Disclaimer: I do not guarantee a 100% accurate translation. Do kindly notify me if you see any mistake.
She’ll Make Progress Too
In the magic superpower, Amaddo, an enormous budget was expended and elementary schools were established in various places to pick out people with magic talents from the whole country.
In these schools where the school expenses for the first two years were free and all the children could attend, their aptitudes as magic warriors (Furigana: Marefikos) were checked while they studied fundamental reading, writing and arithmetic. Here, the children who might have even a little talent were encouraged to commute to school after their third year and take a more advanced general education and basic magic education. In particular, if they were deemed to have talents, there were cases where they’d transfer to specialised schools after being exempted from school expenses.
Naturally, not all the children had magic talents. Only quite a limited children could finally receive up to the specialised education at the magic academy (Furigana: Prasa Marefikos), but as a by-product of this elementary education, the literacy rate of Amaddo was high among its neighbouring countries, surpassing the rest.
As a result, it could be said that this educational system raised Amaddo’s national power.
In the afternoon of the very same day, Valeria visited the magic academy’s (Furigana: Prasa Marefikos) library.
In Roma where the population’s literacy rate was approximately 100%, regardless of them being the national, municipal, or even the private ones that debauched wealthy people built to flaunt, there were many libraries; however, the library which was established on the premises of the magic academy’s main institution, setting aside quantity, if speaking in terms of quality, could be said to be the highest even in Amaddo. All the books which were collected here were rare books only, but more than that, books which were impossible to comprehend unless one had special expertise were collected in great numbers here.
The other users silently bowed to Valeria who had pulled out several volumes of books from the bookshelf and was going towards the reading room. Even in the magic academy, the title of Dominas was a special thing as expected.
However, Valeria herself broke the silence that the surrounding people took upon themselves to create.
Valeria raised a slightly idiotic voice because she had noticed Dimitar, who had a sullen expression, was at a bookrest.
Did he also become aware of the other party because of that voice? Dimitar, who had been staring at some sort of gigantic book, raised his face and looked at Valeria.
When Valeria surreptitiously came over to the bookrest, she asked Dimitar in a small muffled voice.
「Hey! Why are you here!?」
「I’m also a magic warrior (Furigana: Marefikos). Is it wrong to be here?」
「I don’t mean it that way—」
「I’ve something to investigate」
Glancing at Valeria’s hands, Dimitar conversely asked her.
「—What did such a you come here to do?」
「I, I—I’ve something to investigate too」
Valeria instinctively hid the books that she was holding in her arms. However, this bad-natured Hiera Glaphicos might have seen through Valeria’s objective just by glancing at the books’ titles.
The mouth of Dimitar who was nodding with a triumphant look curved upwards.
「W, what’s it, that smile?」
「Iya. …I think you’ve a good mental attitude」
Not understanding what Dimitar was saying for a moment, Valeria frowned and asked a question in return.
「You thought of investigating Haiderota before departure, right? That’s a good mental attitude. It seems that your self-consciousness has emerged at last」
Unable to understand immediately despite it being repeated so, Valeria tilted her head to the side again.
What Valeria had been carrying, were books related to the neighbouring countries’ history books and historical geography. They were certainly the things that she thought of investigating Haiderota and then borrowed, though it was just that never in her wildest dreams did she expect Dimitar to praise her for it.
「…What? I didn’t intend to say anything strange though」
「Ah, that’s not it…it’s rare that you’d praise people, so—」
「You’re misunderstanding it」
Stroking his neck, Dimitar shook his head.
「It isn’t rare that I’d praise people, but simply rare that you’ll do things which would be praised by me」
When she thought he had praised people, this happened at once. Valeria furrowed her brow and pursed her lips indignantly.
「—Be that as it may, I’m not a small-minded person who will find fault with a fellow who did praiseworthy things」
「And yet you’re always using a mean way of talking…」
「In the case of the strong-willed you, that way will most likely inspire you and produce a good result」
「…That’s an excuse which you thought of just now, isn’t it?」
「If you’re going to study, then do it quickly. This is a waste of time」
「Don’t gloss over it like that!」
Turning her gaze away in a huff, Valeria sat at a bookrest opposite of Dimitar and opened a book.
Considering the flow of time of the other day’s tea party, it had probably been decided that Valeria and Karin would head to Haiderota within these few days. It wasn’t an expedition where she was entrusted with a top secret mission like thus far; she was told by the king to meet Haiderota’s Dominas and assess their abilities.
It wasn’t clear what she should do to succeed in this somehow vague mission, but most importantly, Valeria was angry at the matter of Haiderota finding fault with their qualifications.
Therefore, Valeria planned to investigate Haiderota beforehand so that she wouldn’t go there and be looked down on. It wasn’t particularly because she was told many things by Dimitar in Biranoba, but because she genuinely thought of not wanting to lose to Haiderota’s Dominas.
Valeria, who was studying the books quickly and investigating Haiderota’s history, its positional relation with Amaddo and its capital, raised her face at a question that had come up suddenly.
Come to think of it, even though Valeria was making rustling sounds of turning over the pages since a while ago, Dimitar completely didn’t make the sound of turning over a page.
If she tried to see very carefully, what Dimitar was reading wasn’t an ordinary book. Firstly, its size was odd. The binding which greatly protruded from the bookrest had a size that gave one the impression of a washboard; furthermore, gems and luxurious ornaments with gold and silver foils were added onto its smooth leather cover. It was a book that Valeria, who had used the library here many times, hadn’t seen it once so far.
Perhaps he had perceived the gaze of Valeria who was staring fixedly, Dimitar raised his face and muttered.
「…What? Do you still need something?」
Valeria, who had matched gazes with Dimitar, deliberately lowered her voice and asked.
「I mean, you didn’t turn over the page at all since a while ago. What exactly is it that you’re reading?」
「This? This is a book that has everything about you written down」
Valeria, who had reflexively raised a hysterical voice, hurriedly looked around her surroundings. Maybe they had taken into account her position as a Dominas as one would expect, there were no users who would shout at Valeria, but it could be understood by the atmosphere which had increased its weight somehow that the voice which she had let out had disturbed everyone’s reading.
