Failing asleep from their fatigue after the major cleanup, the three dropped by Bennet on the next day.
It was decided that either Izumi or Millia would clean up that house that hadn’t been properly prepared. Based on how their meeting with Bennet went, one of them would go back.
The Beretta townscape the three of them walked down was lined with hurriedly constructed buildings of brick. But they couldn’t see any buildings that extended passed two stories.
The same held true for the inns.
(This is a puzzler. I have to secure a place to sleep soon.)
She knew that staying with Rudel for too long would surely cause him trouble. Izumi mulled over who she should consult.
It was there that a building that could be classified as splendid for the town came into sight. At the sight of young soldiers having a friendly chat, Izumi felt like holding her head.
“Oh, good morning. Did you sleep well last night.”
“Yeah, more importantly, where’s Major Bennet?”
On Izumi’s reply, the young soldiers looked at Rudel, Millia and herself, discussing something amongst themselves. While she could guess the contents of their discussion, she didn’t have the time to worry about that now.
“She’s doing paperwork at the desk in the back.”
After giving thanks to a young soldier with a reddened face, the three of them made for Bennet.
In the station, there was one desk put aside for the dragoons to use on rotation. Normally, that would never come to pass, in a settlement without anything, granting the dragoons an exclusive desk was plenty.
The knights on duty at the capital would never be able to bear this sort of treatment, thought Izumi.
Izumi looked at Rudel’s superior before her eyes and submitted her forms. But more than that, looking at the female knight before her, she thought.
(She’s… kinda cute.)
Taking the paperwork, Bennet tucked it away in her file before confirming their future course.
“So you two are this man’s inspector. I don’t mind if you keep watching, but there are times we’ll be flying around on duty. And you should think that doing work is normal around here.”
“Would that work be outside of our mission?”
As Millia looked down and asked, Bennet hummed a note.
“A new recruit who’s only ever sat back and done their duty at the capital need not stick their mouth into the way of the outskirts. While I haven’t the authority to issue you orders, if you do nothing but keep watch over that guy, that alone will buy you a bad rep in these parts.”
Millia saw how busy Beretta was, and perhaps she realized just watching would definitely make her unpopular as she shut her mouth.
When Izumi proposed they would participate in work on rotation, Bennet said, ‘That so,’ before handing Rudel a comprehensive schedule.
(She’s surprisingly attentive and good at looking after others. And she’s cute.)
Izumi noticed she was being mindful of them.
“Well, just do your best out here. You should take this opportunity to learn that the same way of doing things doesn’t work everywhere you go… Rudel, I’ll be having you break rocks with Sakuya. I’m going out of my way to personally supervise a newbie like you. Give me results.”
Seeing Rudel taking his job seriously, Izumi felt relieved. It seems even Rudel wouldn’t suddenly go on a petting spree. No, while Izumi herself was relieved that she had sealed Rudel’s petting, she felt uneasy whenever she thought he might unveil a new technique.
Starting with petting, onto massages, embrace, and lotion… even when she sealed all of them, Rudel brought forth his magic eyes out of nowhere. So while she was wary, it couldn’t be said she was going too far.
Izumi looked at Bennet’s tail when she talked to Rudel. Running contrary to her expression it was delightedly waving about. That gap looked cute as well.
(The way it feels like she’s pushing herself is also cute.)
Sure that Millia was holding the same impression, she looked to the side, only to receive a mildly irritated impression. Millia was staring intently at Rudel and Bennet.
Every time Rudel gave an earnest reply, Bennet’s tail would wave. Even if they were told the titles of superior and subordinate were swapped, surely no one would hold any doubt.
(She really is cute, though.)
For a while longer, Izumi watched over the girl doing her best to play the part of a superior.
Outside town, in the rockface opposite the harbor, Rudel was smashing rocks with Sakuya.
They would be used as materials for the port, but after being smashed, the stone would have to be processed. For that sake, it was necessary to break them down to an adequate size.
As Rudel issued Sakuya orders, Sakuya punched the rocks with her large arms and destroyed them.
