—The third day of the month of Aries.
The school orientation season had begun, and the city streets of Ansarivan were bustling with activity. The lively atmosphere also spread into the Academy.
In the afternoon, Silvia was in a certain room on the first floor of Julius Hall sorting out various documents. Given Silvia’s serious nature, she preferred to prioritise her position as the Vice President of the Student Council rather than enjoy what little remained of her spring break. There were five days left before the opening ceremony, and the number of documents that were sent to the Student Council just kept on increasing—
“Geez, why don’t any of the other officers show their faces?”
Silvia frowned as she glanced around the room. The only person sitting in the room was Silvia. Her surroundings were empty, and somewhat lonely even.
“Well, it is still spring break after all.”
Cosette brought her a cup of black tea. The world’s most high-quality tea leaves — the aroma of El Gloriana from Chiron suddenly wafted into the empty room.
“Thank you, Cosette.”
Silvia put her pen down and savoured the black tea. However, her relaxation only lasted for a moment before displeasure resurged once more.
“Even so, Cosette. It may be spring break, but don’t you think that this situation where nobody turns up when no meetings are held is a bit disappointing?”
“Not to worry, Princess-sama. You’ll surely see each other every day once the new school term begins. You and your beloved Ash-sama can express your mutual love as much as you please.”
Silvia was so astonished that all the black tea she savoured was spat out. Various important documents were stained by the black tea, but it was not the time to worry about it. After all, she couldn’t pretend not to hear what Cosette had said.
“W-What do you mean by mutual love!? Are you suggesting that I, Silvia Lautreamont, am concerned with such worldly desires…!?”
Silvia retorted as she wiped the edges of her mouth with a handkerchief. Her heart pounded so wildly in her chest that even she felt surprised by the sensation.
“Oh my, really, Princess-sama. Your face is bright red.”
“It’s all because of you~~~~~~~~~~!”
“By the way—”
As if Silvia’s complaint was nothing more than wind passing by her ears, Cosette clapped her hands together.
“I’ve heard that Ash-sama’s younger sister has enrolled in the Academy.”
“It’s so obvious that you’re trying to change the subject — wait, did you say Ash’s little sister!?”
Silvia reflexively stood up.
“Yes. Knowing how diligent Ash-sama is, I believe the reason for his absence from Student Council activities today is because of his younger sister. After all, Ash-sama probably can’t keep his eyes away from her.”
“I see. If that’s the reason, then I suppose it can’t be helped…though, speaking of which…Ash’s little sister…hmm.”
“Ufufu. Are you curious?”
“U-Umm…more or less.”
“After all, she might become your little sister in the future, Princess-sama.”
“Fuwah!? What are you saying!?”
Silvia’s body grew hot all over.
“Ufufu. You’ve always been the youngest one, Princess-sama, so it’ll be your first time being called ‘onee-sama’.”
“Hmm. Onee-sama huh…i-it doesn’t sound too bad…n-no, it hasn’t been decided that I’ll be addressed that way! Stop teasing people so much!”
“You’re so adorable, Princess-sama.”
Although irritated by Cosette’s provocations, Silvia quietly returned to her seat. It was because there was something that she wanted to discuss with Cosette.
“…By the way, Cosette?”
Silvia glanced up at Cosette.
“What’s the matter, Princess-sama?”
“Today should be the third day of the month of Aries, right…?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Didn’t you help me with an investigation last summer during the break? Regarding my past with Ash…”
Cosette slipped into thought for a while, and then finally smiled as she seemed to remember.
“Ufufu, I do recall such a thing now. I carefully investigated the <Orphan Ceremony> that you attended, Princess-sama.”
“Yes, thanks to you, I discovered that Ash was my benefactor back then. However, I actually learnt something else.”
Upon hearing this, Cosette seemed to have picked up on what Silvia’s intentions were.
“Ufufu, you truly are so innocent, Princess-sama. You remembered the birthday of the person that you hold dear.”
Cosette covered her mouth as she attempted to hold back a giggle. Although it wasn’t particularly amusing to Silvia, she decided to bear with it given the importance of the matter.
“T-Then…may I discuss it with you? I’ve been thinking that I’d like to give Ash a birthday present if possible, but I’m not sure what would make him happy…and I have no idea what the boys in our year would prefer…”
“Very well, let us head to the shopping district first. I, Cosette, shall do my utmost to assist you.”
Treating Cosette like a saviour, Silvia grasped her hands and looked up at her.
“I’ll leave it to you then, Cosette. You’re the only one I can count on right now!”
In the evening.
Silvia staggered as she finally arrived at the boys’ dormitory, Apollo House. It was because she had expended too much mental energy running around the shopping district. Silvia gazed down at the small box with a ribbon tied around it and nervously whispered,
“…Hey, Cosette. Is this really okay?”
Silvia’s final choice was a tie clip. It was made of silver with the carving of a dragon’s head, and Silvia believed that it would suit Ash. She also asked the metal engraver to write Ash’s initials on it.
“Ufufu, it will be okay. It’s not about what you give, rather, what’s important are the feelings that you put into the gift, Princess-sama. Ash-sama will certainly be able to understand your feelings, Princess-sama.”
Cosette’s words offered Silvia a sense of relief and salvation. Silvia walked into the large entranceway of Apollo House, obtained permission from the dorm supervisor to enter, and then made her way to Ash’s room. The male students who passed by Silvia in the corridor all displayed expressions of surprise as they retreated against the wall. At the same time, they also bowed to her with reverence.
“There was a gap like that between me and Ash a year ago…”
Silvia sorrowfully whispered to herself, just as she arrived at the entrance to Ash’s room. With her hands shaking due to nervousness, she knocked on the door.
A lovely voice that didn’t belong to Ash answered the door.
Silvia frowned. It wasn’t Eco’s voice, and it meant that there was a girl other than Eco currently in Ash’s room. Just as Silvia sank into thought, the door opened,
“Sorry for the wait. Uh…?”
Silvia gasped. A girl with twin tails examined Silvia with suspicion. A delicate and adorable young girl — that was her first impression. She was around twelve years old, which meant she was probably a student in the Junios course. She was wearing an apron and had a soup ladle in her hand. It appeared she was in the midst of cooking. At that moment, what came to Silvia’s mind were the words ‘child wife’.
—W-What is this…!?
