A Worthless Thing
In mythical times, there were 12 magic warriors who endeavoured to seal the “Demon (Furigana: Maroudo)” with Redountra. As a leader, each of them guided their people and raised 12 countries in various places of the continent. These countries were the beginning of the current “Holy Alliance (Furigana: Riga Santourear)”. It was because there was originally one girl in each of the 12 countries that there were always 12 Dominas.
At the present when everything was reduced to being myths, the 12 allies had become 7 as a result of destruction and annexation, and merger. But even now, they were continuing the surveillance of the seal of the “Demon”.
Since the allies had decreased, the current Amaddo possessed 3 Dominas that a country formerly had one.
Among them was Valeria Costacurta who was referred to as the once-in-10-years talented woman.';str+='
She felt that a very long time had passed, but in fact, 6 hours hadn’t even passed since Valeria arrived in this town. In any case, the night had yet to grow light.
But although the silence wasn’t that different like the beginning, the atmosphere which filled the surroundings had changed completely. Even Valeria understood that the whole town was enveloped by a tense atmosphere. Perhaps this might be what was called the thirst for blood.
Dimitar moved on the roof in an extremely low posture, clicked his tongue and stopped his feet.
There were lights burning alone in the night sky. Though its distinct silhouette which had slipped into the darkness wasn’t visible, there was a rampart not so far away, and countless watch fires were burning on top of it. When straining one’s eyes very much, there were soldiers who shouldered spears wandering about near the firelight.
「…It wasn’t like that when we arrived here!」
Valeria muffled her voice and said so.
「Of course. It was the old town that’s more to the north where we first crossed over the rampart. That place was still the territory of the mayor’s side after all」
Hiding in the shadow of a gable, Dimitar stoked his neck. Valeria noticed it since she was being carried on his back like this, but somehow it seemed that this boy had the habit of stroking his neck at the drop of a hat.
「Nevertheless, it’s highly risky to pass through the enemy line and head to the town hall. …In that case, it’s quicker and easier to force our way through here」
「Force…eh? I, in this state?」
「It’s because it’s this state. It’s still fine now, but we’ll be discovered shortly once dawn breaks. Those guys probably won’t capture you alive the next time. If they encircle our surroundings and shoot arrows simultaneously, setting me aside, it’s doubtful whether I can even protect you who are on my back」
「J, just a minute! I wish you wouldn’t joke!」
「I’m not joking. —If it’s now, we may still take advantage of the darkness somehow. We’ll approach in one go, jump over the rampart and take refuge in the forest」
「C, can you do that?」
「I can. However, the danger increases as time passes. Like I said earlier, we’ll be conspicuous at any rate once it becomes bright, and even my stamina doesn’t last forever」
It was due to the assistance of magic that Dimitar, who had carried Valeria on his back the whole time since some time ago and moved, didn’t muddle up his breathing a lot. But even that had its limit. Although maintaining a state like this where certain magic was activated for a long time continuously was plain, it was far more difficult than making one shot of showy magic explode.
Stroking his neck lightly, Dimitar stood up.
「—Shall we go?」
「Eh!? Just a minute? A, are you serious!? What about my opinion—」
「I wasn’t seeking for your opinion from the start. Either way, you only have to be carried by me. So that I want to do it, let me do it with the method that I think seems to have the highest success rate」
「Then why did you specially explained it!?」
「…Now that you mention it, you’re right. From next time onward, I’ll move without explaining」
「You’re noisy. Do you intend to inform the enemies of our location before we get closer?」
Dimitar held back Valeria who tried to shout and rushed out from the gable’s shadow. Her body jolted to the left and right, and the pain in her side which had started to settle temporarily recurred.
「If you’re going to shout, then pray to Redountra. Unlike me, you’re devout right?」
Though Valeria didn’t know whether Dimitar who had muttered so was showing his usual cold smile, he was probably smiling.
Dimitar, who had received the support of magic, sped towards the rampart while causing the roofs to creak.
「! —Someone is coming!」
Valeria stretched her neck eagerly and looked at the rampart over Dimitar’s shoulder.
In addition to the watch fires, she slightly saw that many torches were swaying. The soldiers on the rampart were moving in a bustle, and there seemed to be also soldiers readying not just spears, but also bows and arrows.
「The Dominas is here too! Don’t let her escape!」
Together with the voices calling out to their comrades, the sounds of the arrows’ feathers cutting through the wind ran intermittently.
Dimitar stepped greatly and jumped. After several seconds of a floating sensation, a light impact assailed Valeria again.
Dimitar landed on the rampart, and soldiers who were holding spears came stabbing at him simultaneously.
「Don’t hold up someone who’s in a hurry—」
Valeria’s field of vision which was coloured by the watch fires rotated dizzily. She saw the gigantic deadly weapon which was carved with magic crests (Furigana: Hierateika) flashed, and the soldiers who raised sprays of blood were blown off.
「I said to be quiet right?」
Dimitar cursed at Valeria who had saw the sudden bloodshed and screamed.
Dragging along clamorous sounds of metals crashing into each other, Dimitar started running on the passageway. Casually mowing down the soldiers who tried to obstruct his path, he jumped onto the parapet that towered on both sides of the passageway.
