It started on the first day when I was assigned to the elite contingent.
There was one person that had a slender figure in the unit full of burly men, so I felt curiosity at this disharmony. When I heard the story, it seemed that that person was from a powerful noble family. That moment, my question disappeared.
The army is merit-based, but it is also easy to advance in position from one’s family’s influence.
When I talked to that fair-faced noble, I found out that the boy also was assigned to the unit on the same day. Though it was a little, we started chatting in between our drills.
That was the meeting with Sieglinde von Wattin.
I want to go back in time and hit myself back then who thought of her as a noble boy.
She, Sieglinde, is an honourable and clever noblewoman.
Through some sort of fate, Sieglinde and I spent along time together in the same unit.
There were also many times when she saved my life…… though there were some vexing occasions.
The most embarrassing time was when we were stranded in the snowy mountains. When I went with Sieglinde to hunt for food, I was rammed by a deer and fell unconscious.
She killed the deer on the spot, but after weighing the values, she decided to save my life.
Well, since there were many dying soldiers even if she went back, it was a wrong choice she made to have abandoned the food and take a fallen man back. However, her decision to haul me back and treat my wounds saved my life.
I realised that I had feelings for her when I heard rumours that she was looking for a marriage partner.
From my overflowing newfound feelings, I was in confusion.
Sieglinde is older than me. She also is from a good family.
Though she refused promotion and stayed in the same rank as myself, but she had more decorations than me.
I had been giving up the idea of proposing to such a woman.
But even for a man like me, an opportunity came. I heard from her uncle and superior that Sieglinde is participating in a ball to find a marriage partner.
“No one is going propose to me anyway,” she had been saying, so I was betting my chances on that.
Also, it might have been hard to propose to her in her military uniform, but if I saw her in a dress, I was confident that I could find the courage to propose to her.
The ball came. I met with the worst possible situation.
Sieglinde appeared in her military uniform, and even wore her decorations that she did not usually wear.
—— She was shining brilliantly. Really, she felt like someone that someone like me should approach.
I don’t know if it was the glint from her medals or her brilliance that blinded me then.
Being surrounded by women, Sieg was quickly separated from others.
When I went outside to take a breather and came back in, she was nowhere to be seen.
I then heard that Sieglinde was proposed to by ‘the Yeti of the Borderlands (Lappland)’1 and that her marriage was concluded.
I demanded to know what kind of man he was, and he turned out to a count from another country. He is from an old house, and his status was fitting for her.
I felt at a big loss. She did not even look at me and was taken away, or so I was assaulted by this arbitrary anxiety.
However, it was too late. I don’t know much about this Yeti who sounded like a bear, but I got the impression that Sieglinde will be spending a barbaric life in the borderlands.
However, I was surprisingly persistent.
Thinking of the land she will be going, I thought of it as the worst possible choice.
I felt worried for her.
Also, there was the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see her soon. Finally, I went to her house and proposed to her.
As expected, her answer started with “I’m happy that you see me that way,” but ended tragically with “but I have a fiancé.”
That was how I parted with her.
Some months after that shock, I disembarked on that foreign land.
This was the country Sieg married away to.
I came here to see if she was living happily here.
I already did expect it to some degree when I came out of the ship cabin, but it wass quite cold. Rather, it was biting.
I wonder if this what it means to feel pain from gales? ……No, this doesn’t seem to be it. I thought I as I disembarked.
On Sieglinde’s letter, she told me to look for a white bear. Her husband and her servant will come and get me.
However, I was mistaken about the method of transport. Who could have imagined that reindeer sleighs were still important in an age in which steam cars were being invented.
What do you mean by white bear, I want more details Sieglinde! I thought as I wandered about.
Then I realised it. That her husband’s nickname is definitely ‘the Bear of the Borderlands’.
Sieglinde’s husband must have been as big as a bear and must have been bulging with muscles. I imagined that she must have fallen for a man that was stronger than her.
I was adequately tall, but I was thin for a man of the military. When I heard from my grandfather that our genes made it hard to gain muscles, I felt despair.
I was not fit to her taste so I was rejected, or so I consoled myself as I walked on foreign lands.
As I waded through the crowd, I noticed something.
—— It was a white bear.
For a moment, I really thought it was bear and dropped my luggage. But on a closer look, it was a giant wearing bear fur.
Th-that’s Sieglinde’s husband!?
Thick arms, great chest muscles, and a ripped belly that was almost disgusting to look at. That appearance had a wildness that my instinct appealed me to not approach hi.
He wasn’t wearing anything other than the bear fur (though he did have trousers on). Was that force a proof of his life in this arctic land.
Pathetically, such emotions formed.
When I looked to the side of Sieglinde’s bearish husband, there was a man that looked like a servant so I looked to him for help.
Unlike the man-bear that had brown skin, that man, as though he lacked pigments, had white skin, white hair and blue eyes that had a beautiful shade like a gem. I felt sure that this was the servant that Sieg mentioned in her letter.
Unable to face the lionesque man-bear, I talked while looking at the servant.
Might you be Count Levantret I asked.
I then presented myself as Emmerich David in the language spoken here that I learned before I came.
“Ah, it’s alright. I can speak David-san’s country’s language!”
Oo, thank goodness. The servant can translate. He also kindly took my bags. I relaxed at seeing this friendly servant.
As we talked, I felt that the man was good, so I told him that he didn’t have to speak politely.
“He’s Teoporon. We can’t communicate well with him, but he’s a good man.”
Because I was wearing the earmuffs the servant gave me, I didn’t hear him well, but strode on regardless.
I followed him, taking care to not look at the bearish husband.
