Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
It was the next day when they returned to the Berg Fortress. As the “Raven Army” led by Hiro approached the Berg Fortress, the main gate opened quietly. The one who came out of the gate was the commander, Liz. Next to her, there was Cerberus as well.
Liz came running up with a carefree smile on her face. Hiro got out of the carriage and first stroked the white wolf’s head before approaching Liz.
“You’ve been waiting for me, haven’t you?”
“Yes. You were late.”
Hiro smiled bitterly at her pouting.
“I had intended to return earlier than scheduled, but…”
“Still, late is late.”
The two of them walked shoulder to shoulder through the main gate to the courtyard. On the way, Hiro spoke to Liz.
“I finished without any problems, but how did it go with Liz?”
“Well, I was able to manage it pretty easily. So I was able to get back before Hiro did.”
Liz puffed out her chest proudly.
“Fufu, I won!”
“I guess I lost… What did you do?”
“I disguised myself as a town girl and went in front of the bandits. Then the color of their eyes changed, and they tried to rip me off.”
A beautiful girl like Liz would indeed be rare to see in such a remote area. It’s unfortunate, but her appearance dazzled them, and they were all over her.
“That must have been very depressing for you.”
“Not at all. It was a frustrating fight because they weren’t very strong.”
Liz’s footsteps thumped loudly as if she were venting her frustration at the lack of response.
Then Ghada appeared from behind Hiro and spoke to her.
“If you have that much energy, I’ll take care of you later.”
“Hmm. I don’t feel like I’m going to lose a single match today, but are you ready to get hurt?”
Liz said provocatively, and Ghada smiled comfortably.
“No problem. I’ll take you on without causing you injury.”
“Well said… You don’t want to regret this, do you?”
Between the two, who scattered such sparks, Hiro ended up cowering.
“Well, I’d appreciate it if you’d take it in moderation.”
The two of them are currently evenly matched. In the beginning, Liz, who had the blessing of the spirit sword, had won many times, but Ghada, who had been through a lot, was not so easy to deal with. He had come up with a way to deal with the intuitive Liz and brought the score back to 50-50.
Of course, Liz is aware of her own shortcomings and is trying to overcome them. When she overcomes this obstacle, she will be able to make even greater progress. Hiro was looking forward to the future.
As the three of them entered the courtyard, a sigh of relief could be heard from the soldiers behind them.
“Really, we got caught off guard at the last minute, didn’t we?”
Ghada saw this and stepped back. He saw the soldiers straighten up from the strain. Then Hiro saw Driks coming out of the central tower in front of him.
“Your Highness, Hiro, first of all, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations on your safe return.”
Driks knelt down on the ground with a condescending attitude and turned his attention to Liz, who was standing next to Hiro.
“So, did Her Highness Celia Estrella give it to His Highness Hiro?”
Driks twitched his cheek in response to Liz, who tilted her head.
“No, that… whatever ― it’s the letter that I just gave you.”
“Aah! That, huh…? I do have that letter.”
Liz was convinced of something and held out the letter to Hiro. Hiro received the letter with a sense of déjà vu, as he had seen something like this before.
“So this is the letter… it’s all wrinkled up.”
“Yes, it’s from my father.”
Liz said casually, but the blood drained from Driks face when he saw the crumpled letter. Hiro felt sorry for him, but it was Driks fault for giving the letter to Liz.
Hiro had a general idea of the letter’s contents, so he honestly didn’t think anything of how the letter was handled. But when he sees that Driks is about to cry, he decides that it is better to read it properly.
“Let’s see… It says to come to the Great Imperial Capital. They want to praise us for our achievements in attacking the Principality of Lichtine.”
That was the content of the letter, which was full of rhetorical flourishes. Driks’s face broke out in happiness as if he had regained his composure after hearing Hiro’s words.
“Oh, that’s good to hear. Let’s start preparing to leave right away.”
Driks stood up, brushing off the dust. Hiro nodded, then opened his mouth.
“Let’s get ready to leave here tomorrow, shall we?”
There are many things that must be prepared for a triumphant return. For example, they need to know how many soldiers to take with them, how to calculate the route and the amount of food they will need to eat, and they will also need a letter of intent to enter the territory of the surrounding nobility.
“We’ll take about 5,000 soldiers with us. Can I ask you to calculate the supplies?”
Although they intend to use the well-developed city roads, the more soldiers they have, the slower the march will be. More importantly, considering the maintenance of security in and around the Berg Fortress, the maximum number of soldiers that can be taken is 5,000.
“Very well. I’ll make arrangements right away, but is there anything else?”
“I’ll summarize the details, so please come to my room later.”
“Understood. I’ll leave you to it then.”
Driks is leaving while calling out to his subordinates. Hiro turned to Liz and spoke to her.
“You should look into a couple of dresses.”
“Hiro’s going to wear them?”
Hiro wondered why such an idea… He was so confused that he was at a loss for words. But if he thought about it, Liz had never experienced a celebration where she was the center.
