Chapter 4 – Reservists

 

 

 


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Imperial Calendar – Year 430, Early September

 

As Chrono was signing documents in his office, a knocking could be heard from the door. It was perfectly tuned. Not too loud and yet not too quiet either.

“Come in!”

“…Please excuse me.”

The door was slowly opened, and Alyssa entered. She was wearing her maid attire perfectly, but Chrono guessed that she might have noticed how that emphasized her womanly charms even further.

But, apart from that, Alyssa was carrying a parchment that had been rolled up. Chrono suspected this to be the reason for her visit. Yet, she remained near the door, not moving any further into the office as she was waiting for Chron to speak up.

“What’s wrong?”

“Master, a letter from the imperial capital has been delivered.”

“Bring it here.”

“As you command,” Alyssa bowed lightly, stepped up to Chrono’s desk, and respectfully offered him the letter.

The letter itself was sealed with the military department’s seal imprinted on the sealing wax.

As soon as Chrono accepted the letter, Alyssa immediately stepped back. Chrono assumed that she did so out of consideration to not end up seeing the letter which had been addressed to her master, and revealed a wry smile at that.

Seeing that, Alyssa inclined her head a bit, asking, “What might be the matter, Master?”

“No, it’s nothing. Thank you very much for your hard work.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Alyssa bowed courteously.

Chrono undid the string tying the letter, and checked its contents after breaking the seal and unrolling the parchment. It was filled with long-winding sentences, but if you summarized it, the letter merely informed him of reservists being sent over.

He would have preferred them mentioning the numbers and their affiliation in detail, but in the end this was the kind of treatment Chrono, who wasn’t the son of an influential noble, would receive. If not for Tilia’s assistance, it was quite possible that they’d have ignored his request altogether.

Chrono looked up to the ceiling wondering what kind of people they’d send him.

 

 

Imperial Capital Alfirk 1

“You sure are a hardworking lass,” Silver said while rolling his eyes as Fay moved the horse dung she had gathered in the stable on a wagon.

Since she had known this dwarven farrier for four years now, she could tell that he wasn’t slacking off, but taking a break from his work on the wooden box after finishing a part of his work.

“This is my job.” 2

“Aren’t you being ridiculed, seeing how your juniors are currently training their horse-riding?”

“Are you not being ridiculed yourself, Mr. Silver.”

“Well, I’m a dwarf, so it’s part of the show,” Silver answered with a sigh.

“What do you mean?”

“That I’ve got no say in it. On that point, you’re a human lass, possess peerage, and are skilled enough at swordsmanship to be allowed to enter the imperial guards. Besides, you look pretty decent, don’t you?”

“Do you think so?” Fay tilted her head in doubt, just to peer into the bucket.

Her hair was short and her eyebrows were thick. She didn’t consider herself to be unattractive, but she wouldn’t describe herself as pretty decent-looking either.

“What I wanna tell you is that you might be able to find more than enough happiness without having to clean up horse dung in a place like this.”

“I do not believe that the rank of appointed nobility at the imperial court holds that much of a value.”

The Muhlifain family was court nobility without land. 3 After Fay’s father, a former imperial knight, passed away from disease ten years ago, the family was on the brink of collapse.

“How about marrying a merchant? Since such upstarts want to gain clout in political circles, lasses like you, who possess a title, are in high demand.”

“That might be so, but personally I wish to revive the Muhlifain family by achieving deeds of arms on the battlefield.”

“And how are you going to do that while being in charge of cleaning the dung in the stable?”

“Through hard work!” Fay clenched her fists. “I will be able to make my dream come true as long as I invest the necessary effort. Back when I had been assigned to this post, my performance was lackluster and I was only beaten up, but most recently, the beating has stopped.”

“……I see.”

“Indeed,” Fay nodded reassuringly. “What is your dream, Mr. Silver?”

“I wanna become an architect.” With those words, Silver stood up from his wooden box, “I’m fed up working as farrier for nasty noble scum in a place like this! I wanna construct buildings! I wanna leave my footprint behind in history!”

“In other words, you wish to become a mason, Mr. Silver?”

“No! It’s called architecture!” Silver yelled and then let his shoulders drop in disappointment, “But, you see…”

“What might be wrong?”

“I’ve got experience in masonry, and I’ve also studied to become an architect. But, there are no architects around who would hire me.”

“Hmm, but would working as a mason not be much closer to your dream than this here?”

“Sure, but that’s all it’d be: closer,” Silver sat back down on the box, and sighed deeply, “I guess I got no choice but to continue being a farrier while considering that it’s still better than the work my big bro does.”

“Oh, so you have an older brother?”

“Yeah, he’s called Goldi. He’s working as a lancer in the Erakis March.”

“The Erakis March, you say?”

“…Though it’d already be great if he’s still alive,” Silver murmured with a sigh.

The invasion of the Erakis March by Argo four months ago had become famous by now. And also the fact that more than 350 soldiers had died during the ensuing battle.

The commander might not have been able to escape harsh criticism, if these were the losses while facing the enemy with even numbers, but since they had repelled 10,000 enemies with a mere 1,000, it was a glorious achievement.

In reality, the young noble, who had commanded those 1,000 soldiers, had become the new lord of the Erakis March. Since bad rumors were going around about him, Fay guessed that it was reasonable for Silver to be so worried.

According to those rumors, the commander had acted arbitrarily without consulting his officers for the sake of obtaining military achievements, he had treated 300 elven archers as disposable pawns, he had pinned the crime of embezzlement on the former Marquis Erakis and poisoned him, and he was bedding a demi-human like every night.

Even if only half of those rumors were true, the new Marquis Erakis would be a heinous villain by all standards. It was only natural for Silver to worry.

“I sure have a long way to go until I reach my dream.”

“You have to do your best. Yes, working hard is the solution. If you do so, your dream will definitely come true.”

“I suppose I have no choice, even if the prospects are bleak,” sighed Silver deeply. “By the way, what’s your dream anyway?”

“The revival of the Muhlifain family, and riding into battle side-by-side with Lord Leonhart, the Captain of the First Imperial Knight Order.”

Leonhart was the eldest son of the Duke Palatium family, which owned a vast territory. He was the empire’s strongest knight who excelled in military prowess, enjoyed the emperor’s deep trust, and had even mastered the divine arts.

“That’s an amazing dream, but you haven’t even been assigned a horse. You haven’t been provided the official armor of an imperial knight either, have you?”

“It is unnecessary to fret! As a matter of fact, I can use divine arts!”

“What!?” Silver’s eyes flew wide open, probably out of astonishment.

“Oh goddess, I would like you to bless mine sword!”

Fay drew her sword while offering a prayer. Darkness with a high viscosity like magma oozed out of her sword’s hilt and covered the blade with a bubbling.

“This is the Divine Art, Holy Celebratory Blad――”

“Waaait!!” Silver yelled with a bright red face.

“What is the matter?”

“Ain’t that a plain old curse, and not a goddamn blessing!?”

