Saturday, August 11, 2018

Alderamin on the Sky Volume 4 Chapter 2 & Chapter 3 Part 1

Bubble-like Days

Translator: Skythewood
Editor: N/A

The cawing of the chicken stirred Meraize from his deep slumber.


「Ughh… It’s already morning huh… Okay!」


He blinked because of the morning sun shining through the gap in the curtain, and patted his own cheeks to wake himself up. The children sleeping on the straw mat on the floor also woke up one after another.


「Guwah… Good morning Papa…」「Hmmm… I will draw the water…」


The eldest daughter who stood up with sleepy eyes picked up the bucket that had not much water and headed to the entrance. Meraize almost watch her go off, but realized the mistake when she opened the door.


「Wait, Chakiri. You should go that way, the well is to the back.」


「Hmm…? … Oh, right. We don’t need to go to the river now.」


The eldest daughter who understood what her father was saying quickly turned around. While they were speaking, Meraize’s wife who fell asleep with the young third son in her arms woke up too.


「Morning Hubby… I will make breakfast.」


「Oh, it’s fine, sleep a while more. I will make do with some bread.」


「No, you can’t. Mdm Hanna said that you will get tired easily if you don’t eat your vegetables. It will be done in no time, so just sit tight with the kids─ Jibo, can you light the fire in the stove?」


His wife asked her fire Sprite partner to help and hurried into the kitchen. Meraize watched her back and smiled wryly.


After eating the simple but slightly varied breakfast, Meraize and his eldest son left the house and prepared to work in the field. On the way to the field, his water Sprite partner Eku chatted with him from behind.


「Meraize, you seemed meatier lately.」


「Hmm? Oh, because there are meat and vegetables in my meals now. And the wives group will send us sumptuous lunches at noon too.」


Meraize answered as he looked towards the sky. Before him wasn’t the peak of the Grand Arfatra Mountain covered by clouds, but endless blue skies that seems to stretch on forever. It’s the same when he lowered his gaze, the flat plains without any obvious undulations spread in all four directions.


「… How ironic, we were chased out of the mountains, but our lives here are easier than before.」


He muttered with complicated emotions. This place, the Yunakura province, was located in the  east of the Empire. But with the Kioka invasion of the eastern territories, many residents fled westwards. This resulted in a drastic fall in the population of the entire province.


The farms were abandoned due to a lack of manpower, but the Shinaak refugee who migrated here by the military’s arrangement started tending to the fields again. New families moved into the deserted houses, and the Yunakura province gradually turned into the new home of the Shinaak.


「Nokuku, we will be breaking the ground today. The fields are really big, so brace yourself.」


「You should watch yourself instead, Dad. Don’t get too excited and sprain your back like last time.」


「Why you little...」 When he heard his son said something so rude, Meraize poked his son’s forehead with a laugh.






Father and son tilled the field until the sun reached its peak. A group of women holding cloth bundles came to the two of them.


「Ara~ Meraize and Nokuku! You two are sure working hard!」


The ones walking at the head of the group was a woman wearing a large luggage on her back with ease. The luggage was so large that a horse would probably give up on carrying it. It was Hanna Tetzirich. Behind her was the members of the 「Wives group」 mutual support group, which includes Meraize’s wife.


「We brought your lunch today too! You two must be hungry, so eat up!」


She said while placing her bundle onto the ground, and in them were three pots containing rice and other cooked food. The other women also took out vegetables and fruits from their bundle and placed it on the ground. Nokuku who was starving after performing hard labour cheered.


「Thank you, Ms Hanna. Please take care of my wife.」


Meraize stopped his work and stood up, then bowed towards Hanna─ Hanna’s wife group was a mutual support group formed around women who couldn’t work in the field because of ill health or a weak constitution. Aside from from preparing meals, they would also take on jobs to mend or make clothing, or take care of young children during the busy period. Meraize’s wife has some illness in her chest, so she joined the wife’s group when she first moved here.


「What are you saying!? Neighbours helping each other is only natural! Enough about that, eat up! If you keep standing on ceremony, I will hit you!」


Hanna said as she scooped a small hill of rice onto his plate. The Shinaak all look forward to the rice dish the wife group would prepare once every ten days, and Meraize was the same. He received the plate, scoop up the glittering rice with his spoon and shoved it into his mouth.


「It’s delicious… Eating a meal after finishing work is the best, isn’t that right, Nokuku?」


「Mom, seconds!」


The youth who finished his rice thrust out his empty plate. As his mother filled up a second plate, Hanna pick off a rice on the youth’s face and toss it into her mouth.


「Yes, that’s right. Eat more so you can grow up big and strong!」


The large hands of the cool lady patted Nokuku’s head, and Meraize felt a warmth spreading in his chest when he saw that and smiled. This is good… He thought. There were still some in the tribe who had lingering hate towards the citizens of the Empire, but Meraize didn’t wish for such emotions to spark off another war.


「If we can live peacefully without clashing with anyone… it will be great.」


He muttered. Getting both the mountains and the plains, and reverting back to their old way of life─ this earnest wish that the tribe was willing risk their lives for, had dissipated in the war. Countless brethrens lost their lives in that rebellion, so they didn’t want to lose any more things.


It would be great if this isn’t just my wish. Meraize hoped sincerely as he watched the smiles of his wife and son.






Sacks that were completely full got unloaded onto the ground with a heavy thud. The flame haired girl responsible for directing this job supervised the unloading and shouted at the farmers:


「We will leave the compost and humus here! Please use them according to the instructions!」


「Oh… right!」「Got it!」「O-Okay!」


The Shinaak responded as they continued farming. Their tones were still stiff, but had gotten much better compared to when they first got here. Leaving the history between them aside, those people were definitely a helpful existence to their lives here─ That was how they received the imperial soldiers.


「Just one more week, and this place will turn back into an outstanding field. The Shinaaks really did well.」


Matthew who was standing beside Yatori shared his thoughts. She also nodded with a smile.


「Their tribe farmed in the barren lands of the Grand Arfatra Mountains, so an field that is abandoned for a few years isn’t a problem to them. And the crops here are the corns they are familiar with, so it will definitely be even easier to them.」


「That’s right… I thought that things would be tough before the first harvest, but thanks to the ample funds, the Shinaaks weren’t too troubled by food and clothing. And of course, aside from the budget allocated by the military, we need to thank Viscount Hamatoll and his generous donations.」


Matthew snickered at his own words, while Yatori shrugged quietly.


「Helping with farmwork is a new experience for us too. When will the first harvest be?」


「Probably three more months, but for the field that had been worked on earlier might be ready by next month… Probably. It’s my first time growing corn, so I’m not sure either.」


「I’m looking forward to it. I heard the freshly harvested crops are tastier?」


「I think so, my Dad seems to be planning a harvest festival to match the harvest.」


The two chatted and smiled naturally. In terms of 「starting a life in a new place」, they were the same as the Shinaak; However, the new unit led by Colonel Mirtog provided the most comfortable environment they ever had.


By helping with farm work everyday and Hanna’s wife group, the friction between the imperial soldiers and the Shinaak had eased with each passing day. It was already clear that they had chosen the right man to be the Regimental commander.


「……Ms Yatori! Ma-chan! We are done here!」


「Everyone from the wife group come on over too! Let’s have lunch!」


With the empty wagon in tow, Torway and Haro went towards them from the west side of the field. After hearing that shout, Yatori and Matthew immediately turned back towards their subordinates, and said the words they were all waiting for:


「We are breaking for lunch after unloading all this! Today, we dine with rice!」


Even the farmers cheer when they heard the last part of what they said.






