Chapter 2 – Leticia von Mavis, the Brave
In the grand audience room, at the heart of the Imperial Palace, the eleventh Emperor of Lemmrousell was sitting on his throne with the entire court present. To his right, he was flanked by a neat line of the Imperial Guard’s knights. On his left stood a gaggle of councilmen and government ministers. All of those people were watching a party of four as they walked along the red carpet approaching the throne.
And what a party it was. There was the woman who bore a title of the Great Sage – Tiara Sciurus Velf, an elven princess. To her right walked an acknowledged Sword Saint – Raul Holt Leon, a prince of the Leonese Kingdom. To her left walked Lorah Sein – the Chosen of Anastasia, Goddess of Dawn and Creator of All That Was.
That illustrious trio was preceded by a young woman with hair so golden that it seemed to attract light, and eyes so green that emeralds paled in comparison. She was so brilliant, that even her companions, enchanting in their own right, paled next to her. However, that was not because she was more beautiful than them, but because her imposing presence commanded the attention of the whole room.
Soon, the party arrived in front of the throne, and the trio in the back all kneeled. But the girl did not, impassively facing the Emperor. Yet, not a hint of complaint, criticism, or outrage could be heard anywhere, for the young woman was the “Divine Sword Princess”, the Brave blessed by the Dawn Goddess herself. That title carried prestige equal to that of His Imperial Majesty. Leticia von Mavis didn’t have to kneel in front of anybody anymore.
Her aura of majesty was apparent and matched the one exuded by the man on the throne. Her power, which allowed her to single-handedly slay the Demon Lord and push back his army, was unrivaled. Everybody here wanted something from her. Frankly, everybody wanted her.
“We bid you welcome, Brave,” spoke the Emperor, “and we salute your triumph. You have justly earned any and all reward you would deign to desire. Our son can be married to you if you so wish. You can become the Empress.”
All the ministers nodded in agreement to those words. She was a von Mavis, and as a daughter of a duke, her political influence was not small, even though she was the youngest of his children. She would only gain by marrying with the royal family, and combined with the impact of her title, her standing would be unprecedented, both at home and abroad. If you included her combat power and the reverence from all the common folk across the continent… Obtaining her allegiance became a matter of the highest priority for the Empire.
A marriage to the Crown Prince was a perfectly acceptable solution to that problem. She was fourteen, Prince Alfred was twenty-three, the age difference was noticeable, but not unusual when it came to unions between nobles. She had the prestige, the ancestry, the looks. There would be no objections.
But, despite all that she stood to gain—
“I am deeply grateful, Your Imperial Grace, both for the welcome and for your generous offer. Nevertheless, I must refuse.”
—she declined the advances. Nobody could refuse the Emperor and live, but she was the Brave blessed by the Goddess. Even he couldn’t bend her to his will.
“Daughter dearest,” asked a man in his prime that stood among the ministers of the Crown, “does the idea of wedding His Highness Alfred displease you in some way?”
He was Duke Mavis, Leticia’s father and the Prime Minister of the Empire.
“I have just returned from the battlefield, Father. I have not yet the mind to consider such matters.”
“Let it be, Mavis,” the Emperor interrupted the rebuttal before it even started. “It is our fault for thoughtlessly raising the matter so soon. We understand, Brave, and we invite you to stay in our palace for a while. Until you shed the weariness of your journey, at least.”
But she shook her head again.
“Once more, I must refuse you, Your Imperial Grace. I must bring the news of my victory to my Master at once.”
“Oh?” the Emperor leaned forward, intrigued, “your Master? Master of Leticia von Mavis, the Brave?”
Her magical prowess and swordsmanship gave her power far surpassing any other human. Gaining services of the man who taught her would bring the Empire outrageous benefits. No wonder the Emperor was intrigued.
