The next morning.
“In the past, the world was ruled by the Sacred Demon King… the people of the ancient civilization revered him as such.”
Mahiro strode into the light of the morning sun.
“A new morning arrived!? Yes, that’s it! A morning of hope…!!” (Mahiro)
“The people of the past were full of spirit. Therefore you should dance energetically as well, prince.” (Pariel)
Pariel clapped her hands.
Several members of the Royal Orchestra and a Royal Dance Teacher were in the room.
The ballroom dancing lessons took place every Wednesday morning. After all, no matter which country you belong to, it’s a crucial skill for those in high society. There’s no way that royalty, the heart of nobility, would be incapable of it.
“In the first place, who are you supposed to be, Pariel? For a mere guard to accompany me on my schedule; just who do you think you are. For your information, I’m the esteemed prince.” (Mahiro)
“You said that yesterday already. But I was asked by Lady Edelweiss, so it can’t be helped.” (Pariel)
“Aren’t you ashamed of using such excuse!? A life hiding behind excuses like that, you have it so easy.” (Mahiro)
“… Huh? You were there, Edelweiss?” (Mahiro)
“Is there a problem with that?” (Edelweiss)
“How about conducting yourself like a prince at least then, if you can’t play the part of His Majesty’s stand-in?” (Edelweiss)
“Like a prince… Aren’t I a prince to begin with…? In other words, I am… I am…what a terrible truth, am I merely the body double of the real Mahiro who lives somewhere out there in the world!?” (Mahiro)
“Lady Edelweiss didn’t mean it in that sense! Whyyy are you being so weird about it…?” (Pariel)
“In the first place, I don’t like ballroom dancing.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro stalked forward until he was right in front of Pariel’s nose.
She was slightly startled.
“Take my hands.” (Mahiro)
“I will put my hand around your waist.” (Mahiro)
“Front, front, back, right, side, side… gah, how indecent!!” (Mahiro)
“Right and side are the same thing!! … No, not that… there’s nothing obscene about it!!” (Pariel)
“Anyway, I won’t be motivated unless we dance in a more soulful manner!!” (Mahiro)
“S…Soul? ful? Eh?” (Pariel)
“With that, I’d like to leave for the outskirts of the castle again, but…” (Mahiro)
Mahiro timidly peeked at Edelweiss’ face. But rather than the usual expression of the stern maid about to launch into a lecture, her face was set with a firm determination.
“But… I wooonder what what I will dooo?” (Mahiro)
“How about doing as you please?” (Edelweiss)
Letting out such a strange scream, he flew out of the room. The orchestra and the teacher sighed and withdrew.
“Um-…Umm… I-Is that really okay, Lady Edelweiss!?” (Pariel)
“What are you still doing here? Chase after him quickly.” (Edelweiss)
“Eh? So you are telling me to bring him back after all then…” (Pariel)
“His Highness plans to stop the Empire’s invasion into this country by himself.” (Edelweiss)
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I mean, this person is not someone that would joke about something like that. Besides, even if she talks about holding them back, there’s still a long time before the Empire starts moving…
“If we leave him alone like this, he will end up in quite a dangerous place. But, if you are by his side, at least he won’t be able to do anything too rash. That’s why you have to follow him. I don’t mind you doing as you like beyond that. Do you understand?” (Edelweiss)
“G-… Got it! I will follow the prince as his guard!” (Pariel)
Hurriedly saluting, Pariel ran after the prince.
(Huuuh… that prince is going to save the country; what’s going on…!?)
Either way, Pariel changed out of her Royal Knight uniform into yesterday’s adventurer’s get-up and joined Mahiro, who was disguised as a commoner again, in the rear garden.
“Prince, you are not going outside the castle?” (Pariel)
“I will go there, too.” (Mahiro)
Even though it was called a garden, it still was part of the castle and as such it was wide enough to be a forest where one could go horse riding and hunting while enjoying the feel of a refreshing forest, where the sunlight filters through the trees, stretching on endlessly. However, next to that forest there were stables, a carriage storage area and the garage for the automobile that the king boarded yesterday. Mahiro seemed to have business in the maintenance area of the mobile corps who managed those.
As soon as they entered a large warehouse, their noses were assaulted with the smell of oil. Several coaches and one reserve automobile were undergoing maintenance.
“… You’re not borrowing a horse or taking out a carriage, are you?” (Pariel)
“Right, I’m going to take out my favorite steed.” (Mahiro)
“Even though you said that you can’t ride a horse yesterday…” (Pariel)
“In this vast world there are mounts that even I can handle.” (Mahiro)
In that case it would have been fine if you had spoken with the office of the mobile corps from the start. I wonder whether he unexpectedly doesn’t know that, seeing as it’s the first time for him having be able to receive the permission to freely go out without simply slipping out on foot like yesterday.
“Should I go to talk with them?” (Pariel)
“No, no… I have business with her.” (Mahiro)
He pointed at something in a corner of the warehouse that was covered by a sheet. Instantly, all members of the mobile corps wearing overalls began raising a ruckus in disbelief.
“Yo-… You are going to ride that!?”
“At last the prince is going to take that out!?”
“Somebody… whatever the circumstances might be, is it okay not to stop him!?”
At which point the captain of the mobile corps – someone Pariel was indebted to as well since he gave her the horse she’s riding – turned up… welding goggles accompanied by a furious look on his face. Generally, elderly captains like him have a reputation for being intimidating and harsh, and this person was no different – being called demon instructor and other variations of that. Especially given that he’s working here due to his expertise in machinery rather than horses, he’s famous for being a stubborn old man with the spirit of a true artisan.
“Prince!! No way! Are you saying that you are going to ride her?”
Mahiro winked and made a thumbs-up.
“Finally the day has come, captain!! The preparations are complete, right!?”
He’s already so agitated that he looks like he’s about to whack him. I don’t know why he’s angry, but if it’s this person, he might hit even the prince, Pariel was almost completely convinced of it at this point.
“It’s really great that I followed you, prince!!”
Pariel’s voice was unexpectedly high due to her surprise.