「First Lieutenant! Where are you, First Lieutenant Ikuta!」


The voice of Sergeant Major Suya calling for his superior officer echoed hollowly… She led the platoon to distribute the compost and humus to the farmers early in the morning, and returned to base before noon. She wanted to report that the mission has been completed, but she couldn’t find the Ikuta:


「Ahhh, really now! Please give up and show yourself! We will be doing the same mission in the afternoon, I won’t let you laze around today! Where are you, First Lieutenant Ikuta!」


「…Ikuta, there’s someone looking for you down there.」


「I didn’t hear anything~」


The youth gently covered the mouth of his partner on his chest.


The leaves blocked out the glaring sun, and a soothing breeze caressed the body lying on the hammock. The youth was enjoying a temporary paradize.


「Sorry Suya. But I have decided that I will sleep here until evening no matter what anyone says...」


As he muttered to himself, his eyelid began to close… Since the founding of the Regiment, Ikuta kept skipping his work as if he was trying to make up for working so hard in the northern territories. If he put his mind into running away, there were few who could catch him.


「─ Hmm, what a coincidence, I want to sleep here today too.」


One of those few exceptions climbed up to his sanctuary. Ikuta pushed his eyelids apart and glance to the side, and saw a girl from the Shinaak tribe standing on a thick branch stemming out from the tree.


「… So it’s Nana, you actually found me.」


「Because unlike you people who live on the plains, we are almost looking upwards. But…」


As she was saying that, Nanak shift her gaze away from Ikuta for the time being and looked at the scenery below. It was 20m high here, and she could she the soldiers walking around the base. She then sighed.


「… No one in their right mind wouldn’t sleep in a place like this.」


「Yes, I wouldn’t recommend this to beginners.」


「Yes─ but right now, my mind isn’t working right either.」


After saying that, Nanak pushed herself off the branch with her legs, and pounced onto Ikuta who was dangling in mid-air. That surprised the youth, and he hugged her tightly with both arms. The ropes holding the hammock up were swaying between the branches.


「T-That’s dangerous…! You could have died, Nana!」


「No, I’m confident that you can catch me.」


Nanak pushed Kusu towards her leg, then hugged Ikuta’s body tightly. The sensation of her skin felt magnetic and her nice smell made the youth who had abstain himself from women recently felt an urge to enjoy the moment.


「Hehe, this is just nice. Unless you want to push me down, you can’t resist. You are at my mercy now.」


「W-Wait, we can’t ignore the safety issue. I don’t have experience of doing it at such a height either.」


「Me too. So, you know… it will be dangerous if we don’t stick close together, you know?」


Nanak’s arms clung onto Ikuta’s neck and waist, bringing them even closer. The sensation of her slender fingers brushing against his skin made Ikuta moan troublingly.


「Isn’t this nostalgic, Ikuta? This reminds me of that night during the Sprite Thanksgiving Festival.」


「If you want to listen to an old tales, I have much more to share compared to back then.」


「That sounds great, but let’s leave it for next time. Even I know what night raid means now.」


Nanak unbuttoned Ikuta’s shirt and licked his exposed chest. She looked up at his face as she licked him.


「Do you want to suffer in silence, or react honestly─ That’s your only two options.」


What luxurious choices─ As Ikuta thought leisurely, Nanak hands delved further down. Before her hands reached the place that wasn’t a joke, the two entangled people heard a shrill sound and shaking.


「…? What was that just now─」


While Nanak was confused, a second shaking came over with a 「thud」. Ikuta realized what was happening and he grabbed Nanak’s shoulders with his face green.


「… Oh no, get off me quick, Nanak. That’s the sound of axes felling trees!」






「Chop again!」


A soldier were troubled, but still chop the tree with his axe. With Sergeant Major Suya by her side, a blonde girl with a stern expression was watching this scene─ it was Princess Chamille. The two of them looked ahead as the trunk was hit a third time.


「Chop again! You are not doing it hard enough! Do it with the mindset of really felling that tree!」


「Ahh… Okay…」


「No, wait! Belay that order!」


When the Princess was about to order that soldier to continue swinging his axe, a terrible scream came from the top of the tree. She instructed the soldier to stop, then looked up. Shortly after, a familiar youth climbed down.


「Oh, so you were up there? Then tell me earlier, that was dangerous just now.」


「You knew I was there when you did this… Why else would you cut down a tree right in the center of the base?」


「Because Sergeant Major Mittokarifu filed a request to eradicate spots where people might slack off.」


「That’s how it is! Alright, let’s carry out our mission for the afternoon, First Lieutenant Ikuta!」


Ikuta’s deputy pulled his hand and drag him forward. With his moment of bliss disrupted, Ikuta  followed with a disdainful face. But when he was about to be taken away, another figure appeared from the tree.


「Hey, the lot of you… why are you disturbing our rendezvous?」


「…Nanak Dar? Why are you…」


The Princess was stunned, but after deducing how things turned out this way, she glared at the youth with a serious face again.


「…Solork! What are Nanak Dar and you doing on that tree!」


「Well, we are old friends, and have many things to chat about…」「It’s too early for you to know.」


Ikuta attempted to cover it up, but Nanak who was one of the subjects made a statement that threw all his efforts down the drain. The Princess’ face turned red from embarrassment and rage, while the unhappy Suya took a step past her.


「Wait, Nanak… Please keep your hands off our superior officer.」


「Suya, I can’t accept even if this is your request. I will do it again and again. If not now, then at night. If that fail, then tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow..」


「You can’t do that! We have to maintain our military discipline!」


「T-That’s right! You know the saying when in Rome, do what the Roman do? You can think about frolicking all you want, but don’t bother other people!」


Princess Chamille who had reinforcement backing her up shouted loudly. However, Nanak laughed at their argument.


「Stop yapping already. Basically, if you don’t want me to snatch this man away, you can make a move yourself.」


「What…!」「Who… who said anything about that!?」


Nanak headstrong attitude sparked off an argument between the three. The soldiers around them them gathered out of curiosity when they heard the commotion, but the subjects themselves weren’t concerned at all.


「… Enough! This is retarded! Basically, this is all because of your frivolous attitude, Solork…」


The Princess couldn’t stand this unending squabble, and decided to switch targets. But her voice broke off mid-sentence. That’s because she didn’t see anyone when she turned towards the one responsible for this problem. A second later, Suya and Nanak also realized that.


「He… He fled!」 「When did he disappeared…!」 「Ikuta, where did you go─!?」


With the clear air of early autumn helping them, the voices of the three of them were carried to an impressively far distance.






「─ That concludes the results of the Shinaak refugees migrating to the Yunakura province. We can only know the actual yield after the corns are harvested, but the evaluation for now is that things are going very well.」


Inside the palace erected in the Imperial capital Banhataal. In a corner of the palace, there was a green sanctuary covered in walls made from crushed jade─ the Deep Green Hall. The voice of a high ranking general with eye colour that matched the walls echoed clearly through the entire room.


「Under the watchful eyes of the regiment commanded by Colonel Mirtog, the Shinaak tribe will continue to work as farmers. With the long term goal of the Shinaak tribe and the imperial citizens to live together harmoniously, I hope we can continue to support them.」


「……」


General Remeon and Marshal Igsem were both down on one knee as they reported the progress of the migration project. Before them was the Emperor seated on the throne.


However, it wasn’t clear if the Emperor was listening to the contents of the report. His eyes were staring into space, and his fingers that looked like dried tree branches were scratching the armrest of the throne meaninglessly.


「Your Majesty…」


The general who couldn’t stand the lack of reaction wanted to raise his head, but a shrill voice interjected:


「What splendid news! And of course, I have always been confident about this project!」


Chancellor Trisnai Izanma who was standing beside the throne did not seek permission from the Emperor, and interjected nonchalantly. General Remeon gritted his teeth, then looked at the Chancellor’s face with a fierce expression.


