Year 851 of the Empire.
"Regis~~ Regis~~. Ah, found you."
Altina ran into the officers dining hall.
She seemed to be searching for him. Altina walked opposite Regis and sat down.
It was already 3pm, there were no other officers around.
"Don't shout my name as you walk... I am not a cat or a dog."
"That's not true. Cats and Dogs will respond and run to you if you call out to them."
"... That's correct."
Regis didn't respond when he heard his name being called.
"Even so... Even if I'm worse than a cat or dog, can you not shout my name as you walk?"
"Isn't that embarrassing? I am usually in my room anyway."
"It's better for your health if you exercise once in a while okay?"
"Yes, there seems to be cases of nobles falling sick from the lack of exercise, but that has nothing to do with commoners. And I would rather sleep more for the good of my health..."
"I haven't settled the tasks from last year."
"Ara, that must be tough."
"If you sympathize with me, can you increase the number of admin officers?"
Regis complains in an exhausted voice.
"I have already submitted a request... But it will be hard. News of Beilschmidt not having any admin officers seemed to have spread. No one wants to come because they will be worked to death."
"Please tell the military department I am still alive, so it won't really kill anyone. Just that the documents are spilling from the rooms and there is no time to sleep."
"Can I just tell them what you just said?"
"... Please include in your recruitment request that it is safe, simple and pays relatively well."
"Well, I will settle this appropriately. That aside, listen to this! My friend in the capital sent me a letter!"
Altina took out a white high class envelope.
It was addressed to her.
Regis started doubting his eyes and ears.
"... I didn't say anything that surprising right? What is shocking is the contents..."
"You, you have friends!?"
That was a shock.
"You... what did you see me as!?"
"Ah, no... I thought you were isolated in the palace..."
"Ugugu... My relationships with the aristocrats wasn't too good..."
As the two chatted, the maid Clarisse served red tea. She was a mature young lady. She was slightly older than Regis, but that wasn't the reason for her maturity.
"Pardon me, Princess. Would you like some tea?"
"I want some! Thank you."
"You are welcome-- What about Mr. Regis?"
He had this conversation before. Regis thought Clarisse was asking him if he would like some red tea, but she toyed with him saying 'I was asking about your plans for the future'.
In order to not make the same mistake, Regis thought carefully and asked:
"... Erm, are you asking about my plan for the future?"
"Ara, I am so happy. Mr. Regis wants to discuss your future with me? It's a bit embarrassing to do that in front of the princess."
"To receive a marriage proposal while I was pouring a cup of red tea. What should I do, Princess?"
Clarisse acted liked a maiden in love.
Altina open her eyes wide.
"That was a marriage proposal!?"
"No! That's not what I meant!"
"That, that's right. What a surprise."
"Fufu. Please enjoy your red tea. By the way Princess, is that letter from Sir Baltasar?"
A big shot from the capital? Regis heard the name before, but he can't remember who it was.
It was the name of a man.
Regis started to panic for some unknown reason.
"Is he Altina's friend?"
"Yes he is. He might be a old man over 60, but he was a famous swordsman. Have you heard of him before?"
"Hmmm? Could it be Baltasar Basil De Balzac!? The top swordsman in the empire?"
"That's right. He came from a clan that was bestowed with the sword of the Flame emperor since the empire's founding. Baltasar might have retired, but he will still show up in the palace from time to time."
"How did you get to know him?"
"I was swinging my sword in the courtyard when he shouted 'Wrong!' at me."
Regis was stunned.
Clarisse shook her head slightly.
There were too many places to retort.
"... The princess was... swing a sword in the courtyard of the palace?"
"Ahaha, I was 10 back then."
"Not only that day right?"
"Well, almost everyday."
This had nothing to do with being 10 years old, Regis thought.
"... And Sir Baltasar who shouted at the young princess after seeing her sword swing was also..."
"He said that swinging a sword had nothing to do with being a girl or a royalty, you are just a swordsman."
"What an eccentric man."
But if not for that, he wouldn't have spoken to Altina who was ostracised in the palace.
"Since that time, he would teach me about the sword every time he dropped by the palace."
