Chapter 24 – Preliminaries, Day 3, Fighter Corps
– Royal Family Exclusive Audience Seating
As soon as I entered, the princess ran over and hugged me.
I was taken by surprise and almost lost my balance, so I readjusted my posture.
By His Highness’s orders, I was watching today’s matches with him.
His Highness’s reason was that the Crown Prince and Princess had requested it.
When the order was given, His Highness and Her Highness had been beaming. When I had asked about the reason, it seemed that the Crown Prince and Princess had begged them together.
The couple happily granted their request.
Officially, it was guard duty, but in reality, I was mostly a conversation partner for the siblings.
The prince came in after the princess, but he didn’t act as childishly, and looked nervous instead.
Honestly, I didn’t think that an ordinary person like me was interesting at all.
“Black Knight, I will be in your care today.”
The prince greeted me.
At first, the prince had used honorifics towards me, but since I was a subordinate of the royal family, I told him that honorifics were unnecessary, so he finally stopped using them.
My stomach was hurting.
It was mainly due to the Prime Minister’s stare.
He had arrived with the royal couple, and since he was glaring at me, it couldn’t be helped that my stomach hurt.
“Raiz…will you be reasonable and acknowledge the Black Knight?”
(ED: Reizu -> Raiz at tl’s suggestion.)
His Highness spoke to the Prime Minister in amazement.
Beside him, Her Highness also nodded.
I knelt down immediately.
“Your Highness, Queen-sama. I am honored to wholeheartedly serve you today.”
His and Her Highness nodded to my words.
“I leave it to you, Black Knight.”
“Well, please stand. We have also been looking forward to watching the matches with you today.”
In response, I stood up and turned around to greet the esteemed Prime Minister.
“Your Excellency, please treat me well.”
As expected, was he still displeased by the fact that I had suddenly become a Duke and the leader of the Knight Corps?
Since I had gotten used to being hated, I wasn’t offended, but it still didn’t feel pleasant.
When I glanced at the royal couple, they were wearing strained smiles.
As His Highness said, it seemed that the Prime Minister still didn’t want to accept me.
I guess the road to being accepted was long.
“Black Knight~! Please sit down quickly!!”
I was starting to feel rather down when the princess clung to my right arm.
She hung onto my arm, tilting me slightly.
It seemed that the princess had gotten bored.
The prince, who was nearby, sighed in amazement at his little sister.
The royal couple’s faces relaxed at their daughter’s cute actions.
“This won’t do.”
“Black Knight, please escort Elene.”
“As you wish.”
I replied, and then turned around to get the princess to let go of my hand for a moment.
“Princess-sama, if it pleases you, I shall be your escort.”
I placed my right hand on my chest and offered my left hand to her.
The princess laughed as she curtsied elegantly and took my hand.
For some reason, I had gained the knowledge of how to act as an escort from Amaterasu-sama.
Although this was actually a man’s job, please make do with me, Princess.
After I made sure that Chie had escorted Elene to the seats, I turned to face Raiz.
“Raiz, you’re stubborn, aren’t you?”
“Please have more caution, Your Highness.”
Raiz became sullen at my words.
“Dear me, you’ve always been stubborn, ever since you were a child, but it’s already been half a year. Based on Conrad’s reports, there shouldn’t be any problems. What are you displeased with?”
“That is so. He was able to earn the trust of the populace. Is there something that doesn’t satisfy you?”
Claire and I asked.
It may have been my imagination, but I could see a black aura rising from Claire.
“I will recognize his strength. However, he is still a dubious person, so I cannot entrust that plan to him. He wields a sword unlike any we have ever seen before: a weapon that obliterated the Cursed Dragon Fafnir. It might be a cursed, demonic sword.”
I listened to Raiz’s reasoning.
Her sword, Sakuya, certainly looked ominous.
However, it was actually the opposite. It was a sacred, miraculous sword.
The priests said that they felt a pure essence from Sakuya.
It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, not a cursed sword, but Raiz still harbored some doubts.
“Haven’t I told you? Sakuya is perfectly safe. You also heard it from the priests.”
“No, the priests could have been deceived by magic.”
This guy was still…
It was good for him to be wary as the prime minister, but his wariness was directed at the wrong target.
I was starting to get a mild headache.
Claire, who had been silent until now, let out a quiet voice.
When she was like that, it was bad to approach her.
I discreetly distanced myself from Claire and Raiz.
There was a saying I had heard from Chie.
“Never tickle a sleeping dragon.”
(TL: Literally- Don’t touch the god, and no curse will befall you.)
It was exactly like that.
Raiz looked at Claire with a face that said “Oh shoot!”
