Osakabe Iroha. That’s my name-desu.
The Osakabe household is the head military family of the largest city in Lorel Union, Kannaoi.
But well, my household is only a branch family of the main one, so in reality, I don’t have that much power.
When you become the head of the main household, your political influence is tremendous, and in times, you can even interfere in political situations, so looking at the Osakabe household as a whole, it can be said that we are a household that can enter in the top 5 even in Lorel.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that I myself will become the head of the branch family, and since the time I was born, it was already decided that I would be send off for a political marriage. Moreover, the other party is someone from the Ikusabe household that has been in an antagonizing relationship with the Osakabe household, a person of a branch family there.
They don’t expect any sort of revolutionizing effect, and it is not considered an important milestone either.
If I had to put it into words, it was equal to throwing water to one of many heated stones.
Then, for what reason was I born in this city, in this family? Am I allowed to live my life without working and leeching off the tax of the people?
Without knowing the meaning of my existence, can I just be content with the standing I have been given?
In the time that I was inside the castle and my head was being constricted by questions that no answers could be found, I received a letter from my fiance, Izumo-sama.
That in itself wasn’t strange. Because we have been exchanging letters regularly after all.
Even when we have no memories of having seen each other face to face, telling the other party of our current state is the duty of a fiance and a fiancee after all.
In his childhood, Izumo-sama lived in Lorel’s capital, Naoi, and right now, he is devoting himself to his studies and techniques at Rotsgard Academy.
Since the time in Naoi and Rotsgard, we have been exchanging letters, but both are far away places that make it difficult to meet in person.
It was natural we had to resort to letters.
But the contents of the last letter I received from Izumo-sama, it was something that shocked me deeply.
Until now, Izumo-sama always told me about his unchanging everyday life, and would ask about my current state, but this one was completely different…that’s right, its contents could be considered a kind of confession.
To tell you the truth, since a few months ago, my life has taken a big turn.
Since the time I began taking the classes of a certain temporary teacher, the world I was looking at felt like it had changed.
At summer vacation, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to return, but because time was so valuable I couldn’t return.
With the incident that occurred at the Academy festival, I have been helping in the reconstruction, and have helped rebuild a variety of things.
Paths, walls, houses, public facilities; I repaired those kind of things, and seeing people use those places with a smile on their face was something that gave me great joy and happiness.
I was truly wavering about whether to tell you this or not, but I believe that I have to interact sincerely with you and reveal it.
Currently, I am at a loss in how I should live my life.
In a near future, I am thinking about creating an opportunity to personally meet you.
Being in the same place, voicing out the things we are currently thinking of, and if possible, speak our hearts out with only the two of us.
Please consider this in a positive manner.
Summarizing it, that’s the contents of it.
What he refers to when he talks about the incident at the Academy festival, was the abrupt and unbelievable incident that occurred in Rotsgard Academy where people were transforming into powerful monsters.
When I learned of the place and details of this incident, I was about to lose consciousness, but Izumo-sama was safe.
Or more like, based on the information network of the Osakabe household and Lorel Union, leaving aside the results of the tournament, to my surprise, he played a heavily active role.
What I meant with ‘leaving aside the results of the tournament’ was that in the tournament form, he was quickly pitted against the person that had become the champion.
I heard that he put up a good fight, but he loss and the results were not that big of a deal.
But that champion, the person that became the strongest in the Academy, was a woman.
…I know that in worldwide terms, there’s more strong women than there are men, but here in Lorel Union, we have one ideology that’s different from the foreign countries: ‘Men have to protect women’. That’s why I don’t want to imagine Izumo-sama losing to a woman.
I am happy for his achievements and growth, but I was in a complicated mental state.
Ah right, that’s not the issue here.
In the letter of Izumo-sama, that wording about being at a loss in how to live his life, that’s exactly what pierced me.
It is exactly because we have a lot of things in common that I was able to understand the true meaning of those words.
Izumo-sama has found something he wants to do.
If not, he wouldn’t be at a loss.
The weight of the family, the role that our surroundings are expecting from us; the meaning and responsibility of carrying out these things has been taught to us plenty and we have grown with it.
Even so, Izumo-sama has found something that he is unable to hold back and is at a loss.
This was completely different from my boorish question about the meaning of my existence. What an envious worry that must be.
Or maybe I was a bit jealous about Izumo-sama obtaining a type of worry that I have never been able to obtain myself.
And so, the next one, the part where he proposed for the first time to speak in person.
At the same time as I was happy, an anxiety that surpassed that feeling of happiness welled up inside me. That maybe he wanted to cancel the engagement at this time.
Of course, there was not a single mention about this, but thanks to his words ‘I am at a loss’, I ended up having this uneasiness.
Our marriage is a special kind, so when cancelling it, there’s the need for a fitting resolve first.
There’s obviously the resolve of losing all your lifestyle until now, and the resolve of being unable to live your life properly from there on.
That’s why I don’t think it will turn into such a heavy situation yet.
But in the possibility that Izumo-sama throws away everything as well as me, and prioritizes his own dreams… what will be of me?
The worries I had before reading the letter were collaborating exquisitely with my current emotions.
