Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 07 Chapter 3
Chapter 3 - A Ruler's Cruelty
Scooping the warm hot water with both hands, Sophie exhaled breath tinged with heat. The hot water sprang with a splashing sound.
Freely stretching both her hands and legs, she once again realized the freedom of her body. As she was soaking in the hot water up to the shoulders and was relaxing, there was comfort as if all the fatigue built-up in her body was coming off. The wounds covering her body all over slightly stung.
Here was the royal capital Colchester, of the Kingdom of Asvarre. It was the large bath in the palace. It was in a special bathroom provided only to nobles and privileged guests from other countries with a status above a certain level, and the ceiling, walls, floor, and the bathtub were made of marble.
On the walls was drawn the battle of the founder Artorias, and the bathtub was large enough to take in dozens of people with ease. It was said that the hot water was carried from a hot spring in the vicinity of the royal capital.
Only the two people, Sophie and Olga, were using that open space.
Olga, in a place slightly distant, rounded her back and held her knees; she was soaking in the hot water up to the chin. When her eyes and Sophie’s met, she blatantly averted her eyes.
---Ara Ara…… I’m fairly disliked.
Sophie could do nothing but smile wryly. That attitude of Olga's did not start today or yesterday; it was something which started from when they met in the field of Salentes, and it had continued for some time now.
Five days had passed since they sank two pirate ships in the village of Luarca and captured Elliot.
After that, Tigre and the others headed towards the Port of Maliayo, and from there sailed away to Asvarre's Main Island by ship. It was in this evening that they arrived at the royal capital Colchester.
Sophie first reunited with her subordinates who were held hostage, and they were glad for each other’s safety. Afterwards, she wished that she could get over with a bath before, and was guided here.
Though the Asvarre servant had tried to prepare different baths respectively for Sophie and Olga at first, the golden-haired Vanadis gently turned it down.
“It might be uncalled for me, but aren’t you very busy now? Regarding Olga and I, we do not mind even if we used the same bathroom together.”
The Asvarre servant was very thankful for this. Though Tallard sent a messenger when he was making preparations for various things beforehand, they kept being surprised - be it that the civil war showed a temporary conclusion, or that the victor was Guinevere.
There were a lot of things that had to be done, and the manpower was already lacking here and there.
Because of such circumstances, Sophie and Olga were in the same large bathroom.
Sophie made such a proposal because she wanted to create an opportunity to be alone with Olga. On the way up to the capital, Sophie called out to her several times, but the reaction of the 14-year-old Vanadis was always unfriendly.
Although in the beginning Sophie was perplexed, she had now guessed the reason why Olga took such an attitude. It was about Tigre. Rather than saying that Sophie was perceptive, it was instead that the light pink-colored hair girl’s attitude was too easy to understand.
And when she understood it, Sophie thought that she must properly talk with her somewhere. Hence, she thought that going together into the bath was a good opportunity.
---However, like this, she won’t listen to me even if I say that we don’t have such a relationship.
Sophie inwardly sighed. From her perspective, Olga’s eyes were like that of a child from whom one tried to steal a favorite toy.
In fact, it did not also mean that she was not necessarily responsible. At the time Tigre saved her, she was so deeply moved that she buried her face in his chest, and had wailed without even paying heed to the public gaze. When she recalled it even now, she got so embarrassed that her face turned bright red.
She thought that Olga was not there on that occasion, but from the story she heard later, Tigre and her were both acting together; at that time, she had seen it from far away.
Certainly, she thought that he was a likable young man. She also understood that Ellen and Mira held him in high esteem, but as far as she was concerned, Tigre was a close friend of her best friend.
Somewhere in her heart, there was a voice that whispered so to Sophie.
It was indeed a desperate situation. Being taken hostage, deprived of her freedom, and taken to the ground of a foreign country of which she did not even know the topography. Though Elliot was in a sense controlling the pirates, the uneasy days in which she could not let her guard down continued, and she was mentally and physically exhausted.
If reliable people showed up to such a place to save her, it could not be helped that her mind would loosen.
But, if it was someone other than Tigre, who appeared in Salentes, would she have lost control of her restrained emotions to that extent?
---If it was Ellen, Mira or Sasha, I might have embraced them though……
This was because those three were people she could trust. It was also, largely, that there was no need to consider the position. For example, if it was one of her subordinate who appeared there, she would have never taken such an action. To deserve to be called Vanadis, a resolute attitude should be carried out.
---I wonder if I am more attracted to him than I think.
Sophie scooped up the hot water with both hands and stared at her face reflected in it.
Probably surprised to be suddenly embraced, Tigre kindly hugged her, who was sobbing. In the youth’s hands around her back, there was the warmth that could make her relieved.
It was not like her to worry about these kinds of things. Joining both her hands together, and letting the water splash, Sophie cut her stream of thought.
At that time, the thread of tension had snapped and appeared in such an action. It was good like that. Whether her face was hot or she felt the throbbing of her chest, she persuaded herself that it was because she was soaked in hot water.
Suddenly, Olga called out to her. Sophie, who was absorbed in her thoughts, shrugged her shoulders with a startle and looked at the girl with light pink-colored hair. She was able to put on a smile, but her voice sounded slightly hollow.
“What kind of relation do you have with Tigre?”
The frank inquiry of the young girl left the Vanadis with golden hair rather calm. Sophie replied with a smile.
“Lord Tigrevurmud is my benefactor. I owe him a favor, which I think I can never return in my whole life.”
If Sophie had lost her life, the land of Polesia that she ruled as a Vanadis would not have avoided confusion. Serious opposition would have arisen between Zchted and Asvarre. By saving Sophie, not only had Tigre saved her life but he had also protected many things. The Vanadis of ZahtLight Flower understood that exactly.
“That’s…… Yeah. That's right. After all, Tigre did his best to save you.”
Olga nodded with a depressed face. Although she could very much consent, her expression was saying that it was not what she wanted to hear. Sophie unintentionally laughed at that reaction.
“Because he is that sort of person, he probably won’t expect any gratitude from me, but if there is anything he requests from me, I intend to be at his disposition anytime.”
Before Sophie finished speaking, Olga stood up vigorously in the bathtub, letting hot water splash. With her face dyed red, she shook her delicate shoulders and looked down at Sophie.
“What do you mean by a-anything he requests?”
“It’s exactly as you imagine.”
After letting Olga become speechless with her immediate reply, Sophie lowered her head and barely suppressed the laughter welling in her. And then, she raised her face and grinned at the girl who was wearing a dubious look.
“I’m sorry. It’s a joke, a joke.”
With these words, Olga finally realized that she had been teased. She sank her body in the hot water without even trying to hide her bad mood, and scowled at the golden-haired Vanadis while sulking. Revealing a somehow bitter smile to the too serious girl, Sophie decided to answer seriously.
“But, when I say that Lord Tigrevurmud is for me an important benefactor, I really mean it. As I have already explained, the relationship between him and me is, in a word, my best friend’s best friend.”
“……Your best friend’s best friend?”
Although the anger and wariness that filled Olga’s black pupils faded, a color of doubt was born instead. Sophie nodded.
“Didn’t you hear about Ellen……Eleanora Viltaria from him? I became acquainted with him through Ellen.”
Sophie talked to Olga about the fight against the black knight Roland in the civil war that broke out in Brune last year. Sophie was 21 years old, seven years older than Olga. Perhaps because of that, it felt like an older sister telling an old tale to her little sister.
However, there were of course some parts she omitted. She could not tell that they had a chance encounter while she was bathing in a river, since it was embarrassing after all.
And the next time they met again was when the civil war of Brune ended. Sophie, who was sent as a special envoy, met again with Tigre and the others in the Royal Palace of Brune.
Although the talk was not that lively partly because of King Faron’s death and Tigre’s treatment while being in the royal capital Nice, the four girls Lim, Ellen, Mira, and Sophie intended to comfort and cheer up Tigre on the way to Zchted.
“Then, is this the third time you have met?”
Olga, who finished hearing the story, asked with a dubious tone. As Sophie affirmed “that’s right”, she took a hot breath of relief. But, Sophie was still not willing to let her feel relieved. She said in a casual tone.
“It would be nice to make such a person a lover.”
Olga’s cheek was dyed red at the word “lover”. The girl was visibly flustered.
“B-but, you said that Tigre is your best friend’s best friend. And that you only met three times……”
“Yes. That’s true. However, relations between humans will not necessarily remain unchanged forever, right? There are cases where even with only one encounter, one can deeply love the other party and be loved. Besides, as I said earlier, he is my benefactor.”
To Sophie’s lines, Olga diverted her gaze and sank into silence. After meaninglessly throwing splashes of hot water with her fingers, she hesitantly asked.
“……Do you like Tigre?”
“I don’t even know that myself.”
While keeping her smile, Sophie regretfully shrugged her shoulders.
“Of course, I like him. But even if I say that, the word ‘like’ has a lot of meanings. When there’s ‘like’ regarding family, ‘like’ regarding friends is not the same.”
The 14-year-old Vanadis made a wry face and nodded. Though she did not seem to be pleased with Sophie’s unclear behavior, she also understood that it was due to her honesty.
Olga’s gaze gradually moved towards the bottom of Sophie’s face, and stopped at her rich chest floating in mid-water. At this time, Olga became aware of her flat chest.
When seeing it up close like this, it was breathtakingly big. Nonetheless, it also had a good shape, without hanging down. It was splendid to the extent that she would not think to compare, let alone rival it.
“May I also ask you something?”
Considering that they were friendly to a certain extent, Sophie asked in a moderate tone. Although Olga did not answer, her look was not a rejection.
---Well, where should I start?
There was a mountain of things that she wanted to ask to the young girl. Where were you up to now, and why were you there? What were you doing here in Asvarre? What do you intend to do in the future?
There were also questions about this war. Though she had already heard it from Tigre and Matvey, there might have been things that they did not say for some reasons. Sophie wanted to hear the story from more people.
---Before that, let’s make another try just in case.
She wanted to avoid letting Olga, whose attitude finally loosened, become obstinate again. Deciding to continue to chat a little more, Sophie mischievously smiled.
“What do you like about Lord Tigrevurmud?”
Though she wanted to throw Olga into confusion, the young girl stared at Sophie with a serious expression.
“He’s strong and kind. Besides---”
After a slight hesitation, Olga continued at a stretch with a voice mingled with admiration and remorse.
“Whether it be painful things, difficult things, or foolish things that one could only consider as irrational, Tigre did not run away. Even when it was better that he gave up, he did not do so.”
Sophie knitted her brows. Though it was due to the overly serious attitude of Olga, she was also worried about the contents of her speech. Both Tigre and Matvey did not talk so much in detail about this war.
---If I’m not mistaken, they said that they were almost killed by Prince Jermaine, and then cooperated with Lord Tallard, who had murdered the Prince……
They had captured Fort Lux, and delayed the march of Elliot army after landing by launching a night attack; they had achieved victory in Salentes, and finally they had caught Elliot in the village of Luarca. She had also heard that Lester, who was guarding the Fort Lux, was a demon named Torbalan.
But, she did not hear about how they attacked the Fort, how they set up the night attack, and whether or not there were any other measures carried out.
“Can you tell me more about it?”
