His and Her Secrets
In Amaddo, the task of engraving magic crests is permitted only to special crest officers affiliated to the magic academy. Basically, one must have her magic crests engraved by a crest officer after obtaining the magic academy’s approval to become a magic warrior.
Thus, all magic warriors within Amaddo’s jurisdiction—except unlicensed and wandering magic warriors— were placed under its control.
Generally, such circumstances weren’t much different even in other countries. And it was known that the crest officers in the magic-advanced Amaddo drew magic crests of good efficiency with precision. That might also be the cause of Valeria and Karin attaining their reputation as excellent Dominas.
Having rested comfortably for the first time in a while at his home, Lucius Richternach who was summoned by Jeffren Isaac on the next day appeared at the crown prince’s glasshouse.
「—Did you call for me, Your Highness?」
While trimming the roses like usual, the crown prince began to talk suddenly without looking back at Lucius.
「Did everyone have a good sleep yesterday?」
Yesterday, Isaac didn’t tell only the Seal Chivalric Order’s vice leader Lucius to rest at home. All members of the Chivalric Order were also similarly notified.
In the case of noble youngsters, resting at one’s home meant using a good mantle to visit the pleasure quarters of the night frequently, showing up at a mansion’s party of some place or abstaining from such nightlife to rest obediently at home. Lucius could resort to ordering for a minor house-arrest, but in any case, any member who disregard the crown prince’s order and indulged in nightlife might very well incur his displeasure.
「It’s splendid if you’ve rest well. Then, it’s been a while but let’s go on a long trip」
「Is it an expedition…?」
「It’s nothing too exaggerated. We aren’t specifically going to war…Ma, I want to hunt for foxes though」
「Where’ll we be going? Is it near Gruma forest?」
「It’s not good playing dumb, Lucius-kun」
Handing over his gloves that had released the pruning shears to the page, the crown prince turned around towards Lucius.
「—Why’ll I go to Gruma or the like with everybody for a duration of several days?」
「I think Your Highness is going personally to receive the queen under the pretext of fox hunting. In these recent times where people’re feeling insecure, it’s necessary to assign escorts for the queen’s return—」
「Though that may be so, I’ll be troubled if Haha-ue doesn’t keep on resting until Chichi-ue returns from his mistress’s place」
「Then where’ll it be?」
「I think the vicinity around Reman is good」
「It’s not possible to hunt foxes there」
「Is that so?」
「It’s also close to Biranoba’s national border」
「That’s an unexpected surprise」
「Good grief…who’s the one that’s feigning ignorance?」
Lucius mixed in a small mutter to his bitter smile.
Reman was a relay station that was near Biranoba’s national border. The surrounding was a gentle hilly area where meadows and vineyards spread out, and it wasn’t a plot of land with numerous foxes that could make hunting possible. It was evident that the crown prince’s objective wasn’t fox hunting.
「—Ma, can you dispatch a fast horse to Reman immediately and secure lodging place first? We’ll depart in the noon…It’s possible right?」
「Of course. On top of being notified to rest at home, the Seal Chivalric Order’s members are also prepared for emergencies」
The crown prince returned the cuffs of his blouse to their original positions and left the glasshouse.
「—If we don’t put the heat on those noble bonbons periodically, they’ll become lax at once. If there’re people who haven’t assemble at the departure time, expel them immediately」
「Although there’re a lot of people who want to join the Seal Chivalric Order, somehow they merely think of the Chivalric Order as something like a close friend’s club. It’s might be like that previously, but if it doesn’t change gradually」
Narrowing his eyes at the morning’s sunlight, the crown prince placed his hands on his waist.
In the current situation where the king was travelling incognito to his mistress’s territory and the queen returning home to recuperate from her illness, it was debatable if it was good or bad for even the crown prince to leave the capital. It was likely that the ministers weren’t happy about it but this crown prince hardly yielded once he had spoken out. At first glance, he seemed frail but his ability to persist in his own thoughts was undoubtedly inherited from his father. He might have already forced the minister to accept this time’s “hunting” too.
From the shade of a tree, the Home Minister beckoned to Lucius who had parted from the crown prince.
「What’s it, Kamunyas-kyou?」
「As expected, the talk with His Highness is about his foreign travel to Biranoba…? 」
「Foreign travel? Nay, he said that he’s going fox hunting since the Chivalric Order is doing manoeuvres」
「So–what! That’s a pretence right? To begin with, where did he say he’s going hunting?」
「Hora! Reman! Isn’t fox hunting impossible in such a place?!」
「That’s my sentiment too」
Lucius smiled bitterly again and pacified the minister who had numerous worries.
「—It’ll be alright, Kamunyas-kyou. Though it’s difficult to understand what His Highness is thinking, he isn’t the kind of person who’d damage the national interest with his ideas and jokes. Isn’t that evident from his ability whereby he skilfully managed the recent revolt?」
「I acknowledged that point but…Biranoba is an old ally, and if some troublesome problems arise under His Highness’s judgement when His Majesty is currently absent—」
This minister’s thumbnail was worn-out whenever Lucius saw it. He seemed to have the tendency of chewing it and fretting immediately when things involved him.
「…Lucius-dono! I don’t think His Highness’ll change his mind even if we protest now. If that’s the case, there’s no other alternative but to rely on Lucius-dono for the rest! Please stay close to His Highness and keep an eye on him so that he doesn’t do reckless things. Please, I beg of you…!」
「I shall do so despite my poor ability…」
Lucius resisted spouting anything out again and nodded slightly.
As one’d expect, though the crowd in Buruan lost to Roma’s by a level, its streets were considerably lively.
However, even if Valeria viewed the townscape that was overflowing with liveliness, her heart was subtlety clouded. She had been feeling like that since last night.
