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On the next day after their arrival in the capital, Layla enjoyed a pleasant chat with Mayla over tea. Moreover, in Mayla’s room.
The room’s layout wasn’t all that different from those of the guest rooms on the third floor. If there was a difference, it’d be limited to the existence of a table and chairs for a tea party.
Layla was sitting on the edge of her chair while intently listening to Mayla’s stories. According to her, Mayla had been bought as a nameless slave more than thirty years ago. At this point, it was already clear, but her buyer was Chrono’s father, Chrohd Chroford who was still an active mercenary at that time. Even back then, he was apparently a man craving the limelight so much that he’d give himself a surname despite not being nobility. On top of that, he was prone to never considering the consequences of his own actions.
Most people wouldn’t teach slaves how to fight, let alone give them education, since they’d fear a potential deception or assassination by the slave. Not so Chrohd. He taught Mayla everything he knew.
Of course she didn’t betray him. Far from it. She continued serving Chrohd devotedly to this very day.
After finishing her story, Mayla brought the teacup to her mouth and took a sip. It was a conduct so elegant that you wouldn’t believe her to have formerly been a slave. Layla wondered whether she’d be able to become like that if she garnered years of experience.
As Layla was brooding, Mayla quietly put her cup down.
“…So, what do you think?”
“It was very emotional and educational.”
Mayla’s story had been interesting to Layla and it woke a strong wish in her to serve Chrono in a similar manner.
“Do you have any questions?”
“Did you ever feel like it’s painful or difficult?”
“Hmm,” Mayla smiled gently, “there were many instances. I would say the most difficult experience was the reclamation of the southern borderlands.”
“I see,” Layla muttered under her breath.
She thought of it as a terrible story. Not only did the emperor lock the leading figure behind the quelling of the civil war over the imperial throne away in the borderlands, which was basically one huge primeval forest, but he also ordered him to reclaim it. Layla wondered what would register as betrayal, if not that.
“But, the reclamation succeeded and nowadays it’s the main grain-producing area in the Empire. In the end, it was the correct decision to stick with Master.”
“Pardon?” Layla asked back reflexively.
What did she say just now? Sticking with Master? No, that’s impossible. She’s a perfect maid who serves her master devotedly, so she’d never use such a gambler-like phrasing――
“In the end, it was the correct decision to stick with Master. The young master seems to steadily get ahead in life as well, so I can count my future livelihood as secured. Wahahaha!” Mayla guffawed.
Layla immediately felt all her feelings of respect dissipate.
Yeah, right. I respected her and wanted to become like her. And yet, I got terribly disappointed.
“Would it be alright for me to return to my own room now?”
“We only got started on our little chat. No need to be so pushy, young-un.”
Layla grunted a vague confirmation. In reality, however, she wanted to go back and spend some time next to Chrono. But, now that Mayla had held her back, she couldn’t simply leave like that.
“Alright, let us talk about the main issue.”
Given that Mayla corrected her seating posture, Layla straightened her back.
“Won’t you receive some training as a maid under me?”
“As a maid?”
“Yes, right,” Mayla nodded in satisfaction.
“Umm, I’m actually going to stay in the capital for only three days…”
“Three days are plenty to drill you in the basics.”
“I must also attend the ball.”
“It’ll be plenty,” Mayla asserted persistently.
You could clearly feel that she was intent on making a maid out of Layla.
“Because you’re the young master’s lover. For the sake of my future, I want to make sure to have some influence,” Mayla blurted out nonchalantly which caused Layla to feel dizzy.
She’s only thinking about herself. Just how did I end up respecting such a person? It’s the biggest failure of my life.
“Moreover, I feel like leaving behind something like Master.”
“Like Mas…Lord Chrohd?”
“My eyes didn’t fail me. You seem to have the makings of a maid,” Mayla commented with a complacent smile.
“Umm, I’ll be happy as long as I can serve Lord Chrono as a soldier.”
“Really? That’s disappointing then. Not for me, but for the young master, that is.”
“Why would it be disappointing for Lord Chrono?”
“I believe that gentlemen wish their beloved women to always be beautiful.”
“――gh!” Layla gasped.
She had remembered how Chrono had prepared a dress for her. Back then she didn’t think too deeply about it, but she vaguely felt like he might have had such a notion.
“Moreover,” Mayla continued, “beauty isn’t something that’s only limited to the outward appearance either. Do you understand that?”
She had thought that Mayla’s way of drinking the tea was very refined, so she had no choice but to agree here.
“You can call refinement yet another aspect of beauty.”
“…Okay,” Layla squeezed out while feeling like vomiting blood.
In the end, I’m an idiot. My thinking has been too shallow.
She had been under the impression that beauty meant one’s appearance which caused her now to feel like dying out of too much embarrassment.
“You became negligent about aiming for new heights as you were satisfied with your current situation.”
“Y-Yes, you are absolutely right.”
At last, at long last, she understood what Mayla meant with the part about disappointing. She had been pitying Chrono for possessing a lover who forgot about aiming higher.
“What might it be, dear guest?”
Layla suffered a heavy shock from that phrasing as Mayla had been treating her like her successor thus far.
And yet I got all disappointed about her on my own accord. How stupid I was.
“I will! I will receive your maid training! No, please allow me to receive it!”
“The training will be harsh, you know?”
“I will endure! I will show you how I am going to get through it!”
“Wonderful. As I thought, my eyes didn’t trick me after all,” Mayla clapped her hands together.
“The training will be rigorous, but once you overcome that ordeal, you’ll be able to achieve new heights, I think. I’m more than certain that the young master will feel proud of you as well.”
“…I will become Lord Chrono’s pride…” Layla muttered while swallowing her saliva.
“It sounds like you made up your resolve.”
“Very well, then I will interact with you as your superior from now on. You are to call me Instructor henceforth.”
“You have forgotten the proper title.”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
“You’re too quiet!”
“Yes! Lady Instructor!” Layla yelled after getting reprimanded by Mayla.
“That’s how it should be. You will answer with either 『Yes』 or 『No』. You will use Lady Instructor for me, Master for the young master, and Senior Master for Lord Chrohd.”
“Yes! Lady Instructor!”
Mayla narrowed her eyes in pleasure.
“Also, you are forbidden to visit the young master’s room during your stay in the capital.
“You answer only with 『Yes』 or 『No』!”
“…” Layla remained silent as she had a hunch that either answer would earn her a reprimand.
“Silence…that’s yet another option, I suppose.”
Mayla stood up quietly, walked up to the door, and flung it open.
“I understand your feelings. If you want to share a bed with him so much, I won’t stop you. But, it’s truly regrettable. I cannot help feeling disappointed about you wasting your opportunity to become the young master’s pride so readily.”
“…Kuuh,” groaned Layla.
She hadn’t had sex even once ever since they left Harshel. It was no more than her personal experience telling her so, but tonight Chrono should visit her while being in the mood.
“Can’t we start tomorrow?”
“That won’t do. Currently you’re choosing whether you’ll become a maid or not.”
Perceiving that this matter would be indisputable, Layla chewed on her lips. In all honesty, right now she wanted to have sex with Chrono. She wanted him to desire her. But, she wouldn’t be able to become Chrono’s pride with only that much. And someday she would become unable to bear that burden. She’d be forced to choose between herself and Chrono.
