Editor: Darkdhaos, Ice Phantom
“... Eddie… You can’t… If you do that...”
“It’s fine Auguste… See… Ah, what?”
“... It’s stuck?”
“No, I will just do it slowly… It should probably… work.”
“... Eddie is really hard headed.”
“Quiet, this way, slowly… See, it works right?”
“Ah… N-No… It’s going to collapse ——
The blocks fell from the table.
Blocks in various colors and sizes crumbled and fell onto the floor.
“... Eddie always goes after the large blocks. Just pick the small ones.”
They are playing Jenga today.
It’s a game where you remove one block at a time from a tower of blocks. The game can only be played with one finger, and had a lot of rules.
“I didn’t think it would fall.”
“... I already told you the green one would do.”
“Well, I made it fall, so Auguste won… Isn’t this such a game?”
“... I know, but if both of us didn’t make any mistakes, wouldn’t it be more fun to keep taking the blocks out?”
Eddie tidied up the blocks as he laughed.
It had been two weeks since he arrived at the Annex as Auguste’s guard ——
“... Eddie, I have something important to tell you.”
Auguste looked at Eddie with a serious expression.
Eddie sat up straight.
“... A certain merchant will be coming here this evening.”
“You want to buy something?”
“... I left the procurement of essentials to the servants, but… the issue this time is that the art merchant has to give an item as a gift to the royals in the capital.”
If the royals possessed such an item, the other nobles would purchase something similar, that’s the idea behind it.
For art merchants, their customers were naturally nobles. If he want to make a name for himself in the social world, he had to promote his merchandise properly.
“Which means this is my first bodyguard duty. I won’t let my guard down even if he is an art merchant, don’t worry.”
No matter what status the opponent had or how he looked, it wasn’t possible to see through their plan or read their thoughts.
“... I feel easy now.”
“Is that enough? I know nothing about appraising art work. I couldn’t even tell which side was up for the paintings in my own store room.”
“... I am not expecting you to appraise the art, that’s not the problem. I need to dress up for the reception, so you can’t come into my room for a while.”
“Dress up huh.”
His face turned slightly red.
His action was completely different from usual, and Eddie felt weird looking at him.
“... That’s all… Listen, you must absolutely not come in.”
Eddie nodded, then put away the blocks, cards, darts, Senet and chess. There was a lot.
“Erm, should I call for the maids?”
With a ring of the bell, Lilim came in a short while later.
With a kettle in hand.
“Prince Auguste, I brought the hot water… Eh, what’s this!? A guest will be coming today!”
“Hahaha, we have been playing since morning, and I brought over all these toys before I realized.”
“If the guest sees this, he will think you have head problems, and start weird rumours!”
“I-It’s that bad!?”
“The head of a Duke House playing children's games with the prince inside the room, isn’t there something else you should be doing!?”
“Sigh, I have nothing to say.”
She was closer to a home teacher instead of a maid, Eddie smiled awkwardly.
Auguste pulled his shoulders in, and looked even smaller.
Lilim poured the hot water into a large container.
The other maids were also coming in with kettles.
“Just leave the tidying up to us. His Highness is going to take a hot bath now.”
“Sir Eddie, please return to your own room!”
“I got it.”
Eddie bowed to the Prince and then descended down the stairs. His room was right in front of the third floor stairs.
Lilim might look like a child, but she was a dependable person. She didn’t seem to be someone who would forget her belongings in her master’s room.
Auguste was acting strange.
He was obviously different than before.
When Eddie first arrived and they spoke sparsely, he thought it was because of Auguste’s illness.
But it was impossible for Eddie who was aware of his own denseness to not notice after spending time with Auguste for so long. He was too different.
—— What is he hiding?
He accepted the duty of guarding the Prince. If Auguste was still a Prince of the Belgaria Empire, there won’t be any problem.
“Just… What am I thinking…”
And so, things like thinking he is cute —— Such things don’t matter.
After reaching the 3rd level, the door was closed and the footsteps of the maid preparing hot water faded away.
Hearing the sound of a man showering made Eddie’s heart race.
He had never seen such a beautiful and cute man his entire life.
“... The Duke House is done for, Grandfather.”
Eddie didn’t return to his room, and gazed out the window.
He heard the sound of something shattering.
And the scream of a woman.
Eddie moved without thinking.
He kicked open the door he just left, and unwrapped the sword at his waist.
He leaped up the twisting stairs in an instant.
Standing there was Auguste who just took his clothes off.
By his feet, there was a smashed vase, and a maid who was bowing her head in apology beside him. It wasn’t Lilim, but another maid he didn’t know the name of.
Not just that.
Eddie’s eyes were drawn in by Auguste.