「Chancellor, I’m reporting to His Majesty right now, it is not your place to comment.」


「Right, right! I actually want to stay quietly in the sidelines, but His Majesty seems to be a little unwell today. In that case, I have the responsibility of relaying the Emperor’s opinion on his behalf.」


After usurping the Emperor’s part in this meeting in a more forceful manner than usual, the Chancellor who was claiming to his spokesman said in a completely different tone:


「─ After going through the war in the northern territories, Kioka that had allied with the Alderamin nation is becoming a serious threat! Can we overcome this situation by defending like a turtle and focusing on domestic affairs!? The answer is no! Reality isn’t so simple! We can’t be so laxed towards the east! While we are doing this, the enemy is definitely planning their next invasion into our realm!」


General Remeon’s expression gradually grew tense, because he was familiar with the topic and methods that was being employed. Whenever Trisnai summoned the two leaders of the Imperial military in the name of the Emperor and started discussing war— he would always issued instruction leading to a bleak future for soldiers.


「And we can’t let them have the initiative! If there are obstacles ahead of us, then we have to keep proposing counter strategies in order to achieve victory! What is the greatest threat we will be facing in the near future? Please think about that carefully!」


A vein appeared on the general’s temple— That’s right, he knew very well. However, the ones who refused to listen to the opinions of the military were the stubborn Priests of the Aldaramin, and the villainous minister before him.


「That’s right, it’s Blast cannons! We can’t allow Kioka to continue making that terrible weapon! That’s why the Emperor issued an edict— Marshal Igsem and General Remeon! Employ the appropriate strategy and cut off the source behind the manufacture of the Blast cannons!」


After listening to this voice that agitate his mental state, General Remeon thought about what was said, and asked in a deep voice.


「… Speaking of the conditions of manufacturing Blast cannons, the top priority would be high quality iron. If we cut off their iron supply, that would mean destroying and seizing all the ore mines controlled by Kioka…」


「That’s right!」


「Realistically speaking, unless we are going into total war, we can’t strike the ore mines deep within Kioka’s territory. Then the targets that are tactically possible… There is only one answer.」


General Remeon was worried that his rage would overwhelm his words, and continued:


「To seize back the Hioredo ore mine hill of the former eastern territories— Can I confirm that is the order we have received?」


「That, is, correct!」


Trisnai nodded and bared his teeth in an absolutely brilliant smile. General Remeon felt a chill run down his spine— This was the strange personality that made Trisnai Izanma an unfathomable monster instead of just a villainous minister.


Trisnai was enjoying himself. Enjoying the anguish, pain, and conflicting emotions felt by the soldiers when they received an unreasonable order─ He took greater joy in this then the finest wine and entertainment, even more than he valued his own safety and well-being.


「… But why… now…!」


However, no matter what kind of monster he was, General Remeon wouldn’t fear him. He knew how insolent it was to disobey an edict, but he still yelled at the top of his voice.


「If you are after the Hioredo mine ore hills, why didn’t you give the orders two years ago!? When the eastern territories were still a part of the Empire, when Hazaaf Rikan was still defending our land with his life!? Why didn’t we send reinforcements to aid him!? Then we won’t need to take it back now! We just need to give that renowned general the order to 『defend the ore mine hills』, the problem will be solved! If we did that, we wouldn’t have lost our land and other…!」


The Emperor’s shoulders shook violently, probably because it has been a long time since someone spoke so agitatedly towards him. His lifeless eyes were filled with fear as he looked at his vassal’s face.


「Ara! You can’t do that, General Remeon! Like I said, I’m acting in the Emperor’s stead—」


「Shut your mouth! You sly fox! Step away from the throne! That’s not a place someone like you may touch!」


His roar was filled with sophistry and his selfless act intimidated that fox.


「Your Majesty! I’m reporting to you! Please hear our words! Please look at us not through others, but with your own eyes! For the longest time, the people in this country had not heard your true voice, please let me hear your words…!」


General Remeon pleaded bitterly with tears in his jade coloured eyes. He was risking his life in the hope that his master who has become a puppet will regain his senses. Because he believe— that his voice can still reach the Emperor.


「… Ah… Ah…」


「… Your Majesty…!」


The Emperor lifted his hands and grabbed his head. His hair that had turned yellowish brown was pulled out. While he was doing this crazed action quietly, what he said was…


「… Ahhh… Make… Make that… Shut up… Trisnai…!」


The toddler voice called the Chancellor’s name. General Remeon crumpled onto his knees, and Trisnai had a smug smile as he swaggered to the Emperor’s side.


「Ahh, Your Majesty… How scary… Please don’t worry, I will ask the servants to send you back to your chambers.」


The Chancellor soothed the panicking Emperor, then looked at the two high ranked generals with a stern expression.


「You can’t do that, General Remeon. If you continue your actions that upsets the Emperor, I will have no choice but to find you guilty of not just Lèse-majesté, but treason.」


「… Compared to me upsetting the Majesty, you made the Emperor lose his heart… Who committed the greater sin…?」


The General who was propping himself with one arm trembled with disappointment and rage. Before his emotions erupted again, the other high ranked general who had remained silent all this while spoke.


「I hereby acknowledge the edict to retake the Hioredo mine hills.」


General Remeon stared at the profile of the flame-haired Marshal with despair. On the other hand, Trisnai’s expression relaxed completely.


「Marshal Igsem, I knew you would say that! Oh, that’s right, I want to make my only request. The unrest in the northern territories just happened recently, and there are anti-war sentiments within the Empire. To clear such thoughts away, I want to wrap this campaign with a some gold foil. A specific example will be— that heroic group of youths in the last war and the Princess. They would be a suitable procession to rally the people, right?」


Chancellor didn’t speak further after that, as if he was done. Marshal Igsem bowed and got up, and said to the general kneeling beside him.


「Stand up, General Remeon. A soldier must carry out all his given orders.」


「……Sol…」


After gritting his teeth one last time, General Remeon who has finally recovered from his depression got on his feet.


He followed the Marshal out of the Deep Green Hall, and stole a glance behind him. He could see two attendants helping the Emperor walk with unstable steps. Trisnai looked on with a casual expression, and the green eyed general cursed that he was in no position to strangle that man.


「… That’s right, there is no other choice other than accepting the order… Sol, for a proper soldier at all time like you, you can’t…」


His quiet muttering while he was leaving wasn’t heard by anyone other than himself.






Two weeks after this incident, the campaign to retake the Hioredo ore mine hill as per imperial edict was officially decided in a war meeting. The members selected as part of this campaign received their mustering orders. After the eastern territories fell, the first campaign against this place was a major amphibious operations involving both the army and navy. The 30,000 mobilized forces include many soldiers who were under the command of the late Lieutenant General Hazaaf Rikan in the old Eastern Stronghold.


A little more than five months after the conclusion of the war in the northern territories, the brief moment of peace ended after this short respite. The soldiers who survived the war after much hardship were thrown back into the fray while the memory of their last battle were still fresh.


And in the fields of the Yunakura province, the corn grown by the Shinaak tribes were ready for its first harvest.

Chapter 3: The Katjvarna Pirate Navy


A group of children chased a ball around in the dust filled air.


They had lost track of the blazing sun and the intense heat, and were only focused on the ball by their feet. It was a simple contest where two groups were trying to kick the ball into the opposing team’s goal— But it was enough for the kids to get engrossed in it gleefully.


「Be careful, your hat had fallen off! Put it on properly!」


Under the roof of the building that was facing the plaza, an elderly woman sitting in a rocking chair reminded the children with a worried tone. If she left them alone, they would play until they got a heat stroke. To avoid the negative effect of their endless energy, she was performing her duty as a guardian properly.


