Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 06 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 - Tallard Graham
The moon rose higher and the village was almost wrapped in the darkness of the night. Only in the face of the street entrance was there illumination, where a campfire was constructed in that corner of the village.
Around the campfire were three people: Tigre, Olga, and Matvey. They alternated guard duty, and now Olga, wearing a cloak, rolled in a thick blanket and lied down.
Several village girls secretly brought blankets a little while ago. In addition to that, they prepared portions of bread and cheese and left hastily as they put them in a place slightly away from Tigre. It was as likely as not an expression of their gratitude for saving them.
While throwing kindling into the fire pit to fuel the campfire, Matvey opened his mouth.
"What should we do?"
It was the matter concerning Olga. Tigre shook his head while tearing the bread which the village girls left.
"Do you know anything about the Vanadis Olga Tamm?"
"I don't know," said Matvey, shrugging his shoulders.
"I swear allegiance to Alexandra-sama, and I also admire Eleanora-sama who is intimate with Alexandra-sama, but I am not interested in the other vanadis. Just like how a mere villager does not care for the great lords of far-off lands."
"I see. Thank you."
Looking up at the night sky of stars twinkling, Tigre sighed.
He did not think Olga's statement to be a lie. He did not think she was the kind of girl to say such ludicrousness in light of the situation, and it was also much too erratic considering it not to be true.
Moreover, he could be convinced having already seen her strength and that axe.
---If I remember correctly, she became a vanadis at the age of 12 and left the country soon after...
When living in LeitMeritz, he had the opportunity to hear from Ellen about other vanadis.
However, she too did not know much regarding Olga. Rather, she did not seem to harbor much interest since they had only met each other once. In addition, there was the fact that the territories they both govern were quite far from each other. Ellen also said that she did not know the reason for her trip.
Even when asking Olga herself why she came to this country, she only answered that it was for personal reasons.
---Really, what should I do...?
At that time, what Tigre saw at the distance immediately shut his thoughts. Small red lights could be seen in the darkness. There were three of them.
"Considering the size, it should be torch fire."
Aware of Tigre’s gaze, Matvey also looked to the side. The light that seemed to be a torch had been heading their way.
"If those are Germaine's soldiers, then they responded quite fast."
"There were those guys' peers in the vicinity, they serve as retaliation and warning, and moreover as concealment... Aren't there too few torches for that?"
Hearing Matvey's speculation, Tigre nodded and checked his black bow. If they were planning a night raid, they would not have prepared torches and they would boast their prowess in large quantities if they threatened them.
Olga, supposedly asleep, abruptly stood up. Though expressionless as usual, she did not seem to be half asleep.
"I pray to the gods that they are not."
Then soon after, two of the three torches stopped while only one flickering in the darkness approached. Tigre nocked an arrow and then he cried towards the torch.
The torch halted. In the darkness, came the voice of the young men accosted.
"May we come there? We are only two here. We will put down our weapons."
'He sure has guts', was the impression that Tigre held for the owner of the voice. There was a campfire at Tigre's feet, so they should be able to see that he set up a bow and an arrow. Nevertheless, the other party's voice was still very calm.
After confirming that Olga and Matvey held their weapons, Tigre answered them to come. The sound of armor clattering approached, and as they had said, there were two men who appeared. One of them was a short blond haired and transparent blue-eyed young man of about 25 years old. His suntanned face was sharply and severely tightened, and mixed in his look were ambition and curiosity. He was a young man with a medium build who looked grand in armor.
The other was a thin man who seemed to be somewhat older than the young man. With gray long hair casually tied up with a string, he was wearing armor that seemed heavy. His long face and thin sharp eyes were reminiscent of a fox.
"We would like to know who among you the messenger of a foreign land is."
The young man rotated his neck in inspection with a smile in his whole face. Tigre withdrew his bow after confirming that the two men were unarmed. However his right hand was still holding an arrow and the bowstring.
"That is I. My name... You may call me Tigre."
"Tigre, eh?. I am Tallard Graham. This thin man here is my subordinate Kress Dill. Are those two people your followers?"
"Did you say Tallard Graham?"
Before Tigre could answer, Matvey, surprised, openly gazed at the young man.
"Don't tell me that the Lord Tallard, the invincible man under Prince Germaine who accumulated victories in succession is you?"
Incidentally, Tigre recalled that he was told such a story on the ship. As for Tallard, he joyfully brightened his eyes, turned toward Kress Dill standing behind him and said with a smile.
"Did you hear that, Kress Dill? Even foreigners already know my name."
"There are currently people who still come to our country. It would not be strange for them to know it."
Kress Dill sullenly answered in contrast and turned his thin eyes to Tigre.
"Tigre-dono. You say you came to meet with His Highness Germaine, but can you tell us, here, for what kind of business?"
"Before that, I want to confirm one thing."
Tigre carefully asked. There were several points that he was very concerned about.
"What is your rank?"
It was in the early afternoon that Tigre and Olga drove away Prince Germaine's soldiers from the village. The time passed had, at most, been only half a day. Even if Prince Germaine's stronghold, Valverde was close, the response was too fast.
Moreover, from Tallard's face no feelings of anger or hostility could be seen from his face. Even though there was a reason to be, as more than ten soldiers were murdered here.
"I am a commander of a hundred cavalrymen. To put it plainly, I am not that great."
Putting a hand on his waist and stretching his chest, Tallard answered quite indifferently. A commander of a hundred cavalrymen, as the literal meaning says, refers to the command post of one hundred cavalry. Tigre frowned, Matvey was dumbfounded and Olga curiously tilted her head. Rumors about his invincibility did not match at all with his status.
"Though I say it myself, I'm very confident with my connections, you know? If it's proper business, I can negotiate with Prince Germaine so that you can meet after two or three days."
Tigre did not say anything and just pondered. Tallard was bright and merry, and his words and deeds were indeed very attractive. However, Tigre could not rely only on these to trust him.
---Do I try and be honest here first?
"Before that, I want to make something clear. Your friends who attacked this village were killed by me with this bow. On this point, what do you think?"
"Speaking of that, I did not thank you yet."
Tallard suddenly put on a serious face, after straightening his posture, he bowed with Kress Dill. Tigre was surprised and confused by his behavior and his words. Olga and Matvey were also not able to hide their surprise.
"For having saved this village. Also I thank you for eradicating the scoundrels."
And thus, as he raised his face, the blond haired commander of hundred cavalrymen made a deep sigh.
"I was also trying to eradicate them myself. Due to the fact that Prince Germaine lets them run loose, it happens from time to time."
While scratching his head at the remark that sounded more like a complaint, Tigre and Matvey exchanged looks filled with admiration. That statement he just made, clearly criticized Prince Germaine. His subordinate Kress Dill was just standing there silently, not even trying to blame Tallard.
"As for trying to eradicate them... How concretely?"
"First of all, we would try to persuade them, and if they don’t listen, we label them as bandits and crush them."
Tallard made a fearless smile, and answered as if it was a matter of course leaving Tigre dumbfounded. After laughing for a while, he put on a serious face again.
"Let me say one thing, I don’t speak like this with just anyone. It's simply because I show respect for the actions you took in protecting a foreign village that I also told you what I really think here."
"We did not save the villagers, we only protected ourselves, you know?"
Tigre said so because he hadn't yet discarded his doubts about Tallard. He intended to come to a conclusion based on his reaction to these words. Tallard made an impudent smile and answered as followed.
"If that is true, then you should have run away from here long ago. But this way, you waited at the village entrance in order to protect them from possible retaliation... Isn't that so?"
For some time, Tigre silently stared at Tallard. If the behavior and speech of this commander of a hundred cavalrymen was an act to entrap them, this way was too unexpected.
"Please tell me just one last thing. It was at noon today that we drove away the soldiers that attacked this village. How did you come so fast?"
"It can be said to be a lucky coincidence. I was patrolling around the outskirts of Valverde for the maintenance of public order, and then I met the party who escaped when I happened to pass by this neighborhood and heard the story. Though it can be said that it was rather unfortunate for those fellows."
"What did you do to them?"
"If the commander or adjutant were still alive, they would be punished. I asked them to group up to five or six and act as serfs for the border village. I will forgive their crime if they are honest for one year."
"Indeed." Tigre consented. There was no doubt that it was their misfortune.
"I understand. I will trust you."
To Matvey who asked confirmation with a look wondering if it's alright, Tigre slightly nodded. He took out two rings from his bag and handed them to Tallard.
"I'm a messenger from the Kingdom of Zchted. However, I can’t stand a public statement."
Tallard who received the rings showed them to Kress Dill standing behind. Kress Dill’s thin eyes reminiscent of fox furthermore narrowed.
"... There is no mistake. It's the seal of the Kingdom of Zchted."
"Understood. Well then, I will have you come to Valverde with the pretext of hearing the story regarding the matter of this village. Is Tigre-dono fine with that?"
Tigre did not immediately answer to Tallard’s words and looked to Olga. The pink-haired girl silently nodded.
After waiting until dawn, Tallard met the village chiefs and the murdered villagers. He heard from them the circumstances in detail and promised compensation to the village. His attitude didn’t have a bit of pressure, his words were very clear, and the villagers looked relieved.
Afterwards, the trio left the village with Tallard at noon, and it took a long time to reach Valverde.
A group of eight, led by Tallard, walked through Valverde's main street. Tigre and the other two were therein. The destination was of course Germaine's Castle.
As for the impression on Valverde, it was, in a word, ordinary.
The walls were high and thick, the large walkways paved with no crevices, and the town has a water supply and sewage systems. In terms of urban functions, it can be said to be fully equipped, but it was not luxurious.
"It gives the impression of a gray town."
Overlooking the street scenery, Matvey couldn't help but express such a feeling. The walls of the buildings standing in a row were gray and used dark brown brick for the roofs. The stalls dotted along the street were similarly colored. There might be a slightly drab image of this city in such a place.
"This is better. His Highness Germaine would be restless if it was too busy."
Seeming to hear Matvey's words, Tallard came their way. There was a bow in his hand. His left waist was girded with a sword and his right with a quiver.
"Anyway, I have always wanted to ask... Tigre-dono."
Tallard stood next to Tigre and ,with his blue eyes, looked at the black bow and asked out of great interest.
"Of what is it made? It has been bothered me since I saw it in that village. It doesn't seem to be made of yew or elm."
Both are trees often used as bow materials. Tigre shook his head.
"Actually, I don't know, either. It is an heirloom passed down from generation to generation."
He didn’t mean to show off about the incredible power of this bow. Since, above all, even Tigre himself didn't yet fully understand it.
"I see. However, seeing the fact that you only have a bow, you must be very confident. If anything, I am better at this than a sword, too"
Saying so, Tallard flipped lightly the bowstring of his bow, and showed it.
"As you are a messenger of Zchted, it would be inconvenient, but I do want to have a match if there is an opportunity."
"That's true. If there is an opportunity."
Thinking it to be a little regrettable, Tigre answered with a smile. It has been a long time since he met a man good at archery. Perhaps since Rurick.
After engaging in a heated talk about the bow for a while, of the greatest prey shot down thus far, and who shoot an arrow the furthest, Tallard suddenly changed the topic.
"Tigre-dono. What do you think about this city?"
"Just looking at it from the road, I cannot say anything, but it is good to be surrounded by a forest and the hills."
From Valverde's north to east stood slightly elevated hills in a row with, with a deep, black forest opening to the west and a river flowing through the south.
When Tigre answered so casually, Kress Dill, who strode in front with Tallard sharply glittered his eyes.
"Oh! So you already saw through the difficulty in sieging and the ease of protecting of this city?"
Tallard inwardly admired such a statement for Tigre who looked puzzled, and at the same time realized that the other party misunderstood his intentions as it was understood immediately. To the battlefield, it is indeed just like he said.
"No, actually that was just my opinion as a hunter..."
"Don't be so modest. As expected, it is worthwhile that you were chosen as a messenger."
Lowering his voice to the latter half of his speech, Tallard friendly patted Tigre's shoulder. Tigre, a bit confused, scratched his darkish red hair and finally decided to just forget it. It was probably nothing serious.
"Anyway, why would Prince Germaine choose this city as a stronghold?"
While engaging in small talk with Tallard, Tigre straightforward suddenly asked this question. The structure was indeed very strong, but judging from the distance to the coast, it was hard to say it was safe. If Prince Elliot led his troops and marched to the mainland, it would immediately become a battlefield.
"Well, that's simple. It's because he advanced toward the interior of the continent after having moved away from the center of Asvarre."
Tallard answered in a natural tone. Olga, walking behind, tugged on Tigre's sleeve, whose person had tilted his head not understanding the meaning of this sentence. She was still wearing the turban over her head, covering her face. While whispering, the vanadis user of the axe said.
"...To summarize, the center of Asvarre is the island."
"That small one understands well. In other words, it's like that."
As Tallard laughed in admiration, Tigre finally understood.
"Prince Germaine couldn't bear leaving the center of Asvarre."
Prince Germaine himself believed that he was the King suitable for the next generation of Asvarre. Probably, his pride would not allow setting up his base too deep into the continent after being driven from the island.