“It is the outcome of me having requested a blessing from the gods, so it is quite fine to call it a Holy Celebratory Blade,” objected Fay while looking slightly sullen. “Someday I’m going to be called a Holy Knight, just like Lord Leonha――”

“Hey!”

“Is something the matter?”

“Lass, look at the color. The c-o-l-o-r! It’s black, gooey, and looks sinister incarnated, doesn’t it!? No matter how you spin it, that’s the sign of a Dark Knight! Despite being a knight, you’re worshiping the Goddess ruling over Jet-Black Chaos!?”

Fay sheathed her sword.

“Given that the Goddess ruling over Jet-Black Darkness answered my prayers, I changed my religious affiliation. I have no need for gods who do not grant me their power.”

“You’re free to believe in whoever you like, and it ain’t like she’s an evil goddess. But, look, that ain’t the color you’d expect from a Holy Knight,” Silver commented with a very doubtful face.

“Are you slackers goofing off in a place like this again?”

Immediately following that voice, an impact hit Fay’s temporal region. Her consciousness paused there for a moment, but she somehow managed to endure. Once she turned around while blood trickled down from her head, a female knight was looking down on Fay and Silver from atop her horse, one leg removed from the stirrup.

Her name was Cecily Hamal ― the younger sister of Brad, the Captain of the Fifth Imperial Knight Order. 4

Her long, soft-looking, blond hair smoothly flowed down her shoulders. Her look was rather insulting than sharp. She never tried to hide her scorn whenever she got in contact with people of a rank lower than hers. Right now, it was hidden by her armor, but her limbs didn’t lose their womanly fleshiness, despite her regular training. Instead, you could even argue that her womanly charm had become more prominent through the training.

“The fuck’s your problem for kicking me all of a sudden!?”

“…I don’t listen to creatures beneath humans.”

Cecily drew her sword in her saddle and swayed its point in front of Silver’s nose.”

“Y-You plan to cut me down?”

“I just planned to shoo you away since I hate noisy bugs. This is just me speaking to myself, but do you actually believe that I consider bugs as valuable in any way?”

 

 

 

 

“I would like you to stop it at that point,” Fay interjected, causing Cecily to turn her sword at Fay.

“…A bug, and now a dung woman?”

“I am no dung woman.”

“Oh my, everyone is calling you a dung woman, so I thought you’re just that.”

Cecily sheathed her sword, looking as if she’d lost all interest.

“Which reminds me…I’ve been asked by the captain to inform the dung woman that she is to report to his room. Don’t you think it’d be smart to get going right away?”

“I understand.”

I might be granted a horse and armor, Fay got all excited.

 

 

Count Piske blatantly grimaced when Fay entered his office. Bertil Piske was the captain of the Twelfth Imperial Knight Order. His most conspicuous traits were his high nose and the handlebar mustache.

“Doesn’t it smell like horse dung?”

“…”

Count Piske snorted as his mouth twisted, “Well, I don’t care whether you smell like horse shit. Ah, Fay, err, Fay Muhlifain, how many years has it been since you’ve been assigned to the Twelfth?”

“Four years, Sir.”

“No wonder the stench of horse dung has deeply penetrated your whole body,” Count Piske spat out while pinching his nose. “I find it extremely difficult to tell you…”

The count stood up, and started to pace around the office, apparently so as to fan Fay’s anxiety.

“Ah, come to think of it, have you heard about the events in the Erakis March?”

“Yes, I have, Sir.”

“Then it’ll shorten things up,” Count Piske nodded several times as if satisfied to see that his expectations proved to be correct.

“You see, I got a directive from Her Highness the Princess, telling me to transfer any reservists my Twelfth might be able to spare. In short, you.”

Count Piske went around and then slowly stroked Fay’s shoulder.

“Please don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t ordered to hand over any of my knights. So I’ll respond with proper arrangements if you can show me a fine display of your sincerity.”

“…Sincerity, you say?”

Is he talking about my body? Fay wondered while looking up to the ceiling. Unexpectedly this caused her to ponder about her future path in life.

Her father passed away ten years ago, and right after Fay graduated the military academy four years ago, her mother died as well. Hence she felt that she must revive the Muhlifain family for the sake of her deceased parents.

But, she knew, even if she offered her body to the count, she’d at most achieve maintaining the status quo.

“Are there any knights stationed at the Erakis March?”

“It sounds like they have around twenty, but I’d say they are of such low level that they can’t even begin to compare to imperial knights.”

“…I understand,” Fay nodded lightly.

The current Marquis Erakis seems to be a scoundrel, but if he lacks personnel, I might be able to get him to appoint me to an important post. On top of that, he’s the lord. Thus he should be able to offer me better terms than Count Piske, even if I have to sleep with him. If things go smoothly I might be able to reinstate the Muhlifain family in one swoop.

Fay clenched her fists――

“I shall obey military command!”

“What a cheeky dung woman you are,” hissed Count Piske in annoyance, and stepped away from Fay as if having lost all interest.

And then he sighed deeply.

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Tomorrow a carriage bound for Erakis March is going to depart. Hurry up with getting all your stuff together and get lost.”

“At your command, Sir,” Fay confirmed and left the office.

 

 

On the next day, a bunch of demi-humans had assembled in the courtyard of Castle Alfirk. Elves represented the biggest chunk, then minotaurs and lizardmen. Furthermore some beastmen and dwarves. Fay seemed to be the only human.

“Yo, you’re going to the Erakis March, too?”

“That voice…Mr. Silver!”

Once Fay turned around, she found Silver standing there while shouldering big bags.

“What are you doing with so much luggage?”

“Those are the blueprints I continued drawing ever since my time as mason. Those are my treasures I drew up while stealing glances at plans and observing the construction during the transport of stones. Thanks to that, I blew most of my salary on parchment, though. You’re fine with just that one bag?”

“Quite so,” Fay answered while lightly lifting up her bag as Silver tilted his head in doubt.

“I’m surprised to see you having made that decision, considering how nasty rumors about the current Marquis Erakis keep making rounds.”

“I considered my future in life. Even if I have to sleep with him, that is okay with me as long as I can revive my family in exchange for one night. If I am lucky, that is,” Fay said proudly.

“…You’re really incredible,” Sliver muttered, apparently admiring her.

“However, there is one thing that worries me.”

Fay grabbed the collar of her uniform and sniffed at it.

“I feel anxious that the stench of horse dung might stick all over me.”

“So you were a woman as well, huh? Oh, they’ve started boarding the carriages. Slip onto the elves’ carriage, okay? Let’s meet at the Erakis March next.”

Silver clapped Fay’s upper arm in order to cheer her up, and ran over to the dwarves’ line. Fay followed Silver’s advice and joined the elves’ queue.

After two hours passed, it was finally her turn. But, just as she was about to get on the carriage, the soldier in charge of organizing the move tilted his head, looking confused.

“Why’s a human here?”

“I am Fay Muhlifain, member of the Twelfth Imperial Knight Order. Yesterday I received the order to relocate to the Erakis March from Captain Piske.”

“Well, whatever,” answered the soldier, and urged her to get on the carriage.

