By the evening, Yusala Drill School's campus mourned the dead by dressing them up in caustic lime and poison.
The one who ordered that was the representative, Milifica Yusala Astozellen.
Through the arrangements Vint Culias made, the school was invaded by an elf together with demons and magical beasts. It left an irreparable scar on this drill school that would never disappear.
In other words——out of 207 students, 30 lecturers, 49 of other combined internal staff there were 89 dead, 38 missing, 18 people with serious injuries and 25 with light injuries. This tragedy left approximately half of the parties concerned with the school, considering the seventy percent of the students were sons and daughters of aristocrats, it a national-level major incident.
Although the damage to the building's appearance was minor, in a word - it was a nightmare. The corpses scattered all over the classrooms were in a state that caused people to feel terror, there were even cases where they couldn't determine their identity. It was so horrible they wondered how many of them can a person count.
All the corpses were disposed off with a special method.
That was caustic lime and poison.
The elven methods were cruel and wasteless. First they change a human into a demon using organic necromancy and change animals into magical beasts. Then they have demons and magical beasts attack humans, expanding the damage in a chain leading to destruction. The produced corpses automatically start to function as seedbeds for Fairy Country's plants. Where Calamitous Trees flourish, the location changes into "Forest of Elves". Once that happens there is no way for humans to recover the land. Once it's filled with highly-concentrated spirit energy humans are unable to enter that location.
In order to stop that, caustic lime, acid and poison were used.
In other words, before fairy plants have sprouted from the demon, magical beast and human corpses, the seeds were solidified in lime, burned with acid and decayed with poison. Of course, there was no way to properly mourn the corpses. Deciding to use this method and using it required a considerable resolve. It was discovered three years ago but——there was no opportunity to try it as humans didn't have access to the human corpses and apparently the village was eventually incorporated into the "Forest of Elves".
But, Milifica decided and put it to action.
If this place turned into the "Forest of Elves", elves would have an enclave within the territory of Midgalz Empire. Now that fierce battles were carried out in the nearby Great Astozellen Fortress, allowing it to be built in this place would be irreparable. It had be absolutely avoided.
Therefore, she——and the drill students have piled up the corpses of their fellow students, covered it them with acid and poison. It was a gruesome and cruel work. Stimulated by acid, the smell of blood and entrails has hung over the nearby location, the discoloured pieces of meat melted falling to the floor. Completing the treatment took several hours and there were few students who made decent expressions. Almost everyone had a wound on their hearts they wouldn't be able to get rid of for the rest of their lives.
But Milifica's dignified attitude was undisturbed and she faced it all.
Or possibly, that attitude may have been a sign that she is no longer able to turn back.
And——when everything was over, before nightfall. About the time when the sun had dyed the sky red.
The Representative, in front of the surviving one hundred and twenty six students, had closed down Yusala Drill School.
There was no confused nor opposing people. Everyone thought it was natural. After all, the casualties have reached triple digits. Below the hill——there should be no objections from the residents of the drill city either. In general, they were all families of the school staff and the merchants who relied on theirs and the students' demands for lifestyle. Once the school closed down there was no longer any reason to live in here. To begin with, who would want something like the land that was the target of elven invasion.
However, the proposal that was said after the declaration of closing down had all the drill students gasp.
With a very serious expression Milifica Yusala Astozellen said this.
"I'm recruiting volunteers from among fellow school students. Then, together with the volunteers we shall head towards Great Astozellen Fortress, I would like to join the front as soldiers."
Even though she was royalty——although far in the line to the throne, she was Her Majesty the Princess.
Even though her own arm was injured during this assault.
Although she was assigned to the office of the school's representative, in fact it was actually nothing than just a title she received as royalty. Even looking at this incident, the post-processing and fieldwork could be left up to a secret royal military team that would arrive at later date and she did not need to attend it. The highest priority should have been to quickly report of her safety to the Imperial City.
And yet, instead of returning, she intended to proceed forward.
She had become a volunteer herself and headed to the frontlines.
Everyone was speechless. Wondering if she's insane.
Normally, the one who would stop the Princess when she started talking reckless would be Vint Culias who acted as her watchdog, but he was no longer by her side. Arrested for a heavy crime of treason, he was confined to the city's dungeon until the Royal Knights arrive.
