Chapter 3 – After the audience
Author’s note: The MC doesn’t appear at this time.
The audience with the Emperor reached an end, and the group retired to one of the Palace’s many guest rooms.
“Ahh…” sighed Leticia while sitting sprawled listlessly all over a chair, “Sooo tired!”
“You did work hard today,” replied Lorah, handing her a cup of tea. The palace servant who usually handled this was not present, he had been dismissed so that the private resting time of the Brave’s party would be undisturbed. “Nevertheless, it’s not often that one sees a stamina fiend like you this tired. Being in His Imperial Majesty’s presence must have been stressful, no?”
Leti nodded in response, “Honestly… I just don’t do that sort of atmosphere.”
“Besides, they made me wear so many clothes!” she grumbled, “I’m the Brave, I should be allowed to just go in my normal attire, you know?”
This made Lorah chuckle. “That isn’t really… You are a daughter of a duke, no? Should you not be used to these kinds of occasions?”
“I was ten when the Goddess sent the oracle announcing me as the Brave. Before that day, I had never been expected, or required, to do anything of the sort.”
In fact, young Leticia was considered to be such a problem child that even her tutor dared to hint to the ducal couple that she might be an idiot. She would slip out of the house all the time, both in the mornings and later in the day. Whenever the residents of the mansion would wake up from their sleep, they would discover she had already gone somewhere. Her father had actually seriously considered putting her under house arrest for a while, one masked from the wider society with claims of serious illness and recuperation away from capital. Ultimately, the idea was rejected because it would’ve been a waste of her uncommonly striking appearance. She was left in the hands of the tutor, but denied a debut in high society.
That continued until her tenth birthday when the clergy in each country on all continents received an oracle: “The Brave walks the earth. Her name is Leticia von Mavis.”
That day, her life changed upside down. The family that had treated her like a black sheep in the past suddenly put her on a pedestal. When she wanted money, she would get whatever amount she asked for. When she needed an item, the best craftsmen would be tasked with making one by the end of the day. Her father personally invited famous martial artists and magicians, including the Great Sage, to visit the estate, hoping they would join Leticia on her quest.
She had never been so pampered in her life, neither had she seen her family meddle so much before.
This sudden turn of favor made her wary. She refrained from indulging in the overt generosity, partly because spending time with Wynn strongly influenced her sense of value. She also continued to visit the boy daily over the half a year she had remaining before it was time to set off.
“Haah,” she sighed wistfully, “I really, really want to leave already and go back to see Big Brother…”
“The esteemed brother in question must be His Excellency Lars, the scion of von Mavis family, no?” asked the priestess, reaching her hand out to slowly stroke the soft hair on Leticia’s head. The young woman let herself be caressed, not changing her position on the chair. Her present company were the only people in front of whom she would ever admit to exhaustion. The fact that they would indulge her in those moments wasn’t entirely unrelated.
“Come to think of it, you did keep remarking that you wished to return to your Big Brother’s side all throughout the journey. He must have a special place in your heart.”
The group had actually stopped at the Mavis estate before they had left for the Imperial Palace. But contrary to the other three’s expectations, Leticia had adopted her dignified manner of the Brave while there, and not once had she tried to find her elder brother. She had actually decided to return to the inn almost immediately. None of her three companions could possibly expect that Big Brother was not related by blood to her, and that she didn’t consider her blood relatives to be family at all.
“Honestly, you should have stayed to meet him when we stopped by the Mavis family estate.”
“Lorah, Big Brother and older brother are two different people, you know?”
“House Mavis has four children only, does it not? That being you, Viscount Lars, and your two elder sisters?” There was a noticeable amount of confusion in the priestess’ voice.
“No, no, no! Big Brother is my Master, you know?”
“Wait just a moment now!” interrupted Raul. “Are you saying your Master is young enough to be called ‘Big Brother’?”
“Obviously? He’s two years older than me, you know? Ahh, I wanna see him sooon!”
Until this point, the other three imagined Leticia’s master as a sharp military man with a wealth of life experience. Hearing that he was the ‘Big Brother’ forced them to sharply re-estimate the probable age, to about mid twenties. But this… This made him a teenager! It was a huge shock.
“Leti, could this ‘Big Brother’ of yours possibly be stronger than you?”
“I have managed to defeat him only once – on the day of my departure.”
“Leti was stronger than me already when I came to accompany her on her journey,” supplemented Tiara.
“Huh?” Raul stood up and faced the elf. “Say what?! She was only ten years old when you met, and she was already stronger than you?”
As was the case with every elf, Tiara’s looks were deceptive. She had the appearance of a teenager, even though she was actually over 150 years old.
“Just so. Not only in magic, but in swordsmanship as well. It really brought home just what a Brave is. The moniker ‘Divine Sword Princess’ did not come from nothing.”
The three of them turned back to Leticia, still slumping in the chair. They had witnessed her absurd strength during their quest. It was quite likely she could take on all three of them at once and still win.
“Your Master cannot possibly be stronger than you are now, right?”
“I’m stronger than Big Brother, for sure.”
“Thought so. To be honest, I would like to spar with him once… Who do you think would win?”
“In a practice spar? You, most likely.” Leticia finally rose from the chair and walked to the window. “But…” she said wistfully as she looked at the world outside, “In a life-and-death struggle, you may very well lose.”
The young Brave fixed her clothes, a warm smile blooming brightly on her face.
Author’s note: Next time on YnO: the MC finally (re)appears!?