Chapter 57 – Arc 3 Opening
Leticia’s mornings started early. A person of her status could choose to wake up when the sun was high in the sky and have an army of maids attend to her every morning. However, she did not do so. Instead, she rose before the sun, when the sky was still dark. She woke up before the bakers even began to bake their bread. Ever since meeting Wynn, she never failed to get up at this time.
She slept in a women’s dormitory at the Academy. Her room was dark, as it was every morning. Officially, while the academy did not discriminate based upon social status, those of nobility still received private rooms. Leticia was given special treatment due to her admission as a special scholarship student. She was the Brave who had saved the world, and was also a duke’s daughter, so special treatment was a given. Only a handful of the other students received the same level of hospitality.
Leticia slipped out of her bed. The predawn air felt cold, to the point that she could see her breath. It would get warmer once the sun rose, but that wasn’t until later. Her golden hair shimmered in the moonlight. Using the mirror sitting on her dresser, she tied her hair and tidied her clothes. This was also where Leticia differed from other noble ladies. She preferred not to have a maid attend to her. She grabbed a small, carefully wrapped bundle from a shelf before leaving her room.
Magic tools illuminated the hallway just enough for her to be able to walk. The other students were still asleep, so she took care to step lightly. Her skill at concealing her presence was honed by having to hide from monsters as they passed by. She had learned it with Wynn during their work as adventurers. Actually, Wynn learned it first, and he had to teach it to her.
She left the dorm building. It was silent outside; only the moon and stars lit up the sky, creating dark shadows on the ground under the trees. She headed towards the men’s dormitories, a block away from the women’s. Leticia slowly relaxed her body and took a deep breath. Then, she took off with light steps. Her surroundings streamed past, and the men’s dorms soon came into view. Slowing her feet, she peeped from behind a tree and saw Wynn swinging his sword.
He practiced each sword form slowly, paying careful attention to his stance and his sword. He concentrated all of his strength into the end of each swing. His technique didn’t rely on brute strength, but instead used his entire body to create quick movements. After going through all the basic forms, Wynn took a break to catch his breath.
At that point in his routine, he’d usually run to the Wandering Bird’s Roost, where he was needed to help with preparations, while also training his legs. However, Hannah hired a new worker recently, so he no longer needed to work there in the mornings. Since he no longer had work in the morning, he didn’t need to wake up so early anymore, but the habit had already been deeply ingrained into his body. Because of him, Leticia’s schedule was early as well. Leticia breathed in… then out.
You’ve got this! She pumped her fist to gather her courage. Her eyes fell to the bundle in her hand. She made sure it was there before walking over.
“Hm? Good morning, Leti.”
“Morning, Big Brother.”
Noticing Leticia’s approach, Wynn lowered his sword to greet her. She returned his greeting with a smile. I hope he doesn’t notice anything off with my smile, she thought to herself.
“Wait just a moment. I’m almost done with my training. Oh, would you like to join in?”
“I’ll just watch from here.”
Wynn nodded and resumed his training. As she watched, Leticia felt her nervousness melt away. Wynn’s blade flickered through the air effortlessly and gracefully. Wynn preferred to counterattack after dodging the opponent’s attacks, just like Leticia herself.
No, Leticia corrected herself, I’m the one who is using Wynn’s style of swordplay. She could see the misty breaths from Wynn’s mouth as he danced across the ground. He was the one who had taught her the swordplay that had kept her alive through countless battles. Wynn’s blade swiped through the air horizontally, then stopped moving. The blade dance had ended. He relaxed, breathing heavily.
“Good work.” Leticia met Wynn halfway as he tried to catch his breath.
“Are you done training for today?”
“Yeah, the sun is starting to rise. Why do you ask?”
Calm down! she told herself when she noticed her heart had started racing.
“What is it?”
“H-here.” Leticia handed him the parcel.
“Congratulations on becoming a guardian knight, Big Brother!”
“This is for me?”
“Oh, thanks so much! Should I open it?”
Leticia nodded. Inside the parcel, he saw several books.
“Oh, amazing! Such expensive things…” Books were expensive. Some even went as high as a gold coin.
“They’re history books, as well as epics. I chose ones I thought you might like.”
“I can’t wait to read them! Thank you so much! I’ll treasure them.” Seeing Wynn flip through one of the books with such a big smile on his face made Leticia happy. “How can I ever make it up to you?”
I did it! Leticia made a celebratory fistpump in her mind. She had predicted this outcome from Wynn’s personality.
“I wonder what I should do…”
“Then… can you come with me on a shopping trip?”
“Shopping? Do you want me to carry your things?”
“Yeah, I’ve been wanting to get some new clothes.”
“Can’t you buy that from your family’s regular merchant?”
“I could, but… I wanted you to help me choose.”
“I don’t really know much about women’s clothing. Is that okay?”