It was at noon of the next day that the trio Tigre, Olga and Sophie went out to the town from the palace. The three people put on overcoats of plain color on top of hempen clothes, and wore hats which were either brown or gray. So as not to attract attention, they wrapped their bodies in very common traveling outfits.
Although it was sunny, the the hazy light blue color which spread in the sky did not give that satisfactory an impression. But according to the servant of the palace, it will be very sunny today. In Asvarre, it may be such a thing.
Olga had wrapped her ViraltDragonic Tool in a cloth and carried it on her shoulder, Tigre was holding his black bow, and Sophie didn’t have anything in her hands. It was because she could call ZahtLight Flower in hand whenever she wanted, and she was also confident that she could knock down the opponents bare-handed if there were few. Above all, she was not alone now.
Tigre wanted Matvey, who was fluent in the Asvarre language, to come with them, but he was turned down by the scary-looking former sailor.
“Sophia-dono is good in Asvarre language. If she’s with you, there won’t be a language problem. And please, try not to offend Olga-dono too much. Even if I’m like this, I’ve taken quite a liking to you and Olga-dono.”
What Matvey implicitly implied, was probably the fact that Olga did not like Sophie. He seemingly wanted to say that being involved in the two Vanadis’ quarrel would be unbearable.
Though vaguely, Tigre had also noticed; but as he did not know how to deal with it, he slightly resented Matvey, who did not come.
Both Olga and Sophie were calm so far. Rather, up to yesterday, they seemed to have compromised.
---Have both of them settled down after resting overnight?
Tigre decided to think so optimistically for the time being.
The buildings near the palace, which piled up stones and bricks, were many and their forms were also unique. Though basically square, one of the four corners was surely made into a circular tower. The roofs were very plain.
“I did not see buildings like this even in Maliayo or Valverde.”
While curiously scrolling around the surrounding buildings, Tigre leaked such an impression. Sophie who was walking immediately to the youth’s left, responded,
“Maliayo and Valverde are towns where various cultures are mixed. It is said that it was at first the culture of the Kingdom of Cadiz which built up this town, and then the adjoining cultures of Sachstein, Brune, and Asvarre came in and took such a form.”
Though the traffic around here was not light, only the figures of soldiers and government officials were standing out.
However, when walking near the river which flowed through the center of the royal capital, a change in scenery came. Most stone-made buildings disappeared, and many wooden houses came to stand in a row. Stone pavements were also only spread over a part of the main street, and were extended in all directions by trampling the soil.
Liberated from the atmosphere where the feeling of tension drifted, Tigre and Olga slightly sighed.
“The houses around here are called ship houses. They seem to have been built using the still usable wood belonging to dismantled scrapped ships.”
Sophie, who walked beside Tigre, looked up at the wooden townscape with a joyful smile. While turning her gaze to the big river, which continued to the port, she continued the explanation.
“It seems that the scrapped ships were dismantled in a shipbuilding place near the port, and brought up to here using this river. It is also said that they sometimes demolish houses, which have become much too old, and build new houses with the scrap wood.”
“Even though there might be no problem since only this much was built here, can something like scrap woods be used?”
Tigre stopped and looked at the river. The river width was at least 300 alsins. Ferryboats to the opposite bank and boats, which carried a load from the port, were floating in great number on the ultramarine surface of the river. All the ships were painted in white, and they looked like birds resting their wings when seen from a distance.
“It seems that they have become hard by soaking in sea water for years, and even insects hardly attach onto it. It’s also something I have only heard though. Should we try to ask someone as travelers?”
To Sophie, who impishly laughed, Tigre shook his head with a bitter smile.
Though it was not as if he wasn't interested, they could not afford too much time. They had to leave this country tomorrow, so it was only now that they had the opportunity to visit several places.
As they walked toward the port, they entered a street where stalls were lined up.
The merchants raised their voices to housewives and sailors. Itinerant entertainer and minstrels were standing in a corner of the road, showing off street performances and strumming the harp. Although Tigre could not grasp at all the meaning since the words flying about were all in Asvarre language, he could figure it out slightly from the mood and behavior.
“It’s not all that lively.”
Olga, who was silently walking immediately to the right, muttered so. Since Tigre was also feeling the same, he nodded while saying “That’s right”. Colors of relief and anxiety were visible, which alternately or simultaneously appeared on the faces of people walking down the street.
“The civil war is finally over. However it’s not Prince Elliot, who was staying in the royal capital until recently, who won, but Princess Guinevere. It would be hard to say, “Don’t become anxious”.
It might also be due to the tingly atmosphere of the neighborhood of the palace.
“If we had come at a different time, it might have been lively.”
Tigre, a little disappointed, thought.
Nonetheless, the streets were filled with liveliness when the port came into view with the faint fragrance of tide, and the hustle and bustle increased its scale. The words that could be heard, and the characters that could be read, were not only in Asvarre language; Brune language, Zchted language, Muozinel language, and the like, began to be mixed.
Olga tightly grasped Tigre’s hand quietly. To Tigre, who looked down at her with a wondering face, the girl with light pink-colored hair returned her usual deadpan while whispering.
“It won’t be good if you get lost.”
Though Tigre consented, “it’s also true”, and turned around forward, Olga turned toward Sophie only for an instant and showed a proud smile. In the youth’s left hand was the black bow, so Sophie could not likewise hold his hand.
Although Sophie heartwarmingly felt that it was childish, she was not naturally willing to let her triumph. Sophie entwined her arm with Tigre’s arm in a casual gesture. Tigre, indeed surprised, looked back at her. Her pupils of beryl were very close.
“W-what’s the matter, suddenly?”
“It’s also so as not to get separated. No?”
“I’m not saying no, but……”
Looking slightly doubtful, Tigre could only return incoherent words to Sophie, who demanded with upturned eyes. One of the reasons, which left the youth confused, was the soft sensation of her rich chest conveyed to his arm.
“Umm, isn’t this a little conspicuous?”
“It’s all right. Even if we entwined our arms, I will protect you this time.”
Tigre sighed. He knew that there was a part of Sophie which liked to play pranks like this. Even before, there was the time when he had been blindfolded by hand from behind by her while she said, “who is it?”. She would probably not easily listen to him, whatever he might say.
While looking up at the two people, Olga squeezed Tigre’s hand. She was grinding her teeth with her deadpan expression unchanged. Be it from the height viewpoint or from the physique viewpoint, it was something for her to do. The Vanadis had been doubly defeated.
With one holding his hand and the other entangled with his arm, Tigre was walking down the street. It was embarrassing to assume a defiant attitude in this case, so he decided to shift his attention to the state of the town.
There was a store which was selling bread smeared with grape jam. It was interesting only with the shape of the bread being different. Next to it, there was a store, which sold deer meat and diced potatoes alternately pierced with spits; being whetted by the fragrant smell, Tigre bought it.
It was Sophie, who paid for it and received it.
Tigre stiffened. Their arms were firmly linked, so he could not part from her. Olga stared at Sophie with a sour look; the spit-roasting seller, who received the money, was looking at this while grinning broadly.
“…… Since we will get in the way of the store, let’s eat somewhere else.”
That proposal was the best that Tigre could do now.
As she fed one share of spit-roasting to Tigre in a distant place, Sophie finally freed the youth. She chuckled and slightly bowed her head.
“I am sorry. I have always wanted to try this kind of thing.”
“……Well, it was a refreshing experience.”
Tigre answered so while heaving a sigh of relief. However on the other hand, he also felt somewhat disappointed that the wonderful sensation, which was like sinking, left his arm. And noticing it himself, he shook his head as to brush away the idle thoughts.
“Tigre. There is a tang drink over there.”
Being pulled as such by Olga, Tigre headed that way. Although the spit-roasting was delicious, since the salty taste was strong, he indeed wanted something to drink. Sophie, while wearing a smile, followed after the two people one step behind.
Probably as a sunshade, an emergency roof was established in the stall with an overcoat, and some round yellow fruits hung there, giving off a unique fragrance. According to what was said, it seemed to be fruit which had been carried from a country of the Far East. The drink was made by adding sugar to the juice squeezed from those fruits.
His interest welling up, Tigre took out several copper coins. The fruit juice seller received the copper coins, mashed about three yellow fruits together with an iron utensil, and poured it into a ceramic cup. He put sugar and mashed herbs in it and pushed it out to Tigre.
“You may throw away the cup over there after finishing drinking.”
While thanking him after receiving it, Tigre remembered the castle town of LeitMeritz. When he drank fruit juice in a cup with a slightly yellowish-white liquid, there was a sour taste in the sweetness, and it was refreshing down his throat.
“It’s delicious. Do you also want to try it, Olga?”
The girl with light pink-colored hair strongly nodded. However, when Tigre tried to order another cup, she hurriedly stopped him.
“……I will drink what only remains.”
“But, it’s at least only half that remains.”
Though Tigre asked so as to confirm, Olga nodded once again while saying, “I don’t mind”. Olga received the cup that the youth handed over while cocking his head in puzzlement, and was happily drinking rather than savoring it.
Tigre also asked Sophie, and bought her something to drink. In addition, the trio bought eel soup and dried shellfish, baked bread stuffed with finely chopped onion and cheese and the like, and ate; they went around and saw various things.
Although he talked with a lot of people through Sophie, and was worried about the future, now it seemed that there were many people who felt relieved that the civil war was over.
Afterwards, the trio stopped by several shops, bought souvenirs, and went back to the palace.
When the day set, a banquet was held in the hall of the palace.
All the candles were lit on the chandelier of the ceiling, and torches mixed with fragrance were also decorating the walls. Many round tables were displayed, and beside the candlesticks, sake, dish, fruits and the like were placed. Only the brightness was enough to be mistaken for a daytime.
However, the number of people, who were attending, was not much. Though the members were Tallard’s subordinates Kress Dill and Ludra, and moreover the influential nobles of the country, diplomats of other countries and the likes, there were fewer than thirty people.
“Or maybe so.”
Looking at them from far away, Sophie calmly evaluated so.
“Those, who were supporting Prince Jermaine and Prince Elliot, have not yet pledged allegiance to Princess Guinevere. There was probably no program of the triumphal return ceremony proclaimed, right?”
Tigre realized that now that she had mentioned it. Though Sophie chuckled so that it could only be seen by the youth, she immediately returned a serious expression.
“As for our leaving this country tomorrow, one of the reasons is because we cannot afford to keep company here to the other party. Kill those who do not comply, stabilize the country and on top of it, hold the triumphal return ceremony and coronation. It might be impossible to do all of this in half a year or one year.”
Sophie carefully brushed her golden hair; she was dressed in a pale green dress different from the one she usually wore. That her bosom looked a little tight was because the adjustments were not made in time. A golden necklace was shining on her neck. This was what Tigre bought for her today.
Her chest was decorated with big jasper garnished pearl-toned gold everywhere. The white glow of the pearl was not letting the golden necklace buried in Sophie’s blond hair, and the jasper was showing a bright coloring in the background of her white skin.
Olga, who was silently standing near Tigre, was likewise wearing a dress. The dress, which was in light pink color as to match her hair, and the bright flower drawn on the hem, which gently spread, were directing the cuteness suitable for her age.