He couldn’t shift his gaze.
He wondered if Auguste was thin and frail because of his sickness, but now, he found out that Auguste’s skin was smooth and pale.
A slender body completely unlike that of a man’s, with a bulge that men didn’t have. A small belly button and small waist, and the thing that should be below his lower abdomen was missing, just a thin bush.
“... What is this?”
Lilim was the one who screamed.
She threw the vase in her hands out.
It hit Eddie’s face splendidly, and shattered.
But Eddie was unmoved. His face turned pale and he didn’t dare to move.
“... Auguste… Turned into a girl.”
He was talking gibberish because of the shock.
After breathing out softly, Auguste’s eyes closed.
And collapsed as if all his strength had been sapped.
Eddie threw the sword of L’Empereur Flamme ‘Defendre Sept’ aside, running up the stairs in large strides.
Reaching out his hand, Eddie grabbed him ——
No, Eddie grabbed her.
—— Just in time!!
He barely made it before her white and supple body fell onto the floor that was covered in shattered glass.
After closing the distance as if he was sliding, Eddie managed to protect Auguste.
Auguste was like a puppet with its strings cut in his arms.
Eddie breathed a sigh of relief.
Lilim who stood stunned at the side rushed over in that instant.
Her face was green.
“I think you should give me a clear explanation about this entire incident.”
Lilim fell silent.
And lowered her head.
When she lifted her head again, Eddie could feel that she had braced herself.
“Thank you very much for saving Prince Auguste… I will explain properly, but first, let’s carry her to the bed.”
Eddie put his arms around the back and knees of the exhausted Auguste, and picked her up.
Eddie even suspected that she wasn’t human.
He lifted his gaze to avoid looking at her skin, and walked slowly in order to not trip.
The maids opened the curtains of the bed, and laid out a blanket.
Eddie placed her onto the bed.
He will leave the rest to the maids.
Lilim carried a chair over.
“You just need to hear my explanation? Or…”
“That’s true. I am very concerned about this… But I should wait for Auguste to wake up. Another thing, please tell her that ‘Eddie didn’t see anything, but if you wish to explain, I will be happy to listen’.”
“Could it be, you want to pretend you didn’t see anything?”
“Well, yes, that’s it.”
Eddie stood up and walked down the stairs.
“I ignored my promise with her first because I heard the scream of a maid, so it’s my fault. It can’t be helped if I am executed for ignoring the Prince’s orders.”
“Ah… But, that’s a natural course of action for Sir Eddie to take as a guard right?”
“That’s why I will leave the rest to you. I meant it when I said I forgot.”
“Are you going to report this to Prince Latreille…!?”
“I may be a soldier, but I’m not working for Latreille. I didn’t have any orders to investigate Auguste’s body.”
“Ah, you are bleeding.”
Blood flowed down the back of his hand.
He must have been cut when he slid across the floor to catch Auguste.
“It will heal in no time.”
“I see… But I should bandage it for you.”
“Hmm? Thank you.”
After applying medicine, the wound was wrapped in bandages.
Eddie then picked up the sword he threw out onto the passageway and returned to his room.
Auguste woke up after hearing news that the guest was here.
Eddie was summoned too, and stood guard at a corner of the room.
The guest was an art merchant wearing many jewelries, with heavy rings worn on all his fingers. Several finely crafted gold necklaces hung on his neck, making Eddie wonder if he was here to sell them.
Because of the gem hanging from his ears, his earlobes were pulled down, making Eddie scream in his heart ‘donkey’.
Behind the donkey was a large package carried by four people, which should be the painting.
The donkey approached Auguste who was lying in bed.
“I am deeply honoured for my audience to be granted. It’s something so glorious that I won’t forget in my entire life. As if my forty years of life is for this prestige. When I was still a poor artist and no one bought my paintings, I was hired by the art merchant from one generation ago…”
“Erm, Prince Auguste isn’t feeling well, please keep it short.”
The merchant who seemed to have prepared a long speech frowned because Lilim cut him off.
However, he didn’t dare to criticize the maid in front of royalty.
He cleared his throat.
“I apologize for my long greeting.”
Seemed like his failed attempt at a speech was just a greeting.
“I am here today to report that our art merchant guild will be setting up a shop in the capital. Right at the junction of Versailles road, which is in front of the palace, and Jean Galula street. The opening of the shop will be a breath of fresh air for the aging building…”
“Ah, if you can grace us with a visit, you will see a large signboard. Aside from reporting this, I am here to present you with a wondrous painting on behest of the art merchant guild. I promise it will please you.”
What amazing confidence. Since the time of the previous Emperor, the palace of Belgaria started collecting masterpieces from the art world, and he dared to brag about this gift before the Prince who was indoctrinated since young!?
