Prologue Audience with the King
Editor: Darkdhaos, alkin
To the east of Zetterlund continent lies a nation situated at the perilous foot of mount Aubigne, the Kingdom of Fremmevira. This world had a unique form of natural power-- 'magic'. And there were beasts who uses 'magic'-- 'Demon beasts'. The nation acts as a barrier against the Bocuse Sea of Trees, where many Demon beasts lurked. The people called it the 'Nation of Knights'.
The year is 1277, winter was over and it was the time for the bountiful spring that brings life. It was during this time when that incident happened.
Division-level Demon beast 'Behemoth' attacked. The Demon beast crossing the defense line in the eastern borders of the Fremmevira Kingdom was known as the 'Behemoth Incident'.
That Demon beast was en route to disrupting the major transport artery of the nation, pushing the Kingdom of Fremmevira to the edge of downfall. During this crisis, the ones rised to the occasion were the 'Jantunen Garrison Knights' and the trainees from 'Laihiala Pilot Academy'. Without regarding their own safety, they fought the Behemoth courageously. At the expense of many sacrifices, they defeated their adversary and brought peace to the nation--
The majestic Aubigne Mountain Range was right behind the Capital of the Fremmevira Kingdom, Känkänen.
At the centre of the Capital was the castle Shreiber, which was surrounded by a lively atmosphere. Bards singing about legendary tales were everywhere, entertaining the people in the taverns who were drinking wine in broad daylight. The merchants used this opportunity to set up shops, advertising their wares loudly. Everyone were enjoying themselves and laughing cheerfully.
This chaotic scene was because of the award ceremony held in the castle for the Jantunen Knights and the high school student pilots of Laihiala Pilot Academy. Those who heard the events of the battle trembled in fear and vigourously praised the Knights who fended off the Demon beast. They also took the opportunity to enjoy this grand event.
An elderly man and a young child walked on the crowded streets of the Capital. They were the dean of Laihiala Pilot Academy 'Lauri Echevarria' and his grandson 'Ernesti Echevarria'.
The streets were overflowing with pedestrians. The petite Eru grabbed onto Lauri's clothes so they won't be separated. In his other hand was a thin slice of baked fruit pie.
"Grandpa, do you want some?"
"Hmm. I'm fine; eat all of it, Eru."
Eru nodded and he took large bites as he moved nimbly among the crowd. This was brought from a stall that could be found anywhere along the road.
There are so many people... Grandpa is taking me out for a trip, and it turned out like this.
The young and old pair was in the bustling Capital because of the King's invitation. After Eru asked, he found out that Lauri and the King were classmates. Because of their relationship, Lauri held the post of a Royal Consultant in the past. Lauri eventually became a dean, and their friendship continued till this day. The King knew Lauri was related to 'Ernesti Echevarria', the person who piloted the red Silhouette Knight skillfully during the 'Behemoth Incident', so he invited both of them for an audience.
Eru who heard about this couldn't shake off the ominous feeling he had during the journey here. The King had asked specifically for him, he wouldn't let him off easily with just a few questions. With his sigh smelling like sweet fruits, the two of them moved towards the Royal Castle against the flow of the crowd.
The main gate of the Shreiber Castle was bustling with people while the back gate was relatively quiet. Making their way through the crowd, the duo finally reached their destination and was received by the guards. They were led to a conference room-like place in the Castle and were left alone after being asked to wait momentarily. The grandfather and grandson were alone in the vast room. The cheers of the crowd at the award ceremony could be heard from the distance.
"Eru, are you nervous?"
"Of course. I never thought I would have the chance to meet His Majesty."
"I thought Eru won't be bothered by such small matters."
"The way you put it sounds mean, grandpa."
Chatting idly when they were about to meet the King, the two of them were rather audacious.
Shortly after, the guards appeared again and announced the arrival of the person they were waiting for.
They turned and stood. The door opened and several people walked in. Leading the way was the King everyone in Fremmevira knew, 'Ambrosius Tahvo Fremmevira'. He was past his prime, but his ageless majesty could be felt clearly. Two men with the air of nobility followed behind him. When Ambrosius entered the room and met Lauri's eyes, his mouth turned into a smile in an instant.
