The Old Capital and the Fairies
The fairy warehouse was located on the 68th Island. On the other hand, Collinadiluche was located on the 11th. Put simply, one sat towards the outer edge of Regul Aire, while the other sat right in the middle. Naturally, a sizable distance separated the two. Furthermore, due to the lack of a convenient direct route between them, one had to be ready for a roundabout journey involving transfer between more than a few airships.
Of course, getting an army patrol ship to swing by would have solved the problem, but they were generally cramped, they had no vibration buffers so the rocking got out of control, the windows were small, and being on the same ship the whole time felt depressing. For these reasons, among others, Naigrat quickly declined. Needless to say, there were no objections. And so, they spent a whole day on airships, being rocked back and forth by the wind.
“Oohh…” Lakish, after just disembarking, looked around with a broad smile. “A-A-Amazing! Hey, Tiat, look look!”
“Yeah, amazing, amazing. Now let me go.” Tiat, her shoulders being shaken about by Lakish, struggled to break free.
“But, look! It’s the real thing!”
“I know, I know it’s the real thing, so just let me go.”
Lakish had completely entered a trance. Well, Lantolq could understand. After all, they were in Collinadiluche. The treasure box of the sky. The frying pan of dreams and romance. Generally, the fairies weren’t even allowed to freely leave the 68th Island, so the stories of books and crystal movies provided their only means for learning about other islands. Serving as the sparkling center stage of countless stories was none other than Collinadiluche. Right here in this city, “Second Mantle” stole one million bradals from the villains, “Rust Nose” found true love, the “Minchuet” family went through times of great turmoil… for years, the fairies viewed all those tales with eyes of admiration. It only made sense that Lakish, standing on that stage with her own feet for the first time, felt so overwhelmingly happy. To be honest, Lantolq herself was pretty excited, even though it wasn’t her first time.
“… so, where do we go now?” Thinking it disgraceful to let the excitement show, Lantolq took a deep breath then calmly asked Naigrat.
“Let’s see, we need to end up at command headquarters, but before that we need to drop Lakish off at my senior’s place.”
“He took care of you guys too when you became fully grown. The big Kikuroppe doctor. He was my senior at medical school.”
“A pretty terrifying combo, huh? I bet your classmates were scared the whole time until graduation.” Aiseia butted in from the side.
“How rude. We didn’t do dangerous things that often.”
A denial that wasn’t quite a denial came back in response. Lantolq figured it would be best to not dwell on the subject. “… come on, Lakish, Tiat. Let’s go.” She grabbed both the shaker and the shakee. “We didn’t come here to sightsee. Let’s do what we need to do.”
“Ah… s-sorry.” Lakish snapped out of her trance and apologized.
“Ooo, the island is spinning…” Meanwhile, Tiat’s eyes were spinning out of control. Lantolq figured she would recover sooner or later.
“Well then, let’s go,” Naigrat said, then readjusted the huge backpack she carried.
From the top of that sturdy leather pack, a few pointy objects wrapped in cloth stuck out. Inside were four Dug Weapons… Aiseia’s Valgalis, Lantolq’s Historia, Tiat’s Ignareo, and, as a good luck charm, one more sword without an owner. All together, the weight amounted to that of a small dresser (filled with clothes), but the way Naigrat carried it didn’t show that at all.
“Behave yourselves, you two. It’s a bit of a walk to where we need to be, so don’t go off looking at things and get lost, okay?” Lantolq said.
“U-Understood. I’ll do my best,” Lakish responded.
The fact that she had to try her best made Lantolq a little uneasy, but she liked the can do attitude.
“… not even just a few detours? There are a lot of places I didn’t get to see last time…” Tiat said.
Lantolq wished this one would try a little harder. “Don’t make me repeat myself. We didn’t come here to sightsee,” she said in a stronger tone with her hand on Tiat’s back.
Tiat immediately fell silent. Lantolq wondered if she went too far, but she couldn’t think of anything to say. Well, since Tiat was a proper fully grown fairy soldier now, Lantolq figured she could at least restrain herself… probably.
“Aaaah, I-Is that Falsta Square? The thing in the middle is the statue of the Great Sage, right? Can we go get a closer look!?”