Apparently he was trembling out of happiness. He was choked with tears of gratitude. Lifting his welding goggles and wiping his tears, he sobbed,
“On top of being able to tamper with this monster, I’m even allowed to witness a real run, that is…!!”
“Gufufufu.” The captain suddenly let out a disturbing laugh. “We finished it with the full force of the mobile corps. The only missing part…Prince Mahiro! It’s only you!”
“Very well!! Look, Pariel!!” (Mahiro)
Mahiro rolled up its cloth covering, revealing…
“This is my favorite steed… the 『Steel Bronco』 ZX-7RR!!” (Mahiro)
“Hah… isn’t that a bike!?” (Pariel)
Obviously a legacy of the ancient civilization.
If you’re referring to the bike called “Cub1“, occasionally you can see it driving around this area, but this one is far bigger. Bigger, or rather, I’d say the parts are crammed together more tightly?
“Ca-…Captain, where did you get something like that from…?”
“Hah? From where you ask; the Prince managed to gather the parts by himself.”
It feels like he’s asking them “You are always with me and you don’t even know that?”
“I actually possess a secret mountain of junk. I dig stuff out of there, order the missing parts and consumable goods from the Far East or get Rebuilds and One-Offs at the Union of Commercial and Industry, Veronika… and then!” (Mahiro)
Mahiro throws out a hand toward the mechanics with a flourish.
“In other words, I made an earnest request to these wonderful mobile corps and had them put it together!!” (Mahiro)
The next thing you knew, he was surrounded by mecha fetishists that had joined their captain with the same creepy expressions and laughter.
“Hurry. Go for a drive…”
“It runs at 200 km/h, 200km/h…”
“Cool. That’s hot stuff…”
“Don’t be a stranger, Prince. Man, I will lower my head, so allow me to tamper with it too.”
Pariel draws back with tears welling up in her eyes.
Pariel reflexively plugged her ears the instant she heard the first rev of the engine.
It seems to be the sound of the exhaust pipe, but the engine itself also makes an ominous, questionable humming sound along with a constant rattling, sounding like it could fall apart at any moment. Pretty much everything about it is different to the Cub.
“Wahahahaha!! Pariel, that’s what a real mount sounds like! This central part reacts immediately to my will!! This is true unity of rider and mount!!” (Mahiro)
Vroom!! Vroom!! Vroom!! Vroom!! Vroom!!
Each time Mahiro turns his right hand, an ear-piercing roar reverberates from the exhaust pipes. The mecha fetishists ecstatically close their eyes, as if captivated by the sound of a first-rate orchestra.
(Th-…They are weirdos…!? All of them…!!)
A large number of people are peeking in, wondering what’s going on as patrolling knights come rushing in with spears in hand, prepared to fight a new monster.
“Yeah, this truly is the most worthy of being my favorite mount!! Let’s be off, Pariel!!” (Mahiro)
“Hah!? Off, you say!? On this!?” (Pariel)
At any rate, I can’t afford to be left behind. Once Pariel got on in the back, Mahiro, who already had gloves on, put on goggles.
“Now, I shall set the highest speed record in the disputed territory of the Empire and Republic.” (Mahiro)
“Haah!? Didn’t you come out here to danc…” (Pariel)
However, somehow it looks like the dancing was just an excuse. Pariel’s voice is drowned out by the loud cheers of the mobile corps’ members.
“Way to go, Prince!!”
“Come back alive!!”
“Do your best!!”
“Hey, aren’t there way too many people worrying about our lives!?” (Pariel)
A rider’s helmet was plopped on a petrified Pariel’s head.
A thumbs up.
“Don’t die, Missy. Good luck!!”
“N-… Nooooooooooooooooooo!?” (Pariel)
Huh, it’s not that bad once you get used to the ride. I wondered what might happen since it was making so much noise, but even my horse will run this fast if I whip it. It doesn’t go beyond a certain speed. However, the noise is terrible, and it’s attracting the attention of the whole city That one will be more annoying to deal with when I get back.
They arrived at the south gate on the bike. Of course the guards all came rushing out, armed to the teeth, wondering what’s going on.
“Oh man, isn’t it just the prince.”
“Wow, is that a new bike?”
“Prince, horses are better than something like a bike, I tell ya. Horses.”
(Well, that’s what I think too. Horses are so nice and quiet and cute…)
But she was struck with a sudden thought, Is it because Mahiro is fond of commoner things? It sure seems like he’s popular with impulsive people. Just like the members of the mobile corps, the guards were strangely familiar with him.
(That’s the prince’s strength… I guess?)
Soon, the captain also came out of the guard station.
“Prince do you have business with us today as well? Per your orders, we haven’t carried out any inspections since yesterday, but…”
“For now, I’m going to do two things. First I will establish the highest speed record in the disputed territory for the glory of Mismarca’s mobile corps. Then…” (Mahiro)
Since the bike was loud even while standing still, Mahiro’s next words were drowned out by the noise and the captain missed it. However, once he leaned in closer, his eyes shot open.
“… Prince, are you serious…!?”
“But, listen, this gate is not to be closed under any circumstances. Make sure the north gate knows as well. If I don’t return by sunset, report to Edelweiss for further orders. Okay, captain?”
“E-Even if you say that, something like that is impossible! I can’t possibly agree with that as one of your subjects…!!”
“Wahahahaha! Let’s go my beloved mount!” (Mahiro)
In seconds, the figures of the prince and his guard had melded with the horizon with a twinkle.
(E/N: like Team Rocket blasting off again~)
“… They’re really gone…”
“Is something wrong, captain? You’re really pale.”
Stroking his moustache, the captain says,
“Uh… No, well… I think he’s joking, but he said he’s going to scout out the nearby imperial army…”
“That must be a joke. I mean, there’s been no hint of the imperial army. Even the southern countries haven’t reported any movements.”
“I-I see. I’m sure you are right. There’s no way that something imaginary can be scouted out, right? No, he did have an unusually serious look…”
The captain wiped the sweat that had gathered on his moustache away.
