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His workload had unexpectedly increased at once.
He ended the training session early because they no longer had the time for it today and ordered for the castle gates to be closed for war preparations.
Ralphus hadn’t returned yet.
He was the kind of man who wouldn’t come back for a while once he went out on a long ride, so he probably wouldn’t be back for while yet. It was his first break in a long time, too.
Rain had sent out a messenger, but he didn’t know if the messenger would be able to find Ralphus, so he had no choice but to do the bulk of the work himself.
Rain gathered his comrades in the reception hall to hear Leni’s report for the time being. That being said, everyone present was one of Rain’s subordinates. Unfortunately, Nigel and Gwen had taken some of the soldiers out for untimely training exercises. Rain had sent them a messenger as well, but it would still take some time before they returned.
Rain, who had secured a place by Shelfa’s side as she sat at the head of a large rectangular table, asked,
“you said that a guard saw the enemy approaching closer. What were their numbers like?”
With an ashen face, Leni replied,
“a, a few hundred, according to what I heard.”
“——What? That few?! What was the enemy unit’s formation like? Who was their commander? I didn’t hear anything from my spies.”
Rain silently clicked his tongue as he asked question after question. Currently, his secret intelligence activities were focused under the a.s.sumptions that they would be at war again with Zarmine soon. He didn’t have the personnel to spare, so he couldn’t help but place intelligence on other countries or on Sunkwoll’s internal workings on the back burner.
And, while Rain wouldn’t go as far as to say that he was taking them lightly, he did not regard the Sunkwoll n.o.bles as highly as he did Zarmine. He had planted a few spies around Safir, but that was about it.
To get straight to the point, Rain thought that “there wasn’t enough time to care about ancient relics from the past!” For Rain, Zarmine’s movements were much more important on the grand scale of things.
Something had to have happened internally for this to happen now. Maybe I should discuss this with Gunther and revise our policy……
Leni replied again,
“we still don’t know who the commander is, but there was something strange about them.”
“According to the reports we received from the fast horses, all of the soldiers were dressed up in excessively decorated clothing. On top of that, there was a pure white carriage surrounded by a number of upper-ranked knights. They appeared to be escorting the carriage as they marched.”
“A pure white carriage?”
Right as Rain snorted, exasperated—
Senoa stood up with such force that her seat fell over. Before anyone could ask her what was wrong, she pressed in against Leni, who was seated opposite to her. Then, face twitching, she screamed,
“whashunt there a family crest on that carriage?!”
“Whoa, you surprised me. Err, I think I got what you mean. There was a red, rose-like crest around the carriage doors, or something like that……. But, is something wrong, Miss Senoa? You’ve gotten awfully pale all of a sudden.”
Senoa ignored Leni’s questioning looks. Instead, she whispered, “oh no,” and staggered backward. After a few steps, she stumbled on thin air and fell to the floor.
She fell over backwards, as if she had been planning on rolling back, and slammed her head. She clutched her head in her hands as she writhed in pain on the floor.
“O, ow, that hurts!”
“……Hey. That gag wasn’t funny at all. At least wear a shorter skirt and provide us some fan service like Selphie does.”
“I, I don’t do it to provide fan service. Oh, but……if it’s you, Lord Rain…” said Selphie, who was standing next to Yuri who, in turn, was seated like it was only natural for some reason.
Her quiet voice was drowned out by Senoa’s angry roars.
“Why are you sprouting such ridiculous nonsense?! Why haven’t you asked me if I was all right before your said that vulgar garbage?!”
“That sounded forced!”
On the verge of tears (apparently it had hurt quite a lot), Senoa lost herself in indignation and stomped her feet not once, but twice. She continued,
“besides, shouldn’t you know who we’re dealing with after hearing about the crest of the crimson rose since you’re a high general of this kingdom?”
Senoa, who was alone in her budding excitement, looked to both Rain and Leni.
“Hey, Leni. Do you know?”
“Nope. I haven’t the foggiest idea.”
Shelfa interrupted hesitantly.
“Oh, do you know what she’s talking about, Princess?”
“I’ve never met the head of the family. But, I believe that the red rose is the family crest of the Hartoul’s, of the Five Great Houses.”
“It is exactly as you say,”
said Senoa in a loud voice. She continued,
“it’s Elena Felicia Hartoul! The arrogant and disagreeable girl who always speaks like she’s looking down on you and the acting head of house Hartoul!”