「「「「「「Yes, Matron!」」」」」」


The children replied properly and the match was suspended while they ran around the field to pick up their hats. Many of them had been trampled on, but they just dust them off and wore them without any hesitation. The children weren’t thinking about anything other then restarting the match as quickly as possible.


「… Huh~? Where is my hat?」


Most of his friends started preparing for the match to restart, but a boy was wandering around because he can’t find his hat. Maybe it was blown away by the wind? He couldn’t find any signs of it after searching for a while.


「Ugh~ where did it go…」 「Looking for this?」


At this moment, a hat with a brim flew from nowhere and landed on the head of the boy. The boy looked around in surprise, and saw an unfamiliar man wearing military uniform standing at the entrance of the plaza. As he was wearing his military cap low, the boy couldn’t see the face of that man clearly.


「Who might you be?」


The startled old lady got up from the rocking chair and asked who the man was. The man took off his hat and bowed in front of the wary children. He revealed his raven hair, dark eyes and unexpectedly young face.


「Long time no see, Matron.」


The man spoke with a warm tone, and the old lady looked pleasantly surprised when she saw his face.


「…Ikuta … It’s Ikuta! Ah, heavens…!」


Her legs weren’t working well, but the old lady still approached the man with a brisk jog. She almost fell on the way there, but Ikuta was prepared and caught her shoulders in time.


「Ahh… That’s dangerous… your legs aren’t well, please don’t push yourself.」


The old lady in Ikuta’s arms pulled herself up, and noticed he was missing a finger in his left hand. She opened her eyes wide in surprise.


「Your little finger…! What happened? A wound from the war…?」


「Hmm? Oh… It’s a long story.」


Ikuta pulled his left hand away from the old lady, and seemed to be reflecting on his mistake of letting her notice. Noting that he didn’t really want to talk about it, the old lady didn’t pursue the matter and shifted her gaze elsewhere.


「Sorry for being so insensitive… Ara, Kusu is following you properly too. It’s been a while.」


「Long time no see, Floshira. You have gotten thinner.」


Kusu who was in the pouch replied warmly too. The old lady named Floshira smiled gently.


「Welcome home, both of you— today is a peaceful day in the Solork orphanage too.」






The old lady walked alongside the youth In the forest behind the orphanage. The sound of the playing children grew distant, and only the occasional chirping of the birds could be heard in the lush woods.


「After you graduated, I never imagined that I will see you come back in a military uniform, Ikuta.」


Floshira said with her eyes narrowed. Ikuta also tugged at his sleeve unhappily.


「Me too, Matron. Please stop talking about it, it’s depressing.」


「Fufu, that’s true. Honesty, it don’t suit you at all.」


Floshira said after sweeping her gaze all over Ikuta, and the youth had a face of relief.


「But I heard you performed admirably. You are the first graduate from here to get the title of Imperial Knight… And you went through a tough battle in the north, correct?」


「That was a terrible war. No matter how much compliments I receive for it, it just feels like they are praising my janitorial abilities.」


「Don’t put it that way, you did save many lives.」


「Maybe. But I killed many people in the process too… both enemies and allies.」


Ikuta said with disdain. They chatted as they walked, and reached a place filled with tombstones shortly after. In the depths of the woods was a small and serene cemetery.


「… Hmm? There’s a new large tomb here, this is…?」


「You remember the former housefather? He had trouble with his lungs for the longest time, and passed away three months ago. We laid him to rest here in accordance with his request.」


「The former housefather… Oh, old man Numaiso?」


Floshira was amused by how quickly the youth’s face turned displeased, and chuckled.


「You don’t get along with him at all, because he was a devoted Alderah believer…」


「Devoted huh… Never mind, let’s assume that’s true. There is no point in grumbling to the grave of the dead.」


Ikuta said with a sigh, and walked pass the tombstone that was incredibly prominent. Floshira bowed towards the tomb of the former housefather and followed him. They soon stopped at the eastern corner of the cemetery.


It was a small but proper tomb. It was in the form of a round pillar like the others, but the size was very modest, and a line from a religious scripture that was normally carved onto the tomb was missing. If the tomb they saw earlier was erected to commemorate the accomplishment of the former housefather, then this tomb gave the impression of silence and discretion.


There were only these few words on the white tomb— Here lies Yuka Sankrei.


「Long time no see, Mom.」


Ikuta knelt with a warm smile as he faced the tomb… facing the small tomb where his mother was resting in peace.


「Sorry for being away for so wrong, things are a mess. This might be strange as an apology… But I brought a present.」


Ikuta spoke with a gentle tone that was completely unlike his usual self, and took out something from his bag with one hand. It was palm sized bundle of rice wrapped in thick leaves. Ikuta then poured tea into a small bowl, and placed it before the tomb alongside the rice as an offering. Floshira observed from the side curiously.


「… What is that?」


「It’s called rice ball, I heard it’s a traditional food from Yaponik. I got some good quality Kuna rice from a friend, so I used the chance to make one using the method my mother told me.」


Ikuta didn’t speak anymore after that, and just watched his mother’s grave in silence. Floshira stayed with him. After a while, she said suddenly:


「You still won’t offer any prayers.」


「……」


「No, it’s fine. You always took pride in being a believer of science. But that was the reason why the former housefather ostracized you…」


「… I’m often misunderstood, but even as a believer in science, I’m not an atheist. Since science can’t prove that god doesn’t exist yet, this is only natural. Unless god declare to me one day:『I really don’t exist』, that will be a different story.」


「Didn’t you already heard that? When your mother passed away…」


Ikuta bit his lips. He didn’t answer Floshira’s question, and continued:


「… I hate how people stop thinking and think that religion is absolute. But that isn’t refuting religion itself, I even think that religion can save people that science couldn’t. Because this opranage is mostly dependent on the donations from the Church of Alderah.」


「Yes, I understand. You have always been a sensible child… But I can’t help feeling sad. Because when you mourn an important loved one who will never come back, the theory of science won’t soothe your heart that refuse to pray…」


The old lady placed her hand gently on the youth’s shoulder. As if he wanted to reject being consoled, or maybe he was afraid… Ikuta stood up forcefully.


「… Sorry, Matron. Actually, I can’t stay for long.」


「Yes, I understand— you will be joining the next campaign?」


Ikuta couldn’t have worn this uniform that didn’t fit him willingly to visit his mother’s grave. Floshira could sense that he had no choice but to come here like this… At the same time, the old lady also knew that Ikuta didn’t made this detour home just to pay his respects to his mother.


「Yes. So before that… I’m here to retrieve that item I left with you.」


Ikuta turned around and said stiffly. Floshira nodded heavily, then reached inside her robes.


「When I heard that you became a soldier, I had a premonition. That the day when I return this to you will come… Ever since then, I have always kept this with me.」


She took out the item, which was a silver craftwork that could barely be held in one hand. Based on the arrow head design on the edges and the hook that stretches out from the inside, it seemed to be an emblem related to the military. Ikuta bowed towards Floshira with gratitude, then took the silver craftwork with a face of disgust.


「… I hope the day that I will need to use this thing will never come. I still think that way.」


「Yes, I understand, I still remember that day when you threw this away— But Ikuta. Is there someone that you have to protect even if you have to abandon your insistence from back then?」


After quite a long time, the youth nodded slightly. Floshira smiled faintly.


「Learning this makes me the happiest today. More than all the great military accomplishments I heard that you achieved.」


「……」


「Please be careful, Ikuta. I won’t wish you good hunting, but I will pray… that you and the person important to you will stay safe.」


She held Ikuta’s right palm with her wrinkled hands. Floshira’s prayer before the small tomb sounded incredibly warm and gentle, and entered Ikuta’s ears… Even if these prayers couldn’t be conveyed to the heavens, he was still grateful for her thoughts and kindness.






