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“My, oh my goodness.”
Those were the first words of Sofy at the time when she heard about Tigre and Elen having become lovers from Mila in Mila’s room in the royal palace.
Just as she had been asked by Tigre to not tell anyone, Mila had intended to keep it a secret from Sofy, but when the two were having a light chat, Sofy suddenly asked her whether there was something going on between Tigre and Elen.
When Mila played dumb, asking, “What do you mean in particular?”, she got an unexpected reply.
“Looking at you recently, it seems to me as if you’re looking at the two enviously. Besides, I feel like the distance between Tigre and Elen has visibly shrunken.”
Mila reflexively hung her head in shame with her cheeks dyeing red. She was certainly aware of it herself that her eyes had often been chasing Tigre these days, but for that to have been observed by someone else was a shock to her.
It was the night when many reports were delivered to Nice, including the one about the Muozinel army’s retreat. Many of those serving in the royal palace were still busy handling postwar matters. There was also the word going around that a celebratory banquet would be held in several days.
While the lords, knight squad leaders, as well as their subordinate soldiers and knights went back to their fortresses and territories, Mila and the others were still remaining in the capital.
Furthermore, there were also some like knight squads which visited the capital to make their reports. When Cauvin, the leader of the Severac Knight Squad, showed up in the capital, Tigre and Earl Bouroullec postponed their various preparations, rushed over to his place, and celebrated his safe return.
Currently it was Mila and the other Zhcted people who were under no stress in the royal palace, but you couldn’t say that Elen and Lim had overly much free time because they had to manage the soldiers and draw up written reports about the chain of events, starting with the Sachstein war. By the way, Sofy had Polesian cavalrymen return to Zhcted to deliver a report she had written herself.
For such a reason, it came to be that Mila and Sofy were talking with each other a lot. Today evening Mila had expected that they would enjoy yet another silly chat. Until she was asked about this by Sofy, that is.
──Hiding it is also pointless, isn’t it?
Mila quickly gave up on cheating her way out of this. Mila didn’t think that she would be able to hide it from Sofy. Besides, there was also something she wanted to consult Sofy about.
After complaining about Tigre and Elen for a bit, Mila shyly asked, “Tigre and Elen marrying…you think something like that would be possible?”
“Well, you can’t say with finality that it’s impossible, can you?” Pressing a finger against her well-shaped chin as if pondering about it, Sofy replied. “I was sure you might have known, Mila. About Foumar.”
“…About the 『Northern Sea Baron』?”
Foumar was a man who had lived approximately a hundred years ago. His origins were unclear.
Back then the Asvarre Kingdom was plagued by pirates. The pirates repeatedly devastated the coastal cities. They attacked convoys of trade ships, stealing their load, and sinking the ships. They instilled a lot of fear among the people. The king of Asvarre ordered his retainers to subjugate the pirates many times, but the results were unsatisfactory. The one who appeared in front of Asvarre’s king, whose irritation was growing by the day, was Foumar. At the audience with the king who asked him for his business, he boasted that he would completely eradicate the pirates by himself.
“Humph, at best you will just ask me to provide you with a large fleet and countless soldiers, am I right?” The king rejected his claim bitterly.
In response, Foumar said, “With all due respect, I don’t need a single ship or soldier. I will prepare the rest by myself.”
And then Foumar continued that he would like to have a reward if he managed to purge the pirates. “I would like to be granted peerage by you. Though I don’t need a territory.”
Asvarre’s king didn’t believe Foumar, but thinking that he wouldn’t suffer any losses even if he were to fail, the king complied with his request, and officially ordered him to subjugate the pirates. Afterwards, Foumar boarded a single galley with his friends and mercenaries, and left the port. And then he really managed to drive away the pirates. Foumar had been endowed with ample abilities as sailor, warrior, and army commander.
Following their agreement, the king appointed Foumar to the rank of baron after his triumphal return. However, Foumar didn’t stay in Asvarre, but headed to Brune instead. Brune was troubled by pirates who had suddenly shown up in the northern seas. Those pirates were the ones who had been thoroughly defeated by Foumar at Asvarre’s coast, but back then Brune didn’t know about that.
Foumar had an audience with Brune’s king, and the conversation between him and the king was the same as the one he had held with Asvarre’s king. Foumar stated that he would exterminate the pirates wrecking Brune’s coasts, and Brune’s king gave him the order to do so.
Fouma gained victory here as well, and was appointed to the rank of baron by Brune’s king. At that time Brune’s king had learned of Fouma being a baron of Asvarre, but he deliberately granted him the title in Brune, making Fouma a man serving two countries.
