12. I Don’t Care, So Let Me Go Home!
Now that I thought about it, I’ve had nothing but bad luck recently.
First, getting wrapped up in the (former) Crown Prince’s engagement annulment and, because of it, becoming His Majesty, the King’s official venting partner. Then, being asked by the Knight Commander to become a knight (to which His Highness, the Royal Prince had said “We’ll think about it later.”) Finally, being asked by Irene-sama, a duke’s daughter, if we could become friends while attending her tea party. (Hm? Did you think that I’d accept? Impossible.)
Since it was the social season after graduation, I thought I’d be looking for a marriage partner right about now. Instead, I’d made an enemy of His Highness, the Royal Prince – who declared me too “inappropriate” to be Irene-sama’s friend – and had to deal with the fallout.
Seriously?!? How in the world did this happen?!?
“Come to think of it, the Dragon Dance Festival is about to begin, isn’t it?” Mother asked leisurely, embroidering Father’s overcoat.
“I suppose it is,” I stopped my own embroidering, deciding not to dwell on the past but instead turn my attention to the upcoming festival.
I-it’s not just escapism, is it??
Before I explain the Dragon Dance Festival, I should explain the origin of our Lemaire Kingdom. While the exact number of years is unknown, about a millennium ago, our ancestors lost a war on the continent so they fled to this island to rebuild their kingdom.
That’s right, we live on an island kingdom that is surrounded by the ocean.
That said, we’re not located too far from the mainland so there remained a good chance of further invasion. Due to this, we developed a navy that had many a skirmish with the neighboring kingdoms of the continent.
Then, roughly four hundred years after the founding, some dragons built a nest on an island on the other side of the continent. Dragons were believed to be extinct during this time, so the people who encountered them were overwhelmed with fear. Terror and chaos ensued.
Furthermore, our elite Lemaire Navy, which had been patrolling around the dragons’ nest, was completely destroyed by a single creature that rose from the sea. It was a small wonder that our entire kingdom didn’t collapse.
So then, dragons can swim, eh.
Fortunately, our then-monarch – King Solomon – didn’t lose composure. He calmly realized that the dragons were not targeting our navy or extending their reach towards our island. Therefore, he ordered a complete ban on all contact with the creatures.
However, misfortune once again befell our kingdom.
Every year since the dragons began nesting on the island, the surrounding monsters grew stronger and stronger.
Prepare yourself, because then we did something amazing.
To restrain our neighboring countries, we made a feint: “Hm? The dragons? They’re our dear friends.” All this while we desperately trained our countrymen.
The navy was dismantled as it stood no chance against the sea monsters. In their place the Knights Order and Sorcerers Guild were established. Our people trained to the point that some vomited blood; this was true of nobles and commoners alike. Even those who looked like mere fishermen were actually monster slayers.
Cheers to King Solomon. Since then, he was called “The Wise and Prudent King,” or “The Greatest King of Lemaire,” or “The Fierce God of Discipline,” or “The King ‘More Dreadful Than A Dragon’”.
…I bet ‘More Dreadful Than A Dragon’ is what the people at the time really thought about him.
But I digress, in any case, there’s no doubt that we are intimately familiar with dragons.
Usually, dragons could only be spotted from a great distance (sometimes they were even mistaken for birds), but once every three years, young dragons flew in a formation over our kingdom. It was quite a sight to behold. This is why King Solomon’s successor – Queen Rururia – created the Dragon Dance Festival.
(Incidentally, my name comes from hers.)
The Dragon Dance Festival has become the most popular celebration in our kingdom, and this year’s will begin in a month. Usually, festivals would be held in each territory, however this time (“…for various reasons”) it was being held at the royal capital.
It would be my first time attending and it’s being hosted (in magnificent fashion) at the capital! I’m so excited I could burst!
I feel like I can hear my big brother’s voice, but surely, I must be imagining it. I have to be, right?
“M-me? They want me to be the Dragon Dance Festival’s ‘Maiden of the Flower Scales’?” I repeated back to the haggard-looking civil servant. His eyes looked tired, with dark circles underneath them. I had been summoned to the Palace’s Administrative Affairs Tower.