At the same time, in another place. Princess Chamille and the four members of the Knight Corps except for Ikuta mustered as per their orders, and headed to the harbour located in the southern territories of the Empire. Compared to the harbour they visited in order to participate in the Officer Cadet Military Academy screening exam, this was a larger military harbour that was closer to the east.


「Woaahhh, what an impressive sight… This is the first time I have seen so many military vessels gathered together.」


Matthew said in awe when he reached the docks. There were more than twenty mid to large sized naval sail ships in his field of vision, and twice that number of transport crafts floating on the blue sea. Under the cloudy sky were countless masts pointing skywards. Even though the sails were withdrawn as the ships were docked, it was still an awe inspiring sight.


「It seems that 70% of the Katjvarna First Naval Fleet has already gathered here. We will link up with the other 30% of the fleet in some other ports. Are the sailing preparations already complete?」


「We might be making them wait, let’s quicken our pace.」


After hearing what Princess Chamille said, the other four nodded and increased their speed. They passed by some seamen who were repairing ships and headed for the sea. They heard a sudden ominous rumble from above— and the next instant, they were assaulted by a sudden rainfall.


「Oh no… It’s really pouring…! I can see the flagship that is designated as the mustering point, let’s run so we don’t get drenched!」


Everyone ran as instructed by Yatori’s yell. They ran in the waterfall-like rain for a few minutes, and reached a docked ship that was obviously one size bigger than the other vessels. Two seamen blocked the gangway between the ship and the dock:


「Halt! The five of you over there! State your name and unit!」


「I’m First Lieutenant Yatori Shino Igsem of the 32nd Army Regiment, the other four are with me. Aside from First Lieutenant Ikuta Solork who will report at the next harbour, we are reporting here as ordered.」


Yatori gave her name as she took out her written orders enclosed in a leather pouch from her backpack. The seamen spent quite a bit of effort to read the contents, with one of them using his shirt as an umbrella, while the other checked it. They quickly realized that a royal was in the group and their face turned green.


「… A-Apologies for our insolence, Third Princess! We are honoured by your support and presence!」


The seamen saluted tensely and cautiously, then pointed to the gangway stiffly.


「Please head to the deck and let the sailors aboard guide you, the Admiral is await your presence in the war room.」






The five of them followed the instructions of the seaman waiting aboard the ship, and finally got out of the rain after going inside the ship from the deck. However, they were still drenched saved their undergarments.


「Ughh… We are completely wet. Let’s dry ourselves off before meeting the Admiral…」


Haro muttered as she brush her damp hair, but the seaman leading them continued walking briskly, not giving them time to take out towels from their luggage. It was the same for the other four, and they could only give up on drying themselves.


They tried their best to avoid dripping water onto the ship, and observed the inside of the ship.


「… I didn’t have time to see the exterior clearly, but this is a surprisingly big ship. There seemed to be a few more decks below, which was probably the lodging area? There are probably hundreds of sailors on board.」


「This is the flagship of the First Naval Fleet 『Yellow Dragon』, the maximum passenger capacity should be 1,040.」


Matthew answered Yatori’s query, and Torway opened his eyes and stared at him.


「You know that very well, Ma-chan. So you are familiar with ships?」


「This… This is just common sense, you are the ones who didn’t study enough.」


「Ughh, that’s harsh. After all, the command system in the Army and Navy is very different, so it’s easy to think of them as two separate organizations… But there are times when we will conduct operations together like this, so there is no excuse for neglecting to learn about them. We should follow Matthew’s example.」


Yatori crossed her arms and gave her comment. It was rare for the pudgy youth to be praised, but his expression was complicated as he averted his gaze. Princess Chamille who was confounded by his attitude was about to speak when the seaman leading them stopped before the room at the very end of the corridor.


「This is the war room, please enter.」


The five of them was conscious about their drenched uniforms, but they still went in─ the scene waiting for them in the room made everyone aside from Yatori react awkwardly.


「Welcome! Welcome to my ship, young heroes! I’m very glad to meet you all!」


A clear and charming voice greeted the five of them. The owner of the voice was at the deepest end of the room to welcome them along with two subordinates, and would leave a deep impression on anyone.


First, the high nose bridge and wavy hair that was reddish yellow, bright lipsticks and purple mascara… these were the features of a beautiful lady with thick makeup. However, the problem lies below─ which was a muscular body in a naval uniform, standing at a height that was definitely more than 6 feet.


「… Ara~? What’s the matter, you got caught in the rain? How~ terrible! You are completely drenched! Danmier, Pommy, dry them up quickly!」


On this person’s orders─ who’s gender remain ambiguous─ the male and female subordinates standing by walked towards Yatori’s group. They then took out handkerchiefs to wipe the faces and hair of the five of them who were a little embarrassed.




「Ah~ the handkerchiefs won’t work. Apologies, I will get some people to send towels over.」


The man named Danmier said as he brushed Haro’s hair. He was a youth with short hair and a gentle attitude, which leaves a good impression.


「Can you lift your head slightly higher? I need to wipe your neck too…」


「Ah… Yes…」


The woman named Pommy helped Matthew wiped away the droplets on his neck. She had an unsightly scar on her right cheek, but her smile was surprisingly gentle. Being so close to a girl he just met made the slightly plump youth blush.


「We are honoured by your kind hospitality, Admiral Erynphin Jurgus.」


Yatori saluted in response to this kind treatment. The other four twisted their faces when they heard that, thinking: 「As expected, it is him.」


「Please don’t mention it~! And please dispense with the formalities in the upcoming journey, you may ask me for anything. You are my important guests, so I will do my best to accommodate your needs!」


Yatori had reservations about the term 「guests」, but she didn’t sound it out, and just offer her thanks with her gaze. The commander-in-chief of the Katjvarna Navy and the captain of the flagship 「Yellow Dragon」, Admiral Jurgus showed a toothy and cheerful smile to the young soldiers.


「I admire young people! Youth is beauty, power and the courage to strive forth and not turn back! At times, it is accompanied by foolishness, but you are not the average people, but the heroes of the war in the northern territories! So you are more beautiful than anyone else, stronger than all others, and bravest of them all! And become a flawless being in the name of your title as Imperial Knights!」


They felt a little hesitant to acknowledge such compliments, but the five of them accepted it with a nod for now. Admiral Jurgus then turned towards Princess Chamille.


「─ Nice to meet you, Third Princess. I am deeply honoured by your visit to my humble vessel. It’s a cramped place that stinks of fish, so I hope you can bear with this less than appropriate lodgings.」


「No, this is a great and majestic ship. I will be in your care, Admiral.」


The Princess responded with a salute. After learning from many failures, she had finally settled down on the tone she would use with her superiors. Acting like a mere Lieutenant would make others feel troubled, so she would intentionally put on some airs of a royal to put them at ease. After greeting his guest of honour, Admiral Jurgus’ gaze fell on the other four.


「It seems we are short of one person?」


「Apologies for the late report, First Lieutenant Ikuta Solork is scheduled to join us at the next port.」


「Is that so? Very well then, let me introduce you to my subordinates.」


Admiral Jurgus didn’t pursue the matter of Ikuta being absent, and went into the next topic without missing a beat.


「That gentle type man who give the impression of being a hypocrite is Naval Commander Danmier Kanron. He is basically my deputy, and the Chief Navigator of the Yellow Dragon. Let me make this clear first, he is not my boy toy or servent. If there is any opening, we will kick each other into the sea.」


「I’m Danmier Kanron, pleased to meet all of you. Our boss might look like a transvestite weirdo at first glance, if you get to know him, you will understand that he is really just a transvestite weirdo. So just think of this as being unlucky to have encountered a storm, and give it up.」


「Watch it, Danmier, I will tear your skin off!」


Sacarcism and angry shouts rang out. So he really is a transvestite… Matthew got a headache listening to this conversation.


