The carriage carrying Mira had slowly decreased its speed before stopping at a towering gate.
When she looked at the wall that from the highlands, it looked like just a circle surrounding the city. However, seeing the wall from up close, it looked like the embodiment of Arkite Kingdom’s determination to defend the country.
Mira leaned out from the window of the carriage to look up at the wall and said “It sure got big", its size completely different from how she remembered it was thirty years ago, made her heart dance.
If just the wall changed this much, she could not even imagine just how the capital itself has changed. Mira started to enjoy all these changes in the world.
The gate at which the long-distance carriage stopped was not the main gate leading to the city, but an exclusive carriage road leading straight to the castle.
After the guard at the gate exchanged several words with Galet, the large gate opened along with a heavy, solemn sound.
The guard raised his hand to send a sign, and from the top part of the gate sounded a loud bell. Immediately after, another bell in the distance started ringing to alert the castle far away of long-distance carriage’s arrival.
Five intersections on the way of the carriage have been temporarily closed off, guards holding black and yellow sticks to stop people in the traffic from passing the road. The long-distance carriage was a special vehicle used for the country’s important missions and therefore, it had to be treated with suitable dignity.
“Isn’t this quite the welcome.”
Leaning out from inside the carriage to look through the opened gate, Mira saw the guards standing at the intersections made at equal intervals and realized just how big a deal this was.
The carriage slowly started to move, then gradually increased speed. Within several seconds it reached the maximum speed and the city’s scenery flowed to the back at a dizzying rate.
Citizens watched as the unusual long-distance carriage drove by at high speed along with a clamoring sound of horseshoes. When they saw that it was Galet who acted as a coachman, they realized something important was happening and were full of curiosity.
As the scenery outside the window slowly overflowed with liveliness, Mira stared at one especially large building.
(“To think it would be this big seen up close…")
It was one of the Five Pillar Facilities, the Craftsmen Workshop Department. Seeing this grand building, reminiscent of an old German structure, Mira decided to schedule a sightseeing tour around the capital.
After a while longer of carriage’s rocking, the speed of scenery changing outside the window had slowly decreased and the carriage eventually stopped in front of the castle gate.
“Mm, we finally arrived.”
Mira’s body turned stiff from all the sitting, so she stretched, then hid another Apple au Lait flask near her feet.
“Thank you for bearing with me, Mira-sama.”
Galet opened the cabin’s door and bowed, then extended his hand as to escort Mira out.
Mira said and then added "no need" and brushed away Galet’s hand before leaping off to the ground. The castle she looked up at, did not change compared to her memories and she felt half-relief and half-disappointment as she lowered her gaze.
An instant later, she turned speechless.
The cause for that was waiting in the back of the slowly-opening gate, a far grander welcome than the one at the carriage road.
Starting from the castle gate and throughout the entire passage, on both sides stood knights raising their swords in front of themselves, standing there without budging. Lined up behind them, there were knights holding spears in their hands. Further behind even, soldiers lined up in regular intervals were holding banners.
“This is quite over...isn’t it.”
“It only shows just how much Solomon-sama rejoices at your visit, Mira-sama.”
Heaving a sigh, Mira felt that something was off.
“Danbulf-sama is our country’s hero, after all. This much is natural when welcoming his disciple.”
“Hmm-mm, is it, really?"
“Of course it is. Let’s go, Mira-sama.”
When the two moved away from the carriage, the castle’s exclusive caretakers brought the long-distance carriage to the stables.
The moment Mira escorted by Galet, passed through the gate - an intensive and rhythmic sound of drums echoed making their eardrums tremble. The knights raised their swords diagonally above and protruded shields with the country’s coat of arms engraved on them. From between them, the knights in the second row raised their spears diagonally creating an arch leading from the castle gate and inside the castle.
“This too is quite...mm.”
“It actually feels good for me.”
Being able to escort Mira in the middle of such grand welcoming ceremony made Galet smile happily.
“Really you, good grief.”
Having her bad expression softened by his devoid of worries personality, Mira thought Galet was a likable person and praised Solomon for finding a subordinate like this.
