It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (103/116), enjoy~
The following day, the metallic sound that roared through the training grounds tore through the sky.
The sunlight reflected off the dazzling flashes of swords, making the surrounding area shimmer like diamond dust. The sharp wind reaches their cheeks, plus the earth-shaking with each impact. The Elven warriors who had been watching the two training were at a loss for words at the sight before them.
There was a shimmering in one direction, and Lloyd, who was in that direction, furrowed his brow.
“Looks like you’ve taken your skills to the next level!”
He was pushed, but the dominance in his words did not disappear.
Lloyd’s stiff arm swells, and more blood pours into it, making the veins appear. In order to swing down the fullest blow to the boy in front of him, which strengthened.
“Will you accept the full extent of my greatsword…? Ain-sama.”
The Elven warriors who were watching doubted Lloyd’s sanity. No matter how much of a training sword it is, a direct hit will not result in only a minor injury to Ain.
But from the point of view of the royal knights, it was easy to guess what they were thinking.
And Lloyd’s seriousness is also a familiar sight these days.
“I’ll accept, Lloyd-san.”
Ain, who had been swinging his sword until now, was there in a deflated stance.
Lloyd grinned fearlessly.
With divine speed, he unleashes a swing like the rush of a dragon.
“Hahaha! I knew that was coming…!”
Looking at the giant sword that swung down from the huge body of Lloyd, Ain held his sword to his side and took it in an upright position.
Then the sparks from the fierce battle between the two of them scattered.
The shockwave rippled around the two of them.
As Lloyd’s arms expand further, Ain’s body is finally pushed down. Still, his stance never collapses, giving the impression that it is only due to the weight difference.
While letting his breath out, Lloyd’s arm relaxed.
The overuse of physical strength has loosened his muscle. He tried to keep his distance and adjust his stance.
“I’m not going to let you escape──”
Ain took advantage of the opportunity and pushed the sword back with great force.
After a loud metallic sound, Lloyd’s upper body bounced back with great force.
But Lloyd is also a marshal. He is the strongest knight in Ishtalika.
“I won’t let you… Aah! I’m not going to let you!”
There is no technique for forceful movement.
He bent his knees with a forceful body movement and held his sword in the upper position, pointing it to the side. There, Ain’s flash came at Lloyd without hesitation.
“Nuoo… Oooooohhh… Aaahh…!”
Ain, standing in front of the roaring Lloyd, was certainly muscular. He doesn’t have slender, thick muscles but a polished body devoid of excess flesh.
The shockwaves from Ain were even greater than Lloyd’s.
The fight was over.
Just when everyone thought it was over.
“Waaa ─── Uh…!”
The swords of the two men shattered without any notice. It was like throwing a pebble against a glass window, and it shattered.
“Good grief, I knew this would happen.”
“It’s too hard, Lloyd-san. You need to have a special sword made for this kind of thing, or it will definitely break…”
This is the way it has always ended up for them, even though they have had many encounters with each other in the past.
The sword can not withstand the physical strength and impact of the two of them, and the sword will make a noise first.
They both smiled bitterly and shrugged their shoulders. As they do so, the sound of applause arrives from the Elven warriors, praising them both.
It’s embarrassing to receive applause for mere training.
Responding with a slight wave, Ain picked up a towel that had been placed on a nearby chair.
“It seems that the day when I can lose even with a sword is not so far away.”
“What do you mean, with a sword?”
“If you use your skills, I will be no match for you, Ain-sama. That’s why I’m training now. I thought there was something I could teach you with a sword, but it looks like there’s not much left to teach you.”
“…I don’t think so. My sword is not as refined as Lloyd-san’s and Chris’s.”
“You’re being modest.”
“I’m not being modest. I’m not that conceited.”
However, he didn’t deny that he could win with something other than his sword. This is unusual for Ain, who does not often boast about his abilities, but this is not intentional.
It was probably pure confidence. At any rate, it was something that Lloyd, who had been his sword instructor, would be proud of.
“Speaking of which.”
A question suddenly flashed through Ain’s mind, perhaps because of the presence of the Elves at the moment.
“Is it true that Celes-san was stronger than Lloyd-san?”