Silvia’s thoughts were thrown into disarray because there was a girl younger than Ash cooking in his room. Moreover, the aroma of spices wafted out of the room.
Silvia was left dumbfounded, and the giftbox in her hand fell to the ground. She had worked so hard to choose a birthday present for Ash today, but he had unexpectedly brought a girl much younger than him to his room and asked her to cook…! Silvia shed tears of regret as she ran off.
“The hot water was amazing.”
Ash returned to his room with billows of white steam rising from his entire body. The large bathhouse in the new Apollo House had the latest equipment. Because it was so comfortable, he accidentally spent a long time in there. Ash opened the door to his room without much thought—
A harsh sound suddenly rang out, causing Ash to let out a ‘whoa’ in fright.
“Nii-san, happy birthday!”
With a party popper in her hand, Linda had a mischievous smile on her face.
Although initially surprised, he eventually understood. Indeed, it was only then that Ash realised it was his birthday.
“Come, come in quickly.”
Linda led Ash by hand into the room.
While Ash was bathing, all of the furnishings in the room had been reorganised. There were flower decorations everywhere, and even a banner that read ‘Happy Seventeenth Birthday!’ was hung up. It was a small dinner party venue. Set up on the table was a cake and various dishes. It turned out that while Ash was away, Linda decided to show off her cooking skills to make a grand meal.
An adorable voice came from beside the wall. It seemed Eco didn’t realise Ash had returned and was still working hard to decorate the room. She stretched her arms up high as she tried to stick a floral decoration on the wall. Ash smiled and placed his hand on Eco’s head.
Eco was taken aback and dropped the floral decoration on the floor.
“Geez, don’t scare me!”
“Haha, I’m sorry.”
Ash picked up the floral decoration and stuck it up where Eco had originally wanted to put it.
“I didn’t expect you two to join forces…that really surprised me.”
“I-I was forced to, okay!?”
Eco puffed out her cheeks, folded her arms across her chest and turned her head away.
“Dragon’s don’t have a habit of celebrating their birthdays. More importantly, I don’t even know when my birthday is. But, because Linda wanted to celebrate your birthday no matter what, I…hmph, to start with, let me just say happy birthday.”
“Just as usual, you’re not honest at all.”
Ash made a wry smile while Eco raised her eyebrows in anger. He thought that she’d begin to yell at him, but reality was contrary to his expectations.
“…This is a gift from me.”
Eco removed a pink crystal from her pocket and handed it to Ash.
“Isn’t this a Bright Dragon Crystal!? Moreover, it’s pink, so this is…Uranus!? Did you make this just for me?”
Ash carefully examined the crystal that was the size of a small stone. It was extremely clear and transparent, something that one would not tire of admiring. Like a gemstone cut by a master craftsman, it exuded a colourful light. It felt constantly warm, as though Eco’s body temperature radiated from it.
“Y-Yeah! You’d better cherish it!”
“Of course. Thank you, Eco. It must have been difficult to make such a beautiful crystal, right?”
“I secretly visited Lucca the other day…and asked her for help.”
Eco’s cheeks turned red, and it looked like steam was about to erupt from her head at any moment.
“Wait. You asked Lucca for help, which means…!”
Ash’s cheeks grew hot. It was because he recalled the first time that Eco produced Uranus with Lucca’s assistance.
“W-What are you imagining!? Watch out or I’ll crush you!”
Eco lifted one foot, and Ash immediately retreated.
Linda inserted herself between the two of them with ingenious timing.
“My present is this birthday cake. If possible, I would’ve liked to give you something that can be kept forever just like Eco-san’s…but I just moved to Ansarivan and don’t have much money…”
“N-No, I’m very happy. Thank you, Linda.”
Ash stroked Linda’s head. Standing in place allowing Ash to touch her head, Linda looked much the same as she did when she was seven years old.
“—Oh my. You seem to be having a good time.”
A charming voice resounded, and a corner of the room was shrouded in a dazzling light as Navi descended. She touched the ground gently, leisurely sat down on the bed’s edge, and then slowly crossed her legs. Perhaps because of tonight’s birthday party, she wore an elegant dress.
“Kya! W-Who are you? Where did you come out from…!?”
Linda clung to Ash’s arm in shock.
“It’s okay, Linda. I should’ve introduced her. Navi is actually one of our companions as well.”
Linda looked a little relieved, but still hid herself behind Ash.
Navi revealed a coquettish smile and extended her hand toward Ash.
“This is my gift. Will you accept it?”
A thick, sweet aroma entered his nostrils, and Ash couldn’t help but feel his heart go aflutter.
“Then, please accept it…”
Navi wrapped her hand around Ash’s neck and instantly pulled him over.
Ash’s vision was occupied by the sight of her large breasts. The next moment, his face was pressed between the deep valleys of her cleavage. The sensation was such that he almost felt like he had kissed them. Surrounded by a soft sensation along with a warm and sweet aroma, Ash felt like he was in heaven. However, he gradually felt short of breath. Those breasts which were the pinnacle of softness completely sealed Ash’s mouth and nostrils.
Just a second before he was about to suffocate, Ash managed to escape from Navi’s bosom, sending oxygen into his lungs with all his strength.
“Phew…I thought I was going to die. Was that your present, Navi!?”
“Oh my, is that enough for you already? As long as you want, I can give all of me to you.”
Ash couldn’t help but quiver upon hearing such an alluring temptation. Navi looked more gorgeous than she normally did tonight.
“Hey, Ash? If you keep that look on your face…I’ll crush you, okay?”
“Nii-san? What exactly is your relationship with this woman? I request that you explain it right now.”
Ash only returned to his senses upon feeling the sharp gazes that Eco and Linda directed at him.
“A-Anyway, it might sound a bit strange since it’s my birthday we’re celebrating, but shall we get started? It’ll be a shame if all of the dishes that you cooked get cold.”
Ash took the initiative to sit down at the table.
“Hmph, I guess it can’t be helped…”
“It’s not what I wanted, but it’s certainly reasonable…”
Despite their reluctance, both Eco and Linda obliged with Ash’s request.
“Since it’s a rare opportunity, I’ll also join you.”
Navi really seemed to like the bed, so she settled herself there. And so, the small dinner party consisting of just four people began—
“…By the way, I wasn’t expecting it to be Ash’s birthday today. If Linda hadn’t told me, it might’ve passed by. Navi didn’t tell me either.”