Rain was surprised for the first time during their discussion.
Actually, it had been the first time he was surprised to this extent in a while.
Then, with a hint of awe in his voice, he looked to Senoa, who was looking smug and satisfied with his response, and said,
“to think that you of all people would call her an “arrogant girl”…… This Elena of ours must be quite the character. ……I’m honestly amazed!”
“Wha, what do you mean by that?!”
Senoa’s shrill voice echoed in the reception hall so loudly that people wanted to tell her that she didn’t need to shout so much.
Rain even covered his ears and said,
“quit wailing. I didn’t mean anything bad by it.”
“What do you mean you didn’t mean anything bad?!”
“Ugh, just shut up for a bit. How old is this Elena?”
“I believe she’s eighteen, but what of it?”
Rain felt that a lot of the family heads among the pure-blooded Sunkwoll n.o.bility, including Senoa, were much too young. When he had asked Ralphus about it before, Ralphus had said that, “naturally, there are many elders among the n.o.bility, but family heads aren’t allowed to continue governing their families past their forties unless they have extenuating circ.u.mstances.”
Rain thought that it wasn’t a bad custom to leave things to the younger generations, but he still thought that eighteen was much too young. Perhaps they did this because, despite their long lifespans, many n.o.bles died early of illness.
That being said, there were still enough of those sickly n.o.bles around to be a headache.
“The actual head of the Hartoul house is someone else,”
said Senoa sullenly, her feelings hurt. She continued,
“it’s her father. He’s currently ill, however.”
“……Him too, huh. Well, whatever. If I’m gonna have to meet one of them, I’d rather meet this Elena rather than a dirty old man.”
“You only say that because you’ve never met Elena before, General.”
“I’ll look forward to it then. I welcome all beauties with open arms.”
Selphie and Shelfa looked startled as he looked up.
“……Why are you so surprised? Isn’t it obviously it’s nicer to see a beauty than an old man?”
Rain said to Shelfa before looking to Selphie, who had cast her gaze back down in a hurry.
Why is she surprised too?
Senoa said as she banged on the table.
Incidentally, she was still standing.
“What will we do? I’m not certain we should allow someone like Elena into the castle just because she happens to be acquainted with Sir Ralphus.”
Rain cut in and asked in a hurry. He continued,
“wait a minute. She’s acquainted with Ralphus? How close are they?”
“Didn’t you know?”
Senoa asked with a wry countenance. She continued,
“Elena is……well……in love with Sir Ralphus. Apparently, she once held a……marriage interview with him with his father’s full support.”
“Marriage!? Hey, wait a sec. So what did Ralphus say?”
This was the first time that Rain had heard of this.
at the very least, Rain had never heard anything about it from the Ralphus.
How cold of him.
As Rain pouted, Senoa panicked a little and said,
“that’s not it. From what I’ve heard, this is all apparently Elena’s one-sided considerations.”
Rain found it difficult to respond to the situation.
But then, Rain realized something unpleasant as he nodded ambiguously and brushed back his hair.
“Hey, wait. Doesn’t that mean that she’s not coming here to attack us?”
Senoa nodded reluctantly. She continued,
“Elena is likely on her way to provided us with reinforcement that we never even asked for.”
——We don’t need you, so go home,
Rain thought to himself on reflex.
After all, with a few exceptions, all pure-blooded n.o.bles were a bunch of flops.
The afternoon pa.s.sed away leisurely and the sun was about to set soon.
The group that Leni’s men had seen were finally coming into view.
Rain hurried up the ramparts as soon as he heard that they were approaching and looked to the direction that Senoa pointed him too.
A few knights on horseback had cleared the forest and were coming into view.
None of them were wearing old armor. Instead, their armor was ornamented with so much gold and silver that they refracted the sunlight so brightly that it was a nuisance to observe.
Even the attendants following after the knights were wearing high quality armaments. Just how rich would the master have to be for her servants to be dressed so nicely? She might have tens of millions of taran at her disposal. Actually, she might even have billions.
The line still continued.
The line of mounted knights stretched on and on as they exited the forest.
And then, Rain saw it.
It looked just like what Leni had described.
The carriage was stylish and even its wheels had been painted white. Surrounding it were several knights maintaining a strict posture of vigilance.