“Prince? We’ve really left the city? What do you plan to do!?” (Pariel)
“Please get off if you hate it so much! I am carrying the hopes and dreams of the mobile corps! Like hell I can go back after coming this far!” (Mahiro)
“… Oh well, it’s alright. But, in the end this horse of yours is just loud and doesn’t seem to be all that fast.” (Pariel)
Just after saying that, they turn off the road.
Mahiro stopped the bike facing the base of a mountain, several kilometers of wide open space stretching before them.
“Are you satisfied? Then let’s head back quickly. It’s loud, it feels bad to ride and my butt hurts as well…” (Pariel)
“Pariel, you said my beloved steed is slow, didn’t you?” (Mahiro)
“Indeed, I did. My Rimiel is fast, nice to ride, is warm and cute…” (Pariel)
“It has 120 horsepower.” (Mahiro)
“… Okay?” (Pariel)
“According to the documents of the ancient civilization, my beloved steed hides the power of around 120 normal horses.” (Mahiro)
He laughs ominously.
“Slow, you say? That’s only natural. After all I was just getting accustomed to it. Would you whip the horse you are riding all of a sudden?” (Mahiro)
“I-I won’t do something so cruel, but…” (Pariel)
“That’s the same principle. Up until now, I’ve simply been allowing the engine and transmission to warm up. From now on, I will start using the whip. Listen up Pariel, no matter what you do, don’t take your hands off me.” (Mahiro)
“Ha-… Haa.” (Pariel)
She doesn’t understand, but since he’s uncharacteristically serious, she hugs him tightly.
“All right, howl! My beloved steed, ZX-7RR!!” (Mahiro)
They take off again.
Hm? You should have at least given it a better na…me…
Something is different.
The sound of the wind has changed. It’s a roar you would never be able to hear when riding a horse, no matter how much you spur it on. And this particular horse is still speeding up.
“Oh!? Priiiiiince!? What kind of speed is this now…!?” (Pariel)
“It’s 100 km/h! There’s still more to come! It’s about double that of your horse!” (Mahiro)
… Now that he mentions it, didn’t someone from the mobile corps tell him to aim for 200 km/h or something like that?
Her mind suddenly became hazy.
“Wahahaha! It’s possible! We can do it, Pariel! She’s amazing! She towers above even the other bikes I’ve ridden up until now! Even at this speed, she can still go faster!!” (Mahiro)
“Hiiiiiiiiiiii!? Prince, I got it! I was wrong! It’s fast! It’s too fast! Gah, there’s a mountain right in front of us!? We’re going to crash into it if we keep going at this speed!? Oof!” (Pariel)
“Actually, that mountain is our destination! Hide behind my back properly so that your head won’t be cut off by the thicket!!” (Mahiro)
“Are you insaaaaaane!? Hiyaaaaaaaaaah…!?” (Pariel)
They plunge into the mountain. Leaves and branches graze them as they pass. Their bodies bouncing on the seat due to the uneven ground. They get almost thrown off. Scary, I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die…
Everything vanished. The forest opens up. Mahiro abruptly hits the brakes, skidding to a stop.
Pariel slowly opens her eyes, and is met with a totally unexpected scene.
A sea of black helmets and armors, at least several hundred soldiers at a glance. There are no units who wear this kind of equipment in the disputed territory of the Empire and Republic. She takes another look with that thought, and immediately discovers the imperial crest of the Roaring Lion on their armor.
(I-… Im-… Imperial… Army!?)
The black knight order is also completely dumbfounded.
If it was clearly an enemy army or a monster, they probably would have attacked already. But, something so strange and unexpected rushing in? They don’t know how to deal with it.
Both sides are perplexed.
“U-Uu-U-Umm, you know, w-w-we are…” (Pariel)
Pariel’s head was suddenly completely blank.
Mahiro won’t got to a dangerous place as long as I’m here…
“Lady Edelweiss, you liaaar…!” (Pariel)
Even though the person herself isn’t present, she can’t help cursing at her.
“What should we do, what should we do, what should we do!? This idiot!!” (Pariel)
Suddenly Mahiro whispers into her ear with a strangely meek voice,
“I actually came to investigate the possibility of an imperial scouting unit in this area.” (Mahiro)
“Ha….? T-Then…” (Pariel)
“Yeah, but if you go at such speed, stopping isn’t that easy, right?” (Mahiro)
“Is that any reason for you to leap right into the fray like this!?” (Pariel)
While they were talking, they were slowly surrounded by a large crowd.
“What’s going on? A monster?”
Responding to Lunas’ voice, the knight adopted a troubled expression.
“Ma’am! Those are spies… well they don’t look it, but if you ask me whether they are bandits… that doesn’t seem to be the case either… Ah, no, either way, we caught a strange duo, but…”
“… Hmm? Alright, let me see them.” (Lunas)
As Lunas stands, Reiner calls out to her.
“Princess, if it needs interrogation…” (Reiner)
“Don’t say that. I will be quite bored until night falls. It should be fine for me to decide whether a repeat of last night will be necessary after meeting them, right?” (Lunas)
Rather than the two brats, Mahiro’s beloved steed gathered more attention.
“It’s a bike. You don’t know?”
“Hoo, that’s this is? It’s my first time seeing one.”
“What do you have to do to move it?”
“What’s this switch?”
“How about adding some scratches to it as a memento?”
It’s not like there no relics in the Empire. For the sake of transporting long distances or delivering large materials, they use automobiles, but when it comes to bikes, they have almost no practical use. It’s quite understandable that they don’t know about it.
“Aaah, please stop, stop! Please don’t put fingerprints on it so carelessly. Moreover, something like scratches is far too barbaric. It’ll be permanent…!” (Mahiro)
(Can’t he be concerned about himself rather than the bike…)
Of course Pariel was working out an escape route while she was tied down. . Fortunately Mahiro’s bike is currently the center of attention. As long as I can remove the rope, it should be possible to take them by surprise and… escape.
“Silence. Her Highness Lunas is coming.”
