Chronicle Legion
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Chapter 1 - Invading Legions (1)

Part 1

Second-year student in high school. Male. Living in Suruga City of Shizuoka Prefecture in the Tōkaidō region.

If one had to explain his identity, the previous sentences were enough to describe Tachibana Masatsugu, who was neither a celebrity nor an elite national athlete.

Bluntly stated, putting aside certain idiosyncrasies, Tachibana Masatsugu was nothing more than an ordinary high school student.

However, the ordinary Masatsugu still had his own ambitions.

"Speaking of the final event to be held before the end of the second term, Taisei, do you know what that is?"

"Of course the final exams, Masatsugu-kun."

"Wrong, it's the beauty contest held in December, an event taking place on the last day of the school festival."

"......"

Masatsugu's friend, Okonogi Taisei, reacted with silence somewhat akin to consternation.

They were currently at the cafeteria of Rinzai Private High School. Masatsugu was drinking a juicebox of green tea while Taisei was having canned coffee. The cafeteria was always packed during lunch time, but quite unoccupied now because it was after school.

As a side note, Taisei had a head of brown hair, dyed, and a face whose features could be considered handsome.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to his excellent character and upbringing, combined with outstanding common sense, he was not a particularly conspicuous person. And now, Taisei spoke gently as always, "By the way, Masatsugu-kun, I heard you're serving as part of the school festival's executive committee?"

"Yeah. I'm filling in for Takeda who transferred out at the end of the first term."

Compared to his friend's soft posture and tone, Masatsugu seemed rather rigid in comparison.

Occasionally, Masatsugu would give off an impression like some kind of samurai. This was actually correct since the Tachibana family had served the Tokugawa as jikisan hatamoto in the past, samurai in direct service of the Shogunate.

Even though his disposition did not stem from bloodline, if one had to classify Masatsugu as hard or soft in an analogy, he was clearly the former.

Masatsugu spoke in solemn tones and his posture was quite rigid and upright. He never clamored in restlessness, seldom told jokes, and rarely broke school rules. Consequently, he did not have many friends in class.

Including Taisei, he had only three or four close friends.

If he were to stare in a mirror this very moment, he would surely look like a gloomy man with a slightly furrowed brow.

...Unexpectedly, contrary to such a hardline disposition, Masatsugu took out from his schoolbag the list of beauty contestants.

"To be honest, when I first started serving on the executive committee and was assigned to be in charge of the beauty pageant, I found it a hassle and thought I wasn't suited to it. However, after looking at these contestants who either volunteered or were recommended by friends..."

Masatsugu browsed through the file.

There were roughly twenty girls planning to participate. Each profile included the girl's name, portrait photo, self-introduction and swimsuit photo. There were many cute girls among the candidates competing to become Miss Rinzai High.

Revealing a nihilistic smile of indifference, Masatsugu was the splitting image of an evil homicidal samurai.

"I discovered that this isn't actually half bad... No, I should say I'm enjoying it. I didn't realize that for the past two years—I might actually be a guy who likes girls quite a bit."

"I guess so. I never noticed before either."

"I'd like to liven up this beauty contest, but unfortunately, there's no one good enough to give the shoo-in candidate to be queen, Matsuki-san, a run for her money..."

"Oh, you're talking about the girl who's getting scouted by talent agencies."

"I want to find one or two more contenders for the top spot."

"Hey, Masatsugu-kun, if you're going to talk with such a dour face, could you at least discuss a topic related to the nation's future? Like the hike in various taxes next year or the large sums of tribute that Japan pays to Rome for undisclosed purposes."

Seeing Masatsugu with arms crossed and a solemn expression, his friend poked fun at him.

Okonogi Taisei's father worked at the Shizuoka branch of the Tōkaidō News Agency. Perhaps due to his family environment, Taisei would often bring up social issues to discuss despite being a teenager. This was probably the reason why he got along with the "overly serious" Masatsugu.

Incidentally, it was October 1 today, still quite some time before the beauty contest in December.

"By the way, Masatsugu-kun, are you returning to the dorm now?"

"No, I'm planning to go to my house to do some cleaning."

"It's very easy for messes and dust to accumulate in a house when no one's living in it, I guess. If you're okay with it, I'll go along and help out? Since there's no student council work today, I happen to be free."

"I'm glad you're offering to help. Thanks a lot."

Taisei held the job and title of Student Council Vice-President.

Manners were essential even when dealing with close friends. After Masatsugu bowed his head in gratitude, the two of them left the cafeteria together.

Rinzai High was located in the eastern outskirts of Suruga City near the mountains, quite some distance from the city center.

In fact, since their school was known as a place where prestigious families attended, there were many students who came to enroll from far away.

Most of these students lived in the dormitories and Masatsugu was one of them. His parent's house was located in Suruga City, like the school, but he did not have family. His parents and grandparents had all passed away and he did not have any siblings.

Thanks to the inheritance and orphan's annuity left from his father who had been a soldier, Masatsugu could still live without financial worries.

He could have lived alone in his house, but he chose the convenience of dorm life which included domestic help.

"Getting away from the school for once, I finally get a strong feeling of 'visiting the city.'"

"Since the school is so close to the mountains, there are very few residences nearby."

Suruga City was located on a coastal plain facing Suruga Bay.

On this coastal plain was a quiet regional town. But along the way, there were two small mountains protruding in a series slightly abruptly and standing at an elevation of roughly three hundred meters—Mount Udo and Mount Kunou—forming a mountainous area of greenery.

Masatsugu and Taisei's school was located on the west side of Mount Kunou.

The two of them took a bus to the city center.