The carriage was a crude, covered wagon with seats installed on both sides.

“This place is taken.”

“This one, too.”

“Over here, too.”

Whenever Fay attempted to sit down, another passenger turned her away with a nasty smile.

“The place next to me is still free, you know?”

A girl beckoned Fay over just as she was at a loss what to do. Fay suspected that she might be a half-elf, seeing how her ears weren’t pointed.

Fay sat down next to her, and looked at the girl. Her eyes reminded Fay of summer’s azure sky and her short hair of a prairie. Her white skin was as smooth as porcelain. Her body, wrapped up in slightly dirty clothes, had few undulations, but still possessed a faint fleshiness.

“Thank you kindly. My name is Fay Muhlifain.”

“I’m Snow.”

Fay shook hands with Snow.

“Let me tell you just in case, but I’m a girl.”

“I know, but why do you refer to yourself like a boy?”

“Hmm,” Snow groaned, apparently brooding over the question. “I’ve lived in the slums, and public order over there was reaaaally bad, you see.”

Slums existed in the shadow of the walls that surrounded the imperial capital. Since they weren’t acknowledged by the empire, no soldiers patrolled the area. And even if criminals slipped in there, the guards wouldn’t chase after them.

Because the slums were basically lawless, calling the public order reaaaally bad could be described as a very diplomatic way of phrasing it.

“For that reason, I dressed myself as a boy and also talked like one. Of course, perverts, who didn’t mind men either, existed as well, so it didn’t mean I was completely safe by doing this.”

“That sounds…quite hard.”

“It was hard. At times I was ganged up upon and beaten black and blue, but I could protect it.”

Her answer might be related to protecting her life or her chastity, but Fay didn’t possess the gall to ask her that.

“Alright, we’re off.”

After the soldier confirmed their numbers, the carriage started to move.

“How long is the journey going to take?”

“Usually it would take one week, but with these numbers, it would be better to expect two weeks instead.”

“Oh nice, then we can talk about all kinds of stuff.”

 

 

During the following two weeks, Fay talked about a lot of things with Snow. It was a journey without any baths, one meal per day, and sleeping while wrapped up in a somewhat dirty blanket, but oddly enough, Fay was able to enjoy it.

Because she had spent lots of time with her, Fay was able to notice the change in Snow.

“Today you look very cheerful and lighthearted, Lady Snow.”

“Yep, as a matter of fact…ehehe,” Snow giggled bashfully, “you see, Mother lives in the Erakis March.”

“You have a mother?”

“Ah, although I call her Mother, she’s someone from the same team back when I lived in the slums. She took good care of me back there.”

“I see. So it is more like a nickname.”

“Rather than a nickname, I think you could call it a habit. I always thought I had to fix the way I called her, but in the end I was never able to do so.”

“What is her real name?”

“Mother’s true name is Layla. Her golden eyes are very pretty, and she’s an incredible beauty. But, because of that, she also went through terrible experiences in the slums…I wonder whether Mother is doing fine,” Snow’s tone dropped somewhat in the middle of her answer. “Marquis Erakis, who’s going to become our boss, is a terrible person, isn’t he?”

“Such rumors about him do exist.”

“Is Mother alright? I wonder whether I’ll also be called over by chance?” Snow muttered while looking dejected.

“I shall take your place when he calls upon you.”

“Really?” Snow’s face bloomed into happiness, but then she violently shook her head, “N-No, that’s no good! Fay, it’s going to be your first time, right?”

“I will manage one way or another.”

“That’s not it! I think it’s the best to offer your first time to a person you truly love. Ah, but, I likely won’t be called over when looking like this anyway.”

Snow looked down at herself. Because she hadn’t bathed ever since they left the capital, she was stinking. Then again, the same applied to Fay and the other passengers as well.

“Someone came!” The soldier serving as coachman shouted.

The passengers froze. They didn’t think that it’d be bandits, but――

“I’ll go take a look!” Snow stood up from her seat and moved behind the coachman. Fay followed as well.

“Hmm, five riders, huh?”

“Are those bandits? They seem to be no more than small dots to me, but you do have amazing eyesight,” Fay commented in admiration.

“They’re all wearing the same armor, and their attires look clean as well, so I think it’s going to be okay,” Snow murmured without much confidence.

“I see,” Fay grabbed the hilt of her sword.

When push comes to shove, I must fight. It will be a chance to gather some experience in killing other people, Fay thought and wetted her lips.

“I don’t think those are bandits, you know?”

“It never hurts to be prepared for all eventualities.”

“That’s not what you’re really thinking, is it?” Snow furrowed her eyebrows as if blaming Fay.

“Can I have you stop slashing at people all of a sudden?”

“…Okay, I understand,” Fay relaxed a bit after being cautioned by the coachman.

The dots slowly grew bigger and eventually transformed into five riders. As soon as the riders stopped at a good distance, the carriage stopped as well.

“We are cavalry under Lord Chrono!”

“We are from the capital! We have come to deliver the reservists!” The coachman shouted his reply.

The rider exhaled and slowly approached. No sooner than Fay believed he’d pass the carriage, he turned around and lined up next to the coachman’s seat.

Fay fixed the man with a stare. His jaw was covered by stubbles. His lips had twisted into a frivolous smirk, but he didn’t seem negligent of his surroundings.

“Good work on making it all the way here from the capital. I’m Cavalry Captain Cain.”

“Oh, wonderful. Thanks for coming!” The coachman answered.

“I don’t think you’ll need any guards now that you’ve reached this point, but it’s also part of our duty. We’ll escort you.”

“Okay! We’ll be in your hands.”

“You can count on us.”

Being guided by Cain and his riders, the carriage resumed its journey. Cain’s remark that they wouldn’t need any guards appeared to be true as the city’s walls soon came into sight.

Passing through the main gate, the carriage proceeded through the streets. Wooden buildings followed for a while after they had left the gate, but after they went beyond a plaza with street vendors, the number of stone buildings kept growing.

“Looks like a place decent enough.”

“On what basis do you make that call?”

“Hmm, the smell?” Snow tilted her head cutely, causing Fay to sniff the air.

“I cannot quite tell.”

“Well, it’s because we stink.” Snow commented with an indescribable expression.

“Get off right away once you enter the mansion’s premises.”

“Understood.”

“Okay.”

The carriage dropped its speed and passed through a gate, before coming to halt a little while later.

“Since we’ve got more carriages following, please get off quickly. Move to the corner so you won’t be run over by a trailing carriage.” The coachman shouted.

“Let us go.”

“Oki!”

Fay and Snow jumped off the carriage with their luggage in one hand. Just as ordered, they moved to a corner of the courtyard.

“It does not look like a noble’s estate to me.”

“You think so?”

After moving aside, Fay surveyed the marquis’s mansion. Four towers had been erected on the grounds. Dwarves were swinging their hammers, and rough-looking men were piling up bricks. Moreover, a group of people was peeling off the rind from trees, boiling the rind in pots, or soaking crates in water ― doing all that work while forming a single line.

“I wonder what they’re doing?”

