Vol.1, Ch.3, P.12


Tiselius turned to the tent’s entrance. “Why, Lieutenant Mernesse! You’ve come to visit, as well, I see.”

“I-I have, yes! When I’d heard Rolf was awake, I came running as soon as I could,” Emilie explained herself before bowing to the mareschal. “Forgive me, madame. I did not mean to eavesdrop.”

“You’ve done no wrong. There’s hardly a door under this canopy to knock upon, anyhow,” Tiselius pardoned. “Nay, I must beg for forgiveness myself. You are his superior, and yet I could not help but have a few words with him before you’ve had your chance. I must’ve broken a rule somewhere in mine eagerness.”

The mareschal then bade Emilie forget any need for apologies, after which she rose up from her chair.

“Oh, and speaking of forgiveness,” said Tiselius. “Again, I must apologise to you two for Lindell’s ill-conduct. He’s been handed a censure, if ‘tis any comfort.”

“A censure, madame?” I asked.

“For how he madly mistreated you the other night, Rolf,” Emilie explained. “I told you I’d protest to the 1st, had I not?”

“Come to think of it…”

Indeed, Emilie was most incensed upon seeing me so cudgelled on the eve of the battle. Telling her to put it aside till after the dust had settled was all I could do to appease her, so keen as she was on taking up the matter to the 1st.

But to think she actually followed through on it. It would seem Lindell’s pursuit of her heart had met a dead end. I felt sorry for him, really.

Well, almost.

“Ever the wolf shrouded in a sheep’s fleece, that Lindell,” Tiselius confided. “Though I confess, never could I have imagined the man would bare his claws so capriciously…”

“‘We ought to gain from his immediate death,’ were his words, which he howled whilst acquainting me with his fists, no less,” I recounted to them. With Lindell’s censure made official, I thought to capitalise on the opportunity and air a warning of this man. A fellow furtively fraught with malice—even barring our little tangle, such a truth remained unfaded, one that deigned to be but a blight upon the Order. “If he’s a wolf as you say he is, Mareschal, then I’d reckon further that he’s of the rabid sort. A most dangerous one at that, to be frank.”

“Hmm… Yes. I’ll heed your measure of him. Only, he wears the orator’s jerkin just as well as he does the knight’s cuirass; that wolf is well-practised in rousing the packs to his purposes, you see. That he got off with a mere censure is proof enough of his cunning,” the mareschal revealed. “His punishment was vain overmuch. I am sorry.”

“N-nay, madame…!” Emilie said, flustered.

Violence against a fellow Order member comes with it grave consequences. But the exception here is that the target was me, an ungraced. Little wonder then as to why Lindell’s sentence was as feckless as it was. In spite of this, Tiselius did indeed task herself faithfully in punishing her own subordinate, something none could deny.

“You’ve done more than enough for us, fair Mareschal. We are most grateful,” I assured her.

“Hearing that frees me greatly,” Tiselius smiled. “I’ve kept you two long enough. ‘Tis time I took my leave.”

With that, the mareschal made way to the tent’s exit, but not before offering up some last words.

“Be well, then, Rolf.”

“I will, madame. Thank you,” I returned.

The exit flaps billowed and swayed as Tiselius disappeared behind them, at which Emilie looked on for a while with silent intent.

“…’Rolf’, she called you,” Emilie started.

“That she did.”

“And since when have you two got so cosy, might I ask?”

“From when I awoke, my Lady. The Mareschal Tiselius is in the habit of calling her yeomen by their first names, you should know.”

“And you should know that you’re no yeoman of hers, Rolf,” Emilie asserted. “…You’re mine, after all.”

Passing strange for her to say that.

“But of course, my Lady,” I confirmed.

To have my name known and so remembered by the keenest blade in the kingdom filled me with delight. But delight was all it was, really.

“…You were awfully desperate to save her when you did. Why was that?” Emilie enquired.

“The Order cannot abide losing any of its commanders,” came my obvious answer.

“She was wearing armour, you know. I scarce believe she would’ve needed another set—one as big as you, at least.”

“Nay. Were she not low to the ground, not even her armour could have saved her from the blast wave.”

“But… nevermind,” Emilie desisted. A peculiar look had been on her face, one rather… ‘unbecoming’ of her, if that’s the word. “…That reminds me, Rolf. The 1st shall remain here for a while longer yet, but the 5th heads home on the morrow.”

“I thought as much.”

What occurred in this battle, feats and faults all, would have to be recorded and re-investigated with great scrutiny. Drafts for the Des Ailes’ reconstruction would also have to be drawn up, after all details concerning its destruction and the damage to the surrounding area were collected. Once that’s done, troops would have to be organised and stationed throughout Erbelde basin.

“Cleanup”, as it were.

The Chivalric Orders are all effectively the military wings of Londosius. Fighting is but a facet of a knight’s office—he must hone his acumen for such mundane business just as much as he does his own blade.

The 1st would remain busier yet for the time being. But the 5th, with no official obligations to the river basin themselves, were free to return home, now that the curtains had fallen over the hard-fought battle.

“Except for the injured; they’re to remain till they’re well again,” Emilie explained. “That includes you, Rolf. Be good and get well soon, all right? And then come back when you’re able.”

“I will, my Lady.”

“I’d like to stay if I could, but Mareschal Tallien wouldn’t heed my request.”

“It won’t do to tarry here just for me,” I reasoned. “You needn’t worry. I’ll return soon enough.”

“If you say so,” she answered. “I should get going myself. There’s a meeting for the return march soon. Take care, all right? And no swinging that sword of yours till you’re well again!”

“I’ll give it my all, my Lady.”

With that, I rested my head deep against the pillow, looking at Emilie from the side of my eye as she made her way out of the tent. Before she made herself absent, however, I found her halted by the exit. There she stood, taken with a wordless and unmoving while, after which she turned to me.

“Rolf…” she called softly. “…Um… About what Mareschal Tiselius said earlier… about joining th—”

“I’m not going anywhere,” I interrupted, purposeful in my discourtesy.

“…Even if she approached you again?” Emilie re-enquired.

“Yes, my Lady.”

“…I see.” Her visage softened. “Right then, off I go. Come back soon, Rolf!”

And with a smile, she left the tent.

For as long as I can, for as long as I am allowed, I would stay by her side. This I resolved to do, and with the decision made, I let my eyes fall to a close.



Chapter 3 ─ End



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