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Chapter 1 – Big Capture Operation
“I’m sorry, I ran out of food and didn’t eat or drink for a while.”
“That’s terrible. Don’t hesitate to eat as much as you like!”
“Thank you very much.”
The girl bowed her head in front of the table full of food.
After that, Lexia and the others decided to move to a nearby town and ask about the situation over a meal.
In the back of the dining room, which was crowded at lunchtime, Lexia smiled at the girl.
“I will ask you many questions, but we can do it while you eat!”
──She had skin like snowflake plaster and blonde hair that looked as if it had been cut out of the sunlight. Jade green eyes that seem to spill over. Her appearance is as beautiful and graceful as a jewel, yet she is the embodiment of the spirit of “heavenly clothing and beauty.” It is no wonder, then, that she is the first princess of the Kingdom of Arcelia.
Lexia leaned forward with great interest.
“So, let me get right to it; who are you?”
The girl with ice-blue eyes stopped tearing bread and bowed her head in a folded gesture.
“Once again, thank you for your help. I am from the Romer Empire; my name is Noel Freesia.”
“! Romer Empire, you say…?”
Tito’s cat ears perked up at the words of Noel, the girl with glasses.
She has long white hair and big cat ears. Behind her, a fluffy tail is wagging. Tito, a rare white cat beastman, lives in the desert as a disciple of the “Claw Saint” but was born in the north─the very Romer Empire. However, because of the many things that happened to her in her homeland, her face shows a mixture of nostalgia and mixed emotions.
“Speaking of the Romer Empire, it is a great country in the north, isn’t it?”
Luna looked surprised as she watched Noel chewing on the food. With silvery hair tied back in a single knot and clear blue eyes reminiscent of jewels. She has a slender yet beautifully trained body. She used to be a skilled assassin who was feared as a “headhunter,” but now she works with Lexia as her escort and protector.
“The Romer Empire is said to have a cold climate and is snowbound for most of the year. It’s quite a distance from here, but… don’t tell me you rode that flying sphere up here earlier?”
“Yes, what was that thing back there? Is it a vehicle? I’ve never seen anything like that before!”
When Lexia leaned forward with a twinkle of curiosity in her eyes, Noel replied with a serious face.
“That’s the ‘Sky Fluffy Flying-kun One.'”
“Flying-kun One… I mean, what!?”
“I have the honor of being the Chief Court Magician of the Romer Empire and the first head of the Magic Development Institute…”
“Chief Court Magician? That means you’re the best magician in the Romer Empire, right? That’s amazing!”
Next to Lexia, who is marveling, Luna raises a question.
“But what is the Magic Development Institute?”
“It is an organization that was recently established to develop and research magic tools. They develop magic tools that enable even those who cannot use magic to live conveniently. The “Sky Fluffy Flying-kun One” mentioned earlier was also invented by me at the Magic Development Institute and is powered by a special ore called magic ore that is excavated in the Romer Empire.”
“Eehh? I-invention, you say…!?”
“So that flying vehicle was made by you?”
The girl affirmed it openly, but Lexia and the others were half-distracted.
“A-amazing! Even the magic tools that are currently available are limited to those who can make them, but to invent a flying vehicle by yourself, that’s…!”
“Well, I know some magic tools, but it’s not like there are several magicians riding on it and moving it, but to make such a big object float is… too different in scale…!”
“Awww, I’ve met some extraordinary people…!”
“There are many other magic tools that I can show you later if you’re interested.”
From the backpack Noel glanced at, unfamiliar devices such as dull glowing tubes, black boxes, and intertwined multicolored lines were peeking out.
“Yay, I’d love to see that! By the way, it’s amazing that the “Sky Fluffy Flying-kun One” flew in from the Romer Empire! I wish I could be on it!”
“It exploded into pieces.”
“I see; it was the sound of the explosion of the “Sky Fluffy Flying-kun One” that woke me up.”