Lantolq turned to look. A wide, open plaza with a fountain. Countless couples and an imposing statue of an old man wearing a hood. The Great Sage, the legendary figure who lead the founding of Regul Aire and still continues to support it… somehow, his statue got a reputation for having the power to strengthen the bonds between a couple. The truth of this remained unclear, but, apparently, lovers didn’t care either. Throughout the plaza, couples of various races whispered words of love to each other. Even without a ban on detours, Lantolq got the feeling that it wouldn’t be a good place to take small children anyway.
“I want to see it too! When I came here before, Willem didn’t let me!” Tiat exclaimed, taking advantage of the situation.
Lantolq lightly plopped her fist down on Tiat’s head. “I told you, didn’t I? No looking around or detours. Let’s hurry on.”
Lakish and Tiat both slumped in despair.
Thirty minutes later.
The situation took a turn for the worse. Wiping away the cold sweat inside her mind, Lantolq looked around. To the right, various people and clanky horse carriages went back and forth along a wide avenue lined with stone buildings. To the left, a vast, well tended garden spread out behind an endless black iron fence. Still not quite spring yet, only a light green covered it. In less than a month, the whole place would surely bloom with vivid colors. Not being able to see that felt a little unfortunate, but now was not the time to be thinking about that.
Needless to say, both sights were unknown to Lantolq. Also — the real problem at hand — she couldn’t spot anyone she came with: Naigrat, Aiseia, Tiat, or Lakish.
“Well this is bad,” she muttered, closing her eyes and pressing her forehead.
She thought back on the events leading up to this. It was simple: while walking through the city, a building visible in the distance suddenly captured her gaze. It was the spire of a famous church she once read about in a book, one of the large structures built by a genius architect three hundred years in the past, of which only seven existed in all of Regul Aire. It was written that their unique silhouettes grasp the hearts of any who look, even from afar. Now Lantolq knew that the book was right. After spotting it, she got drawn in just a tiny bit (or at least that’s what she told herself), and, the next thing she knew, she had gotten separated from her friends.
What an embarrassment, ending up like this right after I warned the younger ones to not go off looking at things and get lost. Lantolq never would have thought she’d mess up this big. Their destination was the treatment facility here in Collinadiluche, the place where she once went when she became fully grown. Her memories were a bit fuzzy, but she could probably remember the way. Worst case scenario, she could just take to the skies and check the directions from above. She wanted to avoid drawing attention, but it would be better than extremely delaying their reunion.
“I guess I’ll just walk though.”
Fortunately, Collinadiluche being a trade city with ties to many other islands, markless like the fairies walking down the streets weren’t unusual. As long as she didn’t do anything particularly unusual, she wouldn’t stand out. Just simply strolling along, she could blend in with the town scenery. Thinking about it that way, she was able to forget her situation and lighten her footsteps a little.
Seven minutes later.
Once again, Lantolq really felt just how terrifying of a city Collinadiluche was. After every few minutes of walking, she came across something intriguing. Whether it be a famous building, a curious little alley, or a seemingly random bronze statue right in the middle of the road, she never ceased to be amazed at the city’s abundant repertoire. Being by herself, she couldn’t help but stop every time she saw something.
This is no good. If she didn’t try a little more seriously to advance, the sun would set on her. With that sense of urgency pushing her back, Lantolq jogged down a wide avenue, turned a corner, and…
… found another magnificent building. The Central Collinadiluche Grand Library. Not only was it one of the oldest structures still standing in the city, it also boasted the largest collection of books in the entirety of Regul Aire. That graceful white tower, still reaching high after crossing over centuries of history. Despite her supposed focus, Lantolq completely fell prisoner to that sight the moment she saw it. However, her legs, spurred on by her sense of urgency, continued to move. As a result…
She bumped into something that felt like a wall and bounced off, landing bottom down on the ground.
“Oh, my bad. I was a little distracted.”
“Ah, no, I wasn’t watching where I was going…” she responded.
Apparently, the thing Lantolq bumped into wasn’t a wall, but a markless old man with blonde hair, blonde facial hair, and a sturdy physique like a boulder. Due to the bright pure white mantle he wore, he stood out, and not in a good way. He seemed to conspicuously float above the scenery of Collinadiluche, the city which accepted any and all races. Still, after seeing him with her own eyes, Lantolq thought for a moment that maybe the thing she bumped into really was a wall after all. She didn’t know why, but that kind of heavy and mysterious force exuded from the old man.