At the barked orders, the chaos was quickly quelled. The black knights who had been crowded around the bike immediately formed a line. Their prompt movement revealed just how skilled these knights were. And while Pariel was trying to process the odd scene, an eye-opening beauty dressed as a man appeared.
She was beautiful and graceful. Chestnut hair tumbled down to her waist, and she was accompanied by a pair of superior maids. The moment she appeared, the black knights became nervous.
Grand Marsenal Empire’s Third Princess, Lunas Victora Magistia.
Her entrance completely changed the atmosphere.
(The Empire’s third princess is in a place like this—!?)
Mahiro and Pariel blink in shock at Lunas, who merely stands before them with a calm smile.
“These two, huh? Certainly they don’t look like bandits or spies. You guys, who are you?” (Lunas)
Imperial Family. It’s equivalent to Mahiro visiting such a place with a single guard. She has appeared in a place this far away from the Empire with only a few hundred knights.
“I’m listening.” (Lunas)
The sword in her hand is beautiful. Seven gems are embedded from the base of the blade to its midpoint.
“N-No… We are, umm, the young master over there and me, his tutor…” (Pariel)
It’s the excuse I used in the city, but I wonder just how far it’s going to work.
The sword’s point, glinting with deadly beauty, has been turned towards Pariel’s throat. She suddenly saw a premonition of her own death and felt a strange sensation, as if her existence was already disappearing from the world.
“What are you getting the jitters for, Pariel?” (Mahiro)
Mahiro shook his head in disappointment.
“We aren’t guilty of anything. You should be clear about it.” (Mahiro)
Unlike Pariel, who is frozen with panic, Mahiro sits straight with an imposing air even while his hands are tied behind his back.
“Listen to me those who have come from a far distant place! This gracious me is Mismarca Kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mahiro Jukilnisk Edenfahrt.” (Mahiro)
“Young master?” (Pariel)
“Ha ha ha, look, Pariel. In awe of my bravery in entering a hostile area all by myself, this lot is lost for words.” (Mahiro)
Since her hands are tied, Pariel lands a stunning heel kick on the back of Mahiro’s head instead.
“Now then, young master, did that clear up your brain? The fact that she’s from the Empire notwithstanding, you are in the presence of the awe-inspiring Princess Lunas, aren’t you young master? You understand, right? Well then, let’s try giving her your name once more?” (Pariel)
After being asked by Pariel, whose smile doesn’t reach her eyes, and is in the mode of a tutor in high-society, Mahiro prostates himself, saying,
“U-…Uh, I was wrong. Umm, actually I’m the ruler of the southern sea, Mahimahi. Let me express my deep regret for my previous discourtesy. Excuse m-… ough.” (Mahiro)
“As you can see, well, our young master has been afflicted by terrible, severe and incurable sickness of the brain and spirit… umm… therefore.” (Pariel)
How awkward. Even I don’t believe it, and I’m the one saying it. I guess she’s angry. But when Pariel chanced a look up at Lunas, the imperial princess was unexpectedly laughing.
“You thought I’d believe that?” (Lunas)
Ah, it’s in vain after all, huh? She thinks resignedly… then notices that the question was actually aimed at Mahiro.
“Fufu, did you think that you will survive if you introduce yourself as the prince? Even thoughtlessness has its limits.” (Lunas)
It possible that she will let us live as leverage for negotiations. On the other hand, I think it’s also possible that we will be beheaded immediately, seeing that we are from the enemy nation.
And then the princess asks the young general standing beside her,
“Does this look like a prince to you?” (Lunas)
“Absolutely not.” (Reiner)
An immediate reply.
“Do they appear to be some kind of spies then?” (Lunas)
“Not in the least.” (Reiner)
“That’s right. I’m of the same opinion.” (Lunas)
It looks like they couldn’t believe it since it was too stupid to be true.
Well, that makes sense, a prince leaving the palace on his own is abnormal on its own, but one that is accustomed to violence aimed at him and immediately changes his name without a shred of dignity after that? Impossible.
Yeah, even I would think so, given the situation…
Then Lunas looked at the bike.
“So, why did you come to this mountain while riding that thing?” (Lunas)
“To establish the highest speed record in the disputed zone.” (Mahiro)
Lunas blinked at the unfamiliar words.
“Highest speed… what do you plan to do with that record?” (Lunas)
“That’s easy. There’s no special industry in Mismarca. But if we achieve that record, Mismarca’s mobile corps will be well-known on the continent for its high technological prowess in regards to relics of the ancient civilization. Once that happens, not only will various repair, restoration and maintenance requests for automobiles flood in from all the different countries, but also…” (Mahiro)
“The young mechanics from all over the continent will probably gather here. In the end it’s a plan to create a new industry in Mismarca that the other countries of the disputed area can’t imitate. We will catch up to and surpass the Far East and Veronika.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro is truly outstanding at coming up with such excuses.
(Well… he does practise every day…)
Setting that aside, the princess and the black knights look quite convinced by the words of the loquacious Mahiro. The threat of imminent danger appears to have passed.
“Hmm.. so, bastard, you are a member of that mobile corps then?”
“No, I’m not a civilian in military employ. If I had to give it a job title, I’m an outsourced subcontractor. Once bikes become monsters like this one, they choose their riders.” (Mahiro)
At this point we have no other option but to bet on the prince’s prowess in coming up with excuses. Being able to talk so casually while being completely surrounded by enemies is impressive all on its own. His stupidity is useful in the strangest of places.
Lunas considered the bike with great interest and laughed.
“Fufu, this small thing is a monster? But honestly speaking, a horse or this thing, which one is faster?” (Lunas)
“That’s easy. It’s faster than a horse.” (Mahiro)
“Hoo, then a truck and this, which one is faster? Our army uses those as well, but it’s said that they will easily reach a speed of 100 km/h on an even road. Speaking of the highest speeds, what are you aiming for?” (Lunas)
“For the time being, twice that of a truck, 200 km/h.” (Mahiro)
*murmur* That caused a commotion. The princess tilts her head skeptically.
