Chapter 6 – The capital and the investiture ceremony
The empire – in front of the castle, evening.
After the explanations ended, it took us an hour to travel here to the castle.
“This is the capital, eh.”
I muttered to myself as I gazed upon the tall castle ramparts.
The walls are made of stone, with no end in sight for either direction, and my neck hurts from trying to stretch it to see just how tall the walls are.
On top of that, it seems that the walls have been reinforced by magic, so even if advanced monsters attack, I highly doubt they could penetrate the walls.
Well, if it’s superior monsters or dragons, they could probably break them in an instant.
I was there right now in front of the only entrance to the castle walls, together with the emperor’s group, while wearing my helmet.
At the sight of us, two gatekeepers that seemed to be adventurers or people from a guild, were staring at us with their mouths wide agape.
To be more specific, they were staring at me as I was pulling on Hayate’s reins.
Well, it’s to be expected that they would react this way.
“Hohoho. You’re the center of attention, Chie.”
I heard laughing from behind me.
Oops, I almost forgot.
“I’m sorry, but could you conceal my name if at possible?”
I asked so in a low, manly voice.
“Ahh, is that so. Then, what should we call you?”
I tilted my head in puzzlement for a bit while thinking.
“I don’t mind if you just call me the black knight. Since everyone that sees my armor and katana are calling me so anyways.”
When I came to this world, for sure, Amaterasu-sama had said so as well.
Anyways, I think I like the name as well.
Rather than a hero and his comrades out of a story, I get to feel like an entirely different type of presence.
I don’t want to be in a party together with that baka Yuusuke……
“I got it. Then, the black knight it shall be. If it’s possible, could you ride Hayate into the city? It would be good if we could show everyone the way the strongest knight looks as he’s riding the legendary black unicorn.”
I agreed to the emperor, and got on Hayate.
Even though I didn’t really want to stand out, and said this to Conrad just earlier.
“You’re not just the strongest in the empire, you’re the strongest in all of Eldoa! That’s why, please enter the capital while riding on the unicorn!”
But, Conrad said that with some amazing vigor.
It seems that he also thinks that it would be good if I rode Hayate.
The meaning might be different from what Conrad is thinking, for me to be riding Hayate alongside the emperor’s party in such a grand fashion, and having the people see me.
There’s two reasons for this.
One is to not only show the residents of the capital, but also to show off to the traveling adventurers and merchants from other countries.
Adventurers and merchants often gather here at the capital.
Right now, they were gathered around us as well.
Letting them see me, that is, a knight riding the legendary black unicorn alongside the imperial family, is order to have them spread the word to other countries.
Doing this ensures that other countries won’t move against us so easily.
As for why all of this is necessary, it’s because our enemies aren’t just limited to monsters and demons, humans are included as well.
The continent of Eldoa is shaped like a rhombus, and there’s several islands surrounding Eldoa as well.
Including the islands, on this continent there are three countries, an empire, a theocracy, and a kingdom, as well as an elven sanctuary in the forest.
Among them, the empire’s territory is quite vast, and other countries have tried to steal land by force many times in the past.
I learned that in the knowledge of history that I was given.
The other reason is to show the ringleader causing trouble in this country, the person behind the previous incident.
It’s similar to showing me off to the adventurers and merchants from other countries, but the overall goal is to prevent bad things from happening to this country.
Basically, the goal is to intimidate others in order to prevent incidents.
Although the effect might be small today just from me going through the capital, but with time, word of my presence should spread throughout the continent quickly.
Based on the above, I rode Hayate, the royal family rode in a horse-drawn carriage that was prepared for them at the castle gate, while Conrad and another green-haired knight were riding on horses as well.
And so, the castle gate opened.
Cheers resounded when the castle gate opened.
It seems that a parade had been prepared to celebrate the return of the royal family.
At everyone’s incredible enthusiasm, I muttered so by reflex.
We entered and proceeded on the road towards the castle.
Even though I could see it from outside as well, it’s really such a big castle.
Around us were buildings that looked like they came straight out of a game.
Looking at them, I thought about it once again.
Science isn’t very developed here, it’s a world of swords and magic.
I have to move amongst such a crowd, all the while –
“Could that be the legendary black unicorn?”
