“I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all!”
Count Andrei Serebi of the Western Haurelia Kingdom, which lay due East of the Kingdom of Mauricia, grumbled this as if he was spitting out the words.
He had suffered major losses on the battlefield just the other day.
Ignis and Magotte – monsters is the only word to describe them. They had defeated him despite having a quarter of the amount of troops. Not only had he lost the soldiers, but he had lost a supreme amount of face within the kingdom.
At this point, there was nothing on his mind but revenge. This consistent attitude of theirs had left him with no choice.
“I thought all that idiot Ignis knew about was war. When did he figure out how to actually run a kingdom?” he asked his long-time confidant, Dorn.
“This development has nothing to do with Ignis. It’s all that little Sabaran Corporation’s doing. It all started when they suddenly began to gain strength.”
“That corporation… do you think I could lure them over to our side?”
“Getting a hold of their supply chain would be almost impossible.”
The basis of the Sabaran Corporation was sugar.
The rumours said that they didn’t harvest their sugar from sugarcane. The flavour was slightly different. No one could figure out what their source was.
It had been confirmed that it was from some kind of root vegetable, but which one? And how did they get sugar from it? It was shrouded in mystery.
Recently, rumours had began to circulate around the Haurelia Kingdom that the corporation was also involved in some sort of gold-collecting scheme.
They were selling products that it was thought only major nobles could afford, and they were selling them for just ten gold coins. Within a month, people were re-selling for five to ten times the amount they had paid.
On top of all that, it seems that they were selling a new condiment called “mayonnaise”.
If the Cornelius Kingdom kept developing like this, they would gain a strong economic foundation to support their already bothersome military force.
If that was the case, they could even think about invasion…
“Leaving the Cornelius family as it is would make achieving my wishes for my country very difficult…We’ve got to kill that annoying soldier!”
From the beginning, the soldiers who achieved success after success on the battlefield had been the Cornelius family.
For generations, excellent soldiers had been appearing one after the other, continuing to rise up the ranks, until the point where, now, it was left up to Count Cornelius to defend the kingdom’s border.
The shortest course from Serebi’s kingdom to Mauricia’s capital passes through an area of grain-filled plains, which if one was able to break through, would leave an open path to the capital. This had been the object of many attacks.
If you look at it geopolitically, to the north of the Haurelia Kingdom was the Morgan mountain range, and to the South was the Toredo River. These acted as barriers against further expansion.
Therefore, naturally the eyes of the Haurelia Kingdom were pointed directly at Cornelius.
Conveniently, the Cornelius family had always been poor, and had far smaller active military force than most noble families in Mauricia.
Cornelius acted as Mauricia’s first and biggest barrier from enemy attack, but if Cornelius was somehow defeated before reinforcements could arrive, then Haurelia would have free reign to do whatever they wanted.
“There’s no choice. Somehow, we need to get that device. Use whatever means necessary.”
“As you wish.”
Dorn nodded his head reverently as he accepted his orders.
At this point, Cornelius’ expansion had surpassed their expectations.
There was no mistaking it; the information received up until now made it clear that there was some foreign element at work. If they didn’t locate this element, there was no way to formulate an effective countermeasure.
“There’s nothing to do but take a peek behind the scenes.”
Dorn had decided that he needed to perform some illegal reconnaissance.
This required carrying the burden of plenty of political risk, but to sit here and let the expansion of the Cornelius family carry on was not an option.
Just the other day, the eccentric mercenary woman of the Cornelius family had been paid a visit.
The visitor was a robust woman with scarlet hair and gold eyes, standing at over 180cm. She was too big to be considered perfect, but there was no way to say she wasn’t beautiful.
She was said to be Magotte’s former comrade.
“So, I wanna announce that Magotte’s elder sister is here.”
“Watch the way you speak. This is a count’s wife you’re talking about!”
“Why should an elder sister care about stuff like that?”
Unfortunately, Magotte was out patrolling the border. The doorman was from a long Cornelius family lineage, so he found the guest’s informal, frivolous manner distasteful.
