Chapter 6 – Destination, Imperial Capital Arkham
Following the explanation of Mirabel’s astounding proposal, the gathering immediately dispersed. Afterwards, Silvia locked herself in her personal room aboard the ship and didn’t touch her breakfast or lunch, all she did was sit crouched over on the bed huddling her legs. She no longer participated in the Academy’s revitalisation efforts either. Before she realised, the afterglow of dusk began to shine in through the small round window in her room. Mirabel’s suggestion was so absurd that Silvia couldn’t come to terms with it. Naturally, she hoped to rescue Oscar and couldn’t forgive Uriel’s cowardly behaviour. Even so, she couldn’t help but shiver at every thought of Mirabel’s proposal.
Is there really no other way?
She was so troubled by the problem that she couldn’t even act like her usual self. Ash is just as unreasonable…Silvia thought to herself. If Ash actually carried out Mirabel’s proposal, he would no longer be an ordinary person, instead—.
“Princess-sama, please eat at least a little bit…your body won’t hold up otherwise.”
Upon hearing Cosette’s worried persuasion for her to eat, Silvia returned to her senses. At some point unbeknownst to her, sandwiches and coffee had been set down on the table beside her bed.
“…Sorry for worrying you.”
After Silvia’s listless reply, she picked up a sandwich. Cossette’s handmade sandwiches contained various fillings such as eggs, bacon, cream cheese, an assortment of salad and grilled chicken. Ever since Silvia’s childhood, Cossette would make these sandwiches for her whenever she was sad or in pain. Cossette revealed a gentle smile as she silently watched Silvia sample the sandwiches and coffee.
“…Was there something that you wanted to say?”
“Princess-sama, if I may be so forthcoming, continuing to shut yourself in your room will not help. This matter is insignificant when compared to the resolution you made to inherit the title of Paladin, is it not?”
Clearly, Silvia’s troubles could not hide from Cossette’s perceptiveness.
“Geez…you’re much more magnanimous than me.”
After making a wry smile, Silvia finished the remaining coffee in her mug with a single gulp. Strangely, the troubles that had been nagging at her seemed to alleviate.
“Thank you, Cossette. I’ll talk it over with aneue again..”
With her spirit restored, Silvia walked out of the room in a confident manner. However — after just a few meagre minutes, Silvia found herself lost once again in a puddle of her spilt thoughts. Just as she prepared to turn the corner, she happened to witness the scene of Ash entering Mirabel’s room.
“Did Mirabel-anesama have some kind of business with Ash? But why…no, it must be for tonight’s plan.”
Silvia furtively crept towards the door.
“Pardon the intrusion, Princess Mirabel.”
Just as Ash entered the room, the tolling of the five o’clock evening bell could also be heard from outside.
“Ash, sorry for calling on you so suddenly. Take a seat somewhere first.”
Mirabel calmly greeted Ash after lifting her eyes from the pile of documents laid out upon her desk.
Ash anxiously sat down on the sofa by the wall. Over the past few days, various daily necessities and research materials had been moved into Mirabel’s room. Her room had been thoroughly transformed, and it now felt more like a small yet densely packed laboratory. Although there was a small bed in one corner, most of the space had been consumed by volumes of information.
“Eunice, it’s time for tea. Make a cup for Ash while you’re at it as well.”
Eunice, who had been standing as still as a piece of furniture, began to move like a wind-up machine doll as soon as she received Mirabel’s order. Shortly afterwards, a citrus aroma wafted about and filled the room. It was Mirabel’s favourite tea variety produced by Chiron, [El Gloriana].
“Please enjoy, Ash-sama.”
“Thank you, Eunice-san.”
Just as Ash expressed his gratitude to Eunice and placed his lips on the edge of the teacup—
“You cannot take Silvia with you in the upcoming battle. Do you understand the reason for that?”
Mirabel’s unprovoked comment caused Ash to suddenly stop. Her words were almost akin to a warning.
“—Is it because Princess-sama is the one who will eventually become the Paladin?”
“Correct. Silvia has publicly announced that she intends to become the Paladin. Although she is the Fourth Princess, she has become heir to the Lautreamont Knight Country’s Royal Family. There is no turning back from that.”
