When the plan for the sea dragon ship Leviathan was first initiated, the materials for the sea dragon were scattered throughout the shipyard, and assembly and fabrication work was underway.
Now, however, no such scenes could be seen, and a huge battleship that has already received several supports was sitting on the ground.
It looks as if it had already been completed, but in fact, it was still unfinished. The ship was still in the process of maintenance and inspection, according to Roland.
──Sea Dragon Ship Leviathan.
This was designed as a next-generation king’s ship and was built entirely from the materials of the sea dragons that Ain defeated.
The crystal that seems to be transparent to the endless all of it is made from the scales of the sea dragon.
The scales of the sea dragon were spread over the entire vessel, including the bottom, to form a single long tube-like shape.
When approaching the head, the huge power section spread out on both wings was muscular. The upper part of the main body was equipped with a huge shield made of processed sea dragon scales, covering the vertical body from above.
It had a unique design and an intimidating appearance that had not been seen in Ishtalika up to this point.
“In terms of simple hardness and attack performance, it is such a monster that it would have no problem going head-to-head with the White King.”
It was Roland who explained this to Ain, who was looking at the situation.
A short distance away, Laralua was receiving an explanation from Professor Luke. The reason why the two were separated was so that Roland would not be nervous.
“The use of the sea dragon’s materials has made it possible for us to load the ship with a power output that was considered impossible for existing battleships. It’s also a hundred years ahead of its time in terms of speed, if not faster. Or, without the sea dragon’s materials, we may never be able to build a better battleship again. As you can see, it’s longer than the White King.”
After receiving Roland’s very eloquent explanation, Ain understood that this ship was ridiculously strong.
Laralua, on the other hand, seems to have heard the same explanation, and her eyes widen in surprise.
“It’s not finished yet, is it?”
“Well, it’s almost finished, but I guess we need to fix some minor things. Even if it doesn’t become a big problem, after all, it’s the ship that the next king, Ain-kun, will ride in.”
──Then, perhaps it could be moved.
Although Ain was sorry to be stingy with Roland’s craftsmanship, he was happy that it looked like it could be moved.
“By the way, why did Professor Luke and Roland come to show us around? Is it a coincidence?”
“It’s because Professor Luke is one of the people in charge of building Leviathan, and I’ve been selected to assist him.”
Ain was surprised to see that his classmate was promoted beyond what he had imagined.
It went without saying that Roland was very talented, not only because he was chosen for a national project, but also because he was chosen to be the assistant to the general manager.
“I was really surprised when you came here, Ain-kun. What happened all of a sudden?”
“There’s been a lot going on.”
Then Laralua and Professor Luke joined them.
“Ain-kun, it’s good for you, isn’t it?”
“Yes. I am relieved that everything is going to be alright.”
Hearing their conversation, not only Roland… but also Luke had a strange look on his face.
“I order you in the name of Queen Laralua. As soon as the Leviathan has completed the necessary maintenance, launch it. It doesn’t matter if it is incomplete to some extent. It must be done by the end of the day.”
“Your Majesty? Even if you suddenly say such a thing, I, Luke, have no idea what’s going on…”
The sudden order made both of them panic.
It was only natural. If you were suddenly asked to move this huge battleship, you would have no idea what’s happening.
However, when Laralua mentioned the reason for the move, the two changed their expressions.
“The crown prince Ain will use this battleship to reinforce our heroes who crossed the sea earlier. This will require a great deal of force and with great speed.”
Roland and Luke heard this and looked at Ain at the same time. They couldn’t believe their ears when they heard that their classmate, and student was going to war.
“Roland, it’s okay. This is something I volunteered to do.”
As a classmate, Roland was probably trying to look out for Ain’s best interests.
But when Ain clearly told that it was his decision, Roland realized that he was no longer in a position to say anything about it.
“Professor, I’ll supervise the whole thing.”
“Roland, there are other jobs you should do…”
“I want to do it. I’ll do the maintenance of the Leviathan for Ain-kun!”
This was the best he could do, he said. He appealed to Luke with strong eyes.
──Ain was now alone with Laralua as they went outside.
“Ain-kun, there is one thing I want to say to you.”
Suddenly, she looked at Ain with a serious expression.
“There are many things that royalty is responsible for. To make the country prosperous, to serve the future, and to protect the country. There are other things that must be done, but do you understand what I mean?”
“Yes. I understand in my own way.”
“That’s fine. But if you fail to do what you are trying to do, there will be a big impact on the future of Ishtalika. Even if it is mutual confrontation, it will not change that.”
The death of the crown prince Ain would affect Ishtalika in no small way.
Ain nodded quietly at Laralua’s words.
“But only you can do it, Ain-kun. If that is the case, then surely that is what Ain-kun should do.”
