The continent of Ark Strada.
Looking down towards it from the sky;
It was shaped like a dragon spreading its wings;
On it were five forces that were kept in balance.
I The dragon’s wing ~ Holy Espada Agency.
II The dragon’s body ~ Chevron Kingdom.
III The dragon’s jaw ~ Zepharos Empire.
IV The dragon’s tail ~ Labrock Trade Union.
V The dragon’s heart ~ Lautreamont Knight Country
[Even I cannot bear this…]
Mirabel’s beautiful and sincere voice resounded across the dawning sky.
[I will expose the virulent evils and treason of the Third Prince Uriel. And I hereby declare Oscar Brailsford who is ranked one hundred and eighth in line to the royal succession as the next Chevron King—.]
Year 1365 of the A.S.B Calendar, the month of Scorpio. The declaration made by Mirabel, the Third Princess of the Knight Country on this day would later be called by historians—
—The <Argento Magus>’s declaration of war.
In the guest room of Fontaine Palace, both Ash and Eco were completely stunned.
“Wait…what is going on right now!?”
Eco leaned on the windowsill as she looked up at the sky outside the window, her face pressed against the glass.
“I can’t tell at all either…”
Ash could do nothing but stand awkwardly on the spot as he answered. Two magic ships had initiated a confrontation over the capital of Fontaine City. One of those was the prided magic ship of the Chevron Kingdom, the Claíomh Solais. The other one was a strange magic ship that Ash had never seen before. However, since the ship’s interior which was projected into the air, it was possible to confirm that Mirabel and Oscar were aboard the ship. Just last night, Ash and Eco had done everything within their power to finally repel the <Schwarz Drachen Panzer> which had almost turned the capital of Fontaine City into a ruin. Yet not long after they felt a wave of relief—
Just as dawn broke across the sky, the Claíomh Solais with Prince Uriel aboard appeared above the capital. What was even more shocking was the fact that Uriel had taken Paladin Oswald as a hostage in order to make a despicable request to First Princess Veronica. As for Mirabel who had arrived just in time on that mysterious magic ship, she didn’t seem to have any intention of conceding to Uriel.
“In any case, we have to prevent a war from happening…”
Ash tightly clenched his teeth. If a war broke out in such a place, the consequences would be unimaginable. As an iconic capital city, Fontaine City would surely become the site of a tumultuous ruin. The city could be swallowed up by a sea of fire.
“Kuh…what should we do!?”
Ash quietly glanced at Eco’s face from the side. Why not ask Eco to transform into a dragon again to keep the two magic ships in check — even though thoughts such as those raced through his mind, Ash eventually decided to give up.
Noticing Ash’s gaze, Eco turned around with a confused expression.
At first glance, Eco’s appearance was no different than usual. Her fluffy hair was bathed in the morning light, giving off a brilliant pink and silver glow. Her rounded horns which served as proof that she was a young dragon had an ivory colour that made them appear smooth and bright. Her cheeks had a pleasing fullness, and their rosy colour gave off a healthy and energetic feeling. Even so, Eco had just experienced a fierce battle against the <Schwarz Drachen Panzer> last night. Even though she appeared to act so lively right now, she had most definitely consumed a lot of stamina and magical energy. Moreover, Eco’s very existence was one of the reasons that Uriel had launched his attack on the government of the Knight Country. It was in part due to the incident which occurred in summer—
An enormous dragon suddenly appeared on the eve of the Continental Congress <Elysium>, and that forced the conference to be put on hold. The true identity of that dragon was in fact Eco, who had been forcefully awakened by the Imperial Army. And now Uriel had gone after the Knight Country for concealing the existence of Eco. If Ash allowed Eco to Dragonise now — that would be exactly what Uriel wanted.
“Ash, you aren’t…”
Eco suddenly frowned. She placed both hands on her hips as she stared intently at Ash. As he was glared at by those fiery red eyes, Ash couldn’t help but flinch a little. It was probably the influence of her successful Dragonisation — Eco’s face gave off a more mature impression.
“You’re probably racking your brains to try and think of a way to singlehandedly reverse this deadlock, aren’t you?”
After Eco saw right through him, Ash hesitated on what to say. Eco seemed reluctant for Ash to intervene in the conflict between the two countries, perhaps because she was worried about his injuries. Thanks to the Ark that Eco had worked hard to complete, Ash’s body had undergone an impressive recovery. But even so, he was still a long way from a full recovery. As far as the current situation was concerned, Ash needed the rest more than Eco.