This route led to the commercial district in front of Suruga Station. On the way, a military truck passed by them, traveling in the school's direction, probably making its way to the military installation known as a tutelary base.

"Did you know? Tokugawa Ieyasu once said that 'Kunou Castle is the inner citadel of Sunpu Castle.'"

"Kunou Castle... Are you referring to the fort that used to stand on Mount Kunou?"

"Yeah, it's now a set of castle ruins that has almost nothing remaining. But taking its place is the tutelary base—something like a castle—built nearby, so it means that Lord Ieyasu was right."

After Tokugawa Ieyasu stepped down from his position as the first shogun of the Edo bakufu, he returned to his hometown of Suruga and built Sunpu Castle as his retirement residence.

Suruga City here was a land with intimate ties to "Divine Lord" Tokugawa Ieyasu.

While the two of them were chatting, the bus took them across Suruga City. There were many commercial districts and office neighborhoods near the station but far less bustling than Tokyo. This was an idyllic regional town. Masatsugu and Taisei did not get off even when the bus neared the station.

The bus continued for ten-odd minutes when they finally disembarked at a stop near the Abe River.

After walking through a residential neighborhood for five minutes, they arrived at Tachibana Masatsugu's house.

It was a one-story house built in Japanese style. The main dwelling had a living room and at least five spacious Japanese-style rooms. In addition, there was an earthen floor area. There was a magnificent gate with a thatched roof.

This place was way too big for a single high school boy to clean up.

Opening the ancient wooden gate, Masatsugu looked at the entrance up ahead, not too far away. He frowned.

"...Hmm?"

He noticed that the entrance door was open.

He had clearly shut the door properly when he came by last month to clean.

"Did a burglar leave the door open?"

"I'll go in to check it out. Wait outside for me."

Directing the surprised Taisei to go out, Masatsugu went into the entrance himself.

Suppose a trespasser had left the door open, a burglary was very likely to be in progress. Masatsugu did not want to expose his friend to danger. Taisei immediately nodded and stayed outside the gate alone.

Well aware of his special skills, Masatsugu's friend did not nag.

Rather than calling the police, it would be more efficient to let Masatsugu confront the criminal.

"...Boots?"

As soon as he entered the entrance, Masatsugu muttered to himself.

Arranged neatly there was a pair of women's boots, roughly ankle-high without significant heels.

This was not the only suspicious part. Masatsugu would only clean this house once a month. However, the corridor was now sparkling clean, obvious from a single glance that it had been carefully wiped with a wet cloth.

Furthermore, he could smell the fragrance of incense from inside the house—

Masatsugu took off his shoes and went to the Buddhist altar room where the fragrance was coming from. Taking a closer look, he found a girl kneeling before the altar with her palms held together in prayer.

She was dressed like a student in Japanese style with a hakama. This look was supposedly commonplace in the capital.

The girl's gorgeous black hair was tied with a scarlet ribbon. She was looking at the portraits of Masatsugu's late parents—namely, his mother who had passed away during Masatsugu's childhood and his father who had fallen in battle three years ago.

The girl was around fifteen or sixteen. Though some childlike elements remained, her face was very beautiful and adorable.

Before Masatsugu could speak, the female student turned around, presumably sensing Masatsugu's arrival.

"Welcome home, Onii-sama. It has been so long since we last met. Twelve years, I believe?"

The girl smiled tenderly and greeted Masatsugu. However, Masatsugu did not recognize her. Speaking of which—After giving the matter some thought, he nodded and said, "I see now. I have a long lost little sister, is that it?"

"No, that's wrong."

"Then who are you?"

After calmly rejecting Masatsugu's speculation, she mused, "Hatsune's relationship with Onii-sama... I wonder what's the best way of putting it?"

"Were you a childhood friend who used to live near me, so you call me your older brother to reflect the age difference?"

"Wrong again. Childhood friends or close relatives would've been easy, but the truth happens to be more subtle than that, which makes it hard for me to explain. Let me see, our relationship is slightly more removed than cousins."

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"Meaning partially cousins or some kind of distant relative, right?"

"Yes, that's right, pretty much. I'm sure you can find a link if you scour the family tree carefully, but that takes too much work, so I'll just call you 'Onii-sama' directly."

"Definitely, addressing you as 'possibly a distant relative' would be a hassle too."

"I know, right? So this is what the two of us decided long ago, fufufufu."

Masatsugu was conversing with the trespasser in the Buddhist altar room whose floor was laid with tatami.

The smiling girl maintained her formal sitting posture in seiza, so Masatsugu sat down in the same way in front of her too. This girl was apparently a relative with a first name of Hatsune, but Masatsugu had no recollection at all, so he continued his inquiry.

"What's your name? I want to know your full name."

"Oh, you are so awful, Onii-sama! You forgot about me, didn't you? I can't believe you forgot Tachibana Hatsune, who's in the same clan, that's so awful of you."

Miss Tachibana Hatsune began to pout like a child. Masatsugu bowed his head in apology.

"We lived very near each other back in kindergarten and we played together all the time."

"Really? Then allow me to ask a question, sister—Sorry, I mean Tachibana Hatsune-kun."

"Feel free to call me whatever you prefer. Go ahead and use 'my little sister.' I don't mind."

"Then let's go with Hatsune. Is there any other special relationship between us? Like an old marriage promise or faint feelings of love for each other."

"Feelings of love?"

"Yeah. Actually, I've been wondering a lot lately. Like whether a girl would suddenly fall from the sky and confess to me or a childhood fiancee might suddenly show up," said Masatsugu in a halting manner.

