Chapter 3 – Nixy

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Tigre woke up as dawn broke, got ready, and called Raphinaque over to check the condition of the soldiers together with him. Luckily, the condition of the injured soldiers had remained relatively stable overnight without any passing away, which gave Tigre some reprieve.

After he finished his breakfast of bread and soup, he went around to shake everyone’s hand in order to encourage them as much as he could.

“Listen. Your only job for today is to walk, eat, and rest. Your injuries might hurt, but keep at it. I think it’d be nothing but a waste for you to croak after having come all this way. Got it?”

“I know, Lord Tigre,” one of the Vorn soldiers powerfully clapped his own chest with a smile. “I didn’t have a chance to show my good stuff until now, so I definitely cannot afford to be nothing but a useless burden any longer.”

Other soldiers also replied in a similarly positive manner, allowing Tigre to smile at them and answer that they got the right mindset.

When they had left the soldiers behind, Tigre said to Raphinaque, “We’ll advance west while scouting the south every once in a while to search for Brune’s main force. Depending on the circumstances, it might lead to us going all the way back to the border.”

“Time’s the problem here, I’d say. It took Brune’s army five days to reach Eleşkirt after leaving the border, but if we’re going to head back while staying out of enemy sight…” Raphinaque’s face looked rather troubled.

The more time it took, the heavier the burden on Olmutz’s army. Discontent among Olmutz’s soldiers would likely accumulate. Olmutz’s soldiers held Tigre in high esteem, but if he kept depending on them, they’d eventually become disappointed and disillusioned.

“It’d be great if only we could find something where we can be of use.”

Either way, Tigre had no choice but to do what he could do.


Meanwhile, Mila was also talking with Galyinin.

“Did you decide on who you’re going to send to our main force?”

“Yes. I chose ten cavalrymen who are known to be particularly hotblooded and impatient,” answered Galyinin with a nonchalant look, casting a wry smile on Mila’s lips.

Those ten riders would be dispatched to Olmutz’s main army to inform them of Mila’s decision to join up with Brune’s army.

“However, these types of guys tend to surpass themselves on the battlefield. We might be hard pressed if we run into an engagement with Muozinel’s army. Is that still alright with you?”

“I can somehow handle up to a hundred riders myself,” Mila replied with a smile while lightly tapping her shoulder with Lavias’s handle. “Tigre should be able to finish off around fifty to sixty riders if I guard him. So we’ll be able to repel as much as two hundred riders, even without having the Vorn soldiers enter the fray.”

That wasn’t bragging either. The same happened when they drove away the unit of a hundred Muozinel cavalrymen before, but often it wasn’t necessary to defeat all enemy soldiers. Mila suspected that even two hundred riders would flee once they took down twenty or thirty of them.

The problems would start if the enemy showed up in numbers surpassing those figures, but she regarded the possibility for that to happen as low since she expected Muozinel to throw any bigger troop contingents at Brune’s main force instead.


And just like this, the Vorn unit and Olmutz’s army set out westwards. Tigre and Mila were riding at the head of the group. Right behind them fluttered Zirnitra, the standard of Olmutz’s army, and the battle flag of the Vorn family – a white half-moon and meteor on blue ground – in the wind.

Raphinaque had taken that flag with him when they withdrew from the battlefield at Brune’s army camp. Because of that, the flag was smeared with mud and blood.

As the sun kept rising high into the sky, the atmosphere started to heat up.

Tigre looked at Mila, who was riding next to him, while wiping the sweat off his forehead. She remained calm and composed even within this heat. Not a single drop of sweat could be seen on her. The same applied to the horse under her.

“It’s times like this where I feel jealous of you possessing Lavias.”

“No doubt. It’s not like I don’t think that it’s a bit unfair,” answered Mila with an apologetic smile.

Small amounts of cold air were constantly released from the spear in her hand, enclosing her in a cocoon of chilly air. It was one of Lavias’s unique abilities.

“If it’s just you, I think I could somehow handle adding you, but…”

“No, thanks. The offer is already plenty for me,” Tigre rejected with a shake of his head and a smile.

Not because he’d have felt guilty to make it easier on himself alone by accepting her help, but because he feared he’d start to carelessly exploit Mila’s fondness of him.

“Once I become your husband, I’ll indulge in getting spoiled by you without any hesitation.”

Before he could even finish speaking, cold air radially fanned out from Lavias, gently caressing Tigre’s nape. Seeing Tigre’s reflexively pull his shoulders up, Mila giggled.

“Lavias, you see, is telling you that you’ve still got a lot coming for you, if this much is enough to surprise you.”

“It’s not that I was surprised. I wanted my back to get cooled as well, and so I twisted my body on the spur of the moment,” Tigre bluffed.

In response, a gust of cold air passed the tip of his nose next, triggering him to sneeze against his will.

With a light glare at Lavias, Tigre remarked, “It was the same back when I stayed in Olmutz. You really love to tease people, don’t you?”

“That’s limited to you alone, Tigre. Though it also means that she’s letting her guard down around you…” Mila explained while gently stroking Lavias’s spearhead. “You aren’t one of my men, right? If she acted like this towards my subordinates, it might affect my dignity among them. As such, she chooses her playmates wisely.”

“I see,” Tigre agreed at first, but soon another doubt welled up in him, “But, Lady Lana was the previous Snow Princes of Frozen Ripples, wasn’t she? Didn’t she run around and scatter cold air all over the place as her whims dictated?”

“…So far as it goes, I’ve never heard of anything like that happening,” Mila said while averting her eyes from Tigre.

It was a clear sign of her not having any confidence in the credibility of her own words. Meanwhile Lavias kept its silence as if declaring that she wouldn’t sell out her previous mistress.




Noon had already passed. Tigre and Mila were currently listening to scouting reports. By now they had made two detours to avoid the Muozinel army. So far they hadn’t discovered Brune’s army, but otherwise things were proceeding smoothly.

“Okay, next try saying spring, summer, autumn, and winter in order.”

“Umm, springbahar, summertabestan, autumnpaiz…”

Following Mila’s instruction, Tigre struggled to repeat the seasons in Muozinel. But, his brain blacked out on the Muozinel term for winter. Soon he threw both hands in the air, indicating that he was giving up.

Mila smiled bitterly at that and provided him the correct answer, “Winter is zemestan. The pronunciation for bahar and paiz was slightly dodgy as well. You were lucky that you managed to buy wine at a village with that level of language skill.”

Mila was testing out Tigre’s Muozinel language skills during their march to kill some time. This also had the objective to show off the close relationship between both commanders to the soldiers of both armies. But leaving all the implicit reasons aside, Tigre’s marks were far from good right now.

“Well, I also added some gestures. The rest was resolved with silver and a smile.”

“I wouldn’t count that the same will work next time as well, if I were you. I suppose I must teach you once again.”

Mila had taught Tigre Muozinel during his stay in Olmutz. She did so out of consideration for him so that he’d be able to somewhat talk with the Muozinel living in the castletown.

“Very well, then please go ahead with words you didn’t teach me yet. Let’s start with fond, like, love, kiss, want to hug.”

SillyDeibunei,” Mila answered in Muozinel, her face twisted into a deep frown.

Behind the two, Raphinaque and Galyinin kept a close eye on their respective soldiers. Olmutz’s soldiers were considerate of the Vorn unit while the Vorn soldiers trudged onwards as they helped each other so as to not become a burden on Olmutz’s army.

“You’re probably bored from learning Muozinel all the time, so let’s go with a change of pace and talk about the legends of my country, Zhcted.”

“Studying history right after learning a language, huh?” Tigre shrugged his shoulders, but this topic would be much easier on him than Muozinel.

Probing his memories, he slowly started to recall the things Mila had taught him in the past.

“Three hundred years ago a number of tribes surpassing fifty had been fighting each other, vying for hegemony…”

Around the time when the number of tribes had decreased to thirty with the ground being steeped in blood, heaps of corpses littering the lands, and countless iterations of conquests, annexations, break-ups, and dispersals having occurred, a single man appeared.

“I am the incarnation of the Black Dragon,” he had introduced himself and sought others to lend him their strength to unify the land.

Most of the tribes ridiculed him for his lofty ambitions, but seven tribes were swayed by his words and followed him. As proof of their loyalty, each of those seven tribes offered him their most beautiful and strongest girl. The man took all seven as his wives and granted each a Viralt, a mighty weapon of power.

“You have now become 『Vanadis』.”

Afterwards, the man crushed all the tribes hostile to him and his allies and unified the defeated under his banner. Moreover, he went on and expanded his realm by destroying the countries around him, before christening the country he had built Zhcted and becoming its first king. It was around this time that the Zirnitra was decided to be Zhcted’s national flag. The man also passed a law, forbidding anyone to kill young dragons and dragons with black scales. At that time it didn’t change much as dragons didn’t live anywhere near humans and thus the people had no points of contact with them. For this reason, the Zhcted of that time adopted the popular interpretation that the king had set this law with the goal of deifying himself.

The seven Vanadis each had a principality bestowed upon them. Those principalities were called Olmutz, Leitmeritz, Legnicia, Lebus, Osterode, Brest, and Polesia.

“The Vanadis bend their knee to the king, protect him, and fight for his sake. They rank next to only the king in power. No matter what achievements anyone else might reach, this hierarchy remains untouched,” the founding king declared.