“Is that real?”
“What’s that black knight?”
I heard various voices such as these.
“Hohohoho! As expected, everyone’s surprised.”
The emperor in his horse-drawn carriage laughed as he said so.
“Black knight, I know it’s sudden, but, I’d like to get your investiture ceremony done immediately tonight. We’ll also have a mantle made immediately for you.”
I repeated the emperor’s words back to them, but the royal couple just kept smiling and didn’t say anything more on the matter.
But, something like a formal ceremony, is that really necessary for a regular soldier?
At least, that’s what I think.
– Before the castle door
Before long, we arrived at the castle door.
Before the castle door, there was a full force of servants, soldiers, and nobles waiting for us.
It’s no good if the soldiers aren’t patrolling the capital…
While I was thinking so in amazement, a noble came up to the imperial procession and kneeled.
“Your Majesty! It’s good that you’ve returned safely!”
This noble was wearing dark green aristocratic clothing, had green hair and blue eyes, was approximately 174-175 centimeters tall, and he was a middle-aged man around 50 years of age.
This person, seems similar to the knight-san with green hair…
“Reiz, I have returned.”
The emperor answered the man by addressing him with his name.
“While I was away visiting the theocracy, has anything happened here?”
“No, nothing at all. By the way, Your Majesty, who exactly is that knight there?”
The man seemed to mind my presence very much, and asked the emperor.
It was something the other nobles, soldiers, and regular people were probably thinking of as well.
“I’ve been late introducing him, black knight, come here.”
I tried to reply in a knightly manner, and had Hayate move close to the emperor’s carriage.
“This person happens to be the black knight. Although I can’t share his name with everyone, he’s someone that’s become a knight of my empire now.”
Everyone became quite unsettled when the emperor said so.
“Uh, Your Majesty! What could you be saying! Someone like this with such an unknown nature!”
The man raised his voice in objection at the emperor’s words.
Well, it’s to be expected.
However, at hearing those words, the emperor said –
“Reiz! Watch your words! This person is our savior that rescued all of our lives!”
What’s with that reaction?
I wondered quite a bit about the man’s reaction.
But, even though something caught my attention, nothing really happened, so I decided to keep listening to what the emperor was saying.
“That’s right. When we were on our way to the capital, we got ambushed by five ogres.”
When everyone heard that, there was quite a commotion again.
“Three of them were somehow defeated by Conrad and the others but, ogres are originally enemies that require 20 people to defeat. On top of that, it was a battle where we were being defended as well. Of course, there’s limits to people’s strength. When we were in a pinch, the black knight came to our rescue at a critical moment while riding the black unicorn. What are you saying to that person!”
The emperor got angry, and was glaring at the man.
It’s indeed something an emperor would say.
He’s got the style down pat.
“B, but, if you don’t even know who he is and where he’s from…”
“Even though you’re the prime minister, don’t you understand yet!? There’s nothing more that can prove how amazing this knight is than the fact that he’s the one chosen by the black unicorn! He’s the strongest knight in all of Eldoa!”
This person seems to be the prime minister.
Indeed, it’s just as the emperor says.
That is to say, being selected by a unicorn, should already prove what kind of person this person is.
It’s even more so if it’s the legendary black unicorn.
The prime minister fell silent.
“Tonight will be this person’s investiture ceremony! Prepare everything that’s necessary right away!”
The emperor gave an order to the servants, and they immediately went off to fulfill it.
While the servants were surprised for a moment, they somehow seemed to understand after seeing me and hurried off to prepare.
I wonder why they were so surprised?
“Oh black knight, I apologize for the rudeness just now. We’ll immediately have a room for you prepared. We’ll also have to make some preparations, so it would be good to get some rest first.”
Unlike earlier, the emperor was now smiling a gentle smile.
After that, he gave some orders to one of the maids that was accompanying him, and she became my personal maid.
“Black knight-sama, by Empress Claire’s orders, I will be taking care of milady from now on, and my name is Alice Aiden.”
This maid had long tawny hair hanging down, reddish brown eyes, a nice face and a calm atmosphere about her, and she was wearing the same maid clothing as the other maids, a black one-piece dress with a long skirt, with a frilly white apron and black shoes.