“Are you injured?”
Even in his words of concern, a sort of overwhelming pressure filled his voice. I guess in such a big and historic city, you get strange people like this walking the streets like normal, Lantolq thought.
“Ah… I’m fine, thank you.”
Timidly, she grabbed the hand held out to her and stood up. A gentle smile showed on the man’s face, but it failed to conceal the sharp, piercing gaze of his eyes. Even being a seasoned soldier, Lantolq felt like her legs would buckle in if she didn’t consciously keep her mind focused.
“Ah… by the way, young lady. This exchange of words must be some kind of fate. Will you help me a little with directions?”
A brief silence.
“Well, it’s a little embarrassing, but, truth is, I’m a bit lost,” the man said as he scratched his cheek. The gesture didn’t fit him. “I thought about asking someone on the road, but… well, talking to strangers passing by isn’t my forte.”
That makes sense, Lantolq thought. Just standing there, his enormous sense of presence seemed to overwhelm his surroundings. She figured that would be just a little unfitting for casually asking someone for directions.
“I don’t mind, but I’m not from around here, so I can’t say I’m familiar with the roads. I don’t know whether I’ll be of any help to you.” Lantolq left out the bit about her being a little lost herself. “Well, where are you heading to?”
“A restaurant. I hear it’s near the general treatment facility.”
What a coincidence, Lantolq thought. “I have business there as well. If you’d like, we can go together.”
“Oh, that would be great.”
The old man smiled. Or at least, wrinkles appeared in his aged, ancient tree like face and formed the shape of a smile. The smile had such force behind it that it would probably make a small child cry. Good thing I’m an adult, Lantolq thought, slightly raising the ends of her lips.
“I’ve come to this city before, so I declined an offer for directions, saying I already knew the way,” the old man said as they walked.
Following alongside him, Lantolq felt a little like a servant taking care of her master. “Oh,” she responded half heartedly.
“But when I actually started walking, I realized the roads have completely changed.”
That can’t be right. Collinadiluche was a historical city. Maybe various definitions of ‘historical city’ existed, but one of them had to be that many ancient buildings still stood within the city. So naturally, the roads couldn’t have just completely changed. As far as Lantolq knew, the area around the Grand Library hadn’t received any major renovations in the past hundred and some years. Well, he is a bit old. It wouldn’t be surprising if his memory’s started to get a little off. Rude thoughts passed through her head.
“Since this is such a rare opportunity, I thought it would be nice to enjoy a bit of sightseeing while I’m here, but I wouldn’t want to keep the person I’m meeting waiting forever.”
“Ah…” An invisible thorn pierced Lantolq’s chest.
“Still, it would be regrettable to only walk through this city. I guess I’ll have to come back as a tourist one day.”
“Is your usual residence on a faraway island?” Lantolq asked.
“Hm, it certainly is far away, but more troublesome than the distance is–” Suddenly, the old man looked up.
Lantolq followed his gaze. “Ah.”
Across the street stood Naigrat. She rose about a head taller than the pedestrians passing by, making her extremely easy to spot. Noticing Lantolq, she started crossing the avenue.
“Finally found you! We were worried about you!”
“I’m sorry.” Lantolq, having no excuses, sincerely apologized.
“I was wondering what to do if you bumped into a carriage or something, you know? You guys are strong when you fight, but in regular times you aren’t that sturdy.”
About half of the Leprechauns’ strength during battle stemmed from their ignited Venom, and almost all of the other half came from the Dug Weapons they wielded. In other words, in everyday times, they had almost none of the power they had on the battlefield. In addition, most living beings, not only Leprechauns, probably wouldn’t be fine after bumping into a carriage. Well, of course, Naigrat didn’t belong in ‘most living beings’.
“Even if you’re going to become ground meat, you’d taste better if you went through an actual machine specialized to ground meat.”
Lantolq started to lose track of what Naigrat was saying. Anyway, it seemed apparent that Naigrat had been worried for her… probably. She already properly apologized, and now she needed to reflect on her behavior.
“Ah, sorry to interrupt your conversation, young lady.” The old man joined in. “Please don’t scold the child too much. I was a tourist passing by, and I was lost. She had the kind heart to show me the way.”
