Kaseria Jamil had been fighting back yawns for a while now.
The voices of the priests chanting in prayer reverberated throughout the inside of the cave. This was a ceremony held before going to war. All of Allion’s officers and men who were summoned to it must keep their eyes closed and their hands joined before their waists.
The cave gave into an underground passageway connected to the sea and, even where Kaseria stood, his feet were wet from the waves that rolled in. The red flames from the pine torches were reflected on the sea’s surface, where a number of golden boats bobbed and swayed. This was a ceremony not only to pray for victory, but also for safety at sea. The priests were conscientiously reciting one-by-one the long list of names of every spirit that dwelt in the gold, steel and wood that had been used to construct the boats.
Looks like it’s going to keep dragging on. Kaseria had lost count of how many times already he had desperately bit back his yawns. All the spirits of Allion, even the ones living in the tiniest grains of sand, all love war. If you really want to please them, it’d be much better to have our braves board the ships, slaughter the enemy soldiers, and consecrate their red and bleeding hearts to the spirits.
Kaseria would be twenty-two this year. He was tall and lean with a fair complexion. With his elegant features, he looked like a young man who would be perfectly at home playing music or reciting poetry in the royal court of Allion. In fact, and although Kaseria did have that side to him, what stimulated him from the bottom of his heart was not the splendour of court life but its very opposite: the battlefield, where the sound of gunshots flew and steel collided to devour lives.
Allion was a country which did not lack for wars. So much so that if one were to peruse the past twenty years of its history, it would be difficult to find any part of it that did not involve some description of battle. In that sense, Kaseria, the first-born son of its war-loving – slaughter and destruction-loving – king was undoubtedly a heaven-sent child for Allion.
There was nothing more tedious than this ceremony, but he was able to endure it by thinking that beyond it lay that moment of ecstasy.
Still, his concentration was apt to wander. From time to time, Kaseria would half open his eyes. In front of the anchored, golden war boats, an equal number of priestesses stood side-by-side. They chanted the prayers in time to the priests but the cylindrical robes they wore were of thin cloth and, since they had immersed themselves in the sea before the ceremony, their skin showed faintly through them.
Kaseria and his men stood behind them. Which meant that Kaseria was able to admire to his heart’s content the row of the priestesses’ backsides before him. That one on the right is a bit small, but the shape is nice. I’d like to rub those cheeks on the left together, but they look kind of heavy? The ass with the best balance of proportions is the one right in the middle. But that really visible bruise on it bothers me. Well then…
“See anything you like?” Someone stealthily whispered in his ear.
For a second, Kaseria’s eyes opened wide before he immediately lowered his eyelids.
“Lance, what are you doing talking in the middle of a ceremony? It’s an insult to the spirits,” he replied in a low voice. “You’ll incur their wrath. The warships will be caught in storms along the way, or the wind will only blow from behind the enemy and flames will spread throughout our camp. Ah, so scary. Now, hurry up and close your eyes, and mentally recite a charm to calm the spirits.”
“The spirits will get angry? Good. At least that will make the war interesting.” The man with an eye-patch over his left eye – Lance Mazpotter – chuckled.
He was more than thirty years older than Kaseria. Perhaps that was why his manner of speaking was somewhat irreverent, even towards his lord and prince.
“But you really did something stupid, taking advantage of a family quarrel in Ende to move the army.”
In fact, he even went as far as calling him stupid.
Kaseria Jamil used to be known as “Allion’s Little Tyrant”. This was not, contrary to what was now said in various countries, on account of his quick and decisive tactics. In the first place, Kaseria had been called that long before his first campaign, and besides, it was not an affectionate nickname given to their young future ruler by those closest to him.
If something displeased him even slightly, he would scream, cry and behave violently. If it had just been that, it could still have passed as charming proof that he “shows all the signs of valour”. In his case though, it went beyond that. He would tell his father things like, “that retainer didn’t give way to me,” or “he didn’t greet me,” then demand they be put to death.
For better or for worse, the king of Allion was particularly indulgent towards his first-born son. Although naturally, he did not go as far as sentencing them to death as the boy wanted, he would still expressly summon even his chief retainers between audiences and have them apologise before his son.
