| In the palace, King Albach who faced Rudel felt the situation was taking just a bit of a strange turn.
Once he learned that Rudel had returned, his authorities said they would have Alejandro take responsibility for this incident. Up to there, it was fine.
Oldart took on an evasive attitude to dodge the problem, and it simply ended with both sides exploring a compromise. But the problem started with Rudel's statement.
A strange flow had come about from the Queen, Ciel Courtois' cynicism.
"How pitiful, for the heir to an archduke house to let their dragon run away. And am I to understand that our pitiful future-archduke spent these past few months playing around?"
Once they learned that Rudel spent the past few months in the dragons' dwellings, those around held indignation. Opinions started flying around that he should have returned alone, that he wasn't worthy to be a dragoon.
At the authorities' words, Oldart directed a serious expression, but he arbitrarily turned their points aside. Within all that, a single statement from Rudel caused everyone's attitude to take a sudden change.
"No, by no means was I playing around! I was receiving instruction under Marty-sama's dragon Mystith in order to become the best dragoon I can be."
"Who's Marty-sama? I don't know this Mystith either."
While he proudly brought up Marty's name, Oldart was oblivious. But in exchange, the queen dropped the fan in her hands.
And the authorities... especially the old ones were shaking.
King Albach remained expressionless, but after clearing his throat once, he sought confirmation.
"Ahem, Rudel. Is it that... could you be talking about Wolfgang?"
"Yes. I am undoubtedly referring to Marty Wolfgang-sama! I've been in the care of his beloved dragon Mystith, and..."
The king was acting blatantly strange at Rudel's words. The queen who had spat cynicism to that point seemed somewhat restless.
Even the authorities seemed to lose their momentum.
This was different from the flow Oldart was anticipating, the air in that space was clearly centered around Rudel.
"Where did you get to know about Wolfgang? I doubt there would be many a chance to learn of him..."
"I found him through 'How to Pet a Dragon'! That was a wonderful book, so wonderful I'm perplexed as to why it hasn't spread more. While I'm still immature, Mystith-sama has initiated me into the secret arts!"
"... I see. That's good."
"That has a lovely ring to it."
The queen's tone didn't sound as if she was congratulating him. More than that, she seemed fearful.
While Albach was lowering his shoulders for some reason, he decided to hold a conference on Rudel's punishment. For the sake of negotiation, Oldart had proposed three days in the disciplinary cells, and a few months of odd jobs after that.
He was told that was too light, and things were proceeding in a direction of taking in opinions from the authorities as well. But now, the authorities accepted Oldart's proposal as is.
"Then we're all fine with three days in disciplinary, and a few months of odd jobs after that, right?"
The king sought confirmation, the authorities simply nodded along. Among the authorities, a few young ones seemed unsatisfied, but the glares of the old men were doing their charm, forcing them to bob their heads.
"Right, now don't do it again, Rudel-dono."
The queen who had called him future-archduke sarcastically had changed a bit. Come so far, she was even adding a dono to his name.
"I shall exercise the utmost caution."
Together with Oldart, Rudel kneeled. Looking at the result, Rudel accepted a light punishment, but wouldn't have any further restrictions placed on him.
There was a reason the king and authorities would take on such inexplicable measures.
'How to Pet a Dragon', while its direction itself may have been mistaken, it was a book that held wonderful contents. But from its publication to the moment Marty left the world, it never received a proper evaluation.
The moment Marty was gone, the crown hurried to retrieve every last copy of the book.
Before the contents even came into question, they wanted to prevent the appearance of another dragoon like Marty. That had been tormented by Marty so thoroughly that they incinerated the collected books before they could check the contents.
The fact that one crossed into Rudel's hands was, surprisingly enough, so unlikely it could even be called a miracle.
Without placing emphasis on the book's title or contents, How to Pet a Dragon had been collected and burned out of fear of the author. The reason neither Cattleya nor Lilim knew of Marty was because his achievements were hidden up and recorded as the merits of many other dragoons.
