The armour and helmet, which were created matching his size, are heavy, or rather, hot. He is tasting the feeling of steel being glued onto him. Feeling as if he himself has somehow transformed into someone gallant, the boy is looking up to the sky in a grandiose manner. The white clouds pasted on the high, transparent blue look just like they have been drawn with light and nimble brushwork. He becomes fraught with emotion.
“Young master, you have straightened up too much. You will fall down.”
The name of the one, who fixed his own grip on the reigns in panic, is Lukas Yurihalshira. He, at a tender age of 13 years, is the legitimate child of the Marquis Yurihalshira household which reigns as the highest-ranking noble family of the kingdom. His face, which still has childishness remaining and is enclosed by the helmet with its face protector opened, flushes.
“What admirable advice, Knight Leader. Falling off the horse just before heading out for my first battle would make me too ashamed to meet father.” (Lukas)
“Don’t be so eager. It is definitely vital for you to return from your first battle without injury. It’s the same with horse-riding. First you have to get used to the view of a battle.” (Knight Leader)
“I got it. I believed I knew that, but it looks like I had felt a bit pressured.” (Lukas)
Correcting his posture on the horse’s back with a snap, Lukas surveyed his surroundings. The battle flag endowed with the seal of the Four Swords Square is flying in the autumn sky. The spears are standing close together and the sharpness of their blades is gleaming. The clattering of the dignified armours and the champing of the warhorse’s horseshoes is forming the timbre of the army. All of them are expressing their unity by wearing an armour overcoat with the same vibrancy of patterns and colours.
(I don’t understand the feeling of the battlefield’s heroes, father has talked about. This is…!)(Lukas)
Lukas is meaninglessly under pressure once again. And once again he was chided by the Knight Leader about derailing the speed of his horse. The commander of this group is the Knight Leader. Lukas has promised to follow his orders.
This is the Sword Corner* Knight Order affiliated to the Yurihalshira household. With the knights numbering 600, all of them have the appearance one would recognize as that of heavy cavalry. Each of them has one light cavalry rider, as subordinate knight, and 3 infantry soldiers, carrying a shield, a spear and a bow respectively, following. In total they consist of 600 heavy cavalry, 600 light cavalry and 1.800 infantry soldiers. It’s a combat unit possessing 3.000 people. (T/N: 剣角 not quite sure if that has any special meaning, so I interpreted it as name)
To be more precise, currently it’s 3.000 people and 2.
“I can’t settle down unless I calm myself… Sensei, what should I do?” (Lukas)
“It’s good to ponder about what you ate this morning and what you would eat for lunch, I guess. It will lessen the feeling of this being a dream.” (Daniel)
The one who answered smoothly is Baron Daniel Hakkinen. Being one of Lukas’ consultants, he is a man who teaches him the way of the nobility by lectures that are different from the others. He is the son, and also the younger of the brothers, of the former Viscount Hakkinen, who’s known for his name in the hero’s legend. And he is the leader of the Hakkinen guard corps which is widely known for their courageousness in the Helrevi Earldom.
“The meals, huh…? I see, that’s certainly calmed me down. Which reminds me, I still don’t know about the thing called field ration.” (Lukas)
“I think it’s interesting to experience the taste of something like qwamp meals. It has a nice consistency while being chewed.” (Daniel)
“Qwamp, eh? As someone who is a knight, there might exist a reason to eat the same food as your favourite horse. I’d like to try it out.” (Knight Leader)
Sensei is somewhat different from the others after all, Lukas groans within his mind. Three years have already passed since he started to live in the mansion, but even more than the knowledge he taught, he wittily answers every single thing, Lukas greatly admires. His perspective differs from the other nobles and soldiers.
He isn’t a person who talks about himself much. Even that is unusual, too, Lukas thinks, but he has reached a single conclusion after analyzing various statements from him. Namely, the insides of the man called Baron Daniel Hakkinen are like a steel core. You might call it conviction. That’s why he is able to stay independent without being influenced by his environment. Isn’t that also the reason why his perspectives and remarks are something unique?
Lukas also likes that his attitude isn’t servile and flattering. One can say that this is a common and good aspect of a man descended from military families. However, in contrast to them, who are the embodiment of that by being loyal as soldiers, Daniel seems to somehow have an unidentifiable purity. Lukas wonders whether that’s not his motive. An example why it should be so is Daniel’s unnecessary strength… that causes him to be somehow overlapping with the figure of my father, Klaus.
That’s probably why, Lukas nodded within his helmet.
Lukas has five elder sisters, but there’s no mistake that all of them are yearning for Daniel… at least Lukas has confidence in that. For him that was a delight. His home is that of his deceased mother. When it comes to hoping for his elder sisters’ happiness, Lukas prides himself on desiring it the most in the world, even surpassing his father.
