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Prologue

Prologue

... It was on the throne.

In that place where only the king was permitted to sit, Celes made herself at home, as she rested her legs on the back of a kneeling Remis.

The one who entered the scene adorned himself with the armor of a knight who once stood against Celes, having made it his own, and with his black hair grown longer than before; a young knight with his hair parted in a three-to-seven ration: [Breid Vamper].

In the past, he was lover of the Circry Viscount House (Currently Baron House)'s Doris, but at present, he was of Celes' Royal Guards, looking at Celes alone.

Having accomplished the promotion he desired, he was charged with thirty thousand of the soldiers stationed in Centralle.

"Celes-sama, I, Breid, shall set off for Beim, the land that besmirched you, with thirty thousand elity soldiers. Please await good news."

Before setting off, he showed off his prided armor, and reporting to Celes, he thought he could make her look his way.

But near her holding a large platter, Rufus... the crown prince was feeding her fruit.

With a pose that indicated she was mildly in thought. Her mouth moved to chew, and around were men whose faces turned red with that gesture alone. Wearing dangerously exposing clothes mismatched to the room, those men that surrounded her...

They were all beautiful, and they all loved her. No, they were her prisoners. Giving up their once wives and lovers, at the moment, they were Celes' toys.

"Beim? Oh right, come to think of it, I did say something like that. These days, the number of nobles with the disposition to rebel has gone down, so it's grown boring. But moving all the way to Beim is a pain, so... yeah, Breid, I'll leave it to you."

"Yes! Even if it costs me my life, I shall eradicate all humans of Beim without fail!"

As he said he'd use their lives to redeem the sin of insulting Celes, the royal guard's morale was quite high. Yet it was a group whose lives had already been thrown away to her charm.

Celes seemed uninterested.

"If you find anything interesting, bring some back, kay? Today, one of the hostage men I'd always been interested in finally bent to me. So I'd like to return to the inner palace already, you know."

Breid hurriedly apologized.

"M-my deepest apologies! I shall depart at once."

Celes simply giggled to herself.

"Wait. Come to think of it, that piece of trash is in Beim. Breid, bring that 'medicine' with you on your travels. When nothing else works, make use of it."

That medicine... it was brought from Zayin, and with repeated human experimentation in Bahnseim, it was a medicine to unite man and monsters.

On those words, Breid experienced a fright.

"B-but Celes-sama, there's no need to go that..."

Celes stood herself up on Remis, and looked down on Breid from a high place.

"Who asked you to talk back? This time's isn't a medicine that will kill you at once. And weren't you to risk your life for me?"

On those words, the surroundings showered malice on Breid. Those countless sharp glares continued falling down on him.

"P-perish the thought! I merely wanted to answer to your expectations before a need for such a medicine arose! All of me is yours, Celes-sama. If you order it, I shall fulfill any mission for you!"

As he gave a forced excuse, Celes showed a smile. She had immediately seen through that it was a lie. A face that understood Breid simply didn't want to end up in a pitiful state.

A cold sweat flowed down Breid's back.

"Very well. I'll forgive it. In exchange, you will work to the bone for me."

As she said that, she stepped down from Remis, and returned to the inner palace so early in the morning. The men around her. And crown prince Rufus followed behind.

After feeling relief, Breid thought in his heart.

(It's the chance I've finally grasped. I want to serve under Celes-sama for all eternity. I don't want to use something that would make me such a thoughtless monster. Now then, if that's how it's going to be, I need some achievements in Beim. And voila, perfect timing. There's that man in Beim... Lyle, you're going to be dying for me. I'll present your head to her, and I'll enter her inner palace. Then as a man, and as a vassal, Celes-sama will finally look at me.)

His sense of values warped, Breid swore in his heart to get hands on the head of Lyle, who'd clearly shown their gap in ability last they'd met...

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... Bahnseim's frontmost line.

In that place where a neighboring country once stood, Blois Cadel looked over the armies that arrived one after the next.

Large scale forces of thousands. Small forces of dozens.

An extensive gathering of nobles from knight to duke had gathered.

Blois looked at that army, and let out a sigh.

"When we were so short staffed here, they had this many men to spare, I see."

Alongside his adjutant knight, they looked out at the gathering armies from the office the country's king once used.

"Preparations to receive them has greatly derailed our schedule though."

Blois laughed.

"Exactly. We were prepared to take a few ten thousand, and gathering the documents for those anti-Beim strategy meetings was hell. Now then, if another problem were to pop up, it would have to be..."

The adjutant nodded with a serious look on his face.

"It would have to be the royal guards and elites coming from Centralle. It's true they have achieved results, but I've only ever heard bad rumor about them. That they massacre by choice, and such. They aren't giving the slightest thought to postwar rule."

Blois returned to the desk, and took some documents in hand.

"Breid Vamper. Born to a knight house without any heritage. Raising his status with military exploits, he became an official knight, and went right into the royal guard. Looking at his history alone, he's splendid. The knight he defeated was a noted name in Bahnseim, and all."

His adjutant knight made an unsatisfied expression.

"It seems he participated in that Gryphon Subjugation unit. He may be an acquaintance of the Walt House's eldest son in Beim. Should we proceed with caution?"

On those words, Blois shook his head. The adjutant knight had never see Celes in close proximity. Some part of him was making light of her.

"That's not happening. He's a man who got as far as her royal guard. I'm sure he's madly in lover with Celes-sama. Of course, the problem is how he's never properly commanded a squadron before. Yet despite that, he was granted thirty thousand, and this large-scale war is his first real war. It would be nice if he doesn't intrude."