If one did some digging, then quite a few things could come up, but those were things Rudel was only able to find out precisely because he was the heir to an archduke title.
To the country of Courtois, Marty and Mystith were nothing more than a symbol of fear. Both stories were frantically covered up.
In Courtois, where its national defense was maintained by the dragons, Marty was the man who led their dragon force to return to their dens.
Mystith was a dragon with enough power to rule over the others. To add on to that, the palace at the time was even destroyed by Mystith.
The era's royal family was somehow able to quell the situation by getting on their knees, but to make sure that fear was never forgotten, the knowledge was passed down to their successors and leaders of history.
It was here that the fact the white knight was a worshipper of Marty stuck into them.
Even now, they hadn't the opportunity to learn that the second princess looked up to the dragoon long lost.
All that could be said was that a fear of over a hundred years passed had been revived.
Having returned to his disciplinary cell, the formalities and questionings were enough to make three days go by.
Placed in the cell next to Enora, he did nothing but concentrate his spirit, sitting cross-legged with his eyes closed in meditation. But Enora next door leaned on the wall and called over to Rudel.
"You got off quite lightly. The new has even reached here. That you threatened the king."
"... I didn't threaten anyone. I just told the truth."
From Rudel's point of view, he hadn't made any threats, but the royal family and authorities were in fear. There was no doubt they felt threatened.
"I see... I really am sorry."
From her prior joking tone, she changed to something a bit solemn. Sensing Enora's feelings, Rudel answered them.
"It's gone and done with. I don't mind it. Though I do feel sorry for punching the vice-captain."
"Don't worry about that one. It was quite refreshing, after all."
Hearing Enora laugh, Rudel felt just a little relieved. Because it wasn't the possessed expression or voice she had always carried, it was a voice as if an evil spirit had released its hold.
"Though I made Lieutenant Cattleya angry. Said I should show some discretion... Once the vice-captain calmed down, he said he'd try pleading for your clemency, it seems. Said that way would be more effective."
"Ah, that sounds like him. I'm sure my father wanted to make a debt as well."
The two of them laughed across the wall. It was there that Rudel recalled what Oldart had said. He didn't understand it, so he wanted to use the opportunity to ask Enora about it.
"Right. When it comes to the lieutenant, the captain said something... Enora, do you know what he meant by, 'Boomerang Cattleya'? The Captain laughed as he said it, but I'm unable to understand."
"... Boomerang, you mean..."
(TL: In Japan, this is a phrase that pretty much means you end up attacking yourself much more than you attack the enemy.)
Once Enora explained it, Rudel finally got it. Sure enough, there were times where one got the urge to tell someone to say that to a mirror.
As Oldart never put a gag order on it, Rudel ended up reporting the matter to Cattleya after he got out of the cell. Because of that, Cattleya's moniker in the dragoon brigade was changed to Boomerang Cattleya for a while.
After that, Oldart was chased around by Cattleya. The words he uttered...
'Gyaaaah! The boomerang came back again!'
It's said he was surprisingly enjoying it.
When Rudel left the disciplinary cell, the preparations were finally together.
While Rudel was gone, an anxious Sakuya made use of the dragon stables reserved for those of Major or above. Even if you said she was using it, she simply dug out a new sleeping space.
Her preparations were ready, she was finally going to challenge the other dragons.
She had made her certain-kill one two finish her own, and fighting on disadvantageous conditions, she had attained victory over a wind dragon. She had some confidence now.
'G-get out here! Sakuya is annngry!!'
"That's the spirit, Sakuya, let's show them all your power today!"
Rudel standing to her side encouraged her.
From the eyes of those around, it was a lonely sight, as if he was talking to himself next to a roaring dragon.
The dragons of the stable showed no signs of coming out.
Rudel had already confirmed that the dragons not on duty were in the stable. He had chosen a day he knew Cattleya's red dragon would be there.
'T-today Sakuya is going to defeat the boss and become the new boss!'
"Keep at it, Sakuya!"
But the dragons wouldn't come out. A while passed, and perhaps Sakuya's fruitless howls were beginning to feel lonely as she burst into tears.
