A few months since Rudel was flown off to the outer reaches…
Above the water, a little away from the port town of Beretta, three dragoons were flying through the sky.
Izumi and Millia gazed upon the scene from a place overlooking the port. While it looked like they were flying in formation, they were fighting two on one.
The two blue dragons were flying circles around the white one. The white dragon that fought, pincered by two others, looked at a glance to be at a disadvantage.
“You think they’ll be alright?”
While Millia seemed nervous, Izumi was worried. While she knew it was dangerous from the start, in order to measure their abilities, it was concluded there was no helping it.
If possible, it was something she wanted to avoid, but if it was something those three had agreed upon, then this wasn’t a problem Izumi or Millia could stick their mouth into. The three dragoons enthusiastically took part in this combat.
“It’ll be fine… probably.”
“You’re certain? Can you look me in the eye and swear it?”
Millia doubtfully sent a glance at Izumi. It wasn’t as if Izumi didn’t believe in Rudel, but she averted her gaze from Millia. Thinking of his current abilities, it wouldn’t be strange if some sort of problem broke out.
Two on one. She wanted to believe he was alright.
When the two of them took their eyes off the battlefield, a light broke out over the water. That dazzling light caused the two of them to raise their arms to protect their eyes, and once the light died down, they looked at the dragons. There, they found the form of two dragons, going at it one-on-one.
That vision-stealing light must have been exceedingly troublesome for the three in an upfront confrontation.
“So the first one to fall was Spinnith!”
There was no mistaking it, the first ones down were the Keith and Spinnith team skilled in aerial battle. But it was questionable whether any of the others had the ability to do it.
“That can’t be!”
Shifting from the dragon’s movements, Izumi confirmed Spinnith had fallen into the sea. Bennet’s dragon Heleene was taking distance from Sakuya. But none of her long-distance attacks were reaching Sakuya.
Distance-wise, she was in range. But Sakuya remained unscathed.
Eventually, Sakuya began to give off light. While her roar reached all the way to Izumi’s ears, it was something the air vibrations conveyed to her entire body.
Noticing the disadvantage, Heleene, charged at Sakuya, bringing her all the way to sea level, only for the surface of the ocean to freeze over in an instant. It looked almost as if the water dragon was offering a place for Rudel and Bennet to fight.
“So she realized Bennet-san was at a disadvantage in the air.”
A portion of the water truly had been swiftly exchanged for an arena.
“There’s no helping it. No matter how faster they are, the time they can stay in the air is short.”
The two were more worried for Bennet than Rudel.
Before she could fall into the sea, Bennet leapt up onto a footing of ice.
Taking a stance with the wooden boomerang on her back, she checked left, right, and up. While she had confirmed he had sunken into the sea with Sakuya, it was unknown what direction Rudel would come from.
He wasn’t tempered so soft that sinking would be the end of him. He had already grown to the level where she couldn’t stand up to him in aerial battles. Rudel was the sort who would keep at training the basics like an idiot. Therefore, she thought it would be fast as soon as he picked up the knack, but he had far exceeded Bennet’s expectations.
“From where… below!”
As Bennet heightened her senses to keep wary of her surroundings, she suddenly turned her face straight down and hurriedly left from the spot.
Right after that, the ice was smashed, and a pillar of ice rose. While she was bathed in the seawater that gushed out, Bennet’s expression didn’t change. She concentrated to search for Rudel. There, she heard a slight sound, so she used her boomerang in place of a shield.
Regardless of the mana she flowed in to strengthen it, her gripping hand conveyed a grating sound to her. Determining it would break at this rate, she instantly discarded her boomerang, and tossed another one from her back at him.
The boomerang that spun fast enough to hum through the air gave chase to Rudel, but ended with no more than cutting up his own afterimage. The next instant, Bennet equipped the wooden daggers she kept at her waist in both hands. Crossing them, she caught the wooden sword Rudel lowered from right above her.
