Chapter 15

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A fool raising a sword

 

Wondering if he was hallucinating, Archiralph rubbed his eyes several times. 

 

However, the scene before him didn’t change at all.

 

The wolf with its vital point lacerated, and the girl that stood without a speck of dust on her. 

 

“You can have this.”

 

Atalante handed over the wolf to him as if she was throwing a small ball, and turned without lingering.

 

As expected, nighttime was the best. Thanks to the darkness, not only were her features not seen clearly by the Garrison member, the colour of her eyes was also unclear.

 

Did he even know that he had missed capturing a wanted criminal that was right in front of him?

 

Atalante chuckled at that thought and was about to return back to the position she had marked, before hearing the sound of urgent footsteps chasing after her.

 

“What’s this?”

 

A coward that couldn’t even use his sword was quite good at running.

 

The man that blocked Atalante’s path instantly panted as he tried to catch his breath. 

 

As Atalante pulled the hood even lower while contemplating on how to get rid of him, the large man fell to the floor before her. 

 

He got down on his knees.

 

People grovelling at her feet was an often occurrence. 

 

However, the people that grovelled in front of her had their own reasons.

 

They weren’t like this guy that bowed down without an explanation.

 

After thinking about what was this man’s intentions for a long while, Atalante slowly moved her lips. 

 

“…Are you telling me to step on it?”

 

“No way!”

 

At the sound of such creepy words, the man lifted his upper body with a cry.

 

“Then, what is it? Why did you lie down in front of the street?”

 

“P–Please accept me as your disciple!”

 

“A disciple?”

 

Atalante frowned without realising it at the sound of his strange words. 

 

“That single-eyed ferocious wolf is a wanted animal in the village. It ate a number of people in the village.”

 

What do you mean wanted? Did she just kill an animal that was in the same situation as her?

 

She felt a little apologetic.

 

However, without knowledge of what Atalante was thinking about, Archiralph bowed his head and continued.

 

“He was a quick and ferocious wolf, and we had kept waiting for a response after requesting for the Imperial Family to supply us with guns. It was a wolf that definitely couldn’t be caught with a sword, but you…!”

 

She had dealt with it in a single strike.

 

After speaking in an excited tone, he stood up from his position with sparkling eyes. 

 

He then reached out his arms suddenly, as if he wanted to grab her hand. Of course, Atalante was a rookie that would obediently let him take her hand. 

 

“Just get to the point.”

 

Despite the fact that there was a knife on his neck, Archiralph had only flinched slightly, before saying what he wanted to convey while emphasising each syllable. 

 

“I knew from a g–glance that you were strong. Earlier… I’m sorry for saying something disparaging towards you. Please, I hope you can be my swordsmanship teacher, even if it’s just for a day!”

 

With brown eyes that were filled with earnestness, Archiralph used an almost breaking voice to beg her. 

 

Atalante lifted her robe slightly and checked his eyes, before replying with a light sigh.

 

“I don’t want to.”

 

“Why!”

 

“I’m busy. It’s annoying, so get up.”

 

Speaking as if it was an impressive story, and even kneeling down on the ground. To her, it was several times more indecent for someone to do something like grovelling on the ground than reaching her hand into her skirt. 

 

Pushing aside his chest with a finger, Atalante moved her feet slightly faster. 

 

But in an instant, a heavy object clung to her. 

 

“Please!”

 

Glancing down at her feet, she saw Archiralph holding onto Atalante’s skirt with a face that was on the verge of tears.

 

“Let go quickly before I kick you.”

 

“You can kick! I’ll just follow you again!”

 

She didn’t know that such a huge nuisance existed in this world.

 

Thinking that she had done a meritorious act for nothing, Atalante raised her foot to kick him.

 

If she kicked at his vital point accurately, he would definitely lose consciousness for a few minutes.

 

While there is no way that a beast will appear during that period of time, Atalante intended to see it through to the end once she had saved someone. 

 

“I– I’m a member of the Garrison…! I can’t use a sword!”

 

Just before she kicked him, Archiralph closed his eyes tightly and shouted.

 

“Yeah, it looked like that’s the case. How did you enter the Garrison?”

 

“… My father is the commander of the Beli branch.”

 

“Commander?”

 

He suddenly recalled the man that was nosy towards her during the day. 

 

Another Garrison soldier had clearly called him captain. Was his name Orlando?

 

“Thanks to my father’s reputation, I had somehow managed to become a Garrison soldier, but no matter how hard I train, I don’t have any talent in swordsmanship.”

 

“That seems to be the case. You can just give up.”

 

“No! I don’t aspire to be like you. Just, please help me with some pointers on how to wield the sword.”

 

“I’ve already said no.”

 

He, who had bowed down towards Atalante, wasn’t able to avoid her strike on the back of his neck. 

 

With a short scream, Archiralph quickly fell down to the floor.

 

She quickly turned around after cracking her hand lightly.

 

Just as she was leaving with steps that were even faster than before, a tiresome voice resounded from behind. 

 

“Hold on!”

 

Lionel was also like that. Was it a mistaken feeling that her single blows have strangely been off? 

 

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The scuffle between the two lasted for a while. Archiralph chased after Atalante persistently, proving his tenacity.