「Hmmo… and this girl is First Grade Lieutenant Polminue Jurgus. You can probably tell from her name that she is my niece. She isn’t serving aboard this ship, and is the First Lieutenant of another mid sized vessel. Her rank is similar to your group, and she is just a little older. Please get along with her.」


「I have already heard of your heroic exploits, please take care of me!」


First Grade Lieutenant Polminue shook hands with everyone in Matthew’s group after saying that. After learning she was 「Admiral Jurgus’ niece」, they took a closer look at her, and their reddish blonde hair seemed to indicate their familial ties. However, they didn’t resemble each other in all other aspects at all.


「I wanted to split you into two equal groups between this ship and Pommy’s ship. And of course, the Princess must stay on this ship, but you can divide the other members however you wish. It’s a bit rude, but you have to decide for your colleague who isn’t here too.」


After being given an unexpected choice, the five of them looked at each other. While the young ones were troubling over this, Admiral Jurgus added with a smile:


「Personally, I will be happier if the cute boys stay behind… Fufufu.」


「I want to board the mid size ship!」 「I… I want to go there too!」


Matthew and Torway who felt a chill down their spine raised their hands, and Admiral Jurgus had an obviously disappointed face.


「Ara, both of you are leaving? What a pity, I had my eyes on both of you…」


「I want to stay on the flagship with Her Highness. What about you, Haro?」


「Hmm~ I’m fine with either side…」


It was hard for Haro to decide─ But since Yatori was staying on the flagship, then their other leader Ikuta should join the other side. She said after making up her mind:


「… I will stay on the flagship then, but we will be splitting into a boys and girls group.」


「I-It’s fine to divide ourselves like this from time to time, right? By the way, Admiral Sir, what about our subordinates?」


「Well… I was planning to let your men split themselves between several vessels. Unfortunately, Pommy’s side don’t have much vacancy left, and can take in just 8 people.」


Admiral said half-heartedly. Matthew and Torway looked at each other blankly.


「… We can only bring over 8 people. What should we do, Torway?」


「How about selecting the four best snipers from each of our units? Luminous troops aren’t very effective in a naval battle, so I think Ik-kun will agree with us.」


Torway brought a company of two hundred Air Shooters with him, which included the platoon commanded by Matthew. Due to their ranks as First Lieutenant and Second Lieutenant, Torway was Matthew’s reporting officer.


「I’m fine with that… But it’s better to bring eight of your snipers there, right?」


「That really depends. For example, when boarding an enemy ship or defending against enemy boarders, I think your group will fare better since you are more proficient with close distance combat… Furthermore, we are on away ground. Ik-kun is an exception, but we will feel more at ease with men that will follow our orders with us.」


Without any subordinates, they would be commanders with an empty title. Since they would be staying on a military vessel they weren’t used to, it would be better to avoid such an awkward situation─ Matthew could tell what Torway was implying, and nodded.


「Looks like it is decided? Alright then, we will lead you to your quarters in a short moment. After you have dry yourselves off.」


After Admiral Jurgus said that, seamen holding a large stack of towels entered the room.






After parting ways with the girl’s group, Matthew and Torway left the flagship. They selected eight men from their unit that was standing by, and followed First Grade Lieutenant Polminue and walked through the harbour. The rain had completely stopped while they were talking to Admiral Jurgus, and glimpses of the beautiful sky could be seen through gaps in the clouds.


「Ahh… Ermm, is it fine to address you as Lieutenant Jurgus…? Or should I add in Mdm? By the way, how does the command structure works in this situation?」


「Ms Jurgus is a First Grade Lieutenant, so we are all junior officers. Since we will be commanding different units under a Ship Captain, it is hard to say who has the higher rank…」


After checking with each other, they couldn’t find the answer. At this moment, Lieutenant Jurgus turned back and smiled at them:


「Please, no need to call me Mdm. It will just be a short time, but we are still comrades sailing in the same ship.」


Seeing her cute smile that was like a flower in full bloom, Matthew’s mood improved. He let down his guard, and started talking a lot without realizing it.


「It’s great to hear you say that. I actually feel quite uneasy. I experienced a shipwreck when I was on the way to take the Officer Cadet Military Academy screening exam, and aside from that, I heard all kinds of scary rumours about the Katjvarna Navy. Like being 『a military organization that isn’t really one』, 『A violent group extrajudicial powers』 and others… But rumours are just rumours after all, seeing is believing.」


While Matthew was still talking by himself with his arms crosses, they had reached their destination. They stood behind Lieutenant Jurgus who had stopped, and looked up at the ship before them.


The ship floating steadily on the ocean was much smaller than the 「Yellow Dragon」 they boarded earlier, but it was still a grand three mast Cruiser. The sails were rolled up as the ship was docked, but it was clear from the direction of the booms that one was a Square rig, and two were Fore-and-aft rigs.


「Please board the ship, the crew has been waiting for you.」


Lieutenant Jurgus walked up the gangway briskly with Matthew and Torway behind her. However, when they stepped onto the deck in a light mood and their guard down─


「「「「「「「「Welcome back, Boss Jurgus!」」」」」」」」


Greeted by the coarse voices of a group of men almost made them fall backwards. The subordinates behind them did so too.


A large group of sailors with their shirt unbuttoned stood in formation on the deck, with their tanned skin, thick arms and buffed chest uncovered. Some of them even had tattoos. Their dressing and crude tone could only be described as 「delinquent-like」.


「Ahh~ I’m back, thanks for the reception.」


Matthew and Torway couldn’t tell who was saying that momentarily. But after thinking about it calmly, there was only one answer. The girl who was smiling like a flower earlier immediately took off her shirt and toss it aside after being welcomed by the seamen, showing her skin that was as tanned as the sailors.


「As you can see, these are landlubbers who don’t really know the sea. Take good 『care』 of them before they get used to things around here, got it?」


「「「「「「「「Yes, Boss Jurgus!」」」」」」」」


Their tones were crude, but their words were uniforms. Matthew had an ominous feeling and asked timidly:


「E-Erm… Lieutenant Jurgus…? No, Mdm Lieutenant?… Uwah!」


With a ‘shwing’, a sharp blade appeared before Matthew who was asking a question. Lieutenant Jurgus who had a thick saber in her hand turned and pointed its tip at Matthew.


「I told you not to call me 『Mdm』, right? Were you even listening, Fatty!?」


The nasty voice hit Matthew hard, and he felt like crying, wondering where the gentle girl that was before him earlier had gone. She then continued her relentless assault.


「If you want to, you can call me Boss Jurgus! Remember that too, lanky guy from the Remeon house!」


「Huh… Yes!」


Torway showed his weakness against opponents with unreasonable and strong attitudes. Lieutenant Jurgus smiled arrogantly at the two of them who had been overwhelmed by her mentally, then stood with swagger and her arms crossed before them with her buffed subordinates behind her.


「Let me make this clear first, you are the ones who picked the wrong option between heaven or hell. Unlike my uncle’s ship, who don’t demand the crew to be gentle and well mannered… Never mind, this isn’t a surprise at all, the rumours that fatty heard about is true.」


She rest her sabre on her shoulder and laughed smuggly. Matthew and Torway immediately understood that instead of a woman from the navy, her demeanor was closer to that of a pirate. The scar on her face that they couldn’t bear to see when they first met was just a part of her true image.


「Anyway, welcome to the 13th Cruiser of the Katjvarna Pirate Navy, the 『Tyrannosaur』. I’m happy to receive you, heroes of the dry land─ alright, enough with your stiff faces, even if you want to run, you have already boarded a pirate ship.」


Seeing that everyone has boarded, the seamen immediately retrieve the gangway behind Matthew and Torway. The moment they realized that their connection to dry land has been cut off, the group felt they were being locked into a cage.


