“Hah, hah, why do I have to do something like this.”
Chlust did pushups as he glared at Rudel watching over him. Pushups if he opposed, pushups if he slacked off… A hell that went on regardless of holiday or school day, Chlust uttered complaints as he was left with no choice but to obey. He tried launching surprise attacks on Rudel a number of times, and sent letters home to beg for salvation.
But from the house, ‘Just do it’, was the only response he got back. When he got a letter saying he didn’t need to come home over the long weekend, Chlust turned quite despondent. On the other hand, a change was occurring in his home Arses House as well. While the fact he caused problems was the same as Rudel, the problems Chlust caused were related to the face of the house.
His conduct in abandoning the princess, and the fact he holed himself up after losing to a commoner… his parents had also abandoned him and chosen to prioritize Rudel, who was liked by the king. All the actions they had taken against Rudel suddenly inverted at the drop of a hat.
If Rudel wished it, they accepted and denied Chlust their help. Rudel himself had wondered whether his house would forcefully come to take him, but they were much more approving than he had expected, to an extent it was even creepy.
“There’s no time to the match, Chlust. Once you’re done with that, next is…”
Chlust had a match with Fritz right after the third term’s class tournaments. The thought alone frightened him.
“… Like hell I can win.”
Not to Rudel, he muttered to himself. Hearing that, Rudel made a conflicted expression. He was training Chlust up, but even if he strengthened his body, his heart remained in pieces. He had shouted at him a number of times to forcefully get him to train, but once talks turned to Fritz he would instantly cower.
“You’re fine with ending this at a loss?”
Chlust wouldn’t answer Rudel’s question.
“I won’t tell you to win. But don’t run away… if you run, I definitely won’t forgive you.”
Chlust couldn’t answer to that one either. He simply continued his pushups in silence.
The second term over, it was just about time for the holiday to end… Basyle told Rudel she would resign. While Rudel tried to stop her, once he heard out her reasons, he gave his approval.
“There isn’t anything left for me to teach you. And Vargas proposed to me… the plan’s to get married after his graduation. So I think I’m going to quit my job this year.”
“R-really! Then we’ve got to celebrate. I have to think up a gift…”
The sudden development did surprise Rudel, but as her employer, he did want to congratulate her. Basyle had seriously been a big help when it came to magic, and Vargas was the first friend he made since he enrolled, his big brother-esque comrade. As Rudel thought, Basyle proposed a certain thing.
“In that case, I do have a single request. I want to get my husband the tool of his trade, a ‘shield’. Ever since he broke it last year, he hasn’t been able to get one of his own.”
Basyle knew Rudel would do something even if he told him not to give gifts or celebration, so she made a request for Vargas’ shield. In that case, she could end the matter with only one gift for the two of them. She thought.
“That’s fine and all, but what about for you, Basyle?”
“Rudel-sama, the shield of a shield knight is expensive. That’s more than enough for the both of us, so…”
Basyle spoke with a broad smile. Rudel also thought over this and that… and nodded. He thought to arrange for a shield at once, but Rudel had no weapon dealers or blasmiths under his wing. To be more precise, it never occurred to him to use his house’s connections. And the one he decided to ask was…
“Not Eunius, but me? … Sure enough, the Halbades House has a few proficient ones, but a shield, eh…”
Rudel consulted with Luecke who had just returned from vacation. But to the Halbades House that valued knowledge over military exploits, it wasn’t impossible to prepare a shield knight’s shield, but it couldn’t be recommended. If he wanted a weapon no matter what, it would end up being an expensive, ornamented decoration piece.
Luecke wanted to answer his friend’s request. There, he thought of something.
“If you want a skilled blacksmith, I do know a guy. It’s not like I’m employing him, but I did have him make a few of my magic research tools so I can guarantee his skill.”
“Can he make shields as well?”
“He’s a former blacksmith, so you don’t need to worry. So are you using the shield? Or is it going to be Chlust?”
Luecke immediately started drafting up an order letter to the smith.
“No, it’s for Vargas. He’s going to marry Basyle soon, so I wanted to send it as a gift. Vargas is going to be stationed in the outer regions, and I think Basyle will be following him?”
Luecke’s hand stopped as he thought for a bit. Thinking of Vargas’ personality, and instantaneous decision-making, as well as the fact a magic specialist like Basyle was becoming his wife…
“I see… then I’ll also chip in for that gift.”
“I don’t think that’ll work, Luecke.”
“No, it’s not a problem. The reason being Vargas’ employer is going to be me.”
While Rudel tilted his head, Luecke started writing a letter addressed to his own house as well. There’s a talented shield knight, and I want to hire him, he wrote. In his head, he put together his own magic theories and the existence of shield knights. To use the spells that required complex magic circles he had been drafting up for some time, it would be easier if someone carried a tool inscribed with the sigils from the start.
“There are few shield knights in existence. They don’t stand out, and it’s difficult for them to earn medals… but just hiring one would be a problem. If they’re of no use, then there’s no point in keeping them.”
“But what if I have one hold a shield inscribed with a magic circle, and have them take charge of magic? With the leadership skills to change formation in an instant… Rudel, the era has come for the value of shield knights to change!”
Rudel had a general idea of what Luecke was trying to do, but he felt some pity for Vargas who was essentially becoming Luecke’s test subject. Since it was Luecke, he wouldn’t do anything life-threatening, Rudel imagined the tests and training would be harsh indeed.
Between being appointed on the border and taking service under an archduke, the latter was definitely more welcoming. With that in mind, Rudel mulled over what was best for Vargas.
Around that time, Basyle had gone out to town to prepare a gift for Rudel. In the previous year’s events, Rudel had lost his sword, and even now, he didn’t possess one for his own personal use. That wasn’t a problem on school grounds, but thinking of what was to come, Basyle concluded it best he had one and decided to find one for him.
She went to consult the old man who bought and sold goods, but,
“A sword? No matter what type it is, the price will be on another level if you want a good product. You’ve never used a sword before so you might not know, but melting down a mana-imbued iron ore alongside monster bones is the trend these days. If you want to do it that way, the price will jump up… what’s your budget?”
Basyle presented her funding on her fingers. The old man breathed a sigh.
“As if you could buy a sword for a future archduke with that kind of money.”
“Can’t you do something about it!?”
“I do want to do something to congratulate you on your wedding, but with that money… you’ll have to make due with a normal sword.”
As they carried out that exchange, a single man entered the store. As the door opened, the bell’s jingle resounded throughout, followed by the broken words of a black haired orient.
“Heard there was rare monster tusk, in this shop… could you show me?”
“Yeah, I do have one lying around. Are you a foreigner? I was troubled because I couldn’t find any sellers. If you’ll buy it, I’ll give you a bargain.”
As he was that, the old man sent a look at Basyle. Basyle understood it was the ‘tusk of back then’ she had sold to the man.
“That is right. I’m working as a smith in a town near the border. I wanted to work with my partner to make a weapon that could attract some visitors before we opened up a shop. I have been looking all over for some interesting materials, and my search has brought me here.”
Hearing that, Basyle had an idea. Open up shop, meaning he wasn’t that famous yet. In that case, he would want the prestige… thinking that, Basyle offered the proposal.
“Hey, Mr. Blasksmith, would you hear me out…”
And like that, Rudel’s sword was to be made with the ‘tusk of back then’ as its base. It was from the first black monster Rudel met, and an item with a deep connection to him.