Hatsune clapped her hands together in front of him and replied, "I've read that stories of that type too. Like in Weekly Shounen Junk" or Shoujo Margarita."

"You can find similar tropes in many light novels and love simulation games aimed at teenagers."

"Is that the type you enjoy, Onii-sama?"

"I took a brief look when a friend recommended them to me some time ago. Thanks to those stories, there are some nights when I feel painfully aware of how unbearably lonely it is to be single."

"I see now, you poor thing!"

"That's why I wanted to ask about our past."

"Yes, understood. There's absolutely nothing like that in our past!"

"Such sad news..."

Although Hatsune denied it outright, Masatsugu remained unfazed.

"No helping it, the past cannot be changed. Oh, but I remember now. I think you did propose to marry me when we were young."

"Then why did you say 'absolutely nothing' just now?"

"Sorry, but I'm careless sometimes."

"I see, that does seem to be the case."

"There's more. This is how I answered: 'I'll seriously consider it if you grow up to become as strong as a yokozuna-ranked sumo wrestler in the future.'"

"Why a yokozuna-ranked sumo wrestler?"

"The ones I used to like were powerful men like yokozunas, no holds barred champion wrestlers, or lethwei masters. In fact, they're still my type even now, you know?"

"I sense some kind of insider obsession in your last example..."

Myanmar in Southeast Asia was currently part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Masatsugu was very impressed that Hatsune would bring up a legendary martial art from that place. He began to assess his own eligibility.

Medium stature at a height of 175cm. Slender physique with virtually no fat.

He had been working out, more or less, but was not a macho man with bulging muscles.

"Looks like my training aimed at seeking future happiness has failed."

"First crushes from childhood never bear fruit, Onii-sama."

"By the way, Hatsune, why did you come to my house?"

"I came to pay respects to my late Uncle and Auntie. It's only manners to say hi when visiting my home town, but I apologize for coming in without permission."

"If memory serves me correctly, I did lock up."

"Don't worry, I'm very resourceful. That kind of lock only takes me sixty seconds to open."

Hatsune puffed out her chest proudly. Despite her childlike face, she was extremely voluptuous. Then she reached for her bag on the tatami floor.

Her pale and slender fingers took out a hairpin that had been deliberately stretched into a needle-like shape.

"Meaning you used that thing to pick the entrance lock..."

"That's how I opened the door and came in."

"Then the one who cleaned up the house was also—"

"I noticed the house was a bit messy, so I helped clean up."

"I thought so. Thanks. But you do know you are currently caught in the act of trespassing, right?"

"You're so mean, Onii-sama. I'm the same as a little sister to you. Trespassing doesn't apply to family!"

"I wouldn't bet on that. It's mainly up to the judge to decide."

"Huh, really?"

"...Excuse me, Masatsugu-kun and Tachibana-san."

Masatsugu's calm rebuttal had taken Hatsune aback in surprise. Having arrived at the Buddhist altar room unnoticed some point earlier, Taisei interrupted them.

Taisei must have come to observe the situation after hearing the sound of conversation.

He said tactfully, "Sundown will be here soon if your comedy act keeps going without a straight man to rein things in."

In any case, this was the encounter between Tachibana Hatsune and Masatsugu—Or rather, their reunion.

Part 2

In early October, Rinzai High gained a new transfer student coming from the capital Tokyo.

She was prim and adorable while outgoing and lively, virtuous in conduct while innocent and pure. Such was her peerless beauty that one could apply every flowery literary device to describe her—A beautiful maiden practically loved by everyone in the school.

The new goddess of the campus had a family name of Tachibana paired with a given name of Hatsune.

Reportedly, she was a well-bred young lady hailing from the Tachibana clan, a prestigious samurai family fairly renowned in Suruga City, and had served at the imperial palace at Tokyo to learn all kinds of etiquette...

"Everyone is talking about me like this! It's quite troubling. These kinds of comments only got six out of seven things correct!"

"In other words, they approach 85% in accuracy? I think your self-image is overrated."

Despite saying she felt troubled, Hatsune looked quite happy. When Masatsugu tried to warn Hatsune, Taisei also nodded on the side and concurred, "If a girl fitting this description actually existed, she'd have become a national idol a long time ago."

"Sheesh. Onii-sama and Taisei-san, you're far too obsessed with numbers!"

Mocked by Masatsugu and Taisei, Hatsune grumbled unhappily.

During the lunch break, the three of them were having their meal at the cafeteria. The next day after visiting Masatsugu's house, Hatsune had transferred to Rinzai High.

As a first year, Hatsune was a junior student relative to Masatsugu in the second year.

While eating the daily special, a ham cutlet meal, Taisei said, "Let me take a guess. Everyone is overreacting to the detail about 'a well-bred young lady who had frequented the imperial palace' and projecting their fantasies on you, thus resulting in the illusion of a school idol."

"T-Taisei-san, sometimes you really speak without any delicacy..."

"Don't let it bother you, Hatsune. Taisei doesn't mean any harm, he simply enjoys analyzing things like this. All he did was share his deductions."

After offering reconciliatory words that totally did not patch up the situation, Masatsugu picked up a rice ball and took a bite.

He had bought a pickled plum rice ball at the snack shop. This was his entire lunch. He was actually not a small eater, but he did have an odd natural habit where he felt uneasy unless he ate humble meals that only made him 60% full.

"When you mentioned qualities such as 'prim,' 'adorable,' or 'outgoing and lively,' I believe it did match your self-proclaimed 85% accuracy."

"Really!? I'm so happy, Onii-sama!"

"As for virtuous in conduct or school idol, I'd say let's forget about that..."

