Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Arc’s Master Plan」Part 1
Early the next morning, before the sun even breached the horizon.
Shades of the previous night still lingered as Zahar lead our medium sized group southwards down the highway towards Keen.
A single, plain carriage sat in the center of the circle of mounted royal guards.
The subject of this escort detail, princess Lille, was aboard that carriage.
It was the only carriage the soldiers at Fort Hill owned and it had been prepared to replace Lille’s destroyed carriage.
At the tail end of the mounted guards, Ariane, Chiome and I all rode on Shiden’s back.
We took several breaks along the way, only traveling in a southwards direction the entire trip, and around noon we and the princess’s party closed in on Keen.
The robust and solid city walls gave the same impression of being hard to penetrate as the wall near Fort Hill.
The streets beyond the wall were quite busy and appeared rather affluent, there were even fully loaded caravans waiting to enter the city.
This must have been the first time some of the guards have been here as they were openly surprised by the status of the isolated earldom.
According to the guards, Ruan Forest made it impossible to completely seal off the peninsula, but the number of monsters beyond Fort Hill had still decreased, resulting in the Earldom’s newfound wealth
Normally, small-scaled villages were scattered through a territory as a countermeasure against monsters, but the farmlands of the earldom were expanded with that threat no longer present.
A lot of goods were delivered to Keen on regular a basis, the surplus of which would be shipped to Nozan Kingdom via the Clyde Golf.
A line of caravans, which were transporting goods to the county’s capital, threw sidelong glances at the royal emissaries led by Zahar who were traveling along the highway with constant speed.
The number of eyes on the simple carriage increased the closer we got to the city, but even more eyes were focused on the dragon riding behind it.
The highway also became more crowded the close were got to the city, unavoidably lowering our speed. Lille was frustrated by this when she stuck her head out the carriage’s window.
Before long we arrived at Keen’s main gate, thanks to the message from yesterday, the city guards had cleared a path for us, Zahar even saluted them as he passed through the gate on horseback.
Once we entered the city another group of guards joined us and skillfully lead us through the streets.
The fact that the path leading to the Lord’s mansion had been cleared of all other traffic attracted a crowd of curious bystanders.
“……We’re attracting a lot of attention.”
Behind me, Ariane muttered that statement from under her gray cloak’s hood as she took a look around.
“Well, there’s nothing we could do about it.”
We arrived at the feudal lord’s mansion just as I uttered that reply.
While the sturdy stone walls surrounding the mansion weren’t as tall as the ones around the village, they still stood at five meters tall.
We followed the city guards through the large gate build into the wall.
Beyond the gate sat a large three-story mansion in the shape of a コ symbol, a large front garden separating it from the wall.
At the entrance of the mansion stood an aged nobleman and a dozen servants, waiting for the carriage to arrive.
Their task was probably to welcome Lille, considering that she crossed hostile territory to arrive here.
The aristocrat at the center of the servants was probably the lord of the
Lille’s carriage stopped once it arrived in front of the mansion.
The welcoming party was equally surprised when they caught sight of Shiden, but as expected from a nobleman, he quickly managed to overcome the commotion and everyone bowed to greet us.
When the coachman respectfully opened the carriage door, Lille quietly stepped to the ground.
Beside her, her escorts Zahar and Nina dismounted and firmly positioned themselves on both sides of the princess.
Lille examined the surroundings before stepping forward and began speaking with the bowing, aged nobleman.
“It is a difficult time to meet you. Are you, perhaps, the ruler of this land, Earl Dimo?”
The old nobleman immediately responded by deepening his bow and replied:
“You are correct, Princess Lille. I am the one this territory was entrusted to, Moore Du Dimo.”
The Earl looked up as he politely answered the princess’s question, his graying hair and round face reminding me of a portrait of Bach I saw in a music class once.
“Well, Earl. It may be improper on my part, but I believe the messenger has informed you of the situation. Earl, I implore you to raise the forces ne──”
Earl Dimo cut off Lille’s words with a rushed statement.