They were atop a chunk of ice bobbing in the waves, but at the impact of that attack, cracks spread from where she planted her feet. The ice as a whole took one large bob below the water before coming back up and stabilizing.
Bennet forcefully parted him, and as she corrected her stance, Rudel landed before her. She instantly sent a kick, but Rudel grabbed that leg in his left hand, throwing it off.
Correcting her positioning in the air, Bennet threw the dagger in her left hand. While Rudel deflected it, Bennet took a light hop on the ice.
It was something like a habit for Bennet, but as she would always enter high-speed movement right after, she had never come to recognize it as a weakness.
By the time she noticed it, Rudel had extended his left hand towards her face. Rudel had got her in his sight.
While she returned fire with her remaining dagger, the intense clash had her lose in brute force, and Bennet was beginning to be pushed back. In speed, power, and technique, Rudel had matured. When it came to the technique part, she could likely still win out, but that was no longer enough to bury in the other gaps.
Even as she moved her fastest, those sharp bolts of lights pursued to capture her. When she thought of her footing crumbling into smaller and smaller pieces, Bennet was losing all options besides an upfront conversation.
(My subordinate’s grown… but I can’t just lose here.)
Bennet opened her eyes wide, instantaneously accelerating to insert a kick in Rudel’s stomach. But there, a small shield had manifested. Rudel took on Bennet’s kick that had lost its momentum, jumping back, pretending to be blown away.
When she chased to close in the distance, Rudel tossed the sword in his hands at her. Entering hand to hand combat, they each fired a series of fist and foot. But both sides could do naught but capture the other’s afterimage, and neither side was scathed.
From the eyes of a third party, they were surely too fast to perceive. Even if they could be seen, after Bennet fired a roundhouse kick with her right leg, they would’ve sworn they saw her left instead… it would surely cause such a misapprehension.
But that scuffle was also greeting its end. Unable to catch up to Rudel, Bennet received a blow to her abdomen knocking her off her feet. Correcting her stance as she rolled across the ice, she saw Rudel had stopped moving.
Right after, Bennet stood on the spot and tossed her dagger to the side. Raising her hands, she showed a pose of surrender.
“Once you’ve gone so far, I’ve no choice but to concede… it’s your win, Rudel.”
Above the surface of the ice, the swords of light gleamed in their numbers, as if to cover up the sky. Their points were directed at Bennet, and if they came at her from all directions, Bennet wouldn’t come out unharmed.
As Rudel stood to his feet, the swords turned to grains of ice, fading out as they were swept away by the wind.
“Thank you. Major.”
Her prided subordinate who had shown such results in such a short period gave a delighted smile. Bennet felt just a little lonely when she looked at his smile. She didn’t have anything left to teach him. Perhaps he wouldn’t look at her like a superior anymore she grew anxious for just a moment.
There, Keith who had crawled out of the sea sent a smile to Rudel, out of breath.
“Thank you! Lieutenant!”
When Rudel hurriedly rushed to help Keith up, Keith continued to smile as he collapsed on the spot. He had pushed himself considerably.
The three dragons who’d returned were sopping wet.
At the port, the dragons climbed out and lied down. They had used up their stamina, so they were resting, but Sakuya alone was full of energy.
‘And you see, you see, when Spinnith was coming at her, Sakuya decided it with a counter!’
Happily informing Izumi of her contributions, Sakuya made a fist and began shadow boxing. She was too energetic.
“I see, you worked hard too, Sakuya.”
‘That’s right. I was punching it out with Heleene in the water too!’
The punched dragons looked at the energetic Sakuya and let out some large sighs. They looked worn out. But finally, Heleene…
‘You lost to me in the water, dammit!’
Exhausted, on her side, it seemed Heleene was showing the backbone of the water dragons.From how Spinnith averted his face, though, it was quite likely he lost to Sakuya.
‘N-next time, I’ll use my sure kill one, two finish to…’
‘I can use that one too, you hear!’
