——Land of dancing snow at the north protected by the free knights.
What was there was not a ruling formed by the ranking of their blood.
We choose how we live.
Our name is Zakuroa…the great Zakuroa devoid of a king.
Finishing our lunch, we begin to prepare for our journey to Zakuroa.
I say preparations, but the Banjar Mercenaries are a crew that are used to travelling. As long as the members are selected, the movements after are fast.
That’s right, selection.
It is not as if we are all going there.
We have to stop the poisonous snakes of the Faris Empire -the assassins- from infiltrating the Ludo Kingdom.
In order to deal with those kind of special fighters, there’s a need for skilled mercenaries like us. Mercenaries are number one after all.
In other words, I have to leave most of my members in Ludo. My mercenaries will be protecting the national borders and the castle of the Queen. Not a bad idea, right?
And so, about the selected members…of course, there’s me. The others are: the elf bow princess, Riel; my little sister, Mia Mar Strauss; and the second adjutant chosen by the Queen Claris, Loroka Sharnel.
Eh? There’s only women, you say?
Aah, you got it wrong, okay? …It is not as if I chose only women because the Zakuroa Region has a lot of hot springs, okay? Really. Oi oi, what kind of pervert do you think I am?
I was planning on bringing Gindo along, you know?
But his head was in a worse state than expected. If he were to dip his head in the hot water, his wound might open. For these types of wounds, you have to use RICE to treat it, right?
Rest, Icing, Compression, Elevation; for a warrior, this is common knowledge.
In other words, he has to stay safe for a while. Travelling a large distance and dipping in the hot spring? It goes against the first and second. Umu, it isn’t bad to have Gindo rest.
Not only is it not bad, but it is ideal.
Why? Because I want him to improve that Chain Shooter in our new base.
It would serve to strengthen Mia, and…of course, I want him to improve that device to a point where it can bring me up without problems even with my weight.
…I also want to try that…
I want to go *shurushuru* and fly up towards Zephyr.
In the first place, it is an action that relates to dragons, so as a dragon knight, I can’t lack behind. With my honor as a dragon knight at stake, I also want to be able to use the Chain Shooter as well.
For the sake of that, it is either I reduce around 50 kilograms of weight, or…have Gindo improve it.
In other words, there’s no choice.
I can’t throw away my worth as a warrior after all.
I want Gindo to put his all in improving the Chain Shooter. I want him to not only use this time to rest and treat his head wound, but also to put it in developing his trinkets.
Now then, for the sake of my honor, I want to say one more thing.
It is not as if I have any hidden intentions by having only female members, okay?
This in a sense is a natural choice of members.
First, Loroka was chosen specifically by her Majesty. That one can’t be taken out. Then there’s Riel and Mia. The reason for them accompanying us is ‘a reward’. They worked a lot in the war after all. I want them to rest in heart and body in the hot springs.
If Sharon and Gandalla were available, I would have brought them too, no questions asked. They did work a whole lot as well.
Gandalla slipped in with the slave giants and had to do manual labor, and Sharon was like the MVP in the shadows.
Thanks to the disguise mask he made, I managed to turn into the General Renault after all. If we didn’t have that disguise…the Ludo Kingdom might have fallen a long time ago.
He is now a pervert completely hooked into crossdressing, but he is also the hero of this country.
I wanted to bring them to the hot springs of Zakuroa, but Gandalla is working at the officer school. Sharon is in his Lamia disguise guarding the Queen.
Sadly to say, we will have to leave the relaxing in the hot springs for some other time with those two.
…Also, speaking seriously here…
Riel and Mia are being brought because they are the crew members that are good at assassinations.
I am the person that brings the letter of Queen Claris to the Anti-Imperialist country, the West Zakuroa Iron and Blood Alliance led by Vashiri Nova. He is apparently a hot blooded man that would go well with the Strauss personality.
Well, he is shouldering a resistance country, so the other side must also want to join the Ludo Kingdom.
The problem is the other one, the East Zakuroa Trading Alliance led by Julian Laichi.
Right now the chances of him refusing an alliance with the Ludo Kingdom are high. They may not be on the level of supporting the Empire, but they don’t seem to want to take the risk of going against the strongest major power in the world.
It may be the rational decision. Zakuroa’s military power isn’t that high. Knights centered in internal security, and ragtag mercenaries contracted with petty coin. Fighting against the highest invading country that is the Faris Empire? The risk is indeed way too high.