Valeria carried just the chair, went round the bookrest and sat next to Dimitar.
「…So, what’s this huge book?」
「Like I said, it’s a book that has everything about you written down. To be precise, it may be better to say it’s a book that is going to have everything about you written down hereafter」
Valeria fixedly stared at the book that Dimitar was reading.
This strongly made book, whose front and back covers, including its binding, seemed to use wood for the core, had a structure that could add pages afterwards, and in fact, its contents were still several pages only. And in the page that Dimitar had opened, something like a human model spreading both its hands was drawn largely.
Seeing elaborate and complex red lines running zigzag inside that human model, Valeria finally understood the meaning of Dimitar’s words.
「Are these perhaps…my magic crests (Furigana: Hierateika)…?」
It was definitely a schematic diagram of the magic crests that were carved on Valeria’s whole body.
「We Hiera Glaphicos call this “Magic Crests Map (Furigana: Prano Del Hierateika)”. It’s a book that is permitted to be loaned to Hiera Glaphicos only」
Turning over the previous page with a “pirari”, Dimitar spoke.
「—These are your magic crests that were altered after you finished the mission in Seriba and then returned. The ones that I were seeing until a while ago were your magic crests after you returned from Biranoba; in order words, they’re the newest magic crests. If you look closely, the detailed parts are different, right?」
「Now that you mention it—」
Although Valeria had left the capital twice so far because of her missions, she injured her magic crests at the destinations on both times. When her magic crests were damaged in the course of the mission, even though she’d get the magic academy’s Hiera Glaphicos to perfectly restore her magic crests after returning to the capital—she stubbornly wanted Dimitar to do nothing except the stop-gap treatment at the site—in that case, her magic crests would contain small alterations. In fact, when she returned from Biranoba and got her magic crests restored, Murunau-jyoshi (Ms.) who did the treatment said that she had slightly altered her old magic crests.
「It’ll be made into a map and left behind like this. This is for using it as a reference when restoring your magic crests from now on」
Returning to the original page, Dimitar gazed at it again. Valeria somehow couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable at the seriousness of that gaze.
「When it’s being stared at like that, something…feels embarrassing though」
「Don’t mind it」
「I don’t care. Rather, this is also my job」
Dimitar caused his neck to make a “koki koki” sound and took a deep breath.
「Presently, the one who is responsible for the designs and the main restoration of your magic crests is Murunau-jyoshi, right?」
「T, that’s right, but…?」
「This is a slightly ominous example, but if Murunau-jyoshi dies suddenly, who’ll restore and alter your magic crests?」
Murunau-jyoshi was an old woman who served as a Dominas several tens of years ago. After she had retired as a Dominas, she became a Hiera Glaphicos after she finished marrying, giving birth and raising her children; she was a veteran who had roughly 30 years in this field. She was certainly at an age where it wouldn’t be strange even if she died at any time.
「They leave behind the Dominas’ newest maps in this way so that anyone can become the successor in case of such an unforeseen situation. —And I must also constantly memorise your newest map」
“In case of unforeseen situations,” Dimitar added.
「—The least troublesome thing is that I’m responsible for the main restoration and even the alteration after returning to the capital…but you hate that, right? That’s why I was at the scene only and requested Murunau-jyoshi to do the alterations」
「I, it’s because…it can’t be helped if there’s a compelling situation—」
If it wasn’t an especially urgent situation, getting Murunau-jyoshi to do the restoration was obviously better than getting Dimitar who was a man to do it.
「Ma, since Head Director said it’s fine, I guess it doesn’t matter in particular. …Dominas are allowed that much wilfulness」
「…If that’s the case, I didn’t want to be assigned a male Hiera Glaphicos from the beginning」
When Valeria expressed so in a whisper, Dimitar coldly stared at her,
「Don’t make me explain many times. The Hiera Glaphicos who, besides being able to perform the role of your bodyguard, can memorise all your elaborate magic crests, and furthermore, restore them at the destination, is only me. If you feel bitter, blame the fact that Murunau-jyoshi wasn’t 30 years younger」
「D, don’t say unreasonable things; she’s someone who is greatly my senior and yet—」
Valeria, who couldn’t raise her voice and had spoken ambiguous words incomprehensibly, suddenly remembered something at that moment and unconsciously clapped her hands together.
「—That’s right, there’s something that I want to ask you a little」
Dimitar, who had scowled at Valeria with a “girori” as if to say “I’m working”, re-crossed his legs in another direction and sighed exaggeratedly.
「Don’t cause trouble for the other users. Just as much as they can’t complain to you, I’d probably be blamed. —So, what’s it this time?」
For Valeria’s “map”, it seemed that the left page of the two opposite pages showed the magic crests on her front, and the right page showed the ones on her back. Valeria pointed at the area around her scapula on the right page.
「Hora, isn’t there one magic crest that isn’t actually used here? What does this exist for?」
「Ah…the contract’s mark (Furigana: Contract)?」
「It’s not given such a name officially. However, it appeared that the Hiera Glaphicos called that magic crest on the back of the Dominas that way since the olden days」
「I also don’t know the detailed account. They were the proofs of marriage that were exchanged between Redountra and his wives, or rather, I heard they were things with that kind of feeling…but surely Murunau-jyoshi might be more well-informed. You’re barking up the wrong tree to have asked me」
Dimitar shrugged his shoulders and continued.
「What I know are at least the facts that there are 12 types of marks on each of the 12 Dominas, and only people who have them are recognised as Dominas and are given special powers by Redountra」
「S, special powers…?」
「It’s a mere legend. It’s not a magic crest that can actually create such a power」
Dimitar indifferently told Valeria who had unintentionally bent forward.
「—It has no more meaning than that of an ordinary decoration; you know it the best, right?」
As the magic crest which was made in the shape of a flower on Valeria’s back only shone with a “boya~a” even though she circulated her magic power, it wasn’t something that could manifest some sort of magic. That was exactly why Valeria was concerned about what kind of meaning it had.