This system had been passed on all the way to this very day. Tigre stumbled at some parts, but somehow managed to finish the story nonetheless. Mila looked at Lavias. Lavias was one of the Viralt. Tigre had heard that Lavias also went by the name Frozen Ripples.

“Do the Viralt of the other Vanadis possess mysterious powers just like Lavias is capable of manipulating cold air?”

“Indeed. However, we make sure to keep it hidden from each other as much as possible.”

The Vanadis were rulers of principalities, naturally resulting in their interests clashing more often than not. It also happened that they opposed each other for as simple reasons as having contradicting personalities. The relationship between Mila and Elen was a good example of that.

“I wonder why the founding king had generously handed out such mysterious, powerful weapons.”

Mila looked into the distance upon Tigre’s question, “I can’t say for sure, but I do have an idea about it. Someday, when I feel like the time has come, I will tell you.”

Tigre vaguely felt from Mila’s attitude that this might be a matter related to Zhcted’s national secrets. As such, he could fully understand that she couldn’t readily talk about it. Tigre himself also kept various information about Alsace, the Vorn family, and Brune hidden from Mila.

“Don’t mind it. We’ve got plenty of secrets in the Vorn family, too,” said Tigre and let his eyes wander, searching for something to use as a topic changer.

Suddenly he noticed something like a stone statue standing at the wayside.

“Mila, could you tell me more about that one over there, if you happen to know anything? I’ve seen these many times since arriving in this region and started to get curious about them. I tried asking the villagers as well, but I didn’t quite catch what they told me in Muozinel.”

Mila directed her eyes at the statue in response to Tigre’s request. It was a statue reaching up to the knee of an adult in height. Its rotund body was loosely wrapped up in a cloth. Calling it a cluster of stones that had been stuck together into a humanoid form might actually be more correct than a statue.

“That’s a water spirit. A servant of Anāhitā, a Goddess of Water who’s being worshiped in this country.”

“A spirit? So that’s a Muozinel spirit, huh?”

Tigre gazed at the statue with a look full of admiration. As anyone would agree to be natural, the fairies and spirits you could see in Brune had completely different shapes. The face of the Muozinel statue was round and adorned with a beard.

“It’s not like I know all the deities and myths of this land here, but the water spirits are quite popular. They’ve been set up all over the place as a form of prayer to have rainfall and avoid the rivers and lakes to dry up.”

“No wonder I’ve encountered so many of them. After all is said and done, this is a country of eternal summer.”

Once he knew the true identity of the statue, an ambiguous feeling of affinity and friendship welled up in Tigre. They had similar customs in Brune as well. For example, it was normal to always create a stone ring before building a big vineyard. It was said that fairies would use the stone ring as a gate to appear while no humans were around, eat the sour grapes, and make the other grapes sweeter before leaving.

Of course, no one had ever seen those fairies, and a vineyard’s grapes wouldn’t become sweet overnight either, but people built their stone circles while claiming that this would allow them to harvest plenty of sweet grapes.

Tigre believed that he had been aware of the Muozinel being no different from him and his people, but only now he felt like the Muozinel had become slightly more familiar to him.



———— End of Part 1 ————


Traveling next to each other, the two adjutants were watching the backs of their two commanders. However, the difference here lay in Raphinaque walking while Galyinin was riding a horse.

“――Lord Galyinin,” Raphinaque called out to the other man with a serious expression after having apparently made up his mind.

On the other hand, Galyinin kept his calm demeanor. Not a single strand of his gray hair could be found out of place.

“Is something the matter, Sir Raphinaque?”

“It might be rude for me to ask you something like this, but please forgive me nonetheless. Do you not believe the young master…Lord Tigrevurmud and Lady Ludmila to be awfully mismatched?”

“Does it seem like that to you?” Galyinin asked without a single twitch of his brow.

After wiping away the sweat on his forehead, Raphinaque nodded, “In the past I heard from Lord Tigrevurmud a fairy-tale about an arrow reaching a star, but if I actually look at you, Lord Galyinin, and Lady Ludmila…”

The difference between Alsace and Olmutz was overwhelming. Raphinaque wondered whether Tigre’s wish of wanting to wed Ludmila wasn’t like him trying to shoot a star with an arrow. He couldn’t imagine that it would come true, no matter how many military achievements his young master might accumulate.

“Let’s see,” Galyinin let his eyes wander to the flowers at the roadside while revealing a smile on his lips, “Sir Raphinaque, do you know about Lady Ludmila’s exalted mother?”

“I have heard of her being called Lady Svetlana, and that she used to be the Vanadis prior to Lady Ludmila.”

As Raphinaque answered with a mystified look on his face, the elderly knight confronted him with another question, “Very well, what do you know about Lady Ludmila’s father then?”

“You mean Lord Theodor, right? It’s said that he’s been running an inn,” answered Raphinaque while frantically searching his memory.

Galyinin nodded deeply, “Back during Lady Svetlana’s time as Vanadis, Lord Theodor had served at the governmental residence. He was of common birth and his family wasn’t affluent either. That man managed to wed Lady Svetlana after overcoming all the obstacles standing in his way through hard work.”

“So you’re saying the same is possible for Lord Tigrevurmud as well…?” Raphinaque frowned.

Galyinin narrowed his eyes cheerfully.

“It is something I heard from Lord Tigrevurmud himself, but it’s not like Lord Urs, his esteemed father, chose a noble lady as wife either, correct?”

“That’s true. His mother――Lady Diana is the daughter of a gardener in the capital.”

Galyinin shifted his eyes to the backs of Tigre and Mila.

“Of course, it’s not said that the same must happen because it happened for their parents. In the first place, both were born in different countries. And just as you say, Sir Raphinaque, a difference in standing exists between them as well. However…,” Galyinin made a pause at that point, and after nodding lightly several times, added, “Lord Tigrevurmud is striving hard to fill that difference between them. Personally, I like his mindset. And fortunately, it looks like Lady Ludmila doesn’t think of him badly either.”

Raphinaque breathed out in relief and clenched his fists. Knowing that Tigre could wed that beautiful Vanadis, no matter how slim the chance, brought him joy. Galyinin watched Raphinaque acting like that with a kind smile.

“Anyway, I think those two will have to surmount all sorts of obstacles in the future, but most of the time love affairs are unrelated to standing and position. Let us watch over those two as they do their best.”

Raphinaque looked up to Galyinin in surprise as the elderly knight had, different from before, used a somewhat casual, friendly tone. But, a smile immediately formed on his lips.

“I will rush over with an Alsatian wine in hand in the event it works out successfully.”

And then both adjutants returned to their duty of watching the soldiers and their respective lords.



Around the time when the sky darkened as the sun slowly but steadily sank beyond the horizon, the Vorn unit and Olmutz’s army halted their march near a small forest. If you entered the forest, you would quickly run into the river winding its way past the trees. With the location so ideal, the two commanders decided to set up camp here for today.

Luckily, they didn’t need to face the Muozinel army. Thanks to their scouts spotting the Muozinel units first, they managed to avoid a direct encounter. By the way, Tigre had headed out to scout several times as well, and on one occasion, he discovered enemy forces. Raphinaque didn’t look all that happy about this, but Tigre intended to do as much as he could in order to gain the trust of Olmutz’s soldiers.

The Vorn soldiers lit the campfires and went to fetch water. Meanwhile the Olmutz soldiers tied their horses and let them rest.

Just as they finished setting up the commander’s tent, the sky above their little party got dark all of a sudden. Looking up, they spotted a huge, black shadow flying across the sky. Tigre’s eyes flew wide open.

“Isn’t that a flying dragon?”

The dragon slowly descended nearby while making big circles. Each flap of its wings caused a gale, and while the treetops shook violently, the flying dragon alighted in an area slightly away from their night camp. Several clouds of dust were blown up like pillars with the leaves and grasses being whirled about.

“Fall back, you guys,” Tigre ordered Raphinaque and the other Vorn soldiers, who had gotten ready, while tightly clasping his black bow.

Mila planted herself next to him while readying Lavias.

“Tigre, get behind me.”

Reacting to her fighting spirit, Lavias clad itself in a frosty aura.

Reluctantly, Tigre moved behind Mila. Of course, he planned to protect her by shoving his body in front of her when push came to shove, but he suspected that her Viralt would be a fairly reliable partner even without his involvement. And thus he decided that he ought to support and help Mila with his archery instead.

The flying dragon didn’t even show the slightest intention of moving from its place, let alone roaring at them. After the dust and sand settled down before long, Tigre and Mila found a person standing on the dragon’s back.

“Name yourself. I’m a Vanadis of Zhcted. I rule over Olmutz as Snow Princess of Frozen Ripples. The name is Ludmila Lourie,” Mila addressed the figure with a sharp tone.”

“――Oohh, I hadn’t expected that I would be able to meet you in such a place, Lady Vanadis,” the figure exclaimed in joy.

It was the voice of a man. He dismounted the dragon and carefreely walked over to them. And as soon as he could identify his face, Tigre reflexively called out the man’s name.

“Zion…Lord Zion!”

“What!? Why are you over here!?”

Seeing Tigre, Zion blinked his eyes in surprise.