Just as Ash was about to convey his innermost thoughts to Eco…
“You two, please look up in the sky!”
The Paladin’s maid — Frieda Shelley’s cry caught their attention. Upon hearing that loud and unrestrained cry, Ash was reminded that Frieda had been standing by the door. Ash and Eco followed Frieda’s advice and shifted their gazes outside the window.
“How is that possible…!?”
Ash widened his eyes.
Eco also looked on in amazement with her mouth half agape. The rumbling engine of a third party made its way to Ash’s ears. Unexpectedly, a new ship appeared in the sky. The ship with a solemn atmosphere around it looked almost like a temple that had been constructed upon a floating island.
“I think I’ve seen it before…!”
Although Ash had the feeling that it was familiar, he was unable to connect the ship with its name due to his shock at the situation. And as if to continue where Ash left off, Frieda spoke with an awestruck look.
“That is the Espada Holy Agency’s Papal Ship — the Holy Ship, Esperanza.”
The magic ship with an outer appearance reminiscent of a temple inserted itself in between the imminent conflict that was about to break out between the two other magic ships. With widened eyes, Ash kept his eyes on the bow of the Holy Ship. Just a moment ago, it seemed that a figure had flashed across his field of vision. A young girl stood there calmly and with confidence. The curled hair wrapped around the left and right sides of her head sparkled with a blue tinge. It was said to be a unique sacred colour that had been used since ancient times to select the Pope. The headdress which was regarded as the Pope’s mitre looked even bigger than the girl’s head. The pure white robes that she wore gave off both a clean and dignified aura. The girl’s right hand held onto a papal staff that was even taller than her. On the top of it was an ornate winged cross which acted as a symbol of the Holy Espada Agency.
“That girl is—!”
Seeing that Ash was too surprised to speak, Frieda explained on his behalf.
“There is no mistake. She is the child prodigy who ascended to the cathedra of Pope at the age of nine — the <Innocent High Priestess> — Her Holiness Raquel IV.”
From memory, the Holy Ship Esperanza had also been present in the capital of Fontaine City on the night before the forced cancellation of the Continental Congress <Elysium>. However, it was the first time that Ash had personally laid eyes on her. Ash inadvertently noticed — there was a woman dressed in a gorgeous outfit who stood behind the girl Pope. The woman was tall and slender, she was a beautiful woman with eyes as sharp as a warrior. In fact, although the woman was dressed like a high-ranking priest, a sword hung from her waist.
“And that woman is…?”
She is the confidant of Her Holiness Raquel IV, Cardinal Penelope Del Monde. She is the protector and advisor of Her Holiness, and at the same time, she is also the Captain of the glorious Holy Wing Knights of Espada—”
Just at that moment, as if to interrupt Frieda’s explanation, a strange phenomenon occurred.
[Good day, I am Raquel IV.]
A clear voice like a silver bell softly rang out in Ash’s mind.
“This is telepathic communication! She’s not Navi, yet a human being like her has that ability?”
In shock, Eco pressed her fingers against her temples.
“This is unbelievable…even though I heard that the past Popes have always had incredible abilities that could be described as miracles, I didn’t expect it to be to this extent…”
Even though Frieda was always calm and serious, it appeared as though it was difficult for her to conceal her surprise. It seemed that Raquel was communicating with everyone present via telepathy at the same time.
[There is one thing that I must convey to all of you. Although this news has not officially been made public, and I am very reluctant to inform you of it in this manner…it appears that I can no longer hesitate given the situation at hand.]
After saying that, Raquel momentarily paused and placed her hands over her chest as she took a deep breath. And then, she spoke the words which completely subverted the situation in one fell swoop.
[—Last night, the King of Chevron, Zacharias III, passed away.]
Everything both inside and outside the city instantly fell silent. The unexpected declaration sent Ash’s thoughts into disarray.
[The reason I have come here is so that I may convey to the people the King of Chevron’s final wish.]
Because everyone held their breath as they listened with deepening anticipation to Raquel’s words, both the city and the urban districts became unnervingly quiet.