「…This time won’t be soft like just now」
「Haii? Eh? W, what!?」
「Since you may feel a jolt in your side, brace yourself so that you don’t cry」
Faster than she could understand the meaning of Dimitar’s words, a second floating sensation tickled Valeria’s bottom. Dimitar had immediately jumped from the rampart towards the forest.
The watch fires and starlight ebbed into long and narrow beams of light in Valeria’s eyes, and immediately after, the pair plunged into the deep black and thick foliage.
Dimitar’s left hand reached out and grabbed onto a thick branch. Even if his arm and leg strength could be enhanced due to magic, it didn’t mean that his flesh had changed into steel. If he fell as it was, even if he avoided crashing into the ground completely, both of Dimitar’s legs wouldn’t be able to withstand the body weight of two people and the acceleration, and would turn into mush.
However, Dimitar separated from the branch at once. While changing his body’s direction 180°, he began to fall again from a height of about a two-story house’s eaves.
Valeria immediately swallowed her words of doubt.
Dimitar might have judged that they’d become an easy target while hanging from the branch that he separated his hand from it at once. Innumerable arrows flew like slanting rain from above the rampart and swooped down on the pair who was in the midst of falling. It wasn’t just arrows, but even spears were mixed within.
「They’re too wicked…!」
Dimitar swung his sword and flicked off the arrows and spears, but when he bent both his legs and made his body sink deeply to soften the landing’s impact, an arrow made a sound and pierced his left shoulder tip.
For Valeria, to suddenly see an arrow sticking out and blood spouting up before her eyes, she couldn’t help screaming even if she tried to endure it.
「…Were you hit somewhere?」
「I, I wasn’t hit but, y, you—Richternach-kyou! Y, you, you’re, p, pierced in the shoulder!」
「It’s my own body. …I understand that even if you don’t say it」
Dimitar stood up immediately and hid in the shade of a tree. It could be clearly inferred from his voice’s tone which was lowlier subdued than usual that he was enduring the pain.
The feet of Dimitar who had escaped into the night forest evidently staggered, and his breathing had also become much rougher.
「Just a minute, nee—」
「…Around here is, my limit, huh—」
Dimitar stopped abruptly, thrust his sword into the ground and fell to his knees with a “gakuri” on the spot.
「Hey…y, you, just have to let me down if it’s so tough! We seemed to have successfully shaken off the pursuers too—」
「They won’t, give up on pursuit, so easily…before long, they’ll assemble a number of people and chase after us—」
When Dimitar laughed sporadically, he untied the knot of the mantle that secured Valeria onto his back.
Valeria was able to recover her physical strength considerably while being carried on his back, and she stood firmly on both feet though her side worried her. She went round to the front of Dimitar who was still crouched down on the spot and couldn’t get up.
「Just a minute…!? What’s this!?」
「…Don’t make a noise. We’ll be noticed」
Dimitar’s body wasn’t pierced by only one arrow in his left shoulder. There were two in his abdomen and also two in his right thigh. Each was embedded very deeply and blood seemed to keep on flowing slowly even now.
Valeria immediately went down on her knees and let her gaze wandered about meaninglessly.
「W, what to do? What shall we do about this?」
「…There’s nothing that can be done right now 」
「T, then, leave they as they are?」
「Iya…as expected, they’re a hindrance」
Dimitar pulled out the knife which was inserted in his boots and cut the stems of the arrows that pierced his abdomen and thigh in the middle. To not have drawn out a breath entirely was probably to prevent any more bleeding than this. When an edged tool was lodged in, the wound would bleed massively and instead shorten one’s life upon extracting it thoughtlessly—even Valeria knew this.
Dimitar cut the five arrows short with shaky hands. When he put away the bloodstained knife into its scabbard, he held out the mantle which was taken off messily to Valeria.
「Spread this out…on the flat ground over there」
「You want to lie down? W, wait a moment!」
Valeria held the edge of the mantle and spread it softly.
At that moment, her bottom was kicked from behind.
She fell forward with a clumsy shriek and something heavy leaned on her bottom with a “nosuu” immediately.
「Baa…w, what’re you doing all of a sudden!?」
It was Dimitar who had straddled Valeria. Although she panicky propped herself up with both hands and tried to get up, pain ran through her side when she exerted strength and she couldn’t get rid of Dimitar at all. What she could do at the most was to turn her head and glared at Dimitar.
「…If you’ve any complaints, I’ll hear them later」
「”Later” you say—stop it! W, what’re you intending to do!?」
「You’re being noisy. Be quiet」
Dimitar twisted both of Valeria’s arms to her back and tied them up tightly with a thin rope while muttering. Continuing further, he bound both her knees and ankles in a state where her feet were placed together. Hence, it became difficult for Valeria to even stand up.
In the state where her cheek was pressed against the ground across the mantle, Valeria concealed her trembling and spoke to the boy.
「What on earth are you planning!? Doing such a thing…!」
「I don’t really care that you’re strong-willed, but don’t cry afterwards」
Dimitar muttered coldly, twisted a cloth slightly and tried to force the gag into Valeria’s mouth.
