Here's the second half of the second chapter. Done with finals, yay. Finally done with quantum physics. I hated that class with a passion. So time consuming and difficult. I won't miss you~. I'll try to finish volume 1 before New Years, but no promises. Aso is on vacation, so I may have some mistakes, as always post in the comments if you see something.
Also I'm back to J->E now, glancing every now and then at the Chinese raws. They're terrible. Mhmm.
Also I'm back to J->E now, glancing every now and then at the Chinese raws. They're terrible. Mhmm.
“Seeing is believing...Let me show you the power of this machine. Someone untie my ropes for me.”
Lunas, staring in disblief, nodded her acquiescence, and the ropes binding Mahiro were quickly untied. He mounted the bike with an expert motion, and then turned just half his body to look at Pariel.
“Eh? Y-yes, Young master?”
“Have you heard of the story 'Run, Melos!'?” [TL Note: See here.]
“Wait, why are you looking at me with such a direct gaze? Are you planning to escape!? Are you planning to leave me behind and escape by yourself!? You bastard, get yourself down from there right now!!”
“Don't worry, don't worry, I'll be back, surely! Melos definitely came back for his friend!”
“Melos did actually go back for his friend, but you're obviously Mahi! Princess! Princess Lunas, this bastard definitely plans on leaving me behind and escaping! Tie him up again!”
The two started arguing and shouting.
At the actions of the two, not only did the surrounding knights start laughing, even Lunas let a burst of laughter.
“Haha, ahahaha! I get it I get it...hey, untie the other over there.”
At this, the young general raised a quiet protest.
“Princess. If you do that, then those two will...”
“That's exactly my intention.”
“The enemy will know of our movements, then.”
“So what of it? Mismarca's remaining force only consists of five hundred soldiers. I can handle them myself.”
Lunas said that. She then added.
“Besides, I'm interested in this youth. For the sake of his country's progress, he was willing to sacrifice his very life. Is that not very heroic of him?”
“I feel the same, but...”
“...Anyway, though it may be cruel, but regardless of what happens, this country will face its ruin tonight.”
Lunas said this with firm conviction in a voice that held no shreds of sympathy. What entered the ears of each person present was only the strict truth. Silence returned as the loud and rowdy atmosphere that was created by Mahiro's and Pariel's quarreling instantly vanished.
This meant that the army here was no reconnaissance force. The Empire truly planned an invasion with just these troops. With these troops, armed with what was boasted to be the best equipment on the continent, this was no simple bravado.
In the first place, Mismarca only had five hundred soldiers remaining. Pariel, as a swordsman, believed the princess when she said that she could handle everything by herself. During the expansion of the Empire in the south, she set an even more astounding record for herself. It was seriously said that she had the worth of a thousand knights.
“...Though, come to think of it, if we fight such a weak country that is Mismarca, then you probably will be forced to fight too. It would be a shame if I had to kill you.”
“When you go back, tell this to your cowardly prince. If before sunset he comes here and surrenders to us, then I will spare his life.”
The clever general let out a grimace at Lunas, who was enjoying herself. For her who was so blessed by heaven, this was probably her only shortcoming.
“I understand. Then, we'll be off.”
Really, did he truly understand? A normal person wouldn't even be able to smile in this situation. Regardless, this was not the place to bring up such a moot point. They should hurry back to the castle and report this situation.
After being untied, Pariel went to sit behind Mahiro.
“Let's go back, Pariel. Edelweiss will be mad.”
Lunas, after hearing Edelweiss's name, suddenly seemed to remember something.
“Then we will take our leave, Princess Lunas. In memorial of today's meeting with you, let me show you the true power of this thing.”
The bike's front wheel dangled in midair as it underwent a sudden, extreme burst of acceleration. This was a feat that could not be matched even by legendary horses. The bike flashed past the knights through a hole in their formation, leaving behind only a huge roar, and vanished into the trees in the forest.
“P-p-prince! What should we do!? At this rate Mismarca will...!”
“What to do!? Isn't that decided already!!”
The prince had a reliable smile on his face as he turned his body to look at Pariel.
“I will now become the Chuck Yeager of the Middle Plains! Two hundred kilometers, here I come!!” [TL Note: Chuck Yeager was a US Army Air Force test pilot who was the first person to officially break the sound barrier.]