“It looks like they are making paper, I would say,” Fay muttered while staring at a drainboard.

A sheet of paper was clinging to that board.

“Isn’t paper made out of sheepskin?”

“That would be parchment.”

“Heeh, I didn’t know.”

Paper that could only be obtained through import was being created in a corner of the empire. That was a fact which should make everyone astonished, but Snow didn’t seem overly interested.

“…Marquis Erakis appears to be a fairly interesting person.”

Just when Fay muttered so, a throaty voice echoed across the courtyard, “Uooooooo! Big broooo!”

“I missed you, Silver!”

When Fay turned around, surprised, she found Silver hugging an unknown dwarf while sobbing. She guessed that Silver had managed to reunite with his brother.

What a deeply moving scene, Fay watched over the two.

“Fay, what should we do next?”

“I think it would be wise to wait over here.”

“Okay, that makes sense.”

Fay and Snow stood in their corner, watching the soldiers jumping off their carriages. Once the last carriage had left, the courtyard was packed with demi-humans.

“Attention!”

The demi-humans all looked towards the gate, the place from where the voice originated. Cain and his four riders were visible over there. Everyone except for Cain held something like a sign board.

“We’ll lead you to your barracks! Follow the guys with the sign boards!”

“I gotta go! See you later!”

The demi-humans left the mansion’s grounds in groups, leaving only Fay behind.

When she was at a loss, Cain approached her.

“Oh, there was a human here as well, huh?”

“I am Fay Muhlifain who was affiliated to the Twelfth Imperial Knight Order! I hope to join the cavalry!”

“Aww, damn,” Cain got off his horse and scratched his head.

“Might something be wrong?”

“Currently, the cavalry is lodging at the barracks for officers, but we’re all men.”

“I do not mind that.”

“I, no, we mind, though. Of course I trust my men, but it’d be silly to think that no mistakes ever happen.”

“Is that so?” Fay sighed and dropped her shoulders.

“Don’t worry. I’m not planning to make you sleep outside or anything like that.”

“Is that true?”

“Of course.”

Cain took a transparent globe out of his pocket and straightened his back.

“…Lord Chrono.”

『Yes?』

A muffled answer came back once Cain talked into the globe. Fay assumed that globe to be a magic communication device.

“There’s something I’d like to request, if possible.”

『What’s up?』

That’s quite a casual way of addressing your superior, but the owner of the voice――Marquis Erakis sounds calm. Maybe Cain is Chrono’s relative.

“Among the reservists was a woman in white uniform called Fay Muhlifain. Could you allow her to sleep in the marquis’s mansion?”

『Gotcha. Have her wait at the entrance hall since we need to get a room ready』

“Roger.”

Cain put the crystal ball away and looked at Fay, donning an expression crying, “Oh shit!”

“Let me tell you just in case, but I’m being trusted by Lord Chrono enough to be allowed to talk normally to him.”

“So you are not his relative?”

“As far as I can tell, we don’t share a blood relationship. Well, we might be connected in some way if you head back in time and check all our ancestors.”

“I understand.”

In short, he’s being evaluated highly for his skills. Maybe that’s why he can exchange casual words with Marquis Erakis. Considering it like that――

――might be wrong as well, Fay revised her thinking. Cain has straightened his back before talking into the communication globe. He had paid his respect to the marquis in spite of not facing him. That’s maybe why he hasn’t been blamed for his way of speaking.

“Lord Chrono is a kind man, but don’t forget to treat him with respect.”

“I understand,” answered Fay after straightening her own back.

“Well, you heard the rest yourself. Wait at the entrance hall until someone comes to pick you up.”

“Yes, Sir!” Fay saluted crisply.

“Let me tell you tomorrow’s schedule in advance. If you’re tired, rest your body. If you’re not tired, participate in our training.”

“Aye, Sir! Where shall I go for the training?”

“The stable behind the marquis’s mansion.”

“Roger,” Fay saluted at Cain once more, and headed for the mansion.

“Excuse me for the intrusion.”

She entered the building while opening the massive door. As she was waiting while standing on attention, a maid appeared from a corner of the hallway.

Fay guessed her to be in her late twenties.

Maybe because of her years of service, the way she’s wearing her apron dress is flawless.

“You are Lady Fay Muhlifain, correct?”

“Indeed.”

“My name is Alyssa. I am the Head Maid of this mansion. I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” she greeted and bowed courteously. “If you like, I can carry your luggage.”

“No, I am fine.”

“As you wish, Milady. I will guide you to your room, so please follow me.”

Fay advanced through the mansion while being guided by Alyssa. The hallways were wide, and every nook and cranny was perfectly clean. Moreover, magic lamps were installed in regular intervals along the walls.

The interior felt somewhat dreary to her, but she supposed that Chrono wasn’t one to fuss over decorations.

“This here will become your room, Lady Fay.”

She had been led to a room located at the end of the second floor. Once Alyssa opened its door, Fay stepped inside, and looked around her new abode.

It was equipped with the minimum amount of furniture, but it was bigger than her space in the capital’s barracks.

“A bath has been prepared for you, but what would you like to do?”

“I will gladly take you up on that offer.”

“Very well. Should we also wash your clothes?”

“If you could do that as well, I would be delighted.”

It’d have been better if I had handed her my luggage from the very start, Fay regretted while passing her bag to Alyssa.

“Please allow me to lead you to the bathroom then.”

Fay followed Alyssa to the bathroom, no, it was more correct to call it a bath house.

“Please put the clothes into this basket. We will prepare a change of clothes from our side, so please head back to your room once you have finished your bath.”

Alyssa bowed politely and left the bath house.

“I feel guilty as it leaves nothing to be desired.”

Fay took off her clothes and put them in the basket, hiding her dirty underwear underneath her uniform so it wouldn’t be seen.

After entering the bathroom, she poured lukewarm water over her body. The sweat and grime, as well as the stench, started to come off.

“…What a nasty smell.”

Fay looked around the bathroom while bearing a spell of nausea, and picked up a block of soap and a scrub. The aroma of lavender tickled her nose.

“For perfume to have been kneaded into this, they sure do not hold back on luxury.”

She caused the scrub to foam with the soap, and washed her body. The dirt came off in the blink of an eye thanks to the soap.

“Is it really alright for me to indulge in such luxury?”

After diligently washing her body and hair, she left the bath in a trance, just to find clean underwear and a negligee in a new basket. Remembering Silver and Snow, she felt a guilty conscience well up in her.

“This is the last time. Yes, only this one time,” Fay apologized to her friends while picking up the underwear.

 

 

On the next day, Fay visited the stables behind the mansion. Currently ten horses were resting there, but going by the dirt in the stalls, she guessed that the stable housed another twenty horses.

“I would be very grateful if they provide me with a horse and armor, but…”

…maybe I’m asking for too much here, Fay dropped her head powerlessly.

“I will clean the stalls to make as good an impression as possible,” she pulled herself together and grabbed the cleaning tools placed in a corner of the stable.

She collected the sawdust, which was dirtied with horse dung and urine, and leftover food from the vacant stalls, and loaded all of it on a cart.

