The Master of the Brave - Chapter 89
Chapter 89 – Departure
The bell rang at 9 am. It was the hour when the workshops were busy, and the craftsmen were sweating at work. But today, both ends of the main street, from in front of the castle gate of the Imperial Palace to in front of the main gate of the Imperial City, were crowded with people. The purpose of these people was, of course, to catch a glimpse of Prince Alfred, who was about to pay a goodwill visit to the Kingdom of Lyon, and, more than that, of the Brave Leticia von Mavis. Some took the trouble to take a day off work or close their stores in order to catch a glimpse of their country’s crown prince and the famous heroine, who rarely showed herself. There were knights on guard here and there in the streets, shouting to keep people at bay. And as if to nullify their voices, merchants, eager to seize the opportunity to make a profit, spread out their stalls to attract customers. The turnout was no less than that of the Empire’s biggest festival, the Foundation Day. No wonder. After the defeat of the Empire, the Brave Mavis appeared before the people just once, when she suppressed General Zaunas’ coup d’état. This was the first time she had shown herself since then.
“So, I expect you to greet the people a bit.”
“Your Highness, you’re not having fun with this situation, are you?”
“Not at all.”
“And I who refused to sit in His Highness’s royal carriage since I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.”
“It’s not bad for Leticia-dono to show that the relationship between the Imperial Family and the Brave is good. It can avoid unnecessary interference from other countries to some extent.”
The two of them, Alfred and Leticia, were riding together in the prince’s royal carriage. Normally, the carriage would have a square shape, made so that the nobles riding in it could not be seen. This was to prevent assassination attempts by bow and arrow or by magic. However, this imperial carriage was more like a seat with a back attached to a magnificently decorated chariot. It was crafted in such a way that the subjects of the empire could clearly see Alfred and Leticia. It was natural that when it was decided to use this carriage, some people objected to the idea that it was too vulnerable. But it was precisely Alfred who suppressed that opinion.
“The Brave Mavis will go with me. Is there any safer place than that?”
Of course, knights were meticulously deployed in places where snipers could shoot with bows and arrows from the surroundings, and many skilled court magicians would scan with “Magic Detection” magic along the procession’s path. In the event that there was an assassin who would break this safety net, the last thing they would need would be the strongest person in humanity, or perhaps a person who was as close to God as possible.
Leticia, who was “the closest existence to God,” had received a lot of attention from before and had a firm expression. Still, prompted by Alfred, she finally smiled and waved to the audience. At that moment, the atmosphere shook with cheers from the crowd.
“As expected, the popularity of the Brave is amazing. I couldn’t even try to compare.”
“It’s true that there won’t be many opportunities for people to see my face, but, even so, His Majesty and I are showing off at the New Year’s Festival and the Foundation Day Festival. If you can get in the front, you would surely see us. But for you, since your triumphant return to the imperial capital, you have only appeared in public a few times. You’ve been in front of the people only that time you stopped the coup. I can see why people are so excited about this.”
Alfred, as well as Leticia, who was sitting next to him, waved his hand and said the latter in a slightly accusing tone.
“There are many people who have seen you in person and praise your beauty. Many painters are spreading your image in their home countries and abroad, but I think it is impossible to capture all your beauty. Mavis is the Brave, who combines courage and beauty. And I’ve also seen you in your casual clothes and dress, but I think your look in uniform is also quite gorgeous.”
“Thank you for that.”
Leticia’s reply was plain and simple. Alfred laughed. If she were like any noble’s daughter, she would be so pleased that her cheeks would be tinged with red, but to Leticia, it didn’t seem to affect her at all.
“Is that the Brave? She’s even more beautiful than the rumors say.”
“I wonder how well she gets along with His Highness Alfred. The two of them are talking very intimately.”
“I have heard that His Majesty the emperor wishes her to be the prince’s wife…”
“A union between the two would ensure the prosperity of the Empire.”