「…If the title of Dominas and magic ability are taken away from me, only my father’s fortune, and my youth and appearance remain—」
While gazing out from the carriage’s window absentmindedly, Valeria muttered.
「Apart from my father’s fortune; this means that he acknowledged me as a talented and beautiful girl right? He has no choice but to acknowledge it right?」
「If he acknowledged me as a perfect talented woman, then why does he take on that sort of disrespectful attitude? Isn’t it odd? And yet he greeted the other women smilingly— 」
「If the other party is a young, talented and beautiful girl, won’t an average man treat her more gently? He’s definitely not an average man, but even so—」
Having her elbow grasped and shaken, Valeria finally came to her senses.
「…What were you muttering about since some time ago? Are you alright?」
「Hai? Ah, yes, I’m fine, I’m fine」
Realising that Karin, Petra and even Dante’s gazes were focused on her, Valeria corrected her sitting posture.
「Is there something inadequate in this house’s service?」
「No, it’s extravagant」
Valeria dispelled Dante’s concern with a smile, and whispered to Karin secretly while hiding her mouth behind the folding fan.
「—I’d like to hear your opinion a little」
「I shall say this, but it’s a metaphor okay? 」
「…So what’s it exactly?」
「Assume there’s a beautiful girl here; an almost impeccable child gifted with both intelligence and beauty」
「Assuming there’s a man, who despite not bearing a grudge against such a beautiful girl specifically, call her names, look down on her and occasionally exert minor violence on her etc.; Anyway, he only takes on those kinds of detestable attitudes towards her, then, what do you suppose that guy is thinking? 」
「…That man’s mentality?」
Karin squinted and stared at Valeria fixedly.
「…Excuse me, did this beautiful girl really not do anything to that man?」
「Thinking sensibly, it’s unlikely he’d go that far when nothing was done to him. There definitely must be something」
「None none! There’s definitely none! To go to that extent even though there’s nothing!」
「…Why’re you insisting on that so much?」
「What kind of talk is this exactly?」
「It’s a secret talk between just the two of us behind closed doors, don’t dwell on it too much~」
Seeing Valeria panicked, Dante and Petra interrupted.
「…Just nice. You should listen to an opinion from a man’s view」
Valeria didn’t have the time to stop her. Karin narrated the metaphor that she heard from her friend precisely and made Dante listened to it. Dante then put his hand on his chin and pondered,
「…Such a thing is unrelated to gender. Wouldn’t a person usually not adopt such attitude when there’s no grudge?」
「Unless that man has a great persecution complex, it’s certainly improbable」
With a “poya~”, Petra then continued in a somewhat dragging tone.
「—However, this might actually be a simpler matter」
「Hora, isn’t this often the case with children? They inadvertently become mean when they’re too conscious of the child that they like」
「Eh? Then this’s that…?」
「What do you mean by that?」
「Ah!? Y, you’re wrong! It isn’t particularly—」
Valeria tremblingly shook her head and discontinued the topic, then hurriedly pointed out of the window.
「Ah, what’s your impression of the tailors in this town? I kind of want to take a quick look for a while!」
「No no, since Biranoba follows Amaddo’s fashion, I’m not sure if there’s anything that can pleases Valeria-jou—」
「…But isn’t Buruan’s cotton fabrics of good quality?」
「Anything is fine. We can’t even stroll freely on the streets back home」
Valeria—and Karin too—was known by everybody in Amaddo. She might be surrounded by a crowd immediately if she carelessly showed her face in the castle town. However, Valeria wasn’t that much of a celebrity in Biranoba. At the very least, the people who knew that Valeria and Karin were the neighbouring country’s Dominas upon seeing them should be almost zero.
Visiting the tailor of the hat that Dante’s mother often used when she was alive, Karin nonchalantly drew near and whispered when they were trying on various hats.
「…The previous conversation wasn’t just a metaphor right?」
「Does it concerns Richternach-kyou?」
「I, it isn’t specially like that—maa, it’s true that man has a sharp tongue though」
「Is that so?」
Placing a vivid hat adorned with feathers of southern countries’ birds atop her head, Karin gazed at the mirror with Valeria alongside her.
It was hard to read the mind of this indifferent lovely girl from her expression. Since it wasn’t clear whether Karin had read her thoughts, Valeria was in no way comfortable. Even in the worst case, she didn’t want to be wrongly suspected as being strangely conscious of Dimitar. But nonetheless, if she denied it verbally, it might become a weird situation where that’d be taken as an affirmation instead. And since it seemed that even Petra and Dante could hear them, Valeria ended up not saying anything.
「—B, by the way Karin」
While looking at Dante who was discussing something with the shop’s proprietor across the mirror, Valeria suddenly recalled about last night.
「You slipped out with him during last night party, and were wandering around the garden right? What were you doing exactly?」
「…Nothing. Just an idle chat」
Placing the hat that she had worn atop Petra’s head, Karin replied monotonously.
「If it was just an idle chat, then it wasn’t necessary to leave the hall secretly…What in the world did you talk about?」
「…I was proposed to」
「…Your voice is too loud」
Rebuking Valeria who raised a surprised voice, Karin glanced towards Dante.
This was prevalent in this sort of shops for nobles, but a corner of this vast shop interior looked out on a sunny courtyard where Dante and the proprietor were drinking black tea on a table that was prepared over there. If one was to notice the shop interior, it was likely that Dante had reserved it as Valeria and party were the only people choosing commodities.
With a voice that wasn’t audible to Dante, Karin continued in her usual tone.
「…It isn’t something surprising in particular」
「Is, is that so…?」
「Dante has been fond of Karin since childhood, hasn’t it?」
While varying the angle of the hat, Petra muttered as if she was unrelated.