Auguste didn’t react much.
Or rather, her eyes were resting on Eddie in the corner.
Ever since that incident in the afternoon, she had not been able to speak with him. No, she probably can’t speak with him from now on…
Auguste was distracted.
Lilim said softly to the art merchant who was working hard.
“Prince Auguste has not eaten yet because of his illness, and he isn’t in a good mood. He might get irritated if you let him wait too long.”
“Ughh… You are right. I will start now.”
The art merchant and his four servants opened the package deftly, with the merchant himself doing the final unveiling of the painting.
“Please look at this!”
Eddie was standing behind the art merchant’s group, so he couldn’t see anything.
Auguste who was on her bed didn’t say anything.
Lilim was the only one who screamed.
“Beautiful! How beautiful! Your Highness, what do you think! Oh I see, Prince Auguste is really happy too!”
“... Erm, is that so?”
“Of course! I served under Prince Auguste for so long, so I understand his speechless expression after seeing something beautiful!”
“Ohh, is that so. As expected of His Highness, not shouting out like normal people. I am glad this pleases you, that is…”
There was an awkward tension in the air.
The donkey had a face full of expectations. However, he must be feeling anxious since Auguste didn’t say anything.
Lilim thought for a moment.
Auguste didn’t say anything and kept looking in Eddie’s way.
Eddie didn’t have the artistic expertise to butt into the conversation between the royal and the art merchant. He was in no position to do so, and didn’t intend to.
Lilim clapped her hands.
“That’s right, I have to tell the reporters to write an article! To publicize the news of Prince Auguste accepting this beautiful painting! Right?”
“Oh! That’s true! I can relax after hearing that. I will be counting on you then!”
“Are you leaving now? Please come this way.”
“Yes, sorry for bothering you for so long. Please hang it somewhere prominent! It is a famous painting that nobles will fight over after all!”
With the matter settled, Lilim escorted the donkey and his servants out.
The room was quiet once more.
Eddie and Auguste were alone again.
Together with that giant painting.
Auguste said softly:
“... Move it away.”
The voice of a girl.
When they were engrossed in games, her screams were actually in her original voice. It felt poetic when she said it in this tone so calmly.
Like the gentle wind blowing over the surface of the lake.
“You want to move it away? You don’t like it?”
“... It’s a painting of a war.”
After Eddie looked at it, he realized this was a painting of brave knights slaughtering barbarians and enemy soldiers.
A prince might be fine with it, but this wasn’t a painting you would gift to a girl.
Lilim probably didn’t even need look at Auguste to know that she should hang it in a place where the guests could see it.
“It seemed to be a valuable painting…”
“... I am not interested in money.”
Eddie placed the painting in a corner of the room, with its front facing the wall.
“Auguste, will this do?”
“I will take my leave then. It’s about time for dinner.”
“.... Eddie, wait.”
“... Take a seat.”
She probably didn’t mean sitting on the floor.
There is only one chair in the room that was placed before the bed.
“Erm, well… alright.”
He walked to the bed and placed his hands on the chair.
“Ahh, pardon me… I should be sitting on the floor.”
The lace curtains were drawn back.
There was a hint of sadness on Auguste’s face, but it was so beautiful that it took his breath away.
He would like to put it on a frame and display it.
She patted the side of the bed.
“Eh? S-Sit… there?”
Eddie felt nervous for the first time in his life.
He sat slowly on the edge of the bed.
He thought he was sitting on clouds when he took Baudouin’s carriage, but he learned that he was wrong.
That was just high quality leather seat.
This was the real clouds.
The lace curtain on Eddie’s side was drawn again.
Her face was really close.
Not too long ago, he thought his feelings were strange because Auguste was a man, but it’s different now.
Eddie felt from the bottom of his heart that Auguste was really charming.
He wanted to comfort her sorrowful face, but Eddie exerted his utmost restraint to stop himself from reaching out to her.
Auguste said slowly:
“... Do you know… about that incident half a year ago?”
“Is it about… Auguste fainting after dinner?”
She bit her lips, and ——
“... The real Auguste was murdered.”
After hearing that, Eddie finally understood everything.
Even though he understood, that sentence was still too simple. Eddie couldn’t figure out the details with his clumsy observation skills.
And he only know about one person with silver hair and crimson eyes.
“Then, who exactly are you?”
“... I am… Auguste’s little sister… Felicia.”
“... We conversed once in the past.”
“Is that so?”
Eddie searched through his memories hard.
But he couldn’t recall meeting this girl with silver hair and crimson eyes.
Auguste —— no, Felicia sighed.
“... It was just that one time after all.”