Closing the gigantic book, Dimitar stood up.
「You’re making an expression that seems to say “it’s absurd to undergo painful experiences for such a meaningless thing”, you know?」
「N—…honestly speaking, just a little」
「It may be a mere symbol, but nevertheless, I was taught to treat it importantly. Since the olden days, I was told to make that magic crest the top priority if it was damaged. Therefore, it’s possible that we’ve yet to understand it only, and there may be some kind of meaning to that flower」
「I, I see…you’re right, that may be the case」
「Or perhaps it’s meaningless as expected」
「Which is it!?」
Holding down the mouth of Valeria who had involuntarily raised her voice with a “gashii”, Dimitar knitted his brows.
「Don’t be conceited because the surroundings took you into consideration and didn’t rebuke you. I shall say this without minding it. —Be quiet in the library」
「I, I know」
Valeria, who had thought “it’s not imprinted with Dimitar’s hand-print by some chance, is it?” and peeked at a hand-mirror and checked her face, returned the borrowed books to the bookshelf and left the library together with Dimitar for some reason or another.
The sun was already setting in the west, and the shadows at their feet were pointing to the east and stretching over a long distance. Passing through the magic academy’s quadrangle that was scarce of life, Valeria tried to ask Dimitar while walking in the direction of the main entrance.
「Di…Richternach-kyou, did you hear something about this time’s mission?」
「It’s because I heard it that I came to memorise your newest magic crests」
「Ah, is that so…?」
「Maa, our destination is Haiderota this time. Though it’s Amaddo’s rival, it’s a country that is related to the alliance. It probably won’t become a dangerous situation like so far」
「But I don’t understand what kind of girls Haiderota’s Dominas are even though I investigated using the books—」
「That’s obvious. There’s no need to specially go to see them if they are recorded in the books」
Having no words to retort, Valeria bit her lips.
“What should I say to counterattack this subordinate who always had a riposte?” When she was pondering one thing or another in the bottom of her seething mind, she came across a carriage which she recognised once she went out the gate.
The one who had emerged looking like he’d tumble down from the carriage was a plump middle-aged man— Valeria’s biological father, Borha Costacurta.
Valeria held her mouth down and fleetingly looked at Dimitar.
Did he know from the start, or did he realise it due to Valeria’s single word just now? Dimitar was looking at Borha and smiling faintly as if he had guessed something. Sensing an unpleasant premonition somehow, Valeria pushed Dimitar aside and walked to her father.
「Chi, Chichi-ue! Why did you come here?」
「It’s for the sake of meeting you and Head Director but—iya, leaving such a matter aside!」
Borha’s gaze wasn’t directed towards his daughter who was in front of him, but towards Dimitar who was on the other side. Borha had probably guessed that this person was the aforementioned—one whom he had heard nothing but bad rumours of—Dimitar Richternach.
「H, hey! Are, are you that person? That— 」
「Chi, Chichi-ue!? What in the world are you—」
「That’s enough, so you be quiet! —You’re hora, that person, right? Lucius-dono’s relative, ah—, Di, Dimi…」
「No, you’ve mistaken me for someone else」
Dimitar nonchalantly told a lie to Borha who had approached him with a “zuzui”.
「Well then Your Eminence, please take care in the mission this time too」
Dimitar, who had bowed courteously, also bowed lightly to the stupefied Borha, left the two people behind at that spot and quickly departed.
Borha, who had seen him off, suddenly came to his senses and turned round to his daughter,
「Oo, oi! J, j-j, just now! The young man just now! He’s that person, isn’t he? I didn’t make a mistake, right? That, Dii, Di—」
「Yes, that’s it!」
Slapping his gleaming forehead with a ” pachin”, Borha shouted.
「What’s the matter with that youngster! I don’t care if he’s Lucius-dono’s relative or what, b, but to brazenly tell a lie a, and not even greeting me decently—」
「He doesn’t have the social obligation to greet Chichi-ue in particular, right?」
「I, I’m the Costacurta House’s—」
「You’re a commoner who came in as the son-in-law. —Though he lost his parents, he’s a person of the respectable Richternach House, you know」
Valeria didn’t intend to side with Dimitar. However, if she had to strictly say who was of a higher standing, then Dimitar was probably of an even higher status than her father who had entered the Costacurta House from a mercantile house. If he attended a proper party, Borha must go and greet Dimitar.
Borha, who had made a flushed face and kept silent, glared fixedly in the direction that Dimitar left in, but he immediately turned back and headed towards the magic academy’s foyer.
「Just a minute, Chichi-ue!」
「Don’t stop me, Valeria! I can’t tolerate it anymore! I’ll appeal directly to Head Director and have that youngster removed from his position as your Hiera Glaphicos!」
「If it’s Head Director, then she’s at the royal palace. It’s unclear when she’ll return」
「After all, Head Director doesn’t have free time like Chichi-ue」
“It’s great that Father and Dimitar didn’t grapple in front of the magic academy.” Valeria, who had leaked a sigh of relief with a “hoo”, boarded the carriage which her father had just gotten off from.
「—In the first place, there’s no way that she can dismiss Richternach-kyou because he didn’t greet Chichi-ue, right?」
「I, it’s not a reason like that; I completely don’t think that youngster is suitable to be your Hiera Glaphicos—」
「Even though you don’t really know what kind of job Hiera Glaphicos is」
Putting her elbow up onto the window frame and resting her chin in her hand, Valeria grumbled in a whisper, but it didn’t seem to have reached her father’s ears.
「—Despite his appearance, Richternach-kyou is a person who received words of praise from the Crown Prince. In short, he’s a Hiera Glaphicos whom Head Director and the Crown Prince approved. —You seriously want to lodge a complaint against that?」
「I, iya, but」
When Borha, who had boarded the carriage while saying so with heavy breathing in a state where his anger still lingered, instructed the coachman and ordered him to return to the mansion, he folded his arms and deepened the crease on his forehead.