“Are you insane? Let’s assume that you could achieve that, isn’t a speed of 200 km/h equal to the attack speed of a Dragoon? What are you going to do if you fall off at such speed…?” (Lunas)
“Well, at that point I will definitely turn into minced meat.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro said nonchalantly.
“After all you will suffer heavy injuries even if you fall off a horse. Unfortunately, I don’t know the Magic Shield spell or anything like that.” (Mahiro)
At that, even the gallant Sword of Gleaming Light was taken aback and had sweat drops forming at her charming temples.
“No, wait a moment… why did you enter a mountain full of thickets then? If it’s so dangerous, it would be better to have less obstacles.” (Lunas)
“Unlike a horse, wheels go faster downhill.” (Mahiro)
“That’s why we ascended the mountain,” he said.
For the sole reason of driving downwards and nothing else.
Everyone was rendered speechless, and Mahiro smiled innocently as if he hadn’t said anything completely insane.
“Oh well, seeing is believing… let me show you a fraction of my true strength here. Someone, the rope.” (Mahiro)
Lunas nods in confusion, and Mahiro’s rope is removed. He straddled the bike with familiar movements and… looked back at Pariel for a short moment.
“Say, Pariel.” (Mahiro)
“Eh? Y-Yes… young master.” (Pariel)
“Do you know Run, Melos!?” (Mahiro) 2
“Gah, why are you asking that now!? And why won’t you look at me!? Do you intend to run away!? You plan to escape while leaving me behind!? You little shithead, get down from there right now!!” (Pariel)
“It’s fine, all will be fine!! I will come back!! Melos came back in the end as well!!” (Mahiro)
“Melos came back, but you are Mahimahi!! Princess! Princess Lunas! This guy plans to abandon me!! Tie him up again right away!!” (Pariel)
She screams and shouts.
Did they find the banter between those two too ridiculous? Not just the surrounding knight order, but even Lunas laughed again and said,
“Hahahahahaha! I understand, I understand… hey, remove her rope as well.” (Lunas)
The young, silver-haired general tried to warn her.
“Princess, if you do that, those two…” (Reiner)
“I told you to do it.” (Lunas)
“They will be able to guess our movements.” (Reiner)
“So what? The military forces remaining in Mismarca are at most 500 men. I could deal with them alone.” (Lunas)
After saying that, Lunas adds,
“Besides, I like this boy. He doesn’t consider his own life at all for the sake of his country’s development. Isn’t that heroic?” (Lunas)
“I agree with that, but…” (Reiner)
“… Let’s see. Strictly speaking, that country will no longer exist after tonight.” (Lunas)
Firm words with no compassion or doubt. Just a forgone conclusion that reverberates through the crowd. The commotion caused by the two immediately fell quiet.
In other words, the unit here isn’t a scout unit. They are trying to attack Mismarca with just these troops. And, if it’s her and this corps, who boast of the best skill and equipment on the continent, that’s probably not bragging either.
In the first place… there are 500 soldiers left in Mismarca. This princess said that she would be able to get rid of them by herself, and Pariel, as a swordsman, could believe that. During the Empire’s suppression of the south, she actually achieved military prowess beyond that. It’s not a metaphor. She’s a person literally worth more than a thousand horsemen.
“… But, yes, right, if it turns into a battle against a minor power at Mismarca’s level, I suppose I will have you bear the full brunt of the consequences. Even if I cannot bring myself to kill you.” (Lunas)
“When you get back, tell that your coward of a prince; if he visits this place before sunset and surrenders, I will spare his life at least.” (Lunas)
Lunas is apparently enjoying herself, and the general pulls a sour but contemplative face. That’s probably her sole bad habit; as one who was endowed with various gifts by heaven.
“Understood. Let’s go with that then.” (Mahiro)
No, I wonder whether he really understands. This is nothing a normal person would ever laugh about. However, in this situation there’s no room for negotiation. Right now I should probably return to the castle as soon as possible and discuss this matter with the high officials.
Her ropes untied, Pariel gets on behind Mahiro.
“Well then, let’s go home, Pariel? We will be scolded by Lady Edelweiss.” (Mahiro)
The instant he mentioned her name, Lunas suddenly looked as if she had been struck by a realization.
“Well then, please excuse us, Princess Lunas. To commemorate our meeting, I will show you a fraction of this bike’s real power.” (Mahiro)
He revs the bike so quickly that the front wheel jumps up into the air. No matter how fine a horse, that’s a feat they can’t accomplish. The small frame slipped through the knights in a flash and vanished into the forest, leaving nothing but a loud roar behind.
“P-P-Prince! What are we going to do!? At this rate, Mismarca will…!” (Pariel)
“That’s what you ask!? It’s obvious!!” (Mahiro)
In the instant he looked over his shoulder, he had a very trustworthy smile.
“I will truly become the Chuck Jäger3 of disputed area now!! Here we come, 200 km/h~~~~~~~~~~~~~!” (Mahiro)
They continued to accelerate until even the speed they used to ascend the mountain seemed slow.
“How was it?” (Lunas)
Upon Lunas’ question, the knight, who had gone to the foot of the mountain to watch, reported excitedly,
“Princess! That is… just as according to that boy’s words, it was a crazy speed…! By the time we made it to the bottom of the mountain, there was only a cloud of dust remaining on the road and they were already closing in on Mismarca’s castle…!”
“Hmm… I see. In that case it’s quite the feat. Very well, withdraw.” (Lunas)
After saluting, the knight exited the tent.
Suppressing a sigh, Reiner asks Lunas,
“… Princess, do you really intend to wait?” (Reiner)
“What, we will depart as initially scheduled. It will be alright if the prince shows up before then.” (Lunas)
“But, he probably won’t come. Besides, I’m not all that eager to meet with a coward. The noble dimwits, whom my father, the Emperor, has introduced to me, are good examples…” (Lunas)
“Princess Lunas, please watch your language.”
The maid behind Lunas scolds.
Lunas sighs in irritation.