The gossip from the crowd gradually spread, and finally….
“Blessed be the future of the two!”
“Long live the Empire!”
There was a loud cheer.
“Oh my… some cheerers, huh?”
Leticia sent a slightly somber look at Alfred who was seated next to her. If it was this crown prince, he could do it. Alfred merely smiled. The beautiful Leticia and the noble Alfred waved their hands side by side, and it was very picturesque. People were even more excited to see this. The procession centered on the royal carriage slowly made its way down the main street of the imperial capital. Finally, they arrived at the square in front of the gates of the Imperial City of Simurgh. This was a huge square in front of the castle gate where a free market was held in the morning and, after the market was over, street merchants would set up their stalls. But today, instead of merchants and shoppers, knights restricted the flow of people, and waved many flowers and flags with the national crest of the empire and nobles. And on both sides of the castle gates, there was a large curtain, lined with high-backed chairs and decorated with ornaments, where the nobles and bureaucrats of the empire stood and waited.
The procession stopped once it advanced to the front of them lined up in that curtain. On the left side of the curtain were the high-ranking nobles, and on the right side were the knights, the leaders of the court mages and the priests of the temple. From among the people on the left side of the throne, two people came out in front of the royal carriage in which Alfred and Leticia were riding.
One was Cornelia Lau Root Lemmrousell, the First Imperial Princess of the Empire. And the other was Neumann Erz Root Lemmrousell. They were second and third respectively in the line of succession to the throne. As is customary, they were seen off by representatives of the royal family outside the gates of the Imperial City.
“Please assist His Majesty well and take care of this country while I am away.”
“Yes. Please leave the affairs of the country to me. You never know what may happen on your long journey, brother. Please take care of yourself as well.”
“I pray for your safety on the road.”
Alfred nodded to Neumann, whose head was bowed and whose expression could not be seen, and to his sister, who wished him a safe journey. Then the ministers, knights, and mages made their speeches, and finally the high priest and priestesses of the empire offered their blessings for safe travel, and the group passed under the gates of the imperial city of Simurgh.
From somewhere, he heard the sound of people and dogs. When Liesbert slowly woke up, what he saw was the not very high roof of a wooden building and a girl pulling a dog to restrain it. The human voice he had heard earlier seemed to be hers. he could also hear the crackling of firewood and the hissing of an iron kettle on the hearth.
As he tried to get up, he frowned at the pain that shot through his back. No, it wasn’t just his back. There didn’t seem to be any place on his body that didn’t hurt, from his legs to his arms. Noticing the groan that escaped at that moment, the girl turned her head towards Liesbert.
His face was frighteningly beautiful, even from an elf’s perspective. Silvery white hair and eyes that were reminiscent of red jewels.
‘Hmm? These features, somewhere…’
The girl stood up, with Liesbert busy thinking.
“Mom!” she ran out of the house. The girl spoke human, not elven.
‘This is a human village… well, I… survived…’
He remembered when he received the wounds.
An older man with white hair, dressed in a tailed suit. A huge magic circle blinking with an eerie red light. And a skeleton surrounded by a red and black light. The figures of his friends who had died horribly, bursting from the inside out. The burned village, and the offshoots of the world tree they were meant to protect withered and died from the dense miasma. That whole area would become a land drained of spiritual power, a land of abominable demons.
‘Gu… I have to inform my country about this as soon as possible…’
But despite his thoughts, his body did not move, and Liesbert had spasms of excruciating pain.
‘You must not move!’
Elvish. It was definitely Elvish, though the accent was far worse than what Liesbert and his friends spoke. He opened his eyes, which had closed from the pain, and saw a girl holding him.
‘The doctor has already examined you, but if you struggle, the wounds will open up again.’
‘Su-Sure… I’m sorry.’
With the girl’s help, he was carried back to the bed and placed in a comfortable position.