Her rather short hair was carefully combed down, and the hair ornament was shining. It was also something that Tigre bought and gave her. It was skillfully adorning the jade white seashell on the silver clasp, and was looking very pretty in her light pink hair. “It’s a waste that she’s not smiling”, Matvey made such a critic .
That Matvey was wearing seemingly tight black silk clothes, which garnished his shoulders and cuffs with a silver decoration. Though Tigre was also dressed exactly like him, this was because he found it troublesome to think about his own.
Guinevere, who was the main actor of the party, appeared before long. Though this was the first time that Tigre saw her, when he saw her figure, he stared in wonder. It was not only the youth, but also Sophie, and most of the persons present.
Guinevere was 20 years old, one year younger than Sophie. Her black hair, which looked like green, due to the angle of light, was so long that it reached to her waist, and her body build was slightly slim. Her face was white egg-shaped. Therein were almond eyes, a thin nose bridge, and thin lips. She was a beautiful woman so as to stare wide-eyed.
But it was not only her beauty, which left the attendants flabbergasted. It was also the fact that the dress she was wearing, was a solid black without ornament. In the Kingdom of Asvarre, there was a custom that said that when observing mourning, one must wear something black as a sign of mourning.
If the ornament was applied on her dress, or she was dressed up with jewels, her dress-up might be understandable. However, the black dress without such things reminded all the attendants of her situation.
Guinevere was standing above the corpses of her two brothers.
The Princess, who managed to attract the attention just with that get-up, quietly picked up the hem of her dress with both hands, and gracefully bowed.
“---I, Guinevere, wish to deeply express my gratitude to all of you gathered here tonight. Although it is a modest banquet, I wish for you to spend a good time.”
Though it was a courteous demeanor yet not befitting of a Princess, the people, who gathered here, were just nodding, without expressing scornful laughter, or turning a disdaining look. With that she held the initiative of the place.
“Then, I would like to go with the toast, but before that, there is someone I would like to introduce.”
Invited by Guinevere and standing next to her was Tallard. The young man, who led the civil war to a conclusion, was wearing a red overcoat on top of white silk clothes and black trousers. The lack of ornament seemed to rather individualize his gallantness.
Though there were probably those, who harbored antipathy toward him, as he introduced himself in a dignified manner, there was no one brave enough to openly say it. When they finished the greeting, Guinevere and Tallard came walking to where Sophie and the others were.
“On this occasion, I would like to introduce my close friends. First, this is Sophia Obertas-sama, a Vanadis of the Kingdom of Zchted.”
When Guinevere bowed to Sophie, she took her hand and looked back toward the attendants. Of course it was the first meeting of the two girls, but those, who knew it, were few in number.
The golden-haired Vanadis friendly grabbed back the hand of the Princess of Asvarre, and sweetly smiled at the attendants. A sigh of admiration escaped from several people’s mouths.
Guinevere also introduced Olga and Tigre. Respectively as the second Vanadis, and as the hero who ended the civil war in Brune. From her viewpoint, there were only influential persons of other countries. There was no one around that was not impressed.
After all the introductions were over, the party began.
It might have been partly because the number of those who participated in the banquet was small, but the party ended after about one koku.
Speaking of Tigre, he was mentally exhausted by dealing with those, who showed up for the greeting one after another. If Matvey did not exercise tact and bring meal and alcohol, he might not have eaten anything.
There were not so many people, who left him a strong impression.
---Oh, but there was one.
While drinking diluted wine in a crystal glass, Tigre remembered the man that Ludra, who was formally dressed, had introduced to him.
It was a man by the name of Fitz Lafort, whom Tallard, like Kress Dill and Ludra, had a deep trust in. Though he was not someone who excelled in military arts, he excelled in calculation and drawing; it was also Lafort, who improved the catapult.
He was nearly 40 years old. He was one head shorter than Ludra and had a round face. His forehead was large, and his fluffy brown hair was rolled around the area next to his ears.
He honestly praised Tigre’s skill with the bow; he wanted to hear this and that about the bow, such as “How does it make an arrow fly so well?”, “What materials are good?” and the like.
Though his attitude was similar to that of a child full of curiosity, not befitting at all the attitude of a nearly 40-year-old man, it was rather desirable to Tigre, who taught him what he knew.
When looking at the banquet hall, there were still several people, who did not leave. Sophie was still talking with Guinevere, and Olga was rubbing her eyes while suppressing a yawn beside Tigre.
Tigre and Matvey were thinking to leave the place and returned in their respective rooms, when Sophie finished her talk, but the chat between the Vanadis and the Princess did not seem to end soon.
“Hey, do you have a moment?”
Someone suddenly called out from the side. As they looked, Tallard was standing there. He adopted a casual attitude as if speaking to a longtime friend. Matvey asked “what’s the matter?” with the look.
A shadow shone on Tigre’s expression. As the youth put the glass, which he was holding in hand, on the nearby table, while stroking the head of Olga, who was sleepy, he whispered to the scary-looking former sailor in a lower voice.
“I also have to talk with Tallard. When Sophie’s talk is over, the three of you please go back.”
Tigre went out with Tallard to the balcony connected to the banquet hall.
Although they could apparently overlook the city from there, being night, anything was hardly visible since the moon was hidden by the clouds. Within the darkness, several small lights, which were lit, were probably houses’ lights that leaked to the outside. Near the port, what was conspicuously shining brightly was the flame of the lighthouse.
The two men, silent for a while, were looking at the city at night. The autumn breeze, which blew through the balcony from right to left, gently stroked the two people’s cheeks.
“I wonder how many days have passed since I properly talked with you like this. Since Salentes?”
It was Tallard who spoke first. While staring at the darkness, Tigre briefly replied “That’s right”.
After the battle in Salentes was over, Tigre led the borrowed soldiers and like that headed to the village of Luarca with Ludra. And then they captured Elliot.
Meanwhile, Tallard once again recaptured the Fort Lux, and while not leaving the search for Elliot only to Tigre, he was busy with the work to declare that Princess Guinevere stood up and helped bring an end the civil war of the country. In addition, he was also performing the reinforcement of the public order around Valverde.
Although the two men joined in Maliayo after Tigre caught Elliot, there was no room to exchange conversation. Organizing the fleet that headed to the royal capital, Tallard had to shave even the time to sleep and to take the command.
“You really saved me. Anything and everything, you did much more than what I had been expecting from you.”
To Tallard’s praise, Tigre shook his head while saying “it was nothing”. To Tallard, who turned a dubious face toward him, he deeply bowed his head, when his whole body turned around.
“---I’m sorry. About burning the villages. And also about throwing the poison in the wells.”
“Oh, that, huh.”
Tallard’s reaction was far calmer than what Tigre was expecting. Though probably it was because he had already received the reports from Ludra, nevertheless it was too plain.
“It was necessary, right? I don’t intend to blame you.”
Tigre stared at Tallard with a dumbfounded face. Because it was said way too much indifferently, Tigre doubted whether it was Tallard’s slip of tongue or he misheard.
However, Tallard seemingly said so. Without concern for Tigre.
And then, Tigre did not have words to retort. Exactly just as Tallard said, it was a necessary measure. If they had left those villages just as it is, they would have definitely been burned after being used and deprived. Like what happened in the village of Luarca.
“If I was also put in the same situation, I would have done the same. Even if there was a very clever plan, it was not certain that it would absolutely succeed. The best we could do was to burn them after all.”
Saying so, Tallard returned his gaze to the darkness.
“Elliot was a man full of surprises, but before he could surprise us, we also showed a movement such as the mean of burning. To be frank, I thought that we would have had to burn around 30 to 40 villages. Since I considered such a possibility, I was rather surprised.”
---He was prepared assuming the worst case scenario, huh.
Tigre could consent with Tallard’s attitude only a little. But, it was still hard to swallow. Although the damage was less than he expected, was it something to be so calm about it like this?
“I won’t say to not let it bother you, but worrying too much about it would bring nothing good for both your body and mind.”
Even though he could not see Tigre’s expression in this darkness, Tallard spoke as if he had seen through Tigre’s innermost thoughts.
“From now on, Princess Guinevere and I will bring Asvarre together. In both the Main Island and the Continent, there are still many enemies. We will fight, fight and fight. If we have to burn villages during those battles, there would be many residents, who would crush towns and cities where the enemy shuts himself up in.”
As Tigre imagined the scene, bitterness warped in his face. The terrible sight of the villages which he burnt with his owns hands, was revived in his mind. But, the feeling of disgust soon disappeared. This was because the voice of Tallard, who continued speaking, was filled with ambition enough to daunt those who hear it.
“I will do it. If it is necessary, if I judge that it is the best way.”
That was the declaration of this young man’s way of moving forward whatever might happen. As he was willing to walk that path, which was cemented with blood of allies and innocents, he said.
“It’s the form of king that I aim at.”
King. That’s right. Tallard had said that he would become King.
---But, it won’t probably end up with only becoming King.
Despite being blown to the cool night air, sweat blurred on Tigre’s forehead. While regulating his breathing, the youth carefully asked.
“……What would you do in cases you were to make wrong choices?”
“Is there a life without mistakes?”
A light and immediate answer was returned.
“By the way Tigre, what do you plan to do from now on?”
As the drive, which he had until a while ago, suddenly disappeared, Tallard asked in a friendly voice.
“Go back to Zchted, of course.”
“It’s not what I’m asking. I ask if whether or not you have big aspirations.”
Tigre, during a count of about three, after staring at the darkness answered in his usual tone.
“When you say big, do you speak about something like hunting a bear or a wild boar, which had become a legend?”
Tallard burst into laughter.
Parting from Tallard, Tigre went back to the guest room given to him. The room was large, and the furnishings, such as candlestick had a quaint traditional feel. A carpet was spreading on the floor, and the bed large enough to let three adults lie down side by side.
Lying down in the bed, Tigre stared at the pitch-dark ceiling. Thinking about Tallard’s words, he then suddenly remembered having forgotten for what kind of business Tallard wanted to speak. Or maybe, he had just wanted to praise Tigre’s brave fight.
---『If I deem it necessary』
What made him make such a statement? Was it confidence in his ability?
---Aiming to be King, huh.
When the two men looked down at the peaceful cityscape of Valverde, he said so. Maybe the words, “If I deem it necessary”, were not from self-confidence, but from the resolution to aim to be King. Though regardless of King, there must be qualities required for a person, who stood above the others.
Thinking up to there, Tigre stirred up his red hair in irritation as he rose from the bed.
He picked up the bell put near the bed, and rang it. He was told to call the chamberlain by ringing it when there would be something he needed. To the chamberlain who soon showed up, Tigre asked whether there was no well nearby, since he wanted to take a bath. After the chamberlain looked puzzled as he was thinking, he answered like this.
“The well is far away from this room, and it is dangerous. With all due respect, how about going to the public bath?”
“Is there still hot water remaining?”
“Yes. Since the maids used the remaining hot water for laundry and cleaning when the day dawned. Though we cannot provide all the lights and the water has become lukewarm, would there be no problem, when bathing? Of course, if you wish to have hot water, I will prepare it, but I will need time to boil......”
“No, thank you. I will go the public bath.”
