36. Turbulence in Front of the City
Two people reach the gate of Filas Filas, the Imperial Capital. They watch the diverse number of people ahead of them enter and leave the city as they approach. Visitors are inspected by the guards at the end of a queue.
The bright rays from the rising morning sun stab Suimei’s eyes. He squints at the city’s gate and walls before asking Lefille, “Now that we’re here, what kind of place is the Nelfila Empire?”
Lefille’s expression blanks as she’s left lost for words. “You’re asking that now? We’ve been in the Empire’s territory for a while. Shouldn’t you have already gotten a grasp of the feel?”
Suimei shrugs like a Westerner. “As far as I can tell, everything feels the same. The only difference between here and Aster is the diversity of people and number of things.” Although Lefille can gleam shifts in cultural by examining the decorations from the cheap hotels within villages, Suimei, a modern Japanese person, has difficulty in picking up such clues. Furthermore, he comes from a different world. Everything in this world is new and different to him. Even the design of his clothes is unusual.
“Didn’t you visit Aster’s library?”
“I’ve studied the subject, I just want to hear Lefille’s impression.”
“My impression of the Empire……?”
Suimei’s remark leaves Lefille in thought. He wants the opinion of an inhabitant from this world. The thoughts of such a person are invaluable.
She grasps his intent before long and nods. “I see, well, if I had to describe the Nelfila Empire with a single phrase, it would be military might.”
Suimei reacts with a bitter smile. “The books also alluded as such.”
“Makes sense. Nelfila is well renowned for its wealth. No other nation comes close to its military might.”
Suimei reveals a question he’s been wondering for a while. “Except, the Empire doesn’t give off that sort of feeling. How come?” The term empire refers to both a country composed of various ethnic groups and a nation dominated by power. Such nations pressure their neighboring countries to enter alliances with them despite differing governmental structures. Naturally, a nation composed of multiple ethnic groups can be called an empire, but that doesn’t make it one. For Suimei, a Japanese citizen, the term empire evokes a strong image of Imperial Japan from the early modern period.
“Oh, that can’t be helped. The Nelfila Empire was a nation that used its military might to annex its surrounding countries, but then lost the majority of its national strength during a war several hundred years ago. This place has calmed down since then.”
A suspicious thought pops out of Suimei’s mouth. “It is pretty relaxed…. But, did its ambitions really die out during those hundreds of years?” That war was centuries ago. A grace period of only a few decades is all the Nelfila Empire would have needed to restore its military power. Its ambitions could have been restarted ages ago. Why hasn’t it?
Lefille shakes her head at the question. “Three nations preserved their alliance even after the war ended. The military might they built due to that sense of crisis made them equals with Nelfila.”
“The situation became one where war would have difficulty in breaking out.”
“Exactly, but the biggest reason is because the hero summoning ceremony would attract too much attention.”
Suimei’s expression clouds at Lefille’s unexpected words. “Hero summoning? Why would the hero participate in a war against fellow humans?”
“It was during that war that the term hero was first invoked.”
“What……?” Lefille’s words perplex Suimei. A hero is only summoned when the world is in grave danger. The guild heads of both the state’s guild and spell caster’s guild of each nation along with the church’s highest institution need to come to an agreement before a hero’s summoning can be initiated. Why can one be summoned for a way between people?
Suimei glances to the side during the middle of Lefille’s explanation. “This is information that’s passed down through word of mouth. Back then, a monarchy near the Autonomous Alliance, the previous name of the current Sardius Alliance, became a dictatorship, declared war on its neighbors, and slaughtered countless civilians- Hey, massacring civilians is an atrocity! What’s with your attitude?”
“Well, my information is incomplete, but what you’re saying is pretty obvious. It committed a lot of atrocities with its strength. With the ruler taking hold of the entire world, everyone being on edge would only be natural.”
Suimei comes to a buried memory while interrupting Lefille’s story. One regarding something he heard from the Aster Kingdom’s Chancellor Gress and the guild clerk Dorothea. A tyrant took control of the entire world several hundred years ago and in response, three heroes were summoned from another world. The heroes smashed the tyrant’s ambitions. More important than that, “That’s why heroes were summoned! It’s the precedent set by that war!”
“Yep, you got it. That war proved that heroes could be used to oppose invaders. The Nelfila Empire’s tyrant from back then publicly massacred people as it annexed more territory. Those actions where enough to sway the opinions of the neighboring nations-”
“Into summoning heroes. They should remember that we’re not invulnerable.”
