|Author: Tensei Mikami||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2269 characters|
|Translator: Jiro||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1203 words|
The Kingdom of Elugor, located in the Elugor region, was known as the “Dragon’s Dorsal Fin” due to its position in the north of the Kukoko Mountains. It was recognized as the least polluted kingdom in the central continent, and was the most distant from the dwelling places of the demons. The kingdom was renowned worldwide for its abundant land and a large population, making it a prominent kingdom of great importance.
The fertile land blessed the inhabitants, who, in turn, thrived and built a prosperous civilization.
The Kingdom of Elugor stood out as a paragon of peace, being the very first one on the continent to achieve it.
However, it was not the sole dominant power on the continent.
The Irdas River, originating from the Kukoko Mountains and dividing the kingdom, flowed into the prosperous Gildam Empire.
Unlike the Kingdom of Elugor, the empire’s southwest side was viewed as a polluted region. Due to its birth and upbringing on such territory, it gained a reputation as a powerful country among its neighboring nations.
It embodied the essence of a warrior, as expressed in its one phrased national anthem, which stated, “Respect the spirit of the warrior and forge your destiny with your own strength.”
Seletina, or rather Orthus, had not harbored any ill intent towards the Empire. In fact, he had held a rather favorable view of it.
The empire, where one’s social status could be elevated solely based on the display of strength, seemed like a paradise for those who had previously been deprived of opportunities.
As a commoner orphan in his early years, Orthus had heard rumors about the empire and once dreamt of emigrating there. However, fate took its course, and Orthus ended up living and perishing in battle, sacrificing himself for the Kingdom.
However, now in this life, Seletina had no clue as to how her second visit to the Gildam Empire would have in store for her.
◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆
Plains stretched far.
They were adorned with lush, young grass that extended as far as the eye could see. The gentle spring breeze swayed the grass, creating a mesmerizing wave-like effect.
Inhaling the air, one would be greeted by the soft fragrance of spring sunshine and the invigorating scent of green grass and blossoms, tantalizing the senses.
This breathtaking landscape was known as the Wool Plain, serving as the boundary between the Kingdom of Elugor and Gildam Empire.
Stretching across a vast expanse, the tranquil plain revealed its true splendor when spring reached its full bloom, painting the surroundings with a kaleidoscope of vibrant flowers.
Shielded from the polluted zones, the Wool Plain acted as the sole path connecting the kingdom and the empire. It served as the primary route that travelers must traverse when journeying between the two territories.
Against this vast backdrop, two colossal carriages advanced steadily, accompanied by a group of ten cavalrymen. They followed a path that seemed more like a naturally formed trail than a road deliberately constructed by humans.
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The sky stretched overhead with remarkable clarity, and black kites soared freely in the air, accompanied by a soft spring breeze that all made the journey rather enjoyable.
However, inside the two carriages, a sense of melancholy lingered.
The young woman with golden locks gazed out the window with a vacant expression, her countenance eternally gloomy. She idly toyed with the ends of her hair and occasionally released a sigh, as if on the verge of tears.
Observing her distress, Elita, her maid seated beside her, mustered a forced smile and produced a small paper bag.
“L-Lady Seletina, how about a snack? I baked your favorite madeleines. It is unfortunate that I cannot brew some tea, but the weather today is delightful. Perhaps enjoying your favorite treat will lift your spirits, even if only slightly!”
Seletina’s eyes caught Elita’s animated hand gestures, and she retrieved a madeleine from the paper bag, slowly taking a bite.
“Mmm… Delicious… Delicious? No… Hmmm… The taste seems a bit off.”
“Lady Seletina! Please double check! I made sure to use lots of butter from back home!”
This is bad! Her depression has even taken a toll on her taste buds!
Elita couldn’t help but feel cold sweat begin to form on her back.
Just before departing from the Kingdom of Elugor, Elita went in search of Seletina, who had been absent for quite some time. She’d discovered Seletina in a pitiful state, lying on her back with vacant eyes1, spread out in the form of a snow angel.
Elita had exclaimed in alarm.
The expedition had been on the verge of being called off, but Elita’s cries roused Seletina from her dazed state.
“If I don’t go to the Empire I’ll surely perish.” was what Seletina had said at the time.
The true extent of Seletina’s intentions remained inscrutable, yet Elita’s protective nature was tempered by the strength of Seletina’s resolve, which led to the present moment.
Elita pleaded with Seletina to at least tell her why she was feeling down. It was then that Seletina mumbled something.
However, the rest of her sentence was swallowed by a hushed voice.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming negative aura emanating from Seletina’s entire being dissuaded Elita from delving further into the matter.
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Elita had heard rumors that Seletina, who had a deep affection for the royal family, had done something to Princess Eleanor.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, Elita chose not to delve further into the matter and instead dedicated the next hour trying to uplift Seletina’s spirits.
Despite Elita’s best efforts, Seletina remained despondent.
Elita released a small sigh and retrieved a madeleine from the paper bag, placing it in her own mouth.
The delectable sweetness of the rich, buttery treat coated her tongue, its flavor so indulgent and delightful that it would normally call for a cup or two of tea to accompany it.
There’s no way this feels off!
As Elita watched Seletina chew, she couldn’t help but gaze at her with anxious eyes, still concerned about her well-being.
“Mmmm… Smells sweet and nice.”
Sitting across from the women, a red-haired man sniffed the air and absentmindedly licked his long tongue.
The man, with his tanned, wheat-colored skin, crossed his legs with an air of tranquility, as if he were about to hum a tune.
“Oh! Would you like one? I baked these myself…”
“Really? Don’t mind if I do!”
“Of course. We’re the ones that suddenly began eating in front of you.”
“No biggie. I really don’t mind such things.”
The man said accepting the madeleine Elita had offered him.
His eyes narrowed in contentment as he caught a whiff of the sweet and delicate fragrance.
“Come to think of it, I still haven’t gotten your name?”
“Hm? My name? Didn’t I introduce myself already?”
“Oh… Um, that’s…”
“Haha. Sorry for making you panic. I’m quite bad with names myself so I totally get you.”
The man said, his smile not leaving his face for a moment.
“I’m Lichter Willgame. You can call me Lich or Will, both are fine with me.”
As the carriage jolted and rattled, Seletina’s gaze, which had been fixed on her madeleine, met Lichter’s eyes.