That’s why she reacted strangely. It is easy to imagine how the nobles and lords have treated her. Hiro felt his anger boiling up.
However, Hiro suppressed his anger and smiled gently at Liz.
“No. You’re the one who’s going to wear it.”
There was no doubt that she would be the center of the banquet that would be held in the Great Imperial Capital this time.
On the way to his room, Hiro explained that, and Liz looked puzzled.
“B-but it’s mostly Hiro’s achievement. I didn’t do anything.”
“That’s not true. You did a great job as commander. I was only there to assist you, but it was your popularity that led the soldiers to victory.”
It was because she had always kept in close contact with each of the unit commanders that she was able to proceed smoothly without causing any disruption to the soldiers even when the command changed hands.
Hiro only gave the winning strategy to the army.
“You see, the better you are, the less visible your achievements are.”
“If nobody can see it, nobody can appreciate it.”
“On the spot, yes. But when you compile a report, you can see who the key figure is in this army. Even if the reports are destroyed, the soldiers will be able to testify. You can’t control what people say, you know.”
Hiro paused as he said this. While he was talking, he had reached his room. He opened the door, walked in, went to his desk, took out some paper and pens, and sat down in his chair.
“However, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t look good in a dress… so military uniform would be fine.”
Liz said this as she hopped into the bed and hugged a pillow.
“Still, make sure you have a dress or two.”
“Hmm~… I think I had a couple of dresses that Rosa-aneesama gave me.”
Liz’s words reminded Hiro. He would have to ask for Rosa’s cooperation as well.
As well as the gifts to the emperor, he wanted to make a grand triumphant return. The nobles, princes, and the people need to be able to see the rising star that is Liz. Rosa will do well in that area. Hiro decided to write a letter to Rosa as soon as possible.
For a while, the only sound in the room was that of the pen tip rubbing the paper. As time slowly passed, a knock at the door made Hiro look up.
It was Driks who came in. He bowed and walked over to the desk.
“I’ve arranged for the supplies. Here are the documents. I would appreciate your approval.”
Hiro looked over the documents that Driks handed him and signed them. Then he put the letter to Rosa in a white envelope, sealed it with wax, and stamped it with his seal. The letter was presented to him along with a set of documents, and Driks frowned suspiciously.
“Oya, who do I deliver this to…?”
“I need you to deliver it to the Kelheit family.”
Hiro didn’t miss the strong glint in Driks’ eyes for a moment. However, Driks immediately mended his expression and gave him a searching look while scratching the back of his head.
“Well, I’m surprised. So, you were acquainted with the Kelheit family?”
“I had a chance to exchange words with them when I visited the Great Imperial Capital before. Besides, they helped me in many ways during the recent battle, so I thought I would ask them to participate in our triumphant return as a way of thanking them.”
It was nothing to hide, so Hiro simply stated his reasons.
“I see. I think that’s a great idea. I’ll send it with the first horse as soon as possible.”
As Hiro watched Driks leave, he suddenly noticed that Liz was quiet. He turned his attention to the bed, where Liz was hugging a pillow and breathing happily. Hiro smiled, got up from his chair, walked over to the bed, and pulled the blanket over Liz.
“Well, you can choose your dress tomorrow…”
The number of soldiers that will be taken with them is 3000 from the Fourth Imperial Army and 2000 from Hiro’s private army, the Raven Army. All the aides, such as Tris and Ghada, will also be taken along.
In the meantime, he would ask Kiork to take command of Berg Fortress until they returned.
“There is nothing left to do… I think I’ll go to bed as well, but…”
Hiro choked back a sigh of relief as he looked at the happy sleeping Liz and wondered where he should sleep.
September 15th, 1023rd year of the Empire’s calendar. The morning fog had lifted, and the sun was pointing toward mid-heaven when a cool breeze blew through the streets of Lynx.
The central street is bustling with people because it’s lunchtime, and there driving down the street is a two-horse carriage with Hiro, Liz, and her uncle Luzen Kiork von Grinda, the margrave, in it.
Looking out the window, Hiro noticed that the city had changed. It was just as crowded as the last time he visited, but there were more people, including street vendors.
Hiro looked at the outside curiously. Kiork noticed this and opened his mouth.
“The talk of your arrival at the Berg Fortress spread quickly. It seems that the number of merchants who consider the southern region important has increased, and many people have started to visit.”
Hiro felt a little embarrassed and scratched the top of his nose at Kiork’s happy words. Then Liz, who was standing next to him, leaned in close to him and looked out the window.
“There used to be nothing. There were no street vendors in the old days, only one or two people selling on the street. Right, Uncle?”
“That’s right. I’ve been guarding this place since my grandfather’s time, but there have never been this many people visiting. Not even the merchants of the Principality of Lichtine came here because of the proximity of Sunspear.”
Sunspear, a large city in the south, is ruled by one of the five great noble families, the Muzuk family.
No one supports the right of succession to the throne, and the great nobles are watching to see what happens.