Wagging your tail to the strong is not always the wrong choice. If you have a pride that doesn’t get hurt by such an action, then you can just go on with your life in such conduct.
But just as Queen Claris said, we of the Banjar Mercenaries and the Ludo Kingdom have chosen to fight.
We want to create an alliance with the Zakuroans.
I will cut off the head of the Emperor Yuandart and offer it to Ares who is sleeping in the sacred grounds of the dragons. We have to make Zakuroa decide on the same path as the Ludo Kingdom. If Julian Laichi wants to try to get in the way of our alliance in an active way…we will obviously have to eliminate him.
That’s right. This journey is to bring solace to the girls, and for the possible assassination of the old man Laichi. Bringing these two who are good at assassinations is the natural choice strategically.
If possible, I would like Julian Laichi to make a wise choice and notice why a dangerous man like me was the one who was chosen as the sender. I don’t want to do pointless bloodshed either.
I want everyone to smile and applaud, have a friendly relationship, you know? We want to face the strongest force of the world with zero awkwardness between us.
That way will definitely have better chances of victory.
Military strength, the strength of numbers hinges in the unity. A bloodstained alliance? Something like that won’t hold true power. In order to surpass the Faris Empire as the few, it needs to be a justice that has no guilt.
…It truly is a difficult mission.
We have to convince Laichi-san to a certain degree, and when it isn’t possible…we will have to make them agree.
But that would lead to making a step back into becoming the strongest power.
My chance to show my abilities as a leader? I think it is a bit too difficult of a trial for the fourth son of the Strauss family that’s famous for being foolhardy, Queen Claris.
Even so, the world has sadly begun moving. Even if we cannot become the strongest power, we would still have to gather strength.
If not…the Ludo Kingdom and us will fall.
Aah, Ares, can you please appear in the dream of Laichi and threaten him?
I am good at speaking with sword and violence, but I feel like asking me to bring in an intelligent merchant-sama with brain talk is too heavy for me. I will do what I can. If I can’t, it is killing time. And then, get the agreement by force.
Good grief. With this kind of loaded job, if I weren’t together with my cute crew members, I would be crushed by it.
- Chapter 53
“Now then, let’s get going then.” (Solje)
I am in front of our base. Zephyr was sitting on that big garden. We are obviously going to ride Zephyr there. It is easy to have us four ride on him and fly to Zakuroa after all.
But it looks like Loroka-sensei doesn’t think the same.
She has brought her partner horse.
Ah, I say horse, but it is a kind of special horse. There’s a horn on the forehead of that horse. One blue horn just like Loroka-sensei.This is called a Unicorn.
The Diaros, by transplanting their horn to their partner horse after they have grown a new one, they can create this specimen.
Good grief, saying things like ‘if they touch your horn, you can kill them’ and using that horn to stab it into an animal to change them? What do they think about their identity feature?
It is an interesting custom of theirs, and the Unicorn moves on the will of Loroka Sharnel and can even use magic.
It resembles my relationship with Zephyr…no, I wonder. Unicorns are more like puppets than living beings. They are like a branch of the Diaros, but they are tools lower than them. That’s how I feel it is.
Of course, it is not as if Loroka is using this Unicorn, Byakuya, without any love. I can tell that she treats it with respect.
But a Unicorn can’t show the emotions of a living being, even when using my magic eye. That white horse shows up to the side of Loroka-sensei while staying completely silent. Loroka deftly rides on its back.
“…You are going with Byakuya? It will be faster with Zephyr.” (Solje)
“Yes, it cannot match Zephyr in speed at all. But I am more used to being on the back of a horse. Also, uhm…” (Loroka)
Hm? Aah, I see, the horse riding diet, huh. Her cheeks were kinda puffy after all. Well, that’s fine.
Byakuya is different from other horses. It can run 5 times faster than normal horses without the need to eat or drink for three days straight. Yeah, it doesn’t sound much like a living being.
It won’t be passing Zephyr, but after 2 to 3 breaks for food, they should be able to reach the Zakuroa Region.
There’s no need to hurry. We need to form a plan after all… And also, I have to read the report documents Queen Claris gave us about Zakuroa.
It is pretty thick. It looks like there’s around 200 pages…
Even if we don’t get there by today, there shouldn’t be a problem. Yeah, looks like this journey will be going at a good pace.
I can’t do the same as Loroka-sensei who can read a book in 120 seconds. I will be reading the documents while on the back of Zephyr. Wonder if it will give me a headache.
