The Capital of Selva
I stood in formation at a place where I could see the castle jutting above the walls, as I looked at the main force: Lorphys’ army.
Their scale had swelled to twenty thousand, and it was mostly mercenary brigades. Some were those formerly hired by Zayin to invade Lorphys, but once they learned they wouldn’t be paid, they had swiftly changed sides.
While musing over the importance of money, I looked over the city receiving the attacks.
We had kept our assistance at only drawing the enemy’s attention for them. I mean, there was barely any profit for Zayin in this war.
The border zone where most of the problems and disputes occurred had been officially afforded to Zayin. But that was just about it.
No matter what we did here, it wouldn’t really profit Zayin, so I couldn’t work up their motivation.
(Because profit for me, and profit for Zayin are different things. I should minimize the exhaustion of the knights and soldiers that have been left to me.)
But I didn’t want anyone to think we were being passive about it, so we were going to carry out the role of drawing Selva’s manpower our way.
And as a result of that, a considerable force was pointed in our direction.
Looking at the movements within the capital, even the residents had been flushed out, and they were ready for battle, so Selva’s resistance was quite a desperate one.
I unconsciously clenched the Jewel, when May stationed nearby called over to me.
I hadn’t had her conduct recon this time.
In the rear, Novem was to treat the injured. And Clara and Miranda were supporting a detached force.
Aria and Eva were assisting another force as well.
Shannon and Monica offered their aid to the rear supports from Porter.
“Hey, is it really fine if you’re not giving direction?”
Her line of vision ended at Creit-san. And with the equipment of the Divine Knight Brigade that carried out the dirty work equipped on his body, Albano-san also sat in a chair at the base camp, putting his arm around the chair’s backrest.
The two of them were glaring at one another.
“We have proclaimed we shall assist Lorphys! What are we doing, not aiding their attack more proactively!?”
Inside the base tent, Creit-san hit both his hands against a long table. Ant to him, Albano cleaned our an ear with his right hand’s pinky, and made a fed-up face.
“That’s why everyone calls you rockheaded. There’s barely any gain in it for us. What’s more, the other side will be troubled if we’re too enthusiastic over it. Now just try getting first dibs with our forces. What sort of face do you think they’ll make? When they have close to twice the amount of troops, they’ll lose face if we one-up them here. We should just keep our distance, and hammer in magic.”
Creit-san was too assertive.
And Albano-san too passive.
As the two clashed their opinions, the adjutant knight 【Noy Verdell】listened to their takes on the matter.
“Um, then… isn’t Lyle-dono’s idea of assertively attacking, and drawing their attention good enough?”
When eyes fell on me, Creit-san nodded.
“I-is that really enough?”
“What exactly do you plan to accomplish by jumping into the fray? Lorphys is already moving to make this land their own. Their young knights want to use this opportunity to get some badges on their shoulders. Use your head a bit.”
Creit-san’s face turned bright red, and he grasped at Albano-san’s lapels.
“Albano, by who’s grace do you think it is you’re standing here…”
“Our high and mighty Holy Knight’s. Did you think I’d say it was because of you?”
Maybe the battlefield air was getting to them, as they began exchanging blows. I received a, ‘gonna do something about it?’ look from May, and stood from my seat.
From the Jewel, I could hear a strained voice from the Seventh.
『Good grief, they haven’t matured at all.』
The Fourth as well.
『It’ll be a bit rough leaving things to those to. You really should be careful with who you leave up top. They’re talented, but they can’t help but antagonize one another.』
Both parties had their strong points, but they had a number of weak points as well.
“If you’re going to do it here, at least take it outside. Though having our commanders out of here will be out of the question.”
There, both of them sat in their chairs.
A messenger raced into the tent.
“Message! The force from Lorphys has breached the walls! They went on to open the gate, and have succeeded with their infiltration!”
It took a few days to get to this point, but that was surprisingly fast. It looks like the difference in numbers was a large factor.
There, Creit-san spoke.
“Let’s send a force ourselves! I will personally command the cavalry!”
“And I’m telling you, you don’t have to move a muscle yourself. Get in their way, and you’ll be hated.”
Their opinions were divided, but I didn’t give my input.
I wasn’t going to stay in Zayin for long, so I wanted the two of them to build of some experience as the next candidates for the captain seat. These two too far out there.
There, Noy-san let out a sigh.
“Let us assist Lorphys some. Shut down their soldiers on the ramparts. Avoid attacking the city as much as possible. I’ll send a messenger to Lorphys to confirm it.”
