金金金Rockbell had fallen to the Red Circle Army. Broken bodies, soaring smoke, haggard homes, and smashed storefronts were left in the wake of past violence. The heads of the guards who had remained faithful to the end were strung up in the trees, and Sarah’s father, Count Barel Ludwing was hung in eight pieces for all to see. Those who survived had not escaped the pitiful state which engulfed the town. Women and children were tormented, and prisoners of war were used to test new weapons. Vulgar laughter veiled shrieks and wails.
“Ah, this one fought back. It gets boring when that doesn’t happen.”
金金金It had been some time since Geb had enjoyed the stench of blood and madness, for him it was the true pleasure of a fight. It marked every battlefield where life and death swiftly changed hands. It was a smell only known by the victors who survived. A single sniff could make one sick, so Geb willingly sought out the places of death.
“Heh, when I’m done with this, you’d better not have already had your fill. The best has yet to come.”
金金金On the battlefield, instincts and greed were made bare, and fates collided. It was heaven for the victor, and hell for the vanquished. There was no class distinction there; of nobles, plebeians, and emperors, all were stripped bare. All that remained was the question of life or death.
“Hail comrades, are you having fun?”
“Then all is well. For things like this, enthusiasm is important. Do it to your heart’s content. That said, if you still want to be able to play around with someone, is not moderation important too? There are still many replacements, but they won’t all be so pretty.”
金金金Geb called out to a youth who was bent over a young woman by the roadside. He himself was blending in with the mob quite well, but he had an important duty to fulfill. He’d have to restrain himself until such a time as it was complete, for, after all, he was a knight of Bahar. Without having his fill of the stench of the blood and smoke he walked down the street.
金金金Ah, how nice. These naive youths fall into vice, wreathed in desire. I love how human it is. Ethics and righteousness won’t sustain one’s life. Live as you please, and die when your luck runs out.
金金金Without thinking of the future, he put all his power into the present so that each moment could be enjoyed. He did not heed others. Setting aside the rebellion and other such things, he found it most amusing to simply live in the moment. Count Barel, who had been torn asunder, was no exception. His life had ended after squeezing taxes from his impoverished fellows to live a life of ultimate luxury. Despite the excruciating look in his eyes at his own demise, as his entire life had been one of opulence, he most likely regretted nothing.
金金金In comparison, the thought of an uninteresting life floated through his mind alongside the face of his commanding officer. He only ever revealed an air of constant complaining to his subordinates; he was a man who lived to obediently follow orders and rise to the top; he was Ristih.
金金金We are, Ristih is, vigorously working towards Madress’ capture, but who knows how it will turn out? Either way, the stormy path is the most interesting one.
金金金Thinking such things as he walked, from a nearby house, he heard a pleasant voice. Hearing it, it sounded as though it belonged to a young man. Whimsically peeking in, he recognised the face. It took the form of what had once been an upright youth.
“Ou, ou, you can do it after all, Fraser and Kraft. How about it, wasn’t it worth it to come with me?”
“I had no idea that it was so fun to take things that aren’t mine! Heh, ha ha ha!”
金金金Wine in hand, Fraser was waited upon by a girl who was in a stupor. Her father, who had protected her was, in a few words, already a corpse. The body’s head was, half in jest, kicked aside.
“That’s how it is, that’s how it is! Pillaging others’ belongings is the best. It’s even better when you take your foes greatest treasures, eh? It is the flavour only a victor can savour!”
“Even though Kraft was so scared before, look at how he’s doing now. Ha ha, she’s totally blue!”
“Young ones are like that. You’ll grow up to be something like me, and you won’t have to whine like children hoping to be bought treats. That is if you live long enough to get a good taste of it all.”
金金金Kraft was in a trance and didn’t respond to words. His hands which had been strengthened by working the fields were twisting a woman’s neck to the limit. She was the mother of the girl who was entertaining Fraser. Her eyes were wide open, but only the whites were visible, and her tongue hung pathetically from her mouth. She was more than likely already dead. Kraft had been overwhelmed by his carnal desires; the young man who had worried over others’ gazes had vanished. He had the face of a starved wolf, and Fraser, who was making fun of him, was much the same. They had already abandoned thoughts of their fellows from Coimbra. The people before them were not the detested nobility, but simple people of the town. Now the town had only two types of people: winners, and losers; looters, and looted; only those remained.