The two encouraged by the pleasant melody played by a drum and fife orchestra moved forward until they passed the arch and entered the castle. By the entrance there were two guards who bowed while and said “we will guide you to the throne room". Mira did not like to stand out too much so she was relieved that it would become a little quieter now.
When the guards opened the throne room’s door, a refined scent entered the two’s nostrils. Lying on the floor inside were carpets, starting from the closest one there was black, blue, green, red and white carpets at equal intervals.
There were five people inside the throne room. And the person standing out the most in this place, was a single boy, sitting on the throne.
He had golden eyes and green hair which nearly reached his eyes, on top of his head he had a crown decorated with countless jewels. At first glance he looked out-of-place, but his figure on top of the throne wearing a luxurious outfit was surprisingly natural, and showed thirty years of experience ruling a country.
The boy who stared at Mira with a mischievous expression was the king of the Arkite Kingdom and Danbulf’s friend, King Solomon himself.
His appearance was just as Mira remembered it and the only difference was that his outfit grew a little more luxurious.
In front of King Solomon, standing a few steps below there was a knight who had an aura of strength, and a hooded spellcaster in black robe. The spellcaster who laid his eyes on Mira smiled with a soft expression. On the other hand, the knight, seeing that hero Danbulf’s disciple was a mere little girl, only sighed with great disappointment.
Galet took a step forward, knelt,
“I have brought the Elder Danbulf’s disciple, Mira-sama.”
He reported and saluted.
"Good work. You may stand back.”
This was spoken by a man full of dignity standing beside the throne, the man’s name was Süleyman. He was an Elf with graceful facial features and flowing golden hair.
Galet said “excuse me" and moved to the side.
“Nice to meet you, Mira-san. I’m Süleyman, King Solomon’s aide.”
Moving just her gaze she captured Süleyman in sight and responded concisely. On the side, Galet suddenly started panicking seeing how Mira’s attitude did not change even in front of the king.
However, completely unaware of Galet’s feelings, Mira crossed her arms, put a hand on her chin and inspected Solomon.
But even by staring at him she could not see any information appear. Instead, she moved her gaze towards Süleyman and was able to acquire information such as his name and status.
(“What does this mean…?”)
“To start with, I would like to confirm whether you truly are Danbulf-sama’s disciple, do you mind?”
While Mira was lost in thoughts wondering about the difference between the two, she was brought to reality by Süleyman’s voice.
“Mm-mm, very well.”
Mira took out the Master Key from the item box and raised it up saying “I have this", then took a step towards Süleyman.
But that instant, the knight suddenly leaped forward, pulled out his sword and,
“Not a step further! Enough of your disrespectful behavior, girl!”
along with a shout he aimed the point of the sword at Mira.
He was Reinard, the commander of Arkite Kingdom’s royal knight guard. He was told by Solomon before the audience that Mira might act rude and she did not need to act respectfully, so he should ignore it. And therefore he endured it when she did not kneel or when she did not use respectful language. However, seeing her approach the king, he was unable to bear the agitation.
Mira did not know this, but there was a certain distance up to where one could approach the king. It was dependant on the person’s rank and with exception of some guests, people were not allowed go past the black carpet.
“I can’t pass it without approaching.”
“Just pass it to a guard near you!”
Solomon and Danbulf used to stand shoulder in shoulder, and from Mira’s perspective she only came to meet a friend. Since all she had in head was talking with him for a little, she failed to realize the importance an audience had.
(“What a pain.”)
Mira spoke the same way she used to back then, but seeing the knight’s angry expression she realized the situation was completely different. Not knowing anything about etiquette for such official occasions, troubled, she pinched the end of the sword and held out the key to the knight.
“Is that so. Sorry ‘bout that. Well, you’re already here, pass this for me.”
“Girl...just how rude can you be… Stand back!”
Furious, the knight put strength into his sword. However, even though it was just pinched by a little girl, he was unable to make it even budge and he made an astonished expression.
“Reinard, bring that to me.”