“You’re right. It’s said that Nelfila’s emperor back then trembled upon witnessing the power possessed by the heroes. Afterwards, he warned that anyone who makes enemies of the heroes won’t find anywhere to hide from them in the world.
If that’s what happened, then it can’t be helped. If an emperor with more military power and influence than any other country says that, then of course the power of heroes will be revered.
More than that, earning the heroes wrath is tantamount to falling from grace. Loss of moral standing might be seen as irrelevant, but if a nation wages war on another without it, then said nation will receive political backlash from the international community. Such happened to Imperial Japan. A net was enclosed around the country which cut off the import of supplies. If summoning heroes is seen from such a perspective, then they become an exceptional form of deterrence. “Even so, the hero summoning ceremony has a lot behind it.”
“That’s right. They have the strength to defeat the demon lord and all the mazoku. It’s said that they could even rival a nation’s military. Why wouldn’t they be used as political leverage?”
“As a result, small skirmishes exist between nations, but those large scale wars have remained in the past.”
“Just like that?”
“Well, an outburst did happen between Aster and Shaldok two years ago, but Princess Titania of Aster Kingdom was able to settle it.”
Suimei’s eyes budge upon hearing it was thanks to Titania’s efforts. “Tia?”
“Tia? Oh, you’re asking about Princess Titania? Yeah, I heard she was quite active back then.”
Suimei sighs out in admiration. “Haa, is that what that princess is like?”
What a shock. Princess Titania had a vigorous life style despite presenting herself as a tidy person when walking next to Reiji. He can’t even imagine her stepping out onto a battlefield. She did appear to be as competent a mage as Felmenia, but could she have been keeping her true abilities secret? I can’t tell. Despite what was just said, there are various ways to contribute in war. However, if Tia wasn’t someone who can fight, wouldn’t everyone have tried to stop her from departing?
Suimei remembers something from before leaving the castle. When Reiji’s party left, the king, first prince, and the nobles either spoke words of gratitude to her or were reluctant to see her leave. He doesn’t recall anyone trying to restrain her because of the danger. Then, does that mean I don’t have to worry about them? Can I trust in the princess’s strength?
While in the middle of those thoughts, “Next in line!” Suimei and Lefille end their conversation and enter the guard room.
Several soldiers urge them inside a small room. Inside is a young civil servant responsible for filling official documents and collecting taxes. He says, “Are you entering the city?”
The clerk watches them both nod before presenting them some documents of identification. Suimei is already used to it. He filled one out upon leaving Metal and another upon entering Klant. “Very well, write your full name here and show me some I.D. if you have… Oops, excuse my rudeness…”
The young clerk takes a laid back mood as he corrects himself and asks if they need help.
“I can write.”
“Excuse my rudeness. Well then, please fill out this form. Afterwards, if you can pay the entrance tax and toll fee, we’ll be finished.”
Suimei notices the young clerk give Lefille a smile while filling out the form. While wondering if because the person likes children or has a gentle disposition, the young clerk bends over to lower his gaze. “Ojou-chan, would you mind filling out this form?”
To that gentle request, Lefille makes a grim expression as her head jolts back.
“Clerk-dono, I’m not an ojou-chan. Would you mind correcting yourself?”
“Ahaha, I see. My bad, my bad, princess.”
“What are you saying? You’re still treating me like a kid!” Lefille gives a furious cry in response to the clerk’s apology. She would give the same reaction back when they were shopping in Klant. Her outbursts are no different than the wind trying to blow down a willow tree. “—Suimei-kun! Suimei-kun, say something!”
But, what can I say? This isn’t a situation where he can say, “This person became like that after shrinking.” Is such an explanation even any good? He’s pretty sure anyone who hears that would just laugh.
The young clerk turns to Suimei with a smile. ‘Ahaha, she sure is an energetic child.”
“Yeah, I know, right? Hahaha.” Suimei can only respond in kind. The best way through this storm is by riding it.
Lefille, at her wits ends, grabs his waist with both hands. “Suimei-kun! What are you saying?”
“No… it’s just…” There’s nothing he can do about this situation.
The clerk continues to smile at Lefille despite her bewilderment. “Ojou-chan, don’t you think you’re troubling your onii-san a little too much?”
“I’m troubling Suimei-kun…” She stops upon hearing the question and a small, terrified voice full of anguish leaks out. “…It’s no good. It’s never going to stop…”
Lefille’s head hangs down on her shoulders. The shock steals the words from her mouth. Since Suimei has been carrying her sword, suppressing her curse, and helping her with various difficulties after she become small, her reluctance to accept his help seems to have hit her hard.
