Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Princess Lille’s Determination」
Our surroundings faded away and after a moment of weightlessness, the remains of the Kingdom’s destroyed southern gate replaced the house we’d just been in.
The sun seemed to touch the peaks of the mountain in the west and the sky reflected the colors of autumn.
“Oh, is this…… the capital that you mentioned? Quite an enthusiastic display……”
Dylan’s admirations of my transfer magic were cut short when he noticed the scorched earth and innumerable sets of wrecked armor scattered along the outskirts of the gate.
The scars of my use of 【Blazing Seraphim of Judgement: Executioner Michael】clearly remained on this stretch of earth.
However, the shadows of multiple people could be seen moving through the burnt field.
A closer look revealed the shadows to be humans and beastmen sifting through the wreckage of armor and weapons, placing their finding into baskets stripped to their backs.
They would probably be melted down and forged into new tools.
Repairmen could be seen working on the wall that surrounds the southern gate, with stone and wooden barricades acting as a temporary defense until the gaps could be filled in.
They had begun to gradually rebuild the city.
“Hmm, quite resilient to say the least.”
Ariane chimed in on the on my brief remark.
“Well, why don’t you go and look for Chiome-kun while I speak with the king?”
Once Dylan was done taking in the scenery, he put his hands on his waist and looked towards Soulia.
Ariane and I nodded at his suggestion and began heading towards the southern gate.
Several people in the vicinity of the gate were well aware of who we were and permitted us to enter with relative ease. Asparuf was probably the one who arranged things this way.
Additionally, Chiome seems to have been leading her strength to the soldiers and guards hunting the remnants of the undead in the city, and several people asked us to thank her on their behalf.
” I can’t help but feel a little anxious when we left, but everything seems alright.”
Ariane heaved a relieved sigh when she heard of Chiome’s achievements.
A sinister smile appeared on Dylan’s face when he heard Ariane’s words.
“She is very mature after all, and wouldn’t attack the gatekeepers like a certain someone did.”
Ariane’s shoulders started to tremble and she averted her gaze in response to Dylan’s pointed comment.
For the time being, there were at least two people I should avoid making angry.
As such thoughts occupied my mind we eventually came across a girl dressed in black.
The black cat ears, her long, black tail, and the way she walked without making a sound undoubted marked her as Chiome.
When Chiome saw Dylan accompanying us, she offered him a slight bow.
“Chiome-chan, what are you doing in this place?”
Chiome’s ears did a little pitter-patter when Ariane asked what she’d been up to, before partially drawing her dagger from its waist sheath.
“I’ve been hunting the remnants of the undead in the city. Because our noses are better, my liberated brethren capable of fighting and I have joined the clean-up campaign.”
Her nose twitched a little when she said that, but a bit of dust must have few up her nostril because she immediately let out a small sneeze.
“Ariane-dono, Arc-done have you finished what you needed to take care of?”
After she recovered, Chiome directed a question towards us, but Ariane and I shared a mutual look in this delicate environment.
“It didn’t go as well as we would have liked, but I think things are heading in a good direction.”
“I see, so what’s our next move?”
Chiome slightly tilted her head and changed the topic to our plans moving forward.
Dylan was the one that answered her question.
“First, I’ll have a meeting with the King of this country, where we can share a bit of information with one another.”
“Is that so, then we’d better hurry.”
At Chiome’s urging our group quickly made our way those the palace in the center of the city.
“Oh, a few of the soldiers wanted to thank you for your help, Chiome. It seems you’ve been rather active in the undead hunt.”
When I passed along the message the soldiers asked me to Chiome her blue eyes sparkled for before she simply said: “I see……”.
The strokes of her tail wags became wilder.
Eventually, we passed through the palace gate without issue and, after telling a nearby guard we sought an audience with the King, were guided to a backroom inside the palace.
King Asparuf and Margrave Branier were already seated by the time we entered the room, their expression betraying the restlessness they experienced waiting for our answer.
Asparuf, who’d admitted to never having seen an elf beside Ariane and me, acknowledged Dylan with a nod.
“And you are?”
