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107: Friends and Cleaning Duty

 In preparation for the display held every year in the capital, the newly recruited knights had gathered.

While the elite dragoons were the centerpiece every year, of course, the other brigades took part as well. It also had a purpose of increasing national prestige, but for the other elites, the high knights, this was likely the last year they could take part.

The dragoons, the royal guard, the high knights, with three special elite forces prepared, it was a fact that Courtois didn't have any further financial leisure.

It was around the time where many knights were arriving at the capital.

The dragoon brigade was practicing its flight formation.



"T-that's dangerous, Rudel!"

Hearing Luxheidt cry out, Rudel immediately issued orders to Sakuya.

"Sakuya, you're drifting!"

'Wowowoah!'

Rise, descend, turn, in everything, Sakuya brought trouble to her surroundings. A single change in the flap of her wings might blow the surroundings dragons and dragoons away.

It was proof she was putting in a needless amount of power, and every time she heard Rudel's warnings, Sakuya would move as if squirming in the air.

Those movements weren't quite the sort of thing the residents of the capital would be pleased with. The residents who watched the flight formations every year had become quite the connoisseurs.

In the event's goal of increasing national prestige, they couldn't disappoint those watchful eyes. But from her fame, it was difficult to remove the splendid form of Sakuya.

Rudel was the white knight, and Sakuya was his giant dragon partner. Her white and beautiful form was enough of a show in itself. To add onto that, throughout the country, white knight Rudel and black knight Aleist had been publicized.

There was no way they could pull him out now.

... But.

"Rudel! Don't come over he... gyaaah!"

This time, Sakuya approached Saas, who was on the opposite side from Luxheidt. As Saas hurriedly withdrew from his station, the other dragons commenced hovering.

"S-sorry."

Rudel apologized to the two of them. Today alone, they had interrupted training over ten times.

'S-sorry.'

Rudel and Sakuya had managed to receive a C-Rank, but they were causing problems in flight formations as well.

The new recruits flying in formation was a simple way to show the royal capital's residents the competence of the dragoons.

But if they failed, on the contrary, it was a show of their low degree of training.

Sakuya was a gaia dragon subspecies, and her flight capabilities were expected to fall short of the other dragons. But to put on a show, it was decided she would fly at the center of the new recruits.

If safety was their first priority, then flying in a straight line without any tricks was their best bet.

It was a problem that made the dragoon brigade collectively hold their heads as a whole.



"You mean to say you're taking us off the formation!?"

In the vice-captain's office, Rudel raised his voice as Alejandro informed him of what had been decided.

If she knew she was taken out of the formation, Sakuya would get depressed again. The fact he knew of how hard she was training only strengthened his desire to do something for her.

"There can be no helping it. And you'll be appearing at the end to descend down onto the plaza. If that's all there is do it, I doubt you'll fail."

"Certainly, I don't think we'll fail, but..."

He understood what Alejandro was trying to say. He did, but it was a fact he couldn't accept it.

"You'll be adorning the center of the plaza at the end, it's quite an important role. Our flight formations are officially meant to be a side show, but they have a considerable history to them. We've been holding them for over sixty years."

The historic dragoons would enchant the crowds with their craft.

Alejandro was also making an enervated expression and it seemed he'd been mulling over the formation quite a lot as of late. Not wanting to cause any more trouble for his superior officer, Rudel accepted it.

"... Understood."

"That's a huge help. You're just going to tie a bow on the performance at the end, but don't fall behind in practice, okay? Think of it as flight training, and you'll never find it wasted."

Rudel left the room, mulling over how he was going to explain it to Sakuya.

When he thought one problem had been cleaned up, the next one came out.

He couldn't quite lie, but telling Sakuya nothing but the facts felt would be too cruel. Rudel mulled over what to say to persuade her as he walked down the hall.

It was there that a voice called out over to him.

'Well now, I've finally gotten the members together. Let's start preparing for our flight formation already.'

He looked out the window just in time to see Mystith's descent.



... A few days later.

In preparation for the unveiling the day after tomorrow, knights had gathered from all over the land.

