Second Death Row Series: A Death Row Convict Teaches at a School of Magic - Cel b3
- Second Death Row Series: A Death Row Convict Teaches at a School of Magic
- Cel b3 - An Eccentric
Translator: MadHatter Editor: MadHatter
“―Nice to meet you. I go by the name of Kanaki Taiga. Please to make your acquaintance henceforth.”
On that day, I was at the cathedral with my family for St. Ilias’ ordination.
A new archbishop would be installed through a process known as an investiture ceremony, during which the words of the sacred language, which were purportedly bestowed upon the faithful by the Aether God, would be inscribed on the archbishop’s back. These words will be engraved by a specialist engraver, but in addition to being immensely agonizing, they must be witnessed by many of the believers, which necessitated the removal of clothing and nudity in front of a large audience. It was an unorthodox circumstance—the fourteen-year-old girl was the archbishop of this generation—and the shame must have been intolerable for a little child. Since it was a ritual that was significant to believers as well, my family dragged me to the cathedral that day despite the fact that, even as a woman, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of attending.
The ceremony was set to start after the presiding priest had concluded his lengthy prelude. Whoever noticed it, a mysterious hole opened in the ceiling of the cathedral, and a young man fell through it.
The young man then landed lightly in front of the archbishop’s eyes, delivering the same greeting in Ortesia language as before. In this world, there were not a few people who strayed from other worlds, so there were a fair number of people who had transported from that “Kingdom of Ortesia,” a country in another world.
“I never expected a ‘straggler’ to appear in a place like this…!”
In this world, those who stray from the other world – “straggler” – were basically not in a favorable situation. The majority of them were kept like slaves, while those who were otherwise powerful turned into criminals and strove to do whatever they pleased using the enigmatic abilities of the other world. Hearing stories of stragglers who became criminals always made me feel unforgivable, but it was also true that I had conflicting feelings when I considered the treatment they had received up to that point.
The young man at that time was thus also swiftly apprehended by the guards at the priest’s discretion. The reason he was not killed on the spot was probably that he wanted to give precedence to the all-important initiation ceremony, and also because there was a section in the Aether God’s teachings that included a passage encouraging tolerance for those from other worlds. I would shake my head if I were asked whether this teaching was fully practiced in this country.
In any case, the young man offered no resistance despite being encircled by soldiers with spears. There was no one to see him, and everyone concluded that he must have been transferred to a rural town as a worker or captured as a slave soldier on the battlefield as it was subsequently claimed that he had been sent to an underground prison.
But what did follow after that? He returned to us two months later, or, as I would put it now, three months ago, with the grandiose title of “Special Military Tactical Officer”.
He was entrusted this duty by one of the country’s bishops who was thought to be the closest to the archbishop. In spite of opposition from those concerned, the bishop, Paz Aguina Nottol, dispatched him to the front lines as a military attaché. The world was at war, and our own St. Arnold Empire was threatened by both its neighbor Zaghir and the Iskan Empire, which was rapidly extending its dominion by annexing nearby nations. Our declining country would not have a chance if the Iskan Empire, a major force, launched a full-scale invasion of it, let alone Zaghir. Fortunately, the Iskan Empire was still keeping a low profile and was calmly monitoring the skirmishes between Zaghir and our country.
Nevertheless, I was welcomed to the castle, a front-line post close to Uranus Hill, as a military officer who just so happened (unfortunately) to be able to speak Ortesian. I was then elevated to two ranks as an interpreter and his direct subordinate. Even in this country, where defeat was imminent, I was at the base of a crucial battlefield. The enemy invasion has been most ferocious, and I, who just graduated from military school this year, was struggling to live each day to the point where I felt like I wasn’t living at all.
“Then again, Lieutenant Colonel Brownie is a difficult person to deal with.”
He was an evasive person.
Despite his constant delicate smile and temperate tone of voice, the fact remained that there was always an ill-boding spark behind his eyes, and he never let anyone read what he was really thinking.
Even that day, he took the daring choice to blow up Uranus Hill in this country, and as soon as he returned to his room, he cut to the chase.
Not grasping the true meaning of his words, I responded vaguely. It was imperative for me to avoid being perceived as insulting a superior officer by making a statement that could be misunderstood in a strange way. There was no telling who was listening and where they might be listening.
“Oh, I’m not making fun of her, okay? In fact, I admire her remarkably.”
Perhaps sensing this, he chuckled and waved his hand in the air. He truly was perceptive and caring.
“Even though she hates me so much, she recognizes her position and diligently carries out her responsibilities. She may already be able to separate her emotions from her reasoning and look at alternatives. That’s a remarkable achievement for someone so young.”
From what I heard somewhere, even Brownie, the chief executive of the castle, was just shy of 30 years old. The remaining elderly people, many of whom held prominent positions, were either relocated to the capital or sent to the rear, such as to the base headquarters, in order to lessen the potency of the curse power as well as the fact that the experienced veterans cannot be cut off. At this base, one of the front lines, even this young man, who had not yet reached the age of 30, was probably one of the top five elders.
“This country may be doomed.”
An old soldier in his fifties, the only one at this base who perished a month ago in the forests surrounding Uranus Hill, told me this. I felt I was beginning to grasp the reality of what he had left behind.
“It’s not just her. The children at this base are doing brilliantly. I learned after doing some research out of fascination and found out that they are utilizing civilians and even slave boys as scouts in this war since they are low on personnel. Do all nations that are on the losing side of the wars follow the same course of action?