“Mm, that’s a name I never thought I’d hear from Ain-sama… Who in the world did you hear that from?”
“I’ll keep it a secret who told me that.”
“Hmm, it’s certainly not a topic to be discussed lightly. I think it would be better if I didn’t ask about the informant either.”
If that’s the case, then Ain knows about Rufei, Sylvird’s first child. Lloyd did not mention it, even though he had guessed it.
“In my entire life, there is only one person that I have not been able to land a single blow on.”
“──Lloyd-san, not even a single blow?”
Lloyd nodded with a bitter smile that was filled with regret.
“Just as it disappeared like a mist, a torrent of sword fights came from front and back, left and right, and up and down. I’ve never seen anything like it. If I were to stand in front of it now, it would be impossible for me to take even a single sword strike.”
“I’ve heard she’s strong, but I didn’t know she was that strong.”
“That’s it. No matter how many times I fight, I’m sure I’m no match for her.”
Ain wanted to see her swordsmanship at least once, if possible.
With an unfulfilled wish, Ain wiped the large beads of sweat from his cheeks with his sleeve.
As he spoke, the sweat was cooling him down.
“We’ll have official business this afternoon. Why don’t you go and take a bath?”
“I will. Thank you, Lloyd-san, for training me again today.”
Ain listened to Lloyd’s reply for the last time and left the training ground.
◇ ◇ ◇
It felt so good to soak in the large bath in the morning.
After washing off the sweat from his training, Ain had breakfast and rested until his afternoon work, but he was in the corridor looking listless.
He wondered if Chris would be with Sierra again.
He started to wonder if he would be called by Sylvird anytime soon.
“You look good as always.”
Sierra’s voice could be heard in front of a certain salon.
Ain stopped, approached the door, and listened carefully.
“Yes, it suits you very well.”
“Thank you, Krone-san, even if it’s not very──! Sierra! Hurry up and… get the cloak you were wearing yesterday…!”
“I didn’t bring it. It doesn’t matter if we’re the only ones here.”
Now, Ain had no idea what they were doing.
There was nothing evil about their adulterous conversation. The only thing he could tell was that Sierra was changing into something and that Chris was not happy.
“I wonder what they’re doing?”
He reached for the door because he was just curious.
At the same time, he thought it would be a bad idea not to knock, so he tapped lightly.
“Sorry, it’s me. What are you doing?”
And then he heard something crash in the room. He heard the sound of something collapsing and heard Chris’s pathetic voice saying, “Whoa!” and Sierra’s sigh of dismay.
Ain was dumbfounded in front of the door, but Krone answered.
“You can come in if you want, Ain.”
It was as if it was only natural.
Chris refused without pausing.
No matter how much Krone says it’s okay, it’s still──.
“Your Highness, please come in.”
There was a backup from Sierra.
This unexpected support made him unconsciously reach for the doorknob. But it didn’t change the fact that Chris said she didn’t want to… As he was hesitating, the door to the salon was opened.
“Don’t worry about her answer. She’s just embarrassed.”
The only difference from yesterday was the clothes. She was dressed not in formal wear but in a light traditional costume.
“Yes. I think it would be better for you to see yourself rather than ask me. Please, come inside.”
When he entered the room, it was more chaotic than usual.
Wooden boxes and cloth. There are also two woven vine baskets on the floor that contain a change of clothes for two people.
As Ain averted his gaze, thinking that this was not something that he, a man, should be looking at, his eyes met Krone’s.
“Do you think it looks good on me?”
“Look good on you? Ah, those clothes.”
She was sitting on the couch, and her clothes were unlike anything he had ever seen before.
Her appearance was mysterious yet elegant and somehow sacred.
The cloth that hides her breasts reaches down to her neck, but there is so little of it that if she turns around, her white back is exposed. Her skirt, which hides her slim waist, is also short. Both fabrics were shiny as if they were woven from silk, but thin, emphasizing the unevenness of the body even more than the many skin tones that were exposed.
The lace that covered her limbs from the chest up accentuated her innocence, making her look like a fairy drawn in a book.
“I wanted to ask you what you thought, but I think I’ve had enough.”
That’s just as well.
Ain was at a loss for words, and he was admiring her.