「In the rumour that I heard—」
「He was dismissed from the Chivalric Order?」
「It’s a rumour to the end」
「But it’s said that some truths are mixed into rumours too, you know?」
「Like—I—said—, the rumour itself is a rumour that isn’t sure what he did specifically, right?」
「Iya, I happened to hear what he did to be dismissed. It’s truly a rumour which can’t be said very openly though」
Valeria, who was absentmindedly viewing the town at the time of sunset from the gap of the curtain, frowned at the words of her father and turned around.
「…What did he do?」
「Umu. This is something which a certain house’s son, who had already left the Chivalric Order, got drunk in alcohol and spoke of carelessly…but it seemed that youngster somehow half-killed three of his colleagues when he was an apprentice of the Chivalric Order」
If it was Dimitar, he’d most likely succeed in doing something of that extent. It didn’t mean that he’d seem to do this, but that it was possible for him to do it. For Dimitar who had grown extremely accustomed to fighting scenes, there was no doubt that he could easily make at least two or three bonbons of the Seal Chivalric Order (Furigana: Tanpries Aegis) beyond recovery.
However, there was a very big difference between having such an ability and doing such a thing.
「I feel regretful towards Lucius-dono, but I don’t think that youngster is a person who is so decent! If he were a decent young man, he wouldn’t have half-killed as many as three young people of good families!」
Seeing the imperious and indignant Borha, an anger which was difficult to suppress filled the inside of Valeria’s chest with a “muku muku”.
「…Though he’s certainly a person who is nothing but arrogant and sarcastic in various ways, he’s not a person who will meaninglessly and in addition, one-sidedly exert violence on someone!」
Why is this me saying things to defend Dimitar?—Valeria didn’t understand it well either. However, although it was still a short association, it was unpleasant that Dimitar, who had struggled through the boundary between life and death many times together with her, was being criticised by her father who knew nothing of those hardships. It was intolerable. She couldn’t forgive it.
「In the first place!」
To her father who had shaken his plump body with a start, Valeria continued further.
「—To look down on Richternach-kyou is to look down on me who is his superior; if there’s a person who can speak ill of him, it shall be this me first! At the very least, it’s not you!」
She regretted after saying it. It wasn’t something that she should have said.
Turning her face away from the gaze of her father who was staring at her in blank amazement, Valeria looked outside the window again.
Anyway, she got angry to this extent.
The girl had times like that when she became intensely ill-humoured.
“It’s probably like that just now too.” Valeria arbitrarily concluded so for the time being and continued to ignore her father, who had been talking to her timidly, until they arrived at the mansion.
Strong wind with the smell of saltwater flowed in from the open window that faced the balcony.
The slope which faced the sea and came down from the peak of this rocky mountain was levelled into the shape of a huge stairway, and innumerable houses with white walls were standing in a row, clinging to that place. This land, which was placed between a sea at its front and a precipitous cliff at its rear, was a fort rather than a picturesque scenery.
Attacking it from the cliff’s side was impossible, and one had to use ships and send in soldiers from the seaward side to attack, but to reach the castle that was located at the peak of the rocky mountain, one must go up the terrain which was in the shape of a stairway consisting of nine layers. However, it was structured where one must pass through a meandering and narrow hill road to go up one layer of that stairway; moreover, a small watchtower gate would always be placed in the middle of it.
On the hill road where its width was narrow, numerous soldiers couldn’t make an assault all at once. In addition, the soldiers who had barely cling to the watchtower gate would be poured with boiling hot water and oil from above before breaking through there and be forced to retreat. There was no army which had crushed nine such obstacles and attacked as far as the peak until now.
An old man, who had went out to the balcony of that impregnable small castle, stared at the sea and narrowed his eyes. Countless small wrinkles which signified the years he had spent were carved on his skin which was tinged with red like that of a Chinese date. Although his age surpassed 50 and was probably close to 60, his physique was excellent. The military uniform with a mantle and the sword, including its scabbard, which was held in his left hand, suited his imposing physique well.
The old man quietly unsheathed the sword from its scabbard.
「In case of a battle in the sea」
Blocking the sunlight with the sword’s blade, the old man muttered.
「…I truly don’t think we’ll fall behind other countries. However, if it comes to a battle on the land, simple numbers will demonstrate their effectiveness」
「It’s as you say」
A young soldier who was standing in the room’s corner where the sunlight didn’t reach answered the old man’s mutter. This person was still young. He was probably in the first half of his twenties at the most.
「With a thing like this…even I’ll be able to use magic?」
「It’s not omnipotent. You can consider it as one of the convenient tools and weapons to the end」
「…You’re really clever」
Shaking his white beard, the old man closed one eye and stared at the blade. On the sword blade that brilliantly reflected the sunlight, some patterns seemed to be faintly carved in bilateral symmetry on either side of the back of the blade.
「However…though it’s one of the weapons to the end, if other places are preparing them, we’ve no choice but to possess the same things too…」
「Though it seems that this sort of thing isn’t maintained in Aurillac yet, perhaps in Amaddo, it’s something whose research is progressing considerably—」
「Then, that woman is a subordinate of Amaddo?」
「It’s difficult to understand to that extent, but」
Straightening the disorder of the white tie that decorated his neck, the man replied after one mora (a unit of metrical time equal to the duration of a short syllable).
「—If that woman is a subordinate of Amaddo, even if she came to contact us having some sort of aim, it’s a fact that we obtained new weapons」
「Is it…a quantity of the degree where they can be used as weapons on the battlefield…?」
「50 swords and shields, and 80 spears」
「In which case…allocating them to the elite guards and they’re finished at best…」
The old man, who had nodded with a long sigh, quietly put the sword back into its scabbard.
Lightly brushing his long forelock away, the young man opened his mouth without a moment’s delay.
「—Though we can’t catch them in our country very much, it’s said that wild pigs are extremely delicious」
「However, it ends there if we finish eating the wild pigs. —If so, what should be done to continue savouring that deliciousness from now on?」
The old man looked back at the young man over his shoulder, increased the wrinkles on his mouth and smiled bitterly.