“Eh?” What’s this grandpa talking about all of a sudden?
“If this has inconvenienced you in any way, allow me to make up for it. Despite how I may look, I do have a little authority. So please, don’t be too hard on your little sister.”
“Oh my.” Naigrat looked a little bewildered. “Is that what happened?”
“Uh… well, sure?” Lantolq answered hesitantly. Yes, they did walk together under the pretense that she was showing the old man the way. However, just before that, she had been the lost one, and that was completely her own fault with no room for excuses. Also, she and Naigrat weren’t sisters…
“Well, alright.” Naigrat sighed with a slight tinge of pride. “No one else knows, and it didn’t cause any problems. I also don’t want to tell you to not be nice to other people. But next time, tell me, okay?”
“Ah… okay, understood.” Lantolq, going along with the flow, nodded.
“You too, mister.”
“I’m sure you were anxious, being lost while sightseeing, but it’s not good to chat with a random young lady and walk around with her. People might think you’re kidnapping her, you know?”
“Ah… o-oh, yeah. I guess you’re right.”
“Tourist kidnappings aren’t a rare occurrence in Collinadiluche. If you need directions, you can ask the golems set up by the tourist department, okay?” Naigrat spoke in a gentle yet stern voice, as if scolding a child for a prank.
After a moment of silence, the old man, looking utterly bewildered, suddenly burst out in explosive laughter. Every single person walking along the street turned around, the pigeons resting on top of the lamps flew away, and a horse pulling a carriage off in the distance started flailing about.
“… are you okay?” Lantolq asked.
“Yes, my apologies.” The old man suppressed his laughter and wiped the tears from his eyes. “There hasn’t been anyone who took that attitude towards me in a very long time. It also feels refreshing and nostalgic to see a young lady not be intimidated before me. It made me feel young again.”
“Uh.” Certainly, he had a scary face, a scary physique, and a scary mysterious air about him, but Lantolq couldn’t imagine everyone he talked to being afraid of him.
“Well, from here, I can find the way myself. I don’t want to steal anymore of your time, so I think it’s time for me to get going.”
“… are you sure you’re okay?”
“Don’t worry, next time I get lost I can just ask one of those golems, right?” the old man said with a wink, and a rather skilled wink at that. “Thank you for the fun conversation.”
As they watched the old man walk off, Lantolq and Naigrat tilted their heads in confusion.
“I feel like I’ve seen him before… recently,” Naigrat murmured.
Now that she mentioned it, Lantolq become aware of the strange feeling that had been wriggling inside her mind. “But if I met him before… I feel like I wouldn’t be able to forget someone with such a strong impression.”
“Hmm, if we both remember seeing him, then that means… on the 68th Island? But that can’t be…”
Failing to come up with an answer, they continued to tilt their heads. Nearby, next to the street which they passed through, in the wide Falsta Square, stood the stone statue of the Great Sage, the most prominent figure in all of Regul Aire.
“Okay then, the girl who had the dream, come this way.”
Lakish, lead by a group of nurses in white gowns, headed off to become a fully grown fairy soldier, wincing at the pain from energetically biting down on her tongue.
“I doubt she’s very far,” Naigrat said with a troubled face, then went out to search for Lantolq. “If something happened to her, I’m going to have to give her a big hug as punishment for making me worry,” she joked.
By the way, it is said that Naigrat’s full strength hugs could shatter boulders.
Now that leaves two more. They were sitting in a plain waiting room inside the treatment facility, having been told to standby until the next instructions. However, they received no comment on just when those next instructions would come.
“Wonder where Lan went,” Aiseia mumbled, a bored look on her face.
“She definitely went to see the Grave of the Perjurer!” Tiat answered as she hopped up and down next to the wall, trying to view the scenery out of the slightly highly placed window. “We passed closeby, and it’s a popular spot you definitely can’t miss when you go to Collinadiluche. No fair!”
“Lan’s not like you when it comes to those things, ya know?”
“Rust Nose said that beauty seduces the heart!”
“You sure he said that in the context that we’re talking about?” Aiseia titled her head. “Anyways, this sure is boring. Should we play a game or something?”
“Not boring! I’m very busy right now!”