She was about 160 centimeters tall, and probably around 14 years old.
There’s no mistake that she’s younger than I am.
Just now, this girl said “Aiden……”
“Alice, I’ll leave her to you.”
Conrad just said that, and Alice answered him.
Indeed, these two people, shared the same hair and eye color!
I see, so they were siblings.
“Before anything else, black knight-sama. Guide him to the stables first. While the regular stables may not befit a unicorn, but there’s nowhere else for a unicorn to rest.”
Conrad said so apologetically to me.
“Nah, you don’t have to worry about such a thing. Right, Hayate?”
We obtained Hayate’s approval, and headed for the stables.
A bit later, in a room of the castle –
We put Hayate in the stables, and Alice guided me to a room in the castle.
By the way, Hayate’s harness was left like that on him.
“This is the place.”
“……Uh, is it really okay to use this place?”
The room that I had been guided to, would put the luxury hotels that I’ve seen on TV to shame.
There was a double bed placed against the wall, all the furniture had an antique design, and there was a large desk presumably for working on as well as a comfortable-looking chair.
The window was large, and there were two chairs and an iron table out on the veranda as well.
There’s also a bath and a toilet.
There’s no mistake, this is a room for VIPs.
“By order of Their Majesties, black knight-sama, please use this room from today onwards.”
Alice was smiling as she said so.
Emperor, you’re giving a regular soldier like me such a room?
“This room also comes with magic to completely make it soundproof. Here is the key to this room.”
As she said so, Alice handed me some type of blue stone.
It’s a different color from the one embedded in my helmet, but it’s a magic stone.
As a simple explanation, blue magic stones have average magic power within them, and red magic stones have really strong magic power inside, but are much fewer in number.
“May I pluck one strand of your hair?”
I looked around and confirmed that nobody was around, before removing my helmet.
And so, I pulled a hair out from my bangs and handed it to her, and immediately put my helmet on again.
Even though there’s no one around, I can’t be too careful.
I’ll put up a barrier as well later.
As I was thinking this, I watched Alice’s movements.
Alice placed my hair on top of the stone, and the stone absorbed it.
“Now, this magic stone can only be used by milady. The magic is activated by holding it up to the magic stone in the door, and it acts as a key.”
Ohh, how convenient!
Meaning, the magic stone was confirming me as the master just now.
If it’s like this, my privacy will probably be fine.
But anyways, I don’t know if I’ve been lucky or not today.
I was killed by Yuusuke.
I was revived by Amaterasu-sama.
I was liked by the emperor, and managed to get a place to live.
Well, even though I didn’t have to use money for it.
“Well then, black knight-sama, when the investiture ceremony is ready, I will come to pick you up.”
“Ahh, thanks, Alice-san.”
“You can just call me Alice. I’m 14, and younger than black knight-sama.”
Just like I thought, she’s 14.
Even though she’s only one year older than the princess, she’s so dependable.
I said so, and Alice exited the room while grinning.
Alright then, I’m going to have to place a barrier around this room immediately.
While I was being guided to the room, I thought up my own type of magic barrier.
I made up a name for my own magic and chanted a spell.
Then, I covered the walls, floor, and ceiling of this room in a black fog.
However, it disappeared in an instant.
Everything will seem normal inside the barrier, but it will be pitch-black to anyone outside.
It should be easy to understand if you think about how sunglasses work.
After doing this, nothing inside will be visible anymore.
Especially to magician’s familiars.
After all, it seems that magicians often use familiars to spy on situations.
And so, this barrier won’t allow anything in other than the humans that I’ve allowed to.
For now, it’s just Alice and the imperial family.
Other than them, even if the door is open, the black fog will prevent people from entering.
After doing things to this extent, it should be alright to take off my armor now.
I returned Sakuya and my armor to a bracelet state.
Alright! I can finally take the bath that I’ve been wanting!
By the way, the method to create a really hot bath is to use magic to warm it up in an instant.
I can even adjust the temperature!
Since I’m a bath lover, my happiness has reached its limit!
Is someone calling me?
When I opened my eyes, Alice was there.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Mmm. Good morning, Alice.”
If I recall correctly, after my bath, I laid down on my bed and went to sleep.
By the way, underwear was already provided for me in the closet.