 

Giving up on shaking him off, Atalante eventually came up with a compromise. 

 

“…Fine. Then let’s do that tomorrow morning.”

 

“That’s a lie.”

 

He’s not falling for it.

 

In spite of his naive looks, he did know how to be doubtful of others. Atalante sighed lightly and asked with her arms folded. 

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Are you saying that you’re willing to accept me as a student?!”

 

“Name.”

 

“It’s Archiralph Lancers.”

 

From the fact that he had a surname, it’s likely that he was a noble. At the very least, he would be a rich commoner.

 

No wonder, it didn’t look like he was a lowly ranked knight when he had such a fine sword. 

 

“Age?”

 

“Twenty two.”

 

If he was twenty two, wasn’t he the same age as Mia? While it didn’t look like it at all, he was three years older than Atalante.

 

After wriggling two of her fingers a couple of times while her arms were folded, she slowly opened her mouth.

 

“Don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t suit you, and do what you want to do.”

 

“What?”

 

“Truthfully, you’re not that interested in the sword.”

 

“It’s not necessarily like that…”

 

As he trailed off, he scratched the back of his head awkwardly.

 

Atalante looked at Archiralph’s new sword for a while before continuing to speak.

 

“You seem like the son of a well-off family, is there a reason for you to do something that you don’t want to? You can get recognition from your father through other means.”

 

He wasn’t in the same situation like here, where she had no other choice. 

 

When she was young, she would often have such thoughts. 

 

If she had a little money, if her parents didn’t abandon her…would she be leading a better life, those kind of useless thoughts 

 

As the organisation began to grow, the less time she had to spend thinking about such useless thoughts, but she would occasionally dream of useless things when she closed her eyes. 

 

In her dreams, Atalante’s parents were both healthy, and while they weren’t rich, they lived in a comfortable home. 

 

Her father’s hand would replace the sword while her mother’s hand the gun, and she’d wake up from her dream. 

 

“That’s… There are things you must do even if you don’t want to. The sword is like that for me.”

 

It’s something he must do. It was a pretty satisfactory answer.

 

Although he seemed to be from the lowest ranks, Atalante thought that it would be better to gather information about the Garrison’s pursuit by pretending to help him with his swordsmanship, before shaking him off. 

 

It seems that there would be no end if she just refused him like this. 

 

While the problem of exposing her eye colour was a little troubling, it was enough for her to close her eyes when up against such a lousy opponent.

 

Bowing her head to yawn, Atalante spoke with a muddled pronunciation.

 

“I intend to sleep under the largest metasequoia in the forest tonight. When the sun is hanging at that tree’s position, if you still want to learn a sword from me, come and find me.”

 

“You’re not lying, are you?”

 

“If you don’t believe me, then follow along. I need to sleep, so get lost for now please.”

 

Was she telling him to follow her or to get lost?

 

Leaving behind contradictory words, Atalante started taking steps forward. 

 

Unlike how he looked, Archiralph was quite thorough and only turned to leave after confirming that she had leaned against the metasequoia.

 

Atalante’s voice just now clearly had a tone of sincerity… it seemed to be trustworthy. 

 

Archiralph took a few steps away from her, before turning around as if he had remembered something.

 

“Excuse me, your name is…?”

 

“John.”

 

“You’re lying!”

 

At such a ridiculous answer, Archiralph leaped up.

 

Instead of reacting, however, Atalante closed her eyes. Although he couldn’t see her face properly, she definitely was tired. 

 

“Then, may I ask why are you lodging here? If you’re a traveller, you can stay at the village inn.”

 

“It’s because I love nature.”

 

“That too… seems like a lie….”

 

At this point, others might suspect her of being Atalante, but Archiralph only tilted his head with a puzzled face.

 

A tenacious fool.

 

With that line of evaluation on Archiralph, Atalante lowered her head to sleep in earnest.

 

“Aren’t you curious about why I’m here at this hour?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Actually, I was lying in wait to catch Atalante.”

 

When her name came out of his mouth, Atalante opened her eyes involuntarily. 

 

Was it possible that the Garrison had figured out her location?

 

‘No. In that case, there’s no way such an absentminded person would come.’

 

But, there’s nothing bad about being a little more wary.

 

Atalante swallowed dryly and asked calmly.

 

“Why do you think Atalante will come here? Of all places, to the edge of the west?”

 

“Of course… It’s because Atalante would surely head to the Black Land. The Beli Forest is the only place connected to the Black Land.”

 

She didn’t even drink water, but she coughed like she had choked on water. 

 

How did that fool reach that conjecture?

 

When she raised her hand towards Archiralph, who was about to approach her, he stopped in his tracks immediately.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“It’s because that’s so absurd. Why would Atalante go to the Black Land? Unless she has a death wish.”

 

Pulling on the end of her hood, Atalante muttered with a gloomy voice.

 

She didn’t want to cause any casualties to the best of her abilities, but if that man completely grasped the path of her movements, he had to disappear. 

 

At Atalante’s words, Archiralph smiled brightly and justified his conjecture. 

 

“Atalante will definitely go to the Black Land. It’s because….”

 

“…Because?”

 

“She’s the boss of an underground organisation! Isn’t it a given that she’ll head there?”

 

The Black Land and boss, it was a perfect match!

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