Hereafter, Fouma headed to Zhcted. Even there he subjugated pirates, and was conferred the title of baron by Zhcted’s king. Zhcted’s king could have ordered the Vanadis to subjugate the pirates, but he chose to go with Fouma because he didn’t want to give the Vanadis an opportunity to gain credit. Like this Fouma became a man serving three countries.
Then Fouma began to do business, a trade of freely going back and forth between the three countries. He had two points putting him ahead of other merchants: first, his exemption from taxes, and second, him loading the trade goods on his own ship, a warship, while boldly using military ports as a noble. Those two advantages were powerful, allowing Fouma to pile up a tremendous fortune in little time. It was apparently around that time that he was given the nickname of Northern Sea Baron.
It’s said that even later on he cleverly sailed between the three countries, working as triple spy and offering his services as warrior whenever there was a war between the countries like the one between Brune and Asvarre, for example.
And then, at some point, when he had lived up to an age of sixty, he boarded his own ship, departed to the sea, and vanished. There existed prominent theories stating that he sank together with his ship after encountering an unseasonable storm, but no one knew the truth.
As expected, there were no other cases such as Fouma, but if you searched the continent’s history for people serving two countries, you would be able to find several.
“For a noble of Zhcted it’s not unusual to marry a Vanadis. In reality, there exist several examples for that.”
Mila felt a strange urge to refuse Sofy’s remark, “You think that Tigre will be able to do something as skillful as serving Brune and Zhcted at the same time?”
“I think it’s not impossible. It was the same when I was saved by him, but Tigre is highly evaluated in Zhcted, too. Even if a territory would be out of reach, a peerage would be another matter.”
“I’m pretty sure that there would be strong opposition by the surrounding people.”
“Indeed. That’s why I only said that it’s not impossible. But, I wonder whether it won’t become an indicator for Tigre.” Sofy smiled sweetly.
Mila pouted in discontent. Not because she was displeased with Sofy’s suggestion, but because of her own emotions. If she were to tell him about this, Tigre would very likely consider it seriously. And if it went well, Tigre would be able to marry Elen officially. For that reason she felt like not wanting to tell him, or to put it simply, she was ashamed of her own lingering affections towards Tigre.
Guessing Mila’s feelings, Sofy teasingly said, “Elen also said that he could have concubines, didn’t she? What if you seized that position for yourself?”
“What stupid things are you blurting out there? As a Vanadis──” Mila refused bluntly.
“You can’t be a Vanadis for eternity.” Sofy gently responded as if to admonish her. “Someday we will stop being Vanadis. We don’t know when it will happen, but this is no more than a temporary duty. If you consider it like that, I think it’s proper to think about and prepare for the time after in advance.”
“Yes, but something like being a concubine is ridiculous.”
“Isn’t it fine if you get Elen to be the concubine while marrying him officially yourself then?” Perceiving that Sofy was asking this on purpose, Mila knitted her eyebrows.
“That’s not it…getting married has love as prerequisite, right?”
“I wonder about that.” Sofy tilted her head to the side in doubt.
Going by her attitude, it was obvious that her jesting air had faded away. As such, Mila refrained from objecting, and waited for her friend’s words.
“My parents got married upon the introduction by a person at their workplace. I heard that they hadn’t even known each other until right before the marriage.”
It wasn’t unusual. Men and women at marriageable age didn’t remain single unnoticed. People eager to poke their noses in the business of others existed everywhere. They would locate partners that seemed to be a good match after checking their age and income.
“In other words, my parents didn’t marry on the prerequisite of being in love. And yet, they are so intimate with each other that it amazes me, their daughter, whenever I see them now. In spite of being old enough to know better.”
Mila silently looked downwards as Sofy continued, “I think it’s a joyful matter if there’s love before the marriage. But, don’t you think that it’s dreamy to nurture the love between both parties after getting married? Going by your words, Tigre said that he would also foster the love with the women who became his concubines, didn’t he?”
Mila nodded reluctantly.
“I think that Tigre might unconsciously understand that love is something you nurture with your partner ─ or together with the people surrounding both. I believe that’s why he said it in such a way. On the other hand, I think it’s bad to be negligent in the effort of nurturing love just because there was a strong love between both beforehand.”
“…So that means you have feelings for him, Sofy?”
“Yes. But at this rate, it looks like I will tell Tigre about my feelings before you do.”
Mila donned a dumbfounded expression upon hearing Sofy’s words.
Sofy continued, “Mila. Only once I will give you, who’s doing her best, a chance.”
“A chance to confess your feelings to Tigre. If you dally around too much, I will have you let me go ahead first.”