“Wonderful,” Mayla smiled as Layla squeezed out her consent.
That smile would remind anyone of a devil. Next, she opened a closet and retrieved a maid’s attire.
“I’ll give this here to you.”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
Layla stood up and received the maid attire from Mayla.
“Please put it on. Oh, and I won’t mind you using my bed while changing.”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
Layla turned on her heels, and placed her maid attire on the bed, just to notice something.
“What is it?”
“I feel like the skirt is awfully short…,” Layla remarked while looking down at the skirt that was spread out on the bed.
It reaches to the knees? No, it’s shorter than that. Won’t my underwear be visible if I wear this?
“…Besides, the chest area too,” Layla groaned.
She didn’t realize since it wasn’t immediately clear from lying on the bed, but the chest area showed some leeway. Or rather, quite a bit of it. If she wore this and someone looked at her from above, they would see her underwear.
“What about it?”
“My underwear will be in plain sight.”
“Okay, and?” Mayla asked back indifferently, talking as if she didn’t see any problem.
Considering it logically, it’s obvious that she knows what I’m talking about. In other words, this is intentional.
“I won’t particularly mind if you don’t wear any underwear, okay?”
“But I will mind it!” Layla yelled.
“Is that so? That’s regrettable,” Mayla answered with a sigh. “I think the young master will be delighted to see you wear this maid outfit.”
“Quite so. The young master does love maids.”
Layla eyes Mayla. She didn’t think that the older woman was lying, but she had no way to check either.
How did Chrono act back at the mansion?
Suddenly she remembered the landlady. For a period of time, the landlady had worn a maid outfit with a wide decollete and short skirt.
What if she did so in response to Chrono’s desires? Layla’s heartbeat sped up. No way……but then again――
“Is something wrong?”
“I will wear it.”
Layla placed her hands on the uniform and took it off while deliberately ignoring the look pinned on her. After undressing, she folded the uniform and changed into the maid attire. It was truly borderline, causing her to feel doubts whether she’d be able to become Chrono’s pride like this.
“Face this way.”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
Layla turned around, just to pin down the skirt in panic. No doubt, borderline. If she didn’t hold the skirt down, her panties would become visible during movement.
Meanwhile, Mayla scrutinized Layla. Even when being watched while changing her clothes, Layla hadn’t felt anything. Yet, she was embarrassed by Mayla looking at her now that she wore the maid outfit.
“It gets a pass, I suppose.”
“But, you mustn’t misunderstand,” interrupted Mayla and stepped forward.
Just like that she paced back and forth in front of Layla.
“Keep in mind. Right now you’re no more than a phony maid who doesn’t even qualify as an errand girl.”
“It’s the term for the most inferior maid in this sphere of work,” Mayla answered Layla’s mutter with a scoffing look. “But, you have no need to be pessimistic. I will beat the meaning behind being a maid into you. The training will be harsh, but once you overcome that ordeal, you will take your first step forward as a maid. That would be wonderful, right?”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
“You’re too quiet! Speak up!”
“Yes! Lady Instructor!”
“Yes!! Lady Instructor!!!”
Mayla sighed, shaking her head.
“We’ve got a long way ahead of us, but I won’t forsake you. As long as you possess the will to go ahead. Got it?”
“Thank you!! Lady Instructor!!”
“Very well, then let us start with your work. First you are going to clean the entry hall, the front yard, and the stable. Once you are done with that, you will go to wake the young master and Master, before preparing breakfast. Having said that, the preparations will already be done by then… Oh, before I forget,” Mayla took a broom out of her closet.
Why is a broom in her closet? Though, I think it’s best to not comment on that.
“It completely slipped my mind that I had prepared a lover for you who won’t be able to share a bed with the young master. Come on, take it.”
“Yes!! Lady Instructor!!”
Layla accepted the broom from Mayla. It was an awfully seasoned item. Its handle had darkened.
“The broom will be your lover during cleaning while the kitchen knife will take its place during cooking. Make sure to not betray either. Even if it’s the young master.”
“What should I do when I am being desired by Master?”
“No need to worry,” Mayla grinned broadly.
It was the smile of a devil. Of course, Layla got a bad feeling about it.
“I have already talked this over with the young master yesterday. Telling him to not make any passes at you since it will sabotage your maid training.”
“Has Chr――Master agreed to that?”
“I got his consent in the end. Though he looked reluctant as he wanted to call you last night as well.”
Layla was lost for words. If Mayla didn’t lie to her, she could have had sex with Chrono yesterday. That opportunity was stolen from her. And as she couldn’t forgive it, she loaded all her hatred into her glare.
But, it didn’t seem to faze Mayla. Far from it, she answered by smiling. As if feeling blessed by Layla’s glare.
“The young master won’t make any moves on you until you leave the capital. Do you understand? If you do, hurry up and get started on the cleaning.”
If only I could kill others through glares, Layla growled.
“Where’s your reply, phony maid!?”
“Yes!! Lady Instructor!!”
Layla yelled after resigning herself, all the while wondering whether she might have made a mistake in her choices.
“Master, please stand up.”
Chrono’s body was shaken alongside that morning greeting. It wasn’t a continuous swaying, but rather intermittent as if reserved, or maybe unaccustomed, or possibly both. Either way, it wasn’t enough to expel his sleepiness.
He heard such an exchange. And once he opened his eyes, wondering what was going on, Layla was peering down at him.
She wasn’t wearing her uniform, but a maid attire. The decollete was wide, and her underwear was in plain sight. It made him feel like a lucky pervert.
“G-Good morning, Master,” Layla jumped back and stammered with a high-pitched voice in response to Chrono greeting her after raising his body.
He scrutinized Layla. Her skirt was short enough to let one peek at her thighs, and you could take a deep look into her cleavage. Basically it meant, her underwear would be visible whenever she leaned forward or climbed the stairs.
Marvelous. Am I in heaven right now?
Layla was fidgeting at the side of his bed. Her ears were bright red, probably out of embarrassment.
“Master?” Chrono unintentionally parroted her words.
As he was puzzled since she would usually call him Lord Chrono, Mayla stepped forward.
“Just as I informed you yesterday, I will have her work as a maid.”
“Oh, come to think of it, you mentioned something along those lines.”
He wanted Layla to comfort him a bit after the long, exhausting journey, but Mayla was quite attached to Layla. He could sense her passion to turn Layla into a maid at all costs. Losing out to her fervor, he gave her permission to go ahead on the condition of Layla agreeing to it.
He got surprised when he was told to not get in the way of Layla’s maid training right afterwards, though.
“Young Master, what do you think of my work?”
Chrono re-examined Layla. Her pretty, slender legs, her chest which she claimed to be modest, her flushed cheeks, and the feebly drooping ears. Truly――
“Perfect. Mayla, it’s perfect. A short skirt and a top with a wide decollete for maid clothes, which are supposed to be a work uniform, are reckless. But, that’s also the good part about it.”
“I am truly humbled to receive such high praise from you,” Mayla lightly bowed with a broad grin. “Sp what are your impressions of Layla in a maid attire?”
“It fits her very nicely.”
“T-Thank you very much, Master,” Layla bowed energetically, just to hold down her skirt in a fluster.
Don’t cover your bottom and leave your top exposed.