A gaudy rose was painted on the doors on either side of the carriage. A similar red rose was painted on the white flags carried proudly by upper-ranked knights.
The Hartouls must have been some rather flashy people if that was their family crest. Rain really didn’t want to become acquainted with them.
“I just remembered, but,”
“now that I think about it, one of the dead high generals may or may not have had that same insignia and the surname ‘Hartoul’……”
“——You’re really quite something if you seriously forgot that,”
said Senoa, looking as exasperated as her words suggested. She continued,
“I haven’t met with him in person more than a few times. But——”
“Ugh, enough, I don’t need it.”
Rain interrupted her and waved her away with his hand. He continued,
“I don’t care about male n.o.bles, especially if they’re already dead. He probably liked to pretend that I didn’t exist anyhow. I know it’s gonna sound bad, but I barely remember any of the high generals other than Ralphus. The only one I remember at the top of my head is at most Ganoa, because he was particularly annoying.”
“That’s problematic no matter how you go about it.”
Rain ignored her and sharply raised his hand.
“Archers, at ready!”
The archers hurried into ready position and nocked their arrows. They were poised in a manner that would allow them to attack as soon as their enemy came into range.
“General! Elena is——”
“It doesn’t matter who she is if she hasn’t sent a runner yet. We’ll attack if she comes closer without bothering to let us know she’s here. ——No, wait……. Hold until further orders!”
Rain delayed his order to attack.
One knight broke off from formation and advanced before the rest of the group as they approached the plaza in front of the gates.
He approached the castle gates and, without bothering to unsaddle, loudly proclaimed:
“I come bearing the words of Lady Elena of house Hartoul, one of the glorious Five Great Houses!”
Before Rain allowed or disallowed him to continue speaking, he kept shouting,
“Under the discretion of Lady Elena Felicia Hartoul, the acting head of the household, we of house Hartoul have declared ourselves an ally to Lard Ralphus and the royal family of Sunkwoll under his care! I request that you open the gates at once!”
After listing to the messenger, who had stuck out his chest so far that he would have fallen over backward if he had stuck it out just a little further, Rain stiffly turned his head to look at Senoa.
“So, hey. I’m technically the lord of this castle, right? I’m starting to doubt that a bit after hearing that stupid proclamation.”
“I understand what you’re trying to say.”
Senoa looked sympathetic, for once. She continued,
“your name didn’t come up in that proclamation even once, General. ……Needless to say, it was likely intentional.”
“Well they’ve sure got guts. Barging into someone’s house and ignoring the homeowner, are they? Their behavior will end up getting them burned.”
Then, Leni came in from the side and interrupted Rain’s grumblings,
“so, what shall we do? The messenger is waiting for us. As are our archers.”
Rain turned around and ordered the archers to “fire at will!”
Or, at least, that’s what he’d wanted to do, but he just barely stopped himself.
He held back because Elena was Ralphus’ acquaintance. He owed Ralphus a lot from King Douglas’ days. Even if she was unpleasant to deal with, he couldn’t refuse her outright if she was Ralphus’ acquaintance.
If she hadn’t been, he would have chased her away immediately.
“……Can’t be helped. From the looks of all this, she’s definitely a Sunkwoll n.o.ble and this probably isn’t a trap. Let them in.”
“you say this now, but you’ll regret it later.”
“……I regret it already, trust me,”
Rain replied with a sour look.
Elena had arrived.
She made her overtly effective entrance as they watched over the soldiers noisily crowding the gates.
The lavish carriage rolled gracefully into the courtyard and its door opened with a click.
On its steps appeared a scarlet dress.
There was a bold cut on the chest that allowed over half of Elena’s ample bosom to spill over, and the rest of the dress was covered in frills and lace. Her beautifully set hair was decorated with extravagant golden ornaments.
Elena’s blonde hair, more luxurious Safir’s, was done up in ringlets and she had a white feathered fan opened in her right hand.
She covered her bright red lips with the fan that covered half of her face and sonorously said,
“My my! What a shabby-looking castle.”
Everyone present, including Rain, were flabbergasted.
This was their first time meeting a woman as flamboyant and unreserved as her.
Completely unconcerned about their reaction, Elena continued,
“but still, I shall tolerate this castle and its countryside reek if Lord Ralphus is here……. Oh~, where art thou, my beloved Lord?!”