Although words were still important, it was never bad to be able to express oneself in such a way.
“Please come here.”
Without saying a word, he sat down next to her as she invited him.
…Her skin was even closer than usual.
Due to their height difference, even the cleavage of her breasts can be seen in the field of vision, which is poisonous to the eyes.
Ain flinched and turned his head away.
“Sierra-san lent me her Elven formal wear. If it’s possible, I would also wear a cloak like the one she wore yesterday. …Hey, hey, why don’t you look at me?”
“A lot is going on.”
“Ara, I don’t know what you mean. So, why don’t you look at me and tell me?”
She flirted with him, trying to be sweet. Even though it was obvious that she knew exactly what was going on, the fact that she bothered to ask again was mean.
“It’s because it looked so good on you… you know?”
He closed it with a question, which made it sound uncomfortable.
But from the point of view of Krone, a heartfelt voice is more pleasing than a flattering one made up of words that only sound good.
Even if he faltered and looked embarrassed.
“Thank you. If Ain says so, then it was worth the effort to change my clothes.”
At this point, Ain realized something. He finally understood what Chris meant when she said she wanted a cloak.
“What is it?”
“I’d like to ask you to get a jacket for Krone.”
“I’m very sorry. We don’t have one in this room…”
Oh, right, that’s why Chris was in a hurry.
(And where is Chris…)
I looked around the room, feeling that I had conveniently noticed him and that I had a good reason.
He had to be somewhere, but I couldn’t find him at all.
“Where is Chris?”
“She’s over there.”
“Over there? You mean the curtains ── Eh, yeah…”
It’s like a bagworm.
There was a thick curtain wrapped around her whole body, hiding her entire body beautifully. Her face is as red as a boiled Kraken as she dexterously pulls her face out of the gap and looks at Ain.
She kept her face clear and unconcerned, but what to do?
“It’s a pleasure to see you again this morning. By the way, would you mind closing your eyes for about ten seconds?”
She would probably change her clothes during that time.
He could have left the room, but before he knew it, Krone had grabbed him by the arm.
“No. It’s not acceptable to not show off to His Highness once you’ve changed your clothes. As a childhood friend, I cannot tolerate such disrespect.”
“It’s not about disrespect; it’s about… why are you approaching me? Sierra?”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just going to pull back the curtain.”
“That’s the least of the problems! Hey! You can’t just pull──”
I can’t do it with my powers. Maybe I’ll just use some magic.”
A snap of the fingers and the wind danced from Sierra’s hand. The wind that Ain felt was not strong, but it blew strangely and powerfully against the curtain that hid Chris.
“You have no choice but to show off. Give it up.”
“…But if it’s this much wind!”
Chris’s desperate resistance paid off, and the curtain did not come off. But Sierra was smiling at this point.
“I don’t mind at all if you keep it up.”
“It’s not like you to admit defeat… Huh!?”
She noticed. The curtain covering the upper body is protected, but the feet are not. In other words, the short length of the clothes exposed only the thighs and below.
It was embarrassing to be like this.
The half-exposed clothes were, on the contrary, incendiary, and combined with Chris’s innocent gesture; they were very stimulating.
(Let’s not look at it.)
That was for Chris’s honor.
However, when he looked in the opposite direction, his eyes met Krone’s this time. Either way, Ain drooped, knowing that it was still a poisonous sight for his eyes.
At the same time, the wind that Sierra had caused stopped, and Chris patted his chest.
“I’ll be right there.”
He stood up while putting his hands on his jacket.
“Fufu, that’s good.”
Krone, who nodded knowingly, seemed to know what he was doing.
“Chris, come on out.”
“I-I need to prepare myself a little more!”
“I know. I’m not going to stare at you.”
“Mm… That’s not exactly what I meant…”
In the face of a slightly troublesome maiden’s heart, Ain mended a smile.
On the other hand, Sierra, who has been messing around with her for a while now, looks dumbfounded and can’t say anything.
“Come on, just come here.”
Ain reached for the curtain, but Chris’s resistance was not strong. In fact, she even slightly peeled the curtain away. It was almost irresistible and easy.
But before he could see her embarrassedly hugging her upper body.