At that moment, she recalled the memory of when she was captured by the rebel army and then thrown into the underground storehouse. Remembering the eyes of the rebel army’s boys who had carried a lantern and entered the storehouse, goosebumps rose on her entire body with a “zowari”.
「It’s because you scream like that that the workload increases」
Dimitar said so seemingly irritated and made Valeria bit the gag. Although she shook her body desperately despite the pain in her side, that degree wouldn’t make Dimitar move aside.
「…Behave yourself. It’s not like I’ll eat you whatsoever」
Dimitar leaned over Valeria and whispered close to the girl’s ear.
「Though you seem to be misunderstanding something, I told you that I prefer nice older women who have more flesh right? In the first place, do you think there’s an idiot who will get in the heat suddenly and push a girl down when he’s bleeding from his abdomen and is out of breath?」
Valeria put strength into her glare as if saying “Then what’s it!?”.
Dimitar removed the gauntlet on his left hand and both his hands’ fingers made a “boki boki (Onomatopoeic for cracking knuckles)” sound.
「—Henceforth, I’ll restore your magic crests」
「With my condition, it’s regrettable but it seems that I won’t be able to move before joining up with Gacha Pink. Though it doesn’t matter if I were to die, you’ll be dragged in too at this rate since the current you, besides suffering a wound, also can’t use magic 」
“Therefore—I’ll repair your magic crests as an emergency measure,” said Dimitar.
「I don’t know when we’ll be discovered by those guys, and I simply don’t have the free time to connect all your erased magic crests, so I’ll connect the important parts only for the time being. Even if I connect just the magic crests on the back of your right hand and chest, you might be able to use some magic one way or another」
For Valeria who shot magic from her fingertips and palms a lot, the magic crests on the back of her right hand were important. In addition, the magic crest, which bundled the magic crests that were applied on her limbs into one and was carved on the centre of her body—just around her chest, was also equally important.
If she could get the magic crests of those areas restored, Valeria would be able to use magic again. It was the best news in the current situation where her life was targeted by enemies.
But compensation was needed for that.
Valeria’s throat made a gulping sound behind the gag.
The procedure of carving magic crests onto the body was accompanied with a pain as though one was cut by an edged tool.
They were carved onto Valeria’s body—the bodies of the girls who aimed to be a Dominas from when they were a child little by little. In the process of applying magic crests of manyfold of an average magic warrior, there weren’t few girls who couldn’t endure that pain and ran away. That was so, even if there were several proficient Hiera Glaphicos who worked while alleviating the pain by means of magic.
And she was told that it’d be done once more here and now; moreover, she had to entrust everything to this sharp-tongued, insolent and incompatible boy whom she had just met recently.
Although a Hiera Glaphicos was said to restore a Dominas’s magic crests originally, there was scarcely a full-scale restoration. As there was only one Hiera Glaphicos, the pain couldn’t be alleviated while restoring the magic crests. To put it in terms of an injury’s treatment, this might be giving first aid at most.
In short, Dimitar was trying to perform a simple operation at this place without anaesthesia.
When Valeria was hesitating, Dimitar spoke as if he had seen through her mind.
「Are you hesitating on what to do? …Unfortunately, your thoughts are inconsequential under these circumstances. I’ve to do this while I’m conscious」
Dimitar continued in seemingly self-mockery, and his hand gripped the right hand of Valeria whose movement was sealed.
Immediately after that, a sharp pain ran through the back of her hand. It was such a pain where she thought that her skin was sliced off finely with a knife, like peeling an apple’s skin.
She stifled a scream of agony behind the gag and stiffened her whole body. Valeria knew that cold sweats were oozing out suddenly from her white skin.
「Don’t struggle. …Even if it’s like this, I’m neutralising the pain more or less」
Dimitar grasped Valeria’s hand with a strong force and while holding it down firmly, he drew a line on her skin with his fingertip. Valeria struggled and writhed to escape from that pain, but Dimitar pinned her down with arm strength only and continued to work silently.
Inside her mind that had boiled gradually, Valeria understood why Dimitar had tied her up and even made her bite on a gag. If her body was unrestrained, perhaps Valeria might have screamed in a voice which was audible even outside the forest and rampaged.
After that, exactly how many minutes had passed?
Dimitar finally stood up.
Her right hand was already numbed, and the fact that she couldn’t feel most of the pain after the midpoint might be the only saving grace. As she had stiffened her entire body’s muscles the whole time, she accumulated a fatigue as if she had sprint a long distance with her all, and her whole body was bathed in perspiration. The most unpleasant thing was that the Dominas’s “uniform” with little area had absorbed her cold sweat and was soaking wet.
「…Next, if I connect some of the magic crests on your chest, you’ll be able to use magic」
In that case, she’d be able to neutralise the pain by herself and treat her side. Dimitar turned the girl’s body face up while saying so.
「Once you can use magic and have treated your wound to some extent, escape at once」
Dimitar straddled Valeria’s waist again.