“Yes, that is correct, Rururia-sama. You have been assigned the role of the Maiden of the Flower Scales for the capital’s Dragon Dance Festival.” He repeated emotionlessly, shuffling some documents around.
Tsk, I was hoping he’d say “oh, my mistake.”
“Please verify this official appointment letter. Here you go.” He said before fleeing like the wind.
W-Wait a second!! I didn’t agree to this!!!
It felt like my soul would fly away as I held the official appointment letter.
At that moment, someone appeared in the doorway. “Alright, so you’ve accepted?”
Y-you? The Knight Commander!! What’s going on here? No, I don’t want the explanation, but I want to know!!
“The role of the Maiden of the Flower Scales is quite the honor. Congratulations Rururia-jyou.”
Hmm?? How does the Knight Commander know that I was cast for the festival? …No, way!
When I asked him straight out, he offered up his confession: “I recommended you.”
What?! Why?!? The festival is at the royal capital!! Everyone across the kingdom is going to be there!! People from other countries too!! This kind of thing is supposed to be reserved for the royal family, a ducal house or even a sorceress. Just some kind of famous person, right??
When I continued to press him, I discovered that the Knight Commander apparently rammed my name through. Naturally, no one knows who I am. Even my title is questionable. He must have really stepped outside his jurisdiction to get his recommendation passed.
Why did you do this? I never asked you to!!
“It took a little while to convince everyone.”
No, no, no, no, no! Why are you acting like you did something great, Knight Commander? Why on earth would you do this? What possible reason could you have??
He ignored my resentful glare, beaming at me with sparkling eyes before saying: “You’ll be one step closer to knighthood.”
Hm? What? I-I don’t understand… hm… ah!
“AAAH!” I let out a scream without thinking. I couldn’t believe what he just said! I think I understand what he was aiming for.
Let me explain…As I’ve said, everyone in our kingdom is disciplined and trained past their limits. Magicians are trained in both offensive and defensive spellwork, but their physical abilities are trained as well. Meanwhile, the knights are trained in swordsmanship, but they also know magic.
As a bare minimum, both magicians and knights must be able to use an ‘Affixed-Magic Circle.’ This allows them to stand and fight in the air! Since they have to fight sea monsters who can easily destroy ships, fighting in the air is necessary.
Perhaps you know, but…
When the dragons fly over during the Dragon Dance Festival, we scatter an imitation of dragon scales known as “flower scales.” This is the most exciting part of the festival. The two whose jobs it is to scatter these scales from the air are the Maiden and Knight of the Flower Scales.
Using one’s own power – the Affixed-Magic Circles – to stand in the sky, the two scatter the ‘flower scales’ down onto the people below. In other words, if you can’t use magic, you can’t fulfill this role.
Do you understand now?
Ah, one last point. I’m really bad at affixing-magic, well that is to say, I’m really bad at all magic. I was so ‘magically tone-deaf’ my professors said, “You won’t graduate with a degree in Magic.” I’m afraid they were quite correct in their assessment. Actually, I wasn’t too sure how I had graduated from the academy after my performance in the subject.
To become a knight, affixing magic was necessary, but as someone ‘magically tone-deaf’ I can’t use that sort of ability. Likewise, to be the Maiden of the Flower Scales, affixing magic was necessary. In other words, he wants me to practice magic as the Maiden and then become a knight?!
He recommended me for this role so that I would have no choice but to hone my magic and eventually become a knight?
Oi, Commander, you know that this is the kingdom’s most important festival, right??
“At any rate, we can use the kingdom’s best training grounds without hesitation to help the Maiden learn affixing magic. You’ll be under my guidance, so come to the knight’s training field tomorrow.”
Ah, I hadn’t managed to hide my true feelings. I should have tried parlaying him after saying something like “It’s a great opportunity but…”
“Eh?? No, no way! What kind of nonsense is this?!? I’m a Lady, I don’t want to become a Knight! I r-refuse!”
Ah well, I can’t pretend anymore. I don’t want to learn magic! I’m terrible at it! I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of a crowd! I just want to be on the sidelines having fun!!!
I tried to convince the Knight Commander with all my might, but he wouldn’t budge. “The matter has already been settled.”
This is why I hate powerful people!!!