He quickly hung up his jacket.
“Are you okay with this?”
Ain’s jacket was quite large for Chris. It’s also a lot looser and longer than Elven’s formal attire, so less skin is exposed.
She said and lovingly plucked at the sleeve of the jacket, an irresistible gesture. The feeling of happiness overwhelmed my shame, and I silently followed behind him as he walked.
Now, as Sierra was watching the scene.
“I’m surprised… that girl was so attached to him…”
She was impressed with Chris’s attitude without Chris realizing it.
They enjoyed chatting for a few minutes.
Their outfits were stimulating, but they got used to each other after a while. At some point, Chris took off Ain’s jacket, too, and they enjoyed a pleasant conversation.
When Ain asked what they were doing now, they left the salon to change.
For some reason, Sierra, who had followed him, was standing next to him with her back against the wall.
“Unlike yesterday, you have changed your tone.”
“What tone? …Oh, you mean the way I spoke in the audience hall is different?”
“Yes. Unlike the way you spoke to His Highness when the situation was heated up, I could feel that you were very approachable and that you had a very gentle personality.”
It’s not that he was particularly conscious of it. It was either a lack of caution or simply a feeling of familiarity.
“I can’t believe that Sierra-san was pressured, though.”
“No way. Even then, she had cold sweat on her neck. As proof, she missed handing over something the chief had given her.”
Then Sierra handed Ain a letter.
“It’s a letter of invitation from the chief. She said she would like to meet you at Sith Mill.”
“──Invitation to me, huh?” Said Ain. He smiled and stretched out his hand to receive the letter, waiting for more words.
“In fact, the letter I gave to you yesterday has some of the same wording.”
“I don’t understand. Why is she inviting me now when she didn’t send a reply until today? You called me an honorable one… I’m sorry to say it, but I’m also curious about the invitation to Sith Mill.”
“It was all the fault of the chief. I apologize on behalf of the chief.”
After all, it doesn’t look like Sierra has any ulterior motives.
She’s a talented woman, but on the other hand, she doesn’t look like she’s trying to pull a dirty trick on Ain, and she’s trying to be sincere.
“I have not heard the details either. But the chief was struggling with her reply.”
“Also, the reason why you were invited was because of the chief’s health. She can no longer travel for long periods, even in the Sith Mill. Her body is too old for that.”
“If so, I don’t know. You could have sent a message to my grandfather before you went to the port city of Magna.”
“You’re right. But the chief was troubled by that.”
Ain was not so simple as to be able to nod his head in agreement with the word “troubled.”
He’s still doubting the chief’s true intentions.
“…..I’ve been entrusted with a message to Your Highness in case this happens.”
Sierra looked at Ain with a pair of eyes like a polished sword.
“I want to tell you what I know about the former royal capital. And there is something I want to tell you about the Red Fox. This is what she said.”
“──What did you just say?”
When Ain heard the words, he closed in on Sierra.
“Oh, please calm down! That’s why! About the former royal capital and the Red Fox and…! With all due respect, I don’t know the meaning of what was said! Only the chief could understand it…!”
He apologized and ruminated on what he had just heard before distancing himself.
“It’s no wonder why grandfather didn’t call me right away.”
“As I told you earlier, I know nothing about it. Even when I, her granddaughter, asked, the chief, grandmother, did not tell me the meaning of the words.”
On the contrary, she asked if Ain knew something. She looked at him like that, but Ain pretended not to notice.
“I’ll accept the invitation.”
In any case, he would like to discuss it with Sylvird.
If he believed the chief’s words, he should go, but just a few days ago, there was a disturbance in the port city of Magna. As long as the threat of the Red Fox has not been eliminated, it is unwise for him to leave the capital unnecessarily.
“There is one thing I want to ask you.”
“Whatever you need.”
“Will it be a problem for me to bring my knights to Sith Mill?”
“I’m afraid to say that it will be difficult for anyone other than Your Highness and Chris. As you know, we Elves have a closed-minded side. If you call it an anachronism, I can’t deny it. But for that reason, we are not prepared to accept many people.”
Especially on the mental side.
Chris can go with him. His assistant, Krone, will have to wait in a nearby city. But he would have to ask Dill to wait as well, and he felt bad about that.