For the time being, as for Tigre he wanted to feel refreshed by being entirely covered with ice. As the corridor was pitch-dark, the chamberlain had a candlestick which he lit, and was guiding Tigre, while holding a thick cloth to wipe his body and changing clothes, to the public bathroom. When they arrived, he handed over the thick cloth and change off clothes to Tigre.
“If you have any demand such as spices, I will prepare it.”
“This is enough. I can go back to my room alone, so take a rest.”
“How will you do with the light?”
To the chamberlain’s question, Tigre showed a candlestick with a finger. There were three candles stuck into the candlestick, and fire was flickering at the tip of each.
“Please place one candle and a tinderbox there.”
Even if he could suddenly call someone to deal with what he needed at night, he should carry a tinderbox for emergency. The chamberlain bowed his head while saying, “As you wish”, and passed to Tigre the candle, in which he put out the fire, and a tinderbox, he went away walking down the dark corridor.
When he opened the door, there was first a dressing room. At this time, Tigre’s eyes were fairly accustomed to the darkness, so he properly left his undressed clothes, and the candle there, and headed to the public bath.
When he set his foot in the public bath, Tigre stopped. There was a light on the wall. Though unexpected, there was apparently a preceding visitor.
“---Who is it?”
A voice of someone asking identity followed the sound of water splashing. To the familiar female voice, Tigre stared in wonder, and unintentionally called the other party’s name.
“Is it Sophie?”
Within the darkness, the two people gasped in surprise, and stiffened on the spot.
Although there was light on the wall, it was something small; and of course it was not illuminating the whole bath. Tigre could only see Sophie’s black shadow, which was in the dimly lit bathroom. It appeared to be the same for Sophie.
It was Tigre, who was first released from tension. He said, “Sorry”, and quickly turned his back to the public bath. Sophie called the youth, who was about to leave, to halt.
The place calmer than earlier, was once again wrapped in tension. Tigre could not move from the spot due to puzzlement and confusion, and Sophie was stuttering as she was surprised at her own words. When Tigre began to feel impatience thinking, “what should I do?”, Sophie called the youth in a voice
“Why did you come to such a place at such a time?”
Although he had half-way given up that she would probably not believe him whatever he said, Tigre honestly answered that he came to take a bath. While answering, he thought that it really sounded like an excuse one would make when caught peeping.
However, Sophie softly sighed and wryly smiled.
“It’s also the same for me. I was also recommended to come here instead of the well.”
The chamberlain must not have thought that there would be someone in there at a time like this, too. Be that as it may, he could not bring himself to blame the chamberlain.
“I don’t think you need to leave. Come in.”
“Even if your eyes are good, I wonder if you can if it’s at least to the point to know where I am in this darkness. Even so, then I don’t mind.”
She said so in a joking tone. Apparently, Sophie seemed to have completely regained her composure.
“Besides – I would like to talk with you. I won’t say that it has to be absolutely now, though.”
Her voice was a bit cloudy. Tigre, though still perplexed, persuaded himself that it should be no problem as long as he was far from her and turned around. He was certainly concerned by Sophie’s words, but he himself did not know whether it was due to anxiety or excitement that his heart was pounding.
---It’s a strange feeling.
He soon set foot in the bathtub, soaked in the lukewarm hot water up to the waist, and immersed up to his shoulders. Tigre looked around once again. To a place away by about six or seven steps, there was a black shadow that looked to be Sophie.
Though he was relieved since he could not see Sophie, Tigre was flustered that it was quite wrong. The scene when he met her for the first time, about a year ago, flashed within the youth’s mind.
Sophie, who was taking a bath, tripped and fell down on him; her stark-naked appearance was fully visible. That he could quite clearly remember it even now was because it must have been very intensely burned into his memory.
Moving his body in the lukewarm hot water, Tigre turned his back to Sophie. If it was only to talk, then there would be no need to look at the other party. And as he was waiting for her to speak, he heard the sound of water.
Though the sound of splashing water was small, it was clearly getting closer to where the youth was.
Though Tigre, holding the place between his legs with his hands, tried to stand up, it was too late. Soft hands were put on both his shoulders, and they returned him to the lukewarm water, that he was about to leave. A sweet voice whispered close to his ear.
“Even though I said that I want to talk, why didn’t you come closer?”
“……If it’s only to talk, this much distance is good.”
Tigre’s reply was late. He could feel her breath around the area of his nape. Even though he was soaked in the lukewarm water up to the shoulders, both his face and body were so hot that he could not properly think.
“Why did you turn your back? You can’t see me, right?”
“The fact that I can’t see you is not necessarily a good thing.”
There was no reply from Sophie to these words. Though it felt as if she chuckled, he was not sure. As the hand put on Tigre’s left shoulder parted from him, a shapely chin rode on it. Long hair tickled the youth’s neck.
Shortly, in one word. Within the darkness, Sophie’s voice was trembling like the water’s surface. That sincere sound of voice different from the other until now, took Tigre aback.
“I heard from Olga. That you had continued to make painful and hard decisions in this war.”
It was clear that Sophie’s words were pointing the fact that he had burnt the villages.
“That’s…… But, I did nothing that would make Sophie thank me……”
“That’s not true.”
As she interrupted Tigre’s words, her hand placed on his right shoulder was filled with power.
“That’s not true. Whether it be having saved me or having protected the civilians and soldiers. And also for not having lost sight of yourself. I’m happy for anything and everything. It’s natural for me to give you my gratitude.”
“That I didn’t lose sight of myself……?”
While he parroted these words with her chin still on his shoulders, Sophie nodded saying, “That’s right”.
“Managing the civilians and leading the soldiers is probably an inevitable path. Even though you walk that path, you still remained the ‘you’ that Ellen and I like. It’s something very wonderful.”
While spinning the words and with her voice tinged with passion, Sophie, before being aware of it, was closely hugging Tigre from behind; she strongly pressed her body to the youth’s back.
The two people almost simultaneous noticed it. It was about when the Vanadis had finished saying all these words with highly strung feelings that the lingering sound had gradually passed. No one knew who first emitted a short scream. Letting the sound of water jump, the two people vigorously stood up, and parted away from each other.
Tigre slipped. And reflexively grabbed what was close. But, he toppled over in the lukewarm water with a loud sound of water, using what he grabbed as a support.
Something with elasticity had bent over, and Tigre, who was almost drowning, hurriedly stood up. Though it was not visible because of the dark, it somehow looked like Sophie fell down in a posture where she hunched over the youth. It was her arm that Tigre grabbed earlier.
Within the darkness, the two were silently staring at each other. Their breathing became rough. They diverted their gaze from each other, and unintentionally cast it to each other’s hands. Though almost at the same time, Tigre’s hand grabbed her breast, and her hand touched the lower area of Tigre’s waist.
Sophie stared in wonder and muttered; Tigre blushed and turned his back.
Saying so to cover up, he advanced while pushing his way through the lukewarm hot water and left the bath. He could not be here even one more second. He should not have been there.
“Lord Tigrevurmud – No, Tigre.”
Sophie’s calm voice reached to the back of Tigre, who was about to enter the dressing room.
It was probably the first time that she consciously called Tigre by his nickname.
“I already said what I wanted to say. Thank you for listening to me…… And from now on-”
In a slightly smaller, yet shy voice, the golden-haired Vanadis added.
“Don’t tell anyone about tonight. Let’s keep it a secret between us.”
Tigre curtly answered “yes” and entered the dressing room. “To whom on earth can I tell such a thing?”. As he roughly wiped his body and wore his clothes, the youth hurriedly went out in the corridor. He also impatiently ignited the candle. Even when he returned to his room, he thought that he would likely not sleep for a while.
After confirming that Tigre’s presence disappeared to the other side of the dressing room, Sophie slightly exhaled and leaned against the wall of the bathtub. As she put a hand on her cheek, her face became red.
---Was I too assertive after all?
When reconsidering her actions, she smiled wryly. Since Sophie was four years older than him, she probably should have behaved herself a little more.
The fact that someone appeared at the bathroom at such a time, and that that person was Tigre, had excessively left the golden-haired Vanadis in dismay.
---But, it would have been difficult to be just the two of us alone if there was not such a situation……
Though Matvey would willingly consider it, Olga would probably not leave Tigre. Though it did not mean that they absolutely had to be only the two of them, for Sophie, it was slightly embarrassing to ask other people.
In the first place, there were two reasons why Sophie was here. She wanted to be alone to settle down and put her thoughts in order, and to inquire about Asvarre’s reaction.
It was not unusual for an emissary or spy to lie hidden on the ceiling of the guest room or on the other side of the wall. She thought that she could search for such a movement by taking an erratic action here.
She was able to achieve both her purposes. But, Tigre’s appearance was completely unexpected. It was yesterday that Sophie heard the full story from Olga. And she strongly thought, “I must tell him now, before these thoughts cool down.”
---Since I could properly say what I wanted to say, I don’t have any regrets, but……No, it was very embarrassing after all. I wonder how I appeared to him.
Moreover, there was also the part to consider as a messenger of Zchted. Although it could not be helped this time since each of them was busy, she decided that she would ask all the details the next time. Since what Tigre had done in this civil war could play a great role in future diplomacy.
And when they met each other the following day, both of them blushed and averted their gaze from each other.
From morning of the next day until noon, Tigre and the others talked about the future with Tallard and Guinevere. It was about the relationship between Zchted and Asvarre.
Be that as it may, the situation was too different from when Sophie left Zchted. For the time being with Guinevere’s request, they had to start from conveying the intention of friendship to the King of Zchted
It was also the reason why Tigre and the others would leave this country today. Guinevere and the others wanted words of the Zchted king. Even for Sophie and the others, about the current situation, even if they sent a letter which they wrote earlier, it would be necessary to return, and to report directly.
“Although the civil war is over, we will continue fighting for a while to bring the country together. We will also sweep away the remnants of pirates. As for Sophia-dono, Olga-dono, Lord Tigrevurmud, your help would be appreciated.”
“We received the will of Her Highness Guinevere to conclude a friendship with our country and the hope for prosperity for both countries. When we have returned to our homeland, we will convey it to His Majesty at once.”
“We are expecting to receive a positive answer.”
They have finished talking up for today about what both sides desired. In the banquet of last night, it was about that, that Guinevere was talking with Sophie. The talk in this place was like a confirmation.
It did not mean that the negotiations would simply end once; rather one might say that it was the beginning. In the future, messengers of both countries would mutually visit each country repeatedly. But, at any rate the duty of Tigre and Sophie was over with this.
“It would be difficult given your position, but please come to play when you feel like it. Next time, I'll slowly show you Colchester. We will search for a nice hunting ground in this vicinity.”
Tallard laughed and exchanged handshake with Tigre. Moreover, he added such a thing.
“I have the feeling that we will meet again. No, I’m sure of it.”
---What fairly great confidence!
Although as expected, Tigre was inwardly amazed, since he understood that those were not words, which came from malice, he replied with a joke.
“Pray to the gods that we don’t meet in a strange place.”
The daytime came, the ships of Zchted, while being watched by many people left the port of Colchester. There were four ships, and three among them were escort ships.
In one of the escort ships, Tigre had had a lot of souvenirs, which he bought in this land, kept.
