*Still Levy’s POV
Perhaps thinking that any more than this would be bad, His Majesty the King quietly opened his mouth.
“Watch your tongue, Duke Alfar. Being in different positions is not enough reason to send children to the war.”
After being reprimanded by His Majesty, Duke Alfar shut up.
However, one of the nobles listening to the discussion stood up.
“I agree with Duke Alfar’s opinion. The one with Light Spirit King’s protection might eventually become this kingdom’s Saint, but as for the one with Dark Spirit King’s protection――”
He was unable to finish his sentence. For Queen Consort’s murderous sharp eyes turned towards him.
“Are you saying that you do not mind whatever happens? What would happen if by any chance Claudia lost her life and Dark Spirit King got angry?”
The noble, which expressed his agreement, shut up.
“We ought to devise countermeasures so things do not turn out that way, of course. After all, Dark Spirit King and his contractor have almost destroyed the world in the past.”
Duke Alfar said something unnecessary and instigated feelings of aversion towards Dark Spirit King and his contractor. As a result, those who sided with him started coming forward.
I became enraged at how few of them knew Claudia herself.
“Don’t get it wrong. That was something that happened because people betrayed the hero. In other words, our ancestors reaped what they sowed. It is not enough reason to shirk away from the Dark Spirit King’s current contractor.”
Queen consort said in a quiet voice, but without hiding her anger. And that froze the present people even more.
Duke Alfar had angered the person he wasn’t supposed to make angry the most in this country.
However, even if rotten, he was still the Prime Minister. Without turning pale at Queen consort’s anger, he smiled and diverted attention towards Duke Letsya.
“Well then, what do you think, Alaudi-dono?”
Despite being the father of the concerned party, he had yet to make a statement.
The gazes that had been directed at Duke Alfar shifted towards Duke Letsya.
Duke Letsya gripped his sword and quietly closed his eyes. Then, he slowly opened them and looked around the assembly.
“I will leave it up to my daughter.”
Hearing that, Duke Alfar laughed as if he had won.
Liam immediately protested.
Liam directed a sharp gaze at Duke Letsya, but the latter gave no explanation.
The King’s eyes also opened wide.
“Alaudi…do you understand what you are saying? Your daughter might be sent to the battlefield.”
Duke Letsya replied resolutely with “Of course, I know it very well.”
I was only worried about Claudia. She’s a kind-hearted, sensible person. That’s why I already knew what kind of answer she would give.
Queen Consort narrowed her eyes and looked at Duke Letsya, as if trying to discern his true motives.
As her gaze met with the Duke’s, she took a deep breath and with a whiff, she spat out.
“So be it. Call Claudia. I will ascertain her intentions.”
This time it was me and His Majesty who raised protest at those words.
Ignoring us, the Queen Consort continued.
“I will ascertain Amelia Logan’s intentions too, while I am at it. Please tell Baron Logan, who’s not here, to bring his wife and daughter to attend the audience at the castle. Alaudi, you go and bring Claudia.”
This was a definite decision. The King would be able to overturn Queen Consort’s words, but since Duke Letsya did not refuse, he had already lost the opportunity to do so. And that was also the same for the Queen Consort, who truly did not want to send those girls to the war.
Duke Alfar with a smug smile on his face and nobles with relieved expressions. And Queen Consort, which was shooting daggers at them.
“Keep it in your mind, those with the divine protection are not the tools for war! Absolutely do not forget that. Alaudi and Liam, remain here after the assembly. Let’s break up with this today, Your Majesty.”
“Alright. Well then, Congress is dispersed.”
The nobles quickly left the assembly place at His Majesty’s words.
Only I, the King and the Queen Consort, Duke Letsya and Liam were left in the room. It seemed like Liam couldn’t take it anymore and suddenly struck at Duke Letsya.
A loud noise was heard and Duke Letsya fell on the floor.
He seemed to have taken it as natural retribution. Without even getting angry, he quietly raised his upper body.
“Why? What did Claudia do? What did Gerald do? They are unrelated to the hero which almost destroyed the kingdom and yet you people act as if it’s their sin. When has Claudia ever hurt people?”
Liam demanded explanation while approaching Duke Letsya.
“It’s not her, but you and Mother, who hurt people.”
Hearing my friend’s true innermost feelings, my heart tightened.
“Will you be satisfied if Claudia dies? Do you think that if that happens you’ll be able to return to the life before she was born?”
Liam clenched his fists, which were shaking from anger, so hard that they started bleeding and glared at his father with eyes full of contempt. However, there was also sadness in his gaze.
