When Ergnade called for me to come to the dining hall for higher-ranked personnel, Wiegraf was already waiting there for me, smiling and waving hello. Maybe it’s because I have a closer relationship to the Einsbarks, I was called before Eric or Marquis Rolentsor.
“Eliza-dono. I’m glad to see you well.”
“Greetings, how are you doing, Earl Einsbark?”
“Mm, I’m the same as always. It’s good that there haven’t been many injured soldiers lately. I’m also grateful to the Fort Jugfena knight order for helping bring my adopted niece here safely. Please, go ahead and enjoy this insignificant meal.”
He waved at me and indicated my seat, which was right next to him. My adopted child relationship with Ergnade should extend only to the two of us, legally. What’s with him, calling me his adopted niece. I’ve never even heard of such a term.
I think that my thoughts may have shown slightly in my facial expression, as Wiegraf tilted his head with a hm? expression.
“Don’t make such a face, you should just give up and accept being called an adopted niece by my older brother.”
As I sat on the chair, I casually avoided looking at him. Back when Ergnade first proposed that I become his adopted daughter, he made a comment that I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not, asking if his family had discussed adoption with me yet. Then afterwards, letters indeed arrived from Wiegraf and Volmar for additional adoption proceedings, causing my cheeks to twitch just thinking about it. That was still back when I had no military achievements yet, so I declined politely, saying that there would be no benefits for them, but……
“I already receive plenty of protection from Ergnade, any more than this is……”
“Indeed. In fact, perhaps in a few years Ergnade may be the one receiving your protection.”
“……Surely you jest.”
Although he’s the third son, Ergnade is the direct descendant of the now Marquis Einsbark who’s ruling over the northern domains given to him that was confiscated from the Nordsturms. On top of that, he’s the leader of the Fort Jugfena knights, a powerful position. For an upstart like me to reverse the power balance between us in just a few years, it’s inconceivable.
“Ahh, okay, that was a joke. However, your name is now known far and wide, so I’ll be delighted if you contact me about adoption as well at any time. As long as it’s before you officially become an adult, even a secondary adoption is okay. After all, it’ll be too late if we wait another few years.”
Wiegraf was chuckling much like his father would have. ……I think that those from the Einsbark family can’t help it, they love joking around too much to the extent where they even joke about serious matters.
The atmosphere in the dining hall remained jovial, until Eric finally arrived. Apparently he must have been uncomfortable eating with people so closely connected to me, he only responded curtly to Wiegraf’s welcome.
As I explained the situation at school between Eric, Sieghart, and me to the Einsbarks beforehand, Wiegraf and Ergnade were rather lukewarm in their attitudes toward Eric, but he didn’t seem to notice. Well, it’s better if he doesn’t notice. There’s nothing as troublesome as a child that’s throwing a tantrum – I couldn’t help but think back to what happened with Ratoka several years ago.
“……no time to relax. There’s an immense enemy army of more than 100,000 soldiers, including at least 30,000 slave soldiers, that will soon be pressing up against our borders. That’s why I went to the trouble of returning here to the border, at top speed.”
Eric’s irritation level seemed to reach its maximum, right as we had stopped making idle chatter and were discussing methods to deal with the enemy slave army. Just as I was giving them the bad news, I glanced over at Eric, wondering if I had left him alone for too long.
“Wonderful. Knowing the exact severity of the danger you’re dealing with, is one of the most important things on the battlefield.”
Ergnade was grinning as he made such a comment. Since I had given him such bad news, I didn’t expect that he would praise me. Eric was now looking at Ergnade with a blank expression of amazement.
“However, the enemy soldiers haven’t arrived on our borders quite yet. According to our scout teams, it doesn’t seem like their reinforcements have already reached the frontlines. We use draconis that have excellent senses which can detect enemies from afar and read the wind. When the enemy’s troops amass and attack our border, we’ll be informed beforehand, so rest assured.”
Was it the one I saw? Eric’s face seemed to be distorting into a sullen expression again. He looked at me for an instant, and he furrowed his eyebrows even deeper. Does he have something against Rashiok? Although, Rashiok was by my side during our entire trip here, so I don’t think Rashiok has ever done anything to him before.
Then, Eric suddenly changed his distorted expression into that of a smile as he spoke up.
“If the draconis is such a useful beast, wouldn’t you also like one for a personal bodyguard, eh, Marquis Rolentsor? I was thinking this on the way as well, but a draconis seems like a suitable beast for the future king to ride. If its sense of smell can detect people from so far away, it must also be able to detect poisons and metals. As such, don’t you think it would make an excellent gift for the royal family?”
I was speechless. I could sense the malice dripping from Eric’s words, this was a direct attack against me. Other than me, all the people here were closer to the “future king” than I am.
……I see. So, he wants to separate Rashiok from me? I could hear the sound of my teeth beginning to grind unconsciously.