After all, there were many things to buy. He bought a silver bracelet, in which a hunter was carved for Ellen, an overcoat, in which a peculiar pattern to Asvarre was woven for Teita, a porcelain doll made of the fur of bear for Lim, and several kinds of tea for Mira.
Since he did not know what he should buy for Sasha, he talked with Matvey and purchased a pillow and cushion in Ram, and spices and the like. He bought a musical instrument for Regin, attached a letter to it and arranged so that it might be delivered to Brune.
Moreover there were also souvenirs for Rurick and Aram, and for Massas, and Viscounts Augres to Gerard in Brune. Tigre was 17 years old. Looking from Brune’s perspective, he was frolicking indeed in the land of a distant foreign country.
Tigre, holding on to the edge of the ship, waved his hand to those who saw them off from the wharf. He detected the face of the mercenary Captain Simon mixed with Tallard and his subordinates and whistled. Matvey, who saw his figure, revealed a sarcastic smile.
“He is an unexpectedly tactful man. One might say that it’s as expected of the mercenary Captain.”
Near the two people, Sophie was talking with Olga.
“Olga, should I assume that you are returning to Zchted?”
To Sophie, who asked as to confirm, Olga nodded. She cast her gaze to the package of cloth, which was in her hand. It was her ViraltDragonic Tool, the Roaring Demon Muma.
“I have to face the things that I gave up on. It may be too late to the people and the Minister, however I at least want to answer to Muma, which did not abandon me and saved me many times.”
Her words, rather than answering Sophie, sounded as if they called out to her ViraltDragonic Tool. As Sophie revealed a smile, she affirmed her determination, and nodded as to encourage her.
After that, Olga moved aside her eyes of obsidian. The youth with darkish red hair, who was ahead of her gaze, was talking with Matvey, unaware of her gaze.
---By facing them, does she want to be acknowledged by Tigre?
Although Sophie predicted so from Olga’s expression, she did not voice it. In the case of this very earnest girl, she judged that it would be better to watch.
The four ships advanced in the sea, their back going away little by little from the royal capital of Asvarre. The white sail received the wind and greatly swelled, and looking up at the clear blue sky, Matvey murmured, “Nice weather for navigation”, in satisfaction. The pattern of the White Beluga decorated on the man’s back also looked happy.
“---Speaking of which”
When Colchester became a small white point, Sophie, who was looking at the deep blue sea next to Tigre, said as she recalled something.
“Sorry for being abrupt. But about General Tallard’s strategy, may I confirm it once again?”
Tigre, Olga and Matvey, who were nearby, put on a wondering face. The unexpectedly serious expression of the golden-haired Vanadis invited their doubt.
“Tallard’s strategy? Which part?”
“I am talking about the part before you guys recaptured the Fort Lux. It’s bothered me a little.”
Although the three people looked at each other, they explained while exploring their memory. What one forgot, the other remembered it and so forth, and like this they were able to completely remember before long.
They captured the Fort Lux with 3000 soldiers. The commander was Ludra.
Meanwhile, Tallard was gathering soldiers with Kress Dill and his other subordinates. When he gathered about 10,000, he would join with Ludra and went north. He crossed the sea and boarded to Asvarre Island.
When Prince Elliot would attack Maliayo, if he heard that Tallard landed on the Asvarre Island, he would have returned. Tallard would wait them for there and swatted them.
Sophie, who listened to the explanation, brushed her golden hair and put on a complicated face.
“What bothered you?”
To Tigre’s question, although Sophie showed the behavior to think about whether or not she might talk, she made up her mind and spoke.
“As far as I examined it, they do not have only that number of ships. Leaving the infantry aside, when it comes to the squad of catapult in the cavalry, I wonder if he could quickly gather 4000 to 5000 cavalry, even if he tried his best.”
Tigre and Matvey looked blankly in puzzlement. Olga frowned.
“Might he have planned to separately carry them in two times?”
“That way of doing would take time, and there would be the risk of being discovered by the enemy. In the worst case scenario, they would be divided between the Main Island, and the Continent, and crushed.”
To Sophie’s answer, the three people looked once again at each other. There was no one among them who had taken the number of ships into consideration. And of course, since Tallard said so, they had thought that the ships would be prepared; at that time, it was because they first had to conquer the Fort.
Suddenly, several questions welled up within Tigre’s mind.
Was the landing of Prince Elliot really unexpected for Tallard?
Not only Prince Jermaine’s murder was not inconspicuously carried out, but it was also quite a commotion. Was he seriously thinking that it was not known by Prince Elliot?
Moreover, there was also the reaction of Ludra when he (Tigre) decided to burn the villages or when he proposed to abandon the Fort. Although it might be the result of looking at the reality, was it not way too quickly?
“Don’t tell me……” Tigre groaned without voicing his thought. By using Jermaine’s death as bait, might Tallard not have dragged Prince Elliot deep inland?
If he did so, then they could fight against pirates on ground. It was not a maritime battlefield, which was the pirates’ forte. In addition, by extending their supply trains, they could also make them suffer. If the surroundings of Valverde became the battlefield, they should be able to prevent Elliot from escaping.
The problem was that because they dragged the enemy, many villages and settlements were attacked; hadn’t Tallard said it. That he was thinking of letting from 20 to 30 villages be burnt. Furthermore, that If he deemed it necessary, he would not also hesitate to burn the villages himself.
---No, there is no evidence. I’m probably thinking too much……
“It looks like I need to investigate about this a little more. You three, please keep the talk of now secret.”
To Sophie’s words, Tigre, Olga and Matvey respectively nodded.
Wrapped in the sea roar and salty sea breeze, the four ships were lightly progressing through the sea.
“---It’s regrettable. It’s truly regrettable.”
Tallard Graham groaned with a sour look. After seeing off the fleet of Zchted, he directly returned to the palace with his subordinates, and went into the meeting room. To this busy young man, there were a couple of things that he had to decide by the end of the day.
But, though expecting that Tallard immediately began a meeting, he leaned back in a chair with a troublesome sitting posture, and he was flickeringly swaying back and forth. While looking at the sulky face of his lord, Ludra thought that he was like a child, who was not able to buy a toy that he wanted.
In this meeting room, where a round table was placed in the center, there were three men beside Tallard.
There were Ludra, the impressive Lafort with a round face and fluffy curly hair, and Kress Dill with a slim figure and thin sharp eyes, which were somewhere reminiscent of a fox. One could say that these three men were Tallard’s trusted retainers.
While Ludra and Kress Dill, who straightened up their back and sat on the chair, Lafort, as if thinking about something, was moving his finger on the round table and was drawing something. To such three men, Tallard continued his words as to seek an agreement.
“Tigre would have definitely become a good subordinate. Even if Ludra had attended on the Fort capture. The fact that he slowed the enemy’s March by burning the villages in the night attack. The Fort defense, the field battle, the organization, and every other thing. Truly to be expected from someone who saved Brune.”
“We cannot return things, which had already happened.”
Kress Dill sullenly answered. It was when Tallard said he wanted to make Tigre his subordinate, and Ludra and he voiced their opposition.
“Also when Your Excellency was talking with Lord Tigrevurmud last night, have you not given up?”
Following Kress Dill, Ludra also admonished his Lord. Last night, what Tallard wanted to speak with Tigre alone, was to ask him whether he would not like to become his subordinate.
“He still had regrets for having burned the villages, right?”
To Ludra’s words, Tallard nodded as disappointed.
‘If Tigre seemed to deeply regret for having burnt the villages, don’t invite him to become your subordinate.’
When Tallard said that he wanted to make Tigre his subordinate, since Ludra petitioned as such, and Kress Dill also sided with him, the blond-haired young man reluctantly accepted the condition. The red-haired knight continued speaking in a calm attitude so as not to disturb his calm tone.
“Lord Tigrevurmud is such a person. If he were to learn that we forsook the village of Luarca, he would probably not forgive His Highness.”
“……It’s no use, huh.”
“He is a man, who could not overlook that a small village of a foreign country is attacked by bandits.”
Kress Dill indifferently spoke these words. Just the incident that triggered Tallard and Tigre’s encounter was the reason that made this blond young man to tell him a false strategy.
The actual strategy was exactly what Tigre had predicted on the sea now. Kill Jermaine; use it as bait to lure Elliot deep inland, and crush him with cavalry and catapults.
Though there was no conclusive evidence to get Princess Guinevere’s cooperation, there was a chance of success for Tallard.
Elliot was always a man with strong suspicion. After being nearly killed by his older brother Jermaine, there was no way that he could not turn dubious eyes to his younger sister, with whom the relationship was not particularly good. And after Jermaine died, Guinevere was the only person who could become his enemy.
If there was a miscalculation from Tallard, it would probably be Tigre’s formidable tenacity. In the original plan, it was scheduled to drag the enemy further to the south, rather than Salentes, to extend the supply trains, and to thoroughly batter them.
“Besides, he will be a troublesome man if he were to become His Excellency’s subordinate.”
Kress Dill’s small eyes further narrowed.
“First of all, just the fact that he is Brune’s hero, it will be hard to handle him. If you don’t give him a position suitable for the reputation, he will be dissatisfied, and there is a fear that he could speak ill that His Excellency does not properly evaluate his subordinates. Conversely, if you give an important position to a foreigner, this time the people of Asvarre would not find it funny at all. His achievement in this civil war would be a problem, too. Even if the capture of the Fort Lux and the defensive battle in Salentes are in Ludra-dono’s credit, it should be noted that there are deeds of arms, such as the fact that Lord Tigrevurmud killed Lord Hamish and captured Prince Elliot. It’s too big a credit, and there is no doubt that it will stir antipathy and jealousy of the surroundings. In addition, I have not confirmed, but according to the report of Ludra-dono and the soldiers, he also possesses a frightening bow, which can use magic. It’s too risky to hold such a person as a subordinate.”
“……Did you finish?”
To his subordinate who continued speaking reasons for a long time without changing either his posture or the intonation of his words, Tallard confirmed with a fed-up look. With the expression, which showed that he said what he had to say, Kress Dill nodded and shut his mouth. The blond young man sighed.
He also understood what Ludra and Kress Dill said. But it was a time when Tallard wanted many excellent capable people, even if there was one. In order for him to accomplish his ambition, if his subordinates, however much competent and trustworthy they were, were only three, there was no way that this number would be enough.
---Besides, a power enough to make a hole in a ship? Isn’t it all the more reason to want him as my subordinate? I also wanted to see that power with my own eyes. And Ludra seems to be wary of him.
“You guys are young, eh?”
Lafort who was drawing some kind of figures with his finger on the round table muttered in a voice, which was both impressed and amazed.
For him, who was 38 years old, of course Tallard and Kress Dill with their twenties and even Ludra, who was 32 years, were young and looked immature. It goes without saying that it was the same for Tigre, who was the person of the topic.
“Well, now that we have already a conclusion regarding that youth, let’s move to the next issue.”
To Lafort’s carefree voice, the other three men pulled themselves together. Though one did not know whether he was conscious of it or not, Lafort was able to create such an atmosphere. Ludra put on a serious expression and spoke.
“Concerning our future actions, first of all, we must strengthen the public order by eradicating the pirates.”
