The early afternoon of that day, Charon Anquetil Greast, who received a report from the reconnaissance team, showed a confused look on his well-ordered face. After receiving a report that they sighted soldiers of the Muozinel army in such a place, it would be in fact difficult to have any other reactions.
They were currently located two days away from Montour.
“The Muozinel army, you say?”
Inside a carriage where cushions were spread all over, he spread several maps. How many forces were there currently between the Capital Nice and Lutetia?
He knew that the Osterode Army led by Valentina was going north through the high connecting the Capital Nice and Lutetia. He also knew that the Moonlight Knight Army of about 7000 left the Capital a day later than them.
Judging from the Greast Army’s position, the Osterode Army was to the northeast about a day and half on foot from them. And the Moonlight Knight Army was to the southeast about two days on foot from them.
They were probably heading to Lutetia, but even if they suddenly changed the direction and headed towards the Greast Army, there was no way he would not notice it and he should have plenty of time to respond.
But then, Muozinel showed up here. From the Greast Army’s perspective, it seemed that they were to the south a day and half on foot from them.
“The troops of Muozinel that invaded should exceed 100,000. But this one is composed of only 2000 cavalrymen. This means that they’re a reconnaissance team, huh……”
Greast could guess up to there. But as to how much close that reconnaissance team would be to them, even he could not predict it. Moreover, he could not guess whether they were the target of the reconnaissance team.
“I’ll leave them as is for the time being. They’re only 2000. They won’t possibly challenge us, who are nearly 10,000.”
As he reached such a conclusion, Greast decided to head to Montour as planned.
“I can easily grasp the Moonlight Knight Army’s intention. They probably intended to enter Lutetia before us and gain time by holding the fort in Artishem.”
Artishem was the Capital of Lutetia, so if they intended to take Lutetia, they must absolutely hold it. Greast also intended to aim there at first.
“But, that’s precisely why we’ll reach Montour without hindrance.”
It did not take one day to go from Montour to Lutetia. As long as he sent a reconnaissance team on a regular basis from Montour, he would be able to grasp the movement of the soldiers in Lutetia with great accuracy.
It was precisely for that reason why Greast thought of Montour as an ideal base. He certainly possessed adequate ability as a commander.
“After we arrive at Montour, I’ll send a messenger to the Osterode Army. Judging from their movement, it seems that they intend to assist the Moonlight Knight Army, but the latter should also know that Valentina-dono and Duke Ganelon had interactions. It will at least be able to shake them.”
At this point in time, he could do only this much. Then, Greast began to think about Elen. This night would probably be the last night he would play with her in the camp. What shall I do after arriving at Montour? He wondered.
“It’ll also be quite fun to ask her to demand to be rescued by the one she loved.”
When Greast tormented her by using his hands, fingers and tongue, he might request her to do it. In order to make her understand that no matter how much she shouted, nobody would come to her rescue. And if Elen insisted on firmly shutting her mouth, he might throw in a whisper.
“I’m looking forward to it, Eleonora-dono.”
He has sent a messenger yesterday at this time in Montour. As long as he could ensure food and safe bed/kip, he would still be able to maintain the morale of the soldiers.
For example, regarding the Moonlight Knight Army, Greast has thought about the possibility of them sending a military unit their way in order to rescue Elen. Though he has not yet publicly announced that he caught Elen, but even so clever people must have already realized it.
But, he was quite confident in the camp he set up. He was certain that even if they were able to successfully sneak in stealthily, there was no way that they would be able to rescue Elen and escape with her.
His judgment was not wrong. This was because a very close layout was performed in the Greast Army’s camp.
Besides, he strictly ordered his soldiers not to approach the tent where Elen was locked up. Though this showed his crooked desire of possessiveness, it was also a precautionary measure to immediately detect anyone who would approach the tent.
The very same day, the Greast Army stopped their march a half koku before the sun set, and set a camp on a flat hill. There were a river and a forest nearby, but the area of the forest was very small and the view was not bad. Thus, there should be no accident.
Tigrevurmud Vorn and Lyudmila Lourie were hidden inside the forest not far from the Greast Army’s camp. Their clothes got a lot of dirt during their travel, but their eyes were filled with a strong will and the expression on their faces was filled with vitality.
“The opportunity has finally come.”
Two kinds of feelings were mingled in Mila’s voice. One was slight tension. And the other was regret. Tigre briefly replied “yes” with a firm voice.
Looking up, the sky was welcoming the darkness of night. The two of them were thankful that the clouds covered the moon as they were about to sneak into the enemy camp.
“Thinking about it now, I finally understand why Earl Rodant allowed you freedom to act.”
Without taking her eyes off from the Greast Army’s camp, Mila earnestly said. Today was the fifth day since she reunited with Tigre. Since then, both of them secretly overtook the Greast Army by going around Montour, waiting for the only opportunity.
Doing this was not as easy as it sounded. The Greast Army was still sending reconnaissance teams on a regular basis, and there was also the fact that both of them had walked for more than half a day through the grasslands completely devoid of cover such as forests or hills.
However, while avoiding all these scout’s eyes and cleverly maintaining a reasonable distance from the Greast Army, Tigre pulled off the feat of catching up with them, lining up with them, overtaking them and finally pulling apart from them. And he probably did so by only using his ability as a hunter.
If it was only Mila tracking the Greast Army, she would have probably been found a reconnaissance team at an early stage. And if she were to give priority to hide herself so as not to be found, it would have without doubt been difficult for her to even keep tracking them.
“It’s thanks to Mila.”
Tigre looked at the blue-haired Vanadis and revealed a grateful smile.
“Because you’re with me, I’m able to do my best. Thank you.”
“I don’t want you to just say thanks. After we rescued Eleonora, well let’s see; I shall have you serve me tea, I guess. A delicious one, of course.”
“I’ll do my best, is what I would like to say, but tea is very expensive in Brune after all. If I mess with it, I’ll be scolded by Titta. And by Lim, too.”
Even though they had to sneak into an enemy camp where there were 10,000 soldiers, the two of them had room to crack jokes.
Incidentally, Mila put on an overcoat made of fur on top of her blue clothes. She used the fur of preys that they killed during these several days of trip, and exchanged the unused parts against a horse in a village they stopped by. She deliberately made the hood larger so as to be able to cover her face.
She also held a handmade plain spear as she hid the Frozen Wave. This was because the Dragonic Tool, which was adorned with beautiful ornament, would definitely stand out in the camp. If Mila so wished, the Frozen Wave would immediately appear in her hand.
The darkness covering the earth gradually thickened and the many bonfires around the Greast Army’s camp increased in brightness. The clatter of soldiers could now be heard to up the place where they were hiding.
Tigre said and began to walk quietly. Mila also put on the hood of fur and followed the youth. They approached under cover of darkness and sometimes deliberately stood up near a bonfire, pretending to be soldiers of the Greast Army.
Tigre led Mila by the hand and crossed the first trench. They advanced while hiding behind the tents and after they carefully slid in the second trench, they dodged the swords and spears buried in the bottom and crawled up.
“I’m amazed that you were able to sneak into such a place so easily before.”
When they climbed out of the trench, Mila said as she was amazed. For a defense at a camp that they would use for only one day and moreover where there was no enemy around, she felt that it was too much labor.
Mila also thought that if it was when there was an enemy nearby, she would also put more effort into the defense; but she would not usually go so far. This was because it would tire the soldiers. She thought that the enemy commander had the ability of either earning much confidence from the soldiers, or exploiting them to the limit.
When they crossed the trench and came out of the shadow of the tents, the Greast soldiers were having a meal. From the look of it, it was only bread, soup and cured meat; but their expressions were bright. It was because before evening meal, Greast told them the distance until Montour, and their morale rose.
“It’s really a group of people scrapped together.”
While walking with careful steps between the soldiers, Mila muttered. As there were also many people other than them walking around the camp, no one paid special attention to Tigre and Mila.
“I heard that you guys lost quite badly, but I still can’t believe it.”
“I also thought like that a little while ago……”
Tigre, holding the black bow on his left arm, walked with more cautious steps than Mila. He also held the quiver hanging around his waist from above with his right hand. He could not afford to make the same mistake again. After all, Mila was also here this time.
“After thinking about it for several days, I felt like I finally understood why we lost.”
They made surprisingly highly coordinated movements. Each soldier fully displayed his strength.
They came from everywhere, their armed forces were not unified and they did not even have enough training. What changed them into a powerful military group was probably Greast’s outstanding command and formation ability.
However, before he had time to explain that, their destination could be seen.
At the center of the camp, two tents were installed a little apart from each other, there was nobody around this area, and thus a large space spread gaping wide there. The three bonfires set up near the tents quietly flickered.
Outside of that space, ten soldiers stood at regular intervals as they depicted an elliptical form. They stood watch so as not to let anyone close to the tents at the center.
Mila, who observed the situation while hiding behind a tent, spoke in an amazed voice.
“It doesn’t seem like he commanded the soldiers with trust.”
“He seemed to have used a rather cruel execution before. It’s probably with that.”
Mila, who heard Tigre’s explanation, revealed a disgusted look. Though she had no intention of showing mercy, if the situation required it, it seemed like she would go in rampage to her heart’s content.
“What do we do? We can’t charge directly like this to the tents though.”
They did not know which tent Elen was locked up in, but fortunately, the two tents were not that big. If they jumped in, they would be able to survey the inside with a glance.
“Let’s watch the situation for a little.”
Tigre’s words, rather than being a reply to Mila, seemed to try to convince himself in order to suppress his feeling of impatience. As the blue-haired Vanadis slightly lifted her hood of fur and turned surveying eyes to the youth, she shook her head.
“I think it’d be better to cause a commotion as soon as possible. Looking at you now, the more time passed, the more anxious you’d become and I feel like you might finally screw up the whole thing.”
Though he slightly groaned, he was self-aware of his nervousness and anxiety rapidly welling up as he stood in front of the tent where Elen was caught. But, he asked Mila just in case.
“Is there any other reason?”
“The defense is more rigorous than I expected. I think that the situation won’t change that much even if time passes. It’s possible to wait until half of the enemy forces fell asleep, but if we do it now……”
How to cause a commotion in the enemy camp? Tigre and Mila have talked about that many times these days and worked out several plans. What was left to do was to only adjust it based on the situation.
After listening to Mila’s plan, Tigre slightly nodded.
“I got it. Let’s go with that.”
As Tigre carefully removed one of the leather bags hung to his waist, he spilled out its contents in the tent where they were hiding. What was inside was oil. The place where oil was spread was stained black.
Tigre and Mila left the place, passed between the tents used by the soldiers, circled the elliptical space for a half a lap and came out to the other side. Thanks to the bonfires at the center of the space, they grasped the place almost accurately.
Tigre removed another leather bag hung to his waist. It also contained oil, but they did not use it to spill it in the tents. Holding the leather bag in his left hand, Tigre took out one arrow from his quiver with his right hand.
Mila took it, quickly wounded an old rag to the arrowhead and dipped it into the leather bag. It was to make a fire arrow. Their aim was the tent where they spilled oil a little while ago.
Although the place where Tigre stood now and the targeted tent were separated by two tents, both the youth and Mila did not think that the arrow would go off the mark. There were only 100 Arshins (about 100 meters) of distance at most and it would fine as long as he shot it so it depicted a great arc.
Tigre ignited the arrow and nocked it on the black bow. After he was ready, Mila walked out of the shadow of the tent and began to walk at a leisurely pace. Naturally, the soldiers on lookout saw her and called out to her. Mila stopped, waiting for one of the guards to approach.
The guards that were nearby focused their attention on Mila. After confirming it, Tigre shot the fire arrow. With the night sky as background, the fire arrow flew far above the two tents while depicting a magnificent parabola and accurately pierced in the tent where oil was spilled.
The tent burnt up. Because the amount of oil was not much, it did not cause that big a fire; but it was enough to surprise the guards and make them focus their awareness over there.
At this time, two guards already drew near Mila, but these two also reflexively shifted their attention to the burning tent. The Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave did not overlook that opportunity.
The spear in her hand flashed and one of them soundlessly collapsed. She quickly swung back and pierced the other one’s throat.
“It’s been a long time since I used an ordinary spear to kill enemies.”
When she muttered so, Tigre ran up to her side. He held the black bow in his left hand and grasped a new arrow in his right hand. Before the two could talk, Tigre suddenly stopped, nocked the arrow and shot it. After a short time, a guard who was in a distant place had his forehead pierced and he collapsed.
One of the guards shouted. Tigre and Mila ignored it and rushed towards the tents at the center. Even if soldiers came after hearing the voice just now, they would first take notice of the burning tent. It was fine as long as it could earn Mila and Tigre a little bit of time.
Among the two tents at the center, they rushed into the nearest one. The lamplight hanging from the ceiling illuminated the two people’s faces. There was however nobody inside the tent where a carpet was spread on the ground and where cushions were spread all over the carpet.
“It’s the wrong one, huh!”
The two of them immediately came out and rushed into the other tent.
This one was dim and they could not see inside immediately. But, they felt someone’s presence.
Tigre unintentionally shouted. And then, he heard a reply from within the dim light.
“……Is it Tigre?”
A feeble, tired and weak voice. Mila’s complexion changed, but she immediately ran out of the tent. She took off her overcoat made of fur, put it into the flames of the bonfire and returned to the tent again.
As the fire on the fur quickly spread until her hand, she thrust it with the spear, using it as a torch.
Inside the tent illuminated by the flames, an iron pillar stood at the center.
Elen was sitting on the ground, tied to that pillar.
Tigre shouted her name and rushed over. Though Mila silently stood silently on the spot, her face showed surprise as well as a rising anger. What kind of treatment was this towards a Vanadis of Zhcted, no, towards a warrior, who fought bravely and dignifiedly on a battlefield?
Elen raised her face. On her haggard face, she revealed a smile that looked like she would cry at any moment.
“Is it really you, Tigre……? Isn’t it a dream?”
“Yes, that’s right…… It’s me, Elen. There’s no way it’s a dream, right?”
Tigre, still holding the bow in his left hand, strongly hugged her. The chains that restrained both of her hands made a clanging sound. Killing intent showed in Tigre’s eyes as he glared at these chains.
“Step aside, Tigre.”
Mila, who finally pulled herself together, came next to the youth. As she handed the impromptu torch to Tigre and had him step back, she stretched her right hand to the empty space.
With her shout, a bluish white radiance was generated on her right hand. The surrounding atmosphere instantly turned into cold wave; the bluish white light stretched long and narrow, and took the form of a spear. When the light soundlessly dissipated, there was a beautiful spear in Mila’s hand made with the combination of block ice and crystal.
Mila casually swung the Frozen Wave, planning to cut the chains coiling around Elen’s arms like a poisonous snake. But, a metallic sound was emitted and the Frozen Wave was bounced off. Not only Mila, even Tigre opened his eyes wide in surprise. Elen looked up at Mila and uttered words painfully.
“This…… negates Dragonic Skills……”
Though she heard only a few words, it was enough for Mila to understand.
She had found it strange. At first glance, Elen seemed to be exhausted, but she had no obvious injury. On the contrary, her wounds were properly tended. Despite this, why did she not call her Dragonic Tool to escape?
“Now that you mention, such hateful things indeed exist.”
Mira’s eyes shone with anger. In the civil war two years ago, she fought together with Elen against dragons entwined with strange chains twine around their large builds. The chains were endowed with a mysterious power that negated Dragonic Skills.
Mila once again wielded the Frozen Wave. This time, she was not aiming at the chains, but at the iron pole on which Elen was tied. A metallic sound echoed again inside the tent. However, it was duller than the sound earlier.
The iron pole was beautifully divided into two; Tigre rushed up to Elen again and removed the chains from her arms. Indeed after ten days, Elen finally regained her freedom.
“You bastards, what are you doing there?”
An angry shout resounded from behind Tigre and Mila.
When they turned around, a gray-haired tall man stood there with a lamp in his right hand. He seemed to have walked into the tent after hearing the noise.
Tigre did not answer and just silently nocked an arrow on the black bow. The youth immediately recognized that this man was Greast. So, he did not hesitate to aim at his forehead.
