Continues on from Chapter 2 – The Dark-Eyed Girl
Continues on to Chapter 4 – The Academy City’s Underground Labyrinth
Chapter 3 – Peaceful Life and the Sound of Approaching Military Boots
Eco also came to the Dragon Workshop today to train again. She already seemed to have grasped the characteristics of <Avalon’s Bracelet> which had been given to her by the Mother Dragon. She no longer had to be constantly lectured by Navi.
“You’ve made rapid progress. You should now be able to control your Dragonise and Humanise transformations.”
Seeing Eco’s growth, Navi also seemed happy. And what made Navi feel most surprised and refreshed were the feelings that had sprouted within her heart.
“In other words, if I want to Dragonise right now, then I can?”
Eco timidly looked up at Navi.
“That’s right. As long as your wear the bracelet, it is impossible for you to Dragonise. On the contrary, you will open the gates which allow you to Dragonise if you remove the bracelet.”
Eco quietly stared at the bracelet on her right wrist.
“What’s wrong? You don’t seem too happy about it.”
Navi was surprised. She had thought that Eco would’ve been delighted to hear such news.
“B-Because, my body grows incredibly large when I become a dragon, and it’s not cute at all…”
Eco’s attitude astonished Navi. It was not necessary for the appearance of a dragon to be cute.
What is Eco thinking about?
“B-But…if I maintain my appearance as a girl, then I can let Ash hug and kiss me. I can also dress up nicely and receive compliments from him…”
Eco muttered an embarrassing confession. Her innocent cheeks had been dyed the colour of roses. Only then did Navi understand Eco’s true thoughts.
“T-That’s why. If possible, I don’t want to turn into a dragon…”
“Okay okay, I’ve heard enough.”
Navi said as she looked in with a somewhat sour expression.
“Hold on! I’m seriously sharing my troubles with you, so what’s with your attitude!?”
As expected, Eco puffed her cheeks out as she spoke up in anger.
“Oh my. It’s not just you. If possible, I’d also like to spend some sweet time alone with Ash. You shouldn’t say such things to a woman like me.”
Navi smiled playfully and sent a challenging gaze towards Eco. Navi had clearly become aware that she had developed a rivalry towards Eco.
“What did you say!? Aren’t you the Dragweiss? How could you have fallen in love with Ash!?”
“Because…Ash is so brave.”
Eco became flustered.
“Fufu. It’s a secret.”
Eco felt uneasy, and rage welled up inside her.
Has my prank gone a bit too far?
Navi silently thought to herself. Even so, she felt as though everything that she had said was the truth.
—In my eyes, Navi is also an important companion.
—I don’t want to lose Navi, not even a bit.
It was because she felt that Ash was extremely handsome when he had made such declarations in front of her. In the distant future, Navi would integrate with Eco’s consciousness, making her a pure source of intelligence and knowledge. When that time came, Navi would lose her sense of self. Navi had never thought that such a fate was illogical, and she even felt that it was justified. However, it was Ash’s words that changed Navi’s perspective. Although her role as the Dragweiss was still important, her affectionate feelings for Ash were so strong that even Navi herself felt surprised.
In order to clear away her impulsive feelings, Navi intentionally cleared her throat. Once a serious expression returned to her face, she coldly glanced at Eco.
“Let me be frank, you still have a mountain of knowledge to study.”
Perhaps noticing the sudden change in Navi’s expression, Eco felt confused.
“Listen closely. The demon Oscar was indeed a powerful foe, but if your Ark was complete and in perfect shape, Ash naturally wouldn’t have been injured so heavily.”
As soon as she heard that, colour was drained from Eco’s face. Navi stared down at Eco’s face with a harsh expression. Although it was a cruel truth, it was something that she had to make her understand.
“Listen closely. The Ark that you bestowed upon Ash doesn’t yet have a concrete shape. Although it offers a degree of protection, and it can also summon his Ark Weapon Excalibur, that’s the current extent of its abilities. Precisely because your Ark is incomplete…it is not only fragile, but also imposes an excessive burden on Ash’s body.”
Eco dejectedly looked down, somewhat depressed.
“You mean to say that if my Ark was complete, Ash wouldn’t have to stay in hospital to recover…?”
“That’s what I mean.”
