The Country of Freedom. Those who know of the Canal Kingdom refer to it as that.
No form of discrimination exists, only equality and freedom are advocated in this country.
But it was only called that up to a little while ago.
Ever since the civil war started, the Canal Kingdom has been in chaos.
People aspiring to become mercenaries or heroes began rising up as criminals began taking advantage of the confusion.
The battle between the First Princess and the Third Princess split the country into two, and the uproars born of that only continued to increase.
Even Regul, a town that prospered due to being near the borders of St. Altlis Kingdom, was now running wild.
The main street that was once bustling with activity would now be filled with the sounds of outsiders fighting against each other, and the vigilante corps that would normally take care of them were too exhausted to operate efficiently.
Even if the knights were to be called, there was no saving this civil war.
Every once in a while, a person with decent capabilities would come in and take care of the ruffians, but they most often expect to be rewarded handsomely, and end up leaving before long as a result.
This meant that those who stayed were mostly useless. Not to mention, those ruffians would grow more and more common by the day.
It couldn’t be blamed that it got to the point where the representative of the vigilante corps discussed with the town’s leader over the possibility of simply kicking those ruffians out before they became a problem that would no longer be manageable.
As such, it was no surprise that the ruffians began organizing in the shadows after sensing that those courses of action were about to take place.
Before the citizens of Regul could begin their operation, the ruffians made their move.
They went straight for where the vigilante corps were grouped up at.
「We are the volunteer soldier company “Chebel’s Fang”! We offer this town up to the First Princess!」
The volunteer soldier company’s claim was admirable, but it was still nothing but a claim.
They did not truly pledge their loyalty to the First Princess from the bottom of their hearts. They didn’t even understand the meaning behind the First Princess’ ideals. They just thought there was something wrong with how these people who were crying out the name of the kind Third Princess that loved her citizens were using violence, so they sided with the First Princess.
Essentially, by claiming to operate in the name of the First Princess, it’d be harder for others to designate them as criminals that have taken over the town, and that was the only reason why they were doing any of this.
But even if they did manage to take over the town of Regul, they had no plans for what they would do next. If one were to realize that fact, that would mean that they had yet to become the same as those ruffians.
「D-Do you realize the consequences of what you people are doing…?!」
「Heh, shut up, you damn dog of the Third Princess!」
The ruffian man swung his ax into the vigilante corps member’s head.
They had completely begun thinking of themselves as 「volunteer soldiers fighting for the justice of the First Princess.」
There were many that joined this volunteer soldier company with dreams of making it big, but at the same time, the number of criminals and wanted men that joined were even greater.
It was also them that suggested that the volunteer soldier company use that squeaky clean claim. They knew that it would be easier to make the idiots operate, after all.
If things got bad, they could always just run away. That’s why they made the head of the 「self-proclaimed volunteer soldier company」 this time around one of those idiots as well.
As long as you reminded them of their path to fame and glory every once in a while, it wasn’t too hard to get them going.
Leave the vigilante corps to the idiots, and then team up with others with the same scent as you and pillage the citizens.
「Hehe, where are you goin’, little girl!」
A young girl was running into a back alley as she was being chased by one of those pieces of scum.
This girl was the poster girl of the inn she worked at, and she returned to this chaos right when she happened to come back from handling a few errands. She was heading straight to her home, the inn where she worked, and that’s when she ended up getting chased by this 「volunteer soldier company」 man who was apparently looking for her.
The girl knew of the man as well. A few weeks ago, he had tried to assault her, only to end up getting beaten up by a passing-by adventurer.
He was exiled from the town, but for some reason, he’s come back. The girl did not have the time to ponder such things, however.
The vigilante corps station she was initially planning to escape to had gone up in flames, and she was getting farther and farther from the inn that was her home.
Her panic was chipping away at her composure, and the exhaustion from all the running was making her feet heavier.
Even so, she didn’t have the choice to stop running.
She had to keep running down the back alley as much as she could.
「S-Someone… help me… Anybody!」
「No one’s goin’ to come! Just give it up already!」
The man seemed to enjoy chasing her, but his patience apparently reached its limit, as he picked up his pace and grabbed the girl’s chest.
Upon the girl letting out a small cry, the man’s expression twisted into one of joy.
「N-No…! Let me go! Someone help…! Please!」
「I said no one’s comin’, didn’t I? Oh, wait. My friends are comin’, though. Is that what you’re into?」
As the man made a vulgar smile, a cling could be heard from behind him.
It was the characteristic sound of metal armor.
The sound of the footsteps nearing the man showed no hint of urgency, so the man thought that one of his friends really had arrived.
He wanted to enjoy the girl on his own for a little longer, but he supposed that he might as well share her for now, before any selfishness ends up biting him in the back afterward.
The man continued to think about that with a smile on his face as he turned around, upon which he received a gauntlet’s fist to the face and fell to the floor after twisting around in the air.
「Are you all right?」
The girl, confused about what was going on, was sitting in the alleyway as she looked up at the person who punched the man that was chasing her.
She had very short blond hair and thin yellow eyes. The armor she was wearing was of the same shining golden color.
Her body was draped with a white cape, but it did nothing to hide her beautiful brilliance.
There was only one person in this country that had all of those characteristics.
「Yes. I am Eltrinde.」
Eltrinde. She was the Canal Kingdom’s Second Princess, a great sorceress that’s been said to even be stronger than the imperial magician that attended to the Second Princess.
Often said to be the second coming of the Great Sage Teria that accompanied the Hero Ryuuya, she also was gifted with great talent for the martial arts.
This combat genius who was often referred to by the nickname 「Princess General」 took to neither the side of the First nor Third Princess, and instead worked with a group of elite in order to maintain order in the country.
That’s why the girl realized that the rumored 「Knights of Light」 had arrived.
「Did you come to… save this town…?!」
Eltrinde made a small smile in response to the girl’s words.
Seeing that smile made the girl feel relief from the very bottom of her heart, and it was at that moment that her exhaustion caught up with her and she fainted.
Eltrinde rushed to support her falling body and then scratched her face as if she was unsure of what to do.
「Hmm, now what? I came here with a completely different goal in mind, though.」
A single man dressed in black landed next to Eltrinde. He was an intelligence operative of the Canal Kingdom.
「It seems that what’s happening here has no relation to the First Princess. They’re just criminals taking advantage of the situation.」
「I thought so. It was a bit too rough to be considered something my sly older sister would think of.」
「What should we do?」
Eltrinde groaned with a troubled tone in response to the man in black’s words.
It was only a coincidence that Eltrinde came to this town.
She had a different goal in mind… and she was originally just trying to get through this town as fast as possible.
Be that as it may, there was no way she could ignore what was going on here.
「Hmm… Hmmmm… We already have some of our forces at our original destination, yes?」
「Correct. The ones that are already in the vicinity have been taking care of it as usual.」
Eltrinde continued to groan, and eventually let out a small sigh.
「I suppose there’s no helping it. If I were to turn a blind eye to this, then I would not deserve to be considered either royalty or a knight. My sword shall befall judgment to these insolent fools!」
At the same time the man in black responded, Eltrinde’s troops that were in hiding all scattered out at once throughout the town of Regul.
「…My goodness. I wonder just how long it’ll take to accomplish my original objective, now.」
Muttering those words, Eltrinde fell into deep thought over what to do with the unconscious girl.