「…You’re indeed clever, but because you’re clever, everything you say tends to be too exaggerated…that’s fine when talking to people and making them understand…but such a manner of speaking is futile on me」
The young man who was called Cyril bowed politely with a “pishii”.
「…I know this is something that goes without saying for His Highness, but then, I’ll say it candidly. Even our country ought to mass produce things which are similar to that」
「…Can it be done?」
「Allow me to do it」
「Maa…I can’t let our country fall behind Aurillac…」
The old man, who had come back into the room from the balcony, passed the sword to Cyril, arranged his mantle and sat on a sofa.
「—What about Lampitor?」
「She’s attending to the preparation for departure. The preparation for the warships can also be done within a few days, but the land route’s side will take more time…」
「Fumu…it’s her first campaign, huh…」
「I believe there’s no need to doubt her ability」
「I’m not doubting that…; however, that woman not only supply weapons like this, but also inform us of Aurillac’s activity, and her real motive is unknown…tell everyone not to be negligent even a little bit」
Cyril bowed very deeply to the old man and left the room.
「—The royal prince-denka’s permission has been issued」
Passing the sword to the soldier who was waiting outside the room, Cyril ordered in a low voice.
「The swords, shields and spears, send three each respectively to the army’s arsenal; send the remaining to the elite guards so that they can master them immediately」
「And prepare a carriage too」
「Are you returning to the capital?」
「If it’s just me, I’ll return by horse. His Highness is also going back」
Cyril narrowed his eyes while walking in the corridor where its windows were small and wasn’t sunny.
「When one has been spending a long time in such a place, any fortitudinous soldier will degrade into an ordinary old man who passes the rest of his life embracing a cat. I don’t want His Highness—Oji-ue to become that kind of defeated person」
Within the very same day when Valeria had studied in her hasty preparation, an official letter of appointment came out from the royal palace, and Valeria and Karin’s foreign travel to Haiderota was decided. The one who ordered the two people that was Amaddo’s king and the Great Official of Gods (Furigana: Patriarca Mayor)—the only man who possessed the highest authority in both the world and religion, the 11th generation Jeffren.
Of course, sending two active-service Dominas outside the country at the same time was unprecedented. It went without saying that their Hiera Glaphicos would follow them; this time, they were expected to take along many attendants as well. It was because this was a respectable national affair, and not a top secret mission where they concealed their social statuses or pretended it was a personal trip.
「Speaking of boring, this is really boring」
Dimitar muttered with a yawn mixed in on the carriage’s coachman pedestal.
Five days had already elapsed after receiving the citizens’ grand farewell and departing from Roma. The highway going towards the north was well maintained, and if there was no special dangerous place too, there was no land with bad public order either. On top of that, if even the chosen best of the Seal Chivalric Order were attached to the guards, it was probably natural that the journey would be peaceful without troubles. The scenery of nothing but pastures spreading out also caused Dimitar to become drowsy.
Needless to say, Dimitar also wasn’t anticipating some sort of trouble, but it was true that he’d have no achievement at this rate.
Lucius matched the horses’ paces and stuck closely to the immediate side of the coachman pedestal.
「With the current status like this, we’ll somewhat arrive at the border zone soon. Before that, there are various things which I must tell you」
「To me only?」
「I don’t have such an intention in particular…but they aren’t matters which both Her Eminences have to specially hear」
When Lucius glanced inside the carriage as he gave a small bitter smile, Bettina who was sitting beside Dimitar panicked and started to shake her body.
「Is, is it all right for me to hear the conversation too!?」
「I don’t mind in particular, Bettina-jou」
「Ah~, that’s great. I was worried since Dimi-san would seem to seriously say “You’re a hindrance so get off the carriage at once and run to follow us.”」
「…Dii. You’d say such a thing to this Ojou-san?」
Lucius stared at Dimitar with a “jitori”. However, Dimitar calmly,
「So, what kind of talk is it exactly, Vice-Leader-dono?」
Shrugging his shoulders, Lucius continued.
「…According to the schedule, we’ll rendezvous with the “Gale Chivalric Order (Furigana: Rorudor Rafuale)” at the border zone, set up camp there and stop for one night」
「Encamping at night, huh…we’re still fine, but it’s probably a first experience for Our Eminences, you know?」
「Though Haha-ue smiled and said it also wasn’t bad that they personally experienced such a thing at least once since they’re young, —the arrangement is that we accompany you as guards up to there and return to Roma the next morning. Their Chivalric Order will henceforth act as the guards from there, but the person in charge of guarding our delegation will be you」
The purpose of the delegation this time was—outwardly to the end—to visit Aurillac, the capital of Haiderota, and converse with the important people such as its king. Although they were expected to stay in Aurillac for about three days, Valeria and Karin would give things similar to lectures to the girls who were aiming to be a Dominas at the magic academy over there and go on field trips at the facilities in various places during that time; different events were prepared.
Although they also sounded Dimitar, who was a Hiera Glaphicos, out about giving lectures to the Hiera Glaphicos over there as expected, Dimitar pushed it onto Petra. It was because Dimitar believed that his job was to be Valeria and party’s guard and to observe Haiderota’s current state in detail as well.
Bettina, who was attentively listening to the pair’s conversation, broke the silence that had suddenly descended upon them and interjected.
「What’s the “Gale Chivalric Order” that you spoke of just now?」
「When I thought Our Eminence has finally studied beforehand, there’s one more lazy person here too, huh…」
「Oi, stop it. —The Gale Chivalric Order is something similar to what’s called the Seal Chivalric Order in our country, Bettina-jou」
Lucius, who was gentle and polite towards anyone, explained to Bettina after chiding Dimitar.
「It was established in the relatively recent years, and—」
Lindegoa-kyou who was galloping his horse came here from the head of the line.
「His Highness is calling for you. As Haiderota’s envoy has arrived, he wants to talk together with you」
「Understood. —Then Dii, I’ll leave it to you」
Lucius talked to Valeria and party who were inside the carriage about something and then left together with Lindegoa-kyou. Seeing that figure off, Dimitar sighed.