Mila swiftly interjected, “They joined up with us while we repeatedly moved and fought with Muozinel’s army. But, the same can be asked about you as well, Lord Zion. That flying dragon…”

Olmutz had had dealings with Duke Thenardier for a long time now. Because of that, Mila had already met Zion in the past. The young Thenardier looked back at his dragon with a triumphant look. A chain was coiled around its neck at the root, and something akin to reins extended to that chain. In addition, a saddle had been installed on its back, too.

“I planned to introduce it after joining up with you people of Zhcted, but my father Felix succeeded in training dragons. It looks truly terrifying, but it’s extremely submissive.”

“That’s quite incredible…”

Mila strained herself to pretend calm, but answering normally was already the most she could manage. If she hadn’t heard of this from Tigre beforehand, she’d have likely been unable to hide her unrest and shock. The soldiers of Olmutz raised their voices in astonishment as they looked at the dragon from a distance. It was the first time seeing this dragon for the Vorn soldiers too, so they couldn’t help themselves but become noisy.

“As long as you like, Lady Vanadis, I will gladly let you ride on the back of this flying dragon ― behind me. The view from up in the sky is marvelous.”

“Thank you for your offer, but I think that has to wait for another opportunity. Lord Zion, why have you been flying through this area?” Mila curtly refused his offer while making sure to not be impolite about it.

While lightly holding back Tigre, who had leaned his body forward, with a hand, she asked Zion what was bothering her. Zion pulled himself together, looking as if he had suddenly remembered something, and put on a serious expression.

“I have been heading for Zhcted’s main force in order to pass on a message from our army’s supreme commander. Please forgive me if I should have startled you. It looks like the Muozinel army has deployed soldiers in this area as well, so we thought that it would be easier to look for Zhcted’s army while using a flying dragon without being obstructed by the enemy.”

“I see, so that’s how it is. As you say, it was certainly a big surprise. But, what is it that you wish to tell us to such an extent that you would use a flying dragon?”

Without answering Mila’s question at once, Zion looked at Tigre in an unpleasant way. Tigre tried to leave, but faster than he could, Mila urged Zion to continue.

“Is something the matter, Lord Zion?”

“…Please excuse me. I have lost myself in thoughts a bit as there are so many things I ought to tell you.”

Zion apparently prioritized not letting Mila wait any longer over chasing away Tigre.

“Yesterday early in the morning, our army suffered a surprise attack by the Muozinel. Of course, we fought hard, but as we had been taken by surprise, we couldn’t put the ensuing chaos in order…”

In terms of the conclusion, they lost against the Muozinel army and were scattered, but Zion used a long-winded manner of speech that sounded more like an excuse to explain just that much. Mila had to invest all her willpower to restrain her urge of wanting to shout him down. But then again, Mila’s impression of Zion was as bad as it could get. Or to be more precise, she hated the entire House Thenardier. Duke Thenardier made his people suffer by ruling over them as a despot, and he was someone who would actively pillage on the battlefield. Mila also knew that Zion had inherited his father’s violent side. However, since he was a high-ranking noble of Brune, she made a clear cut between official matters and personal feelings, and continued dealing with that family.

“That must have been terrible. It is great to see you safe, Lord Zion… What about Duke Thenardier?” Mila asked while feigning to be very worried, when Zion reached a stopping point in his explanation.

“Please do not worry. My father is doing fine. Even at this very moment, he is commanding our army,” answered Zion with a smile.

Mila answered with a smile of her own while quickly deliberating the situation in her mind.

“That is what matters most. Where is Brune’s army currently situated?”

“They should be around twenty to twenty-five belsta southwest from here…,” Zion stammered while avoiding to meet her eyes and twisting his expression, but the other partner was Olmutz’s ruler, a trade partner, and one of their ally’s commanders.

After a short pause, he answered without hiding anything.

“Our army is moving west right now.”

“So you mean to say you’re fleeing?” Mila bluntly spelled it out for what it was while frowning.

She had lowered her voice as it’d be troublesome to let the soldiers hear this, but the effect was tremendous nonetheless. Zion became flustered.

“No, it is nothing so extreme like a flight, but rather a strategic retreat.”

“Then you have plans to march into Muozinel territory thereafter?”

“That hasn’t been decided yet…”

Mila immediately got convinced of one thing from Zion’s evasive manner.

“Did something happen to the dragons?”

If the dragons were safe, Brune’s army should resume its advance after reorganizing its ranks, even if they retreated temporarily.

Zion gasped with shock written on his face, and glared at Tigre who was standing behind Mila.

Mila added with a soft tone, “Let me tell you so that you don’t make any mistakes. We have heard about the dragons from a Muozinel soldier whom we took prisoner. However, we didn’t know how far the information could be trusted since it came out of the mouth of an enemy. Lord Zion, I’m sure you have your own circumstances to care about as well. I won’t tell you to explain everything to me. However, if you tell me that you can’t say anything while we’re in this sort of situation, you could also call it equivalent to you revoking our alliance.”

Of course, Mila hadn’t taken any Muozinel prisoner. It was a hoax. Moreover, she tried to extract information out of Zion by intimidating him with a revocation of their alliance. Even someone other than Zion would likely find it hard to get through this sort of questioning without spilling anything.

“I-I understand. You have a point. I will tell you as much as I can. However, please make sure to keep it to yourself,” replied Zion while panicked.

Tigre assumed that his father had forbidden him to speak about it, but Zion had apparently judged that he couldn’t keep it hidden with Mila having learned so much already. He explained that two earth dragons and one flying dragon got beheaded during the surprise attack.

Mila became bewildered when she heard that.

“Lord Zion, even I have heard just how tough the scales of dragons are. Just who is supposed to be able to pull off something like that?”

“We are still in the middle of investigating that, so…,” Zion shook his head, his face dyed with nervousness. “It seems like it has been the deed of the Muozinel army, but… At any rate, three of the four dragons, which were important combat assets of our army, have been killed, resulting in a severe drop in morale among the troops… The soldiers are truly cowardly and feeble-minded.”

Listening from behind Mila, Tigre got angry at Zion sighing exaggeratedly.

――What selfish bullshit. Who do you think is the cause of the low morale in the first place, eh?

The wrong assumption that they could leave all the fighting to the dragons had deeply rooted itself in Brune’s army which then invited a drastic drop in morale when those dragons died. Thenardier flaunting the medal in front of the lords had happened right before they suffered the surprise attack, too. The soldiers might have been negligent, but Tigre assessed that it might be unfair of the side employing the dragons to blame the men for that.

Even so, Tigre held his tongue and locked his anger away deep in his heart. He knew that he’d only trouble Mila if he were to butt in here.

“Either way, it means the Brunian army won’t be able to join up with our army, correct?” Mila confirmed to make sure.

“I’m terribly sorry,” Zion voiced an apology, but probably because he wasn’t used to apologizing, it sounded like hypocritical courtesy.

However, Mila didn’t blame him for his attitude as she managed to hear everything she wanted to hear.

“I understand. I believe it can’t be helped under these circumstances. The main force of Olmutz’s army should be around two to three days east from here. It would take an infantryman three days and a cavalryman two days, but I think a flying dragon should be able to cover the distance much faster.”

“Indeed. Above all, it’s a big boon that you can fly in a straight line without anyone getting in the way. You have my gratitude for telling me.”

“Lord Zion, if you like, I can write up a few lines for you?” Mila offered with a smile, acting as if she had just thought of this option. “The man leading the main force is called Wolodja, and since he knows my handwriting, I think it will allow for your talk with him to proceed more smoothly.”

“That would be very appreciated. Could I please ask you for that favor?”

“Of course. Please give me a moment then.”


————– End of Part 2 ————–


Mila called Galyinin over and ordered him to prepare a brush and parchment.

“Also, we should at least provide some wine to Lord Zion.”

Tigre looked full of admiration at Mila who had started to instruct her elderly attendant. She was pretending to do it with his best intentions in mind, but it was clear to anyone that she was exploiting him as a messenger boy.

When Mila left together with Galyinin, only Tigre and Zion remained behind.

“Come to think of it, Vorn,” Zion addressed Tigre, probably feeling bored, “do you actually intend to join up with the main force?”

“Quite so. Lady Vanadis has been wishing for that as well, saying she intends to carry out her duty as our ally.”

“No, you and your people come with me. You’re most likely just a burden to Lady Vanadis,” Zion sneered after shifting his eyes away from Tigre towards his men. “All of them are wounded, aren’t they? What sort of use could these men have anyway? Stop being such a disgrace even outside of Brune.”

While exerting himself to put on an expression as calm as possible, Tigre casually put his left hand behind his back and suppressed his raging emotions by tightly clenching it.

――Come with you? Hah! You’re planning to dump us halfway anyway, aren’t you!?

It was impossible for injured infantrymen to keep up with the flying dragon mounted by Zion.

“I appreciate your kind consideration, but Lord Zion, you must hurry with your task. Please do not pay any attention to us.”

At that point, Galyinin came back, carrying a silver cup filled with wine.

“Forgive us for being so discourteous, but as you can see, we are currently marching, so this is the most we can provide you,” Galyinin held out the cup to Zion while conducting himself like the perfect role model of a male servant.

Zion was just about to respond to Tigre, but having the wind taken out of his sails, he limited himself to accepting the cup. Before long Mila came back with the parchment, now rolled up and tied with a leather string, and handed it to Zion.