"Y-You should've kept that comment to yourself, Onii-sama!"

Alternating through joy and despair, Hatsune was having a lunch comprising raw tuna on a bed of sushi rice, a seaweed salad, mini udon, as well as meat and potato stew.

This was quite a hearty appetite for a girl. Naturally, Hatsune did not wolf down her food like an unrefined boy.

Smiling cheerfully, she carefully savored every dish.

It was obvious at a glance that she sincerely enjoyed her mealtime.

"However, your family has extraordinary status since you were able to gain access to the imperial palace."

"This is my first time hearing about it too. Previously, I only knew that our ancestors were samurai in the direct service of the shogunate."

"Our clan merely holds empty status without any wealth. Fortunately, we are valued for our skills and valor, which is what allowed us to have dealings with the upper class."

In more recent times, there was no one more famous as an example of a samurai in the service of upper society than Yamaoka Tetsushuu.

A renowned master swordsman and calligrapher, he had served in the Bakumatsu era as a shogunate vassal then as a retainer of the imperial family after the Meiji Restoration. The Tachibana clan must have had individuals with similar exploits.

"My father cautioned me to be a good lady-in-waiting trainee, to learn etiquette and how to get along with upper society, as a part-time job after school."

In fact, Hatsune's use of chopsticks during meals was very pretty.

Sitting on a cafeteria chair, her posture was very upright. Although she was a very friendly and approachable girl, her behavior and poise hinted at excellent upbringing.

"Then as expected, that rumor turns out to be related to how you're receiving special treatment, Hatsune-san?"

"Special treatment? What do you mean?" asked Masatsugu curiously, prompting Taisei to explain immediately.

"Uh, basically Hatsune-san's uniform."

"Is it not allowed? This older style of female uniform is approved in schools all over Tokyo. There's nothing in the school rules forbidding it either."

As before, Hatsune was dressed in a retro style like in the Haikara-san manga.

This combination of meisen kimono with a hakama was the female student look prior to the Second World War.

"There's a retro wave of fashion over there recently and I liked it a lot after trying it out."

"Unfortunately, this counts as a modified uniform that's not officially recognized. However, the school has given tacit consent since they did not reprimand you, Hatsune-san."

Five days had gone by since Hatsune's transfer, so the excuse of not having a uniform was no longer justified. Taisei continued.

"During this awkward timing of October, would your reason for moving here from the capital be related to 'a certain VIP' coming to Suruga?"

Hatsune shuddered. It looked like Taisei's hunch was correct so Masatsugu asked his friend, "Who are you referring to?"

"According to rumors, a princess of the imperial family—Shiori-sama, a highborn daughter of House Fujinomiya—has recently left the capital to come to her late father's hometown of Suruga."

"A princess of House Fujinomiya...?" asked Masatsugu, tilting his head in puzzlement at the unfamiliar name. "Right, apart from the current Empress—Her Majesty Teruhime—I've never heard the name of anyone else in the imperial family."

"Members of royalty in certain countries would take part in public events or diplomatic occasions, but it seems to be different in Japan."

Due to certain circumstances, Masatsugu was slightly lacking in what would be considered common knowledge. Well aware of this, Taisei patiently explained in detail.

"Her name and information about her have been released to the public to some extent, but there are no photos. The media is also forbidden from reporting about her in the same manner they do celebrities, so the policy of confidentiality is upheld very thoroughly."

Prior to the Second World War, back when Japan was still the "Great Empire of Japan," even ordinary families would put up portraits of upper society but now, the situation had completely reversed.

After their defeat in the war, Japan had undergone monumental changes.

The original Japan was transformed into Imperial Japan, a country worshiping the godlike sacred beast Lord Tenryuu as their guardian deity.

Nowadays, it was the Empress—the priestess whose destiny was intertwined with Lord Tenryuu—who ruled the nation of Japan.

"Shiori-sama had been studying abroad in Rome until recently, so that's probably one of the reasons. In addition, this so-called studying abroad is actually closer to being a hostage."

"A tool of diplomatic relations, in other words."

"Perhaps weary of such a life steeped in politics, she hoped to spend her life somewhere peaceful... This is what I hear occasionally."

Taisei's father worked at a news agency, hence as his son, Taisei would work part-time there whenever there was a lull in student council work. He often picked up insider information at home or in the workplace.

Meanwhile, Hatsune coughed lightly and said, "Ahem, in any case, the reason why I came back is top secret. Onii-sama, could you two not start any weird rumors, okay? Please!"

The school idol (tentative) simply cautioned Masatsugu with a cold expression without bothering to deny anything, apparently.


A few more days passed. Rumors about Fujinomiya Shiori the mysterious princess were the talk of the town. Just like Taisei, countless people were discussing information about her.

The princess who had returned from Eastern Rome was about to come to her ancestral hometown of Suruga City—

Masatsugu also heard girls in his class discuss the "Return of the Princess" story.

However, everyone still did not know anything detailed about Shiori's past.

There was a dearth of released information... Just the bare facts at most, that she was a young princess, currently sixteen years of age, while her mother was the younger sister of the second Empress.

"Hatsune, what is the princess like as a person?"

After school, Masatsugu inquired of his relative who happened to be on her way home with him.

Masatsugu lived at a boys dorm twenty minutes away from the school by foot. Hatsune also lived in the girls dorm in the same area.

Her father, Tachibana Genzou, was currently still in Tokyo.

His workplace was House Fujinomiya's imperial villa—In other words, Hatsune was here on a work assignment alone.

"The princess is very pretty and smart too... Wait, why are asking about this, Onii-sama? It's not like I have a chance to be particularly close to VIPs like her."