After Eco let out a frustrated murmur, she clenched her trembling fists.
Was I a bit too harsh with my words?
—Navi couldn’t help but feel worried. In all fairness, Eco was only a young dragon. It was difficult to ask her to create a perfect Ark.
Eco kept her head down. Perhaps she didn’t want to be seen crying and weeping. Navi tried to offer her a few words of comfort, but—
“—Alright, then I just have to create a perfect Ark!”
Eco suddenly raised her fist into the air and announced that she would complete her Ark. Her eyes glimmered with a vibrant glow, and it didn’t seem as though she was merely bluffing.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Navi. I’ll put my bracelet training on hold for now.”
“Slow down, what are you planning?”
“I want to create a blueprint for the Ark!”
It seemed as though Eco truly wished to complete the Ark. And in the blink of an eye, she slipped back into the real world.
“Seriously…like knight, like dragon they say.”
Left alone in the Dragon Workshop, Navi could only make a wry smile as she muttered such words to herself.
Eco returned to the top floor of the girls’ dormitory, Epona House. She was in the room that Silvia and Cosette shared, and had been assigned exclusively to them as a royal privilege. It was already past the time for the lights to be turned off. As a highly disciplined person, Silvia breathed steadily as she drifted into her dreams. The Dragon Crystal lamp beside her pillow illuminated a small region of the darkness with an amber glow. It seemed the timid Silvia was afraid of the dark, and she had a habit of dimming the Dragon Crystal lights to their lowest setting before she went to bed.
Eco stared at the sleeping Silvia, and squeezed out a low murmur from the depths of her throat. Although Silvia was lying in bed, her chest still bulged out magnificently. From the unbuttoned area of her pyjamas near the top of her chest, it was possible to see the cleavage of her ample breasts, as well as the pattern of her <Seikoku>. Ever since Ash was hospitalised, Eco had moved in to live together with Silvia. Because she had already spent a few days here over the summer vacation, Eco was as familiar with this place as her own home. Recently, a kind of relationship that resembled friendship had slowly brewed between Eco and Silvia. It was what human society seemed to call ‘comrades-in-arms’. Eco suddenly recalled the final scene of the Pluto Incident.
Silvia aimed at Pluto which had been embedded on Tristan’s forehead. However, Silvia’s courage was inversely proportionally to her beauty and bust size. At that time, she had asked for Ash and Eco to lend her strength. Eventually, with the support of Ash and Eco, Silvia was able to silence Pluto. At the same time, she was also able to preserve Tristan’s life.
—Thank you, Eco.
After the dust from the incident settled, Silvia had for some reason asked Eco for a solemn handshake.
—B-Besides, even if I didn’t help you, you still would’ve succeeded.
—That’s not the issue. Don’t you remember that the Uranus I used was made by you? Eco’s Uranus and my Ark Weapon Arondight — without either one of those two things, I wouldn’t have been able to save Oscar or Tristan. That is why I have to express my thanks to you again.
Aside from Ash, Eco had gained the acknowledgement of someone else. Eco put of a facade of calmness in order to conceal her embarrassment as she shook hands with Silvia. Ever since that day, Eco had gained a strong sense of companionship with Silvia. Having said that — Eco naturally had no intention of handing Ash over to her. They were two completely separate matters.
“If I can create the best Ark, Ash will definitely give me his attention!”
After Eco pumped herself up, she dived into the bed next to Silvia’s.
After finishing his meal at noon, Ash passed the time in his patient room with boredom. The Academy had probably started its afternoon classes. Thus, until classes finished, it was unlikely that anyone would come to visit him.
“Ever since she left, it’s felt so lonely…”
Ash muttered to himself after turning to look at one side of the room. The bed that Veronica used had already been removed. Although the Princess had constantly been something of an annoyance to him, she had also been a precious existence in this patient room. In addition, she also had a nude body which couldn’t even begin to be described as mesmerising…after reminiscing a bit, Ash began to feel somewhat fidgety, and quickly quelled his distracting thoughts.
“How strange. When I think of that—”
Ash suddenly began to wonder. He hadn’t seen Eco show up recently. Up until last week, Eco had tirelessly shown up to visit him in the hospital every single day. Ash counted to himself and realised that it had already been three days since he last saw her.