Maybe because a human they knew betrayed her she was thinking something. Or maybe because the man she admonished was gone, her innate recklessness appeared on her face.
Most of the students made an expression that said they can't understand.
It was natural. Almost all of the ones who survived were those who did not fight during the assault. The first thing they did was to either escape the campus, hide themselves curled up in fear or withdrew seeing they cannot win against the enemy——that's why they didn't die and remained alive. All the brave ones, all the ones with ardour were killed by either demons or magical beasts.
"Tomorrow morning, I will leave this place. Volunteers, please come to me by then. Of course, it's nothing compulsory. This is my own... selfishness as a warrior."
Even if she used all of her own popularity and beauty, it was unknown if there was anyone whose heart would be roused for the prospect. However, in Milifica's words there was not a hint of inspiration, encouragement nor a will to incite them.
Even after she finished her declaration, no one raised their voice.
That's why Milifica just silently raised her hand as a signal to disband.
After the night had passed, the next day was very sunny ever since the morning and the ridge-line of the Mi-Nou mountains was clearly visible.
There were two hundred kilometres until the Great Astozellen Fortress that was behind the mountains.
Although it took five days with a horse-drawn carriage, on human legs it takes up to ten days. First, nameless plains spread in front of them, after that there was a mountain road. It was a quite difficult journey. Even more so considering the fatigue from yesterday's battle.
However, Ellis Endveil's footsteps were strangely light.
Of course, it didn't mean that they were unsteady because of the blood she lost. What was light was her heart. Right now——she was happy with this situation.
"Are you all right? Aren't you tired?"
Ever since their departure Ellis had asked that several times to the girl walking behind her.
"You can exchange with me, okay? I might look like this, but I'm actually quite strong."
"I-I'm all right!"
As the girl desperately shook her head her round glasses were slightly displaced.
"I-I took this out of my selfishness so I'll carry it properly."
Laimi Selea-Shutimeryl had tilted the mountain of books she held in the front carrier——while saying that with a smile.
"If you've got something hard and big just leave it to me to carry."
The big man——Fream Eiza had shrugged while pointing to his chest.
"I can't calm down seeing such a little missy burdened with such luggage. If you're tired tell me any time, I'll carry it."
"As I thought, maybe it's better to have that horse carry it?"
While playing around with the stems of Harpy Mint at the corner of his mouth, Sashtal Dei hit the horse's reins attached to the horse's snout. On top of the horse that let out a low neigh there were loads of bags for several people containing food and water.
"I think tying it with a string and hanging from the saddle would work."
"T-the books would be damaged if I did that!"
Laimi's face turned beet red, outrageous, is what her expression said.
"These aren't simple books! These are grimoires! If something was to happen while they're being rocked by the horse and by grinding against each other the spelling changes, it could turn dangerous!"
The grimoires were a special eccentric item made for inorganic necromancy usage. The evocation was stamped on a special paper using ink mixed with spirit energy and a large amount of the pages were bound into a book——or so it seemed. The evocation was triggered by detaching the relevant page with evocation. It's advantage was possibility of writing a different evocation on every page, but basically, it was disposable, at the same time another disadvantage was that it took time to find the page with the evocation one needed. It was unpopular as it was unsuited for practical use, the ones Laimi was carrying were material samples that were a dead stock in the school's library.
"No, I don't think they would."
"I have brought them out from the library with great pains... if it's spoiled by the time we arrive at the Great Fortress, what will I fight with?"
"I get it I get it, my bad."
That's how Laimi was agitated when it came to books. Even Sashtal who was good a frivolous talk had cringed.
"By the way, you, where did you pick up that Harpy Mint?"
Fream glanced at Sashtal's mouth.
"It was growing on by the road we passed a while ago."
"Tell me that earlier. I'd pick some too."
Harpy Mint was a plant with long and thin stems very similar to grass. By chewing on it one felt cool aroma and light drunkenness. In short, it was something like a cigarette that didn't use fire.
"We'll find more soon anyway, our journey is long."
"Isn't Harpy Mint prohibited by school regulations...?"