While chewing on a mouthful of roast chicken with herbs, Eco directed a glare towards Navi.
“Oh, I’m only the Dragweiss at best — I won’t disclose information unless you or Ash ask me for it.”
“If that’s the case, can you keep your uselessly large breasts away from public view?”
Eco said as she stared at Navi’s chest. Her seemingly soft cleavage could be seen from the neckline of her dress.
“Fufu, that’s a separate matter.”
Navi leisurely sat on the bed, with a mischievous smile floating on her face. Linda thoughtfully carried a plate with a slice of cake over to Navi.
“Umm…Navi-san, please feel free to have some as well.”
“Hehe, I’m not just being polite. It’s because I don’t need to eat — but since you’ve offered, I shall indulge.”
Navi sat up as she took the plate and fork. Under Linda’s watchful gaze, Navi took her first bite.
In that instant, it was a rare occasion on which Navi widened her eyes.
“The information transmitted through my sense of taste is rather pleasant. Is this the so-called meaning of ‘delicious’?”
Navi looked genuinely amazed. Seeing Navi like that, Ash couldn’t help but jump in.
“That’s great, it looks like Navi also likes Linda’s cake.”
“Is that so? That’s good then…”
Linda nodded somewhat unnaturally. Perhaps it was because she still didn’t fully understand the existence known as Navi. Ash hoped to himself that they would gradually become familiar with each other.
“…Hey, why did you hide that it was your birthday?”
Eco cast a dissatisfied gaze at Ash, to which he simply smiled.
“N-No, it’s not like I deliberately tried to conceal it, you see? It’s because I don’t usually pay attention to birthdays, and it was never really a topic of conversation.”
In fact, if Linda hadn’t organised this dinner party, Ash might’ve even forgotten about his birthday.
Yet, Eco gazed at him with suspicion. She then said something that completely defied Ash’s expectations.
“Silvia seems to be very clear on it though.”
Ash violently coughed as he accidentally choked on some mashed potato.
“Are you okay, nii-san!?”
Linda hurriedly slapped him on the back, and Ash finally regained his breath.
“Umm, nii-san? Please wait a moment.”
Linda left the table and walked over to a cabinet by the door. When she returned to the dining table, she brought with her a small box that was tied with a ribbon.
“This is…the gift that Princess Silvia personally came to deliver while you were in the bath.”
“Huh!? Princess-sama was here?”
“Yes, I answered the door…and perhaps the situation was a bit uncomfortable. As soon as she saw me in an apron, she yelled [Ash…you idioooooooooottttt!] and then ran off. She seemed to have misunderstood something…”
What went through Silvia’s head was already self-explanatory.
“The next time I see Princess-sama, I’ll introduce you to her…but, did you recognise that it was the princess straight away, Linda?”
“No. After the princess ran away, a maid calling herself Cosette showed up…it’s thanks to her that I found out.”
“I see, and so you introduced yourself to Cosette-san?”
Upon hearing Linda’s response, Ash felt a sense of relief. Silvia should’ve heard Cosette’s explanation by now, thus resolving the misunderstanding.
“By the way, nii-san?”
Ash’s relief was only momentary as Linda leaned over and narrowed her eyes at him.
“Even if Her Highness Silvia mistakenly believed that I was your lover — was it necessary for her to run back whilst crying?”
Ash tried to keep a straight face. It was only natural that Linda found it strange. If Silvia was just an ordinary friend, there would be nothing to be surprised about even if there were girls other than Eco in his room.
“…You wouldn’t happen to have a strange relationship with a Princess of the Lautreamont Knight Country, would you?”
“N-No, that’s not possible!”
Ash quickly denied it, but—
“How is that not possible? You two clearly kissed right in front of me.”
Eco interjected as if she could no longer bear to remain silent.
“H-Hey! What are you saying in front of my little sister…!?”
Ash immediately tried to cover Eco’s mouth, but it was already too late.
“Oh…I have many questions.”
Linda whispered softly, as if trying to calm herself down.
“Anyway, before we get too deep into this party…shouldn’t we listen so that you can personally explain how far you and Her Highness Silvia have progressed in your relationship? Do you not agree, Eco-san?”
“Yes, I’d like to hear all about it as well.”
“H-Hey! Since when have you two been on the same side!? Navi, can you help me say something here?”
Backed into a corner, Ash had no choice but to turn to Navi for assistance.
“Ufufu. I’d also be happy to explain all of Ash’s interpersonal relationships, you know?”
It seemed that he had asked the wrong person. Navi normally concealed herself in the Dragon Workshop, but she was able to peer into the human world whenever she pleased.
“H-Hey, don’t I have any privacy…!?”
Ash clutched his head in distress, but Linda nonchalantly handed Navi a pen and a sheet of paper. It seemed that she wanted Navi to draw a relationship diagram.
“Please, can’t we do something more ordinary for fun? Please?”
Ash’s plea went completely unheard, and a long interrogation thus began—.
—The fifth day of the month of Aries.
Because he had been taking care of Linda, Ash had neglected the activities of the Student Council for some time, so he decided to visit Julius Hall after lunch. Ash walked through the campus grounds which still had traces of winter but were gradually moving into spring. Under the gentle sunlight, his brand-new tie clip shone brilliantly. The new school term had already started. Students came and went across the campus grounds. The petite students who wore somewhat loose-fitting uniforms were certainly freshmen. It was obvious at a glance. I was the same back when I first enrolled…Ash found himself caught in a wave of emotion. As soon as many students caught sight of Ash’s figure—
“Good afternoon, new Student Council President!”
“Thank you for your hard work! I’d also like to join Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights one day!”
—Various responses were provoked. Although the third person had a shrill voice much like Jessica’s, it was a female student that he didn’t know.
Responding with an unaccustomed smile, Ash continued walking forward. He didn’t have a Pal for several years, he was known as ‘The Academy’s Number One Problem Child’, and yet now there were students everywhere who showed respect to him. In all honesty, it made Ash feel a bit uncomfortable. Once the crowd thinned out, Ash naturally said to himself,
“I wonder if things went alright for Linda…?”
