Interlude: “The Two Adventurers”
It’s about the time the night falls.
The great gate on the west side of the fortified city of Granden was about to be closed.
There was a panicked voice.
“Wait, wait, wait! I’m coming in, I’m coming in!”
The guards looked over and saw a small girl rushing over to them.
At her waist, she wears a fine sword in a scabbard.
When she took off the hood she was wearing, her face was exposed and a gentle breeze blew through her hair.
The girl had braided purple hair that reached her shoulders, and her pupils were also purple.
Her slender body was wrapped in the light clothing typical of adventurers.
The guard smiled at her dainty figure, looking like she was 14 or 5 years old.
“Hey, Toto. You’re late today. I almost closed the door.”
“I’m sorry! I had a lot going on today. ……”
Another guard said to her as she was taking a deep breath to catch her breath.
“Ah, what happened to that guy? I think his name is Ha–”
When did this happen? Everyone in the spot must have wondered.
There was a man in black standing there. He was wearing a hood and a cloth covering his mouth, so they couldn’t see his expression, but he looked like a young man.
While no one seemed to know when the man had appeared there, the girl called Toto put her hands on her hips and said.
“Hey Hain! You’re just creepy as hell, so please be more friendly!”
“It’s not ‘crap’! Because of you, Toto’s reputation will be ruined too! Oh, hey, are you listening to me? Don’t go ahead!”
While the girl was ranting and raving, Hain, a large black man, slowly walked into the fortified city. A large sword covered with a white cloth is strapped to his back.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! Hain was dark-hearted and unsociable……. He’s good at what he’s capable of, but that’s really all does.” (Toto)
“I was surprised, but Toto is a good girl. It doesn’t bother me at all anymore.” (Soldier A)
“No, no, no. That’s fine, Toto-chan, let’s go inside and have some food. I recommend a place called “Owl’s Perch Pavilion”. It has food and lodging.” (Soldier B)
“That’s your relative’s store!”
There was a lot of laughter.
Toto also replied with a bright smile.
“I’ve been thinking about looking around while I’m in Granden, so this is perfect. I think I’ll visit there tonight. Oh, if I tell them that I know the guard, will they give me some discounts?”
“Yeah, yeah. It’s his relative’s restaurant afterall. Just use his name to pay for everything!”
“Oh, give me a break, man. I lost a lot of money in the gambling parlor the other day, so I’m on a tight leash until I get paid!.
There was another round of laughter, but Toto flinched when she remembered her companion who had gone before her.
“Oh, excuse me! Hain’s gone, and Toto’s about to go.”
“See you later.”
“Good work today. Get some rest.”
One of the guards patted Toto’s head, and she smiled innocently like a little girl.
That was all for a while. Sh hurriedly said goodbye to the guard and caught up with Hain, who had entered the Granden.
“Please don’t go ahead of me! You often get into trouble when you’re alone! Just the other day, I got into a tangle in a bar. Don’t you remember how you almost got us killed?”
“Hain, you bastard, don’t you dare ignore me!”
As she hovered and fussed around Hain, who never stopped walking, she eventually saw a stall.
It was just about dinner time, and she could smell the appetizing smell in the air.
“Oh, I want to eat those meat skewers today! Let’s eat it too Hain!”
“I’m not a picky about food….”
“Don’t say that! Please wait here for a while, and don’t go alone!”
Toto ran to the stall and quickly bought two skewers of meat and came back.
She held out a skewer to the man in black who hadn’t moved from his spot
“Look at that! Doesn’t it whet your appetite? Toto will eat first. ……Munch, munch……Oh, yummy!”
Hain stared blankly at Toto, who was beaming with joy.
Toto says looking at his eyes, which don’t seem to understand what he’s thinking.
“Mmm! That look you’re giving me, it looks like you finally got the urge to eat a skewer! Sure, I’ll give you one! Please devour it to your heart’s content!”
“…is it good?
“It’s really good. It’s different from the strange stuffs you eat all the time, it’s great!”