Greast promptly reacted to the arrow shot from such a close range. He held up the lamp in his right hand in front of his face, trying to block it.
With a whistling sound, the lamp fell to the ground and broke with a small crashing sound. A groan leaked out from Greast’s mouth. The arrow shot by Tigre broke the lamp and pierced the man’s right hand. The acute pain caused Greast to kneel down while holding his right hand.
Tigre took out a new arrow from the quiver hung to his waist, intending to finish him off, but he failed to do so.
It was because at this moment, the Greast Army’s soldiers armed with weapons rushed into the tent.
“Tigre! I leave Eleonora to you!”
At the same time as she shouted, Mila held up the Frozen Wave and jumped out. With every sharp thrust of her spear, a Greast soldier’s forehead or throat would spur blood, which would then form a dark red rainbow in the air as they collapsed.
The tent’s entrance was naturally made narrow and it was difficult for more than two people to enter together at the same time. For Mila who held a long-handled weapon, it was an ideal battleground.
Elen was sitting on the ground, still leaning on the iron pole. Tigre planned to carry her on his back, but then he was blown off, hit by something from the side.
“I won’t hand her to you…… She…… she’s mine……!”
It was Greast. With the arrow still inserted into his right hand, the blood flowed out of his palm, sliding down his fingers and fell on the ground making countless blood stains. His pair of eyes that looked down at Tigre became bloodshot and his body was filled with an unusual madness. While breathing roughly, Greast kneeled down in front of Elen.
“Come on, Eleonora-dono. Heal the wound on my hand with your body’s warmth.”
Though his face was full of sweat, Greast still revealed a smile and called the silver-haired Vanadis’ name. The man’s left hand clasped the chains thrown on the ground.
As he endured the pain on his right hand and held the chains with both hands, Greast tried to go around behind Elen. He intended to strangle Elen and held her hostage while sealing her Dragonic Tool.
However, a moment earlier than that, a silver radiance shone in Elen’s right hand. It took the form of a long sword and was tightly grasped in her hand. As if having impatiently waited for that time, it scattered silver light particles.
Something flew above Elen and Greast. It left a trail of blood.
That something, which rolled on the ground with a *botori* sound was the right hand that was pierced by the arrow.
Although Greast groaned and rolled on the ground, he immediately stood up again. His gray hair was disheveled and became like a lion’s mane. Although he was assailed by an intense pain, his willpower to endure it till the end was commendable.
“Never…… Never touch me again!”
Elen turned her eyes and glared at Greast. But, she seemed to have exhausted her strength with that; she staggered and was about to fall. A hand extended from the side and supported her body. It was Tigre.
While carrying Elen on his back, Tigre looked in the direction of Mila. The Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave was blocking the tent’s entrance, swinging her Dragonic Tool. There was no opponent among the Greast soldiers who gave her a hard time, but they just kept coming one after another.
It was at that time when Tigre thought of taking Greast as hostage, but the gray-haired Marquis took action slightly earlier than him.
Before the youth put down Elen on the ground, Greast ran to the tent’s entrance while stumbling. Throwing a sidelong glance at a soldier being knocked down immediately on the side by Mila’s spear, he rushed out of the tent while rolling. Not only Tigre, but even Mila was dumbfounded by this.
“I was wondering who suddenly came out. It’s just a bastard quick in fleeing.”
While spatting out such words, slight caution was however contained in Mila’s voice. At the same time as Greast ran away, the enemy soldiers no longer rushed in. That man probably stopped them. The blue-haired Vanadis looked back towards Tigre.
“Was the one just now Greast you spoke about?”
Tigre nodded and carried Elen on his back again. Because the youth held the black bow in his left hand, he needed to be careful not to injure her leg with the bowstring. Although this will the burden on his left hand, it could not be helped.
He turned his neck and looked back to Elen on his back. She seemed to regain her consciousness, but she was completely exhausted. She seemed to be struggling just to hold the long sword in her right hand.
Neither of them tried to run out of the tent immediately. If they went out of the tent head on, a rain of arrows would probably be poured on them. The Greast Army used fire arrows in the battle against the Moonlight Knight Army. There should be a group of people who could use bows. In addition, if they were surrounded by a large number of the enemy, even Mila would exhaust her strength sooner or later.
Mila threw a glance at Elen. She felt angry at her cruel treatment, but Greast did not hurt Elen and even tended to her wounds. Doesn’t this mean he’ll refrain from exposing her to danger? She wondered.
However, she immediately dismissed that thought. She had no conclusive evidence. Besides, she could not spend time thinking about such things. After all, as far as this situation was concerned, the more time passed, the more advantageous the enemy would become.
“Tigre. Let’s act as planned.”
Staring at the tent’s entrance, Mila said. Tigre replied briefly and picked up the impromptu torch that fell to the ground. Most of the fur has burnt up and the fire has become quite weak, but it has not yet been extinguished.
Tigre held it and pressed it against the bottom side of the tent. It smoldered at first, but then the fire quickly moved to the top and it started to burn. So as not to get smoked, Tigre moved away from there. Mila walked up to him.
The fire expanded rapidly and a part of the tent was ablaze. Before long, a hole big enough to allow one person to pass was formed. However, the threefold wall of flames, heat and smoke blocked the passage, not allowing an average person to pass.
The Frozen Wave in Mila’s hand shone white and emitted cold wave. This cold wave coiled around its master Mira, Tigre and Elen and became a transparent cold armor.
“If Eleonora was in a better condition, she could have taken care of the smoke, but…… Anyway, please hold your breath.”
Mila stood at the front and bravely rushed out of the tent while forcing back the flames and heat. Tigre, carrying Elen on his back, also followed her.
The surprised ones would be the Greast soldiers who were waiting outside the tents. When they surrounded the tent according to the order of the supreme commander Greast, it suddenly burned up. Moreover, the intruders split the flames and appeared from the rear.
As he was wounded on the right arm, Greast’s instructions also lacked in accuracy; so the Greast soldiers were concentrated at the entrance of the tent. At the rear, there were only a few people, who just came over to observe the situation, and the Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave was never merciful when facing her enemies.
The spearhead that was pulled out of the wall of flames pierced with the night wind, sweeping the enemy soldiers. Short screams overlapped with the sound of the cold wave taking their lives, and the Greast soldiers fell down to the ground one by one. Tigre and company succeeded in breaking through the enemy line almost instantly.
Although they broke through successfully, on the whole, it was only one of the thin layers. Reinforcements would soon show up and blocked their way; moreover, the Greast soldiers who noticed that Tigre and company running away chased after them.
Tigre and Mila already expected this situation. They silently exchanged glances and then rushed into a tent nearby. Mila was on guarded at the entrance, while Tigre quickly lighted fire and set fire to the right side of the entrance.
The reason why they set a surprise attack at this time when the Greast Army had their evening meal was to create chaos by burning tents one after another like this and take the opportunity to escape.
If they did this in the middle of the night, they would have rushed into the tents where the enemies were waiting. Even if they were sleeping or awake, it would be fine as long as the enemy was confused; but it would be tricky if they were to encounter an enemy who would respond quickly.
“Have you used this method before?”
When Tigre asked, Mila shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
“What a funny joke. Obviously, it’s my first time using such a crude and violent method.”
“I think it isn’t that bad though.”
“I didn’t say that it’s bad. I just think this method is too unconventional, and to begin with, the idea of sneaking into the enemy camp and create a chaos is too strange.”
The tent’s right side burned up and similarly created a hole. When they jumped out of it, the Greast Army was in the midst of confusion due to the flames and smoke. Half-eaten bread rolled to the ground and soup was thrown out. There was even cured meat which one did not know how many times it have been stepped on.
Sometimes, they ran while hiding in the shadow of tents, sometimes they broke through the enemy line or burned tents to cause confusion. If Tigre was not carrying Elen on his back, he would have shot arrows one after another, but this this he left it to Mila to freely rampage.
The Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave, who created a storm of cold wave with a flash of the ice spear, left innumerable frosts on the ground and froze even the enemy’s breath and blood, might look like a lovely snowy fairy from afar, but she was a frightening ice devil for those who confronted them.
After battling for more than ten minutes, the trio finally reached where the trench was. As expected, as the cold wave did not work here, so they had to proceed cautiously.
At that time, Tigre felt his wrist was pulled. At the same time, an unnatural whirlwind surrounded the youth and Mila. Tigre looked at the silver-haired girl on his back.
This was definitely the power of Arifal she possessed. Mila also seemed to have understood that; though she flashed a displeased look, he did not reject the wrapping of this whirlwind.
“Is it all right for you to use the Dragonic Tool’s power?”
“Believe in her, Tigre.”
It was Mila who replied. She lowered her posture as she was going to jump over the trench. Tigre also took his eyes off from Elen and turned around to the trench.
The reason why Elen did this was probably due to her pride as Vanadis. Besides, since both hands of Tigre were occupied, he was thankful for being able to jump over with the help of the wind.
They kicked the ground. The atmosphere did not hinder Tigre and company, but instead pushed them. Their bodies were wrapped with a sense of floating and they even had the illusion of being completely free from the bondage gravity. Tigre and Mila lightly landed to the other side of the trench.
After coming this far, it was as good as having succeeded in escaping. Then before long, Tigre and company completely left of the Greast Army’s camp. They earnestly ran on the earth wrapped in darkness, and when they suddenly looked back, they saw flames bursting in the camp. It was probably the tents that they had set fire to.
“How do we act from now on?”
Mila adjusted her breathing and asked. She had a thin layer of sweat on her forehead. Tigre replied without hesitation.
“We’ll go south for a while, and then go east.”
By going from here to the east, they should reach the main highway that linked the Capital Nice and Lutetia in two or three days. There was a high possibility that the Moonlight Knight Army travelled along that road.
But, Greast must have also expected this. So, he would definitely send pursuers to the east to intercept them. Taking that into consideration, he felt that it’d be better to go south. Besides if it was the south, Tigre roughly grasped the topography of that area.
“Then, we’ll move towards a village or a settlement whose location you know. We must get horses.”
Tigre nodded and carried Elen on his back again. They walked cautiously on the grasslands covered by the night darkness. Though it was inconvenient to light a torch when considering pursuers, the warmth and weight that the youth felt on his back gave him joy and vitality.
—Finally, finally…… I was able to save you.
Ten days passed since the Moonlight Knight Army was defeated and Elen was captured.
It was long. Tigre felt that that he had finally been rewarded.
When the night wore on and darkness deepened even more, while receiving treatment of his right arm in the tent for the supreme commander located at the center of the camp, Greast received the report.
Although called treatment, it could only be done as a simple dressing here. They could only wash the wound with water, disinfect it with wine and then apply medicine on it.
At the time of disinfection, Greast almost lost consciousness due to the tremendous pain, but he endured it and continued the treatment. Ointment was applied, then a clean cloth was used as dressing and finally a bandage was wrapped around. Although blood immediately oozed out, he could only leave it as is.
After hearing the number of casualties and the number of tents burnt, Greast made a sullen face.
The number of casualties was a little less than 50 people. All of them were not killed by Mila; there were some of them who died by friendly fire in the midst of chaos. Anyway, it was not that great a loss. It was a hard blow that the tents were burnt, but in this season where early summer approached, it did not result in a serious problem after all.
He inwardly cursed the man he hated to the bones. Compared with killing soldiers and burning tents, he could not forgive the fact that Elen was taken away.
And moreover, she was taken by that youngster of all people.
—I guess I can’t rely on those guys that I left in the royal palace. When I eventually seized Lutetia, I would have to re-start all from scratch.
Though Greast’s heart was filled in anger and hatred, when he finished hearing the report, he regained a calm expression and began to give clear instructions, while letting the girl in charge of his treatment help him wipe the sweat on his forehead.
This girl was one of the people that he abducted at the time when they were burning and looting in Earl Cotillard’s territory. During the period when Elian was imprisoned, this girl was responsible for taking care of her.
After finishing issuing instructions in that way, Greast decided to revise his plan.
—Before arriving at Montour, I want to meet the Moonlight Knight Army and crush them.
The Moonlight Knight Army should have go north through the highway in order to defeat them. So they would definitely come over as long as the Greast Army did not move.
Although he could also take the initiative to the highway where the enemy would probably be, Greast intended to spent time in the reorganization of his army. He also wanted to reinvigorate the soldiers’ morale.
He had the girl and the soldiers leave, and then inside the tent where he was now alone, Greast gulped down the wine which became lukewarm. He then looked up in the empty space and shouted with a strong obsession.
“Eleonora-dono…… I haven’t given up yet.”
It was daybreak. Tigre and Mila, who walked a grassy plain full of ups and downs stretching out to a flat hill, as expected showed a rather exhausted look. The two people have kept walking throughout the night. Mila suggested that they carried Ellen on their backs in turns, but Tigre refused while expressing his thanks.
Though the fact that he personally wanted to carry her himself was one of the reasons, another was that Tigre also considered the fact that it would be tough for the small-statured Mila to walk while carrying Elen. Perhaps she seemed to have noticed Tigre’s intention, the blue-haired Vanadis revealed a playful smile and said “then, do as you like”.
When they went up the hill, they found a small forest and got inside it. They finally took a break.
“Do you think that pursuers will come?”
While drinking water contained in a leather bag, Mila asked. Tigre shook his head.
“They’ve probably given up, I think.”
Although Mila’s performance last night was quite brilliant, it did not cause much damage to the Greast Army. The gray-haired Marquis should have also estimated that the Moonlight Knight Army would soon appear again.
Tigre did not know that the Moonlight Knight Army received the order to subjugate the Greast Army, but there was no way that Regin and Mashas would ignore Greast and the private army following him. They would have to defeat them somewhere.
And, Greast was probably aware of it as well.
“I think that they would lie in wait around an area in front of Montour.”
“Then, we should soon go east and come out to the highway, right?”
At Mila’s words, Tigre nodded while biting dried meat. He did not that much appetite, but he would be unable to move at the critical moment if he did not eat.
At that time, as the sound of horses’ hooves came from afar, Tigre’s face turned pale. It was the same for Mila, and so the two of them hurriedly hid in the shadows of trees.
But then, they revealed dubious expressions almost the same time. They had the feeling that the sound came not from the north, but from the south. They did not think that the Greast Army’s pursuers overtook them unawares.
Tigre and Mila cautiously inquired the situation outside the forest from the trees’ shadows. The sound of horses’ hooves gradually approached and their identity became clear.
Dark-skinned horses that were not from Brune and lightly equipped warriors riding them. They wounded a black cloth on their head, put on leather armor over their clothes and hung a sword with a curved blade to their waists. They inserted a bow on the saddle and hung a quiver. The most striking feature was their dark brown skin.
His optimistic mood until a while ago completely blow away, Tigre gazed at the Muozinel cavalry unit in utter amazement. Mila, also speechless, she tightly clenched her hand grasping the Frozen Wave.
They were about 50 cavalrymen and they ran straight through the forest. Waiting until the sound of horses’ hooves could no longer be heard, and after further counting to 20, Tigre and Mila, leaving Elen behind, came out of the forest.
“We’re lucky. We wouldn’t have gotten away easily if we were found.”
Mila sighed. Even for Tigre and Mila, it would be tough to fight against 50 cavalrymen head on while protecting Elen. Moreover, both of them had kept walking all night long after having raided the Greast Army’s camp, so as expected they accumulated a lot of fatigue.
“But, why did the Muozinel army appear here……?”
“Judging from their number, it’s probably a reconnaissance team.”
Tigre’s shoulders quivered at Mila’s words. He wondered whether the Muozinel army has pushed their way into Brune’s southern part, and whether the fact that a reconnaissance team having come until here would meant that they (the army) already drew near to the Capital Nice.
Thinking up to there, Tigre shook his head. If a large army of 150,000 approached until the vicinity of the Capital, it would without doubt affect even the area around here. People abandoning towns and villages and escaping in sparsely populated areas, and soldiers of nobles governing territories nearby should have been noticeable frequently.