Sensing that someone else had come, she turned around, just to spot three children ― two boys and one girl ― looking at her. The boy in the middle of the group stepped forward. Fay suspected that he was their leader.

“Hey, missy!”

“What might it be?”

“Cleaning up the stalls is our work.”

“Oh, forgive me. I did not know that.”

When Fay passed over the cleaning tools, the boy snorted at her.

“Didn’t you listen to the explanation properly? Adults either work in the workshops or collect ash or wood in the city…”

“Trees are grown outside the city, Tony.”

“I-I know that!” The boy called Tony shouted with a bright red face when the girl, apparently his little sister, pointed it out.

“I am very sorry. I just arrived here yesterday.”

“Move back since we’ll handle the cleaning.”

As soon as Fay left the stall, Tony and the other two started to clean.

“Where are you three living?”

“In the almshouse. Isn’t that obvious? You sure ask some weird things, missy,” Tony stopped his hands and answered Fay while tilting his head and staring at her strangely.

“You are allowed to work at the almshouse?”

“No, we’re allowed to help out.”

“What do you mean?” Fay cocked her head in confusion.

“It looks like Lord Chrono doesn’t wanna let us work, but then the folks in the city would become a pain.”

“Lord Chrono, you see, tells us to study.”

“D-Director Shion has been teaching us.”

Tony’s sister and the other boy supplemented while cleaning the stall.

“Is life in the almshouse hard?”

“Not at all. Compared to our life out on the streets, it’s heaven.”

“Miss Shion is kind, and so are the others.”

“Someday I’m gonna become a knight!” Tony exclaimed with sparkling eyes.

“Is that not difficult?” Fay interjected, despite knowing that it was kind of mean to question the boy’s dream like that.

It’s impossible for orphans to become knights.

“You really don’t get it, do you, missy? Cavalry Captain Cain was a mercenary, and the dwarves were even allowed to run their own workshop. Doesn’t all of this mean that people are appointed to their posts unrelated to their social standing?”

“Is that true?”

“As if I’d lie about something like that,” Tony responded sullenly.

“Then it looks like I have a sliver of hope left.”

Fay clenched her fists. Commonly it was impossible to think that a mercenary would become a cavalry captain, but Chrono had the power to defy such common sense.

At that time, Cain came running over while being out of breath.

“Yo, brats! Thanks for doing the cleaning again!”

“Count on us!” Tony answered Cain with gleaming eyes.

Fay suspected that Cain, who had risen all the way from mercenary to cavalry captain, was something like a hero for Tony.

“Fay, I talked with Lord Chrono about what to do with you.”

“Is that so?”

She stared at Cain while thinking that she’d like to become a knight.

“As for a horse…are you okay with this guy here?”

“…..gh!”

Cain pointed at a black horse while scratching his jaw.

“W-Would it be alright for me to ride this horse?”

“Take good care of it, okay?”

Fay approached the horse in a trance, timidly touching its neck. Cain and Tony had a chat in the meantime, but she didn’t pay any heed to them.

“Alright, next up is the armor, huh?”

“Even armor!?”

“Let me tell you in advance, but don’t expect any order-made plate armor, got it?”

Fay proceeded through the marquis’s mansion while following Cain. Eventually they arrived at one of the towers surrounding the estate ― the dwarven workshop. Fay immediately spotted Silver among them.

“Mr. Silver!”

“You’re going to start working today as well?”

“Right back at you.”

I can’t tell him that I received a horse, Fay averted her eyes from Silver who was working on horseshoes.

“…It’s hard for me to tell you, but it was decided that I’d be allowed to hire as an architect.”

“R-Really!?”

“Yeah! Ah, but first I’ll alter and repair the fortress and barracks as a mason, and if I don’t cause any problems…bah, sorry for running my mouth like that.”

Silver scratched his head apologetically, apparently feeling reserved.

“I also got my very own horse.”

“Isn’t that great news then!?”

Fay and Silver rejoiced over their mutual fortune.

“I understood that you were hired as architect, but why are you hitting horseshoes then?”

“Well, that’s because my work as a mason hasn’t started yet.”

“Those who do not work, do not get to eat, correct?”

“Yeah, that’s the gist of it.”

Silver shrugged his shoulders lightly.

“I brought your armor.”

While smiling, Cain put down a full set of armor ― a breastplate, leg protectors, and gauntlets ― on a wooden box.

“T-These are mine!?”

“It’s a version with belts, made so that you can adjust it to some degree.”

“I-Is it okay for me to put this on?”

“I don’t mind.”

“Thank you very much!”

Fay put on the armor with trembling hands. She intuitively knew where what belonged.

I dare say a fairly skilled craftsman must have made these. Otherwise, it’d be impossible for them to build an armor where you immediately know how to wear it.

“I-I am very happy.”

Fay hugged her own body, trembling.

“Once you take off the armor, we will start joint training!”

“Yes, Sir!” Fay saluted at Cain.

The creaking of the gauntlets and breastplate sounded like music to her ears.

 

 

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Being guided by Cain, she went to a training ground riddled with wooden stakes. Demi-Humans used wooden staffs or their bare hands to exchange blows

After they watched the practice session for a while, a minotaur approached them.

“Yer late.”

“I had to talk with Lord Chrono about what to do with her.”

“I am Fay Muhlifain!”

“I’m Lord Chrono’s adjutant, the name’s Mino.”

Mino returned Fay’s salute with a slight delay. Fay suspected his discipline to be somewhat sloppy because he was a veteran soldier, and very likely, a fairly decent fighter at that.

I see. Chrono seems to choose his people by skill and not lineage. A mercenary has become cavalry captain, and a demi-human is his adjutant. They harbor respect towards Chrono because he appointed them to responsible positions that would be unattainable for them under normal circumstances. Maybe him providing me with horse and armor was his silent demand for me to show my skill. But, will I be really able to measure up to Chrono’s expectations? Fay started to feel uneasy.

“She’s nobility?”

“Yeah, but Lord Chrono said to treat her just like everyone else.”

Once Mino winked, Cain nodded.

“I shall join the training at once.”

Fay picked up a wooden sword, and walked up to a minotaur who appeared to be free. After all, just being worried wouldn’t start anything.

“My name is Fay Muhlifain. I would like to ask you to be my training partner, if you are available.”

“I don’t really mind that, but…”

Mino lightly nodded at the minotaur’s probing look.

“No helpin’ it. Guess I’ll humor you for a bit then.”

“You do not need to hold back on me.”

“Are you serious there, missy?”

The minotaur narrowed his eyes as he looked down on Fay. He was probably doubting her sanity. But that was only reasonable as their difference in physique was like that between a child and an adult.

“You’re gonna die if I hit you for real, you know?”

The minotaur gave his log of a club a swing. A dull booming of wind being crushed was accompanied by a cloud of dust whirling up. Fay also realized that she’d most likely die if she got hit once by that thing.

“It will be alright! I just need to avoid getting hit!”

“Don’t whine later when you’re dead.”

“Dead people cannot complain anyway!”

