18. Post-First Campaign
Walking inside the castle was Valliere.
She had finished dealing with the aftermath of the battle and returned to the royal capital, Anhalt.
Of course, together with the Second Princess Guard―― together with Hannah’s body.
Hannah’s funeral was held by the other 14 members, Faust the counselor, and Valliere.
It was held quietly with only 16 attendees.
Valliere’s mother said, that since Hannah had protected her, a suitable prestige should be given, and was in discussion with the military officers of the court nobles.
The Queen Guard should be included, or so her mother suggested holding the ceremony solemnly.
But, Valliere didn’t think Hannah would be happy with that.
And so, she wished to hold the funeral privately, just with the other 14 and also Faust.
She thought that would make Hannah the most happy.
Above all, if the matter got bigger, there was a possibility that her family would visit her grave, and that wouldn’t make Hannah happy. Or rather, it would only make Hannah angry.
“What’s the matter, Valliere-sama?”
“Have you calmed down?”
Valliere called out to Zabine who was by her side.
Zabine looked sad and shook her head lightly. It seemed she hadn’t fully recovered yet.
“Princess. Regarding the people of that small village…”
“As you know, I’ve talked about it with Duchess Astarte and also with my mother. You don’t have to worry about anything.”
Those whom Zabine drove to death.
The governor, who commanded a volunteer militia, had restored her honor as a blue blood, even though she was badly injured.
A total of 30 volunteer militia survived, including the seriously wounded, and also the men and boys they had rescued were still alive.
And the 10 corpses were said to have been transported by Duchess Astarte.
Duchess Astarte recovered all of Caroline’s fortune and her people’s weapons. She said that the money would eventually be used to compensate the bereaved families.
The number of women had decreased, but the men and boys had been safely taken back to the village.
Someday, the bureaucratic aristocrats who received orders from Valliere’s mother would take care of the number of people that had decreased, by increasing the number of villagers while monitoring the situation little by little each year, and finally restore the small village’s small happiness.
However, until the grief for the dead was healed.
Until all traces of Caroline’s destruction had disappeared.
That would probably take some time.
“Is that so…?”
Valliere was sure it would take longer than Zabine to recover.
That said, Zabine, was promoted by two ranks this time.
All the other 13 royal guards were also promoted by one rank.
The achievements this time were getting rid of the traitors, who had attacked the territory under the direct control of the Kingdom, kidnapped men and boys, robbed their goods, and even wanted to sell them to Willendorf and defect.
Valliere’s mother judged that the promotion was an appropriate reward.
However, at that time, Faust interjected a little about Zabine’s two promotions.
「”I heard that it was Zabine, the guard commander, who was responsible for conscripting the militia…”」
Valliere’s mother said so in confusion.
「“It was the optimal solution in that situation. Looking at the results, clearly, it was the optimal solution. I admit it. However, there’s something I must say…“」
Faust frankly told what he thought about Zabine’s speech and made a complaint.
The cheeks of Valliere’s mother twitched when she heard his words.
To be honest, even Valliere also thought that Zabine’s speech was poor for someone of a blue blood.
However, since the result was a victory, support must be done.
Valliere’s mother instructed the Bards Guild to create and spread a poem saying that the militia volunteers had volunteered because of Zabine’s passionate encouragement. She said that this time it was the right thing to do.
Even now, Valliere could remember Faust’s resigned expression, as if to say that there was no other choice.
As a result, nothing changed about Zabine’s two promotions.
Next time, Zabine might seriously anger Faust, I’ve to tell her.
But… even without telling her, I don’t think she would ever do the same thing again.
She seems to deeply regret Hannah’s death, also driving the militia to their deaths.
It would be nice if the bards assigned by the Bards Guild could sing
throughout the royal capital. And if she heard the forged epic poetry, it wouldn’t be as heartbreaking, as it’s now.
I’m sure… that’s impossible.