Scratching his short black hair, Noy-san issued orders. It looks like he took in their proposals, added them together, and divided by two.
When he looked at me, I nodded.
I heard the Fifth’s voice.
『I see why Alette didn’t recruit either of them. They’re too extreme.』
The Third spoke.
『In that case, of the two, making one of them the knight captain is out of the question. They get into fights even when they’re of the same rank.』
I looked at Noy-san as he received the report, and issued orders in the tent. From the formation of the Holy Knight Brigade, if I had to say, he wasn’t one who stood out too much.
The type that usually leaned towards supporting people.
I sat, and put my hand to my chin. As I watched Noy-san a while, May looked into my face.
“What are you thinking?”
“Hm? Ah, nothing much.”
(A former noble, fallen to adventurer, was it? Age-wise, in his mid-twenties… he’s had his troubles, and more than that, if he was a former adventurer, he’s sure to have gotten some education. His personality is one not to go to the front, but if he has these two…)
I had called him to headquarters for the role of knight captain’s adjutant, or maybe vice-captain, but this personnel selection wasn’t as bad as I thought.
(Ah, it may work out.)
When I gripped the Jewel, the Fifth understood what I wanted to say.
『… As a compromise, isn’t it fine?』
『If their individual traits are too strong, a trait-less knight captain can balance it out.』
The Fourth spoke.
『Not bad. Rather than that, if those two are there, something like this is…』
The Seventh thought him more suited than Creit-san or Albano-san.
『If he’s had his troubles, won’t it be fine? Looks earnest enough. His main problem will be making those two work together, is how I see it.』
I nodded, stood, and approached a busy-looking Noy-san. He looked at me with a perplexed expression.
“Um, did I make a mistake somewhere?”
He was preparing himself to have his errors pointed out by me.
I put my left hand in his shoulder, and stuck up my right thumb.
“Congratulations. You’re the next knight captain!”
The surroundings went quiet, and it felt as if time in the tent had stopped until the next messenger came running in.
… The knights of Lorphys who’d infiltrated the capital of Selva, arrived at the palace, and apprehended all its royalty.
Seeing all the blood spread out over the floor, Alette grimaced.
(… You’ve bought too much hatred unto yourself, Prince Dario.)
She had entered the palace to give a report to the knight captain within it. After verifying his whereabouts, she increased her pace to search out for the room.
In an unfamiliar palace, she asked directions from a number of patrolling soldiers, and when she arrived, she gave her captain the report.
“The Alette Corps have successfully subjugated the resisting Selvian forces on the western ramparts!”
In that minister-class office, the captain sat in a chair, read over the report, and nodded.
“Splendid work. Is that all you’ve come to report?”
The fighting was already dying down within the capital, and the flag of Lorphys was being hoisted all around.
As they entered their second day since infiltrating the city, they had send a knight to Lorphys’ castle to report their victory.
Alette spoke to the tired-looking knight captain.
“No, there’s more. It’s a personal report, or more of a proposal.”
They had just achieved victory, so the captain was in a bit of a good mood. He took his eyes off the papers, and met her face.
“Personal, I see. What sort of proposal?”
“Yes! Between Princess Annerinne, and the Captain of Zayin’s Holy Knight Brigade… let us have her engaged to Lyle Walt!”
After Alette said that, her captain knit his brow.
“Are you sure you’re not too tired?”
And gave that response.
But Alette was serious. She was proposing it in all seriousness. Lyle had a problem with womanizing, but his achievements this time were greater than anyone’s.
He properly headed the armies of Zayin, and had shown off the height of his commanding ability.
“I’m serious! He carries the blood of a Count House in the superpower of Bahnseim! What’s more, speaking of the Walt House, they’re world renowned, are they not!? There shouldn’t be many problem with a marriage, considering his status. If we do it, Lorphys is sure to gain a strong and competent king!”
To Alette’s long-winded explanations, the knight captain drew back a bit.
“No, before taking status into account, he was driven out, so what’s the point… and I can’t think that Zayin will let him go so easily, right? Holy Knight, was it? There are rumors of him and Zayin’s Holy Maiden.”
An elf had passed through Lorphys, and sung their songs.
The rumors had already reached. Lyle’s name had started to spread as the name of a gallant hero.
“If we have him drop by, and announce the engagement before they make an official announcement, there shouldn’t be a problem!”
The knight captain spoke in a quiet voice.
“It’s because you think like that, that you can never find a…”
“Did you say something?”
Alette pretended not to hear it, and drew closer and closer to him. She put both her hands on his desk, and brought her face even closer.