“Okay. Then, Riel and Mia, get on the back of Zephyr—Hm?” (Solje)
At that moment, I noticed that person.
There’s a young man standing at the entrance of the house. Brown hair and slender young man. Jean Redwood, 21 years old mercenary.
His weapon is the saber at his waist…or it is supposed to be, but his skill with it is questionable. But his body strength is ten times that of a regular person.
How can he achieve that with such a scrawny-looking body?
I don’t know whether to call it an illness, but this gloomy young man is a werewolf. Sadly to say, the beast race is considered an ‘extinct race’. There’s no tribes or settlements of beastkin in this world.
They are so few in numbers that they have had their blood melted into human blood.
There’s even people who don’t know that they are beastkin and live out their life without ever knowing. And every once in a while when this blood does return, they will notice their own identities together with a tragedy.
When they transform into wolves, they attack the closest people around.
Rather than calling it attack, it is more like killing.
The first time I met this young man, that completely looked like the drawing of a worthless person, in a dim forest, I could feel an aura from him. He was looking like a person with full-on chuunibyou <eight-grader syndrome>. ‘If you get close to me, you die’, is what he was saying, you know?
At that time, I thought I had found a nice youngster.
He is thorny!! …But that’s the good part! Men really should be thorny or they would be uncool…is what I thought, but this young man Jean has degraded to a completely different person from what he was before.
Look at that, when our eyes meet, he smiles widely. What happened to you, Jean? I saw worth in those sharp eyes of you from before, you know? The current you is not a wolf but a dog.
“C-Captain, u-uhm…in this one…” (Jean)
“Seeing us off? Thanks. Well, I will find some random stuff to get as souvenir—” (Solje)
“N-No, I-I…am not seeing you guys off, you see…” (Jean)
“U-Uhm…I was told by Gindo.” (Jean)
“Gindo? What did he tell you?” (Solje)
“To go together with Captain Solje! …Is what he told me.” (Jean)
“I see. Fumu…” (Solje)
This is troubling. I was planning on playing a bit of a harem here though. Mia is my little sister and Riel is my lover, so I was thinking about an at home hot spring experience with them.
Also, I wiped the horn of Loroka. She let me wipe it in her stead.
We four are going to enjoy the hot spring, you know? It would be awesome.
Hahaha, I am a man after all. I wanted to try feeling as if I had a harem at least once.
“A-As I thought, having a werewolf like me go together with you guys wouldn’t be good-ssu yo ne?” (Jean)
…Aah, he really is self-deriding as always, this Jean Redwood. It is really hard to deal with this kind of subordinates that have a weak mentality like this. When dealt wrong, I feel like they will one day suddenly leave or shut-in.
In the first place, this guy basically shut himself in a forest for 8 years. If I were to hurt his mental in the wrong way, he might run away to a forest somewhere.
Haah, being a leader is difficult. Superiors also have their own pains, you know. In every bar you hear people badtalking their superiors, but there’s times when you yourselves are the superiors, you know?
One day you will be in their shoes, so don’t go talking bad about them too much.
There’s always problematic subordinates everywhere. Everyone is competent? …No way that’s true.
“No, you can be reliable. You are fast and your sense of smell and hearing is good.” (Solje)
“T-Thank you very much!!” (Jean)
Yeah, he is polite. It is not a wrong attitude to take as a crew member towards your captain. It is actually very correct, Jean.
…But can you please stop getting ultra happy when I praise you just a little bit? It is a bit creepy.
“Hehehe, it has been a while since I have been on a mission together with Captain.” (Jean)
“I-I see. I feel that way too.” (Solje)
Why is it that I am always considerate with this guy?
I feel as if I am dealing with a glass sculpture that easily breaks.
Honestly speaking, I am having an easier time speaking with Queen Claris even when we don’t know each other for that long. Jean, can’t you better your social skills? You are more of a pain than the ruler of a country, you know?
“…I don’t mind you coming along with us but, is that okay?” (Solje)
“You know, Zakuroa is your homeland, right?” (Solje)
For a beastkin like you, you must have had terrible experiences there.
“Ah, yeah. It is okay. It is taken as if Captain and Cortez killed me, and…the people of my hometown wouldn’t remember someone like me.” (Jean)
Well, if the person himself says so, there’s no problem, I suppose. No matter in what form it is, he is going back to his homeland. That action in itself should have some kind of worth for the person himself.
- Chapter 54
“Now then, Zephyr, you can let Jean ride you too, right—wait.” (Solje)
Zephyr raised his long neck and stares intently at something silently. His golden snake-like eyes were moving.