Mila was overcome with surprise and then became flustered. Based on the previous story about Foumar, she even felt that she had been led into a trap. For the time being, she rejected it while averting her eyes, “F-First, you say…it’s not like there has been an order put in place, so you’re free to do as you like, aren’t you?”
“You’re really fine with it?” Sofy tenderly peeked at the side of Mila’s face. “Mila, it’s important to have pride about being a Vanadis, but you have the bad habit of being tied down by that too much. Though it can’t be helped in your case, I guess.”
Mila’s situation was somewhat different from those of the other Vanadis. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother had all been Vanadis. There likely didn’t exist another Vanadis like her.
Mila remained silent. She wanted to answer that it wouldn’t be so easy, but she herself knew that this would be no more than her reflexively opposing the idea, and not her true feelings. Besides, contrary to her, who had partly given up on it, Sofy could clearly voice out her affection towards Tigre. Once she took that into consideration as well, she even believed that she had no qualification to say anything.
Around that time the youth, who had already two lovers and was loved by another two Vanadis, was meeting with a single man in another room of the royal palace. It was the Muozinel soldier Damad.
The two sat on chairs with a table between them while drinking Brune’s native wine together.
Damad fainted and fell off his horse after being defeated by Elen, but afterwards he clung to a Brune cavalryman, though he himself apparently didn’t know how he did it.
That Brune cavalryman tried to shake off Damad, but the black-haired warrior didn’t let go of the horse despite being unconscious. Moreover, since the Moonlight Knight Army broke through the enemy line in one go after Tigre made the Muozinel army falter by hitting Kureys with an arrow, he was helplessly dragged along. After the Moonlight Knight Army managed to completely break away from the Muozinel army, he naturally turned into a problem. Many held the opinion that a hateful Muozinel soldier should be killed on the spot, but Tigre didn’t agree with that. Elen settled it with the conclusion, “I defeated this man, and that makes him my prisoner,” with the intention to help her lover.
Afterwards Elen, who had heard about the circumstances from Tigre, happily transferred the prisoner, and Damad was confined in a room of the royal palace while being treated as Tigre’s prisoner.
Damad, who had listened to the youth’s story while tilting his wine cup, nodded, obviously understanding his situation, and then sighed after lowering his eyes on the table.
He was only wearing the linen clothes he wore on the battlefield. His armor and weapons had naturally been confiscated by Brune. He was fed and given water to wipe his body, but nothing else.
“So, why haven’t you killed me?” Damad lifted his face, staring directly into Tigre’s eyes.
Tigre ransacked his reddish hair with a troubled expression, “I could have done it on the battlefield, I think. But, if it’s outside the battlefield…”
“…Well, I for sure feel thankful for being allowed to stay alive rather than being killed.”
Those were Damad’s true feelings. Typical for a Muozinel man, he had the dream of living in a mansion decorated by gold and jewels while using slaves and being waited upon by beautiful women. And Damad had steadily accumulated achievements towards that end. This time he had been exposed to the disgrace of becoming the enemy’s prisoner of war, but it wasn’t impossible to recover from that.
“What do I have to do so that I can get you to release me?” He bent himself forward, asking with a serious look.
Tigre didn’t hate this directness and blunt attitude of his.
Smiling wryly, he answered, “Personally I wouldn’t mind releasing you just like that, but I was told by the person, who took you prisoner first, to demand ransom at any cost.”
Hearing the ransom’s sum, Damad grimaced and glared at Tigre, “You don’t really have any intention to let me go, do you? There’s no way that I can prepare such a sum of money as a prisoner, is there? Also, it might be just my imagination, but you look like you’re enjoying this.”
“No, sorry. Well, to tell you the truth, I do enjoy it.” Tigre replied with a smile despite knowing that it was an ill-natured enjoyment. After all he had fallen in a very similar situation two years ago.
“You’re a guy with an unexpectedly nasty streak.” Damad spit out while placing his emptied wine cup on the table, but he didn’t seem to be truly angry.
At the very least he acknowledged that it was a situation caused by his own ineptitude.
“Alright, I got it. Introduce me to some kind of work then. Let it be one where I’ll be able to earn the money quickly.” Easily changing his mood, Damad said with an attitude that could be called brazen.
Even Tigre was dumbfounded by this. He looked at Damad’s face, and started to chuckle.
“A work which a prisoner is allowed to do; that won’t be anything decent. Above all, the wages will be low.”
“No helping it. I’m a prisoner after all.”
Damad laughed while looking quite unperturbed by this. Apparently he wasn’t saying it as a joke, but meant it seriously.