Mostly, he thought that the idea of this mercenary calling to visit the count was crossing a line.
“The lady of the house should return on the day after tomorrow. I suggest that you try again then.”
“Oh, alright. Tell her that her sister, Londel Zirco, came to visit.”
The mercenary had maintained a constant aimless look about her since she arrived. She began to walk towards the city.
“…I gotta hurry up a bit, huh?”
At “The Flaming Horse”, a popular bar near the castle, Zirco was chugging down beer after beer.
Halfheartedly, but still consistently, the fermented barley drink was sliding down her throat.
She had no idea how much she had drank so far. She wiped her mouth in a satisfied manner.
The owner of the hotel was impressed by her drinking, and spoke to her with a smile.
“You seem pretty strong, my friend.”
“I wouldn’t be able to call myself a mercenary if I got drunk off-a just this much.”
“Wow, you’re a mercenary, huh?”
“Well, no one’s payin’ me right now…but hey, don’t worry. I don’t look like much, but I’ve got some money saved up.”
Apart from Zirco, there were many mercenaries who had lost their work after the war between Haurelia and Mauricia had ended.
Shortly after the war ended, some skirmishers and soldiers who had become bandits found work as guards. Now that ten years had passed since peace was settled, there were few battlefields left.
To the south, there was still civil war in the Tristovi Principality, and to the north, there was news that relations between the Nortrand Empire and the Gartreich Kingdom were turning sour. But here, in the centre of the continent, one had to get used to the mild climate, and resign oneself to losing one’s desire to fight for a large salary.
Having said that, Zirco knew some friends who had turned to banditry in order to eat, but she had no plans to go down that path.
So, what was she to do? Well, Zirco had decided to turn to her former comrade, Magotte in order to beg for work.
She didn’t think it would be an easy conversation, but she wanted to tell Magotte about a feeling she had that something interesting was about to happen in the Cornelius’ territory.
(I assumed that my sister would feel the same way…)
Though there was no reason to think that. And Zirco knew that her instincts were not infallible.
Humans are the kind of species who find it easy to believe in their own premonitions as long as they fit what they already want.
(Actually, it would probably be best not to meet with my sister…)
The once famous and admirable mercenary, Magotte, with her shining silver hair, had become the lady of a noble family. It was hard to believe.
Within the mercenary unit, her marriage had been seen as a betrayal by some.
Zirco remembered, even now, Magotte’s supernatural skill that made her appear to be a shining, silver light.
She had honed her skill with a spear to the absolute limit.
She was the champion who could slice off the heads of more than ten enemies in the blink of an eye.
Yes, she had been a champion.
Perhaps during the ten years since they had met, that ability had been laying dormant inside of her.
“The Silver Light” – tales of the owner of this legendary colour had been passed down among the mercenaries.
This nickname had come from the fact that as soon as an enemy saw just one strand of her silver hair, they knew they were going to be defeated.
After Magotte had retired, Zirco remained, but she never had any hopes of prevailing over Magotte. She could never take her place.
Like unexpected thunder in the middle of the day, she would charge towards the battlefield – the silver flash.
Zirco and the others wondered what sort of passionate feelings could reach this woman, more beautiful than any princess or lady, whom no man would dare to approach.
Even if Magotte had chosen to become an actress instead of a noble lady, people would have come from all over to see her. (Author Insert: much like the Takarazuka Review).
“I used to go by Margarite. Got rid of that name a long time ago.”
When the war was at it’s peak, Margotte had muttered that under her breath one day while drinking at their camp.
Even Zirco, the only mercenary Margotte ever seemed to care for, could not bring herself to ask any further than that. Margotte had thrown away a past life like some would treat a broken leg; this much Zirco understood.
(Damn. While I’m here, she’s all I can think about.)
This was proof that she was captivated by her.
While she was thinking these foolish thoughts, the childish voice of a young boy pulled her back into reality.
“Excuse me, are you a mercenary?”