“That makes sense…”
“I must do everything within my power to remove obstacles which may be detrimental for her succession to Paladin. The fate of the Knight Country’s future is in her hands, and that is why I cannot allow Silvia to partake in this battle.”
At that moment, the sound of something colliding seemed to originate from the other side of the door, but Ash didn’t give much thought to it.
“Princess Mirabel, if that’s the case, then you’re also…”
Ash raised his eyes and glanced over to Mirabel.
“You’re assisting me as a princess of the Knight Country. With regard to the sensitive nature of your identities, isn’t it the case that both of you need to avoid suspicion?”
Mirabel paced towards the window, her back facing Ash.
“You’re wrong about that, I’m vastly different from Silvia. I just happened to be born into the Royal Family. To be frank with you, I’m satisfied as long as I can make achievements in my academic career.”
Mirabel gracefully turned around and stared straight at Ash. The transparency in her crystal-like eyes mesmerised Ash. And then, the ensuing words that escaped Mirabel’s mouth caused Ash to doubt his own ears.
“Since I have a role to play in this plan, I intend to give up my status as the Third Princess.”
Almost unconsciously, Ash jumped up from the sofa. He hadn’t expected Mirabel to plan ahead to such an extent, and he was severely shocked by the weight of her determination. Seeing Ash react in this manner, Mirabel made a slight smile.
“That is why I will not allow you to call me ‘Princess Mirabel’ anymore. Do you understand?”
Ash consciously decided not to argue with her, and instead nodded dutifully. It was because he believed that Mirabel’s determination was so unshakable that not even the worst of disasters would change her mind.
“That is all I have to say. What are you still procrastinating here for? Hurry up and chase after her.”
As she said that, Mirabel cast a sharp glance towards the door. It was only then that Ash realised the door had been pried a sliver ajar.
“…It can’t be!”
Having said that, there did seem to be a few faint noises from outside earlier. It probably meant that the person who was eavesdropping outside was so shocked that they accidentally made noise. If that was the case, it was clear and evident who the person eavesdropping outside was.
“Ash. You’re responsible for persuading her.”
Mirabel valorously stared directly into Ash’s eyes.
“To begin with, the reason that I asked you to come here was so that I could ask you to persuade Silvia as she still harbours doubts.”
After rushing out of her room, Ash sprinted off as fast as he could.
After chasing her all the way out onto the deck, Ash finally caught up to Silvia. The sunset felt almost illusory as it dyed the Maestros that were snoozing on the deck a shade of crimson. As he saw Silvia run towards Lancelot, he reached out to her with his hand. His fingers grasped hold of Silvia’s arm and he thought that he had caught up with her, but—
“Leave me alone!”
Silvia forcefully flung Ash’s hand away — throwing her own body off balance in the process.
Her blonde hair gleamed in the light of the setting sun whilst the breeze caused it to gently flutter.
Panicking as he saw Silvia’s back about to hit the floor, Ash caught her in an embrace. However, Ash had also overextended himself and fell forward.
After feeling a weak impact, Ash’s vision was completely obscured by something as his entire face was smothered by a soft sensation. A sweet floral scent wafted into Ash’s nose.
“I’m sorry, Princess-sama. Are you okay…”
Ash hurriedly lifted his head from Silvia’s chest. His heartbeat raced because of their sudden intimate contact, and he felt as though his heart would pound through the walls of his chest. Both of them were tightly entwined from the waist down to the thighs, and Ash could feel the warmth of Silvia’s body against his own. From an onlooker’s point of view, it would almost appear as though Ash had forcefully pinned Silvia to the floor. Even though Ash wanted to quickly untangle himself from Silvia, he was unable to do so.
It was because Silvia had extended her arms and embraced Ash’s neck while a serious expression coloured her face. As for the reason behind the redness of her cheeks — was it really just because of the setting sun’s glow? The two of them silently gazed at each other for a while. After a while, Silvia opened her lips and conveyed her thoughts to him.