Seeing her on the verge of tears, Eddie felt a flash in his mind.
“That’s right! You are that kid who hates swords!”
Felicia’s eyes widened.
“But I only remembered about you! Your words shocked me back then, so everything else is a blank to me.”
“I am afraid of people dying, so I hate swords… Something like that. Yes, I remember what you said to me. I never thought about that, and how scary that was.”
“That’s right, I already forgot who said that. I only kept those words close to my heart. I know that a girl said that… Thanks to that, I am afraid of girls… Ah, but I am grateful to her.”
“Ahh, I will swing my sword when I feel troubled. But there are problems I couldn’t clear my mind of no matter how much I swung. But I finally understood. I hate swords. I hate killing people. So in order to not be killed, I have to become very strong.”
He cleared his doubts when he was thirteen. How had his sword changed since then?
Felicia tilted her head.
Eddie scratched his head.
“Haha, I am really bad at explaining things…”
He was already used to not being understood. It entailed understanding the fear of death after all. But that was why he picked up his sword, which would feel contradictory to her.
“... I don’t really understand, but… I am touched that you remembered me.”
“Auguste’s sister, Felicia huh… How nostalgic. No, I have been seeing you all this while, so that sounds weird.”
“Yes… How nostalgic… to be called by this name… Finally… Finally… I feel that I am meeting Eddie for real.”
Felicia’s eyes grew misty.
Clear droplets of tears slid down her cheeks.
“... After brother was murdered, I was… brought here by mother immediately.”
“I see, letting you be the replacement?”
“Others might feel something is a bit off, but after seeing your silver hair and crimson eyes, they will think of you as Auguste.”
“... I returned to my mother’s home after I was ten… So I wasn’t seen in the public much…”
“Well, normal girls wouldn’t be out in the open that often.”
“... But, do you remember Argentina?”
“Eh? Erm, well… She is special.”
He heard his grandfather mentioning this name a few days ago.
Eddie broke out in cold sweat when he remembered what happened in their childhood.
It seemed that news of her defeating the Black Knight wasn’t just a rumour, there really were many heroic deeds about her.
Felicia narrowed her eyes slightly.
“... You like her?”
“Hahh!? Felicia met her before right!? Argentina is stronger than I am, I always thought of her as a man!”
“... T-That’s true.”
More accurately speaking, they didn’t get to meet much, so feelings for the opposite sex didn’t have the chance to grow —— Eddie thought.
“Stronger than Bastian, better in horse riding than Latreille, and she picked up swordsmanship faster than me… I haven’t seen her recently, but I heard she won against the Black Knight hailed as a hero of the Empire in a duel recently.”
Felicia covered her mouth.
“Instead of strong girls, I prefer cu… cu…”
“... Do the maids know that you are actually Felicia? What about the other servants?
He muddled through it.
Eddie who showed no fear before powerful enemies, didn’t have the courage to say that line.
“The chefs don’t know… But the twelve maids do… Others include my mother, the butler, the people helping with my disguise, and that maid… That’s all…”
That was more than he expected.
“Count me among these people then. Ah, but I don’t want to offend the Second Consort, so not letting her know will be better.”
In the worst case scenario, she might poison Eddie to keep the secret under wraps.
Both the Empress and Second Consort gave Eddie an impression of horror.
Felicia raised her head baffled.
“... You are not telling?”
For an instant, the words he avoided saying surfaced in his mind, but Felicia didn’t seem to be referring to that.
“... You are not going to tell the things about me… to Latreille?”
“Didn’t you hear from Lilim? I won’t do that. I am not a pawn of Latreille anyway.”
“... I believe you.”
“Well, my orders are to protect Auguste. Even if your real identity is Felicia… I will still protect you.”
“... Thank you, Eddie.”
“It’s a promise. So I hope you can tell me —— What are your thoughts about this.”
Being imprisoned in the Annex as Auguste, and chained to the bed.
She grabbed the sheets hard.
“... Latreille… murdered brother… I won’t allow such a man to be Emperor.”
“... So I… Until the Emperor passes away, I will be staying inside my bed like this.”
If the Emperor dies without appointing a successor, there wouldn’t be any doubts that Auguste who was first in the line of succession would take the throne.
Latreille will then lose his succession rights forever.
There would be many problems if Auguste didn’t have any successor…
The Second Consort will then take in the daughter of a noble related to her, pretend to marry and have a child with Auguste, and use someone’s baby as a stand in.
“A perfect plan… But this is a grave crime that cheats everyone in the Belgaria Empire right?”
“... If you want to run, this is your chance… If Eddie wants to resign from the job, I will help you.”
“I just promised to protect you, how could I say such things to spoil the mood?”
“... Eddie just wants to act cool.”