「I definitely thought of it as joke that children often say~」
「…He seemed serious, didn’t he?」
「And I was insignificant since the olden days~. I was a little jealous that it was always Karin who was popular~」
「…If it’s Dante, I can yield him to you」
「That way of speaking somehow irritates me~」
Petra returned the hat to Karin’s head with a “bafun” and separated from them. Valeria alternated looks between the slender retreating figure and the expressionless Karin’s face,
「…Does Petra likes Dante-san by chance…?」
「…That’s not it I think. Like what the person herself said, she’s only irritated by my way of speaking. Probably」
Returning the slightly contorted hat to its original spot, Karin rearranged her dishevelled hair.
「…I’ve told you this before that Petra and I are long-time close cousins, and it’s enviable that I’ve such a partner as my Hiera Glaphicos, haven’t I?」
「Eh, uh huh…」
「…The relationship between Petra and I isn’t that good. Though needless to say, it isn’t bad either」
「Is, is that how it is?」
「…Even Petra was originally the same as me. She aimed to be a Dominas to raise the Rudbeck House to its prime you know? Compared to our relationship, it’s an even more open rivalry, I guess? In addition, Petra lost the competition and became my Hiera Glaphicos, so it’s not like she won’t feel frustrated or envious」
「But she’s smiling to that extent…」
「That’s her characteristic. She’s the type of child that’d pinch people’s arms while smiling」
「I may not be in a position to interfere, but are you guys alright?」
「…Both Petra and I intend to rebuild the Rudbeck House, so we won’t do something like obstructing each other. One way or another, we’re cousins and childhood friends」
“Apart from that—,” Karin continued in a whisper.
「Is your side alright instead? I don’t want us to be caught up in your bad relation」
Valeria wanted to refute by saying “even we understand our situation, so don’t worry”, but putting aside Dimitar, Valeria wasn’t very confident if she could get along well with Dimitar.
And now, while Valeria and party were sightseeing the streets of Biranoba with Dante who took a day off from government duties.
Dimitar wanted to accompany them to grasp the geography of the town, but upon thinking that carrying his huge sword with him was uncivil, and was likely to attract attention instead, he decided to remain in the mansion. He also felt uneasy leaving Bettina alone.
After swinging his sword for a while in the room, Dimitar went to the kitchen and prepared a bacon and cheese baguette sandwich. The homemade bacon was seasoned perfectly, and he was sure that the baguette sandwich would be delicious by using it.
Tossing the just finished sandwich, an apple and a bottle of wine into a basket, Dimitar returned to his detached room.
The mansion was deserted in the early afternoon, as if last night’s hustle and bustle was a lie. The servants of such a place didn’t make a noise or arbitrarily take a nap just because their master was absent. They simply performed their own tasks quietly and indifferently.
However, in regards to the huge man who stood motionlessly at the end of the long corridor, what on earth could his job be?
It was the man introduced by Dante when he arrived here yesterday. Salomon Pujor; though he worked as the mansion’s guard, he was probably a Valiente House’s private soldier. If it was this noble family that had produced the country’s senior statesmen over many generations, it’d be unnatural instead if it didn’t employ such people.
That huge man stared fixedly at Dimitar who was about to return to his room.
According to others, it might be seen as two people on the verge of clashing. In any case, they had swords hanging on their waists and it seemed to be two swordsmen mutually examining their opponents.
However, before the atmosphere between them began to tingle with scorching heat, Salomon bowed lightly and turned on his heels.
「…That’s definitely a face of having killed people before」
Sighing quietly, Dimitar started to move again.
Returning back to detached rooms, Dimitar knocked on the door of Bettina’s room and turned the knob without waiting for a reply.
When he opened the door, a pink armour came tackling towards him with a noisy “gacha gacha” sound.
「…Do you not understand what I’ve said?」
Evading deftly, Dimitar struck the back of Bettina’s head lightly and gave a cold look towards the little girl who had lost her balance and fallen prostrate.
「Why isn’t the door locked? You’re careless」
「T, that’s desune…」
Bettina stood up with a “gachori” and peered into Dimitar’s basket while explaining.
「I was so hungry that I went to the corridor to check if Dimitar-san hasn’t come back early many times! Even last night, I didn’t get any treats—」
「People won’t die even if they forego one meal」
「I’ve heard that already! But this isn’t a question of dying or not, it’s a question of eating or not desuu!」
「I don’t understand what you’re saying very well, but I’m sure that you’re hungry」
Dimitar locked the door and placed the basket on the table.
「—So, did anything change?」
「Nothing in particular desuu」
Bettina bit into the baguette sandwich that she had promptly took out from the basket and replied so.
「—By the way Dimitar-san, what’s your impression of the party in such a place?」
「It’s roughly as you’ve imagined」
「Roughly as my imagination? Is that true?」
「Yeah. It isn’t that great to be constantly serious. And a while ago, you complained that you didn’t get any cuisine, but even I didn’t eat decently. Though the food was there, I didn’t have the time to eat」
「Is that so?」
「At best, I’ve tasted them. And a person that eats greedily at that sort of place wouldn’t be invited in the first place…Try and think, an affluent noble wouldn’t be so greedy right?」
Unsheathing Jagieruka halfway from its scabbard, Dimitar checked its blade.
「Then, if a suspicious person was at such a place, you’d naturally realise it at once right? —So, was Oji-sama’s acquaintance present?」
「At the party? If you say suspicious, then Our Eminence was acting the most suspicious, but it seemed that the woman in question wasn’t there」
「Is that person really in this country?」
Cutting the apple skilfully with a knife, Bettina opened her visor briefly with a “Baja!”, threw it inside and continued to chew on her meal without exposing her face, and unhesitatingly said something that could shake the mission from its core.