‘The fever seems to have dropped considerably…’ The girl who reached out her hand to Liesbert’s forehead got up and left the dirt-floored room and returned with a ceramic cup in her hand. ‘Can you drink water?’
Immediately, Liesbert felt an irresistible thirst. The girl held him and helped him sit up. His left arm was broken, and his right was badly lacerated, so she brought the cup to his mouth.
‘Please drink slowly. You must not stir.’
It was delicious. The water moistened his dry body. He drank it slowly and took a breath. Then, as the girl laid him back down on the bed, Liesbert noticed.
‘Hmm? Your name was Seri?’
A half-breed. Of elven father and human mother… Seri smiled a little.
‘Thank you for the water. And I’m sorry… for what we put you through back then.’
‘No problem. And it wasn’t me who saved you.’
At that moment, the girl who had just left re-entered with a human woman.
“Seri-san, it seems that elves have better senses.”
“Yes. His fever seems to have dropped quite a bit, and I think he should be able to eat after another sleep night.”
‘Who are these people, Seri-dono?’
‘Laura and her daughter, Ifelina. They are the two who brought you the their home after they found you passed out in the forest and treated you.’
When Laura and her daughter brought the severely injured Liesbert home, they immediately called a doctor from the imperial capital to treat him. And they had been caring for him, as he had still been afflicted by the high fever caused by his wounds.
‘I see. That’s very kind of you.’
When Liesbert heard the story, he tried to thank her, but then he remembered that he hadn’t even told Seri his name. He asked her to help him lift his body back up, then looked at them.
‘I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you my name, even though you helped me. My name is Liesbert. It seems that these two people who have helped me do not understand the elven language. I’m sorry, but would you be so kind as to convey my thanks to them?’
Seri nodded and told Laura and Ifelina exactly what he had said. Ifelina smiled and Laura accepted his words of thanks, saying, ‘You probably would have done the same for either of us.’
‘So, how long have I been asleep?’
‘About… three days, I think.’
‘…Three days? I’ve been asleep for three days?’
‘What’s going on?’
‘Shit! I can’t stay like this. I have to report this to my country as fast as possible!’
‘You can’t! The wound will open up!’
He tried to get up supporting his body with his right hand, which made him groan in pain, but, although Laura and Seri were surprised, Liesbert was easily restrained. He struggled to push them away and let out a frustrated voice.
‘While we’re here… that demon! I have to tell the princess as soon as possible…’
‘You will know her as the Great Sage.’
‘Great Sage? Well, if that’s the case…’
As soon as Seri heard that he was referring to the Great Sage, the force with which she was holding Liesbert weakened. The change was so fast that Liesbert slammed his left arm, which had a broken bone in front of it, against the ground.
He stifled a scream. Thick beads of sweat ran down his face. He scrunched up his face and, for a while, had to grit his teeth to fight the pain.
“Look, you still can’t move. Your fever may be down, but it’s still there, so you need to rest.”
He couldn’t know what those words meant, but he could more or less understand what Laura meant. It was a shame, but if the slightest bump hurt that much, he’d probably pass out in half a day before he could go turn in his report. First of all, he realized that there was no way he could report back home if he moved in a hurry. When he returned to his bed, Liesbert was overcome with a sense of helplessness.
‘Everyone in my village is dead, and I’m the only one who survived…’
‘Um…’ Seri said in a calm tone. ‘You mean the Great Sage Tiara, right?’
Liesbert lifted his face when he heard the name of the high elf princess Tiara.
‘Should we contact Leticia-sama?’
Liesbert’s eyes widened open.
‘Th-that’s right! If it’s the Brave, then…!’
‘Ah, but… she was heading to Lyon with the crown prince, wasn’t she?’
‘No, it’s alright. Rather, I have a favor to ask. You know a man named Kelvin, don’t you? He was one of the knights who visited our village when you were a prisoner.’
Seri remembered the narrow-eyed man who was Wynn’s superior.
‘Would there be any way you could get in touch with that man?’
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