“What have you been saying until now? You were saying that the person who was hand-picked by His Highness himself is suspicious. Conrad, your son, and I are all right here. None of us oppose him. You should have gotten to know the Black Knight in this half year. You should have noticed his excellence, as well as how much he thinks about this country and its people. It is true that the Black Knight’s origins are uncertain, but he is not a ‘dubious person’! He is also the person chosen by the black unicorn.”
As Raiz listened to Claire, his face paled.
The Black Knight definitely wasn’t a ‘dubious person’.
The guardian deity of our empire had also been chosen by a unicorn.
Then came Claire’s finishing blow.
“Raiz, please do go home for today. I want to enjoy the matches with the Black Knight and my family. If you are going to be pouty and sullen next to me, you will ruin the mood. Putting it plainly, you’re a nuisance.”
With that, Claire told her attendants to kick Raiz out.
“Y-You all! Let go of me!! Your Highness!!”
“Give up, Raiz. It’s your fault for angering Claire.”
Raiz continued to cry out after the door closed, but I decided to ignore it today.
Frankly, I had also wanted him out.
“Now then, let us go as well, Your Highness.”
“That’s right, the children are waiting.”
With that, I imitated Chie and escorted my wife to the seats.
“Black Knight, what’s that weapon?”
I explained it to the princess while we watched the matches.
For a girl to have interest in weapons…
Though, that wasn’t something a sword-otaku like me could say.
“Black Knight knows about many different weapons, huh.”
“You flatter me, Your Highness.”
I thanked the prince for his words of admiration.
I had gotten used to this sort of behavior.
Well, I had attended nobles’ parties and banquets during the last half year, so I had gotten accustomed to this way of speaking.
At first, it was a problem.
I was originally nothing more than a high school girl, so I had never imagined that I would have the chance to interact with nobility, much less go to another world.
Doing those things really stressed me out.
Now I understood what my father had said about socializing at the company.
In my case, if I hadn’t imitated the nobles’ wives, it would have become a larger problem.
“Chris, Elene, right now, everyone here knows about Chie. There isn’t a problem with calling her by her name right now.”
His Highness said while smiling.
Now that I looked, the attendants around me were the ones who knew my name and appearance. They were the people who had been attacked by the ogres.
Where had the Prime Minister gone?
“Raiz is taking the day off. That way, you can be at ease while you talk.”
Her Highness said with a smile.
Ah, so that was it.
So the Prime Minister had angered Her Highness.
Although she was acting normally, I could tell from the way His Highness and the servants averted their gazes.
It seemed that the prince had also guessed it.
His face had cramped up a bit.
“So it’s alright to call each other by name today?!”
Only the princess let out a happy voice.
Even though the reactions around us were easy to read, she hadn’t realized it.
This princess-sama would become an important person in the future.
“Yes, there’s no problem with that.”
When I found my voice again, I answered the princess.
She hadn’t noticed anything.
The seating area was surrounded by a barrier, so our voices weren’t audible.
It had been deployed by my subordinates, who were outside the entrance.
I couldn’t take off my armet, but calling me by name was alright.
“Then, I’ll also call you Chie.”
The prince said with delight.
Was he that eager to call me by my name?
“Chie, why are there some people who use weapons and some who don’t in the fighter corps?”
The princess asked while tilting her head.
The question must have been nagging at her.
The unarmed fighters must have intrigued her to no end.
“That’s because the fighter corps is split into two divisions.”
I explained to the princess.
“One of the divisions is made up of people who use melee weapons: maces, battle-axes, horseman’s flails, and similar weapons that have destructive power. The other division uses magically reinforced gloves and boots, but they can still use weapons.”
For some reason, the princess’s eyes sparkled as I explained it to her.
Still, it wasn’t good for the princess to be interested in these sorts of things.
I regretted explaining it to her.
“Princess-sama, shouldn’t you be more interested in fashion or dance, rather than weapons and battles?”
I decided to start with advising her.
The attendants all nodded in agreement.
“Muu, what about you, Chie? As a girl, you should also be fashionable!!”
The princess puffed her cheeks in complaint.
Sheesh, so it had come to this.
However, the princess and I were different.
“I am a knight, but you are the empire’s princess. We are both girls, but we have different statuses. Of course, as the royal family’s exclusive knight, I must mind my manners. As a princess, you must watch your behaviour more than me. Do you understand?”
I tried to be as gentle as possible.
The princess was discouraged, but she had to understand by now.
She was already 14 years old; there were only a few months left before she became an adult.
Of course, I didn’t tell her to stop enjoying herself, but the princess had to become a fine lady of the country.
She was the First Princess of the Empire.
“That’s right, Elene. We are the ones who support the country. You cannot show a lax appearance, don’t you think?”
His Highness gently instructed her.
Yes, the thing I had scolded them about had been fixed.
It seemed that they realized that giving gentle instruction was more effective than yelling at the tomboy princess.