“I wonder if they’ve sent out a small-scale reconnaissance team to observe the situation.”
“It’s probably that.”
Mila agreed with Tigre’s words.
As both of them surmised, the unit of 50 cavalrymen that were here was a small detachment of the reconnaissance team led by Damad. They were ordered by Damad to go deeper into Brune for reconnaissance.
“Let’s get out of here first. Those guys may come back, so we’d better look for a safer place to rest.”
It was about when Mila said so and Tigre was about to nod.
The youth’s name was suddenly called from behind. It was a familiar, gentle voice that he knew well.
As they turned around with surprise, a girl stood there, her silver hair fluttering in the wind. Bashfully scratching her cheek, she smiled at Tigre.
“Um, sorry. For having you carry me on your back for so long.”
Tigre’s reply was an embrace that gave vent to his feelings. While her cheeks dyed bright red, Elen softly hugged the youth in return. Afterwards, her gaze met with Mila’s and she gave an awkward greeting.
She softly patted the back of Tigre still hugging her.
“Tigre. We’re in a hurry now, right? I’ll let you hug me as much as you want later, okay?”
At these words, the youth immediately regained his composure and quickly pulled away from her as he realized what he had just done. As a result, Elen staggered, so he hurriedly supported her. That flustered state of his invited a wry smile not only to Elen, but to Mila as well.
And then finally, Tigre faced Elen.
With a voice flooded with emotions, the silver-haired Vanadis briefly said.
“Thank you, Tigre.”
The youth gave a small nod with a smile infused with all his feelings.
The three people who left the forest marched towards the east. As the sun rose just then, there was no need to worry about getting the wrong direction.
Despite Tigre’s worry, Elen was walking the grassland with steady steps.
“Last night, for some reason my body felt weak and I was carried by you the whole time, but it wasn’t like I was seriously injured or sick.”
“In that case, I’d have preferred you walk on your own since yesterday.”
Mila cursed. Elen knitted her brows in displeasure.
“If I could move my body properly, I would have instead cut off that guy’s head and not his hand. It’s been a long time since I felt that irritated.”
“I’d have been very troubled if you’ve done it. I want his head, too.”
While walking in between the two Vanadises, Tigre joined in the conversation in a casual tone. It was not like he was just going along with Elen’s words. Although similarly to Elen, it’s really been a long time since he had hated someone to this extent. Just remembering Elen’s state last night, he reflexively clasped the bow in his hand tightly.
“I’d like you leave him to me. Even if it’s me who take his head, the credit will still be yours, the supreme commander.”
“Can you still fight?”
Mila squinted and asked. Elen revealed a fearless smile.
“After having stuck on Tigre’s back, I’m now full of energy. Besides ── since I was oppressed by the other party, I’ve to retaliate.”
Elen said so while releasing a sharp and unrelenting fighting spirit from her whole body. Her ruby-colored eyes were also with an uncommon drive. Mila shrugged her shoulders as she said “how reliable of you” with sarcasm.
Tigre stopped and looked at Elen with an earnest expression.
“Elen. If you want to take part in the battle against him, you must promise one thing.”
Feeling an unyielding will within the youth’s voice, Elen stopped. She urged him to continue speaking.
“You must absolutely follow my orders. When I tell you to retreat, you should retreat then.”
Those were words he spoke due to his excess worry about Elen. He asked such a request because he worried that the anger released from her body might break away from the rational shackles. As she guessed Tigre’s intention, Elen curved her lips.
“Of course, I’ll naturally follow the supreme commander’s orders.”
“If I was the supreme commander, I’d have ordered you to stay back as you’re convalescent though.”
Elen glared at Mila, who butted into the conversation, with a sour look.
“What’s with you? You’re complaining since some time now. Because I owe you a favor for having rescued me, I intended to ignore most of what you say, but if you’re picking a fight, you’ll have it.”
“Do you think I’ll pick a fight for such a thing? For the little time I didn’t see you, I see that your short-tempered nature got worse. At this rate, wouldn’t you fly into rage just for the simple reason that meal time was late?”
“You went and said it. Shall I beat you to the point that you’d be unable to eat for a while?”
Ruby-colored eyes and ice-blue eyes clashed while scattering hostile sparks. Tigre hurriedly broke in between the two girls.
“Stop quarreling in a place like this. Mila, you said that because you’re worried about Elen, right? Though the way you say it might be slightly thorny……”
Tigre faced Elen and Mila respectively and somehow managed to soothe them. Though the two girls put an end to their sharp words for the time being, they snorted while turning their gazes away from each other.
Tigre did not realize that Mila was irritated partly because of him. Since Elen was awake, Tigre seemed to be always concerned about her, and this made Mira’s heart feel very unpleasant. However, Mila did not even try to voice out that feeling.
Wrapped in an awkward atmosphere, the trio resumed their walk.
When the sun rose to a fairly high position, Tigre and company once again heard the roar of horses’ hooves. This time, they were just going down a hill, and there was no place nearby where they could hide.
Preparing for the worst-case scenario, the three of them respectively set up their weapons. But when they saw the group approaching their way while letting the sound of horses’ hooves resound, surprise and joy appeared on Tigre’s face.
While raising his left hand holding the black blow in order to draw the attention to him, the youth shouted towards the man standing at the vanguard of the cavalrymen. In his excitement, he unconsciously used his old way of calling him.
Riding at the vanguard of the group of about 30 cavalrymen was Mashas’ second son and Tigre’s long acquaintance, Gaspar.
It was the evening of the same day that Tigre and company returned to the Moonlight Knight Army’s camp together with the reconnaissance team led by Gaspar.
After Tigre entered the tent for the supreme commander, the first one to jump at him was Titta who was cleaning the inside of the tent just then. She threw away the dust cloth in her hand and threw herself at Tigre’s chest. Tigre also caught the chestnut-haired maid in his arms with a smile.
“I’m back, Titta. Sorry to have worried you.”
“No, no……! It’s just good as long as you came back safely……”
She did not say anything further. Although it was several days, she has been feeling anxious all the time. She worried herself about wondering whether, even though the enemy was strong to the extent to defeat their army, he would be fine by himself, and whether he would be able to rescue Elen. Tigre continued to gently stroke her head and her back until she calmed down.
Afterwards, Titta also greeted Elen who entered the tent after the youth. Though the maid’s hazel-colored eyes became moist with large drops of tears when she saw Elen, she did not embrace her and just deeply bowed. With a teasing smile, Elen said with opened arms.
“Titta. Don’t be so reserved, I don’t mind you embracing me like you did to Tigre, you know?”
The maid, who did her chestnut-colored hair in a ponytail raised her face and shook her head.
“Yes. I would gladly do that. But this time, I shall first let another one do it……”
Titta’s gaze moved and was turned towards Elen’s rear.
The silver-haired Vanadis turned around and saw Lim standing there. Though she was gazing at Elen with her usual unsociable expression, upon closer inspection, her shoulders were slightly shaking.
Elen walked up to Lim; she seemed to want to smile, but she could not. So, she could only show a complex expression while looking up at her close friend three years older than her.
“Sorry to have let you worry.”
How many emotions were contained within her gaze and within her very short lines? Only Lim, who received Elen’s feelings, could understand that.
Lim did not answer and just silently looked down at Elen. The reason why she could not utter any words was because the unsociable expression, which she forced herself to maintain, was collapsing gradually.
Elen stretched both her arms and held Lim’s head, burying it into her chest. And Lim did not resist. Before long, slight sobbing leaked out from within Elen’s chest.
Then after a quarter koku, five men and women sat around the table inside the tent for the supreme commander.
They were Tigre, Elen, Mila, Lim and Mashas. Titta did not join in and was busy preparing wine and pastry for five people. However, she looked very happy when she poured wine in porcelain cups and served pastry on plates.
“First of all, it’s good that you came back safely.”
Mashas said so and bowed to Elen; then he deeply bowed to Mila.
“I heard about the circumstances, but…… I do not have enough words to thank you for joining our line of battle at this time before our battle.”
“It’s fine to skip such stiff greetings. I just went with the flow after all.”
Mila laughed and responded with ease. Before long, Titta put wine and pastry in front of the five people. The pastry was something made by mixing egg and sugar with wheat and were baked dry for long-term preservation; though it was hard, the sweetness one felt on the tongue seemed as if it removed the fatigue that accumulated in one’s body.
“Titta’s pastry is delicious after all.”
Elen contentedly tossed them one after another in her mouth. Within the peaceful atmosphere, Tigre, Mashas and Lim busily exchanged information. Elen and Mila silently listened to them.
“We have 7000 soldiers, and the enemy is a little less than 10,000. We’re quite in disadvantage. You’ve lost once, right?”
Mila stated her opinion unreservedly. Elen responded in indignation.
“This was because at that time, we were quite tired and were poisoned, too!”
“So you say, but what is the actual reason?”
Mila ignored Elen and asked Tigre and Mashas. Mashas replied with a serious expression.
“They are very strong. Especially, their ability to see through our intention and counterattack first is indeed frightening.”
Lim, seemingly of the same opinion, nodded with a stiff expression. As a result, Elen could not refute, and a heavy atmosphere filled inside the tent. So as to break that atmosphere, Tigre spoke.
“Well, about that topic, Lord Mashas”
“Have you thought of some countermeasures?”
The gazes of everyone present in the tent concentrated on Tigre. The youth rummaged his darkish red hair as if looking for words.
“When I sneaked into their camp and observed the soldiers there, there’s something that bothered me. They’re without doubt a bunch of guys scraped together. So I wondered why we lost against them.”
Then, Tigre told the four people what he thought about. And also a strategy plan based on it.
Mashas was the first to speak of his impression.
“That’s quite a rough method. Moreover, we are in numerical inferiority, yet you want us to do that?”
“But, it is also a fact that neither me nor Lord Mashas have come up with any useful strategy until today.”
Lim plainly said and turned her blue eyes to Tigre.
“I agree with Lord Tigrevurmud’s plan. If we were to use the same tactics as the last time, we will without doubt lose again. In that case, I choose to bet on the words of someone who has actually seen the enemy’s camp.”
“Though I’m treated as a guest General, I’m also fine with Tigre’s plan.”
When Mila said so, Elen greatly nodded as well.
“As long as you let me do the essential part, then I’m fine with it.”
“Then, it’s decided.”
Surveying the three Zhcted people, Mashas shook his gray beard. Tigre wonderingly blinked several times.
“Do you also agree, Lord Mashas?”
“I wasn’t against it from the beginning, you know? Besides, I’m also concerned about Muozinel’s reconnaissance team that you guys saw. If we can defeat Greast now, then we should do it. ──By the way”
Mashas asked the opinion of Elen and Mila about whether they should contact Valentina and the Osterode Army that should be in Lutetia about this time. If she and her troops were to be added, then their number would be 9600 and they would be on par with the enemy.
“I think it’s fine. We shall send a messenger first.”
Tigre said so, but Elen and Mila shook their heads as tough to say that that was unnecessary.
“I’ll put it bluntly. I don’t trust her.”
“I feel the same way. She only thinks about herself.”
“Even if you say that, whether it be the battle against the Sachstein army or the one against the Greast Army, she didn’t do us any harm, right?”
“She’s just given a bunch of wicked ideas, you know?”
Elen bluntly said without hiding her displeasure. Tigre fell silent.
Elen certainly did have a point. You could also say that Valentina’s suggestions, such as doing sneak attack or using poison and the like, were insidious contrary to her beautiful appearance. Moreover, it looked like she enjoyed what she suggested and also the reactions of others towards her suggestions.
“I am sorry, but this time, I cannot also agree with Lord Tigrevurmud.”
Even Lim said it bluntly.
“I do not say that Valentina-sama has done anything wrong. But, she deliberately kept a distance from us. You could say that the fact that she is not here now is the best evidence.”
“……I got it.”
“But, I think I shall at least let her know that Elen is safe.”
Even if, just as Mashas suspected, Valentina had the intention to cooperate with Greast, she might change her mind after receiving the news that Elen has been rescued. When Tigre explained so, the other four nodded reluctantly.
On the same day, a messenger left for Lutetia where the Osterode Army might be stationed.
The day dawned and the 7000 of the Moonlight Knight Army that vacated the camp started their march as they deviated from the highway. They headed straight to Montour.
These 7000 soldiers were composed of 4800 soldiers of noble feudal lords, 1000 of the Lutece Knight Squadron led by Scheie, and 1200 of the LeitMeritz Army.
Regarding the LeitMeritz soldiers, except the severely wounded ones, most of them were added to the battle line. The Lutece Knight Squadron accompanied all along since the battle with the Sachstein army. They lost a little less than 200 of their comrades by the Greast Army’s poison, thus burnt for revenge.
It was something that Scheie, with his peculiar features of a large build and a stern face, said with a brazen smile to Tigre.
“As long as we can beat up those guys and win in the end, you can use us however you see fit. We shall become your shields, or even armors. Of course, we don’t mind being used as your swords and spears, either.”
“I hope that you will continue fight together with us against the battle with Muozinel afterwards. So, don’t overdo it.”
As Tigre said so, Scheie restrained his drive.
As they slowed down their marching speed slightly in order to cross the river, the Moonlight Knight Army arrived quite close to Montour in a day.
The night passed. On the next morning, the Moonlight Knight Army and the Greast Army confronted each other at the grassy plain spreading southeast of Montour.
This region where both armies would clash did not have any name in particular, so this battle would be called “Battle of Montour” and this grassy plain would later be named “Plain of Montour”, too.
At first glance, the Plain of Montour appeared to be a grassy plain with no ups and downs; but, in the north, there was a dense forest that appeared dim even during the day, there was a river flowing in the south, and hills stretched out in the east and west; and the grassy plain itself was also a rugged zone, so it was far from being called “flat”.
The Greast Army took up their position in the north of the grassy plain with the forest at their back. They divided approximately 9000 infantrymen into 3000 soldiers to the central main troops, the right wing and the left wing respectively, and stationed less than 400 cavalrymen in the rear as reserves troops. This was a fairly orthodox battle formation, which seemed out of place when considering the very abnormal supreme commander who devised it.
The Moonlight Knight Army stationed their soldiers away as far as possible from the river in the south.
The central main troops were composed of the 4800 soldiers gathered by the noble feudal lords. The supreme commander was Tigre and Mashas acted as the adjutant. The Lutece Knight Squadron led by Scheie took over the right wing.
The left wing was the 1200 of the LeitMeritz Army, with Elen as the commander and Lim acting as her adjutant. Moreover, as a guest General, Mila stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Elen.
Anyway, Elen owed a great debt to Mila. Tigre also stated it, but without her cooperation, Elen might not have been here like this now.
Therefore, they received Mila as a guest General, but after completing the battle formation, the two Vanadises did not even look at each other.
Incidentally, there was a cavalry group of about 200 that took up positions on one of the hills in the west, watching this battle. They were neither Brune people nor Zhcted people. They were Muozinel people.
It was the reconnaissance team led by Damad. The remaining 1800 cavalrymen were in the south far away from Montour. Damad knew of the Moonlight Knight Army’s movement from the report of several subordinates that he dispatched, and ran to here in order to confirm it with his own eyes.
He had not the least bit intention in siding with either party. Even being well aware that he has probably been found out already by both armies, he still intended to brazenly watch them.
The side that won this battle would probably become the Muozinel army’s enemy later. He had the duty of ascertaining the outcome and report how they fought to the “Red Bear”. And while at it, he wanted to make it clear whether or not Tigrevurmud Vorn really went missing.
“What’s with those guys?”
After receiving the report that there was a cavalry unit of the Muozinel army at a hill in the west, Mashas muttered, annoyed. Tigre also responded with an amazed face.
“This is the first time I see an army just coming to stand as a spectator.”
But thanks to that, one doubt was cleared. The reconnaissance team of the Muozinel army that Tigre and Mila saw has come all the way here in order to sound out either the Moonlight Knight Army or the Greast Army.
“In any case, if they are only 200, we shall just ignore them. But, if they came too close, we’ll deal with them then.”
After deciding so, Tigre sent messengers in order to convey his intention to the right wing and the left wing.