A large portion of them were new recruits, youths who had only just ventured into the world. From them came out some who wanted to stretch out and relax in one of the capital's high-class pubs.

To the knights from the outskirts, there were barely any chances to come to the capital. It couldn't be helped that some would think of using this chance to play around.

Yet what that gathering stared at loathsomely were the knights who worked in the capital from the start.

Unlike their standard knight garb, that gathering that wore high-class garments over their bodies were members of the unit led by Eunius.

Liking his share of revelry, Eunius didn't hate this atmosphere at all. But it seemed that wasn't the case for those around them.

"Looks like we've got ourselves a rowdy bunch."

"My thoughts exactly, this is why those country bumpkins are nothing but trouble. They should go find a store befitting their stature."

"... That so (That's not what I meant)."

As part of a knight brigade charged with the defense of the capital, Eunius was appointed as a major.

He was the future head of an archduke house, given considerable preferential treatment... or not. The ones stationed under Eunius were young nobles. They were a unit of those who were determined to be of no particular use.

With their status, it was too difficult to order them around, so Eunius had been stationed to put a hold on them.

(Even if I'm returning to my house in a few years, this is harsh.)

Their low level of training went without saying, their usual work ethic was also truly terrible.

Reminiscing over his student days, he downed the ale poured into his glass. Fitting of a shop the knights of the palace and capital had taken a liking to, he had no complaints about the ale or food.

But in this air, it all tasted strangely unsavory. That's all there was to it.

The ones around Eunius were knights who had been stationed for a few years now. His followers from the academy were treated as new recruits and had all the miscellaneous jobs shoved onto them.

Now there were just the folks constantly gathering to curry the favor of the future archduke Eunius.

"They really should learn to carry that thing called elegance."

"Precisely. As a fellow knight, I feel ashamed."

"To think even demi-human knights would come, they're dropping the status of this shop."

As Eunius endured the surrounding atmosphere, the civil servant Luecke made his appearance. Everyone around Eunius instantly directed hostility.



Finishing his civil official work, Luecke was taken along by his seniors to a certain shop.

Usually, he would return to his estate in the capital, occupying the rest of his day with work or books. But thinking that socialization was also important, he accepted their invitation that day.

(Just goes to show you shouldn't do what you're not used to.)

There were many of the Halbades House's faction among the civil officers, and they treated Luecke with care. But with his work capabilities, Luecke found himself working as part of their main force.

He had worked overtime today, so they had likely shown some tact.

The officials were immensely busy over the display in two days. But it just had to be that day that they encountered the ones they didn't want to meet.

"Hmm, look, the beansprouts have come out."

As one of Eunius' subordinates let out a voice such to resonate through the rowdy shop, the surroundings instantly went quiet. A large number of customers showered Luecke and his compatriots with their gaze.

Generally speaking, civil and military officials didn't get along.

"Yeah, let's change shops."

One of his seniors tried to leave with a troubled look on his face, but from among his comrades rose a voice of dissatisfaction.

"You're going to quietly run away!?"

There, Luecke purposely brought his feet to a chair nearby Eunius. Pressured by the atmosphere of Eunius' group, everyone had been avoiding the seats in the area.

So the only open tables were around Eunius.

"You're not going to order?"

Ignoring the looks from Eunius' men, Luecke cast a silent pressure onto his seniors. Timid as they were, those seniors began to take their seats.

To the current Luecke, knight brigades were nothing more than money devouring insects. Especially Eunius' unit that served no particular purpose, to put it bluntly, he thought it was fine if they got thoroughly crushed.

He understood they were a necessary evil. But his dissatisfaction built up.

When Eunius' unit caused problems, they multiplied the work of the civil officials. They'd tack on some reason for high-class goods, and demanded that their equipment was first rate, despite no other part of them matching up.

The current Luecke and Eunius were undoubtedly political opponents.



With cleaning implements in hand, Aleist walked down the palace corridor with his subordinates.

He had cast off his outercoat, equipping a thick cleaning apron.