“Oi Kraft, isn’t that one already dead? How much longer will you play with her before seeking the company of another woman?”
“This is no good. You aren’t listening at all.”
“The others might become a problem, so don’t kill too many of them! Remember how to have fun without killing.”
“I get it!”
“Then we have no problems, do what you will!”
“Of course, I’ll do as a please! After all, we are the winners. Ha ha! We are the winners!”
金金金Fraser was still in high spirits as Geb started to sprinkle some wine on Kraft, who was still unresponsive.
“That’s the spirit Fraser. After this we’ll take the Milan highway and in one swoop, be upon the capital city Madress if it all goes according to plan.”
“Why of course. The prestigious nobility gathers there after all. They’ve been using the money from our labours to carelessly live their lives. Therefore, we must righteously collect the debts they owe the people as the Red Circle Army.”
“They’ll all be well dressed right? Their youngest daughters have continued in such a way all their lives, dressing their entire bodies in precious gems. They’ve never done hard labour so their hands are beautiful and soft, and their bodies are well formed and gentle. Not to mention how packed their houses should be with treasures. We’ll steal, and steal, and steal until we’re exhausted!”
金金金As Geb raised his voice, Fraser nodded with a smile. Kraft, despite his mania, furiously shook his head up and down.
金金金I love to see it when they completely fall like this.
“Ah, I know this is changing the topic but, this is about your buddies in the flying column…”
“Uh, so this is about the others who went with Mirut and Noel?”
“That’s right. I don’t know which way they went. Do you know anything?”
“I don’t know. They might have just gone back to the village. Ha, if they could’ve had this much fun by just waiting around, they really are idiots.”
金金金Fraser was vexed, but he imagined the forms of Mirut and the others. Noel’s face was the final thing to float through his mind. Comparing her to the girl who was beside him, he forcefully embraced her, and in that way he stole what was out of his grasp. For him it was simple: consent was unneeded for the winner. That was the order of things, and he’d do it again next time too.
“Oi oi, that’s not a very eager face. Young ones sure are nice, eh?”
“Did you need something from the flying wing?”
“No, it isn’t a big deal. With that, I’ll be on my way, later we’ll have a toast to our victory!”
金金金Raising his hand, Geb shut the door behind him, flexing his neck as though expecting an inconvenience. It was going to be troublesome what he had to report to Ristih, and things looked like they would become seriously annoying.
金金金Ah, such a bother. Stupid Ned, what happened to his ‘greatest feat’? Overworking and dying won’t help you know.
金金金Geb arrived at the largest mansion of Count Barel’s fief. The entrance was fortified and guarded by several soldiers who worked together to open the gate at Geb’s signal.
金金金In the Red Circle Army, Ristih, a Leader of One Thousand from Bahar, had secluded himself within the office. He had been pouring over the directive from Viceroy of Bahar, Amil Wardka for some time, and his expression was extremely grim.
“As of now we are to hold this position to buy time? We aren’t supposed to advance on Madress!? Where is the need to waste time indecisively!? Aaaah, this is no different from Falid’s suggestion, what an infuriating kid!!”
“Captain, I apologise for intruding whilst you were busy.”
“You’re late! When do you think I called for you!? Are the trashy plebs rubbing off on you, you bastard!?”
“Captain, we should stop speaking of trash. They are, for the moment, our allies.”
“What’s wrong with calling garbage what it is!?”
“Well, for the moment please remain composed. There are all kinds here. Ah, I have something to report on the search for Ned, and a report on Grohl’s wife and child.”
“Start with Grohl’s wife and child! They’ve been captured as planned right!?”
“Eh, well, we were able to pinpoint their location. The failures in the pursuit party lost them, and they completely escaped. We’ll have to postpone the plan to use them as leverage.”