“But, Tigre. The Greast Army is really in chaos.”
While watching from afar the Greast Army standing at the grassland basking in the early summer morning’s sunlight, Mashas said with an astonished face. As the old Earl said, the Greast Army was like a group of people who were made up of shrimps and crabs (haphazardly gathered).
Next to the unit of the Cotillard soldiers that attired themselves with iron helmet, armor and shield, there was a unit that was composed only of bandits and brigands. Further beside this unit, there was even a unit of soldiers wearing leather armor and holding only a sword; it was doubtful whether or not they could function properly.
But, the Moonlight Knight Army was defeated by them the other day. At that time, the Greast Army’s formation was exactly the same as it was now. That bitter event was still fresh in Mashas’ memory.
“In other words, it means that it’s as we planned.”
Tigre said so as to cheer up Mashas and then suddenly turned his gaze to the left wing. He wondered whether Elen would be all right. She and the LeitMeritz soldiers were the key of this battle.
—No, it’s Elen we’re talking about. She’ll surely do well.
At that time, in the LeitMeritz Army, Elen stared straight at the well-ordered soldiers.
“Once again ── I’m sorry to have caused you guys to worry.”
Elen was not on horseback; she stuck her long sword on the ground and put both her hands on its pommel. Her voice rode upon the winds, to the extent that it was also clearly audible into the ears of the soldiers in the rearmost row.
“As you see, I’m safe, but it’s not because I received a proper treatment from the enemy in front of us. Those guys have recognized my value as a hostage, but I wasn’t treated as a guest General.”
Though these words were half a lie, Elen did not feel any hesitation nor did she break her dignified attitude. She did not want to talk about Greast’s abnormality, nor was there any meaning to talk about it.
“I’m on the battlefield only today in order to wash my humiliation. With this boiling rage, I’ll wield my sword in order to crunch that guy into pieces and sink him very deep in the ground. How about you guys?”
Rurick standing at the vanguard of the army raised a war cry. What they should show to their commander was their fighting spirit, their firm intention to not forgive even one soldier of the enemy side, and their brute courage. For that reason, words were not necessary.
As though following Rurick, the LeitMeritz soldiers screamed, shouted and roared one after another, making the atmosphere rattlingly shake. They were like a group of wild beasts driven by rage.
Before long, when the echo of the roar of the last soldier disappeared, Elen revealed a fearless smile.
“Good. I’ll look forward to your brave fight!”
The sun slowly rose, aiming at the zenith. The shadows reflected on the grassland also changed shapes. The wind blew, rustling the flowers and plants, and the sound of horns blown by both armies melted into the air.
The Moonlight Knight Army and the Greast Army began to advance in unison. Before long, as the distance between the two sides was shortened, the unit standing at the Greast Army’s vanguard took out bow and arrow. The Moonlight Knight Army’s soldiers took out their shields.
Cutting through the light blue sky, the arrows rain unilaterally poured down on the Moonlight Knight Army. But, most of the arrows were blocked by the shields and there were just a few casualties.
Oddly enough, on the side of the Moonlight Knight Army, the LeitMeritz Army, that should be able to use bow and arrow, also chose to lift shields and devoted themselves to defense.
In the Greast Army’s central main troops, though Greast, who noticed that, furrowed his brows, he did not think too deeply about it. Bandage was still wound around his lost right hand.
Once a day, he poured wine on it to disinfect, put on a cloth smeared with medicine and changed the bandage.
The scary thing was that he firmly believed that he would one day be able to love this injury. The injury made by his beloved Elen has overwritten the unpleasant injury inflicted upon him by Tigrevurmud Vorn. Greast has begun to assume as such.
And such delusions did not damage the clarity of his thinking in the least.
After the arrows battle settled, he ordered his troops to advance. Although the strength of his central troops was inferior to the enemy’s, those in the left and right wings had the upper hand. In that case, as long as the central troops withstood the enemy’s attack, the left and right wings would respectively crush the enemy and in the end, they would eventually triumph once they encircled the enemy.
Even if Elen came to attack, he had a special squad prepare the chains that could seal a Dragonic Tool’s power. Afterwards, he could only hope to lure Elen there. The problem was that there seemed to be another Vanadis, but he had many spares of these kinds of chains. So, his first target was Elen.
Before long, the central troops of both armies clashed along with war cries. Swords collided with armors, spears collided with shields, and hatchets and helmets gave off sparks. What came to mind were fear, killing intent and madness. Those whose swords were broken were mercilessly stabbed with spears, and those whose armor was smashed fell on the ground smeared with blood.
In terms of ferocity, the Moonlight Knight Army had the upper hand.
They remembered how they were poisoned, how their injured comrades were burnt, and also how they were forced to flee miserably.
They struck their swords to the point of being broken, and stabbed their spears with force as if they did not cared about them (spears) breaking. By splitting skulls, tearing bellies and tearing off arms and legs, they continued dying their steps and the enemy’s with blood.
The Greast Army was not losing, either. They did not falter in the slightest against their enemies.
According to them, the ones who drank poison were at fault, the ones who were unable to escape fire were at fault; in short, the losers are in the wrong. They bashed with shields, struck from above with spears and slashed from below with axes. If they faltered, they would be pushed down, encircled and trampled to death.
The air was stained with the smell of blood, and the grass was sullied with entrails. The sun slowly shone on the many overlapping corpses. This battle had only just begun.
As they slightly fell behind in the center, the Moonlight Knight Army’s right wing clashed with the Greast army’s left wing.
The Moonlight Knight Army’s right wing, which was thought to have the momentum the moment they clashed, soon began to move back. The Lutece Knight Squadron that was in charge of the right wing numbered 1000, and the Great army’s left wing counted 3000 soldiers. So it was no wonder that they were pushed back by the enemy’s momentum.
Scheie wielded a sword at the vanguard; and when the sword lost its edge due to being covered with blood and grease, he switched to a spear. While swinging the spear, he ordered one of his subordinates to wipe his sword.
He killed an armed enemy, who seemed to be a Cotillard soldier, coming up front with a thrust and knocked down two new enemies, who came attacking him, by mowing down his spear. Rallied by their commander’s hard fighting, the Moonlight Knight Army’s right wing got back on their feet (recovered). They raised their swords, hung their spears and moved to counterattack.
On the other hand, on the side of the Moonlight Knight Army’s left wing ── the LeitMeritz Army.
This side was passive to the point of making one wonder where the war cries of before the battle began had gone to. They were retreating repeatedly while withstanding the enemy’s fierce attack with lined up shields. Although Elen and Mila also defeated many enemies attacking, they did not actively go to the front.
The Greast Army’s right wing was advancing step by step.
A quarter koku passed since the battle began. The ground was already littered several hundreds of corpses. A change occurred in the clashing of both parties’ central forces where the Moonlight Knight Army was supposed to have the advantage.
The Moonlight Knight Army began to be pushed back. The Greast Army has started to crush either squads with disordered ranks or squads with soldiers whose movement became dull.
The Greast Army’s light equipped squads attacked with agile movement. Their purpose was not to deal fatal injuries to their enemy. On the contrary, their blow was rather light, but enough to disrupt the enemy’s ranks.
Although the squads, which got attacked, counted almost no wounded, let alone casualties, the enemy squads, which seemed to be the ones in charge of dealing the sure kill-hit, swooped down on them in a flash afterwards. Their weapons were big hatchets, large swords and the likes which could crush armor mercilessly.
The smashing sound of metal was mixed with the sound of meat being cut apart, which occurred almost at the same time. Death followed bloodshed, and the Moonlight Knight Army soldiers fell one after the other.
And thus, an opening was created in one section of the army. At this time, the well-ordered armed group of the Cotillard army broke in there. Their task was to prevent the hole created from being filled and to hold on until the squads, which would spread the hole, arrived.
But, new squads of the Moonlight Knight Army similarly appeared there at the same time. Those, who wore heavy armor, raised their shields and began to force back the enemy that invaded.
The head-on collision became a bout of fighting spirit. Moonlight Knight Army’s soldiers, whose whole bodies overflowed with indignation, gradually pushed back the enemy and then finally started to beat them.
At this time, a similar change occurred in various places of the central troops, and in most cases, the Moonlight Knight Army triumphed. Even in the places where they were pushed back, a detached unit would immediately come to provide support.
“Since the time I saw the Greast Army’s camp, I’ve always wondered about it.”
While giving direction to the central troops, Tigre said to Mashas.
“Why did we lose against a group of people scraped together? I think that it was because Greast accurately pinpointed their strong point and formed suitable squads based on it.”
For example, there are 100 soldiers who, though weak with sword and spear, are only skilled at archery.
Then, there are 100 soldiers who, though weak physically, are nimble and agile.
Then, there are soldiers who, though slow, can withstand enemy onslaughts while dressed in heavy armor.
How can one put these people together to perform an ideal battle? The first idea that comes to mind is to let agile soldiers first lure the enemy, block their offensive with the heavy-armored soldiers, and finally one-sidedly annihilate them with soldiers skilled in archery.
After explaining this, Tigre continued with a bitter expression.
“Be it thieves or robbers, they’ll also have among them people who excelled at physical strength and also those who are agile. So I thought that Greast was able to accurately pinpoint their strong point, formed squads and then put up a fight that fully makes use of it.”
Mashas, who finished listening to him, became speechless for a while.
“……Can he really do something like that?”
Even Mashas would not be able to pinpoint each person’s strong point and decide assignment based on it. After all, even excluding their origins and bonds, there were many cases that even the person himself was not aware of his strong point.
But, if such a thing was possible, then the enemy before them could not be considered as being scraped together. Wasn’t it the most powerful, fierce and worst possible enemy?
And judging from the enemy movement and the damage they suffered from, Mashas could not deny Tigre’s conjecture. When he thought about the fact that Greast’s dreadfulness was not just his superior ingenuity, but also his ability of being able to make the best use of that ingenuity, he could not help but shudder.
After Mashas recovered from his shock after a long while, he heavily sighed.
“So that’s why you leave it to Eleonora-dono, huh.”
Tigre nodded. In order to win, he had to think of some countermeasures. Not ones to surpass Greast’s ingenuity and compilation ability. He had to come up with a plan to deal with it.
A soldier came to report.
“The enemy’s right wing began to attack our left side!”
It was something that happened because the LeitMeritz Army, which was in charge of the Moonlight Knight Army’s left wing, retreated too much. And now, the central troops led by Tigre and Mashas were exposed to the fierce attack of the enemy’s central troops and right wing.
Tigre and Mashas give directions in rapid succession and supported the main troops about to collapse as much as possible.
And like that, at the moment when the enemy’s bold and diverse offensives temporarily stopped, Tigre gave an order to all the squads standing at the vanguard.
Seeing as a part of the enemy’s right wing began to attack the central troops, Elen adjusted her breathing.
“You act rashly as always, huh.”
Mila, who was riding a horse next to hers, muttered. Although unwilling, she (Elen) could not help but acknowledge her (Mila) strength. No, it was precisely because this Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave was there that Tigre was able to think of such a plan.
Elen raised Arifal and fiercely rode her horse. She was not rushing to the enemy’s right wing head on, but instead took a great detour so as to avoid it. Mila rode alongside her, followed by 1200 cavalrymen who let horses’ hooves roar.
The Greast Army’s vanguard, which noticed the change in the LeitMeritz Army’s movement, charged towards them.
At that moment, thundering war cries arose in the center of the battlefield. Elen guessed that Tigre ordered the counterattack. So, her side just had to ride their horses without minding the enemy.
As she thought so, the enemy’s right wing’s movement became dull before long. Even so, about several hundreds of soldiers attacked the LeitMeritz Army’s flank.
However, under such circumstances, the ones who attacked displayed an even more ferocious momentum. A group of the LeitMeritz cavalrymen fiercely withdrew, assertively shortened the distance to the enemy and raised their weapons. From horseback they swung down their swords, thrusted their spears and kicked about with horses’ hooves.
Although it was only around 100 LeitMeritz cavalrymen who withdrew, they mercilessly crushed the enemy who was several times their number, though they were infantrymen. Their anger increased their momentum, and their bravery, which also increased their momentum, made the enemy falter even before they came in contact with them. The LeitMeritz soldiers quickly turned such faltering enemy one after another into corpses.
On the other hand, in the central troops, the hole, which could not be fixed until then, was finally beginning to disappear. Tigre’s charge order displayed its effect.
This order’s purpose was not to go deep into the enemy line, nor was it to inflict damage to the enemy camp.
Tigre’s real purpose was to create a situation of melee between both armies.
By flexibly mobilizing various squads together with all kinds of abilities, the enemy could freely deploy any kind of powerful attacks and flexible defenses. If they were dealt with them one by one, Tigre’s side would eventually be defeated. Thus, it was necessary to pull the enemy apart from Greast’s ingenuity.
As a result, the order of the supreme commander Greast would be unable to reach his soldiers, and they would be forced in a situation where they could only fight using their own judgment.
If they were soldiers who received training, they would be able to attack or defend by acting in concert with their allies immediately close to them. But, the majority of Greast’s soldiers were unable to do that. When it came to recovering from this situation of melee, they clearly fell behind.
The Moonlight Knight Army’s soldiers began to thrust spears all at once. The Greast soldiers, who were unable recovered their pace or even obtain desirable results even by counterattacking, collapsed to the ground one after the other.
Still, in term of number, the Greast Army, with the central troops and the right wing, counted 6000 soldiers whereas the Moonlight Knight Army only numbered 4800 of the central troops. Sooner or later, the Greast Army would restore their chain of command and get the upper hand.
But, before such a situation occurred, the LeitMeritz Army, which succeeded in making a detour, began to attack the right side of the Greast Army’s central troops.
Although they struck the flank, the LeitMeritz Army numbered 1200, which was less than half of the central troops. Nonetheless, the soldiers’ faces showed no fear whatsoever.
Not only did they not forget about the poison thrown into the river, but they were also angry at the fact that their lord Vanadis has been injured. Even if the enemy was 10 times or even 20 times their number, they would still face them. Right now, they were the most brave and ferocious group in the continent.
Standing at the vanguard of these 1200 soldiers, the two Vanadises rode side-by-side.
Whenever Elen swung Silver Flash, a silver shine drew an arc in the air, causing the Greast’s soldiers to spit out fresh blood and fell to the ground, turning into corpses.
And whenever Mila mowed down Frozen Wave, cold air blew through the Greast’s soldiers. By the time they felt the chill, most of them were dead with either their heads severed, or their throats pierced. The fact that there was not as much bloodshed as when Elen killed the enemy was because the cut would freeze instantly.
Not a single one of Greast’s soldiers were able to injure the two Vanadises.
When the enemy stepped in their range even just a little, they would be attacked by either the silver blade clad in wind or the spearhead clad in cold air. They had no time to swing their swords or spears. Even if they shot arrows from afar, the arrows would be bent by the wing and fly to the wrong direction.
The fighting of the LeitMeritz soldiers following them was also terrifying. They made the Greast soldiers wince by striking their swords on their (Greast soldiers) shields, and showered their helmet or armor with blows of battleaxes and spears. Even if the Greast soldiers were fully dressed in armor, they were helpless to these strikes.
The Greast Army changed their formation to a flexible one in order to face the LeitMeritz Army’s attack on their flank; they assumed a formation, not to block their fierce attack, but to attack them in a pincer from both sides while gradually retreating and shaving at their power.
Not matter how Elen and Mila were warriors that could match thousand, the soldiers following them were not. They intended to force the LeitMeritz Army to a prolonged battle and then crush them gradually.
But, this plan did not display results that Greast expected. The LeitMeritz soldiers’ fighting spirit was still boiling. Their aberrant bravery let them display strength far beyond their usual level, and crush the cool-headed ingenuity/tactics that should have normally brought about their death.
After breaking through the enemy’s central troops and dividing it, the LeitMeritz Army changed their route, turning to the right, and attacked the Greast Army’s left wing from the rear. At the same time, the Lutece Knight Squadron, which has withstood one third of the enemy number until then, began to counterattack.