Fumu, from how much concentration he is clad in, he must be in hunting mode.
“…Zephyr, you can’t.” (Solje)
“Eh? Ah, yeah. I know, Doje…” (Zephyr)
I see. Zephyr, you were totally looking at our werewolf.
Even at the battlefield of last time, you were drooling while looking at Jean.
There’s a disadvantageous reality for Jean Redwood. My Zephyr has lived a long time in the forest alone.
For the food, he would obviously manage on his own. The stomach of a dragon demands a whole lot of protein every day after all. More so when Zephyr was in his growth period. He would go for any animal in the forest with protein.
That’s right. Like deer, boars, bears…and wolves.
Zephyr gulps. Looks like there was a lot of saliva in his mouth. Were wolves that delicious?
“…Z-Zephyr…is something the matter?” (Jean)
Jean was asking Zephyr with a pale expression and trembling voice. I remember my mother reading me a fairytale similar to this situation.
A little girl asks the wolf dressed as her grandma: ‘Hey, why is your mouth so big?’
I feel like the wolf position is reversed here, but it is similar.
“Y-You are looking at me.” (Jean)
“…No, it is nothing. Me—Jean.” (Zephyr)
Crap, he was about to say Meat again. Jean, don’t notice, don’t mind it, take it positively. Maybe he was about to say Mate?
Jean cries, transforms into a big wolf, and dashes off. Zephyr was about to get controlled by his animal instincts, but by holding his nose, I restrain it.
“…You must not eat Jean. He is family. Even if he looks like a wolf, you must not.” (Solje)
“…I know. It is okay, I know.” (Zephyr)
I will pray that there won’t be a day where Jean suddenly disappears and Zephyr begins to act awkwardly towards me.
At a corner of the house, there’s a dog…a wolf…Jean hiding and poking his head out looking at us.
*Clack clack clack*
His big teeth were clacking. Is he practicing his voice percussion? Sorry, I am lying to myself.
No, even without using my magic eye, I can tell. Dogs are animals that are good at telling others their emotions after all… Jean’s eyes are telling me ‘Scary scary scary’.
No no, we are family. Bonds are our strength. We can’t have crew members not getting along. I gotta make them get along as their Captain.
“Jean…want to try riding Zephyr?” (Solje)
This may be a rough method, but skinship should have high effect. Riel does calm down her anger when I hug her after all.
“I-It’s okay-ssu!!” (Jean)
Even you are saying it is okay? At times, those words just aren’t trustworthy, you know?
“I-I uhm…I will also be running!!” (Jean)
“I see. It is true that it goes against the code of a gentleman to let a woman run through the wasteland on her own. Okay, Jean. I will leave the guarding of Loroka to you.” (Solje)
The wolf’s face got bright in an instant. Aah, to think he would be labelled as meat by Zephyr. He has been a handful of a subordinate until now, and yet, he has become an even more troublesome one.
I walk to the side of Loroka-sensei who is riding her unicorn. Loroka-sensei is an adult woman. She has noticed the relationship between Jean and Zephyr.
“…That idiot might get depressed and complain to you.” (Solje)
“Yes, leave it to me.” (Loroka)
This adult woman who has the healing factor and the body to couple it only needed those few words to make me feel relieved. I really do feel like she will become a great adjutant.
“Then, you’ve got it. Well then, let’s go!!” (Solje)
“Yes. Go, Byakuya!!” (Loroka)
Loroka-sensei pulled the reins of the unicorn and this white horned horse neighs and begins to run at high speed. It was an astounding speed. Then, the reddish brown Jean began to chase after the horse.
He is like a shepherd dog. There’s a sense of relief from him. I feel like he is not a wolf but the retainer of that horse’s rider.
Seriously, where did the thorny Jean Redwood from the first time I met you went?
Aah, thinking about it is pointless. For now, I ride on the back of Zephyr and will read the documents on the way. I have only gone when I was a child, so it is not as if I know about the current situation.
Zephyr was still looking intently at Jean with ominous eyes. Mia and Riel are already on. They probably can’t notice my worry.
“…Are wolves that delicious?” (Riel)
“Let’s catch one next time, Riel! Let’s try it out!!” (Mia)
“…Make sure to do that plan when Jean’s not present.” (Solje)
I tap Zephyr with the back of my boot and signal him to fly. Zephyr controls his wings deftly and flies onto the sky.