As Laimi made appalled expression,
"Maybe, but it was a common thing to do in my home village, and we're no longer students in the first place. There's no need to abide by school regulations any more."
With a grandiose shrug, Sashtal laughed.
And then, he called out to the woman in front as if to tease her.
Milifica Yusala Astozellen turned around and frowned.
"How many times have I told you not to call me 'princess', Sashtal?"
"Then how do I call you? Representative?"
"I don't mind if you call me Milifica."
And then she loosened her frown and smiled mischievously.
Not just to Sashtal, but also to Fream and Laimi.
"You two as well. To you, I'm just a comrade, just Milifica. So call me like that without honorifics. That's an order, got it?"
"B-but... um, is it no good to call you Lady Milifica?"
"As expected, calling you without honorific is terrifying..."
The two panicked at the same time.
Casting a sideways glance at it, the boy who walked next to Ellis——Imina let out laughter of amazement.
"I don't think comrades normally give each other orders."
Milifica looked over her back towards the boy——Imina, and retorted merrily.
"Oh dear, the person who has no intention whatsoever of showing me any respect seems to have said something."
Imina averted his gaze as if troubled.
"No... um, please stop making that mean expression. It reminds me of some unpleasant memories."
"How rude, calling my expression mean. I was like that right from the start."
"No, that's not it... I mean, was your personality like that?"
"Yes. Since young I continued to do mischief despite being from royal family, doing nothing but annoying the palace staff."
"...what a thing."
Ellis involuntarily burst into laughter.
She knew why was Imina puzzled. That's because Milifica acting sly and mean was similar to a girl, who once upon a time had continued to tease her little brother.
Seeing the amused expression on her Milifica suddenly turned her gaze towards Ellis.
"Speaking of which, Ellis. You, don't you have to hide your ears?"
Being told something unexpected, Ellis made a startled expression.
Ellis hid the sides of her head with her hair and wore a cloak with a hood on top of that. It was normal for her during a journey in order to live as a human, also being a habit.
"Since it's just us being here, I don't mind."
Although there was no one but them, they were on a highway. They might be passing by other travellers.
While Ellis was confused, Milifica slowed down and moved right next to her.
Gently touching Ellis' bluish hair,
"I stopped trying to do impossible. Being a princess, being a representative, refining myself... whether it's my own role or my own ideal, I burned myself and worked up with such things, without my real self in all of that, I ended up like this."
She lightly raised her right arm bandaged with a splint and snorted with self-depreciation.
"That's why from now on I think of being just Milifica. Of course, there will be situations where I won't be able to do that, but at least in front of you all——in front of you who have accompanied me in my selfishness I want to be just Milifica."
Her words that seemed like admonishment had also felt as if she was speaking to herself.
That's why, Ellis said,
Calling her without honorifics and nodded shyly.
"That arm, I'll treat it along the way. Using light organic necromancy I can heal it without putting too much burden on a human body. As an elf, I'm very good at that."
"Understood, then please."
She glanced at Milifica, Laimi, Fream, in this order.
And then as if to entrust her answer, she looked at Imina walking beside her.
His expression, somehow——looked merry.
It wasn't just Ellis' imagination. Since she was with him ever since they were children, they spent so much time, she knew what Imina wanted to say or what he thought just by looking at his face.
She knew his expression.
It was the same expression he had when she came together with Shirjis to play in the village.
The happy and full of expectation expression he had when they welcomed their friends——.
"The wind feels really good!"
That's why Ellis untied her hair and shook her head. She felt that on this journey that was full of battles with blood and resentment, temporarily forgetting time was all right.
The tips of her ears, like drops of water were exposed, bluish-silver hair was exposed to the rising sun and shone in complex cyan-blue shades.
Three days after Imina and Milifica left with their company.
In the opposite direction to theirs——on the middle of the highway towards the Imperial City, a single carriage was attacked.
The cart was heavily guarded. The iron coach could only be opened by a key from the outside, there was no windows. There was a dozen of sentries around it, guarding, even the coachman and the horses were clad in armour. Of course, all the soldiers were armed with magical swords.