“Fool! Do it like that, and they’ll end up too small. Having them too big is no good, but if they’re too small, then it takes an unnecessary amount of mana to mend them!”
Under Bennet’s orders, Rudel was learning his job in Beretta. Carrying materials, patrol of the area around the port city, and helping out with construction, there was much to be done. As long as you ignored their consumption, the convenient dragons were indispensable lifeforms for construction.
“This is hard. The work’s too detailed for Sakuya.”
Taking Sakuya’s large build into account, it was definitely a difficult job. But Bennet hummed a note.
“Oh, then will you choose your own work? It is only natural for us to be able to carry out whatever mission need be done. The way you are, you’re not even half a dragoon.”
While he tried to say something, Rudel swallowed his words. Sure enough, being particular about his missions was usually something he should never do.
Bennet called her own dragon and had it smash rocks to the right size to set an example. After the destruction, unlike with Sakuya, the leftover fragments didn’t scatter about much.
“If the development goes steady, then this place will also become a part of town. If you cause too much destruction and spread debris around, it will make our jobs more troublesome in times to come. I do believe the development plans were included in the documents I gave you.”
“My deepest apologies.”
Having not thought that far ahead, Rudel apologized to Bennet. Certainly, the plan included the port’s construction, and a description of the town’s expansion.
“… Well, so be it. Right now, Elrond is off buying supplies, so I’ll be teaching you for a while. Know that training is also part of your duty, and don’t lose focus.”
While Rudel continued his work, to the side, Izumi watched his exchange with his cute superior officer.
As a special inspector, Izumi’s duty was to make sure her eyes never left Rudel, if possible. While the two of them were earnestly doing their job, from a watcher’s perspective, it couldn’t help but look like a pleasant scene.
Bennet’s tail was happily waving left and right, and on top of that, Sakuya was learning how to chop rocks from the water dragon. A dragon opening up its palms to chop stone into blocks was a peculiar sight indeed.
(They look like they’re having fun.)
While the two of them had their dragons smashing stone, they carried out training themselves. When Bennet told Rudel to come at her, Rudel cut forward with all his might.
Izumi thought that looked bad, but Bennet lightly responded, throwing Rudel into the ground. Despite her small body, the way she handled it could only make one say, as expected of a dragoon.
But after she had won, when Rudel sent her eyes of admiration, “Get to your feet already, fool!” the girl in question said, her tail violently wagging.
Next to that, Sakuya- who was unable to skillfully smash stone- tried to break it apart with her breath only to be smacked on the head by Bennet’s dragon.
(I do feel sorry to say it, but…)
“Your attacks are following a pattern. You won’t even be able to scratch me that way.”
Accelerating with wind magic, Rudel desperately rushed in to capture Bennet, but dodging by a paper-thin margin…
‘I mean, I can’t do it! Hey, that hurts!’
Her chops still not going well, this time, Sakuya tried to strike it with her tail…
(I wonder what it is. It just looks like they’re enjoying themselves.)
Driven off to an area close to the border, Chlust grimaced as he received a report from his subordinate.
“Captain, are we in hot water?”
What the unshaven man reported to Chlust was a meeting between high officials of the countries of Courtois and Gaia. Even if it was diplomacy under the veil of secrecy, Courtois was a noble society, and it was often the case that its high officials were of nobility. They disliked rough treatment, and it was difficult to think they would go all the way to the outskirts just to put on airs.
The man who was Chlust’s subordinate reported what he heard from his trusted men.
… It was information Chlust wanted to think was impossible.
“When I thought they had quieted down, it couldn’t be…”
The black ogre incidents were no longer breaking out. But as long as he stayed on the border, he could tell the enemies was growing more active whether he liked it or not.
The air was one thing, and it had been so quiet it was contrarily creepy.
And about the contents of the high official’s discussion, the unshaven man was making a pale face. Chlust thought his own complexion was also leaving him, but as he was before his subordinate, he changed his train of thought.
“… Could you tell the official’s face? Or their characteristics?”
“Nothing. Everyone was wearing robes and hiding their faces. If the way they talked and their documents didn’t prove their status, we would have moved to take them in as suspicious individuals.”