"Thank you for coming, I have kept you waiting. It's been ages, Lauri."
"Long time no see, Your Majesty. I should be the one thanking you for meeting us despite your busy schedule."
"Don't mention it, this meeting was arranged out of my curiosity after all. Well, he is the pilot of that crimson Silhouette Knight... right?"
Ambrose and the nobles behind him shifted their gaze to Lauri's side. The report stated a child twelve years of age piloted a Silhouette Knight and fought the Behemoth, so they thought it would be a youth that looked older than he actually was.
But in actual fact-- before them was a child that was smaller than a normal twelve year old, a boy that could be mistaken for a girl. He had a gentle appearance, a round face with determined bright eyes blinking. His silvery purple hair reached his jaws, covering the side of his face. This made the bunch, who had experienced great political trials stiffened. But the King was no ordinary man. After raising an eyebrow in surprise, he changed his expression to one of curiosity in no time.
"Oh, I thought it was a boy from the reports, I didn't realise the pilot was a girl."
"No, Your Majesty. I might look like this, but I am a boy. Pardon my late introduction. Nice to meet you, I am the grandson of Lauri Echevarria, Ernesti. I am very pleased to meet with Your Majesty today."
"Oh, I heard you were a twelve year old child, but aren’t you outspoken? It’s hard to converse if you are too formal, please relax.”
“Alright, as you command.”
Seeing Eru accepting so readily, the two men behind Ambrosius changed their expression from shock to dumbfound. They were unable to judge if Eru was a great person or just someone who didn’t know manners.
“I will get to the point. I invited you here to conclude the aftermath of the ‘Behemoth Incident.’ I heard that your performance was excellent, but could not be commended publicly.”
Ambrosius said as he looked at Eru.
“I heard you are agreeable with that. But I felt that it isn’t right to simply dismiss a capable Knight who could fight the Behemoth on equal grounds, so I want to give you a fair reward in private. That might be so, but it is hard to give an appropriate reward for an underaged child.”
Ambrosius explained with a warm smile-- but no matter how you looked at it, it was a smile with ‘malicious intentions’. To bring up this issue that had already been rejected, is he testing me? Eru behaved as usual, but the wariness in his heart increased slowly.
“Be it promoting you to a full fledge Knight or granting you nobility titles, your age is a limiting factor. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand that it is too much for an underaged child of twelve years of age.”
“Hmm, how perceptive of you. Eh, and so… what do you want? I think it would be easier to ask the person in question directly. If it is something that matches your accomplishment, I will grant it to you as a reward.”
Ambrosius’ direct explanation surprised Eru. Accepting this proposal, Eru’s brain started churning at a high speed.
It’s hard to imagine… but is this out of his good will. Or, does he want to see if I am easily baited by rewards? Wanting to give me a reward now is suspicious.
A pie that fell out of the sky into his hands. But there were no free lunches in this world. This was common knowledge, be it in this world or the previous one.
That might be so, but I can’t turn down the offer from the King… I have to say something.
But, finding a reward that befits the ‘contribution of defeating the Behemoth’. How much is this worth in terms of money? How much is it in terms of material? Is there anything he wants aside from titles? Eru simply didn’t know how much this is worth. Should he use his age as an excuse and make an unreasonable request-- when he pondered about that, he dismiss the thought.
Wrong, I don’t think that is an expression he would show a child.
In Eru’s memory, he found Ambrosius’ expression familiar. Browsing through the fading memories of his previous life, the warm expression was looking for the smallest loophole in the conversation-- ‘the expression of a salesman’. Something must be up.
How about asking for a Silhouette Knight? It would be great to have a reference model. It might work from the contributions I made. Fukeke.
As Eru was about to give in to his desires and give his reply, a strong thought flashed through his mind.
...No, no, this is a great chance. There is no way to tell if I will ever have a chance to ask the King for something. Then I should ask for something only the King could give?... Right, that should be the thing that is the hardest to obtain!!
It was just a short moment, before Eru finished his thoughts. It’s fine if it doesn’t work, he could think of something else then-- He thought optimistically as he casually said:
“Well, Your Majesty, the thing I crave for the most right now is knowledge… knowledge on ‘how to make an ether reactor’.”