“I am Dylan Targ Raratoia, acting elder of Raratoia of the Great Canada Forest. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Dylan slowly lowered his head as he answered the King’s question.
Asparuf and Branier nearly fell on their faces because of Dylan self-introduction.
Given that he’d introduced himself as an elder of Canada, they must have assumed that reinforcements would be sent immediately.
However, Dylan realized that and shook his head as he cleared up their confusion.
“I’m sorry, but I am merely acting as a representative of Rouen forest on this occasion, not the capital’s reinforcements you asked the three of them for.”
The two powerful men righted themselves in their seats upon hearing Dylan’s statement.
With a smile on his face, he offered the two men a bit of hope.
“However, the capital wouldn’t remain indifferent to the plight of Rouen Forest. The majority of Doranto has decided to join forces with humans to combat the common enemy.”
Asparuf and Branier eyes bulged while Dylan calmly looked down at them.
The room remained silent until someone cleared their throat.
“I intend to return to Canada and gather the necessary fighting force to combat the threat at hand.”
The two human rulers looked overjoyed when Dylan said that.
“Oh, I see. All hope is not lost……”
Asparuf’s true feelings leaked out without an ounce of hesitation.
I didn’t notice it immediately, but there was a somewhat listless expression on the King’s face, and Margrave Branier looked towards the King with a grievous expression.
While I mulled over my thoughts, a guard came running into the room.
As it was a state of emergency, one was always open for reports.
However, when Asparuf saw the guard he donned a bitter expression and urged him to give his report, who proceed to do so as quickly as possible.
“Yes, pardon me! A ‘bird’ has arrived from those who had been sent to the Delfuento Kingdom! 「The capital, Sarets, is soon to fall. The enemy is innumerable.」That was the message!”
Everyone was taken back by the message the guard read aloud.
If I wasn’t mistaken, Delfuento Kingdom was just north of Nozan.
I’m sure that……
“Chiome-dono, you said that Goemon-dono and others went to Delfuento to search for clues, right?”
Ariane’s and Dylan’s eyes naturally went to Chiome when I asked that question,
Her expression didn’t change in the slightest, but her ears twitched in synchronization with Ponta’s.
“I haven’t received any information regarding this. I can’t say anything because I do not know the location of that country’s capital, but if there was an undead army on the same scale as the previous one, than Goemon hasn’t encountered it……”
However, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Nozan was in a problematic situation…… large forces of monsters were attacking the capital of its neighbors in the north and south and they were primed for a battle on two fronts.
After thanking and dismissing the guard, Asparuf signed heavily.
Despite Margrave Branier harsh features, the fatigue could clearly be seen on his face.
I imagine the pair would never show these expressions to their subordinates, but it must have been too difficult to given the gravity of the situation.
It was Dylan who started talking, in his usual tone, managing to break the tension in the room.
“This is a little troublesome. I promised to gather forces from Canada, but as you know, there aren’t as many elves as there are humans. Focusing on that one battlefront is a necessity, how far away is the capital of Salma from Soulia?”
Asparuf raised his head, raised an eyebrow, and groaned in response to Dylan’s question.
“I-If I’m not mistaken, it’ll be ten days away by horse……”
Dylan nodded his head before asking the same of Delfuento’s capital.
“I don’t know the exact details, but it should be seven or eight days away.”
Once Asparuf gave him the answer Dylan gaze immediately fell up Margrave Branier.
“What’s the distance between Salma’s capital and your territory?”
“It takes six days to reach the border and seven to reach the heart of my territory.”
Having already grasped Dylan’s intentions, the Margrave answered Dylan without questioning him.
However, when everything was taken into consideration…
“Even if we set up an ambush, the two armies’ invasions are bound to overlap with one another.”
The atmosphere seemed to grow more oppressive as Ariane let out a sigh.
“Did the Hiruku Theocracy attack these three countries simultaneously? Just how many undead do they possess…… assuming they sent the same numbers to Delfuento as they did to Salma, and adding those that were destroyed here, that’s about five hundred-thousand.”
In order to better comprehend the current situation, I spoke the enemy’s potential numbers aloud, but all that seemed to have accomplished was clarifying the harshness of reality.
