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Volume 4: Chapter 277 – Swirling Destinies (4/4)
After rendezvousing with Gulland, who was leading the volunteer soldiers, Rasdir, the commander of the knights, immediately headed for Altigand.
They believed that there would be no problem even if they refugees in tow if their destination was a mountainous area unsuited for deploying large armies. Moreover, most of the monster beasts have also gone quiet thanks to the efforts of the Wyvern Knights, so the journey should be relatively safe.
There was also word from Misha’s wyvern knights that have returned ahead of them, and by the time they arrived at Fort Bandigam, there were soldiers there to welcome them.
“…Gulland-dono, so it was true.”
“You’re… Yuan, right?”
The person that greeted the exhausted and mud-covered Gulland and refugees was that same Yuan that once led the people of the Western Region to flee to the east.
His clothes were by no means that of a normal soldier. Although he had likely yet to reach the rank of a general, the treatment he was receiving seemed no lesser than that.
“It’s good that you’re safe,” Yuan said.
“Yes, you too,” Gulland said.
Yuan awkwardly averted his eyes, and Gulland felt uncomfortable, but despite that, Gulland still entrusted him with the refugees.
“You must be in charge,” Rasdir said.
Rasdir was acting reserved because the two seemed to know each other, but when he picked up on the sensitive air between the two, he interjected.
“That I am indeed. Holy Knight, Yuan El Farran, at your service.”
“Holy knight…? I’m sorry, but…”
Knowing what had happened to Gulland, Rasdir was completely helpless regarding the darting eyes between the two men.
“The knights appointed by the “church” are known as holy knights. I’ve been assigned to be the vice-commander of the third unit.”
While Gulland was gazing on in amazement, Yuan courageously met his gaze.
“I see,” Gulland said.
“Yes,” Yuan said.
“I’ll leave the refugees with you.”
“On my name.”
As Yuan bowed his head, Gulland said nothing more and just turned his back.
Rasdir remained quiet as he made a difficult face, but it did not seem that he a solution could be found. Anyhow, since the refugees have been entrusted to this Yuan, he would have to go through him.
There was no telling how long Yuan would remain bowed to Gulland’s back, so Rasdir took it upon himself to break the silence.
“Excuse me. I can sense that the circumstances here aren’t something I should be cutting into, but I would like to ask you to process the refugees.”
“Yes, of course.”
After going through all the formalities, it was now time to prepare to accept the Elfa people as refugees. Rasdil was so impressed with how smooth everything went that he called out to Yuan, but the man just wryly smiled and shook his head.
“Refugees have been coming here since last year, and there hasn’t been an end to them. Thanks to the hero, they at least won’t be starving, but the most we’ve really managed to accomplish is just to get good at going through these procedures…”
Yuan laughed in self-deprecation, but there was no denying that he was able to finish the process in just a few days.
“…The former knights of Elfa and the margrave’s army will likely receive orders from the hero in the not so distant future.”
Whether they wanted it or not, all the military powers were gathering under the hero. Elfa fell, as did the minor nations that followed Altigand. So why was he so sure that this would be the only country that won’t be devoured by the goblins?
Rasdil was intrigued by this honest-looking young man called Yuan, so after Yuan finished his work, he invited him out for a drink, but Yuan used his work as a reason to refuse him firmly.
“In that case, I’ll wait until you’re done.”
Yuan laughed in a strained manner at that. but Rasdir was just too pushy, and in the end, he gave in.
“I’m sorry. I know I was a bit pushy in my asking you out, but I hope you can forgive me.”
“It’s fine. I can more or less understand your situation.”
Rasdir has been tasked to act as Elfa’s representative. The crown prince was yet too young, and the queen knew nothing about politics, so lineage-wise and position-wise, the only person that could fill the role of Elfa’s representative was him.
From his perspective, however, although they were able to seek asylum in Altigand, they didn’t have anyone in Altigand that was close enough to be called an acquaintance.. They were acquainted with the hero, yes, but that was as far as their relationship went. No matter how much the hero might call him a comrade, in the end, theirs was just a private relationship.
As the representative of the ruined nation of Elfa, he had to make connections in various fields. Yuan could understand that. Evidently, Rasdir’s impression of him being an honest and capable man wasn’t mistaken.
“So you saw through me.”
Rasdir said in a jesting manner, but his gaze was stern.
“I will do everything I can to help.”
“…Is that because of Gulland?”
“There’s that too, but I too entered Altigand as a refugee. It would be three years ago by now.”
As he sipped his drink, Yuan’s gaze seemed to turn to the past.
“But isn’t El Farran one of the thirteen martial families of the east?”
“Yes they took me in as a son-in-law.”
“I see. It must be because of your talents.”
“To be honest, I think I just got lucky.”
While asking about Yuan’s standing, Rasdir learned that there was a large movement within Altigand.
Their army was growing at a frightening pace. The Holy Kingdom of Alsas that he knew has already transformed into something else completely. He knew that they had been changing, but the speed at which they changed still surprised him.
The holy knights were appointed solely by the ‘church’ of the biggest religion of the east.
And the Order of the Holy Knights that they led was divided into five units. The organization was hastily put together over the past two years, so there was no avoiding that hastily produced feel to the organization, but regardless, the quality of their equipment did not fail to shock and awe.
“Vice-commander! So this is where you were!””
When Yuan was called out in that manner, Rasdir turned around to see a lone girl.
Yuan stood up from his seat and greeted the girl with a graceful bow. The girl was so beautiful that she did not seem to fit the tavern, but she was wearing the same armor as Yuan.
“I’ve been looking for you! Didn’t you promise to help me with my sword training once your work was done!?”
“Oh, that’s not that I meant. It’s not like I’m angry or anything. I’m not angry, but… Who might you be?”
As the girl’s eyes darted about restlessly, she turned to Rasdir as though to plead for help.
“Ah, yes. Where are my manners? …I am Rasdir from Elfa, my lady. Yuan-dono has helped me a lot in processing our refugees.”
“From the Iron Bull, right?”
As the girl carefully turned to Yuan, he nodded.
“…I see. In that case, it can’t be helped. I am Eleanor Dedo Gardena. Commander of the third holy knight unit.”
As Rasdir opened his eyes wide in surprise, Eleanor laughed in self-deprecation.
“Well, I’m more of a decorative commander than anything really. It is upsetting to see Vice-Commander Yuan taken, but I can understand that there are circumstances at play keeping him here, so I’ll just have to give up here today.”
As the girl turned heel and excused herself, Rasdir made a strange expression.
“Do even little girls go to war in this country? … She certainly seemed smart, but…”
“She’s better at the spear than I am. Her sword is still some ways off, but… She’s from the thirteen martial families of the east.”
“She’s a child.”
“Yes. That is absolutely correct.”
Rasdil’s eyes followed after the girl that had left, looking as though they had seen something that couldn’t be explained with words.