“I am a man after all.”
“... I… only feel that I am a girl now… Eddie.”
“Eh? Oh, okay.”
Eddie’s heart raced as he looked into her eyes.
He was breaking out in a sweat.
And turned stiff.
Felicia laid back onto the bed and closed her eyes.
Her light coloured lips were breathing fast.
Her neck was red.
Eddie felt his throat drying up.
If the maid Lilim happens to enter at this moment, or if Eddie’s grandfather visits… Even though Eddie was considering all these possibilities, he was unexpectedly calm.
The sun set and the remnants of its red glow vanished.
Only the flickering candle light on the walls shone onto Felicia’s face.
Eddie placed his sword on one side of the bed.
Then reached out and touched her forelock.
The laced curtains moved gently.
What a quiet night.
Felicia who was acting as Auguste didn’t spend the entire day engrossed in games.
He summoned ministers, invited merchants, and showed an interest in performing his duties even though he was still in bed.
Even though Latreille still controlled the military, Auguste started getting involved in the taxation issues with local nobles, and arbitrating the disputes between aristocrats.
The situation slowly changed as the First Prince mediated.
Eddie stood beside the bed as the bodyguard.
Felicia was just fourteen, and was unfamiliar with politics and law. However, Lilim displayed astounding talent and came up with many correct proposals, and Felicia learned a lot from her.
Today as well ——
The minister of commerce bowed respectfully after getting a judgement regarding his dispute with a local authority.
Lilim who was hiding inside the blanket to think about the problem pushed her head out tiredly.
“That one just now is troublesome.”
“... Thank you. It’s great that we can resolve it.”
Felicia expressed her thanks, and Eddie nodded.
“Ahh, I learned many things too. Even though there is a contract, the interest rate is still too ridiculous. Wouldn’t it be resolved easily by calculating an appropriate interest rate and paying it?”
“The issue is to find the appropriate rate.”
Even though Eddie watched the whole thing, he couldn’t even figure out what the problem was.
Eddie scratched his head.
“... Let’s call it a day.”
Lilim smiled with ease when she heard what Felicia said.
“That’s great. It will look suspicious if you are so passionate about learning all of a sudden.”
“Ah, that’s right, the papers had news about the painting that was gifted a few days ago.”
“... Is that so.”
“It seemed that a famous painter drew it before he passed away. I praised that art merchant greatly in Prince Auguste’s tone.
And probably gave a lot of money to that reporter.
“... Instead of that kind of people, I hope to meet those who want to serve the nation.”
“Yes! Ah, it’s almost time for dinner! Please wait a moment!”
“... Yes… Eddie, after dinner…”
“Ahh, got it.”
As if to make up for the time lost in the day, in the evening, Felicia calling out Eddie’s name became an everyday sight.
“... Eddie… Faster…”
“Don’t be so hasty, I can’t see clearly because it is too dark.”
“... But Lilim will get angry if we keep the candle lit.”
“Well, it isn’t good for a patient to stay up late.”
“... I am always lying in bed and can’t sleep at night, how boring.”
“I know, that’s why we are doing this.”
“... Yes, so hurry up.”
“I-I get it. Right, this one!”
Eddie turned over a card lying face down on the floor.
The number was different from another card that was facing up.
“... Damn it.”
“Let it go ahhh!”
“... It’s actually this card.”
“Wahhh! It’s the one besides it!”
“And this… and… this…”
“I lost again! Felicia is good at this.”
This is a game where you turn over a card, and try to find another card that had the same number. If the numbers don’t match, you will have to turn them back.
A memory game.
They spent all their time after dinner playing this.
They did spend some time discussing the day’s event though.
Felicia who was excited about games acted just like her age. Perhaps, even younger.
A warmth flowed through Eddie’s heart when he saw her like this. He only patted her head that night, but now, he thought that was a pity!
But Eddie wanted their relationship to stay like this. After all, Felicia was actually a princess. That was a fact even though she was pretending to be Auguste.
Right now, the two of them didn’t dare to act recklessly because of the obligation they had towards their House.
“... But a kiss…”
Eddie returned to reality after making a rare show of pondering.
“... But you keep this up… You will win next time right?”
Felicia covered her mouth in a panic and said.
“Ah, haha! That’s true! You are right!”
That surprised me, did I mishear...
Eddie collected the cards and shuffled them.
“Well then, this will be the real battle!”
Felicia wordlessly turned over two of the scattered cards facing down on the floor.
It didn’t match.
He said in a cold voice.
That surprised Felicia, whose expression stiffened.
Eddie unwrapped the sword on his waist.
“I heard a scream just now…”
At the same time, the door used by the maids opened, and without any knocking, Lilim ran in.