Noticing his distant cousin making a slip of the tongue, Masatsugu pressed on.

"Taisei speculates that you came back to serve as the princess' lady-in-waiting to attend to her everyday life, is that right?"

"La la la! I can't hear you. Onii-sama! Let's talk about something else!"

As expected, the naive Hatsune was not very good at hiding things. She forcefully changed the subject.

"Is the old candy store still around, the one we used to visit together? Want to check it out right now?"

"Candy store huh..."

"Did it go out of business? Or you can't remember?"

"In truth, I have no recollection at all."

"Sheesh, Onii-sama. So you've forgotten more than just about me."

"You're right. Let me be honest with you. I lost my memory two years ago, so I can't recall anything before that at all."

"Huh?"

Masatsugu's sudden confession made Hatsune jump in surprise. He continued unfazed.

"They said that I fell down the stairs and had a violent concussion, which resulted in amnesia."

"Th-Then even about your parents—"

"I've forgotten them too. Fortunately, I still know how they look thanks to the photos in the Buddhist altar room."

After Masatsugu's memory loss, relatives in the area had looked after him.

Initially, the clueless Masatsugu spent his days in a daze. Those relatives told him what "Tachibana Masatsugu was like as a person" and taught him basic life skills.

It was all thanks to the thoughtful care of those relatives that he was now able to handle high school life.

Amnesia did not feel particularly troubling, but he ought to properly recall things about his own parents at least... Many a time, this thought had occupied Masatsugu's mind.

Stunned for a moment, Hatsune then slowly nodded and said, "I see... So that's why my father said it that way."

"What did your father say?"

"A few days ago, he phoned me and said that he would be coming to Suruga soon to explain something important about you, Masatsugu-oniisama."

Hatsune's father worked as something like a butler at the Fujinomiya household.

Masatsugu had never met him. More precisely, Masatsugu had not met him for the past two years. Perhaps Hatsune's father had heard something about him from other relatives—Just as Masatsugu fell into deep thought...

Hatsune suddenly whispered, "P-Princess? Why are you here at school?"

Masatsugu followed Hatsune's gaze. They were near the school gates and a girl had entered from outside.

Probably not native Japanese given her blue eyes and hair the color of platinum, the young maiden was quite a striking beauty. Walking gracefully, she approached the two of them decisively.

"Do you know that girl, Hatsune?"

"S-Stop speaking so rudely! She is Shiori-sama, the princess I serve in other words. We have to receive her carefully!"

"What?"

The girl with the glittering hair smiled cordially at the puzzled Masatsugu and the panicking Hatsune.

Imperial Japan's noble princess, Fujinomiya Shiori. However, this girl possessed platinum blonde hair that did not belong to those of Japanese ancestry—

Furthermore, Masatsugu noticed something odd.

For some reason, the princess was dressed in Rinzai High's female uniform.

Hatsune rushed over to the princess' side before he could find an answer. The mistress and her personal lady-in-waiting engaged in whispers.

"I'm sorry, Onii-sama, but something came up and I have to go now!" Hatsune bade Masatsugu goodbye energetically.

The platinum blonde beauty beside her nodded elegantly to Masatsugu before making her departure. Naturally, Hatsune followed her.

The two of them were headed towards Rinzai High's school building.

Part 3

News of the imperial princess' arrival spread through the streets of Suruga like wildfire.

The rumored character was finally making an appearance. Furthermore, the purpose of her visit was not sightseeing.

"Perhaps I might be summoned back to the capital one day... But personally, I wish to make this place my residence for the long term."

She had moved here to settle instead of a short-term stay.

This was the public statement that Princess Fujinomiya Shiori issued during an interview with the local television station.

It was customary for members of the imperial family to eschew appearing in public so as to avoid unnecessary risk—The sole exception being the incumbent Empress who stood as the mother figure of the nation.

But this time, Shiori had appeared before the media intentionally.

The very day she arrived at Suruga, she was featured on a local television's news program that was not broadcast nationally, sharing her views with a news anchor, a woman in her early thirties.

This one-on-one interview had taken place in a hotel room.

The anchorwoman had asked why did she come to Suruga after concluding her period of study in the Eastern Roman Empire as a foreign student.

"I was invited by Rome when I was twelve and learned many things there... However, one could hardly call it normal student life, after all. I wish to enroll in high school somewhere quiet and peaceful, as a way to gain some social experience of sorts."

The interview was broadcast around 6pm and gathered an audience share of over 60% in the greater Suruga region. During the program, the local television station's anchorwoman nervously conducted the interview with apprehension.

"And the place you have chosen for this is—"

"Indeed, Suruga is the hometown of my late father. I decided to move to Suruga after returning to Japan because I wanted to begin a new life here. Perhaps doing so might cause a nuisance to the residents, in which case I beg for everyone's forgiveness in advance."

"Your Highness, would you mind if I were to ask you to talk about your hair...?"

"In truth, my hair is not dyed."

Princess Shiori had a head of brilliant platinum blonde hair. There was a mysterious beauty to her hair color, one that did not belong to someone of pure Japanese descent.

"As most people already know... The first Empress, Her Majesty Himiko, called upon the sacred spirit of Lord Tenryuu to possess her. While in a state of divine union, she gave birth to twin princesses, who were respectively the second Empress, Toyo-sama, and my mother, Her Highness Fujinomiya—"

This anecdote was identical to the virgin birth of the messiah, Jesus Christ, from Mary, Mother of God.

The priestesses serving Lord Tenryuu and all other sacred beasts would produce offspring through parthenogenesis using their partner's spiritual energy.