“I understand. I will pay attention.”
The princess said, seeming slightly downhearted.
It was good that she understood.
Well, since she was originally an obedient girl, she would comply if we provided a good reason.
However, she seemed a little sad.
The princess had to be sociable, but it would be a pity if she couldn’t learn about the things she was interested in.
…There was no choice.
“That being said…”
“As the country’s princess, it is also important for you to understand the soldiers. If you see anything else that catches your interest, I will explain it to you as best as I can.”
“! Thank you!!”
Delighted, the princess hugged me.
I ended up saying it, but I really was soft on her.
With that thought, I passed the time by watching the matches while explaining things to the royal family.
Military Personnel Audience Seating (Conrad POV)
“Conrad, you look down. Did he accept your apology this morning?”
When I sighed, Adolf, who was sitting to my right, put his hand on my left shoulder.
I accidentally made the Commander angry yesterday, and after the spear corps matches ended, she immediately returned to her room.
I didn’t know why she got angry, and when I returned home, I immediately explained the situation to my little sister, Alice.
‘Brother… It’s natural for her to get angry at that.’
Amazed, she gave me a long sermon.
According to Alice, I still didn’t understand a woman’s heart, and that once she explained the reason the Commander was angry, I would feel remorse.
What had I done?
I, who supports the Commander, hurt her feelings! What should I do?
“Either way, that guy has a childish side, huh.”
“No, it’s normal anger, right? I think it’s because he has no friends, and we thought that he didn’t feel the stress of being the country’s representative on that big stage.”
“Eh? Is that so, Celes?”
“Adel aside, there’s no way that an officer of the imperial army would be that insensitive.”
Upon hearing Adolf and Adelbert’s conversation, Celestia brought a hand to her face.
So that was it. We were all rude to her back then.
“If that person is female, I can understand why she couldn’t ignore it.”
When Celestia said the word ‘female’, my heart jumped.
No, that sentence was just Celes’s speculation.
The secret was not exposed.
“No way, that guy can’t be female!”
“That Black Knight, who is not lady-like in any way, can’t be female!”
Adolf laughed, while Adelbert grimaced.
Even I could tell that those words were really rude.
“If you said that to a normal girl, it would be rude.”
I reacted to those words.
It was the same as the statement just now!?
That was definitely impolite!
So that was why Alice said that yesterday.
‘When that is said, a girl wants to be protected nonchalantly, you know?’
She had said that while sighing.
So that was it…
If I thought about it, my treatment of women has always been the worst.
Most women dumped me after the first meeting.
Some people became temporary lovers, but those lasted for three months at most.
I wasn’t ending it, but rather, they ended up choosing a better person because they got tired of me.
Of course, it was because I didn’t think about the other person.
…Aren’t I the lowest!?
“I…will refrain from womanizing…”
“Wha-! Why do you look like you’ve had an epiphany!?”
I didn’t know what type of expression I was making, but amongst my bustling surroundings, I somehow made a resolution.
I will understand a maiden’s feelings.
Tournament Grounds, Fighter Corps Finals
“Ah, so the Commander is escorting the royal family today.”
The fighter corps’ vice-captain, Peter Anchorson, said while looking at the royal seating area.
The Black Knight was answering any questions the prince and princess had.
What kind of questions would they ask anyway?
“Well, he is the royal family’s exclusive knight. It’s also his job to accompany the royal family.”
“Well, he does resemble a Commander like that.”
Just as Peter said, without the Commander, who was the royal family’s exclusive knight, there was always escort work to be done.
Now that the Black Knight was here, that work had decreased.
“Ahh, well, it’s almost time to start.”
With that, we took some distance from each other and prepared ourselves.
I was wielding a battle-axe.
Of course, it was a wooden practice weapon.
On the other hand, Peter wasn’t holding anything.
He was a martial artist who fought unarmed.
If there was anything to point out, the boots and gauntlets he wore and infused with magic were his weapons.
Right now, the items Peter was reinforcing with magic weren’t the ones he normally used on missions.
If he used those, then even items reinforced with magic would be smashed.
He wore dark blue leather armor, dark brown leather pants, brown gauntlets, and brown boots.
His grey hair matched his eyes, and he was as big as I was.
He was a full three years younger than me.
We of the fighter corps had gotten used to his grim face, but children, without exception, would cry upon seeing it.
He liked children and was disheartened, but we sympathized with him.
The only grim thing about him was his face.
As the thought crossed my mind, I tightened my expression and waited for the referee’s signal.
The referee made sure that we were ready.
The referee gave the signal in a loud voice, and we leapt forward at the same time.
I swung my battle-axe down, and Peter blocked it by holding his hands in a cross pattern.
The vice-captains of the squads were skilled.