Amalia Yurihalshira. 18 years old. Originally she, as the eldest child, should have become the legitimate child, but because of his father Klaus’ will she isn’t allowed to succeed the Yurihalshira household. Lukas has various thoughts regarding his father having decided like this. But, he believed that it was a move to not allow Amalia, with her humble personality, to be plunged into the dispute over the inheritance of a powerful household.
She is graceful. She is gentle. She is modest. The word lady fits her precisely. Smiling at the joy of others as if it is her own, her way of life is to naturally put priority on someone else rather than herself. She is as brilliant as something holy. Such a her should become the happiest person in the world. If such a her yearns for someone, everybody should bless her romance… Lukas clenches the bridles tightly. And he got cautioned by the Knight Leader because his horse decelerated. Lukas reflected.
“No matter what, it’s useless. There’s too many various things agitating me. Though that doesn’t mean at all that I’m here with a feeling of taking a picnic.” (Lukas)
“… How about trying to word everything out to your heart’s content? If you keep it to yourself, it will just get stronger.” (Daniel)
“I see, there’s truth in that. Sensei, I’d like to make my elder sister happy.” (Lukas)
“It’s really not like I’m fooling around here. I’d like elder sister to always smile brightly.” (Lukas)
“Lukas-sama’s safety is definitely Amalia-sama’s biggest desire.” (Daniel)
“Ah! You could say that, too. Yea, that’s right, it’s something important.” (Lukas)
Lukas recalled about Amalia coming out to see him off. Her appearance as she tried to bravely smile and cheer on Lukas despite feeling uneasy and painful. Her eyes were tear-choked.
“That’s because it’s a battlefield, this place here.” (Daniel)
Once he turned his gaze ahead of the front of the majestic knight order, a plain is extending as far as the eyes can see. Viewing the ridgeline of the Heaven’s Boundary Mountain Range in the north at his right side, he expects the Purple Sea to be far in the south on his left side. What were the countless thousands of ten thousands officers and soldiers thinking while fighting here? What did they regret as they perished here? Lukas took a deep breath. The bottom of his abdomen is filled with power.
(I have come here. Finally. To see what my own worth is…!) (Lukas)
This place is the Plain of Wandering Calamity.
This vast plain, spreading between the Asuria Kingdom and the Eberia Empire, is a battlefield where countless battles between both countries unfolded for a long time. They have to overtake this soil to invade into the other country. Either side won’t permit defeat. After losing in the massive clash of armies on this soil once, the Asuria Kingdom was exposed to the danger of destruction.
Firmly stepping over such humiliation from 10 years ago with military boots, we try to correct it by painting it in another colour… and advance.
Currently Lukas’ 3002 are marching towards the west in the Plain of Wandering Calamity. They can’t see any other units in the surroundings, but there’s no doubt that they are likewise marching onwards in a not so distant place. If they dispatch a scout light cavalry unit, they will come back with exchanged information from any of the friendly light cavalry units. This is a patrol duty for all of the force’s units.
Advancing to the designated battlefield while keeping in touch with the other units, they would kill as many as possible if they encountered the enemy.
It’s not the kind of situation for doing something unreasonable, but there’s no necessity to be idle and overlook them either. While fighting without overreaching themselves, they will measure the enemy. Each unit has been granted tactical freedom. It’s completely different from the threatening carried out before. Both countries have already crossed that line.
The cease-fire agreement has been revoked. Both countries have entered a state of war.
However, the motive for the outbreak of war was something quite foolish, Lukas heard.
It’s merely one arrow. It’d been a stand-off between fellow small units, which had become a competition of willpower to see which side would shift their position first as result of their plans. Such incidents sprang forth in various places in the Plain of Wandering Calamity at that period. One might say that the reason for the outbreak of the war is the barrel filled to the brim with water finally spilling over, but you can’t deny that the situation, where one arrow was released, isn’t the deciding factor for the outbreak of war either.
That arrow, which a soldier of the Asuria Kingdom launched for the sake of threatening, whether skilfully or clumsily, grazed the nose tip of a warhorse from the Eberia Empire. It was probably an injury which caused only a bit of blood to flow, but with that the horse reared up. Throwing off the soldier who was mounting it, it ran off ahead in the direction of the kingdom’s soldier. Kicking down and trampling over a single infantryman, it galloped away towards somewhere else.
The imperial soldier, who fell off the horse, hit a bad place and lost his life. The kingdom’s soldier, who was kicked down, was also hit in a bad place while being stepped on and couldn’t be saved anymore. One arrow stole the lives of 2 people. Due to this fact, someone said 「Two dead for one arrow」. The meaning of that saying is that an unfortunate accident leads to an unforeseen catastrophe. Lukas considers the one, who said it, to be imprudent.