The boy’s voice spoke shortly.
“But Solomon-sama, this girl is too disrespectful!”
“I told you from the start, have I not? This is within predictions. Or what, do you wish to make me wait any longer?”
Seeing Reinard shrivel when stared down by Solomon, Mira thought she might have done something bad, but seeing his attitude as he snatched away the Master Key, she changed her mind.
Mira released the sword from her pinch. Reinard glared at Mira’s white and slender hand peeking from the robe and deciding that she must have used some kind of shady spell, he raised his vigilance towards her even higher.
Meanwhile, seeing that the situation has calmed down, Galet was relieved that it did not become a bad scene.
While Mira returned to her original position, Solomon received the Master Key from Reinard and confirmed that without a doubt, it was the key of the Tower of Summoning.
“Certainly, there is no doubt this is Danbulf’s belonging. Since an item like this was passed from a master to disciple, her identity is doubtless.”
After saying so, Solomon passed the Master Key to a nearby guard, who carried it to Mira.
Once Mira received it and put it back in the item box, she looked away from Reinard who still continued to glare at her.
“Now that we confirmed it, let us change locations. Disciple of Danbulf, I would like you to tell me of what happened to him during those thirty years of disappearance, do you mind?”
“Mm-hm, not at all.”
She answered instantly hearing Solomon’s timely offer.
“Well then, we should go to my office. There, we will be able to speak more calmly. Everyone, you can go join the banquet now.”
When Solomon said this, Reinard took a step forward. At the same time, a wry smile appeared on Mira’s face.
“Solomon-sama, even if she is Danbulf-sama’s disciple, it is too dangerous for you to be alone together with this unfamiliar girl.”
Reinard took a glance on Mira’s face, and while saluting Solomon he offered his advice.
(“The situation isn’t progressing, ehh.”)
While Mira was aware of herself being an unknown existence to him, seeing Reinard’s fanatic loyalty she could only shake her head appalled.
“Reinard, are you suggesting I would lose against a little girl like this?”
Solomon spoke to Reinard while cladding himself in powerful aura. King Solomon despite his young appearance, did not rule the country for thirty years for no reason. This was a world where the fate of the country was decided not just by politics, but mostly by martial prowess. As someone who continued to rule one of the countries in this world, Solomon’s strength was well-known by everyone.
“N-not at all! However, this girl uses some suspicious spells and we should prepare for any event.”
Reinard spoke of suspicious spells, but Mira had no idea what was he talking about. That was natural, because he was misunderstanding what spellcasting actually was. He did not even consider the possibility of losing in contest of strength against a girl much smaller than him. The reason for Mira’s strength were buffs from all the equipment she was wearing, but she herself did not know what was he talking about, so she could not refute it.
“Your name was Mira, wasn't it. Do you have any will to hurt me?”
“For what purpose would I do that? All I want is to talk with you.”
Hearing Mira’s answer, Solomon smiled seeming to be having a little fun.
“Is what she says. And I also have a lot to speak about with her. Could you stand down here, Reinard?”
“But if by a chance something happened to you, Solomon-sama, I…"
Reinard clenched his fist not giving up. But then, the spellcaster who had yet to speak, has interrupted this back-and-forth exchange.
“Then how about this, Reinard and I shall stand guard in front of the office. If something happens we can run inside. Mira-sama aside, not even Danbulf-sama would be able to do anything to Solomon-sama before we intrude. How about it?”
“Ngh, nhhh...I guess.”
“Then let us do that. Personally, I wanted to join the banquet, but seeing Reinard-san in this state, I guess I should accompany him. The two of us should be enough, don’t you think?”
The spellcaster made a proposal and put a hand on Reinard’s shoulder.
“That is a good idea. Sorry Joachim, I will make sure to open another banquet in the near future.”
Solomon nodded strongly and took a breath before standing up.
“Oh, no. There is no need for that. I will have Reinard-san treat me to something instead.”
Unable to refute Reinard made a distorted expression.
“Let us go then.”
Said Solomon and moved forward, the three followed him walking down the corridor leading to the office.