"There are two more reasons. One is that Fort Lux is about two days from here to the northwest. General Leicester who serves the Prince is protecting that area with three thousand soldiers."
"Even if Prince Elliot's troops want to cross over, they must break through the port city of Mariajo, as well as Fort Lux."
While drawing a map in his head, Tigre nodded.
"In the same vein, the second reason is because this Valverde is the first city that was made into a base when Queen Zephyria invaded the mainland. It is within reason to share good fortune in the "Supreme King"'s achievements."
When Tallard spoke of "Supreme King", Tigre couldn’t help but stared wide-eyed. Because in the blond hair young man's eyes seemed to shine a light of strong emotion.
"...But this place is also near the border of the kingdom of Sachstein."
To Tallard's reply, Olga raised such a question. When Tigre came to his senses after hearing her voice, the drive that appeared in Tallard's eyes disappeared without trace.
"That's right. But, for these last few decades, there's been no conflict with Sachstein in the vicinity of Valverde. If you ask why, it is because they have no reason to attack us."
Tallard gladly explained so, while drawing a map in the void. Seeing his behavior, Tigre re-thought thereupon if it was just his imagination (of seeing the drive in Tallard’s eyes). Tallard continued.
"The main highways which connect Sachstein and Asvarre pass along the south by far rather than this Valverde. The advocacy of war for the border was always there. Besides, trying to capture this city shall be quite time-consuming. Therefore, as a base, it is quite good."
In that instance, a shout came from the street calling for Tallard. Tallard cheerfully answered back and walked over with a smile. Matvey quietly whispered to Tigre.
"He's a really popular man."
Tigre, thinking the same thing, slightly nodded.
Tallard has been already accosted several times since they entered this city. It was either a bar girl, or middle-aged male artisans, or even soldiers on patrol in the town and so on, and they got some good wine, and talked about daily topics such as "the taste of that dish of that restaurant is very good" in a certain shop.
---I understand that he is sociable, but... It is a strange feeling.
Judging from his brightly dignified behavior, let alone the fact that he is a commander of hundred cavalrymen, this could even make people think that Tallard was the lord of this city.
While fiddling with such concerns, Tigre saw the castle. Though modest, it looked like it was of a sturdy structure, with the Asvarre Red Dragon flag fluttering on the spire.
"We've finally arrived..."
Tigre took a deep breath and then immediately tightened his face. From now on, things would become difficult.
After being kept waiting in front of the castle gate for a half koku, the trio entered the audience hall where Prince Germaine resided. The hall with the depth was also simple and sturdily made. The decoration lining the walls and the floor was likewise very modest.
Inside, only both the luxurious chandelier installed on the ceiling as well as the deepest seat decorated with jade items gave off a magnificent brightness.
The chandelier had two folds of silver rings inside decorated with gems, and the silver rings, lined up with the candle light reflecting off jewels, cast a fantastic light to the floor. The throne also used plenty of raw silk, and beginning with pearl and coral, it was gorgeously decorated with a variety of jewels.
The man sitting down on that throne was Germaine. He was 27 years old this year.
The first impression that Tigre held of him was something round. Either the outline of his face or his protruding belly.
Though one could say that his face was beautiful. However, probably because the meat stuck too much, it felt like it has left glimpses of the time it had a beautiful shape. His physique was the proper size, that’s why his belly size seemed more unnatural.
The elderly man standing quietly next to Germaine should be the chamberlain, and beside him holding two spears in both underarms, were five knights in armor standing side by side. Though Tigre's black bow and Olga's axe were entrusted to the guards at the castle gate, should they do something suspicious, they would immediately be surrounded.
"I hear you are a messenger from the Kingdom of Zchted."
A hoarse voice emitted from Germaine's mouth. Tigre bent down on one knee on the spot while pushing forward to give the letter which he prepared. Olga and Matvey followed suit.
"In response to a request by the King of Zchted, His Majesty Victor Arthur Volk Estes Tsar Zchted, I have come. I am Tigrevurmud Vorn. As I am still unfamiliar with Asvarre's language, please allow me the use of a translator."
Matvey fluently conveyed Tigre's words in a careful tone. The chamberlain stepped forward, received the letter, and trotted back to the Prince of Asvarre's side.
Germaine seemed to be more interested in Tigre than the letter, and while pulling a slightly sarcastic smile to the edge of his mouth, he asked.
"Raise your head. Now, I have indeed received the request... Is what I would like to say, but was this 'request' not a 'command' from your monarch?"
"It is to the Kingdom of Brune and Her Highness Queen Regin that I pledge my allegiance. There is reason for my residency in the Kingdom of Zchted."
And then Germaine finally took a look at the letter in the chamberlain's hand.
"How specific would be the support? It is fine to mention "support", but those words alone are not enough."
"If you agree to establish friendly relations with us, you will see warships of Zchted Kingdom lined up in the east sea a month later. Brune will also take advantage of the point of sharing the border with Asvarre, and support his Highness for victory."
The latter half of his lines seemed to be concrete, but in fact was not. Tigre also had to use rhetoric of this level.
"I see. But, the Kingdom of Zchted is backing that bastard Elliot. One of the seven vanadis of that country visited him as an official messenger and should be staying there."
Probably not able to suppress his anger, the face of the prince of Asvarre, as he said his younger brother's name, was distorted with rage, and his voice full of malice, couldn't mask his irritation. However, Tigre did not panic or get anxious. Not that he could boast about it, but he was accustomed to this level of animosity.
"That's why we came here not as official messengers, but as secret messengers."
"Is that so? So in order to secretly come, you had to kill my soldiers!?"
A spiteful sarcastic remark was thrown from the throne. After an interval of a breathing time, Tigre calmly answered.
"We only merely protected ourselves."
In Germaine's round face, nobody noticed his eyes emitting a violent light. Regardless, Tigre and the two others (Olga and Matvey) lowered their head, because the chamberlain was also near. However, only Tigre and Olga for an instant felt to their skin that a strong hostility was released from the throne.
"If it is about the vanadis... Here we also have a vanadis."
At Tigre's words, Olga immediately stood up and saluted.
"I'm the Vanadis Olga Tamm who is granted the Land of Brest by His Majesty Victor. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
As Olga expressed her greetings, Tigre on the bow posture thanked her. Seemingly unable to hide his tension. Her expression was not comprehensible, but her statement was careful, and her intonation solid, too. So, it should be okay.
It was Olga herself who proposed to reveal that she is a vanadis. "Why would you do something like that?" asked Tigre. "I want to see Prince Germaine closely" she answered.
"Oh! You were a vanadis, huh. I thought you were a pet child."
After Germaine expressed derision, he scenically mended these words.
"No, that was rude for me. However, aren't you a little too young? To think that you are fit for the battlefield is..."
"Then, could you return only my axe that is in custody at the castle gate now?"
"What are you going to do after we return your axe?"
To Germaine who lied on his back with legs outstretched on the throne, Olga answered while looking left and right.
"Whether anyone here among the knights here can beat me or not. Let's have a competition in martial arts - Rather, I don’t mind even if it is 10 vs. 1."
Tigre, also surprised at this utterance, raised his head, and the knights who were standing in a row right and left also expressed excitement If it was only the first half of her challenge, they might have laughed at the brave provocation of the girl pretending to be tough and called it off, but they could not overlook it when she said "10 vs. 1".
One of the knights handed his spears to his nearest comrade and stepped forward. He was a particularly well-built man even among the knights. Olga understood that he had a sturdy body even from the armor.
"Your Highness. Please excuse my rudeness, but I would like to show here to those foreigners our military might, by all means..."
The knight didn’t take his eyes off Olga while appealing to Germaine. His face turning pale in anger under his helmet and he tightly grasped his fists firmly.
"Well, Vanadis-dono, if you can boast that you can deal with ten people, then you won't have any troubles fighting only one opponent barehanded, right?"
"Please, wait. About her rude words, let-"
Tigre was trying to break in between in a hurry, but he was stopped by Olga's hands and pushed aside. In front of a man who had nearly twice her height and moreover had a sturdy body with armor, she was so calm that Tigre and Matvey were surprised.
"Your Highness Germaine. Is that alright?"
She even had the composure to ask permission towards the Prince of Asvarre on the throne. Olga was expressionless as usual and did not seem to be frightened in the slightest. But all the people who were in this place except Tigre and Matvey took it as bluff.
Germaine also had his deduction. This was a great opportunity to cheaply buy Zchted's proposal. Although she said herself to be unreliable, it was Olga who provoked the knights.
Each knight who was standing in a row here were those whom Germaine trusted, and who had considerable amount of skill. Because of this, he prepared the site to greet foreign emissaries. Moreover, they were generally very irritable. Even if having a child as an opponent, they would not go easy on him, and would batter him without mercy.
Germaine, revealing a cunning smile, called the knight's name.
"Even Vanadis-dono said so. As a knight's courtesy, don't do something like going easy on her."
He decreed as such, while thinking the knight would end it in only one blow. He should stop if he did more, but intended to observe the situation at first.
Tigre and Matvey, as Olga said, distanced themselves from both of them (Olga and the knight). Tigre decided to break in if anything happened to her.
The knight moved before Olga finished talking. He clenched his fist with metal gauntlets and brought it down with full force. Olga, not only had she easily seen through to escape, she also caught the man's arm and pulled it back.
An earsplitting shrill sound echoed in the audience hall. Germaine and the knights became befuddled, and Tigre and Matvey revealed a relieved sigh.
At the Olga's feet, who was calmly standing, the knight was on the ground.
Olga broke down his posture by pulling the man's arm, and furthermore used his weight to throw him out. She lightly poked with her fingertip the forehead of the knight, who had a stunned look.
"With this, it has ended - Do you still want to continue?"
The knight angrily stood up and again struck at Olga. This time she did not avoid his fist. She caught it with one hand.
They were a man at a prime of his life and a 14-year-old girl. Moreover the man was wearing armor. Germaine and the knights of course, but even Tigre and Matvey who thought to have understood her prowess stared in wonder.
The knight gritted his teeth and loaded his right arm with power from both legs. But Olga's body did not budge an inch, as if it was strengthened with a stone.
Suddenly, Olga twisted her hand. A metallic sound again echoed in the audience hall, and the man was flung against the floor. The pink haired girl without a single drop of sweat coldly overlooked the knight.
"Do you still want to continue?"
While she said the same lines as before, it sounded like it increased with a bit of coldness for the people who heard it. The knight was trembling in humiliation, but he also understood he would just become more miserable from what she said.
"-Oh, that was brilliant skill. As expected of a proud vanadis from the Kingdom of Zchted."
Clapping his hands, Germaine praised Olga. However, his smile was forced, and there was also no strength in his voice. The prince of Asvarre didn’t still completely believe the scene unfolded before his eyes. But, he had to continue the negotiation based on this reality.
When Olga came back to her original position, she got down on one knee before Germaine as if nothing happened. Tigre and Matvey also followed. When the knight stood up, he shrank his shoulders as he was ashamed and went back to his friend's row. The knights received him with sympathetic looks.
"...Well then, let's return to the negotiations, but there is something I want to hear. Why did you choose me and not Elliot? You were siding with him just till recently, no?"
Dispelling immediately the awkward atmosphere, Germaine asked. Tigre calmly answered.
"Half of the soldiers which Prince Elliot commands are pirates."
Pirates' damage wasn’t only limited to Asvarre. Since they rampaged across the entire area of the North Sea, even Brune and Zchted suffered the damage. In the autumn of last year, Sasha and Elizavetta, who are vanadis, had jointly subjugated the pirates.
Germaine snuffled and folded his arms. As a Prince of Asvarre, he knew that pirates were a troublesome existence.
"It is a reason easy to understand. No, I am not blaming you. Rather, I admire you. If you had started talking about legitimacy, I would have just sent you away."
While loosely touching his chin, Germaine thoughtfully continued.
"In return to Zchted's and Brune's support, there are the friendly relations with both countries when I become king, the non-aggression pact, the pirate extermination in cooperation, and furthermore the support against Muozinel, huh... Of course, I want to deepen the relations with both countries, unlike Elliot who is the boss of the pirates. For that, I have to defeat that man as soon as possible, return to the Capital, and hold the coronation ceremony."
Afterwards, Germaine cut his words for a moment and shook his head.
"I want you to wait two... no, three days. I understand that the situation presses, but I must consult with some people for such a major matter. Relieve your fatigue from the trip for the time being until then, since I have already prepared a certain mansion near this castle."
Hearing Germaine's words, Tigre slightly inhaled. Although most of the business for which he was asked was now settled, there was something he absolutely wanted to ask.
"We express our deep gratitude to His Highness. Anyway, there is one thing I'd like to add."
Matvey slightly moved his head and gazed, and turned a dubious face toward Tigre. Germaine, on the throne, also looked puzzled.
"What is it? State it."
"It is about His Highness' soldiers committing acts of violence against civilians."
Silence descended. But Tigre pretended not to notice the tense atmosphere. This of course was not among King Victor's instructions. It was the emissary's dogma. Aware of that, Tigre continued.