The bike was going even faster than when it was climbing up the slope.
“How was it?”
Lunas asked. One of the knights that she sent to the base of the mountain to observe the bike reported to her excitedly.
“Yes, that bike...it was like that young man said, it was a totally abnormal speed...! By the time we reached the base of the mountain, we could only see a trail of dust and smoke, and they had already reached Mismarca!”
“Was that so? Hmm. Very impressive. Okay, you can leave now.”
After bowing, the knight left the tent.
Reiner held back a sigh, and asked Lunas.
“...Princess, do you really plan on waiting for him?”
“What of it? We will still depart at the agreed upon time. It would be alright if the prince shows up before that time.”
Lunas then scoffed.
“But, he won't be coming. Besides, it would be unpleasant to meet with that coward. He's probably the same as those idiot aristocrats that Father introduced anyway.”
“Luna-sama, please be mindful of your words.”
The maid standing behind Lunas interjected.
Lunas sighed in irritation.
“All in all, I like that young man called Mahi or something. His name was weird, but he was quite brave.”
“ “ … ” ”
No one had anything to say to that.
Lunas suddenly stopped talking and gazed at the paper on top of the desk.
“What is it?”
“Hmm. It was so enjoyable watching those two that I forgot that Edelweiss was here. I might've just made a mistake.”
When Pariel awoke, the bike was already inside the ash-colored warehouse. Mahiro was nowhere to be seen. She thought that she was still clinging tightly onto Mahiro, but she was the only one left here.
It wasn't a dream. Somehow, it seems like that she was still alive. It was almost night by the time that she exited the warehouse.
“Prince!? Prince Mahiro!?”
Pariel walked towards the center of the castle, yellling out Mahiro's name and asking passerbys his whereabouts as she walked along. Well, even though he was an idiot prince, with the Imperial army this close by, even he wouldn't...
Pariel headed to the cafeteria after asking some soldiers and maids. She found Mahiro sitting in his usual place, complaining about something.
“I...I'm such a chicken.”
He took another bite of his chicken legs.
“Chicken like this teriyaki chicken. Only a little bit more. Only a little bit more...and I could've reached the 200 kilometers an hour benchmark!”
“Don't say that, Prince...”
“Yeah, yeah, you already became the first person to reach 190 kilometers per hour in the Middle Plains.”
“Were you using the usual mountain for a boost of speed? It's already really dangerous to go a hundred kilos even on the flat plains!”
“Ahh, but still what a shame...”
Surrounding Mahiro, who was recounting his tale of glory, were those mechanics from the maintenance warehouse, as well as ordinary soldiers and maids...wait.
(...Why is everyone so relaxed?)
After all, the Imperial army was already right under their noses. If everyone knew this, then they wouldn't be here chatting and enjoying themselves with such a peaceful atmosphere.
(...Don't tell me that he was so engrossed in sharing his tale that he forgot to tell them...?!)
“Hey! Chef! Chef, my tankard is empty! Get me another one!”
Mahiro said, and then a reply came from within the kitchen.
“Prince, if you drink anymore, you'll poison your body, you know?”
“Then get me some dried fish! Make me something called dried Japanese anchovies! What I need the most now is calcium! I need some calcium to make sure that I won't crash into the ground when I go over two hundred kilos, and come back unharmed! I'll turn this failure into motivation for my next attempt, and with the calcium I can turn the handlebars all the way to maximum acceleration!”
The chef sighed lightly, and poured the tankard full of milk before Mahiro's vacant eyes, and then returned to the kitchen to make dinner.
“What are you doing Prince!?”
“Hmm? Pariel? Can't you see? We're having a consolation meeting here.”
“This isn't the time for that, isn't it!? Did you already forget about the Imperial army that we saw on the mountain!?”
The people around them, hearing these words, were startled.
Inspite of that.
“...What kind of dream did you see, Pariel?”
“Huh?! You're the one who's dreaming!!”
“Seriously, who's the one who fainted behind me, tearing up, drooling and who knows what else.”
“There weren't anything else! Only tears! And no that's not the point...”
The atmosphere around her suddenly chilled, and she was pierced by several icy stares.