She stretched out a willowy hand to the heavens in a theatrical fashion. The bejeweled gold and silver rings on all five of her fingers shined blindingly.
Then, she looked to the sky in bitter affliction, as if she was some heroine in a tragic love story.
If she was doing this naturally without minding the gazes of the crowd around her, Rain figured that she must either be some kind of big-shot or an abysmal idiot.
Elena then twirled out of her pose and surveyed the area before finally resting her eyes on Senoa.
“My oh my. If it isn’t Senoa? I see you’re still alive, m’dear,”
she said with a scornful laugh. She continued,
“the previous head of house Estherhart retired from his position as high general, did he not? I was almost certain that the house had collapsed and you’d gone into hiding in some hole or another afterward~”
Elena looked up as Senoa replied with her cheeks reddening somewhat.
“Mind your own business! To think that I’d have to suffer to see you again. How truly unfortunate I must be!”
Elena responded by fanning herself with her white feathered fan, despite that it was winter, as if she was saying, ‘I shan’t dirty my ears with your lowly words.’ She was quite the character.
Senoa’s mood worsened, naturally, and she glared at Elena
Elena while biting her lips.
Ignoring the stormy air between the two, Rain suddenly drew closer to Senoa and whispered,
“hey. What’s with this ‘girl who likes to up the tension during the day so that she can make it explode later’? You really don’t know anyone decent, do you?”
“I just happen to know her, it’s not like we have any other kind of relationship between us!”
Senoa emphasized how preposterous the notion was as she whispered back her reb.u.t.tal. Elena had overheard their entire exchange even though they’d been whispering because both of them had naturally loud voices to begin with.
This time, Elena cut in with a moody tone.
“The two of you over there! I can hear you! And you, the black one. Isn’t your att.i.tude too big for a mere commoner?! Just who do you think I am?!”
Rain simply looked back at Elena with his eyebrows raised as she wailed about noisily.
He stiffly turned to Senoa yet again and asked,
“……the black one?”
“I believe that she’s probably referring to the color of your clothes, hair, and eyes, General,”
she replied in all seriousness.
“……Right. That’s what I’d figured too.”
Rain shook his head and took a few steps toward Elena, grumbling, “look here, you.”
If Elena had been a man, Rain would have punched her right off the bat, but he didn’t really care enough to because she wasn’t, though he did think to at least give her a piece of his mind.
However, two giant men had appeared from behind the carriage and blocked his path.
Both giants were in regular clothes instead of armor and were truly sweaty-looking men with bulging muscles. One was orthodoxically equipped with a sword and the other was armed with an iron rod that was as long as he was tall.
The one with the sword said,
“don’t get any closer to the Princess! You dirty commoner!”
——Tension ran through the air.
But it hadn’t come from Rain.
It had come from the castle soldiers, Rain’s regular comrades, and Shelfa, who gulped as they watched everything unfold.
Shelfa, in particular, had been looking at the two of them, troubled, up until just then but looked at them in disgust the moment she heard the man with the sword speak.
Or, you could also say that everyone gathered there had begun to hold clear animosity for Elena at that very moment.
As for Rain, Rain cast a sharp glance at the two men blocking his path and smiled complacently.
He opened his mouth to tease them a bit, but snapped his mouth shut instead.
He had done so because he had heard one of the spectators from Elena’s side say,
“is he seriously the High General? Hmm, I doubt that a mere commoner like him could possibly protect the royal family.”
Rain lost himself in fury at that very moment.
“……What did you say?”
He ignored the two men in front of him and looked straight at the man who had just spoken out of turn.
“You b.a.s.t.a.r.d, what did you just say?!”
Gazaram, who had been standing near Shelfa, felt like ten years of his life had been shaved off all at once upon seeing the smile be wiped off of Rain’s face.
Standing before him was the Rain whom he had first met a decade ago.
An endlessly cold and deathlessly still expression with clear black eyes. His eyes were as sharp as keenly honed blades as they pierced through all that came into their view.
There was, however, a few differences between the Rain in front of him and the Rain from the past.
Namely, the outrageous wave of power that seemed to exercise a death grip on even his very soul……the pressure he had felt from Rain then couldn’t even compare to what he was feeling now.
And Gazaram hadn’t been able to reach Rain’s feet even back then.
His surroundings filled with discomposure.