The young clerk, with a glance towards Lefille, faces Suimei with a smile. “She looks like the type who stands on her toes and stretches her back to make herself look taller. I’ve got a younger sister too, so I know exactly what it’s like.”
Is it because of that experience that he’s nodding his head? The guards surrounding them smile because of Lefille’s outburst. Instead of tension, a warm and fluffy atmosphere fills the room.
“Come on… let’s hurry up and fill out these forms so we can get going.”
Lefille gives up after hearing those words and returns to filling out her form. She’s calm now, but, “Right, right.”
For some reason, Lefille stands up with a growl. She ignores Suimei’s question while setting her form on the desk, “Tch, this is the result!”
“Not yet! I’m not giving up, yet! I still have my pride! I haven’t thrown that away!” The small Lefille encourages herself by making a grandiose statement that she’ll preserver. Although she’s trying very hard, she soon realized there is nothing that can be done. At the edge of despair, the little girl sits down with a petan.
“I- I can’t reach…” Gesu, Lefille sniffles as lovely tears flow down her face. Although her back can reach the desk, her current posture makes writing difficult. She really is trying her best.
“Of course, ojou-chan. You can use this instead.” The young clerk presents Lefille with a stool.
“I- I!” Lefille is once again irritated by the young clerk’s conduct, however, “I…” She loses spirit after comparing the desk to the stool. While hanging her head in low spirits, she climbs onto the stool and fills out her form. Her ponytail sways across her back from the trembling brought forth by her melancholy. More than anyone else, she didn’t want to acknowledge that she herself has become small.
Suimei clasps her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her, “midji meda…” is what he says while writing with his quill.
Right when they finish, a girl enters from the city side door. The young clerk isn’t disturbed by the intruder. Instead, the soldiers salute her while he says, “Second lieutenant, Zandyke!”
She was called, “Second lieutenant.” She emits a burning presence. Her violet twin tails are tinged red, her skin looks unhealthy, and there’s an eyepatch over her right eye. Her other eye gives a sleepy impression. Over her military outfit is a gothic Lolita coat and reaching up her arms are a pair of dress gloves.
Suimei’s eyebrows turn in towards each other at the girl’s unworldly outfit. What a strange outfit. A lot of people could be seen dressed like that in the other world and seeing it again after such a long time creates a powerful impact. That’s not to say it doesn’t suit her. Suimei’s only like this because it suits her.
Lefille’s thoughts are very similar. “Tha- that’s so cute.”
They are both mistaken. Their responses were evoked by the illusion created from the frills attached to the outfit.
While Suimei and Lefille react to her outfit, the second lieutenant steps towards the young clerk and speaks with a cold business like tone. “I’m here for yesterday’s registry list.”
“Yes!” The young clerk’s spine straightens like a pole as he stands at attention and salutes. He hurries to the cupboard and from the drawer pulls out a leather covered book.
The girl receives the book and pages through while saying, “How troublesome,” and shuts it with a heavy snap.
Is the Filas Fila empire’s military different from the other nations? Ranks like lieutenant give it a modern scent, but that person is just a girl. She looks like she’s either twelve or thirteen. She isn’t a soldier, she’s a child soldier.
She must have noticed Suimei’s gaze because she opens her sleepy eye and gives him a reproachful gaze. “Does a soldier such as myself surprise you?”
“No, that’s not the case…” It’s different, but not unusual.
While Suimei struggles to express his distaste, Lefille steps in to answer for him. “No, you’re just very young for a soldier.”
The girl, finding Lefille’s words hurtful, gives her a scornful glare. “I refuse to be told such from a child smaller than me.”
“Huh? I’m not a small child!”
“Ahh….” Suimei gives a drawn out sigh. That conversation again? He’s been hearing it for days now. He and Lefille are going to have to talk about this later.
The two young girls have a quick exchange. “How about a match?” “…Fine, sounds good to me.” The conversation ends with the two glaring at one another.
The two step away from each other. Are those two seriously planning to fight?
“Hey, just a sec, Lefille.”
“…Don’t stop me, Suimei-kun! I will not back down from this battle!”
“Not being able to retreat is the problem.”
Lefille doesn’t hear a single one of Suimei’s words. The two girls circle around while watching each other. Both change their footwork in an attempt to confuse the other’s perception. Lefille soon finds an opening and flies out with her attack. The girl also rushes out. Right when they’re about to collide with one another, they come to a sudden stop.
