「Haa, haa, haa……」
A girl gasping for breath on the training grounds of the Nyrestria Residency. Her iris colored hair was tied in a bun, it was the duke’s daughter, Minerva running.
Ardis’s first comment on her journey to learn sword magic was her clothing was totally inappropriate. After all, the robe that would touch the ground would make even running a chore. Quickly go get some clothes that are easier to move around in, as Ardis said coldly.
Finally, when Minerva who got a change of clothes from the mansion returned, Ardis’s next order was to 『Run』. It was only that simple. Of course, the servants would be protesting, but Ardis wouldn’t listen.
「I’ve said so from the start. 『If you want me to teach, you have to follow my instructions』. If you don’t like it, I don’t mind getting fired. 」
Though Ardis had a slight interest in Minerva who can tell apart the presence of mana, it’s not like he accepted this role willingly. If anything, he still hopes for an easy way out.
「If learning sword magic requires it, then I have no complaints. But a magic that requires running to learn, it is something unheard of. May I ask for the reason behind it? 」
If Minerva asked so, Ardis who promised to 『Teach the necessities』 had no choice but to answer.
「Sword magic is something born of the lineage of swordsmanship. The foundation is built on swordsmanship, it’s not purely magic. It is not an art to manipulate swords with magic, but to support swordsmanship with mana, that is the essence of sword magic. If you’re just making swords move around with mana, that’s just a street performance, rather than making swords fly in a straight line to the enemies, throwing it by hand would be the simpler and easier way. 」
Though he said so bossily, Ardis can at most manipulate twenty swords without deficiency. Any more than that, the swords would show movements like a normal mercenaries’ swordsmanship, if it’s more than a hundred, then the swords might as well move like a street performance.
「Sword magic is something like creating a clone that has the same strength as yourself. That’s why if the user doesn’t know anything about swordsmanship, there’s no meaning. After all, nothing will change in a fight if there’s just two or three more adequate swordsman. 」
「In other words……, I would have to learn swordsmanship? 」
Minerva’s eyes widened at the unexpected revelation.
「That’s exactly what I mean though? ――Giving up? 」
After all, being a duke’s daughter and learning magic already sounds bad in the higher society. Swordsmanship would be even more so. After all, being known as someone who swings sword around might make her lose her marriage chances.
「…………No, I will continue. Please teach me swordsmanship. 」
Minerva who closed her eyes for a while thought and made her resolve and said so while looking straight into Ardis’s eyes.
「I will run if needed to. I will wield a sword if needed. So please teach me sword magic. 」
Ardis who saw the unshaking resolution of Minerva started his instructing days from hereon.
Almost ten days had passed since then.
It started with building stamina. Until then, the daughter who had been carefully cultivated like a fragile flower had no physical strength to swing a sword. She was to only run to get the minimum stamina needed to learn swordsmanship.
Of course, all the aides and servants were not very affirmative of it.
「I shall report everything to master! 」
It was the servant who guided Ardis the first time he came here, Holga who said so.
But is it Ardis’s fortune or misfortune, the house owner, the duke didn’t pay any mind to it. Either he doesn’t have any complaints to Ardis’s method, or he was too busy with other things that he didn’t have time for this, or he doesn’t care about his daughter. Ardis didn’t know.
The training for Minerva is still progressing smoothly as usual. Thanks to her still being in her growth period, although it was just once every three days, her stamina grew better every day.
And Ardis brought Rona to the training grounds every time as per Minerva’s wish. It seems like she fell in love with the feeling of Rona’s fur the first time she touched it, she would definitely enjoy it thoroughly with her whole body whenever the training finished.
Although Ardis thought Rona would be reluctant to come, it seems like the duke daughter had saw through Rona’s weakness in the first day. With the sweets that the duke residency’s chef made, the golden beast was easily entertained.
「Rona. Today are chocolate brownies. Here, aa―n. 」
Rona had now completely devolved to being spoon fed by Minerva. Such a pathetic partner was what Ardis thought.