At that time, I felt like an empty doll.
In the past, even when I was troubled in that kind of way, I could just place the expectations of the people in that empty space, and deceive myself into thinking that ‘I’ am needed. But this time, I couldn’t make it work.
Calling it ‘right in time’ would be imprudent, but at that time, because of the instability of Yaso-Katsui’s grand labyrinth, the mamonos began to flood outside the labyrinth and bring harm to the towns with Kannaoi at its centre.
The whereabouts of the main culprit, the Dragon Slayer Sofia, were unknown, but even if that were the case, there’s no way to ignore the harm it was bringing.
Kannaoi is currently beginning to grow stormy.
The way the damage is being dealt with is poor, even in my eyes. The reason is because the head of the Osakabe household that should be standing at the front dealing with the damage, is down with a disease.
And the many factions that are aiming for the seat as the new head were trying to obtain big achievements in order to hold the supremacy, so they were obstructing and keeping each other in check which served as a big reason as to why the situation was being so poorly dealt with.
My surroundings are normally disconnected to those kinds of political disputes, but as expected, after some time, they continuously came to make demands.
I have heard that, lately, there have been radical factions aiming for my life.
It is truly stupid-desu.
Killing a low seat princess like me won’t make you increase your influence. Putting it bluntly, even if worthless princesses were to join this conflict, we wouldn’t be able to do anything anyways.
The labyrinth jurisdiction is being done in cooperation with the Adventurer Guild, so it seems it hasn’t turned into a problem yet, but the surrounding towns that have suffered harm from this are affecting the tax collection in Kannaoi, and it is steadily turning into a big problem.
The labyrinth is in this unstable state, and in a situation where you can clearly see from the sides that the mamonos are flowing out from the grand labyrinth, and yet, the result of the meeting between the Osakabe household and the military families of power was to make a drastic increase in tax with the pretext of resolving various problems promptly and to deal with them urgently.
I thought that this was foolish.
They should properly judge the present condition, and calculate the amount into one that won’t bring any problems to their livelihood.
When I told this to the person in care of me, Shougetsu, he told me that that should be the correct way, and praised me.
But Shougetsu didn’t tell this to father.
That’s why I spoke with father directly, but I ended up getting scolded, telling me that: ‘Children shouldn’t go saying such brazen things without even knowing about the world outside’.
I don’t understand.
I don’t understand what part is it I am wrong about.
If they mistake the increase in tax and the towns steadily decrease because of this tyranny, what are they going to do?
If we turn it around, this would also mean that the people doing the taxing will also face a decrease in tax received.
Something like that…no matter how I think about it, it is wrong.
That’s why, I decided to create proof.
I am also a living being, not a doll.
I gathered up all the money I have saved until now and can freely use, just in case, I choose a few small articles that can easily be changed to money, and bring the protection sword that has been together with me since I was born, Hotarumaru. <Hotaru=Firefly>
I decided to investigate the present condition of the neighboring towns on my own-desu.
Look at the scale of the towns and calculate the proper amount of tax; a journey for land survey.
Taking the documents that show the tax yields of the past as reference, it was all ready-na no desu.
My basic knowledge was also ready-desu.
Now that I think of it, I was truly naive. It was a childish decision that was filled with holes everywhere.
Even so, I was completely confident.
At dusk, I slipped into the darkness and left the house.
Like this, the first journey in my life -the life of Osakabe Iroha- had opened its curtains.
My journey came to a setback in just two days.
I couldn’t even arrive at the first town.
At the dead of the night, within a forest that was disconnected from the main road, the swords of adventurers were pointed at me.
The funny thing is, they are adventurers I hired.
When I went to the guild to arrange both bodyguards and a carriage, kind adventurers called me on my way and I gave them a simple explanation of the situation. And then, they cordially accepted to take on the job of being the bodyguards and to arrange the carriage to the next town.
‘Adventurers are not all rude people, there are also a lot who are kind’, that’s what I thought moved, but…I was splendidly deceived.
In this situation, even if I were to do everything they say without opposing them, and I am miraculously spared my life, it would be impossible for a child like me to survive in the forest for a night.
“I was cleanly checkmated-desu…” (Iroha)
“Hmph, when you are a kid that has a good upbringing and a good head on your shoulders, they won’t plead for their life even in a situation like this?”
“…It is not a plead for my life, but there is indeed something I want to ask.” (Iroha)
“Heh~, what is it?”
“My request is not going to get in the way of anyone, on the contrary, it is something that will lead to helping others. Of course, there was no lie in the pay for your work either. And yet, what displeasure brought you to do something like this? I just can’t understand.” (Iroha)
I asked the question that was bothering me heavily inside and requested for an answer.
There’s no saving for me anyways. Then, I want to know the answer at the very least.
But the man that has his sword pointing at me, only let out a dumbfounded voice.
“As I said, why did you end up resorting to attacking your requester? That’s what I want to know-desu.” (Iroha)
“…See? An annoying brat, right?”
The man looks at his companions at the back.
“That’s true. But you know, an Ojou-sama that says so much idealistic stuff, don’t you think a ransom would be more juicy?”