“Shit! We can’t use the recruits from Coimbra after all! How did they escape when we were so close behind them!?”
“Well, the scouts were following regular soldiers after all. What else could be expected of former serfs? It’s true that Coimbra is full of pathetic soldiers.”
金金金The wife and child had been sent there in preparation for the uprising. The capture of the two was supposed to be flawless. That said, capturing them could only be good and so Ristih would have been grateful if it did succeed, but wasn’t too upset about how it failed.
“So, do you know where Ned went? We haven’t had contact from him yet.”
“We went to the fort that idiot Ned had been talking about, but all we found were some brutalised corpses.”
“Inside the fort, only Ned and the Baharans were found. They’d all been completely slaughtered. It was the doing of an incredibly prodigious soldier.”
“Hmm… so the woman and child were hidden there after all. It was Grohl’s family we were after, so an elite guard wasn’t entirely out of the question.”
“Although Ned was quite skilled, his opponent this time was on another level. This is Coimbra so there is a danger of underestimating them too much.”
金金金Two of the dead were missing their heads, and Ned had his top and bottom halves separated. There was no mistaking that they had been killed by a master; most likely one of the Coimbra Guard.
“If that’s true, I too will have to work on not underestimating them. We’re up against a powerful rival here.”
金金金Ned was somewhat frivolous but that did not diminish the impressiveness of defeating him; therefore, the new strategy involved selecting more ex-Coimbra soldiers. They might not be the most disciplined troops, but taking advantage of every possibility was the Bahar Military’s speciality. Geb’s rough words had been a result of his new responsibility of supervising the new additions. Ristih himself held some doubts, but had to follow Amil’s plan.
“There are traces of a battle near the exit of a hidden passageway. The remaining corpses were Coimbra soldiers, and the other three Baharans. It seems like the Baharans were targeted. One of the ones with Ned probably betrayed them and ran.”
“Do you think they still haven’t noticed the Bahar presence on their own?”
“Ned used to be in Coimbra’s army after all. If one of the Coimbrans there recognised him it wouldn’t be strange. At that point if they hadn’t been found out it would have been ridiculous.”
金金金Geb had a devil’s intuition and spoke his hypothesis. It was possible that Ned himself had accidentally said something about it although there were no traces of torture. To die instantly rather than risk giving up military intelligence wasn’t uncommon.
“This has gotten bad then. If this spreads as a rumor it might bring down the Red Circle Army all at once. They are but a gathering of beasts after all.”
金金金There was no definite proof. With any number of witnesses, the Baharans were all killed in action by the fort. Bahar had stuck to the shadows and would not likely be found out officially, but rumors needed no proof. From person to person the tale would be embellished until the Baharans had to lose their heads, such was the terror of a rumor.
“I wonder about that. When the people of the Red Circle Army triumph they taste blood and vice, right? After this they won’t think too much of morals and justice. Don’t make light of beasts on the scent of blood.”
“That makes sense, I hadn’t thought of that.”
“What is important is to attack, attack, attack, and keep up the pressure. Move on to the next place quickly so as not to have to think on the depraved creatures.”
金金金To conquer any place, with any number of troops, would display great power. Unfortunately, each battle would whittle away at the troops’ morale. Particularly with the Red Circle Army, the possibility of it dissolving was ever present. If they woke from the stupor of beasthood, they would once again know the fear of death, and would likely act to spare their own lives; such was humanity.
“Earlier, from Bahar, a terrible directive was received. We’re to stay in Rockbell and lengthen the time of the rebellion. The orders are to halt the advance on Madress.”
“Those were some sudden directives… well, Amil is allowed to say what he pleases. But still, why now?”
“I bet that bastard Falid’s been whispering nonsense into his ear. He’s getting carried away just for being childhood friends with the inexperienced Amil! He’s made himself a ghost of power!!”