“E-eh, huh...? But...”
“Listen, I'm not my father nor my brother. Do you think I would return alive if I rushed into such a dangerous place by myself?”
Mahiro wasn't acting as he normally did, seemingly neither lying nor joking. Well, even then, he shouldn't be saying something like this with such flair.
“E-eh? H-huh? Then I was really...dreaming?”
“Hey you, no matter how young you are, you're still a knight...don't joke around like that, you know? You almost scared us to death.”
“Yeah, even though Prince Mahiro is good at running away, if he met the Imperial army even he wouldn't come back alive.”
“We had a hard time pulling you off of the prince in the garage, you were holding him so tightly...”
“Come to think of it, maybe you're the reason that he couldn't reach 200 kilometers, with you riding behind him and all. How much do you weigh?”
“Actually, maybe it was the prince being kind enough not going full out out of concern for you.”
“If it's that then oh well. That's one of the prince's good points. That's why we can't bring ourselves to hate him even though he's always so stupid.”
“It's also the same for us maids and housekeepers.”
“Mhm, mhm. If we caught another guy peeping at us, we would charge him money, but if it's the prince, then all we would do is punch him two or three times and toss him into the Connolitto River, mm.”
Aside from Mahiro who turned pale at the last remark, everyone else calmed down and relaxed.
“No, even with her, I should've been able to broken two hundred. I have no intention of using Pariel as an excuse! It was all because I lacked guts!”
The sun had fallen without them realizing it, and it was time for dinner. The majority of the people who just came to the cafeteria were here to hear about the recounting of the prince's challenge. Mahiro was gradually surrounded by a large number of people. There were people who offered comforting words, people who said that he'll do better next time, and even those who complained that they could hear the explosive noises of the bike from inside the castle. Because Mahiro had the freedom to do as he wanted today, Pariel was able to see how he gained the trust of his vassals.
Seeing this was enough, Pariel thought. Despite his imperfections as a prince, Mahiro was still able to garner such loyalty from those around him. What he said about testing out the bike for the mechanics and their plans when they were caught by Lunas...now that she thought about it, it might actually be true. Unexpectedly, Mahiro might actually have the best interests of the country in mind.
Despite the festival mood here, Pariel had to hurry to report what happened earlier, so she was about leave from here.
“Ah? Edelweiss-sama! I have something to report! Something very important to report!!”
Pariel left the cafeteria with Edelweiss, who looked as she always did to some place where no one was around. There, Pariel related everything that happened today to Edelweiss.
“...So we should hurry and close the gates, and raise the defenses in the castle...”
“Is that the prince's command?”
“Huh? It's not, but...”
“Then there is no need for that.”
Pariel didn't give up so easily.
“His Majesty has already informed me what happened when you two went into the mountains. The part about Princess Lunas, too.”
“T-then, why...everyone inside the castle, why are they so nonchalantly...?”
“His Majesty ordered me not to tell anyone else.”
Pariel didn't understand.
“Does....does he mean to surrender Mismarca to the Empire?”
Edelweiss didn't bat an eyebrow at this, but merely raised her index finger to her lips. It seems that Pariel was speaking a bit too loudly.
“Pariel, consider this. If you ever become a general, and receive orders to command your soldiers to attack a castle...”
Pariel thought that right now, it wasn't very likely for her to ever become a general.
“What would you do if you found that your enemy wasn't prepared at all for battle, their defenses lacking, and their gates open?”
“...I would attack them before they finished preparing for battle.”
(Then why ask?)
This was something that even a child unfamiliar with warfare or swordsmanship could answer.
“But what would you think if your enemy didn't react even with your troops right in front of them, with no preparations for battle and with their gates even wide open?”
“Eh? Um. Then, I would...”
Hesitate. Feel that it was unbelievable. Suspect that there was a trap.
“Unless there was an idiot defending the country, anyone would feel the same.”
“Wait, but, there actually is an idiot defending this country right now!”
“Pariel. Don't say something like that about your master.”
You said it yourself! Ah, but this person's master was the king himself, so maybe it was okay that way. Must be good~.
“Then, conversely, if a well-known tactician was known to be defending the castle?”
“...It must be a trap then. But such a person...”