After a pause for breath, she took Ain’s hand.
“So I acknowledge it. Queen Laralua acknowledges the departure of the crown prince, Ain. In other words, I am asking you to risk your life for the sake of Ishtalika. Do you resent me for saying it this way, Ain-kun?”
“I have no such feelings of resentment whatsoever.”
“Ara ara… you really are a sweet child, aren’t you, Ain-kun?”
Then Laralua patted Ain’s head for the first time after a long time. Finally, she hugged her beloved grandson tightly.
“It is indeed very embarrassing, isn’t it?”
“It’s a grandmother’s special privilege. I can’t help it.”
After she had finished petting him, she let go of Ain with a satisfied look on her face.
“But if I may speak not as the queen but as Laralua herself, I would like to die after seeing Ishtalika ruled by Ain-kun. I want to hold your child in my arms, and I want to have a tea party in the courtyard with all of you. I also want to take a family vacation. I’ve been avoiding it because I’m royalty, but it’s always been my dream.”
Laralua, who never stopped thinking about her wishes, spoke happily, but then she suddenly let out a breath.
“I couldn’t wish for anything more. If I did, I’m afraid it would spill out of the little bowl.”
“I’ll go and settle it so it won’t spill.”
Witnessing the strength of Ain’s heart, Laralua believed and hoped for victory.
Soon this war would be over, and normalcy would return.
◇ ◇ ◇
On that particular evening, the royal capital of Ishtalika was bustling with great activity, even though it was late at night.
When the port was sealed off by the knights, many royal knights, as well as other knights and civil servants, stepped in to see things. Seeing this, the people of the royal capital looked on anxiously, wondering what would happen, but the only people who knew what was going on were the families of the knights, and the reason was never explained to them.
“Father is so stubborn… he should have at least seen you off.”
Olivia, standing on the pier with Ain, muttered.
Sylvird never opened his mouth after Ain returned to the castle, and they had not met since then. The same was true even after the story has progressed this far, and Ain had hoped to at least have a word with him, but that wish has not been fulfilled.
“I’m aware that I’m being selfish, and it can’t be helped. ──Well, Mother, I’m leaving now.”
“A-ara… It’s time to go, isn’t it?”
Olivia looked at Ain with tear-stained eyes and opened her mouth in a pleading tone of voice.
“Can you come a little closer?”
Then Olivia spreads her arms and beckons Ain to come closer.
As the distance between them narrowed, Olivia pulled Ain into a tight embrace.
Olivia’s chest was warm and soft.
As usual, the gorgeous fragrance filled the air, and Ain took a deep breath to calm down.
Olivia puts her hands tightly around Ain’s head and back and shows her reluctance to say goodbye.
After a few minutes of this, the two naturally stepped away from each other.
“Please make sure you come back safe and sound, okay?”
Olivia’s face gently moved closer, and she kissed Ain’s forehead.
“Thank you. I’m sure I will be able to come home safely thanks to this.”
Despite the situation, Ain’s words gave Olivia peace of mind. Olivia’s expression changed to one of determination as she admired Ain’s dependability.
“Ain, take care of yourself. I’ll comb your hair again when you get back.”
“Yes! I’m off!”
After saying goodbye to Olivia, Ain turned around and walked to the end of the pier. After a short walk, he met Krone, who was waiting for Ain, and they proceeded on foot side by side.
“Hmm? What is it?”
Krone spoke to Ain in a cheerful tone, a complete change from the time of the meeting.
“Do you want a blessing from me too, like the one I gave you at the time of the sea dragon’s attack?”
“Eh, yes. I’d like that, but it’s hard to say I want it…”
The most important thing to remember was that you couldn’t just say that you want it.
It’s hard to say he wanted it straightforwardly.
“…What made you hesitate?”
Disgruntled, Krone changed her look and pouted her lips.
“I-I’m not hesitating! I was just a little nervous!”
──That’s a lie. He was really hesitant.
There was no way he could say that he was hesitant, so he faked it by saying that he was nervous.
“Hmm… but I won’t do it for you.”
“…So you won’t do it for me after all?”
“Ara, you look disappointed. Do you want me to do it that badly?”
“Of course I do!”
Hearing his immediate response, Krone’s strength dropped away.
“…That’s a quick answer.”
“I’ve decided to open up.”
“I don’t know why you’re so open about it… but if you insist, I’ll let you choose one.”
She giggled and looked up at Ain like a mischievous child.
Hey, do you hear me? Do you hear me?
She looked at him with expectant eyes.
“What are the choices, by the way?”
“You can ask for a blessing right here, right now. Or you can go to… But only after you get back, okay?”
Krone spoke of the second option.