“Has the matter of the Paladin truly caused such an immense impact on the outside world…?”
The Kingdom of Chevron had made a decision to execute the Paladin Oswald. It was a topic of discussion even within the entire hospital. As he thought about Silvia’s perspective, Ash couldn’t help but feel sadness and regret. One week had passed since the Kingdom’s government announced his execution. During this period of time, Silvia had yet to visit Ash in hospital even once. Perhaps Eco couldn’t help but feel worried for Silvia, and that was why she didn’t have the leisure to visit him.
“Ah…I’m so depressed right now that I can’t bring myself to study.”
Just as Ash sighed dispiritedly, he tossed the textbook in his hand aside. It was just at this moment—
“—I’m coming in, Ash!”
The door was suddenly pushed open, and Eco stood just outside the entrance.
Just by seeing his precious Pal, Ash’s melancholic expression immediately vanished into thin air. Even though it had only been a mere three days, Ash felt as though the two of them had been separated for a long time. Feeling that a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, his eyes were immediately drawn to Eco’s clothing. She wore a winter hat and a thick fur coat. Both of them were shades of white, and they formed a perfect contrast with the colour of Eco’s hair. A woollen scarf hung around Eco’s neck, and a plaited skirt could also be seen from under the hem of her coat. Her slender legs were completely covered by white over-knee socks. A leather handbag which looked to be of high-quality also hung from her shoulder. Moreover, her lustrous pink hair had also been tied into a mature-looking hairstyle. Ash looked at her in awe as he thought to himself…she’s totally like a mature upper-class lady….
Eco looked more pure and innocent than her usual self, and also seemed more elegant as well. Unconsciously, Ash also smelled the scent of roses and pondered if it was the aroma of a perfume. As if tempted by the alluring fragrance, Ash’s heartbeat hastened and continued to rise—.
“D-Do I look good in this…?”
While Ash remained silent, Eco looked down in a seemingly embarrassed manner. And as if to prompt some kind of response from him, she frequently peeked up at Ash. Even as dense as Ash was to the feelings of the fairer sex, he was immediately able to recognise what kind of reaction Eco sought from him.
“You’re so pretty…”
After Eco’s cheeks turned red, she shyly smiled. After knowing that he had successfully said what Eco had been eager to hear, he breathed out in relief.
“But, how did you dress up like that?”
“I asked Cosette to help prepare some clothes for me, and this is what she lent to me from Silvia’s wardrobe. Cosette did all of the matching and even my hair.”
Ash imagined how that might have played out. A vivid scene of Cosette dressing Eco up like a doll while smiling and expressing her enjoyment emerged in his mind.
“This is Silvia’s uh…uhm…”
Eco suddenly became hesitant. For some reason, an abashed expression surfaced on her face.
“I-In any case, this feels like an outfit that Silvia would have worn several years ago!”
Ash showed a wry smile. It was no longer possible for the well-developed Silvia to wear this outfit. Since Eco had a strong sense of pride, she must have had the feeling that she was being compared to Silvia.
“E-Enough of that! I came here today to show you something!”
Eco pulled a chair up to his side and sat down with a rigidly upright posture. She then reached into her handbag to search for something, and took out a sketchbook.
“…Can you take a look?”
What did Eco draw for me?
With an expectant feeling, Ash flipped open the sketchbook. The contents of the first page came into view.
How can I describe the pictures?
Ash felt somewhat remorseful that he didn’t have any literary accomplishments. He silently turned over one page at a time. On page after page, all of them contained strange and complicated diagrams. If he was allowed to be cruel, Ash would’ve said that such drawings were no different from a child’s graffiti. The drawings had probably been made by Eco with colourful crayons as she followed her instincts on the page. If the standards were brought down as low as possible…perhaps it could be considered an avant-garde form of art.
“What do you think about it?”
As Eco timidly asked for his opinion, Ash was at a loss for what to say.
“If I had to liken it to an example…is this supposed to be a super-ancient monster climbing out from a sea of enormous waves…?”
“Huh? Is there a problem with your eyes!?”
After Eco’s anger flared up, she leaned forward to him.
“Then, what is the meaning of these abstract drawings?”
“Abstract drawings? How rude of you…these are the design blueprints of the Ark that I want to make for you!”
Ash was rendered speechless.