“You got a point there. Gahaha,” the minotaur guffawed.

Fay took some distance and readied her wooden sword so that the blade was at the height of her chest. On the other hand, the minotaur raised the club above his head. It was a stance focusing on finishing his opponent off in one blow, neglecting all kinds of defense.

Fay wetted her lips. The last time she fought someone like this was at the military academy.

“Ready?”

“Please go ahead!”

The minotaur moved the instant Fay’s words hadn’t finished echoing through the air. At a first glance, his movements looked slow and sluggish, but before she knew it, he had closed most of the distance between them.

Our body sizes are too different. A minotaur’s stride is equivalent to two or three of a human’s. If I fight him with the belief of taking on a human opponent, the distances between us will be closed in an instant.

“Bumooooohh!” The minotaur roared.

His cry caused the atmosphere to tremble and Fay’s skin to tingle. She felt a pressure as if she was facing off against a mountain.

The club was swung down with a howl. Although it’d be possible for her to ward it off with her sword, Fay judged that it’d be better to dodge. The opponent was still underestimating Fay. No, it was probably more appropriate to call it his consideration for her. He had exhibited a rough attitude, but his character was kind enough for him to go easy on a girl he met for the first time.

Fay knew that he’d definitely keep pulling his punches, something she wanted to avoid by all means, if she didn’t show him that it was okay to go at it with his full power.

She slipped past the club, and drove her sword into the minotaur’s flank in passing. Her hands felt numb, as if she had hit a rock.

After running a few more steps, she turned around. At the same time, the minotaur also turned around, slowly. He scratched the place where her sword had struck, probably to tout that it didn’t cause any damage.

“Light. But, you ain’t half bad.”

“Are you going to get serious with me then?”

The minotaur slightly widened his eyes when he heard her words, “So you saw through it, huh?”

“It was too obvious to begin with.”

“Ain’t no way I can turn the head of a person I met for the first time, and moreover a noble lass, into pulp. But okay, I’ll come at you seriously from now on.”

“That is just what I wished for!”

“This time for sure: Don’t blame me if you die!”

The minotaur readjusted his grip on the club, and caused his body to become one size bigger by bulging out his muscles. It was clear that he’d come at her for real this time.

“B-Bumooooohh!”

The minotaur charged at Fay alongside a war cry. His club was diagonally swung down. Fay could tell from the fierce whistling it caused that her flesh would be crushed and her bones shattered, if this hit her.

It was the serious blow Fay had desired. Unconsciously, a smile formed on her lips. She was extremely happy that he was taking her on seriously, that he was facing her as a proper opponent.

Fay slipped past the club, and launched a thrust at the minotaur. The tip of her sword sank into his solar plexus. Any human would have fainted in agony from this, but――

“B-Bumooo!”

The minotaur roared once more, recklessly swinging his club around. Almost as if he was imitating a tornado.

Fay dodged all his attacks with her step work and defensive movements while at the same time finding the gaps in his offense and attacking him in return. But, the minotaur kept brandishing his club as if not feeling a shred of pain. And just dodging his attacks wouldn’t lead her anywhere either.

Even when she raised her speed, adding more attacks, it didn’t result in any decisive outcomes.

In that case, Fay took some distance again.

“Hehehe, you ain’t gonna win by just dodgin’, girly.”

“I know as much myself.”

Fay lowered her waist, and twisted her body so that her wooden sword was hidden from his sight. It was a stance called Waki-gamae. Opposing her, the minotaur raised his club widely above his head once more. 5

“Bumooooo!!”

This time the minotaur was the one to move first as well. He closed the distance to Fay with a violent stride. Immediately after Fay kicked off the ground, the minotaur swung his club down.

Fay evaded the club at hair’s breadth, and swung her sword up. Maybe based on his intuition or experience, the minotaur let go of his club and jumped back.

“Hehehe, not ba――” Without managing to finish his words, the minotaur staggered and fell down on the spot. “――H-How strange. Such attack made me…”

He tried to stand back up, but to no avail.

“It would be better for you to not force yourself.”

“What did you do?”

“Your brain got shaken as the point of my sword grazed your chin.”

She got terrified when he let go of his club and leaped back, but it seemed as though the tip of her sword had landed the hit. If her opponent hadn’t used the joudan stance, she might have suffered a counterattack after getting sidestepped.

“So, are you going to continue?”

“No, it’s my defeat,” the minotaur honestly admitted.

“Thank you very much for the training bout.”

“Yeah. Same to you.”

Fay exchanged a handshake with the minotaur, and then looked around herself.

“Is anyone willing to become my next training partner?”

“Sure, let me take you on.”

A lion beastman stepped forward. He was holding a somewhat big, wooden sword as he was apparently specialized on greatswords.

“Oh, it’s Centurion Leo.”

“That means the girl is quite capable, huh?”

“Idiot, didn’t you watch just now? A human defeated a minotaur, you know?”

“Hee, that’s quite the amazin’ feat.”

Hearing the soldiers talking, Fay pursed her lips a bit as her mouth was about to distort into a slovenly smile, and readjusted her hold of the hilt.

The lionmanLeo appears to be fairly skilled. I’m happy about being allowed to fight such a man, but I mustn’t let it go to my head.

Leo distanced himself from Fay and readied his sword. No, shouldered it would be correct here.

Apparently he’s planning to decide the match with one swing, just like the minotaur from before, Fay shook her head while thinking all that. Silly, useless pondering is worse than none at all. Anyway, I got to brace myself.

Fay took her earlier stance by holding her sword’s blade at chest height.

“What are we going to do about the starting signal?”

“I am OK with you coming at me anytime.”

“I――――see,” Leo closed the distance in an instant, and swung his sword down.

Given that his wooden sword was big, the sword’s trajectory was easy to read. Fay dodged the sword by stepping sideways and widened her eyes lightly because Leo’s sword came to halt right above the ground so that you couldn’t tell whether it actually touched it or not.

“Gaaooooooo!” Leo roared and unleashed a side sweep.

Fay immediately blocked it with her sword. A crunching indicated the sword’s creaking. Guessing that her wooden sword would break at this rate, Fay leaped backwards. At least that was her intention, but before she knew it, Leo was in front of her.

Leo swung his sword through, causing Fay to be blown away. She fixed her posture in midair and landed on her feet, but at that point, Leo had already shifted into his next attack.

He brandished his sword with a flash, aiming for her neck, but he was outside the range of his own sword. Thus the attack itself couldn’t hit. Fay assumed that he had miscalculated the distance while in hurry.

No, that’s impossible. In the first place, I haven’t done anything to make him hurry, have I?

Fay reflexively crouched down. It wasn’t as if she had any proof, but she merely thought that it’d be smarter for her to bend down.

In the next instant, his wooden sword passed above her head. Leo had loosened his grip, allowing the sword’s hilt to slide forward. The theory was simple enough, but it required excellent control of your own grip.

Fay felt relieved. If she had arbitrarily decided Leo to be the power-type of fighter, the match would have been over now. A tricky way of fighting wasn’t suited for anyone either.