Lilim suddenly squatted down with her hands over her face.
There was a sword wound across her back.
Her petite body trembled, and Lilim vomited blood.
Felicia cried out her name.
The honest, exemplary and young maid held Felicia’s hand.
“Please run… and live on.”
“No, don’t die Lilim, I don’t want this!”
“Please hurry… Princess… Felicia.”
With her breathing ragged, Lilim closed her eyes and collapsed. Her face was deadly pale.
For the first time, Lilim addressed her by her real name.
But Felicia didn’t want it to happen under such a situation.
“... No… No… What should we do, Eddie!?”
“Please calm down. The best doctors and medicine are in the palace. If we can get her help in time, she will survive.”
“We have to… get a doctor…”
“Ahh, got it, so please wait.”
Eddie drew his sword.
And faced the door Lilim entered earlier.
Six dark figures already sneaked in.
They wore black clothes, covered their mouth and even covered their hair with a black bandana.
They had swords with a green glow in their hands.
Their breathing was quiet.
Eddie pointed at them with his sword.
“You are from Le Dragon du Fer?”
Said the leader of the six. He was a man with a solid built.
He held a longsword and a dagger.
Compared to large swords and axes, a poisoned blade could kill much quicker with just a flesh wound.
His companions took similar stances, and seemed really experienced.
The room wasn’t cramped, but there was still no place to run.
Felicia carried Lilim to the bed, and Lilim panted painfully after passing out.
Turning his back towards the two of them, Eddie readied his stance.
“Guess I don’t need to ask you dumb questions like what you are after.”
“Fufu… ‘The Duke that can’t kill’, as expected of your name. Duke Eddie Fabio de Balzac.”
Eddie frowned after hearing what the leader said. That was a sarcastic name he got on the battlefield, with the commander being the first one to use it.
Eddie didn’t kill despite being on a battlefield, that’s why he got such an unglamourous name.
“Let me make this clear, I will not hold back.”
Behind Eddie were a girl panting painfully and a girl he had fallen for.
“Get out of the way, Duke!”
Even though the one who shouted was one man, three people attacked at the same time.
While the large man attacking from the front thrust his sword out, the other two went to both of his sides and blocked Eddie’s escape path with their swords.
If Eddie focused on the enemy in front, he would be caught between the attacks on both sides. If he tried to fend off either side, he will be hit from the back. Even if he drop down, he would be attack from the front.
“Swords that can kill… I will break them!”
Eddie wielded his sword.
He didn’t plan to dodge from the start. Behind him was Felicia, who was the enemy’s original target —— They were definitely here to assassinate Auguste.
Eddie first blocked the sword coming from the left.
A clinking sound echoed.
The blade that was glowing green shattered.
The enemy gasped in surprise when he saw the sword breaking.
This technique was created by utilizing the extreme toughness of the treasured sword, and Eddie was probably the only one who uses them. A technique to break the enemy’s weapon…
He pulled back the sword immediately and blocked the thrust coming straight at him, and used the momentum to parry the attack coming from the right.
‘Defendre Sept’ was a weapon with jagged edge.
They were used to catch the enemy’s sword.
For normal steel weapons, the smaller parts would break if pressure was applied to them.
However, the treasured sword made from special metal known as Tristei wouldn’t bend or break from a little pressure.
Pulling the sword sideways, Eddie used the principle of a pivot to exert a large force on his opponents’ swords.
And it required tremendous strength to push an adversary’s sword down.
The sword that was slashing towards him from the right shattered.
And the large man who was thrusting from the front was pushed back by a powerful force.
Although a crisped sound rang out, the main body of the blade was still intact.
The green liquid was spilled.
As the tip of his enemy’s blade had snapped, Eddie lowered his sword.
“You stepped in too deep!”
Eddie shifted his center of gravity half a step forward, and thrust his sword forward.
His opponent couldn’t react to his swift movement.
Eddie’s sword severed the large man’s fingers.
There was a splattering sound.
Blood and gore flew out.
The large man collapsed backwards.
The other two men on both sides didn’t give up as they drew their dagger and attacked.
“You are asking for it!”
Eddie kicked the kneecap of the man on the left, bringing him down. Because of Eddie’s skill, the enemy didn’t look fast to him.
The kneecap shattered.
Eddie flicked his sword at the same time.
As for the man stabbing at him from the right —— his right hand flew off along with his dagger.
The two mercenary were pushed back.
There was blood everywhere.
The other two who attacked after that suffered the same fate.
Eddie broke their swords first.
He then sliced off the leg of the man who kept resisting. The other man realized the difference in their strength and tried to escape…
“Le Dragon du Fer never retreats!”
And with a slash, the last man was killed.