“Hold it right there! You want me to wear this thing? Are you toying with me!?”
Eco tearfully clenched her fists in front of her chest.
“I-I’ve already come up with the style in my head! I just don’t know how to draw it out!”
“Okay okay, calm down.”
Ash tried to appease Eco’s feelings first before asking again
“But, why did you suddenly want to draw the designs for an Ark?”
Upon seeing tears abruptly burst forth from Eco’s eyes, Ash began to panic.
“…Navi said to me that if my Ark was complete, then you should’ve been able to get away unharmed from the Pluto Incident, and you wouldn’t have been injured so seriously…”
“Oh? So that’s what you were thinking about.”
“What does that mean!?”
Ash reached out and gently pat Eco’s head. It was a simple gesture, but Eco temper was soothed and she became calm again.
“Listen to me, Eco. How long has it been since you were born?”
“Umm, I was born in the month of Aries, so…”
Eco used her fingers to count.
“I think it’s been seven months?”
“That’s right, it’s only been seven months. You’re just a young dragon Eco, so you don’t have to worry, okay?”
“Even if it was incomplete, you still made an original Ark just for me, Eco. Don’t forget that you’re still a young dragon who was only born seven months ago. Even just with your current progress, I think that’s enough for your name to go down in the history of dragons.”
With a firm tone, Ash declared
“You should know that my injuries are not your responsibility to bear. It’s because I’m still an unexperienced Dragonar. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty at all, and I should actually be the one thanking you, Eco.”
“Eco, because you were by my side, I was able to help protect everyone.”
Eco’s red eyes burst into tears. Ash’s eyes were captivated by her delicate and pitiable appearance. Naturally, the two of them began to gaze at each other in silence. Eco shyly lowered her face, and when she lifted her face back up again — her eyes were closed. Ash immediately understood what that meant. Thus, he gently reached out with both hands and softly rested them on Eco’s shoulders. Eco’s shoulders trembled for a brief moment. She probably felt nervous.
After Ash gulped, he also closed his eyes. Eco wasn’t the only one who felt nervous. Ash felt the rapid contractions of his heart race through him as he slowly brought his face closer to Eco’s.
“—Hey, I came to visit.”
In an instant, the room door was ruthlessly pushed open.
Ash and Eco were both so shocked that they separated and kept a safe distance from each other amidst the panic. A maid dressed in a completely black outfit stood at the entrance to the patient room. The maid had a face with features as beautiful and delicate as a doll, and her silver hair was also reminiscent of cool sunshine. She also wore a black leather eyepatch over her left eye.
“Geez, she came at the worst time…”
Eco’s quiet whisper of complaint clearly made its way into Ash’s ears. Most likely in order to avoid the uninvited intruder from seeing her reddened face, Eco turned to look out the window. No, she was probably just pretending to look at the scenery.
“O-Oh, it’s you Celes. How rare of you to come alone.”
“…Why are you speaking so stiffly?”
Celes sighed in amazement. It seemed as though she was aware of the fact that Ash and Eco had tried to kiss each other.
“But you misunderstand one thing. For what reason would I possibly visit a filthy insect like you alone?”
After Celes dismissively explained that, she turned around and shouted towards the corridor.
“Hey, Oscar, hurry up and get over here! How long are you going to keep hiding for?”
The voice that drifted over from the corridor undoubtedly belonged to Oscar. Logically speaking, classes should have still been in session, but Oscar had always been rather independent. She had probably chosen to skip class again. But there was something different about Oscar’s attitude today, or perhaps it would be better to say that she didn’t seem as domineering as she used to be. It was quite the unnatural move for her to send Celes ahead into the room while she waited in the corridor outside. After a while, Oscar timidly stepped into the room.
Ash was hit with such a major shock that no words formed in his mouth. The instant that Eco saw Oscar as well, she gasped in shock.
“Are you really Oscar!?”
The person who stood before them was not a tom girl who had dressed up like a boy. She gave off the impression of an upper-class lady with soft black hair. The design of her dress adopted the extravagant style of the Chevron Kingdom, making an exceptionally glamorous and dazzling sight to behold. The open area at the centre of her chest revealed a deep cleavage which was incredibly provocative.
“H-How rude! I can’t believe you…”
Going by her voice and tone, it was undoubtedly Oscar.