His allied knights looked at the gooseb.u.mps on their arms quizzically. Some even asked their neighbors, “hey, do you feel something tingling?”
Even the knights, who were ordinary people, had felt a fragment of that enormous power.
Gazaram gulped and thought to himself,
you’re lucky that that’s all you can perceive……. If you felt the full extent of this ‘power’ pressing down on your entire being, you wouldn’t be able to make idle talk like that.
Gazaram saw Leni and Selphie staggering out of the corner of his eye, but he couldn’t pay them any mind.
I should stop him, somehow.
Rain’s low voice continued,
“you! A rotten n.o.ble who’s only preyed upon the weak your entire life like you think you have any right to say that to me? I dare you to say it again —what can I not protect!?”
He glared and stepped his tall figure closer to his target. He hadn’t been outwardly angry before, but his fury was clearly etched on his face now.
The man who had angered Rain opened his eyes so wide that they could have popped out and began trembling so hard that it was comical.
His teeth couldn’t stop clattering before whatever it was that he saw in his eyes. All he could do was tremble as the blood drained from his face.
The face he had been making as he taunted Rain had vanished without a trace. Soon afterward followed the sound of his incontinence.
He didn’t even seem to have realized it as Rain placed a hand on his magic sword.
Gazaram tried to hurry to Rain’s side. But, at that very moment, someone else rushed forth from beside him.
Rain blinked, feeling like he was just woken up from a dream, as he looked at Shelfa, who was suddenly standing before him.
Her small hands reached out to grasp his.
Her deep and clear sapphire eyes looked up and into him.
He felt his anger evaporate as he felt her undeniable concern.
At the same time, he was relieved.
Even he had realized how close it’d been.
Just a little more, and I would’ve done something really stupid……
He saw the man he had been glaring at collapse to the ground with a dumb look on his face, but Rain didn’t care. Something really must’ve come over me for me to take their barking seriously.
He took a deep breath and completely returned to his usual mood.
“Wow. You really are benevolent, Princess. You would even protect people as worthless as them.”
Shelfa stared long and hard at Rain’s smile and playful words.
Then, after having made sure of something, she relaxed and smiled back.
“……No. I was worried about you, Rain, rather than him.”
Rain smiled wryly and winked to show that he was all right now. He knew that he had caused her needless worry.
someone spat out from behind Shelfa.
When Rain looked back, he saw that the muscular man with the sword was looking at his dazed and trembling comrade (probably) with contempt.
“You’re a shame on us n.o.bles for being overpowered by a mere commoner.”
“Exactly! What a disgrace!”
Elena, who had finally regained her senses, blushed red with humiliation as she absentmindedly waved around her white feathered fan.
Then, she turned her fiery eyes to Shelfa.
“I take it that you are Her Royal Highness Princess Shelfa, though this is the first time we’ve met. Allow me to present my formal greetings at a later time.”
Elena stepped down from the carriage and curtseyed.
Then, she glared sharply at Rain and said,
“Your Highness……you are a person who carries the precious blood of the Sunkwoll royal family. Thus, you ought to choose your retainers wisely. Please, cast that man aside. No matter how many soldiers he may have at his disposal, there is no reason for you to have to rely on a low-born high general when Lord Ralphus and I would accompany you.”
Exasperation, or perhaps even scorn, arose from Rain’s followers. All of them already knew how Shelfa would react to that proposal all too well.
Rain stopped Shelfa from speaking out with his eyes and took another step forward.
In turn, the two giants from earlier readily stepped in front of Elena.
“I thought I told you to stay put! How dare you approach the Princess without her permission!”
“Look here. It’s disrespectful to call someone else by the Princess’ t.i.tle, you know? Whose presence do you think you stand in, you muscle-brained idiot!”
Rain had only talked back a little, but that was enough for the giants’ complexion to change. Their deeply chiseled, n.o.ble visages warped, and the one with the sword placed a hand on it. He snuck a glance at Elena, probably to request her permission.
Elena gave him a small nod and a chilly smile.
Even Rain understood her intent all too well. She was probably saying something along the lines of, ‘I give you my full permission to teach him a lesson.’
The man with the thick iron rod clicked his tongue. It was obvious that he felt like he had missed his chance to make himself look good. What a guy he was.