"Teach you!? That Sir Baltasar?"
"Yeah. He doesn't take in students, but he can teach me as a fellow swordsman. And so, we became friends."
"In a book that teaches sword style said that the Balzac clan only passes down their skills within their family and do not take in disciples."
"Ah, I see."
Regis was stunned, but Altina seemed at ease.
"Both of them were always happily swinging swords... I served them water often too."
"Is that so~"
"He wanted to teach me too, that was very troubling..."
"Ahaha, that's tight. Maybe Baltasar was just bored."
"But aren’t the skills only passed down within the clan!?"
Maybe he only taught the basics without touching the secret skills. Baltasar was also aged and retired.
But just being the disciple of the strongest swordsman is an impressive title. No wonder Altina was so strong despite having no battle experience.
Why did the elderly swordsman teach the princess who wasn't related to him? Was it on a whim? or did he do so out of pity?
I want to meet and chat with him -- Regis thought.
Altina opened the letter.
"Hmmm~, Baltasar seemed to have heard rumors about our border regiment."
She laid the letter on the table.
The high quality paper was filled with words that were written in a strong style.
~When you welcome the new year, you should have received this letter.
I have distanced myself from worldly affairs, but I took up my pen after hearing some happy news.
I heard that our barbarians friends to the north had allied with us, bolstering our number by 2 to 3 times.
It reminds me of the legend of the Flame Emperor.
Just imagining the panicking frail nobles made me happy.
I wanted to rush over with the emperor's sword as well, but my wife had regrettably detained me.
My wife is stronger than the swordsman bestowed with the emperor's sword.
I plan to be your senior even in heaven, so don't go there before me.
To my friend From old Baltasar~
"Hmmm... so that's it..."
Altina smiled innocently.
"This is great, seemed like the news is already spreading in the empire."
"I asked them to take care not to leak the news out... But it was futile. If so much material was exported, the soldiers will definitely realize it."
"Is it bad for others to know that the barbarians had allied with us?"
"In a sense, this is within the jurisdiction of the lord of the land Sir Jerome and the commander of the fort Altina. But this warning means things might be dire."
"Is that so? I thought it would be better for others to think we are strong..."
"The key to winning in a chaotic battle is to keep a low profile. Baltasar was worried about you too."
"That's what he meant by not going to heaven. So I might die first?"
This was part of the reason. Regis pointed at the letter and said:
"The barbarians are an unknown entity for the people of the empire. The military department is unable to gauge the effect of their support, whether the regiment's strength had grown by 2 or 3 times. This is obviously a military matter, but he mentioned the nobles panicking, so they might be unhappy with you."
"That's what it says?"
"The aristocrats likes to look down on others just like their love for red wine, and they don't feel guilty about doing that. But if the subject of their scorn were to pick up their swords, they will review their past actions... and become afraid. In their eyes you are no different from the devil."
"I think they are the devils sucking blood from the citizens..."
Influence by her mother who was born a commoner, Altina was aware of the feelings of the citizens.
"In summary, Regis is worried that we will be disliked by the nobles, right?"
"That's a simple way of putting it. That's what happened to Sir Jerome."
"Ah." Altina nodded.
Jerome performed too well on the battlefield and was ostracized by the other nobles. He was sent to the borders and chased out of the imperial capital.
He had never lost a duel before and was very capable in commanding troops.
"They thought things will be fine if they exiled the hero and the princess to the tough environment of the front lines. But they obtained power from an unexpected source... What would you do if you were in their shoes?"
"Summon them back?"
"That is the ideal method. It is easier to handle things within your line of sight, but this is unlikely. Nobles place emphasis on presentation and feelings, they won't ask someone who they are hostile against to come back.
"Indeed. Will they forbid the alliance with the barbarians?"
"That will be easy to handle... The reports didn't mention any alliance, so we will be fine if the treaty was drawn up in secret."
"Ugh, they will definitely do something right?"
"I hope it's nothing too drastic."
There were tons of ways to deplete the regiment's forces.
And the 2nd Prince Latreille was said to be a smart man.
He will definitely do something about the border regiment and it's unexpected reinforcements.
"... We need to think of countermeasures."