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33: The Young Man, the Black Eyed Woman, and the Lady

 Having accepted an adventurer job, Rudel and co had come to a town a long distance from the academy. He had fulfilled a number of jobs, so this time he wanted to take up a higher difficulty level one in the border region. The further you got away from the capital, the more monsters you would find. This was in part from the effective range of knight brigades, but monsters would more often settle in places with lower human inhabitation.

That being the case, the distance from the capital caused their travel time to number in days. So Izumi was absent. As she was aiming to be a high knight from the start, Izumi had little free time to speak of. But how heartless it would be, to raise the difficulty yet decrease the number of fighters... following that thread of logic, Vargas was dragged along.

"... You know. I'm not even sure what I should say at this point."

While Vargas was half in resignation, Eunius remained in high spirits. And as they headed for their destination point in the swaying carriage, Rudel and Luecke were reading books in the loading tray. By the way, Basyle was asleep.

"It's rare to be able to experience monster slaying in your school days, Vargas."

Rudel put a pause on his book and said it. Vargas let out a sigh as he answered.

"Hah, once I become a knight, I'll have to take them on whether I like it or not... what's more, ogre slaying? I have the urge to ask if you're an idiot."

This time's job was to exterminate a lone ogre who had been frequently sighted around the village. If they were in large numbers, the dragoons or knight brigades would be mobilized, but... the fact it was independent, and that there hadn't been any casualties put it low on the priority list.

And there were few adventurers capable of defeating ogres. Few, or rather, if they were that strong, they were better off quitting the adventurer trade to find work with some wealthy noble like Basyle.

"A knight shouldn't complain. And as a knight, don't you have to pledge to protect the people?"

Luecke read on as he scolded Vargas. I definitely did take the oath! But when you think of how I'm spending my limited school life somewhere like here... it was only natural he was worried.

"More importantly, what are we doing about formation? I want the front line! Rather, I can't do anything else!"

In high tensions, Eunius was wholeheartedly looking forwards to battling an ogre. In the carriage, Basyle turned over in her sleep, putting her into an unladylike form... Vargas, Eunius and Luecke lent her an eye, but Rudel draped a blanket over her.

"... Just a bit... no, perhaps this trip isn't so bad."

Having found his drive to travel on, Vargas stopped his complaining. Meanwhile Eunius complained to Rudel that he look to see a little longer.



Just as the five set off on their job, there was a movement among the knight brigades. Cattleya had temporarily returned from the borderland to report. While being a dragoon, she was heralded as a genius, well thought of by the royal line. When such a girl was sent off to the outer reaches of the nation, the knights who didn't think so highly of her could boldly speak ill.

Her report over, Cattleya returned to her dragon, when some lower ranking knights called over.

"Been a while, 'prodigy'. Are you back for good?"

"Don't be stupid, there's no way Cattleya can come back. She picked a fight with the Three Lords, so she's off to the border for life."

"Oy, oy, it's amazing enough for someone to survive after picking a fight with the three lords! Right Mrs. Cattleya who presented her body?"

Ignoring those words, Cattleya hurried to her dragon... she couldn't' stand it. To that point, she had held little interest in the dragoon status everyone dreamed of. But expelled to the outskirts, through the harsh life she lived day after day, she had begun to yearn for her life in the capital.

And with her engagement to Rudel, the story had somehow been changed to one where she presented her body for her life to be spared. That only served to irritate her more.

In her irritation, Cattleya walked. A fellow dragoon called over... it was Lilim.

"It's been some time, Cattleya."

She gave a greeting no different than before, but Cattleya wouldn't allow it. Her emotions running wild, she found Lilim's unchanging air to be irritating.

(When I'm the more talented one! Why did she get a promotion while I was blasted off to the border... right. It's all that guy's fault! Rudel! If that guy wasn't there...!!!)

Even she didn't know why her emotions blazed to such a level. Cattleya offered Lilim some cynicism.

"What's wrong, 'Captain' Lilim? Calling out to someone sent off like me... you bragging? Since you were promoted after I left, you want to show it off?"

On Cattleya's blatant cynicism, Lilim was a little surprised. Lately, Cattleya had been acting strange. Especially when it came to Rudel. And she was sent off to the border. Her pride had been high from the start, so perhaps her feelings were just running wild. As she thought that, Lilim wasn't particularily irritated.

"I don't particularly mean to brag, I was simply curious how things were going on your side."

Feeling as if she was being ruled by something wicked, Cattleya let out words she never normally would say. On Lilim's secret she didn't want anyone to touch.

"It's the worst! They all say I offered my body to a man I don't even like! ... But perhaps I'm better off than you. Compared to the 'Black Eyed Woman' even run out on by her fiancé, I can get married whenever I want."

'Black Eyed Woman', That was Lilim's secret. The reason she wouldn't open her eyes was related to an elven characteristic where the quality of an individual's magic brought an influence to their hair and eye color. Just as her younger sister Millia's hair was green, even among blood siblings, completely different colors could come out.

... And with Lilim's eyes, the entire surface was pitch black. The magic quality and quantity she possessed put her in the top ranks of the elves. It was the reason she was abandoned by her fiancé.

"... What did you just say?"

Lowering her face a bit, Lilim's clenched fist trembled. But Cattleya continued to land the finishing blow.

"I called you a black eyed woman, captain! Well, because of that, you have the fortune of avoiding a marriage to Rudel. No, perhaps that was your last chance."

On those words, Lilim forgot herself in anger. And this time, Lilim was ruled by something wicked... in contrast, Cattleya turned so level-headed it surprised even herself... and she understood. Just how terrible her actions were, and how terrible of a situation she had put herself in.

"Cattleya!!!!!"

After that, the fight between two active dragoons unfolded.



Nearby a town close to the border, the soldiers of the Gaia Empire had disguised themselves and slipped in. Their mission:

'Testing the strengthened ogre'

That was their goal. For that sake, they had put out a job, and after testing it on adventurers, they would move onto combat tests with the knights of Courtois. That was their goal in infiltrating the enemy country.

And the one who happened to take that job was Basyle. Naturally, Rudel and the others were on board as well.

Long blond hair, wrapped round and round, a young girl wearing high class clothing was the captain of this experimental brigade. She hailed from a noble house of the empire, her name was Mies Liquorice. She boasted well-developed features for her age, and gave of the feel of a young lady prone to airheadedness. There was a reason she was forcibly conducting battle tests of this strengthened ogre in an enemy country.

Relaxing in a high class inn of the town, she and her surrounding soldiers needed to urgently prepare a powerful weapon for the empire that was on the verge of collapsing from succession problems. To cross the border, she had filled out the proper paperwork, so that wasn't a crime.

She just thought she'd have Courtois carry out the tests... simply that and nothing more. But with complex power struggles involved, this mission was one intended to cut off Mies and the Liquorice House.

Unaware of all that, Mies arrogantly worked around her underlings- who were well aware of the situation- as she waited for the mission to commence.

"Are the adventurers not here yet? It's already been three days! I'm getting rather bored of this life in the countryside!"

In regards to their boss's willfulness, the subordinates pitied or scorned her within.

"I believe it will take a few more days... all the skilled fighters are gathered at the center of Courtois, after all."

"Hah, so I'm to wait on some mere adventurers... thinking of the number of days it'll take for a knight brigade to come out really brings you down."

Mies said as she lay herself down on her high-class sofa.

This mission that had dragged in Rudel's party, the affairs within the dragoons entwined, it made for a bit of a tangled mess. This was an event that wasn't in the scenario.
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