「Like I said, it’s about that something-Chivalric Order」
「Wait a moment. At any rate, I’ll get stuck with doing the same explanation from the beginning」
While those words of Dimitar had either ended or hadn’t ended, the carriage’s window opened and Valeria’s voice flew here from within.
「The Gale Chivalric Order is Haiderota’s Imperial Guards Chivalric Order」
「You wanted to hear that, don’t you?」
「Ah, un, that’s right, but—Lucius-sama said we’ll be rendezvousing soon…」
Valeria abruptly showed her face from the space between Dimitar and Bettina. Although her Chivalric Order’s colleagues who were attached as guards in the carriage’s surroundings looked at Valeria with 「Oh!」 faces, perhaps because there were no eyes of the general populace, it seemed that the person herself didn’t intend to deliberately put on airs.
「—It wasn’t recorded like that in the book which I had read though?」
「That’s because it was just established a few years ago」
「Is that so?」
「The one who founded the Gale Chivalric Order is the cousin of the current Haiderota’s king, and he seems to be a young royalty who serves as the military vice-minister. —Whether it’s false or true, it’s said that he gathered only warriors who can use sword and magic to compete with our country’s Seal Chivalric Order」
Valeria knitted her brows and looked up at Dimitar’s face.
「But, um…the Seal Chivalric Order, about half are—」
「The nobles’ close friend club?」
When Dimitar laughed in what looked to be self-derision somewhat, Valeria now looked around her surroundings. The ones who were protecting this carriage were individuals of that close friend club.
「…Looking at it, it seems that only those guys with excellent skills are chosen and brought along for the mission this time. It appears that His Highness is serious, saying that he’ll reform the Chivalric Order」
「But…then, that Gale Chivalric Order too?」
「I wonder about that. —Haiderota is a militarily active country. Though the royalty is controlling it, I don’t think they’d go to the trouble of newly establishing a Chivalric Order that is for decoration」
「…Excuse me a little」
Karin’s face could be fleetingly seen a little next to Valeria.
「Both of you have bad manners, you know. It’s rude to turn your bottoms towards me~」
Petra’s voice, with a smile mixed in, was heard from inside the carriage. Valeria and Karin were most likely kneeling side-by-side on the carriage’s seat. It might certainly be a bad manner that was unbecoming to a Dominas.
「…I heard this from Head Director before, but that Chivalric Order has a Haiderota’s Dominas added to it, right; if I remember correctly」
「It seems so. It’s said that a woman who became a Dominas four, five years ago has considerable ability, and substantially, the Gale Chivalric Order was established due to that person taking advantage of her becoming a Dominas」
「She’s a Dominas and yet she fights on battlefields?」
「Ma, it’s because that place is, in the first place, always fighting with some places. There’s also internal strife, so they can’t reunite the divided country too」
It was ridiculous that they’d displace Amaddo in such a state, but it seemed to be true that the aforementioned Dominas was excellent. The vague mission of assessing the scope of Haiderota’s power might have nearly the same meaning as probing into the temperament of this Dominas of the armed struggle faction; Dimitar was thinking so.
「She was inaugurated at 16 years old 4 years ago, …so she’s 20 years old this year」
「Yes. Her name is, if I remember correctly…, what’s it, I wonder; Richternach-kyou?」
Dimitar brusquely answered Karin’s question.
「That’s right, Diaghilev-geika. Clotilde Diaghilev」
It seemed that even what Karin, who was of the hard-working prodigy model and the opposite of Valeria, knew about Haiderota’s Dominas was to that extent. To put it differently, a Dominas was something like a walking country’s secret. Conversely, there was no doubt that Haiderota also hardly held any information regarding Valeria and Karin. What they might understand at best was that both of them were born in old families and had outstanding talents since childhood—information like this which would apply to the majority of girls who became Dominas.
At that moment, the horsemen who were crowding in front of the carriage split to the left and right neatly.
Lindegoa-kyou could be seen galloping his horse and coming this way. Dimitar gestured to Valeria and party to withdraw with his hands behind his back and straightened his loose collar.
「—Please advance slowly to the front as it is. His Highness and Sigibert-kakka from Haiderota are waiting for you」
Dimitar was hated by the bonbons of the Seal Chivalric Order, and because of that, he didn’t think pleasantly of them either, but Lindegoa-kyou who acted as Lucius’s adjutant was one of the few exceptions. He respected the younger Lucius well and also justly evaluated the matter of Dimitar in his apprentice days. Although Dimitar heard that he was leaving the Chivalric Order soon, it was a regret for Dimitar that Lucius’s reassuring allies were decreasing.
Opening the window which was right behind the coachman pedestal slightly, Valeria let her face be seen a little again.
「He’s the military vice-minister who founded the Gale Chivalric Order. …He’s probably the leader in name only though」
「Isn’t that like Isaac-denka somehow?」
「It’s undoubtedly that. …The number-one motive that the Vice-Minister-kakka founded the Gale Chivalric Order was because that man seems to possess a strange sense of rivalry towards Our Highness somehow」
「Is, is that so?」
「—I heard it so from Lucius. Ma, you’ll probably understand when you see the actual person」
When they advanced for a while on a road where both its sides were firmly guarded by the Chivalric Order, a group which was dressed in uniforms that were obviously a different type from those of Amaddo was waiting with their horses’ necks lined up in a row. Innumerable tents were put up in the rear. It was probably Haiderota’s Gale Chivalric Order that came to receive Valeria and party.
「…Feign innocence well」
Dimitar warned Valeria who was inside the carriage while closing the window. The one whom Valeria and party were meeting after this was a royalty of a rival country. Dimitar couldn’t think that the other party would laugh and not fuss over it even if there was more or less impoliteness like his motherland’s important people. Rather, he might condemn their impoliteness when it counted.
Dimitar, who had stopped the carriage, jumped off the coachman pedestal and prepared a small stepladder.
There, the Crown Prince who had dismounted his horse came to him.
「You don’t have to open it yet」
The Crown Prince floated a smile that was cold in some respects and told Dimitar, who had put his hand on the carriage’s door, so.
