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The river’s water level was rising more than usual was probably because the rain had concentrated in a short time and fallen on the upstream mountain area. The water becoming murky due to the mud, and furthermore, green trees’ leaves and broken twigs mixing into the stream were supporting that.

The rain around here approximates to a drizzle at the most, and it seemed that the damage to the crops was almost none, but as expected, when it became midnight, the figures of people going out in the vicinity was zero.

However, that was if one excluded a group in black mantles which was assembled in the vicinity of the bridge—.

It was a sturdy bridge which the inhabitants of the neighbourhood had put forward an appeal to the country to safely cross over this river where the water level often rose due to the influence of torrential rain and was only completed just around 10 years ago. If one got close to the guardrail and looked down at the river surface, it was akin to looking down at the ground from above a belfry; there were probably people who experienced dizziness at the height.

The men under the bridge were submerged to the top of their knees in the river’s current, holding onto the middle bridge pier and doing something. Whenever the front of a mantle split, a black uniform flickered from beneath that.

「…Is a construction like this really necessary?」

The man beside a youth in a coat, who was watching over the work of those mantles from above the bridge, asked him in a low voice.

「To carry out such a construction at a place like this—」

「What kind of meaning is there—is it?」

With a sigh mixed in, the youth finished the man’s sentence.

「Whether it has a meaning or not, I don’t know. It certainly seems like she’s reading too much into things, but Her Eminence’s thoughts have parts that are difficult for us petty officers to comprehend. …However, Her Eminence had wished for this in any case. It’s fine if we work as per the instructions」

「But…! Is Cyril-sama fine with that!? To be told to serve a young girl of an unknown origin like that all of a sudden—」

「Pay attention to your words. You’re being disrespectful」

The youth—Cyril Duebur rebuked the man, who was the equivalent of his adjutant, and looked down at the mantles working on the river surface.

「This isn’t only the Royal Prince-denka’s (the king’s younger brother), but also the King-heika’s idea. Our country made the decision to put that girl up as a Dominas」

「Ha…I’m sorry」

「It’s fine. —The lantern」


Making his adjutant carry the lantern, Cyril spread the map that was drawn on a parchment. Tracing this river and the highway that intersected it with his finger, he looked out far off in the northwest direction. However, in this night where the moon and stars were being limited a great deal due to the rain clouds, only the deep black silhouette of the forest could be seen at the most; it was practically the same as seeing nothing.

At that moment, the soldiers who had been working under the bridge looked up at Cyril and shouted.

「Cyril-sama! The work has been completed!」

「All right…everyone come up! We’ll return before the day breaks」

The soldiers, who had been working in the river at Cyril’s instruction, followed a rope which was suspended from the riverbank and went up in succession. Although they should have been quite fatigued to have continued their work while going against the river’s current, it didn’t feel that those movements had slackened.

「In the first place, what’s necessary for a Dominas isn’t lineage, but pure ability and resourcefulness」

Straddling a horse that was tied at the entrance of the forest, Cyril said so.

「Where you were born in and whose child are you, such things are inconsequential. …And now, what’s requested of us is to prove that our Dominas is even more superior than Aurillac’s Dominas. For the sake of that, no matter what thing it is, I’ll definitely do it」

The soldiers, who had soaked in the river and worked, and the soldiers, who had been keeping watch of the surroundings on top of the bridge, imitated Cyril and mounted their horses. The night rain which had increased its force just a little might have concealed the sounds of their horses’ hooves well.

「At any rate before long, I’ll make them understand…who’s the older brother and who’s the inferior younger brother」

Wiping his face that had gotten wet in the rain, Cyril caused the bridle to resound and began to gallop.


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