「…Gacha Pink and the horses ought to be waiting at the vicinity where we first sneaked in. When you join up, return to the capital immediately. Don’t try to do any unnecessary meritorious deed」
「…Live and return, and report, that magic which erases magic crests to the Head Director. That’s the most important matter」
Dimitar extended his hands towards Valeria’s chest and began to undo the string of her bustier. It was supposed to be unpleasant to the point where she’d die to have such a thing done by a man whom she didn’t like, and yet Valeria strangely didn’t think of resisting. To begin with, it was because she was totally exhausted and didn’t have such physical strength, and her mind was also befuddled.
However, the best reason was probably because she somehow didn’t feel the fear or repulsiveness which she had felt in the rebel army’s soldiers in that storehouse within Dimitar.
Above all, she thought that it was even absurd to worry like that when seeing the current Dimitar. Previously, even such a thought of whether this boy could accomplish the restoration of her magic crests came to her mind.
Dimitar’s face was pale to that extent.
The hands of the boy who tried to undo the bustier’s string were becoming wet and deep red with blood. Midway, he often wiped his hands around his waist since his fingertips were slipping due to the blood. It wasn’t because Valeria perspired that a jarring “gucha gucha” sound was made, but because Dimitar’s lower half of his body was absorbing a lot of blood and was dripping wet.
He was clearly bleeding heavily.
Nonetheless, Dimitar somehow undid the bustier’s string and slid it down.
「…Be at ease. The important parts aren’t visible」
Did he notice that Valeria stiffened her body for a moment? Dimitar laughed.
She didn’t have the time to feel disgusted as that pain attacked her again.
「Don’t move…don’t struggle—」
Dimitar repeated it like a charm and a bluish black complex pattern emerged on his right arm. The technique for restoring magic crests was also an advanced magic.
Dimitar’s finger slid over Valeria’s white skin. A faint red line extended from her cleavage which rose and fell gently to her collarbone. Furthermore, it went past her shoulder and connected to the magic crest of her fingertips from her right upper arm.
A pain that was in a wider scope than a while ago was produced.
But Valeria didn’t struggle anymore. No matter how much pain she was in, Dimitar would never stop his hand until the stopgap treatment ended.
Hence Valeria only thought of the moment when the magic crests’ restoration ended, bit the gag and endured the pain.
A spasm attacked Bettina, who had brushed the bodies of the two horses and taken a short rest, yet again and caused her to ooze cold sweat.
「I, I want to pee—」
Perhaps due to a mental reason, Bettina had to go to the toilet often. She was troubled by this since she was really young. It couldn’t be said that this matter was completely irrelevant to the girl being adopted by her uncle and was living with him.
In any case, feeling the urge to urinate upon becoming a little tense was quite a fatal “chronic disease” for the girl who was approaching adulthood.
「Uuuu…Dimitar-san still hasn’t come back—」
Bettina rubbed her thighs together skilfully while wearing the armour and put up with the urge to urinate.
「I, I’ll quickly take off this armour now and—hyawaa!?」
Just when she started thinking of going to relieve herself stealthily, she felt that she had heard men’s voices from somewhere and ducked her head. She pushed her way through the thicket and went towards the town. When she examined the situation secretly, there were many lights flickering on the rampart.
「Ababababa…! W, was Dimitar-san discovered by any chance—!?」
Noticing that the enemies’ movement had become hurried, Bettina’s tension rose even higher. Naturally, she was further cornered by the physiological phenomenon.
「I, if pushed to the utmost limits, a person’s willpower can control the body freely! —Though I heard something like that, it’s impossible, Oji-sama! In the first place, my will is weak!」
Bettina returned to the horses and stamped with a “gacha gacha”.
「W-w, what to do? If I’m found by the enemies at such a place—I, I’ll definitely wet myselffff!」
At this unpleasant premonition, Bettina lost her composure more and more. She then noticed the horses which were casually grazing on the grass lifted their heads and twitched their ears all together, and stopped her movements quickly. She felt that she had sensed faint footsteps different from her serious ones.
Bettina took the retractable battle axe which was equipped behind her waist and focused on the darkness from across her visor. Though it was unlikely that the enemies who should be fighting for supremacy in the town would appear suddenly and unexpectedly from inside the forest, there was also the worst case scenario.
Bettina grasped the battle axe that transformed Bachururus’s power into an even more brutal fighting power and put herself on guard.
At her rear—directly close by this time—was a “kasari” sound of grass being stepped on.
Though it felt like it took several hours, it actually might have taken no more than 30 minutes.
Even when Dimitar cut the ropes on her limbs and got up sluggishly, Valeria couldn’t move from that spot for a while.
A night wind brushed her skin that was covered in cold sweat. A coldness which she didn’t experience until some time ago attacked her abruptly and Valeria shivered.
Valeria got up slowly, removed the gag and threw it away.
Dimitar leaned against a tree trunk apparently in affliction, sat down and said in a hoarse voice. He probably meant to use magic to see if the magic crests were properly restored.
Valeria wiped the sweat of her whole body with the mantle that she picked up. When she pulled up the bustier that had slipped off, she approached Dimitar in strides and slapped the side of his face with all her might.
「—Your method was rough! It’s painful and you’re heavy! And you’ve no delicacy! If I can’t use magic well with this, I’ll give you another slap!」
Valeria who had kept on talking loudly turned her back to Dimitar and moved her right hand lightly. Magical power began to flow from around her cleavage to her right fingertips via her shoulder instantly. Due to this flow of magical power forming magic squares, magic surfaced.