"Assuming that both armies of Zchted and Brune may come to this land to help His Highness later, it would be somewhat troubling if the resentment and anger of the civilians were directed to us... I’m aware that the people of this land are His Highness’s subjects, but would the soldiers' distinction be set to them?"
In order to give forth the latter half of his lines, Tigre had to bear the bitterness. However, it was because he thought of this reasoning, that he was about to shoot the arrows to the soldiers in that village. He had to say it, also in order to protect the people of this land.
"...Your complaint is justifiable. Here also, we do not want foreign soldiers to harm civilians and villages."
While saying that they came to help unrelated towns or villages which plundered because of war, and injured people, raising it under the pretense of military gains with the presence of the “friendly troops” wasn’t something unusual now and then.
There is the stratagem, with which the enemy who burnt a town spread rumors that it was an act of friendly forces, and if there was no clear evidence, it was also difficult to protest. Considering it, Tigre’s request wasn’t so unreasonable. However, there was also no doubt that these words would provoke Germaine's wrath.
"I understand. I will send notification that such actions will be carried out in due time."
"I deeply appreciate His Highness's consideration."
And that was how the audience with Germaine ended.
The mansion where the trio was guided was of firm structure, though it was small.
There were many rooms in the two-story building, and every room was finely cleaned and had a feeling of purity. It matched Tigre's preference that interior decorations and furnitures be not flashy. Thankfully, Germaine's castle is also close.
If there was one dissatisfaction, it was that it was leaving the premises is prohibited.
"The peace and order of the town are perfect, still it is just in case. In addition, you are not official messengers. Please, kindly wait for His Highness's answer in the mansion."
The servant who acted as the caretaker of the trio said so respectfully. It was reasonable, so Tigre could do nothing but withdraw obediently.
He put his baggage in the back room of the second floor and Matvey and Olga looked around in the mansion. When they looked at the outside from the window of the corridor or the room, the soldiers in armor who guarded the mansion were noticeable. Now just at sunset, their shadows on the ground gradually stretched.
"...Under house arrest."
"It's understandable. As we are unofficial messengers, they want to limit out contact with people as much as possible."
Olga narrowed her eyes unpleasantly while Matvey, also frowning his strong face, groaned. To these two, Tigre, with a slightly mischievous smile, said.
"Will it be bad if we sneak out?"
"It's not that it's not bad, but can you do it?"
At the surprised look of the translator sailor, Tigre nodded happily. When small, he often escaped his father's eyes and ears and slipped out from the mansion where he was born and raised. Even recently, he sometimes slipped out of LeitMeritz’s Imperial Palace secretly several times with Ellen.
"Roughly four weeks in this situation when I looked around briefly, as long as there is a rope, it's possible to go out from the window of the second floor. Besides, there are likely to be other escape routes. It is already late today, so I will try it tomorrow."
"I will go, too. If it is about a rope, I have one in my luggage."
Olga immediately requested the peer. After Matvey looked down on his body, the man twisted his tough look with a rare lonely visage. Even if he took off the seam of the white dolphin in the crimson coat back, let alone his face, his large build and tanned colored skin would still stand out.
"I will stay here during your absence, since it's necessary that someone be here to perplex the servants."
Tigre expressed his gratitude and gently patted his shoulder to cheer him up.
"Sorry, but we will count on you for tomorrow. If we successfully slip out, we'll search for a path where even you can sneak out."
The next day. Tigre and Olga began the operation at noon. They managed to bypass the eyes of soldiers who guarded the mansion, and successfully slipped out. They both wrapped themselves in slightly soiled overcoats, and pretended to be travelers. However, they did not lay down their black bow and ViraltDragonic Tool.
"For the time being, let's go eat."
Tigre chose a random shop and walked over there. Since grilled eel and boiled potatoes were sold, he bought two servings of each and gave half to Olga.
"...They have also eel and potatoes in Asvarre, huh."
Staring steadily at the skewers, Olga leaked such an impression. They were foods also common in both Zchted and Brune.
"Since we have a meal, it wouldn't be good if the first thing we eat does not suit us."
So answered Tigre to Olga with a smile while nibbling the potatoes. The inside was hollowed and cheese was put in. The heat melted just enough of the cheese over the potatoes giving a wonderful taste and flavor.
On the other side, Olga nibbling eel, after stopping for a while, uttered a regretful voice while still expressionless.
"I only taste eel."
"Are you travelers?"
While putting new potatoes in the cauldron of boiling hot water, the potato seller asked. Tigre nodded.
"We are brother and sister. We have an acquaintance in this town, so we came to visit him."
"So, you don't know yet, huh. The food seasoning of each town, except for the bread, is different. As such, everyone here makes their own seasoning."
The potato seller shackled his jaw. There were mats spread on the ground with several pint bottles. When they told the characters that they could not read, the potato seller would carefully explain.
"Starting from the left are salt, vinegar, fish sauce, cheese, pepper, animal tallow and honey. Please select your favorite."
Tigre and Olga bought a handful of salt, and left there. Apart from their carefree trip along the way, they didn't have the guts to try other flavors in their present situation.
After meeting their dietary needs, the two people finally revealed a happy face. They were not walking into the main street, but went into the alley, and experienced about all kinds of things or ate. At the street corner, they listened to a bard singing songs of heroic battles, and watching Sachstein's clown puppet performances.
Other notable things were armed soldiers and mercenaries in heavy armor. Among them, though it was still early afternoon, there were also those who were walking and released smell of beer from their whole body.
---It would be better not to head too far from the main street...
They might hit a land filled with mercenaries. Unless they were outstanding opponents, they have confidence to repel them, but there was no need to go to dangerous places from themselves.
Tigre found a shop, and went there with Olga. It was the so-called second hand shop, the kind of junk shop that sells things mainly needed for traveling.
Coats and tailoring props, ointments, tinderbox, daggers, and so on, there were all kinds of things, but Tigre's aim was a quiver and arrows. After leaving the port town of Mariajo, hunting, as well as the fight in the village consumed a lot of arrows. Olga, seeing this, also purchased a tube quiver.
"Can you use the bow, too?"
"Though not as good as you."
Olga coldly replied to Tigre who turned a gaze full of interest. Feeling a childish side in her lines containing traces of frustration, Tigre couldn't help but smile.
"How was your journey? I think it should be safe up to this neighborhood."
While receiving the payment for arrows, the shopkeeper asked in a flat tone. Tigre decided not to speak about the soldiers' violence.
"Fortunately, it was safe. But what do you mean when you said "up to this neighborhood"? Is it, after all, because the security became stricter since His Highness the Prince came?"
"No, not because of that."
To the question that Tigre raised, the shopkeeper shook his head with a wry smile.
"It's because of General Tallard... Though now he somehow managed to become a captain, that person patrols around the city. I don't know when you will go back, but be careful on your way back. Since by leaving two or three days later from this Valverde, neither the army nor bandits will change."
"Thank you. We'll be careful. However, is that man Tallard so great?"
"Yeah. Even with a fewer number than the enemy, as long as General Tallard leads the soldiers, he will certainly win. But, it's not only that. Unlike the others Generals, he doesn't do things like looting or violence."
As he happily said so while showing his teeth, the shopkeeper suddenly shrugged and whispered.
"I cannot say it loudly, but... due to his complaints to His Highness the Prince to stop the looting, there are rumors that spot his demotion. So, it's better not to go around asking people."
They thanked the shopkeeper and left the shop. After walking down the street for a while, the two people found an uncrowded bar and entered. Though it was a small shop, the customers were not people such as mercenaries or soldiers, but instead mostly residents of the town.
They selected a table on the corner and sat facing each other. As they heard there was fruit wine among the kinds of liquor, they ordered it for two people. After that, they also ordered pickled cabbage and herb-baked cod.
The shop was very lively and , judging that other customers couldn't hear their voices, Tigre asked Olga a question.
"What's your impression after seeing His Highness Germaine?"
"Judging with that audience alone is a bit difficult... But for me, he wasn't a very good reference."
As the girl lightly answered without any change of expression, Tigre scratched his darkish red hair. In a sense, one could say that she was a very straightforward child. Rather, she just didn't speak because she wasn't asked anything and there was no point hiding anything of her own.
"What about you, Tigre?"
As Olga started to speak, fruit wine was carried over. It was poured into rustic cylindrical mugs to the brim.
Tigre gave priority to the toast, and expressed words of gratitude for her service in a gentle tone. The vanadis with light pink-colored hair ,after overlapping the glasses, blankly looked at the reflection of her face in the fruit wine.
"Just now, when you asked me about Prince Germaine, I had the feeling that it was the first time you've asked me anything."
"Yesterday at noon, didn't I inquire about your identity?"
And thus he learned that Olga was a vanadis.
"After revealing I am a vanadis, I thought you would be more inquisitive."
Tigre did not immediately reply, and as he was drinking the fruit wine and settling his words, he said.
"There is a saying that "A hen won't lay eggs early even if urged"."
It was something he once learned from his attendant Batran. Olga slightly moved her expressionless face, and curled her lips like an upset child.
"Even if the hen someday lays eggs, there’s no guarantee that it will speak someday, right?"
"But I believe you will talk to a certain extent."
After soaking his mouth with wine and moistening his lips, Tigre continued.
"Whatever the contents, regardless, the initial negotiations have ended. I should report to King Victor in Zchted and I will also give your name. I'm not doing so because I'm not good at hiding secrets, but rather because you were of a very great help."
The psychological impact given to Germaine by the existence called "Vanadis" was not small. Although the excessive provocation was also a problem, the strong effect that a delicate girl of such short stature was able to fling a big man to the floor twice should dispel whatever worries may arise.
"As far as I see, you are a reliable child. I think you should know what I just said meant, and you won't leave without saying anything. In that case, I intend to wait until you feel like speaking. In due time, anyway, but I still have time."
"...You overestimate me too much."
Olga shook her head. A lonely smile appeared on her mouth.
"I'm just a coward. Anyway, how much do you know about me?"
"Well, was it called 'Brest'? You are the vanadis who governs that place. And you left the country about one year ago. This is all that I know."
The Vanadis Olga Tamm left behind only a note saying that she left for a trip and disappeared with her ViraltDragonic Tool. He heard so from Ellen. Olga laughed in self-derision.
"Almost two years, huh. Though I didn’t check the specifics, such a Vanadis is probably unheard of."
A dish was carried. The steam of baked herbs instantly blew away the smell of the vinegar which assailed the nose.
Watching the waiter leave, Olga opened her mouth.
"I know a little more about you. You are the noble who rules Alsace in the northeast of Brune Kingdom, and your title is Earl. You borrowed the army of the Vanadis Miss Eleonora of LeitMeritz and splendidly suppressed the civil war in your homeland, and are currently living underneath Lord Eleonora as a guest General. Moreover, you are close to Miss Ludmira of Olmutz and Miss Alexandra of Legnica."
"You really know a lot."
Tigre stared in wonder, Olga smiling happily confessed after.
"I heard it from Matvey. Knowing that I am a vanadis, he willingly told me."
Tigre inwardly cursed the translator who was looking after their home in the mansion. He did not mind that Matvey told her, but he wanted to convey it to her himself. Though he probably thought he forgot it since he was him, and while he didn’t do it intentionally, he was likely to talk about it tonight.
"And while I was on my trip, I heard many rumors about you. The SilvrashStar Shooter who drove away the overwhelming Muozinel army. The LumiereKnight of the Moonlight that helped the Princess and led her to the throne. A modern hero. I should have noticed the name “Tigrevurmud”..."
"Though that hero's image is very much real."
Tigre revealed a troubled smile while removing the bone from the cod. It was indeed embarrassing when someone said to him face-to-face that he was a hero.
"In this, adding my personal impression of our trip, you are quite a nice person, and your skill with the bow is more than what the rumors say. Though late, let me apologize for the reckless remark on board the ship."
Though Olga slightly bowed, for a moment Tigre did not remember what reckless remark that she was talking about. Seeing Tigre's expression, the Vanadis followed up with a comment “about the seabirds” afterwards, and Tigre finally remembered.
When she vigorously emptied the porcelain cup filled with fruit wine, Olga wiped her mouth and continued.
"I did not intend to hide it. Even though I know this much about you, it's not fair that you only know so little about me... Although it is questionable, such a dull story, whether or not it will become the alcohol's side dish, will you listen?"
Tigre thought it was quite a circuitous expression, but she was also upset and confused. A 12-year-old girl wandering for two years. Tigre smiled and slowly nodded.
Still, Olga did not immediately talk. Seeming to think about something, she was staring at the empty ceramic cup. Maybe, she was trouble on how to begin her story.
After Tigre emptied his ceramic cup, he ordered two refills of fruit wine. The waiter came holding a big bottle of fruit wine and poured the contents into Tigre's and Olga's cups, respectively. He quickly turned his back and walked away. Olga finally spoke under cover of the noise in the shop as the sign.
"Tigre... Have you ever thought of becoming King?"
Tigre was not able to reply at once to the unexpected question. He frowned and stared at the vanadis of light pink-colored hair with his mouth wide open. To that reaction, Olga displayed the same lonely smile that she showed earlier.
"Neither have I"
Olga was born in the Eastern part of Zchted. In the vast grasslands in the easternmost end of Brest.