金金金Ristih spat his words even as he concealed his jealousy. If the target of his abuse had been there he would have made it a shouting match. Ristih’s king was Viceroy of Bahar, Amil Wardka. He was the most promising youth in the empire and was aiming to succeed the emperor. Ristih himself had accepted the wisdom in his bid, and had not only sworn an oath of loyalty, but was also truly allied to him in his heart. His only problem was with the redheaded Falid who had known Amil since childhood. Accomplished in both literary and military arts, attractive in both face and figure, proficient in both level-headedness and fortitude, he was grounded in perfection. Popular with soldiers, he steadily gained meritorious achievements, and rose in rank when the opportunity presented itself.
金金金Amil had already ascended to being a Senior Leader of One Thousand, surpassing Ristih. That he would rise to become a Great General, Viceroy, and ultimately Emperor was a popular opinion. After all, he was a product of Emperor Befnam’s ‘Operation Daybreak’. None doubted his competency. Falid would most likely become Amil’s right hand man. Ristih could not accept that. For the past 20 years, it had been none other than Ristih who had worked to the bone. He had undergone many hardships and trained in the Bahar military which was famously difficult to please. Ristih had played a major role in the disruption of a dangerous rebellion before either Amil or Falid had been born.
金金金Bahar’s acting Great General was close to retirement, and he strongly thought himself to be the one to take up the position. His goal was only natural. He didn’t know much about operation daybreak, but he knew better than to look down on the people who survived the suspicious project. For people of Bahar, their pride would not allow such a mistake. He had applied for leadership of the Coimbra rebellion in hopes of promotion. If he could brilliantly capture the capital, he’d receive the foremost of honours from Amil himself.
金金金I will make Coimbra fall! Don’t think you can get in my way Falid!!
金金金That which was before his eyes was something he had to bear. Successfully concealing his murderous thoughts, Ristih slammed his fist onto his desk. It was true, however, that if the war bogged down, it would provide pretext for the Bahar military to intervene. They would suitably resist, and eventually capitulate so that Grohl’s responsibility for the situation could be investigated. It was certainly an easily attainable goal, but if he only did that much, he wouldn’t be accomplishing any meritorious deeds. Conversely, if the Red Circle Army smashed the capital, Grohl’s inefficiency would most likely be called into discussion. After that, when Bahar intervened, the rebels would honourably surrender the castle unto them. Then the Red Circle Army would be painted as the bringers of justice, with their leader Ristih becoming a hero. It might make his path to Viceroy of Coimbra more than just one of dreams; his fame would echo throughout the world.
金金金For the moment, the current plan was received from the most influential man in the Horsheido empire. Amil had contacted the emperor with his plans in advance. To preemptively carve out a cancerous growth, he wished to remove his own older brother from his position of power. Having learned of the proposal, the Emperor made a snap decision, and left Amil with the directive to show off his own prowess. It was a test to see if he was worthy of becoming the next emperor. Success would mean Amil’s inauguration as crown prince.
“So then, captain, what shall we do? If we stay here, we won’t be able to fully repair the walls. Not only would it be a great feat of endurance, but we’d also need to import high quality materials.”
“I know that, our original plans called for the toppling of Madress. Our opponent is the stupid Grohl in the weak Coimbra, and we even have those who betrayed him. We can’t influence the war much with only a few competent people. If I was in command, we’d most certainly win. We’re only a small force, but it would hardly be difficult!”
金金金During the unification wars, the Bahar province fought soldiers from the Gemb province who were led by the Sun God, and fiercely resisted; the weight of history on their shoulders. The Baharan cavalry was mightier than the Sun God who knew of defeat that day. Although the fortunes of war had not favoured them, and they eventually were forced to surrender, that their resistance had been the most effective on the continent was soon widely known. For such reasons, they still greatly revered that resistance, even during the time that Amil became viceroy, they maintained their vigilance.
金金金In one step, Coimbra, with its goods and soldiers, was defeated, and it surrendered quickly. There were still legends of Coimbrans begging for their lives pitifully; their sorry nature and the scorn that came with it bought them a new fame. It was a country that, whilst frivolously passing the time, was crushed by the violent wars brought down upon them by the Sun God. ‘They may have gold, but they don’t have men,’ were words describing the state of Coimbra. For Ristih, who was from Bahar, Coimbra was hardly a thing to be feared. All the more when they were led by the likes of Grohl.