「…They’re connected, if I’ve to say so」
Although complex magic squares of that extent—namely magic crests, were necessary to use advanced magic, by moving the magic crests to induce the flow of magical power, complex magic squares could also be drawn with simple magic crests. The current Valeria couldn’t use significant magic without such process.
Nevertheless, being able to use magic somehow was greatly different from being unable to use it entirely.
Turning over the reference books inside her mind and recalling the magic square of healing magic, she neutralised the pain at her side. The pain which was tinging with heat subsided gently and it became considerably easy to breathe.
Valeria took a breath with a “hoo” and looked down on her appearance again. In any case, since her tabard and dress were taken away, she was lightly dressed in just a bustier and hot-pants. Even those were also soaking wet in sweat and blood, and she might catch a cold at this rate. She wanted to retrieve her luggage quickly and change her clothes.
「We shall meet up with Bettina then, Richternach-kyou—」
When she could finally regain the initiative, Valeria turned around to Dimitar with a face full of joy. She became startled and opened her eyes wide.
It was because Dimitar had fallen face-down.
「It, it’s a lie right!? I didn’t hit you so strongly…i, iya, though I did hit you with all my might, even so, to end up like this—」
「…Are you an idiot?」
Dimitar smiled bitterly at the flustered Valeria and got up with a “yorori”.
「It’s normal to collapse if one bleeds this much…」
「W, what’re you saying now? I can’t believe you! You’re irresponsible!」
「I don’t care if I die here, but it’d be bad if you were to die. Therefore, use your magic minimally so that you can escape somehow…that’s enough, so meet up with Gacha Pink quickly, run away—」
「I, I can’t just leave you behind right!?」
「It’s your responsibility to do so…」
「You…a, aren’t you strange!?」
Dimitar leaned on the tree again. Valeria held his nape—it looked like it was already getting slick with blood—and said.
「Why’re you going that far? You can’t put up with me right?」
「This and that are different matters」
The weak sigh which came out from Dimitar’s mouth reeked of blood.
「That might be so theoretically, but it’s human’s nature to not actually do so isn’t it!?」
「Don’t say pretty words and escape immediately. …You also hate me right…?」
The half-dead boy retorted with a cavil and Valeria became speechless.
Valeria definitely didn’t like Dimitar and she fully understood that the other party also thought of her that way. However, Valeria couldn’t become completely cold-hearted to forsake Dimitar here and escape. Dimitar had rescued Valeria and prioritised the restoration of her magic crests over his own treatment. It was certainly his duty, but the original cause was that Valeria had disregarded Dimitar’s opinion of returning to the capital at once, arbitrarily went ahead and then got caught by Hokon.
Valeria furrowed her brow, pulled Dimitar’s arm and made him stand up.
「…What’re you planning to do?」
「If you’re bleeding heavily, be quiet…!」
She lent her shoulder to Dimitar and began to walk slowly, but it was quite a hard labour for the powerless Valeria.
「I said don’t talk! You’ll waste that much stamina!」
「If you’re going to read so much into it, then stop the bleeding first」
Although the arrows which were stuck inside must be extracted to stop the bleeding, the degree of difficulty of that task, which was one step short of an operation, was too high for Valeria who didn’t want to see blood if possible.
「It’s fine if you can’t do it but…to not stop the bleeding and take me around; do you intend to hasten my time of death?」
「I’ll take you and return…!」
「It’ll be troubling if I don’t have you work hard after this—」
「…What’s that? A confession of your twisted love?」
「Don’t say, stupid things, …!」
Until now, Dimitar always treated her as if she was simple. She was derisively laughed at for being ignorant of the ways of the world, and though her position should be higher, she was callously instructed on this and that; her bottom was kicked on and her chest was touched; they were utterly painful experiences.
In addition, if she were to abandon Dimitar, she’d end up burdening and living with the vexation of being unable to get even and the guilt of making him into a sacrifice forever hereafter. Undoubtedly, that’d be much heavier than the body of Dimitar whom she was now lending a shoulder to like this.
「…In the first place, why’d you strain your body this far if you dislike me? You said that it’s for your success in life, but won’t it be pointless if you lose your life?」」
「It’s because I’m a person who only has many faults and no value」
Dimitar’s personality was certainly full of faults, but he possessed considerable ability as a soldier. Unable to understand why he’d belittle himself to this extent, Valeria knitted her eyebrows.
「That I can be in a such position—before that, that I can live until today is due to Lucius and Oba-sama’s aid. Therefore, I must help you and accomplish the mission so that I won’t cause them to lose face. …It turned out like this because you acted arbitrarily」
「I, I’m sorry okay」
「You don’t have to apologise…a Dominas is permitted to act on her own judgement, and it was also my role to hold your reins properly. It was my ineptitude that I couldn’t control you」
「…When hearing you portray yourself as a bad person to that extent, it’s like hearing that I’m being awfully childish and wilful instead」
「It’s a fact that you’re a brat」
Dimitar raised his lips and smiled.
