It was a territory not far from the capital of the Courtois continent’s Courtois Kingdom, its vast lands belonging to one of the three top ranking nobles of the kingdom, the ‘Three Lords’. These events would transpire in the lands of the archduke Arses. The Arses house was a lineage that had fallen to corruption over the long history of Courtois.
Exploiting a high tax from its people, that bribe-rampant territory lacked any sense of vigor. But as the people were unable to leave so easily, they could only put up with the pain.
In that vile noble house, the five-year-old selfish and overbearing eldest son Rudel Arses looked up at the sky with his eyes open wide.
What Rudel saw in the sky was a powerful body of deep emerald hue, and large wings that freely moved that build through the sky… those scales and horns that brought reptiles to mind gave its body a sense of greatness.
It was a dragon… and the ones who controlled them, the knights who protected the country were given the name Dragoon.
Rudel immediately asked the servants around him about the dragon he had seen in the sky. His tone was high-handed, and not the sort of attitude one would expect from a five year old child asking adults.
“What’s that!? I never heard… why didn’t you tell me!?”
The servants found it stranger there was a child in this country that didn’t know about dragons. But they were dealing with the study-hating, exercise-hating, ill-natured Rudel. Irritated as they were, the servants courteously explained the dragon and dragoon to the boy.
“Dragons are among the strongest of monsters, and they are ones who boast a high intellect.”
“The ones those dragons obey are the dragoon… the strongest knights in Courtois.”
“The knights who become dragoon possess not only strength, they are proud knights of, ‘virtue’.”
Hearing those words, Rudels eyes turned from those of a fish rotten with pride, to the eyes of a young boy filled with admiration. But even upon hearing that…
“How much do you have to pay for ‘virtue’!? I’ll put out as much as need be, so bring it to me at once!”
Unable to understand virtue, his statement about buying his way to it brought in some truly fed-up looks from around. When they thought over how this was the next head of the house, the servants even held a light murderous intent… but there a single servant had an idea. Of how to teach this stupid brat the pains of reality…
At that time, no one could have imagined those words would drag in the Arses House and the Kingdom of Courtois. Right, it had all begun as the ‘malice’ of these overworked servants.
“Rudel-sama, ‘virtue’ is a show of a person’s dignity and character. It is not something one can obtain with money. It is a valuable item one can only obtain with earnest effort.”
On those words, Rudel made a face of failed comprehension. Rudel hated studying, and he was a selfish one. He did have a tutor, but not listening to the tutors words, he had only attended class a handful of times.
“How can I become a dragoon? I want to be a dragoon!”
Hearing that, the servants sniggered within . You really think you can become one? Harsh training, testing one’s knowledge and refinement, Courtois’ heroes among heroes even the dragons obeyed… the servants politely hammered that reality into Rudel.
“I believe it will be difficult… those who become dragoons are only the strongest knights of the kingdom. Meaning tempering their strength and kindness, knowledge and culture… you also have to receive acknowledgement from the dragons.”
“You’re saying it’s impossible for me!?”
“Yes. But that is not a problem with you. It simply is that difficult to become a dragoon. It is said that even in the vast lands of Courtois, it’s a blessing if ten dragoons are knighted in a year.”
Rudel didn’t take well to that explanation. His yearnings upon seeing the first dragon in his life burned strong enough to singe the young boy’s chest.
“… How can I be one? If it’s not impossible, then that doesn’t mean there’s absolutely no way to be one, right? How can I become a dragoon!?”
Sighing at Rudel’s attitude, the servants put a subtext of, ‘then quit playing around and fix that personality of yours!’ into their explanation.
“Rudel-sama, if you continue with your current lifestyle, you will never become a dragoon. A lifestyle befitting a noble, unchanging kindness to all, and unceasing diligence is important… right now, you are lacking in every field.”
The servants said it clearly. There was a reason they had to say so much. Generally speaking, Rudel was an idiot. His actions were exorbitant, and he was always troubling his surroundings. His parents only felt value in him as the next heir, leaving him to his own devices as they doted on his younger brother.
He would always instantly forget when someone made a fool of him. That was linked to the cold attitude of his servants.
Perhaps Rudel was actually quite a pitiful one. No one properly keeping him company, always made a fool of by the servants… but right now, Rudel had met an existence that made him lose interest in all of those things.
Rudel had found himself a goal. From that day forth, the selfish and prideful boy genuinely set out for nothing more than to become a dragoon.