“Y-you’re close! Too close! E-even if. Hypothetical, you see? Even if you manage to reel him in, from our princess’ point of view, the Holy Knight is a hated enemy. There’s no way she would… no, wait…”
The knight captain put his hand to his mouth in thought.
Alette looked over him.
“It’s that princess we’re talking about. It’s possible she’s forgotten her hatred alongside her feelings for Dario. And if we succeed, we’ll be put on a higher position than Zayin. From what I’ve heard, his knight captain position is only temporary, wasn’t it? Meaning while he still has some mind to leave Zayin…”
Alette knew that Lyle had only temporarily taken up the role of Zayin’s knight captain. Her captain knew it as well.
Taking his hand off his mouth, the captain spoke.
“A marriage of nobles… it’s an affair where the opinions of the individuals are second to nothing. But Annerinne-sama adored the stories of heroes.”
“His face isn’t bad. And his blood line’s a famed one. Now that Dario is away, this is our chance!”
The knight captain leaned his weight onto the back of his hair.
“… I’ll at least propose the idea to Lonbolt-dono in the castle. I’ll send a fast horse. Your job is to bring it up with Lyle-dono.”
Alette rushed out of the room, and hurried herself all the way to where Zayin’s forces were camped…
After Selva was invaded, and I thought everything had ended, for some reason I was invited over to Lorphys’ royal palace.
Alette-san called me over, saying whe wanted to meet to further friendly relations for the future, and apologize about past events.
My job was pretty much over, and once I formally handed the role of knight captain to Noy-san in Zatin, it really would be the end.
Creit-san was opposed, while Albano-san accepted it. When I asked Creit-san whether he’d be able to handle all the paperwork required for the job, he made a conflicted expression, before reluctantly conceding.
Albano-san had slipped out of his adventurer life, and become a knight of Zayin. He couldn’t do paperwork from the start, and it seems he planned to pass all that sort of stuff to Noy-san in its entirety.
(No, I still have to return to Zayin, and do all the formal processes to hand over office.)
I saw all the gaudy ornaments had been stripped from the audience chamber.
The Fourth spoke.
『Oooh, so this is how it looked before. I quite like the nice and calm feel to it.』
『It’s because they prettied it up for the fiancé’s tastes. More importantly, don’t you find something curious about the eyes of the princess before us?』
Last time’s audience was quite horrid, and I did feel apologetic about it. So I had brought my feet here with the intent to apologize as well.
That’s why I came, but…
“Um, Lyle-sama, what are your hobbies?”
The Third spoke in amazement.
『This isn’t an apology, is it? And wait, isn’t her face a bit red? What? Lyle, did you do something again? Did you turn mr. lyle when I wasn’t watching?』
I haven’t had any Growths lately. If I had, I would have denied this audience with all my might. Because it would be more than clear it would bring a disadvantageous outcome to all parties concerned.
She stroked her violet hair restlessly, and before such a princess, I really didn’t know what to say.
I felt an unfamiliar of some sort, and a strange sweat began to come out.
(No, you called my a fool not too long ago, right?)
“Hobbies, is it? U-um… what do you mean by that?”
There, she said something like, ‘kyaah!’ as she held both her hants to her face, and loosely bent her body back and forth. The hell’s this. It’s actually ridiculously scary.
Lonbolt-san standing beside her…
“Come to think of it, your comrades are all on the pretty side. As a single man, wouldn’t that be a lot of trouble? It is, I’m sure. Wo how about you decide the legal wife here? It must be hard to live an adventurer’s life forever.”
All of my comrades had been invited to the audience chamber as well. Lonbolt-san’s eyes were directed at them. But his eyes weren’t the eyes of someone gazing upon a beautiful lady.
(What is this guy talking about?)
As I thought that, the Seventh seemed to understand something, and he spoke to me.
『Lyle, this is a chance! It seems that royal princess has fallen for you! I’ve no idea the reasons, and I don’t even want to know, but if you keep this up, you can get Lorphys in your hands!』
The Third too.
『Oh, not bad. It was quite a big problem, and it isn’t a bad idea to secure a single country while you’re here. You’ll be able to make free use of Lorphys’ troops, after all.』
『… I’m not really sure about that sort of thing. No, I do think it’s necessary, but how should I put this… that girl’s no good, isn’t she?』
The Fourth cut out he Fifth’s opinion.
『On this occasion, we can more or less ignore the minor problems. Lyle, say something to encourage her, and see how it goes. Listen here, this is for victory! It’s something necessary to win against Celes!! You must steel your heart, Lyle!』
When he told me it was to defeat Celes, I swallowed my fears, and addressed Lonbolt-san.