"Tigre, do you know the tribe of Horse Riders?"
"Do you refer to those who live by hunting and nomadism? They seem to keep a large number of breeding sheep, horses, and camels ..."
"I come from the tribe of Horse Riders. I'm the current patriarch's granddaughter."
A century ago, the Kingdom of Zchted fought with the tribe of Horse Riders in the east, and subjugated them. The Kingdom gave them a pastoral land, and charged them to pay a certain amount of sheep and silks every year as a tax.
"Sooner or later, either I will be the next-generation patriarch adjuvant or I will become the head of the next generation... Everyone around me and even I were thinking so, and for that I had to learn a lot of things."
The idea collapsed when she was 12 years old.
"It was the end of a summer night. As I was asleep, when it suddenly became bright, I opened my eyes."
Olga turned her eyes to the axe wrapped in the cloth which she leaned to the side.
"This fellow appeared. I took it up, knowing that I was chosen as a vanadis"
Olga explained to her family and, led by the ViraltDragonic Tool Muma, left the meadows where she was born and raised for the first time. The tribe of Horse Riders celebrated that Olga was chosen as a Vanadis and saw her off.
And just like that, Olga visited the Capital Silesia and after formally being recognized as a Vanadis by King Victor, she went to Brest that was her territory.
"It seems that the previous vanadis passed away two months before the ViraltDragonic Tool appeared before me. I thought that there might be trouble for a girl of only 12 years old, and moreover a 'person of the tribe of Horse Riders' becoming a monarch, but that was nothing but groundless apprehensions. I was warmly welcomed by many civilians and military officers, and thus I became the vanadis of [Houju no GenbuCurse of Reversal] Muma and the Lord of the dukedom Brest."
Though she was anxious, there were many people supporting her there. The tribe of Horse Riders have to learn to unite the ideas and methods, and along with their assistance, it would definitely be smooth sailing.
Remembering the celebration of her becoming a vanadis, and the face of her family who saw her off, Olga tried to step forward as a ruler.
"I first looked at the maps. The map of Brest that I govern and the map of the whole Kingdom of Zchted. And then, I came to understand my arrogance."
At the sight of the two map sheets, the girl who just became a vanadis was stunned.
"The meadows where I lived for 12 years... were very, very small."
While looking at her face reflected in the fruit wine in the ceramic cup, Olga self-depreciatingly laughed.
"The thought and the ideal image about Kings and rules are things I built up in that small world called meadows. Besides, as I said earlier, even jokingly have I never thought of becoming King. It is impossible for such child's dreams to work in that big world called Brest. Thinking so, I helplessly became afraid and fled."
Leaving a note behind, she went for a trip with only her ViraltDragonic Tool for the sake of becoming a suitable vanadis.
"So that's how it was." Tigre understood. This girl was much too eager.
Tigre vaguely remembered the time when he took over after his father.
He was at 14 years old. His father's death was something sudden, but he had Teita and Batran close to him. Massas also often took care of him.
Adding to the fact that Olga was 12 years old, she parted with the family which she was living with till then, and would spend her new daily in an Imperial Palace where she had never before set foot. Even if the government officials warmly welcomed her, the pressure might have been considerable.
"To be frank, I don't even understand well myself why I took Muma. It is a shameful story, but I also have regrets of what I abandoned. On the other hand, if Muma parted with me by its own will...... I thought it would be a lot easier. Regardless of which are my true feelings."
The young girl's voice trembled with bitterness.
"Besides, even if the vanadis is absent, Brest can somehow manage on its own."
--- As expected, Brest also has such a system, huh.
Without speaking his thoughts, Tigre pondered. In the half year that he lived in LeitMeritz, he heard from Ellen and Lim about the flaws in the vanadis' system.
--- 1. Though currently vanadis, even the vanadis herself doesn't know when she will no longer be a vanadis. 2. Since the ViraltDragonic Tool chose the vanadis, she cannot appoint a successor. 3. It may take time, before a new vanadis appears.... That's about it.
The fact that it's a vanadis who succeed another vanadis can't continue forever. When the ViraltDragonic Tool judges so, it will leave the vanadis's side. But for example, Toki no SojinTwin Blades of Demonic Force Bargren which selected Sasha as a vanadis has not so far left her side.
In addition, Ellen's predecessor who was a vanadis and Ellen do not have any relationship. They never even met. Just the fact that people of a same family like Mira, her mother and her grandmother continued being chosen as masters of the Hajya no ZenkakuSpear of Evil Death was rather exceptional.
To solve such a problem in the vanadis' system, the vanadis who ruled each dukedom got the line stem in governmental bureaucracy, so to speak. There was also the idea of dispatching magistrates from the kingdom during the vanadis's absence, but the idea encountered resistance in various aspects, and up to now there was no dukedom which required such a precedent.
"I don't know what it is to be king. How should a king be, how should a government be..... My journey takes that into account and it became something for which I search."
"Didn't you visit the other vanadis? For example, Ellen."
As Tigre casually asked, Olga made a wry smile and shook her head.
"Then, it will become a talk of vanadis to vanadis. Since it's not a friendly relationship with them, I cannot let other Vanadis grasp a handle on me. Still, they also want to hide their identity and it's very difficult to see them."
After saying so to Tigre, the girl of light pink-colored hair added.
"I have great respect for Miss Eleanora. She became Vanadis at the age of 14, and despite her origins of a former mercenary, she admirably governed LeitMeritz. There are many places where I can learn."
"You should say that directly to the person herself. I'm sure she will be glad. After, she would be shy and embarrassed."
Folding his arms and thinking about the vanadis with silver-white hair blushing while averted her gaze, Tigre suddenly came up with an idea.
"Do you want to try to meet Ellen by disguising yourself as a traveler? I can help you, if you don't mind."
Olga, surprised very much by this proposal which seemed like a joke, the 14-year-old Vanadis steadily stared at Tigre with her eyes wide opened.
"This is a rare... But is it alright?"
"It should be okay. Since you will hide your identity and meet her, of course you don't have to talk about anything. But regarding Ellen's ideas over political affairs, I think you can ask about points like what she thinks of doing with LeitMeritz."
Olga ,noosing her mouth with a comb expression, was seriously thinking. Tigre continued.
"Ellen's rule cannot be said to be perfect. Even in the scope of my knowledge, she also made errors and failed. But she doesn't ignore this, she corrects her mistakes and thrives in her failures. And she thinks to make it better. That's why a lot of people help and support her."
"... Are you one of those persons?"
Olga happily smiled and Tigre, startled, pulled himself together. Looking at Tigre scratching his head to gloss over his embarrassment, Olga, while raising the sake cup up her mouth, muttered that she was envious (of Ellen, of course). Her voice was too small and it did not reach Tigre's ears.
"Okay. Let's do that, when this matter ends."
While moving her gaze to the ViraltDragonic Tool beside her, Olga said so in a voice tinged with expectation.
The next day, Tigre and Olga stayed in the mansion and Matvey alone slipped out into the town for inspection. Even though Tigre and Olga found a byroad yesterday and the intimidating translator sailor managed to escape, the two people were still half amazed and half impressed.
Since a half koku, the servants of the mansion knocked on the door of the room of the trio every one koku to ask whether or not there was anything they need.
Tigre and Olga, answered them "there is no problem" outside of the room without letting the servants step into the room, even when standing on the door, They devised it so that the inside of the room may not be visible to them, and they pretended that Matvey spent the whole day sleeping on the bed.
Matvey came back at sunset when darkness fell over the grounds. He was in a good mood when he slipped out, but now his face was full of tension.
"How to say this... I heard a lot of bad news out there."
Just to make sure, after confirming that there was no one outside the room, Matvey told Tigre and Olga the information he obtained. A fragment of afterglow was strongly illuminating the indoor corner.
"There are rumors outside that General Leicester defending the Fort Lux joined Prince Elliot's camp. If this is true, then the situation we're in is quite dire."
Matvey drew a simple map with a finger on the table.
"If the port town of Mariajo is sacked, it is only two days from Valverde. Stopping the enemy would be Fort Lux's task, but if the rumors are true, then the enemy will be able to march straight at once. There are also rumors that the fleet led by Prince Elliot showed up in the offing near the port town."
The three people looked at each other. Olga asked a question.
"Prince Germaine should also know the importance of the Fort Lux. I don't think that he would let a person who would easily betray him take up that defensive position."
"I feel the same way, but it's also hard to say that Prince Germaine’s army is united. It was Lord Tallard who guided us to the Prince, but it seems that he was a general who lead five thousand soldiers before."
"I have also heard about that. It seems that he was demoted because he tried to persuade the Prince to stop the looting and the violence of the soldiers employed."
As Tigre butted in and said so, Matvey heavily nodded.
"It appears to be a fact. Lord Tallard seems to be skillful on the battlefield to the extent that he is called "the undefeated strategist", and the faith and hope of the soldiers are also high. These are also the reasons for such demotion..."
Tigre felt a chill run down his spine. If these two rumors were true, then it was a situation where Prince Germaine's army would not be at fault to the end. Now there was no margin of error for the negotiations taking a long time.
"Though I should get an answer tomorrow... Can we wait until dawn to leave the city?"
"Yes. But the north is dangerous. We don’t know when Prince Elliot’s army will appear. To the east - Even though we will deviate from the highway, we will arrive at Brune if we go straight to the east."
Deviating from the highway, they wouldn’t just lose sight of the way to follow, but it also meant that the chance of encountering a horde of beasts or bandits drastically rose. But if they stayed in this city, they might encounter an even greater danger than that of the beasts or bandits.
"Is there other news? If it’s the good sort, I'd appreciate it."
Tigre briskly asked Matvey in attempt to change the mood. The sailor of the White Illuna similarly showed a heinous beast-like smile.
"There is, if you say it like that. Prince Elliot and Muozinel joined forces."
"…Is that supposed to be good news?"
"If this rumor reached Prince Germaine's ears, won't he be more willing to collaborate with our country?"
Tigre inwardly sighed. Matvey revealed a smile that seemed to be a wry smile. If it was a fact, isn't it likely to be already too late?
"These rumors might not necessarily be true. In fact, after asking around here and there, I heard a completely different story. That Prince Elliot, due to his careful character, did not yet move, that the defense of the Fort Lux is perfect, and that General Tallard was demoted, because of his ambitions and so on..."
After speaking up to there, Matvey sank into silence. Olga silently stared at Tigre, too. It seemed to be to his judgment.
Looking over the darkness which lurked indoors, Tigre started meditating.
---In this case, what is the worst scenario?
Finally, after putting his thoughts in order Tigre told the two.
"Pack our luggage so that we could move at any time. And then..."
Germaine, when in the Castle, hardly came out from the audience hall.
To be precise, he rarely left the throne.
He dealt with the political affairs and listened to petitions here on the throne. Not to mention meals, even concerning his bath, he would let people carry a bathtub filled with hot water in. Apart from relieving himself and going to sleep to bed, he wouldn't leave the audience hall.
"He may be too stubborn on the throne."
"When His Highness made this Valverde into his stronghold, it seems that the first things prepared were the throne and the chandeliers."
His vassals were saying such things, but it was only the old chamberlain who knew the truth. The chamberlain, dragging his body like a dead tree, was walking busily around the Castle in the young lord's stead.
Shortly before the nightfall, the chamberlain came in the audience hall for a report to Germaine. When he finished reporting briefly the political affairs and news he judged important, he bluntly asked the question that suddenly arose.
"Your Highness. Regarding the reply to the messengers of the Kingdom of Zchted, tomorrow will be the deadline."
"Is that so." from the throne only such a statement was returned. Outside nearly sunset, the vermillion sunlight came in through the high windows here densely. However, the throne was enveloped by darkness and Germaine's face could not be seen.
As the chamberlain just stood silently, Germaine called for the old man's name in a low voice.
"Prepare about fifty soldiers and arrest those three. Tonight - Attack at midnight. Until you catch them, don't let other people know."
As expected, the chamberlain was at loss for words. That Germaine did not like Tigre, he dimly perceived from the murderous look of his lord shortly after the end of the audience. But, even so, that measure was quite unusual. This would antagonize both the countries Zchted and Brune.
"Afterwards, call a messenger from Muozinel and hand them over. The conditions are that they cut all ties with Elliot and ally with me."
"...Will Muozinel comply?"
"That bastard Elliot has one vanadis, but here we have one vanadis and the hero of Brune called LumiereKnight of the Moonlight. In the first place, what Muozinel wants is not Elliot. What Muozinel wants is to go to war with Zchted, to threaten the existence known as Zchted from behind."
"It does not matter even if that person is myself," said the Prince of Asvarre in a careless tone. The chamberlain's face to which wrinkles was visible grandly frowned and thought.
Even assuming that he did as Germaine said, and they arrived at a situation where they obtained Muozinel's cooperation, they would immediately lose their support after the fight with Elliot. There was no doubt that they would be in advantage.
"But, making Zchted and Brune our enemies is..."
"Brune barely came out of a civil war half a year ago. They cannot take action yet. Before Zchted deals with our country, we must first obtain Muozinel's partnership at all cost. It can't move, after all."