Looking at Zabine, Valliere thought that her complexion looked dull.
I wonder if she could sleep properly at night.
Sometimes Valliere would jump out of bed, having a dream about that battlefield music and the face of the woman she had killed.
Eventually, though, that too would subside with time, she believed.
Come to think of it, what will be given for Faust’s achievements this time?
Without Faust, there would have been no victory this time.
In the Willendorf campaign’s case, Faust was said to be a man who wanted less than a little money as a reward for his great achievements, and was called a man with no greed by Mother and the Court Nobles.
The announcement of Faust’s reward for this achievement hasn’t yet been made public.
By any chance, is it perhaps improper for me not to properly deduct some from my annual expenses?
Faust participated as my counselor after all.
That’s why it’s only natural for me to reward him, and that’s why Mother hasn’t said anything yet――?
Valliere nodded a few times to answer her own question.
But, I can’t give Faust a reward that will satisfy him with the small annual expenses I’ve been given.
I have to consult with Mother later.
Honestly, please reward him out of the kingdom’s annual expenses. Or please increase my annual allowance this time.
We saved the face of the kingdom, so that’s good enough, right?
I hope so…
While thinking about such things, Valliere was walking through the corridors of the royal castle.
“Oh, Valliere. Good afternoon.”
“My dear sister. Ah… Good afternoon.”
Valliere was called by her older sister―― Anastasia, the First Princess, and stiffened at the glare.
No, I can’t be like this.
Even though, I was able to look into Duchess Astarte’s eyes, she’s just different.
First of all, your eyes are really bad, my dear sister.
Even Faust hates making eye contact with you.
So, someone like me should be allowed to be scared, right?
But. no, I can’t keep being like this.
As the Second Princess, I’ve decided to stand with pride as a blue blood so as not to bring shame to my guards.
I have to make eye contact.
“Valliere, it seems that you can at least properly do greetings. That’s very good.”
“Umm… Thank you, very much?”
Valliere was perplexed.
Can I take her words just now, as a little acceptance of me?
“There is something, I would like to ask you.”
What could it be…
“Was what I taught you useful for your first battle?”
Preparation for the first battle…
One, you never know what will happen on the battlefield. Information obtained in advance can be inconsistent.
Another one, just when you think you’re in a safe zone, behind you, the enemy’s elite suddenly appears, and they could then attack you.
The other is――the person you love, can even die at that moment.
“…On the battlefield, everything happened exactly as you said, but I couldn’t be any help.”
“Is that so? I’ve read the reports from Faust and Astarte, but it seems that the situation was too terrible. There’s nothing to think much about.”
“No, I’m sorry, I couldn’t be any help even after…”
Valliere apologized sincerely.
She didn’t really understand how her older sister felt at that moment, but she could sense that her older sister cared about her. In her older sister’s own way.
“Yes, my dear sister.”
Valliere’s older sister stared into her eyes with those snake-like eyes.
“You――were you able to calmly handle the situation where your loved one dying right in front of you?”
Valliere told Duchess Astarte in a manner as if she was acting tough, but this time she wanted to answer honestly.
That in fact, she couldn’t calmly handle the situation.
Is that a disqualification as royalty?
“Well, that’s good.”
Unexpectedly, Valliere was taken aback by her older sister’s words.
What, what are you trying to say?
“When someone you love is killed in your first battle, you’ll fall into a half-madness and go on a rampage at the enemy. That’s a characteristic of our bloodline.”
Is that really okay?
Aren’t you, supposed to be calm?
I mean, in such an emergency situation…
“To be honest, I doubted whether you really have the same blood as me.”
I, was I hated by her that much?
Well, I knew she hated me.
But honestly, I’m still appalled.
“But, it seems I was wrong. I see you in a new light, Valliere.”
“Ah, thank you very much.”
This time, Valliere’s older sister praised her in a way that she could understand clearly.
I guess, I should be proud of myself?