What is this one? Ain, who was unable to understand, guessed it by Krone’s gesture. Krone held up her index finger and pressed it against Ain’s lips, then immediately pressed the index finger against her own lips.
“After I leave, you say? Does that mean you’re rewarding me?”
“Geez, you can’t call me a reward, can you?”
“For me, it’s a reward.”
“…..Then, are you sure you want to go this way?”
“Yeah. It’s not so bad to have a reward waiting for me, is it?”
The lighthearted exchange lacked a sense of urgency, unlike the fact he was about to head out into the battlefield.
But this was still good for the two of them.
They could laugh and talk about what they would do after he returned home. It was unthinkable for them to have a humid exchange in a place like this.
“Well…that’s it for me.”
Krone suddenly stopped and said,
“The battleship is too big to be accommodated in the port of the royal capital. There are already plans to renovate the port, but there’s nothing that can be done immediately… For this time only, you will have to take a small boat to Leviathan.”
Looking in the direction of the sea, the Leviathan can be seen floating a few hundred meters away.
Several small boats were also floating around it, and personnel were on their way to board them as well as Ain.
“The crew comprises people who can operate the White King. They’re all top-notch people.”
“Thank you. I appreciate you going to all this trouble on such short notice.”
“…It’s not just today. It’s always a lively crowd around Ain.”
“But I’m sure I will continue to cause you trouble in the future.”
“…..You can do it as much as you want. For that reason, please come home soon.”
She rather hoped that it would continue to be so and uttered the last words while holding back tears.
Ain hugged her tightly as they parted and said,
He then shook off his reluctance to leave her and boarded the small boat.
The destination was the Leviathan floating on the sea. Standing on the small boat, Ain looked at the huge Leviathan and was amazed once again at its size.
It was huge. That was the only word to describe it.
The Leviathan out at sea was far more gigantic and full of presence, even to Ain, who had sailed on the White King.
“It’s amazing that something like that can move.”
Ain muttered to himself with his arms crossed.
Fortunately, the crew was reserved and stayed away from Ain, and Ain’s soliloquy faded away into the ocean.
…There, however, a woman stepped up next to Ain with a reserved look on her face.
“U-um… I don’t know how to say this, but since it started with Olivia-sama and then Krone-san, I was wondering if I should talk about something too…”
“Huh? Chris? How did you get on this boat?”
Although she was dressed as a knight, she was lightly armored, as she was not equipped with armor.
She carried a rapier on her waist, but she was not dressed as if she were heading to the battlefield. She seemed to have been watching Ain’s arrival at the small boat and looked as if she was wondering what she should do.
“I came to see you off. Unfortunately, I am unwillingly and painfully going to separate from you.”
“Haha… Uh, sorry?”
Chris lightly puffed out her cheeks and told Ain without hiding that she was unhappy with him.
“As soon as Ain-sama meets up with Lloyd-sama and the others, we will attack starting from the port town of Roundheart. I’ll be heading there on the Princess Olivia, so it will be a pincer attack after that.”
She was still looking unhappy as she spoke without any hesitation.
“I know that this strategy is effective, but what about the fact that I’m going to be escorting you… separately?”
“I’m really sorry about that.”
The plan was made by Ain.
It was an open secret that it was more difficult to convince Chris than to plan a strategy.
“No need to apologize. Please join Lloyd-sama and the others, and then join me properly! Oh, and! I haven’t yet aborted my plan to get into Leviathan in hiding!”
“If you tell me, you can’t hide from me, can you?”
“As long as Ain-sama doesn’t find out, I think I can manage.”
“Don’t misuse your power, okay?”
At Ain’s words, Chris, for the first time, showed a pathetic look.
“And I’ve aborted it… It can’t be helped if it comes to this! Please join me safely at all costs!”
“Yeah. I know. I intend to, so you can rest assured.”
“Absolutely, absolutely, definitely, sir!”
When she said it strongly,
“…..I think I am done here. Well then, Ain-sama, may you have good luck.”
Chris left Ain’s side as the small boat docked right next to the Leviathan and the ramp connected. She probably had some work left to do. Ain returned a short “I’m off” to Chris’ back as she left and looked at the ramp. Inside, Dill was probably awaiting his arrival. In addition, he has heard that Varra, as a healer, has already checked the equipment in his room.
──Step by step down the swaying ramp, Ain finally boarded the Leviathan.
He was surprised at the size of the deck.
“Have you greeted the departing passengers yet?”
Sylvird was waiting for him with Dill and several royal knights at his side.
The appearance of the person… with whom he wanted to have a word of conversation surprised Ain so much that he almost fell backward.
“What? It’s not that surprising!”
“It surprised me! I haven’t been able to talk to you all day…!”
“Forgive me. I have my own conflicts.”