It’s understandable. His respected father didn’t oppose to sending his precious younger sister to the war.
“I am not that shameless.”
Duke Letsya said plainly, with a voice where no emotion could be discerned.
“Why didn’t you oppose then?!
It was Queen Consort which answered Liam’s question.
“It must have been for Claudia’s sake.”
She said while looking sadly at Duke Letsya, who was still only the floor.
“This is a war that we can win, but some casualties are unavoidable. However, Claudia should be able to end everything in an instant. Moreover, we will be able to deal enough damage to Galdia. If everything works out well, she can become a hero. And if that happens, there will be fewer people who’ll criticize her. Besides, Alaudi will be departing for the front too so he will able to defend her…maybe this is what he was thinking?”
There was no reply from Duke Letsya. This meant affirmation.
“What’s with that. Stop kidding me!”
Liam raised his voice even more.
“You’re too indecisive! That’s why Claudia never calls you father. Your halfway actions keep hurting her!”
“Yeah, I know. But I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Even though he can’t love her, he can’t reject her either. Without being able to completely cast away his heart as a parent, his actions towards Claudia end up being indecisive..
Duke Letsya seemed to have given up from quite a long time ago.
Queen Consort said gently to him, who had hung his head down.
“You made a mistake in the way you loved your daughter. That must be why you’re so battered.”
Duke Letsya smiled wryly at Queen Consort’s words, stood up and quietly left the audience room.
Having received the summons, a few days after the emergency congress assembly I attended the audience at the castle alone.
My father and brother said that they’d come with me but I refused. I was told that the reason I had to attend at the castle was my father, but I had already been eavesdropping on the assembly with the help of Gerald’s kin to start with, so I was fully aware of the situation.
While on my way towards the room where His Majesty the King was waiting, I ran into cheerful Amelia. She must’ve not been told the reason for her summon. She was accompanied by her father, Baron Logan, and a seemingly plain but a beautiful woman. She must be Amelia’s mother.
“Why are you here?!”
The moment Amelia saw my face, she shouted. Both Baron Logan and the woman who stood next to him were surprised and turning pale.
Baron Logan hurriedly apologized, forcefully holding his daughter’s head down. However, no apology came from her. Not like I wanted her to apologize or anything though.
Baron Logan was more or less following the etiquette but spoke to me with an attitude of hypocritical courtesy, which was only formal on surface.
“If you do not mind my asking, what is the reason for your presence here?”
A scream was raised from the woman next to him. However, Baron ignored it and continued.
“My daughter, Amelia, possesses the divine protection of the Light Spirit King as you know, so it is imaginable why she would be here, but as for you…um…right?…”
“Please stop! You are being discourteous.”
The woman’s face turned paler at the excessive disrespect of me. She seems to be afraid of me.
Amelia didn’t seem to care and on the contrary, she was even showing a smug smile.
“I am different from you.”
Saying so, Amelia stuck her chest out. I see, like father, like daughter.
“Stop it, Amelia!…I am very sorry, Lady Letsya.”
The only salvation was the fact that this woman, which appeared to be Amelia’s mother, seemed to be a very good person.
“I was called for the same reason as you. Well then, let’s go. We cannot make His Majesty wait.”
Amelia still looked unsatisfied, but even she seemed to understand that making the royalty wait wasn’t good and reluctantly obeyed.
The area around the designated room was cleared of the people and we were told about this time’s business from His Majesty and Queen Consort.
“T-to send my daughter…to the battlefield…?”
The face of Amelia’s mother―― the woman mentioned above ―― turned pale and she muttered quietly.
The Baron had lost his ability to speak and was frozen stiff. And Amelia was mumbling to herself.
“This is strange. Going to the battlefield should happen at the end of the novel. Moreover, it should be for the sake of defeating Claudia…”
Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only one who could hear her muttering.
“So far only the suggestion has been brought forth and we are not forcing you to do anything. Everything will depend on what you two decide.”
His Majesty added an explanation to calm down the agitated family.
Perhaps thinking that this was a good opportunity to make connections with the royalty, Baron suddenly said with excitement.
“To die for one’s country is the duty of a noble. There is nothing more wonderful than this!”
However, Amelia obviously resisted.
“I-I don’t want to do it! Why do I have to go to the war and fight? This is different from the story!”
Both His Majesty and Queen Consort seemed to be confused by Amelia’s words, not understanding what she was talking about. On the other hand, perhaps being used to it, Baron and his wife completely ignored her.
“You have Lord Grace, the Light Spirit King, with you. There shouldn’t be anything to worry about.”
