Afternoon, 3rd Day, 1st Month, the Year 2814, Western Continent Calendar.
Inside a room within the Periveria royal castle, a man and a woman were sitting face-to-face.
One was an elderly woman with a gentle smile.
Boasting unrivaled achievements and capability as a warrior, her atmosphere was relatively calm and warm.
(No matter how much time had passed, this person never changes…)
Grahart muttered such words inside his mind after looking at Elena’s appearance when she carried the teacup and drank the tea elegantly.
For Grahart the first time he saw [Rozeria’s White Goddess of War] was when he had just enrolled in the knight order.
Many of the knights from back then were fascinated by her friendly personality, but even when she had become old, her charm did not decline.
Human beauty declines with age, but the appeal seemed to have been polished by the passing years.
“So? What do you think? What was your impression when you first met him?”
Toward Grahart who was almost twelve years younger, Elena spoke to him with polite words.
Gerhart himself felt disheartened with such an act because he also considered the difference in experience between the two, but he swallowed such thoughts and floated a bitter smile, since Elena wouldn’t change the way she speaks even if he asked her.
“I’m sorry for betraying your expectations but, to be honest, I can’t really tell.”
Although he felt a little hesitation, Grahart talked as clearly as possible.
“Indeed, certainly he seems to have a strong self-control, but, the number of soldiers he leads is too small. Thus I do not think that he will affect the war situation too much… Also…”
Grahart stopped talking trying to think better words.
“Also, not only young, many of them are women… am I right?”
Listening to his words, Elena had an innocent smile like a child when their mischief succeeded.
“Did you see them already?”
A surprised expression appeared on Garhart’s face.
“No, I just saw them from afar a while ago.”
“A while ago is it?”
Perhaps, she saw them from afar when Grahart met with Ryouma and escorted him to the capital.
“I do want to talk to that child before the audience this afternoon but…”
“Well, there’s no other choice. Even his majesty has some great expectations for the reinforcements from Rozeria… And if we let Mikoshiba-dono and Elena-sama meet first, we don’t know what kind of movements those peace-seeking groups are going to make.” <TLN: You see in a war, not everyone in a country supports the war, some want peace even at the cost of capitulation.>
The situation Zalda was in was indeed bleak.
Since a year ago, they had fought against the Ortomea Empire invasion. The national land was exhausted and the mood of desperation had started to spread even among the soldiers.
Rural fields close to the frontlines were burned away, men in their prime were drafted as soldiers, and the remaining women and children could only move toward the neighboring urban areas.
Furthermore, the number of people who couldn’t receive sufficient protection from their lords and sold themselves as slaves had increased.
The Zalda Kingdom national strength had begun to decline drastically.
That was why, this was the last chance for the Zalda Kingdom.
Now, with Rozeria and Mist Kingdom support, they had the chance to fight a decisive battle in a single strike.
Of course, this was a gamble with the existence of a country as the piece, but this was a gamble that needed to be done.
At least the men who wanted the survival of the Zalda Kingdom thought so.
“Grahart… I understand your feelings, but you should not deny those people who seek peace, try to understand them alright?”
Sensing Grahart who spoke with emotion when he mentioned the peace-seeking group, Elena spoke to him with a tone that was like a mother scolding her child.
“Listen alright? Those peace-seeking groups are not traitors. They just have their own way of thinking and try to make the best choice for this country and his majesty Julianus. Even though they choose a different way compared to the knights, what both of you are looking for is the same thing, no?”
(Well, that is if they don’t have any ill-will of course…)
Such words crossed her mind, and Elena showed a bitter smile.
After all, she knew that goodwill was the most dangerous poison a country could eat.
Nevertheless, Grahart might seek his own justice if she did not try to put his mind back
Unification of intention by force.
It was not the best method nor correct choice, but that was the last resort after all other possibilities were exhausted.
“Of course… For the survival of Zalda Kingdom.”
Grahart who was unable to understand Elena’s mind answered her with shaking voice.
“Some might choose the Zalda Kingdom to become part of the Ortomea Empire, as long as the Royal Family of Zalda survived… Of course, the loss would be great but it is better than losing everything. Isn’t it natural some people would think such a thing?”
“… Does Elena-sama also think like that?”
For him, Elena’s words sounded like prophecy, and he heard something he did not want to hear, thus his expression was distorted in anguish.
“Do you think I came all the way here leading an army with such a thought in my mind?”
The moment she said those words, the atmosphere inside the room froze.
Her expression, nothing had changed.
She just sat there smiling gently.
However, Grahart body trembled in fear.
“I have said some foolish words… I’m very sorry.”
She could not stay silent if the Zalda Kingdom was going to be absorbed by the Empire.
If she did not think of at least that much, Elena Steiner wouldn’t be here as a reinforcement.
Although her expression did not change, her words had pressure enough to beat Grahart down.
“Well, I’m just a retired old lady after all. I can understand why you feel uneasy like that.”
“Were you listening to what I said?”
It was the verbal abuse he had said to see Ryouma’s true ability, Grahart never thought that the words he had said to Ryouma would’ve reached Elena’s ears.
The air turned awkward just like when co-workers talked bad about their boss in a restroom and it turned out their boss was also inside the restroom.
“Indeed, even though I’m old, my eyes and ears are still good you know?”
“Please, don’t joke like that…”
The eyes and ears Elena mentioned were possibly not about her physical condition.
It was impossible for Elena to be in that place.
Which meant, she had information sources within the Zalda Kingdom.
(Such a terrifying woman…)
Many people called Elena Steiner as the [Rozeria White Goddess of War], but her real ability was not about martial arts or strategies on the battlefield.
No one knows how she did it, but she had the power to gather various information on the continent as if it was in the back of her hand.
From such diverse information, she was capable of assembling her own hypothesis.
Being able to tell the flow of a conflict, surely she was akin to a goddess of war on the battlefield. –
Grahart averted his gaze from Elena in shame, and he said…
“Right, what I said was just a joke…”
Hearing those words, Elena laughed while holding her mouth, she thought of Grahart’s attitude as something very funny.
“You have a bad taste…”
“If you are surprised with this much then you won’t be able to control the reins of that child you know?”
“That much is it?”
Grahart asked Elena while narrowed his eyes.
He was not insensitive enough to not realize who ‘that child’ meant.
“Indeed, let me say this, he is like the wildest horse I’ve ever seen.”
“Wild horse is it?”
“Although with a head that is more like a snake or scorpion.”
For someone who gave a review, Grahart felt her words were a great contradiction. –
A wild horse.
Certainly, he understood that meaning.
That meant Mikoshiba Ryouma physical strength was spectacular.
Looking at his calm and good looking expression, Grahart could easily imagine he might change on the battlefield just like Elena.
But, Grahart was unable to imagine Ryouma as a snake or a scorpion from the attitude and expression he had when they met.
“Grahart, do not underestimate that child. If you don’t want to get eaten that is…”
“I wonder, are you trying to criticize him or praise him?”
Elena’s words sounded more like she was talking about an enemy general or some domestic political opponent.
However, toward Grahart’s question Elena only shook her head in silence. –
“Don’t get me wrong, Grahart. I trust that child, and that child also believes in me. However, Grahart, for that child you all are neither his enemy or friend yet. That is why do ask and seek help properly… Before he thinks of you as an enemy and you get yourself robbed completely.”
“If that person really does have such power… Certainly, at that time I will…”
Silence dominated the room.
“That’s fine, sooner or later, this country and you will understand…”
Elena smiled gently.
Thinking about the figure of that young poisonous snake and when he would show its fangs…