While still crouching, Fay unleashed a kick. Probably also owed to it happening right after his attack got dodged, Leo allowed the kick to connect with his abdomen. When she pushed in even further, Leo staggered.

Fay took some distance and readied her sword once more.

“…Not bad.”

“I am extremely delighted to receive your praise!”

Leo shouldered his sword while patting his belly. He had praised her just now, but she knew that her kick didn’t cause any damage to him, making her suspect that his words just now were no more than lip service.

“Next is my turn to come at yo――uu!”

Closing the distance between them in a breath, she lunged out her sword for a thrust. Leo evaded it by jumping sideways, and immediately brought his own sword down on her.

Even if I dodge this, I’m sure he’ll immediately follow up with a second attack, she judged and thus parried the attack with her sword.

“You’re pretty decent.”

“You too, Sir Leo. Just as you would expect of a centurion!”

“Spare me the flattery.”

Leo pushed with his sword. Fay managed to somehow hold on, but that was only because her opponent wasn’t serious yet. The difference in physique between them was overwhelming, so he could easily squash her whenever he felt like it.

“Haaaaah!”

When Fay pushed him back with all her force, Leo answered in kind, putting strength into his arm. Catching the right timing, Fay rotated on one leg.

With the resistance suddenly gone, Leo tottered, exposing his defenseless neck. Fay swung her sword upward and leaped backwards.

Leo’s kick sliced through empty air moments later.

Fay was sure she’d have been hit by that side kick if she had swung her sword down. Only now she felt how cold sweat was running down her spine.

“Truly, you’re decent.”

“Sir Leo, it is my first time to face an opponent as strong as you are.”

Leo bared his fangs while Fay smiled. Both kicked off the ground at the same time. Leo brandished his sword and Fay parried it. No, she intended to parry it, but the impact traveled all the way to the core of her bones. All because of their huge difference in physique.

It was hard to call blocking or parrying his sword a smart move. But, just dodging wasn’t any good either since Leo would then take firm hold of the battle’s initiative.

Fay switched to offense after parrying Leo’s slashes. Most of her attacks ended in vain. After all, Leo excelled her in discernment, leading to him limiting the damage to the absolute minimum by instantly judging which attack had to be avoided at all costs.

And yet, she felt no impatience or fear. She hadn’t completely lost the initiative yet. And if she continued piling up damage at this rate, she might find an opportunity to turn the tide.

But, Leo intensified his attacks in order to not let her do that. He increased the number of moves and the weight behind each of them. Fay could only barely hang on.

Leo’s offensive became even more violent. Fay’s arm was flicked away with her unable to parry his downward-slash. But, the instant she felt the wish to fight on and thought that she wanted to win, power surged forth within her. She braced her legs, and severed his wooden sword midway with a high-speed slash.

When Fay stopped moving due to that, Leo also did.

“What’s wrong?”

“This is my loss.”

Fay turned the point of her sword downwards. Something like black mist was rising from her sword and body.

It stemmed from her having used Activate and Holy Celebratory Blade ― Divine Arts. Holy Celebratory Blade boosted her offensive ability while Activate raised her physical abilities. Leaving aside actual combat, using those arts during a sparring match was anything but fair.

“I see. It was a good fight.”

“Next time I will win with nothing but pure swordplay.”

 

 

“That’s my line.”

With those words, Leo wandered off. She wanted to shake hands with him, but they were in the same battalion now, so she was sure she’d have more than plenty of opportunities to meet him.

Fay looked around the vicinity once more. The demi-humans were looking at her, apparently having their interest drawn.

Suddenly she noticed a human among them. He had a medium build and a big scar reaching from his right forehead all the way down to his cheek.

“If you have some spare time, could I ask you for a sparring match?”

“Sure, but please go easy on me, okay?”

“Of course.”

Fay realized that the boy did hold a weapon, and thus placed her own gently on the ground. Squaring off against the boy, she readied her fists.

“I am ready whenever you are.”

“Let me tell you once more, but don’t be too hard on me.”

“Of course.”

Fay furrowed her eyebrows when the boy put up his fists. His stance was full of openings. Naturally she wondered whether he was mocking her, but seriousness was written all over his face.

“Please, feel free to start.”

“You sure? Okay, sorry the――n!”

The boy closed the distance between them before finishing to speak, and lunged out his fist. Fay widened her eyes slightly. His movements all screamed amateur at her, but his resolve to come at her straight on wasn’t that of a beginner at all.

I’m sure he must have somehow survived the battlefield after being thrown on it without sufficient training. It’s my first time to face a fist fighter who refined his techniques through real combat. It gives me a bad feeling. If I drag this out too long, I might end up losing.

Fay warded off the boy’s fist, and circled to his back. Putting her arm around his neck, she put the screws on him. The boy resisted for a while, but eventually stopped moving.

After relaxing her hold, she laid the boy on the ground.

“Oohh, amazing.”

“No mercy whatsoever.”

Cain and Mino approached her while clapping their hands.

“Sorry, but that is wrong. I did go easy on him.”

“Ye don’t call almost stranglin’ someone to death goin’ easy on ’em, do ye?”

“Ugh, it is because I had a bad feeling.”

“I think you weren’t wrong to follow your intuition there,” Cain grinned broadly.

“Hmm, so he has been hiding some kind of trump card after all?”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“What do you mean then?”

“The opponent you defeated by strangling is Lord Chrono.”

“T-This person is Lord Chrono!?”

Fay looked down at the boy ― Chrono. She became ghastly pale and her visual field blacked out.

“L-Lord Chrono! Are you alright!?”

A brown-skinned half elf ran up to Chrono, before casting a glare at Fay, fury blazing in her eyes.

So I lost my new home on the second day.

Chrono coughed violently.

“Mother, spar with me next!”

Immediately after Chrono coughed, Snow embraced the half elf. Fay assumed that this half elf had to be Snow’s Layla.

“M-Mother!?” Chrono jumped to his feet, his eyes restlessly moving around between Snow and Layla.

“…So you had a child,” Chrono muttered, looking down in the slumps.

“No! I have not given birth to any children yet!” Layla denied desperately.

Going by their behavior, the two seem to share an unusual relationship.

“Things took a crazy turn.”

“That smells like a bloodbath.”

Mino and Cain muttered to themselves. Chrono stood up, just to kneel down in front of Snow.

“I-I’m your Papa~” Chrono declared with a cramped smile.

“Ehh?” Snow widened her eyes in surprise.

“There were some complicated circumstances, so Papa was forced to leave you two behind in the capital’s slums. Let us live happily together as a family from now on.”

“What amazing decisiveness.”

“Well, I think him bein’ confused also plays into it, though.”

Cain and Mino said with tones that could be interpreted as them either praising him or being fed up with his antics.

Chrono stood up and hugged Layla.

“I am very glad about your feelings, but she truly isn’t my child.”

“Umm, sorry for causing a misunderstanding. Mother…I only call her mother but she isn’t my true mother.”

Layla and Snow explained apologetically.

“Really?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“I-I see.”