“Y-you have a point. Well, it really is hard to be the only man.”
There, Miranda spoke.
“Oh my, how awful. Even when I’m being so mindful of you myself. More importantly, how about you just say it out already? Why did you call Lyle here?”
He sent a bit of a harsh stare to Miranda’s belligerent attitude. But Miranda didn’t falter.
“… I was going to bring it up later.”
It seems the princess had gone off script. The original plan was to apologize to all of us here, and call me back alone later. Apparently.
“Lorphys had placed a high evaluation on your achievements in this matter, Lyle-dono. How about it? Want to try your hand at the throne, oh Holy Knight?”
Within the Jewel.
The Fourth gave a cheer.
『Okay, it’s here! Now Lorphys is in the bag! If you use this as a foothold, negotiate with Zayin, and gain full control of the entire region …』
But at that moment, Novem gave a bright smile, and opened her mouth.
“That is not possible.”
I unintentionally ended up turning around. After the surrounding eyes gathered on her, a displeased royal princess shouted at her.
“Why is that!? Are you unsatisfied with me? The hero of hope… taking in his bloodline is yet another duty of royalty!”
Within the Jewel, the Fifth.
『No, there’s something wrong there. There’s something more important you should be looking at here.』
The Seventh as well.
『… Novem is opposed, you say? There’s no way she doesn’t understand what it means to get Lorphys in our hands here! Lyle, persuade Novem!』
Novem was smiling, but she soon erased it, and looked straight at her royal highness with a serious expression. There, the princess opened, and closed her mouth, unable to say anything in return.
“Lyle-sama and your highness’ statuses are too far removed. And Lyle-sama has a large objective he wishes to achieve. I do not believe a marriage here will be of benefit to either side.”
There, Lonbolt-san spoke.
“A large objective, you say?”
“And there are also the Walt House’s precepts. The precepts its heads have adhered to for generations… I cannot say it here, but this union would be in violation of them. I cannot approve of this marriage.”
I heard some cries of ‘such impudence!’ from the surrounding voices, but perhaps there were many who didn’t want someone like me laying hands on the throne from the start, as there were some nodding nobles as well.
Lonbolt-san sensed the surrounding mood.
“… I see. Personally, I am interested with your goal. Lorphys has gotten quite indebt to you, Lyle-dono. If there is anything we may assist you in, we shall offer our support.”
Sitting in her chair, the princess looked sad as she put her hands on her lap, and hung her head.
(I do feel sorry… but it’s also true that I felt quite relieved.)
I decided to believe she would find a nice partner sometime down the line.
So we carried out the apologies initially planned, and shook hands on the matter.
The audience ended, and we were on the way back to Zayin.
I sat on Porter’s roof, and asked Novem, who was on lookout duty beside me.
The sky was blue, and the sun was unhindered by the white clouds scattered around. While taking in those piercing rays of sunlight, I spoke to her.
“Hey, why did you refuse that proposal back there? If you hadn’t we would have had the country of Lorphys in our hands.”
There, Novem made a blank face. As if she was explaining the obvious.
“N-no, well… I mean, she didn’t follow the Walt Family Precepts. And even if she may be a princess, her status wasn’t a match with yours.”
I held up the palm of my hand to her face, and motioned for her to stop, and wait a bit.
“Um, to summarize… you really just denied her on nothing but the precepts?”
“Yes. Because she wasn’t someone worthy for you, Lyle-sama.”
It was an extremely nice smile.
And with that smile, she told me the princess was unworthy.
In my head.
(Yet the First Generation who made those precepts randomly threw them out while drunk… even if I said it, I doubt she’d believe it.)
I slumped down, and spoke to Novem.
“The sun is getting stronger. Novem, you should go inside.”
“I’m fine. I’ve learned how to reduce the sunlight around me with magic. I must protect your skin as well.”
I had forgotten, but as always, Novem offered me excessive care. In the Jewel, the ancestors sounded their voices.
In order, Third and up.
『If Novem-chan says it, I guess there’s no helping it.』
『Thinking over it calmly, trying to look after that woman, and manage the territory would be hard.』
『These guys sure change their minds fast.』
『But what should we do? There’s quite a large, and urgent matter coming our way, is there not? We really do have to find a way to solve it.』
It was right before our eyes. A large issue that required immediate input.
(Hah, I ended up using all our money in this war, but what should we do from now on…)
… A problem of money.