He had heard that the head of the family was young. However, although he is young, he seems to be a competent man, and his entourage is said to be full of excellent people.
“But we’ll be fine from now on. Hiro has come to Margrave Grinda’s territory! Uncle territory will become even richer, and it will become a great city that can rival Sunspear!”
Liz said confidently, and Kiork looked at his niece with a smile.
“That’s right. I’m going to have to work hard for that, too. I’ll keep my eyes open while you’re away from here, and I’ll make sure I do my part.”
That was the reason why they were here. Hiro and the others had come to Lynx to ask Kiork to take charge of the Berg fortress and other areas while they were away from the south.
Of course, Kiork gladly accepted. He was riding in a carriage to see Hiro and Liz off to meet up with their men who were waiting for them on the outskirts of Lynx.
“It’s okay not to be so uptight. The Principality of Lichtine is unlikely to make any strange moves, and the security around the Berg Fortress has improved considerably, so I don’t think anything will come up that will bother you.”
“Hiro is right, Uncle. You’re old enough to know better, so don’t be reckless.”
The two of them said something that dampened his spirits, and Kiork turned his face down in disappointment.
“…Do I look so unreliable?”
“No… I didn’t mean it that way…”
Liz’s misinterpretation of Hiro’s words led to a strange situation. In order to change the atmosphere, Hiro desperately searched for a word in his thoughts.
Liz suddenly raised her voice and lifted her back from the chair.
“Coachman-san! Stop the carriage! Hurry, hurry!”
The carriage came to an abrupt halt as Liz ordered the coachman by tapping on the window at the front. Hiro felt his body being trapped in zero gravity for a moment. And when he adjusted his stance, he ran out of the carriage door with Liz pulling him by the arm.
“Li-Liz? What’s wrong with you all of a sudden?”
“Just follow me quickly.”
Pulling on the confused Hiro’s arm, Liz stopped in front of a street vendor. She stopped in front of a street vendor selling ornaments with intricate detailing. They sold bracelets and rings at reasonable prices.
“You said it before. You promised to buy me something as an apology.”
He remembered that he had made such a promise at the end of the battle with the Principality of Lichtine.
“Yes, I do remember saying that, but…”
“Then, can you buy this for me? I saw it earlier when we were crossing the street. I thought it was cute.”
What she held in her hand and showed to Hiro was a silver bracelet. The design is exquisite. Perhaps that was why the price tag was so high.
As Hiro stared at the price tag, Liz spoke to him in a whisper as if refraining.
“Mmm? It’s too expensive. Should I get something else?”
Liz said regretfully, but the price was reasonable and not out of reach. This is not what Hiro was worried about, but whether it was a cheap gift for her. It can’t be compared to jewels which have a higher price. It would be a little disproportionate for her to wear as an imperial princess.
“No, that’s not it. Just to confirm, are you sure this is what you want?”
“No, I just thought you’d look better with this ring or necklace.”
Hiro pointed to something more expensive than a silver bracelet, but Liz shook her head.
“No. I like this one.”
Hiro couldn’t say anything more as he hugged her tightly, so he approached the store owner and bought the bracelet. He also found three other things to put in a bag.
“What did you buy, Hiro?”
“It’s a secret. We should get back to the carriage as quickly as possible.”
When Hiro looked around, he saw that the people had noticed Liz and the others and were beginning to crowd around. It was only natural that they would find out since they were not disguised.
“We’ve gotta get out of here. Hiro, let’s go!”
Liz ran towards the carriage in a panic.
“You can’t be the only one to run away first… No, it’s fine.”
It’s not like they are surrounded by a mob. Hiro slowly tried to follow her.
“Fufufu, so Liz chose the bracelet?”
Hiro stopped in his tracks when someone called out to him from behind.
“…How long have you been here?”
When he turned around, he saw Kiork, who had been down there for some time.
“Hmm? I’m not sure how long I’ve been here. But that’s not the point. You’ve already bought your gifts. Let’s go back to the carriage.”
Kiork patted Hiro on the shoulder and started to walk ahead of him. But not long after, he turned around with a grin on his face.
“Oh, yeah, you may not know this. In this area, it is customary to start with a bracelet when giving a gift to a loved one.”
“Is that so?”
“It’s an old custom. Liz’s mother used to say it all the time, so I guess she follows it faithfully.”
“Liz’s mother, huh…? But why the bracelet?”
“It’s not just bracelets; anything that goes in a circle is meant to chain. But the most important thing is that the bracelet has a wisteria flower on it. That’s the answer.”
“I’m sorry… I missed the last part.”
The people started to make a fuss, so Hiro didn’t hear the last thing Kiork said.
“No, I’m glad you didn’t hear it. It was not for me to say.”
“What do you mean…?”
“Never mind, that’s all. Come on, Liz is waiting for us in the carriage. If the people surround us, it will delay your journey to the Great Imperial Capital.”
Hiro started walking again, hurried by Kiork. Unable to get a satisfactory answer, Hiro got into the carriage in confusion.