“Hmph. You seem to think that you can get away with beating up a high general like me as long as you have your master’s permission. But don’t worry. No one’s gonna blame you for anything. It’s not like you could possible touch me anyway.”
“It would do you much good to stop running your mouth like that,”
said Elena with a sly smile. She continued,
“these two are my personal guards. There’s the strongest whom I’ve found after combing through all of Sunkwoll, and I’ve no complaints with them. This is your last chance to apologize for your insolence~”
Rain answered her with a derisive smile.
Completely back to his normal self, he smiled leisurely as he beckoned his opponents with his index finger.
“It’s hilarious that you think these blockheads are the strongest. Why don’t I show you what true strength is and teach you how tough life can be sometimes? C’mon, hurry up and come at me, yeah? You wanna cut me down with that sword of yours, right? I’ll let you try. C’mon, have at you!”
Shelfa didn’t stop him this time.
It was undoubtedly because she was the first person to understand that, unlike before, Rain wasn’t being serious.
Though, Yuri b.u.t.t in and said, “and he told us to always look for a way to avoid fighting if possible~” but no one paid her any heed.
The man with the sword fell easily to Rain’s provocation.
“Who do you think you are?!”
He covered the distance between himself and Rain in a breath with his face flushed red and swung his large sword down at the top of Rain’s shoulders. His speed was about average. ……For a normal person.
There was a bit of tension in his face, but a cruel, expectant smile alighted his lips.
However, his expression froze over in the very next moment.
Rain, who had been standing still, had lazily raised a hand and had stopped the attack with the flesh of his five fingers.
The man’s eyes opened in full circles as he saw Rain grabbing his sword.
Rain broke out into a smile.
“What’cha s.p.a.cing out for? This is reality. Learn how weak you really are and go submerge yourself in an ocean of repentance, fool!”
And also, Rain continued with a grin,
“I hope you didn’t really think you could swing your sword at a high general like me and walk away free, did you? I mean, how’s this any different from treason?”
The man, who’d suddenly realize what kind of situation he was in, tried to pull back his sword.
He had felt the spite that Rain was radiating. However, his sword wouldn’t budge in the slightest no matter how hard his pushed or pulled at it. The difference in their respective strength was too great.
“Go and reflect on your actions!”
Rain rebuked as he let go of the sword and twisted his body to unleash a reverse roundhouse kick as his opponent staggered.
His upper body flexed like a whip and his let stretched out straight without the slightest bend. It collided precisely into the other man’s chest.
The result was even more spectacular than it would have been if he had been kicked by a horse.
The man with the sword collapsed and flew into the air like a folded piece of paper or something caught by a sudden gust of wind.
He glided through the air with terrifying momentum and crashed into the white carriage behind him, breaking its door into pieces, just as Rain had planned. The impact made the carriage tilt over until it finally toppled comically.
The horses that were attached to it whinnied in shock.
“Kyaaaah! How, how dare you?! My cus, custom-made carriage…!”
Elena dropped her white feathered fan and sandwiched her pallid cheeks with both hands.
Evidently, she couldn’t have cared less about the man with the sword who had pa.s.sed out frothing at the mouth underneath the carriage.
“Can it! Besides, don’t just stroll on a battlefield in a carriage! I hated that thing as soon as I laid my eyes on it!”
Yeah, that’s right!
The people on Rain’s side cheered in unison. The n.o.bles jeered back at them in response.
The most adamant among them was the man with the iron rod, who had watched his partner get his a.s.s kicked with his mouth hanging open. After his moment of daze had ended, he picked up his iron rod and made long strides toward Rain with anger burning in his eyes.
“Hmm, are you next? You n.o.bles really don’t learn, do you?”
Just then, a girl’s voice cheered, “get him, Lord Rain~!” from the gallery. When Rain looked to where it had come from, he saw that it had been Selphie’s.
She timidly waved at him when their eyes met, blushing red as if to show that she was willing to cheer him on despite how embarra.s.sed she felt.
Rain quickly turned back around, though he was honestly a little surprised, and raised a hand, saying, “pft, leave it to me.”
A cheer erupted from his allies.
All of them were extremely welcoming of the fact that the n.o.bles were about to experience a beating.
“You think you can just look away from me, you b.a.s.t.a.r.d?!”
The crazily angry man with the iron rod swung down his weapon in an artless, but powerful, strike.
