The days passed by as reports came in about the fire moth extermination and how the eastern village construction was progressing. The other day, thirty warhorses from the Ruktoferd domain were delivered to us, so Earl Terejia’s establishment of a cavalry troop has become one step closer to realization, and other than that, not much has happened.
Then, a messenger from the Jugfena royal domain’s army arrived at the Kaldia domain.
The earl and I welcomed him in the mansion’s drawing room. The soldier was completely covered from head to toe in chain mail, with a tunic embroidered with the Arxia Kingdom’s coat of arms, a crown and the Sacred Code, covering his armor. I pulled on the earl’s sleeve carefully so as to not dirty it, and got “he’s a knight” as a response in return.
I see, so he’s a knight. It’s okay to use knights as messengers.
Knights are what we call nobles that have become military officers. To be more precise, knights are those that have officially entered the knights, and commoners that enter the knights can become titled knights as well. Since nobles without titles can become titled knights as well, entering the knighthood is basically a way to earn nobility.
“Welcome to the Kaldia domain.”
“I’m greatly obliged for your welcome. I bring a message from the leader of the Jugfena Fortress Knights, Earl Einsbark.”
The knight entered without even sitting down, and remained standing between the chair and the desk. It’s some urgent business. Since he was still standing, the earl and I remained standing as well.
The knight looked at the earl’s expression of anticipation, and solemnly began speaking.
“About ten women and children from the Shiru tribe have arrived at Fort Jugfena. They’re currently under our protection.”
……At the knight’s words, I gently closed my eyes. The time has finally come, eh. It’s been two months since we decided to accept the refugees, the Shiru tribe has done well to escape from the Densel army.
“According to one of them, there’s still forty more of the Shiru tribe that will arrive. They’re being pursued by a company of three hundred Densel soldiers. The Kaldia domain has agreed to take in the refugees, so will there be any problems in accepting them?”
“There are none.”
When I answered, the knight looked at me in surprise. Mmm, although he glanced at Earl Terejia, the earl nodded and he nodded back before looking me in the eye. He’s a praiseworthy knight. Even when others know that I’m Viscountess Kaldia, they always treat Earl Terejia as the domain lord instead.
“Very well then. Together with the one thousand refugees currently under protection at the fort, it shall be fine to send them here as promised?”
“Yes, of course.”
The knight nodded at me, then he hesitated a little.
“……Viscountess Kaldia, Earl Einsbark would like to request for your aid in defending Fort Jugfena.”
I could see that he was troubled and perplexed in his eyes, and he was looking at me with a changed expression. He seemed to be feeling a sense of guilt, it’s very easy to see that he probably doesn’t want to involve children in battle.
He’s honest about his feelings. And, he’s very ethical.
I remembered that when Earl Terejia first taught me about the neighboring country, he had avoided looking me in the eyes.
“I shall accept this request. I’ll take fifty soldiers from the Kaldia army and travel to Fort Jugfena.”
“……You will personally?”
It felt like he couldn’t help himself when he asked that question. Oops, said the expression on the knight’s face, as he looked at me with wonder and good will.
His values seem similar to what I remember from my previous life. In this world, it was very ordinary for there to be child soldiers younger than ten, and it wasn’t all that rare for domain lords that were just past five years old to be in battle. I felt a strange sense of nostalgia as I firmly nodded in response to him.
“……I understand. I’ll inform Earl Einsbark. I shall excuse myself and take my leave now.”
The next morning, a messenger pigeon arrived from the royal capital.
The message it brought was an order to dispatch troops from the Upper House of Lords. The Upper House of Lords is also commonly referred to as the “Imperial Court,” it’s where representatives of the king and the House of Lords make various decisions. It’s similar to feudal governments that I learned about in my previous life, and it consists of the king, prime minister, commander-in-chief, high priest, archpriest, three judges, and five representatives from the House of Lords.
“Viscountess Kaldia shall command her domain’s army and join the defense of Fort Jugfena…… Even the royal palace went to the trouble of drafting such an order.”
There’s no doubt that this has to do with Earl Terejia’s actions and our acceptance of the refugees. Receiving a direct order from the Upper House of Lords, even three times in a lifetime is considered to be very rare. On top of that, it was also sealed with a royal decree from the king.
I think a simple order from the regular House of Lords should have been sufficient, it feels that even the people in higher places are giving the Kaldia domain their recognition. As I looked at the order documents, I sat down reflexively.
“How long are you going to rest and relax there when you shouldn’t have the free time to be slacking off, Aida-dono!”
“It’s Eliza, Claudia-dono.”
“Mmm, my apologies. Well then, it’s time for you to issue a command for the army to move out already! Come on, hurry up.”
As I looked at the person in front of me, Claudia seemed to be overly excited and wasn’t even trying to hide it. This girl……
“There’s something I would like to talk about with you before that.”
I sighed as I began talking to Claudia. She tilted her head, and smiled with what passed for her serious expression. I already understand well after associating with her for several months that she’s always serious in her own way.
But even so, this is a very serious topic, so I put on a serious expression as well.
“I believe Earl Terejia should have already asked you to become my bodyguard in place of Kamil.”
“Mm! …… Hm……?”
……I wonder if me trying to have a serious discussion with her meant that I’m an idiot? Am I in the wrong? At Claudia’s confused response, I suddenly felt a sense of futility within me. Maybe I made a mistake from the very moment I decided to have her become my bodyguard.
“…… …… …… Oh, oh! Come to think of it, he did tell me something like that.”
Claudia struck her hand with her fist as she remembered, and I swallowed down my imminent sigh. It seems that she had completely forgotten about it up until now. It’s just that for once, she was able to read the atmosphere and went along with what I said.
“Unfortunately, Kamil is currently unable to return from overseeing the village construction. There’s nobody else that can speak the language of the new incoming settlers, so there’s no one else that can take charge of the construction project.”
“Ahh, I see how everything is.”
Mmm, mmm, Claudia kept nodding and responding vaguely, but I wonder just how much of what I said she took in……
“Meaning, it’s not possible for Kamil to return and be my bodyguard, so if it’s possible, since I have to go to Fort Jugfena now, I would like to request Claudia-dono to become my bodyguard. Is that alright?”
“Of course, no problem.”
She answered immediately with a delighted smile. I see, it’s no problem, then that’s good.
“Then, until I return from the fort, I’ll be leaving you in charge of things here at the mansion.”
Claudia didn’t seem to have noticed the way I had worded my request, and say that she’d protect me during battle as well. I’m really glad that she didn’t say something like that. Claudia’s been entrusted to the Kaldia domain. If she happened to die or get injured in battle, it would become a major incident.
“……What!? Won’t I be unable to protect you during the battle then!!”
“It’ll be less dangerous here at the Kaldia domain, and of course I can’t have Claudia-dono accompany me to the front lines of battle at the fort.”
“No~! I’m going to go along with you to protect you!”
Wah, I hurriedly retracted my earlier statement on leaving her behind and made my escape, running for the domain lord’s office. I have to make a report to the earl on what just happened.