“Anyway, I’m fine with someone like that boy called Mahimahi. His name is weird, but he’s got guts.” (Lunas)
The maids and the others are somewhat lost for words.
Finishing the topic for now, Lunas gazes at the plans lying on the table.
“Is there anything wrong?” (Reiner)
“Hmm. Those two were fun, but I forgot that Edelweiss is present. That might have been a miscalculation.” (Lunas)
When Pariel came to her senses, the bike had stopped inside a dim warehouse. Mahiro isn’t here. She had frozen stiff while clinging to Mahiro.
A dream… no, that’s not it. It looks like I’m still alive. When she goes outside, the sun is beginning to set.
“Prince!? Prince Mahiro!” (Pariel)
Calling his name, she enters the castle and frantically asks everyone passing by. Ah, that’s right, since the imperial army is lurking in the mountains so close-by, even that stupid prince…
She finally reached the dining hall after being directed by the patrolling soldiers and passing maids. In his usual corner, Mahiro was grumbling over his wine cups4.
“I was… I was a chicken.” (Mahiro)
He sullenly chews his ham.
“I’m a chicken, just like this… teriyaki5. Just one more spin. One more spin and I would… my beloved steed could have reached the top speed of 200 km/h…” (Mahiro)
“Don’t say something like that, Priiince.”
“Yeah, yeah. Since you achieved 190 km/h, there’s no doubt that you are the best in the disputed area, Prince.”
“You accelerated using the usual mountain, didn’t you? I mean, it’s dangerous to go at even 100 km/h in such a field.”
“Well, it is regrettable though, isn’t it?”
Around Mahiro scattered members of the mobile corps, common soldiers and maids are listening to their heroic tales. … Hey, wait a moment.
(… How can everyone stay so calm?)
Even though the imperial army is just a stone’s throw away. If they knew, the inside of the castle would be in uproar – such peaceful conversation shouldn’t be possible.
(… Don’t tell me, he still hasn’t told them after becoming engrossed with his bike…!?)
“… Guuh. Chef! Chef, my beer mug is empty! Gimme another one!”
The reply from the kitchen,
“Prince, you’ve had enough… it’s poison for your body.”
“Dried sardines then! Dried anchovy – come to me! It’s calcium I need now! Calcium will keep me safe even if I hit the ground at 200 km/h!! That will give me the confidence for my next attack!! I will have the grip strength to accelerate at full throttle!!” (Mahiro)
The chef sighed, poured milk into listless Mahiro’s mug, and returned to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
“What are you doing, Prince!?” (Pariel)
“What? Pariel? Can’t you tell by looking? Isn’t it obvious that it’s a pity party.” (Mahiro)
“There’s no time for that, right!? Or did you forget that the imperial army is already on that mountain!?” (Pariel)
The surroundings became noisy all at once.
In spite of that,
“… What kind of dream did you have, Pariel?” (Mahiro)
“Whaaat!? Prince, what half-asleep things are you mumbling…!!” (Pariel)
“Good grief, what are you saying despite having fainted after soiling my back with tears, drool and various other things?” (Mahiro)
“There was nothing else, only tears!! Wait, forget that…!” (Pariel)
The room calms and unimpressed gazes are stab at Pariel.
“Eh… t-that is… But…” (Pariel)
“Listen up, okay? This is me we are talking about, not father or older brother, but me! Do you think that I would be able to return alive after charging into such frightening place on my bike?” (Mahiro)
Mahiro wasn’t wearing his usual teasing look like when he was messing around with lies and jokes. No, wait, that in itself is already a statement that his teasing has become rampant recently though.
“H-…Huh, huh… huh? Then, did I… really dream it…?” (Pariel)
“Hey, hey you, no matter how young you are as a Lady Knight, don’t make such terrible jokes. … For an instant I was actually frightened…”
“Yeeeah, Prince Mahiro is certainly fast at running away, but against the imperial army, even he wouldn’t be able to come back alive, you know!?”
“But it sure was troublesome to peel you, passed out with such a deathgrip, off the prince in the garage…”
“Or rather, wasn’t he unable to reach 200 km/h because you rode with him? What’s your weight?”
“Well, the prince’s weirdly gentle y’know. I guess he wasn’t able ta do it cuz he was thinkin’ about this girlie.”
“Then it can’t be helped. I mean, that’s one of the prince’s good traits. I suppose that’s why I can’t hate him even though he’s kind of an idiot.”
“That’s the same for all of us in the chamberlain unit, isn’t it?”
“Uh-huh. Even if he peeks on me changing; if it was another man, I would have them cough up some cash, but in case of the prince, I end up thinking I think I will forgive him after socking him twice or thrice, and throwing him in the Connoritt River.”
Except for Mahiro, who paled at the last person’s words, everyone calmed down just like that.
“N-No, I should have achieved it! I won’t use Pariel as an excuse! Just, my guts have…!” (Mahiro)
Before anyone noticed, the sun had sunk and it was time for dinner. Those who have just entered the dining hall heard about today’s challenge from those who were already there and became very excited. Quickly, a ring of people had formed around Mahiro. One could see the trust he had built up in them in his own way, being able to make merry with them. Condolences like “Oh, how regrettable,” “Do your best next time” were tossed around the room, and the noise they made could be heard throughout the castle. Watching the spectacle, Pariel wondered if that wasn’t enough. Even if he isn’t as imposing as the King, everyone loves him. And even the explanation about the mobile corps and the speed record that he rattled off when we got caught by Lunas…if you think about it, it makes a certain amount of sense. Unexpectedly, he might actually be rather serious when it comes to matters of state…Having come to this realisation, she’s struck with another. There’s no way that everything was a dream. Just like with the exchange at the defense gate, he is trying to conceal the truth.
However, feeling too awkward to interrupt this happy gathering, Pariel held her tongue and left.
“What happened?” (Edelweiss)
“Ah? Lady Edelweiss, we have to talk…! It’s something urgent…!” (Pariel)
Running into the stoic Edelweiss outside the dining hall, they left for the empty courtyard. There, Pariel quickly and frankly recounted everything that had happened today.