This included Peter.
He used to only focus on power, but now, his speed had improved as well.
“You’re faster than before, huh.”
“You see, Captain, it’s because you played the Oni game with us, the game the Knight Captain played with the magicians.”
He pushed me backwards with his arms and struck at me while my balance was broken.
I was able to somehow endure it by barely blocking his strike with the handle of my battle-axe.
That was really close.
We took some distance before we charged again, and exchanged violent blows.
I planned to dodge once Peter tried to hit me, make a feint with my battle-axe, and knock him over when he tried to dodge the feint.
As the exchange continued, my battle-axe broke.
Seeing a chance, Peter tried to hit me with a big swing.
Most of the audience probably thought that the match was decided.
I tossed aside the broken battle-axe and stopped the blow with both hands.
I was pushed back from the impact, but that wasn’t a problem.
“As always, blocking the gauntlets with your bare hands. What is your body made of anyways?”
“I just train normally, though.”
“What are you saying? You use weapons to go easy on us. Everyone in the army knows that!”
We backed off and glared at each other.
“Is that why you broke my weapon?”
“Of course. There’s no point in fighting a captain who isn’t serious.”
“Haha! That’s true. But…”
After a short laugh, I tightened my expression.
I closed in on him in an instant.
“I am still faster than you.”
I aimed at the surprised Peter.
My hand drove into his stomach.
That one strike sent Peter flying backwards, and he landed face-up on the ground.
“Winner, Brandon Adams! The champion of the fighter corps is Brandon Adams!!”
As the crowd cheered, I turned to Peter.
“Ouch…that was a bit excessive.”
“Of course, since I was bare-handed, I was still going easy.”
“Whoa, how much worse would that be?”
Peter smiled with a resigned expression.
I didn’t really get it, but right now, the current vice-captains, excluding Conrad, couldn’t beat any of the captains.
I could say that for certain.
“Well, even then, your skills have improved. This reaffirms how amazing the Black Knight is.”
“However, the person himself says he is just doing what’s natural.
I helped Peter up, and we walked towards the exit while chatting.
Just as Peter said, the Black Knight was unaware of how amazing he was.
Before, he had just said:
‘Eh? I’m just teaching the basics. I’m just a normal person with some knowledge, aren’t I?’
and called himself normal.
I really couldn’t match him.
“I couldn’t accept him at first, but I could tell that he was not a selfish person.”
“That’s one of the reasons that person adapted to the army. It’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
We continued to talk about the Black Knight as we walked through the corridor, away from the tournament grounds, until we separated.
I decided to take the rest of the day off after all that.
I would buy lunch and head to the general audience seating area, where my wife and kids were.
I had confirmed their location from the arena grounds, so I hurried over there.
Royal Family’s Exclusive Audience Seating
“Hey! How did Brandon disappear during the fight just now!?”
The princess asked me with excitement.
Normally, one wouldn’t understand what had happened.
“He didn’t really do anything special. He just ran really quickly.”
“He just ran!?”
Disbelief and shock appeared on her face when she heard my answer.
“Well, he normally doesn’t use weapons, but since he is so much stronger than the others, he uses a battle-axe to handicap himself.”
When I said that, I recalled the time we first met.
At that time, he had simply attacked with brute strength, using a simple charge.
Later, during an ogre suppression mission, I was surprised by his speed.
After that, I understood why he used a weapon.
There was a big difference when he held a weapon.
It seemed that all of the vice-captains, apart from Conrad, were below him in terms of skills.
However, since the whole army was so focused on strength, I thought that there would be a vice-captain who would be able to beat Muscle Brother-san when he used a weapon.
I was troubled since that had not happened.
Well, we could always continue to train steadily.
“Haha! It’s lunchtime, right?”
“Yes, since the Black Knight’s explanations are easy to understand, you’re always excited.”
His and Her Highness called for the attendants to begin preparing lunch.
Naturally, the food that was brought out was high-class, so I was a little tempted.
I usually asked the attendants for the same menu as them when I ate.
The reason was that the dinner I had gotten on the second day was too high-class for me.
Someone had mentioned that I would eat with the Royal family, but I was troubled.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have table manners, but I wanted to eat my food normally.
That was how I felt, but I couldn’t run from today’s luxurious meal.
While thinking ‘this is just part of the job’ to myself, I hid my reluctance and chatted with the Royal family as I ate.
The food was delicious, but once again, normal food was the best.
To Be Continued
Thank you for waiting!
How was Chapter 24?
There was a little drama, Chie’s eating situation, and Conrad’s resolution and thoughts, but I was late again.
I think that there are still some typos and errors.
No, there are definitely errors.
I thank everyone for waiting for such a bad author.
I hope you enjoy the next chapter too.
TN: The author has said all I want to say…