“Regarding Salentes, the casualties among the pirates are about five thousand. Those who surrendered are two thousand. And more than twenty thousand escaped. Even counting those who died on the road and those who became bandits, it is expected that the majority succeeded in escaping to the sea and returning to the pirate business.”
Kress Dill said so. It might be said that there were many who fled because Tallard’s way of fighting was not of the kind to annihilate the pirates.
“Not all the pirates were there in the fight against us. Especially for these past few days, the plunder of a group, which seems to be pirates, has been reported one after another here in Asvarre Island. The food of Muozinel, that we have secured in the village of Aviles, was also robbed.”
To Ludra’s words, not only Tallard, but also Kress Dill and Lafort stared wide-eyed.
Naturally, Tallard did not leave the enormous food supplies and materials that the people of Muozinel, who were cooperating with Elliot, had unloaded in the village of Aviles. He had dispatched approximately one thousand soldiers and got hold of them; he intended to carry them out within these few days.
It was that, that was robbed.
“How were they defeated? Was the enemy that great in number?”
“I’m sorry, but since we are still short of information, I would like you to give me more time. There is also a report that a Monster of 30 Chet tall (about three Meters), which grew horns, had attacked the actual site, and brought in confusion.”
Amazed at Ludra’s words, Tallard nodded. It was certainly better to wait until it settled down.
“I understand, but hurry as much as possible. Still, what’s up with the pirates?”
“Let's split the pirates by declaring that we will permit surrender, and give a reward for secret information.”
However, Tallard shook his head at Kress Dill’s opinion.
“No, we must be harsh with the pirates for the time being. Assuming we set the plan of splitting them, think about the nobles who were supporting Jermaine and Elliot. So that those people hold fear towards us, we will have to thoroughly deal with the pirates.”
“Then, we do like that. After that, about our military force, what shall we do about the contract with the hired troops of Simon? They work well, but it’s also clear that it will cost a lot.”
“Since we let the pirates escape, we can reduce their extra allowance, right?”
Tallard revealed an evil smile. Ludra nodded with a wry smile.
“Then let’s do it. We have borrowed many soldiers so far. It will cost a lot of money, but until we increase a little more of our own soldiers, I want them to stay.”
As such, the four men proceeded with the meeting. Though there were many things, which must be done, all their faces were overflowing with vigor and volition.
Four days have passed since the fleet of Zchted left Colchester. Without encountering either pirates or storm, the four ships were smoothly heading to Zchted. The fine weather continued; a voice enough to complain about of boredom rose among the sailors.
Though the most common way for the sailors to kill time was to gamble, they could also sing a song for relaxation, and there were also some people who played a musical instrument. They were enjoying a peaceful sea trip.
However, it was not the case for those, who were sent in mission to Asvarre. Until just before leaving Asvarre, Sophie was gathering information, as trivial as it might be, and was busy to organize them. Matvey was likewise busy in making the documents, which he must submit to Sasha.
Although Tigre must also compile a report to the King of Zchted as an emissary, he had left it to Sophie. Or rather, he could only ask her since he did not know how to write.
“I understand. Well then, I will take care of it. I would like to teach with utmost care and kindness from the format if possible, however there is no time for that now. But, if we return to the capital, and there is time, then I will, okay?”
While the latter half of her lines gave a leer, Tigre was nervous, and Olga turned steep eyes to Sophie.
Speaking of that Olga, she tended to shut herself up in her room, when thinking about an apology to the king of Zchted and when returning to her territory Brest. Sophie would have also likely giving her advice, but the golden-haired Vanadis seemed to be busy to the extent that she did not even have time to sleep.
Tigre alone had a lot of free time. Even for the sailors, who were bored, there was a lot of work on board. When thinking so as not to hinder them, he could not stay on the deck all day along.
He could not help, but take a nap in the bed of the room assigned to him.
Then, he would be wide-awake at night. When the night came, while merely feeling the shaking of the ship without doing anything else, he could only look up the dark ceiling blankly and wait for the sleepiness to return.
He was also thinking that it would be better not to think about trivial (irrelevant) things that kept coming to his mind. In this case it was about Tallard.
According to what he heard from Sophie at dinner time, Tallard’s strategy after all seemed to drag the enemy deep inland even at the sacrifice of villages and settlements. However, Sophie also said that she could not prove this.
“I have no evidence. If I have to explain, it will be up to consider the number of ships for example like Olga said, and where he intended to divide and move the soldiers. Probably only a few trustworthy people were informed of the original plan.”
“Sophie, what do you think of Tallard?”
“I have not talked with him one-on-one.”
Prefacing so, the golden-haired Vanadis answered in a cautious tone.
“He may prove to be a threat for Zchted. It’s at least what I think for now. Of course, he had talent for war, but if he is the kind of person, who can apply cruelty as one of the means among many others as Tigre and I imagined, he could become a terrifying enemy.”
With a tolerant, yet modest time-consuming method, over which a too high assessment could not be obtained, though it is so unjust that there was a sacrifice of people and that an unfavorable criticism remained in them until the future, one assumed that there was an efficient method.
If he were asked to choose either, Tallard would certainly consider adopting the latter option (choice). In Tigre’s case, there would not even be the latter choice in the first place.
In that sense, he was probably no match for Tallard. Not in quality of ability, but in the difference in personality. However, that difference in personality would create a difference in judgment or action in crucial situations, and might even be the factor determining victory or defeat.
---I wonder why I’m comparing myself to him.
Tigre sighed. He wondered if it was because he competed in bow with him. Even though their position and what they aimed at were different in anything and everything.
In fact, when Tigre would come to occupy an important position in Brune or Zchted, someday, the day when he would have to face Tallard, might come.
Or if a situation, in which even if not him, but Ellen or Sophie were to fight against Tallard, happened, Tigre would probably have to fight against that young blond man for the sake of the girls, who are important to him.
When considering the ambition of Tallard, who aimed to be King and the fact that Ellen and the others were Vanadis, this possibility seemed to be higher.
---It would be best that that day never came, though……
At the time when he muttered without voicing it, a muffled crashing sound struck Tigre’s ears. He felt that the shaking of the ship slightly increased. And then there were multiple screams from a distance.
As Tigre woke up his half-asleep consciousness and quickly jumped up from the bed, he grabbed the black bow and the quiver, which were leaned nearby and went out from the room. As the corridor inboard was dark, he set his hands on the wall and advanced at a quick pace. He hung the quiver to his waist.
In this four-day trip by ship, he had memorized the structure of the ship. When walking straight dozens steps, there was a ladder that should come out to the deck. There were sailors in guard on the deck, they were also holding light.
The shaking of the ship increased in intensity. Tigre came out to the deck while clicking his tongue.
A half moon and countless stars were glittering in the night sky and shining on the sea. Many sailors were already standing on the deck holding lanterns and torches, and their gazes were turned to the left seen from the ship. Both screams and breaking sound were coming from that direction.
---Had something happened to the escort ship!?
The three escort ships were respectively located right, left and behind this ship. Tigre, who turned his gaze at the escort ship to the left side, opened his eyes wide in surprise.
The ship was sinking. As the screams and shouts of the sailors, who were in the escort ship, were echoing from here and there, a crashing sound as to drown out those screams shook the atmosphere and swayed the sea surface. Waves greatly swelled, and swayed up to this ship. On the other side of the ship, a gigantic black shadow was visible.
Sophie, who probably sensed an abnormal phenomenon from the shaking and screams, appeared with ZahtLight Flower in hand. As she quickly rotated the golden bishop’s staff within her hands, the Brilliant Princess of the ZahtLight Flower solemnly muttered.
“--- BovasertTender Light, Illuminate My Sky.”
From the tip of the bishop’s staff she held straight high in the sky, a golden light was born and spread innumerably.
Not so intense as to burn the eyes, however with enough brightness to sweep out the darkness, the particles of light, while sticking and overlapping each other, rode on the air and soared more highly than the mast, or spread enough to reach to the other ships; and they illuminated the whole place just like in daytime (and the whole place was bathed in white light and bright as daytime).
The next moment, more than half of those, who were on the deck, held their breath, and the remaining others leaked a groan of astonishment. One of the sailors muttered with fear.
“……A badvasea dragon?”
On the other side of escort ships, on the stormy sea, where innumerable white wave crests floated, something like a huge snake had raised his head. The thickness of its torso was several times the mast of a ship.
What was differing from the snake was, first of all, the color of its body. Its face and back were black, and its belly was slimy and white.
As far as one could see, rather than scale, it had fillet like a fish. Its face was longer and slenderer than that of other dragons that Tigre knew, innumerable sharp tusks were lined up within its mouth, and its round eyes were given off a whitish light and were looking down at human beings.
The sea dragon wriggled its large build. The escort ship shook with an earsplitting roaring sound. The sailors, who were holding onto the boat side (gunwale) or the mast, were thrown out into the sea with scream. The fragments of hull that were destroyed also fell along with them.
The escort ship seemed to have somewhere taken a fatal blow and it was beginning to sink. It caused a new wave, and the shaking of the ship became bigger (greatly increased).
“Take distance from the badvasea dragon!”
“Move away from it!”
Tigre and Sophie cried out to the sailors almost at the same time. If possible, he wanted to help those, who fell into the sea, but there was no such leeway. Their own ship might also be sunk by the badvasea dragon.
The sailors regained their composure at the voice of Tigre and Sophie, and respectively began to simultaneously run at their post. Though they could at least handle sword and bow and arrow in order to confront the pirates, it did not seem to be useful here.
Within the confusion, Olga and Matvey pushed aside the sailors showed up.
“Tigre. What happened?”
Though Olga briefly asked, before even hearing the youth’s reply, she saw the escort ship, which was sinking, and the badvasea dragon, and stood stock still on the spot in blank amazement. It was not just because she staggered on the deck that badly shook that she suddenly cling to Tigre.
“Oh dear me...... To see a badvasea dragon twice in my lifetime!”
Saying so, while smiling, was also the best Matvey could do. While lightly tapping Olga’s shoulder and pulling himself together, Tigre frankly asked.
“Can you fight?”
Olga looked puzzled. Though she was a girl, who would not flinch even if the opponent was a heteromorphic Monster, the opponent was beyond the sea. As expected, she seemingly did not think of what she should do.
“……If that thing comes to here.”
“At that time, this ship will probably sink.”
Tigre laughed after saying so in a joking tone. In fact, if it were to continue like this, it would not be a joke. As he turned his gaze to Sophie, She shook her head apologetically.
“I am sorry. With the VedaDragonic skills I know, (it’s a bit)……”
“It saved enough just to have you make it bright.”
When Tigre smiles at her as to soothe her, he tightened his expression and turned around to the badvasea dragon. The sea dragon twisted its big frame, and split the surface and dove into the sea. Color of impatience spread to the expression of Tigre, who was about to nock an arrow to the black bow.
He had absolutely no idea from where the badvasea dragon would come to attack.
---The next time when it showed up……
Immediately after, a violent shock, which was thrust up from the bottom attacked the ship of Tigre and the others. The hull itself floated and rose, slammed on the sea surface at semi-instantaneous intervals.
Tigre, Olga and Sophie, let alone Matvey and the sailors, who should have gotten accustomed to the shaking of the deck could not even stand, were overturned. They rolled over the deck like barrels and wooden boxes bounded.