「It’s possible that she isn’t in this country from the beginning」
「…The one who received that person’s letter from this country is none other than your uncle you know? She’s definitely in this country」
「But~, that doesn’t proves she’s still here does it?~ 」
「…Certainly, it’s possible that she isn’t here already.—But in Biranoba where magic warriors are scarce, magic engineering researchers are valued higher than them. Thus, here ought to be a good place for people with such skills to reside」
「Is that how it is?」
「That’s right…To begin with, have you really not seen that woman even once? I heard that she researched together with the Chief Engineer in the workshop you know?」
Bettina replied after brooding a while.
「…There was only Oji-sama in that workshop by the time I started living with him, so I’ve never seen that person before」
It didn’t seem like the girl’s usual tone and felt lonely in some respects.
Come to think of it, why did this girl live with her uncle instead of her parents? Were her parents dead or was she abandoned by them?
However, Dimitar didn’t pry into it. If he had to say, it was because she resembled him. What happened to your parents, and why aren’t you living with them?—To Dimitar, it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling being inquired about this and that.
Hence Dimitar didn’t drag on that topic anymore.
Dimitar rolled up the cuff of his right sleeve from the back of his hand to his elbow, and extended his left index finger quietly. Lines of phosphorescence ran in his forehead and left hand.
「—What’re you doing, Dimitar-san?」
「.…I’m reconstructing the magic crests」
Wrinkling his brows slightly, Dimitar drew magic crests on his right hand.
Jagieruka’s magic crests that were erased from the fight in Seriba were personally drawn by Dimitar, and though they were mostly restored by Quique, they couldn’t be considered complete yet. Thus, magic crests were additionally applied onto Dimitar’s right hand to compensate that.
「He—…Crest Officers can also do such things」
「If a large wound which can disrupt the magic crest remains on the skin, the line can still be drawn while avoiding it. Even if the efficiency deteriorate only a little, I’ll adjust it as much as possible so that a similar magic can be used…That’s the job of an exclusive Hiera Glaphicos like me」
「But can magic not heal the likes of wounds?」
「Not all magic warriors can use healing magic. Its degree of difficulty is surprisingly steep after all. Besides, it also possible that the magic crest may fail to employ healing magic」
「…Ah, now that you say it, that’s so, isn’t it?」
「Leaving that aside, go to sleep now」
It was irritating to be occasionally asked this and that when he wanted to concentrate on his task, thus Dimitar lightly changed the subject.
「For what purpose did you come here for? What’s your current position?」
「Err~…I’m Valeria-sama’s attendant, or perhaps I should say follower or—」
「That’s right. And if necessary, you’ve to be Our Eminence’s guard」
「Even if you tell me that~, I don’t think Valeria-sama needs something like a guard?」
「That’s if she can wake up instantly…Your role is to stay vigilant while she’s sleeping without a care. Take a sleep now in preparation for tonight」
「That’s fine, but what will Dimitar-san be doing in the meantime?」
「I’ll be doing various stuffs」
「I said various stuffs」
While feeling slightly annoyed again, Dimitar pull his rolled up sleeve back into place and sighed.
Valeria, who was ignorant of various things and worldly affairs, couldn’t grasp how great and how hectic the official position of this country’s deputy prime minister was, but Dante who was accompanying her party and strolling through Buruan for some time went to the royal palace for government matters before their meal.
Owing to this, today’s dinner progressed rather quietly and indifferently compared to yesterday’s party with the absence of the family head. It was too quiet for Valeria instead. It was so quiet to the point where she felt uncomfortable.
Speaking of manners, it was proper to converse without being coarse when normally dining together like this. Although it was proper to do so, nobody talked. Dante who’d moderately bring up topics and softened the atmosphere was absent, and Karin who was originally taciturn was subdued. Although Petra’d replied if she was addressed to, she’d looked absent-minded for some reason, and yet her hands handling the cutlery didn’t stop. Valeria knew from the start of this trip, but it was unbelievable that Petra somehow ate a lot from her slender physique.
A lively yet boisterous conversation might have taken place if Bettina was here too, but the girl follower wasn’t present. In that case, the only remaining person was Dimitar who was more indifferent than Karin and had a wicked tongue.
Valeria looked at Dimitar while cutting the sauté of duck with her knife.
As expected, even Dimitar wouldn’t disparage Valeria in front of the mansion’s maids, but it was still inconceivable that he’d strike up a conversation with Valeria in a friendly manner abruptly. Moreover, it was somehow infuriating for Valeria to call out to Dimitar to perceive her distress.
Valeria became tired from chatting as expected, and when she brought the fork to her mouth, silence descended suddenly. That was natural as she was the only person talking since the start.
If she thought about it, why did she, who wasn’t even the host, had to take such things into consideration? With only her abiding by the manners, were the rest not simply lacking etiquette—?
Her indignation grew stronger whilst chewing. With a “girori”, Valeria glared at Dimitar with a sidelong glance while suppressing her feeling of wanting to spasmodically throw away the fork.
As Dimitar had spoken up just when she was thinking of “you say something too”, Valeria became a little flustered.
Dimitar ate the roasted beef garnished with mustard stylishly and silently, and said so without looking towards Valeria.
「I’m pleased to see that you seemed to have fully enjoy the streets of Buruan」
「Eh…? Ah, un, I guess so」
「I’m sure that you’ve information to share」
「Information? Ah…n—, that’s not it I think? In the end, we only went shopping」
Valeria recalled that the purpose for coming to Buruan was because of a mission, and she replied honestly while feeling a bit embarrassed.
Dimitar who had heard that nodded with an expression that was different from sneering at her or being angry at her. It was a somehow frightfully satisfied and seemingly wanting to say something counternance. After tilting his wine glass with margin to spare, he said
and gave a vague reply that could be taken with any kind of meanings, then became silent again.