“I see.” Aiseia flung her head down on the desk in front of her and watched Tiat’s back jump up and down. Of course, Tiat could’ve just ignited Venom and flew up, but she didn’t seem to notice, and Aiseia didn’t feel like pointing it out.
“Ahh, just a little more, legs! All that physical training was for this moment!”
“What a carefree kid…”
Looking up at the window in question from her position, Aiseia only saw the blue sky spreading out on the other side, the same, old sky that stared back at her with the same face whether she looked on the 68th or the 11th Island. Just then, there was a knock at the door.
“Maybe these are the next instructions.” Aiseia looked up, and the door opened.
“Excuse me…” With a hesitant voice, in came not Naigrat, nor a doctor, nor a soldier, but a young Lucantrobos lady with soft looking fur.
“Firu!? Long time no see!” Apparently, Tiat recalled the newcomer’s name before Aiseia.
Firacolulivia Dorio, the mayor’s daughter. A few months earlier, Aiseia and Tiat went sightseeing around town under her guidance — or more accurately, under Willem’s scheming. To the Leprechauns, who usually had almost nothing to do with anything outside the 68th Floating Island, it was an unforgettable, peculiar experience.
“Aiseia… Tiat…” For some reason, Firu’s face stiffened up as she murmured their names and looked around the room. “They’re not here. Kutori and Nephren.”
“My apologies.” After entering the room and closing the door behind her, Firu slumped down to the floor. “I didn’t know. What you girls were. Whose sacrifices were maintaining the everyday life we took for granted.”
“Huh?” Tiat’s eyes opened wide.
“Ah — I see.” Aiseia, understanding the meaning of that sudden apology, scratched the back of her head. “You heard from someone, huh? About us.”
“Yes. I happened to overhear uncle and father talking.”
The ‘uncle’ she spoke of referred to First Officer Limeskin, who she had been close with from a young age, and the ‘father’ referred to Gilandalus Dorio, the mayor of Collinadiluche. Aiseia didn’t know how Leprechauns popped up in a conversation between those two, but, for the time being, it seemed apparent that Firu knew about their nature as secret weapons.
“While you all were risking your lives on the battlefield, I was struggling to decide which jam to put on my scone for lunch. I spent everyday like that, without knowing the truth or shame. Now, I feel so embarrassed…” she confessed, her head faced down, sounding almost on the verge of tears.
“Uh, umm…” Tiat fumbled for words.
“Ah, well, I’m thankful for the fresh response, but… Firu,” Aiseia began.
“We don’t need to talk about how we’re disposable weapons and all. You have a strong conscience, you were raised in a higher class environment, and you’re the type to believe that there are more good than bad people in the world. I’m not going to try to tell someone like you to agree with what we do.
So I want you to think about it this way. We secretly put our lives on the line so that all normal people on every floating island can go on living their everyday lives in ignorance.”
“Everyday life… ignorance…”
“That’s right. So don’t be embarrassed that you didn’t know about us. That time you spent in ignorance is exactly what we fight for… it’s like, our pride, or something like that.”
“Oohh…” Tiat seemed to be impressed. It remained doubtful whether or not she was aware that Aiseia was talking about her too.
“Look up, Firu. At the very least, we didn’t risk our lives all this time to see our friend cry.”
Just then, the door opened again. This time, a blue haired fairy, Lantolq, showed up.
“Sorry for making you wor–” Lantolq’s apology stopped short. She looked around the room: Aiseia with her elbows propped up on a desk, Tiat pressed up against the wall with only her head turned around towards the door, and an unfamiliar Lucantrobos slumped down on the floor. “– What’s happening here?”
“That’s a rather difficult question…” Aiseia said with a concerned face, then laughed. “Wait. Lan, you’re alone? I thought Naigrat went to get you.”
“Yes, she was right there when a messenger from First Officer Limeskin grabbed her,” Lantolq said, pointing towards the entrance of the treatment facility. “They went out again. I was told to wait here with you guys.”
“Went out? Where?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think we need to worry.”
“Well, that’s true.”
Aiseia and Lantolq both nodded.
“… um?” Firu, not able to keep up with their conversation, tilted her head in confusion, her eyes still teary.
“So what did you see? The Grave of the Perjurer!? Or a bit further to the Barley Market!?” Tiat, meanwhile, was being her usual self.