“In short, is it alright to continue preparations for the march?”
“Of course! Don’t worry about the homeland, when we take the capital, without a doubt, we will contact Amil and present it to him!”
“Then choose the men who are suitable for leadership and gather them up. Return with a report when you are finished.”
金金金Geb, whose emotions were written across his face, diligently saluted and left.
金金金If security is truly one’s greatest enemy, we must work diligently to turn that threat aside. Let me see, that’s right, we’ll have to do it well. Even against the incompetent Grohl, and the weak Coimbra military, the majority of our forces are from Coimbra as well. So long as they are humans, they can’t be too different.
金金金That way of thinking was also important. It was unclear if Ristih who had raised a rebellion and taken it pillaging to the uttermost limits would actually hand over the province to Amil. If he performed poorly, he was to be cut off like the tail of a lizard. He may not have yet realised that fact, or he may have been pretending not to know.
金金金While roughly stroking his beard, Geb decided that he would sort out the lordly affairs later. Now that his task had been completed, he’d seize a woman, and drown his sorrows in wine. If his forces failed later it didn’t matter.
金金金Well, as I thought, the captain will have to take responsibility if this fails. It will all end if I just say that it was Ristih’s plan all along. That’s a good trick for living longer.
金金金He remembered the face of Noel who had asked him about the methods of achieving happiness. He didn’t know where she was, but had the feeling that the next time they met, it would be as foes. It was his soldier’s intuition. Ned was close to a victory of his own when he met his tragic fate. In other words, it was not good enough to ascend to near perfect victory.
“Ah, I didn’t get to teach her the full meaning of it all. Next time we meet, I’ll properly tell her.”
金金金Even victory is mere vanity when death arrives. For Geb, surviving was a victory. Be it winning and living, or simply surviving, both were the same.
金金金What I think, is that avoiding death is a win. So as not to die, one must fight, and acquire money. That’s the trick to living with happiness.
金金金He made a mental note to tell that to Noel before she died. If he were to be called a liar on the verge of his own death, it would make his chances of awakening lower.
金金金Fraser, from the same village, would likely be pin Noel down by force. When she saw how he and Kraft had become, he wondered how she would react. Geb’s heart leapt as he imagined the ways in which her aloof and noble face would contort when confronted with the situation. Whether she would cry, be enraged, or fall into despair, he had no clue. Either way it would be entertaining.
“Ah, I’m really looking forward to that.”
Coimbra, Madress Castle.
金金金The castle’s west bank transitioned into a beach, and a large harbour was built there. In all other directions sprawled vast swaths of castle town, and many wonders remained from its days as the largest trade city of the continent. It was largely unaffected by the ramshackle defences, and wanton destruction of the war. The northern mines had run dry, and the trade with Mundonovo had been interrupted, yet as long as there were people and food, trade would continue. The rebellion may have even driven refugees into the city. With the approaching crisis directly in front of their eyes, the people did almost nothing out of the ordinary. A result of this was the capital appearing fairly prosperous.
“So this is Coimbra province’s Madress. It really is a massive city.”
“Now isn’t the time to be leisurely. We must quickly make our report to the viceroy. The situation is urgent.”
金金金Cynthia poked Noel with a stick. A messenger had already delivered the basic information, but the circumstances obligated them to report the details of the situation in person. When they had joined with the reinforcements, the news of Rockbell’s fall had already been reported. The commanding Great General Gaddis had been unexpectedly cautious about the number of enemies, and he was already planning for his own retirement. Though they rushed on the way to Rockbell, it had already fallen by the time they had arrived, and its lord was already dead. So when they had successfully retrieved the viceroy’s wife and child, who had been saved from the worst of it, they felt no need to hurry back. A party in their rear was serving as a screen for the main body. Cynthia’s own party had joined up with the main force, and in several days time had returned to safety.
“Be sure to come back. When I’ve returned, I’ll receive my reward, okay. That was the promise you know.”
