A glimmering city of light. Everyone who knew the former city of Elarc described it in this way. The Canal Kingdom, whose capital was Elarc, was filled with people of many different races. One of the reasons for this was that many people migrated there from the St. Altlis Kingdom when the subhuman theory became widely accepted.
However, as a result of the 「truth」 exposed by the Third Princess Celis, the kingdom was thrown into ruin and a civil war had begun.
「So, this is it…」
Taking a deep sigh, Kain looked up at the main entrance to Elarc. The gates, which must have been blown up by countless magic spells, were demolished, completely burnt to the ground. It was a horrible sight. Even the guardroom and the area that must have been the observation platform were reduced to rubble.
Laying close by in the ruins was what seemed like a melting piece of armor. It didn’t seem to have any 「contents」, but it was obvious that something terrible had happened there. Near the crumbled gates, there was some sort of strange black mass.
「…Kain. Isn’t this different from the information we received earlier?」
Kain swung around as Ein’s words rang out from behind him.
「We had heard that the Swords of Light Chivalric Order and the Staves of Light Chivalric Order had sided with Third Princess Celis, and that the destruction we see here was from the opposing forces…」
There were four knight armies in the Canal Kingdom. They consisted of the Imperial Guard Chivalric Order, which defended the king, the Swords of Light Chivalric Order, which was composed of swordsmen, the Shields of Light Chivalric Order, which was composed of heavy knights, and the Staves of Light Chivalric Order, which was composed of magic users. Among these groups, the ones that sided with Princess Celis were supposed to be the Swords of Light Chivalric Order and the Staves of Light Chivalric Order. In terms of firepower, these forces were greater than those of the First Princess, which means that they should be at an advantage.
Therefore, if the Staves of Light Chivalric Order was on Princess Celis’ side, it would be very strange for the front gates to be destroyed by magic.
「Could it be possible that those court magic users are powerful enough to rival an entire army?」
Kain thought of Mazenda, the suspicious-looking magic user that they had in the past. However, was it really possible for one person to do this much damage?
「Hmm, it looks like you don’t know anything.」
Suddenly, the strange black mass near the gates began to speak, and Kain backed away in bewilderment. However, Kain muttered to himself in confusion as the black mass turned out to be a black knight covered in soot.
They had black hair and black eyes. It was rare for a person to have both of these traits. Their heavy armor was also jet black, so their entire body was completely covered in black.
It was the first time Kain had seen someone like that.
The armor that the black knight wore seemed to be of good quality, but it was different from any of the armor worn by the knights in the Canal Kingdom. They looked like they were some sort of noble or adventurer.
One the other hand, the sword that they held was a steel blue blade of a completely different design. It seemed like an ordinary sword, and it looked quite crude in comparison to the clearly well-crafted set of armor he wore.
「Oh…this? This is a weapon I stole from the people that attacked me. It’s a pretty poorly crafted sword, but it’s better than nothing.」
Saying this in an annoyed way after noticing Kain’s stare, the black knight took a deep sigh, still sitting down.
It was hard to distinguish at first, but it seems as though the black knight is a woman. Her short, black hair was covered with soot and there was no sense of liveliness in her eyes.
「Um… What are you doing in a place like this?」
As Kain spoke to her with hesitation, the black knight answered back, clearly annoyed.
「…Me? If it isn’t already obvious to you, I’m not doing anything.」
Kain looked back at Ein with a troubled expression, and Ein quickly looked away. She’s trying to communicate that she doesn’t want to have to deal with such a bothersome woman.
「W-why aren’t you doing anything?」
「Because I don’t know what to do.」
Saying this, the black knight looked up at the sky.
「…Look, the sky is beautiful.」
「Err, yes it is.」
As the black knight looked up at the sky, Kain hurriedly came up with a response. Even though it’s clear that Kain is struggling to keep the conversation going, Ein pretended not to pay attention. As she was thinking about how good Kain was at sticking his head into bothersome matters, the black knight continued talking.
「Even I don’t know what I am… but when I’m fighting, I feel at ease. That’s why I’m waiting here, waiting for some battle to come my way.」
「Hmm……Does that mean you’re a mercenary?」
「What’s a mercenary? Is that what I am?」
Kain tilted his head and turned around towards Ein again. As Ein looked away once again, Ein sighed in defeat and turned back around to face the black knight.
「Ummm… My name is Kain Stagius.」
「Could you please tell me your name?」
As Kain introduced himself with a smile on his face, the black knight stared him down with her lifeless eyes.
「…There’s no point in asking that, for two reasons.」
「The first reason is that the name that will be marked on the gravestone is yours. You’ll never engrave my name, so there’s no point in asking me for it. The second reason is that I don’t know my own name.」
As Kain tilted his head in confusion once again, he swung around to Ein, desperate for help, only for her to avert her gaze once again.
「Umm… Mam, why will my name be marked on the grave?」
「Because if you give me your name and ask me for mine, it must mean that you’re challenging me to a duel, right?」
「Ein, please help me!」
As Ein, standing there with her arms crossed, quickly rejected his plea for help, Kain hurriedly began trying to sort things out with the black knight.
「Umm, so, mam. I’m don’t want to challenge you to a duel, I would just like to know your name. Earlier, I heard you say that you don’t know your own name, but what does that mean?」
「Ahh, I don’t know. However, I do know that the sky is blue, I know that I feel good when I fight, and I know that this place is called Elarc.」
Upon hearing this, Kain staggered backwards, almost falling over. When they first met, this black knight had said that he 「didn’t know anything」, as if she knew everything herself. However, no matter how he looked at it, it had to be ‘that.’
「Umm… Mam, if you don’t remember anything, could it be ‘that’?」
「The weather was sunny yesterday. I also remember that the wind was quite strong.」
「I refuse. Do something yourself.」
Despite losing almost all hope, Kain tried to get himself together. He wondered how he was supposed to have an actual conversation with this woman who repeated the same joke over and over again. Desperately thinking, Kain remembered something that a bad friend used to say back when he was in school. 「If you make use of this, it will become your ultimate weapon」—as his friend’s face appeared in his mind, Kain began to speak.
「…Mam, you are very beautiful, aren’t you! You’re the perfect person to me, and… would you like to have tea!?」
「I don’t have any money.」
「It’ll be my treat! Please, please!」
Wearing an incredibly unnatural smile, Kain desperately tried to recall the way his bad friend spoke back in the city. Usually his speeches would end up with him getting beaten up or having soldiers called on him, but it seems as though Kain was able to enter the rare “success” route.
「It seems as though I’ll have some interesting stories to tell when we get back… I’m looking forward to the chaos that it’ll cause.」
Sweating with panic after hearing Ein’s voice from behind him, Kain desperately tried to hold his smile together. The black knight glared at Kain with her lifeless eyes… And eventually, she firmly nodded.
「…Okay then. I’ll have you treat me.」
As the black knight stood up, she firmly grasped Kain’s arm. Her grasp resembled that of a soldier arresting a criminal.
「I still don’t know if you’re trying to deceive me… If that’s the case, I’ll twist your arm and cut it off.」
Ein chased after Kain with a cold expression as he was dragged into the city by the black knight.