“P-Princess Lille! I’m sorry to interrupt you, but the messenger only requested me to provide your highness asylum until the matters at the capital were settled.”
Lille’s eyes bulged at the Earl’s statement before she glared at the two escorts beside her.
“What’s the meaning of this Zahar, Nina!? Father sent us here in order to acquire reinforcements for the capital, didn’t he!? Why did your message only speak of protecting me!?”
At Lille’s direct castigation, Zahar kneeled before her and resolutely answered her questions.
“It was by the King’s will. The acquisition of reinforcements has been left to Teruva-sama and Sevaru-sama. Princess you are meant to stay here for a while.……”
“What!? Father never mentioned anything like that we I spoke with him!”
Tears began to form in the corner of the princess’s eyes.
Nina showed her a gentle look upon seeing this.
“You are a kind-hearted person, Princess. The King knew that you would not simply leave had he simply ordered you to escape.”
There was a gentle undertone to Nina’s voice, but Lille simply shook her head in disapproval.
“I know that father cherishes me! However, I can’t accept that he would have me sit here and wait for things to settle themselves while our people suffer!”
She wiped the tears from her eyes and took a resolute stance when she spoke.
“Earl! How many soldiers can you spare to send towards the capital!?”
Earl Dimo’s round face stiffened when he heard the Princess’s strong words as he struggled with what to say.
“Princess Lille, knowing that the capital is under attack I would like nothing less to send reinforcements, but it isn’t realistic to dispatch soldiers there.’
The Earl wiped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief as he voiced his circumstances.
“There are always five hundred soldiers stationed in Keen. Fort Hill, the fortress you passed through, has fifteen hundred. That totals to two thousand troops, which is all we have, I can’t spare any to send to the capital. Currently, the Salma Kingdom separates us from the capital and if Fort Hill is vacated they might raid and seize it.”
The Earl paused for a moment and lowered his eyebrows before voicing the other problems.
“It will also be difficult to organize and transport the soldiers through Salma Kingdom’s territory. Unless they’re in small numbers the opposition will be aware of the force’s scale to some extent. Even if we took trade ships across the Clyde Golf it would take at least five or six days to reach the mainland. More time would also be required in order to properly prepare the soldiers.”
Shades of disappointment appeared in the princess’s eyes after hearing the Earl’s explanation, lowering her head in defeat.
“So…… So, all I can do is sit here and wait for my kingdom to fall……?”
Lille’s gray eyes were wet with tears and droplets soon started to stain the ground like rain drops.
Her tiny shoulders trembled as Lille tried to say something, but only sobs escaped her mouth. The Imperial guards lowered their heads as they endured Lille’s grief filled cries.
However, it was the princess who raised her head in such a gloomy atmosphere.
A sliver of determination returned to her eyes as she wiped her tears away.
“I won’t abandon my people! The capital is surrounded by two layers of walls, father wouldn’t lose that easily! Even if it takes days. I can still reach the capital with reinforcements in time!”
Lille’s two escorts immediately spoke up at her declaration.
“Please wait, Princess! Even if we could send reinforcements to the capital, it’s an absurd notion that you would personally lead them! How could we face the King if something were to happen to you!”
“Princess, please reconsider…… Zahar is more than capable of leading the reinforcements.”
Lille rapidly shook her and protested against her two guards.
“I’m sick of it! Simply being protected all of the time!”
Tears continued to fall from her eyes as her shoulders shook and she clenched her small fists.
The princess’ attempts to hold back her tears drew pity from Earl Dimo and the others, but she continued to endure it.
For adults, her display was nothing more than childish self-indulgence.
No matter how you choose to phrase it, she had to face the reality of the situation.
Only Nina and Zahar, the two escorts that were constantly with her, understood Lille’s feelings towards her country and how distressed she was becoming.
“…… Given the number of undead attacking the city, who is to say whether or not this place will remain safe.”
While Lille’s mutter was so soft that only the two knights beside her should have heard it, but Ariane and Chiome had an elf’s and beastman’s sense of hearing, and mine was better than that of an ordinary human.