Linda had finally moved into the girls’ dormitory, Maeve House, yesterday. It was because she received a notice from the Academic Affairs Office that ‘the delayed internal renovation project has been completed’. Although Linda was quite concerned about Ash’s relationship status — or more precisely, his female relationships, she probably thought about continuing to live in her brother’s room, but such wilful behaviour would not be allowed.
—Try to have more moderation in your life, nii-san!
Leaving such words behind, Linda departed from Apollo House. It’d be nice if she became less dependent on me throughout her upcoming campus life…Ash sincerely prayed.
Already present in Julius Hall was Silvia, who was hard at work sorting out various documents, while Cosette diligently assisted her from the side.
Silvia’s shoulders trembled the instant that Ash greeted her.
“O-Oh, so it’s you, Ash! I-It feels like I haven’t seen you in a while. Geez, as the new Student Council President, you’re a bit too relaxed, don’t you think?”
Silvia’s attitude was the complete opposite of what she verbally expressed, as she looked unbearably nervous. It seemed that she couldn’t even look at Ash directly. Ash easily realised why that was.
Ash walked over to Silvia and showed off his tie. His silver tie clip exuded a dazzling glow. Ash also liked the design of the dragon’s head.
Silvia stared at the tie clip, stiff as a stone.
“Thank you, Princess-sama. Also, I’m really sorry for apologising so late…I think you should’ve heard by now that I was busy because of my little sister…”
“U-Umm…do you like it?”
Perhaps because she was still too embarrassed, Silvia seemed to avoid making eye contact with Ash. Her gaze remained planted to the floor.
“Of course! It’s a very cool design, and I’m very happy that you selected it just for me. I’ve most certainly received your feelings, Princess-sama!”
Silvia breathed a sigh of relief as she lay down on the table. It was probably because all of her tension had suddenly been released. Ash couldn’t help but smile as it was the first time that he had seen Silvia in such a weakened state.
“…By the way Ash, isn’t Eco with you?”
Silvia lifted her head and looked around in suspicion. Indeed, it was a rare situation because Ash didn’t bring Eco with him.
“Oh, Eco has been on the Escavaron since yesterday.”
“On the Escavaron? What’s happening there?”
“I heard that Jessica planned a ‘sleepover party’ only for the girls…she came to pick Eco up last night.”
“What did you say!? I never heard about that…”
Silvia dejectedly dropped her shoulders. Seeing the tears that were welling up in her eyes, it seemed she was upset about being excluded.
Ash hurriedly searched for the words to comfort her.
“Your identity is somewhat special after all, so I’m sure Jessica couldn’t help but worry about it, you know? I don’t think anyone would dare to invite the princess of a country to join their ‘sleepover party’…”
“Mmm, I didn’t think that girl would have such worries. Ah…a ‘sleepover party’ huh…! It sounds like such a touching phrase to me given that I had no friends a year ago! If possible, I really hope that they’d let me join them without having any worries…”
Not expecting that Silvia would feel so regretful, Ash couldn’t help but smile.
“I’ll go and tell them ‘Please remember to invite Princess-sama next time’ then.”
“No, that would be too embarrassing…it’d be as if I really wanted to participate.”
“Is that not the case?”
“No, you’re right…”
“Haha. You really aren’t honest.”
Silvia’s expression immediately improved the moment that Ash laughed. She then sternly raised her eyebrows.
“That’s enough chit-chat! Hurry up and get started with your work!”
With Silvia’s urging, Ash quickly got to work. Just as Silvia reviewed the information at hand, her gaze rested on one of the documents. She stared closely at one of the documents as she made a deep hum.
“What’s wrong, Princess-sama?”
“No, this report…it looks a bit odd.”
After receiving the file from Silvia, Ash also began to read through it.
“What…‘a mysterious giant dragon appeared in the forest at night’!? What is this?”
“It’s said that a dragon flies over Fianna Forest every night. According to witness testimonies, local newspapers have reported on it. It’s said that that dragon is even larger than Cú Chulainn and Tristan.”
“If that’s true, then it would be the biggest Maestro in existence.”
“It doesn’t seem to be a Maestro though. It’s said that even under bright moonlight, that dragon’s body is black. If it’s a Maestro, it should have silvery-white fur that glimmers under light.”
“More importantly, it’s hard to believe that such a dragon has appeared in the skies above Fianna Forest.”
“If it’s a dragon from Ansarivan, it should be looked after in the Dragon Houses.”
Ash folded his arms and sank into thought. It was possible that the witnesses had mistaken some other unidentified flying object for a dragon. If that was the case, then it all made sense. But, what kind of flying object would be mistaken for a dragon? It was a curious matter.
“Well, sitting here and thinking about it isn’t going to get us anywhere. Let’s hold onto this case until a new eyewitness report appears. After all, we still have a mountain of documents to go over.”
Just as Silvia said, there was a pile of documents stacked as tall as a mountain in front of them. Ash painfully felt how difficult the job of Student Council President was.
“—It’s going to be sunset soon.”
Cosette stood by the window and whispered with a calm voice.
“…Phew. Let’s stop here for today. In any case, is this new organisation of the Student Council okay? No one comes if there aren’t any meetings. It’s a bit lonely.”
Silvia complained, to which Ash scratched his head.
“Uh, that might be…because I’m not as popular as Rebecca-san?”
“That’s not the issue! You put her up on too much of a pedestal. However, it’s true that you’re not as awe-inspiring as her.”
“I see, awe-inspiring huh…certainly, that isn’t quite like me.”
Ash made a wry smile as he looked up at the ceiling.
“Having said that, you also have your own strengths.”
“I-I see…every side of you.”
After saying that much, Silvia blushed and turned her back to him.
“Ufufu. That’s good to hear, Princess-sama.”
Cosette joked with a giggle.
“Ugh, why do you always have to say unnecessary things!?”
Just as Silvia was embarrassed to the point that she wanted to leave—
A Maestro landed on the school grounds in front of Julius Hall.
“Hey, isn’t that Lancelot!?”
Silvia exclaimed in surprise. Its silvery-white fur shimmered under the sunset outside, and it was most certainly Lancelot. It had grown remarkably recently, and its physique had also grown larger. If it continued to grow, it would eventually become comparable in size to Cú Chulainn and Tristan. However, it was something of a mystery that it had come here since its master didn’t call for it. Last year was truly a disaster. There were incidents with Mordred, Cassandra and the pharmacist Kiira who had likely escaped — a bundle of loose ends had piled up. In contrast to the thoughts that weighed on Ash’s mind, Silvia and Lancelot’s exchange was rather leisurely.