Eventually, the meal finished as it was.
「—What was that!?」
Valeria who had returned to her room, declined the maids’s assistance to change her clothes, then tore off her favourite dress and cursed.
Although Dimitar frustrated her each time, she was also furious at Karin and Petra who completely didn’t participate in the conversation.
Nay, Petra was, give and take, fine. Petra, who was the lady that went “poya~” at that street, originally had few points of contact with Valeria and hadn’t make her feel especially uncomfortable so far.
But Karin was a separate matter.
Karin had many mannerisms of being level and calm and speaking forthrightly, and also a sense of rivalry from the start. She’d repeatedly and lightly—after apologising first with an “I’m sorry”—speak sarcastically of Valeria. For example,「You’re certainly a genius; a genius instinct-wise」or「You’ve been training magic only so you aren’t free to study common sense very much」or the likes.
It was because Valeria now knew what kind of girl Karin was that it turned to a point where she was saying “hai hai”, but each of Karin’s past remarks used to raise Valeria’s blood pressure.
「Kono! Konokonokonokono! Teitei—teah!」
(TN: Onomatopoeia for venting anger)
Valeria jumped onto the bed with a “bofun” in her undergarments, turned towards the soft pillow and struck it repeatedly with both her fists.
「You’re one to talk! Not having etiquette or something! And yet mocking me at every opportunity! This’s irritating!」
Valeria amused herself by practising hooks for some time until the pillow’s contents ended up extremely to one side, expelled the faintly remaining anger with a deep breath, and lay down with a “gorun”.
Looking up at the exaggerated canopy, Valeria reflected back on the words that Dimitar had spoken just now.
Was that perhaps sarcasm towards her who had strolled in the streets of Buruan with Dante as the guide? If that was the case, why did Dimitar have to speak of such sarcasm? If it was for enjoying the stroll despite being in the middle of a mission, then Karin and Petra should be equally guilty, and yet why did Dimitar said such things to Valeria only?
「It can’t be—」
Hugging the pillow with a “gyu!”, Valeria knitted her brows.
「I don’t think this’s the case but…perhaps that man held a grudge for being ignored—ah, that can’t it, can it?」
Dimitar had courteously declined the trip when he was invited by Dante before it, then bowed and said “I’ll leave Her Eminences in your care.” It was Dimitar’s own volition to remain in the mansion so it was impossible for him to bear a grudge.
Besides, Dimitar’d have conveyed it more directly instead of such roundabout method if he was truly angry at Valeria. However, the Dimitar of that time wasn’t particularly angry.
If so, what was Dimitar’s real intention exactly—?
While pondering on such matters, Valeria suddenly felt absurd.
Why did she have to concern herself with thoughts of this and that regarding the likes of Dimitar? It was almost the same as asking why she had to pile up great efforts onto herself; a meaningless thing to Valeria.
Valeria released the pillow and shut her eyes. She tried to picture a scene where she was sipping several cups of wine and saying “Delicious, delicious”, and before long, she had that actual feeling of doing so.
While feeling slightly inebriated, Valeria lay down and closed her eyes for just a short time.
When she opened her eyes after feeling chilly, the mansion was enveloped in stillness. The candlestick that she lit had already disappeared, leaving only the wick, and the time seemed to be midnight already.
「U—…did someone use a magic to advance time quickly?」
Valeria who was slightly naked put on a gown above her undergarments and descended from the bed.
Retrieving a bottle of brandy from the cabinet, Valeria gulped down a half-filled glass in one go and felt her body warmed up. She then felt there was some sounds from the garden and approached the window with bated breath.
She pulled the thick curtain aside and looked at garden through the glass. As the sky was cloudy, the garden was enshrouded softly in darkness without any moonlight. Valeria who had just woken up some time ago couldn’t detect anything moving within that darkness with her eyes.
After a slight deliberation, Valeria re-tightened the strap which was fastened firmly over her chest and left the room quietly.
If Valeria didn’t mistakenly hear the noise from just now, then Dimitar might also have noticed it even if he was sound asleep. It was truly annoying to admit, but that man was especially sharp in this kind of area.
Knocking on Dimitar’s room, Valeria called out reservedly.
「Hey, I need a moment with you」
She tried knocking for a couple of times but there wasn’t a response. Even if the noise from just now was her imagination, she didn’t think Dimitar wouldn’t notice it despite her knocking like this. In other words, it was likely that he knew Valeria was knocking and was ignoring her.
「I know you’re awake!」
Kicking the door lightly with a “klunk”, Valeria returned to her room angrily. If Dimitar was feigning sleep like that, then the noise which she heard previously might have been the wind or something as expected, and wasn’t anything suspicious in particular.
As Valeria was about to return to her room, she was surprised by a pink armour that had suddenly appeared from the door of the opposite room and screamed in disarray.
「What’s wrong? At such a time…?」
「I, it’s nothing—still, shouldn’t it be time for you to sleep too, that…?」
「Dimi-san said this’s a military secret so I’ve to manage it strictly…」
(TN: A.k.a Bachu)
The voice of Bettina who answered so seemed awfully sleepy.
「It’s that sort of thing…? W, well whatever—then, good night」
(TN: Yawning’s sfx)
Striking herself on the visor with a “klunk”, Bettina—probably trying to to rub her eyes—retired into her room with an unsteady gait.
Returning to her own room, Valeria stifled a big yawn and entered the bed again. In the pale dimness, she gazed at the canopy and thought quietly.
She accepted Dante’s suggestion and enjoyed her shopping today, but to the end, she had came here for a mission. Since she had finally secured a place that could become her base, she must give her utmost effort and begin investigating from tomorrow onward.