Unable to imagine a punching match between dragons, Izumi could only give a bitter smile. In half a year, Rudel and Sakuya had defeated competent members of the dragoon brigade. It goes without saying that was due to their own training.
But it was also a fact they possessed latent abilities that high. The talent of Rudel, who had continued training his foundation like an idiot, was blooming as a dragoon.
The man in question lay down an unconscious Keith as he spoke to Bennet.
“Was it your idea to steal our sight with light?”
“No, my close friend Aleist said something of that effect, so I thought I might be able to do it, and practiced.”
Rudel had used a surprise flash to daze Keith, letting Sakuya defeated Spinnith while the dragon was unmanned.
“It wasn’t bad. If you’re able to coordinate it into your attacks, it’s effect will rise. And also…”
The two of them continued talking about the battle. They were both the epitome of seriousness, and Izumi gave up on entering the conversation. If Keith were awake, he might be able to.
But Bennet’s face grimaced.
“So you got me here too.”
Taking off her gloves, Bennet looked at the swelling on the back of her right hand as she muttered. While it didn’t seem to be broken, she had been injured in the midst of battle without noticing it.
“Major, I can use healing magic.”
“I see, then I’ll leave it to you.”
Bennet held out her right hand, and Rudel reached to grasp it. Seeing that scene, Millia was just a little jealous. But Izumi opened her eyes wide as she foresaw the development that was to follow.
(Rudel’s healing magic… hold it!)
Leaping out, Izumi grasped Rudel’s arm. Sakuya pestered Izumi to keep listening to her story, but there was something greater she had to stop. As she put some considerable force into gripping Rudel’s arm, the man was perplexed.
“Izumi, that hurts.”
“W-what’s wrong, Izumi?”
While Bennet was worried as well, Izumi looked into Rudel’s face. There, she confirmed just one thing.
“Rudel, from when could you use healing magic?”
“Listen to this! The truth is, Mystith-sama personally taught it to me!”
“What sort of effect does it have?”
“What are you talking about? It’s healing magic, so of course it has a healing effect… ah, it’s also got a side effect of decreasing the pain usually felt during healing and–”
Once she had heard that much, Izumi put more power into her hold on Rudel’s arm. When she gripped it, water was squeezed from Rudel’s soaking wet clothing, and a grating sound could be heard. Izumi informed Rudel with a smile.
“That is also banned.”
Rudel informed Izumi of how he had tested it on his colleague Enora, and how it definitely had a healing effect, but by no means would Izumi give him a nod. In her long relation with Rudel, this was the moment where Izumi’s instinct had prevented the dangers of petting.
Unable to accept it, Rudel pleaded; he told her it definitely wouldn’t hurt. But Izumi kept denying it saying that wasn’t the problem.
“… Um, what about me?”
Bennet looked over the two of them, a troubled look on her face.
Rudel’s colleague from the dragoon brigade, Luxheidt, had temporarily returned from his dispatchments station.
He needed to report, and he wanted to take some vacation. As a secret fan of Rudel, Luxheidt was also considering dropping by the port town of Beretta.
Stopping by the palace for the first in quite some time, the somewhat strained air he sensed was definitely not to his liking.
“It’s quite tense here.”
Holding his report, Luxheidt walked down a corridor of the palace when he happened to pass by a certain room used by the civil officials. There, he heard a delighted voice. Rather than a work room, it was a room used to take breaks.
‘You did it, young master!’
‘Vargas, I’m sure I told you to stop calling me that. Well, I’m in a good mood today, so I’ll permit it.’
‘But that girl really is a strange one.’
‘Well it’s surprising that she’d want to hear about noble relations. But with this, I can invite her out to tea!’
‘Um, if that’s what you want, then I guess that’s fine.’
Hearing a conversation between subordinate and superior, Luxheidt mused it was a peaceful conversation as he hurried on.
At least the civil officials are at peace, he thought as he made for the dragoon captain office, but it was there that Luxheidt came to the understanding he wasn’t one to talk. The reason being, there was a slip on the office notifying him they were in the middle of a meeting.
