Chapter 10 – The Crown Prince’s Army
A few days back.
Lloyd sent an urgent message to the home country.
The content of the message was that the number of enemies was not within the realm of imagination, that something was generating a miasma, and that a knight had lost his life as a result of the miasma.
The castle was also in an uproar after hearing that the miasma was so thick that it could penetrate the knights’ equipment.
──In the midst of all this, Ain confronted Sylvird in the main conference room.
“No! Never speak of such foolishness again!”
“But, Your Majesty, it is impossible to completely withstand this miasma. Isn’t that right, Katima-san?”
“Nya, nya… even the equipment of the knights who went to the battlefield can’t withstand it-nya, and we can’t immediately prepare enough equipment to exceed that-nya…”
Katima, who was frightened by Sylvird’s intensity and dressed in a white coat, answered.
“I can make equipment that can withstand for a long time if I use rare materials-nya, but…”
“Your Majesty, that’s why I should be the one to go.”
“…That is not the same thing as this.”
“No, no, no ─ there is nothing different. I can do something with my toxin decomposition. I can do what I did the other day with the decontamination.”
“If Ain is fine after absorbing the Blue Fire Rose’s toxin, then the problem is….. Nyaaaaaaa!”
“Y-Your Majesty… please don’t glare at her so much.”
When Ain pointed this out, Sylvird tapped the desk in embarrassment.
“But that doesn’t mean we can send the crown prince! Right, Krone!”
Krone, who was sitting next to Ain, hurriedly looked at Sylvird.
“Even you don’t think Ain should go. You think so too, don’t you?”
“──Y-yes. I think that’s right.”
…Wondering what to do about it.
Ain crossed his arms, looking troubled, but he couldn’t think of a way to break the deadlock.
“Chris, can’t you do something?”
“I have a great idea.”
“──Can you tell me what it is?”
Ain whispered to Chris… who was sitting in the seat on the other side of Ain’s.
She answered confidently that she had a good idea, even though she is usually a clumsy girl.
“Go back to your room and get into bed.”
“You’re a little confused right now, Ain-sama. So I think you should take a break first.”
“…Oh, that’s right.”
Chris answered with a big smile on her face. There is no way she would agree to dispatch Ain.
“We should trust Lloyd-sama and the others and wait for them. I think it would be best to do so.”
“Umm. It’s not like that…”
“…What’s the problem?”
“He’s dealing with a red fox. It’s not going to be easy, especially with this miasma.”
“That may be true. But that doesn’t mean that I agree with Ain-sama crossing the sea!”
Seeing Chris’s stubborn attitude as ever, Ain thought about it as he leaned his cheek on his hand.
However, he suddenly thought of something. The problem that he had been avoiding mentioning came to his mind, and he put aside Sylvird’s harsh tone and asked Katima.
Ain’s voice calling Katima echoed through the conference room.
“What is it-nya?”
He apologizes in his mind to Katima, who answers tiredly.
“I don’t know who it is. But when the miasma-emitting something that appeared in Birdland landed in Ishtalika… how much damage can be expected?”
All the nobles who had been present at the meeting groaned at these words.
“…You’re going to ask me that-nya?”
“Katima-san, you should be able to assume a certain amount of damage, right?”
Ain asked as if inquiring. In contrast to Katima’s surprised expression, Ain looked around the conference room with powerful eyes.
“──We may have been unconsciously avoiding it. The possible damage and its consequences. Avoiding to face them, the meaning of which is synonymous with abandoning our Ishtalika.”
The group listened to Ain’s voice as he stood up, some turning their heads, others holding their heads.
“…Huh. You really are a stubborn nephew, aren’t you-nya?”
Katima stood up, following Ain’s lead.
Katima raised herself from the low-backed chair dedicated to her and stepped toward the center of the conference room.
“Your Majesty… no, Father. May I-nya?”
“Then, let me explain the possible damage I’ve thought of-nya. However, if it is only an assumption, there are some parts that are difficult to judge because of the lack of information-nya.”
Unlike Katima’s usual demeanor, she was very serious, and there was not a trace of humor in her voice.
“At least, if it is large enough to fit in a carriage, it is more than effective enough to destroy the royal capital functions-nya. In other words, it could return the city to the way it was before the unification-nya. It is small and easy to carry. But it would be very effective-nya, and that would be a great advantage as a weapon-nya.”
Although she spoke in a roundabout and blurred manner, she implied that it would lead to the destruction of Ishtalika.
“As I said earlier-nya, the only countermeasure is to make equipment that can withstand the miasma… for an extended period-nya. Even if we focus on the survival of the royal family, it would be impossible to keep them alive for even a few days in a situation where the miasma is constantly filling the air-nya. In other words, if the miasma were to land on the island, it would be the end of Ishtalika-nya.”
The air in the room was heavy. When Katima explained the situation, even Sylvird fell silent and looked at Katima with unfocused eyes.
In the midst of all this, Ain was the only one to speak strongly.
“It’s just as everyone has heard. There are too many uncertainties now… and we don’t have enough strength to leave this problem to those who have crossed the sea alone. If something should go wrong, we could lose our lives before we know it.”
When Ain began to speak with a force that rivaled Sylvird’s, everyone looked at Ain’s every move at once.
“The word “disgruntled” was used by everyone before the fall of Prime Minister Warren. That is exactly what Marshal Lloyd is having a hard time dealing with, the evil entity that spreads the miasma.”
The nobles nodded in the heavy air.
“If left unchecked, our beloved families, our trusted friends, and the beautiful cityscape of the royal capital will all be lost. If we don’t act, we could lose not only the lives of those who have crossed the sea but even our entire homeland.”
“So Ain will go. Is that what you are saying?”
“──Yes, that’s right.”