“What are you talking about, you are coming too. You are the one who killed Ned, and you’re also a witness to his talk about Bahar. You need to report to the viceroy from your own mouth th…”
金金金Cynthia cut off her own words after only getting that far because Noel’s presentability had become horrible. She was wearing armour as the reinforcements had not prepared any spare woman’s clothing. They weren’t a part of the expedition and so their resupply had been minimal. As expected they had prepared a lovely set of clothes for Lady Sarah, but there was no portion for Noel; they did manage to secure her some underwear however. The current Noel was wearing a bloodstained leather cuirass, a bident was on her back, and a war hammer was dangling from her belt. They had tried to rinse her off on the way back, but in the end were unable to fully erase the blood and grime.
“Hey, would it be alright if I took a little stroll through the city? There are all kinds of things to look at, and I feel like there will be many treasures to be found.”
“No. First off, we’ll have to change your clothes. Do you think you can see the viceroy dressed like that?”
“I don’t really need to meet him though. It seems like a pain.”
“Ah, be quiet! Just follow me!”
“Ah, um, what are we supposed to do?” Mirut nervously asked as the other villagers gathered behind him with similar expressions.
“For the moment, you’ll be led to the barracks. It would be best if you ate there, and recuperated. Once you’ve calmed down, be sure to think about what you plan to do from here on out.”
“What to do?” Mirut and the volunteers made confused faces.
“Whether you will stay like this, or return to your village. That place is still within the rebel army’s sphere of influence right? You will probably have to fight the remaining rebels before you can properly return.”
“No way! We won’t even be useful!”
“This province isn’t wealthy enough to support people who do nothing. The city may seem lively at first glance, but the reality is not so rosy.”
金金金Having finished her harsh words, Cynthia turned on her heel, highhandedly dragging Noel along with her.
金金金Arriving at the officer’s barracks, Cynthia made her way to her room. It was the prepared residence for all officers in charge of more than one hundred men. Different from the regular barracks, it had private rooms and a more sturdy construction. Originally she had lived in a mansion, but as the Edrich house didn’t have the income to afford a servant, when she had become alone, she sold the estate. It was incredibly lonely for her to live alone in a large mansion, and so she moved into the barracks during her training. Although she knew it would give her the reputation of a fallen noble, as the entire province had fallen on hard times, she didn’t mind it. She half smiled, half grimaced at her situation.
“This is my room, hurry up and enter.”
“It isn’t like I don’t own anything so be sure to show some restraint. Quickly get changed, and we’ll head off to the castle.”
“I, I get it, please let go.”
金金金Noel had entered the room having been dragged in. She saw a fluffy seeming, pure white bed, a frugal desk, and a large wardrobe. Beside it hung things like helmets and armour. Somehow finding herself worked up, Noel flung herself to the bed she was facing. Regrettably, her hair was caught, preventing her from reaching her fluffy goal. Just before the bed, she was held back. Having been pulled from behind, her head was at a strange angle, and she stopped there for some time.
“It hurts, you know.”
“Well, I don’t want you flinging yourself onto the bed with your current appearance.”
“Its fluffiness is making me tired.”
“Your biggest mistake was being so horribly dirty! You idiot!!”
“Can I sleep for a little while?”
金金金Being forcibly held back by Cynthia’s hands, Noel made small unconscious noises as she made longing eyes at the bed. She swore to any god that was listening that she would succeed in her second attempt, although she would most likely never be forgiven for doing so. As she feared, there was no god.
“Ah, my head might break.”
金金金Although Noel complained, Cynthia was hearing none of it.
“You aren’t employed by the military, but for the moment why don’t we put you in a military uniform? You did participate as a volunteer soldier. This is one I received when I was only in charge of about ten. It’s a bit long though…”
金金金Saying that, she handed over a white uniform. It wasn’t the uniform of a high rank, and so had no shoulder strap; however, it did have the Coimbra scale. The trading city had a proud insignia. One side held golden coins, and the other weighed goods. Cynthia had been quickly promoted to leading one hundred, and so her uniform from her time in charge of ten was as good as new. Although they wore armour on campaign and on the battlefield, the uniform was used for all other occasions, and in recent years hardly any battles, or even bandit subjugation, had occurred.