He then brought one hand to his ear and picked up the earring he was wearing.
“Laralua also scolded me. Fufu… The king who was scolded by the queen is a laughingstock, isn’t he?”
Without Ain’s knowledge, Laralua must have said something to him.
Sylvird, looking remorseful, offered Ain the earrings he had removed and urged him to put them in his ears.
“Take it. I pray that this will protect your life.”
This was the red jade of the earth.
It was a magic tool that is considered a hidden treasure that once protected Ain’s life during the sea dragon commotion. It was a gem that was difficult to make, could not be mass-produced, and even the royal family did not have it ready.
“This is mine, but it is Ain who should have it now.”
“No. Even if it is, the defense of the home country will be thin, and I cannot take it with me.”
“Don’t worry about our defense. The defense system of each city is unprecedented. Tomorrow morning, magic weapons will be deployed throughout the royal capital as well. In other words, if the royal capital should fall under such circumstances, even if there are forces across the sea, the outcome will be the same.”
Before Ain could say anything, he started walking and headed for the small boat with the royal knights in tow.
With big, swaggering feet and a commanding gait.
As Ain stared at the back of the boat, Dill approached and opened his mouth.
“His Majesty came to the Leviathan some time ago, and he asked several questions of the technicians and crew with a stern look on his face. He seemed concerned to no end.”
“He didn’t have to hide it.”
“I’m sure His Majesty has his own pride and reasons. From us, the knight’s point of view, His Majesty was very concerned about the safety of Ain-sama.”
Letting out a melancholy sigh, Ain turned around and bowed deeply toward the small boat. Although Sylvird was already out of sight, Ain did his best to be courteous in his own way.
“Let’s get it over with and come home quickly. We’ll meet up with Lloyd-san, and soon we’ll be back in triumph with a clean slate.”
As he spoke these hopeful words, Majolica’s voice reached him.
“Yes, Your Highness, let’s do our best with that spirit.”
“Good evening. I’m also an expert when it comes to miasma, so leave it to me.”
Majolica was wearing a perfume with a rich floral fragrance. As he approached, his body twisting, he placed the huge bag he was carrying on his back on the floor.
“Huh, it was heavy.”
“Why, Majolica-san? This ship is going to Rockdam, you know?”
“I’m aware of that. I’m here because His Majesty asked me to. He asked for my help. I know all about miasma and monsters, after all.”
“…It’s not safe there.”
“Ara ara. It’s just as dangerous for Your Highness, though.”
The two of them felt overwhelmingly reassured by Majolica’s manly words.
“Well then, I’m going to the room that has been prepared for me. Call me if you need anything.”
Majolica looked back and turned away but waved his hand as he left.
“He’s a very dependable man.”
Dill’s dry laugh in his ear changed Ain’s mind.
“Have you finished loading the materials?”
“The ship was almost finished when Ain-sama came on board. “
“How powerful are they, by the way?”
“Simply, there is a big difference in the effective range and power. But compared to the crossbow that my father brought, there is a difference in weight and size. It is not suitable for transporting over long distances, but this time I forced the royal knights to carry it, so don’t worry.”
Dill’s answer makes Ain’s cheeks twitch.
“Is that really okay?”
“No problem. Now that my father and his men are marching to Birdland, it means that we can take some of the pressure off them.”
“Oh… that’s fine. You see, you shouldn’t have to force them to move their bodies.”
“Don’t worry about it. The royal knights are trained for this kind of situation, and we have some tame bison for traction. They can also be used as food if the need arises.”
The thought of being forced to work and then being used as food was a very sad one. As a man who knew the taste of bison, it was also sad that he could not deny it.
“It was about time for us to sail.”
Soon after Dill’s words, the Leviathan, the sea dragon ship, slowly advanced across the ocean, gradually moving away from the royal capital.
This thought was short-lived as the ship accelerated in a flash. The speed was exceptional, a speed that had never been experienced before.
The figure of Leviathan, which continued to accelerate, did not resemble Princess Olivia or the White King. Rather than wading through the water, it was as if the water was offering a path of its own will, so natural was this illusion and so appropriate for a king of the sea.
After Leviathan advanced, a straight line of ripples appeared on the sea’s surface. After displaying its presence like a sanctuary, it rushes across the sea surface as if it were its own.
“We will arrive at Rockdam at dawn.”
“I think I’ll take a short rest until we arrive.”
“Yes. Let me show you to your room.”
On this still winter day, Ain finally went out to sea.
It was not long until dawn. Deciding to rest even for a little while, Ain headed for his room in the Leviathan, guided by Dill, and was surprised to find that it was as well built as his room in the castle.
Looking out the window at the pitch-black sea.
He prayed earnestly that Lloyd and the others were safe and sound in the distant Birdland.