“Nice movements. There’s no pain from your wings anymore, right?” (Solje)
“Nope, no pain at all, Doje!” (Zephyr)
“My medicine worked.” (Riel)
“I was the one who rubbed it on him!” (Mia)
“I see. Say thanks to the two, Zephyr.” (Solje)
“Yes!! Thanks, Maje, Mia!!” (Zephyr)
“Fufufu, okay, Zephyr. Today’s task will be to shake as little as possible when flying.” (Solje)
“Gotcha! You will be reading a book, right?” (Zephyr)
“Yeah, and also, if you manage to fly in an efficient way, you will be able to fly longer distances while having less intervals. Try gliding. Don’t use force, ride the wind.” (Solje)
“I will try!” (Zephyr)
The honest dragon says this and circles the skies of the Ludo Kingdom’s capital. How ceremonious. Zephyr, who had completely become the protector of this city, was seen flying by, and there were no small amount of people happily coming.
The children were delighted. Even the merchants stopped their working hands and saw us off. No, it is mostly the adults who are practically praying at us with desperation that our work will go well…
“Listen well, Zephyr. Edge the visage of these people in your heart. They are putting their hopes in us.” (Solje)
“If we do a grandiose job…the powerless people that are treating us nicely will be able to pursue their everyday lives without thinking about wars and threats.” (Solje)
“Everyday lives?” (Zephyr)
“That’s right. I mean peaceful days. Waking up early in the morning, working, getting a bit of money, and get even if a little more delicious food to eat. Sleeping without the fear of an approaching army or death. That kind of lovely days.” (Solje)
“…I will protect them.” (Zephyr)
“Right, that’s the knight’s way. It is the kind of world that dragon knights and dragons have to make.” (Solje)
“Yes! Got it!!” (Zephyr)
“Then, sing!! We are going to teach the Ludo citizens about our strength!!” (Solje)
Zephyr’s song rings in the sky. Ludo’s citizens, my comrades staying in Ludo, and the queen must have heard this song.
That’s right. This is a pledge and a show of our resolve. We will protect this small country. With our lives… Even if that is within the path of honorless assassins, even if that is a path filled with shame…I will push through it.
I won’t let a country where people of different races coexist…be devoured again by the pigs of Faris.
It was a country that even the werewolf didn’t hate to fight together with. We can’t lose it.
If it is for the sake of that, I don’t mind not being sung of.
I will throw away my pride and gather strength.
Pigs of Faris, I am the man that inherited the will of his Majesty Verius.
Hear my name and tremble, pigs of Faris!!
My name is Solje Strauss!!
The fourth son of Garuna’s Wing Commander, Kane Strauss!!
I will stomp on my honor that has fallen to the ground, and even through that, this dragon knight will still stand in your way!!
Speak this name in fear…I am the second coming of the Demon Lord!!
—–-Refusing to even be sung of, the country’s savior was resolved in throwing away his pride.
It is in no way that he is shameless, rather, he is the avatar of chivalry.
Even with that, he will hold his head high as he is called Demon Lord.
Just like how his previous lord, Verius Von Garuna, was.
——Hearing the song of the dragon, the earth giant Gandalla noticed.
Our captain will be protecting this country?
I see, in that case, I will do my everything.
He is not our king, but he is a far greater man than that.
——Looking up at the dragon wings, the poet and the queen pray.
The swordstress Lamia knew about the pain Claris was shouldering.
If only they could die in honor.
That person would be able to die with a smile.
——Chasing the dragon’s back with his eyes, Gindo frowns.
Playing freely in the wind, is that how a flying machine would work?
I don’t think so, but at the same time, that might be the case.
But what I can tell is that, things that fly in the sky really do stir my heart.
——Even while fearing the dragon’s shadow, the wolf looks up at the sky.
A gaze of admiration, looking at the man that had saved him in the past.
But the wolf told himself that that’s no good.
I will also become…like captain!! The young heart was still green.
——The scholar smiles with her horn shaking at the dragon’s song.
Solje Strauss, you really are an interesting person.
Even though you sought honor more than your life, this time, you will be offering this honor as well.
If that is your way of the knight, I…
——-At the back of the dragon, the black cat resolves herself.
I will offer the heads of the enemies to Onii-chan.
Always by his side, as his shadow.
An animalistic instinct took over her as she saw his resolute figure.
——-While still watching the dragon knight only, the elf bow princess blushes.
I-I see, if that’s your path.
I will follow your path and pierce our enemies.
My resolve won’t change, even when my life burns out, I will continue protecting your back.