But then again, Valeria couldn’t guess where to begin from and how to investigate. In any case, a considerable number of people were residing in just the streets of Buruan alone. Even if Nereida Kirugiakos was hiding among them, it might become an extremely arduous work to locate her.
First of all, she had to talk to everybody from that vicinity tomorrow.
After thinking about this and that of such a thing, sleepiness assailed her once more.
Valeria pulled the warm blanket up till her chin and closed her eyes softly.
After midnight, Dimitar slipped out from his bed quietly. He had already woken up quite some time ago and was simply waiting for the chance to begin moving, hence there wasn’t a delay.
Hanging Jagieruka by his waist, he went out to the garden from his window. Although Dimitar executed covert actions that took advantage of the dark night, what he felt most apprehensive about was in fact, going in and out of this mansion. At any rate, all of the security personnel including that aggressive Salomon were on duty here. It’d likely become a troublesome matter in various ways if he was spotted by those guys.
However, as if to ridicule Dimitar’s apprehension, the mansion’s security was unexpectedly inadequate. It was evidently short of personnel in regards to the scope of the land. Without enlisting the help of magic and getting discovered by anybody, Dimitar scaled over the high wall easily, and after looking back at the mansion briefly, drew out Jagieruka.
When Dimitar swung the tip of the sword, the magic crests engraved onto its blade began to release phosphorous light. Invoking the “Double Power (Furigana: Force)” magic crest, Dimitar’s physical ability rose dramatically. Sheathing his sword back into its scabbard, Dimitar started running in the dark at a speed equivalent to riding a horse.
Arriving at Buruan’s town areas in a flash, Dimitar clung on top of a roof of a windmill that was built on the town’s outskirts and with a “fu—!”, took a deep breath.
「Speaking of anti-climax, this’s anti-climactic…」
Buruan which was located above a gentle hill had one flaw, and that was water couldn’t be secured if a windmill wasn’t use to draw it. The windmills’ spires that dotted the town’s circumference were high and didn’t have people living in them, thus they could be said to be the ideal hiding places.
When Dimitar had rolled up his left sleeve and exposed the magic crests, he waved his fingertip lightly to create a small flame. Relying on that red and faint illumination, he took out a map from his breast pocket and checked it. Though he had requested Lucius to prepare Buruan’s map on the day before departure, it wasn’t something one could obtain. It was secretly drawn up by Amaddo’s army, and locations of the royal palace and military installations were written down elaborately.
Dimitar revised the map under the light and crammed most of it into his head, then stood up.
However, at the moment when he bent both legs to jump off from the windmill’s spire, Dimitar grasped Jagieruka by its hilt with his land hand and unsheathed it in a backhand grip.
Looking back over his shoulder, a petite silhouette who was enveloped in an unseasonal gale and dancing in the empty space appeared before Dimitar’s vision.
「…Cease trying to cut suddenly」
Karin who wore a black mantle swooped down while speaking in a low voice. She was dressed in her Dominas garb that revealed her solar plexus to her navel beneath the mantle. And the radiance of her bluish white magic crest remained on her slender and well-proportioned right thigh that had extended out from the short pants.
Dimitar released his hand from Jagieruka’s hilt and asked her after surveying the surrounding.
「…Why’re you here, Rudbeck-geika?」
「Isn’t it troublesome to talk while minding every detail? You don’t take on such disposition towards that girl right?」
(TN: She’s referring to how Dimitar speaks to her pretentiously.)
It seemed that Karin had heard of Dimitar’s insolence from Valeria. Rather than troublesome, it’d be extremely helpful to Dimitar if he could do away with formal speech.
「I use it with a different meaning」
Dimitar shrugged his shoulders lightly and murmured brusquely.
「…That girl’s magic skills aren’t inferior but being ignorant of the ways of the world makes her discernment bad. Even though I brought up a topic just now, she totally gave a wrong reply」
「I believe that was Richternach-kyou’s fault. If you knew Valeria’s discernment is bad, shouldn’t you have ask her a bit more clearly?」
「I couldn’t ask if she had did a reconnaissance of the town in the presence of the mansion’s maids…From that look, she seemed to have really enjoy her shopping, and repeatedly rebuking her for that is troublesome. Time is precious. —So, what’re you doing for you to be here? You aren’t chasing after me, are you?」
「I’m not chasing after you in particular, but we’re probably trying to do the same thing」
「Unlike Her Eminence from my side, I presume you did a proper reconnaissance?」
「It isn’t anything like a reconnaissance since it isn’t my first time coming to this town」
If Karin knew this town well, then she was much more reliable than Valeria. It wasn’t like they specifically arranged to act together, but when Dimitar jumped down from the windmill’s spire; Karin followed Dimitar and landed gently as if it was a matter of course.
The diminutive starlight made the plastered walls of the aligned buildings stood out dimly in white and cast faint shadows of the pair, who were walking while killing the sounds of their footsteps, onto them.
「…Which place do you think is suspicious?」
With the mantle’s hood pulled over to conceal her face, Karin asked Dimitar.
「If limited to this town, then the army’s facilities are the top priorities for investigation. First will be the armoury, followed by the workshop. If the actual article is somehow there, then the likelihood of Nereida assisting this country’s army becomes fairly high…Of course, unless the person herself is caught, we can’t prove that Biranoba is involved in the recent rebellion」
「I can’t imagine Biranoba’s government doing such a thing. To begin with, if Amaddo weakens, national defence will become a cause for great uneasiness even to Biranoba」
「It’d also become a pretext for Biranoba to be independent and strengthen its military force」
「…You don’t believe that human nature is fundamentally good?」
「That’s not it. In reality, there’s also unexpected good-natured people in this world…But if you’re to presume such a thing that has no guarantee, then Amaddo will experience the same thing as Biranoba this time」
「So you’re a realist」
「I live realistically after all」
While replying so, Dimitar expanded the map inside his mind again. If they headed north as it was just a bit more, they’d reach the town’s best plaza that becomes a marketplace every morning. Thence, if they went three sections north, turned east and advanced for a while, they should arrive at the boundary where the Biranoba army’s parade square and armoury converged.