“This way, Miss Naigrat.”
“First Officer Limeskin awaits you.”
A rather small Reptrace showed her to a door… or maybe he was actually average, as the individual heights of the Reptrace varied drastically due to their varying growth periods, but Naigrat, used to seeing Limeskin’s giant figure, couldn’t help but think that.
“You know I just got here, I could really use some rest…”
The messenger didn’t respond. He seemed very army-like, not saying anything unnecessary.
“Everyone is already waiting.”
“Who do you mean by everyone…”
No response. Well, Naigrat saw that coming.
Lead on by the messenger, Naigrat went out the back entrance of the treatment facility and into a small, dark alley filled with the stench of detergent and drainage. Looking up, she noticed ropes strung across the street from window to opposing window with abundant laundry hanging down from them.
— I wonder where we’re going, she thought. Judging by the atmosphere of silence the messenger seemed to give off, Naigrat didn’t think she would get an answer if she asked. Since I was called alone, it’s probably something no good that he doesn’t want the kids to hear. Thinking that, her mood sunk a little.
Just then, the delicious smell of charred meat wafted by her nose. Looking up, she spotted a small sign indicating the back entrance to a restaurant. Oh yeah, what am I going to do for dinner? As she pondered, the messenger opened the small door and entered the restaurant.
“Here?” she asked, but, as expected, received no response. The Reptrace simply turned around briefly, gestured for her to follow, then continued down the narrow hallway. Stepping inside, Naigrat caught a glimpse of the posh interior. “Oh no, I wonder if my clothes aren’t fit for the dress code.”
She looked down at herself. Now, she was wearing cute clothes, by her standards, but, still, it was a casual outfit. Also, after having been shook about by an airship for an entire day, she couldn’t exactly say that her appearance was very refined. Despite her worries, the Reptrace’s back steadily moved further and further away. He could talk with me at least a little bit, she complained inside her head as she went to catch up.
They stopped in front of a heavy looking door. The messenger’s claw bearing hand knocked twice in quick succession, followed by a third knock after a short pause.
“Enter,” a low voice said from within.
Oh my, a secret knock, Naigrat thought as the door opened. A large table sat in the center of the room, unfortunately without any food on it. Around the table sat some familiar and some not so familiar faces.
Against the wall stood Limeskin in his army uniform. Well, he was the one who summoned Naigrat, so no surprise there. Next to him stood a Haresantrobos soldier. The insignia on his shoulder showed a shield and a scythe, which signified the Military Police, if Naigrat remembered correctly.
A middle aged Lucantrobos man sat at the table. The first new face. He wore a suit which looked to be of high quality and a fashionable monocle. His gentleman-like appearance fit the fancy restaurant more than Naigrat’s at least. Next, for some reason, there was the old man in a white mantle which she just parted with earlier. Judging by his surprised looking face, he probably didn’t expect their meeting either.
There was one last person at the table, a person with a very special face, so special that the faces of all the others present seemed to completely fly out of Naigrat’s mind. A young girl with gray hair. Her left eye was closed tightly shut for some reason, but there was no question about it: she was the fairy soldier supposedly lost in battle upon the land.
“Nn.” Nephren tilted her head.
“Are you… real?”
Naigrat received a rather puzzling answer, but she could barely hear it anyway. She wanted to run up to her. Hug her. Rub her cheeks against hers. Cry and wail. Those impulses shot up to her head, swelled up, and burst. Naigrat collapsed down to the carpet.
“S… Sorry for causing such an embarrassing scene…”
Naigrat took a seat as suggested, then grabbed Nephren and made her sit on her knees against her will. The amused looks from the guys around the table were a little rough, but she had no intentions of letting go.
“I think you’re still causing an embarrassing scene,” Nephren said.
“Quiet.” Naigrat also had no intentions of listening to complaints.
“… well then, let me introduce myself.” The Lucantrobos man, still seated, nodded slightly. “My name is Gilandalus Dorio. I am mayor of this city, elected by its citizens.”
“Eh.” Naigrat froze. “Ah, um, I’m Naigrat, from the Orlandri Trading Company.”