“Logically, I also understand the seriousness of the matter. Now that I’ve publicly declared my intention to become the Paladin, I can no longer partake in the plan or have anything to do with you…although it hurts, Mirabel-anesama’s words are so precise that it upsets me…”
After murmuring those words, Silvia exerted force into both of her arms.
Ash panicked as he was suddenly pulled forward. Their faces became so close that their noses almost touched each other’s. Ash’s upper body also pushed against Silvia’s body, meaning that her soft breasts were tightly pressed against his chest.
“But, Ash, as a woman…I’d be willing to follow you to the ends of the earth, even if it means abandoning my country!”
Large tear drops trickled out from her sapphire-like eyes.
Ash had nothing left to say. He couldn’t think of the words to tell her anything. After all, even if he did say something now, it was unlikely to give her any comfort. After a while, Silvia squeezed out an unnatural smile and she averted her eyes from Ash’s face.
“…Sorry for showing you such an unsightly side. Thank you for listening to me vent, I feel much more refreshed now. Thank you.”
“There’s no need for thanks…you’re being overly polite, Princess-sama.”
Just as Ash made a wry smile and answered—
“Don’t get me wrong though, Ash!”
Once more, Silvia tightened her embrace around Ash and their faces grew close again.
“I haven’t given up on you yet!”
A sudden gust of wind whistled across the wide deck.
Ash’s entire body stiffened. It was in that moment that their lips touched.
No, their lips weren’t just touching. After Ash’s lips were attacked, he could also feel Silvia’s warm tongue pushing through. Her tongue pried his mouth open and slinked deep into his mouth. Their kiss was much deeper and more intense when compared to the kiss that they shared in the novitiate’s courtyard on that summer night. If their previous kiss was an innocent childlike kiss, then — this one was a mature, adult kiss. Both of their tongues were entangled with a feverish heat. A few moments later, Silvia backed off and a strand of saliva that connected them followed her retreating motion. Silvia’s cheeks were completely red.
“…It’s a strange feeling. If it was the old me, I’d never have allowed myself to kiss in such a debaucherous manner regardless of who the man was. B-But, you know…I don’t dislike such a kiss.”
The Silvia before his eyes caused his emotions to stir. Ash found it hard to resist the urge to kiss her again on impulse.
“I-I’ll wait for your triumphant return, and then we can continue!”
Upon hearing the tone of pleasant surprise in Silvia’s voice, Ash couldn’t help but doubt his ears.
“What do you mean by that…?”
“M-Must you really make me say such an embarrassing thing out loud!?”
Silvia hurriedly stood back up and then dashed towards Lancelot.
“Lancelot, how long are you going to sleep for!? Prepare to head back to Epona House!”
Awoken in the midst of its nap, Lancelot slowly rose from the ground and spread its wings.
As Ash reflected on the kiss that they had just shared, he gazed up at the sky—
“…Phew. As expected, even I got excited during all of that.”
Out of nowhere, Ash was startled by a familiar-sounding voice. It turned out that Cossette had silently slipped behind his back unbeknownst to him. Her cheeks were flushed as she tightly embraced her own shoulders. Ash hadn’t expected it to be possible for Cossette to display such a sweet and charming expression.
“C-Cossette! You were peeping again…?”
“The two of you were so much more intense than usual today. Whew…just thinking about the scene of your passionate kiss makes me want even more…”
Ash was so embarrassed that he felt the urge to immediately jump off the deck, and he shouted back,
“Please, please don’t say anything else!”
That night, the members on board the Escavaron gathered in what was known as the operations command room. Those participants included Ash, Eco, Mirabel, Rebecca, Max, Lucca, Jessica and Eunice, as well as — Navi, who had manifested into physical form and stood behind Eco. Although Celes was heavily bandaged, she was still in attendance. A flame burned bright in her right eye. Anya was also present at this meeting. Upon hearing of the news, Anya immediately asked for leave from the store manager and decided to come on board as its pilot. Raymond was present as well. As soon as he heard about the situation from Ash, he volunteered his help as one of Ash’s close friends. After all, with few males on board the ship, Raymond and Brigid officially joining them was welcome assistance. It was just that both Silvia and Cossette had disappeared without a trace. To Ash, it was somewhat saddening that both of them were missing. However, due to the nature of this last resort, he simply had to accept it with reluctance. The final person to join them was Raquel IV.