「S-Sir…」


Even when they heard their subordinates called out to them in a feeble voice, the two were at a lost for words.






At the same time, in a different place. On board of the flagship of the First Fleet, the 「Yellow Dragon」, Yatori and Princess Chamille who had completed all their paperwork toured the inside of the ship.


「Ah─ T-The Third Princess! My apologies, but I need to walk past you!」


「This is a dirty place, but please relax and have a good rest.」


The seamen who were bustling around with chores all stop and salute when they saw the duo. They felt sorry for troubling the busy seamen, but the two of them insisted on grasping the structure of the ship as quickly as possible.


「… We can’t tell Admiral Jurgus, that we have been worried about the ship sinking from the moment we boarded the ship.」


「But we still need to be prepared for any emergencies. After all, we have already experienced a military vessel sinking.」


The two of them reminiscenced a ferry they took on their way to the Officer Cadet Military Academy screening exam sinking in a storm. They stuck as close to the walls of the passageway as possible as they moved around. The four decked ship was as big as a small hotel, and the group were assigned to cabins in the second deck. Just exploring this deck took quite a bit of time.


「We can visit the third deck and below another time. That is the quarters of the soldiers, so we won’t have much chance to visit. Besides, the duties of tending to our subordinates had been delegated to Haro.」


「That’s true. Alright then, let’s move to the deck above without troubling others too much.」


The two of them nodded at each other, and went up the stairs. The moment they reached the upper deck, a seabreeze that taste of salt blew their long hair. The waterfall-like rain had completely stopped, and the clouds drifted to the west to reveal the brilliant sun.


「We will be setting sail soon! Open the sails on the rear mast!」


Many seamen were working under the relentless sun. Some climbed to dizzying heights on rope ladders to open the sails; others were moving their hands quickly to untie the mooring lines from the pier. As expected of a crew from the flagship, it was clear to even amateurs that their movements were sharp and swift.


Looking at this 「Yellow Dragon」 in clear weather made it look more majestic in the harbour. Just being over a hundred meters long was already awe inspiring, and the ship’s body wasn’t narrow, but solidly built with great carlings to support the well balanced structure. It had three masts just like the other ships, but more sails than the others. Just the main mast alone has 6 sails.


「Isn’t this an impressive ship? Our side is claiming that this is the largest ship in the world.」


To avoid disturbing the operation on the ship, Yatori and the Princess stood at the aft deck which overlooks the entire vessel. At this moment, a young man suddenly approached them. It was Admiral Jurgus’ deputy who they had met in the war room, Commander Danmier Kanron.


「Yes, I think this ship is majestic too, and don’t think there are bigger ships in another country.」


「Indeed… But for ships, bigger doesn’t always mean better. A large ship will naturally be slower, so this ship is mainly used to ferry a large number of personnel and resources. Isn’t this wrong for a military vessel…? What do you think?」


Even though simple pleasantries would be fine, Commander Kanron tossed out a tough question. The Princess was troubled, while Yatori smiled awkwardly─ they already noticed during his interaction with Admiral Jurgus, this young man was rather pessimistic and sarcastic, contrary to how he looks.


「… In a fleet, the flagship is the central command centre and a mobile command post. In that sense, the mission of the flagship is naturally not involved in direct battles. The battle will be over if the flagship falls, so the priority isn’t on offensive abilities, but defensive prowess. This ship have large numbers of melee combatants that befit its size, so it is not a stretch to call it an excellent flagship..」


Yatori shared her views fearlessly, and Commander Kanron slapped his forehead:


「That’s correct. As expected of Ms Igsem, you are as impeccable as the legends say.」


「No, not at all. I just realized how little I know about ships.」


Seeing Yatori lower her head humbly, Commander Kanron quickly reached out his hands to stop her:


「Wait, this is a surprise… No need to be so formal, please be more at ease. After all, Admiral Jurgus did tell me to show you our hospitality.」


「Is that so? Sorry for being so sudden, but there is something I would like to ask.」


「You are insisting on being so formal huh… Alright then, what would you like to know?」


「During our time on board this ship, is there anything we need to do?」


It was a very direct question. The young man smiled wryly and hesitated for a moment. A short moment later, he looked as if he had given up, and leaned on the railings of the deck:


「… Frankly speaking, nothing at all. Please rest as much as possible.」


「I heard that this trip will last more than twenty days, it will be very boring if there isn’t any work for the entire journey.」


「We don’t want to just let you idle either. But the matter of how to treat your group is a complicated matter for us too…」


The young man scratched his cheek and had a face that implied that he was not at liberty to speak freely. Princess Chamille who had been quiet all this while spoke:


「Because the parliament wanted to glorify this campaign, you had been forced to accept this ‘complimentary gift’... That’s probably how it is.」


「P-Please don’t say that! I swear that I’m very grateful for your support. Even though we are called the Katjvarna Pirate Navy, we are still a part of the military. Just the presence of the Princess on the flagship is enough to raise the morale of the crew by several folds.」


「I will feel at ease if that is true… But even so, the truth remains that you can’t entrust any duties to us, correct?」


When he heard the Princess’ question, Commander Kanron showed a straight face and fell into deep thought with his arms crossed.


「… Do you understand the gist of the campaign? In order to retake the Hioredo mine hills in the former eastern territories, the army will attack via land, while our unit will transport supplies by sea.」


The two of them nodded. Their supervising officer Major Senpa Sazarf and his battalion had also joined this army traveling by land. As the ore mine was landlocked, the core of the invasion forces were the army.


「If we continue along this sea route, we will enter the sea under the jurisdiction of Kioka, so there is a good chance of a sea battle happening there. Originally, I was hoping that you can assist us as marines when that happens, but...」


Sailors operating the ship when not in combat were called 「seamen」,while crew members serving purely as combatants on the ship were called 「marines」. The Knight Corps and the unit under them should rightfully be treated as so─


「… But you are all army soldiers, and the most effective way of deploying your unit will be to roster you under the army… Since you had been sent to the Navy which is a different department, we can interpret the intent of the higher-ups to be─ 『Safety first, don’t let the Third Princess and the heroes get hurt』.」


Yatori sighed. 「Reinforcement that are carefully hidden in the rear」 might sound amusing, but it was an ironic situation that occurs quite frequently.


「Undocking preparations are complete! Releasing mooring lines!」


A clear voice announcing the launching of the ship rang out across the deck. A floating sensation came and past in a flash, giving Yatori and the Princess the feeling that the ship had really left the dock.


「… We have set sail huh. Sorry for cutting our conversation short, but I have to go.」


Commander Kanron apologized to the two of them, then saluted with his back straight. The duo mimicked his actions, and Kanron turned around with a smile. He then jogged across the deck and disappeared down the stairs leading into the inside of the ship.


「… I already expected it, but they really don’t see us as comrades on equal grounds. But he didn’t overly mince his words or fawn over us during his explanation. This is good luck for us.」


「The truth is, we really are amateurs. Leaving everything to the experts is an acceptable option too… But, you don’t plan to do that, right?」


「Yes… During our time in the northern territories, we have all experienced the feeling of 『being trapped in a situation that is gradually deteriorating but lacking the authority to improve things』, and how frustrating and vexing that is. I have great confidence in our Navy, and I won’t compare Admiral Jurgus to Lieutenant General Tamshiikushik Safida─ However, no one can tell what will happen on the battlefield.」


Even if it was just one percent, Yatori would not hesitate to cross the line of a well behaved guest to increase their survivability. Her crimson eyes looked up at the mast erected before her with unwavering determination.


The Princess felt Yatori was very dependable like this, but there was gloom in her face.