From the next day, Rudel rose with the rise of the sun. As he would always rise just before noon, there weren’t even any servants in his room as he changed into exercise clothing. No, there was one servant there, but he was asleep in his chair, showing no signs of waking.
On the day the servants mocked him, he had gone around asking them all what he was supposed to do. While they found it a nuisance, the servants had reluctantly explained, and Rudel had memorized with all his might.
“Wake up early and run, eat healthy foods and chew well before swallowing…”
Mumbling to himself, Rudel left his room and set out… in the still-dim light of the mansion, the form of a wandering, muttering child was surely an ominous one indeed.
And the vast manor was practically what one would call a castle. As Rudel raced around the yard of the castle, he quickly wore himself out. Come so far, his daily disorderly lifestyle and overeating was tormenting him… when he was only five!
Seeing him like that, the servants and soldiers on guard raised their voices and laughed. Among them were even some who were blatantly mocking him. But within all of that, Rudel ran without paying them any mind.
By the time his finished running, his body was covered in sweat, and his body wasn’t in a state where it could take in any food. But even so, he went to the kitchen, and begged the chef to prepare something healthy. That was the first time Rudel made an earnest request, but upon hearing that, the chef- partly due to how busy he was in the morning- didn’t even stop to think.
Understood, was all he said as he prepared a meal befitting the request.
Rudel’s meals were generally alone. Not particularly loved by his parents, and continually scorned by the estate’s servants. And what lined his one-man dining table was all the foods he hated… vegetables, dairy products, and chicken for protein… from a commoner’s perspective, it was an extravagant feast, but Rudel was the eldest son of an archduke.
This was terrible treatment. What’s more, there wasn’t any sign the flavoring was done to his tastes. His hated vegetables were still bitter, and the other dishes weren’t the sort of thing any child would like.
That was simply how much Rudel was hated. And even if he thought to get revenge, he was an idiot, so he would forget about it in no time, they would say as they blatantly harassed him.
But even so, Rudel,
“Thank you for the meal?”
Gave an awkward greeting as he ate his breakfast. Bitter! He thought as he endured to become a dragoon. And after that was study time with his home tutor. Even if Rudel had found motivation, the tutor had not. While he would generally answer when asked, the rest of it was thrown to the wind.
And even so, Rudel read his textbook, asking time and again on the things he didn’t understand. The home tutor who thought of Rudel as an idiot,
“You don’t even know that, and you’re trying to be a dragoon? You really are a fool.”
Spat some cynicism… but it was here that the mansions residents were under a misunderstanding. While there was a problem with Rudel’s actions and thoughts, his head wasn’t too bad. While he would often take action without any thought, his head had never been for worse.
When he didn’t know what to do in order to become a dragoon, he had asked the servants, and he had heard out their answers. And he instantly put it to action. Perhaps that was Rudel’s strength. If instantly acting was Rudel’s shortcoming, it was also his merit.
Next up was training in swordplay and martial arts. But even there…
“What’s wrong, young master!? Trying to be a dragoon when you can’t even block this attack, are you trying to make me laugh?”
Rudel cowered from the merciless attacks of his instructing soldier. That soldier who knew how to torment without leaving any lasting marks was a seasoned veteran. But after being stationed in this territory, his first task was to teach the idiot Rudel swordplay… he hit those feelings against the boy.
But even so, Rudel stood.
“How stubborn… well, let’s see how long you can hold out!”
You could say the first day was the absolute worst. He was out of breath right after he started running, he didn’t get anywhere with his studies, and his body was raising screams from the swordplay. Even so, Rudel pulled out a single book from the bookshelf and crawled into his own bed.
“Dragoons are the strongest knights…”
It was a book introducing the Courtois kingdom’s dragoons in a way close to a picture book. As Rudel read it aloud, the servant to his side grew irritated.
(Just go to sleep already, damn brat… aah, I’m sleepy.)
He was much too late to notice… the fact that Rudel who had never decently done any study to that point was reading a book…
Once he had finished reading through, Rudel’s eyes closed with the book still left on the bed.
“I’m definitely going to be a dragoon…”
He went right asleep. The servant took the book and returned it to its original place on the bookshelf. And turning the Rudel,
“Like hell you will. You really are an idiot… Fhaaah, I should get some sleep.”
The reason the servant was there in the first place was in case of emergencies. He was definitely not in a position where it was alright to sleep.