Even though summer was just about over, when we arrived in the Jugfena royal domain, it still felt like the peak of midsummer. With the Amon Nor mountains to the east, hot air gets trapped in eastern Arxia. So of course, Jugfena will have higher temperatures than the royal capital, and while Kaldia is also warmer than the royal capital, it’s cooler than Jugfena due to the cold drafts that will sometimes blow down the Amon Nor mountains in Kaldia.
“Hey. Thanks for your hard efforts in escorting them here. The Fort Jugfena knight order and I shall take it from here. ……You had to come here earlier than I expected. I was hoping that you’d be able to enjoy your school life a little longer.”
Ergnade came out from the black iron fortress to welcome us. He probably has the position most suited for this task, as he’s the younger brother of the current Earl Einsbark with Wiegraf having taken over the title.
“While the order did indeed come earlier than expected, there was no problem at all, as I’m always ready to move out at a moment’s notice. Ergnade, I thought you were on the frontlines……”
“No, I was called back here a while ago. There have been no movements recently on the frontlines, so things have been left to my subordinates, and I’m basically in command now of scouting and reconnaissance. I never would have imagined though that you’d learn about such major enemy movements from Rindarl, while in the royal capital.”
“Due to being away from the battlefield, perhaps it was easier for me to notice their roundabout actions. Besides, it was Margrave Freche that gave me this critical information.”
“Ohh, Freche, eh. It seems that your network of connections is spreading at an astounding rate. The Rolentsor family, the Terejia family, the Moltons and the Freches, and my Einsbark family, the next one seems like it’ll be the archduke’s family.”
“It was just luck that we were in the same class. She’s just fortunate to have the opportunity to know so many people.”
Ergnade and I glanced over at Eric who was getting down from the horse-drawn carriage with a sullen expression on his face. He’s here primarily because he still wouldn’t withdraw his insults for the sake of his own name’s honor, so he’s in quite the bad mood. On top of that, he has to travel with me who he doesn’t like, so his mood was steadily worsening.
“I see, he’s the one.”
“Yes, he’s Baron Eric Teal Dovadain, representative of the Upper House of Lords.”
Although the Einsbark family is deeply involved with the royal family and the Upper House of Lords, Ergnade basically almost never goes to the royal capital. This is his first time meeting Eric.
“I guess I’ll guide him to my older brother. You should have your soldiers rest first. Just like always, we’ve left the second through fourth floors of the same southern building from before empty for your army. I’ll let you know when it’s time for dinner, so be ready.”
“Understood. I thank you from my heart, for caring about the well-being of my soldiers.”
“……I think that I wouldn’t mind though if you started responding ‘yes, father, thank you very much’ instead.”
Ergnade finished our conversation by making a joke and slapping me lightheartedly on my shoulder, but I just stared at him in silence. I remember the strange expression from the last time I tried calling him father.
Even before entering noble school, I was at Fort Jugfena, so I’m already familiar with the layout of this place and the location allotted for our usage. There was no argument over who would get what room, and everyone picked their own places, being used to this fortress already.
“Just like always, the fourth floor will be reserved for my lord, along with Claudia, Oscar, me, and Teo.”
“Ahh, you’ve taken the trouble of ensuring things. Thank you, Gunther.”
“Not at all…… anyway, what should we do about Rashiok?”
I took a look at Rashiok who was resting in the empty space between the fort buildings and its wall, which was where I was taught how to wield the halberd so long ago by Ergnade, Rashiok looked comfortable there for some reason and didn’t seem like he wanted to move. Because we’re currently in a state of war, I can’t expect other military troops to help manage my draconis, and as the person responsible for him, I should be the one taking care of him. Well, Rashiok had been fine on his own until I got called here to Fort Jugfena, but……
There was another draconis sitting there next to Rashiok. The other draconis was a bit smaller than Rashiok, has scales that were almost pure white, and its wings were a shade of vermillion. Well, since Rashiok seems to be larger than usual according to what’s in the books, I suppose this one should be about average size?
From what I can tell, this draconis doesn’t seem to be one of Rashiok’s siblings. His siblings that were left here before at Fort Jugfena, should have similar colors to him, albeit with slightly different color tones on their wings.
“Ah…… Well, aren’t they just pairing up?”
Seeing me observe the two draconis, Gunther spoke up hesitantly.
“Probably. I don’t have any evidence though.”
Pairing up…… Got it. Rashiok is already a mature draconis, it wouldn’t be strange if he finds himself a mate.
I see, while thinking that, I looked away from the two draconis. When I think about how it could be his mate, I felt a little embarrassed to watch them any longer.
“Come to think of it, speaking of finding a girlfriend…… Gunther, how about your end? Even Teo informed me earlier this spring that he’d gotten married.”
When I mentioned what I just thought of to Gunther, he suddenly spat out his drink. ……Did I say something so strange to that extent?
He’s already quite a bit past the suitable age for marriage, but well, considering the fact that he’s working in the army, there’s no helping it. But, something that can’t be helped even more is that he’ll soon be approaching the age where it’ll be too late for him to get married.
I don’t know his exact age, but he should be about 20 years older than me, roughly. So at an estimate, he’s in his early 30s…… I see…… (TL note: Cast of characters indicates that Gunther is exactly 20 years older than Eliza, so he’s 33.) Just as I was thinking that he’s already at the age where I should be calling him uncle instead of viewing him as an older brother, Gunther glared at me, muttering “mind your own business, brat!”
“If you have someone in mind, please hurry up and notify me. I will help you get married as fast as possible.”
“What!? You’re annoying!”
Gunther definitely seems to care about this subject at least a little, and another thing just happened to come into my mind. As for Claudia, just how is she doing in that regard? Expecting to hear anything out of her on this topic will be utterly useless, but according to her family’s wishes, she was intended to have found someone to marry in her early 20s, and she’s now 23.
……When I return to Kaldia, I need to check on this situation as early as possible. As one of my most trusted retainers, her marriage is something that has to do with me as well, after all.