'Please come out...'
Even with Rudel next to her, patting her leg to cheer her up, Sakuya was losing her spirit.
"Good grief, just what are they doing?"
The one who approached with a fed-up face was Cattleya. If Sakuya roared, whether they liked it or not, people would gather. It would be bad if she ran away again.
"Lieutenant, the truth is, Sakuya is trying to challenge the boss of the dragon stables, but your dragon isn't coming out. Could you give it a call?"
Seeing a restless Rudel before a weeping Sakuya, Cattleya felt even more fed-up.
"Why do I have to call Bram out? It looks like your dragon's gunning to kill him, so no."
"I'm begging you!"
As Rudel gripped Cattleya's right hand in both hands, desperately pleading to her, Cattleya averted her face away from Rudel.
She changed her opinion just a little bit and assented. Sensing that exchange from within the dragon stables, Bram cried out at his own contractor.
But to Rudel, it only sounded like the roars of a dragon's heart.
"Shut it! Get out here already, and you call yourself a man!?"
The dragon stable was populated by gray dragons, with a few wild dragons on the side.
In it were both Cattleya's red dragon Bram, and Enora's dragon Falk. While there were others, they had run off saying they weren't relevant.
Bram was the boss of the dragon stables, while Falk couldn't move from the wounds he suffered at Sakuya's hands.
'Goddammit, that woman... she sold me out to Rudel.'
Letting his tail alone protrude from the straw, Bram was truly scornful. Falk had already suffered a blow, and a single strike had put him into a considerably terrible condition.
Even if wind dragons weren't specialized to defense, this was abnormal. Sakuya's offensive power was way too high.
'In the first place, I have nothing to do with this!!'
'Why don't you give up already?'
'Shut it, whelp! You can only say that because you don't know her true terror... the true terror of the one behind her, fool!!'
While Bram was counted as a young dragon, Falk was an even younger male. In his confusion, Bram stuck his head out of the straw and looked at the gray dragons around.
'This is you guys' fault, dammit!'
'No, but, you see?'
'You normally wouldn't think that giant was a child.'
'And wait, what's with that destructive power?'
A majority of the gray dragons had burns on their surface on top of being beaten up. Even like that, they would recover in a few days, so they were dragons as well.
'You domesticated cattleee!!'
The dragon stables generally only took red and wind dragons. Water and gaia dragons lived in special environments.
The water dragons loved the water, and the gaia dragons found solace in the earth... the two species were given a different stable.
There was a movement outside. Apart from the Cattleya, who had sold him out to Rudel through her maidenly affection, he heard another voice he didn't want to hear.
'Mystith~, no one's coming out.'
'You let Sakuya cry again. Good grief...'
'Why is a wild dragon here?'
'Shit, she really did come.'
Bram felt as if his red face was turning blue, but the other gray dragons were clearly going pale as well. The young gray dragons who didn't know Mystith didn't show any particular change.
More than that, those young ones still had leisure. The one Sakuya was challenging was Bram, and they were sure they were irrelevant.
'Oy, oy, what's with this. It's just one more lizard, right?'
'She's quite an old hag to boot.'
'Bram really is pitiful.'
'You, the one who dropped my honorific, I remember your face. No, I have to do something about... GYAAAAAH!!'
'Ah, boss is heeeeeere!'
'Please forgive us, boss!'
As Bram raised a scream and burrowed into the straw, a single large dragon appeared at the stable entrance.
The other gray dragons that knew Mystith raised screams as they pleaded for forgiveness.
If they were able to tell the outside situation from within, she was able to tell the inside situation from out there.
With her body a size larger than the other dragons, Mystith entered the dragon stables that began to feel narrow, before opening her mouth to speak. There was light streaming in from the entrance, and her open mouth almost seemed to be smiling.
But her eyes weren't smiling at all.
'Gentledragons of the stables, come~ out~ and~ play~.'
Her words were stretched as if she was mocking them, but that only made Bram all the more fearful.