“I am well aware that I am adding to your troubles with this, but please be as kind as taking this with you. I shall pray to the gods of Zhcted for your safe travel, Lord Zion.”

“The honor is on my side. I feel obliged to receive your gratitude. By the way, Lady Vanadis, I heard that you plan to join up with Brune’s army.”

“Indeed. Is something the matter…?” Mila tilted her head in confusion upon Zion’s remark.

Zion suggested to Mila that he’d take over Tigre and his men.

“I have also heard about the friendship between Alsace and Olmutz, but that man over there can’t use a sword or spear. Or to be blunt, he is a burden. Acting together with him and his men will likely make things difficult for you in one way or another.”

“Thank you kindly for your worries, Lord Zion,” Mila nodded at him with a sweet smile. “But, it seems like you are misunderstanding something. Lord Tigrevurmud and his men repelled an enemy force numbering twice their soldiers. It would be preposterous to call them a burden.”

Zion blinked his eyes in surprise at that. Fumbling for words, he objected, “N-No way. It’s unthinkable that this man would be capable…”

“We currently have two horses as spoils of that feat with us. Do you wish to see them?”

Zion became flustered and looked back and forth between Tigre and Mila with his face pale. If he refuted strongly at this point, he’d hurt the honor of a Vanadis. And of course he couldn’t afford to risk anything like that.

“Then allow me to excuse myself at this point. I shall pray to the gods of Brune for your fortune in war.”

Zion bowed exaggeratedly at Mila, before quickly climbing on the back of his dragon. As soon as he tugged on the reins, the dragon’s body trembled as the beast powerfully flapped its wings. A cloud of sand and dirt was whirled up as the wings caused strong gusts of wind. The dragon powerfully kicked off the ground, taking to the sky. It kept flying away, turning into a black shadow against the ever-darkening sky while becoming smaller and smaller.

“He’s finally gone. What a pain…” Mila spat out with a sigh while stabbing the butt end of her spear into the ground.

With a face making clear that she was still not over this whole ordeal, she called over Galyinin and told him, who had rushed over at once, “We’re going to move. I’d like to move three belsta northwest before the sun goes down completely. Make them hurry.”

Hearing her instruction, Tigre summoned Raphinaque and informed him of their departure.

“What did that nasty rich brat talk about?”

Tigre summarized the conversation between Mila and Zion. Hearing him, Raphinaque titled his head to the side, “Brune’s army is southwest, isn’t it? Why would we head northwest?”

“It’s unthinkable that the Muozinel wouldn’t have noticed such a huge dragon flying off if any of their troops were nearby. Don’t you think they’d be curious to find out why it had descended over here?”

“…Ah, so that’s how it is…”

Comprehension filled Raphinaque’s face. The Muozinel might suspect a detached unit of Brune’s army. Moreover, a flying dragon, a foe they ought to be cautious of, flew off from here. So, it was feasible for them to assume that a scout unit was hiding here at the very least. This was also the reason why Mila felt angry.

“We moved in a zig-zag to avoid the Muozinel army, and now we must take an even bigger detour. Why couldn’t that dumb idiot think of at least that much with his peanut brain?”

“He probably thought that he was at the right place after spotting Zhcted flags from up in the sky. Or he might have simply tried to ask for the location of Zhcted’s main force, but either way, it’s a bother.”

Both had the Vorn soldiers gather. Soon Olmutz’s soldiers assembled as well. Mila curtly explained the circumstances, declaring, “Lord Tigrevurmud hates Lord Zion as well. So you don’t need to hold back on him just because he’s a Brunian.”

The men roared in laughter. Then they kept heading northwest for a quarter koku, before halting their march near a large forest. Since they found a lake after walking a bit into the forest, they decided to pitch camp over here.



At night, Tigre and Mila talked about the dragons that got killed while resting inside the commander’s tent.

“Zion said that it was done by Muozinel’s army, but what is your take on it?” Tigre asked.

Mila cast a fleeting glance at the spear that was leaning against the tent’s wall. Being illuminated by the lamp’s light, Lavias was releasing a calm but cold gleam.

“I think it’s impossible for the Muozinel to have obtained a method to hurt dragons during the few days since we crossed the border. And even if we assume they actually managed to pull it off, their method was weird.”

“Their method?”

“Tigre, try to consider it from the Muozinel army’s point of view. If you had obtained a weapon to behead dragons with a single stroke, how would you use it? Would you go out of your way to launch a surprise attack?”

“…Ah, that’s what you mean,” Tigre sighed while comprehending from Mila’s way of asking. “The most effective method would be to flaunt my power on the battlefield during broad daylight. Since Duke Thenardier would have the soldiers fall back and leave the attack to the earth dragon, I’d just need to defeat it then and there. Witnessing that with their own eyes would also plunge all of the Brunian soldiers into chaos.”

“That’s how it is. Even if they planned to launch their attack before the Brunian army joined up with ours, the necessity to challenge the dragons to a fight while braving the danger of bad visibility during dawn was low at best. Besides, it’s weird that they didn’t announce it loudly when they killed the dragons.”

Tigre folded his arms, groaning. Each and every part of Mila’s explanation was reasonable.

“Okay, I get that it hadn’t been Muozinel’s army who killed the dragons. But, who did it instead then?”

He couldn’t imagine it at all. He wondered just who could have lopped off the head of a dragon who calmly took on the charge by a war elephant without a single injury, and how they managed to cut it off. In the past, Tigre had encountered a dragon in the Vosges Mountains. He managed to defeat it after a battle to the death. But he was able to barely achieve victory by using the terrain to his advantage. Moreover, his own powers weren’t enough to actually injure the dragon.

Mila looked straight into Tigre’s eyes. Her blue eyes were trembling, as if she was hesitating and lost. Going by her look, Tigre guessed that she might have a clue, and thus he assertively nodded at her with a serious expression. No matter how crazy the story she’d tell him, he was ready to take it on. This was the message he sent to her through his eyes.

Mila tightened her expression and picked up Lavias.

“Tigre, listen as this is a serious talk and not some silly joke. As far as I know, only two beings are able to kill dragons in such a manner. One would be us Vanadis. But, I think that’s very unlikely in this case.”

Even if some Vanadis had schemed for this expedition to fail, it’d still lack an adequate explanation as to how she’d known about the dragons’ existence and why she’d just kill the dragons. It was possible that she had secretly colluded with Muozinel, but that sort of action would be far too dangerous.

“Alright. Assuming it’s not a Vanadis, what would be the other being?”

“The other would be a demon.”

“A demon…?”

With the mention of a term he hadn’t expected, Tigre reflexively furrowed his eyebrows. Demons, monsters, apparitions – all of those were beings appearing only in myths and fairy-tales. Even Tigre had spotted eerie figures in the mountains he had entered for hunting. He had also heard things he shouldn’t have heard and saw things he shouldn’t have seen. But, despite that, he didn’t believe in the existence of demons.

Tigre immediately reconsidered and slapped his own cheeks so as to remonstrate himself.

“Did you ever see what you, umm, call a demon?” He asked carefully.

Mila shook her head, “I haven’t. But, Mother said that she did. You know that her left arm is impaired, right?”

Tigre nodded, just to feel bewildered. Lana’s left arm had been impaired ever since he met her for the first time three years ago. When riding a horse, she’d grasp the reins with just her right arm while the left arm would feebly dangle down. Tigre had been curious about it since he saw it for the first time, but thinking that he shouldn’t ask her about it just out of curiosity, he made sure to not touch on that topic.

Why is she bringing up that story now?

“According to her, she fought a demon back when she was a Vanadis, got injured, and lost the ability to move her arm.”

Silence spread inside the tent. Tigre hummed with his arm folded. He didn’t think that Mila would lie to him. But, he’d need some time to accept what she told him just now as truth.

“A demon, huh?”

He tried to voice it out. Mila reacted by jumping with a start. Her expression was dyed with anxiety. Seeing that, Tigre made up his mind.

“I never saw a demon myself, but… I’ll believe you. About demons and the matter with Lady Lana.”

Mila stared at him with a dumbstruck expression. Eventually, she asked with a voice that lacked confidence which was quite unlike her, “Are you sure? To say that you’re going to believe me so easily.”

“I thought about it in my own way, too. No matter how you spin it, it’d be impossible for a human to lop off the heads of those dragons. Moreover, if Zion’s story is true, it happened in the midst of a chaotic battlefield. Accepting that it was done by a demon makes more sense here.”

“…I guess I could call this being typical for you.” Mila smiled wryly as if feeling half relieved and half flabbergasted. Shortly thereafter, she muttered, “Thanks.”

Tigre replied with a smile, but immediately became serious again.

“You said that Vanadis are capable of such a feat…”

“I think it’d be more accurate to say that Lavias is capable of it,” Mila laughed while lovingly caressing Lavias’s spearhead. “This is something I heard from my mother, but Viralts owned by Vanadis can easily cut through draconic scales. I never fought a dragon myself, but I think it’s true. After all, iron armor is like butter in front of a Viralt.”

“…Just who had been the founding king of Zhcted to have possessed several of such fearsome weapons?”

“He might have truly been the incarnation of the Black Dragon,” Mila giggled, luring Tigre into laughter.

“But, if we assume the dragons had been attacked by a demon…why would they have done such a thing?”