For some reason, the size was perfect.
Probably, before coming here, one of the maids that was accompanying the imperial family had it prepared.
The maids are so scary!
Well, before I came here I did say that I dropped my luggage somewhere, I wonder if someone prepared it for me because of that.
At that time, people were laughing heartily as well.
I’m still wearing the black clothes that I’ve been wearing up to now.
I guess I should go clothes shopping tomorrow?
“Black knight-sama, the preparations for the investiture ceremony have been completed.”
“Alice, what time is it now?”
If I recall correctly, we arrived here around five, so everything was prepared in about two hours?
What on earth are these servants of the empire?
“That’s really fast…”
“Because we are here to serve.”
Alice grinned as she said so.
Ahh, she didn’t explain or anything at all.
“The investiture ceremony will be performed in the throne room.”
“So, the armor… Where’s the armor?”
“Ahh, let me equip it now.”
As I said so, I imagined myself wearing the armor.
And so, a black haze covered my body and equipped me with the armor.
Alice looked at me in shock.
Indeed, there seems to be nothing like this in Eldoa that can equip armor so instantaneously.
“It’s such an amazing magic item! Where did you get your hands on it?”
“Together with the katana. They’re both customized for me only.”
While Alice was busy admiring the armor, my voice came out in a low man’s voice again.
Hmm, while I’m wearing the armor, it’s probably better if I try to pay more attention to talking like a man, isn’t it?
Originally, I always talked informally anyways.
“Ehh~~, so there’s also those who can make such great things.”
They were made by a god.
“Well then, could you lead the way?”
“Ah, hai! This way.”
I had Alice lead the way to the throne room.
In front of the door to the throne room –
“Black knight-sama, when you go in front of His Majesty, please kneel, and repeat after what His Majesty says.”
I received an explanation from Alice in front of the door to the throne room.
“After that, I’ll formally dress you in the mantle. Please stand once it’s finished, and look behind you.”
As I was listening to the expectation, I kept thinking.
What’s this about a mantle?
From what I remembered, only Conrad was wearing one.
Nobody else had one on.
“Then, I’ll open the door.”
Despite the fact that I was still thinking about things, Alice opened the door to the throne room.
When the door opened, I immediately heard instruments playing fanfare.
A bright red carpet continued all the way to the throne in the middle, where the emperor, empress, prince, and princess were all sitting.
There were a few people including Conrad nearby, that were wearing mantles of various different colors.
To the left and right of the long carpet, there were many nobles and soldiers standing there.
Somehow, I felt some unpleasant gazes on me……
It’s mostly jealousy, I think?
That’s the way those gazes felt.
When I got halfway across the carpet, the emperor stood up, and started walking down the steps with a staff in his right hand.
I kneeled in front of the emperor.
The emperor touched my left shoulder with the staff’s decoration.
“Black knight. Do you swear to become a sword of the empire and protect this country?”
“I solemnly swear.”
“I now recognize you as a knight of the empire, and appoint you as the knight captain and also an imperial family knight directly serving the imperial family!”
“Your Majesty!? What are you saying!?”
The prime minister spoke up before I could.
Noo, but I don’t know anything either!?
Around me, there was unrest stirring again.
Except for a few people, those that knew my identity.
“Just as I said. I shall bequeath this person the title of duke, and appoint him a sword of the empire.”
“Why is it that you would give such a title to this person!? And, the knight captain is currently Conrad! And yet -”
“Your Majesty, with all due respect, if I may speak.”
To the protesting prime minister, Conrad spoke out first.
By reflex, I turned my face towards Conrad.
I thought he was someone quite amazing, but to think he was the knight captain!
“About this matter, it’s something I brought up with His Majesty myself. It’s the result of me requesting His Majesty to allow me to serve under the black knight-sama. The former vice knight captain, Kyle Strauss, has agreed to this as well.”
Upon hearing Conrad’s words, the prime minister turned to look at the green-haired knight.
That person’s probably Kyle.
That means, Conrad and Kyle are going to get demoted!?
I raised my voice in protest to the emperor.
No matter what, this can’t be good!
It’s good if I get ahead by hard work, but to suddenly appear and have a newcomer take such a title, it’s unfair to other people.
