Chapter 7 – Knight and Maiden
It happened soon after the Holy Woman of the Sword had been inaugurated, at the end of the queen’s funeral.
It was on a path through a grassy field leading to the castle. The sky was clear and blue, just like the old pastoral songs would describe.
“Do you want to be free?”
A boy grabbed the arm of a beautiful girl in a broken carriage.
“Right now, you’re stuck in a cage. Do you want to be free?” the boy asked.
The girl laughed. She twisted her lips as if to ridicule the boy’s naïveté and lack of restraint. It was an unbecoming laugh for the Maiden of the Holy Sword.
“If I could be free, I would have done so long ago.”
Ann Duke was at first taken aback by her response. But then he smiled and nodded.
It was just a single chance meeting.
In that moment, his kindness gazed upon the future, and her strength pulled it closer.
In the stone hallway connecting the castle and the temple, a shadow proceeded straight through.
“Get out of the way!!”
With this single exclamation, the soldiers on duty stood down and opened the door. The shadow continued into the dark room, lit only by a magic square, without hesitation.
“What is the meaning of this!?” she shouted loudly amongst the magicians making a stir. Her hair was a mess due to lack of sleep. Her face was deep with the color of fatigue. However, the light in her eyes was strong.
“Explain this! Who started this disgusting activity!?”
“It was the on the orders of the king.”
Riveil was the one who spoke up.
“Sir Riveil! Are you telling me that even you supported this!?”
“We were simply acting on the king’s orders.”
“Forget about him, then! Stop this horrible undertaking
Orietta entered the center of the magic square. Several of the magicians could be seen shivering. The Holy Knight Ann Duke and the Maiden of the Holy Sword Orietta were given special privileges due to their social status. They were occasionally given more authority in certain matters than the king’s closest retainers.
The only one amongst the magicians who could speak to Orietta as an equal was Riveil.
“Please stop, Lady Orietta! The magical technique is still being executed. If we stop the procedure, then some unfortunate reaction might occur in Lady Mimizuku’s body due to the roughness of our knowledge regarding the matter,” Riveil said in a reserved tone, though hoarsely enough to make one feel that it was dignified.
Orietta’s index finger stopped.
She was seemed to be running it across the reflective surface of the magic square.
“Lady Orietta… please understand! We, as the ones who carried this out, will take responsibility of…”
“Would you not complain if someone stepped across your memories?” Orietta asked. Her obsidian eyes had tears floating in them.
“… Please understand. This too was for the country’s sake…”
Riveil lowered his head deeply.
With her long, slender finger, Orietta pointed at the door.
“I will deal with you later. If you don’t want to incite the rage of my husband, get out of this room immediately!”
The magicians could not oppose those words. Everyone bowed to Orietta, and then left the room.
Only Orietta remained in the room. She stared at the shining surface of the magic square as if clinging to it.
Orietta remembered her reason for coming here. When Mimizuku had suddenly lashed out, there was a faint presence of magical power in her.