“I doubt there’s much meaning in pondering about it. We don’t know that demon at all,” Mila shook her head.

Tigre agreed with her statement. They simply lacked any material to use for thinking. So even if they speculated about various possibilities, all would be for naught anyway.

“What was the goal of the demon who attacked Lady Lana?”

“Mother said that it was intending to kill a Vanadis,” Mila answered nonchalantly, but what she said included something Tigre couldn’t ignore.

“Did Lady Lana defeat the demon?”

“She regretfully told me that it managed to get away,” Mila responded with a shrug of her shoulders and a somewhat apathetic laughter. “Since it happened back when my mother was still a Vanadis, it’s a story from more than three years ago. Just as I told you earlier, I haven’t seen anything that could be described as demon so far, and I never heard Sofya or any other Vanadis mention anything in that regard.”

That demon very likely died, Tigre assessed and fixed his seating posture. Seeing him act like that, a faint smile formed on Mila’s face.


————– End of Part 3 ————–


A line of white light split the eastern horizon apart into dark ground and dim sky. Mila rose her body inside the tent around a time when dawn would break any time soon. Holding a cloth for drying her body in her left hand and Lavias in her right, she quietly slipped out of the tent, just to immediately jog inside the still dark forest while lowering her body so as to not be seen by the watchmen.

Soon she arrived at the shores of a lake. Its surface was calm, a chilly fog hanging above the water. Mila quietly placed the spear and cloth on the ground, and started to take off her clothes. In no time she was stark naked. Her arms and legs were tight and lean while her chest and hips drew womanly curves. It was a well-fleshed and yet balanced, beautiful body.

She stabbed through the water’s surface with a toe. A pleasant coldness was transmitted from the lake at dawn. She slowly submerged her body in the water, before fully diving underwater, just to surface soon after.

――How nice.

While immersing in a feeling of liberation, she quietly swam through the lake so as to not make any sound. Because she’d been thoroughly trained in swimming by her mother, it had become one of her strong points. But, it was only recent that she had also started to enjoy it. Or to be more precise, it started after she swam together with Tigre.

Tigre and her had often competed over who could swim the fastest or who could dive the deepest.

Raising her body, Mila gently joined her hands together. Water shot out through the gap between both palms. In the past, Tigre had frequently splashed water at her using this method. Her lips naturally loosened into a faint smile.

Tigre had taught her all sorts of other games, too.

Once she got satisfied from swimming around for some time, Mila began to rub her arms and belly. She hadn’t taken a bath ever since entering Muozinel territory while leading her soldiers. At the most, she had wiped her body with a wet cloth.

For this reason, she had felt truly embarrassed when she got hugged by Tigre.

――Tigre sure has changed a lot. He’s grown taller and burlier. His skill in archery has become even more refined. None of Olmutz’s soldiers, not to mention myself, can kill a commanding officer with one arrow by shooting it above a group of soldiers. He’s personally heading out on reconnaissance, and he’s also handling his own soldiers quite skillfully. Besides, for him to have become so proactive…

‘Two years ago, we had hugged each other as well, but he’s never hugged me so powerfully. I wonder what would have happened if I had allowed him to steal my lips then and there.

Once she imagined it, her face started to heat up. Mila scooped up some water and washed her face many times over. After bringing her long hair to the front, she diligently removed the dirt by combing through the strands with her fingers. She had let it grow out because she wanted to make him happy.

――And yet he immediately turned bright red whenever he got teased by a woman in the beginning of our acquaintance.

Changing her position inside the water, Mila rubbed her thighs and massaged her legs. But, when Mila returned to the shore after finishing her bath, she suddenly stopped moving. She carefully searched for presences while breathing in and out shallowly.

Something was in the vicinity.

As soon as Mila picked up Lavias, she kicked off the ground. In no time she was pointing Lavias’s spearhead towards the shade of the nearby trees. Apparently not having expected to be noticed, the one hidden over there fell on their backside out of surprise.

Mila looked down on that man, and hissed at him with a cold, angry voice, “What are you up to?”

“I just thought that I might as well hunt for a bit while I still have some time…” Tigre scratched his head with an awkward expression while standing back up.

Given that he was holding a bow in his left hand and had a quiver hanging at his waist, Mila judged that he wasn’t lying to her. She thrust her spear before him with a bold attitude, not even trying to hide her nude body.

Tigre couldn’t peel his eyes off her wet, captivating body. He unintentionally swallowed hard when he saw a single drop of water travel down from her voluptuous chest to her smooth abdomen. Her blue hair was clinging to her body and the mysterious patterns it depicted while doing so only spurred his horniness.

“Reflect a bit, will you?”

Mila brought the tip of her spear close to Tigre’s right eye. In response, he quickly shut both his eyes.

Mila finally lowered her weapon and sighed, “Since when?”

“Just a little while ago. When I came here to draw some water, I heard splashing. I thought it was an animal…”

“And then you kept peeping, eh?”

Tigre didn’t answer. And in this case, his silence was confirmation enough.

“I guess it’ll be bad if I don’t punish you properly. I guess I’ll lop off a part of your body.”



Mila poked Tigre’s abdomen with the tip of Lavias, causing Tigre to frantically mount a defense.

“It is only natural for you to be angry. And I do feel sorry about it. But, when I started feeling like wanting to burn your figure into my memory at any cost, I couldn’t think of anything else anymore.”

“Oh, so is it alright for me to take these as your final words?”

At the same time as she finished her question, Mila nimbly rotated Lavias inside her hand. The spear’s butt end added a tiny amount of centrifugal force as it slammed into Tigre’s balls. The youth went down to his knees in silence.

While frostily staring down at Tigre, Mila apologized, “Forgive me, Lavias.”

Afterwards, she drove her mud-caked foot into Tigre’s back.

“Come on, hurry and stand up. And also, don’t look behind you.”

After being kicked several times, Tigre finally raised his body while pigeon-toed, and turned his back on her.

“I thought I’d be told to scurry back to the camp…” Tigre said while getting his breathing in order.

Mila put her spear down and swiftly washed the mud clinging to her body off while curtly answering, “I intended to do just that. But, you’ve got good eyes, don’t you? You can tell a person’s face apart over a distance of 300 alsin, can’t you? So there would be nothing stopping you from peeping at a distance.”

The coldness seeping out of her voice was more than enough to make Tigre shut up.

Mila dried her body and put on her clothes. She was just about to open her mouth to give Tigre another sermon, but she swallowed her words. Because she’d heard a small splash. At the same time, a gaze brimming with fierce malice was sent her way from the sound’s direction, piercing through Mila’s spine.

The Vanadis reflexively readied her spear while whirling around in the direction of the stare. This look didn’t belong to one of Vorn or Olmutz’s soldiers. Noticing that stare as well, Tigre also turned around while tightly clasping his black bow.

A girl was floating in the center of the lake with only her upper body down to the chest protruding out of the water. Because her long, golden hair clung to her face as if to cover it, her expression remained unclear. But, once she met eyes with Tigre and Mila, the girl lifted the corners of her mouth into an eerie smile.

Tigre stared at her with a stunned expression.

――That girl is…

She was the beauty he’d met after Zion had shown him the dragons at Brune’s camp in Eleşkirt. The choking feeling of oppression was just the same as back then. His heartbeat sped up out of fear. His body stiffened up while he poured more strength into the hand that was grasping the black bow.

While clenching his teeth, Tigre started to draw an arrow out of his quiver.

“――Lavias is warning us.”

White, frosty air was overflowing from the spear’s tip.

“Tigre, do you remember the story about my mother having fought a demon?” Mila’s voice was pregnant with tension.

“No way…are you telling me that she’s a demon…?”

Even though he hurled such a question at Mila, he had already agreed with her in his mind. The abnormal aura exuded by that blonde girl was impossible for a human. It was more than appropriate to call her a demon.

“――As might be expected, it proves impossible to trick a Vanadis,” the girl said with a laugh.

Ripples formed on the lake’s surface with the girl in their center. Her long hair undulated.

“I had only intended to get rid of those annoying dragons, but…just when I thought I’d smelled the stench of a flying dragon, I found something unexpected instead. Nice to meet you, Spear Vanadis. Where is the other one?”

Mila furrowed her eyebrows, “What do you mean? Are you saying that another Vanadis besides me is present here?”

“…I suppose I misread it. Though I did sense two presences.”

Mila directly confronted the girl who was tilting her head in obvious confusion, “Let me ask you while I still can, is your name Zmej?”

Zmej was the name of a monster which appeared in Zhcted’s folklore and fairy-tales. It took the shape of a dragon, tormented people, and was commonly subjugated by famous heroes or knights.

The eyes of the girl, as visible through her hair, immediately shone with a hateful gleam.

“Could you please not lump Rusalka together with something like that?”

Tigre knitted his eyebrows. Rusalka was the name of yet another monster which cropped up in a fairy-tale he’d heard in Zhcted.

――Does that mean she jumped straight out of the story then?

The demon, who had introduced herself as Rusalka, headed their way at a terrifying speed. Water was pushed away loudly thanks to the force, and waves of water sprays were scattered in her wake and in front of her.

Tigre swiftly nocked his arrow, and shot it. His aim was spot on, but the waves and wind caused by Rusalka easily blew the arrow away.

“Tigre, fall back!”