Princess Shiori stroked her hair gently and revealed a slightly troubled smile.

"The royal families of the various nations worshiping sacred beasts were all born in the same manner. One peculiarity of these bloodlines is that only girls are conceived. There is also one phenomena that no one apparently understands... Every now and then, a child like me is born."

"May I ask you to elaborate what you mean?"

"My hair is identical in color to my grandfather, wouldn't you agree?"

Lord Tenryuu was a giant platinum dragon whose entire body shone with the same luster as Shiori's hair.

The anchorwoman comprehended the implication and nodded vigorously. "In other words, Shiori-sama, there is a particularly strong resemblance between you and your grandfather... Would that be correct to say?"

"Fufufufu, I suppose that would be one way of putting it."

The interview was on air for roughly half an hour.

During this time, the princess had responded fluently, expressing her views with clarity. Furthermore, she remained smiling elegantly the whole time, fully demonstrating a princess' noble character.

...The program's broadcast caused a huge effect.

Starting the next day, Princess Fujinomiya Shiori's popularity rose dramatically among the Suruga populace.

"I'm guessing she didn't do it on purpose, but it was definitely very effective."

Masatsugu's good friend, Okonogi Taisei was impressed too and said, "The princess accepted a television interview just as rumors about her were all the rage. Using her own words, she flawlessly explained her reason for coming to Suruga. This is already enough to impress upon others a 'young yet reliable' image. Furthermore, as a beautiful blonde young woman, she already makes a massive visual impact."

"Definitely," Masatsugu agreed. In just a few short days, Fujinomiya Shiori had advanced from "an unknown princess" to "the local princess known to every resident of Suruga City."

"If this was intentional, she would be a very good manipulator."

"Hahahaha, I doubt it. Everyone sympathizes with the princess who was sent to Rome as a hostage, so they naturally view her favorably. She's already secured a firm support from the elderly. The younger generation too—"

At least at Rinzai High where Masatsugu was studying, Shiori commanded overwhelming popularity.

The princess had stated explicitly that she wanted to enroll in high school at Suruga. Rinzai High was expected to be where she would transfer into.

Most surprising of all, she intended to move into the student dormitories.

On the Friday of Princess Shiori's imminent arrival, Masatsugu was sought out by his distant cousin.

"Naturally, we can't allow the princess to live in an ordinary dorm."

Hatsune finally admitted to Masatsugu that she was the "princess' personal lady-in-waiting."

Using time in the early morning before commuting to school, they were talking in the student dorm area.

"That's why we requested the school to provide an unused dorm building. Starting tonight, the princess and I will be staying here."

"Right, so that's why there were workers remodeling the place earlier..."

Masatsugu and Hatsune were standing in front of the "Black Lily Dorm" that was assigned exclusively to the princess.

With the decrease in boarders, the place had not been used for the past five years. Thanks to speedy remodeling, its outer appearance had become quite fashionable.

Moreover, it was the day before yesterday when the princess had shown up before Masatsugu.

That night, the interview had appeared on television. The next day, Her Highness Shiori had visited city hall to meet with the major of Suruga City.

It was Friday today and the princess would start attending classes next Monday.

Masatsugu felt impressed by the princess' efficient schedule.

Hatsune said to him, "By the way, Onii-sama, could you accompany me after school today?"

"I don't mind... But what's the occasion?"

After school today would be part of the precious weekend, which included time after the end of Friday's classes as well as Saturday and Sunday.

Be that as it may, Masatsugu had no prior commitments to go out, so he easily agreed to Hatsune's request.

However, Hatsune proceeded to surprise him with what she said next. "The princess summons you, Onii-sama."

"Me? Summoned by the princess?"

Never in his wildest dreams did he expect Hatsune to ask him to call upon the princess.

When Hatsune revealed the location for their meeting, Masatsugu became even more confused.

"The tutelary fort at Nihondaira...?"

Masatsugu's confusion was at a max. He had no idea why he was asked to go to that sort of place.

Going east by car from Rinzai High would reach the highlands formed from Mount Udo and the adjacent Mount Kunou. The region around Mount Udo's peak was known as "Nihondaira," the tallest plateau in the region.

A tutelary fort was located there—i.e. Suruga's military base.

Furthermore, it was no ordinary base. Serving as "castellan" (the name of a position in charge of managing a castle and its surrounding territory on behalf of a daimyo in the past) to hold a tutelary fort was a Chevalier's job.

A so-called Chevalier was a person with the special ability to summon powerful Legions, winged giant soldiers. They were also commanders who would their troops to fight on the front lines.

Fighting on the behalf of their military and the nation, they took on incalculable risk and responsibility.

Hence, Chevaliers were honored with all kinds of privileged treatment. They were respected heroes in the military and high-ranking officers at the top of the command chain. Those who had attained the rank of Chevalier would receive generous salaries and be treated as nobles in civilian society.

Indeed, tutelary forts were the strongholds from where Chevaliers and Legions operated.

...Thus began the day when Tachibana Masatsugu's life was changed dramatically.

Part 4

On board the Tintagel, a Class A Type 27 destroyer...

This was the newly built military ship that had come under her management two months ago.

The ship had a total length of 183m and a loaded displacement of 15 thousand tons. Its streamlined body resulted from the application of stealth designs. The anti-air weapon control system, the Evil Eye, was linked to her through noetic waves and control. The installed fluid reactor that used artificial ectoplasmic fluid not only served as a power source but also enabled the the use of mystic powers essential to deploying the giant winged soldiers that were the Legions.

In other words, the functionality of this ship would make it a carrier for the mainstay weapon of the modern era, the Legions.