“No, if the household is too high standing, the danger of us being killed is higher. Then, it would be better to just take all the possessions this girl has and profit big. It would also be harder to track us like that.”
Looks like there’s no need to push myself to try and survive in the forest.
I will be killed by them.
Right now, I am Osaka Iroha. If I introduce myself as Osakabe Iroha, their resolve to kill me would only strengthen.
If there’s no other way, I would prefer to die with dignity, by killing myself.
It would be sad to have my sword tasked to protect me, Hotarumaru, to kill myself though.
“Listen here, Iroha-sama, we are receiving an escort payment that’s higher than the normal price, but you know, a kid that’s able to bring out that amount of money because she wants bodyguards, must mean that she would have even more money than that, right?”
I have to make him return me Hotarumaru.
Rather than dying by their swords, I want to die with Hotarumaru.
It would save them the pain, and I think they will probably return it to me.
“That’s why, we felt like taking everything. That’s the reason.”
So putting even more money than the appropriate amount didn’t serve as an insurance but ended up biting me huh.
With that, their greed appeared.
So such stupid things like this, that would come out as joke stories, actually do happen huh.
“I see. Now that it has come to this, there’s no technique that will allow me to oppose you. How about it, can I get my sword back?” (Iroha)
“Again? What did you say this time?”
“‘I will sportsmanly kill myself so, can I get my sword back?’, is what I am trying to say.” (Iroha)
What’s going on?
I feel like my words are not getting through.
“…In other words, it is already hopeless, so you want to kill yourself?”
“Are you seriously saying that?”
“A kid killing herself, don’t joke around!”
They have the intentions to kill me, and yet, me killing myself is a no?
For some reason, that’s how those words felt to me.
“…It will save you the troubl—?!!!” (Iroha)
I saw as if the hand and sword of the man had disappeared.
At that moment, a sharp heat was felt in my cheek and my words were cut off reflexively.
“How is it?”
“…Tch, I was cut just now? But, even if you ask me how it is…” (Iroha)
The hand that touched my cheek had blood sticking on it.
So this is the feeling of being cut.
I already thought just a moment ago that I will be dying, so I am not that moved by it.
I think a variety of emotions have been numbed right now.
“ I see! I won’t return you your sword! I will cut you to pieces as you are now, so do try your best to maintain that calm face of yours!!”
“Don’t go shouting in a bizarre-like manner right beside someone who is comfortably sleeping! [Light Cross]!!”
Suddenly, in the darkness of the night, an intense light was spread in my whole field of vision.
Inside that light, I was held in the arms of someone.
The light weakened in only a few seconds, and disappeared, but the situation made a complete turn.
The party of three adventurers was nowhere to be found, and right in front of me, there were only two silver haired women that were carrying me.
Words won’t come out.
Have I been saved?
“Oi, young one, are you okay?”
“Ah, you were injured. Then use this.”
“Wait! There’s no need to use that, I can heal her!”
After what seemed to be a conversation between the two women, a ringing of an elegant bell resounded, and……a gentle and warm wind wrapped around me.
An incredibly comfortable, incredibly calming, and incredibly sleep-inducing wind……
Maybe because my tension had disappeared, I fell into sleep without being able to even thank these two.
“So she is asleep now, Haku.”
“…She has fallen asleep, Bia.” (Haku)
“Haven’t I told you many times to throw away that strange magic tool, Haku?” (Bia)
“I have already grown attached to it, there’s no way I can throw it away!” (Haku)
“Activates heal and sleep as fifty-fifty, Storing of Bell. From how I see it, it is totally a cursed tool though?” (Bia)
“Actually, I don’t care about that part, but~ it is like, I haven’t found a bell that just clicks in me, or more like~ I just can’t cast aside this sound, you know~.” (Haku)
Without hearing the warning of the woman called Bia, the woman called Haku rang the bell. And then, the girl that was in Haku’s arms, fell into a sound sleep.
Haku, who was the reason for Iroha falling asleep, plays the fool and rings the bell once more, pretending to be drunk by the sound of it.
It seems like ringing it is not enough to activate the heal and sleep effect.
It would be completely troublesome if it activated every time it rang though.
“Listen here…the girl did fall asleep because of that, you know? We can’t ask her her circumstances like this.” (Bia)
While letting out a short sigh, Bia looked amazed at Haku.
“Now now, it is true that she was in a situation that we had to save her from, and things like this, you can normally guess the circumstances. Anyways, it is already late at night, so with Bia’s barrier in place, let’s go to sleep again. Let’s continue this in the morning, okay?” (Haku)
“…Hm, right. It would be foolish to get a lack of sleep when there’s already nothing to do. Let’s go to sleep.” (Bia)
“As expected of my partner, you really understand me!” (Haku)
“Yeah yeah. Well then, hurry and sleep, sleep.” (Bia)
The two women that saved Iroha from crisis, went in between the trees that were just a few steps from where Iroha was about to be killed, and from there, their figures disappeared.
They entered the barrier.
This military family princess, Iroha, who left her home and was soon to be killed, served as the trigger for the meeting of these women and her, and the results of such encounter will probably turn their future into something hard to predict.