“Then what? What if something happens to Ain and the crown prince is not here anymore?”
“If that happens, it will just be the same situation as when I did not come to Ishtalika. Don’t worry, Grandfather is alive and well, and so is Katima-san.”
“S-so that’s where you’re coming to talk to me-nya…!”
Ain spoke lightly of words that were too heavy to be said casually.
In contrast, however, his expression was sincere, without the slightest hint of a joke. He was seriously prepared for this.
“There are other reasons why we must hurry.”
Saying this, Ain took out a small jewel from his pocket.
It was a message bird paired with the one Lloyd was carrying.
“Don’t you think it’s strange? I received a message from the messenger knight, but I haven’t received anything from Lloyd-san.”
He was suspicious and even used the message bird from this side.
But there was no sign of a reply at all.
“Katima-san, can you think of a situation like Sith Mill where you can’t use the message bird?”
“I have only one hypothesis-nya. Considering the high level of miasma floating around Lloyd’s group, it’s possible that the magic power emitted from the message bird could be blocked-nya.”
“That means that even if Lloyd-san thought he was communicating with us, it wouldn’t reach us. But does that mean that Lloyd-san was unable to recognize it?”
In other words, Lloyd and the others would be isolated.
“I’m not going to debate whether this is intentional interference or a side effect of the miasma. But, Grandfather, I have to cross the ocean right now.”
“Grandfather! We haven’t heard from Lloyd-san once since his first battle at Rockdam! We don’t have time to hesitate!”
“But… kuh! We’re breaking up for once! Everyone take a short break!”
Was it still no good? Ain muttered to himself… and went to Chris and Krone on either side of his seat.
“…..Do you really have to go?”
Krone grabbed Ain’s hand as he approached and touched it with both hands caressing it. Ain felt some trepidation but also felt in his heart the affection that Krone directed toward him.
“…..Yeah, I think I have to go.”
“You’re not taking me anyway, are you?”
“──Terrible person. You really are a terrible person.”
Just as the tears were about to spill out, Krone let go of Ain’s hand.
Then, without saying a word, she walked away from Ain’s side with a quick stride.
“It’s okay. I’m not that desperate. Don’t worry; I’m just going to go get the ship ready. I will also check on the situation of Princess Olivia and the others, so just know that I may be on that one.”
With only a single tear running down her cheek, Krone answered and quickly left.
Then Chris, who came next to him, opened her mouth in exchange.
“I’d like to cry, too, if I’m being honest. You’re stubborn, stubborn, stubborn… and I’m struggling to hold back my tears in front of you.”
When he looked closely, Chris’s eyes were also covered with a thin layer of tears. When her eyes turn slightly red, she closes her lips tightly and quietly presses her trembling shoulders with both hands.
Chris hears the apology and smiles weakly.
“No need to apologize. It’s enough if you tell me that you’ve decided not to do it after all.”
Chris expressed his wish for a ray of hope, but that wish would not come true.
“──I can’t do that. I can act without being affected by the miasma. That’s why I’m the only one who can do this job.”
“…I knew you would say that.”
A single large tear finally flowed from her sapphire-colored eyes.
For a woman like Chris, even that seemed to be such an enchanting sight… something that seemed to make her look like a gem.
“Promise, you promised me one thing. That you would listen to me.”
“You mean the talk we had in the sanctuary.”
“I will use that. So please don’t go.”
“Sorry, I can’t accept that right now.”
Ain’s renewed refusal causes Chris to push Ain against the wall.
Then she grabbed Ain by the chest of his shirt and put his weight on her as if letting her body do the work. She looked up at him with clinging eyes and made a wish.
“If it is not enough, I will give you myself. You may use me like a slave.”
“…..No, you can’t just say something like that so easily.”
“It’s not easy! Because I really didn’t want you to go…”
With shoulders quivering, she waited only for Ain to nod his head.
But still, that future never came.
Ain put his hand on Chris’s shoulder and only comforted her.
“Alright, if you’re so inclined, I have an idea.”
“Yes, I have a new thought at this very moment. I realized that, like Krone-san, I can’t stay still.”
It’s not the same as being completely resolved, but she said it as if she was fully aware of something.
“Well, that’s just the same…”
“I won’t tell you, stubborn Ain-sama. One day, when I have the courage to do so, I might tell you, though.”
Then she moved away from Ain and wiped her tears.
“If you mean the same as Krone-san, then I mustn’t be the kind of woman who just keeps you back.”
“──That’s why, so, what is the same you mean!”
Chris looked at Ain, who was puzzled, with a kind expression on her face.
“It is a secret. But Ain-sama, you will take me with you, won’t you?”
“No, I can’t do that! In addition to the fact that Lloyd-san is not here, the protection of the royal capital will be reduced!”
“I don’t know. I would probably get in trouble if I said that, but my job is to protect you, Ain-sama, so there’s no problem. If I said that, we were all in the royal capital when the meeting took place!”
Then she walked out like Krone and headed for the outside of the big conference room.
In Chris’ case, unlike Krone, she walked away in a short run, but the same thing was that she seemed to have a hidden determination. Ain involuntarily followed Chris out of the big conference room, but she took off at a trot and was soon out of sight.
While he was appalled, someone called out to him.
“Grandmother… what are you doing here?”
“I was waiting outside because you seemed to be having an important conversation. I also passed by Krone-san a few minutes ago, and she told me a little about her story. Now, Ain-kun, come with me.”
She didn’t wait for a reply and walked out suddenly.
“Grandmother! Where are we going?”
“We are going to the shipyard. Maybe we can move that battleship.”
It was a huge battleship that Ain had also been to see before…
The battleship was built using materials from a sea dragon and deserved the name of the most powerful battleship in the history of Ishtalika.