「…Anyway, seeing that it has come to this, my job is to send you back to the capital. Even if I die here…maa, it might be glorious death as a Hiera Glaphicos, and Lucius and Oba-sama’s reputation will rise」
「Like I said—」
「You don’t need to mind it. …Assuming that I died, it won’t be for your sake, but for Lucius and Oba-sama’s sake」
「You…! If you’ve the leisure to talk back like that, then walk even more steadily!」
「That’s why I said so right? To leave me behind and—」
「If that’s the case!」
Valeria spoke and drowned out Dimitar’s mutter that seemed to vanish anytime.
「It’s not for your sake that I didn’t abandon you, but for Lucius-sama’s sake! If I let you die because of me…ho, hora, Lucius’s impression of me will become bad!」
「I see…that’s just like you」
「Right? After all, I don’t really care if you die or live! But for the future of Lucius-sama and I, I’m trying to help you because it can’t be helped! —If you understand, then walk quickly!」
「…Since Lucius is Oba-sama’s only son, he can’t become the Costacurta House’s son-in-law no matter how hard you try you know?」
「Ko…y, you, saying unpleasant things…!」
「I’m just teaching you the reality. —Leaving that aside, talk a bit more quietly」
「You’ve a lot of complaints…!」
「That doesn’t matter but we’re being caught up」
Dimitar thrust Valeria away lightly and pulled out the sword on his waist in a flash. The spear which had made a jarring sound of “kain!” and turned into two equal parts fell at the boy’s feet.
As if that was the signal, the soldiers of the rebel army rushed out from within the darkness.
Dimitar stood to protect Valeria’s back and cut down the arrows that flew here.
「It can’t be helped…cover me」
「Y, you plan to fight?」
「There’s no choice but to get rid of all the pursuers here right? Or will you leave me behind and escape ahead now?」
「Mou…! Don’t instruct me on everything! My position is higher!」
Valeria took a longer time than usual, produced a large flame and hurled it towards the soldiers.
Maybe the soldiers were cautious of Dimitar, they had surrounded him at a distance and were about to shoot arrows. Due to the flame scorching and burning off the bowstrings, the bows split open in the soldiers’ hands one after another.
Catching the enemies off guard, Dimitar rushed in at one go and flashed his sword. Several soldiers raised spurts of blood and collapsed; unrest spread out among the remaining soldiers.
Leaning on the sword that was thrust into the ground, Dimitar looked back at Valeria as he heaved his shoulders greatly.
「…If there’re no projectile weapons, it might be possible somehow. Escape quickly」
「You didn’t hear what people are saying at all!」
Valeria ran up to Dimitar’s side and waved her right hand with a big action.
「…Didn’t I just said that I won’t leave you behind!? I’ve been telling you repeatedly that this’s for Lucius-sama’s sake!」
As if chasing Valeria’s hand that flowed like it was stroking the empty space, a vivid flame spouted out in the dark and caused the soldiers to flinch.
Thereupon, countless arrows flew here from somewhere.
「T, they’ve other comrades!?」
The soldiers immediately became restless at the surprise attack from an unexpected direction.
「…They’ve more or less made it in time huh」
Dimitar raised the sword overhead languidly, supported the blade with his left hand and shook its tip. A bluish black line extended from the boy’s arm that was gripping the hilt, passed through his fist and ran to apex of the sword.
「Can you let me have a rest soon—?」
An enormous lump of flame flew from the edge of the sword which was swung at the same time as he spat out.
Let alone evading, the confused soldiers, who didn’t even noticed that Dimitar had spent time and prepared magic, received it directly and were blown off.
While the flame’s redness hadn’t subsided, Dimitar kept the sword into its scabbard and said to Valeria.
「…We’re moving at once」
「They probably won’t give chase anymore. If they do, it’ll be after they had returned temporarily and gathered a number of them」
「T, that’s not it. The arrows from a while ago—」
「Don’t worry about it」
「That may be so for you, but I don’t care about it」
Trying to drag his body, Dimitar turned around.
It wasn’t even three minutes when Valeria had lent her shoulder to Dimitar again and began to walk, that a slender figure suddenly appeared from the thicket before them.
Dimitar restrained Valeria who had tried to direct her right hand towards that person and smiled.
「…It’s not just you right?」
「Hai. Bocchama is also here. —I was against it though」
A woman who was wearing lightweight leather armour stepped forward in front of the pair. The colouring (カラーリング) of black hair with light brown skin was relatively rare in Amaddo. She was an individual beautiful woman who concealed the sparkle of a strong will in her eyes that tended to be moist. Seeing that she was carrying a small bow and quiver on her back, this woman was probably the one who took the enemies by surprise and shot the arrows moments ago.
Valeria looked at Dimitar and the beautiful woman alternately, and tilted her head to the side.
「She’s a maid of Lucius’s house」
「I’m Thial Krkic, Valeria-sama」
Like the maids in Valeria’s mansion, the girl—Thial displayed a gesture of holding her skirt and bowing courteously. That pose was certainly typical of a maid, but she had never seen a maid with such a militaristic style. At the very least, the Costacurta House’s maids shouldn’t have touch a bow and arrow or sword.