The Greast Army’s left wing, which was attacked from both front and rear, while its soldiers shrieked and screamed during bloodshed and death, saw its number decreased at an alarming rate.
Greast’s instructions could no longer be passed on to them in such a situation.
The wind blew, the clouds drifted, covering the sun hanging high in the sky.
At a time when it was still early to say it was noon, Charon Anquetil Greast was giving directions to the central troops of his army. With the central troops divided and the left wing attacked in a pincer from both front and rear, the Greast Army has now fallen in a disadvantageous position.
However, he was still keeping his calm as if it was somebody else’s problem.
“Was I seen through due to that last battle?”
He muttered to himself in a quizzical tone. How has Greast skillfully featured a group of people scrapped together? Unless one saw through it, they should not have used a plan which built up a situation of melee, thus cutting off Greast’s instructions.
While the leading group panicked as they were drawn in a melee situation, they ended up permitting the LeitMeritz Army’s detour, the attack on their flank and even a breakthrough.
Although, the breakthrough was the result of Greast misreading their fighting spirit.
Until the attack on the flank, even he assumed “I expected as much”. That’s why he could immediately deal with it. If it was not the LeitMeritz Army, they would probably have stopped in the end when they were chipped from both sides, and they would have been annihilated.
Greast kept issuing precise instructions and succeeded in having the central troops and the right wing restore their lineup.
But, the left wing was already so overwhelmed by the LeitMeritz Army and the Lutece Knight Squadron that he had no other choice but abandon it.
“As expected, the terrifying ones are the Vanadises, huh.”
The current LeitMeritz soldiers have changed into a mass of hatred and desire for revenge, but even so, without Elen and Mila, Greast would have been able to hold back the LeitMeritz Army’s fierce attack at an earlier stage.
“No, at the very least if it was only Eleonora-dono alone, there’d still a possibility to deal with the situation.”
If it was only Elen, he had confidence that he could use the chains to seal her Dragonic Tool’s power and then lay out a trap in twofold or threefold.
But now, the LeitMeritz Army had another Vanadis. Even if he trapped Elen, there was someone with the power to rescue her. Even if he outdid Mila, Tigrevurmud Vorn was also there. There was no doubt that he would also take action in Elen’s rescue.
Greast ordered a subordinate and moved the location where he issue commands to the rear of his army’s central troops. There was the need to restore the places divided by the LeitMeritz Army’s fierce attack, and the vanguard, which collapsed due to the melee, has not yet fully recovered.
But, that was not the only reason why he moved his headquarters. Before long, a report which Greast expected was brought to him.
“An enemy attack from the rear! They number more than 2000……!”
“Do you know who the enemy is?”
At Greast’s question, the soldier gasping for breath replied. He said that the battle flag was light blue and a big circle with white and black colors were depicted at its center.
This soldier had worked as an official of coat of arms in a certain noble’s house, so he was well-informed about various nobles’ battle flags. That’s precisely why Greast entrusted such a duty to him. The soldier continued his reply.
“It’s a design I’ve never seen in Brune. Or it might be one belonging to Zhcted.”
“Got it. Go back and rest.”
Greast curtly replied and asked the soldier to withdraw. He knew very well the one who floated that battle flag.
Greast groaned inwardly. It was the army of Valentina Glinka Estes. She arrived at the battlefield after secretly going through the forest at the rear of the Greast Army.
—What an elaborate trick. No, I guess she did it to make it easier for her to explain.
Because I went along the forest, I was late in joining the battle. She would be able to justify herself by saying thus, thought Greast. In any case, Greast would have to face three Vanadises.
“I guess it’ll be impossible to trap Valentina-dono, huh.”
Unlike Elen and Mila, Valentina was a Vanadis who devoted herself to command her army at the rear. Moreover, she used steady tactics without any opening. Having such an enemy take one’s rear was as good as losing.
Greast issued orders to the forces at the rear; he had the soldiers spread out left and right so as to allow the Osterode Army, which came attacking, to move to the inner part of his army. By doing so, he would attack the Osterode Army, which has advanced, from both sides. It was similar to the strategy he set up against the LeitMeritz Army.
This had a certain effect, and the Osterode Army quickly retreated. Greast would have liked to pursue the enemy and inflicted them even more damage, but the Osterode Army was well-organized, showing no openings.
“I guess she’ll stop at that. There’s no way she’ll assertively attack.”
As Greast expected, Valentina refrained from further assertive action.
She was at the Osterode Army’s rear, issuing directions with a bewitching smile. She was without doubt the most leisurely commander in this battlefield.
Because the LeitMeritz Army and the Moonlight Knight Army were fiercely clashing with the Greast Army, the Osterode Army was allowed to partly take the stance of a bystander.
Of course this was temporary and if it came to a situation when the LeitMeritz Army and the Moonlight Knight Army fell into a disadvantageous position, the Osterode Army would be compelled to fight seriously.
Valentina sometimes gave orders to her soldiers to keep the Greast Army in check. She had a detached force move towards the Greast Army’s flank, and induced them in fear by feigning a fierce offensive.
Even when falling into this situation, Greast showed neither agitation nor panic.
While attacked in a pincer by the Moonlight Knight Army and the Osterode Army, he used a few squads to restrain the enemy, moved a detached force to stop the enemy’s advance, made an opening to break through and reduced their number. If it was a commander other than Greast, he would have long collapsed.
But, the left wing, which had long stopped receiving his instructions, was finally destroyed. The figures of soldiers running away in disorder and the figures of LeitMeritz Army and Lutece Knight Squadron reforming their ranks in order to join in the attack to the other direction could be seen.
“……I guess I can only do this much.”
After further thinking, Greast muttered in a tone as if marking the end of a chess game. He could still put up a fight, but that would only delay the defeat.
With a feeling as if throwing away a broken toy, Greast abandoned his army. He thought from the bottom of his heart that he had no longer any reason or feeling to keep this group of people scrapped together.
—Vanadis. Vanadis. Vanadis, huh. The next time, I’ll have to come up with a plan in order to defeat these Vanadises.
It was at the time when he inwardly muttered so. A new report was brought with a screaming voice.
“The enemy is coming!”
The Greast Army’s central troops were already fated to receive fierce attacks from three directions. Greast once again asked to change the place where he gave directions.
And then before long, the Greast Army’s central troops were struck in one go with a violent attack.
The Moonlight Knight Army’s central troops commanded by Tigre and Mashas came crushing them from the front. In coordination with them, the LeitMeritz Army and the Lutece Knight Squadron set up their offensive to the left side.
Though the Osterode Army did not attack aggressively, they did not break their stance in intimidating the Greast Army’s rear.
Being attacked from three directions, the Greast Army’s central troops collapsed rapidly. Following it, the Greast Army’s right wing has begun to show signs of collapse.
They were people who had been led by means of greed and fear to begin with. If they were given even more shock, they would no longer have any fighting spirit left.
One fled, two fled, ten fled. A person’s escape led to another person’s, and then they were infected by the fear of defeat. There were people, who surrendered, but many of them were not allowed to.
Before noon, the Battle of Montour came to an end.
And Greast also disappeared from the battlefield.
Slightly before the Greast collapsed completely, Damad had already turned his horse, ready to depart.
“Let’s go back.”
He ordered his subordinates in a cold tone. He looked at his adjutant whose face became pale.
“How was it?”
“So that is, a Vanadis……”
The adjutant replied in a trembling voice, turning only his head to gaze toward the battlefield.
Taking a detour by avoiding the enemy’s right wing, and a fierce breakthrough to the center that could only be described as reckless.
He would probably never forget the shock and the fear of having witnessed them.
It was not only the adjutant, it was the same for the other subordinates; one was excited by the existence of a formidable enemy, and another one was left speechless because of too much shudder. The next time, they would fight against the Vanadises.
However, Damad shook his head while laughing.
“The Vanadis isn’t the only terrifying thing. Well, I guess this report is more than enough to satisfy his Excellency.”
This black-haired Muozinel person noticed that Tigre was within the Moonlight Knight Army. Though it’s slightly regrettable that he didn’t show his ability worthy of the name “Star Shooter” as he acts at the commander, Kureys already has knowledge of it, so well, it’s fine, he thought.
“──Speaking of which”
As if recalling something, Damad looked at his adjutant.
“There seems to be so many people we can just capture as slaves and go back with them, but what do you think?”
He was referring to the Greast soldiers escaping towards their direction.
Though the sun has long crossed the zenith, it still brightly illuminated the earth. It was around early afternoon. More than one koku has passed since the end of the Battle of Montour.
Sitting at the root of a tree, Greast was breathing heavily.
His face covered with sweat was distorted in pain, and his silk clothes sewed with gold thread were disheveled and stained with sweat and mud. Blood was oozing on the bandage wrapped around his right arm.
The horse which he rode stood beside him. It stood as is as Greast had no room to remove the saddle.
He was alone at this place. Greast had escaped from the battlefield alone without bringing any followers along. To him, followers were just a hindrance.
—I guess I’ll be safe for the time being after coming this far.
It was inside a small forest with no decent roads. There were also many thickets, so it seemed like Greast, as he was alone, would be able to hide here for some time.
He had no intention to die in such a battlefield. He intended to escape to a safe place, make a comeback, once again throw Brune into chaos and then made Elen’s entire being his own for sure at the next opportunity.
This place was at the vicinity of Montour’s northwest. Greast did not just blindly escape. If he could enter Montour and meet Vernon after waiting until the sun set, he should be able to take a rest and receive treatment on his right arm.
“Tigrevurmud Vorn ought to fight against Muozinel. I can’t be stuck here forever. I could also find an opening there. Though I don’t know yet how Zhcted will act……”
“──That’s right. How do you think they’ll act?”
Surprised that there was a response in a clear voice containing hint of a smile to his soliloquy, Greast swallowed his next words. Although he promptly reached out to the sword at this waist, by the time he finally gripped the handle of the sword with his unaccustomed left hand, a curved huge blade was already thrusted at his throat.
“It’s been a while, Marquis Greast.”
The one who appeared from the shadow of the tree, which Greast leaned against, was the Illusory Princess of the Hollow Shadow, Valentina Glinka Estes. The scythe emitting an ominous shine under Greast’s neck was the Dragonic Tool Ezendeis she held in her hand.
The hems of her white dress decorated with roses fluttered about in the wind.
“Valentina-dono, huh. Thanks for your care at that time.”
Greast removed his hand from his sword and returned Valentina’s greeting with a smile. He could be said to have an admirable courage to keep a composed attitude even in an apparent situation where his life was in the other party’s grasp.
While wiping the sweet on his face with his left arm’s sleeve, Greast asked in a tone as if gossiping.
“Did you come to take my head?”
“Even if I take it, I’ll be troubled about how to use it.”
The black-haired Vanadis again replied with a smile as if admiring flowers. Just by seeing her expression, it did not look like the expression of one that has thrusted a scythe at someone.
“Marquis Greast, I chased after you because there is something I would like to ask you. If you answer me, I do not mind seeing you off with a smile.”
“……Hou. That is, as long as I can answer though.”
Greast’s expression gradually recovered its calm. It was fortunate that the one chasing after him was Valentina. It was because he still had room to negotiate with her. Though, he could not relax yet.
“──His Highness Ruslan”
Greast frowned at the name which came out of Valentina’s mouth. After a short while, he asked just to be sure.
“Are you talking about King Victor’s eldest son, Prince Ruslan?”
“That’s right. I have thought that if it’s you, you might know the reason why His Highness Ruslan had ended up in that way.”
Ruslan was King Victor’s son and the man who should have been the next Zhcted King if nothing went amiss. But a few years ago, he suffered from heart disease and set fire to the palace.
After that, King Victor had locked up Ruslan in a certain temple in the Capital Silesia.
Confinement was the natural punishment, but the King had not decided of a successor until just recently. It was because he has been waiting for his beloved son to recover from his heart.
The smile disappeared from Greast’s lips. Just for an instant, he calmly observed Valentina’s expression. The black-haired Vanadis had an innocent smile without any shadow. Many people have probably been deceived by that smile.
But, Greast accurately saw through the light of ambition oozing in her pupils. The course of action might be different, but she and he were people belonging to the same world.
“All right. I’ll tell you everything I know.”
Then, after a quarter koku, Greast who parted from Valentina was advancing inside the forest on horseback. The negotiations with her ended smoothly.
—It looks like that woman intends to cause something in Zhcted.
That was probably why she would be troubled if Greast, who was trying to throw Brune into chaos, were to die now. The gray-haired Marquis guessed that was the reason why she did not kill him.
It was not like he was not displeased about being made to dance to her tune, but when he thought that it coincidentally matched with Ganelon’s instructions, he was not that much uncomfortable.
—However, I don’t know how she got wind of the fact that I’ve investigated about Ruslan.
The reason why Greast had investigated about Ruslan was because he thought that it could be of use for something, but it looked good that he told it to Valentina. If she were to cause chaos in Zhcted, it should be of help to Greast.
When the sun set, Greast entered Montour as planned and arrived at Vernon’s mansion. Fortunately, he was not found by the Moonlight Knight Army’s soldiers.
Viscount Vernon Laspede, who turned 23 this year, greeted Greast with an astonished expression. He seemed to have received a double shock of Greast’s sudden appearance and his disheveled outfit.
“It’s been a while, Viscount Laspede. As the messenger told you earlier, I’d like to trouble you for a short time.”
Without beating around the bush, Greast directly made his demand. Vernon turned pale, but being overwhelmed by the gray-haired Marquis’ drive, he nodded. He knew well how he obtained his current position. There was no way he could refuse.
Vernon ushered Greast in and summoned a servant and a maid. He arranged the best guest room for him (Greast) and had the maid treat his right arm. Meanwhile, the servant boiled hot water and prepared clothes.
After one koku, Greast visited Vernon’s room feeling refreshed. Though his face has become haggard due to his wound and fatigue, the sharpness in his eyes has increased. The bandage wound up around his arm let one feel an indomitable will worthy of a noble of a prestigious house rather than pain.
Vernon had the servants bring food and wine, and the two of them talked across the table. Because it was a sudden visit, the dishes on the table were only bread, soup, a whole roasted chicken, pickled vegetables and a bunch of grapes; but Greast was not displeased.
“A messenger the so-called Moonlight Knight Army also came here. They asked me if I didn’t see you. When I replied that I’d tell them if I saw you, he went back. The army itself hasn’t come.”
Though Vernon was of medium build, his body was well trained. As a commander and feudal lord aside, he was certainly a skilled warrior. He also had a stern face. With just a glare from him, a timid person would probably flee.
But currently, he was speaking with his shoulders shrank timidly while examining Greast’s mood from beginning to end. Though Greast felt irritated, if he were to ask him “what’s the matter?” here, he knew the other would only dwindle even more. He placidly nodded and asked about some things.
After getting answers from Vernon, Greast’s eyes were tinged with vitality. The Moonlight Knight Army did not pay that much attention to Montour. They seemed to be thinking that he escaped either to Lutetia or Evreux, which was once his territory.
There was probably no helping this. After all, both Tigre and Mashas did know about the relationship between Greast and Vernon. For Mashas, Vernon Laspede was only one of the nobles who pledged allegiance to Regin.
—Sooner or later, Prime Minister Badouin might sniff out something……
But at that time, Greast would have already escaped.
“Viscount Laspede. From tomorrow, I’d have you move as my proxy. At the time when I would govern Lutetia, I’ll leave my former territory Evreux along with the rank of Earl to you.”
Greast said while curling his lips into a smile mixed with madness.
When Greast woke up, his surroundings were awfully dim.
At the end of his light of sight, flames were flickering in the fireplace. He thought that it was strange. Even it would be soon early summer, why would one put fire in the fireplace? The fireplace seemed to contain something like a lump of some metal, and a scarlet glow could be seen in the crimson flames.
Then, as his consciousness finally became clear, Greast noticed that he has been made to sit on a chair. Both his arms were bound behind his back and both his legs were attached to the legs of the chair.
“What is this?”
He finally voiced out his surprise. He should have gone to sleep in the bed of the guest room that Vernon prepared for him. Though he was slightly displeased with the quality of the bedding, he, who has been too tired, immediately fell asleep. How has it come to this? Did Vernon betray him?