Possible sensing the heavy atmosphere, Ponta buried herself within Shiden’s white mane.
I folded my arms as I processed the unexpected turn of events.
When I glanced back of Chiome and Ariane, both of seemed to be in agreement on how to proceed.
Her hearing must have been more sensitive than I thought, as Lille looked back at me when she heard me.
I was caught off guard by suddenly locking eyes with Lille as her little body took large strides towards us.
Everyone’s eyes were on us as Lille stood in front of me.
“Arc-dono, you are a truly righteous man for escorting me here!”
I was a little suspicious about the sudden change in topics but out of curiosity I knelt before her and silently waited for her to continue.
“I cannot thank you enough for what you have already done, but will you lend me your assistance once more?”
The surround people began to stir when they heard her question.
“What is it that you seek?”
I already guessed what she was going to ask of me but urged her on nonetheless.
“I will return to my country and request aid from the other lords! I’ve heard that elves are sublime warriors and I ask for you to act as my guard for this journey once more!”
The guards and Earl Dino were all astonished by the princess’ proposal.
The Earl was the one that raised a shocked voice.
“Princess Lille, what did you just say!? T-These people are elves!?”
“Are you surprised?”
In response to his shouts, Ariane unintentionally broke her silence and spoke back in a low tone.
While I understood Ariane’s feelings, the Earl’s were unknown to me.
Given his extended contact with the elves of Ruan Forest, I imagine his impression of them wasn’t all that great.
“We have a non-interference agreement with Ruan, so what are elves doing here!?”
As the Earl continued to shout, Ariane gloomy took off her gray hood and revealed her face.
“!? She’s different from the elves that I know of……”
Her slightly pointed ears, lilac skin, golden eyes and snow white hair puzzled the earl as she was completely different from the elves that lived near his territory.
“Naturally! I’m not an elf of Rouen Forest. I am a dark elf of Canada.”
The Earl didn’t reply to her, instead he turning to look questioningly at the princess’s personal guards.
“While we were traveling here, they helped us repel an enemy that had attacked us.”
Zahar noticed the Earl’s glance and gave a simple reply.
“For that alone you would allow elves to pry upon your country’s secrets!?
Lille interrupted the Earl before the conversation could go further off topic than it already had.
“Such trivial things don’t matter now! I’m asking Arc-dono to accompany me back to our country!”
Her two escorts panicked when they remembered the main subject of the situation.
“Princess! Please reconsider!”
Zahar spoke in a strong tone as he approached Lille’s side and tried to grab her.
Lille quickly dodged his hand and stepped behind me, using me as a shield.
Well, that action translated to Lille choosing me to take her back the Nozan Kingdom, but how to proceed from here?
Our goal was to simply investigate the Kingdom’s treasury, while her request appeared in a timely manner, there were worrisome aspects about the situation.
Lille wanted to immediately petition other nobles for help after arriving in Nozan, but would the capital hold out till then?
There was also a more immediate problem.
The Earl and Lille’s two personal guards were opposed to the idea of letting her return to the Kingdom, and agreeing to do so would lead to a confrontation.
Although I could painstaking try to persuade them to agree to the outing, the capital could still fall in the meantime.
Somehow, I had to settle the matter here and now and head to Nozan Kingdom’s capital immediately…… while still being in a position to receive a reward afterwards.
It was a fairly difficult position to be in, but I had no choice but to negotiate.
While struggling to come up with a solution, I glanced back at Lille before my eyes drifted towards Chiome.
There was a strange tension in Chiome’s normally calm and unchanging blue eyes.
That was to be expected considering that our actions here would have a drastic influence over our future.
When I turned back around Zahar’s sharp gaze was waiting for me.
“Arc-done, please relinquish Princess Lille. You shall be rewarded for your efforts up till now.”
He extended his thick arm and held out his hand towards me.
Despite having no skin on this skeletal body I could still feel Lille small hands grasping the arm of the 『Holy Armor of Belenus』.
“Zahar-dono. I think I will accept Lille-dono’s request.”
Zahar was utterly dumbfounded by my world while Lille let out a small cheer behind me.