With Layla focusing too much on her skirt, she was off-guard in regards to her chest.
As I thought, this must be heaven. I’ve been shown something great first thing in the morning, Chrono marveled while getting out of bed.
But neither Mayla nor Layla left. Of course, he wouldn’t be embarrassed from them seeing him in briefs, but――
“I’d like to change, if you don’t mind?”
“Young Master, it’s a maid’s duty to assist in changing clothes.”
“I can handle it myself…”
He had almost agreed to it on the spur of the moment, but swallowed the words down at the last second.
“You don’t mean just passing me the clothes?”
“Of course not.”
“Are you going to kneel down and pull on my pants?”
“That would be the meaning of assisting, right?”
“O-Okay, I guess I’ll rely on you then.”
Chrono folded when Mayla answered him as if it was only natural. He wanted to remain in heaven for a bit longer.
“Layla, assist him.”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
In accordance with Mayla’s order, Layla walked up to the closet. Once she extended her hand to take out a military uniform, the skirt of her maid attire got pulled upwards. Layla tried to hold it down, but――
“Get the uniform just like that.”
“Y-Yes, Lady Instructor.”
Following the instruction, Layla stopped pulling her skirt down and extended her hand for the uniform. Her skirt was pulled up again, but her underwear remained barely out of sight as Layla managed to get the uniform and return to Chrono.
“Put the uniform on the bed, and start with the shirt.”
“Yes, Lady Instructor.”
Layla placed the uniform set on the bed and picked the shirt up first. He could almost see her underwear as she did so. But, this time it also remained barely out of sight.
“Master, here you go.”
“Thanks,” said Chrono and passed his arm through the shirt.
Something soft touched his back – Layla’s chest. She turned on her heels with her cheeks blushing, and pinned down her skirt as if suddenly recalling its existence.
Then she slowly picked up the pants so as to not stretch the skirt, before kneeling down at Chrono’s feet.
You can see her bra. Awesome. Just as I thought, I’m in paradise right now.
A fragrant smell filled the dining room. Chrono was sitting on his chair, waiting for breakfast to be ready.
“Faster! Be more efficient when frying!”
“Yes! Lady Instructor!”
Layla and Mayla’s voices could be heard coming from the kitchen. You could say this or that about them, but they did seem to make a good pair of student and teacher. Chrono recalled Layla’s miniskirt maid outfit. At first he thought it to be wonderful, but――
“It sure keeps you in suspense, doesn’t it?”
“Just what are you talking about?”
Sitting opposite him, his foster father revealed a fed-up expression when he heard Chrono’s muttering.
“Layla’s maid uniform.”
“Why not simply push her down then?”
“Yeah okay, it was my bad to hope for you to agree with me, Dad,” Chrono sighed at Chrod blurting this remark out as if it was only natural.
He had realized that it was indispensable to choose your consultation partners wisely.
Suddenly he recalled his foster mother, Ella. His time with her was limited to around one year. But he felt like she had given him a lot during that short time period. He clearly regarded her as his mother and benefactor. If not for her, he might have chosen death out of depression.
“Don’t tell me…you didn’t assault Mum, did you?”
“What bullshit are you spouting, boy. I’d never do anything like that,” Chrod hissed angrily.
As I thought, even my foster father wouldn’t――
“I considered doing it not just once, however.”
“Okay, you messed it up right there.”
“However, look, that woman was pesky when I met her for the first time.”
“Really?” Chrono couldn’t help but ask reflexively.
Ella, as Chrono knew her, was a gentle woman and far from anything you’d describe as pesky.
“Yeah, really. Not only did she quibble all the time about my way of doing things, she also ran her mouth about silly crap like honor and chivalry. She kept nagging to me that I should watch those things if I could win anyway.”
Chrono looked away from his foster father as he remembered how he had launched a sneak attack on the advance party during his first campaign.
“You did well to hold back then.”
“It just didn’t look like I’d make her submit even if I ravished her all day long.”
“Make her submit…”
“It’s my personal way of handling pesky women. Make them submit. Someday you’ll also understand what I’m talking about.”
“I don’t want to understand it, to be honest.”
“No, you’ll understand it as well. Whatever you say, you’re my son.”
Just as Chrod folded his arms and emphasized so with a broad grin, Layla and Mayla entered the dining room. Dishes were placed on their silver trays.
“Master, please enjoy the food.”
Layla placed Chrono’s portion down in front of him. It was a simple breakfast menu consisting of bread, egg soup, and an assortment of sausages.
“Come to think of it, what about Elena and Fay?”
“Those two are still asleep.”
“Hmm, I guess it’s only understandable.”
Elena doesn’t seem to be much of a morning person, and Fay――I’m sure she must be tired.
At that moment, Chrod tilted his body, trying to take a peek underneath Layla’s skirt. Mayla stepped forward, blocking Chrod’s line of sight. As might be expected of her, she did a flawless job. She silently lined up Chrod’s breakfast in front of him.
“Please enjoy your meal, Master.”
Chrod straightened his back. He picked up his spoon and threw it to the side. Apparently his plan was to peek underneath Layla’s skirt when she’d be trying to pick up the spoon for him. Mayla’s hand blurred, just for her hand to clasp the spoon the instant it stopped.
“Here you go.”
Chrod accepted the spoon offered to him respectfully while looking rather unwilling. Meanwhile Chrono split his bread in two. Steam rose from its inside, accompanied by a savory aroma. He stuffed his mouth with one half of the bread. It was soft and possessed a faint taste of sweetness.
Next, he brought the soup to his mouth. It looked lightly flavored, but its taste was actually quite deep. Then he tasted a sausage. Its skin was crisp and its interior was overflowing with meat juices. Its seasoning had been kept simple with salt and pepper only, but that allowed the meat’s taste to come out.
“So Mayla made the bread and soup while Layla prepared the sausages, huh?”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Layla cast her face down, looking embarrassed. “How did it taste?”
“Mmh, it’s great.”
“Thank you very much,” Layla’s face bloomed into happiness.
“Which reminds me, what are your plans for today?”
“Today I’ve got nothing…,” said Chrono but then stopped.
He had a bad feeling about this. His well-honed danger perception skill was warning him.
“I’m busy today.”
“Shucks, and here I wanted to have a nice chat between father and son after a long time.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to miss the opportunity.”
Chrono felt relieved in his mind. Nice chat between father and son usually meant freestyle judo training with wooden swords. Given that his foster father was going at it for real――although he himself would likely deny that――it used to be a terrible disaster for Chrono.
While chewing on his sausage, Chrono smiled as he had managed to avoid danger this time around.
After finishing his breakfast, Chrono left the Chroford mansion. In reality he wanted to take it easy by chilling a bit, but he’d be more than troubled if his foster father approached him about some quality father-son time after spotting him wasting time. He walked through the Fourth District while wondering how to kill some time.
In his previous world, killing time would have been an easy endeavor, but this world didn’t make it so simple. Another part making it hard for Chrono was him being forced to walk by foot because he sucked at riding horses.
“Oh! Is that you, Chrono!?”
“Just what are you saying, man?”
As he turned around while denying the question, he found a man in uniform standing behind him. He had an evil look and his nose looked like a ball. It was his yearmate at the Military Academy ― Simon Alden
“Oh, Simon, huh?”