“──Are you finally awake?”
In a low voice with suppressed feelings, light and footsteps were drawing near. A man, who held a lamp in his hand, stood before Greast. It was a skinny man about 20 years old with long dark brown hair. It seemed to be holding something in his left hand, but it could not be seen clearly.
It was a familiar face, but Greast needed some time to remember the man’s identity. And when he remembered it, the gray-haired Marquis could not believe his eyes.
“Denis……? Vernon’s little brother.”
“I am greatly honored that Lord Marquis still remembered me. No, you are no longer a Marquis. I guess I should call you Lord Charon.”
Both the gaze and the tone of the man called Denis were extremely cold. Greast noticed the smell of blood drifting from his body.
Denis was the second son of the Laspede House. But two years ago, he was pinned groundless crimes by Greast’s scheme, and should have disappeared from this region.
“From your face, I guess you’re wondering why I’m here, right? Is it really that strange for me to come back to the mansion where I used to live in for many years?”
While listening to Denis’ words, Greast surveyed the surroundings with his eyes which finally got used to darkness. It was a small room. It was probably one guest room. Other than him and Denis in the room, there were several other men, and they were moving around near the fireplace.
“Where is this House’s lord Vernon?”
Not losing his composure, Greast asked with an indifferent face. It was not that he did not understand the situation. Precisely because he understood it, he decided not to lose his composure.
Not in the least impressed by the attitude showed by Greast, Denis expressionlessly threw the thing he was holding in his hand.
It was Vernon’s freshly severed head. On his stern face, both his eyes were greatly opened wide, and have stiffened with an expression as if complaining about the irrationality of the world. Dark red blood was still flowing from the cut section. The origin of the smell of blood was this.
“It’s your turn next.”
When Denis said that, the men, who were near the fireplace, looked their way. A black glow was shining in their eyes, and some of them were holding large shears, that blacksmith master used, with both hands. They were Denis’ friends and people with whom he had led a life on the run over these past two years.
One of them thrusted the shears inside the fireplace and pulled out something with a scarlet glow. It was a shaped iron shoe which could cover a leg from toes to the shin.
Understanding what would happen from here on, even Greast could not help but stiffen. It was one of the execution methods that he has devised before, the “armor of flames”.
“How you took my father’s life…… I remembered it clearly.”
The men held the iron shoes with the shears and carefully carried it to this place. They put them at Greast’s feet. At the sound of the floor burning, several lines of sweet dripped from Greast’s face.
One of the men moved behind Greast and gagged him. Then, he held Greast’s shoulders from behind. Another man untied Greast’s right leg from the leg of the chair and held it up.
“It’s the armor my father used. Then, let’s get started.”
Denis indifferently told. Greast’s right foot was pushed into the burning iron shoe.
A pain so intense as to faint assailed Greast’s right foot. Greast intended to endure, but he was unable to and churn up his right feet. The chair shook back and forth with a clattering sound. Soundless screams leaked out from the gap of the gag along with drools, and the smell of burnt flesh drifted to the surroundings.
But, all the people present, including Denis, did not change their expressions at all.
Denis shortly said, and the men holding the shears carried the iron shoe for the left foot from the fireplace. Of course, it was also emitting a red hot glow.
Greast’s face was covered with sweat and it has become haggard. The skin below his right knee was burnt, the flesh was scorched and the nails have melted. Though he could not see it, Greast knew it. The heat filling the inside of the iron shoe tormented his foot. His breathing was getting rougher.
His left foot was pushed into the iron shoe. Greast struggled again at the new pain. Because he has moved his right left violently, it has burnt even further. His gray hair disheveled, he screamed to the point of spitting out blood from his throat.
When the pain faded after a long time, the pain of the burn assailed Greast to the point that he wanted to cut his feet. He has practically lost the sensation of his toes and soles of his feet.
“Next are the gauntlets. Let’s go with the order of left, then right.”
They untied his hands which were bound and put both his arms into the left and right gauntlets. When the gauntlet was pushed into his right arm, the wound where his arm was cut were burnt along with the bandage, and a more intense pain assailed Greast.
As he thrusted away the man who has been holding his arms behind his arms, Greast toppled over from behind along with the chair. He struggled and rolled around the floor. But, neither the iron shoes nor the gauntlets came off.
The men set up the shears, indifferently looked down at Greast and waited for him to become quiet. Just in case, if he was to attack them, they intended to bash him with the shears.
Before long, Greast stopped struggling while leaking out a weak groan. Although his consciousness was hazy, a faint will was still shining in his eyes.
One man held Greast by his armpit and lifted him up. Another one brought the chair without back, and they made Greast sit there. Greast did not resist. He no longer had any energy to do so. His disheveled gray hair looked whitish.
The men continued the lynching. They pushed the burning hot breastplate from the front and back. His flesh was unable to endure the repeated pain, and Greast threw up.
Vomit and excreta leaked out from the gaps of the gag, and then the men removed the gag while clicking their tongues. The vomit and excreta, which spilled over fell on the hot iron shoe, and an unpleasant smell rose up. At this time, the light in Greast’s eyes was lost and his expression became hollow.
“Then, this is the last one.”
Along with Denis’ voice, what the men brought while holding it with the shears was a scorching red helmet. It was one, without visor, which covered the head, except the face.
Charon Anquetil Greast died.
It was at the beginning of dawn that the man named Denis arrived at the Moonlight Knight Army’s camp. Tigre, accompanied only by Mashas, met him in the tent for the supreme commander.
Seeing the two freshly severed heads that Denis brought, Tigre and Mashas gasped. Vernon’s head aside, Greast’s head was, except the face, severely burnt, his ears were sore, his scalp was peeled off and there was also no hair remaining; it was something that one could hardly bear to look straight at.
Mashas served as Denis’ talking partner, asking about the circumstances in detail. It was at this time that the old Earl knew of the incident two years ago. Moreover, as Mashas was talking more and more with Denis, he was caught by an unexpected surprise.
Denis said that it was last night that he came back with his friends to Montour, but he had no idea at all about Greast’s visit.
“I was just targeting Vernon. Two years have passed since then, so I suspected he’d no longer be wary of me and thus came back to Montour. I’ve heard that some troops have come in the vicinity, but I didn’t know that its commander was Greast.”
Denis told that after he attacked the mansion at midnight and captured Vernon, when he heard about Greast’s presence from Vernon’s mouth, he decided to take revenge on the spot. Greast has, so to say, ‘accidentally’ lost his life.
“After the civil war ended two years ago, why didn’t you come to the Capital? If you were to appeal, her Highness Regin would have listened to you.”
At Mashas’ question, Denis replied with a sarcastic smile.
“I don’t know her Highness Princess’s temperament. My father had taken me along to the royal palace several times, but her Highness── no, it was his Highness Prince before; I’d only saw His Highness’ figure from afar. Moreover, even from Her Highness’s reign, Vernon was living in that mansion.”
“……You’re right. I’m sorry for asking something unnecessary.”
Mashas apologized while bowing his head. He then continued with a serious expression.
“Denis-dono. Would you like to come to the Capital with us? I would like to clarify these circumstances and restore your and your late father’s honor. About your friends, too.”
At this rate, Denis would become a criminal that murdered his big brother who became Viscount Laspede. It was the same for Denis’ friends, too. Mashas did not want to let something like that happen.
Denis appeared like he would not mind what might happen to him, but when Mashas mentioned his father and his friends, the darkness dwelling in both his pupils slightly weakened.
“……You’re right. Me aside, for the sake of my father and my friends, we should make the facts known.”
Thus, it was decided that Denis would go to the Capital under the care of Mashas. Until Denis came back, his friends would stay at the mansion of Montour.
Now that Greast’s death was confirmed, there was now only one that Tigre and company had to do. It was how they would deal with the Greast Army’s soldiers they had taken as prisoners.
No one had mentioned the opinion of incorporating them in the Moonlight Knight Army.
Although it was under Greast’s command, it was fact that they poisoned the river and set fire to the injured. The soldiers would never accept them as comrades.
“It seems that those guys have devastated Earl Cotillard’s territory to secure their rations. How about using them for labor in Lutetia for a while and then take them there (Earl Cotillard’s territory) at some time in the future?”
Earl Cotillard’s territory was located south of the Capital Nice, and it could become a battlefield depending on the Muozinel army’s advance. Also, around here, only Lutetia could take over nearly 2000people single-handedly.
However, Tigre’s face showed that he could not consent with Mashas’ proposal.
“In Alsace, those, who soiled the river more than necessary, are severely punished regardless of age. Even in Aude that Lord Mashas governed, it should be the same, right?”
Tigre said that, despite being aware that he became somehow emotional. After assenting to the youth’s words, Mashas calmly warned him still.
“But, Tigre. We can’t massacre them. Besides, you wouldn’t like selling them as slaves, right?”
Tigre became speechless. He struggled to suppress the urge to say “let’s sell them”, and sighed.
“I got it. Let’s Lutetia take over them.”
In the early afternoon of that day, the Moonlight Knight Army vacated the camp and finished the preparations for departure. From here to the Capital Nice, it would take about 6 to 7 days by travelling along the highway.
Both Tigre and Mashas wanted to hurriedly return to the Capital, so after the two talked about it, they made plans to return to the Capital in six days.
News of the Muozinel army’s invasion has already spread around here, too. Among the nobles possessing a territory, there were surely some who were feeling uneasy. In order to not let them feel anxious, it was necessary to get on their way back while marching orderly.
It was decided that they would separate from Valentina Glinka Estes and the Osterode Army, which she led, here. They would continue going north and returned to Zhcted using the sea route.
“It’d be a big help if you were to fight together with us though.”
Tigre reservedly smiled, and exchanged handshake with Valentina. Because she carried the scythe, her Dragonic Tool, on her right shoulder, they shook hands with the left hand. The black-haired Vanadis, with her usual smile, replied to the youth while tilting her head to one side.
“I’m happy to hear you say that, but I’ve only come as an ally in order to fight against the Sachstein army after all. Besides──”
Valentina moved her gaze to Tigre’s side and looked at Elen and Mila standing there with sullen faces.
“Someone has to report about those two to his Majesty, right? Including the various events that happened in Brune.”
“You’re right. Please, give a report without any mistakes.”
“You should just hand the report I wrote to his Majesty.”
Elen had her arms folded and Mila her hands put on her waist, both glaring at the black-haired Vanadis. Tigre slightly bowed to Valentina and once again expressed his thanks.
“I’m sorry to have asked something unreasonable. I really thank you for your help until today, Valentina. After the war against Muozinel is over, I will send you something as a present to express my gratitude. I would like you to give my greeting to the Zhcted King as well.”
“If you really want to express your gratitude, then how about you drop in for a visit to my Osterode? I will entertain to the best of my ability.”
While saying that, Valentina suddenly leaned forward and brought her face close to Tigre’s cheek. After blowing a ticklish breath on the youth’s ear, she immediately straightened herself.
As it was too sudden a ‘surprise attack’, Tigre was not even able to react promptly. His face turned red, and he could only stare fixedly at the black-haired Vanadis. When Valentina released the youth’s hand with a smile like a child that succeeded a prank, she bowed with her hair swaying.
“Well then, take care, Lord Tigrevurmud. Having fought together with you became a valuable asset for me.──May the fortunes of war be with you.”
After ending her speech, she turned her back on Tigre, with the skirt of her snow white dress following her movement. Then she sedately walked away.
While staring at her retreating figure, Tigre realized something. Wasn’t this the first time that she called him ‘Lord Tigrevurmud’?
—Until the end, she was an elusive person, huh.
He recalled her various merciless suggestions. He also did not feel irritated only once or twice. It was evident that she was not a good person, but he could hardly say that she was a bad person, either; she was that strange a woman.
“What are you two……”
As he was about to ask Elen and Mila what they thought, Tigre, who looked at them, interrupted his words.
It was because the silver-haired Vanadis was looking downward with a serious expression. She was looking neither at Valentina walking away nor at Tigre.
She did not react even after Tigre called out to her. At this, Mila also looked at her with a puzzled face.
“Eleonora, what’s the matter?”
There, Elen finally raised her face as she came to her senses. Noticing Mila’s and Tigre’s gazes, she asked them with a perplexed expression.
“……What’s the matter?”
While thinking “that’s our lines”, Tigre worriedly asked.
“Were you thinking about something?”
Hearing his question, Elen shook her head with an awkward smile.
“No, I wasn’t…… Maybe, I’m a little tired.”
It was an unusual answer, coming from Elen. The usual her would have never said it this way even if she was tired. Tigre and Mila looked at each other, but this time, they did not question Elen any further.
The Moonlight Knight Army departed, going towards the Capital.
The fourth day after the start of their journey back to the Capital, Tigre was consulted by Lim. Shortly before the sun set, they set up a camp in a place away from the highway, and when the soldiers began to prepare dinner, she came to the tent for the supreme commander.
Lim seemed to hesitate as to whether or not she should tell him, thus did not speak immediately. Titta prepared wine diluted with water and honey for both of them and then withdrew; when nearly 30 more seconds passed, the LeitMeritz Army’s adjutant still looked at Tigre with an expression filled with anxiety.
“Eleonora-sama is acting strange.”
While tasting the wine filled in his porcelain cup, Tigre asked in a calm tone. He was not surprised. This was because Tigre himself had thought the same thing many times these four days.
As if to urge Lim, who hesitated to speak, Tigre stared at her with a serious expression.
“I’ve also thought many times that Elen has been somewhat absentminded recently. Titta also said the same thing this morning.”
Titta noticed that because she knew Elen very well and also had many opportunities to be in contact with her. However, if she were left as is, many more people would definitely harbored suspicion to Elen’s attitude. So before that, it was necessary to take some measures.
At Tigre’s words, Lim seemed unable to hide her surprise, but she made up her mind and spoke.
“Since the start of our journey, she has been drinking alcohol alone in her tent. She also didn’t seem to sleep well in the night, her complexion also isn’t good and she doesn’t eat well, too. Even when she’s talking with me, there are many times when she suddenly stopped talking halfway.”
Lim told one thing after another as she recalled them one by one. If it was the usual her, she would have sorted precisely what she should say before talking, but it did not look like it this time.
“Even during the march, she would make a scary face as if she remembered something unpleasant; she would make an expression as if brooding over something. No matter how I persisted in asking her, she would insist that it’s nothing……”
“So, she didn’t tell anything even to Lim.”
Tigre revealed a complicated expression. The friendship between Lim and Elen traced back even before Elen became Vanadis. Elen considered her as her best friend, and they were always as close as sisters regardless of their status. There were also times that Elen was in total panic when Lim fell into danger of her life.
The fact that that Elen told nothing even to her despite their intimacy proved that it was not something so simple.
—As expected, something happened while she’s been held captive by Greast……
He could only think of that. Her fury during the battle has probably stimulated, but after the battle ended and Greast was dead, she would relax her attention.
Lim, who finished speaking, hung her head down with a painful expression. Her clenched fists placed on her lap were trembling as she lamented her powerlessness.
“──I got it.”
Tigre answered her with a voice filled with determination.
“I’ll try talking to Elen.”
Since even Lim was no good, he himself might be useless, too. But, giving up without even discussing directly with her was not Tigre’s style.
When Tigre and Lim came out of the tent, it was already completely dark and the moon and stars were dazzlingly coloring the night sky. On the ground, the soldiers were having their dinner around the impromptu hearths.
According to Lim, Elen was alone in the LeitMeritz Army’s supreme commander’s tent.
“Is there anything I can do?”
To Lim, who asked with a sad expression, Tigre replied in a joking tone.
“Hmm, let’s see; keep people away from the vicinity of the tent until tomorrow morning. After all, it’d be troublesome if Elen were to make a racket and running amuck.”
He meant that even if she ran amuck, he would make her regain her calm. Lim smiled wryly as to go along with his “joke” and nodded. As Tigre turned around to the tent, he exhaled slightly, and then stepped in.
