17. Thing that couldn’t be given up
A night had passed since then.
Boys and men were weeping and clinging to the corpses of the militia, their wives and mothers.
At the very least, Faust made his people work to treat the seriously wounded to not increase the number of dead.
“Don’t cry, Hannah just, did her duty. Don’t cry.”
While muttering to herself, Zabine was holding the hand of the corpse of her best friend and never let it go all day long, even when she was asleep last night.
And, Valliere was advised by Faust to rest for a while.
Of course, Valliere hadn’t yet recovered from Hannah’s death.
From the shock of having killed someone for the first time.
She tried to forget everything ―― thanks to Faust’s thoughtfulness, she was left alone for a while.
Of course, the other royal guards, though shocked by Hannah’s death, were all trying to protect her. They were protecting her from the surroundings by devoting themselves to their work and not trying to bother her with work.
Looking at the scene, the strength in Valliere’s legs left her, and she fell helplessly to the ground.
“Don’t cry, don’t cry. I beg you, Hannah has done a very good job as a knight.”
Like last night, Zabine rubbed her cheek against Hannah’s hand and started crying.
The words Zabine desperately tried to convince herself were ultimately, meaningless.
Most likely, Zabine regretted this battle. If she hadn’t driven the militia,
If she hadn’t pursued this battle, Hannah wouldn’t have died.
But now, the result had been made, and nothing could change it. Neither Valliere nor the other 13 royal guards believed that Zabine killed Hannah.
Hannah, to whom she was so close.
Hannah and Zabine were, after all, one-of-a-kind best friends.
Zabine, spouting meaningless words, continued to shed tears on Hannah’s hands.
Valliere could only stare blankly at the scene and do nothing.
Nothing was wrong with crying.
Even Valliere wished she could cry to her heart’s content.
But, she had cried so much that she thought she had no more tears to shed.
Right, Zabine can cry my portions too.
Thought Valliere as she watched the scene.
Then, faint sounds could be heard in the distance.
The neighing of a horse, the hooves, and the footsteps of people.
The sound of military boots.
Valliere involuntarily stood up and called the name of her most reliable counselor.
“Faust! Perhaps Willendorf――”
“No, Princess. Not Willendorf.”
Calmly Faust put the binoculars――the loot he had gotten from Caroline, around his neck.
Using it, he directed his gaze in the direction from which the sound came.
“That’s Duchess Astarte’s flag. It’s the reinforcements.”
One day sooner, and Hannah might…
Valliere knew her wish was nothing more than a complaint.
She knew it was just an assumption.
She understood that nothing could be done about the fact that they didn’t make it in time.
But she couldn’t help thinking so.
And once again, thought,
…What should I do?
“Faust. Sorry for bothering you. But, what should――”
Valliere tried to ask Faust for a decision.
But she stopped halfway.
For some reason, she thought that this time, she would do it herself.
“Faust, I’m giving you an order. From now on, as the Second Princess of Anhalt, Valliere, and as the winner of this battle, I shall welcome the reinforcements. Make a preparation.”
Faust bent his knees and bowed to Valliere as he replied.
Wait, in the end, it’s no different from leaving it up to Faust.
The only difference was whether I asked or gave an order.
No that’s not true.Just simply asking and giving an order, is a big difference.
Until now, I’d been a person who could only rely on Faust.
While thinking so, Valliere prepared to welcome Duchess Astarte.
Faust informed the governor of the arrival of the reinforcements and ordered the volunteer militia, men and boys, to be assembled.
Conversely, the seriously wounded were to be brought to the front and prepared for medical treatment by medics, as soon as possible.
Next, he called Helga, the Squire Commander, to prepare the welcome together with the Polidoro citizens, and proceeded with the next step.
At the very least, I should order the royal guards to prepare the welcome.
All of them—No, Zabine is no good now.
She needs time.
Just like me, she needs time to get back on her feet.
So, Zabine was tasked to protect Hannah’s body.
Since the return of the commander was waived, one of the royal guards was appointed as a temporary commander instead.
The person appointed was originally a candidate for the position of commander, just like Hannah.