"But, Your Highness. If we make Zchted and Brune our allies, it is certain that we will become more advantageous than Prince Elliot who only has Muozinel as ally. Besides, there is no problem geographically."
Between Muozinel and Asvarre, there are Zchted and Brune. If Muozinel was to support Germaine, the interference of either one or both was unavoidable.
That aside, the chamberlain proposed that it was more certain that they could quickly receive the cooperation of Zchted and Brune.
"...In that case, the soldiers of the three countries will loiter in the ground of this Asvarre."
Germaine to answer only some time later, the chamberlain was surprised.
"That Mr. LumiereKnight of the Moonlight doesn't intend to let the soldiers of his own country and Zchted loot or cause violence. No, he might have pretended to do so as a messenger..."
"As if it could be possible!" spat out the Prince of Asvarre in a tone filled with spite.
"Do you know from which country the pirates of Elliot's army come? Of course there are those who come from Asvarre, but there are also those from Zchted, Brune, Sachstein, and Muozinel... Furthermore, there are people coming from the far south and east!"
While being surprised at his master's anger who got excited, the chamberlain silently waited for Germaine to calm down. It would probably take a time of about ten counts. The chamberlain calmly asked.
"Are there any other reasons?"
"I hate that brat."
"Humans cannot erase likes and dislikes, but yet they cannot again be persuaded to consent with the other party, either.
The chamberlain gently reproved Germaine's outburst. Such was this old man's duty since the time when the prince was young. Therefore, he has still acted as chamberlain, and he also had his trust.
"Seeing that man makes me remember Father and it makes me angry."
This time, the chamberlain did not immediately reply. After a while he said.
"His Majesty the late king was a more tolerant person. I think that he was a person deserving to be called the "ruler of virtue.""
"I don't mean to deny your evaluation. ...I already gave you an order."
Not even trying to hide his crankiness in the violent protest against the decision, the chamberlain respectfully bowed and left. "I will be busy," He thought.
First of all, he had to prepare fifty soldiers so that it may not be known by the other ministers (high-ranking officials).
On the other hand, In the audience hall where there was nobody else as the chamberlain himself left, Germaine was looking up at the chandeliers on the ceiling unpleasantly.
"Father was tolerant, huh. Yeah, certainly."
As he said to the chamberlain, he did not intend to deny that fact. "But, that tolerance is not suitable for Asvarre," thought Germaine.
Several years ago when King Zacharias was still alive, Germaine assisted his father and handled various political affairs. As a Prince who will someday become King succeeding his Father, he thought that he must be familiar with the state affairs from now, and he also had the ability to do so.
At that time, Germaine investigated taxes sent from certain noble’s territory as the noble claimed that the harvest was poor.
Despite the severe punishment issued from the prince, King Zechariah, apart from requiring the noble to pay the original amount they owed, ordered him to pay an additional ten percent as a light fine.
Two years later, that noble did the same thing. Not only that, as Germaine investigated further, he found that there were several nobles who were also conducting similar grievances.
Germaine went on his own to the nobles' places, and after restraining the perpetrator, disposed of their families by killing them all and put their residence to the torch.
"I will allow you to form a new family. I will allow you to build a new mansion. However, if even in the future you bastards commit a crime of any sort, remember that you lose all that you value like today. Understood? I will not forgive you, even if it is the embezzlement of a single copper coin."
In the backdrop of the residence that was burned to the ground in flames, Germaine coldly said thus. After returning to the Royal Palace, he grieved at first, and apologized to his father the King angry for his dogmatism (his own decision), however he calmly said.
"With this, such evil deeds will decrease for a while."
Then in less than a month, other nobles hurriedly prepared the tax which they had not supply and visited the Capital. As if supporting the young Prince's words.
It was at that time that it was thought that Germaine ought to control the others by fear. As for letting the soldiers' cruelty run loose, he had the idea of giving people fear to abide by his decisions... Though it is a little unbearable for the civilians.
Therefore, Germaine realized that he would never be on the same wavelength as Tigre, who displayed a more protective attitude towards the civilians.
---On this point, letting Elliot escape was really a shame.
It was the day when he slaughtered his young siblings. After King Zacharias died, shunning Germaine, there were a lot of nobles who tried to recommend the princess.
Even if they were his siblings, Germaine was just not able to allow their existence. Though he lost his father, and he was aware that a lottery of his own mind went off, he himself didn't believe he was doing it only to protect the throne.
For the other person, Guinevere, who escaped, he had no intention of doing anything to her. As long as she kept quiet, he intended to leave her be.
--- If the matter of this night goes well... If I put Muozinel on my side, I can defeat Elliot.
He calmly closed his eyes looking up at the chandelier and decided to rest for a while.
As the stout crescent moon rose high in the sky, the fifty soldiers as Germaine ordered went to the mansion where the trio resided. All the soldiers were wearing armor and hung a sword at their waist. They prepared a torch for every five people, so ten torches were flickering in the background of the darkness.
"We were ordered to capture them alive, but we weren't told we couldn't injure them. If they resist, you can even cut one arm."
The captain in command of the fifty soldiers ordered so to his men with a cold-blooded smile. In a jokingly tone, he added.
"The young girl who flung that fully armed knight is there. Be careful."
The captain first sent ten soldiers to the rear side of the building and then strengthened the front with twenty soldiers. Though he thought that it was more than needed, the remaining 20 were sent into the mansion.
They knew from the servants that the trio was in the back room of the second floor. The twenty soldiers whipped out their sword and ascended the stairs in high spirits. They ran down the hall and launched a body blow from the shoulder to the front door to their rooms. Tearing the door down, and they stormed the room.
However, the soldiers in front tripped on something before advancing even three steps and then tumbled down loudly. What they last saw in the darkness was the figure of a girl swinging an axe.
When a dull sound echoed in succession, and two lifes were lost, the soldiers noticed that nobody was in the other two rooms. Their prey was already gathered in one room.
Two soldiers held a sword, and one stood at the doorway holding up a torch. Immediately after the sound which sharply cut through the night wind echoes, an arrow pierced the soldiers' face.
Even though three arrows were shot, there was only one sound of the bowstring.
One fell down, and two screamed in acute pain and surprise. A small-sized black shadow flew over there.
Even though it was such a situation, there was no change of expression in the vanadis's face. She was the BardicheMoon Princess of the Roaring Demon Olga. By reflecting the fire of the torch, the axe which she had in her hands gives off radiance reminiscent of a half moon.
More than ten soldiers piled in the narrow corridor, unable to move freely and moreover about half of them lost their composure with the death and earsplitting scream of their friends.
Almost like a wolf attacking a flock of sheep, Olga wielded her ViraltDragonic Tool and descended onto them down without mercy. She smashed the soldiers' head along with their helmet, and ripped their belly open along with their armor.
During the flurry of blood splashing and screaming over and over again, Olga let her axe soak up blood and life with dance-like movements. The ghastliness and cuteness were present at the same time in her delicate body.
Not all the soldiers were in dismay, there were also several soldiers that timidly tried to cut Olga. They were, however, shot in the eyes or the throat by the arrows which came flying from somewhere, collapsed on the floor, at the place where their movement to cut Olga stopped.
Tigre was hiding near the door shooting the arrows. The young man judging that he would only hinder Olga if he came out in the corridor, shot the arrows inside the room in order to support the girl.
--- Ellen and Mira were also amazing, but...
While nocking a new arrow to the bow, Tigre let out a sigh of admiration while seeing Olga's battle.
One could only say that she deserves to be called vanadis. That strength was not normal.
"Oh my god! This is a worst situation."
Matvey standing beside the window side complained with an innocent tone. He was holding a chair with both hands. Since he had no other weapons. Tigre asked him while watching Olga's fighting.
"How are you over there?"
"I don’t know whether the sound comes from here or not, but it is very chaotic right now. No ladder or rope sighted here, I am afraid that they have entered from the backdoor."
'Isn't it Germaine who wants to capture us?' It was the worst case scenario that Tigre considered. For example, he could disclose their existence to Prince Elliot and check it, there were various ways to do so. He mostly did not expect that he could use them for dealings with Muozinel.
The trio gathered in one room from such a thought. They got up immediately when they noticed Germaine's soldiers from the sounds and atmosphere, moved the chairs and the bed near the door while preparing their weapons, and waited.
While exchanging a short conversation, the fight that ushered in the corridor came to an end.
Looking at their companions collapsing one after another, covered with blood and entrails, Olga thrusts the axe at a soldier who lost his will to fight and was unable to stand up due to fear.
"Whose order was it?"
The soldier frankly answered that it was due to Germaine's orders while shedding tears and begging for his life. As Olga narrowed her eyes, with the handle of the axe, she hit the soldier who fell down unconscious. And looked back at Tigre. Her black pupils were asking what they would do from now on.
Tigre could not suddenly decide. There were walls surrounding this city. There should also have directives to the soldiers protecting those places to not let them go out. Where would they go even if they run away?
"I have a suggestion."
Wiping off the blood on her ViraltDragonic Tool, Olga said in a calm tone.
"We attack Germaine from this place and make him a hostage."
"Are you serious?"
Although Matvey was surprised and glared, Tigre had somewhat settled down.
"It is not a bad idea. Even Germaine would not think that only the three of us could counterattack, either. Moreover, the castle is just around the corner. There is also no canal. The problem is how to cross over the walls surrounding the Castle."
He deliberately mentioned the problem expecting a reaction from Olga. This girl should also understand that. The vanadis of light pink-colored hair immediately answered as expected.
"I will somehow manage."
Tigre made up his mind. He checked the contents of his quiver. He did not expect to use it in that form, but buying it was the correct choice. He could somehow manage.
Escaping the mansion was easier than they had thought. Though there were ten soldiers under the window, Tigre shot them with the help of their torches which showed their position. He shrouded the rope through the window in that instance and Olga quickly descended down to the ground. After that, she unilaterally defeated the soldiers.
With Olga on alert of the surroundings, Matvey went down the rope first followed by Tigre.
Matvey went first, because they thought that with his large body, he would take a lot of time, but it was only groundless apprehension. The sailor skillfully glided down along the rope faster than Tigre did.
"Hmm, it reminds me of the old days. It was a daily occurrence on the ship."
Seeming to be prepared for it, Matvey made an inauspicious smile. He hung on his waist a sword he took from a soldier.
When Tigre landed on the ground, the second floor suddenly became noisy. The soldiers who strengthened the front of the mansion should have entered. It was a close call.
Only relying on the moonlight, the trio ran just wrapped in the darkness of the night. They could take the torch which the soldiers had, but it would be rather conspicuous if they had a light in this situation.
"... Anyway, it is really noisy."
Matvey glancing at the darkness muttered. They only had to advance straight to the castle, and there was nobody to intercept them either. They only need to do so in small steps. The trio soon arrived at the walls.
Looking at the towering walls, Olga regulated her breathing and swung her large axe. The blade with the shape of half moon exhibited a pale light phosphorescence.
The ground around Olga emitted a muffled roar and vibrated. The sound bursting from the bottom of the earth like a thorn out of the treble uplifted countless stones. Many pillars of the ground with sharp tips rose high, and the 14-year-old Vanadis stood firmly at the center.
Fine gravel floated in the air, and a vortex of light particles circled around the axe - the absorption of the Roaring Demon. The radiance that the ViraltDragonic Tool released thereby looked a lot stronger than earlier.
Matvey was speechless at the scene unfolding before his eyes. Although Tigre still had enough sense to be aware of their surroundings, even so he couldn't take his eyes off Olga as well. Tension, excitement, and expectation made Tigre smile. He looked at his black bow in hand.
---Originally I thought to depend on this at a critical moment ...... but it seems unnecessary.
Olga's axe changed the shape. The handle extended to almost double the length, and the blade grew larger by more than twice its original size. It may, perhaps, be even larger than his owner.
"DvarogThe Second Horn of Piercing"
Olga grasped the huge axe with both hands and powerfully flung it towards the castle wall.
A tremendous roar resounded in the night sky, as flashes of light burst forth and flowed out the earth like an illusion. A myriad of differently-sized debris exploded in all directions, and the air and ground conveyed intense rumbling.
And, on the castle wall with a thickness of five arsine (about 5 meters), a hole huge enough that even Matvey would easily get through was hollowed out. After letting the cloud of dust settle, the countless cracks generated around and the scenery of the other side was visible. It had to have been hammered a multitude of times to display such an appearance, even if one was using a mallet to breakdown a city like a battering ram.
With an "Ouff!" breath, Olga draped the axe over her shoulder, the ViraltDragonic Tool having been restored to its original size just moments before. She looked back at the two men with her usual expressionless face.
"Let's hurry. Before soldiers gather."
Tigre lightly patted Matvey's shoulder who was still stunned with his mouth half-opened. Thus Matvey finally came to his senses. Olga started running after confirming it. The two men also followed her in a hurry.
"...Did you know of that?"
"I have seen the other vanadis resort to such tricks."
To the Matvey's question, who still found it unbelievable, Tigre tactfully answered. She was the third person after Ellen and Mira. If it was only about a power beyond common sense, he should also count himself.