They’re so close to each other that their noses are almost touching. They separate and return to circling each other like before only to repeat their confrontation, this time standing side by side. On the following clash, they line up their gazes.
What are they doing? Suimei sends the two suspicious looks as he wonders.
Lefille and the girl glare at each other as they compete by stretching out their spines. They called it a match, but aren’t physically crashing into each other. Could victory be determined by their height? Suimei tilts his head to the side similar everyone else who gathered to watch while making a guess. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case as the two girls continue to face one another. Whether they line up side to side or cross their arms underneath their chests, Suimei can’t comprehend their actions.
Suimei, upon finally receiving an answer from one of the soldiers, laughs in amazement. That’s what it is! They’re comparing breast size! That is the simplest method for them to compete. However, since their secondary sexual characteristics have yet to begin developing, there’s nothing to compare. In all honesty, this competition is hilarious. Still, he cannot understand the tension before and after each confrontation. Will vigor and spirit really affect the outcome? With all that taken into consideration, of the two girls, the current Lefille is smaller.
Those two girls also reach the same conclusion. The other girl doesn’t take triumph in her victory, but speaks in a tone that’s matter of fact. “There, see? I’m more mature than you.”
“Ku, I lost to a little girl…” Lefille speaks as though she is a corpse being kicking aside.
“Wrong, you can no longer call me a little girl. How about calling me onee-san, instead?”
“No- no way! I’m returning to my original body!” The figure shouting she has yet to lose isn’t very gallant. The breasts on Lefille’s original body are bigger, but saying that now is just childish.
The girl is puzzled by Lefille’s outburst. “Your original body? …… Ah.” She grasps an answer upon finishing her question and nods. “You.”
“Stop your fantasy talk. You’re just like a kid who can’t distinguish reality from her dreams. Don’t you feel embarrassed from saying all that?”
The girl’s words stab into Lefille like relentless knives. Did she assume Lefille’s infected with chuunibyou? Granted, anyone not familiar with Lefille’s circumstance would think she’s shamelessly spouting nonsense.
Lefille shakes as she turns her back to the girl. Her gait is unsteady.
“……Suimei-kun, do you mind giving me some time to myself?”
“No, I can’t do that.”
“Then comfort me well, or this will be a grudge forever etched into my heart.”
“……” Suimei’s smile stiffens.
Lefille sits on a bench. She hugs her knees and then buries her face within them. A darkness deeper than that possessed by mazoku floats around her. Her troubles today have really made her look pitiful.
The other girl walks up to Suimei. “You do not look like you are from this area. Where do you come from?”
“Oh, I’m from the East. That kid, Lefille, she’s the daughter of one of my acquaintances.”
“The East? But you don’t mean Aster, right? So, you’re from the East?”
“Something like that.”
She cross-examines Suimei with her gaze and words as she considers the different races of people in and around Aster. She says, “As I thought,” to Suimei’s reply. Her sleepy eye turns sharp.
“Se- Second lieutenant!?”
Both Suimei and the young clerk call out to her. Suimei’s remark about being from outside the alliance has made the military girl suspect him of being a spy. Her murderous intent and magical power shoot off like a gun.
“What are you doing?”
“There is no reason for me to answer your question.”
The girl releases even more magical power in response to Suimei’s question. It’s a level where most people would faint after confronting it.
“Se- Second lieutenant! Ca- Calm down, please—ahh!?”
“You are in my way.”
Her sharp look backed by murderous intent and high magical power sends the young clerk cowering. This must be how the empire operates. But why is she scattering so much hostility? The soldiers are so terrified, they can’t move.
The crest fallen Lefille comes running upon noticing the danger. “What’s going on?”
“This isn’t something small children need to concern themselves. Go over there like a good child.”
“ ‘Like a good child…’ Are you saying something dangerous is about to happen?”
“That’s right. That person there is a danger to the Empire–”
The girl’s cold tone brings Lefille to a stop. It’s like a sharp blade, nothing like the heroic tone she used upon delivering that crushing defeat. “Releasing murderous intent towards the people the Empire intends to capture is proper procedure? Such treatment is unjustifiable! What kind of shameless training does the imperial army receive?
“What was that?”
“This is the famed integrity of the Empire’s imperial army? What happened to article 12, 3rd paragraph, of the Empire’s military service guidelines? Can you say your conduct is in complete accord to those procedures?”
The girl grimaces at Lefille’s words upon being reminded of the Empire’s military regulations. The glare she gives Lefille is as sharp as a sword, but in the end conforms to military regulation. “…… You are correct. I will stand down for now……” She ends her sentence and turns to Suimei to give him a cold glare. “—Refrain from doing anything suspicious while here in the Empire.”
