NBAA Vol. 4 Chapter 3 Part 1
Reito went home and slept like a log.
He woke up the next day in the morning and reported to the elves visiting his home that the runaway Raikofu had come back.
Time had passed since the first spotting of the Rotten Dragon and it was now day six.
Every guild had mobilized its adventurers. All adventurers had received a notification that they would not take a defensive stance but were to go out and subjugate the dragon for themselves.
The fact that Reito had managed to procure Caledfwlch played a role in the decision. But, the scout sent out by the Hailstorm’s Maria had brought back a report that the Rotten Dragon had greatly changed.
The agent responsible for the scout report was the adventurer Shinobi Kagemaru. He spotted a horde of the undead being fed to the Rotten Dragon in a remote mountain village. Every time the dragon ate, its body changed greatly, and it had grown to be over 30 meters in length.
Reading this report, representatives from every guild decided that if they spent time messing around, the dragon would just get stronger. The Kingdom’s defense was reluctantly left up to General Alto, so the adventurers were to experiment with subjugating the Rotten Dragon by themselves.
In contrast to his orders, Alto wanted to follow along with the subjugation Corps. He wasn’t able to get the support of the city’s security personnel.
The day before the mobilization notification was sent out, the following conversation was had at the guildmasters meeting:
“I am the general in charge of this city’s defense. Are you trying to tell me to just sit back and watch as danger approaches the city! Take me with you to the battle!!” Alto protested.
“What would you even be able to do if you came? Also, don’t fool yourself. We are not soldiers pledged an oath of loyalty to the Kingdom. We have no obligation to follow your stupidity.”
Alto was overwhelmed by Maria’s ruthless words and reluctantly accepted her strategy.
After the conversation settled down a bit more, Bal let out a sigh, “Has the king forsaken us?”
“That’s not…” Alto bumbled at his words.
Gigan inquired, “Even though his daughter is in danger, he hasn’t sent so much as an envoy over to pick her up. Why?”
Princess Nao was being rehabilitated in the city. Despite that, the king hadn’t sent anyone to bring her back.
“Now that you mention it, this is just a rumor, but, after the new queen came to power, I heard the king has gone a little crazy. Is that true?” Bal asked.
Alto’s voice changed, “Wh-, What are you saying! Are you insulting our queen?!”
“It’s just that, the king I knew wasn’t such a cool-headed person as to not pick up his daughter who was in danger. Ever since the new queen has come in… To be more precise, ever since that new prince was born…”
“That’s enough from you! Retract what you’ve just said!”
“I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking. You think he’s crazy too, right? So be it. Just watch the house while we’re in battle.”
“W-, wait! This conversation isn’t o-”
“Little boy, this is a job for adults. Don’t rush to your death,” Bal kicked him out of the meeting room before he had time to object.
The Rotten Dragon policy notification had been sent out.
Thirty adventurers of the Black Tiger guild had gathered to participate in the subjugation effort.
Bal looked at their faces and began to speak, “All right. Everyone’s here. I’ll explain what our strategy will be going forward.”
Dain — who had been called in even though he wasn’t a Black Tiger guild adventurer mumbled,
“Pipe down. If you have complaints, save them for later.”
The 30 adventurers gathered for the Black Tiger guild included people from other guilds as they were short on personnel.
Kotomin and Erina along with the elf guards were there as well even though they weren’t adventurers at all. But, they were exceptionally talented, so Bal decided to have them participate in the subjugation effort.
Just then, Bal noticed something and asked Dain, “Now that I think about it. I haven’t seen Reito. Where is he?”
“I don’t know. I thought he would have been here first for sure.”
Dain glanced at Gonzo and the rest. They all shook their heads.
“I dunno,” Gonzo said.
“Not sure myself. Bro said that he didn’t need a guard anymore. Haven’t seen him since,” Erina explained.
“I don’t know where he is either. Suramin and Hitomin know, apparently,” Kotomin added.
“I don’t understand their language at all. Where did he go!” Bal was lost.
Naturally, the Subjugation Corps roster included Reito’s name. They were worried about his disappearance. Actually, he was in the adventure guild. But, he wasn’t on the first floor where the adventurers were gathering but on the second floor in the treatment room.
He had a basket of fruits and knocked on the door. He heard a woman say, “come in” from inside the room.
Opening the door, he found Nao sitting up in the middle of the bed. Reito came to visit her.
“Ms. Highness Nao.”
“What is that?”
“Highness Ms. Nao.”
“You just changed the order!” Nao made a joke and laughed a bit at Reito’s words before sitting back.
“It looks like I’ve worried you. I heard about it from Ms. Bal,” Nao said.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone call her, ‘Ms.’”
『Now that you say it, she usually is referred to as just Bal or Guildmaster…』
“You don’t address her as Ms. Bal even though she’s the master of the guild you belong to?” Nao was suspicious but brushed it off saying, “whatever!”
Reito pulled up a chair and sat down. He put the basket he had on the side table. He pulled out a knife and skilfully peeled the fruit.
Nao watched the peeling and nervously tried talking to Reito, “Reito, you’re my cousin… no, in this case, my little step-brother.”
“So it seems.”
Nao already knew about her relationship with Reito. She and her two younger sisters were adopted by king Baltros. Nao’s real parents had passed away and her father was the brother of the current king. Nao continued, smiling, “let’s drop the formalities. I wanna talk to you.”
“Okay,” Reito looked at her. She looked apologetic and bowed her head, “I’m sorry.”