The lamp hanging from the ceiling illuminated the tent dimly. A carpet and a blanket were spread out to the ground, and Elen was sitting on the blanket. Her back faced Tigre’s way.
“……Is it Lim?”
Reacting to the sounds of when Tigre came in, the silver-haired Vanadis turned around. However, when she saw that the other party was Tigre, she squinted as if bored.
“It’s you, huh. Do you need something?”
“Yes, I want to talk with you.”
Tigre expressly walked around until in front of Elen and sat down. When he looked, along with Silver Flash sheathed in his scabbard, an empty bottle of wine lay down on the ground at her feet.
“Did you empty it by yourself?”
Elen, who understood Tigre’s meaning after following Tigre’s gaze, flicked the bottle with her finger.
“No, this is the one I drank yesterday. Today, I haven’t yet drunk a single drop of alcohol. Somehow, I don’t feel like it.”
“You drank too much.”
Elen’s face, which was illuminated by the light of the lamp, was listless, devoid of brightness and vigor. The shine in her ruby-colored pupils was also dull and her whole body gave off an atmosphere as if even only opening her mouth was bothersome. She avoided Tigre’s gaze as if denying from being talked to.
Silence descended between the two. Tigre has first waited for Elen to open her mouth, but since she said nothing even after nearly 30 seconds passed, he decided to start talking.
He went in head on. Elen did not look at Tigre, but she clearly frowned.
“What are you talking about?”
“Since the war is over, you’ve obviously been acting strange.”
“To think that you’ll be suspicious because I just drank alcohol more than usual; it isn’t that big a deal. While I was held prisoner, I didn’t drink alcohol for a long time. What’s wrong with getting a little drunk──?”
“I’ll ask again. What happened?”
Interrupting Elen’s evasive words, Tigre stared at her. Rummaged her silver hair roughly, Elen finally raised her face. Her ruby-colored pupils looked at Tigre with a tinge as if looking at something irritating.
“Didn’t you hear from Lim? There’s nothing in particular. Even you have times when, even though nothing happened, you just find a lot of things bothersome or you want to drink alcohol and the like, right?”
Elen waved her left hand as if to say “I answered you, that’s all”. It was the signal of asking him to leave.
Nervousness, anxiety and hesitation brushed Tigre’s mind. He hesitated whether it was really okay like this.
Just now, he has cornered Elen. Like a small animal in a cage, she was cautious of him, baring her fangs. Wouldn’t it be better to withdraw here and wait for her to come talking to him from her own free will? Would it not be not his words, but only the passage of time that would open her heart?
Tigre half-rose to his feet. But, he did not to stand up, but sat back again. The youth almost left the girl, and has barely held his ground.
She might loathe him. She might disdain him as a vulgar man, blame him for trying to forcibly pry open her heart with obscene delusions in mind and despise him.
But even so, Tigre thought that he did not care about it.
—I want to help you as much as I can.
It might be conceited or extreme, but those were his true feeling with any falsehood. And for that, even if he were to anger her, he had to ask.
“──Did Greast, do something to you?”
A crooked smile was revealed on Elen’s lips. It was a cold, brittle and dry smile stirring disappointment and disdain mixed with some other thing.
“Ah. So you came to ask about that. Then, you should have said so since the beginning.”
Did I ask the wrong question? Tigre’s heart leapt greatly. Because he was too flustered, his thinking stopped. Sweat gushed out from his chest and back and drenched his clothes.
Elen’s body shook as she laughed, then she leaned forward and peered into Tigre’s face.
“You know in what state I was when I was captured after all. Your mind was probably filled with wild delusions these few days, right? The fate of a young woman who became prisoner is imaginable. Moreover, the other party was that Greast after all.”
Being stared at from close range, Tigre has almost averted his eyes from her face. Due to the regret of having ended up hurting her carelessly and the fact of being unable to bear his foolish words, he was driven by the urge of wanting to flee right now.
However, Tigre took in Elen’s gaze and stared back straight at her. He should have resolved himself to end up hurting her. What was the point of flinching from such a thing? He has not even been slapped yet. Or, he might no longer be even worth getting slapped.
“I apologize if I made a mistake.”
While rebuking himself for being coward by saying this, Tigre desperately continued his words.
“What I want to know is what hurt you to the point of turning you like that.”
A short while ago, when he asked the wrong question. What was that something which showed on the face of Elen who was staring at him?
Disappointment. Disdain. And, wasn’t that other thing ‘bluff’? Taking advantage of Tigre’s blunder, wasn’t she trying to end the talk while hiding her true feelings as is?
It might be only a wrong impression. The weak light of the lamp forming a shadow on Elen’s face might have made Tigre have an optical illusion.
Even so, until he obtained an answer to his question just now, Tigre had no intention of going out of the tent even if he had to cling to it. He was already hated. So, he did not mind being hate even more.
The smile disappeared from Elen’s face. She drew back her body and reseated herself on the blanket.
She took her gaze off from Tigre, and looked around left and right as if looking for an escape. And then, she hung her head down, rummaged her silver hair and sighed. From her behavior, Tigre guessed that he pushed the right door open.
Silence once again fell inside the tent. Tigre, who regained his calm, waited silently.
And like that, one did not know how much time has passed. Suddenly, Elen began talking.
“──It’s not like I’m hurt.”
The silver-haired girl adhered to these trivial words. But, that affirmed all the more that something happened. Tigre asked with a gentle voice.
“Then, why are you making such a face?”
“……Is it that awful?”
Elen said with a perplexed voice. Tigre nodded.
“It’s awful. A mirror── if you don’t have one, you should try seeing it using Arifal’s blade (as mirror).”
Reacting to Tigre’s words, the long sword, which was at Elen’s feet, created a gentle breeze from around the sword guard. It lightly fluttered Elen’s much disheveled silver hair. Elen revealed a wry smile and looked down at Silver Flash which she relied upon. She gently stroked it with her finger from the scabbard to the sword guard.
“Oh, I see…… I caused you to worry, too. Sorry.”
After she apologized to the Dragonic Tool, Elen raised her head and looked at Tigre.
“It’s a trifling story, you know? It’s a pathetic, boring, trivial and worthless story. I myself am thinking so more than anyone else, so there’s no doubt about it.”
Tigre did not know whether this was the truth or just threatening words.
That’s why the youth only replied how he felt like he should.
“If it’s something you tell me, I would like to hear it all. No matter what it is.”
That was the reason why he came to this tent. He has already resolved himself.
Elen stared at Tigre with eyes wide opened. A small smile formed from her lips. Tigre thought that it was a smile mixed with amazement and a sense of relief.
After a long silence of about 100 breaths, the silver-haired girl cast her gaze to the ground and began to talk little by little.
About what Greast has done to her when she was held captive by him.
Greast came to Elen’s tent every night. He licked her with his gaze, abused her with various words, persistently caressed her all over, thoroughly engraved the sensation of his hands and fingers on her body and whispered things to as to carve them in her heart, too.
Her lips and chastity were not stolen. After all, it seemed that Greast intended to take them in front of Tigre ── or in front of Tigre’s corpse. He knew that it would deal the greatest blow to Elen’s mind.
Her foods were always ones which Greast has started eating. For example, he would hold out to Elen bread, which he has eaten about half of in front of her. Although she felt nauseated, Elen endured it and ate.
Since it was food that the supreme commander Greast was eating, there was no problem about it as food. She had to eat when she must, otherwise she would be unable when needed. Even though she persuaded herself as such, her meal was painful.
“Fortunately…… Yes, fortunately, you quickly came to rescue me, so it ended with just this much. He said that he wouldn’t violate me until he captured you, but it wouldn’t be strange if he were to change his mind afterwards.”
The face of Elen, who told so, was filled with bitterness and her eyes became cloudy. Not knowing what to say, Tigre just stared at Elen silently.
Elen raised her head. When their eyes met, the silver-haired Vanadis revealed a self-deprecating smile.
“I was safe. Even though there were many chances I would have experience a lot of more tragic things.”
Her eyes ruby-colored eyes were tinged with a dark shine. Various negative emotions turned into a muddy swirl and corroded Elen. Holding her arms with both her hands so as to hug herself, Elen continued with a shaking voice.
“There are girls, whose native villages were attacked by thieves, and they ended up being made as plaything, thus leaving scars that could not be erased for a lifetime. There are also girls who were caught by nasty mercenaries, thoroughly abused and then killed in the end. The pain I received is nothing worth mentioning compared to theirs……”
Her nails dug into her arms, causing red blood to ooze on her white skin. Tears gathered at the corners of Elen’s eyes.
“And yet, with just that much, I become frightened……! Whenever I recalled it, I felt nauseated, my body stiffened and I’m plunged into darkness. Even the sensation of his filthy hands and his voice are brought back to my memory. I, as a warrior, as a Vanadis, who run around the battlefield, of all people, am frightened!”
Tigre stood on his knees, leaned forward and grasped the girl’s arms. Elen’s body shook, and she looked up at Tigre. Her red eyes were blurred with tears.
“Don’t forcibly hurt yourself, Elen.”
As calmly as possible, Tigre appealed to her. He thought that perhaps, he was making an extremely grave face.
After confirming that strength on Elen’s arms loosened, Tigre carefully pulled her hands off her arms. If possible, he would like to treat her arms, but there was neither medicine nor bandage here. And looking at Elen’s state, it was also not suitable to call Titta, so they could only postpone it.
The silver-haired girl powerlessly hung her head down. She heaved a sigh filled with a sense of fatigue.
“It’s a pathetic story, isn’t it? I believed that I resolved myself for a tragic end. But, I could only believe. Just by being touched for a few days, I became like this. I’ve become completely disgusted with myself.”
Tigre finally understood. There was no doubt that fear and the sense of disgust towards Greast left a deep scar in her heart. But, the disappointment towards the her, who was born due to that, robbed Elen of her vitality.
—What should I do? What can I do for Elen?
Tigre thought earnestly. He thought that just cheering her up and comforting her would not reach her heart. Besides, the scar carved into her heart was not something that could be erased in one day.
Even so, he could not absolutely do something like waiting that time would heal it.
Changing the feelings welling up from the bottom of his heart into his voice, Tigre called out. Elen nervously raised her head. She looked at Tigre with wondering eyes.
—Am I a coward?
For just a half instant, he wondered to himself. He wondered if what he was about to do from here on was not an act to take advantage of her weakness. Wasn’t it to irrational?
—Even if it’s the case.
I don’t care about it, he thought. Tigre could no longer suppress his feeling overflowing endlessly, and his hot urge no matter what.
“Elen. I want…… I want your everything.”
After an interval of a breath, “eh?!” such a surprised voice came out of Elen’s mouth. She stared at Tigre with eyes wide opened and a mouth half-opened as if having grown senile. Staring straight at the girl with his unwavering eyes, the youth said once more.
“I want Elen’s anything and everything. Now, in this place”
Finally understanding what Tigre meant, Elen was unusually flustered. Her eyes swam around left and right, she moved her mouth as if mumbling something and she began to entangle the fingers of both her hands without any meaning.
Tigre waited patiently, but because Elen did not speak even about ten breaths passed, he finally asked.
“Am I no good?”
“Of course not!”
The immediate reply came back with such vigor that Tigre who heard it was surprised. However, Elen immediately averted Tigre’s eyes. She anxiously continued her words.
“I mean, you’re asking me that after hearing such a story, so…… What do you mean? You aren’t the kind of person to comfort a woman by sleeping with her.”
Being scolded, Tigre slightly faltered. He felt like he was poured with cold water after trying to rush forward with the momentum. He reluctantly opened his mouth and asked.
“……Do I have to say it?”
Elen finally stared at Tigre’s face and nodded. Though he was nervous after thinking that he might be rejected if he were to answer honestly, even so the youth decided to speak honestly.
“If I was slightly late, Elen might have been taken by that guy. When I think about it, I’m so horrified that I can’t bear it.”
Tigre and Elen originally walked different paths. Their paths intersected at present due to numerous coincidences, but they would eventually be going to walk different paths again someday. Tigre believed that he understood it. He has also thought that he could accept it.
But, he imagined things too simple.
“Like I said, I──”
“Can you do it?”
Interrupting the youth’s words, Elen asked in a mischievous tone.
“Can you make my everything yours? Can you get rid of all the disgusting sensations that he left on my body and replaced them with yours?”
This was the utmost she could do now to provoke him. And it was also the utmost demand she could make. Her red pupils were shaking anxiously.
When Tigre nodded vigorously, “th-then……” stuttered Elen with red cheeks, while looking up at the youth with upturned eyes.
“I want to hear your words first.”
—Didn’t I already say it?
If one had to speak on his behalf, because the youth took it as a matter-of-fact knowledge, he seemed to believe having already said it. Tigre had a strong urge to beat himself (for being so stupid). To think that he immediately went with “I want you” without even saying what he should have first; this was over the top.
Tigre fixed his breathing, stared at Elen and slowly spun his words.
“Elen. I like you. I love you. Since before, since a long time ago.”
Whenever he pronounced each word, the heat welling up from the depths of his body rushed about within his body and greatly stirred up the youth’s feelings. His feelings got much stronger, to the extent that he temporarily forgot everything except her.
Those were feelings that he has kept covered with several layers using all kinds of means and has suppressed for a long time.
Those were feelings, which, though he kept them suppressed, has been fostered and nurtured every time he saw her, every time they spoke about trivial matters, every time they walked, ate, laughed and rushed about the battlefield together.
But, the only absolute thing, which he could by no means go against, was not suppressing them. It was that if his feelings were stirred up and he was to remove the lid, which kept them covered, on his own will, they would instantly poured out like a torrent.
The same was true for the girl.
“Tigre. I like you. Yes, I like you, too. I love you.”
Elen also returned such words feverishly, and the two people’s eyes get wet with tears while they were staring at each other.
Elen gently closed her eyes. Tigre gently embraced Elen’s shoulders.
And the lips of the two overlapped.
The first light of dawn shone inside the tent.
Tigre, who woke up, stared blankly at the ceiling wrapped with a very dim light. He seemed to have fallen asleep before he knew it. The light of the lamp on the ceiling was also extinguished.
He felt a weight with softness and warmth on the right upper half of his body. What leaned on his right shoulder was her head. When he raised his left hand beside him, he touched smooth and silky hair.
All those sensations told the youth that what happened last night was a not a dream. Joy gradually spread within his body.
Perhaps because he touched her hair, Elen slightly moved and opened her eyes.
As he was about to say “good morning”, Tigre was unable to say them right away. It was the same for Elen, and thus the two of them silently looked at each other for a while. They both blushed and revealed embarrassed smiles.
Elen put the blanket over her shoulders and got up. Her silver hair danced in front of her eyes which grew accustomed to the darkness.
Tigre stared fixedly at her naked body. Her well-proportioned outline, dainty shoulders, collarbone brimming over with feminine charm, ample breasts and red nipples, slender waist, small sunken navel, round curve, supple thighs──. Just about everything was beautiful.
“I’m already up, you know? Don’t stare too much like that.”
He has wanted to look more, but Elen pulled the blanket and covered her body. Finding even such a gesture lovely, Tigre continued staring at her.
Suddenly, Elen moved her gaze to the youth’s waist. Abruptly putting on a serious expression, she muttered with a shuddering voice while stroking her belly.
“Such a big…… This was inside me…… No, that time, it was more……?”
“……Um, did it hurt?”
As he recalled at this point having heard that it would hurt the first time, Tigre apologetically asked. When thinking back upon it, Tigre himself was no composed at all. Speaking more accurately, he was so frantic in his first time that he did not remembered well what he was doing.
Even if it could not be seen on Tigre’s face as the light was very dim, one could surmise it from his voice. Elen straightened up her back without minding the blanket exposing her naked body and replied with a proud expression.
“N-No, not at all, it was no problem at all. Well, it hurt a little, just a little, but it’s nothing to worry about.”
Though he understood from her tone alone that she was putting a false bravado, for Tigre, who could imagine what she felt, he could only respond “I see”. But, he very much wanted to embrace Elen who was saying that for his sake.