And thus, Kaseria became “Allion’s Little Tyrant”, and continued to be called by that nickname until he was thirteen. It was when he was thirteen, exactly at the time of the fall of Atall – a country north of Allion – that Lance Mazpotter, known then as the “One-Eyed Dragon of Atall”, entered the service of the Royal House of Jamil.
“What are you on about? I’m just obeying Father’s orders.”
“Don’t play dumb at this point. the king didn’t have the slightest interest in this. Apart from anything else, there’s only just been that affair with the Dytiann princess. the king is gradually turning his attention away from the outside and concentrating his energy on ruling the inside of the country.”
the prince of Allion and the veteran commander who know served that same Allion – which had once destroyed his own country – as one of its most famous generals, exchanged whispers with one another.
“To see what is right and not act upon it is a want of courage,” Kaseria pronounced with a triumphant air. “Just like Allion, Ende is a country descended from the Magic Dynasty. Even though we are geographically apart, it is our fate and destiny to one day be united under the same flag. To turn away from the opportunity before us would be sheer folly.”
“Furthermore, the relations between the three countries at the centre of the continent seem to be unstable. Ende and Garbera only just crossed spears, and even Mephius, which took Ende’s part in that conflict, is being rocked by a foolish civil war.”
“I see. I’ve heard that somewhere before already. Now, where was it? Oh right, I said it myself.”
The One-Eyed Dragon of Atall laughed soundlessly. Although he was over fifty years of age, his burly frame clad in chainmail gave off an invisible energy and boasted such an imposing appearance that even his allies found him hard to approach. Compared to him, Kaseria looked as slender as a woman.
“And that’s why I thought it would earn your approval, Lance, but alas…”
“Quit it with the pretentious talk. This is just your usual bad habit coming out again.”
“My bad habit?”
“Others have been saying that although you used to be highly-strung, you’ve become surprisingly adult-like these past few years. Back when I first met you, you didn’t like the look on my face and kicked me, and then when I responded by spanking you, you bawled to your father to have my head chopped off. Well, deep down, you haven’t changed at all since then. When the affair with the Dytian princess happened, you’d gone off to the countryside to meet some woman and couldn’t take part in it.”
“You’re just like an infant. Even if it isn’t something you were particularly interested in, as soon as you see a chance to get it, suddenly you desperately want it. You’d only just finished a long campaign. If it hadn’t been for that Dytiann affair, then around about now, you’d be spending your days chasing women’s asses without thinking about wanting to go to war again so soon. And naturally, you should have flatly turned down Prince Jeremie’s request.”
The “Dytiann affair” that Lance kept bringing up was not the military campaign against the Holy Dytiann Alliance that Kaseria himself had also taken part in.
The fighting had been fierce, but the difference in strength that had existed from the start between the two countries meant that Allion had gradually driven its opponent into a corner. the king of Dytiann, who served as both ruler and head of the church, had several times attempted to end the war by sending letters proposing peace negotiations. Allion however had turned a deaf ear, seeing it instead as a sign that its opponent was growing weak, and had started working towards toppling the enemy nation from within.
The end result was that the king of Dytiann decided to present Allion with his own head to demonstrate his surrender, and save his retainers and his people.
The people had, of course, been deeply grieved. So too had the army commanders and retainers, however, in order for the king’s death to not be in vain, they had resigned themselves to becoming part of Allion.
Tasked with carrying out the negotiations, General Randius, the commander of the right-wing of Allion’s expeditionary force, was stationed with his troops at Dytiann’s royal palace. As the king had no sons, his partners in negotiation were the two young princesses. They spent every day discussing numerous matters, including when to hand over the palace, the treatment that the royal family would receive, and the conditions for disarmament. The negotiations themselves proceeded smoothly, but not even three days had passed when something changed in Randius.
The sister princesses of Dytiann were famed throughout the neighbouring countries for their beauty.
Randius – a man who already had a wife and children, was known at court as a devoted husband, and about whom many heart-warming anecdotes were told – was dazzled by the elder of the sisters, a girl of not quite eighteen.
He forced her to give her body to him but, when he came to sleep with her, the princess instead stabbed him through the throat with a sword that she had concealed by the bed. Then, as though following after her father, the princess had committed suicide by slitting her own throat. The officers and men of Dytiann’s army were enraged.
“We may have been defeated, but Allion’s bestial behaviour is inexcusable.”