Baron held Amelia’s shoulders and said as if gently admonishing her. However, he was neither concerned for Amelia, nor worried about her. The desire to possibly make connections with the royal family was flickering in his eyes.
Seeing Baron’s attitude, Amelia’s mother intensely protested.
“What are you saying? Amelia is still only fourteen years old. Besides, she hasn’t even received the appropriate training to stand on the battlefield. I can’t let her go to the war like that! Even if there’s Lord Grace with her, there’s no absolute guarantee of her safety. If she’s hit by a stray arrow…even if she returns alive, she might be left with permanent scars. Have you thought about how much of a big deal that is?!”
“I don’t want to! I don’t! I’ll absolutely never go to the war! Claudia should just go alone!”
Amelia violently shook her head. Her beautifully done hair quickly came apart and turned into something unsightly. However, the current Amelia didn’t have enough composure to care about that.
Both His Majesty and Queen Consort furrowed their eyebrows at her words, but they didn’t blame her. His Majesty opened his mouth in order to calm down the mother-daughter pair.
“All three of you should calm down. Turning down this matter won’t become disadvantageous for you.”
“However, Your Majesty…”
“Everything depends on what the concerned parties want to do. If Amelia is saying that she won’t go, then it’s okay…What will you do, Claudia?”
Everybody’s eyes gathered on me.
Even if you ask for my will, I have no right to refuse.
The reality has changed from the novel’s story and the people who understand me have also increased. Still, as long as I am hated, as long as I hold the protection of the Dark Spirit King, I don’t know what will affect the situation.
If I refuse here, I will be considered as ‘not having the intention to protect the nation’. And for the people who think of me as a nuisance, that would become the best opportunity to take advantage of.
Besides, what Duke Alfar and Father said on the day of the emergency assembly was right. There is a high chance that if I go to the battlefield, the human casualties on both sides will be minimized. It’s not like I want to be regarded as a hero, but I think that if there is something I can do for other people, I should do it.
My voice shook. But I was able to talk clearly.
His Majesty and Queen Consort apologetically lowered their eyebrows and quietly nodded.
Thus, it was decided that I would be going to the war.
After a month of preparation, I arrived at the battlefield in order to protect my precious brothers and my friends.
My legs shook with fear. I’m so nervous that I might throw up.
In the novel, Claudia died on the battlefield. Even though I know that this battlefield is different from the one in the novel, my anxiety grows stronger the moment I think that I might be getting closer to my destined death.
『Claudia, I’ll protect you so rest assured. Everything will be alright as long as I’m with you. You are not alone』
Gerald’s hand gently touched my shoulder. It was very warm and melted my stiffened heart.
The war hasn’t started yet. But the enemy was already under our noses.
I was looking down on the way the soldiers of the Galdia were gathering from the top of the cliff.
My role in this battle is to stop the enemy’s movements. I was told by Father that I didn’t need to do anything else.
While watching Galdia Kingdom’s soldiers, I was thinking about how I could carry out my orders.
I must avoid any methods that could be called brutal. Otherwise, I’ll be avoided by my allies too.
Even though there were allies at my back, I felt like all the bridges were burnt.
Before long, my father stood before me.
“Claudia, you can begin.”
I quietly nodded and called Gerald.
『Understood. ――my kin, seal the movement of all who stand before Claudia』
When Gerald commanded loudly, small spirits flew towards the Galdia troops all at once.
Gerald said that even if I ordered him, he wouldn’t leave my side.
Countless dark spirits went into the shadows of the enemy soldiers one after another. Then the shadows started to move and clung to their bodies.
“What is this thing!!”
“Shit, stop it! Get away!”
The shadows restrained enemy soldiers and stopped their movements. Leycia’s knights, which started running at my father’s signal, imprisoned them one after another.
Although I couldn’t completely stop the thousands of enemies, I was able to slow down the movements of the majority.
My father commanded not to chase after the fleeing enemy and ordered several soldiers to follow them and find out the enemy general’s whereabouts.
If I asked Gerald, the enemy general’s location could be easily tracked down. However, I didn’t intend to show all my cards, so I decided to watch over how the situation would unfold without saying anything.
After a while, those which followed the fleeing soldiers returned. Relying on their information, father took me and an elite small troop and headed towards the enemy general.
A small village just at the border with Galdia.
There was a solidly built tent at one corner of that village. It seemed like the enemy commander was here.
When I approached the tent while concealing the sound of my footsteps, I heard shouting from the inside.
“You got done in without a chance to counterattack?!”