“What’s with that lackluster reaction? Weren’t we in the same year at the academy?” Simon walked up to Chrono with a frown on his face.
Chrono suspected that his right eye was bothering Simon.
“That right eye of yours…”
“It happened during our battle against Argo.”
“I see. I heard the rumors, but I didn’t expect you to suffer such an injury.”
“Rumors? What sort of?” Chrono asked reflexively.
He guessed that no good rumors would be going around about him, but even so, he was still curious how people were gossiping about him.
“All I know is about stuff like you repelling Argo’s army of 10,000 men while leading a thousand of your own, or Marquis Erakis having run away.”
“What, so it’s just stuff like that, huh?” Chrono felt relieved.
He thought that far worse rumors about him were afoot, but――
“There’s also rumors about you having poisoned Marquis Erakis to death or you bedding a different woman every night, but I don’t believe those. I mean, you’re not the type of guy for that.”
“Oh, I see. Those rumors are around as well, after all,” groaned Chrono.
He suspected that the story about him sleeping around had been spread by Tilia’s maids.
“Don’t mind it. It’s just the high-ranking nobles being jealous of your achievements anyway.”
“It’d be nice if that’s all there is to it.”
“Still, spell me surprised. I thought you didn’t pay much attention to rumors…”
“Getting some backbiting is fine, but being told that such rumors are being spread about me is a bit…”
“Did I say something unnecessary there?”
“No, thanks for bringing me up to date.”
The damage will be low as long as I know what sort of gossip is going around about me.
“Got some time, Chrono?”
“I was just looking for what to do with my time anyway, but why are you asking?”
“Keep me some company,” ordered Simon and started to walk off.
Chrono followed a moment later. Some time had passed since they graduated from the military, but his high-handedness, or rather, egocentricity hadn’t changed much, if at all.
“Where are we going?”
“An eatery along the main street. Having said that, their food tastes like shit and they skimper on the quantity, too.”
“Hmm, I see,” Chrono agreed conversationally.
He wondered whether Simon meant a cafe rather than an eatery, but he supposed that pointing this out would be boorish. Besides, he’d be troubled if it pissed Simon off too.
He restlessly let his eyes wander. The Fourth District was inhabited by rich folks, so it looked well-ordered and maintained. No trash was lying on the streets, and naturally, no foul stench was hanging over the area either.
“What’s up? Did you spot something unusual?”
“For the time being, a lord, so I thought about copying things, if I found something worthy of referencing.”
“Being a lord sounds like quite the hassle. So, did you find something to reference?”
“You won’t be able to find such things so quickly.”
“Well, that makes sense, I guess,” Simon agreed and stopped.
“It’s over there,” Simon’s finger pointed at a store located on the other side of the road.
Chrono and Simon crossed the street and entered the establishment. As it appeared to be fairly popular, the tables were packed with people.
Just as Chrono wondered whether they should go to another place, Simon pointed at a table near the window.
“Let’s sit down over there.”
“It’s occupied, isn’t it?”
A man was already sitting at the table indicated by Simon. He had his face hidden behind the book he was reading.
“I hope it won’t turn into a fight,” Chrono whispered with a sigh, before following Simon.
“We’re going to sit down here.”
“T-This place has been reserv――”
As soon as Simon flopped down on a chair, the book-reading guy lifted his face, and gasped. But he wasn’t the only one to be startled. The same applied to Chrono as well. After all, he was yet another acquaintance of Chrono and a former classmate at the academy ― Hugo Edwards.
“We can sit down here, right?”
“Please do as you see fit.”
“Move over a bit, otherwise Chrono won’t be able to fit in.”
“Got it,” Hugo spat out and drew closer to the window.
“I’m already used to it. Still, we’ve already graduated from the academy and yet you still treat me like that…”
While casting a sidelong glance at Hugo who was busy mumbling complaints, Chrono sat down around the table. A moment later, a waitress showed up. Unfortunately, she wore no maid attire, however.
“Dear customers, have you already decided on your order?”
“Bring us your recommended blend. Chrono, you’re fine with that as well, yeah?”
“I’ll leave it in your hands.”
“Okay, thanks for your order.”
After bobbing a thanks, the waitress dashed off.
Sensing eyes on himself, Chrono looked to his side, just to spot Hugo glancing at him.
“Chrono, I heard about it. It sounds like you have had it rough.”
“I managed to pull through one way or another,” responded Chrono with a sigh.
“Thank you for waiting,” said the waitress and placed a cup in front of Simon and Chrono each.
Steam was rising, causing a stimulating aroma to fill the air. Chrono wanted to know how they had made this tea, but when he tried to ask, the waitress was already gone. He picked up the cup, resolved himself, and took a sip of the fragrant tea.
The hot brew quickly reached all the way down to his stomach, immediately heating up his body from within. Chrono threw his eyes open due to the strange sensation.
“Surprising, isn’t it? It’s got its own quirk, but it heats your body from the core. You really appreciate this stuff during winter.”
“Hmm, so you’re coming here often?”
“Yeah, usually after work,” Simon admitted with a sulky tone.
“He’s working as a guard in the capital. Twelfth District, was it?”
“No, fifth,” Simon corrected Hugo.
“Isn’t it great to work in the Fifth District?”
“I’d prefer the Twelfth.”
Chrono hadn’t imagined the sulkiness in Simon’s voice. The Twelfth District was a pleasure quarter filled with bars and brothels. Order was kept on the main streets, but drug sellers and stolen goods dealers could be found in its back alleys. Rumors also mentioned illegal gambling based on deadly underground tournaments, so it was quite a scary place to loiter.
“That’s what I like. If we talk about what I did ever since getting assigned, it’s mostly been mediating quarrels, taking care of drunkards, and handling some petty crimes. At this rate, I’ll just get rustier by the day.”
Simon clenched his fists, triggering Chrono to remember that Simon wanted to become an imperial knight. Him now working as a guard meant that he’d failed the exam to enter the knight squads.
But that was only natural. The imperial knights were the elites among elites in the empire. Moreover, you needed an appropriate lineage in addition to outstanding skills.
“You talking about getting rusty means you’ve still not given up, huh?”
“Of course not. I’ll definitely become an imperial knight.”
“Please do your utmost. I’ll work hard at the financial department.”
“Oh, so you got into finances, Hugo? That’s incredible,” Chrono honestly expressed his admiration.
Four administrative departments existed in the Empire: the Military Department that ruled over all military and naval affairs, the Documental Department which drew up and proclaimed laws, the Imperial Household Department which managed all matters related to the imperial family, and the Financial Department which handled public finances and managed the areas under the direct control of the crown. Among those four, the people working at the financial department were regarded as top class.
“W-Well, if you got my brains, it’s easy to get into the financial department. Just yesterday, I rebuked a useless old guy.”
Hugo pushed his glasses up, looking just like a professor as they appeared in manga.
“Sounds truly amazing. I feel like I’ve finally become able to somehow run my territory while being supported by everyone.”
“T-That makes sense. Your and my intellectual abilities are totally different, Chrono. Wahahaha!” Hugo laughed out.
“W-What is it? I’m not lying or anything.”
Being called out by Simon, Hugo looked away, making his behavior seem rather suspicious.
“Is he telling the truth?”
“I am. I’m working at the financial department.”