「It’s not the appearance of both Her Eminences yet」
Dimitar who had followed the Crown Prince’s line of sight over his shoulder guessed the reason somehow. Despite all of the Seal Chivalric Order dismounting their horses and waiting in a posture of standing at attention for Valeria and Karin to appear—despite even the Crown Prince dismounting his horse—the Gale Chivalric Order’s people were still straddling their horses.
「…They’re really a rude bunch」
When Dimitar stated in a whisper, the Crown Prince smiled and,
「Rather than being rude, Sigibert truthfully isn’t attentive to small details. And when the leader doesn’t dismount his horse, the other members can’t dismount of their own accords; hence it can’t be helped that everyone is waiting like that doing nothing」
「If their Vice-Leader is capable like us, she should be advising him any time now, but—」
When Dimitar and the Crown Prince were guessing the situation, a woman who was mounting a horse next to a young man, who was acting self-important in the centre, talked to him about something.
「…Hee, is that person the rumoured Vice-Leader?」
Maybe he had received the pointing out of the long-haired female member, the young man lightly waved his riding crop and dismounted. The other members also followed that and dismounted their horses in succession.
「May I, Your Highness?」
「Yes, if you please, Dii-kun」
Prompted by the Crown Prince who had taken off his hat, Dimitar pulled open the carriage’s door.
However, the key Valeria didn’t alight. When Dimitar who was kneeling down on one knee near the small stepladder looked up fleetingly, he made eye contact with Valeria who had a perplexed countenance.
「…What are you doing?」
「C, can I alight? Isn’t there detailed regulations like a sequential order?」
Considering that it was this Her Eminence, she noticed the subtle parts well.
「There’s no strict regulations, but in terms of hierarchy, you’re the first. Next is Rudbeck-geika, and last is glasses (Petra). …Since the other side is standing in a row and observing us, grandly throw out your chest and make your appearance. You’re carrying the country on your shoulders, so don’t be belittled」
When Dimitar advised in a whisper, perhaps a fighting spirit entered her because of that, Valeria’s expression changed.
「—Saa, your hand please, Your Eminence」
Taking the hand that the Crown Prince had extended, Valeria slowly alighted from the carriage. Once she had resolved herself, Valeria who was by nature strong-willed and brave had never been timid. She probably seemed to have appeared calmly and full of dignity to the Gale Chivalric Order’s people who were arrayed there.
Escorting Valeria and Karin, the Crown Prince walked towards the Gale Chivalric Order. Continuing afterwards were both Her Eminences’ Hiera Glaphicos, Dimitar and Petra, and Lucius as well.
「—The one who issued instructions to everyone just now is Sigibert Duevre-kakka, and the one who talked to His Excellency is the vice-leader, Diaghilev-geika」
It was uncertain who Lucius was muttering to. His words were most likely directed to Valeria and party.
「She’s a Dominas and moreover, the vice-leader? That’s really amazing」
The Crown Prince responded like he was joking in some respects.
「—Maa, we also have Lucius-kun serving as the vice-leader, so it might be inevitable that an extraordinarily capable adjutant accompanies an incompetent top (トップ; people who are at the apex of the hierarchy)」
「If I may say it this way…there’s a world of difference between Your Highness and Duevre-kakka」
It was rare that Lucius would make a remark that disparaged somebody and praised the Crown Prince. It was because Lucius was fundamentally a person who didn’t particularly flatter influential people.
Since that Lucius went as far as to compare him with the Crown Prince, His Excellency over there was probably a great man.
The young man who had greeted the party of Amaddo’s Crown Prince Isaac and Dominas—the Gale Chivalric Order’s leader, Sigibert, gently brushed aside his glossy long hair and held out his right hand.
「I’m the Crown Prince of Amaddo. You should add “denka” when you address me, right, Sigibert-kun?」
Grasping Sigibert’s right hand back, the Crown Prince snorted slightly.
Sigibert, who was a handsome man who didn’t look completely inferior even if he was side-by-side with Isaac, shook his thin eyebrows with a “hikuu”. He probably felt slightly angry at Isaac’s reply just now.
「…Then you should also call me “Your Excellency” or “Your Highness”, Isaac-denka」
「I’m the first heir to the throne of Amaddo. As opposed to me, though you’re the cousin-dono of His Majesty the King of Haiderota—eto, what number is it again, your inheritance position to the throne? Seventh? Or is it eighth?」
「It’s the fifth position! You make the same mistake every time we meet!? It’s totally on purpose; it’s on purpose, right; you’re making the mistake on purpose, aren’t you!?」
「That’s rude. It’s not particularly on purpose though. …Even so, your phraseology is so repetitious as ever」
Isaac nonchalantly smiled at Sigibert who had become enraged with a “kuwaa (blood rising to the head)” and shaken his hand free.
「—But you see, in the end, your importance is to that degree inside of me, Sigibert-kun. It’s to the degree where I’ve even forgotten what kind of face you have until we meet again like this」
「What!? If it’s the case, even I didn’t remember your face! I didn’t remember it even in the slightest! Ah, I don’t remember; I certainly didn’t remember!」
「There’s no need to look down on your own memory to that extent, right, Sigibert-kun? At least you were able to say my name without making a mistake, you see. …Ma, you might not be able to write even its spelling though」
「Youu…y, y-y, y, y, facing someone who is older, y, you you—」
The white skin of Sigibert who appeared really noble flushed with a “ka~a”. It seemed that the riding crop which he held in his hand would break at any time.
Dimitar, who was watching the conversation of His Highness and His Excellency nearby, comprehended the meaning of Lucius’s words from some time ago and desperately endured the smile which seemed to leak out unconsciously. This Sigibert-kakka was certainly a person who could be called great.
Anyway, he was childish.
Although Isaac was also seen as quite a childish young master by the citizens, Isaac’s childishness was a means of self-effacement. With just the sly schemer manipulating the surroundings with his childish speech and conduct and then enjoying himself, Dimitar concluded that Isaac’s true colours wasn’t a child to that extent.