“I will think it over.” Tigre replied.
Several dozen days passed since Valentina Glinka Estes had visited Silesia, the capital of the Zhcted Kingdom. After she had finished reporting to the royal palace about the outcome of the war between Brune and Sachstein, she secretly stayed in the capital while pretending to have returned to her territory, Osterode.
Valentina had been spending more than half a day in a room of an inn said to never pry into its guests’ identity in exchange for a hefty lodging fee. By the way, she adopted the means of having someone totally unrelated to her rent the room and then use that room for herself. It was a measure so that no one would ever find out about Valentina’s presence, even if they were to investigate the identity of the guests.
Given that she didn’t know whether she would be seen by someone, she didn’t step outside the room while the sun was still up. Her activities only started at night.
On that day Valentina also left the inn after waiting for evening to come. She wore such a long cloak that it covered her whole body, and her face was hidden by the hood she had pulled down deeply, as she walked down the road wrapped up in darkness.
Her destination was a temple located in a corner of the capital. The temple’s building was big, it had a garden, and its vicinity was surrounded by a thicket at waist-height. The necessary facilities had been mostly prepared as well. However, it was far from the main streets, and didn’t stand out as more imposing temples could be found nearby. Even among the capital’s citizens only very few visited this temple.
Valentina called out to a priest, getting his permission to enter. Even here she used the same method as she had when booking the inn room. The priest, who was guiding Valentina, believed that she was someone related to the royal family. To be precise, he wasn’t wrong, but either way, he didn’t know who she was, and probably didn’t even imagine that he was dealing with a Vanadis.
There was a single man in the room to where Valentina had been shown through. He was in the later half of his thirties. His pale golden hair was tied up around his shoulders, extending towards his back. He had no beard, and regular, clear-cut facial features, but his eyes were somehow empty. His partly-opened mouth was similar to that of a child which was at a loss after having lost its way.
The man was sitting in the middle of the room while slovenly and messily wearing high-class, silken clothes. That room’s floor was covered by a carpet, and high-quality blankets and cushions had been laid out, but nothing else. Not to mention a bed, it didn’t even possess a table or chairs.
Valentina had come here to meet this man.
“How are you, Your Highness?” The black-haired Vanadis addressed the man with an affectionate smile.
Looking up to her, a voice similar to groaning escaped his mouth, “Valen…tina.”
“Yes, it’s me, Valentina. Please call me Tina, if you feel that Valentina is too long.”
Him having become able to hold this conversation was something dating back to around ten days ago. Before that, he couldn’t even blurt out meaningless words.
Valentina went down on her knees in front of the man, sat down, and held out the bronze cup in her hand. It was filled with water mixed with a certain medicine.
“Please drink this tonight again. It’s a medicine that will cure your body, Your Highness.”
The man extended his hand, took the bronze cup, and brought it to his mouth. Valentina carefully supported him so that he wouldn’t spill any of the water. A small line ran down from the corner of his mouth, but the man drained all the water. After around ten seconds, it looked as if the man’s face, which had been vacant, was shaken by faint waves of emotions.
──I guess today his physical condition is good.
One month had passed as she continued to make him drink this medicine every night. She wondered whether it wasn’t about time for effects to start showing. However, the man shook his head as if troubled, and laid down on the carpet.
“Tina, somehow sleepy.”
“Please take your time and sleep in that case.” Valentina said gently while picking up the bronze cup that had rolled over on the carpet.
The man stared with a blank face at the Vanadis, but before long he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The man’s name was Ruslan. He was the son of Zhcted’s king, and should have become heir to the crown if nothing had happened. However, a few years ago his mind afflicted an illness. Ever since then he had been confined in this temple under the pretext of recuperation from illness.
Valentina affectionately looked down on the man’s sleeping face, “Your Highness, sweet dreams. ──Let’s dream together at some point in the future.”
A dream of obtaining this country.
When Valentina whispered those words, the light of ambition dwelt in her eyes, and a bewitching smile had formed on her lips. The black-haired Vanadis’ dream was about to gain wings and take flight soon.
With this Volume 14 of Madan no Ou to Vanadis is done. It’s only been a short period of almost three years. The good news is that I don’t plan for volume 15 to take this long. However, at the current rate, I expect it to take around 10 months for it to be done. If you want to change it, it is in your hands. Over the last few months and weeks 31 of 40 patrons have gathered to support this series. Once we hit 40 patrons, this series will switch to a weekly release. If you wish to read the last four volumes in any reasonable time, consider supporting this series. 🙂
~ See you again in Volume 15 ! ~