Both the King’s and the Margrave’s shoulders trembled as their eyes became downcast.
“It’ll be difficult to concentrate our efforts on one front while keeping track of the enemy on the other. There’s also no guarantee that the large undead army will head straight here, it’s possible they may attack another city on the way here. They may desire to bolster their ranks after all…”
The room fell silent again after Dylan muttered his analysis of the current state of affairs.
When the King raised his head he and Dylan finally looked each other in the eye.
His eyes had a question for Dylan, but a sudden thought spurred the King into action.
“A-Ah, our war potential. One of my sons should be returning to the nobles’ private armies. Also…… if we can borrow Arc-dono’s power we could seek some reinforcements from Rhoden.”
The Rhoden Kingdom did conduct trade with Nozan that was facilitated through the Burugo gulf, but would that be enough of a reason aid a neighboring country?
I could see that the same question had crossed Ariane’s mind.
Chiome paid the conversation no mind and directed her ears towards the room’s door.
While I would have liked to find out what was going on, but my eyes returned to Asparuf when he started talking again.
“Rhoden’s King was married to my little sister, Melissa. Melissa has already passed on, but my niece, Princess Julianna, is still there. Given the circumstances, we have no choice but to take advantage of their kindness.”
I simultaneously felt a surprised and like I was forgetting something important when I heard the King’s words.
……What was it?
Ponta let out a worried cry as I asked myself that question.
I pushed that issue to the back of my mind for the time being, right now we needed to decide on who the messenger to Rhoden would be……
Since the royalty of Nozan and Rhoden are related to one another, sending a member of the royal family would be for the best, right?
Dylan had the same thought as I had and lightly suggested the idea to King Asparuf.
“Assuming that we send a messenger to Rhoden, it’s only common courtesy for family to converse with each other. I recently negotiated with them, so I should be able to act as a mediator on the messenger’s behalf.”
Asparuf had a difficult expression on his face as he considered his options before he opened his mouth.
“The only one that can fulfill that role right now is Lille……”
His tone was heavy as he spoke.
Based on his tone, it was obvious that he was reluctant to make Lille the messenger.
He probably thought a young girl around ten years old wasn’t up to the task.
Princess Lille was certainly capable of handling herself, but as her father, he must have thought that she needed to rest after all the heavy burdens she’d taken on ever since she’d been sent to the Domo Earldom.
However, the person the King intended to dismiss vigorously opened the door and strutted in.
“I accept the duty of being the messenger!”
Every pair of eyes fell upon the source of the young girl’s voice.
With swollen, red eyes and previously shed tears staining the cuffs of her dress, Princess Lille stood resolutely in in front of her fath── of King Asparuf.
Since Chiome had stayed in the capital, I turned to her for an explanation of the Princess’s disheveled appearance.
However, Chiome slowly shook her head when she noticed my gaze.
That’s right, she been running around the new city district ever since we left.
“Lille, I told you to rest some time while ago……”
Rather than as a king, Asparuf addressed the Princess as her father.
But Lille stubbornly shook her head and replied to Asparuf about the matter of the messenger problem.
“For Sevaru’s sake! If there is anything I can do, however small it may be, then I’m ready to set off tomorrow! Brother would be mortified if I did anything less for our country……”
Tears began to fall like rain after her shout, but she desperately tried to wipe them away with her already wet cuffs.
Her sobbing led another person to enter the room.
The person bowed at the entrance before kneeling in front of Lille and wiping her eyes with a handkerchief, all the while apologizing to King Asparuf for her shortcomings.
“I am terribly sorry. I took my eyes off her for a second and she slip──”
Lille’s escort’s, Nina, frantically apology was to cut off by the King himself, with a simple “It’s fine.”.
“Lille, the messenger needs to reach Rhoden, east of here. Arc-dono already has his own──”
“It should be fine.”
While I sympathized with Asparuf and understood why he’d been about to say what he was, I interrupted him with my own opinion.
All eyes were on me, demanding an answer, but I proudly stuck out my chest and continued.
“I am willing to transport Lille-dono to Rhoden as a messenger. If we manage to obtain reinforcements, I can bring them here immediately.”