However, this His Excellency was a child more than his actual age, the opposite of Isaac. He seemed to easily get angry and lose his composure due to Isaac’s provocations, and each and every of his replies was also kid-like. Apparently, these two people had been acquaintances since the past, but indeed, if it was this Sigibert-kakka, it wasn’t odd even if he thought of creating a Chivalric Order that was above the Seal Chivalric Order because of his sense of rivalry towards Isaac.
As the figure of Sigibert being easily dealt with by Isaac and then making his face bright red was to the extent that Dimitar looked like he’d burst into laughter, it should have an even more destructive power to Valeria and party. The fact that Valeria had been looking downwards fixedly since some time ago wasn’t because she was feeling a sense of augustness regarding the other country’s royalty, but probably because she was enduring the matter of bursting into laughter.
Dimitar curved his lips and quietly whispered to Valeria from the back.
「That’s great. It seems that His Excellency is used to some impoliteness. —What’s more problematic than that is the Vice-Leader who is giving a dreadful stare at the back」
Valeria, who had suddenly raised her face at those words, averted her gaze immediately and looked back at Dimitar.
「Just, just now, I met her eyes directly from the front somehow, but…?」
「Oi, to be overwhelmed all of a sudden, what are you going to do?」
「…She has been staring intensely at you since some time ago」
Karin smoothly added as she faced the front.
「Why is she staring intensely at me!? Even though this is our first meeting—」
「It’s because this is the first meeting, I guess. She probably wants to see what kind of person the Amaddo’s Dominas whom she heard about in rumours is. Ma, I won’t tell you to stare intensely back, but stop quailing and averting your eyes. I said “don’t be belittled”, right?」
Lightly poking Valeria’s back, Dimitar stared at that woman once again.
Clotilde Diaghilev—there was no doubt that she was most likely the Haiderota’s Dominas who was called so. Although being a possessor of a beauty which left a deep impression at first sight was natural as a Dominas’s requirement, it was especially striking in her case. She had white skin that should be precisely compared to “white”, pale-gold-coloured eyes and long silver hair. She also had splendid body’s lines which were clear even from above her military uniform, long, slender and well-proportioned limbs—a magnificently symmetrical beauty, but that also felt like a beauty which made one associated it with an artificial product in some respects.
Clotilde, who had been staring at Valeria fixedly, gently pulled the mantle of Sigibert who was groaning with a 「Mugigi…!」,
「Your Excellency. I feel it’s logical to receive everyone first」
「I know, right? You also haven’t greeted both Her Eminences from our side yet」
「Muguu…mu…w, whatever! I shall pardon your impoliteness despite my reluctance to do so; that’s right, I shall forgive you!」
Sigibert, who had desperately suppressed the matter of being about to erupt again at Isaac’s additional attacks and spat out his anger quietly, made a brilliant smile in an instant, lightly pushed Isaac away and knelt down on one knee in front of Valeria and Karin.
「I’m sorry that my greeting is late. I’m Sigibert Duevre who serve as Haiderota’s military vice-minister and the Gale Chivalric Order’s leader…pleased to make your acquaintance hereafter」
「T, thank you very much for your polite greeting. I’m called Valeria Costacurta, Your Excellency」
「I’m Karin Rudbeck, Your Excellency. It’s an honour to have received the invitation」
The slightly unreliable Valeria and the completely perfect Karin; when each of them had exchanged greetings with Sigibert, Isaac introduced Lucius and the rest, looking languid and as if he was making a supplement.
「E—to nee, this person is my adjutant, Lucius Richternach-kyou, and beside him is Costacurta-geika’s exclusive Hiera Glaphicos, Dimitar Richternach-kyou. And further next to him is Rudbeck-geika’s exclusive Hiera Glaphicos, —e—to, Pe, Pe…?」
「That’s right, Petra Rudbeck-kyou. There’s one more very small child, but I’ll introduce her at another opportunity again」
Sigibert, who had stood up, folded his arms with an exaggeration that was pompous in some respects and looked at Dimitar and Lucius.
「When you said “Richternach”, …it’s the “Witch of Sunlight’s”?」
「She’s my mother. …Dimitar here is my second cousin」
Lucius replied courteously.
「I see…considering that it’s you, you’ve gathered quite good and talented people, haven’t you, Isaac? After all, the things that are needed in the royal family’s Imperial Guards Chivalric Order are firstly, pedigree; the second is appearance」
「I didn’t hear your explanation or the like in particular. It’s second-hand knowledge from someone anyway, right? More importantly, quickly introduce Her Eminence there」
「…You forced people to call you “His Highness” and yet you’re really lenient towards yourself who doesn’t know manners」
Sigibert, who had grumbled in a whisper, looked back at Clotilde and extended his hand.
「You might have understand this already, but she’s indeed the Dominas whom our Haiderota is proud of, Clotilde Diaghilev-geika who is extolled as “White Rose of Steel”」
“White Rose” might be a perfectly appropriate sobriquet. One would certainly be injured if he carelessly touched it. Somehow, this Dominas had a scariness which was similar to that of a drawn sword.
「I’m called Clotilde Diaghilev. Welcome to Haiderota. I welcome you」
Lightly bowing to the party from Amaddo, Clotilde spoke laconically. Although it didn’t mean that she was rude, she was evidently unsociable. It seemed that she didn’t intend to even make and show a smile to state guests from the neighbouring country.
「I heard that there’s another Dominas in your country though」
When Isaac asked Clotilde so, Sigibert shook his cheeks with a “hikuu”. He probably became angry again that Isaac, who had given him such a rude reception, was behaving properly towards Clotilde.
「…Malena Puyol-geika is doing the preparations to receive everyone」
Clotilde answered this in few words again. Although Karin was also a girl who was cold, indifferent and bereft of emotional expressions, Clotilde’s coldness went above that. One would think it was the result of disciplining herself in order not to show her emotions on the outside to the utmost, but setting aside the reason, if she could continue to be like this around the clock, then she was surely a possessor of considerable willpower.
「—Then, everyone, this way please」
Leaving Sigibert as he was, Clotilde guided the party and began to walk.
End of Chapter 2