“As long as you like it, Big Brother, I’m fine.”
Even if you’re the only one who thinks so, Leticia added in her mind.
“Okay, got it. I was summoned by Cornelia this afternoon, but let’s go when I get a day off.”
“That’s a promise, okay?”
Wynn smiled upon hearing Leticia’s cheerful tone. Suspecting that Wynn had seen through her completely, Leticia blushed.
“Oh that’s right, you’re going to start as a guardian knight today. Could you tell me why you became one?”
“Oh, that?” Wynn tilted his head as he thought. He recounted his conversation with Alfred, Cornelia, and Tiara.
“Something like that happened?” Unable to remember her first experience in battle, Leticia had happily listened to Wynn’s story, and was intrigued by the series of events. But when the tale turned to the discussion about becoming Cornelia’s guardian knight, Leticia’s face darkened slightly. “I see… Cornelia is the one Big Brother is supposed to protect…” she whispered quietly.
“You see, I’ve always wanted to become a knight, and I thought that Cornelia wasn’t a bad person to wield my sword for. That’s why… huh? Leti?”
“Hmph. I see. It’s because of Cornelia.”
Leticia looked at Wynn with upturned eyes, puffing her cheeks slightly. Whoa, she looks cute, thought Wynn. Puffing her cheeks was a habit she’d had ever since she was young. Her cheeks would puff out when she was displeased. Seeing Leticia being jealous of Cornelia made Wynn crack a bit. He said, “Leti is also very important to me.”
A smile threatened to break through her face, but Leticia continued to pout. Wynn patted her head. “Mm~, I won’t be tricked!” She let out a funny sound as she tried to maintain her angry glare.
“I’m hungry. How ‘bout we go get some breakfast?”
“Huh? Breakfast? Sure, let’s go!”
How simple… Wynn chuckled. Leticia’s bad mood instantly vanished upon hearing the word “breakfast”. The food at the academy wasn’t too expensive, but it was served in tiny portions and had a more refined taste. It didn’t make for a satisfying meal. Despite her noble lineage, Leticia had grown up while often eating commoner’s food, so she was more than happy to leave the academy to eat. Wynn was sixteen and she was fourteen. They were growing children, and they had been exercising all morning. Simply put, they were starving.
They greeted the guard, whom they had gotten to know, as they passed through the academy’s gates. Merchants were hustling and bustling as they worked to set up their stalls on either side of the street. At one large intersection, there were many street stalls already open, hoping to sell a light meal to travelers passing by. The appetizing smell of baked bread, herbs, and grilled meat lavished in spices wafted into their noses.
Wynn and Leticia ordered some bread from one of the stalls. Paying extra for butter, Leticia spread it on her bread slices and put meat and vegetables in between. Sitting down on one of the wooden chairs in the plaza, Leticia sunk her teeth into the sandwich. The flavor of the butter and juicy meat mixed in her mouth. Leticia’s face relaxed in enjoyment. Wynn ordered a citrus fruit from another stand. It came on a plate, cut in two halves. He handed one half to Leticia. The fruit’s juices quenched her thirst, and the sweet and sour flavor was refreshing.
“Delicious.” Having eaten her fill, she grinned happily as she watched Wynn bite into his bread. She closed her eyes. Her body began to sway, and she started humming.
When they were younger, Wynn would always let Leticia eat first, and only when she finished would he then start eating. Now that they were older, they started their meals at the same time, but Wynn naturally ate more. As a result, even while taking smaller bites, Leticia would still finish eating first. Therefore, she would sing until Wynn finished eating. She sang songs she had learned from Wynn, as well as songs she had learned during her travels. Leticia loved to sing. She sang and sang, enjoying the warm, comforting presence standing beside her.
Before long, a crowd formed around her. Travelers in the midst of their journeys and shopkeepers busy with preparations all stopped to listen. No one realized that the girl they were listening to was the Brave herself. They were drawn solely by her enchanting voice, and stayed there, spellbound. The sun’s soft rays began to shine, as if called by Leticia’s clear voice. Only when she stopped singing did she realize that she had gathered an audience, and embarrassment set in. Blushing furiously with teary eyes, she wanted to drag Wynn off to escape. Wynn looked on warmly, happy she was in a good mood.
There were various unsettling rumors coming from the border between Lemmroussell and Petersia that were spreading through the capital. Some of them talked about how the Brave had led the Empire to push back the detested Petersians. The song Leticia sang was one wishing for the safety of a loved one on the battlefield.
In truth, she’s just a girl who loves to sing.
Occasionally, the wind blew past her hair, causing her hair to brush against the back of her neck.
I was summoned by Cornelia, so I should leave soon, but…
Wynn had planned to arrive with time to spare, but he decided it would be fine to stay and enjoy the music for a while longer, even if he had to rush afterwards.