On the fifteenth day when she actually had to swing a wooden sword, it seems like Minerva had some leftover energy after the training. And as soon as the training ended, she would rush into Rona and bury her face in Rona’s golden fur to enjoy.
Though the servant, Holga was warning that it’s 「Unladylike」, his smile showed otherwise, it was an expression much better than when Ardis first met him, and he showed displeasure. Although Rona seemed uncomfortable for a moment, it seems like his patience to eat sweets still held up.
「Well then Rona, I will be going somewhere for a while, so stay put here. 」
Meaning? With that face directed to Ardis, Ardis answered.
「The duke seems to have something to talk to me. 」
Fuu―n, is probably what he wanted to say.
Till then, the duke that had remained a bystander suddenly summoned Ardis. Even Ardis felt 「Only now? 」. After all, the servants had already reported his daughter’s matter, and if he had any complaints, there’s no meaning to have waited this long.
「That’s the case, so wait a while for me. 」
「If so, I shall look after Rona. Rona, the chef made many sweets today. Let’s eat it together. 」
Fortunately, there was Minerva doting on Rona.
「Please don’t feed him so much sweets. 」
Those words are meant for Rona, as Ardis smiled bitterly seeing Minerva hugging Rona with a smile.
「Then, later. 」
Saying so, Ardis followed behind a servant and headed for the mansion.
The training grounds where Ardis left, Rona and Minerva took a place with shade to rest. Rona was stuffing his cheeks full of sweets that the servants prepared happily, while Minerva was sitting beside Rona with a slightly gloomy expression.
Minerva’s fingers brushed the golden fur while she sighed a little.
At the cry that seemed to ask what’s the matter, Minerva had a troubled face as she started talking.
「What is father going to say, I wonder……」
The aide and servants surrounding were afraid of Rona and never approached. Since her soft voice probably wouldn’t reach elsewhere, Minerva started speaking to Rona in a way that would make her ethics tutor’s brows to tremble.
「Is he going to call off the lessons? I mean, it would sound bad for his daughter to swing a sword brutishly, but he didn’t say anything till now……」
「Even Ardis-sama doesn’t look like he’s really willing to do this. I wonder if he thinks that it’s just a child’s selfishness or playfulness? 」
While patting Rona’s back, the duke daughter continued her monologue without expecting any answers.
「But, I want to become strong. I don’t want it to hurt anyone. I just don’t want to be a baggage. If I were not a powerless girl that can’t protect herself……, Tarant and Leila might’ve not died……」
The iris colored pupils shook. As if to hide it, Minerva hugged Rona’s neck and buried her face.
「What everyone said. 『They had done well』. As my escorts, as aides, they had magnificently fulfilled their roles. An honor. Everyone in my house praised them……」
Slowly, Minerva’s tone that had suppressed her emotions was overwhelmed with sadness.
「But I don’t want that……! 」
While her face still buried at Rona’s neck, the girl let her suppressed sadness out.
「They don’t have to be magnificent! They don’t have to take it as an honor! I didn’t want them both to die! At my side, just that, would be enough……! 」
With hiccups, Minerva threw up everything in her heart.
Though those that look from afar could only see her hugging Rona as usual. But only Minerva herself and Rona knew what she felt at the moment.
An unknown time later, Minerva who had finally calmed down loosened her arm around Rona.
「I don’t want anyone dying for me. That’s why I want to be strong, at the very least not dragging anyone down. Even if it’s unladylike, even if it’s unsightly. I will definitely learn sword magic! 」
Even though it was a declaration meant for no one, only the triangular shaped ears with fluffy golden fur heard it.
Rona licked away the tears left on Minerva’s cheeks. It was Rona’s way of consoling her.
「Fufu―. Thank you. Rona really seems to understand what people say. 」
Glad on Rona’s reply, Minerva continued speaking, now with a refreshed tone.
「Then will you pass a message to Ardis-sama? I will try hard so please don’t give up on me. 」
Rona’s loud cry was as if telling Minerva to leave it to him.