"So that means Alexandra-sama also has that kind of power...?"
"Most likely. I haven't seen it though."
Matvey covered his face with his hands and grandly sighed. Feeling somehow apologetic, Tigre added these words.
"However, it is better not to rely on that strength. That power has a lot of downsides. When I decided that Olga should use it, I wondered if it was just right to leave it to her."
"Oh, that's important."
Restoring his tough look that usually showed impudence, Matvey laughed. Although this recovery speed might be due to many experiences, Tigre was thankful on this point.
"For a moment, you simply left Miss Olga to deal with everything, right? ... I almost think so."
"...Really, Sasha introduced me to a good man."
Flames which seemed to be of a torch approached. Tigre stopped and stretched out his hand to the quiver. His eyes that got used to the darkness at the time grasped the number of figures. He gathered three arrows, took them out, and simultaneously nocked them. Short screams occurred at the same time, and the torch fell on the ground.
"I also saw it a while ago, but how do you manage that?"
Olga who was impressed asked. Matvey also agreed and nodded.
"...Practice, I think."
"I doubt I would be able to do that, even if I practiced."
Even though they said that, Tigre could not think of any other answer.
They slinked around the rear of the castle. A red, burning campfire gave the trio the position of the door and that there were two guards. Both guards were wearing armor and holding a spear.
When they noticed the existence of the assailants, Olga leaned her body and rushed over, and an arrow was shot by the black bow that Tigre grasped. Their cry overlapped with a dull sound.
The door was made of wood and was locked. Searching the fallen soldiers' pocket, Tigre found a keychain. Meanwhile, Matvey tore the sleeve of his own clothes and wrapped around the spear that the soldiers had, creating an impromptu torch.
Tigre turned a look of praise to Matvey. Although they were able to run so far with the help of the moonlight, as expected, a light is necessary if they want to proceed into the Castle.
"This is strange."
Olga suddenly raised her voice. Tigre and Matvey looked at her with a wondering face.
"It's awfully noisy."
Although they frowned for an instant, the two men soon noticed the anomaly. When they listened carefully, from the other side of the door - not only could they hear the sound of roaring and clanking of armor coming from within the castle, they could also hear the sound of cries and the sword fighting. It was sounds that only could be emitted during fights.
"Because you made a hole in the wall... no, that does not seem to be the case."
"I heard the sound of fighting. I was also thinking about it while we came from the mansion to this castle, but somehow there seems to be other people causing an uproar as well."
"Looks like it. Even so, that won't change what we must do."
Olga flatly asserted, without showing a slight change of expression. Tigre also nodded.
"We cannot afford to look away from the situation. But we must be cautious."
Opening the door, with Olga at the helm, the trio stormed the Castle. Matvey, holding the torch, stood in the middle, with Tigre manning in the rear.
They swooped down on the soldiers coming back to attack while raising a shout of challenge, and asked for Germaine's whereabouts. Though harboring doubts at the answer “He is in the audience hall," they had no time to brood about that.
"As expected, I felt the soldiers disperse."
Matvey leaked such an impression while running through the corridor towards the audience hall.
In the earlier fight too, it was only three opponents. So not only did they not get into hard fight, but they also easily found out Germaine's whereabouts.
"For me, it’s really fortunate. After all, I have a limited number of arrows."
And then after a short time, the trio arrived in the audience hall.
However, the situation had undergone major changes.
What the trio who broke into the audience hall saw, were just a few men and there was one corpse.
The corpse itself was not uncommon. Before coming here, they saw a few more and furthered the numbers with their own weapons.
However, if the corpse was that of the Lord of this Castle, then it was a different story.
The audience hall was far brighter compared to the corridor through which they had run. It is because the chandelier hanging from the ceiling lit all the candles and illuminated this large space.
Germaine, sitting on the throne, drooped his head. His clothes were cut off in a crack and dyed blood-red black. There were several men around him.
Tigre stopped because he knew one of them. He was the commander of the hundred cavalrymen, Tallard Graham, his adjutant Kress Dill, and moreover the soldiers who should be their subordinates. Tallard was hanging a sword on the waist, holding a bow. He nocked an arrow. Their eyes met.
Tension ran in the atmosphere of the audience hall filled with consternation. Tigre and Tallard set up their bow at the same time, and aimed at the opponent's forehead.
Olga and Matvey also stopped in their tracks. With the death of Prince Germaine whom they originally planned to capture as hostage, and Tallard who was there, they were confused whether they should further attack, or should they protect Tigre. Since they had such mixed feelings, the two people could do nothing but stay put.
While grasping the black bow, Tigre felt a strong heat on his forehead. The Tallard's fighting spirit was given off by the iron of the bow and the arrow which he nocked.
From Tigre's position to the throne were less than 30 alsins (about 30 meters). It was definitely not distance he could miss. This also seemed to be the case for Tallard. Both also did not find a single word to say, they held their breath and focused on the opponent motionless.
Silence shrouded the audience hall as if it were cut off from the outside world full of bloody riots. That was created by the two men Tallard and Tigre.
If a single word were emitted, the two arrows would be shot at that moment, and the two lifes could vanish. The fear took the motion from all people who were in the place.
The heat that stuck to Tigre's suddenly disappeared. In the tip of Tigre's eyes that were widely opened, Tallard showed a smile lacking hostility.
Both simultaneously lowered their bows.
"You saved me the trouble of calling you... Let's leave it at that. Tigre-dono, there are a lot of things I want to discuss with you, will you please listen?"
Their weapons had not been confiscated.
Tigre, Olga and Matvey were led into the guest room in the third floor of the Castle. What the trio saw on the way were sticky blood marks on the walls and floor, heads cut crack, or a lot of corpses with abdomen cut opened on the floor, as well as the expression of excitement and madness (insanity) of the soldiers running in the corridor.
The corridor was filled with stench of blood and entrails, and the groan of people with a faint breath sounded intermittently. The ghastly aspect was the battlefield itself that was coming to an end.
"What happened here?"
Tigre asked so to Kress Dill who was guiding them to the guest room. The guest room was filled with cold night air, there was not the smell of blood, and the soldiers' voice and the sound of armor could also hardly be heard.
"The explanation will be carried out later by His Excellency Tallard."
Kress Dill answered so after putting fire into the brick fireplace. In his long face and his eyes reminiscent of fox, could not be seen feelings that seemed to be emotions. Rather than expressionless, it would be more appropriate to say it’s like he put on a mask to describe the look on his face.
"But since it will take some time... Please take a break and wait here until dawn. If there is something you need, we will prepare it."
"Would you prepare blankets for three people?"
At Tigre who quickly said so, "Certainly!" said Kress Dill, bowed and left. Waiting for signs of him to disappear, Olga opened her mouth.
"Is this alright?"
She referred to whether they might trust them. Tigre, squatting in front of the fireplace, while warming his hands near the fire, answered. He did not sit down yet because the floor was still cold.
"After all, they put fire in the stove, and so far have not planned to kill us. Anyway, let's hear what they have to say. That aside, how about you two? It's very warm here, you know?"
"I also noticed it in that village, but... you're always so relaxed even during critical moments."
Matvey smiled and warmed himself likewise near the fire, squatting down to Tigre's left. Olga likewise walked up, but to Tigre's right side and sat down covering her hips with the end of the mantle.
Until Kress Dill's subordinates brought the blankets, the three people had been sitting in front of the stove without moving, and no one had used the bed.
When Tallard, accompanied by Kress Dill, visited the guest room, it had begun to brighten outside of the window.
"I kept you waiting."
Wearing the same clothes as yesterday, his blond hair slightly disheveled. However on his face was not seen even the slightest fatigue. Rather, he seemed even more shining full of drive.
He let his subordinate move a chair opposite to the trio and sat down. There was, respectively, Kress Dill standing behind Tallard and Matvey standing behind Tigre. This was insurance for immediate actions if anything was to happen.
"So, from where shall I start? Well, what do you want to hear?"
Tallard was talking to Tigre naturally, as though it was an everyday conversation with a smile. That friendly behavior might also be one of Tallard's weapons. Tigre, while being cautious so that he might not be surprised at whatever might be told, opened his mouth. He thought that he should ask about what happened last night.
"It may be too late to ask, but was it you who killed Germaine?
"Yeah. It was me."
Tallard readily recognized without being abashed and without assuming a defiant attitude.
"There are three reasons. One is that I could no longer overlook Germaine's way of governing. Another is that we would lose to Elliot at this rate."
Tigre, after inwardly scrutinizing his words, judged that it was not a lie.
"And the third?"
"It is, of course, ambition."
With a bold and fearless attitude, Tallard asserted. Olga and Matvey stared wide-eyed. They did not think that he could assert so clearly. Only Tigre, no showing sign of agitation, slightly nodded.
"Even if it is to unify the divided Asvarre in order to save the people, I'm just a commoner. Since it does not change the fact that this is a coup d’état. I think that I should at least say that to you."
It is difficult to determine whether it was a truth or a joke. But Tigre thought that it was true.
According to what Tallard said, when he found out that he would be demoted to a hundred cavalrymen commander, he began to plan a rebellion.
"Germaine left me this Valverde. I thought that there would be no problem if I drafted soldiers. It was convenient for me, though."
After that, Tallard gradually increased the soldiers who complied on their own while serving in the maintenance of security around Valverde, while also considering the strategy and time to capture the castle. By the time they were mostly gathered up, he met with the trio.
"I came early to kill Germaine's soldiers. I predicted that there would certainly be uproar, and I hastened the time of execution and gathered the soldiers as much as possible. And it was just as I expected. Germaine sent fifty soldiers after you. Thanks to that, it was very easy to carry out our plan."
On grounds of maintaining law and order, Tallard could freely stroll around the Castle and the mansion outskirts where the trio stayed at. Moreover, most of the servants and employees working at the castle were also residents of Valverde. It was easy for Tallard, who had obtained their trust, to explore the trends in the Castle.
"In such a reason, I'm currently the Lord of Valverde. Therefore, without delay, I have a favor to ask you."
"Do you want to forge alliances with us instead of Prince Germaine?"
As Tigre anticipated and asked, Tallard nodded with a broad smile.
"I greatly appreciate that you catch on quickly. Though this will be after I hear the contents of the alliance in detail."
Matvey made a disappointed expression, Olga was watching Tigre with interest from the side.
The change of situation was already beyond the scope of Tigre's control. He answered that he should discuss with Zchted and should return as soon as possible. Even the King of Zchted should not blame him for that.
However Tigre calmly described the contents of the contract that he told to Germaine. After hearing, Tallard smiled while patting his knee.
"Tigre-dono. If possible, I would also roughly like to make friendly relations with Zchted and Brune in those conditions, what do you think?"
"Roughly, is...? The content is written for Prince Germaine, and naturally can’t be directly used to negotiate with you."
Tigre carefully asked Tallard. A careless word should not be said.
"In regards to our support. I don’t need troops nor fleets. I only hope that you and the vanadis next to you can help. I want you to lead the troops and stand on the battlefield. And when you defeat Elliot, as the Lord of Kingdom of Asvarre, I will make official friendly relations with both Zchted and Brune."
Even Tigre was surprised by this. Now, in a situation where he wanted even one soldier towards the fight against Elliot, it could be said that he thought about it very much. The proposal was too bold even if it was a bluff.
"Lord Tallard. How many troops are there in your hand?"
"I would say about three thousand that can immediately move. There are two thousand seven hundred regular soldiers and three hundred Sachstein mercenaries. By the way, I heard that Elliot has twenty to thirty thousand soldiers."
With a dark smile, Tallard took out to the number of enemy troops, even though he was not asked.
"... Which means you have a trump card for winning, right?"
"Of course. However, I won't tell at this point."
---It's a difficult situation...
If he declined, even if not killed, at least they would be imprisoned somewhere until the end of the war.
Tigre busily rotated his head. It was not good to think too long on the wrong side. As he moved his gaze at Olga next to him, their eyes met. She slightly nodded, still expressionless. She seemed to say that she would follow his judgment.
Before making a final decision, Tigre decided to try to gain time.
"You earlier said that Olga and I will serve as commanders, but... Just in case, I want to ask, what do you intend to use as a reward?"
---Though he might already have thought about the proper amount.
As long as the contents were not particularly important, he should only overlook it. Anyway, what he needed now was time to think.
"I can't be cheap on that point. Though territories are not given, I intend to prepare five bags of gold coins for each. If Matvey-dono stands on the battlefield, I will pay him three bags of gold coins. Moreover, I was thinking of giving to Tigre-dono a title on par with LumiereKnight of the Moonlight and SilvrashStar Shooter."
"I appreciate the gesture, but let's drop the title."
After all, two titles were enough. Though he found even those two unmanageable.
"That's a shame. And then-"
Tigre was surprised as there was still something. Tallard without changing his expression continued.
"We will protect Sophia Obertas, held by Elliot, and turn her over to you."
Turning over the chair with a bang!, Tigre spontaneously leaned forward before Tallard finished speaking.
"...What do you mean?"
Sophie visited Prince Elliot as a messenger from Zchted. Although it turned out that he had ridden on Tallard's rhythm, Tigre could do nothing but ask it. Tallard showed a look of surprise at his reaction, but still answered his question.