“What’s wrong, Lancelot?”
Silvia leaned out the window and stroked Lancelot’s fur.
Lancelot seemed to comfortably enjoy Silvia’s caresses.
—Am I just overthinking things?
Ash heaved a sigh of relief as he stroked his chest. Seeing Lancelot’s calm demeanour, it probably wasn’t an emergency.
“Hm? You want me to ride on you?”
Silvia tilted her head in bewilderment.
Lancelot roared majestically, expressing its affirmation. Moreover, it also cast an evocative gaze at Ash.
“Huh? Are you suggesting that we both ride on you?”
Once more, Lancelot roared in affirmation.
“What’s going on here…?”
Despite the doubts that she had, Silvia decided to step out the window frame and jump down. After momentarily floating through the air, she landed on Lancelot’s back. Dressed in her normal uniform, she mounted the saddle. Even the slightest of evening breezes would cause her skirt to lift. Such immoral thoughts caused Ash’s heartrate to accelerate.
“Princess-sama, this is somewhat improper.”
Cosette expressed her opinion as Silvia’s personal maid, to which Silvia unhappily turned away.
“It can’t be helped! It doesn’t feel like an emergency, but Lancelot came all this way just to pick me up, so it must mean that something has happened or is about to happen.”
“Yes, what Princess-sama said is right.”
Ash also stepped out the window, jumping and then landing softly on Lancelot’s back.
“I shall accompany you.”
Cosette also jumped out and landed behind Ash.
“Isn’t this what you’d call improper?”
Silvia commented as if in retribution for Cosette’s earlier remark.
“I’m a maid, so it doesn’t matter.”
Cosette dismissively said without a trace of guilt. Ash couldn’t help but smile as he witnessed this interaction between master and servant, but it was only for a moment—
“Excuse me, Ash-sama.”
Cosette suddenly hugged onto Ash’s waist. It was necessary when flying on Lancelot, so there was nothing wrong with it, but…
—This is bad. Cosette-san’s chest is touching me…
Ash felt nervous and restless. Cosette was usually quite modest, but her breasts were just the opposite — soft and full of weight, they strongly expressed themselves.
“Oh my, Ash-sama? Why are you leaning forward? What’s wrong?”
Cosette asked in puzzlement.
Ash was already exhausted just answering like that. Silvia then said to him,
“Hey, what are you dawdling for? Hurry up and hold onto me.”
When Silvia turned around, her expression was rather serious and didn’t show any traces of shyness. As soon as she mounted a dragon’s back, she seemed to switch into a resolute princess knight.
Ash hurriedly grabbed onto Silvia’s waist from behind. In contrast to her ample bosom, her waist was so slender that it seemed fragile. Moreover, her lustrous blonde hair exuded the sweet scent of shampoo. Unaware of the thoughts that traversed through Ash’s mind, Silvia awe-inspiringly declared,
“You can set off at any time, Lancelot!”
Lancelot flew in a straight line as if piercing through the evening sky.
“Wait, Lancelot!? How high are you planning to go?”
Even Silvia began to feel uneasy, but Lancelot steadily continued to climb. What is Lancelot thinking? Where is it taking us? Ash had no clue either. Like a fish in water, Lancelot comfortably and powerfully flapped its wings. That was the only emotion of Lancelot that was clearly conveyed to Ash.
Lancelot suddenly accelerated into charged into the clouds. As if smashing through a rock, Lancelot penetrated the thick clouds. Finally, their field of vision grew vast and unobstructed all at once. The sky hadn’t fully transformed into night and still appeared blue. A crescent moon as slender as a thread hung in a corner of the sky. Tiny stars also shone faintly. Their view was surrounded by a majestic sea of clouds. And what appeared in front of them was the shadow of a large ship.
“Isn’t that the Escavaron?”
Ash couldn’t help but exclaim.
Lancelot belted out a roar as if to announce its arrival. It then softly landed on the deck of the magical ship Escavaron.
“What on earth is…!?”
Silvia simply froze in place, forgetting even to jump off Lancelot’s back.
“What’s going on?”
Ash looked around the deck, stunned and in disbelief. It was because the Escavaron’s deck had been transformed into grand party venue. Upon a neatly arranged round table was a colourful array of dishes. Dragon crystal lanterns were set up all around the venue, emitting a gorgeous and brilliant luminosity. All of a sudden, grandiose music began to loudly play. At the same time, the dragon crystal lanterns began to produce a vivid spectrum of colours. Surprisingly, a small stage had been set up in a corner of the venue. The music that was being played came from a miniature orchestra. The members of the orchestra included Eco, Rebecca, Lucca, Jessica, Anya, Navi, Raymond, Max and Linda. Moreover, their conductor was Mirabel. The girls were all dressed in lovely dresses, with the exception of Anya — who for some reason was dressed as a cat-eared maid. As for the instrument that each person was responsible for — Linda and Lucca had flutes, Jessica a clarinet, Anya a trumpet, Rebecca a saxophone, Navi a horn, and Eco on percussion. On the other hand, the two boys wore tuxedos and bow ties. They were responsible for bass as Raymond played a trombone while Max played the tuba.
“This song is…”
Ash realised upon listening to the melody that resounded through the night sky. It was the [Birthday Song] that every citizen of the Knight Country was familiar with.
“I see. My birthday was on the third, and I recall that Princess-sama’s birthday is on the seventh, right? Today is the fifth, so it’s right in between both of our birthdays…”
Ash finally understood the purpose of the mysterious party on the ship. It seemed that they had been preparing this for quite some time while both Ash and Silvia were in the dark.
“In other words, the reason why no one visited Julius Hall these past few days is because of this…”
Silvia murmured as if she had also just realised.
“It’s a really heart-warming performance.”
Standing behind Ash, Cosette also appeared quite fascinated.
—Ding! Ding ding ding ding ding!
Suddenly, Ash’s attention homed in on Eco. Although Eco had absolutely no experience with playing any musical instruments, she was skilfully hitting the percussion instruments. It seemed that she had used the excuse of a ‘girls only sleepover party’ so that she could practice playing along with everyone else. The performance finally reached a climax, and the sound of a horn loudly and elegantly resounded. Mirabel then turned around and bowed. The performers followed Mirabel and also gave a graceful salute. Ash, Silvia and Cosette responded with a warm round of applause.