Considering the average standard of my royal guards, she should be fine. I guess?
I mean, no one is better than her at this moment.
Thus, the herald of the reinforcements arrived on horseback.
“We, the army of Duchess Astarte, have come to help. I want to confirm the situation!!”
“My name is, Valliere, the Second Princess! The battle is over. Caroline was killed by my counselor, Faust von Polidoro! The enemies have all been annihilated! Now, we’re dealing with the aftermath. There are some seriously wounded among the volunteer militia! Surely, there are medics with you, right?!!”
Valliere shouted at the heralded soldier. The knight was puzzled, but accepted her words.
“Un-understood. I have confirmed the situation. Our Duchess Astarte’s army will arrive in 30 minutes. Medics are also with us. Please wait for a little longer! I will return immediately to report the situation.”
The knight turned on her heel and hurried toward the approaching Duchess Astarte’s army on horseback.
Valliere sighed, for the thought of meeting Duchess Astarte made her feel sick.
“Those eyes” were just, scary.
Those eyes that told Valliere that she was mediocre, and that they clearly disliked her.
Duchess Astarte hated mediocre blue blood.
That was just the reality, an open fact to see.
So, what about Valliere now?
Going into a numerically unfavorable war, the citizens――militia, ten were killed, one royal guard was killed, and Valliere made Faust work like a carriage horse. Still, she won.
Speaking of results, probably a perfect result for a blue blood.
With only that much sacrifice, she won an unfavorable battle.
People would surely praise her, ‘How Amazing’.
But she couldn’t admit it.
Valliere didn’t think herself worthy of that result.
How would Duchess Astarte look at her when they met this time?
She was uneasy.
She was terrified.
Looking into the eyes of Duchess Astarte, who came forward herself as she declared herself as “The Counselor of the First Princess”, Valliere couldn’t help but realize her own value. Every time. She felt like her existence was being questioned.
―― This is no good.
I, will confront that Duchess Astarte.
No, not with hostility.
I mean, I’ve to be a person who can look her in the eye.
Valliere didn’t know where such an emotion was coming from.
She just somehow thought so.
Astarte hated Valliere, the Second Princess.
After all, she was mediocre.
For a commoner, Astarte could allow that.
But, for a blue-blood, such a creature as a blue-blooded mediocre, was something Astarte hated the most.
“10 volunteer militia, and one royal guard ―― as sacrifices to get rid of 70 enemy elites and 30 bandits. So, total annihilation of 100.”
Astarte ran a pen over the report and tore off the paper.
“This, send a messenger to deliver this to Her Majesty, now.”
Astarte’s aide bowed her head and received the report.
Then, Duchess Astarte opened a tent.
Inside, the soldiers who had been rushed there were treating the wounded militia.
All the knights under her command served as guards.
“Now then, Your Royal Highness Second Princess Valliere. The result of your first battle, is splendid. How do you feel?”
“…All thanks to the volunteer militia, and the royal guards. And most of all, thanks to Faust, I didn’t do anything.”
“Well, I guess so.”
Astarte nodded lightly.
She believed that it was mainly Faust’s battle results.
To worship Faust’s butt――No, to have a chat with Faust, she approached him when taking over in overseeing the treatment of the militia, and he said that his kill score was probably around 40 this time.
Perhaps, or more likely, Faust didn’t count his kill score properly. I bet he killed more, no, he definitely killed half of them himself.
But, most of all, I’m just glad that the Knight of Wrath wasn’t born in Willendorf.
Miscellaneous thoughts came for a moment.
She stopped it and looked again at Valliere’s face.
She wondered why the mediocre Valliere, had different eyes this time.
In front of her and Anastasia, Valliere should have been the kind of girl who would stare down in fear of something.
Alright, shall we talk for a moment?
“Second Princess Valliere. Let’s move to a smaller place. I want to talk just with you for a moment.”
“Of course, some guards will stay outside. This is near the Willendorf border. You don’t know what will happen.”
Astarte and Valliere entered a small tent.
Then, sitting in two crude folding chairs, she asked Valliere.
“You lost the royal guard instead of yourself. And, you killed one person in revenge. How was it, Second Princess Valliere?”