Thankfully, unlike my fears, the sleigh was wider than I thought.
Of course, there was no roof, and the reindeer was too big. Moreover——.
“Then, sit in between Teoporon’s legs.”
This ‘Teoporon’ he’s been speaking of, is this a word in his language? I wanted to know the meaning, but I wasn’t able to speak because of the cold.
The servant smiled nicely and asked me to sit in between Sieglinde’s bear-like husband’s legs.
“The sleigh is quite fast.”
The servant explained that he’ll be controlling the reins, and that I’ll sitting with the bear, on top of that in between his legs, on a linked sleigh.
Thus, as I entrusted myself to this middle-aged man, the sleigh started moving.
The long trip was miserable.
First, the sleigh was scary. It was fast, and I was scared that I might get thrown off any moment. If I didn’t have my body secured by the bear, I imagined that I would have had myself hurled onto the snow already.
We proceeded while resting on the way, but the food did not fit my taste. The deer meat was sinewy and hard, and the herbs that probably were used to get rid of the smell were also exotic. The bread was black, made from barley, and was as hard as rocks. Even in their drinks, the wine was spiced. I wondered why they would do such a thing, but feeling my body warm up soon I somewhat understood.
Sieglinde’s husband never said a word. The only comfort was the young man who consoled me on this hard trip.
He had a thin line that suggested that facial hair might not even grow on him, and for a man there was an ephemeral mood to him.
While I was thinking that, the sleigh suddenly stopped. The servant suddenly took out his gun and shot something, then squinted. He got off the sleigh, apologising, and brought something back.
In the servant’s hand was a white rabbit. Apparently, it was a rare species, so he was happy to be able to gift this.
The rabbit carcass was placed by my feet. I could feel its legs go hard from rigor mortis. I murmured, “sorry, sorry” for some reason.
The man did not look very dependable, but he was still a proper hunter.
The sunlight slowly went away. When I checked the clock, it was still the afternoon.
Anyway, travelling in the dark was frightening. There was only a small lantern to light the way.
Even as I felt nerve-wracked, we somehow arrived at the village.
At the end, I couldn’t even walk properly, that Sieglinde’s husband carried me on his back.
White bear hair, it’s warm.
Like so, while I was entrusting my legs to someone else’s waist, we arrive.
“I’m back! Sieg, Sieglinde!”
For some reason the servant called Sieglinde. And he even skipped the honorifics.
The husband took away the reindeers and the sleighs, and there was only the servant, myself and Sieglinde who just came out.
From meeting each other after a long time, Sieglinde greetly with a smile. I wondered if I should dare sharing a hug while her husband was away, but the next word was completely unexpected.
“——Did you really think I would say that?!”
From the sudden loud noise, I flinched.
Narrowing her eyes and staring at me with scary eyes, my old colleague did something unexpectedly.
She hopped lightly on the spot, and then raised her knees, running over here. Without dropping her speed, she spun and kicked me.
Of course I didn’t expect an attack, so I ended up collapsing on the spot.
Even here, the kind-hearted servant ran up to me and lent me a hand.
“Wattin is my old surname. Call me Countess Levantret now.”
“You’re the one that’s being harsh on us. Coming at this season!”
I was definitely not welcome. I felt a little sad.
“Let’s go inside.”
Still supporting me up, the servant brought me inside.
I glared at Sieglinde, because I could not accept how someone I met today was being kinder to me than someone I knew from many years ago.
“Ritz, you don’t need to feel sympathy for this man.”
So this man’s name was Ritz.
Ritz, you really are a good person.
But then I found out something absurd inside.
This kind Ritz-kun was Sieglinde’s husband.
“Why did you have such a misunderstanding?”
“No, the Count was nicknamed as ‘the Man-bear of the Borderlands’!”
“It’s not man-bear, but yeti.”
“Ah, well, really??”
When I said that, Sieglinde scowled at me.
I said that I could make a mistake in an attempt to calm her down, but she would not listen.
“Well, since he came a long way, it would be nice if he has good time here.”
“……Indeed. We’ll have him enjoy life here!”
I was happy that Ritz-kun welcomed me, but I only got bad vibes from what Sieglinde said.
The next day, I was sentenced to harsh work by Sieglinde.
Ritz-kun tried to not make me work stating that I am a guest, but because Sieglinde strongly argued that people here need to work, he just left the words, “……Sorry,” and disappeared.
I did not even have the time to think that she was in the dominant position in their relationship before I was given a new task.
Walking dogs, digging, drawing water.
The worst was butchering animals. Even here, I ended up saying “Sorry, sorry” as I cut them.
Still, meals after working tasted better. The cook in this house was great, all the food was really tasty.
Even the deer meat that my body rejected on the way here was tasty in this house. Food just kept going down my neck.
Also, Sieglinde looked happy.
The colour of her face looked better than when she was in the army. Her expressions seemed to be brighter as well.
Ritz-kun was treating her well too. As if she were the world’s sole treasure.
There were no cracks in between the two of them. Anyone could see that they were a great couple.
Like so, my stay at this faraway village ended.
As for my return trip, there coincidentally was a merchant going to the port so I paid him to take me there.
“Thanks for your kindness.”
“Come and visit us again!”
When she heard Ritz-kun’s request, Sieglinde made him shut his mouth. I laughed at how harsh she was.
I did not have any more business in this village. Or so I thought, but there was an unexpected meeting.
I fell in love at first sight with a woman I met on my way back. I decided to visit the village again after it thawed.
While traveling from country to country close to her, I eventually retired from the military and settled at the village, but that is a story for another time.