“But why are you cross-dressing as a girl today?”
“I won’t allow you to say that I’m ‘cross-dressing as a girl’! B-Because this is…how I really look!”
Mesmerised by the sublimity of her glamorous beauty, Ash suddenly realised.
“Y-You’re right. Sorry, that was my bad, Oscar.”
“…It’s good that you understand.”
Oscar replied as she fidgeted in a self-conscious manner.
“But why do you want to revert back to dressing as a girl?”
Ash couldn’t understand what Oscar’s intentions were. In the event that her true gender as a female was exposed, Oscar’s position in the succession to the throne would be immediately denied. Given how cautious Oscar normally acted, this was truly a reckless decision.
“You filthy insect!”
Saying that, Celes suddenly slapped Ash’s back.
Although Celes hadn’t been that rough, it was enough to make Ash shriek in pain because of his broken ribs.
“Hold on, what are you doing to an injured person!?”
“Hmph, I just touched him a bit.”
Although Eco stood up for Ash, Celes maintained her arrogant attitude. Unbothered to deal with Eco, she brought her face close to Ash instead. Her only remaining eye emitted a terrifying glow, causing Ash to cower in fear.
“Put yourself in Oscar’s shoes and think for a moment! She obviously wishes for you to appreciate her feminine side, and that’s why she specifically dressed up in order to visit you in this hospital! Besides, it seems Princess Veronica’s bed has been moved away.”
“H-Hey, Celes! Don’t say it so clearly, it’s difficult to…”
Her face flushed completely red, Oscar interrupted Celes from behind. The gorgeous dress that she wore seemed to have some kind of magical effect on Oscar’s body. On this occasion, she looked not only slim and feminine, but also elegant. She was totally like a lady. After all, Oscar was also known as a peerlessly handsome boy throughout the Academy. Her beautiful face was illuminated and sparkled like a diamond. It was almost as if Oscar’s surroundings were enveloped in a hazy white layer of light….
“—Hey, show some self-control!”
After Eco scowled at him and pinched his cheek, Ash was finally brought back to reality.
After the four of them chatted and laughed amongst themselves for a while, Ash suddenly remembered an important matter.
“That’s right, Celes, your mother…was she okay afterwards?”
The reason why Celes had followed Uriel’s orders to trigger off the Pluto Incident was because her mother had been taken hostage. After that incident was over, Celes once again pledged her loyalty to Oscar. At that time, Ash sincerely felt happy, but he had constantly been worried about whether such actions would put Celes’ mother at risk of danger.
“Ah, are you talking about her mother?”
Upon seeing Oscar’s relaxed expression, Ash was rather surprised.
“I also hoped to save Celes’ mother, so I originally planned to return to my homeland as soon as the Five Hundred Years Festival was over. Naturally, that was in order to rescue her mother. It’s just…”
“Did something happen…?”
Ash nervously swallowed.
“Before I returned to my country, my home — the Brailsford Family sent me a letter.”
“It said that Uriel’s men drove a carriage, and it seems that they delivered Celes’ mother to the Brailsford Family.”
“What is the meaning of that…?”
Ash furrowed his brow as he delved into thought. Although the news that Celes’ mother was safe was reassuring, it also left behind many doubts.
“It seems that Celes’ mother was kidnapped by a carriage whilst she was unaware of the situation. In any case, the Brailsford Family is now responsible for taking her in.”
“How inexplicable…I wonder what Uriel’s motives are?”
“You’re wrong, this has always been Uriel’s way of doing things. If it were any other villain, they wouldn’t have hesitated to kill off a hostage. But Uriel isn’t the type to do something like that.”
“I think…it’s probably because there’s no value in killing my mother for Uriel.”
Celes snorted as she interrupted from the side, but Oscar shook her head as she disagreed with that theory.
“That’s not it. He wouldn’t have sent a carriage to take your mother to the Brailsford Family otherwise. It’s a message that Uriel wants to send to me. ‘I admit that I lost during the Pluto Incident. But I won’t be so merciful next time.’ —If I’m not wrong, that’s likely what it means.”