“This guy’s in charge of collecting and delivery.”
“It’s the correspondence section!” Hugo amended with irritation dyeing his voice.
“It’s the fine task of transporting documents. No work will ever get started without me being around.”
“It’s a job anyone could do, right? Even the story about the old guy just now must have been about you getting scolded.”
“It’s not my fault! That troublesome geezer pushed his responsibility on me! How dare he kick my butt over it! I’ve had it with his bullshit!” Hugo whined, before finishing his complaint with a weird squeal.
“Both of you sure are doing great work.”
“Among us classmates, you’ve made the steepest career, though.”
“Among us classmates? So you know the assignment of everyone else?”
“Don’t ask the obvious, man.”
“It’s not so obvious for me, you know?”
“In your case, it’s rather questionable how you managed to graduate in the first place,” Simon rebutted seriously.
Going by his tone, he didn’t mean anything evil with this, but――
“Chrono, you were awarded a warrior peerage. Seeing you bowing your head all over the academy together with Assistant Instructor Wiseman right before graduation, I totally felt like I never wanted to become like you.”
“Shut it, errand boy. I’ll set your home on fire.”
“Wh-!? Even you, Chrono!? Ughh,” groaned Hugo and averted his face from Chrono.
‘What a troublesome guy. Acting cross despite being the one who’s started it in the first place. Having said that, it’s true that my graduation was a rather close call, and that my assignment hadn’t been decided until the very end.
“Come to think of it, why are you in the capital? Is everything okay in your territory?”
“I received an invitation to a ball.”
“A ball?” Simon dubiously knitted his eyebrows.
“It looks like a ball is being held at the Aldemilan Palace tomorrow,” Hugo explained
“He’s seriously the most successful amongst us,” hissed Simon with a sigh.
“It’s because Chrono is Her Highness’s favorite.”
“Stop it with that way of phrasing.”
Maybe it should be called surprising, but it was Simon who chided Hugo here.
“I’m just stating facts.”
“No, you’re wrong. Chrono was the only one who didn’t give up until the very end during that military exercise. That’s why he caught Her Highness’s attention. If you phrase it as him simply having had good luck, it just makes us miserable.”
“I guess you’re right. Forgive my words, Chrono,” Hugo frankly admitted his own fault when having it spelled out for him by Simon.
Chrono felt like both had become a bit more twisted since their time at the academy, but he suspected this to be an effect of entering adult society.
“Say, could you tell me a bit about your battle with Argo’s army?”
“Sure, but I haven’t done anything much myself. All of it is thanks to my men.”
“Oh, I don’t mind that. Hugo, you’re fine with that as well, right?”
“I’ll read…yeah, okay, I’m fine with it.”
After earning himself a glare by Simon, Hugo agreed to the new topic. Chrono folded his arms, wondering where he should start.
“Put your back into your sweeping of the floor!”
“Yes, Lady Instructor!”
When Chrono opened the entry hall’s door, he was hit by Mayla and Layla’s voices. Both had been sweeping the landing of the stairway. Probably because the angle was disadvantageous, Layla’s panties couldn’t be seen although her position suggested otherwise.
Well, leaving that aside――
“Dad, what are you doing?”
“Damn it! It looks like you can see them, and yet you can’t!”
His foster father was kneeling at the stairs, staring upstairs. Apparently aware of the shamefulness of his own action, he was hiding himself by the wall. Even so, he looked rather pathetic.
Once Chrono called out to him with a slightly louder voice, Chrod jumped up, just to fall on his backside.
“Don’t shout at me all of a sudden! You almost made my heart stop!”
“That’s my line here.”
“Why would you be startled?”
“Just as I come home, I find my father trying to take a peek underneath the skirt of my lover, okay? Of course be startled.”
Chrono went down on one knee next to Chrod, looking up the stairs. Her lean butt shook. And with each shake, her skirt swayed, almost allowing a peek at her panties. But, it remained limited to almost. As if magic had been cast on it, her panties were always barely out of sight.
“Aren’t you doing just the same?”
“I can do that. After all, she’s my woman.”
“I know that much. But, isn’t it fine for you to share some of that happiness?”
“No, it’s not!” Chrono strongly denied his foster father’s sulky whining.
He regarded Layla’s butt as his own property. And as such, it was completely unthinkable for him to share it with anyone.
“I’ve got just a few years left, you know?”
“Dad, you’ll still live for another thirty years. Even a hundred years should pose no problem, I’m sure.”
“Tsk, no choice then,” grumbled Chrod, sitting down with his back against the wall. “I’d never expected for a day to come when you’d try to peek under skirts.”
“I’m sorry to inform you, but this isn’t the sort of setting to get all emotional on me.”
“I’d never expected for a day to come when you’d visit brothe――”
“You’re the worst! You weren’t serious at all! Besides, I never got invited to one either!”
“I told you to go out to play when you were studying, didn’t I?”
“You meant it in that sense? Why would you choose your words only at such an occasion!?”
“…You were horny, weren’t you?”
His foster father looked at Chrono with eyes that seemed to be filled with pity.
“Any boy at that age would have interest in this sort of thing. Or rather, Dad, you’re still active on that front, aren’t you?”
“What’s the point in you pulling the emotional card on me now?” Chrod croaked in a huff, but then suddenly laughed while looking embarrassed, “Since Ella died, I’ve always remained loyal to her.”
“Bah, you suck!”
“Why? Isn’t that a great mindset to have?”
“You should have been faithful while Mom was still alive! She must be turning in her grave right now!” Chrono yelled, causing Chrod to frantically check their vicinity.
Then he breathed out in relief. Chrono suspected that his foster father might have sensed his foster mother’s presence.
“Well, what should I say…it’s great that we picked you up.”
“Yeah, I suppose.”
On the day he got transferred to this other world, Chrono ― Hisamitsu ― had been looking for other people while riding his bicycle. But as the sun went down, he was about to cry, overwhelmed by a feeling of forlornness. And just then he met Chrod.
Back then Hisamitsu had made a U-Turn with his bike. Anyone would have tried to run away if they met a muscled stranger with an evil gangster mug. However, his foster father had chased after him. And in the end he caught Hisamitsu and took him to his mansion.
“I thought I’d get killed.”
“I mean, I told you to wait and yet you escaped.”
“That’s only natural since I didn’t understand a word, you know?”
Even though it was a standard trope for people to immediately understand the language when being transferred to another world, Chrono had to learn it from scratch. Given that situation, he didn’t even know that he had to introduce himself in the western way of naming, which led to Chrono becoming his given name in this world.
“It gives me chills if I consider what would have happened if you hadn’t had that magic translation item.”
“Yeah, magic is truly great,” Chrod said with a serious tone. “Did I tell you that she’d been a guard knight of the empress?”
“She came to me as wife back when I had started the development of the southern borderlands. She never told me the details, but it looks like she’d been ordered to become my bride. Similar apparently happened to other folks as well. It probably was an attempt to turn me into a loyal lapdog by giving me a noble daughter. What a load of crap, I tell you,” Chrod spat out.
But in Chrono’s eyes that was a reasonable approach. Not only had Chrod finished the civil war, but he also drove the savage tribes into the Aleos Mountains ― a mountainous district at the empire’s southern tip. And yet, he was only given peerage with a primeval forest as reward for all his work. Moreover, his pride got crushed in the process.