“Black knight, this is something that’s already been decided. No matter what anyone says, I won’t change my mind.”
My protest has been denied.
“Now then, the mantle for the black knight-sama.”
In response to Conrad’s words, Alice began putting a mantle on me.
It’s a crimson red mantle.
Looking at the color, I was surprised again.
Crimson red mantles, are supposed to only be worn by the imperial family and those close to them.
Meaning that formally dressing me in such a mantle, is evidence that nobody other than royalty is able to go against me.
“Well then, black knight-sama. Please rise, and look back.”
I stood up and looked back as Alice told me to.
I’m being glared at amazingly hard.
“That is all, and now the investiture ceremony for the black knight becoming the knight captain and the imperial family knight shall now conclude! The black knight shall now return to his room to have a meal. You should rest well for today and tomorrow.”
And so, the unreasonable investiture ceremony concluded.
My bedroom –
I sighed while I was eating a meal that was prepared by Alice.
After the investiture ceremony, Alice took me back to my room, I changed my armor into a bracelet again, perched myself on the table and chairs there, and soon after some food for me arrived.
I tried to do something as well, but I was stopped by Alice as it seems everything has been prepared for me already.
What is this, and I was only a normal high school girl up until just a few hours ago.
After coming to this world, I’ve already obtained such a ridiculous title.
Just a little while ago, I was being all enthusiastic about working hard to get ahead, but now I’m in a position where I don’t have to get promoted any further.
On top of that, it’s the position of a duke……
In this country, the order of nobility goes like this: archduke, duke, earl, viscount, baron, then the junior nobility.
There’s no marquis.
As for the lower-ranked nobility with no titles, on earth they would be referred to as knights, but here they’re called the junior nobility.
That means that my current position, is right below that of the imperial family’s.
My job title’s already hard enough on me alone, I also have such a high noble status as well, it’s obvious that everyone around me would look at me in jealousy.
Until I returned here, I was pierced so much by everyone’s gazes……
My second sigh was deeper than the first one.
“Black knight-sama, if you sigh too much, happiness will escape from you, you know?”
No, I’m sighing because of you guys.
While having these bitter feelings inside me, I had some beef stew and salad, as well as some soft bread.
It was really delicious.
A few minutes later, I asked Alice to clean up the utensils when I finished eating.
“……Alice, could it be that, other than me, everyone else knew about the job title and noble position I was going to get?”
By everyone else, I meant the people that knew my identity.
“Yes. I heard from my brother as we were preparing.”
Alice finished collecting all the utensils onto a tray, and came up towards me.
“Please don’t mind the issue about becoming the knight captain. In the first place, it’s because my brother and Kyle-sama recommended you.”
“Come to think of it, Conrad did say something like that. But, the reaction around us……”
I feel like my problems have only increased from now on.
Anyways, as for you all that know my identity, can you guys please properly listen to my opinion……
As she said so, I turned towards Alice, and was met by a smile.
“Everyone else doesn’t know the greatness of milady yet. Among us, we all know that it was the correct decision.”
“……Where’s that confidence from?”
I listened to Alice saying that full of self-confidence.
“From milady’s strength in close combat, and respect for milady’s reasoning prowess.”
No, but it’s really not that great?
Something to this extent should be average.
“Also that milady never overestimates her abilities, both my brother and I sincerely wish to be of service to milady.”
You’re not even embarrassed to be saying so.
“Sigh~, there’s no helping it. For the time being, I’ll think slowly about what the future holds.”
“Sure, there’s no need to rush things! We will be serving milady!”
She was happiest while saying those words.
Basically she’s trying to tell me that I’m not alone.
“Alice, tomorrow I want to explore the city, could you guide me if it’s not too much trouble? I want to see what it’s like out on the streets now.”
Conrad was saying that public order had been bad lately.
While checking out the situation with my own eyes, I can also buy some civilian clothing and sleepwear.
“I understand. Then, after breakfast tomorrow, I’ll guide you around the streets (by the way, doing it like that, wanting to know the situation in the capital immediately, you’re not just earning my brother’s trust, you’re gaining trust from all of us, black knight-sama.)
Alright, let’s sleep soundly tonight, and start working hard on gathering information tomorrow!