“Are you sure it’s only me and Chris who can go?”
“It pains me to say this, but exactly as you say. …That’s right, if you and Chris come to Sith Mill, you might want to go to the sanctuary as well.”
“Can I go? I’m an outsider, you know?”
“Normally, it would be out of the question, but the chief said that she would like Your Highness to visit the sanctuary. Between you and me, I’m actually not sure of the chief’s true intentions. …I’m not even sure if Your Highness can enter the sanctuary in the first place.”
“Oh, are there guards?”
“There are guards, but the chief has given permission, so there is no problem. The problem is the sanctuary itself. That place is sealed, and not everyone can enter.”
The mystery only deepened.
Even Sierra had a puzzled look on her face. Apparently, Sierra really didn’t know anything about it.
“Of all the people I know, only three have been able to set foot in the sanctuary.”
She held up three fingers.
“The first is the chief.”
“The second is Chris. And the third was her sister, Celestina-dono.”
“Why are only those two…?”
The only certain thing is that they are both parts of the Wernstein family.
“The people of Sith Mill were also curious. They wondered why those two were the only ones who could set foot in the sanctuary. And why did the chief give them permission?”
It was a mundane, needless to say, question.
Just as he thought that, Chris’s voice arrived from the other side of the door.
“Ain-sama! Thank you for waiting!”
She seemed to have finished getting dressed.
“It was an interesting story. But I can’t say for sure that I’ll go to Sith Mill. I’ll have to talk to my grandfather about it.”
He said this, but inside he was wrong.
The sanctuary, the permission that was only given to the two people with the Wernstein family name, the story of the former Demon Lord’s territory, and the Red Fox that the chief of the Elves knew.
It seemed that not going to the village was not an option.
Although Ain didn’t say it at the time, he was inclined to go to Sith Mill.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the same night, Ain had time to talk with Sylvird.
It was in a small room at the back of the audience hall, and the two of them were the only ones who had been present. They exchanged the letters they had received from Sierra and checked each other’s content.
There was nothing false in Sierra’s words, and there was not much difference in the contents.
Then Ain shared what he had heard from Sierra.
“It seems clear to me. The chief seems to know something about a lot of things.”
“…I think I should go to the Sith Mill. It hasn’t been long since the commotion in the port city of Magna, but I can hear about the Red Fox. And also about His Majesty the First. So about the academy──”
“Hmm. Naturally, I will allow you to take time off for official business. If it were only about His Majesty the First, it would have been fine anyway…”
“I’d like to hear about the Red Fox right now.”
However, there is one thing that concerns him.
“The only two people who can go to Sith Mill are Ain and Chris, right?”
“Apparently. Is it dangerous?”
“I can’t say there’s no danger. But there are no monsters in Sith Mill. There are only small, harmless animals, and there is no threat of foreign enemies.”
The other problem is the Red Fox.
“It can’t be helped. We’ll keep the matter of Ain’s departure from the capital secret so that the lurking Red Fox won’t find out about it. In fact, we could call a doctor to the castle, claiming that Ain is ill. It’s even better if we spread rumors.”
“…You’re going too far.”
“Hahahaha… It’s a joke, of course.”
But Ain agreed that it should be done in secret.
“But it’s a long way to Sith Mill.”
Sylvird smiled bitterly as he rubbed his beard, then looked up at the ceiling and remembered.
“I’ve traveled to a nearby city before. It took me a full day and a half to get there by water train. And from what I’ve heard, it takes half a day on foot to reach the Elven dwellings in Sith Mill.”
Ain’s cheek twitched as he realized that the distance was far greater than he had imagined.
It took two full days after leaving the capital to finally reach the chief. It would be a ridiculously long journey.
“Do you want to stop?”
Sylvird said with a grin.
“I-I’ll go! Did you think that the Demon King would raise his voice at that level of the journey?”
The fact that he mentioned the Demon King at a time like this, his Ain-like nature was amusing to Sylvird.
Sylvird let out a belly laugh and went next to Ain, who had a pout on his face. Finally, he patted him hard on the shoulder and said in a soft voice, “I’m counting on you.”