“But, well, I was happy. I felt like she brought light into my life of stealing and being stolen from. I couldn’t make a brat with her, but even so, I was fine with things. That’s what I thought, but…” At that point his foster father faltered to continue. Only after a long, long silence, he went on, “Ella apologized for being unable to bear me a child. On her deathbed. I’m truly a bum of a guy. If you hadn’t been around, I’d have turned into true scum at that point.”
“Back then I lied to her.”
“You said, 『Mother, isn’t it way too heartless of you to forget about your own son?』, didn’t you?”
“I see you still remember it.”
“That question was the reason why I thought about adopting you as son-in-law after all.”
“I see,” Chrono quietly closed his eyes.
His foster mother had collapsed around the time when one year had passed after Chrono came to this world. She had suffered a high fever for many days for an unknown reason, and towards the end her consciousness was murky at best. It was easy to imagine that the hard, painful days of reclaiming the land had worn down her body.
Seeing her apologize with teary eyes as her mind was befuddled by feverish delirium, Chrono had lied to her on the spur of the moment. Using her mental state, he had pretended to be her real son. His foster mother then passed away while believing that lie. Her final words were about her asking whether it was truly alright for her to have such a wonderful life where she could pass on while having her husband and son care for her.
Thinking back on it now, that was likely the moment when Chrono Hisamitsu became Chrono Chroford.
“You saved Ella and me,” said his foster father emotionally, and stood up.
Chrono thought that he was planning to go back to his own room, but he grabbed Chrono’s head instead.
“Alright, let us deepen our familial bonds.”
“Please give me a break.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll hold back,” Chrod answered with a grin.
Chrono went outside while listlessly dragging his wooden sword. Inevitably so, as he felt depressed. Moreover――
“Huh? What’s the idea? Even an amateur can tell that he doesn’t have the slightest chance of winning…”
“Only the gods know about the chances of victory. What matters most is how much backbone one shows.”
“Anyone betting? I’ll bet on Lord Chrod.”
“Me too. Or rather, is there anyone going to bet on Lord Chrono anyway?”
“I am terribly sorry, but looking at Lord Chrono…”
“Yep, he’s outclassed.”
Any remaining motivation got whittled down by the comments made by Elena, Fay, Sub, and his other guards. If only Layla was present, he’d have been able to fire himself up somewhat, but unfortunately she was in the middle of her maid training.
His foster father came out a little while later. He was shouldering a wooden sword modeled after a greatsword.
“It took me some time to look for a good wooden sword.”
“You’re really going to hold back on me, right?”
“Did I ever lie to you?”
“I had my arm almost broken while believing in those words…,” Chrono retorted while rubbing his right arm.
“Did something like that happen?” Chrod answered while scratching his head.
The scary part about this was that he had apparently forgotten about it for real.
“The ball will be held tomorrow, so make sure to go easy on me, okay?”
“I know, I know.”
“Not the going easy on me so that I don’t die, but the going easy on me where I don’t get injured. You understand?”
“Just how little do you trust me?” Chrod said with a fed-up voice when Chrono emphasized it once more.
‘Honestly, even this much doesn’t give me a peace of mind.
They took up positions with around five meters distance between them, and Chrono readied his wooden sword. Meanwhile his foster father kept his sword shouldered.
It looked like he was full of openings, but his foster father’s swordsmanship was self-taught. It didn’t follow any common, established rule.
“Come on, how long are you going to keep up this staring contest?”
“I’m aiming to let you go first,” Chrono answered.
Basically, he was hoping for a counter.
“No choice. I’ll go along…with that provocation of yours!”
Chrod stepped in, closing the distance in a breath. Coupled with the pressure, it made him look as if he had grown into a giant. Chrono suspected that he very likely wouldn’t be able to experience anything like that in his former world, unless he confronted a brown bear. And even just describing it with a brown bear fell short since his foster father was a veteran mercenary. Chrono had to not only watch out for his weapon but also his battle tactics.
Suddenly, his visual field got shaded, causing Chrono to leap to the side. He didn’t have the sparetime to consider why his visual field had suddenly become darker. He obeyed the voice warning him that he’d be in danger if he stayed where he was. In the next instant, a wind blew past and a dull thud could be heard. His foster father’s sword had hit the stone paving.
Sweat started to gush out at once. If he hadn’t jumped sideways, his head would have been cracked open like a ripe watermelon. And even if it hadn’t gone that far, it was clear that his skull had been cracked at the very least from that strike. Chrono vividly felt like complaining about this, but he didn’t have any time for that. The next attack was approaching. An attack that seemed to crawl across the ground.
He guessed that Chrod was simply intending to swipe his feet, but if he was hit directly by that, his legs would very likely break.
Should I dodge by jumping? No, back when he was still in active duty, my foster sword had brandished a sword with the same size as his current wooden training sword. If you got as much strength as that man, it should be an easy feat to change the trajectory of a wooden sword on the fly. It’s also possible that I’ll lose all ways out if I evade by jumping.
Chrono pointed his own sword towards the ground, supporting it with a leg. If there was no option to jump, he could only parry the attack, he had decided. Chrod lightly widened his eyes, apparently having guessed Chrono’s aim, and grinned broadly. A grin reminiscent of a ferocious beast.
The wooden sword clashed, and the impact was passed on through Chrono’s whole body. He reflexively checked his own leg as he thought that it might have been blown away.
His leg and sword were fine, but Chrono widened his eyes in shock. The blue sky was sprawling underneath his feet. Once he lifted his face, he saw his foster father standing on his head. At that point he finally realized that he’d been turned over by receiving Chrod’s attack.
It was a strength that could only be labeled as absurd ― and unworldly. The sensation of being afloat engulfed his body, so he immediately extended one hand towards the ground. Twisting his body just like that, he landed as if to confront Chrohd directly. As might be expected, even his foster father appeared to be surprised by that acrobatic feat.
Chrono thrust out his sword, thinking that he found an opening, but suddenly his knees lost all strength. Obviously some damage of having blocked the earlier attack still remained. Chrod dodged the thrust by jumping backwards. It was a response that seemed too excessive, but it probably included the possibility of Chrono acting.
Chrono clicked his tongue. He also did so towards his foster father showing no openings, but it was also a display of frustration as he failed to capitalize on a rare opportunity. And to go even further, it was also a display of vexation that his plan of claiming victory by hitting once had dissipated into thin air.
“You’ve become quite resolute, haven’t you?”
“I’ve experienced real combat, so it’s only logical for my resolve to have solidified a bit, don’t you think?” Chrono replied in a casual manner.
His foster father was smiling, but that smile didn’t reach his eyes. He was trying to ascertain how much damage Chrono had taken away from the earlier exchange. Chrono thought that it wouldn’t hurt his foster father to be less on guard with him since there was so much difference in ability with them, but he also saw this as an opportunity.
His foster father was trying to read his state, so if he played it smart, he’d be able to buy time to recover. Or so he thought, but Chrod shouldered his wooden sword.
“Looks like I’ll be able to enjoy myself a bit longer then――right!?”
As his foster father swung his sword down, Chrono dodged by leaping sideways. The wooden tip of Chrod’s sword hit the stone paving. Another ground-crawling immediately followed, but Chrono barely managed to pull his body up and jump across the attack.