"Did you know that Elliot concluded a secret pact with Muozinel?"
"...I have heard rumors."
Tigre sat back in the chair. As such, she was sent as an emissary to this country.
"So that happened. Elliot, on the surface pretended to deepen his relationship with Zchted, but secretly cooperated with Muozinel in the back. The cost of their support was Miss Sophia."
"Is Sophie... Miss Sophia safe?"
As he carelessly spoke of her nickname, Tigre hastily smoothed it over, but he had not been able to conceal the anxiety in his voice.
"According to the information from ten days ago, she is still safe. She is a valuable hostage, and an important piece in order to get support. She should not be crudely treated."
Though he was at wits' end, Tigre desperately controlled himself strongly, clenching his molars. Even if Tallard's words were probably not wrong, it was at most still only conjecture, too.
---Maybe, it's not something to worry about.
Sophie is a vanadis. Although it is hard to imagine from her gentle behavior, she has helped Lord Massas, who was targeted by assassins. Even though she teamed up with Ellen, she still fought against Brune's strongest knight Roland. As for having been dispatched to Prince Elliot as a messenger this time, she was probably expecting to get through some dangers.
"...Lord Tallard. I would like to add another condition."
But Tigre decided to accept this story after having thought so far. He owed Sophie. And moreover if anything happened to her, Ellen would be sad. Mira, too. And also himself.
Though there might be no problem, he couldn’t ignore it no matter what.
"Until just before the decisive battle with Prince Elliot, I want you to keep our names secret.
At Tigre's request, Tallard put his hand on his chin pretending to think.
"If possible, can you tell me your reasons?"
"Zchted has not sided yet with Germaine - Consequently, they don't support Tallard Graham. I want Prince Elliot to think so."
To ensure Sophie's safety, this was a trick. If he was aware of the existence of Tigre and the others, Elliot would use her as a hostage. He couldn't let him do such a thing.
"We swear not to reveal your names. In addition, I will deny it immediately if such a rumor comes out. Is this OK?"
"On that point, the three of us will cooperate with you, so that is well. Regarding the treaty between Zchted and Asvarre, after defeating Prince Elliot, I would like a re-adjustment on the agreement. As I said earlier, the contents were addressed to Prince Germaine."
"Understood. With this, we have a deal. Tigre-dono."
Tallard outstretched his hand with a big smile. Tigre grasped his hand with a fearless expression.
"About Lord Sophia's matter, please pay heed to it."
Continuing the discussion would be carried out in the conference room, and the trio was taken to a room one size smaller than the guest room. Since they could hold their weapons, Tigre had his black bow in hands while Olga hung the Roaring Demon at her waist.
As the conference room did not have windows and an open roof, the only illumination in the space interior were the candlesticks placed in the four corners of the room and the sunlight coming from the air vents. In the center stood a huge desk set with maps of various sizes on the top with a piece representing the army placed on that map. Several other maps were also posted on the wall.
A man stood there. He ought to be less than 35 years old. In addition to red hair tinted slightly different from Tigre's, he had mild blue eyes. Though he had an average figure and physique, and was lightly dressed without armor, displaying only with a sword hanging on his waist, Tigre could not see any openings in his guard.
"This man might possess a considerable amount of skill," whispered Olga to Tigre.
"This is Ludra, Tigre-dono. I chose this man to serve as your adjutant. Please get along him."
"You are Earl Vorn, yes? I am Vaild Ludra, who serves His Excellency Tallard Graham. I'm glad to have the honor of fighting alongside you, who has many heroic tales surrounding your name."
Ludra bowed in a polite manner and outstretched his hand. Tigre also took his hand, and they gratefully exchanged a handshake. Though it is dangerous to judge someone from just the first impression, he did not look like a bad person.
"Well then, I will explain the current situation."
Kress Dill, with his eyes reminiscent of fox, stood before a map placed on the wall. That map depicted the terrain in the vicinity. With a short stick in hand, he pointed at Valverde Northwest Fort Lux.
"General Leicester of the Fort Lux declared his defection to Prince Elliot's side the day before yesterday."
Not only did Tigre stand speechless, Matvey did, too. They had heard the rumors, but it had just now become a fact, which is what they really didn't want.
Olga turned her eyes to Tallard for an explanation. The instigator of the coup d'état with his blond hair answered as if it was not big deal.
"That was to be expected. Since there was such a rumor before. Moreover, even if he under by my hands, I intended to execute him sooner or later, so you can say that the timing is just about right."
"Is he a difficult person?"
To Tigre's question, Tallard made a sullen face and shook his head.
"Though both his sword skill and his commanding of soldiers are quite good, he is a man who abducts the young girls he finds to his taste and brings them back to the Fort. We often clashed. Germaine did not mind such things though... So for what reason did Leicester betray us?"
"Germaine, no matter how much time passes, would have no regrets for having killed his siblings and would also continue his tyrannical actions. Such was his excuse. Elliot probably dangled him bait that would make him abandon Germaine. It may be the promise of territory, or a perhaps a title...?"
"Or young girls?"
---But, having the three thousands soldiers of the Fort gone to the enemy side is really a headache.
Tigre stared at the map on the wall with a bitter face. Although he could sympathize with Tallard's feelings, still, the nearest enemy was at two days worth of distance from Valverde. They were in a situation in which they would most likely lose at any given moment.
In a tone like a strict teacher, Kress Dill tapped the map with the tip of the birch. He pointed at the coast of the port town of Mariajo in the north from Valverde.
"Prince Elliot's fleet lay stagnant at the shores of Mariajo. I think he is waiting to see how we react to General Leicester's defection. By launching a simultaneous attack on Mariajo, we can force them to surrender."
"...Is Miss Sophia located on that ship?"
Though he didn't know where to start with the horrors, this was what Tigre wanted to confirm first. Still because he was inured to the designation target, Sophie, the word "Miss Sophia " did not immediately come. Kress Dill, without moving one eyebrow, nodded.
"Even if the vanadis is, as the rumor says, an warrior with the strength of a thousand soldiers, she cannot escape if surrounded by the sea. Also, Prince Elliot keeps valuable items close at hand."
It was a really persuasive explanation. Tigre knew that Sophie has a ViraltDragonic Tool called Light Flower, but it should not of the kind that can be managed at sea.
"Then, I will explain how we will act from now on."
Tallard, puffing his chest with great confidence walked, to the front of the map stuck on the wall. His finger pointed toward Fort Lux.
"This Fort Lux, I would like Tigre-dono to capture it with three thousand soldiers. As I said earlier, I chose Ludra as your adjutant. About Miss Olga and Mr. Matvey following you is up to you to decide."
---With three thousand soldiers, you want me to capture a fortress which holds the same number of soldiers...?
"Meanwhile, Kress Dill and I will gather soldiers. I am expecting to gather about ten thousand. Afterwards, I will join Tigre-dono and then we will go to the north to battle and defeat Elliot. That is all."
Tigre could not believe his ears. It was too rough to call it a strategy. After all, in a situation where Prince Elliot's army numbered thirty thousand, if ten thousand soldiers were gathered, the resulting number would only equal one-thirds their size. It was still less than half, even if they add up Tigre's three thousand. He really wanted to yell at them whether they intended to win or not.
"I hope you can elaborate."
Before Tigre opened his mouth, Olga sullenly said. She also couldn’t consent with the current explanation.
"How do you think Prince Elliot will move?"
"After the fall of Mariajo from the south, he will aim at this Valverde. In strategic terms, there is no other way to move his military force."
Tallard ran his finger in a straight line along a highway from the port town and stopped it in Valverde.
"Still, I don't think Mariajo will fall so easily. If the number of soldiers amounts to ten thousand, we will move to the north here, and board to Asvarre Island across the sea. We have a sufficient number of vessels, and without being found by the enemy, already searched for a rocky area coming out to the sea and also grasped the flow of the tide."
After turning round and round the vicinity of Valverde, Tallard brought his finger to the right above and advanced it to the island across the sea.
"And then, we will pretend to aim for the Capital... ambush Elliot, who would becoming back in a panic, and launch a surprise attack and finally crush him. We will do it in one battle."
Olga, also surprised at this, widely opened her narrowed eyes. Tigre and Matvey couldn't help but emit a groan of admiration. Tallard, seeing their reaction, revealed a pleasant smile and continued.
"Now that Germaine is not here anymore, Valverde is but one mere city in the Kingdom of Asvarre. It is not shameful to abandon Valverde, but it would be a big loss for that man if he was deprived of the King's Capital by someone else. So Elliot can do nothing but come back."
"I see. But, in the case where Elliot does not move? Germaine, who was a political rival, is already gone. He may choose to withdraw his troops on his own base and move in position to the Capital."
"In that case, it will be fortunate for me if he does so. I could confidently increase my allies around Valverde and expand my influence. However, Elliot has two reasons for driving this decisive battle."
To Olga who looked puzzled, Tallard stretched out two fingers.
"Elliot is of a royal lineage and cannot overlook me, who murdered Germaine. It will jeopardize his reputation if he doesn't punish me as soon as possible. The Noble Feudal Lords will also despise that man. Another is that he is almost at his limit."
Tallard did not reply to Olga, who tilted her head, and turned a joyful look to Tigre. "Do you know?" was what his look asked to Tigre.
"It means that feeding twenty thousand to thirty thousand soldiers is not an easy task."
When Tigre said so, Olga surprisedly put her hand on her lips. Tallard broadly laughed at the answer that apparently was right.
"As expected, you guess well. King Zacharias's death triggered a civil war since about half a year ago. Elliot is using pirates as soldiers, but the struggle to keep them united is also not an easy task. If left alone, those men might go on an expedition to the coast of Brune or Zchted."
"They get food by two means. By looting of Prince Germaine's territory - which is now our sphere of influence. Another is by levy of the noble feudal lords. To that end, the backlash of noble feudal lords against Prince Elliot increases day by day."
"Thank you. I understand."
Olga slightly bowed to Tallard and Kress Dill. She did not understand right away, probably because she had no experience in leading an army.
It was Elliot that expected a short-term decisive battle. Now they could understand why Tallard spoke of finishing the war with one battle.
---To do this, first of all, it's the Fort Lux, huh...
Tigre made a sullen face. He had experienced attacking a castle only once. It was when he attacked Mira, who holds the Tatra Mountains with Ellen.
"You said you will give me three thousand soldiers, but can you immediately mobilize them?"
"Oh! If you order to depart right now, they will be out of Valverde after a half Koku."
Tigre couldn't help but sigh inwardly for the rapid deployment. It meant that they had already finished the preparation for arms, food, sundries and various other equipments.
---Were they already ready, when they attacked this castle last night?
"I understood. Let's immediately head to Fort Lux."
Winking at Olga and Matvey, Tigre left the conference room.
---There are no other options for rescuing Sophie.
Leaving the city to find Elliot's boat, assaulting the ship, rescuing Sophie, and then fleeing. No matter how he thought about it, it was impossible to do alone. The chances would be higher by cooperating with Tallard. While understanding this point, Tigre's feelings did not clear up in the fact that he would be assisting to Tallard's ambition.
While walking in the hallway with a disappointed face, he was accosted from behind.
It was Tallard who came out of the conference room to hail Tigre.
"I want to talk with you a little bit, is it alright? It's nothing serious and I won't take much of your time."
He pointed a finger across the corridor, suggesting another place. Tigre frowned. The required talk should have already been cleared up. Olga inquired.
"Will our presence be inconvenient?"
"It's not that, but..."
Tallard's answer was a bit hesitant. His expression was like that of a troubled child with no excuse, as if there is such charm that people could not help but forgive him. Tigre gently sighed.
"I understand. I will listen to what you have to say."
He just said that to help him. Tigre did not think he could do something at this stage. Moreover, it was not like he wasn’t interested at all at the topic.
Deciding to have Olga and Matvey wait in the guest room from a while ago, Tigre followed after Tallard. Tallard went ahead through the corridor at a brisk pace.
Turning at the corner, they climbed the stairs to a place that could be said to be the inside of the roof. It was a part of the roof with a special structure, projected upwards from the original roof just like a wall. As far as they could look, this was the castle from the front. At first, Tigre didn't understand.
Then, there was a wide circular footing, with bows and arrows.
"Here is the highest point in Valverde, where we can see the entire town."
Tallard laughed proudly pointing to the wall instead of to the roof. They were able to overlook the state of the town from the gap in the roof made skillfully when they stood there.
"I don’t know who constructed this ingenious design. I think that it might have been Zephyria, but they did not leave records. That aside, it's a nice scenery, right?"
Tigre straightforwardly nodded. Despite such a thing happening last night, the urban look was still peaceful. Though the soldiers' figure were certainly noticeable everywhere, the streets were arrayed with dew shops, housewives shopping and chatting, and kids running in a narrow alley.
"It was a little noisier at dawn. After it was conveyed that I took over, it fortunately became quiet."
"Is this what you want me to see?"
When Tigre asked, Tallard put on a serious face and nodded.