That man was definitely the fellow Eddie saw in the passageway before the palace. Even if he covered his face, Eddie could tell from his ominous presence —— and sharp narrow eyes.
The head of the man trying to escape disappeared.
Blood spewed everywhere.
The cards scattered on the floor were dyed red
“Close your eyes, it will be over soon.”
Eddie got ready in his stance and said.
Cutting off the head with one swing, what extraordinary arm strength and technique. Eddie’s instinct told him that he must not hesitate to run if he encounters this man on the battlefield.
He must be the captain of the mercenary band.
“You are… Damian, right?”
“How knowledgeable, Duke.”
“I have an acquaintance who is a busybody after all.”
Damian stared at Eddie’s sword with his narrow eyes.
“Nice sword. As expected of a sword of L’Empereur Flamme. I thought this would be a boring mission, but it is rather interesting.”
“You are happy about this situation? You are not simple.”
“You too, Duke… You are not a simple person, how else do you explain your great swordsmanship? Didn’t you learn them to kill?”
“Don’t think of me as the same as you. I trained in order to resolve matters without killing.”
“If you have overwhelming power, you can just break the opponent’s sword and fend them off by wounding them. That’s what you think right?”
Seemed like Damian was knowledgeable about swordsmanship, and Eddie found a man who understood him at such a strange place.
Damian readied his sword.
“If you have such remarkable skill, why do you keep quiet when others mock you? Humans will live to a hundred at the most, and their population will keep increasing if left alone, just like cattles.”
“There are people who will kill others for the sake of survival. But I am not that kind of person. I don’t have the need and won’t do something I hate.”
“You will choose such a way of life if you are born a noble huh…”
“I can empathize with the poor becoming a mercenary. But I won’t permit you to kill good people wantonly.”
“I’m poor? You have such a narrow view Duke, I didn’t become a mercenary because I am poor.”
Eddie had never met someone like this.
He didn’t know any mercenaries in the first place.
“I am born in an Earl House and lived without freedom. Every day was boring, as if I was locked up in a prison. One day, I killed a servant, and finally felt that I am really living in this world.”
“Such a thing… You are not normal anymore.”
“You will understand if you kill someone. Just by taking a life, you will find that all your troubles are gone.”
“How stupid, you will be trapped in a hell of regret if you keep thinking about others.”
“I am used to not being understood.”
“What a coincidence, me too… But that is why I want to protect the people who understand me, and will not let you get your way.”
“Love huh, I have someone I love too.”
“You have someone you love huh...Then you must understand how precious life is.”
“Ahh, my first love is a young servant… who is the first person I killed.”
He is insane, Eddie couldn’t say anything.
He was not a human anymore.
“Enough with the chit chat, back to the main topic. I will take your lives…”
“You, a Duke who only knows a gentle battlefield! Can you kill me?”
Damian raised his sword.
Eddie attempt to block the sword.
By blocking and twisting, he could shatter his opponent’s sword.
A few centimeters before the swords collided ——
Damian pulled his sword back.
He altered the path and renewed his slash.
But Eddie expected this counter.
He changed his posture to parry his opponent’s sword. Assuming that the sword continues on this exact same path, Eddie was confident that he could block it.
“Is defending all you can do!?”
“That’s my job!”
Another slash came from above.
Eddie blocked it this time too, but his body was pressed down.
The sharp sound of metal grinding rang out.
After blocking Damian’s sword, the jagged edge of the treasured sword latched on to firmly.
“Too naive, Duke!”
Damian let go of his sword before it broke.
And pulled a dagger from the back of his waist.
Eddie had already lost his balance when he tried to fend off his opponent’s sword.
And couldn’t counter swiftly.
Damian thrust with his dagger.
Felicia and Lilim were on the bed behind Eddie, so he couldn’t run.
Eddie grabbed the sword Damian ditched.
The dagger closed in on his heart.
There was no way to dodge.
Eddie slashed both swords at Damian.
Then, came the sound of flesh being cut.
The two swords cut deeply into Damian’s shoulders.
Damian’s dagger then glazed past Eddie’s chest and down the side of his ribs.
Blood oozed out.
Damian moaned in hatred.
“Decisive movements… You saw through my attack…?”
“Many generations of my predecessors worked to perfect this technique and gain amazing fame. I didn’t see through your movements, nor did I come up with this technique.”
“... Kill me.”
“I refuse. Tell me who ordered the assassination of the Prince.”
“I will die from the poison anyway.”
“And you too!”
Damian’s dagger that missed the mark because of Eddie’s defence spun in his hand, and stabbed towards Eddie.
No time to hesitate.
Let go of both swords.
And evaded the dagger as if he was falling.