Pariel was half-finished with her sentence when Edelweiss pointed to herself.
<This is Kaze Number 1. No changes reported in the castle and the town.>
<Kaze Number 2. The defensive gate has not been closed. No communications have been observed.>
“No changes in the “rumor”?
<Kaze Number 1 reporting no changes.>
<Kaze Number 2 reporting no changes.>
“...What does this mean? Was that not reconnaissance, after all?”
<I wouldn't call charging into the middle of the enemy's camp reconnaissance. Only a kamikaze attack or just pure suicide.>
<But, they returned home without doing anything...maybe they actually were lost and wandered in by accident?>
“...Wait a minute. The girl who was riding in the back is calling out Edelweiss's name.”
<What is she calling her for?>
<I don't understand her reason for doing so.>
“Then...what does this mean? Were the princess's words not even conveyed?”
<I wonder. Though the bike returned to the castle, we still don't know what's happening inside.>
<What if this incident had something to do with Edelweiss?>
<...It's a trap.>
<It's the only possibility.>
“As I thought...”
<If it was the royal family, then it might've been out of love for the people, but if that woman is in command then it's out of the question.>
<If she received the command to protect the country, she would do so even if she had to raze this peaceful city to the ground.>
“...I understand. I will report this possibility to headquarters. Next report is scheduled at two zero zero zero. No change reported.”
<Number one, acknowledged.>
<Number two, acknowledged.>
“...And so that was what the “Kaze's Rumor” said...there hasn't been any changes in the town.”
The soldier who was reporting in seemed a bit perplexed. The soldiers who followed military decorum to the letter were thrown into confusion. The troops were ready to move out at any time. However, despite it being past the appointed time, Lunas has yet to give such an order.
Then, she said with some slight self-mockery.
“I still feel like going in alone...though I know I would be playing right into Edelweiss's hands.”
She paused for a bit in indecision.
“I'll postpone the invasion for now.”
What she said after her deliberations shocked everyone.
Reiner began to voice out everyone's thoughts.
“Heh, even though I'm like this, I'm still a general. You guys are all cute. I wouldn't hesitate if you guys could die in honest and fair battle, but since Edelweiss is involved, it's not unlikely you could be killed some other way. Let's observe for a day or two more.”
“But, the king wouldn't consider making a mere maid a stewardess. Inept as he may be, the prince is still left behind, after all. If she was behind the commotion this time, then what reason was it for?”
Hearing Reiner's inquiry, Lunas smiled.
“Of course it's to crush us.”
“I think the Kaze might've been right in their predictions. The open gates are an invitation to a trap...she might be planning to use the citizen's panic in order to launch her assault...or she might be planning to lure us into the castle. If it's Edelweiss, then she would definitely be considering something charming for defense.”
“Would the Prince of Mismarca allow that?”
“She's someone that would do it even without his permission. Reiner, you're from the Imperial Guards, you should know the <Noir Rosen>, right?”
“The Imperial Special Servants Team?”
Reiner naturally looked towards the two maids standing behind Lunas. Lunas nodded in confirmation.
“Correct. Those two are part of them, as well.”
“But, what do these maids have to do with combat?”
Lunas seemed to have already completely given up on attacking tonight, as she ordered the maids to open up a cask of sake.
“If they're around me, then they must be pretty capable. Want to have a spar with them? They're pretty strong, you know.”
Though the princess was joking around, she never rated military prowess lightly. What she said was probably true.
“But if they're serving as guards, then there's already the Imperial Guards.”
“Oh, that's right, you're part of them as well. Well, you're a male, would you accompany me even into my bedroom?”
Reiner seemed to have forgotten this point, Lunas read from his expressions. She continued on.
“They are raised, covered by the shadows of the Imperial Guards, as the royal family's secret weapons. Those of the Imperial Guards learn how to protect the royal family, but the girls of the <Noir Rosen> learn the hows and the ways to kill someone.”
The Imperial Guards would guard against enemies.
As long as they could stand firm as an iron wall for but one or two seconds, the <Noir Rosen> would strike from a completely unexpected angle, taking them by surprise from the back.