One side of the gallery screamed, while the other sneered. It needn’t be said that the sneers had come from the n.o.bles.
It had landed squarely on Rain’s shoulder.
Everyone had heard the dampened sound of the rod hitting flesh.
——However, that was all they heard.
Rain hadn’t even flinched as he remained standing, perfectly fine, and looked up with a cool look on his face.
The man with the iron rod, who had imaged his opponent rolling on the floor in agony with his shoulder shattered, made a sound of confusion as he face became limp.
Rain flashed a grin and showed off his prided, pearly white teeth.
“What was that just now? A fly out of season? And a starving, weakened fly too, geez. Gimme that.”
Rain s.n.a.t.c.hed the iron rod from the man and put some strength in his hands.
The iron rod, which was at least fifteen centimeters thick in diameter, twisted in his hands like malleable toffee.
He easily twisted it to fold it into two almost even halves and tossed it aside.
Rain’s allies applauded in ovation.
The man who used to have the iron rod looked down at his fallen weapon as the color drained from his face.
Sweat poured down his face in buckets.
Then, perhaps because he had lost his ability to make sound decisions after becoming cornered, he suddenly flew into a frenzy and attacked Rain bare-handedly.
He released a punch with too much swing that didn’t even have a clear target. Rain evaded it easily and readily stepped into the man’s s.p.a.ce and caught him by the arms and the belt of his pants.
“Alright! Go fly, number two!”
Rain punched the man high into the sky as he shouted. The man left behind only a scream as he shot up diagonally into the air like an air like an arrow.
He climbed upward with a force that could have never been generated with human strength. It was like he was a leaf that had been easily blown in the air. The man flapped his arms and legs uselessly as the entire crowd looked over him in silence and then began his descent upon reaching the apex of his flight.
Just as Rain had predicted, he fell squarely on top of the toppled carriage.
The grand din of destruction sounded as if to ensure everyone that the carriage had been destroyed.
It had been smashed into so many pieces that it could no longer hold its original shape. No one would have imagined that the pile of firewood before them had once been a carriage.
The two giant men were pa.s.sed out in the middle of the wreckage with their eyes rolling back.
Rain sighed as he brushed back his hair and nihilistically whispered to himself,
“they were so weak that I can’t even call this practice. This victory feels so empty……”
His comrades erupted in cheers upon hearing his words.
Some of them were even laughing so hard that they had to hold on to their stomachs as they pointed fingers at the n.o.bles, who were standing as still as gravestones with ashen faces.
Besides, even Gazaram and Leni, who were technically supposed to have stopped them, were secretly cheering along with them. Senoa alone had a complicated look on her face, but the edges of her lips were still curved in a satisfied smile.
On the other hand, the n.o.bles looked at Rain, dumbfounded. Even the knights, who had been jeering earlier, and completely quieted down.
They had heard the rumors about Rain being a Dragon Slayer and such, but they hadn’t believed in them until undeniable proof had been presented before their eyes.
The girl called Elena was feeling a completely different feeling from fear and awe. To put it bluntly, she was much more ignorant of the workings of the world than even Shelfa and the inhuman display of strength she had witnessed had held no effect on her.
What did affect her, however, was the single fact that her carriage had been destroyed……
Elena stared absentmindedly at her demolished carriage until she steadily began to quiver bit by bit until she finally exploded in outrage.
“H, h……how, how dare you?! Just how much money do you think this carriage cost?! H, how dare you, you lowly commoner——”
Rain pointed sternly at Elena and warned her in a low voice,
“shut it. I’m a guy who’s generally sweet on girls, but even I have my limits. Whine any more, and I’ll lift up your skirt and spank you.”
As Elena was stunned into silence, Senoa, happier than she had ever sounded before, said,
“hahaha…… Let me warn you as a fellow n.o.ble. The General is someone who always keeps his word, no matter how vulgar it may be. I can tell you that from personal experience.”
“Ehhhhhhhh!?” (Yuri and Selphie’s voices)
Elena picked up her white feathered fan and retreated.
She subconsciously held down her skirt as she did.
Sullenly, Rain said,
“hey Senoa. Just when have I ever spanked you? If you keep spouting nonsense like that, you’ll——”
“S, such insolence!”
Elena interrupted with a hoa.r.s.e screech. She continued,
“how……how dare you humiliate me!”