「—You mustn’t use magic」
In the darkness of the night, it was conspicuous to produce phosphorescence from pouring magical power into the magic crests. Besides, if it was a suspicious person who used magic in Buruan—moreover a young woman—then Karin and party were likely to be suspected in the foremost. In any case, there wasn’t a woman in this town that could currently use magic practically like them from the onset.
At the end of the considerably wide eastern road, the armoury surrounded by high walls could be seen. Sentinels were patrolling the circumference, and sounds of their military boots resounded, as if to intimidate any suspicious person who approaches there.
Dimitar lowered his voice and looked down towards Karin.
「I don’t really understand, but alright」
「Is that so?」
Dimitar suddenly carried the waist of Karin who was even lighter than Valeria over his shoulder, and jumped onto the roof of a private house.
「…I’ve the impression that you’re accustomed to this」
「That’s no helping it…I also don’t want to think of carrying a Dominas and running around as a Hiera Glaphicos’s main duty」
Dimitar replied in a murmur to Karin who was restraining herself from smiling and began to run.
Even though he was made to do the same thing in Seriba, what differed from that time was that people, who were oblivious to everything, were sleeping normally underneath the roofs. If he trod through the roofs carelessly and caused a tumult at once, the armoury’s security would tighten immediately.
However, Dimitar wasn’t tensed. He calmly ran in the night, leaped over a street and using the high wall as a foothold, descended onto the armoury’s roof in one breath.
Karin who was hiding alongside Dimitar on the roof murmured.
「…Is it unreasonable to request the same thing from Petra?」
「In exchange, your affinity seems good…Ours is the worst」
「You knew that and yet you don’t intend to improve it」
「You should say that to Her Eminence instead of me. She’s envious of my good relationship with Lucius」
「Speaking of that child, that seems just like her」
Dimitar removed an unglazed roof tile. However, beneath the tile was a densely affixed iron plate. It might have been a counter-measure for fire prevention rather than crime prevention. It seemed difficult to strip this off without making a sound and enter inside.
Karin bent forward over the edge of the roof and affirmed the sentinels’positions, then returned and said.
「…What shall we do now?」
「I don’t plan to break in forcibly」
If it became known that a trespasser had broken into the army’s facilities, the entire Buruan would instantly be in high alertness. Taking their future activities into consideration, he wanted to avoid that scenario.
Dimitar retrieved a small porcelain bottle from his breast pocket.
「Sleeping drug…What about the sentries?」
「Two of them. I think there’re other guards patrolling though」
「We’ll put them to sleep simultaneously, then open the lock and sneak in at that time. We’ve to make sure they didn’t realise someone trespass inside」
「…Is that possible?」
「If you manipulate the wind skilfully, you can put those two to sleep immediately」
Dimitar handed the bottle over to Karin.
「…The content will vaporise immediately once you uncorked the bottle. Please drift it towards their locations skilfully and don’t inhale it no matter what okay?」
Karin quietly stopped her breathing and uncorked the small bottle.
The sleeping drug prepared by Dimitar was made by blending an ingredient that Quique had extracted from a mandrake’s root and alcohol, and its effectiveness was guaranteed. However, it was relatively lighter than air and would literally vanish like mist if left alone.
Karin grasped the bottle with her left hand and held her right hand aloft beside it. The phosphorescence of her bluish-white magic crest on the back of her right hand lit up faintly, and a gentle breeze began to blow.
The wind summoned by Karin carried the sleeping drug, and was slowly blown downwards towards the ground from the roof. Perhaps the guards keeping watch below would only think of it as the wind’s direction changing slightly.
Dozens of seconds after the unnatural wind had begun to blow, the soldiers guarding the entrance dropped their spears and collapsed on the spot.
「Let’s finish this before the soldiers on patrol come」
Dimitar said so to Karin and jumped down from the roof while carrying her under his arm.
Upon descending onto the ground, Karin examined the waists of the soldiers and tossed the key that she had found to Dimitar.
「If it’s a lock of this level, I can open it without the key」
「…You can open it?」
「I’ve actually prepared tools in consideration of the possibility where I’m unable to get the key」
「…Even though you seems experienced in this, you don’t commit burglary right?」
「That rude reaction is similar to Her Eminence’s you know? You ought to be a little ashamed」
Raising his lips to a grin, Dimitar removed the lock and grasped the iron door’s handle.
With its weight equivalent to that of a mass of iron, the sliding-type door would normally have to be opened by two adult men, but if it was the current Dimitar who had slightly become a superhuman, then that wasn’t a difficult procedure.
「…What’s that smell?」
The air that had escaped when the door was opened caused Karin to grimace.
「It’s the smell of stale oil. It’s used to prevent the swords and armours from rusting. Light」
Karin immediately created a magic flame. Inside the armoury that was illuminated by the soft light were countless armaments aligned orderly. In this vast space that could hold a little party, the armours and shields that lined up side-by-side while reflecting the redness of the flame was a spectacle itself, yet it also seemed detached from the vividness of a real battlefield somehow.
「It’s fine to say that they’re neatly arranged but…there’s hardly any traces of them being used in reality」
「Should that not be the case? As far as I know, even if you trace back until 100 years in the past, Biranoba shouldn’t have mobilised its army once」
「Even if that’s so, a proper army would still practise periodically」
Dimitar knocked on the surfaces of the shields that were piled up orderly with his finger and laughed.