Blois half-expected him to throw the battlefield into disorder.

Before the black lines of troops before them, the two men predicted just how terrible the impending invasion of Beim would become.

Blois spoke...

"I'd like to keep casualties as low as possibly, you know. Though I know there's no way in hell that's happening."

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Having headed to Faunbeux to request cooperation, we used a sea route through Cartaffs, and returned to South Beim.

Arriving with Vera Trēs on a fully loaded Vera Trēs, we met up with Novem's unit that had arrived beforehand, and with Adele-san's group.

With her pink hair in a ponytail, Lianne was wearing clothes easy to move in. With a travel case stuffed with goods she had gotten together in Cartaffs, she descended the gangplank.

Her appearance didn't look like a princess', but she did have the atmosphere.

"So this is South Beim. I'd heard of it, but it's quite developed. Quite a few ships anchored, and plenty of goods moving around the port."

She was giggling. I was aware the contents of her luggage all pertained to war.

After Bahnseim declared war on Beim, South Beim had started preparing in a great rush.

When Novem approached us, Miranda waved her hand at me. And she looked at Shannon, who'd disembarked with us.

"Shannon, you didn't cause them any trouble, did you?"

To Miranda's smile, Shannon averted her eyes.

"O-of course not. How many pinches do you think my quick wit saved us from? Lyle was the one dragging us through hell."

I won't argue with that. The pink haired demon smiling beside us strangling my neck with that bloodcurdling expression on her face was the biggest pinch we went through.

But the one who saved us wasn't Shannon, but Parselena-san the hostage.

Seeing Shannon sending eyes looking for some backup around, Clara dismounted, and decided to nod.

But Miranda sensed it was just for show.

"So you did trouble them? Well, not like I didn't see it coming."

"... I did my best."

Lending an ear to the sibling conversation, I received Novem's report. I had gained the information through Monica, but I still wanted to verify it.

No, perhaps I just wanted to talk with Novem.

"Any new info?"

"None. Beim still seems to believe it can do something by itself. Like reinforcing Fortress Redant, with Beim's residents joining in, they've gathered a force that exceeds a hundred thousand and such... that sort of talk has drifted in."

Surrounding countries were hesitant to assist Beim.

Beim had cut me off. That action alone had dragged those surrounding lands into the situation, driving Beim into a corner.

I looked at Novem.

"I do hope Beim does it's best. I really need them to persist as much as they can."

Novem nodded.

"Everything is going as you anticipated. After this, if our devices work well, it should bring about the expected result."

Novem seemed to think the plan I... no, me, the ancestors in the Jewel and Milleia-san had thought out would definitely work.

And I spoke to Novem.

"Hey, Novem."

"Yes?"

Seeing her face as she waited for my words, I swallowed them down. 'Do you love me? Leaving out the Walt in my name, I mean.' Seeing myself about to say that, I felt a little ashamed.

Dammit, I wasn't getting anywhere.

What's more, it wasn't something to discuss in a place like this.

"No, it's nothing. Since we've all just returned, let's rest a bit. And this is Lianne-san. Though you've already met before."

Lianne gave Novem her greetings.

"It's a pleasure, Novem-san. As my senior, I hope you'll bring my up to speed. I couldn't help but put Ludmilla-san of Cartaffs on guard, and we weren't able to talk about much. But I do hope we get along."

Novem smiled at Leanne.

"It's a pleasure. Let's get along, Lianne-sama."

"Lianne is fine."

"Then you can call me Novem in kind."

Their smiling exchange, to the uninitiated onlooker, it may have looked pleasant. By why is it, I wonder... it looked as if they were putting checks and balances on one another. I'm sure I'm just tired. No doubt about it.

Must be because all I'd seen in the Jewel was the Fifth's threatening, and the Sixth's failures.

Shaking my head, I looked between Novem, and the other side of me, with Aria, Clara, and Miranda and Shannon.

And Shannon spoke.

"It's amazing. Their Mana is violently clashing. Novem is redirecting it to the side, but that Lianne princess is going on an amazing offense."

Miranda looked at Lianne.

"A troublesome foe. I can't think I'll lose, but taking her on will break my bones."

Looking at Miranda as she said such a thing, Aria looked fed up.

"Can't we all just... get along a bit? Rather, why do I have to be so mindful among allies?"

Clara addressed her.

"You're mistaken, Aria-san. It's precisely because we're allies, that we have to be so mindful. It's the same within family."

As we had such a conversation at the port, Vera and Monica descended the ramp.

"Huh? You're still here? I recommend you go back and rest soon. Once it gets busy, you won't be getting any proper rest, I'm sure."

Experiencing a worried Vera's kindness, I reassured myself Novem and Lianne were definitely not carrying out politics.

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... Beim.

Manning the receptions desk, Tanya pushed her hair back behind her ear.

Managing her usual desk as her other face... her Sweeper face felt how quiet the guild had been as of late.

Feeling a little lonesome at the east branch's situation where there were still just as many troublemakers around, she let out a light sigh.

After Lyle's party had left Beim, they had grown considerably busy. And the atmosphere in Beim was becoming more inclined towards war by the day. At this point, many adventurers had been requested for city defense, and stationed long-term.

Because of that, there were less adventurers returning to the guild after a successful day's work.

Tanya felt it was the calm before the storm.

"If only it ends without anything too great."

Lyle's actions, and the large country of Bahnseim.

As all of them tried to swallow Beim up, Tanya felt it all tightening...