Her lips quivered as she pointed her white fingers at Rain in accusation.
“I won’t forgive you for this, even if you are an acquaintance of Lord Ralphus!”
Glaring daggers, she then turned to her household retainers. It was immediately obvious that she had lost all self-restraint.
Then, words that were exemplar of the textbook heinous n.o.ble spilled from her bright red lips.
“All of you, attack them at once!”
The n.o.bles began to move at once upon receiving their mistress’ commands.
Shelfa was at a loss as to whether she should stop them or not while Leni, Gazaram, and Senoa were about to run to Rain’s side before he even gave the order.
——Just then, however.
“Settle down, all of you!”
A frigid shout returned everything back to zero.
Ralphus had returned.
Both sides stopped moving just as they were about to clash with one another and looked up at him as he approached on horseback.
“What is going on and why is everyone so riled up?”
Ralphus promptly returned to his usual quiet tone and surveyed the soldiers.
His eyes met with Elena’s and he furrowed his brows.
“……Elena. Why are you here?”
“L, Lord Ralphus……”
Rain was immediately taken aback by the sound of her voice.
Did she really make that sickly-sweet noise just now?
What happened to that stuck-up coldness from before!?
However, Elena now cared less about Rain than she would a weed off the side of the road and ran up to Ralphus after he dismounted and latched onto his arm.
“Oh, Lord Ralphus…… I’m so glad to finally see you again! I find myself at a loss for the words to describe this joy that threatens to burst through my heart……”
The spirit of battle that once filled the area had evaporated without a trace.
The n.o.bles remained comparatively composed (evidently, they were used to this), but the soldiers on Rain’s side gawked at the scene with their mouths hanging open.
Everyone stared absentmindedly and stupidly at Elena and Ralphus because the fact that they were engaged had not spread very far.
Looking unusually troubled, Ralphus opened his mouth to say something to Rain as Elena clung on and rubbed herself against him.
However, Rain beat him to the punch.
“Hey, so what’s the deal between you two? I mean, I heard the gist of things, but now I’m lost again.”
“——No, there isn’t really anything going on between…”
Elena thrust out her voluptuous b.r.e.a.s.t.s and spoke over Ralphus, declaring,
“Lord Ralphus and I have gone all the way to vow our fates to one another!”
Elena’s shocking statement set off a ripple of commotion around her.
Rain stared long and hard at them with his black eyes.
I feel like……I just heard something incredulous just now.
“……All the way!? You were okay with someone like her?!”
Before Ralphus could answer, Rain whispered to himself,
“no, well, I’m not one to judge others for their preferences…… But, isn’t it pretty bad to choose a partner based only on their figure? I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about a brothel here, so…”
“That’s not it, Rain.”
Ralphus interjected, unable to put up with it any longer. He continued,
“you’ve got it all wrong. Elena is referring to marriage.”
“Indeed! I, Elena, have come to your a.s.sistance, Lord Ralphus, for the sake of our shared futures! Please leave everything to me.”
This woman really only has eyes for Ralphus, thought Rain. He was sure that she had undoubtedly marched all the way here not to aid Shelfa, but for the sake of her beloved Ralphus.
In other words, she wasn’t thinking about anything.
Ralphus had apparently reached the same conclusion.
He sighed as he peeled Elena off of him and looked her in the eyes.
“Elena, I’ve already given you my answer regarding marriage. Besides, this upcoming war isn’t a game. All of us here are putting our lives at stake.”
I have zero intention of putting my life at stake over the likes of Safir.
Only Shelfa had heard Rain’s retort.
Elena didn’t look particularly depressed as everyone observed her and instead looked up at Ralphus with her sparkling blue eyes.
“My! I am putting my life at stake as well, naturally. I am always prepared to put down this life of mine for the sake of my beloved. I, Elena, will pine after you forever, Lord Ralphus~”
She ecstatically buried her face in Ralphus’ chest.
……Well, at least there’s no doubting that she likes him, Rain thought.
Elena’s pa.s.sionate attack appeared to be the real deal even in Rain’s skeptical eyes.
However, he also thought that her very ardor would make her difficult to deal with.
Rain sighed and shook his head.
He turned to his friend and unintentionally grumbled,
“……hey, you really brought in one fine piece of work.”
“There’s not much I can do even if you say that to me,”
Ralphus answered, truly troubled.