Ponta poofed out her chest in response to my declaration.
“I-Is that true? Arc-dono.”
Lille and Asparuf seemed to be in a daze as they stared at me.
“We’ve already come this far, so I’ll use the fullest of my abilities to see things through to the end.”
When I raised my arm and made a flexing gesture, Ponta began to wag her tail atop my head.
Princess Lille wiped away her tears and smiled a little as she watched my behavior.
The view of his daughter seems to have helped Asparuf harden his resolve, as he rose from his chair, knelt in front of Lille and brushed a strain of hair out of her eyes.
“Since the day is almost over make your preparations for tomorrow and head to bed early. I’ll prepare a letter to Rhoden later tonight. Tha……”
His gentle words trailed off and he stopped brushing Lille’s hair as he slowly took out a necklace from his breast pocket.
Asparuf protectively placed the necklace around her neck and smiled a little as he watched Lille wide-eyes stare of amazement.
“Father, this necklace?”
Lille questioned her father about the mysterious necklace she received.
“It is the necklace I gave your aunt Melissa when she married into the Rhoden’s royal family. It’s a bit of a lucky charm……”
Lille grey eyes twinkled a bit when she heard Asparuf’s answer.
“Thank you, Father.”
“Nina, Lille please.”
The King’s eyes shifted away from his daughter and focused her guardian Nina behind her. She bowed her head before leading Nina out of the room.
“Let’s head back to your room, princess, and prepare for tomorrow.”
As Nina was promoting Lille to leave the room, her feet came to a stop when she caught sight of Chiome.
I expected a fridge atmosphere between the two of them, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
After debating with herself for a moment Nina slightly bowed her head and offered Chiome an apology for her previous behavior.
“Chiome-dono, please forgive me for my thoughtless remarks the other day. As it would be a hindrance here, I’ll properly apologize to you at a later date.”
Nina bowed her head again and Chiome responded with a curt nod.
“About that…… I don’t really care anymore.”
Although Nina was a little discouraged by their exchange, when Chiome turned away from her I caught a glimpse of a small smile and a twitch in her cat ears.
“D-Don’t you have to stay by Lille’s side? At this rate, you’ll be reprimanded again.”
Probably feeling the pair of eyes that remained on the back of her head, Chiome’s tails swayed sinisterly as her statement caused Nina so go “Ugh” and grasp her chest.
“……I-I’m off then. Thank you, Chiome-dono.”
Once she recovered from her shock, Nina thanked Chiome before she ran after her little master, who’d already left a while ago.
Chiome’s eye lingered on the door as Nina left the room, but she eventually turned back around and let out a small sign.
At least one hassle has been taken care of before tomorrow’s trip to Rhoden.
Asparuf breathed a sigh of relief after seeing the exchange between Nina and Chiome.
My mind wondered back to Lille’s disheveled appearance.
“Asparuf-dono, why did Lille-dono appear as she did?”
The was a pause in the conversation as the King sunk back into his chair before he was ready to talk about what had happened.
“Around noon, we received a message from a neighboring noble territory. Before Soulia was completely surrounded by the undead army, I dispatched my two sons to gather reinforcements. My youngest son fell in battle, to a monster that had been pursuing him.”
Asparuf had closed his eyes and spoke in a slow methodical manner, as he tried to keep his emotions in check.
That explained Lille’s strange behavior and appearance when she entered the room.
Ariane’s and Chiome’s anxious eyes wandered towards the door the princess had left out of.
Margrave Branier seems to have already heard the story from Asparuf as he calmly remained seated, without any hint of shock or surprise on his face.
Despite the tragedy of losing an older brother, Lille moved forward to protect the country he died for. At her age, I doubted I would have had the will to take on such a task.
In fact, my lack of willpower seemed all the more pronounced when compared to her indomitable spirit.
“Tomorrow, we’ll need to brace ourselves……”
My words were enough to motivate Ponta, her fluffy tail swelling in response to them.
Ariane directed a strong gaze towards me when she heard my soliloquy.
“Don’t get so fired up that you do unnecessary things.”
I replied to her warning with a small nod.
Somehow, I felt that the weight of the fur ball on my head was decreased.