Of course, the Imperial Guards were very capable themselves. Each and every one of them were very skilled swordsmen. Ninety-nine percent of all enemies would perish by their hands. But, against the one percent, just as a precaution...the <Noir Rosen> would serve as the final defense.
One of the maids interjected with a smile.
“You speak too highly of us, Princess. We're not as capable as you make us out to be.”
All the other commanders gathered there felt their hairs standing up at that cold smile. Lunas, on the other hand, found her response delightful, and started laughing after gulping down a cup of alcohol.
“Well, as you can see, they're pretty scary. You guys probably shouldn't test them too much, for the sake of your health.”
“Then, is Edelweiss also from the <Noir Rosen>?”
“No, she's not. She's actually the one who proposed the concept to Father, and founded <Noir Rosen>. If someone with that mentality is in charge of defending the country, then sacrificing a few hundred civilians would be simple for her. In the first place her personality is horrible.”
The two maids behind her were nodding their heads in agreement with a strict face, though no one had asked them anything.
“This invasion force was handpicked from the most elite of the capital defense forces. We could handle one or two assassins.”
Lunas seemed to have thought of something, and showed a rare face of weariness, as she looked at the unrelenting Reiner. She began swirling sake in her cup.
“About that, Reiner...What I'm troubled by are her extraordinary powers as a Majin.”
Majin. Those born with innate magical power in their bodies, and are able to use magic without using spells or crests. No matter whether it was their vitality or their lifespan, they were far superior to humans.
Lunas, part of the Imperial Family, Reiner himself, all of the knights gathered here, the two maids, everyone here were Majins.
But, different from humans, Majins varied greatly in power. The innate magical energies of different Majin had vast differences. Lunas, who was able to match a large number of enemies by herself, has an extremely powerful innate strength. To give Lunas pause, just how strong was this Edelweiss...?
“Even if we took advantage of the confusion the civilians would create, and successfully charge into the castle in the confusion...we only have five hundred knights. Reiner, what would you do?”
The silver-haired general appeared to have already accepted Lunas's words. But, without any pride, he said calmly.
“I would kill them all.”
Lunas nodded, somehow satisfied, and gulped down her sake.
“You're a boring and uninteresting guy in conversations, but your strength lies in your swordsmanship and your sharp eye. Reiner, go reflect on this later. Carve what I said about Edelweiss into your heart.”
“However, I do not want my name to be used in this way a second time.”
Though she said that, she didn't seem to really mind, watching the neatly cut plants in the courtyard under the moonlight. Pariel grew shocked after she registered what Edelweiss said.
“Then...did the prince calculate everything up to this point...?”
“I don't know.”
“But...I just want to confirm, the enemy general is Princess Lunas, correct?”
“Eh? Uh, yes...”
“Then there will be no problems. Her Highness, for the better or for the worse, is a typical general. She's not a brilliant tactician, nor is she someone who charges in blindly and idiotically. If the situation does not change, then they will postpone their invasion for now.”
Listening to such an analysis made Pariel even more aware that this person was someone who was formerly from the Empire.
“But...what about afterwards...?”
“I don't know. Maybe the king will return early, or maybe the prince has some other plans.”
“...If neither happens...then what do we do?”
“Then I will do something. Anyway...”
Edelweiss turned around.
“...What I said just now, don't tell anyone else. His Highness does not want anyone to fall into a panic.”
“...So that was why he's doing this by himself?”
So that was why he went to such a dangerous place, by himself?
“To be honest...though I have been taking care of the prince ever since his birth, I am still not certain whether he is a genius tactician wearing the mask of an idiot...”
Edelweiss seemed to be lost in her memories, and looked towards the night sky.
“...Or if he is just an overly kind idiot who is constantly saved by luck.”
She was always strict, so her words when she criticizes others were strict, even filled with thorns.
“But...his kindness is something that's for sure, at least.”
“Do you feel motivated now?”
“Ah...y-yes...though it's a bit embarrassing...”
Everyone understood the prince's kindness but her, even though she was the closest to the prince, she didn't understand his good points...
“From now on I will serve the prince with everything I have!”
Edelweiss said with an expressionless face to the Pariel who said such words with a smile.
“Do so. But, if he really is just an idiot, then I won't be held responsible.”
Why was this person always so cold? Pariel couldn't help but think this.