The air froze in silence. Hearing this whimsical wish made Ambrosius surprised. That was expected, this was too weird as a wish for a twelve year old child. Not just him, even the usually calm Lauri was tensing up, the other two were stunned and seemed baffled.
They were treating Eru like a child, if the request was ‘unexpected’, they won’t lose their composure. But what Eru wanted was ‘impossible’ for a person. This answer was too unexpected, even the wise Ambrosius couldn’t react immediately, creating a strange silence. The first to react was a noble behind him-- Duke Knut Dixgard.
“You… Do you know what you are saying…”
Knut who almost lost his composure because of the confusion was interrupted by Ambrosius who regained his senses. The relaxed atmosphere from earlier had changed. Facing the King who was displaying his dignity as the head of state, everyone present stood at attention.
“Ernesti, you mentioned the production method of the ether reactor? That is surprising, asking me is the only way of getting your hands on it, but normal people won’t want such a thing. And so I have to ask-- what do you plan to do with this knowledge?”
The King squinted his eyes, silently pressuring Eru. Cold sweat was falling from Eru’s back, but he looked back with a steel resolve.
“Right or wrong aside… state your reason. Why do you want such a thing?”
“Yes, I… am currently studying in Laihiala with being a pilot as a goal, but I really wanted to have my own Silhouette Knight.”
“Oh, a personal Silhouette Knight. What a grand aspiration. That is understandable; why not ask for it now? It just might come true.”
Listening to Ambrosius’ words, Eru shook his head.
“In the past, I just wanted my own Silhouette Knight, but it’s different now. I… I wish to ‘use my own hands to create’ the best Silhouette Knight that belongs to just me.”
Another answer that went beyond his imagination made the King dumbstruck. At this moment, something he read in the report came to mind.
‘Changing the magius engine’s script by himself’ huh? Is this boy serious? He is not kidding, and really hopes to do that?... He had that capability?
Facing the silent Ambrosius, Eru continued to explain:
“This is the reason why I seek knowledge from all fields in Laihiala Pilot Academy. Getting magical knowledge, learning the construction and piloting methods of the Silhouette Knights. I had already investigated the technique of constructing the machine frame, but I am still missing a crucial part. That’s right, the ether reactor. As Your Majesty already knows, the method is not available to normal citizens. Hence, when you mention a reward, I hope you could teach me the production method. If I know how, the next thing would be constructing it.”
Lauri looked at his grandson explain to the King worriedly. He knew Eru was passionate about Silhouette Knights, but he didn’t think Eru would put caution to the wind and request for it at such a juncture. The situation had already progressed to this stage; it would be hard to help Eru. Lauri glanced at the King and saw that Ambrosius made a serious expression and said heavily:
“... And so, your reason is?”
“Because it’s my hobby.”
Everyone present acted as if they saw something strange and had a complicated expression. In this silence, a faint suppressed laughter was suddenly heard, making everyone look over in shock. Ambrosius' shoulders were trembling silently, and he suddenly burst out in laughter.
“How… ha! Ridiculous! To say it's a hobby! Hahaha! This is interesting! To seek the classified secret of a nation because of a hobby! Are you really a twelve year old kid? Ke haha! Magnificent. I have not met such an interesting person like you for a long time!”
The two nobles watched the King laugh uncontrollably in shocked silence. Lauri who knew the King the longest could tell he was amused for real and relaxed.
“Fine, I will grant your wish!!”
“Wha… Your Majesty, you mustn’t! That’s not something you can teach an unknown child!”
“I know where he came from; he is the grandson of my friend. That might be so, but it’s only natural for you to worry… right? Ernesti.”
After Eru finished his explanation, he watched the situation unfold silently. When he heard Ambrosius say that, Eru tensed his face.
“I will grant your request. But, this is a classified secret. The mere accomplishment of taking down the Behemoth isn’t enough.”
Eru’s expression turned to doubt. The King accepted the proposal, but commented the accomplishment wasn’t enough. This made Eru doubt the King’s intention. Ambrosius saw the doubt flash across Eru’s face and revealed a joyous smile.