“I’m only lending it to you. We are meeting the viceroy, and cannot do him any discourtesy.”
“I know. Hey, these look good. Don’t they have good style?”
金金金Saying such things, Noel threw off her dirty garments. Although she should have had some trouble with an outfit she was unused to, Noel managed to quickly and nimbly change into it. She didn’t at all look like the sort to have practice with that kind of thing, so how she managed it was mysterious. She dressed not with the fumblings of a new recruit, but like a recently promoted female officer. With a serious expression, and a gallant air, she inclined her head after she was fully dressed.
“Hey, do I look good?”
金金金Cynthia watched without thinking as Noel approached the desk and took something in hand. What had been drawing her gaze, she without hesitation took up in a tight grasp. They were the glasses worn by Cynthia’s late brother. Not like a person taking a souvenir, but rather more like an abandoned child, she appreciated the frame.
“Take that, and tie my hair behind my head. There, do I look good?”
金金金Wearing the black rimmed glasses, with her hair tied behind her head, she turned around. From every angle she looked like military personnel. She appeared to be an efficient secretary or staff officer. Anyone who didn’t know who was inside that shell would easily be deceived. Even knowing what was inside it, Cynthia felt she was being fooled somehow.
“Um, this time…”
“What is this, you suddenly straightened up.”
“Sir Cynthia, your orders. The preparations are well in order.”
“W-what is this all of a sudden…”
“There is nothing particular about it, it is just my way to cope. Please leave everything to me. Well then, excuse me for today.”
金金金With a sage expression, in the manner of a bureaucrat, she pushed up her glasses, turned, and briskly left. For Cynthia, this was the biggest shock of them all.
“W-wait! Don’t just deal with this on your own! And what’s with those glasses!?”
“Aw, and I thought it was going well.”
“Appearance is good and all, but you need to do something about your inner self! You idiot!”
金金金Cynthia shouted, and Noel covered her ears with both hands. The grossly inappropriate stance she took whilst in the form of a reliable staff officer gave birth to a whole new type of unease for Cynthia to feel.
“Hey, more importantly, can you give me these glasses?”
“What are you saying all of a sudden?”
“Because I was going to get a reward. I think these glasses are really pretty.”
金金金Wavering for but a moment, she decided that there was no reason not to, or rather, as it wasn’t expensive she had reason to rejoice. If she didn’t honour the deal, there was no telling what Noel would do, but it was certain she would do something; maybe even involving a hammer in one hand, and a bident in the other. Flashing her teeth, Noel attempted to drive her into a corner. Without realising it, shivers ran down her spine, and to clear her thoughts she coughed.
“I would like to say that it is no good, but a promise is a promise. Do what you will.”
“Yes! I’ll treasure it. With these on, I look smart right? They’re glasses that make me smart, the curious glasses.”
“Oi, don’t tell me that’s why you put them on…”
“Yup. The world looks amazing. It really is clearly visible now.”
金金金Cynthia was going to tell her that of course the glasses would do that, but they had little time.
“That’s good. While you were fiddling around we ran out of time, so hurry up and go. I’ll warn you in advance: do not say anything rude to the viceroy. I will only speak in response to questions.”
“I get… no, I understand Sir Cynthia. Please leave everything to me.”
金金金With her manners prepared, her body felt itchy.
“Please stop making fun of me. Next time I think I’ll pinch your cheek again.”
“Why? I even used proper speech…”
“Silence, I absolutely will!”
“It can’t be helped then. I get it Cynthia.”
金金金Arrogantly patting her shoulder, Noel walked ahead by herself. Even the Great General couldn’t match her confidence. Sitting a moment longer, half in protest, Cynthia yet again released a sigh, unable to understand Noel, she stood up and followed after her.
I left the editing of everything but Noel’s dialogue to the editor for this chapter. He didn’t write a note, but he probably edited something somewhere.
Maybe if the editor wrote a note, I’d have more faith in his having gone over the entire chapter.