Mila awaited Rusalka at the shore. A moment later, her feet sank into the ground. Without either of them noticing, the area at her feet had transformed into a quagmire containing plenty of water.

The corners of Rusalka’s mouth ominously twisted upwards, exhibiting her scorn.

“What a boring move,” Mila ridiculed as cold air started to gush out of Lavias’s tip.

The ground around her froze in the blink of an eye. And Mila immediately regained her freedom by pulling her feet out of the frozen ground.

Readying Lavias in both hands, she fixed her eyes upon Rusalka.

“――Come. I, the Snow Princess of Frozen RipplesMichelia, will freeze you down to your very core.”

“How gallant. But, it looks like you don’t understand why I showed myself in front of you.”

Rusalka vigorously raised both arms while approaching Mila. And as if to match her arms’ movements, the lake’s surface rose sharply, turning into a huge wave.

“It’s because you seem to be weak.”

The big wave drew an absurd curve, before falling upon Mila and Tigre.

“――Silent worldEisberg!” Mila muttered solemnly while staring at the wave and planting Lavias vertically.

A huge amount of cold air was released from the spear, traveled across the air, and instantly turned the wave into a block of ice. Fine fragments the size of nails crumbled down from it.

Meanwhile, Tigre stood stock still in shock while still about to nock a new arrow on his bow. He’d known about Mila’s spear having the power to manipulate cold air, but it was his first time to witness it at such a huge, mighty scope.

――No, it’s wrong for me to stand around here while merely watching in fascination. I have to help her as much as I can.

Tigre calmed his breathing and strained his ears while staring at the crooked wall of ice. He highly doubted that Rusalka had withdrawn just because her wave was frozen. It was more than probable for her to assault them from somewhere.

His ears, honed during his hunts in the mountains back home, picked up the faint noise of something sliding across the ice while cutting through the wind. Tigre shifted his eyes to right above while drawing the bow’s string to the limit. An instant later, Rusalka appeared by jumping over the wave.

Tigre released his arrow without any hesitation. The arrow squarely hit Rusalka’s face without missing its aim and pierced through it just like that. Not only Tigre, but even Mila widened her eyes upon witnessing that spectacle.

“There’s no way an ordinary arrow would work on me, you silly fool.”


—————- End of Part 4 —————-


Using the momentum of her fall, Rusalka leaped down upon Mila, a scornful comment on her lips. Meanwhile, Mila lowered her waist, adopting a counter-ready stance.

Rusalka raised her right arm. It transformed into a winding water torrent from the shoulder up with her hand turning into a thin, sharp, water blade. At once, Rusalka swung down that blade while using an irregular trajectory.

Dodging the slash by twisting her body, Mila thrust out her spear as a counter. Lavias’s spearhead extended in an instant.

A metallic screech tore through the atmosphere. Blood splattered out of Mila’s right shoulder. She staggered violently, tottering a few steps forward. Her right arm was frozen from the shoulder all the way to her hand.

“You’re better than your outward appearance gives away. I thought this would be enough to chop through that skinny neck of yours.”

“Next I’m going to riddle your ugly mug with holes,” Mila hissed in response while wiping the blood off her cheek.

Rusalka shrugged her shoulders, and lightly tapped her right shoulder with her left hand. This caused her right arm to fall off, dropping to the ground. A huge amount of water gushed out of the open wound on Rusalka’s shoulder as Mila and Tigre stared at all of this in mute amazement. This water stream quickly turned into a long, narrow water jet, just to transform into an arm in the next instant.

“A shame, isn’t it?” Rusalka sneered with a triumphant smile when she saw how Mila couldn’t hide her shock.

“What a skillful imitation…”

Squeezing this reply out was the most Mila could do while forcing her lips into a smile. In the meantime, Rusalka crouched down and pressed both hands against the ground. Her surroundings turned into a muddy pool of water. Immediately following, all color left her body and she turned into a cluster of water with the contours of a human, before melting into the water pool and disappearing.

Tigre gasped. The demon had concealed itself inside the water, and he suspected that she’d be able to freely move around underground since the soil had absorbed plenty of moisture.

“――Silent worldEisberg!”

Glaring at the ground ahead of her, Mila used Lavias’s power once more. The soil rapidly froze radially with Mila in the center. The coldness creeping across the ground sensed the slightest changes and passed that information on to Mila through Lavias.

Mila hadn’t just blocked Rusalka’s movement, but now she would be able to react immediately, regardless of where Rusalka would be attacking from.

Silence fell upon the area. Mila focused her attention in a bid to not miss the slightest stir of the demon, remaining completely still herself. A period of five breaths passed. Then another ten breaths.


Suddenly Tigre kicked off the ground and jumped at Mila. Since she was concentrating on the ground, Mila couldn’t react right away. Tigre rolled across the ground while hugging her. At the same time, cracks ran across the wave of ice towering like a wall at the lakeshore. A hole was drilled from inside the wave, which was immediately followed by water gushing out of there like a waterfall.

Before Mila could, Tigre had noticed that they needed to pay attention to places other than the ground.

The water, which had rushed out of the hole, changed into a spear-like pointed end and penetrated the ground where Mila had stood just moments ago.

“Oh my, too bad.”

While the water bounced off the ground, it took the shape of a human, grew out long, blond hair, and ultimately turned into Rusalka. Mila’s face flushed crimson in rage while being hugged by Tigre.

“So she had already left the ground at that point…”

After melting with the water, Rusalka had very likely used the ground to move to the lake. And then she had launched a surprise attack on Mila by drilling a hole into the ice wall.

“Next…let’s see…oh right, how about this?”

No sooner than finishing to speak, the ice wall itself was shattered to pieces. The water manipulated by Rusalka had eroded the block of ice from within. Countless ice splinters rained down on Tigre and Mila.

Mila yelled full of spirit, mowing away the downpour of ice fragments with Lavias. But even then, she wasn’t able to get rid of all of them. Several smaller cuts and wounds opened up on Tigre and Mila’s bodies.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the ground beneath the two bulged.

Once they looked downwards, they found thick snakes made out of nothing but water coiling themselves around their ankles, meaning, the ice fragments were no more than a decoy.

Although they tried to resist, the water snakes had a powerful grip and they weren’t anything you could simply grab hold of either. The two lost their balance and tumbled down, being dragged towards the lake.

Mila swept her spear sideways, blowing away the water snake wrapped around Tigre’s ankles. Having regained his freedom, Tigre immediately got back up, but Mila ended up being pulled inside the lake in the meantime. Still mud-caked, Tigre hurriedly ran up to the lakeside.


Even though he strained his eyes, he couldn’t spot Mila anywhere. He became horrified. Looking at Rusalka’s way of fighting, inside water pretty evidently qualified as an ideal battleground for her.

Tigre wavered, but that lasted but a moment. He quickly tied his black bow to his waist belt. He always handled it like that whenever he needed to use his hands while hunting. Next he breathed in deeply and leaped into the lake.

Now that his archery was of no use, he was nor more than a liability. And inside the water, where his movements would slow down on top of that, he could possibly become even more of a burden for Mila.

――If there’s nothing I can do with my current skills, I’ll find something else.

Tigre dove straight through the water while pushing aside the water with both his hands. He had often swam in lakes and rivers back home, so he was confident in his swimming and diving abilities.

Just as he wondered how deep he might have dove, Tigre sensed the existence of a clearly abnormal current.

――Mila and Rusalka are nearby.

Breaking through the lake’s surface once, he caught a breath. He considered calling out to Mila loudly, but taking into account Rusalka’s presence, he gave up on the idea. Tigre dove underwater once more. After advancing for a bit, he was suddenly drawn into a current. The water’s draft was mighty, making resistance futile.

――No wait, I’m going to use this current to my advantage.

While paying attention so as to not let go of the air in his lungs, he entrusted his body to the current. He understood that panicking or getting agitated would make things dangerous. He couldn’t risk disgracing himself by suffering from severe suffocation when he arrived at Mila’s location.

Before long, something akin to a figure came into sight ahead of him. Tigre strained his eyes. Only when he saw the figure releasing a blue glow knew that he’d found Mila.

“――Freeze the heavensCielo Zam Kaphar!”

In spite of being underwater, Mila’s yell definitely reached Tigre. In the next instant, an enormous amount of coldness detonated within the water. It created a new current. Tigre was dragged into its winding path and got washed away, unable to defy its pull. All while being whirled around like a lone, feeble leaf.

The water was stabbingly freezing. Almost as if winter had made a comeback. Although he felt how he got choked as the current trifled with him, Tigre solely focused on enduring this ordeal. Then he could see a landmark out of the corner of his eyes――Lavias released a powerful glow in Mila’s hands. Tigre felt like he’d lose sight of that glow if he were to surface now.

As soon as the current eased on its pull, Tigre pushed his way through the water once more. Soon arriving at Mila’s location. She was tightly grasping her beloved spear, but she seemed unconscious.

Tigre took her into his arms and hurriedly swam towards the surface. As soon as his face broke through the surface, he refilled his lungs with fresh air.

――That was dangerous…

He shifted his eyes to Mila. She was hanging limply in his arms. Her lips were white and she appeared to have lost all her vitality. He called out to her several times, but received no reply.

――Has she almost drowned?