“…Is First Lieutenant Taiga’s hometown also at war?”
“I was conceived prior to the war. Although I only have knowledge of the war, the state of affairs in this country is strikingly reminiscent of that of my own, which was almost lost in the war.”
The young man’s eyes grew narrower as if he were gazing off in the distance.
Occasionally, this young man’s demeanor and temperament did not reflect those of a twenty-something, which rendered me unnerving.
“…But I believe that this country’s greatest asset is its citizens’ sense of cohesiveness and solidarity. The sense of camaraderie among the inhabitants of this country is wonderful, perhaps because they all revere the same God and religion. There is still hope for this country, possibly as a result of that.”
Indeed, he was right, we were losing, but defeat was not yet a definite possibility.
One explanation might be the Iskan Empire’s ongoing wait-and-see attitude, regardless of the fact that it has expanded its dominance over surrounding countries. Even without Zaghir, the St. Arnold Empire would not be able to resist the invasion of that empire for very long.
It seemed odd for me to say it, but I would say that one of the primary factors was the fact that the Uranus Hill Front base, which served as the front line against Zaghir’s forces, had not collapsed. Should this base be breached, the frontline bases deployed throughout the country would not be able to supply resources, and several essential mines located beyond this base would also be seized. Once this was to be the case, the mining of sacred cores and the supply of weapons and ammunition would cease, and the country would not even be able to fight. The existence of this base was so significant that it will influence this war.
In that sense, it could be said that the hope of this battle lies in the young man before us.
“However, now that Uranus Hill is under control, this base will finally become more challenging. We had the “eye” on Uranus Hill up until this point, so even though we were outnumbered, if we could use guerrilla warfare in the forest below us, we would have the upper hand. But things won’t be the same now that the “eye” is gone.”
The young man who was the brightest prospect of the war seemed to be contemplating the subsequent course of action.
Although I did not have a thorough knowledge of the actual battle situation—I had only worked as an interpreter and an operator sending instructions to soldiers in various locations—I was nonetheless intrigued by what he had to say.
“But Uranus Hill was blown up earlier by your order, wasn’t it? Then wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that we lost both of them rather than being able to suppress that place?”
After uttering it, my thoughts began to drift, “Ah, now I have done it?” along with chilly perspiration. I addressed a query to a superior officer—a kind of expert in proposing a tactic—despite not even understanding the term “war” and making a comment that may have been construed as an opinion without thorough deliberation. I assumed that a severe reprimand would have followed next, but instead…
“Oh, so that’s how it sounded to you.”
An upbeat smile, indicating there was no need for concern, was what was returned.
“Even Lieutenant Colonel Brownie, with her A-class spirit armament, is unable to produce enough firepower to alter the topography of the enormous Uranus Hill. A spirit knight from a powerhouse country like the Iskan Empire or the Gargantua Dragon Kingdom, however, may shift the circumstances. What I just instructed them to do was to temporarily eliminate the Zaghir army that was attempting to take up position on the hill. It would be favorable if we could defeat two or three spirit knights with that, but after a while, Zaghir’s army will probably come back to take control of that area. If they do, we’ll be out of luck.”
His explanations were consistently accurate for some reason. Rather than saying it was an explanation, he seemed more like a school teacher teaching a lesson.
“I see… that means it would be best for us to establish camp atop Uranus Hill as soon as possible after blowing up the hill, right?”
“Right. But the same ruse won’t be successful twice. If Zaghir deploys greater force than this time, it could be tough for us to overcome the rumored C-class spirit armament bearer only with our present might. Therefore, we can’t just stick with our present strategies―”
After pausing there, he took a seat at his desk and unfolded a map.
I anticipated him clarifying something once more as I stepped next to him and drew my face close to his as if to look at the map, but he said nothing. When I gently asked about it, his close-up reflection appeared to be softly lowering his attention to the map and seeming to be mulling something over.
I mean, too close…!
I withdrew my face swiftly enough so that it didn’t appear unnatural when I finally realized that my face and his were about a fist’s breadth away.
“? What’s wrong?”
“No, nothing, I beg your pardon.”
He turned to me in wonder, and I gave him an outward smile.
The other officers disliked him considerably. Even though he was my immediate superior, I had to keep a certain distance from him since I didn’t want to suffer the same fate and treatment as him.
A period of silence prevailed for a while. He skillfully maneuvered the baton around his finger with his right hand while keeping his gaze fixed on the map. Although I had nothing in particular to do, I was waiting in a relaxing posture, so I could respond to his instructions at any time.
“…Yeah, well, this is the only way.”
How much time had passed? He put down the baton he was toying with and nodded affirmatively. It appeared as though his thoughts had finally become coherent.
A strange voice was heard.
The loudest explosion I had ever heard compelled the floor to tremble abruptly, as though in a fit of wrath.
Had the opposition finally come this far!?
I was ready for this, yet his following remarks simultaneously made me feel at ease and deflated.
“Oh, it looks like the Lieutenant Colonel has just carried out the bombing of Uranus Hill. Given who she is, the timing must be perfect.”
Now that he mentioned it, that was right…
I managed to maintain my resting position, resisting the urge to sit there. I couldn’t utter a word about how I was almost paralyzed from the bombing of my own troops.
He stood up almost simultaneously with me when I was able to gather my composure.
“Let’s head back to the Operations Control Room. I would like to corroborate the explosion’s results, and I have a rough concept of what we should do next.”
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