Noel, while being convinced by Luna’s small quip, brings the food to her mouth.
“The cause of the explosion was probably due to the fact that it had been running continuously for a long period. The explosion was caused by running the device continuously for a long period. …But failure is the mother of success. Thanks to that, we were able to obtain valuable data. Fufu, fufufu.”
“A-amazing, one wrong move, and you could have been caught in the explosion, but you’re not upset at all…!”
“On the contrary, you are even positive about the explosion…!”
“As expected of the head of that magic something! I knew you were different from the norm; you’re an amazing girl!”
While Lexia and the others were impressed, Noel was eating one dish after another.
The three of them watched her eat.
“But how can you eat so much?”
“You must have been very hungry.”
“It must have been something very strange for you to have been traveling in the sky for so long that you ran out of food… Is there something wrong…!?”
“Traveling… I mean, I actually lost control of the aircraft in the sky and was drifting.”
“Eeehh? You’ve been drifting, you say? That’s awful!”
Seeing that Noel had just taken a break, Lexia cut to the chase with a serious face.
“You said earlier that you wanted our help. What on earth happened?”
Noel straightened her posture and pushed up her glasses.
“…I have a sister named Flora. My sister is also skilled in magic, and she was the second in command of the court magicians, and we both worked at the court…”
“So, both sisters are magical geniuses? That’s amazing!”
“However, my elder sister became possessed by the Ice Spirit of the Cursed King and became an Ice Spirit Possessor.”
“Ice Spirit of the Cursed King?”
Noel nodded to Luna, who asked in return.
“Yes. The ice spirit is an evil existence that has been handed down in the Romer Empire since ancient times. They have the power of a mighty curse and have plunged the Romer Empire into crisis many times.”
“I see… There is such a terrible being in the Romer Empire.”
“I have also heard a few tales about the legend of the ice spirit. I thought it was a fairy tale, but I never thought it really existed…”
Luna muttered with a difficult look on her face, and Tito’s tail quivered in fear.
Noel gave a small nod and continued.
“The ice spirits have been sealed many times in history, but once the seal is broken, they will possess humans and spread curses and disasters. It is said that a person possessed by an ice spirit will run amok… under the control of the ice spirit and eventually have their body completely taken over.”
“No way… then, Noel’s sister──Flora-san, if she continues like this…”
Lexia was speechless.
Noel nodded and kept her eyes down.
“My sister was an excellent magician, but when she became possessed by an ice spirit, she went out of control, and the Romer Empire was covered in a blizzard caused by a curse. The emperor of the Romer Empire, Schleiman-sama, sent soldiers to help her, but the ice spirit had her locked up in a rock cave, and no one could get to her. I was looking for a way to save her somehow, but there were voices in the court that this curse was a conspiracy between us sisters and that we were going to rule the country and take over with the curse…”
Luna nodded in understanding.
“The sisters are gifted in magic, and they are also excellent magicians, even the chief court magician, so it is not surprising that such suspicions are raised out of fear.”
“Especially in times of national crisis and turmoil, it is easy for those with position and ability to be singled out for criticism. That’s the way of the palace.”
“The palace is scary…”
Luna, a former assassin, and Lexia, a current princess, are familiar with the unique organization of the palace court.
The two of them were talking, and Tito’s tail was quivering.
“The voices denouncing us sisters grew louder and louder, and finally, Schleiman-sama could no longer ignore them and sent his pursuers after me as well. If I am captured now, I will not be able to rescue my sister. I managed to escape in the “Sky Fluffy Flying-kun One,” but the device broke, and I drifted all the way to here…”
“So that’s what happened.”
“That must have been hard…”
“I didn’t know the Romer Empire was in such trouble.”
Noel clenched her fists.
“The power of the ice spirit that possessed my sister is overwhelming. The curse that covers the country is so powerful that even the imperial court magician corps was unable to help… but after seeing you all destroy the Big Eater, I am convinced. You all might be able to defeat that ice spirit and save my sister.”