Surveying the surroundings, he spotted the lakeshore, covered by trees and thicket, in the distance. He held her in his left arm while frantically moving his feet and right arm to get on shore while about to lose strength due to all the exhaustion.

Many times was he assailed by the nightmarish imagination of getting dragged underwater by Rusalka, but nothing of that sort happened. Both safely reached the shore, and after pushing Mila halfway up on the beach, he crawled out of the water himself, before pulling Mila out completely.

“…What about her?”

A hoarse voice reached Tigre’s ears. Mila had regained consciousness, causing Tigre to be engulfed by a sense of relief.

“Probably…ran away…”

Him not being able to sense her terrifying presence, let alone them receiving any attacks, probably meant just that, Tigre assumed. His body felt sluggish from all the fatigue and water he took in against his will. He sensed a dire urge to flop down right and here and now, but Tigre clenched his teeth, picked up Mila and distanced himself a dozen steps from the lake.

After having propped up Mila by the shoulder, he put her on the ground. Her shoulder wound wasn’t that deep. Besides that, her injuries were limited to several smaller cuts and gashes.

“That’s great…”

Tigre vacantly stared out on the lake once he recovered his composure. The battle he had experienced a little while ago made him actually doubt whether this was all part of reality. Of course, the answer to this was pretty clear. Both were dripping wet, and Mila and him were wounded.

――Rusalka, was it? She referred to Mila as Vanadis. She apparently also knew about the demon called Zam by Mila. Thinking back on how she’s called the dragons annoying, she was probably the one who killed Thenardier’s dragons. It should have been easy with her powers.

After having calmed down for a bit, Tigre let his eyes wander across the vicinity. And groaned lightly.

“Where are we here…?”

They had apparently distanced themselves quite a bit from the camp after getting washed away by Rusalka. He suspected that Raphinaque and Galyinin had most likely noticed their absence by now.

‘We have to get back at once.

But, right after standing up, Tigre reconsidered. His body felt much heavier than he’d expected.

“I guess starting a fire comes first…”

Even if he were to force himself to move, it was plain as day that he’d run out of strength in no time. Besides, he didn’t know which direction to take in order to get back to their camp. He thought they should at least let their wet clothes dry, rest up while heating their bodies at a fire, and get back as much strength as possible.

Tigre staggered up to a nearby tree. He drew the dagger at his waist while considering himself lucky that it hadn’t been stolen by the intense currents. Using that dagger, he cut off some bark and picked up a few twigs of moderate size and thickness.

――It’s a blessing that I’d entered the forest with the intention to hunt.

Tigre went back to Mila and started a fire.

“If we can get the soldiers to notice the smoke… No, it’ll be a problem if that leads to them walking close to the lake.”

Looking up to the sky, he noticed that a blanket of gray clouds had formed above them at some point. When he turned his attention back to the forest and its trees, it was dimmer than yesterday, and visibility had worsened too. It was his first time to witness such a weather ever since he entered Muozinel’s territory.

――It doesn’t seem like it’s going to rain anytime soon, but…

If it was Alsace, his homeland, or Olmutz, where he’d spent a year, Tigre could mostly guess the weather from the size and spread of the clouds. But, the same didn’t really work over here.

At that moment, Mila got up. Tigre supported her by placing a hand on her back.

“Are you okay?”

“Thanks to you…,” Mila’s voice was feeble.

Seeing Tigre’s face being full of worry, she smiled at him.

“I’m somewhat tired, but otherwise alright. Lavias protected me after all.”

At the same time of finishing her words, she sneezed and her body started to tremble lightly. She pulled on the hem of her wet clothes, just to bashfully look downwards.

“Umm, could I have you turn around for a moment?”

Tigre felt hesitant to let Mila out of his eyes at present, but he quickly reassessed and nodded his approval. Clasping his bow, he turned his back on her.

“I’ll take care of watching the vicinity, so please rest up, Mila.”

“Thanks,” answered Mila with a shy smile, grateful for his consideration.

Just for caution’s sake, she looked left and right to make sure that no other person was present, before taking off her outer garment and skirt and thus leaving her in only underwear. She squatted down and spread her clothes on the ground in an attempt to let them dry as quickly as possible. However, although this was all she did, Mila lost her balance and fell on her backside.

Tigre looked behind because of that noise and then quickly propped up Mila who was sitting there in a daze.

“Just now I simply stumbled a bit…”

She interrupted her words halfway, silently closed her eyes, and entrusted her weight to Tigre’s arm. With his face becoming ghastly pale, Tigre immediately checked her breathing. Once he knew that she was merely sleeping, he breathed out in relief.

Touching her like this, he could easily tell that her body had become completely undercooled. He hadn’t noticed this because of his own exhaustion in addition to their contact happening across wet clothes.

――That’s only natural, isn’t it? She stayed for such a long time underwater. Moreover, she had been attacked by that demon. I should ignore her bluffing.

“I’m going to take them off.”

He knew that she was asleep, but he still notified her before placing a hand on her underwear. After carefully removing them so as to not tear it apart, he gently put her to rest on the ground.

Afterwards, Tigre took off his own clothes, too. He had no blankets of overcoats with him, and just an open fire was a bit unreliable. As such, he couldn’t think of any other method to warm up Mila other than his own body heat.

Looking down at his own body, Tigre sighed lightly. Because he’d seen Mila’s nude body, he felt like horniness had accumulated in his lower half, causing his dick to react.

――Although it’s nothing I can handle with just my own will…no, I’ll postpone it for now. Now’s not the time to dawdle around.

Tigre knelt down next to Mila and hugged her. The cold sensation of her body made him shiver reflexively. He pulled Mila’s body to himself with his right arm as if to press her against himself. His left hand he used to rub her arms and thighs.

“If possible, I’d have preferred this to happen under other circumstances with both of us being conscious. Damn it.”

He sighed while looking up to the sky. Then he smiles. The leeway to at least crack some jokes had finally returned to him. All he had to do now was to pray to the gods so that Mila would recover.


————– End of Part 5 ————–


Suddenly his ears picked up the rustling of bushes. Startled, Tigre lifted his face. Apparently he’d fallen asleep at some point.

He extended a hand for his black bow and was about to raise his body, but then felt something being out of place.


Although he had been hugging her before he fell asleep, she was now gone. He immediately went pale. After quickly putting on his clothes, he drew his dagger with his right hand while holding his bow in the left. His arrows ended up being washed away, but he’d be able to use his bow’s shaft as makeshift-club.

Once again, he could hear rustling from in-between the trees. Tigre reflexively readied his dagger. But, the one appearing moments later was the person Tigre sought after.

“Did you wake up?”

Mila walked over his hand with Lavias in her right hand and a dead bird in her left. Currently she was just in underwear, but her gait looked confident.

“I was worried about where you’d gone to.”

Once he ran up to her, Mila glared at Tigre, unable to hide her displeasure.

“I had a dream.”

Tigre was confused by those sudden words.

“What sort of dream? It sounds like it wasn’t anything decent.”

“Indeed. It was a dream about you being surrounded by man women while lewdly ogling them.”

Mila pinched Tigre’s nose and lightly twisted it, causing Tigre to become confused.



Because the sky was covered by a blanket of clouds, they couldn’t determine the sun’s current position. But Mila claimed that it was most likely around noon right now, which meant that Tigre had slept for around two koku.

He tore off a piece of bark from a nearby tree and tossed it into the campfire as its flames had visibly died down. In the meantime, Mila skillfully prepared the bird she had hunted.

“It reminds one of the past, doesn’t it?” Mila commented while plucking the bird’s feathers.

During Tigre’s stay in Olmutz, the two had enjoyed hunting while letting their horses race across the countryside on several occasions.

“How did you take this bird down?” Tigre asked.

Milla glanced at Lavias with a shrug of her shoulders, “I simply waited for the bird to land on the ground and then froze the soil alongside its talons so that it wouldn’t be able to get away. Usually I wouldn’t use Lavias’s power for something like this, but…”

If she had time and the necessary tools, Mila could also hunt game the normal way, Tigre supposed. But right now they weren’t in a situation allowing for such a lax approach. Mila had mentioned that she had woken up around a quarter koku before him. She had carefully slipped out of his embrace so as to not wake him, put on her underwear, and left to search for something edible.

“You were fine with walking?” Tigre asked with a frown while recalling her cold body before falling asleep.

Mila nodded with a smile. She stabbed the bird meat on a small branch after cutting it into pieces with Tigre’s dagger, and grilled it over the fire.

“As might be expected, I can’t say I’m back to normal, but as long as we don’t have to fight against Rusalka again, I’ll cope one way or the other.”

“If possible, I’d like to never see her again, to be honest.”

Those were Tigre’s true feelings.

Demon ― now that he had actually encountered her, he could fully agree with this being the perfect description for her. However, that didn’t stem from his archery not working on her, but him not being able to grasp her true identity.

――That thing called Mila a Vanadis and attacked her for that reason alone. Mila’s mother Lana also fought against a demon. I think its name was Zam.

Tigre felt fear and a headache from that terrifying imagination.

Are demons beings who target Vanadis? If that’s the case, can I, as someone who’s not a Vanadis, just watch when Mila is fighting against demons?

“It’s getting burnt.”

Mila’s remark pulled Tigre back into reality. Without him noticing, the meat had finished roasting. He realized that he had worried quite a bit without being aware of it.