「—In any case, please come this way. Bocchama is waiting over there together with Bettina-jou」
「Bocchama…did Lucius-sama come?」
Valeria unintentionally looked up at Dimitar’s face, but the boy turned away and didn’t say anything.
Lucius extracted the pierced arrowhead and held his hand over the wound where fresh blood flowed out again. A faint soft light dwelt in Lucius’s right hand that had removed its glove and gently healed the pain of Dimitar’s wound.
「It’s good that it ended with this degree」
Dimitar averted his gaze from Lucius who had glanced at his expression with upturned eyes and closed his eyes. Unlike Dimitar who could only use magic that was solely for fighting, Lucius could use various magic. He might have inherited his mother’s talent as it was.
Lucius then asked Dimitar who had taken a large and deep breath altogether while the pain receded.
「—Well then, the magic that erases magic crests, what kind of thing is it?」
「I didn’t see it personally. Please ask Her Eminence about that」
「You…do you also use that tone towards Valeria-jou?」
「It sounds as if you’re making fun of her you know? Aren’t you repeating “Her Eminence Her Eminence”?」
「I think “Her Eminence” is an honorific, but does it sounds like I’m making fun of her when I use it?」
「Even though you’re actually using it with the intention of making fun of her」
Lucius lowered his voice and smiled.
「—Truth be told, I also thought that you and Valeria-jou seem incompatible. You dislike strong-willed girls like her after all」
「Then why was I chosen to be her exclusive Hiera Glaphicos? Even Oba-sama ought to know that right?」
「I don’t understand Haha-ue’s thoughts either. Unexpectedly, she might just enjoy seeing you and Valeria-jou in a fluster (due to being paired up)」
「…This isn’t a laughing matter」
「Haha…maa treat that as a joke」
Lucius withdrew his small smile and changed his expression.
「—If it’s a Hiera Glaphicos, anyone should be able to erase magic crests?」
In the case where a magic warrior who had committed a crime was arrested, his magic crests would generally be erased; since in a state where magic could be used, easily breaking out of prison was possible even if he was thrown into it.
「…But it’s impossible to erase them in an instant」
While borrowing Lucius’s assistance and coiling his upper body in bandages, Dimitar muttered.
「It usually takes the same time as drawing magic crests or more. To be able to erase them in an instant means that it’s clearly a “magic” that we’ve yet to know. How about you?」
「I also don’t know. —In any case, although I received the notice from you and rushed over, I’m glad to have arrive」
「It might be bittersweet for Her Eminence」
「Is that so?」
「So you’ve understood Valeria-jou well in this short time?」
「It’s easy to understand her. She reveals whatever she’s thinking on her face too much. …If you’re with her for half a day, even you will immediately understand what that girl is thinking」
Maybe something was amusing; when Lucius smiled with a “nico nico” and stood up, he patted on Dimitar’s shoulder and went to the other side of the thicket.
Dimitar leaned against the tree trunk, grabbed and ate the high-grade cheese and bacon that Lucius had brought, and drank the wine.
From the eastern sky that had finally begun to dawn, dazzling light shone through the leaves and branches of every tree.
Valeria borrowed Thial’s help, cleaned her body and put on her spare ceremonial clothes. She leaked out a sigh of relief while combing her long hair. As expected, she was unsettled as she was lightly dressed, but nevertheless, it was much better than to keep on wearing those wet clothes.
「…Even so, why’s Lucius-sama here?」
「It’s because he received a letter from Dimitar-sama」
「Huh? Di—Richternach-kyou’s letter?」
Valeria stopped her hand that was moving the comb and looked at Thial who was snapping off thin branches and throwing them into the bonfire.
「That guy, he sent such a thing? When?」
「I didn’t read the contents, …but it somehow seemed to be sent from Cromatan town」
「By now, Valeria-jou has realised that he’s attentive to fairly small details despite how he looks right?」
Valeria hurriedly put on the mantle at Lucius’s voice that had flown here.
「Have you finished dressing up already?」
「Ha, hai, please come in!」
「Well then, excuse me」
After he was informed so, Lucius pushed his way through the thicket and came over.
「Dii is having a meal at the other side. There’s no need to worry about his injuries」
Lucius sat down near the bonfire and smiled.
「—As a matter of fact, Dii sent a carrier pigeon to me from Cromatan」
「Don’t tell me…that guy called for Lucius-sama with that letter!?」
「He didn’t tell me to come in particular. He wrote and sent information of Seriba that he had gotten out from the pedlars in Cromatan; the rest is maa…things about you and the like」
Hearing that Dimitar had written about her in the letter to Lucius, Valeria was shocked.
「W, what did that guy write about!?」
「To be specific, he didn’t write criticism on you. …Maa, should I say it’s a very objective impressions—or perhaps a report regarding your character?」
「W, why’s there a need to report to Lucius-sama of such matters!?」
「…Valeria-jou has already understood what kind of thing a Dominas’s first job is right?」
「Is it about gaining experience and achievements in an easy mission?」
「Yes. —Dii wrote that whether you’d flare up when you learnt of such circumstances」
“Gikuri,” Valeria gulped.