To be honest, I feel a little strange about it…
“Well, I would like to end our talks here, but too bad, Valliere, I still have another thing to say.”
Replied Valliere, as she puffed out her chest a little.
Now, she won’t say anything unreasonable, right?
“You did something unnecessary, didn’t you? Because of your achievements, my inauguration as Queen has been postponed for a while. According to Queen Riesenlotte, the balance within the court must be considered. I wish you hadn’t gone after them and just come back quietly instead.”
Valliere was told unreasonable things.
That, I don’t care! That’s not my problem!
Can you not try to deny my achievements with all your might like that?
“Valliere. There’s no point in dying. Flowers bloom only when they’re alive. We, the royal family, as the supreme commander there, must never die. Think, what would happen if you were dead there? Even if the battle ended with our victory, the royal family must consider Faust, who was assisting in the first battle, to be at fault. And then, he would be given some kind of penalty or punishment.”
“I know that.”
From what you said, in the end, it’s not me you’re worried, but Faust.
Valliere had such doubts.
“And two last things.”
I’m really tired of this.
I don’t want to be blamed one-sidedly.
Valliere thought so.
“First, you did well for coming back alive, my dear sister.”
Valliere was more amazed than delighted.
She never thought those words would come out of her older sister’s mouth.
That brazen-faced older sister.
An older sister who was suspected by the court nobles whether she really had the same blood as Valliere.
That older sister who had been more than a few times glaring at Valliere since she was a child with the demon-like eyes itself.
This was indeed a great achievement.
“Second. Valliere, immediately, Astarte, my counselor, will be on the way escorting the villagers to their village in the territory under the direct control of the kingdom, and will return after completing the next work. Be prepared.”
“Completing work? Prepare?”
Involuntarily, from the bottom of her heart, Valliere put her whole body and soul into it, and said, “This is a great achievement!”, inwardly.
But, some words aroused suspicion.
“The post-battle process isn’t over yet. This time, it’s the biggest reason why you were cornered into that situation. The older sister of the traitor Caroline, Helma von Boesel. Helma won the succession to the family estate and became the ruler of the Boesel territory. That’s fine. However, at that time, Caroline and her subordinates managed to escape. As a result, Caroline took up the bandits under her command and attacked the territory under the direct control of our royal family. The omission has yet to be investigated. Astarte will bring Helma back to the royal capital.”
Valliere was so shocked by Hannah’s death that she forgot about it.
There’s still that.
Right. The biggest reason why we were forced into that predicament.
I remember it.
In the first place, Faust wanted to ask for a large amount of apology money――war expenses from Helma von Bossel, the eldest daughter of the nearby ruler, who was the cause of this incident.
I hate knights who can’t even clean up their own shit so much. They’re disgusting…. Was that what Faust said there?
“Well, it’s not you who will question Helma. Mother. The Queen will question Helma. However, you are a related party and the one who suffered the consequences. If you have any dissatisfaction with the ruling. you have the right to express your opinion.”
“The judgment of sin and punishment will be held between the Queen, senior court nobles, and territory rulers and their representatives. Well, everyone is a busy person, and unlikely all could come to attend. You should attend it together with Faust, your counselor.”
After finishing her last remark, Valliere’s older sister turned her back and left the hallway.
I should be angry, right?
Had that not happened, Valliere would have just finished exterminating the bandits and probably would have returned to the royal capital with all 15 guards.
But that was just a hypothetical story, because no one could foresee everything that would happen on the battlefield.
Still, anger didn’t come to Valliere.
Not even a feeling of anger at Caroline, who should be hated.
But now, everything is over.
That was how Valliere felt.
No, we’re not done yet.
It’s not the end yet.
“I’m sorry, Faust. I know you want to return to your territory, but let me borrow your strength for a little longer.”
Valliere apologized to Faust, who around this time, must be in a mansion given to him by the royal family, thinking about when would he receive the reward for this battle, and when would he be able to return to his territory.
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