[Bedridden due to illness, Zacharias III beseeched to me that whosoever obtains this sword shall be the next King of the nation—]
Pope Raquel pointed behind herself with the papal staff, towards Penelope. The beautiful cardinal who stood behind her held a large sword. Both the scabbard and the handle were adorned with magnificent gems. Because its ornate appearance appeared far too lavish, it seemed unsuitable for any practical use. Its brilliance accentuated the artistic style of the Chevron Kingdom to its extremes.
[Isn’t that the sword of the Royal Family that has been passed down from generation to generation, Tír na nÓg!?]
Oscar yelled loudly in surprise through her projection in the air. Her eyes clearly exposed a desire for the sword. To Oscar, that sword was the treasure that she had always kept her eyes on.
[…It seems that what Your Holiness has said is the truth.]
Uriel’s voice was transmitted through a magical amplifier. The Third Prince had always sounded leisurely up until this point, but there now seemed to be undertones of annoyance in his voice.
[Prince Uriel and Sir Oscar, please set aside your personal grievances for now and mourn the death of the king. This sword, Tír na nÓg, will temporarily remain in my care. And I — in the name of Raquel IV, forbid you from starting a war for the throne until the mourning period is over. Have I made myself clear?]
The believers of Rosa Maria made up as much as seventy percent of the total population of the continent. The Espada Holy Agency was the headquarters of the Rosa Maria religion, and the one who stood above them all was the Pope.
[…I understand, Your Holiness.]
It seemed that even the aggressive Uriel had no intention of going against the Pope. Uriel himself was also a believer of Rosa Maria, so he would be expelled from the Church if he rebelled against the Pope’s orders, so it was no surprise that he acquiesced. For a Prince of a nation, expulsion from the Church was equivalent to the loss of a significant foothold, an unimaginable fear. The magic ship Claíomh Solais slowly began to turn around. The bow of the ship pointed towards the direction of the Chevron Kingdom. At that moment, Raquel used telepathy to speak to Uriel.
[Prince Uriel, please stay. Please return Paladin Oswald to the Knight Country. Your conduct…considering the recent passing of Zacharias III, I will not pursue the matter for now — but the Holy Spirit of Rosa Maria sees all in her eyes, okay?]
As Raquel spoke, the Esperanza sailed forward and latched onto the Claíomh Solais. Even though the Claíomh Solais was decorated as a symbol of the Chevron Royal Family, when compared side-by-side with the Esperanza, the difference made it appear so trivial that it was astonishing. And so — both sides initiated a handover of Paladin Oswald.
After several hours—.
After transferring Oswald to the Holy Ship, the magic ship Claíomh Solais finally returned on course and sailed towards the Chevron Kingdom.
“I didn’t expect the Espada Holy Agency to rush out and act as a peacemaker. I only hope that the situation doesn’t get more complicated…”
Ash placed his palm against the cold glass window as he muttered in a low voice. However, had Raquel not intervened for the sake of fairness, the two sides which were originally on the verge of conflict wouldn’t have been able to retreat, thus Ash was truly grateful to her for coming.
Ash inadvertently looked up again at the Holy Ship Esperanza. He felt as though someone was staring at him. The young Raquel stood at the bow of the Holy Ship. Ash was startled. The Holy Ship floated in a position that was even higher than the spire of Fontaine Palace. But even so, Ash felt as though his eyes met with Raquel’s.
A cold voice suddenly brought Ash back to reality. Ash hurriedly turned to his side to see Eco standing there with a furrowed brow and an irritated expression.
“I don’t really want to believe this, but you haven’t been charmed by such a small girl, have you?”
Eco silently gave off an intimidating aura. Slightly embarrassed, Ash quickly waved his hands about in denial.
“H-How could I possibly be such a pervert!? Her Holiness Raquel is only nine years old!”
“Hmm~ that’s pretty suspicious…”
“L-Let’s not mention that. We should hurry back to the Academy to help up with the reconstruction work. Don’t you agree, Eco?”
As fury took over Eco’s mind, she folded her arms in front of her chest.
—Ah, this is bad.
Ash’s instincts sounded the alarm bells of danger, and he couldn’t help but step backwards.
“You can say that after you’ve rested and healed your broken body! If you dare to ignore what I say, then be careful that I don’t crush you!”
“Hey, your words and your actions are completely inconsistent!”
As he watched Eco lift her foot up high, Ash let out a horrified wail.
“The Innocent High Priestess ~A.S.B.1365.11~” is closed.
(All 3 of 3 parts) (12/4)
Continues on to Chapter 1 – The Ancient Magic Ship Escavaron