「… But … an implied message huh…」


「...? Are you referring to what Commander Kanron said just now?」


「Yes. 『Safety first, don’t let the Third Princess and the heroes get hurt』 ─ that seems to be how he interpret the intentions of the higher-ups for sending us into the Navy. This was only natural for anyone who think of themselves as warriors of the sea. However… From the way I see it, that might not be the truth.」


「… You are saying that this arrangement wasn’t made to ensure our safety?」


「There are some matters that felt troubling. Compared to the land route where battles might break out, the sea route might seem safer… But that is only true for the units on the very frontline. The land route will be very safe if we are assigned to the supply unit in the rear. From the perspective of which route is easier to escape from danger, the land route would make more sense.」


「If there really is an ulterior motive aside from safety concerns… Your Highness, that means…」


「At this point in time, I still can’t tell. Maybe they just want to improve Navy’s morale… But the『higher-ups』 mentioned earlier isn’t referring to just the military upper management. The idea of sending us in as reinforcements to act as gold foiling for the campaign─ probably came from the cabinet worried about the rising anti-war sentiments within the country.」


That’s a demonic realm… The Princess muttered with disgust. The schemes of the corrupted nobles lurking within the palace─ the Princess might be smart, but she through their motives was still beyond her capabilities.


Seeing the Princess’ thoughts falling into a deadend, Yatori said:


「No matter what, our priority is to strengthen our foundations. We might be amateurs in sailing, but we have experience in fighting Kioka units in the previous war, which definitely includes intel that the Navy don’t know about. I want to use this to ensure we have a say in things.」


Yatori said as she shifted her gaze from the deck to the sea. Looking out from the starboard side of the 「Yellow Dragon」, she could see that the entire fleet had started moving. Amongst the mid sized ships that had left port earlier than the flagsheet was the 「Tyrannosaur」 where Matthew and Torway were on.


「… Maybe Admiral Jurgus’ niece can be an opening to breakthrough this situation, but asking Matthew and Torway to do so would be too harsh of a demand though.」






「Hey! Stop dragging your feet, fatty! Get a move on! You slow moron! Useless bum!」


Lieutenant Jurgus’ angry roar came from far below. Matthew grabbed on to the boom of the mast for dear life, and couldn’t even spare the effort to feel angry.


「D-Don’t ask for the impossible! We have no experience working on a ship, we can’t go any faster!」


Matthew cried in agony, and laughter rang out below. He had climbed up the foremast on a rope ladder, and was now about twelve meters above sea level. He was standing on the boom that was protruding horizontally out, with no stable foothold, and only with a thin and flimsy rope for him to walk on. Of course Matthew would feel afraid.


「Beanpole, you are just as slow! If you want to worry about your comrade, you need to take care of yourself first!」


Torway who was also ordered to scale the main mast had an easier time than Matthew as his limbs were longer. However, he still broke out in cold sweat as he walked along the rope. The height itself was already scary enough,and there was also cross wind that would blow without any warning.


As for why did the two of them embark on such a dangerous endeavour, there wasn’t any deep meaning behind it. They were just asked to retrieve the ropes tied to the furthest ends of the boom, so the crew could laugh at how miserable they were. In short, it was abuse done in the name of work on a ship.


「─ Ara ara, your movements sure are slow! Even a snail is faster than the both of you! Don’t you feel any shame!?」


After spending almost 30 minutes to retrieve the ropes, the two of them returned to the deck after experiencing much hardship, and was lectured by Lieutenant Jurgus. Matthew’s patience finally reached its limit. He forcefully regulated his hurried breathing, and stood up forcefully on the deck.


「S-Show some restraint! Why do reinforcements like us need to work like seamen!? You are not short on manpower, so don’t make us perform work outside of our expertise!」


「… Huh? Huh, don’t you understand your own position yet, fatty?」


Lieutenant Jurgus said nonchalantly and swung the saber on her shoulder hard. After the tip of the blade was pointed at Matthew’s nose, she continued:


「First of all, we are not grateful of reinforcements from the land, you are just a burden and an eyesore. And there aren’t any marines on this ship, so everyone will have to fight when things goes south, so everyone will have to work too. This is the nature of things, we don’t have the luxury to let anyone laze around!」


「… I admit that this is a reasonable policy, and we are sorry that we are leeching off you. We will gladly help in anyway way we can─ however!」


Matthew pointed behind him at this point. His four subordinates who carried out such harsh training while feeling seasick were all lying there with their faces green.


「What are you trying to do by pushing them so far on the first day!? I can accept slightly harsher training for recruits, but this is a different matter. There might be a battle in just a few weeks! Instead of training us into half-competent sailors, we should think about how to better integrate us into your unit!」


「Hmmp! For a slow fatty, but you sure are a cunning linguist.」


「… That’s right, that face of yours. What pissed me off is your attitude. You don’t plan to train us properly right from the start, and just want to torment us while using training as an excuse!」


After the raging Matthew criticized her quietly, Lieutenant Jurgus grunted.


「Hmmp, half of that is correct. I have never held any expectations from you, because it’s impossible for landlubbers to fight normally in the sea. So we don’t need to work together, since you lot will just cower in a corner and shiver when the fighting starts.」


「What the hell are did you say…!」


Matthew was quivering in rage, and Torway stepped forward on his behalf.


「Lieutenant Jurgus, please stop this… I know very well how lowly you think of us, but seeing my comrade being humiliated is still very unpleasant. Can you understand that? This sort of things is really upsetting.」


A pair of strong willed jade eyes glared back at her. The aura about Torway probably intimidated Lieutenant Jurgus, and she turned around after clicking her tongue.


「Hmmp! Let’s see how long you can keep up your spirits─ Hey, the lot of you! Play time’s over, get back to work!」


「「「「「「「「Yes, Boss Jurgus!」」」」」」」」


The crew who received their orders dispersed, leaving Matthew at a corner of the deck stamping the floor in anger.


After that, the abuse made under the guise of training continued. Matthew’s group would be called up to the deck to perform meaningless and dangerous work, or to scrub the deck until they got exhausted. By using the authority granted to her by the Ship Captain, Lieutenant Jurgus was ruthless and vicious in her torment.


And of course, the grudge of the party being persecuted was also accumulating… And something finally happened on the fourth night after setting sail. Similar to the past several days, the two of them were ordered to mend the old and tattered sail by the Naval Lieutenant for two hours, before finally heading to the Officer’s Mess with an empty stomach. The straw that broke the camel’s back happened here.


「That’s really slow. Here are your dinner.」


「… What?」


Matthew and Torway stared at 「that thing」 on the table blankly. On the two plates were something pinkish and appeared to be fish fillets. And that was it. No soup or jerky, not even bread. Torway leaned closer to the plate and furrowed his brows.


「It looks uncooked… Is it raw?」


「That’s right, fresh vegetables are valuable commodities in the sea. You have to eat raw fish to avoid scurvy. Don’t you know that?」


The Naval Lieutenant smiled maliciously as she put her elbow on the table and rested her chin on her hand. Matthew was enraged and gritted his teeth:


「… I did heard about that. We left port just four days ago, I don’t think our supplies are running that low. I don’t want to press that point, the important thing is, is this all the food for us?」


「Do you think there is? As you can see, this is all of it.」


「How can that be enough!? And you also have bread and vegetables, correct!? Stop messing around and bring us a proper meal!」


The furious Matthew slammed the table with both hands. Lieutenant Jurgus didn’t back down either, grabbing the hilt of her saber and knocking it heavily onto the table.


「Don’t get cocky now, you useless bum! Be grateful that you get any food at all!」


「You are calling this rotting fish food? It will upset my stomach, so it’s better not to eat it!」


「Shut up! Don’t eat it if you want to complain!」


「… Is that so! You don’t need to tell me, I will do just that!」


Matthew said with disdain, kicked open the door and left the Officer’s Mess. Torway followed without any hesitation, leaving the untouched plates on the table.


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