The girl’s unmatched and over powered tone comes off as ridiculous to Suimei.
“Why are you not responding?” The girl’s voice is unwavering and cold.
Suimei just can’t get used to that girl’s way of speaking. As a Japanese person, being threatened by such a young girl evokes complicated feelings. Maybe I should try provoking her? If this were Japan, she’d be nothing more than a middle school student.
Suimei understands that forcing his Japanese concept of happiness on other is nothing more than arrogance. Ethics is a concept that varies across cultures. Likewise, the age of enlistment evolves with the times. Such concepts will apply even in parallel worlds. Pitying child soldiers is a self-righteousness that ignores the wills of others. Of course, the existence of child soldiers is something that can never be confirmed.
Suimei’s eyes hold pity only for a moment. They return to normal as he decides to mess with the girl. “Something wrong, young lady?”
“Young lady, am I? It’s one thing if that child calls me that, but for you, an adult…… those are grounds for a lawsuit. I’ll take you straight to the Empire’s military court.” The girl jabs Suimei with a finger at his joke. She becomes surprisingly cute when her irritation grows.
Meanwhile, Lefille says, “You’re still saying that……” while looking at Suimei with fury.
The young clerk, realizing the situation is getting worse, tries to intercede, “Well.”
The girl, however, understanding it was a joke, was only responding in turn. Moving with the same swiftness as earlier, she turns her back to Suimei. “……We are not finished.” The girl takes the register of names she came for and leaves through the city door.
“Fuu…… We just got here and we’re already running into problems.” Suimei exhales in relief as the tension passes.
The young clerk sighs out even harder than Suimei. “Please refrain from provoking second lieutenant Zandyke.”
“Sorry, my bad.” Suimei give a timid apology while scratching the back on his head.
Lefille remembers, “I thought that name sounded familiar. Is she Liliana Zandyke?”
“You know her?”
“One of the Seven Swords, Rouge Zandyke, is father to a very prominent mage in the Empire. I heard she was named into the Empire’s Elite Twelve despite still being a child.”
“Wow, that’s the kind of story Mizuki loves.”
The young clerk says to Suimei and Lefille. “Yes, she is impressive. She has eyes in the wind, so make sure you’re on your best behavior while in the city.”
Suimei says, “I’ll be careful.”
“Anyway, we still need to finish one final confirmation, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Suimei examines the girl’s magical residue as they wait. Lefille distracts herself from the soldiers by kicking her legs back and forth. People called in line up behind them. They appear to be travelers. While they submit their documents, the young clerk says, “Great, did all of you hear? A hero was summoned in Aster.”
“You mean Reiji-sama? Of course we’ve heard of him!”
Suimei twitches upon hearing his friend, Reiji’s, name. Lefille, familiar with Suimei’s circumstances, faces him. She whispers, “Suimei-kun, for sure……”
“Yeah, I’m positive they’re talking about my friend.”
Although not much time has passed since Reiji set off on his journey, he’s already become a topic of conversation. Something must have happened because they’re embellishing the story. The two men keep their composure as they praise Reiji during their conversation with the young clerk. “The mage’s guild granted him the highest rank possible along with the title, The Supreme Ruler of All Elements.”
“He can manipulate all the elements? That’s amazing! The Supreme Ruler of All the Elements, indeed.”
“What an excellent title, The Supreme Ruler of All the Elements. As a civilian officer, I would love to be granted such a name!”
While the three continue their conversation, Suimei is at his wits end trying not to burst out with laughter. “Fu… Haha… Seriously, cut it out…”
Lefille is left stunned as she watches Suimei succeed in stifling his laughter. Meanwhile, the others grow more excited with their conversation. “—Recently, a mazoku army bent on annihilating Klant was exterminated by Aster’s military.”
“I heard that the Demon General Rajas was defeated too.”
The news surprises Lefille. “What!?”
Suimei’s expression changes into one of doubt. “Oi, oi… What exactly happened?”
The two people say, “It’s amazing. It’s been so long since anyone has achieved such a feat,” with awe. Even the young clerk is caught up in the moment.
Apparently, a strange story developed.
T/N: Okay, and here is my second post of this story. Again this is the Web Novel translation, so there will be some differences with the light novel. One thing you might notice is Liliana Zandyke. From what I can tell, she has a very polite method of speech. Well, hope you all enjoyed this chapter.