「These’re completely unused…is Biranoba’s government temporarily satisfied of its current status quo to live cosily under the umbrella that are Amaddo and Diruma?」
「If that’s true, then this’s strange. Didn’t we come here because the possibility of Biranoba employing that woman called Nereida to expand its magic war potential exists? And yet there’s no sign of military expansion in Biranoba?」
「What those guys are planning are of no concern. What we’ve to search for are armaments or tools made via magic engineering.—Ma, there’s nothing that seems to be it here though」
An armament made by magic engineering—likewise Dimitar’s Jagieruka for example —had magic crests carved onto its surface. However, all the armours and shields that were stored here only have simple and sturdy design that prioritise practicability; not to mention magic crest, even useless ornaments weren’t added.
Karin opened the lid of a long chest and checked its contents, then spoke to Dimitar in a fed-up manner.
「…The spears here are also normal ones.—What shall we do? Do we turn over all the chests here and search?」
「Iya, that might not be necessary.—There’s none here. Let’s go」
Once he left the armoury quickly, Dimitar closed the door and put on the lock again.
「Please disperse the air around here a little. I don’t want the smell of oil to reveal the fact that the armoury was opened」
Karin once again manipulated the wind to mix the air which smelled of oil into the night air and dispersed it. In the meantime, Dimitar returned the key that they had used to the waist of the sentry who was sleeping soundly. Once the sentries woke up after a while, they’d probably thought that they had merely dozed off.
「—Next is the workshop」
Dimitar held Karin under his arm and leaped onto the armoury’s roof. Similar to the time when he intruded, he used the wall as a foothold and escaped.
Beyond this point was the parade square, and the army’s workshop was located at its corner. However, the army’s lodging house and stable was built nearby, thus the intrusion required more caution.
Karin leaked out a sigh while Dimitar ran at full speed along the wall.
「Do they keep on doing this kind of work, I wonder?」
「It may vary from country to country…For example, during her term of office of nine years, Bito’s Dominas seems to live a life that’s nearly no different from house arrest in the royal palace. Needless to say, her treatment seems to be the same as royalty」
When Dimitar left the Seal Chivalric Order and switched to the path of a crest officer, he was made to study diligently under Orvieto. Hence, he was well-informed to some extent, of the various countries’s situations which couldn’t be heard normally.
「—Even if she has an outstanding ability as a magic warrior, when thinking of worst case scenarios, she wouldn’t be sent off on a dangerous mission. Bito isn’t blessed with magic warriors; if it becomes a situation where they carelessly lose a Dominas who was in her tenure and couldn’t appoint a substitute, they might protest when His Majesty elect another Dominas from Amaddo to make up for it」
「If that’s the case, then Amaddo is strange…If I’m not mistaken, there doesn’t seems to be another country that has such strict competition to become a Dominas」
Karin gave a lonesome smile.
「There might be just that many people who possess magic ability in Amaddo. Anyway, Amaddo’s Dominas isn’t simply a figurehead. Besides holding the post of an inspector concurrently, she’s a capable piece that receives imperial command and moves accordingly if something happened…Do you dislike that?」
「 I think it’s worthwhile,…but now」
「That’s a rather roundabout way of saying it」
「In any case, I can’t say that I’ll stop now because I dislike it right? Even I’m the same as Valeria. I became a Dominas to rebuild my house you know?」
「There’s no need for her to rebuild the house by herself right? Her father is wealthy」
「It’s because the relationship with that father isn’t good that she wants to do it by herself one way or another」
「Her circumstances aren’t what I know of…Ma, I think it’s still early for her to be saying self-important things—」
Dimitar suddenly stopped his feet.
The sound of footsteps approached from a nearby corner. It numbered one, but was fairly close. Dimitar quickly surveyed around the vicinity. When he immediately confirmed that there was no place to hide, he gently kept Karin’s head down, bent his body and leaped in one bound.
「What’ll you do? Weren’t you seen?」
The soldier who had turned around the corner began to reach for the whistle hanging from his neck, but he fainted from a hit before he could blow it.
Dimitar stroked his right hand that had struck the soldier’s medulla oblongata and crouched down.
「It’ll be fine. I’ll do something since you weren’t seen. A night burglar that’s accompanied by a woman is somewhat unnatural after all」
While saying so, Dimitar searched the chest and pockets of the unconscious soldier, and took most of his of wallet and valuables to pass it off as the deed of a robber.
「…Besides having a job that doesn’t seems good and pays little, he was hit and then fainted; to make matter worse, all his money on hand was taken. He’s really an unlucky man」
「Do you really have no personal history of being a theft or a robber?」
Karin said to Dimitar with a soft smile spread across her cold look.
「I won’t deny that there’re various unfavourable rumours of me, but at the very least, most of them are baseless nonsense spread by nobles who held ill will towards me. If I had the time to steal sneakily, it’s better to do my work normally and succeed in life」
「…You’re unexpectedly diligent」
「I told you that I live realistically right?…Let’s go」
Dimitar ended his talk with Karin and started walking.
If it was someone like Valeria, she’d pounced on that and seized the initiative after he let out that verbal slip involuntarily. But Karin wouldn’t speak thoughtlessly, and above all, since she was intelligent, it was difficult to assume leadership even if they acted together.
Naturally, Dimitar should be in a position whereby he must obey Karin since she was above him in status and age. But somehow, in addition to Karin overlooking such a thing entirely, she seemed to let Dimitar do as he liked.
It was uncomfortable somehow. He was sure that he had acted on his own initiative, and yet he felt that he was skilfully twisted around her little finger.
Thus—Dimitar suddenly thought so. Was Valeria’s personality, which was the type that was easy to lead around by the nose, in fact not an unexpected good fortune for him?
End of Chapter 3