"Women and children can walk the street without being scared. The shops can open without fear of being threatened. Waiting until dawn, the streets will waft with the smell of food... I thought it was a very common thing, but in the past six months I know that is not the case."
Peace, based on the meaning and strength in order to eke out living things. Regardless of what is missing, the world where bandits would become rampant in broad daylight would come.
Looking up at the clear blue sky, the blond young man's voice contained enthusiasm.
"Now, it is only Valverde, and several nearby towns and villages, but someday I want the entirety of Asvarre to become like this. However, for a mere general, it is impossible to do so. That's why..."
Seeming to hold back from shouting, Tallard exhaled. His blue eyes regained their calm brightness. However, in the depths of his pupils, was still burning the flame of passion.
"I aim to be king. What is spreading now under my eyes is the form of a country which I govern."
Tigre, still looking at Tallard, could not say anything right away.
His gaze and his attitude possessed a strong magnetism that could only attract those who see it. He had a mysterious charm to let people wanting to help him fulfill this ideal.
Even if other people had spun the same words with the same expression, it would probably not have this same effect. Or this might just be the distinctive character of a person worthy to be called King.
"Though there is a vanadis, this war has originally nothing to do with you. You won't probably be concerned with what will happen to the people of this country. But please, lend us your strength."
Silence descended. Although Tigre was just silently standing, an intense conflict unrolled in the mind of the youngster. Two means were opposed and fighting each other.
That battle quietly ended. If Tigre was a person from Asvarre, or if he was in a more liberal position, then maybe the answer would be different. However, Tigre already had things he wanted to protect, and also things he should protect. And it was not this place.
"'I'm sorry' is only what I can say, but I will try my best."
That was the most honest answer for Tigre. Though he also wanted to help Tallard, just as he said, Tigre had his own circumstances. No matter what happened, he would probably give priority to Sophie, Olga, Matvey, Brune and Zchted.
"That's enough. I appreciate the thought."
Tallard smiled and deeply bowed. And then picked up the two bows and arrows.
"Anyway, there's another reason I called you here."
"Is this for the archery match?"
Tigre asked so to confirm, because it was the only possibility. Tallard nodded greatly, stretched his arm upwards straight, and pointed at the clear blue sky.
"A single match. And it is to see who can shoot an arrow higher. That's all."
"Simple and understandable."
Tigre happily smiled back, and took an arrow from Tallard.
The two men respectively set up their bow. Two arrows and four eyes were turned toward the sky.
A faint sound which strained the bowstring tickled the eardrum of the both. Both sides held their breath, motionlessly staring at the sky. Only in such a state, after a time of about ten count.
Birds tweeted. With this as a signal, the two men let fly their arrow simultaneously. The two arrows wrapped around the wind, tearing the atmosphere, soaring towards the sky.
The arrows finally exhausted their strength. One of the arrows was digging in the space on the top of the other, only by a small margin. They (Tigre and Tallard) were on the ground and could not confirm that minor gap.
As they thought the arrows suddenly stopped moving in the air, they didn't expect the two arrows to draw a small arc and silently fall, following gravity. Rather than around the foothold of the two men standing, the arrows fell into the backyard of the Castle.
"....I lost, huh."
Tallard put down his bow, and laughed seeming to be impressed. Tigre stayed silent, and likewise showed a smile.
The eyes of two men were able to distinguish which arrow began to fall away.
Even if the arrows were the same, the bows were different. In a game of equal footing, the outcome would be difficult to say.
However, Tallard proposed the game, aware of this, and Tigre agreed. In that way, he was ready to accept the outcome of the results.
They shook hands, and went down the ladder.
Then, after a half koku, Tigre, Olga, Matvey and Ludra, leading three thousand soldiers set off from Valverde.
To the northeast from the port town of Mariajo, at about one verst (about 1 km) ahead in the sea, were more than twenty vessels afloat.
Though there were ship types without uniformity, and regardless of which were large, each was equipped with two to three thick masts. The hulls were very old, but it seemed to be the proof that they endured many years of stormy seas and survived.
Now folding the sails, the sailors were drinking liquor on the deck, enjoying card gambling. They have tanned skin and the strong body typical of sailors and whoever grew accustomed to violence would feel that they gave off a ferocious atmosphere.
They were pirates. They were people who could freely manipulate from big ships to small boats, made war in the tri-coastal rebellion, and now they were warriors wielding sword and axe under the lead of Prince Elliot.
Buried in a corner of the sea, in the center of the fleet, there was an especially large ship. Unlike the other ships, the hull was well polished and the bow was decorated with a silver goddess statue. On the sail rested a red dragon on a white background. Though folded now, once spread it will shine in the background of Blue Ocean.
Prince Elliot was in a room for guests of that ship.
If someone who knew Prince Germaine saw him, he would describe him as 'thin Prince Germaine'. Despite the age difference of two years, their appearance was so similar.
However, the atmosphere released was totally different. Elliot didn't have a gloomy side and a certain sense of duty like Germaine, instead he possessed a bare desire and wildness typical of a hungry wolf. In some perspective, his well-featured face which gave a dauntless impression was colored with a loathsome arrogance.
He sat on a luxurious gilded chair with gold in the opposite direction, crossing his arms on the back of the chair, and putting his chin to rest on it. In front of the sight of his dirty smile, there was a woman.
She was about 20 years old. She was a beautiful woman with pale golden hair and emerald pupils, whose features which, though being intellectual, also possessed a loveliness that gave a vivid impression to those who gazed at her. She was wearing a light green dress, which highlighted the line that formed the constriction of her waist and her ample bosom.
She was a vanadis of Zchted, Sophia Obertas. Her ViraltDragonic Tool was seized, and ten days had passed since she had been locked in this room.
She sat on a shabby old chair, and was bound by an iron chain. The chain did not strongly tighten around her so as to cut into her body, and also did not injure her skin, but it was complicatedly entangled and applied a lock on her back so as to prevent her from removing it.
Meals, water and hot water to wash her body were only what she required. Besides, she refused even one piece of alternate clothing other than hers and spent her days in this narrow cabin. Three times a day, that unpleasant chain which coiled itself around her body was taken off. It was only at time for a short meal.
Although her golden hair had lost its glossiness and the shadow of fatigue blurred her face, her emerald pupils had not yet lost their strong will.
Elliot visited this room that encaged her up once a day. He didn't get tired no matter how many times he looked at Sophie's beauty.
"Miss Sophia. Do you know why I come every day to see you?"
"You wish to wash away your anxiety by looking at me, your deal's physical asset, no?"
Sophie caught Elliot's look from the front and answered back in a cold tone.
"That's not it," said the second prince of Asvarre with a distorted smile.
"I want to test myself. I want to see if I won't lose self-control and push you down. Though you have spent a long time in this musty room, I have already killed twelve of my subordinates only by having you stay here."
Not understanding the meaning of Elliot's words, Sophie frowned. The second prince of Asvarre broadly laughed, swaying back and forth the chair in which he was sitting in.
"This room is guarded by a group of four people. And four groups of people take turns. I severely sentenced those guys. I declared that if even one of the four tried to attack you, I would kill the four of them."
Sophie felt a chill crawl up her spine. Elliot put up three fingers and loudly laughed.
"There were three groups. Twelve people died. It's not because I starve for women so much, but because I properly kidnapped you. However, even though the first group was used as bait, those guys did not give up. That only shows how beautiful a woman you are. Even me, if I did not have to extradite you to Muozinel, I would have pushed you down long ago."
"Do you wish to try now?"
Loathing unpleasant feelings, Sophie provoked Elliot with a bold attitude. Because of this action, the iron chain which bound her issued subtle sounds.
"Though I would like to accept your invitation, still I must decline. Since my interaction with the Muozinel people is very shallow. I doubt those guys would do body check, but still they might as well just in case. Even those chains, which bind you, were devised so as not to injure your beautiful skin, you know?"
After undressing her whole body with his eyes, and especially staring at her chest, Elliot revealed a look that seemed to be satisfied and stood up from the chair. He left the room in gait similar to that of a drunkard.
Confirming signs of him leaving, Sophie sighed.
She was thinking that Elliot would not take the bait, even if she provoked him, but it was as expected. Were she to give in to fear, it would just bolster that violent man’s self confidence. As she is called the PresuvetBrilliant Princess of the Light Flower, she could discern that man’s true nature.
---I didn't think that pirate Prince would be my life-saving rope...
From what Sophie saw, Elliot did not particularly excel in martial arts. When they talked some time ago, he was full of openings.
---As long as I wish, Light Flower... My ViraltDragonic Tool will come at my hands. And I could cut such chains right away.
But, Sophie did not do so. The reason was very simple, it was because she could die.
Sophie perceived that Elliot could not become an effective hostage. Pirates would mercilessly kill Elliot, have their way with her body and then probably kill her afterwards. They felt no concern whatsoever for such a place. This was because they thought that they should return to pirate business.
Only Elliot has found a political value with Sophie's body. The value as a tool to draw the support of Muozinel. Therefore, after capturing Sophie, he literally hasn't even lifted one finger on her. Though he enjoyed throwing out vulgar words.
---I was really careless.
Remembering the time when she was arrested, Sophie strongly bit her lips in vexation.
By a ship which Zchted kingdom owns, Sophie visited the Asvarre Island. Since she was an official messenger, in addition to the mother ship, there were three escort ships.
When they arrived at the Capital, Elliot was absent. He was in the sea area between Asvarre Island and the mainland. Elliot dispatched a messenger and asked for talks in his ship, but Sophie compiled a reason to decline, and still remained in the Capital.
Prince Elliot finally backed down, it only looked like that (on the surface). "I will come to your ship for the meeting. Your ship doesn't need to come here; it doesn't matter even if you stop at the port," he said so and came.
Sophie, who thought that it could affect the negotiations if she further declined, consented. Though it was only a friendly relation on the surface, until she got concrete evidence that Elliot was cooperating with Muozinel, she had to carry out this attitude.
Then a few days later, Elliot appeared on the ship with the red dragon on the white ground which folded sail. He jumped to Sophie's light ship, and the talk began.
The talk went smoothly to Sophie's surprise. Elliot always maintained a smile, even when he declared a vow to maintain an everlasting relationship with Zchted. Sophie, of course, did not believe him, but it is clear that the quiet atmosphere did not die out.
"The talk is over," said Elliot. "I wish to give you a gift, will you please come to my boat?"
Sophie was confused, but still accepted his invitation. Elliot's ship was anchored, and also surrounded by the three escort ships. If compelled, she could just jump down from the ship.
Moving second Prince of Asvarre's ship, Sophie, led by the sailors, climbed up the stern ladder.
An accident occurred at that time. As she thought she smelled a strange odor, a black smoke flowed out from the deck. When she thought "Damnit!", Sophie grasping her ViraltDragonic Tool, fell off the ladder she just climbed up. Unfolding before Sophie's eyes as she came back to the deck, were crimson flames and black smoke that tortuously stretched.
Though surprised, she is also a vanadis. She decided to jump into the sea in one go, and rushed into the black smoke. However, Sophie's body bumped into something within the black smoke and bounced back.
Elliot was thoughtfully prepared. Waiting for Sophie to get off the ladder, they placed barrels and wooden box soaked beforehand with fish oil in the stern and set it on fire, and aside from that, they also efficiently set up a barrier of barrels. And only one the fall became the biggest failure.
The pirates under Elliot sailed while raising the anchor, and successfully escaped from the escort ships in panic that had begun to take action.
When Sophie was freed from the flames and the black smoke, the ship had already left the shore. While defeating the pirates surrounding her would be very easy, she had no confidence that she could swim back the port. She also understood that it was impossible to take over the ship all by herself.
As she was deep in thoughts while the ship was leaving the port, the three escort ships were surrounded by pirate ships that were several times more than when they escaped. She was told to drop her weapon by Elliot who appeared among the pirates, and Sophie put her ViraltDragonic Tool on the feet and surrendered.
Afterward, the people of the escort ships were held hostage to force Sophie to surrender, so she could only obey. Elliot did not kill them, he took them to the Capital and imprisoned them. He picked up subordinates to occupy the empty escort ships, and did not also forget to put on a way to prolong the negotiations.
Many people who were at the port saw Elliot's ship burnt down then. Zchted would find out before long. However, for Elliot, it would be good not to be found until the extradition of Sophie to Muozinel.
---Be patient for now, Sophia Obertas.
Looking at the slightly dirty floor, Sophie persuaded herself. Just wreaking havoc would certainly be a vanadis's shame. An opportunity would surely come some day. She just has to wait until that time.
---Shall I go meet Lunie-chan first, after I safely return to Zchted?
She imagined a happy future and cheered herself up. She remembered the figure of the young dragon with green-blue scales which was at her friend's place. Then, Ellen, Mira, Sasha's figures crossed her mind, and then emerged the face of the youth with darkish red hair.
"That reminds me, I didn't meet him for half a year. Even though it is a rare occasion for him to be in Zchted."
The reason that she did not see him was very simple, it's because Sophie was so busy that she had not the time to visit LeitMeritz.
"I would like to meet him after such a long time. I wonder what he is doing now-"
Of course, Sophie had no way of knowing, that Tigre was in this country right now.
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