After his graduation, Aleist was appointed as a lieutenant in the defenders. But when he resolved himself and asked what his work was, the mission he was handed was 'cleaning duty'.

It wasn't as if he wanted a large job, or that he particularly wanted to work as a knight.

Simply...

"I really think this should be left to the cleaning ladies."

"Captain, I've heard that complaint five times today."

The one who returned a cold response was Millia, stationed to the same unit. She had been invited by Fina as bait to lure Aleist in, so naturally, she was stationed in the same platoon.

But the distance between the two hadn't closed in at all.

"Well, well, the captain does have a point."

"That's right, don't be so stiff. You'll never get a boyfriend like that."

Their cleaning had been wrapped up, and after writing a log, they only had to return home. But Aleist's fatigue was great.

The platoon he was stationed to was made of members gathered for Aleist's sake.

(That princess definitely hates me.)

But Aleist felt some malice in his station. After Millia applied for the defenders, he heard a sweet tale from Fina. That if he came to the defenders, he would be a lieutenant, and Millia his deputy officer...

But how did it turn out?

All the members stationed under him were fair female knights. To take it a step further, among them, two of the women were romance target characters.

Even when he was being careful, the events splendidly broke out. Day after day, they approached Aleist in a way even he could understand.

What's more, in front of Millia.

"U-um... do you want to go drinking after this? We'll be busy the day after tomorrow, so today's the last day we'll have time."

"You serious!? I'm going!"

"Oh, so Aleist-kun's invited me out."

The two of them instantly approved, but Millia was making a sullen face.

Wanting to invite Millia, Aleist was just about to try persuading her when an acquaintance passed down the hallway.

It was Izumi.



As Izumi walked down the corridor on her way home, she happened on Aleist desperately inviting Millia out.

From her eyes, she could only see it as him trying to flirt with her while taking two other girls along. He really was doing just that.

"Aleist, are you at it again?"

As Izumi made a fed-up expression, Aleist frantically tried to correct the misunderstanding.

"That's wrong! I just wanted to go out drinking with everyone from the platoon... not that I have everyone with me right now."

While Izumi was currently doing paperwork, she was a knight in service to the palace. She was an elite high knight, and with quite a few amiable relations from the academy, she did hear the stories going around.

That the members that made up Aleist's harem had grown by two in number...

"I do get the feeling you're lacking in fidelity."

"I'm telling you, it's a misunderstanding!"

Aleist insisted it was a misunderstanding, but looking at the result along, he couldn't quite say it was. From how Izumi saw it, the two besides Izumi were quite heated over Aleist.

With his superior looks and earnings, as long as you ignored his insides, Aleist was a fine piece of work. She understood why women might want to gather, and Izumi didn't feel like cautioning him on it.

But his invitation of Millia who kept on rejecting looked just a little forceful.

"Ah, then how about it! Do you want to come too, Izumi-san? There's this shop that's quite famous in the capital."

Often encountering one another in the capital, the two were already on a first-name basis.

She looked at Millia to find she was making a tired expression.

Hearing both sides of the story from Aleist and Millia, Izumi held some conflicted emotions. In order to approach Aleist, the elf village that knew of Millia's present situation had moved to forcefully have her engaged.

But it was here that Lilim's matter brought forth an influence.

In the past, the one Lilim was engaged to was the son of the village chief. Lilim was betrayed by that son, so at least Millia should be able to decide by her own choice, her parents were taking on an obstinate stance.

Millia had no mind to marry, let alone go out with Aleist.

But Aleist showed a strong fixation on her. It was quite a luxury when he already had a harem. That's what she thought at first.

But Aleist had his position as the black knight.

While if he was on cleaning duty right now, it wouldn't be strange for him to become a leader of Courtois, or perhaps even king. The fact that the higher-ups would put such an individual on cleaning duty surprised Izumi.

She got the impression in the palace that those up top were troubled over how to deal with him, that they were still arguing.

"Hah, got it. Then I'll tag along. How about you, Millia?"

"... Fine."

With Aleist's desperate expression and Izumi folding in, Millia accepted the invitation.