Tigre relaxed his expression as his hunger got triggered by the fragrance and sound of grilled meat.

“I should have taken some salt with me.”

Usually he would always carry some with him when going on a hunt. But, today he had planned to go back after hunting for around a quarter koku, so he didn’t prepare anything like that.

“Even if you had done that, it’d have dissolved inside the water, right?” Mila corrected him with a light laugh.

The two were able to relieve their tension through such nonsensical, trivial banter. Both sank their teeth into the bird meat. The meat had no taste, but their faces broke into a smile nevertheless. They almost swallowed it down right away, but stopped themselves and savored each bite by thoroughly chewing on it.

“Would it be okay for you to tell me what happened after you got dragged inside the lake?” Tigre asked timidly while scraping the last fibers of meat off the bones with his teeth.

He suspected that Mila might not have gone through such a terrible experience if she hadn’t saved him back then.

“You don’t need to worry about it. I took advantage of her attack, used it against her, and got close to her,” replied Mila with a smile while proudly throwing out her chest.

After being dragged underwater, Mila had been pulled all the way towards the bottom of the lake. Tigre assumed it to be very logical for Rusalka to pull her target away from land to kill it for sure. Mila resisted by successively releasing cold air from Lavias. Thereupon, Rusalka shook Mila around inside the water. She apparently intended to steal Lavias while tiring out Mila at the same time. And then, once Mila ceased resisting, Rusalka applied fearsome pressure in a bid to crush Mila for good.

But, Mila had waited for that very moment. She wouldn’t be able to deliver a serious blow to Rusalka, whose body was made out of water, with a simple thrust of her spear. She had to hit her opponent directly with Lavias’s power while her opponent was unable to dodge. Following that train of thought, she unleashed her draconic art.

“Draconic art…?”

“It’s a blow that exhibits the maximum of a viralt’s power. I also used one to freeze her wave,” replied Mila while lovingly stroking Lavias.

“I definitely felt feedback from the blow. But, it was a tie. How should I describe it…being struck by water, or rather…did you ever experience standing under a waterfall?”

Once Tigre nodded, Mila said, “That is what it was like. It was quite amazing. I managed to endure the attack, but I breathed out the last rest of air and even swallowed water… Even though I sensed how she fled, I was in no shape to give chase…”

Mila lifted her face and smiled at Tigre, her face colored with embarrassment and happiness.

“If you hadn’t come for me, I would have drowned just like that. Thanks.”

“It’s really wonderful that I could save you,” Tigre said from the bottom of his heart.

At the same time, he thought that it was good that he’d swum so frantically back then.

“Sensing how she fled means that thing is still alive?”

“Yes, but seeing how she hasn’t launched a counterattack until now, I think she will behave for the present. By the way…i-it’s your turn next, Tigre,” Mila exclaimed while fiddling around with a bird bone and averting her eyes from him.

Not understanding the meaning of her words, Tigre stared at Mila in a daze.

“Umm…I remember how you took off my underwear,” Mila squeezed out with her face being bright red. “Of course, I trust you. But, how to put it…doing something weird…”

From Mila’s point of view, she woke up just to find herself in Tigre’s arms. With both being stark naked. It was only reasonable for her to have all kinds of thoughts about this. Mila’s appearance back when he hugged her vividly revived inside Tigre’s mind.

Right now, Mila was only wearing thin underwear. Its fabric tightly clung to her body, emphasizing her nice body-line and seductiveness. This caused a sexual desire to well up from deep inside his body. Tigre knew that this wasn’t the right time and place for this, but he couldn’t suppress his male instincts. His relief over Mila recovering played a role here, but so did his childish feelings that he didn’t want to separate from her and his frustration that he couldn’t be of any help during her battle against the demon.

Sidling up to Mila, Tigre embraced her from behind. Mila appeared to be surprised, but apparently perceiving something from Tigre’s expression, she didn’t push him away. While rubbing his cheek against hers, he slipped his left hand underneath her underwear. After teasing her smooth skin several times, he touched her abundant chest. Slowly massaging it, he enjoyed the springiness of her breast. He played around by placing his palm underneath and lifting it up from below as if to measure its weight.





“They’ve become big,” he expressed his honest impression.

“Where did you learn that way of touching breasts…?” Mila cast a light glare at him.

Without responding to that, Tigre put more strength into the arm hugging her. Shifting her underwear aside, he exposed one of her big boobs and gently massaged it. He made his fingers crawl across the breast as if to confirm its shape, only boosting his excitement even further. Once he teased the small nipple with his fingers, a moan escaped Mila’s lips.

Tigre swallowed hard and let his right hand glide between her thighs while breathing roughly. For a while now, his lower half had been burning so much that it almost felt painful. While enjoying the smooth feedback from her thighs, Tigre slowly slid his hand towards the root of her legs.

Right now and here it had become quite difficult for him to suppress his desire for Mila. The anticipation that Rusalka wouldn’t attack at present also pushed Tigre’s lust.

Mila’s hand grabbed Tigre’s arm, but her grip was feeble at best. Raither, it seemed as if she was accepting this course of events. Mila leaned her head against Tigre’s shoulder. Her moist eyes entered his visual field, agitating Tigre’s heart and a part of his body even further.

However, just as he was about to push his right hand between her legs, Tigre stopped moving. For an instant, he felt a weird sense of discomfort, as if the airflow had been interrupted. He lifted his face and scanned the vicinity. Then widened his eyes.

Space in front of him was warping. Like a water surface which was swaying as ripples spread across it.

Tigre stared at the mysterious distortion while hugging Mila. And moments later, a girl appeared from within the distortion as if being pushed out of it. She didn’t fall from the sky or grew out of the ground, but jumped out of the warped space. Coupled with her landing on the ground, her long, black hair gently spread out.

Tigre guessed her to be around fourteen or fifteen years old. A strange attire was covering her small body. She wore a thick cloth belt as if to cover her whole abdomen. The sleeves were loose and enveloped her arms from the elbows down to the wrists. Her skirt was normal and seemed to have been made by overlapping multiple pleats. Her slender legs could be seen through the joints. Her feet were covered by sandals that exposed her toes.

However, what stood out far above her strange outfit was the long-handled scythe she was shouldering. That weapon combined deep crimson and jet-black colors, and while it came with elaborate ornaments, it made Tigre sense mystique and ominousness at the same time.

The girl slightly bent her head to the side and fixedly stared at Mila and Tigre with a somewhat astounded look, but then she lifted an arm, hid her mouth with a sleeve, and muttered, “Oh my.”

Reacting to that, Mila looked in the girl’s direction after having completely yielded herself to her sweetheart’s caressing just now. The girl quickly lowered her head.

“Please forgive me, dear sister. I did not expect to find you in the middle of something.”


An inarticulate voice left Mila’s mouth after she recognized the other party.

“Y-Y-You’re misunderstanding! I cannot quite explain what’s going on, but anyway! You’re wrong!” Mila appealed frantically, her face blushing.

She wrenched herself out of Tigre’s embrace with superhuman strength, and started to flap about like a fish that struggled vainly after having been washed up on land. While hiding her right breast with tears dyeing her eyes, she looked up to the girl called Militsa.

“Please do not fret, dear sister. I am a person who knows the meaning of gratitude, so I do not intend to make public how my older sister behaved like a horny monkey inside the forest of a foreign country of all things.”

No matter how you looked at it, that was no line indicating that she planned to stay quiet about it. While panting heavily, Mila gazed at the black-haired girl, trying to read her intentions.

Militsa said with a fact that lacked any sort of malice, “I shall report to Big Sister Tina without leaving out a single detail.”

“That is no different from going public with it!”

“I was joking. I will make sure to not mention any of this to Sister Tina either. It is always best to have a hold on the weaknesses of other people by yourself without sharing them with anyone else. It was none other than you, dear sister, who taught me so.”

“…Well, it’ll be a big help, if I can have you handle it like that.”

Mila had finally pulled herself together. She sighed deeply while fixing her underwear. As for Tigre, he had been watching the exchange between the two in a daze. The girl appeared to be close to Mila, but he hadn’t met her during his stay in Olmutz. But, he remembered having heard the name of Militsa somewhere before. Moreover, not long ago.

“Tigre, let me introduce her to you.”





Mila started while picking up her clothes, which had apparently dried by now.

“She’s a Vanadis like me. Her name is Militsa. She’s the lord of Osterode as 『Illusionary Princess of the Hollow ShadowShervid』.”

“Good day, my name is Militsa Glinka. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

The girl bowed deeply. And then Tigre remembered at last. He’d heard about Militsa back when Mila had told him about the other Vanadis. But, Osterode was located in the northeastern part of Zhcted, so he wondered whether it wasn’t too far away for her to come here.

Normally he should stand up and greet her properly, but Tigre greeted her while remaining seated.

“Forgive me, but my legs have gone slightly numb…”

It was an excuse he came up with on the fly, but it didn’t work on her. Her violet eyes were pinned on Tigre’s pants ― or to be precise, the place where his pants were bulging conspicuously.

Once again hiding her mouth with her sleeve, Militsa said, “How about you let dear sister cool it down? Also, you do not need to mind me. Back at my home village, I’ve witnessed men and women doing it out in the fields.”

Tigre and Mila blushed simultaneously.



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Translation Notes:


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