“Mmm, this roast beef is delicious! Hey Linda, if you don’t take your portion now, it’s going to be gone.”
“Huwa! Geez Eco-san, is it okay for you to eat so much!?”
“Huh? It doesn’t matter. After all, dragons eat five meals a day!”
“Eco-san is certainly a dragon huh…in any case, it really surprised me that they prepared such a grand banquet. In comparison, the birthday party that we organised for nii-san barely amounts to anything…”
“Hey, that’s not the case at all, okay?”
Ash, who had originally been observing the interaction between Eco and Linda, noticed Linda’s sudden depression, and thus he said with a reprimanding tone,
“The dishes and the cake that you made just for me were delicious. More importantly, they conveyed your sincere feelings, so why are you feeling so down?”
With tears welling up in her eyes, Linda leaned towards Ash. While Ash stroked his little sister’s head, he once again expressed his gratitude to Eco and Linda.
“Eco, Linda, thank you for the wonderful performance. It really surprised me, and I didn’t expect that the two of you were practicing musical instruments in secret.”
“Wasn’t my percussion performance great?”
Eco immediately acted triumphantly.
“Yes, it was very cool.”
In actuality, Eco’s personality was a good fit for the percussion instruments, and she successfully brought the performance to a climax.
“You were great on the flute was well, Linda. I didn’t know you had such talents.”
“It’s not a talent…it’s just a bit of learning here and there. Everyone around me is much more amazing.”
“It can’t be helped. Dragonar Academy has music classes, so everyone has some experience when it comes to brass instruments.”
“I see…I’d also like to take music lessons sooner. Playing the flute seems fun.”
“Before my Pal was born, things were actually pretty idle, so a lot of time could be spent on hobbies.”
“…In other words, since your Pal didn’t exist until your first year in the Senios course, you were idle for the three years of your Junios course?”
“Haha…uh, that’s right.”
Ash could only make a wry smile when faced with his little sister’s sharp accusation.
“By the way, that dress looks good on you.”
“I-Is that so?”
Ash casually complimented her, and Linda gazed down shyly at her own dress in response. She was wearing a knee-length mini-skirt dress which was reminiscent of butterflies flying through a field in spring.
“Did you borrow this from someone?”
“Yes, it’s actually thanks to Cosette-san. When she was helping Eco-san with a dress, she also helped to prepare one for me. Cosette-san is a really nice person.”
Linda said as she stood beside Eco. When they stood beside each other in beautiful dresses, they almost looked like real sisters. However, Ash couldn’t shake a strange feeling.
“No, wait a minute. She helped to prepare outfits for Eco and Linda? In other words, Cosette-san knew about this banquet long in advance…?”
Ash made a wry smile. When Ash was working with Silvia in Julius Hall during the day, Cosette prepared snacks and tea just like usual, and she even acted the same as she normally did. Even when Lancelot came to pick up Ash and Silvia, she still maintained a poker face.
“She’s impossible to figure out, just like usual…”
Just as Ash muttered to himself…
“—Hey, take it away as soon as there’s a free plate! The next dish is still waiting!”
A sharp voice came from behind them. Ash, Eco and Linda looked back in surprise — to find a group of maids dressed in cat ears and cat tails. The waitresses of the student restaurant <La Tene> were busily working in every corner of the venue. Speaking of which, all of the food at tonight’s banquet was done by <La Tene>. The owner of that shrill voice just then was Anya. It seemed she was in charge of the cat-eared maids tonight. The reason why she wore a maid’s outfit during the performance was probably because she was about to get to work. In addition to being a navigator for Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights, Anya still continued to work at <La Tene>.
“Anya is such a hard worker.”
Ash couldn’t resist a smile as he whispered to himself. At that moment—
“Hey, Ash! This is bad!”
“There’s a large magical ship approaching us. What should we do?”
Raymond and Max suddenly ran over. Compared to the panicked Raymond, Max maintained a calm demeanour.
Ash took a small telescope from Max’s hands and then began to search for the mysterious magical ship. At last, the ship’s outline came into the focus of the telescope.
Ash murmured to himself. At the least, it was different to any of the magic ships that Ash had seen in the past.
Suddenly, the soundwave of a deafening rumble caused the Escavaron to tremble.
“Is that a cannon attack!?”
Raymond clutched his head in panic and crouched down on the spot.
“Which country does that magic ship belong to?”
Max also froze up because he was overly nervous. Beads of cold sweat formed on Ash’s brow, but in the next instant — a cluster of beautiful patterns were drawn in the night sky, flashing dazzlingly like stars.
Ash froze in surprise.
“Those are fireworks? It’s my first time seeing them.”
Having just arrived from the countryside, Linda leisurely expressed her thoughts.
“—Whoo. The grand finale is here!”
Accompanied by a mischievous voice, a figure soared right above the Escavaron like a comet. Aiming straight at the deck, the comet violently landed on the ship with a boom. It was a Maestro with an enormous and majestic body. Its head, neck and chest were all decorated with grand golden ornaments, making it seem as if its entire body radiated light. The most distinctive feature of that dragon was the gem embedded in its forehead. Its colour was a black even darker than the shade of night — the Pluto that Ash was familiar with.
“Oscar…no, Oscaia I!”
Upon hearing Ash’s loud call…
“Hmph. Just Oscar is fine. Besides, this is the relationship between us!”
…Oscar raised the hem of her elegant dress with one hand, held the crown on her head with the other, and then briskly jumped onto the deck. After landing on the deck with a thud, she immediately threw herself into Ash’s arms.
“Ash…my dear Ash! How I’ve missed you!”
Unable to withstand the force of Oscar’s impact, Ash fell to the ground. Even so, Oscar continued to embrace Ash with not a care in the world. A feminine fragrance that never existed before wafted from her body. Moreover, the sensation of her ample bosom—. Gradually, a crowd began to form around Ash and Oscar. In addition to the officers of the student council, the car-eared maids led by Anya also ran over one after the other, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen of the Chevron Kingdom.
“Wait a minute, you guys! You’re too close!”
Eco’s eyebrows twitched as she yelled out.
“You’re still the same as ever, Eco, so jealous. But I refuse!”