“… Therefore we have to close the gates immediately and strengthen the castle defense…!” (Pariel)
“Are those the prince’s words?” (Edelweiss)
“Eh…? No, but…” (Pariel)
“Then it’s unnecessary.” (Edelweiss)
“Lady Edelweiss!” (Pariel)
Since Pariel was obviously not going to let the matter drop,
“I heard about the matter of His Highness proceeding towards the mountain in question with you from no one but His Highness himself. Same for the matter of Her Highness Lunas demanding that he surrender to her in person.” (Edelweiss)
“T-Then, why… why is he still acting so normally with everyone in the castle..?” (Pariel)
“His Highness’s order was to not mention a word about it to anyone.” (Edelweiss)
“Do you intend to let him just surrender to the Empire… and just watch from the sidelines!?” (Pariel)
Edelweiss calmly placed her index finger in front of her thin lips. It appears that my voice was a bit too loud.
“Pariel, this is all purely hypothetical, but if in the worst case you were promoted, and were to lead the soldiers to attack a castle… ” (Edelweiss)
I wonder if the odds of me being promoted are really this low.
“If the enemy didn’t prepare their troops, didn’t increase defenses and left the castle gate open, what would you do?” (Edelweiss)
“… I would attack before they put their preparations in place.” (Pariel)
“Of course.” (Edelweiss)
(Then you don’t have to ask me…)
That’s something a child could answer, without any experience in swordsmanship or as a soldier.
“Then what about the enemy? What would they think about our complete lack of battle preparations, despite clearly having seen that their army is so close already?” (Edelweiss)
“Eh…? Umm, that is…” (Pariel)
That’s eerie. Exceedingly so.
I would suspect that there’s something waiting for me there.
“Unless an idiot is in charge of protecting the country most of the people would be bewildered just like you are now.” (Edelweiss)
“Whether you like it or not, this country is in the hands of such an idiot right now!” (Pariel)
“Pariel, that’s not something you should say about your own lord.” (Edelweiss)
Even though you had done the same before. Ah, is it fine because her only master is the King himself? How lucky for her.
“Then, in contrast, consider the situation if a renowned tactician was serving in that castle’s guard.” (Edelweiss)
“… Definitely a trap, right? But, such a person…” (Pariel)
In response, Edelweiss simply pointed at herself.
《This is Kaze Number One; no change as of yet in the castle or the land surrounding it.》
《Kaze Number Two. It doesn’t look as if the gate will be closed anytime soon. There’s no indication of any kind of messenger having been dispatched.》
“Are you certain about the whispers?”
《Number One, affirmative.》
《Number Two, affirmative.》
“… What’s happening? Didn’t you scout it out?”
《It wouldn’t be called scouting if we plunged right into the middle of the enemy formation. That’s a suicide attack or self-destruction.》
《Though, if we went back without accomplishing anything… have we been led astray after all?》
“… No, wait. That girl riding on the back of the bike shouted Edelweiss’ name.”
《Why was it necessary to shout it?》
《I don’t know.》
“Then… what’s going on? Hasn’t the princess’ message been passed on?”
《Don’t ask me. I confirmed that the bike returned to the castle, but it’s not like I know what’s happening inside.》
“Then, for argument’s sake, what if we assumed that Edelweiss was involved in this?”
《… It’s a trap.》
《Anything else is unthinkable.》
“That’s what it comes down to in the end, huh…?”
《The Royalty might love the people, but if that woman is in command, then everything changes.》
《If she has been ordered to protect this country, that woman will protect it, even if this peaceful city turns into ash.》
“… Got it. I will advise the camp of that possibility. The next regular report will be at 2000. Affirmative?”
《Number One, affirmative.》
《Number Two, affirmative.》
“End of transmission.”
“… Such are the whispers of Kaze, but… they say, even within the castle the situation hasn’t changed much.”
Even the reporting knight looks quite bewildered. Naturally, those attending the war council are even more confused. The unit was ready to attack at any time. But, even after the scheduled time has passed, Lunas doesn’t show any indication of ordering an attack.
With a self-deprecating smile, she said,
“Marching into enemy territory all alone and acting that calmly… I guess that’s something you can expect of Edelweiss’ subordinate.” (Lunas)
A moment of hesitation. Then.
“Let’s postpone the attack for a short while.” (Lunas)
A murmur rose from all those present at the surprising decision.
Just as Reiner is about to voice the doubts of those present,
“What, even though it’s me, we’re up against the schemes of such a skilled general. You are all precious to me. I wouldn’t mind if I was sending you to die in a blaze of glory, but against Edelweiss it’s entirely possible that you wouldn’t even know how you died before perishing. Let’s watch the situation for a day or two.” (Lunas)
“However, it’s difficult to imagine that the king of a nation has entrusted the country to a maid. Even if he’s incompetent, the prince stayed behind in that country. For argument’s sake, if we assume that the uproar this time was planned by that person, what’s the point?” (Reiner)
Lunas laughed at Reiner’s question.
“What’s the point, you ask? I think it’s obvious that it’s for the sake of crushing us.” (Lunas)
“To crush…” (Reiner)
“I fear that it’s like just as Kaze have guessed. Not closing the gates is a trap to lure us in… they will take advantage of the populace’s chaos, or… it’s a trick for after we are lured into the castle. Either way, if she was told to protect it, that woman isn’t someone who would consider things with even a shred of compassion. ” (Lunas)
“You are saying that the king of Mismarca permitted it.” (Reiner)
“That woman will do so even without permission. Reiner, you are from the Imperial Guards, you should be aware of the Noir Rosen, right?” (Lunas)
“The Empire’s special chamberlain unit?” (Reiner)
Reiner naturally glanced at the two maids waiting on Lunas, and the princess nods in confirmation.
“That’s true. Those two belong to it as well.” (Lunas)
“However, how are those maids related to the battle?” (Reiner)
Seemingly having completely abandoned the idea of sortieing tonight at this point, Lunas had a maid open a bottle of alcohol as she said,
“They’re mine, so their skills definitely aren’t superficial. If you like, you could have a match against the two behind me? They are fairly strong.” (Lunas)
The princess might sound as if she is joking, but her comments in regards to their martial arts level are accurate.
