing a fight, since they were the core of the army.
Though Viscount Augre could mediate between the two forces, there were places his eyes never reached.
“It is a bit poor to say, but it might be best if the battle arrived earlier.”
Rurick spoke with a wry smile. Tigre seemed to ignore his words as he shrugged.
He wished to move to Nemetacum, three days west, but Tigre did not move. To be more accurate, he could not move.
There were several reasons. Massas had traveled to the Royal Capital, Nice, and there was no contact. That was the largest concern.
If he were to fight against Duke Thenardier, it would be necessary to sever any connection with the King. Ideally, he should get permission, but it was unlikely to happen, especially since he invited the Zhcted Army into the country. He still needed to make his justification clear.
Tigre could assert his justice by speaking up, but, unfortunately, he had no influence.
As an aristocrat of Brune, it was necessary for him to obtain approval from the King.
When the tent came into sight, Tigre was stopped by a voice from behind.
--- What trouble is there now?
Ruffling his red hair somewhat aggressively, Tigre turned back to see a young soldier with a tense face.
“I come here under the name of Marquis Greast. His excellency wishes to speak with you, Earl.”
Tigre inclined his head. He had never heard the name, but it was necessary to correspond courteously if he were a Marquis.
“Did you come alone, today? Or did you come as Marquis Greast's attendant?”
Tigre thought he would have come alone, though it was arbitrary.
“... For the time being, he wishes to meet with you immediately. A table and chair has been prepared two hundred alsin away.”
Not knowing whether he was an ally or not, it was obvious why he was being cautious.
After listening to instructions from the soldier, he walked at a brisk pace. Tigre entered a tent accompanied by Rurick, the soldier allowing entry at once.
A bright light shined inside the tent. An elder gentleman wearing loose-fitting clothes quietly sipped porridge. He looked at Tigre and smiled like a good-natured grandfather.
“I apologize for my poor manners, but it cools quickly. I hope you can pardon my actions.”
“No, I apologize for interrupting your meal.”
Tigre responded with a smile. Rurick stood a half step behind and nodded silently while kneeling before Augre. Tigre immediately explained the situation with Marquis Greast. The smile disappeared from his face.
“That old bastard, Greast?”
“Do you know of him?”
“I have met him a few times before. I would have to say he is Duke Ganelon's right-hand man....”
The wrinkles on his face increased as he explored his memory. He then remembered he had a dish of porridge and a spoon in his hand.
“Right, we received a letter from Massas. Ganelon's army has advanced toward Alsace. He wrote of Marquis Greast as well.”
Tigre's complexion changed. If Massas had not stopped their movements, Ganelon's army would have reached Alsace before Thenardier's. The news would not be good.
“What will you do?”
“For now, I will listen to his story. It would be bothersome to let things be.”
“In that case, allow me to accompany you. I will see if this Marquis Greast is the real thing.”
He wore his wooden geta and followed after Tigre.
The air was unnaturally dry and the room was dimly lit.
In the dark, a small elderly person wrapped in a black robe flipped through a book. A normal person would be absorbed in deciphering the characters which were difficult to read.
He was in a room in Duke Thenardier's mansion.
The elder's name was Drekavac. He served as a soothsayer for the Duke for the past few years. Many considered him an odd doctor. Only Duke Thenardier, who employed him, knew of his true ability.
Drekavac silently flipped through the pages. Suddenly, his slender fingers stopped, pinching a wrinkled page. He noticed someone approaching the room.
The door opened without any greeting. Before it stood a young man.
“Hey, it's been a while.”
He raised his hand and spoke with a jovial voice. Even in the dark room, it was easy to tell he was a man of medium build. He wore thick clothes, decorated with fur along the collar and sleeves, and a green turban wrapped about his head and his short, black hair which hung to his shoulders.
He took steps in a calm manner. He gave the impression of being an elusive individual.
“So you came, Vodyanoy.”
With his back turned, Drekavac stated his business promptly.
“Do you know of Molsheim Plains in Alsace? It is to the northeast.”
“Ah, that's where the boy lost miserably.”
Vodyanoy responded, his smile not receding even a little.
“I want you to go there.”
While Drekavac continued to flip through his book, he continued speaking.
“I want you to retrieve the VyfalWyvern corpse that dropped in the marshes there.”
“The Dragon's corpse? What of the boy's corpse which fell alongside it?”
“It does not matter.”
The old man in a black robe spoke as if he were talking about a roadside pebble.
“You only need to bring me the Wyvern remains.”
“Oh? Why are you suddenly interested in this?”
While playing with his green turban, Vodyanoy voiced his question.
“I am bothered about something.”
Drekavac, continuing his thoughts, spoke in a gloomy tone.
“There were two bright light there. I understand one came from the Vanadis, but I have not heard of the source of the other.”
Vodyanoy waited for the rest of the story, but Drekavac spoke no more. Understanding he should not pursue any further, the youth shrugged his shoulders.
“The Vanadis... It seems the Silver Flash is in the country. What will you do?”
A dangerous light shined in the boy's eyes. Drekavac perceived the change in the man standing behind him.
“I will let others take care of that. Regrettably, we cannot win that battle.”
“Oh? Who in this country could oppose the Vanadis?”
“The Black Knight Roland, the man who possesses the Durandal[Sword of Invincibility].”
Hearing Drekavac's answer, Vodyanoy had an unexpected reaction.
“I wonder if that burden will be too heavy.”
“It cannot be helped. There are no weapons to oppose a ViraltDragonic Tool other than the [Sword of Invincibility]. The legend of our country states it was a weapon created by God, bestowed to the founder, who remained ignorant of its utility.”
Looking back at the old man laughing with a muffled voice, Vodyanoy, shrugged his shoulders in his mind.
“So... you want me to dive into that swamp? It's not exactly a pleasant job.”
The answer was as anticipated. Drekavac removed his hand from the book and pointed to the corner of the room. There, bags of gold received from Duke Thenardier lay on the ground, as if casually thrown aside.
Vodyanoy smiled from ear to ear. Walking to the corner nimbly, he used both hands to take gold coins out of the bags.
He held them as if in love and dropped them into his mouth. The sound of coins rustling could be heard as they traveled down his throat.
When all coins were swallowed, Vodyanoy bowed to Drekavac in an exaggerated manner.
“Thanks for the business.”
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