This ship was named the Tintagel and belonged to the Far East fleet of the British Imperial Forces—

"Good morning, my lady. How are you today?" said Sir Grayson, the captain of the ship.

She—the self-sustaining noetic spirit, the genie Morrigan—replied by transmitting noetic waves.

(Good morning... Captain. Status... Good. Presently, begin possession.)

Morrigan had transmitted noetic waves to respond to the captain, Sir Grayson.

Holding the rank of lieutenant colonel, Sir Grayson was an elderly gentleman. However, his delayed response did not stem from hearing deterioration.

Humans without noetic aptitude had difficulty hearing the contents of noetic waves.

To handle this problem, Morrigan began the process of possession.

What she possessed was a doll that she used regularly. Sitting on a rocking chair in the Tintagel's first operations room was a doll of a young girl, roughly 150cm tall—

The doll's appearance was that of a twelve or thirteen-year-old girl, with slightly curly blonde hair reaching shoulder length.

This doll was exquisitely crafted although the excessively pale skin was made of hard porcelain while the blue eyes were glassware. The pink nails were painted using a dye extracted from Nitidotellina nitidula, a type of shellfish.

The skin not only made a sound when tapped lightly but also had blood vessels hidden beneath it.

Plastic blood vessels extended throughout the entire body, filled with blue blood, the artificial ectoplasmic fluid that also served to power Legions. Morrigan infused the liquid with part of her spirit.

(Divide spirit, possession... Success. Awakening imminent.)

The blue blood inside the doll's blood vessels began to flow.

Artificial ectoplasmic fluid, which could also be used to fuel fluid power generation systems, enabled a miracle to occur in this small doll, turning it into Morrigan's avatar.

...Having possessed the doll, Morrigan slowly sat up straight.

Originally hard in texture, her porcelain skin was now as soft as a young maiden's flesh.

However, the joints driven by gears and cranks remained as mechanical constructs, producing sounds of friction when they moved. Tubes filled with blue ectoplasmic fluid and gears could be found all over the body, indicating that this was a temporary life at most.

The doll was dressed in a sailor suit with a skirt plus a beret.

Using the glass eyeballs that were equipped with vision, Morrigan stared at Sir Grayson.

Sir Grayson was a slender white-haired elderly gentleman as well as a naval officer who exemplified the image of a "solemn gentleman."

"So long ago... The last time we met in this manner, Lieutenant Colonel."

"Greetings, my lady. Excuse me for being forward, but I have come to inform you of a certain gentleman who wishes to meet with you. From here on, your body will be assigned under his command."

Sir Grayson always treated Morrigan with utmost respect.

Sitting on the rocking chair, Morrigan nodded in acknowledgement of his notification, producing a clicking sound from her neck joints.


Sir Grayson brought Morrigan to the deck.

On the destroyer Tintagel, there was a bridge in the center shaped like a "tower." The two of them went behind the tower.

"Thank you for your patience, Prince."

Sir Grayson addressed the figure standing on the edge of the deck.

He was looking out across the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

The Tintagel was currently sailing within Japan's territorial waters—Off the coast of the Shima Peninsula, heading east. Continuing along this bearing, it would reach Enshunada, Omaezaki and Suruga Bay.

Japan's airspace and territorial waters were watched over by the sacred beast Lord Tenryuu and the sea dragons and wyverns serving him.

Sailing close to the coast would risk eventual detection, but Morrigan had used noetic control to apply stealth enchantments to the entire ship.

"Please allow me to introduce Morrigan, the genie of this ship. Her appearance as an adorable young girl belies her heroic exploits in defeating pirates with me in the Indian Ocean."

"So she is the one you have specially assigned to serve me..."

The "prince" who turned around to speak was a young man roughly twenty years old.

The young man had silver hair with a handsome face—No, one ought to call him a splendid specimen of a handsome man. Not only were his facial features exquisite, but his expression was also glowing with astounding ambition and an awe-inspiring vibe.

"Then in that case, I expect a seasoned warrior... However, since we are not at Buckingham Palace or the battlefields of Aquitaine, I am a bit uncomfortable being addressed as 'Prince.'"

The handsome man was dressed as a military officer like Sir Grayson.

His military uniform consisted of a white shirt, a necktie and a pair of black pants. However, the prince also had a black jacket and black cape in addition to that.

Furthermore, there was a long sword hanging at his waist. It was almost like a military uniform for formal occasions.

Perfectly at ease in this magnificent attire, the handsome man pondered for a moment before speaking.

image

"Morrigan, please call me Sir Black Knight."

"Affirmative, Sir Black Knight."

After answering, Morrigan emitted noetic waves.

She connected her mind to the Tintagel's memory realm, the database, and searched its vast contents. She searched for titles such as "Prince" and "Sir Black Knight" as well as people bearing a resemblance to the young man before her, but came out empty-handed. All information had been classified.

"Unfortunately, my true identity is classified."

The silver-haired Black Knight smiled cheerfully. He had sensed Morrigan's noetic waves.

This meant that he was a noetic master or a Chevalier—

"I see... You are a knight, is that correct?"

"That goes without saying. Otherwise, why would I call myself the Black Knight?"

"My, apologies."

Morrigan's hearing was normal but she was not good at conversations. As a result, her speech tended to be choppy.

"No need for it to weigh on your mind. I am currently assigned as an observer, so my intention is to get a look at how you and your crew fight, as well as Japan's cultural climate."

Sir Black Knight then turned to the other soldier.

"Grayson, in accordance with your request, I have reassigned two Knights of Her Majesty from England to join us on short notice. Namely, Stevie and Lamps. That should be enough for the landing operation, I suppose?"