“Huh? I’ve never heard of a slip like this being on the office before.”
It wasn’t normal to have a meeting in the captain’s office, it was normal to borrow a conference room. Luxheidt did consider coming back later, but it was there he heard a voice from the room.
Growing intrigued, he put his ear to the door to listen in. He had confirmed there was no one else in the corridor, and it was an action that came from pure curiosity.
And he would regret it.
‘W-what… was that…?’
‘I’m telling you, he’s dangerous! My niece told me, Rudel has an absolute advantage when it comes to demi humans!’
‘M-my brothers and sisters were saying the same thing!’
It seemed the captain and a few dragoons were discussing something. Rudel’s name came out, so Luxheidt’s interests welled. But the conversation rapidly strayed.
‘Then that mean’s Bennet-chan’s in danger, does it not! That baster, I’ve got no interest in women, ‘s the sort of air he gave off, but he was actually aiming for this!’
‘No, you’re the one who sent him off to the border, captain! What are we going to do!? At this rate, the position of we who protect Bennet-chan are…’
‘In his student days, he had a free pass into the girls’ dorm, and he entered it boldly! For some reason it’s highly classified information, and it was a real pain to look into! But Rudel-sama is a man of valor who’s even managed to tame the tiger tribe!’
(Ah, looks like we’re not ones to speak.)
Picking up on the contents of the conversation, Luxheidt felt like apologizing to those civil officials from before. There, a hand was placed on his shoulder.
When he turned, he found the vice-captain Alejandro standing with a dubious face. While he wanted to chastise Luxheidt for his actions, more than that, he worried over what Luxheidt was going to do, now that he had learned the secret of the dragoon brigade.
Looking at the vice-captain who would calmly send people off to borderland, Luxheidt broke into a cold sweat.
He knew it would be pointless to deny it here, and from the vice-captain’s face, he knew he couldn’t say anything foolish.
“Listen, don’t tell anyone about what you’ve–”
“Vice-captain, I have an idea!”
From the vice-captain’s behavior, Luxheidt sensed he had no particular fixation on Major Bennet and decided to take a gamble.
It would be a pain to be stationed any further away. Luxheidt proposed a plan to crush this secret gathering.
In Beretta, a summons from the palace came for Rudel and the other dragoons.
“Are they going to award us for that monster subjugation?”
“Yeah, I thought they’d just send something and that would be the end of it, but it seems they’re handing it out at the palace.”
Bennet read over the letter as she confirmed Rudel and Keith’s schedule. At present, there weren’t any delays in the development of the port town. The construction using dragons was proceeding faster than anticipated.
Even if the three of them slipped out temporarily, there was little to worry about.
For Rudel, if he returned, he would be able to see Eunius and Luecke, so he thought he wouldn’t be bored. Keith thought the same.
“The palace, eh… I can see the captain and vice-captain!”
Seeing Keith’s delighted face, Rudel arbitrarily misinterpreted it as an immense admiration for those two great men. While he wasn’t wrong, it was in a vaguely different direction.
But Bennet wasn’t making a happy face.
“What’s wrong, Major?”
“No… it just seems I’m hated within the brigade, see. If I go, there will be some troubles.”
“That can’t be! You’re a splendid major!”
Rudel was convinced there was no way Bennet could be hated. He couldn’t believe someone like that could exist, so he decided to ask for a name.
“Just who could hate you, Major?”
“Rudel, you can’t ask something like that.”
When Keith cautioned Rudel, Bennet laughed a bit.
“Everyone’s got people they love and hate. I don’t mind it, so you don’t have to either.”
Bennet put a plan together and informed the two of their day of departure. With the changing schedule, she informed them they would have to work quickly for a while.
“You can take some vacation at the capital as well. Well, it’s not like we can’t fly through the night, but there’s no need to push yourselves.”
And so, they were given a day of vacation at the capital.