After hearing Layla’s confirmation, Chrono breathed out in relief.

“I-I’ll go back to the mansion for a bit.”

“Okay, thanks for your hard work.”

After Layla’s bow, Chrono left the training ground with an unsteady stride. Before long, he couldn’t be seen any longer.

“Ah, I forgot to apologize.”

“Lord Chrono is kind. He’ll forgive you if you apologize wholeheartedly,” said Cain with a cheerful tone.

“Is that true?”

“Probably.”

“Probably it is, huh?”

Fay dropped her shoulders in disappointment.

 

 

In the evening ― after finishing her bath ― Fay headed over to Chrono’s room.

“It would be wonderful if I could get him to forgive me, but…”

Cain had told her that Chrono would forgive her if she apologized from the bottom of her heart, but not only had she strangled him into fainting, but she had even disgraced him in front of his men. Count Piske or Cecily would never pardon such a behavior.

“…I wanted to do it in exchange for his support of the Muhlifain family’s restoration, but now I have no choice but offer my body to him as atonement,” Fay sighed deeply. “No, I should consider the situation.”

Although it was based on a misunderstanding, Chrono possesses a deeply benevolent side to him that allowed him to acknowledge Snow as his child on their first meeting. Would such a man really treat a woman with whom he slept as an unrelated stranger?

Fay decided for herself that the answer was definitely no.

“If I can apologize, it will become a foothold for the restoration of my family. It will be the very definition of killing two birds with one stone. I will do my utmost to not be called a dung woman anymore.”

Fay came to a halt in front of Chrono’s room. After taking several deep breaths, she extended a hand for the door knob, but at that moment――

“…Who are you?”

A question full of displeasure was hurled at Fay.

Once Fay looked in the direction of the voice, a short girl glared at her with her arms akimbo.

“I am Fay Muhlifain.”

“I don’t give a damn about your name. What did you come here for?” The girl folded her arms, looking up to Fay with a sullen expression.

“I came here to make love!”

“Haaah?”

“Well then, please excuse me.”

Just when she was about to open the door, the girl grabbed Fay’s wrist.

“What are you doing?”

“Now listen, today is my turn. At long last a good day to recover my pillow has arrived.”

Fay cocked her head in puzzlement, “If you came to retrieve your pillow, then hurry up with your business and go back from where you came.”

“That’s not what I mean! You got it all wrong!”

Once the girl shouted, the door opened slowly.

“You girls sure are lively out here.”

“Lord Chrono, liste――”

“This is my chance!”

Fay slipped past the other two and dove into the bed, spreading arms and legs while looking up to the ceiling.

“What are you doing?”

“I have come to offer you my virginity as an apology for having strangled you earlier, Lord Chrono! Come on, I would like you to accept my apology right away!”

Chrono sat down on a chair near the bed while scratching his head.

“Hey! I told you that it’s my turn tonight, didn’t I!? Hurry up and get lost!” The girl stood next to the bed, shouting with a bright red face.

“I shall not!”

“I’ll ask once more, but what did you come here for?”

“I have come to offer you my body as an apology for my rude behavior during the day,” Fay got off the bed and knelt down on the floor. “I do not wish to return the armor and horse!”

“Umm, that’s all?”

“After obtaining the seat of your legal wife or achieving great deeds of arms as a knight, I would like you to restore the Muhlifain family!”

“The women around me sure are bold and strong-willed,” Chrono spat out a sigh, apparently flabbergasted.

“Is that not an option? If being your wife is out of the question, I shall settle for being your mistress. In exchange, I would like to request financial support!”

“I-It’s obviously not an option! Or rather, just how valuable do you consider yourself to be!?”

“I am a virgin!”

“D-Don’t screw with me! Virgin slaves are gathering in the Erakis March a dime a dozen!” The girl screamed with a beet red face in response to Fay’s raised voice.

“Elena, didn’t you say something similar before?”

“Shut it!”

The girl ― Elena ― scowled at Chrono with the face of a demon.

“Could I have you forgive me?”

“It was an unarmed mock battle, so it’d make no sense for me to be angry at you in the first place.”

“R-Really!? You will not tell me to return horse and armor first thing in the morning or something like that?”

“I won’t.”

Fay stared at Chrono.

He doesn’t look like he’s lying, but――

“Is it truly alright for me to believe in your words?”

“You’re quite distrustful, aren’t you?” Elena said with a fed-up voice.

“It is the chance I have finally obtained, after all.”

“How about you write it down for her?”

“Well, if that settles things, sure, why not.”

Chrono stood up, headed to his desk, picked up a piece of paper, and started to write. After a short while, Chrono came back with the paper in his hand.

“Here you go.”

“You have my gratitude,” Fay accepted the piece of paper from Chrono, and left the room.

 

 

The next day ―― Fay went to the stables before anyone else, and started to brush her horse. Even though it was a task she had repeatedly done over the last four years, it didn’t bother her at all when it came to her own horse. Far from it, she was actually grinning slovenly while doing it.

“Yo, I see you’re already at it so early in the morning.”

“L-Lord Chrono! Good morning, Sir!”

Fay stopped the brushing and looked at Chrono.

D-Does he possibly plan to break his own promise!?

“Fay, a letter from your previous superior was delivered to me…well, I received it when you reservists arrived here.”

“W-What does it say?”

Her legs were shaking. Last night she thought everything would be okay if she got him to write his promise down, but if Count Piske wrote something that could become a drawback for Fay, it was possible that Chrono would void his promise and let go of her.

“It mentioned some stuff about your work attitude being lacking, you not listening to what others tell you, and so on.”

“I have done my job properly! Certainly, there were times when I was scolded for my bad performance, but…”

Fay felt dizzy. If she was honest, it took her all to just keep standing.

I’ve been working diligently for four years. Or I should have. And yet…and yet…

“Silver testified that you have worked diligently, so it’s okay.”

“I-Is that so?”

Fay felt relieved.

“I’m not that much of an idiot that I’d unconditionally believe what’s written in a letter like this.”

“Then, why?”

“Information sharing, I guess? The possibility of you being directly bullied also exists.”

“…Lord Chrono, you are mean.”

God, thank you, Fay prayed in her mind.

At that moment, a scene of Chrono crossing blades with a knight in silver armor crossed her mind.

 

 


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Translation Notes:

  1. Alfirk is part of the triple star system in the constellation of Cepheus. So, we’re continuing with the astronomical naming.
  2. She uses ~dearimasu as a standard ending to her sentences, like that expressionless maid from Shakugan no Shana – Wilhelmina. It’s intended to emphasize that she is old-fashioned, formal, and morally inflexible. I will keep her speech formal to reflect it, but I’m not sure yet whether to add a quirk to her sentences.
  3. Another star, also called Gamma Centauri
  4. Hamal, designation Alpha Arietis, is the brightest star in the northern zodiacal constellation of Aries
  5. All kendo terms which don’t have English terms as far as I am aware of. Here you have the wiki for Waki-gamae: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waki-gamae. Joudan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C5%8Ddan-no-kamae) is about holding the sword above your head.

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