His foster father laughed cheerfully, apparently having promoted his son to the status of a fun playmate over this short span of time.
“So you did fake being dead!”
“I haven’t done anything like that,” Chrono shouted back at Chrod.
It was a fact that his leg had taken damage and he was still reeling from it.
It’d have been great if I could have bought some more time――no, right now I don’t have any time to bother thinking about stuff like that.
His foster father rotated his sword and launched another of those ground-creeping attacks. Chrono suspected that he was following some scheme as this was already the third time of the same attack. He stared directly into his foster father’s eyes, hoping he’d be able to see through the aim here.
However, his hopes ended up in vain as he couldn’t guess anything from Chrod’s eyes or expression. Chrono judged that to be logical since he wasn’t an ESPer or something like that. Moreover, he only gathered experience in martial arts for three years. If his foster father could be read by such a greenhorn, he’d have croaked on some battlefield long ago. In the first place, if you could read the intention of another person by just looking into their eyes, lie detectors would be totally useless.
Just as Chrono asked himself what he should do, the trajectory of Chrod’s sword changed. All of a sudden, the tip shot upwards, and at that point, Chrono finally understood the reason why his foster father had used the same attack three times in a row. His objective was to make Chrono focus on the area around his feet.
Chrono evaded this attack by crouching. He felt a gust of wind pass above his head, and he decided to assess the burnt scent as part of his imagination. Once he breathed out, exhaustion suddenly weighed down on him. The fight shouldn’t have lasted more than three minutes so far, and yet he was already in this sort of state.
Chrod shouldered his sword.
Probably to give me some time to get my breathing in order. No, that cannot be.
If his foster father was a man capable of such considerate action, Chrono wouldn’t have run away from their father-son bonding.
Since he’s not the sort of person who would recommend others to give up, it’s probably some sort of provocation.
As if to prove Chrono’s suspicion true, his foster father revealed a daring smile and said, “What’s wrong? You’ve been running――”
“Why is he only dodging?”
“That is because there is too much of a difference in physiques. Given that Lord Chrono would end up crushed if he took one of Lord Chrod’s attacks, he has been running.”
Elena and Fay interrupted Chrod’s question, resulting in them robbing him off his chance to lure Chrono in by provoking him.
“You heard them. That’s the reason.”
“I provoked you while aware of that! You’re not telling me anything new here!!”
Chrod retorted with his face bright red when Chrono answered politely. Apparently quite embarrassed, he stepped in deeply and swung his sword down at Chrono. Normally, Chrono would dodge to the side, but he deliberately stepped forward――or to be more precise, he stepped diagonally to the front.
His foster father’s sword grazed his body, causing a chill to run down his spine. He perceived Chrod out of the corner of his eyes. He had stopped moving as he had just finished his swing. The instant he thought that he’d be able to claim victory if he could turn around and thrust out his own sword, an impact ran through his body. His foster father had body slammed him.
But, the ramming attack didn’t connect fully. Right before Chrod’s body had run into him, he had kicked off the ground, evading a direct hit. Chrono delivered a single flash of his wooden sword as he turned around. The tip of his sword grazed Chrod’s clothes, causing his foster father to happily laugh out.
“Yes! I won! Victory is mine! Yahoo!” Chrono yelled, interrupting Chrod.
“The hell you’re saying, boy!? We’ve only started our battle!”
“We’re in no battle! Okay, I’m done here. It’s my victory!” Chrono shouted while clapping his hands together.
“You little piece of shit,” Chrod muttered as he let his eyes wander.
He was probably looking for a judge. Unfortunately for him, the only ones present were Chrono’s subordinates. It was unthinkable that any of them would judge in Chrono’s disfavor.
“Tsk. No choice, I guess,” Chrod clicked his tongue and shouldered his wooden sword.
It looked like he admitted his defeat, albeit unwillingly. Just when relief started to spread in his chest――
“Please allow me to be your next opponent!” Fay threw her own name in the ring.
She was clasping a wooden sword, although Chrono didn’t even know where she’d found it. As she gave it some practice swings to make sure of its feel, Chrod narrowed his eyes.
“Whoa. You’re quite skilled, aren’t you?”
“You sure look happy about that.”
“Well, I still haven’t had enough,” Chrod admitted cheerfully.
It was no sarcasm either. Chrono knew that his foster father was purely thirsting for fights against strong fighters.
“Sure, then do your best.”
“Leave the wooden sword here before that.”
Chrono put the sword on the ground and headed over to Elena.
“I’m totally pooped.”
He sat down next to her. Even though he only fought for a few minutes, he felt completely drained. Not only his stamina, but even all his willpower was gone.
“Which is stronger between Fay and your father, Lord Chrono?”
“Dad, I’d say? Though I want them to have a good fight.”
“You don’t think that Fay is going to win?”
“No, I don’t. At the very least, Dad is going to win the first match.”
Either was so strong that someone at Chrono’s level couldn’t make any educated guesses, but he was still confident that his foster father would win the first bout. No, it was probably more correct to say that he was confident of Fay’s loss.
Chrono looked at his foster father and Fay. Both were facing each other with around five meters between them. Fay was holding her wooden sword halfway up while Chrod was shouldering his. At this point, one could think that Fay had an advantage. After all, the moves you could perform with your sword shoulders were limited. It was too much of a handicap against a skilled swordwielder like Fay.
“Here I come――”
Chrod launched himself at her before Fay could even finish speaking. He threw his sword.
Fay let the projectile pass by crouching down. Chrono suspected that she had either read that attack or reacted on instinct. Either way meant that she was quite hardened against pressure. But――
Chrod shouted something akin to a squeal and swung his wooden sword down. Fay’s body froze for an instant there, before she blocked the attack with her own sword. However, Chrono couldn’t tell what had surprised her so much.
Was it the scream? Or the fact that my foster father picked up my sword? No, it’s possible that she might have guessed his strength based on what she saw in my fight against him.
“Yiiee! Yiiee! Yiiiiieeeh!”
Even as Chrono wondered about it, Chrod continued his attacks. While keeping those weird screams going, he kept slamming down his sword as if there was no end to it.
“W-Wait! That was a foul start!”
“Yiiee! Yiiee! Yiiiiieeeh!”
Fay cried in protest while being completely on the receiving end now, but Chrod continued his onslaught without giving so much as a damn about it. It didn’t seem like he intended to do the start over. Then again, Chrono could understand it when considering his foster father’s position. Even Chrono wouldn’t start over when in an advantageous position.
“I-I would like you to wait!”
Of course, the tempest-like onslaught by Chrod didn’t come to halt. And seemingly realizing that he had absolutely no intention to redo the match now that things had proceeded up to this point, Fay used a break in the attacks to pass by Chrono’s foster father with outstanding footwork. And then, after taking a big distance――
“You are unfair!” Fay yelled while pointing a finger at Chrod.
She was teary-eyed, apparently shocked about having been cornered into a one-sided, defensive battle.
“Hah? It’s OK for you to attack after declaring so, but it’s unfair for me to attack you?”
“U-Ugh, t-that is…,” Fay faltered. “A-Anyway! You are unfair! Unfair, I tell you! If you intend to cheat like this, I will use divine arts!”