“Don’t worry, a king wouldn’t lie. I guarantee you that when you have met the adequate amount of accomplishments, I will pass the knowledge onto you.”
This could be interpreted as using a reward as bait, and asking me to work for free… But, it is still an unexpected gain. Forget the terms for now, this is a chance to learn a critical secret.
This reward was worth more than 10,000 in cash to Eru. The cute smiling expression was burning with desire and passion. Ambrosius was certain his plan was right after seeing Eru’s face.
“Keke, putting it this way seems a bit empty. I will determine the means. You said you wanted to create Silhouette Knights? Well then, show me your worth-- prove that you can use the knowledge of creating ether reactors.”
“Prove… please tell me what should I do?”
“Just create a Silhouette Knight would be enough. Apart from the reactor, make the casing of the best Silhouette Knight in your opinion for me to see. If I am satisfied, I will make this wish of yours come true.”
When Eru heard these words, his expression was like a predator that had found its prey. The King used the final part Eru needed as the goal. And to Eru, it was something he was going to do sooner or later. And of course, he accepted without hesitation.
“By your command. I will prepare a Silhouette Knight that would satisfy Your Majesty.”
Shortly after the audience with Ernesti ended, Ambrosius went to a private room of the King that wasn’t a meeting or audience hall. There was another man in the room-- Lauri.
“Keke, it’s been a long time since I had such a fruitful day. Lauri, your grandson is really interesting.”
When he remembered what happened just now, Ambrosius who was a little drunk would smile.
“Sigh, I left his upbringing to my daughter completely. That child had always loved Silhouette Knights, but I didn’t know he would bring it so far. I couldn’t grasp the situation and was dripping with cold sweat.”
“I heard a twelve year old child fought with the Behemoth, so I summoned him to take a look. But you can’t say he is a child anymore.”
“Ara, my grandson is still at school, though.”
“Children have to be ambitious, but who would come out with such a weird request? I had heard so many requests all these years, but the request today was ‘superb’!”
The two of them clinked their wine glass and continued chatting in high spirits.
“Because it was too interesting, I accidentally made a happy promise.”
“Because it was too interesting, I accidentally made a happy promise.”
“Because it’s my grandson. I will work hard to nurture him and won’t let Your Majesty down.”
“Yes. That’s right; I was worried about his future because he was too capable. But after meeting him, I realised that was unnecessary.”
Ambrosius probably thought of that time again as he let out a soft laugh from his throat.
“Ara, for Your Majesty to have such high expectations, my grandson is quite promising.”
“Kekeke, I am not interested in him because he is your grandchild, I am curious on what surprising things he would do. Making a better Silhouette Knight-- An absurd task, but he accepted without hesitation.”
As he spoke, Ambrosius suddenly had a precognition that was something similar to a belief.
“It probably wouldn’t be long before he brings the results before me.”
“... To make such a promise lightly. I have to advise His Majesty to curb his desire for amusement.”
One of the nobles that were present during the audience, Duke Knut Dixgard’s complained to his counterpart Marquis Joachim Serrati.
“Watch your words, Duke.”
“His Majesty isn’t so petty that he wouldn’t accept advice. Or do you think its fine to disclose a national secret to a suspicious child?”
“I don’t think so… that is why His Majesty added these terms. Even if he is the grandson of the Laihiala Pilot Academy’s dean, it is not easy to make a new Silhouette Knight.”
“I am not talking about how hard it is, I am saying there is something wrong with the promise itself!”
Knut was indignant, taking heavy steps as he passed through the corridor. Joachim who was following him saw the figures of his children in his mind.
Supplements of the report of, Jantunen’s Knight Commander Philip Hallhagen, was done by his daughter -- Stefania. The report included how his bastard children were close to Eru. In the end, Eru was someone he knew.
It might be necessary to gather some intelligence, or issue some instructions to his illegitimate children. Besides Joachim who was deep in thought, Knut’s expression was becoming serious.
“Even though he is still a child… It’s dangerous to leave him alone.”
These words weren’t heard by anyone, dissipating into the air quietly.
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