There were the soldiers of secret military under the royal family's direct control. Very skilled soldiers that have attained glory in the war with the southern barbarians. If compared to a private army, they were capable of facing a thousand.
However, despite that, all of their corpses were lying on the roadside now.
Some had their arteries cut, some had their heads crushed miserably, some had holes bored in their hearts, some of them had their torsos twisted hundred and eighty degrees.
The horses released from the leather belts and the vehicle excitedly stepped in place. It's not because they have seen the corpses. They were warhorses, accustomed to the smell of blood.
Feeling the presence of the girl in front of them——they were instinctively terrified.
As the girl stroked the horse's snout, a voice called out from behind her.
"Hey, it's no good to kill horses, Mikt."
The voice was also that of a girl's. She spoke while kicking the coachman's head around.
"I won't kill it. But, why? Nokt."
The girl——the one who was called Mikt asked,
"We'll plant a Corpse Seed of Origin in them. Let's leave them in the nearby village and go back."
The girl——the one who was called Nokt let out a nasty laughter.
The two had the same appearance.
Lovely facial features like a lotus that had bloomed in the grassland, the grim presence that ruined their loveliness, dark shadows under their eyes, their lips reminiscent of rotten morning glory also looked shrunken, they had sooty silver hair——and, slightly sharp pair of ears.
"Ah, good one. How many humans do you think will die trying to get rid of them?"
"It would be fun if some young women were raped too. Ku-hihi."
The elven twins merrily spoke of gruesome topic.
And, behind the two, *creaak*, a strange metallic sound had rang out.
The door of the couch that had its wheels rolled out had its lock opened.
"Ah, it's finally done."
"You're right, looks done."
Mikt and Nokt ran up to it side by side. The figure that was crouching and fiddling with the lock had turned around.
"We can see that."
"Yup, we can see that."
Pushing the figure aside, they opened the door.
"Hey, you alive?"
As the boy came out together with the call, the elven twins laughed jokingly.
"We came to help you. Well, it was an order so it can't be helped."
"It can't be helped. Although it's a hassle to come to help a mere human."
The boy——Vint Culias stood up unsteadily.
"I see, that person's..."
The twins stood in front of him and raised their skirts in a bow.
"Yes. I'm Nokt, and this is Mikt. We're one of the petals of a flower decorating the Endveil clan 'Six Petals'... we have gone all this way to pick you up. Kufu-hihi!"
Just their features were cutely, their presence and their laughter were all distorted. As if mud had taken appearance of a kitten and tried to joke around.
He was glad that he was saved, but clearly, they weren't decent rescuers.
Vint was instinctively horrified, just like the horses earlier.
However, immediately after that——the impact strong enough to cause the fear disappear completely from his head assaulted Vint. Involuntarily he look away from the girls in front, towards the figure standing behind them.
The moment he recognized her face, he was stunned, doubting his eyes he shouted.
It was unconscious.
He ran over by almost pushing away the twins. In there, was the face Vint couldn't help but to yearn for helplessly. It was the reason for his mind to derail, the reason to betray the Empire, the reason for his arrest——the reason behind all of Vint Culias' actions, her face.
Those eyes. That nose. These lips.
And, that hair——,
Vint was startled. She should have blonde hair that reflected the sun. But this person in front of him——this woman's hair was vividly red.
"Is there anything you need of me?"
The woman opened her mouth. That's right, a woman. She was older than that girl, about twenty years old.
Although they were similar to be called like two peas in a pod, this was clearly a different person.
"However, I am not a princess."
Her voice was strangely flat, there was absolutely no emotions in it. Looking carefully, there was no expressions either, without any emotions it felt like she was artificial.
But, Vint's voice still sounded shrill.
In front of her, who was similar to the one he loved——his heart beat very fast.
"You, your name?"
He asked with trembling lips.
She responded. As if her gears were creaking.
"I am Lady Nokt and Lady Mikt's living doll. My name is Uruha."
And she had bowed once. As if her gears were moving.
On the chest peeking out from the collar of wide-open dress, there was a small scar.
Her left breast——where it seemed like her heart was pierced, there was a thorn.
The convulsing skin was cloudy and murky red.
That colour, was reminiscent of withered poisonous flower.