“Everyone, if you don’t want them to rape your wives and murder your friends, seize your swords once more. Drive those savages from our country!”
The generals cried out as one and rose in revolt throughout Dytiann.
Furthermore, a part of Allion’s soldiers stationed at the royal palace – in other words, those who had been the subordinates of General Randius, who had been killed by the princess – had, for some reason, joined the people of Dytiann and fought beside them, their spears raised high.
The revolt did not last a week before being put down by the troops who were swiftly dispatched by the king of Allion. However, just as Lance has mentioned earlier, Kaseria had, at the time, already gone off to the countryside on the pretext of “shaking off the dirt from the campaign,” and so had been unable to take part in the subjugation.
“Lance, is the rumour true? You joined the subjugation forces?” Kaseria asked quietly. His eyes were shining almost boyishly. Lance nodded with exaggerated gravity.
“It’s true. Although only sixteen, the dead princess’ younger sister was every bit the elegant beauty that her older sister was. She was the one who convinced Allion’s soldiers to join the uprising. I will make the man with the greatest achievements king of Dytian – I will give him the right to break into my bedroom, kiss my skin and enjoy my thighs, she said. I will whisper love into that hero’s ear, rake my nails along his back, and, if he desires it, I will even play the slave for every ruffian among his comrades to enjoy, she said.”
“I’ve seen portraits of the sisters,” Kaseria almost ground his teeth. “If only I hadn’t put off the pleasure of meeting them because of thinking that, since Dytiann became part of Allion, I could do so whenever. I wanted to one day see them with chains around both their necks and their asses lined up side-by-side,” he said, with the expression of one regretting something from the bottom of their heart. “But I wouldn’t have done it through brute force like Randius. Capturing a woman needs the same preparations as taking a castle, and from the start, I was going to make arrangements to gather information, and break through their ramparts and their bulwarks one by one, until the proud princesses knelt at my feet of their own wills.”
“Women are like castles. That’s also something you’ve heard from me,” Lance jeered.
The ceremony was still continuing on and, perhaps because the priests were getting into it, their chanting was starting to sound more like a kind of melody.
Once it turns to that, there’s still a long way to go, Kaseria murmured in a whisper.
“And?” He then asked Lance. A smile formed on his lips that were surrounded by a sparse beard.
“O my esteemed mentor in swordsmanship, warfare, and women. You’ve done a fine job of making me listen to all sorts of harsh words, but will my right-hand man, Lance Mazpotter, take part in this war or not?”
“There’s no escaping it, since I’m here and the prince called me his right-hand man. Since when he swings his sword, that will definitely create an opening at his right side, then I will literally stand at his right and take on the task of driving away savage enemy swords.”
“I’m not a child anymore!”
From a teasing smile, Kaseria’s manner made a complete turnaround and he looked as though he was seriously going to lash out. His voice was so loud that one of the priests who had been engrossed in their chanting turned around, startled, and some of the priestesses let out small shrieks.
It was a scene that vividly demonstrated how much Prince Kaseria Jamil of Allion was feared by those around him. For Kaseria, however, Lance would forever be a one-of-a-kind existence, and he immediately returned to his previous expression.
“These past few years, Ende’s soldiers have only experienced skirmishes. Is there anyone among them with the skill to even attack my right-hand man? I said earlier that this is a good opportunity since the relationship between the three countries is unstable, but I really hope that some competent men from Garbera, the country of knights, and Mephius, the country of gladiators, will band together to challenge me,” he laughed as he spoke.
It was a smile as innocent as a baby’s.
However, Kaseria Jamil was a man who could cut a person down while smiling like that. Or at any rate, that was how most people within Allion’s domains perceived him.
No. Lance Mazpotter, present beside him, was perhaps the only one who clearly rejected that perception. This man isn’t a bloodthirsty fiend. He’s just a child. And just like a child, he can easily break another person’s things, and easily be hurt.
Lance Mazpotter was a man who had accomplished many feats of arms, who had been involved with many women, and who did not have many regrets to tie him to this world. The one wish that made such a man cling to this world, the one thing that he wanted to see through to the end, was that moment in which the childish young man called Kaseria Jamil would bring down the flames of calamity on the entire continent before finally seizing supremacy over it.