“If it’s …… then you can eat it all.”
That’s all Hein said, and he quickly started walking away.
The girl who had been enjoying the taste of the grilled meat skewers let out a sigh of dismay at the usual turn of events.
She had known the picky eater for a long time, so she wasn’t going to say anything about it now, so she quietly tasted the meat for two myself.
Then they went to the inn the guard told them about and paid for a few days’ lodging.
They paid in advance and then headed to their room. To save money, they always use one room for two people.
As soon as he arrived at his room, Hain sat down on the floor and took out his greatsword, which was wrapped in a white cloth strapped to his back, and began to clean it.
“Hey, Hain? Dinner is included here. The skewers I just ate aren’t enough, so Toto’s going to eat…*
Without answering, the young man stroked his jet-black greatsword, which did not even reflect the light.
It was as if he was no longer completely immersed in his own world.
“Hah~, you’re such a boring guy. Toto will just go and eat a full meal, and you can just go on living in squalor!”
“…… If you have time to waste talking, get going.”
Toto let out a sigh that unknown how many times she has done it today, “This again?” She tossed hee purple hair and left the room in silence.
And while she was enjoying the taste of her dinner at the counter of the bar downstairs, she suddenly heard a conversation between two men sitting at a nearby table.
“–Even so, Charlotte-sama has grown even stronger.”
“Even if she’s the daughter of General Duras, that is still a thing. …… I was challenged to a match three years ago and was beaten to a pulp.
“The power of the prophet is enviable. …… Even though we ordinary people have no connection with it, it would be lying if I said I didn’t envy it. How many ordinary people’s hearts have been broken by God’s whims?”
A slightly older man with a beard, and a man who has lived through many battles while still young. Both men wore black military uniforms and had the appearance of having been through a lot.
The conversation between the men, who were apparently soldiers of the Granden territory, continued. A younger man said.
“But I feel that her swordsmanship is no longer upright. If someone doesn’t correct her now, she will eventually ……”
“I’ve been practicing swordmanship for more than 20 years now, and it’s because I know a little that I feel that Charlotte’s sword fighting is just a way to vent her frustration. There’s no longer any trace of the innocent smiling face she used to train with as a child.”
The older man slurped down a malt liquor there and muttered to himself as if he missed it.
“After all, Nastasya was murdered by someone.
And it would have fundamentally changed that innocent girl. ……”
“I heard it was horrible, but I wasn’t in Granden at the time, so I don’t know much about it. What happened to her?”
“…… forget it, you won’t be able to eat meat for a while.”
“So that’s how far it’s gotten.”
“Yeah. Moreover, the person who first discovered it was Charlotte. How cruel.”
“General Duras and Lady Nastasya are both prophets. …… The gods can be cruel.”
The older man muttered as the still slightly younger man shook his head and said.
“God, huh …… No, that’s …….”
“What? What’s up?”
“Hmm, I checked the scene too. Well, the whole …… room was in a terrible state, but I saw something strange in it.”
The older soldier crosses his arms and snorts at the man who asks suspiciously.
“God bless you.”
“What the hell is that?”
“It was written in blood, probably Nastasya’s, on the windowpane where there was no blood splatter. Oh, just don’t let this leak to others, okay?”
“How macabre. What mad god would be pleased to see such atrocity? Do we not know who did it?”
“If I had known, I would have been caught, beheaded, and my head would have been exposed. That’s what I’m talking about.”
“It’s tragic, ……. If you leave something like that at the scene, you must be some kind of fanatic, but what is the blessing in letting a helpless woman be murdered?”
Toto bit into the meat on the bone as she watched the two soldiers let out a deep sigh, forgetting to eat.
“God bless you, …….”
As she pondered the meaning of those words, a younger soldier tried to change the air and broached another topic.
“Oh ……, by the way, I heard those special students from Mildiana were awesome.”
“Oh. I heard about the battle with Ensign Fourestier from the students I teach, and it was terrible. I also heard that there was a legitimate son of the Count Lermit. I wish I could have been there to see that battle.”