He then kicked his adversary's abdomen from an extremely low position.
Damian was sent flying.
The swords fell to the ground.
Eddie picked up the treasured sword and stood immediately.
Damian got up slowly and laughed sinisterly.
“Fufu… Lost… I… lost…”
He was bleeding badly from his shoulders, and the dagger was still in his hand.
Eddie took up a stance even though it was unnecessary.
“If you admit your loss, then toss your dagger away. You should then find a lawyer to defend you in court.”
“You already knew, right…”
Lord Baudouin —— Eddie remembered the reassignment orders.
“But I have no intention to go to court, or leave any evidence behind.”
Damian took out something from his backpack, and put it onto a candle.
Eddie widened his eyes.
Oil? He wants to burn down the Annex? It’s true that there wouldn’t be any evidence if it gets burned down…
“It’s gunpowder, Duke.”
Eddie charged to the bed to protect Felicia and Lilim.
An explosion happened immediately.
Damian’s body was nowhere to be found.
It was the same for the wounded assassins around him.
The glass in the windows was also shattered.
The canopy on the bed was blown off, the bed and ceiling were in tatters.
A fire broke out in the Annex known as Panier.
A few days later ——
Eddie visited a room in the Palace at the appointed time.
The door opened, and Felicia who was dressed up as Auguste stood there.
A smile appeared on her serious face.
“... Does it still hurt?”
“Ahh, it’s fine.”
Everyone in the room already knew the secret, so there was no need for formalities.
Apart from Eddie and Felicia, Lilim was present too.
She recovered safely, and continued working as Auguste’s maid and shadow strategist.
“Prince Auguste, I will wait for you outside.”
“I will see you later then.”
After taking her leave, Lilim walked out of the room in the opposite direction Eddie came from and waited in the corridor.
Her wounds still hurt a little, but her detoxification was progressing smoothly.
“... It’s great that both Eddie and Lilim got medical treatment in time.”
“That’s right, the poison would have spread had it been a bit later.”
He had no intention of thanking Damian, but they didn’t need to spend time summoning the doctors because of his explosion.
When he regained conscious, the fire was already out. He was carried out of the rubbles of the Annex, and treated by the doctors.
Felicia approached him slowly dressed up like a man.
“... Eddie protected me.”
“That’s my job.”
To everyone around her, Felicia was now Auguste.
It was the same that night too —— Because of Eddie’s valiant effort, she wasn’t hurt and avoided the risk of being exposed.
“... Look at this.”
She sat on the chair and wore the boots that was prepared for her.
“After I told mother about this, she made this for me.”
It looked like normal boots that was a bit long.
After she stood up, Eddie found Felicia to be taller.
“... How is it?”
“Ah? I see, so the soles made you taller, I couldn’t tell at all.”
She wore a smile that was the same as the time she won at tabletop games.
Eddie looked at her carefully from head to toe.
“Amazing, it would be hard to imagine you being a woman from your height.”
“... I have always… been afraid of showing myself in public. But I can’t do that anymore.”
“You are right.”
“... As long as Eddie is by my side, I won’t be afraid anymore.”
Felicia looked straight at Eddie.
The face of Felicia who became taller was closer than before, and without her make up to feign illness, she looked beautiful.
Eddie averted his eyes shyly.
“Well, the length of the bodyguard assignment had not been decided.”
“... Will you be dismissed if the orders come?”
“If that happens, I will quit the army. I will be jobless then, but I will be glad if I can find a job with great benefits.”
Felicia breathed in and covered the corner of her mouth.
“... Just keep staying by my side.”
“As your bodyguard?”
“... If Eddie wants to, I will be fine no matter what manner it is.”
A sword hung by Felicia’s waist.
It wasn’t just a sword for decoration.
Eddie helped her adjust.
“Here… That’s better.”
“... Thank you.”
“Are you going to attend the party? You will probably encounter a lot of trouble.”
“... It will be fine.”
“... Because Eddie will be by my side.”
That was a heavy responsibility.
“I am not confident in dancing.”
“... Me too, I have never danced the female part before.”
“... I need to show to everyone that the First Prince Auguste is still alive. I won’t let Latreille do whatever he wants to the Belgaria Empire.”
After securing the sword, Eddie stood properly beside her.
“I know, I will protect you.”
Eddie unwrapped the cloth covering the treasured sword once again.
He won’t kill.
But he didn’t hate wielding the sword to protect others.
A knocking sound rang out.
Lilim’s voice came from outside.
“... Prince Auguste… The party is starting.”
Felicia walked towards the door.
“... Carlos Liam Auguste de Belgaria… Liam the sixteenth. Sir Eddie, follow me.”
“Yes, my lord.”