“The Third Prince Uriel really can’t be underestimated huh…”
After Ash sighed, Oscar then added
“Correct. Although there are currently a hundred and eight people in line to succeed the throne including me, the vast majority of them are loyal to Prince Uriel. Uriel has two older brothers, but the mighty First Prince died a few years ago from an unexplained sudden heart attack. The Second Prince is rather plain and mediocre, and quickly became a puppet of Uriel.”
“The situation seems quite unfavourable to you even though you’re a Dragonar…”
After Ash said so with a solemn tone, Oscar suddenly leaned her body forward. Her soft feminine hands gently touched Ash’s cheeks. The warmth of Oscar’s skin flowed across to Ash’s cool body. Ash felt embarrassed to stare directly at her beautiful face, and so he lowered his gaze slightly, which caused the large opening in the bust of her dress to enter his vision. Judging solely from the appearance that Oscar had when she dressed up as a boy, it was impossible to imagine that she actually had such ample breasts. Moreover, because Oscar had leaned forward, it had almost become possible to see her flower buds underneath the silky fabric. As the uncertainty of where to focus his eyes mounted, Ash couldn’t stop his heart from beating wildly. Oscar grinned as she watched Ash’s embarrassed expression while she declared a vow
“Don’t worry, I have Celes and Tristan with me. And to tell you the truth, I’ve recently started a special kind of training.”
“Oh, that sounds interesting. Are you developing a new ultimate technique?”
“At the moment, I’m more focused on fighting methods rather than combat techniques. Since Uriel gave me the rare gift of Pluto, I hope to make good use of it. Anyway, I’ll let you know about the results later.”
Ash was flabbergasted. Oscar actually planned to develop the Pluto which had caused immense turmoil into her own weapon. However, as Ash began to contemplate the idea, he thought that if Oscar couldn’t even do that much with her abilities, then perhaps it was impossible for her to become the next King of Chevron….
“Also, do you still remember your agreement with me, Ash? You promised to help me succeed the throne—”
As Oscar brought her face closer so that their noses almost touched, a faint smile emerged on her face. Her smile was an embodiment of seduction and charm.
“Y-Yeah. That’s right…”
Ash obviously still remembered that promise. But just as he nodded, a strong murderous intent ‘Gogogogogo…’ shot over from the sidelines.
“You two…have the nerve to flirt in front of me?”
The fists that Eco tightly clenched in front of her chest trembled continuously.
“D-Don’t get angry, Eco!”
“I’ll crush you both!”
Ignoring Ash’s panic, Eco’s shout was as fierce as rumbling thunder.
To the north of Ansarivan lay the vast Fianna Forest. It was late at night. Every time the hoot of an owl resounded through the forest, it was accompanied by the sound of flapping wings. In the depths of the lush forest, there was a small historical ruin. The appearance of the full moon in the night sky faintly floated above the darkness. The ruin seemed to be an ancient cemetery, and several square tombstones could be seen standing amidst the gravel. It appeared as though an excavation of the ruin was in progress.
However, there was a group of dubious characters who had gathered and camped in this sacred and inviolable land. They were an elite squad who had been sent from the Imperial territory of Vandenhaar. They were officially known as the Imperial Army’s Twelfth Border Guard. They were also more commonly known by the name — <Fenrir>. There were roughly fifty soldiers. Each soldier had been equipped with a magically engineered weapon which looked like a fusion between a sword and a sub-machine gun. The blade was black, and the handle contained a Bright Dragon Crystal. The <Fenrir> were originally intended to be a garrison that specialised in the protection of the country’s border. Ever since the end of the Xenoglavia War, there had been no further wars between the great powers over the past fifty years. However, there were a wide variety of ethnic minorities who settled down in the border area, and it was not uncommon to see conflicts break out within the Empire. For this reason, the <Fenrir> were the squad with the most combat experience amongst the entire army. Most of these magic soldiers were resting in preparation for the upcoming battle, and as for the small number of soldiers competent in blasting operations, they continued to work in the deepest part of the ruins relying on the moonlight for illumination.
Their goal was to blast the immediate rubble away and remove any obstacles. Landslides and rockfall caused by earthquakes had caused the entrance to the underground passage to be blocked. There was one particular soldier who pressed a detonation button. As the creatures of the forest became frightened of the sounds of explosion, they scattered away in every direction.