Morrigan searched her database again.

This time, the search succeeded. The only Knights of Her Majesty matching these two nicknames were Sir Steven and Sir Lampard. They were both brave warriors who had been awarded the Appellation of the Knight's Medal of the Great Cross.

In response, Grayson laughed and said rather sardonically, "Much appreciated. However, I must make one correction. In this instance, I simply relayed a request from our allies in Japan back home. By no means did I make a personal call to—"

"I see. I spoke too imprudently."

"Now that imprudence is a done deal, I have no objections to Your Highness taking part in battle personally."

"Personally, I would like to do that too, but there are many lords back home who love to engage in petty criticism. Making such a disobedient move before officially assuming my position would have them making allegations of me being 'outdated' or 'medieval'."

Sir Black Knight smiled wryly.

"Getting lectured after the fact would be quite a nuisance too, so I shall decline on this occasion. Of course, if we happen to encounter Lord Caesar who is currently in Japan, I would not mind enduring that sort of nuisance."

"In other words... You are fine with serving as the strategist for now?"

"Yes. It gives them no grounds to complain."

"...May I, ask a question?"

Morrigan interjected in the conversation between Sir Black Knight and the captain.

"From just now, judging from the conversation, you are ranked higher than both the Knights of Her Majesty and Sir Grayson. You also have intimate ties to, our nation's ruling elite..."

"Yes. Furthermore—I am your future boss," Sir Black Prince replied rather simply.

"Acknowledged."

"In that case, Morrigan, please bear with me until I take over my position officially. Could you please show the map?"

Morrigan's doll nodded, making metallic friction noises.

From the database, she pulled out visual images of Japan and projected them into the air using noetic waves. A two-dimensional map of the islands of Japan appeared before Sir Black Knight.

"In order for the Gifu Fiefdom partnering with us to march on the imperial capital of Tokyo, there is one route that must be secured—Hence, Tōkaidō is our target this time. There are five tutelary forts from between Shizuoka and Hakone Checkpoint... Hamamatsu, Kakegawa, Suruga, Fuji, and Nagahama, which we will conquer all at once."

Pointing at five locations on the map, Sir Black Knight issued combat orders.

"Due to the trouble at Suruga, we were forced to hasten our operation by two weeks, though there are no issues apart from that. If everything proceeds according to plan, the operation will end smoothly."

Soon, they were about to make a landing in Japan in a battle to subjugate Tōkaidō.

After Morrigan used a noetic search for precise details, the sky over the Tintagel was filled with a vast quantity of noesis.

"So the two of you have arrived?"

As soon as Sir Black Knight spoke, two officers came to join Morrigan and Grayson.

They were the ones who had released the current noesis. Both were strapping young men in their twenties. Wearing jackets and capes with a sword each, they were dressed the same as Sir Black Knight.

These were the two Knights of Her Majesty that Morrigan had searched just now, Sir Steven and Sir Lampard.

"Stevie and Lamps, are you ready to sortie?"

"Certainly, Black Knight."

"Using the Appellation bestowed upon us, we will summon an army to fight on Her Majesty's behalf."

Despite not addressing their superior too formally, they spoke with great affection.

Lightly touching the breast pocket of their respective jackets, they then opened their palms. A cross-shaped medal, shining brilliantly, appeared over their pockets out of thin air where nothing had been there a moment ago.

This weas the Knight's Medal of the Great Cross.

A holy emblem for summoning the British Empire's mainstay Legion, the "Crusade."

Wearing cross medals on their chests, Sir Steven and Sir Lampard looked up at the sky. The noesis filling the air began to manifest into a contingent of soldiers.

Emitting noetic waves, Morrigan swiftly calculated the headcount.

A total of ninety-four. Each Legion stood over eight meters tall and was fully equipped with a white mask and uniform, even armor. An impressive army practically a hundred strong.

Their weapons were rifles fitted with bayonets. Feathered wings adorned their backs.

"Very good. Stevie will attack Fuji while Lamps will march on the tutelary fort at Nagahama... By the way, who is responsible for the most troublesome Suruga?"

"Sir Philneville. He is on the Caerleon", not this ship," Morrigan answered Sir Black Night's question.

The Caerleon and her Tintagel were destroyers of the same model.

"Sir Terry, also on that ship, is assigned to take Hamamatsu while Sir Ashley is responsible for Kakegawa. By the way, Sir Black Knight, may I ask another question?"

Staring at the handsome man's face, Morrigan asked, "You mentioned previously, you would not mind taking part in battle, if Lord Caesar were to make his presence. How do you, intend to engage Lord Caesar?"

"Very simple, I shall personally head to the forefront and have a duel with the Roman hero," boasted Sir Black Knight nonchalantly.

Behind him, a black Legion slowly manifested.

Its design was very similar to the Crusade except that its uniform and armor were all black. The mask on its face and the wings on its back were also black.

This Legion was precisely the reason why he styled himself as "Sir Black Knight."

"Very few generals are able to match him on the battlefield. Fortunately, I am one of the rare exceptions, hence it would be quite a welcome development I am hoping for."

In command of winged giant soldiers that were not Crusades, the silver-haired aristocrat murmured.

Morrigan finally understood his true identity. The noetic waves linking this black pair of master and servant were far stronger than those of the two Knights of Her Majesty here—Hundreds of times stronger.

"In that case, your wish is my command... legatus legionis. O hero who has returned from the underworld where the dead are gathered, I, the genie Morrigan, pledge my loyalty to your feats of arms."

The commander of an army, a true Chevalier—

Listening to these profound titles, Sir Black Knight smiled with pride.