Of course, both countries didn’t have any intention to let it finish as an unfortunate accident. Blaming the kingdom for having fired that arrow, the empire’s side announced the revocation of the cease-fire agreement without prior notice, alongside mourning over the death of a single cavalryman. The kingdom’s side sneered at the inexperience of the imperial army in training its warhorses, which would rear up by a single arrow where it’s not even clear whether it hit or not. Thus they insisted that the kingdom’s soldier was killed by a runaway warhorse. And that it was the side of the imperial army, albeit just a horse, who violated the cease-fire agreement.
Speaking figuratively about the developments after that, it should be like a snow ball rolling down a hill’s road and rising in size or like a small fire spreading its flames all at once. Lukas listened to the change of circumstances while feeling a tinge of dread. Casualties were increasing between the small units at the front-line by incidents that didn’t seem to be accidental… before long it led into a roaring for war proclamation in both countries. It was the outbreak of the war.
Lukas considered that to be regretful. That’s because he thought that they should create a proclamation, which is more fair and square, for the beginning of a war. The style of this time’s beginning doesn’t fit that. He remembered its paltriness to be completely like letting go of the reins controlling a raging, wild dog.
But, even so, Lukas believes that war is something to be fought bravely.
He considers it as his proud duty. The task of enriching the territory and having many people live there as a Marquis household is the duty and responsibility of a feudal lord and there’s nothing above that, Lukas believes. Why does a Marquis household have that position or why are they given the privilege to voice their opinion in front of the king… isn’t that a reason for conflict? Won’t the claim for large privileges be justified by fighting more vigorously than anyone, and by showing more bravery in combat than anyone else? Isn’t it the Yurihalshira household’s obligation to continue being accepted like that? Isn’t that a matter of honour?
Lukas turns around. His body wrapped in armour and helmet, the lively motion of the warhorse below his butt and the knight order which encloses his vicinity. All of those are stronger and sturdier than one man. Contrary to my own weak, sweaty body and the inside of my mind, he thinks. I’m really helpless. If I simply act as usual, I won’t fit in, no matter how I try. Lukas is aware of this aspect of himself.
That’s why, let’s fight bravely. Let’s carry out this obligation proudfully. Lukas adjusted his internal pressure by breathing hard and energetically through his nose. It won’t do to get corrected by the Knight Leader many times over like this. The rising pressure can be reduced with words. Lukas opens his mouth to realize that.
“Say, sensei, do you like war?” (Lukas)
“I don’t believe that it’s something you call liking, but…” (Daniel)
“Yea. It’s the same for me. I don’t believe that it’s something that should be caused deliberately. However, it gives an uplifting feeling.” (Lukas)
“It has this kind of nature, too, I guess.” (Daniel)
Daniel pointed at the chest-plate of his armour which is covering his body. One can confirm the crest of the Baron household at the place of the fastener. It’s the figure of a beautiful knight although it’s slightly fragile, Lukas judges. And it’s likely for the sake of something in Daniel’s heart.
“I believe the relationship between people and clothes is the reversal of a lord and retainer relationship. Mood will change depending on the outfit… if one wears a war costume, it will become what one has in mind after all.” (Daniel)
“Is that how it works…? Yea, I guess that’s how it is. I don’t think one wants to kill people just by holding a sword, but armour is slightly different. It makes you think that way. It caused me to feel like it quite considerably.” (Lukas)
Lukas laughed. As my own inexperience felt out of place due to the armament, it would be something very pleasant if the surrounding 3000 also held the feeling, even if only faintly, of being out of place in the same way, he thought.
“We might encounter the enemy beyond this point, right?” (Lukas)
“Sensei, you really won’t answer anything to things you don’t know, eh?” (Lukas)
He could have piled up more words, but Lukas decided to remain silent. He was stopped by the Knight Leader. A moment ago the light cavalry unit, which returned from the northern side, reported in quick words. It seems they discovered the footprints of the moving enemy forces including their cavalry. Moreover, the footprints are fresh. It can be considered that they are at a location not so far away.
Even while getting nervous, Lukas felt a small amount of regret after all. Not about encountering the enemy ahead, but because they apparently missed each other without noticing. It looks like the real war won’t have dramatic developments like the heroic tales.
“Young master, we will chase after the enemy by changing our course, but is that alright with you?” (Knight Leader)
“Of course. I’d like you to act as you wish, Knight Leader. I will make my best efforts to not become a hindrance as much as possible, too.” (Lukas)
“I shall comply. Then…” (Knight Leader)
Bowing lightly, the Knight Leader gave out the order.
“All troops, change course to the north. Once we arrive at the enemy’s footprints, we will pursue by proceeding east.” (Knight Leader)
The knight order moves. Until now they have moved like one life-form which is upholding its high spirits. The battle will begin. Lukas suddenly shuddered. It’s not from fear. It’s because he experienced the hallucination of challenging the enemy while being part of the large animal called knight order. He remembered the moment he mounted a horse for the first time.
(I see, this, huh…? From here on it will be the true sight of a battle.) (Lukas)
They run. They dash. They pursue the enemy.
It was the beginning of Lukas Yurihalshira’s first battle.