“Nice to meet you, Naigrat. Over here we have–”
“Coincidences are frightening things. We just met earlier, young lady,” the old man in the white mantle said with a wink, cutting off Mr. Dorio. “My apologies for not introducing myself earlier. My name is Suwon. I’m something like an advisor for the Winged Guard.”
“Ah… nice to meet you again.” The mayor and a retired old man from the army. Why were these kind of people meeting in secret, and, moreover, why was she called to that secret meeting? Naigrat didn’t understand. “Um, so… I have no idea what this is about… what is going on? Why is Nephren here? Could it be that–” Willem is also safe? She started to ask, but shut her mouth. “– another person was also saved from the ground?”
The atmosphere around the table seemed to grow slightly heavier. No one spoke. Perhaps she shouldn’t have asked.
“May I explain the situation?” The Haresantrobos soldier took a step forward as he readjusted his glasses.
“I’ll leave it to you.” The old man in the white mantle nodded.
“First Officer Baroni Makish. Pleased to meet you,” the Haresantrobos said after a light bow.
“Ah, nice to meet you…” First officer… which means he’s as important as Limeskin?
“First, let’s clear up one misunderstanding. The thing you are you holding on your knees is not the fairy that you know. It is something else, something whose body and mind have been transformed after being polluted by a Beast on the land.”
“Uh…” More rather puzzling words. Naigrat tried giving Nephren’s cheek a poke with her fingertip. Soft flesh. The type of softness that made her want to boil and eat it right away. That texture which Naigrat knew very well hadn’t changed one bit. What did he say? Polluted by a Beast?
“Next… I think you’re already aware that there are currently no predicted Teimerre attacks…”
Of course she knew. Naigrat nodded.
“We have identified the cause for this. Kutori Nota Seniolis.”
“In the first place, in order for a Teimerre to attack us up in the sky, it needs to have a large enough body, then split that body and have the fragments ride on the wind until they happen to land on a floating island. In other words, a large enough number of them must gather to do anything.
Kutori Nota Seniolis destroyed an incredible number of Teimerre during the battle at the K96-MAL Ruins. Furthermore, ones that were previously sleeping underground came up to the surface and met annihilation.”
“The number of Teimerre on the ground is currently drastically decreased. Although they may not be extinct, they will likely need a sizable period of time before they are able to attack the sky again,” the Haresantrobos continued.
“The girl threw away her life… no, used her life until the very end to protect Regul Aire.” Limeskin said, but the words failed to sink in.
Sacrifice oneself to save an island. That was the original duty of the fairies. Kutori fought and returned home alive because she wanted to be freed from that, but, in the end, she fulfilled it anyway.
“… she really was clumsy.”
Naigrat didn’t want to call her death fate. Kutori fought by her own will until her last breath for her loved ones, or maybe just loved one. Regul Aire just happened to be helped as a result. She preferred to think about it like that.
Or maybe the ‘Braves’ that Willem talked about once were like that too. They fought only for themselves, but their struggle became twisted by words like fate or duty into a fight for the world.
There were no more battles to fight. Danger had left. The situation should’ve made Naigrat happy. She should’ve been proud. Yet, for some reason, she felt just a little frustrated.
“This information is known not only by the Winged Guard, but also by various organizations throughout Regul Aire with some skill at gathering intelligence. Upon finding out, they all agreed on one point: now is the time for Regul Aire as a whole to rethink its strategy against the Beasts,” the Harensantrobos explained.
“And that’s why they tried to lay a hand on our… Dug Weapon users, huh,” Naigrat said.
Limeskin’s eyes seemed to be saying ‘you’re the one that’s laying a hand on them’. Nephren looked at Naigrat with a face that asked ‘what do you mean?’ A lot happened, but anyways I drove the bad guys off so it’s okay. Of course, she couldn’t say that out loud, so instead she just made a fist. Maybe that would get the message across.
“Also, one more thing,” the Haresantrobos said.
“What they’re demanding of the Winged Guard is the release of the authority to fight against the 17 Beasts. Specifically, the rights to develop weapons, maintain them, and use them in times of need. The Dug Weapons are no more than one part of this.”
It took a bit for Naigrat to understand. “The Beasts are powerful and mysterious enemies. To ask for permission to develop and maintain the firepower to fight against them means…” She gulped. “… the same thing as asking for permission to expand their military without limit.”