“—I will return to the Esperanza first. I already have a rough idea of what Prince Uriel will do after the mourning period concludes. In order to ascend to the throne, he must first inherit the treasured sword Tír na nÓg that has been passed down through the Chevron Royal Family for generations. Moreover, it is customary for the Pope of the Holy Espada Agency to crown the new king at the coronation ceremony. As soon as the mourning period ends, Prince Uriel will be eager to get in touch with me…which means that there is little time.”
Unlike her usual demeanour, Raquel was dead serious at the moment.
“Because both you and Prince Uriel are believers of Rosa Maria, it stands to reason that I must remain neutral. However, as a human being, I truly have no appreciation for Prince Uriel. Although I must return to the Holy Espada Agency, I will be privately supporting you. I, Raquel IV, will take on the responsibility of keeping Tír na nÓg safe. May the spirit of Rosa Maria in Heaven bless Oscar as the next owner of the treasured sword.”
“Thank you, Raquel.”
After expressing gratitude from the bottom of his heart, Ash almost instinctively reached out to shake Raquel’s hand. He also gazed at Raquel with passion and sincerity.
For some reason, Raquel was startled and her cheeks became flushed.
“I-I wish you good luck and Godspeed…Ash-oniichan…”
With those words, she hurriedly made her exit from the operations command room.
“What’s wrong with Raquel?”
Ash tilted his head as he pondered that to himself.
Cardinal Penelope suddenly towered in front of Ash like a solid wall.
“You used your dirty paws to touch Her Holy Eminence without permission, and you used that doggish mouth of yours to deceive the innocence of Her Eminence with honeyed words?”
Penelope’s eyes burned with a raging blaze, and her hand rested on the hilt of her sword — she was completely ready for war.
“I-I’m sorry! I thought of her like my own little sister, and I couldn’t help myself…”
Overwhelmed by Penelope’s imposing presence, Ash slowly backed away. Cold beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
“Hmph…I think we need to have a nice long chat someday.”
After Penelope reined her anger back in, she followed after Raquel and made her exit.
Ash breathed a sigh of relief and immediately noticed the strange atmosphere that permeated the room.
Eco, Jessica, Lucca, Anya, Raymond, Max and even Rebecca was no exception as they all glared at Ash with suspicion.
“You…won’t even let a nine-year-old child out of your grasp?”
Eco’s question was spoken as if on behalf of everyone present. Rather than an expression of anger, it was closer to disbelief.
“No! It’s nothing like that! I never held any unsavoury feelings towards Raquel!”
“…Ahem. Let us get back to business.”
Fortunately, thanks to Mirabel’s calm demeanour, Ash was finally liberated from everyone’s sceptical gazes. Afterwards, Max made a report on their reserves of food and other daily necessities. Lucca and Jessica then conveyed information to everyone on topics such as medical supplies, dining, bathing and other aspects of daily life. Rebecca then raised her hand to express her opinion.
“The purpose of our voyage has not been conveyed to the student body. This has been in consideration of the fact that information may leak to the city if we were to disclose it to them. However, it is necessary to give them a detailed explanation once all of this is over…in any case, when we safely return, we need to think about how we’ll form an understanding with the other students.”
Everyone present nodded in agreement with Rebecca. Finally, Mirabel’s sharp gaze landed on Ash.
“Given the rare opportunity, why don’t you conclude today’s meeting, Ash?”
Although Ash was somewhat troubled that he had been pushed forward by Mirabel, he nodded. After all, if he panicked over such a trivial matter, his desire to rescue Oscar would be a mere fantasy.
“Very well, we shall depart — no, let’s head out!”
Ash raised his head and stood firmly upright as he declared,
“Our destination is the Imperial Capital Arkham!”
“Princess Alone ~A.S.B.1365.12~” is closed.
(All 4 of 4 parts) (24/4/20)
Continues on to Chapter 7 – Uriel Strikes Back