And as the monarch leaned forward, a man standing next to Leticia’s father proudly struck out his chest. This man was the private tutor of House von Mavis, who had managed to obtain a place at the audience when he had heard his former student had been about to return. It hadn’t been much of an achievement, truth be told, he held the rank of a baron, and a title was a title. Even if meager.
He was strongly convinced that, as the teacher of the Brave, he was deserving of a reward, and expected to be introduced any moment now. His mind started imagining the imminent future, and he smiled at his thoughts.
Surely, Leticia will introduce me as her master now, he mused,True, when I first taught her, I had thought her a girl foolish beyond belief. But, thanks to my patience and hard work, she grasped both magic and fencing. I still remember the painstaking battle with the Duchess when the brat asked for a wooden sword. It has paid off, though. All the frustration, all my diligence, it finally bore fruit!
There had been many frustrations in his life back then, and he had made sure to carefully vent them on her during their fencing practice. He had been careful to not leave any visible injuries, of course, and now that he thought about it…
Clearly, my strictness had caused the Brave to awaken in her. Though the small details might probably be worth glossing over. After all, her standing there is the end product and the proof of my benevolence! Yes, yes indeed!
His imagination started to paint a vivid picture of her walking towards him and presenting him to the Emperor, and he got lost in the daydream.
“Yes, Your Imperial Grace, it is this gentleman here, in fact,” he imagined her say.
“Oh? It is him?” replied the imaginary Emperor.
“Indeed. He had taught me ever since I was little. He was a strict but just teacher.”
“We see. So he is the secret behind your strength…”
“That is so, Your Imperial Grace. Master taught me all I know about the sword and magic. I respect him deeply.”
“If Mavis the Brave speaks so highly of this person, then, truly, he must be an exceptional individual. What is your name, good sir?”
He imagined raising his head, and, being permitted to speak, starting to introduce himself.
In the meantime, in the real world, the conversation between the Emperor and the Brave continued.
“Can we not change your mind, Brave? Must you really see your Master immediately?”
“Emperor’s kindness is truly boundless, and I am humbled by it. Nevertheless…”
“We see… Interesting. We would very much like to meet this man, this Master of the Brave.”
The tutor felt a growing urge to step out and present himself there and then, but before he could succumb to that, Duke Mavis spoke once more.
“Daughter, there is no need to go anywhere, your Master is here with me.”
The tutor’s heart fluttered with anticipation, and he stepped forward. He saw his vision becoming flesh before his eyes. Now, Leticia would smile at him and—
—nothing happened. There was no recognition in her face as she looked in his direction.
“Do you not recognize him? He was your tutor when you were a child.”
“It… Ah… has been a long time, milady, has it not?” said the tutor as a greeting. But all he received in reply was a most perfunctory of nods before the Brave turned away from him. The man was stunned. And her father asked in slight confusion, “Is this gentleman not the Master you spoke of? Did you apprentice yourself to somebody during your travels, perhaps?”
“I have encountered no such person,” interjected the Elven Princess. “I have accompanied Leticia from the very beginning and seen no being of such strength along the way.”
“Where is this master then?” asked the duke, increasingly confused, “And who may he be?”
At this point, everybody was intrigued by the mysterious Master’s real identity. But Leticia herself just smiled, and that radiant smile captivated everyone who saw it. Not even Tiara, despite traveling with the Brave from the very beginning, had ever seen such a smile on the girl’s face before today.
“My Master lives here, in the Imperial Capital.”
This raised an uproar among the attending nobles. Exclamations of “What?!” and “Such a person, here?! In Simurgh?!” could be heard all over. The Emperor struggled to hear her final words over the ruckus.
“And, for that reason, I cannot remain in the palace, Your Imperial Grace. I shall return to my Master’s, to Wynn Bard’s side. Thank you for this gracious welcome, and may you fare well.”
On this day, the legend of the Brave would be born to be passed down from generation to generation, one in which Wynn Bard was named as her master. His name would spread throughout the continent on the lips of ambassadors who attended the conference. Forever on, he would be known as the Master of the Brave.