“……Who did you hear that from?”
“Faust. He secretly bowed and asked me to be somehow more considerate.”
Astarte peered into Valliere’s face from below.
“Of course, I accepted it on the spot. But, I have no intention of doing that.”
Astarte would rather die than be disliked by Faust.
So, she agreed.
She thought it was okay to do so in this situation.
But she changed her mind.
She was very interested in Valliere today.
This girl, has changed a little.
She’s been staring straight into my eyes.
Well, occasionally, there are mediocre people who are like this.
But, in her case, what has changed?
“So. How was it actually? How did it feel to kill someone?”
“Hannah died a proud death for me. I just took revenge for her. I did it, so as not to bring shame, as a blue blood.”
That’s a lie.
Why need to act so tough?
Most likely, you franticly took revenge in the heat.
Astarte had heard that it was the same in Anastasia’s case.
The Willendorf Campaign ―― In the first battle, Anastasia was confused by the sudden attack, and in anger at the death of her guard, she went half-crazy and killed the enemy, temporarily cutting off communication with Astarte.
Astarte had heard that even Queen Riesenlotte’s first battle was also similar.
Even Astarte herself, in her first battle, was enraged at the death of her retainer, and killed the enemy half-crazy.
That’s just the kind of blood we are.
“Your Royal Highness Second Princess Valliere.”
“What, we’re blood relatives anyway, you can call me Valliere in this place.”
“Then, Valliere. This time, even though it’s thanks to Faust, you have left a splendid battle record. The other blue bloods, even the court nobles, couldn’t just make fun of you anymore. So, have you thought, what you will do next?”
Asked Valliere, who could no longer be called a useless spare.
What she would do in the future. What wish she would make.
“The royal guards?”
“I will raise all of them, into hereditary knights.”
It was a strange answer.
I’m asking you what you want to do in the future.
Not about the future of your subordinates…
“No, wait. Raise them? What do you mean?”
“I’m not interested in the throne. I don’t think I can. I, don’t think I deserve it. But, I—”
Valliere seemed to find something in her tightly clenched hand as she made a clenched fist.
“I, also have retainers. I didn’t notice that until now. What an idiot, right? It’s no wonder you, always look down on me as a mediocre…… Ahaha,”
A dry laugh indeed.
“One day my sister will become the Queen, and I, will enter the monastery, and that, will be the end of my life. I always thought so. But, there’s one thing I couldn’t give up.”
“And… what is that?”
Astarte awaited the answer with great interest.
“Only them―― only my bodyguards, I’m going to raise them. Military service, negotiations, other duties, whatever. Anything is fine, as long as I can raise their ranks and let them gain experience, I will serve as Commander, and fulfill my duties as a blue blood.”
What a strange girl.
Seems you are growing in a weird way.
Astarte honestly thought so.
She had heard and seen various ways of growing up as a blue blood.
There were those who were blessed with coincidental achievements and drowned in their desires.
There were those who went mad because they were overly saddened by the death of their retainers.
There were those who loved the commoners, the people of their territory, too much and couldn’t bear the loss.
There were just many things that could lead to a rather tragic end.
But Valliere was different.
She said she didn’t need anything other than the future of her bodyguards.
And even, just for that, she would fulfill her duties as a blue blood in the future.
Of course, the other obligations as a blue blood would probably be fulfilled for that as well.
What a strange girl, Astarte had to say.
…If the affection is too deep, will someone grow like that?
“Your Royal Highness Second Princess Valliere”
“What is it? Suddenly calling me like that again.”
“To be honest, I’ve always hated you until now.”
Valliere smiled at these words.
As if to say that she already knew that.
“However, I don’t hate you that much right now.”
“You’re not going to like me? I see.”
“As a blue-blooded royalty, perhaps you―― no, that’s completely wrong. You will always be mediocre in my eyes.”
She didn’t reply to Astarte’s words, only smiled and acknowledged them.
She’s really growing in a weird way.
With this thought, Astarte ended the conversation and was the first to leave the tent.
Then, Astarte decided to worship Faust’s butt once again.
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