The sea surface greatly undulated by the impact of the splashdown, and a huge wave splash poured down over the deck. In an instant, Tigre and the others became soaked from head to toe. They coughed the sea water that entered in the mouth, and their view became blurred. The coldness of the sea water also partly due to the night wind was rapidly taken away the body temperature.
“It’s no use” Tigre thought. The circumstances (environment) were too different from those, in which he had fought the Earth Dragons and the like so far. Considering that it was like fighting against time and storm, he could do nothing about it.
A black shadow sunburst (appeared) on the deck. Tigre, who somehow raised his body and raised his face, gasped. The large figure of the badvasea dragon was immediately nearby. But, what surprised Tigre was not the badvasea dragon, but the existence of the thing which was riding on its back.
“Do I need to say that it’s been a while? The Bow.”
Though the structure of the body looked like a human, it was not human. Its big frame was nearly twice of Tigre’s. Without body hair and an eerie (ghastly or creepily) white skin. It grew three spiral-shaped horns on the forehead, and its eyes gave off a red light. The right half of its face hideously burned, and there was also a painful-looking scar from its right shoulder to its right breast.
“Oh! You do remember me, huh.”
In response to the mutter of an amazed Tigre, the heteromorphic Monster revealed a distorted smile. Taking the shape of a human and calling itself Lester, it was the Monster which was guarding the Fort Lux. And this monster was manipulating the badvasea dragon.
---As expected, he was still alive, huh.
“My body hasn’t yet healed the wound, but leaving (having been) beaten is not funny at all.”
The corner of the ogre demon’s mouth lifted up with a grin. Though Tigre stood up and nocked an arrow to the black bow, it was the badvasea dragon that moved first.
A shock and a roaring sound struck the ship, and Tigre and the others showily fell down again. It was as if their whole body had been violently shaken by an invisible power. The sea dragon dealt a strong blow to the tonnage of the ship.
A barrel which was rolling, hit Tigre’s back very hard, and a wooden box, which bounded, sent Matvey flying. The spare rope, which was gathered up, came loose and Olga and Sophie got entangled. Screams and shouts of sailors were overlapping, and the on-board ship was wrapped in the whirlpool of agonizing cries.
Actually, the badvasea dragon was about two turns smaller than the ship. However, it freely moved in the sea without being swept away by the waves, and bumped into the ship with its body. Its power was not normal. If it was a ship of the badvasea dragon’s size or smaller, it would have probably been smashed up to smithereens.
---A battle is impossible (it’s impossible to fight)……!
Tigre, who was groveling on the deck, groaned. He was unable to even just stand. Even Olga and Sophie, who were Vanadis of a match for thousand if on the ground, were absolutely helpless.
Though the movement of badvasea dragon was very dull, the ship greatly shook by one attack; and meanwhile, Tigre and the others could hardly move. As a result, they kept being played at by the badvasea dragon.
---If there was only Ellen or Mira……
He ground his teeth. If it was them, they could fully fight even on the ship on this battlefield of the stage or sea. The wind would be Ellen’s ally and Mira would freeze the sea.
And then he inwardly sneered at himself. ‘How can I ask for too much in this situation? I will be rebuked for sure by Ellen and Mira.’
“What's wrong? Why don’t you fight back?”
Torbalan loudly laughed on the back of a badvasea dragon. Another blow. The roaring sound beat up the eardrum, and the shock sways a field of vision. The wave burst open and the sea water poured down over the deck like a heavy rain; a part of the boat side (gunwale) was blown off in very small pieces and several sailors were blasted into the sea
The surroundings wrapped in white light and bright as daytime, began to become dark. The particles of light created by Sophie were gradually disappearing.
Tigre raised his body as if dragging clothes which got wet and became heavy. Before he knew it, he was lying in a place fairly near the boat side. Blood was streaming from his head, which was seemingly injured by something, and his face was dyed red. Blood scattered on to the black bow, his clothes and hands.
---While it’s still bright……
As he stretched out his hand to the quiver on the waist, luckily only one arrow was caught. Though due to the fact it had been many times struck on the deck, his whole body ached, there was no sign of broken bones.
Tigre unsteadily walked on the ship, where the shaking was not yet settled, and somehow managed to reach the boat side. As their bodies staggered just by advancing three or four steps, Sophie, Olga, Matvey and the others could no longer afford to watch the situation. They just prayed for their safety.
Torbalan was glaring at Tigre with a cheerful smile. The badvasea dragon was spreading wave splash and wriggled its big frame.
Not overlooking that moment, Tigre set a foot in the boat side containing a crack. And he jumped.
When the ship was for the Nth time exposed to the impact, Tigre’s body was in the air. Although Torbalan noticed the youth, who nocked an arrow to the bow with practiced hands, it was already late.
Though he was going to draw the bow only with the power of his arms shoot the arrow because he could not straddle with both feet, Tigre did not mind it. To the black bow that he tightly grasped in his left hand, he prayed.
In response to the user’s will, the sickle wore black light. The sensation of losing strength, blood in an instant and heat attacked Tigre’s body. Though it should have been only several seconds from when he had jumped in the air until when he would fall into the sea, he felt it during that interval of time.
Feeling the coldness of the sea with his skin, Tigre released the arrow just before the body struck the sea surface
A gust of wind arose. The black arrow clad in black light went forward in a straight line while violently rippling the sea surface and pierced the big frame of the badvasea dragon.
A dull sound of bursting and gouging of flesh overwhelmed the atmosphere, and then the scream of badvasea dragon resounded in the surroundings as if drowning it out. The blood gushing dyed the sea surface dark-red, the badvasea dragon twisting its body in acute pain, churned the sea and repeatedly caused new raging waves.
The light was lost from the eyes of the badvasea dragon. Striking the sea surface in its last moment, the big frame of the badvasea dragon fell. A huge water column was blown up.
Though Tigre fell into the sea from the head, he desperately struggled and somehow managed to come to the sea surface. He threw up a heavy breath (He was heavily breathing). When using the power of the black bow alone, his whole body would be wrapped in strong fatigue. It was difficult for him to just move one finger.
Ahead the youth’s line of sight, only a part of the badvasea dragon’s body was visible on the sea surface and the most part (of its body) had sunk. Although it was twitching, it was clear that it did not mean that it was alive; the dark-red blood mixed with sea water was continuing to spread in the surroundings.
---Where is Torbalan? Besides, I must pull up……
It was when he thought so and somehow managed to brace up his consciousness that was hazy. A black shadow appeared overhead of Tigre. The face of the youth, who looked up, turned pale.
The ship obstructed the light that Sophie created and inclined to the side here. The last blow of the badvasea dragon tore up the tonnage of the ship and made a hole impossible to restore (mend).
Barrels, wood chips, and the wreckage of the ship were falling. Tigre was looking up at it in blank amazement. With no arrows left and not enough strength to swim or dive, either.
Moreover, the sea water was seemingly flowing into the hole made in the tonnage, and a strange flow had arisen on the sea surface. Tigre’s body was ridden on that flow and drawn close to the ship.
A moment later, half of the ship sank in the sea, and water column and wave still arose. Sophie, Olga and Matvey were thrown in the raging sea.
While repeating the ups and the downs on the waves, which violently shook, Sophie used her VedaDragonic skill once again. However, it was also her limit. While illuminating the ship, which was sinking, the golden-haired Vanadis fainted.
There was another Vanadis there, who suddenly mixed with Sophie, fell with countless wood chips into the sea.
Olga was far more burdened with Sophie’s higher stature than hers, and somehow managed not to sink while wading through the sea water with her ViraltDragonic Tool, which she tightly grasped in her right hand. The sea water was cold, and her clothes and shoes were very heavy. Her light pink-colored hair thickly stuck to her face, and the sea water was running down her face, in which also remained some streaks of childishness.
When surveying the surroundings, it was a sight so horrible that one would want to cover the day.
Countless wrecks and dozens to hundreds persons drifted on the sea surface; and the ship, in which they were riding, was sinking by creating a whirlpool on the sea surface while spitting out white bubbles of air. In a place a little away, a huge black and white corpse was flickeringly drifting.
---Where is Tigre? And also that Demon……
Olga’s face was tinged with a deep color of fatigue; her lips had lost its temperature and turned purple. But even so, without losing her fighting spirit, she turned a gaze of vigilance.
After hesitation, she resolutely shouted Tigre’s name. Though it would end up telling Torbalan her position, anxiety and impatience prevailed.
But, there was no reply. And even the Demon’s figure was nowhere to be found.
The two escort ships, which were safe, were approaching. They dropped small boats used for work or rescue one after another into the sea, and began the rescue of the sailors. Olga and Sophie were also rescued by them.
Though the Vanadis with light pink-colored hair wanted to look for Tigre, she obediently got on the ship. Though the area was brightly illuminated by Sophie’s VedaDragonic skill, it was midnight now. The sea was extremely cold, and the night wind blowing through the sea surface was furthermore taking the body heat.
When she was pulled up to the ship, Olga took off her wet clothes and once more put on a thick overcoat despite that she could not stop shivering. In fact, like the other sailors, there were also a lot of people who died as soon as they were pulled up to the ship.
Olga, tightly grasping Muma, waited for Torbalan to show up, but the Monster never appeared again.
Before long, Sophie’s VedaDragonic skill lost its effect, and the surroundings were covered with the darkness of the night. And the golden-haired Vanadis fainted as is. The sailors, without waking her up, continued their rescue work with torches and lanterns in hand.
It was when the sky of the east had begun to brighten that they had finished the work.
Olga was reunited with Matvey, when the rescue work was over. He had also been saved by the sailors. There were many bruises on his face, his figure, which hung his broken left arm in a cloth, was pitiful.
After the two people were frankly pleased for each other’s safety, they asked exactly the same question.
“Where is Tigre?” “Where is Lord Tigrevurmud?”
They asked at the same time, the two’s faces were respectively colored with despair. It was not because the sailors held the firm belief that they had saved all those, who fell into the sea, that they finished their (rescue) work.
This was because it was almost certain that those, who were not saved until around dawn, were dead frozen.
Even Olga and the others who were rescued early were chilled. Even the young, healthy men, who were forged by the work on board, could not have made it alive if they had drifted in the sea for a long time.
“I will borrow a small boat and go search for him.”
“Please calm down.”
In a calm voice, Matvey stopped Olga, who showed the intention of likely to begin to dash at any moment, even though she was exhausted.
“Maybe he was saved by someone else. Let’s check it first.”
“……If we check and he wasn’t?”
Breaking her deadpan, and with a face likely to cry at any moment, Olga looked up at the scary-looking big man. Though Matvey put on a troubled face, he made a forced smile.
“We will think about it then. Please take a rest, too, Olga-dono.”
Even with his rich experience in such things, Matvey could only say that.
Among those, who were saved, there was no figure of Tigre.
Olga, Matvey and Sophie, who regained her consciousness requested to carry out another one koku the rescue work. They explained that Tigre was an important figure even for Zchted, and that it would become a big problem if they did not even find his corpse.
Even if it was painful for the sailors, they also wanted to salvage the corpses of their comrades, even if one. On the waves, on which wrecks and corpses lit by the early morning sun drifted, they took out small boats with exhausted faces.