It’s probably just as she says in that case.
“But, if it’s guarding you, there’s the Imperial Guards.” (Reiner)
“That’s true. You were one of them as well. But, there’s certainly no way for a man like you to enter my bedroom, is there?” (Lunas)
At this point Reiner finally understands. Reading his expression, Lunas continues,
“Although they don’t stand out since they hide in the shadow of the Imperial Guards, they have been trained as the final bastion of the imperial family. While the Imperial Guards are trained to protect the imperial family, the girls of Noir Rosen are drilled in how to kill.” (Lunas)
In the eyes of an enemy, only the Imperial Guards are an obstacle.
But while they are buying precious seconds as the iron wall of defense, those girls, overlooked by all, will remove the enemy’s head from behind.
Of course, the Imperial Guards aren’t incompetent. Even acting as shields, they are still true swordsmen. 99% of the enemies will likely perish at the hands of the Imperial Guards. But, the remaining 1%, or the one in 10,000… the maids exist for that remaining possibility.
One of the maids smiled thinly.
“Those are words unworthy of us, Princess. We aren’t such monsters.”
The other, lower-ranked commanding officers sitting at the table, shudder at her derisive laughter. Lunas snickers at them while sipping her alcohol and taking bites of the snacks served with the drinks.
“So, while they are good-looking, they are quite scary. It’s better for you guys to not make a move on them for your own safety.” (Lunas)
“So Edelweiss is from that unit?”
“That’s not it. The one who originally proposed this concept to my father, and then founded the Noir Rosen is Edelweiss. If someone who thinks like that is told to protect a whole country, she won’t give a damn about one or two hundred people. First and foremost, that person has a bad character.” (Lunas)
Although they hadn’t been even asked, the two maids in the back nodded with very serious expressions.
“This corps is an elite unit chosen from the imperial capital’s defense unit. They are completely different from a unit that finishes off an assassin or two every once in a while.” (Reiner)
Wondering what he was recalling with that comment, Lunas lazily considered Reiner. She swirled her alcohol in its cup.
“The problem is, Reiner… That woman is also extraordinary as Majin in difficult situations.” (Lunas)
Possessing mana from birth, exhibiting superpowers even without using magic or crests and generally exceeding both human physical ability and lifespan; that’s the species called Majin.
That applies not only to Lunas, who is also of the imperial family, but to Reiner, all the knights assembled here and also the two maids; all of them are Majin.
In sharp contrast to mere humans, there is great disparity between Majin based on how much mana they possess. Lunas being able to take on large numbers of cavalry troops is due to this. And the woman by the name of Edelweiss was an existence that even Lunas acknowledged to be superior.
“Using the chaos of a battle in the castle or a panic in the streets as cover…either way there are 500 riders at most. Even you, Reiner, would be able to handle them, right?” (Lunas)
The silver-haired general was obviously convinced by Lunas’ words. He meekly nodded in agreement.
“I will show you by killing them.” (Reiner)
Lunas nods, looking satisfied and gulps down the alcohol.
“You are an exceedingly boring conversational partner, but your swordsmanship and the look in your eyes are remarkable. Reiner, go look in a mirror later. And make sure to engrave into your heart that Edelweiss is the same way.” (Lunas)
“I’m unwilling for my name to be used in such a manner again.”
Edelweiss gazed out absentmindedly over the moonlit courtyard. This is partly why Pariel is so surprised to hear these words.
“T-…Then, everything we’ve talked about, the prince…?” (Pariel)
“I don’t know,” Edelweiss said.
“However… you have confirmed it already, the enemy general is Her Highness Lunas, correct?” (Edelweiss)
“Eh? Yes, that’s correct…” (Pariel)
“Then there’s no problem. For better or worse, Her Highness is the typical military. As long as there isn’t an eccentric tactician in her ranks, she’s not an unprincipled fool who would recklessly rush in. She will observe the situation for a while as long as it does not put her at a disadvantage. ” (Edelweiss)
Hearing these words, Pariel feels a slight knot in her heart, Ah, this person really was part of the Empire before, after all.
“But… what happens after that…?” (Pariel)
“I don’t know. Perhaps the King shall return. Perhaps the prince will have another idea. .” (Edelweiss)
“What if… neither….happen?” (Pariel)
“Then I will make a move. Anyway…” (Edelweiss)
Edelweiss turns on her heels.
“… Not a single word about our conversation just now. His Highness doesn’t want to make anyone feel uneasy.” (Edelweiss)
“… So that’s why….he alone…?” (Pariel)
That’s why he went to such place, regardless of the danger.
“Honestly… even I, who raised him from birth am unable to decide… is His Highness a genius tactician who conceals his true nature by acting the fool, or…” (Edelweiss)
Edelweiss looked up the night sky as if reminiscing.
“… Is he merely a gentle, well-meaning fool who has had exceedingly good luck on his side this whole time?” (Edelweiss)
Her usual serious and courteous disposition makes the comment especially prickly.
“However… it doesn’t change the fact that he’s gentle, right?” (Pariel)
“Did you find something worthy of protecting?” (Edelweiss)
“Ah… y-yes. While it’s embarrassing…” (Pariel)
Everybody is noticing the prince’s kindness. It seems that only I, the one who has always been beside him, did not know about his best traits…
“I plan to serve the prince with even more devotion now!” (Pariel)
Pariel declares with a smile, to which Edelweiss expressionlessly replies,
“Then do so. If he turns out to simply be an idiot, I won’t take any responsibility.” (Edelweiss)
I wooonder, just why is sheee like thaaat, Pariel ended up wondering slightly.
- A bike from Honda.
- Short story by Osamu Dazai
- First pilot to exceed the speed of sound.
- In the raw the author used a japanese expression of people repeatedly drinking sake resembling the action of someone winding a yarn with the monotonous sound of the yarn being coiled around a pipe.
- Cooked meat marinated in sweet soy sauce