That must’ve been the voice of Galdia army’s commander.
“Even though Prince Carlos believed in us and left this war to us, how can I explain this to him?!”
Perhaps he got excited and threw something, because I heard the sound of glass shattering.
I sealed the mouth of the guard standing outside of the tent with Gerald’s powers and quietly made him faint. Confirming that the elite knights had surrounded the tent, my father stepped inside.
“There is no need to think of an explanation. I will have you accompany us to Leycia.”
“What?! Who are you?!”
The soldiers inside turned around at once and put their hands on their swords. I restrained all of them with the power of darkness faster than they could pull out their swords.
“Uwaa! What’s this!?”
Seeing the shadow that was entwining around their bodies, the soldiers which were close to the commander, panicked.
“We have taken you in custody. I will have you accompany us.”
When my father said this, the Leycia knights caught the soldiers and the commander whose movements had been restrained by the shadow.
Thus, the war was over disappointingly quickly.
Watching the soldiers of Galdia being taken away, I heaved a sigh of relief. As I walked out of the tent and looked around, I saw people which looked like the villagers.
It seems like Galdia army had temporarily occupied this village. Had they done something quite inhuman to them? There was no vigor in the eyes of the villagers.
After walking around for a while, I arrived at the place where injured people had been gathered. The medics were working busily. Not only Leycia’s knights, but also the villagers were there.
I approached them and started to treat the injured people. The knights seemed to be quite busy, but I had nothing to do. Since I’m free either way, it should be better to do something useful.
Several knights were looking at me with curiosity while I was treating the injuries. They were whispering among each other, but frankly speaking, I could hear everything.
“You know, I thought about it but I only know Lady Letsya from rumors.”
“Me too. Captain isn’t the type to talk about his daughter either.”
“There are heaps of strange rumors about her so I was wondering about what kind of creepy girl she was.”
“I’ve even heard that she was a heartless girl which thought nothing of human life.”
Just where on earth do those groundless rumors come from? If they actually interacted with me, they would know that I’m a normal person. Besides, I have never harmed anybody. Regardless, I can’t believe that such rumors are circulating.
Without knowing my feelings, the knights’ chatter continued.
“Her expression rarely changes and her appearance is unusual, but it’s not like she looks creepy, right?”
“If you look closer, she’s a real beauty.”
“She’s Captain’s and Madam’s daughter so it’s natural that she’d be good-looking.”
“Liam-sama is quite handsome himself too, after all.”
“Yeah. When Liam-sama comes to the practice, there’s more female audience.”
Indeed, my brother is handsome. Not only that, he’s accomplished in both the literary and military arts, has status and is both gentlemanly and kind. There’s no way he wouldn’t be popular.
But if he’s going to marry somebody, I’d rather it be a person who will look only at him and not just those qualities.
While I was thinking so and continued treating the injured people, a villager child approached me.
I was talked to, so I stopped my hands and looked at the boy. His head was injured and there were bandages bound around it.
“Older sister, you fought too, right?”
“I only restrained the enemies’ movements. I wouldn’t call that fighting.”
I think that it’s pitiful that even such small children end up being dragged into the war. But it’s not like I was only thinking of saving them. Inside of me, there was also selfishness of wanting to avoid the BAD END. That feeling had remained as a slight guilt.
“I don’t understand complicated stuff. But it’s true that you saved us, older sister. Besides, you’re even treating our injuries. So, I’ll give this to you as my gratitude.”
What the boy offered was a pink flower that he had plucked from who knows where.
I didn’t expect to be thanked for helping with murder, so I’m not sure what kind of face I should make.
Still, I thought that his feelings honestly made me happy.
When I said this, the knights which were looking at us became noisy.
“She sure smiled…”
“So she can smile.”
Yeah, of course I can smile. I’m not a figurine.
I played the straight man inside my head.
“I think that it’s a real foul play when the usually expressionless people suddenly smile.”
“+1 to that opinion.”
Is my smile so unsightly that it can only be called a foul play? I’m starting to feel sad.
“That’s not good, right?”
“It’s too much of a surprise attack.”
“It’s too unfair, isn’t it?”
Isn’t it a bit too mean to say『that’s not good』after seeing a lady’s smile?! Certainly, I don’t have the same well-featured face as my older brother, but…
“Damn, I might want to marry her.”
“It’s impossible for you.”
“There are way too many competitors even now.”
“In the first place, you are just out of scale.”
“Uwaa, so meeeean~”
I can’t hear what they’re saying anymore. While telling that to myself, I quietly continued treating the injuries.
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