「Considering your character, Dii predicted that far from being unable to feel satisfied with such an arranged mission, wouldn’t you get angry instead? When that happens, he doesn’t know if you’ll go back to the capital meekly. If it turns out like that, he may have to return by knocking you out and dragging you along, but he never arrive at the conclusion whether it’s alright to go that far or not. …Dii seemed to be hesitant on that matter」
Valeria hung her head in shame. Having reacted as per Dimitar’s prediction, as if her shallowness was exposed, she was somehow ashamed.
「I also thought about it because I received such a letter」
Lucius who was in a plain black clothing that was different from the Seal Chivalric Order’s (Furigana: Templar Aegis) uniform spoke with a bitter smile.
「—Just then, Valeria-jou’s father came to my home and only spoke of how he couldn’t help but to worry about you」
「M, my father came!? To Lucius-sama’s mansion!?」
Valeria’s cheeks became even redder and hotter. He had insisted that she declined to be a Dominas and had begged Lucius in tears; exactly how far would that father hinder his daughter before he was satisfied?
「It’s his parental love of solely thinking about his daughter. I was deeply moved」
Maybe he saw through Valeria’s mind, Lucius spoke so as to pacify the girl.
「Somehow, there doesn’t seem to be the Seal Chivalric Order’s turn in this matter, and it’s also the first job of Dii who is like a younger brother, so I thought of going to see the situation a little…that maa, since things became like this result-wise, it might be good luck in various ways」
「In other words…it’s unrelated to the Chivalric Order’s mission that you’re here…?」
「Yes. If this became known to mother and His Highness, they might get angry. In fact, I should be preparing for unforeseen situation and standing by in my home」
Looking at Lucius who had smiled and replied so, Valeria harboured mixed feelings. Although her father had interfered needlessly, she was happy that Lucius had worried about her and rushed here. But perhaps within Lucius, this was for Dimitar’s sake rather than for hers. Valeria somehow understood that.
「—I’ve given the horses water to drink!」
A pink coloured armour which was pulling four horses appeared. In contrast to Valeria who had undergone a bad experience, the girl who had met up with Lucius earlier than Valeria was energetic and in high spirits as ever.
「So when will we depart desuka~?」
At Bettina’s remark, Valeria tilted her neck to the side.
「—Are you going somewhere?」
「Eh? I mean, aren’t we’re returning now?」
“Gachiri,” Bettina’s gaze went around and looked at Lucius. Drawn in by that, Valeria also looked at Lucius and quizzically raised her eyebrows at the handsome young man’s countenance that seemed somewhat uncomfortable.
「It’s a bit hard to say this but Valeria-jou, …let’s return to the capital as it is now」
「I fully understand your anger, but this isn’t something that can be handled by a Dominas one way or another. This isn’t because you’re new, but that it has already become a scale where the army will be mobilised」
「Therefore, return obediently—is that what you ‘re saying?」
「Yes. Perhaps at this time, elite soldiers should be heading towards Seriba from Roma. We just have to leave it to them afterwards. Even if you only bring back the information of the magic which erases magic crests that the rebel army’s ringleader had used, your performance is praiseworthy enough. You did uncover a new threat to us」
Valeria also understood what Lucius had said. She was told the same thing by Dimitar too.
But nevertheless, she still wasn’t convinced.
It no longer had anything to do with what kind of work a Dominas’s first job was. Returning to the capital like this would seem as if she had lost to that Hokon—that was to say, a Dominas’s authority had yielded to a heathen god; it didn’t sit well with her by all means.
「Valeria-jou? Is something the matter?」
Maybe he notice the expression of the quiet Valeria, Lucius asked her seemingly puzzled.
「Um…Lucius-sama. I still—」
A presumptuous voice interrupted the words of Valeria who was about to continue with “don’t intend to return”.
「Are you feeling alright already, Dii?」
While licking his thumb, Dimitar, who had carried the leather bag of wine and turned up, sat down next to Lucius.
「…When do you think the army will arrive?」
「Despite his appearances, His Highness is a person who doesn’t hesitate once he decided to do something. If we assume that the army had set off already, they’ll arrive by tomorrow’s night at the latest I guess」
Lucius stared at the dazzling morning sun and answered.
「Is that so? In that case, we’ll rest until sunset today and move after it gets dark」
「What do you mean, Dii? If we’re going to return, then right now—」
「We can’t return yet」
Dimitar donned black clothes on his upper body that was covered with bandages, jerked his chin and pointed to Valeria.
「…No matter how you look at it, Her Eminence isn’t in agreement」
Being directed the topic suddenly, Valeria faltered at once.
「—Besides, the tabard that was bestowed from His Majesty hasn’t been recovered; the treasured sword too」
「That’s…given these circumstances, it probably can’t be helped. There’re replacements」
「And that’s how it is, but what’ll you do?」
As if to say that she’d be the one to decide, Dimitar looked at Valeria.
Valeria honestly didn’t want to return yet. Leaving Hokon as he was would be admitting hers and Redountra’s defeat. No matter how much words of praise she received from the Head Director and crown prince, she’d only feel empty as long as she held onto this thought.
But Valeria couldn’t do anything al