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“Marquis Jalpa Bull Ati Fertio.
A man of your stature, Sir, would not speak in such a manner.
The young man has atrophied, has he not?”

At the sound of his voice, he turned and crouched down on one knee at the same time.

“Your Majesty, I’m sorry to have to ask this…”

It was the voice of my one and only lord, a voice that could not be mistaken.
I bowed deeply, feeling my anger and frustration dissipate in the blink of an eye.

I hear the sound of stepping on pebbles up close, and a voice descends from overhead. 

“Marquis, you may stand.
Explain the situation.
How is the war going?”

I was aware of my own face twitching as he said this.

But I must answer.

The fortress city of Scudetto has fallen.
But we will surely take it back.
We are now making preparations for that…”

“…I understand the situation.
Give me the details.
Was it already fallen when you arrived?”

A cold sweat runs down my face at the slight irritation in his voice.

“When I arrived, Scudetto was close to falling due to a mysterious attack using wyverns.
Completely surrounded and besieged, I attacked from the west, where the road to the city is located, and broke off one side of the siege.
However, the enemy threw a strange spherical weapon, and a number of our knights were blown to pieces.”

“…What?  A magical tool?”

“I don’t know.
But it was so versatile that there was hardly any warning.
Just throwing it on something sparks sparks, and the moment it hits something, there is a violent sound and an explosion of flame.
We took that attack in retreat, and even the wyverns rained down their spherical weapons from above.”

As he explained this, a roar was heard.

The brief pause of silence made me feel like a criminal awaiting execution.

As I took shallow, long breaths, feeling my mouth dry up, His Majesty opened his mouth.

So you’ve retreated, then?  And the damage?”

His Majesty was calm.
I noticed that his body had relaxed and his shoulders and back had become unusually stiff.

“The damage to our Knights is slight, but 30% of the Border Knights deployed in Scudetto were killed in action.
Another 20% were seriously wounded.
Since we were not pursued during the last retreat, the civilians have been evacuated with almost no casualties.”

“…no pursuit?”

A skeptical voice echoed.

This could be a suspicion that I am in communication with the Kingdom of Jiernetta.

When I realized this, another cold sweat ran down my spine.

It is a vague report, but when we started our retreat, we were covered by someone from the south, where the other street is located.
We do not know what happened.
But we saw several wyverns fall in the blink of an eye with no sign of magic.
The enemy judged it to be a threat and directed their soldiers to that something…”

As I say this, I gnash my teeth.

What a disgraceful report.
Rather than slash the backs of our Knights and Border Knights, it was deemed more important to defeat the third party handling the mysterious weapon.

If we let the enemy get away, he will attack us next with twice as many men.
Therefore, the threat must be crushed as much as possible when they have the upper hand.

However, the Kingdom of Jiernetta gave priority to a mysterious third party over me.

This fact makes my gut boil.

“…Nine times out of ten, it will be Baron Van.
But he can’t have that many men ready yet.
I hope he escapes without fighting.”

I hear His Majesty’s voice, and I look up involuntarily.

“Va, Van…!?”

The voice came from behind me; it was Murcia.

At Murcia’s surprised words, His Majesty slightly relaxed the wrinkles between his brows and nodded shallowly.

“Hasn’t the rumor already spread to the Marquisate?  A young boy named Van Nay Fertio has settled a frontier village and defeated a dragon.
In honor of his achievements, he was knighted at an early age.”

His Majesty tells him with satisfaction.

At these words, Murcia’s eyes widen in surprise and she eventually bursts into tears and laughs.

I wanted to reprimand him for being a fool, but now is not the time.

“Your Majesty.
How could Van have accomplished such a feat as defeating the dragon? That thing couldn’t do four-element magic and had only a few men on its side.
To put it bluntly, I can only assume that someone or something has intervened.”

His Majesty’s eyes lifted as he expressed his thoughts.
Then, a voice, clearly filled with anger, descends on his head.

You think I am telling a lie?  Or are you saying that I am being deceived by that someone or something?  That I am falling for such a silly scheme?  Do I seem that shallow to you?”

I bowed deeply and apologized.

I bowed deeply and apologized.
I didn’t mean to…”

As I bowed my head, I could picture Van’s face in my mind as he left.

That kid was really going to slay a dragon? 

But how in the world…

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