“I heard about you a while back from father, or, the king. The king said it was a stillbirth, but I noticed that that was a lie.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Fourteen years ago, I saw Ms. Aira holding a baby as she was escorted by a soldier. That lady loved us in place of our mother, who had passed away. But, when the first prince was born, she disappeared from the castle. At the time, I didn’t understand why. But, some years later, I surmised that she had left the castle taking the firstborn prince with her.”
“You were there at that time?”
“Um, never mind.”
Reito has a memory from immediately after he was born. He also knew how he and Airis had ended up being expelled from the royal castle. However, he didn’t know that Nao had witnessed it all.
“After I realized what was going on, I asked the king several times where Aira had gone. He never answered. He married a new woman when I turned 10. That woman already had a child on the way. But, this new woman was awful as a mother.”
“One time, she put poison in our food at dinner time. She wasn’t awful to just me but my little sisters as well.”
Reito didn’t hold back his surprise at Nao’s statement.
Nao grit her teeth and clenched her fist as she continued, “that woman put just a little bit of poison in our food and was weakening our bodies. My younger sister was the first to notice the change. Her body had been weaker ever since the new baby was born, and they discovered poison in her body when they took her to a recovery specialist.”
“But, how did they know it was the queen who did it?”
“We forced the chef to spill the beans by brute force. I reported that it was the queen to the king. He didn’t believe me. He covered for the queen saying that it was a plot by another kingdom or the Empire. It was at that time that me and my sisters realized that the queen and his new baby were more important to the king than us.”
Nao looked sad as she said, “To be honest, when Aira was there, our family’s relationship was good. Things got crazy when she was driven out, and that new woman came in. The king wasn’t the one who wished for your death.”
“The king was the one who put out the assassination order, but the queen was the one who told him to do so. She had caught word that Aira had run off with her son into the Forest of Abyss at some point.”
Reito was shook by the surprising story. He asked Nao, “Why did that woman, I mean, the queen go after me and my mother’s life?”
“No need to be so formal. The queen hated me too. She went after your lives because she wanted her son to be the one to take the throne undisputedly. She also went after me and my sisters. She even went after her husband, the king.”
“Are you serious?”
“Even the king’s food had poison in it. Even more poison than we had. She was trying to rule the kingdom with her son.”
Nao was irritated and punched the table. A few fruits fell from the basket upon impact.
“I’m sorry. I lost my cool. Anyway, we’ve got to concentrate on that bastard, that dragon.”
“I want to be the one to kill it,” Nao said with an extraordinarily pointed look.
The entirety of the battalion of knights she led, the Valkyrja Knights, had perished at the hands of the Rotten Dragon. Many of those who didn’t die in battle still hadn’t regained their consciousness. She wanted her vengeance.
But, she had woken up the day before the siege against the Rotten Dragon — her body was still weakened. According to the recovery specialist, it would be a number of days of rehabilitation before she could move again.
Nao pleaded to Bal to let her into the Subjugation Corps.
Bal refused but gave in to her volition and permitted her to accompany them.
While Nao was burning with a desire for revenge, Airis contacted Reito.
『Bal isn’t going to bring Nao along. She lied and is going to leave her in the city. She’s preparing for the worst and putting sleeping medication in Nao’s food.』
Reito wasn’t sure how to respond to that information and decided to change the topic.
“So, you know a lot about my mother?”
“Mmm… Yeah, of course. I saw her several times while I lived in the royal capital.”
“When I came back to the royal capital, I would always report about your situation to Ms. Aira. But, I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to let you see Aira. At present, she lives under the cover of an aristocratic family.”
According to Nao, when Reito ran away from the mansion, Aira snuck into the royal castle and punched the king in front of one of his retainers. Now she’s living in a separate mansion. That matched the information Reito had gotten from Maria.
“So that’s what was going on. Now that you mention it, my little brother, the second prince, what kind of kid is he?”
Reito wanted to know about his younger brother from another mother who was the reason for the assassination order on him.
She looked troubled to speak as she began, “He’s… I don’t know him that well.”
“You don’t know much about him?”
“The second prince is being lovingly raised in the royal castle. Of course, I’ve seen him a few times, but the last time I saw him was one year ago.”
“One year ago!?”
Reito was surprised, so she explained further.
“After the poison in the food affair, my sisters and I lived far away from the castle. My sisters are taking care of Ms. Aira at a certain aristocrat’s mansion. I’m sleeping at the Valkyrja Knight’s dormitory, so we don’t live together. Sometimes I go to the royal castle to report things for work, but other than that I don’t really see the prince.”
“So, I see. I was just a little curious.”
“You shouldn’t have high hopes. Unfortunately, his personality is similar to his mother’s. On the surface, he is polite, but he is arrogant towards those of a lower status than him. I’ve heard rumors he gives absurd orders to his servants and plays around with them.”
“Is the kingdom doing okay…” Reito was dumbfounded. He was glad he had been banished. As a result, he was able to peacefully spend time with Aira and Aria. He was probably happier than Nao who had been raised in the castle.
“Now that you say it, what are your little sisters like?”
“You wanna know about them, huh? Well, from my perspective as an older sister, they are quite weird. They are good kids, but…”
Reito thought that Nao was pretty weird herself given that she was a member of the royal family leading a troop of knights on the frontlines, but he didn’t say anything.
He wanted to ask for more details, but there was a knock on the door.
“Oh, Reito! I thought you might be here.”