But even so, Tigre was not found.
Though Sophie, Olga and Matvey still could not give up, they understood that they could no further continue the search. Not only the ship was full of wounded, but there were also many corpses that should be buried, which were piled up. There was no conclusive evidence that these remaining two ships were intact (unscathed), and there was also the problem of food and water.
Anyway, they had to go to the port once.
The two ships finally raised sail and were heading to Zchted.
They started on their way home while being dispirited.
In the area in about three days by ship to the east from the royal capital Colchester of Asvarre, there were about three to four small islands gathered together.
Either way, it was a place unsuitable for human settlement, with steep rocky areas and cliffs. Among them, there was also an island, where the tide would rise and sink. In addition, there were also many reefs in the vicinity, and the conditions were also severe for ships to anchor. Therefore, it had never hosted any ships from any country.
It was the pirates, who were keeping an eye on these islands. As long as they correctly use it, it would be ideal to use as a hideout.
It was the day after Torbalan, riding the badvasea dragon, attacked Tigre and the others, that he showed up in this archipelago. Since he lost the badvasea dragon, he came there by swimming.
“It was rather unsightly. If Drekavac were there, I would have prepared three or four badvasea dragons on the same day.”
When the badvasea dragon was killed, Torbalan directly withdrew. Although he confirmed that Tigre fell in the sea, in a situation where he lost the badvasea dragon, it was reckless to take on two Vanadis; and his sour stomach dropped (hung down) to some extent by sinking two ships.
As he chose one island and landed, Torbalan changed his body into a human being. That of a man in his early thirties with a medium build physique. With a nearly bald head, light brown hair was remaining only around the top of the ears.
There was also a scar that was hideously burnt from his right shoulder to his right chest and in half of his face’s right side on this (human) appearance. Though he could also erase it while taking the shape of a human, he left it as it is since it was troublesome (to do it).
He had once spent his days as a human with this appearance and the name of Lester. He had served the Kingdom of Asvarre, and to kill time, he distinguished himself (built a merit); sometimes in order to satisfy his desire, he kidnapped young girls behind the scene, violated them and then ate them.
As he quickly wore clothes, which he had hidden in a rocky area, Torbalan walked to the center of the island with accustomed footsteps. Though this island looked like a small rocky area, where tree or grass were nowhere to be found, in the center of that area was a cave which was made by digging through a hard rock wall, and the inside was unexpectedly wide.
Although it was when it was not yet daytime, the gray clouds lurking in the sky of the island were dim. Even the sea seen from here was black.
When Torbalan entered the cave, a voice could be heard from the inside.
“It’s me. Lester.”
When he announced himself in a calm voice, several men holding torches that were brightly burning showed up. Everyone had a dirty outfit, and they hung sword or hand axe on the waist.
There were pirates. Most of them were those, although cooperating with Elliot, were those, who were defeated by Tallard and Tigre, and had barely escaped alive.
“Report on the situation.”
When Torbalan briefly said, the man who was standing in front replied “yes” with a frightened expression.
“Our number exceeded 15000. The small number is errr…… 717 in 15000. And we even encountered those, who were running away from the continent. There are around 4000. After talking about the Boss, since it was said meeting, we decided to have them wait as far as today.”
Boss. They were calling Torbalan so. As long as there was fear or awe in how to be called, this Demon did not care.
Torbalan, who was defeated by Tigre and Olga in the Fort Lux, was not dead. He was blown away until the forest, which was in the north of the Fort. The wound he sustained at time had not healed yet.
Torbalan did not immediately look out on (take) revenge. Currently in his dormant period – he was in an incomplete condition. Besides, he was curious as to how they would fight against Elliot.
Then, Torbalan set up two plans. One was to supply (raise) a badvasea dragon and attacked Tigre and the others. And the other was to take the pirates’ lead and contend for war.
About the second (reason), his hobby-like tendency was strong (it was a strong hobby-like tendency). In the first place, though half of the reason of even disguising himself as a human and becoming a knight of Asvarre was to kill time in his dormant period, the other half was out of curiosity.
Anyway, deciding a purpose, Torbalan vigorously started his course of action. He went over the Asvarre Island that the Asvarre people called ‘Main Island’, came in contact with pirates, and tamed a badvasea dragon nearby.
“Wait the entire day, huh…… We’re lucky. And the number of guests?”
Afterwards, he used the pirates who he subdued and attacked villages and towns, and while storing weapons and food, he looked for the pirates, who were the remnants of the defeated army, and took them in. The efficiency (good point) of that performance (action) was truly befitting of someone, who was entrusted with the defense of a Fort.
This archipelago was one of Torbalan’s bases. He put the pirates, who he gathered up, on standby in this hideout.
Of course it did not mean that all the 4000 pirates were in the said meeting. It meant that several people selected among them, were waiting as representative.
“Six people now. They are ahead from here.”
Letting the man lead the way, Torbalan advance in the cave dug through the bedrock. They arrived in the interior before long.
That space was so wide that around ten people could sit with room to spare. A table and a chair, though made of poor structure, were also placed. On the table there was a candlestick whose painting peeled off, and which lighted a fire without reliance.
The ceiling was rather low, and moreover several holes had been made. They were freshening the air (in the cave) while taking in light.
As he asked about those, who were using this cave, the reply was that pirates of each era since before hundreds of years had been apparently taken refuge here. Torbalan also thought “It is a well-done cave”.
Now there, there were nearly ten pirates. Among them, those, who were following Torbalan, tightened their faces and straightened their seated posture when they saw the figure of their Boss, who came back.
Though the guests, whom Torbalan spoke of, while remaining silent, turned an appraisal look, only the one, who was sitting on the ground stood up and came walking up to here (where Torbalan was) in stride. With roughly the same build as Torbalan, who assumed the shape of a human, he had already unsheathed the sword in his hand.
“Are you Lester?”
Torbalan replied “yes” with a light smile. He was inwardly thinking ‘It sometimes saves that there is this kind of easy-to-understand’. The man was glaring at Torbalan and declared arrogantly.
“I hear that you were a knight of Asvarre. That’s quite an awful scar. I don’t know what you plan to do, but if you put on a too arrogant attitude, you won’t get away with that.”
“What would you do?”
To Torbalan’s question, the man replied with an action. He keenly slashed at Torbalan with the sword in his hands.
A dull, unpleasant sound struck the ears of those who were watching. It was a groan that leaked from the man’s mouth. The arm, which held the sword, was twisted into an unnatural direction.
But, the man was not given even the time to scream. Torbalan grabbed the man's head, and lightly lifted him with no signs showing that he put much power.
As Torbalan told so with a smile, he load power in his hand only a little. As the man’s head squeakily creaked, it emitted a strange sound and dripped blood from the nose, mouth and ears. When Torbalan released his hand, the body of the man, who was already dead, fell to the ground like a doll, which was cut of the thread.
The pirates, terrified, could hardly hold their voices. Though the surprise still might have been smaller if Torbalan was an owner of a muscular body, even if he was forged by having trained, his physique was just what could be called medium build. It amplified their terror.
If they were trying to wreck his mood, it was certain they would follow this man, who was lying motionless on the ground.
Torbalan turned toward the pirates, who came here today for the first time, a smile, which could be not regarded as that of someone, who just killed a person.
The pirates, whether at a loss for words, let the edge of their mouth twitch and just nodded. Even for them, who were used to the act of killing, they could not help but feel fear before the scene that Torbalan showed. It was such thing as superhuman strength. It was an ordinary strength which a human had.
“It seemed that you have already heard my name, but I will introduce myself once again. I’m Lester. I was a knight of Asvarre until a while ago.”
One of the pirates carried a chair before Torbalan. When sitting down on it, the Demon, who disguised himself as a human, looked around at the pirates.
“Now, I’ve gathered pirates like you, in order to attack a certain country.”
“……Is it Asvarre?”
One of the pirates asked with a trembling voice. As Torbalan slowly shook his head, he unpretentiously frankly answered.
Since the pirates, who were following Torbalan, already knew the reason, they were standing on the spot silently. Those, who did not, exchanged looks seeming to want to say that they did not know the reason.
“I was serving Prince Elliot, but he was defeated. I can no longer go back to Asvarre, but one can't live without wherewithal. You understand so far, right?”
Waiting for the pirates to nod, Torbalan continued.
“Though it’s also not bad to do as bandits, what you get is not worth much. If you steal, the greater the, the richer. But…… If that’s the case, the number is necessary.”
“Therefore, you need us?”
To the question timidly asked, Torbalan nodded.
“That’s right. We will attack the port of Zchted with 20,000 pirates. Steal, violate, burn to your heart’s content. Capture the young people regardless of the gender, and sell them off as slaves. Torment and kill children and elderly, and raze the town.”
The pirates anxiously looked at each other. One person swallowed his saliva, and opened his mouth after moistening his throat. Torbalan’s smile flickering in the flame of the candlestick looked to them like an awfully sinister thing.
“But, Zchted is far. I think that it would be easier to attack Brune, where there was a civil war last year or Asvarre, who are close.”
Torbalan put on a sneer. Though there was no great interest, it would be easy to do it (attack them).
“Brune and Asvarre are on alert. Since they are aware that they have weakened. Zchted won’t be that cautious if we go there.”
The pirates held the illusion as if Torbalan’s eyes gave off a red light for an instant. No longer releasing their eyes from the former knight of the Asvarre, they were carefully listening with seriousness and without leaking even a single word. Their awe, very similar to fear, was the cause (of it).
“It’s because Zchted brace itself to the fact that Asvarre or Brune could be attacked. We will use that opportunity. You probably also know what can be done and what can’t be, right?”
“But, is there enough food until Zchted?”
To the pirate, who voiced his concern, Torbalan nodded with a confident smile.
“Oat, potato, dried fish to dried meat…… There is enough to feed 20,000 people for more than ten days.”
A groan leaked from the pirates’ mouth. However, there were still some who did not cast aside the doubt.
“How did you prepare that amount?”
“As I said, I was a knight of Asvarre. I’m well-informed about several towns and villages in the vicinity of the Fort. ---Well, what is your answer? Follow me and get wealth? Or wander in the boundless sea and die? Or like that Elliot, letting yourselves caught and beheaded?”
The guests, who decreased of one person and were now five, declared without hesitation that they would follow Torbalan. They knew of the fact that Asvarre was taking stern measures against pirates. Moreover, they could not go against the strange atmosphere, which wrapped Torbalan.
Thus, the heteromorphic Demon, who disguised himself as a human, obtained a little less than twenty thousand soldiers just as planned.
- Here Sophie tried to convince herself that she did not become red because she was thinking about the act where she had embraced Tigre, but that it was because she was soaking in the hot water in the bathtub.
- as to say that Olga’s question did not fluster Sophie
- ultramarine here is the color of the river surface
- It means that she lost in two points: height and chest
- I’m not sure for this. Please TLC
- let him stand out
- I think it means here that she was tightly holding his shoulder to the point of shaking
- Not in superiority or inferiority of the ability
- We don’t know how many times the ship exposed to the impact so, it could be the 5th time, 6th time, 7th time…… or Nth time.
- Here to say that anxiety and impatience the fear to be discovered by Torbalan
|Back to Chapter 2||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 4|