“The Count Lermit ……, the heir to that ‘family that lost the sacred flame’ must have grown up.”
“I don’t know much about that story, but didn’t they lose the power of the Holy Flame during the battle with Zenan?”
“Yes. Lieutenant General Ludio Lambert, one of the five great heroes of magic, is said to have been inferior to Count Lermit in the art of the flame. Of course, I don’t have to tell you about the Holy Flame, which far surpasses it. He was truly worthy of being called the Fire Emperor…. however he suddenly lost the power of Holy Flame without any warning.”
The younger soldier, who chugged his malt liquor with deep emotion, continued.
“After that, he was wounded so badly that he was taken out of the line of fire and returned to the Count’s house. I don’t want to say anything bad about him, because I was fighting right beside him….The Fire Emperor, who was always so strict with himself and others and so dignified, was drowning in alcohol and was in a terrible state. I don’t know what he’s doing now that he’s been discharged from the army.”
“I heard that the holy flame is also a power given by the gods. No, they say it is the gods themselves. As you said earlier, I wonder how many humans have been brought to tears by the whims of the gods.”
Toto knew about the Holy Flame.
It is a power given by the god, but also it said to be God himself. And it is said that the Holy Flame is distinct from the other gods.
This empire worships Orphelia, the Great Goddess of Creation, as its chief deity.
But she has heard that the thing called the Holy Flame is also on par with Orphelia.
However, it is not known why such a powerful god would give his power to the nobility of the empire – a mere Count?
“Oh, that’s not good. I’ve unintentionally gotten into a damp conversation. Let’s talk about something cheerful. The food is going to taste bad.”
“That’s true. What about that thing, then? You’ve seen it up close, haven’t you? That blue-haired boy who easily took Charlotte-sama’s attack and was unperturbed – Theodore, I think?”
“Oh. I saw it. He completely saw through Charlotte-sama’s attack, which my eyes can no longer even see the first step. He was a scary boy. And what a coincidence, he had the same beautiful blue hair as Charlotte. I thought he was a nobleman because of his good looks and refined gestures, but he seemed to be a commoner.”
“Blue hair?” (Toto)
The two soldiers, unable to react to the sudden question, looked at each other to see what was going on, and then turned to face their partner.
“Oh, I’m sorry! I was just a little curious.”
“……No, I’m sorry too. I didn’t expect to be approached by a young girl like you in a bar like this.”
“Yes, yes! So, what is the identity of this blue-haired boy?”
“Oh. It’s one of the special students from the military school in Mildiana. It’s the boy that Charlotte-sama, who is skilled at seeing through the strength of others, spoke to first without looking elsewhere.”
“Hey, you talk too much.”
“Oops, …… sorry. That outfit, young lady, you’re not from this town, are you? What brings you here?”
“I’m a bit of a migrant adventurer. Recently, I heard that there are some insolent people ransacking the temples around here, so I went to guard the Western Temple from morning until almost evening ….In the end, nothing happened, so it was boring. Well, I can get some money just for escorting, so it’s okay…”
“Wow, that’s impressive. You’re an adventurer at your age, and you’re doing it all by yourself?”
“No, no, no, I have a partner, but he’s very unfriendly and doesn’t want to eat, so I’ve been eating dinner alone. Would you like to have dinner with me?”
“I don’t mind. Hey?”
“Hmm, that’s okay. Okay, this is something. I’ll buy you a plate.”
“I owe you! So, what can I get for you?”
Toto naturally blended in with the two soldiers and savored the meal to the fullest. Afterwards, the soldiers, who were in a good mood after drinking, left.
“I see. A beautiful boy with blue hair, huh? It’s not like there are many of them in the empire, let alone in Grunden. And he’s so strong! ….I didn’t know there was anyone other than the only daughter of the Duras family who was so amazing! Hmm, I can’t stop being excited! I wonder if he’ll have a fight with Toto?”
She stroked the hilt of her beloved sword, which she kept in its sheath at her waist.