He reached out and grabbed her arms. As he gently pulled her, Elen, guessing his intention, fell over. Tigre embraced her together with the blanket and gently stroked her head. Elen also entrusted her body to Tigre and crawled her slender finger on the youth’s chest.
“Is it fine not to get up?”
“It’s still dark after all. I think it’s all right to stay a little like this.”
Tigre replied as such, but even if it was already bright, he had no intention to immediately leave this embrace. As Elen also thought the same, they both wanted to feel this warmth more.
Elen suddenly said.
“Even though you were worried about me, I said such mean things to you.”
With a serious face, Tigre asked.
“Was I of help to you even a little?”
It was not only for that that he slept with her. But, it would be a lie if he were to say that he was not concerned about it. Elen looked up at Tigre with upturned eyes and revealed a mischievous smile.
“A little, that is. But regarding what you said before, it is still far from being enough.”
After speaking up to there, Elen averted her gaze as she suddenly felt embarrassed.
“That’s why…… Um, I want, um, more of your sensation all over my body.”
The last words were spoken with a small voice, almost inaudible, but they barely reached into Tigre’s ears. Though, even from her countenance that turned bright red, it would not be difficult to guess.
“I’ll do my best.”
Tigre replied jokingly. And then, the youth changed the subject.
“Let’s count until 100. After that, we’ll both go to the river.”
“Yes. Then, let’s start counting.”
While saying so, before counting, Elen leaned her body forward and kissed Tigre. The youth was surprised at first, then he waited for her lips to separate, and this time, took the initiative kiss her.
After enjoying each other’s lips and warmth as such, they began to count.
It was unmistakably a happy moment.
They wore their clothes and quietly slipped out of the tent. Tigre and Elen then trotted under a still dim sky. Fortunately, they reached the river without being seen by anyone.
Tigre was going to wait from a distant place for Elen to finish bathing, but the silver-haired girl called the youth to halt while laughing.
“We’ve already seen each other naked. Aside from when there are other people, you don’t have to act reserved now, right? Besides, there’s also something I want to talk with you.”
Feeling her seriousness in the latter half of her speech, Tiger also stopped. Both of them respectively took off their clothes and entered the river. Though, they have turned their backs to each other.
“What I want to talk about is, of course, about last night.”
While combing her silver hair with her water-soaked hands, Elen immediately cut to the chase. Her voice was slightly shrill and nervous. Tigre listened carefully while also feeling embarrassed.
“Even though we did that kind of thing, it’s not like anything has changed. You’re Earl Vorn who governs Alsace Brune and will obviously serve in the royal palace in the near future. It’s the same for me, too. From now on, too, I’ll continue being the Vanadis who governs LeitMeritz.”
“That’s right”, Tigre shortly replied. Even though he wanted Elen’s emotional scars to fade, it was not like something changed by sleeping with her.
It was a night that happened because both their feelings, which have long been growing stronger, were stirred beyond the weir’s water level, and finally burst the levee itself after receiving an external stimulus.
And, once they woke up from the sweet dream, they would have to face reality.
“No one should have seen what happened last night. You spent all night to give a pep talk to the depressed me. I somehow recovered. Other than that, nothing happened. We’ll go with──”
Tigre interrupted Elen’s words in a short, but sharp tone. Though Elen became silent for a moment, she spoke immediately after.
“I’ll say this just in case, but it’s not like I no longer want to sleep with you. Even I myself wonder whether it’s good to say it like this, but…… I like you more and more.”
As Elen seemed embarrassed as might be expected, the latter half was spoken rapidly. After Tigre awkwardly rummaged his darkish red hair, he was about to say “me, too” after hesitating slightly; but Elen continued her words before he could say it. In an indifferent tone devoid of sweetness.
“But, we’ll only act as usual ostensibly. Even if anyone becomes suspicious, we won’t leak anything. Unless we’re caught in the act, it’ll be fine as long as we’re both tight-lipped.”
“Are you fine with that?”
“Yes, I’m. I have no intention of quitting being Vanadis. As long as I’m not forsaken by Arifal, that is. And, you also don’t intend to abandon Alsace.”
Elen said in a tone as if rebuking a child throwing a tantrum. Although he could not see her face since he had his back turned on her, it seemed like he could imagine her expression filled with perplexity and irritation.
While staring at the river surface, Tigre calmly voiced his thoughts.
“We can only do that for now. I also think that.”
“But then, I’ve a request”. When Tigre said so, Elen silently urged him.
“Give me time.”
To Elen, who muttered parroting his words, Tigre continued.
“I’ll find a way. I can’t think of anything now, but even so I’ll definitely find a way.”
“What do you mean by you’ll find a way……?”
As expected, Elen seemed to be at a loss. But Tigre ignored her reaction and appealed desperately.
“Since the first time I met you, I hadn’t even imagined I’ll become like this now.”
The first time when Tigre met Elen in the battlefield of Dinant, It was a countryside noble who knew almost nothing of the world outside of Alsace. Who could have expected that that countryside noble would win through the civil war, repel neighboring countries’ troops, gain the Princess’ trust and make various acquaintances in foreign countries?
“I know that I’m not omnipotent. But, it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. I also said it yesterday, but I want you.”
“……I say, Tigre”
Elen spoke with a troubled, earnestly trying to persuade the youth.
“It’s a matter of fact that you’ll serve in the royal palace, you know? It isn’t like you’ll bow your head for that; you’ll be ordered by the royal palace. Taking into account the present situation of Brune, you’ll sooner or later aim for the throne. Don’t be fixated on me and miss what’s important.”
“I said that I want you.”
Tigre also did not give in, and returned such words with an attitude like an unwavering huge rock.
For a short while, only the sound of the river flowing tickled their ears.
A tearful voice reached the youth’s ears.
“You’re really a fool.”
Even though Tigre should have a bright path opened to him. Even though he should have been blessed with many people and dignifiedly walked that path as long as he was not so fixated on her.
“I had once told you about my father before, right?”
Tigre took his eyes off from the river surface and said while looking at the grasslands spreading in the distance.
“My father married a gardener’s daughter. I think that one should marry someone he really loves.”
His father’s action was probably not something praiseworthy as a noble with a territory. It was because a noble’s marriage was for political maneuver and for the sake of enriching the household and the territory.
“I can’t become like my father. But, I want to emulate him where I should.”
Elen did not reply immediately. It looked like she was somehow wondering whether to consider Tigre’s words. The youth found such aspect of Elen strange, but he kept quiet and waited for her to speak.
After about ten breaths passed, Elen finally called the name of her loved. Tigre felt that her voice was filled with clear determination.
“I also think that your father and mother were amazing people. To be honest, I have no confidence to do the same thing.”
Though Tigre nodded, he did not know what Elen wanted to say. Elen hesitated for an instant, but then continued.
“That’s why, um…… I allow you to receive some concubines or mistresses. No, you must do it. Depending on the situation, I don’t mind be a concubine, too.”
“What are you saying suddenly?”
As expected, Tigre was dumbfounded. Elen replied in a somewhat urgent stone.
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m a Vanadis, not a noble; but I’ve observed how many nobles live. You said that you’ll find a way and I also believe you can do it, but there are also things about which nothing can be done, right? If I’ve to mention one, then it’d be children.”
Tigre was at a loss for words. Seeing how the youth could not say anything right away, Elen went on vehemently.
“You might be angry for what I’ll say, but your father and mother were lucky. After all, their son was born safely, raised healthily and has thus inherited everything that should be inherited.”
Tigre shook his head.
“My father also used to say it. That our household was quite blessed.”
There were cases where the mother was ill, and thus did not have enough physical strength to give birth, which led to stillbirth. Even if the child was born, he would likely be impaired. Moreover, even if the child was born with no physical defects, he would end up dying in childhood because of illness. Either of these cases was not unusual.
There were also often cases of nobles, who were only blessed with a daughter and could have their House be succeeded by welcoming a groom from outside. Even if they grew up safely, there was no way they would be immune from accidents or diseases. This was all the more true if there were wars.
When a House died out without getting anyone to inherit it, their territory would be seized by the royal family. After that, the royal family would either dispatch a governor with a term limit, or bestow it to another noble.
Therefore, in order to avoid these situations, the local lords would always take pains to cultivate their heirs. In order to pass the land, which they inherited from their ancestors and in turn made prospered, to the one who succeeded their will.
“You haven’t asked me to quit being a Vanadis even once.”
Elen said in a calm voice.
“I’m also the same. You can’t let the Vorn House’s bloodline die out. You can’t abandon the territory of Alsace. You’ve the duty to make a child, raise him and have him inherit many things that you’ve inherited, what you’ve accomplished and your own will. ──But”
At this time, Elen’s words suddenly lost confidence.
“Of course, I want to give birth to your child, but…… I don’t know what will happen in the future. Suppose that I become your wife, after that, I don’t know whether or not I’ll properly gave birth to a child for you; and even assuming that I give birth, I don’t know if that child will grow up healthily. Anyway, I don’t have any experience after all.”
“That’s why you mentioned concubines and mistresses, huh.”
Tigre sighed. Elen was by no means joking. Rather, her claim was right. In the case that Tigre somehow found a way for his relationship with Elen as he declared earlier, this was a problem he would have to face.
Even Tigre did not want to abandon Alsace. Even if he could not go back depending on what might happen in his life, Alsace was his home town where he was born and raised, and the territory, which he inherited from his father. Unless something unexpected happened to Tigre, it would not be seized by others.
“But, I think there’s one problem.”
Tigre said also with a powerless voice. Though he was afraid of Elen’s reaction, since she has spoken frankly, he should also speak his mind right now.
“For example, suppose that I take you as my wife and also welcome a concubine. It’s just an example, you know? I naturally love you, but I’ll also, um, try my best to love that concubine.”
With Tigre’s personality, he could not accept having a physical relationship with her just to have her given birth to a healthy child for him. If he were to welcome a concubine, he would like to have conversations with her, understand her, love her and being affectionate to her. Otherwise, like his father, he might as well not take any concubine.
“I’ll be troubled if you don’t.”
Elen replied with a deadly serious attitude not seen so far without the slightest hesitation. Tigre, who was worried that this would made her sad, was shocked by her reaction.
“Will you be troubled……?”
“I’m the one who told you to take concubines. Besides, depending on the situation, I could become a concubine, right? If that happens, you can’t say that you’ll disregard the legal wife and love me. Well, I think that she’ll burn with jealousy and won’t sit back and watch if you display it though……”
Finally, Tigre could no longer hold it and turned around, splashing water. He vigorously embraced Elen, who had her back to him, with both his arms. He could not think of any other method to express his feelings for her. Neither “thank you” nor “sorry” would be fitting.
Elen inclined her head to look up at the youth, and whispered. She quietly closed her eyes, making an expression as if expecting something.
The two people’s faces, vaguely reflected on the water’s surface, silently overlapped.
It was found out.
It was immediately after they wiped their bodies, wore their clothes and went back to the camp.
“Where did you two go? Limalisha has been looking for you.”
As they were about to enter the LeitMeritz Army’s supreme commander’s tent, Tigre and Elen were halted by Mila. Both of them greeted her and thanked her and then went into the tent.
Then for some reason, Mila also followed them and entered the tent.
“Do you still have business with me? Lyudmila”
The Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave fixedly stared at Elen, who asked with a puzzled face, with her blue eyes reminiscent of ice. She was pouring a suspicious gaze at Elen silently for about 5 breaths, but perhaps because she found something, she asked while tilting her head to the side.
“Eleonora…… Don’t tell me that you and Tigre have……?”
“Eh?!” two voices of surprise resounded simultaneously inside the tent. Of course, they were Tigre and Elen’s. Not expecting to be exposed so quickly, they stood stock still in astonishment.
On the other hand, Mila was staring dumbfounded at the two of them. Because she asked the question half in doubt instead of being completely convinced, the degree of her shock was much greater when she observed their reactions.
“W-What do you mean……?”
As she finally recovered from the shock after nearly 20 breaths passed, Mila cross-examined Tigre and Elen. Incidentally, at the time until Mila recovered, the youth and the Wind Princess of the Silver Flash were looking at each other with nervous expressions.
Without any choice, Tigre explained selecting some events that happened last night between him and Elen, and also talked about the promise they have just exchanged at the river earlier. Though Elen revealed a displeased expression, it would more much troublesome if they were to carelessly hide it, anger Mila and the incident was exposed. Thus, she folded her arms and kept quiet.
“……Are you stupid?”
That was Lyudmila Lourie’s first sentence after hearing the entire story. When she was listening to the youth’s story, neither Tigre nor Elen noticed the look of “so, there was also this way” that she revealed just for an instant.
As a Vanadis as well as a ruler, Mila was excellent; but even she did not think that she would witness a “precedent”. One where the surge of tangled emotions would sometimes turn into a raging stream that washed away reason, status, anything and everything.
What she did not like above all was the fact that even she ended up thinking that if it was Tigre, he might really find a way to settle the matter.
“I thought that both of you properly knew your positions, yet how did it turn like this? Are you stupid? I really don’t understand. What will you do? Really, I’m struck speechless.”
“Struck speechless? Aren’t you busily ranting about?”
Mila sharply glared at Elen, who retorted diffidently. Elen trembled and ducked her head, which was unlike her usual self. Tigre gently patted Elen’s shoulders so as to reassure her. Such a sight irritated Mila even more.
Mila was about to scold them further, but he quickly stopped as it would be useless. This was also because she became aware of the fact that the blame coming out of her mouth sounded more like a way to express her jealousy towards Elen. It was not like blaming them continuously would change the facts.
If both of them did not understand the seriousness of the matter, she could still laugh at them.
But, both Tigre and Elen were clearly aware of their position and, were trying to overcome it. Blaming them despite all this would be too miserable.
Mila’s inner entanglement almost caused her feelings to break out. After she finally suppressed it, she asked in a cold tone.
“And so, what will you actually do?”
“Can’t you keep it secret for a while?”
Tigre lowered his head. He raised his face and stared straight at Mila.
“I know that I’m asking something selfish. But, I don’t want to deceive myself anymore. I can’t think of anything at the moment, but I’ll try my best to find a way.”
Mila sighed. Though she naturally harbored a selfish feeling, more than that, she also felt helpless inwardly. Mila thought that such single-mindedness of Tigre was one of his good points and she also liked it. She could not reject him.
Mila turned her blue eyes towards Elen.
“And what about you?”
“I believe in Tigre.”
With her arms still folded, Elen immediately replied boldly. Mila sighed again. It was not out of amazement, but because she felt the same.
Mila once again looked at both of their faces in turn. Then, she calmly said.
“I can’t do like I didn’t notice anything.”
Tigre and Elen became nervous. After confirming it, the Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave continued.
“However, I won’t reveal anything about this. And even when it’ll be exposed, I won’t help you.”
This was her position on this matter. Both Elen and Tigre heaved sighs of relief and thanked Mila once again. The blue-haired Vanadis annoyingly snorted and ignored it.
Incidentally, in the Moonlight Knight Army, there was another person who noticed about the relationship between Tigre and Elen. It was Rurick.
Of course, he did not thoroughly observe them like Mila. When he inadvertently saw Tigre and Elen walking side-by-side inside the tent, he understood then.
If one had to explain in detail, it would be that he deduced it after vaguely sorting out the atmosphere drifting between the two of them, their gazes, their casual gestures, their ways of walking and the like, in his mind. The discerning eye of this man, who had many lovers waiting for him in LeitMeritz, was not common.
“What to do about this?”
As expected, even he thought that this was a problem. Tigre and Elen were not ordinary man and woman; one was a noble of Brune and the other was a Vanadis of Zhcted. Rurick himself, because of his complicated state of mind, could not bring himself to give them his blessing.
However, this bald knight pledged allegiance to Elen on one hand, and respected Tigre on the other. After a little thinking, he decided to take a similar stance to Mila. He decided not to poke his nose into this matter.
“But well, the two of them are already at that age, huh.”
These were the thoughts he could not help but voice at the moment. It might sound somewhat disrespectful though.
Translator and references notes
 a way to tell that he doesn’t have any confidence in brewing tea well, thus he might squander it