Noel looked straight at Lexia and the others with her pale light blue eyes.
“If this continues, the Romer Empire will be destroyed. Please, please defeat the ice spirit with the power of the terrible curse and save the empire…!”
Lexia responded in high spirits to Noel, who bowed her head.
“It’s no big deal!”
“T-that’s a quick answer!
Even Noel was surprised at the too-pleasant reply.
Luna pressed her forehead and let out a sigh.
“Hah. You know, Lexia, do you understand? This is a matter of national security. How many times have I told you not to take it easy?”
“There is no way we can leave such a serious matter alone. Luna and Tito have already made up their minds, haven’t they?”
Luna and Tito laughed and exchanged glances.
“Good grief, it’s as haphazard as ever… Well, we hadn’t even decided where we were going to go next.”
“From the desert, all the way to the northern empire!”
Lexia laughed and put her hand on her chest.
“So, the next destination is decided to be the Romer Empire, the land of snow and ice! Leave it to us, Noel. We’ll take care of your sister and the Romer Empire!”
“T-thank you very much…!”
Noel bowed deeply.
On the cleared table, the four of them immediately began to formulate a plan.
“But what are we going to do when we get there? We don’t have a clue how to solve the “ice spirit possession,” and we don’t know how to break the curse.”
Noel opened her mouth in thought at Luna’s words.
“There is a rumor that the royal family of the empire has a document that describes the ice spirit…”
“If there is such a document… it should contain clues to solving the ice spirit’s weaknesses and how to break the curse.”
“Yes. That’s strange, because if there were clues, there’s no way Schleiman-sama wouldn’t have taken steps to solve the problem…”
Having met Schleiman and knowing his character, Lexia expressed her doubts.
“Perhaps there is a reason for that. We have to see Schleiman-sama first and hear what he has to say!”
“But I am the one being chased. Once I return to the empire, I’m not sure if I will be granted an audience…”
Noel’s expression was bitter, but Lexia told her simply.
“That’s okay. I’m the princess of the Kingdom of Arcelia, after all.”
Luna rushed to intercept her, but it was too late, and Noel’s eyes widened.
“W-what did you just say…? I thought I heard an unbelievable word…!?”
“Come to think of it; we haven’t introduced ourselves yet.”
Lexia stands up and brushes off her blonde hair, which looks like it has been cut out of the sunlight.
“I am Lexia von Arcelia, first princess of the Kingdom of Arcelia!”
“I knew I didn’t mishear…! P-Princess of the Kingdom of Arcelia!”
“Lexia, Arnold-sama told you not to introduce yourself so casually!”
Luna blamed her, but Lexia was unconcerned.
“That’s fine. Noel trusted us and asked for our help. We have to repay that trust with sincerity!”
“So, once again, nice to meet you, Noel! Feel free to call me Lexia!”
“I-it is true that I felt an extraordinary aura about you, but… I had no idea that you were a princess.”
Lexia, not caring about Noel’s astonishment, put her hands on Luna’s shoulders and pulled her close to her.
“And this is Luna! She’s my guard──”
“I’m Luna, Lexia’s lucky charm. Pleased to meet you.”
Hey, what do you mean by lucky charm? Luna is my guard, you know? Gu・a・rd!”
“Don’t talk so loud in my ear.”
“I-I see you two are on good terms…”
Noel expresses surprise at the distance between the princess and her guard, which is hard to believe.
Lexia shrugged her shoulders proudly at Noel.
“Luna is a skilled assassin who was once known as the “Headhunter” in the Dark Guild.”
Noel was so surprised that she almost screamed and then hastily hid her voice.
“E-even in the Romer Empire palace, there were secret rumors about this. No matter how difficult the request is, it never fails, and to make a request, you must load a gold coin as heavy as the target’s head, and yet the true identity is so mysterious that you can rarely even meet him or her… And you are the Headhunter, that Headhunter…?”