Klaus Viderhausen stared into the flames of the stove as he sipped on a glass of red wine. When the <Fenrir> arrived at the ruins, the area was devoid of people. If there had been any archaeologists or excavators resting here, they would have been indiscriminately killed. In order to achieve their goals, <Fenrir> would do whatever was necessary. Tonight, Klaus had snuck into the Lautreamont Knight Country as the commander of the <Fenrir>.
“Phew…I never thought that the day I personally commanded troops would come.”
Klaus said with a tone of irony after crudely placing his empty wine glass down on the table. If the news of his cooperation with the Third Prince Uriel of the Chevron Kingdom were to be leaked to the country, it would most certainly anger the Emperor, and he would impose the death penalty on Klaus. The Viderhausen Family which had been appointed as the Counts of the Vandenhaar border for generations would inevitably also suffer the same fate. After the Xenoglavia War ended fifty two years ago, the relationship between the two nations had been as incompatible as fire and water. The people of Chevron looked down on the people of Zepharos claiming that they smelled of machine oil, and on the contrary, the people of Zepharos thought of the people of Chevron as softies who were obsessed with a decorative façade.
“…There still exists an outstanding figure like the Third Prince Uriel in the Kingdom. So long as the Kingdom and Empire cooperate, even the Knight Country which relies on the dragons for protection is not to be feared.”
Klaus had already reached a point of no return. As he tried to grab another bottle of wine, his body lost balance. Although he barely stabilised his body, he almost fell off the sofa.
“…Master. It’s not good for your body if you keep drinking.”
The person who spoke up with apparent concern for Klaus was the girl who motionlessly sat on an antique chair, Kriemhild. She wore a mask on the upper half of her face in order to cover up her magic eyes. The blind Kriemhild seemed to have been able to sense how much he had drunk based on the intoxicated breaths that he exhaled into the atmosphere.
“This small quantity of wine isn’t enough to affect me.”
After Klaus stood up from the sofa, he walked over to the work table which had been placed against the wall. An old map of the Academy City Ansarivan had been laid out and spread flat across the table. Although the map was severely damaged and many parts were difficult to identify, it was indeed a map of Ansarivan’s underground labyrinth. Although it was an incomplete map, it had been of great value to the archaeologists. Uriel was the owner of this map. It was difficult even for specialised scholars to get hold of such a rare ancient map, and yet Uriel had done so easily. Klaus picked up a pen and began to write in a blank space of the map.
I hope you’re ready and waiting, Ash Blake and young dragon Eco. This is a battle for the purpose of destroying you two…I gave it the name of <Operation Zauberflöte>. This <Zauberflöte> is a blessing for our existence.”
Just as Klaus muttered that confidently to himself—
“—Pardon the interruption.”
Along with a knock on the door, a hoarse voice came from the other side of the door.
“Gerhard, what is the matter?”
Gerhard Yeager — he was the captain of the <Fenrir>. The loyal Gerhard entered the room and respectfully kneeled down. He was a soldier who had begun to serve at the border under the Count ever since the days of Klaus’ father.
“Young Master, according to your orders, the obstacles blocking the way to the underground entrance have been removed.”
“…Gerhard. Have you forgotten that I told you to stop calling me ‘Young Master’?”
When Klaus inherited the title after his father’s death, the people under him were supposed to call him ‘Your Excellency’. In actuality, that was what Klaus’ father had been called before his death.
“M-My apologies, it’s a small mistake — Young Master!”
Although Klaus harboured a few suspicions that he did it intentionally, it was good news to him that the obstacles had been cleared away. As a result, it was now possible for him to sneak into the underground of Ansarivan City at any time. Of course, if he sent <Fenrir> in to attack, a frontal assault wouldn’t be impossible. However, it was imperative to take Kriemhild to the place where she had to be as she was a cornerstone in the strategy. So, the most foolproof method was to sneak in and invade from the underground passage. Indeed, Kriemhild was the <Zauberflöte> that had brought a miracle to Uriel and Klaus—. A wide, satisfied grin surfaced on Klaus’ face.
“Good work, Gerhard. We shall now officially begin <Operation Zauberflöte>!”
“Op. Zauberflöte ~A.S.B.1365.11~” is closed.
(All 4 of 4 parts) (21/10)
Continues on to Chapter 4 – The Academy City’s Underground Labyrinth