But his subordinate seemed relieved they hadn’t done so from the depths of his heart. This was home ground, and there were plenty who were used to concealing their bodies, it could be called a spot of good luck that their foe didn’t know the area.
That was just how powerful their guards had been.
If he knew their names, then Chlust was the second son of an archduke. He thought he would be able to find out their faction, but it didn’t seem it would go so easily.
“Whatever the case, we have no connections to the center right now.”
“What do we do, captain? Won’t it blow sky high, the way things are going?”
The reason his subordinate- usually so lively- panicked to such an extent was simple. A high official of Courtois had exchanged documents with a high official of the Gaia Empire. What’s more, they seemed used to it.
The few words they exchanged were clearly bizarre.
‘The princess is on board.’
‘As long as you accept our conditions, we’ll play along with you farce.’
‘Hmm, making a hero of a commoner, the thought makes me want to vomit. I’d rather he became a hero post mortem.’
‘… I pray you come to a decision before our preparations are complete. Tell them to understand, it’s too late once it’s all begun.’
Princess, hero, commoner, and too late once it began… on these words, Chlust couldn’t help but remember those two.
The fact he was in a place like this, at the very least, he thought those two were involved. In a good sense, of course.
Chlust was aware that if he had continued to hate Rudel, his current self wouldn’t exist. He could recall well the faces of the two who had created the opportunity.
(Is this for certain… but at this rate…)
Even if he noticed, he understood it was futile to report the fact to the higher-ups. For better or worse, they lived in noble society, and having been once oppressed, Chlust could understand. If it was a truth, it would be hushed up, if it was a lie, they would boldly punish him.
No, it was more probable they would erase him the moment he reported it.
His stay in the outskirts was a long one, and it plagued him that his information on the palace factions was outdated.
To add onto that, the outskirts were optimistic. No matter how the empire invaded, they were certain that with its dragons, Courtois would never lose.
“… Don’t tell anyone about this matter. Order your men not to leak the information.”
“Then what will we do!?”
“I’ll look into it. If I report to the wrong man, then it wouldn’t be strange if the entire unit is erased.”
The man fell silent. He realized he had stuck his head into a troublesome matter, but Chlust felt an even greater sense of crisis than his subordinate.
(Who do I rely on? My house is… I can’t even get in touch with Erselica, so that’s not happening.)
Once his subordinate left the room, Chlust scratched his head and thought.
(I’ve always reported the suspicious movements on the Empire’s side. I can’t think the higher-ups don’t know. Then did they know and plan to abandon us from the start?)
From the reinforcement of war potential around the border, Chlust had felt relief, but now he had a bad premonition.
(Our forces are being reinforced. But…)
The map of the area affixed to one of the room’s wall had memo sheets stuck all over it. It was a map that collected all the incidents on the border over the past few years.
He confirmed the war potential on Courtois’ side.
(There won’t be a problem if it’s a skirmish? No, the empire’s been tormented by our dragons for many years. It’s unthinkable that they’re not taking the dragons into account so late in the game. Our side is looking down on our foe too much.)
Getting together the reports on the black ogre, he had found one that suspected they might be an experiment from the empire. But his superior had laughed it off.
Even if that was true, Courtois had dragons, so they knew it wouldn’t be a problem.
(I can only gather info for now. And I have to inform someone of this fact…)
While his brother’s face came to mind, recalling Rudel’s present situation, he shook his head. As the white knight, Rudel stood out too much. And he wasn’t in a position of power.
“First, I have to establish casual contact with Erselica. I need as much information on the palace as possible.”
Looking at the map, Chlust scanned for the name of a port town. On a memo next to it, the town’s fighting force was listed out.
When there were three powerful dragoons stationed there, there were no other decent reinforcements. On that mismatched treatment, Chlust feared for the safety of his brother who had likewise been flown off to the outskirts.
“I hope I’m just thinking too much.”
Feeling the calm before the storm, Chlust felt something contrived in his brother being sent to the outskirts during such a period.