“It’s not that big of a deal; I was just so desperate to survive.”
Luna exhaled shallowly, and Lexia puffed out her chest.
“The first time such an amazing Luna failed was to assassinate me, though!”
“Lexia, don’t say unnecessary things!”
“You are using the assassin who tried to kill you as your guard!?”
“Yes, that’s right. Luna herself is a skilled assassin, so she should know more about assassins than anyone else, right? There is no one more reassuring than her! And she’s also very cute.”
“Cute is unnecessary.”
“Y-you’re too brazen…”
Lexia patted Tito’s head this time, not caring about Noel, who was feeling dizzy from the continuous surprise.
“And this is Tito, who joined us in the desert!”
“Nice to meet you; I’m Tito!”
Tito bowed so vigorously! Then, she hit her forehead on the table with a thud.
“Arara, are you okay?”
“Does it hurt? You’re lucky it was after the dishes were done.”
“Ugh, this is so embarrassing…”
Noel pushed up her glasses as she looked at Tito, who was being patted on the forehead by Lexia and Luna.
“When I saw you, you were a white cat beastman, right? I’ve never seen one before.”
“Y-yes, we seem to be a bit rare.”
“Not only that, Tito is a disciple of the Claw Saint!”
Noel blinked at the word that suddenly jumped out at her.
“Um… you mean that Holy from the fairy tale about being chosen by the planet to be one of the strongest in the world?”
“Oh yes, that disciple.”
“I look forward to working with you!”
Lexia proudly put her hands on her hips.
“My Luna and Tito are my strong, cute, and sweet companions!”
Noel is left in a state of shock in front of the three of them, who are all out of the norm.
“H-headhunter and a Holy’s disciple… I thought you were unusually strong, but I didn’t think you were that special… Moreover, leading those two is Your Highness the princess of the Kingdom of Arcelia…? Such amazing people really traveled to save the world…?”
“Yes, that’s right. We were just looking for someone in need. So it was fate that we met. Don’t worry; we will save Noel’s sister and the Romer Empire for sure!”
“T-thank you very much…! Please take care of me!”
Noel bowed once again to Lexia, who smiled dazzlingly.
“Now that we have introduced ourselves, let’s go first to the royal castle of the Romer Empire and talk to Schleiman-sama. I’ve met Schleiman-sama, and I know his character very well. If I explain properly, he will understand that it was a misunderstanding about Noel.”
Luna crossed her arms with a difficult look on her face.
“The problem is the means of transportation. The Romer Empire is far to the north. It is too far to go on foot.”
“Well, yes, that’s true. Even if we took a horse-drawn carriage through the desert, it would still take quite a while to get there.”
“My ‘Sky Fluffy Flying No.1’ has exploded─no, it’s become the mother of success…”
The four of them pondered.
Tito looked out the window and was startled to see a bird crossing to the north.
“Perhaps… if we could catch a [Vehicle Hawk], we could…”
She nodded hurriedly to Lexia, who tilted her head.
“Y-yes. It is a flying, bird-shaped monster. I once saw my master riding on it…”
“Gloria-sama can ride a monster?”
“That one is also pretty outrageous… So, is that monster in this area?”
“Well, I think I heard that they live in a rocky area in the desert.”
“That’s very interesting. If it were a flying monster, we could fly all the way to the Romer Empire.”
“But the Vehicle Hawk is very wary and seems to be quite difficult to capture…”
Tito’s ears drooped, and Lexia closed one eye.
“Don’t worry; we’ll manage! We have such dependable friends over here!”
And Lexia stood up vigorously and pointed to the sky in high spirits.
“Then, let’s get to work on catching the Vehicle Hawk! I call it Operation Vehicle Hawk!”
“Isn’t it just too obvious?”
Luna’s mutterings did not reach the completely motivated Lexia, and anyway, the four of them left the restaurant to look for Vehicle Hawk.
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