“That’s right. If they can’t judge how much strength is necessary to fight the Beast, it allows them to say that any and all power ‘may be necessary’. Ethics and the Constitution of Regul Aire will be nothing in the face of such an excuse.”
A wide variety of races lived in Regul Aire, even some which were originally in predator-prey relationships. Over the centuries, everyone gradually learned to get along peacefully, but that didn’t change the fact that they all still held different values.
Naturally, conflicts, big and small, never completely stopped. A large war involving many floating islands threatened to occur more than just once or twice. The Constitution of Regul Aire existed for the purpose of stopping such conflicts. Written by the legendary Great Sage back in Regul Aire’s early years, it served as the highest law, applying equally to every race and place. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not carry unnecessary arms. All who broke rules such as those received proper judgement by the local governments of the various islands, or by the Winged Guard when that was not possible.
“Our real subject is from here on,” the Haresantrobos said.
“… there’s still more?”
“They are requesting the authority to use anti-Beast weapons whenever they deem them to be necessary. What does this mean?” He looked at Naigrat, as if waiting for an answer.
Naigrat didn’t know. She wasn’t a soldier, just an employee at a trading company. Although she wasn’t completely ignorant of those kinds of tactics, she couldn’t say she was knowledgeable.
“In any place where a Beast appears, they can fight with as much firepower as they want,” Nephren said softly.
“Exactly.” The Haresantrobos nodded.
“… why does that matter? No Beast besides the Teimerre can fly, so it doesn’t matter now, right?” Naigrat asked.
“Yes, at first glance. But, if a Beast were to appear on a floating island, they would be able to fight as they please,” Nephren responded.
“But that shouldn’t be possible…”
“Excuse me. Allow me to join in the explanation from here.” Mayor Dorio, who had been silently watching over their conversation up until then, interrupted, his pointy Lucantrobos ears wagging back and forth. After glancing at all the important people lined up in the room, he began. “This happened about half a month ago. An airship fell on this island. It was registered in the documents as a civilian salvager ship, but we now know that was simply a disguise. The ship’s true name was ‘Tomorrow Grasper Number 7’, a ground expedition ship unofficially held by the Elpis National Defense Air Force.”
“The ship was in pieces after the fall, but the storage rooms were particularly sturdily constructed and kept intact in their original forms,” the old man with the white mantle, Suwon, added. “Inside were traces of rather high grade barrier techniques.”
What are these people talking about? Naigrat didn’t understand. She didn’t want to either. Unfortunately, she understood enough of the conversation to think that. “Barrier techniques…?”
“Good enough to gain my approval. And good enough to restrain even a Beast…” Suwon said.
“… um.” Naigrat didn’t know what the old man’s approval was supposed to imply, but she figured only one conclusion could follow from their explanations. It seemed so unrealistic that she couldn’t believe it herself. “Are you saying… Elpis brought a Beast into Regul Aire?”
Naigrat wished everyone would break out in laughter at her ridiculous question. However, not a single person did. She felt Nephren budge slightly on top of her knees.
“Of course, it is no more than a possibility. There is no concrete evidence. There are no traces of a Beast escaping from the fallen ship, and there have been no reports of attacks. That’s why we ended up calling the fairy soldiers here in the way that we did,” Limeskin said.
“There are reports that many Elpis soldiers have infiltrated the island. There is no mistake that they are trying to make something happen soon,” the Haresantrobos added on.
“… but… why? Why do such a stupid…”
“No matter how irregular the behavior may seem to us, they have carried it out, and we must respond. Please, stay in this city for a bit and prepare for the worst.” Mayor Dorio bowed.
Naigrat glanced at the soldiers, who nodded silently. The Winged Guard currently did not have the means to formally request the fairies to be stationed in Collinadiluche. They needed Naigrat to pretend she brought them all on her own accord.
“… understood.” Feeling something bitter in her throat, Naigrat nodded. After hearing all that, there was no way she could shake her head. “But, hm, allow me to add one condition.”
“Certainly. If it is something we are capable of,” the mayor answered immediately.
Part of Naigrat didn’t feel right about utilizing her position, but she also didn’t want to waste the opportunity. She would do anything to help those kids, even become a demon. Well, she was a demon anyway, but… making up her mind, Naigrat spoke.
“Can you give the children permission to have free time?”