Without hesitation, Oscar pressed her body even closer to Ash.
“It really is you, Oscar. I’m pleased to see you as well. How did you find out about tonight’s party though…?”
It was Rebecca who answered Ash’s question from the sidelines.
“I sent her a letter to let her know in advance. I thought that if it was Oscar, she’d definitely be happy to come.”
“I see…by the way, Oscar! What’s the meaning of that magical ship? When it comes to large magical ships in the Chevron Kingdom, shouldn’t there only be the Claíomh Solais?”
“Oh, you mean that?”
Oscar turned her head and gazed at the large magical ship that had stopped in mid-air and maintained a certain distance from the Escavaron.
“Haha. Did it scare you? It’s the new flagship of the Chevron Kingdom — the Claíomh Solais II! It was originally being built by Uriel in secret, but I took over and completed it. In a way, it’s fortunate that we were able to defeat Uriel before the completion of the second ship.”
After all, if the second ship had been completed sooner, Ash and the others would’ve had to deal with both the first and the second ship at the same time.
“Never mind that for now, Ash. Since I became queen, you never came to visit me in the Kingdom…you’re so cold. On the other hand, I’ve been waiting and looking forward to my first night with you.”
“Wait wait! The subject suddenly jumped too far ahead!”
Ash was stunned and attempted to escape from Oscar. Oscar’s kindness was certainly a joyful matter, but the glares that Ash had begun to receive from Eco and the other girls were pricking at him like needles. Naturally, Oscar must’ve noticed the stares from the other ladies, but paid it no heed at all. She held Ash’s face with her hands and seductively said,
“To tell the truth, those guys in the Kingdom’s government want to promote me as the <Eternal Virginia>.”
“Because a so-called ‘Virginia’ will be the same as Saint Rosa Maria, having a sacred image. In that regard, the captain of the Order of Holy Dragonars also seems to be known as the <Silent Virginia>. Indeed, it seems the men of this world really seem to like ‘virgins’, so it should attract a fair amount of popularity. By the way, the one who proposed this idea was the prime minister, Count Delacroix.”
“Huh…so you have a prime minister.”
Ash was surprised. He’d always thought that, given Oscar’s personality, she was more likely to have an autocratic style of government.
“Even I feel like an inexperienced amateur when it comes to politics. Count Delacroix may be a young, but he is a good person. At present, I want to learn politics from him first.”
“I see. You’re working hard too, Oscar. As the commander of Avalon’s Holy Dragons’ Emperor Knights, I also need to move forward.”
“It’s okay to move forward, but I hope you don’t forget about me. Although our relationship can no longer be made public, you’ll always be my—”
Oscar’s blue-green eyes became moist, and she unscrupulously brought her lips together with Ash’s. Although a murderous intent was fiercely directed at him from the other ladies, Ash seemed to be locked in place by a spell, unable to move. That was just how breathtaking Oscar was tonight—.
“Graaaa! I was only watching quietly, but you actually went and did that!”
Along with a fierce rebuke, a petite figure rushed out from under the shadow of the Maestro Tristan.
In an instant, Oscar was knocked away, left panting for breath in a corner of the deck.
“Geez, you don’t have any awareness when it comes to being a queen!”
The person who unrelentingly performed a roundhouse kick on the queen of a nation wore a black maid outfit. It was a maid with only one eye and dazzling silver hair that was tied into a ponytail. Naturally, Ash was also familiar with this girl.
“Oh, it’s Celes!”
“Hmph, long time no see…Ash.”
The instant that they came face to face, Celes seemed to act shy, and her eye wandered about unsteadily.
“How should I put it…it’s been a while and you seem to have matured?”
Those were the feelings that Ash expressed upon coming face to face with Celes.
“What!? You insect! How can you casually say such frivolous words!? That’s the reason why women keep coming after you, one after another — wait, what is that!?”
Celes was only halfway through her complaints about Ash, but suddenly pointed to the other end of the night sky.
“Huh? What are you so surprised for — what!?”
Following the direction of Celes’ gaze, Ash was also taken aback. It wasn’t just Ash and Celes. Everyone gathered on the deck couldn’t help but feel dumbfounded upon seeing the enormous man-made object that appeared in the night sky. The large artifact gradually approached the Escavaron. At last, everyone was able to see its full shape.
“That’s…the Holy Ship Esperanza!?”
Ash couldn’t help but shout. As if in response to Ash’s voice, a small figure vigorously waved a staff on the Esperanza’s deck.
“That’s Raquel! Did you also send a letter to Raquel?”
Ash turned and asked Rebecca.
“No, I only informed Oscar…”
Rebecca tilted her head and responded, while Mirabel revealed a smile beside her.
“It was I who sent an invitation letter to Raquel. I thought that girl would be rather happy about it.”
During the time that Mirabel studied at St. Law University in the Holy Espada Agency, she also taught Raquel swordsmanship, which was why Raquel still called Mirabel ‘sensei’. Perhaps the relationship between them was deeper than Ash had initially imagined.
“The night is just getting started now!”
When Jessica shouted that in high spirits, cheers erupted from everyone else.
After the Holy Ship Esperanza docked next to the Escavaron, Raquel stepped onto the deck of the Escavaron, accompanied by Cardinal Penelope.
“Ash-oniichan! Happy birthday!”
She ran like a small animal and rushed into Ash’s arms. Her right eye was blue like a sapphire and her left eye was green like an emerald — her round and large heterochromatic eyes glowed with delight.
“Thank you, Raquel.”
When she acted with such innocence and purity, there was no discomfort at all, and there was actually a sense of warmth. However—
“Hmph. Long time no see, Ash Blake. You’re starting to look more like a knight, but isn’t it about time that you let go of Her Eminence?”
Penelope flatly stated with a cold expression.
“Haha…it’s been a while indeed, Cardinal Penelope.”
Ash broke into a cold sweat as he greeted her. Raquel then finally let go of Ash and simultaneously turned around to Silvia, who had been watching on in surprise.
“Your Highness Silvia, I also wish you a happy birthday.”
“Y-You’re too kind…!”
Silvia edged back.
“It may not be much, but I’ve prepared gifts for the both of you!”
When Raquel announced that with a smile, knights clad in armour marched over in single file. They were the renowned elite troops of the Holy Espada Agency — the Espada Holy Wing Knights. However, the items that they carried were not weapons. One by one, wooden boxes that they had to hug with both hands were brought over.