“Are you a brat or something?” Chrod spat out in appall when Fay stomped her feet.
But, immediately following, he revealed a smile. His face was making it obvious that he was scheming something. Chrono suspected that his foster father was about to tease Fay.
“Well, if it’s something like divine arts, you’re free to use it if you want.”
“Is that true?”
“No point in me lying about it.”
Chrod propped himself up on his wooden sword as if using it as a cane. Fay groaned while glaring at him. Chrono assumed that she was trying to read Chrod’s aim. At the same time, he believed that it’d be better for her to not think too deeply about this.
“Goddess, I would like to lend your divine assistance! Divine Arts – Activation, Divine Garment!”
Darkness, similar to diluted ink, billowed up from Fay’s body. It was a divine art of the Goddess Ruling over Jet-Black Chaos. Activation boosted the user’s physical abilities while Divine Garment increased the defensive power.
In the next instant, Fay vanished, only leaving behind traces of thin black. A dry clack could be heard. Once Chrono looked in the direction of the sound, he saw his foster father receiving Fay’s attack by shouldering his sword.
Of course Fay was incredible for moving into his back instantly, but so was his foster father for blocking her attack. Once he swung his sword, Fay jumped back as if being repelled.
“Your manners sure are lacking if you’re trying to hit a helpless old man from behind, don’t you think?”
“A helpless old man would not charge at me while raising weird battlecries!” Fay retorted with a sullen look.
“No doubt. Anyway, come at me with your full strength from the front next.”
“You could die for real, you know?”
“If I’d croak from an attack by the likes of you, I’d have bitten the dust a long time ago by now. Don’t worry about it, and give it your best shot. I’m a guy you won’t be able to beat even if you exhaust all your strength.”
“Very well!” Fay shouted as Chrod beckoned her over with his sword resting on his shoulder.
It was a blunt provocation, but the swordswoman called Fay naturally went along with this.
“Goddess, I would like you to bless my blade! Divine Art – Holy Celebratory Blade! Goddess, I would like to lend a bit more of your power! Divine Arts – Activation, Divine Garment!”
A darkness like stick magma covered her wooden sword, and the density and quantity of the darkness engulfing Fay’s body had clearly increased. Chrono started to worry that smight plan to kill his foster father for real.
“Here I come!”
“…Sure, gimme your best shot.”
The instant Fay disappeared, Chrod sat down on the spot. A loud bang indicated a clash.
“Mine full attack has been shattered!”
Fay flew through the air. After getting tripped up by Chrod. Chrono didn’t feel surprised about the sight of a person flying through the air, even if it happened right in front of him. Rather, he felt it was only natural for it to play out like that, seeing how she stumbled while moving at such a speed that her body had vanished from sight.
Chrono’s foster father threw his wooden sword while still seated. Fay repelled it even while airborne. And just as she somehow managed to land――
Chrod’s kick exploded, and Fay got slammed against the wall. But, since the effect of her divine arts was still running, the damage seemed small.
“Alright, I’m done.”
“Please wait! I cannot agree with this!” Fay begged while clinging to his leg as Chrod tried to head back into the mansion. “One more time! I would like to have another bout with you!”
“You idiot! I could lose during the next match, right!?”
“Then, give me some advice! Pleaaaaaaaase!”
“I got it, so let go of me,” Chrod croaked with a fed-up voice.
Fay obediently let go and sat down in seiza.
“You’re relying too much on your talent. That’s all.”
“I would like you to be a bit more precise here.”
Fay clung to his leg once more when he tried to head back into the mansion.”
“You’re an idiot and you lack experience!”
“I do not understand! Be more precise about it! Please teach me!”
“You’re really incorrigible, girly,” Chrod sighed very deeply.
It was Chrono’s first time to see his foster father act like that.
“You’re strong. In my eyes, you’re obviously a greenhorn, but your abilities are top-notch among those of your age. Even you should know as much, right?”
Fay nodded repeatedly while stuck to Chrod’s leg.
“Because of your half-assed talent, you’ve never experienced any tough fight. That’s why you don’t try to use your birdbrain when you should. Going along with dumb provocations like the one earlier will just lead to your death. At this rate, you’re going to quickly fall for any enemy plan.”
“Ugh,” Fay winced.
Chrono thought that she had probably recalled the matter with the bandits just now.
“That ain’t not all either. Your flow immediately goes haywire as soon as things don’t go your way. It’s proof of your lack of preparedness. I’m not gonna tell you to always act like you’re on a battlefield, but brace your mind when it’s time to fight.”
“I suck at using my head.”
“If you’re an idiot, then use your head like idiots do. If you do at least that much, people won’t regard you as a genuine idiot at the very least.”
“Thank you for your guidance,” Fay separated from Chrod and bowed her head.
Thereupon, he suddenly punched her.
“Why did you hit me?”
“Because I felt like it. Anyway, I’ll train you for a bit longer,” declared Chrod while shouldering his sword again.
“Thank you!” Fay responded cheerfully.
“And with this I’ll be safe.”
“How typical for you, Lord Chrono,” Elena commented apathetically.
In the evening, Layla headed to her own room while wrapped up by a comfortable feeling of exhaustion. MAyla’s training was hard, but she felt like she had learned all sorts of things over the course of today. The biggest gain out of this might have been her realization that a life outside of being a soldier existed as well. The path of serving Chrono as a maid was a valid alternative, too.
Once she imagined herself serving Chrono as his maid, her lips naturally curved into a smile. She shook her head lightly.
No good. I’m a maid. I must always be aware of other people’s looks. My behavior will affect master’s――Lord Chrono’s reputation.
Once Layla entered her room――
“Master!” Layla jumped with a start.
Chrono was sitting on her bed.
“Why are you here?”
“I wanted to meet you, so I came here.”
Chrono stood up and approached her. Gently putting one hand on the wall, her brought her lips close to her ear.
He’s unusually assertive. Is this another effect of maid clothes?
“It’s alright, isn’t it?”
“You mustn’t, Master! I’m still in the middle of training!”
“Isn’t it a maid’s duty to answer her master’s call? Besides, there’s no way I could hold back if you wear such an outfit. Take responsibility.”
“P-Please forgive me, Master,” Layla apologized while turning her face away.
But, she felt like Chrono’s words had reason to them.
“It’s alright, isn’t it?”
The instant she nodded, she felt a stare. Once she looked in the direction, Mayla――her Lady Instructor was looking their way. Her style of peeking at them through a gap in the door was reminiscent of a devil.
With a slight delay, Chrono looked towards the door as well.
“Young Master, you broke your promise, didn’t you?”
“I haven’t promised anyt――gh!”
Chrono collapsed on the spot. He had his neck strangled by Mayla after she had moved behind him without the other two even noticing her movements.
Seriously, just when did she get behind him? It wasn’t just speed either, but she also used an unguarded moment to her advantage.
It was a phenomenon only allowing for such a conclusion.
“Good grief, punishment is in order if you break promises,” Mayla grabbed Chrono by the collar and started to walk off. “Young Master, I will show you the full extent of my affection. Be it crying or laughing, I will make sure that you won’t be able to prank a maid ever again. Kukukuku,” laughed Mayla darkly.
Layla had no choice but to watch Chrono being dragged away.
Just like that, the night of the second day faded out.
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