“Raquel? This is…?”
Ash asked, and Raquel replied with a wide grin across her face.
“It’s a speciality of the Espada region — sparkling wine! I think it’d be very suitable for banquets, so I had it prepared. The wine has already been chilled on the ship, so you can go ahead and enjoy it right now.”
“Thank you, Raquel. It’s just that we’re all underage…”
“That doesn’t matter. Wine is the blood of Saint Rosa Maria — in Espada, wine can be drunk regardless of age. Rather, the laws of the Knight Country are too strict.”
“Haha…perhaps. Since we have your blessing, I’m sure it’ll be fine to have a drink tonight then.”
Ash made a wry smile as Raquel mischievously stuck out her tongue and smiled. At that moment, Linda suddenly tugged on Ash’s sleeve with a displeased expression on her face.
“Hmm, what’s the matter, Linda?”
“Umm, nii-san? I understand that this person is Her Eminence Raquel…but why does she call you ‘onii-chan’? I don’t understand at all.”
Linda had a puzzled expression and looked rather displeased.
From the standpoint of the true little sister, perhaps Linda couldn’t accept the fact that Raquel addressed Ash as ‘onii-chan’. Raquel briskly took a step forward.
“Fufu. Ash-oniichan and I have entered into a sibling agreement. Umm, Ash-oniichan? This person is?”
Linda moved before Ash could come up with an answer. She stood in front of Ash as if to protect him from something.
“Excuse me, Your Eminence Raquel. I am a freshman at Dragonar Academy and my name is Linda Blake. I’m Ash Blake’s blood-related younger sister!”
Linda boldly declared in front of the girl who was only nine years old but was the Pope, nonetheless.
Raquel’s eyes widened…
“Then, Linda-san is my old sister! Please look after me, Linda-oneechan!”
Raquel made a sincere smile. She was almost like an angel.
Linda appeared puzzled and taken aback by Raquel’s reaction. The hostility that she originally had vanished in an instant.
“—Well then, everyone. Now that everyone is here, let’s raise our glasses with the Espada wine that Raquel has so kindly given us!”
Mirabel announced in an awe-inspiring voice. Cheers immediately resounded from the venue. Once everyone had received a glass of wine…
“Happy seventeenth birthday!”
…A harmonious melody reverberated in all directions.
Following the climax of the banquet—.
After being dragged around by the others, Ash finally found an opportunity to step aside, so he decided to search for Silvia. He asked Cosette for Silvia’s whereabouts and learned that she had gone to the rear deck on her own. Ash walked through the bridge and followed a long passage which led to the rear deck.
Ash suddenly felt a gaze upon him, and so he turned around. However, no one could be seen behind him.
“I’m probably just overthinking it…”
He calmed himself and continued to walk along the passageway. After opening the door at the end, he stepped onto the rear deck. The evening breeze gently brushed against his cheeks. Unlike the front deck, which was the party venue, the rear deck was completely silent. —Silvia gazed up at the stars by herself. Thanks to Cosette, she had been able to change into a gorgeous dress even though she originally arrived at the Escavaron in her uniform. Her figure which was brilliant enough to illuminate the night was like a blue diamond.
Not noticing Ash’s presence, Silvia heaved a sigh as if something weighed on her mind. She fanned the breeze in front of her with the palm of her hand. It appeared as though she was trying to sober up. Perhaps due to Raquel’s assurance, she accidentally drank too much wine.
“Princess-sama, may I bother you for a moment?”
When Ash called out to her, Silvia turned around.
“Huh, are you drunk as well, Ash?”
Ash’s heart skipped a beat. The slightly intoxicated Silvia was even more enchanting than usual.
“Uh…I’ve actually been looking for you this whole time.”
“Looking for me?”
Silvia widened her eyes and stared at Ash. Ash nervously pulled out a small, slender box from his pocket.
“This is, umm…a present for you. I’d originally planned to give it to you on your birthday, but I think tonight makes for a suitable occasion.”
“A gift for me?”
“Although this may be an inexpensive item to you, would you still accept it?”
Silvia cried, as if trying to sweep her intoxication away. She then accepted the small box.
“Umm…may I open it?”
Ash nodded with a smile, and Silvia carefully untied the ribbon.
“Oh, isn’t this a pendant? It’s beautiful.”
It seemed that Silvia had taken a liking to it at first glance. What Ash chose was a silver pendant with an ice-blue coloured dragon in the centre of a cross.
“By the way, Ash. Umm…if possible, umm…”
Silvia handed the necklace to Ash, turned her back to him, and then gently lifted her waist-length blonde hair with both hands.
“…Can you put it on for me?”
Silvia’s bold and the flamboyant display of her white neck and back caused Ash to instinctively hold his breath.
Ash answered somewhat nervously and then put his hand around Silvia’s neck. A sweet fragrance reminiscent of flowers teased his nostrils, causing his heartbeat to accelerate.
When Ash’s fingers lightly touched Silvia’s nape, her shoulders trembled slightly.
“I’m sorry, Princess-sama!”
“No, don’t worry!”
After such a process, she finally wore the necklace. As Ash stepped back, Silvia turned around with a bashful smile across her face.
“Mmm, it’s just like I thought. It’s perfect for you.”
The instant that a smile spread across Ash’s face, Silvia made an unexpected move.
“…Ash! My feelings for you are about to overflow!”
She fell straight into Ash’s arms.
She had a seductive fragrance and scorching body warmth. Ash felt as though he was embraced by a blue flame. Silvia’s eyes were moist, and she spoke in an imploring manner,
She gently closed her eyes and raised her chin. Faced with Silvia’s emotions, Ash decided to respond in kind.
“—No! It’s a lie, right!?”
Having followed quietly behind Ash, Linda froze on the other side of the door. The shock to her was so immense that it almost stole her breath. With a sky full of stars as the background, Ash and Silvia were kissing passionately underneath their visage. She hadn’t expected…that her brother would fall in love with the princess of a nation…!
“Uuh! I’m…so depressed.”
With tears in her eyes, Linda sat down on the spot.
“Happy Birthday! ~A.S.B.1366.04~” is closed.
(All 11 of 11 parts) (3/8/21)
Continues on to Interlude – Linda’s Miscalculation