Racing down the main road of the capital was a young man known as the black knight.
Leaping over a cart pulled by an old man, he changed directions as he landed, desperately running off. Mindful of his back, he looked around and decided the direction he should run.
His curly blond hair flowed back as he ran. His mismatched eyes were a beautiful sight to behold, blue in the right and green in the left. His well-trained body acted as a spring, letting him bound freely over the main road. But what he made use of wasn't his physical body alone.
By channeling mana into his body, he was enhancing it. Desperate enough to use every means at his disposal to flee, whenever he'd passed by a woman's side, his Jetstream would flip their skirts. Whenever he was about to run into someone, it was always a young girl or a pretty older woman.
"Like hell I'll stop here!!"
Shouting as if his soul was crying out, Aleist didn't even try to peer into the flipped skirt. He continued avoiding all the young girls in his way with magnificent footwork.
They would call him 'That harem bastard,' with envy, jealousy, resentment.
But from the point of view of the man in question, that wasn't a result he obtained because he wanted it. Aleist understood that a harem was a special privilege only granted to the chosen few. That didn't mean to say assets or strength. What was most important was what could be called the qualifications to keep a harem.
... and the power to maintain that harem, even when surrounded.
You can be dense as hell. You can pretend you don't see. Even lucky perverts are permitted. But you mustn't run away. A man with the caliber to accept all harem members... meaning a main character's disposition.
Aleist lacked that.
Before that even came into question...
"Don't run away, Aleist-sama!"
"What is the meaning of this, captain Aleist!"
"That should be our line. We're his fiancées! And yet he goes on a trip with nothing but women? Fat chance!"
The women chasing him from behind were catching up, even when he ran at full force. There were those running in skirts, and those riding horses to give chase. A majority of them were knights who had graduated the academy, the Courtois Kingdom's educational institute, while the others were women who possessed equal power.
Aleist endured the cold eyes directed at him by the surrounding men as he screamed from his heart.
"No, I already have someone my heart's set on!"
But the world was full of uncertainty.
"If you're a noble, just give it up!"
"In the first place, that girl you're after doesn't think anything of you!"
"Aleist, just give up!"
Noble ladies, knights and those of the beast tribe, various sorts of women chased after Aleist. It was a dream many a young boy had dreamed of. But Aleist's heart was set on another. An elf girl called Millia.
Yet the one he loved would never chase him, he was the one giving chase. What's more, his rival was more than up to par.
The white knight Rudel. He knew that man didn't think anything special of Millia, but even so, Millia had not given up on him. To Aleist, it was quite a sorrowful thing.
The fact Rudel was his close friend only made their relationship more dubious. Even so, Aleist didn't give up.
"Like hell I'll give uppp!!"
There was no telling what they'd do to him if he was captured. Imagining them making sure he could no longer run away, Aleist raced down the main road. It was at that moment. As he entered an alley off the street where the paths grew a little complicated, Aleist was grasped.
The one who caught him was a blue haired underclassman from his student days... one of his fiancées.
(Ah, it's over. Farewell, my innocence.)
Aleist's expression had already given up on everything.
It was Nate. Her curling blue hair grew to her back. Her pale skin and eyes the same blue as her hair were exceptionally beautiful. Her meeting with Aleist had been at the graduate sendoff party, an outrageous encounter where she ended up on top of him. But without Aleist having the slightest idea of what was going on, she had become engaged to him.
"How troubling, senpai."
Nate grasped Aleist, smiling gently as she made a plea. You could call it a bargain.
"I have just a small request, but if you'll grant it, I'll save you here and now."
"W-what is it? I'm not giving you my body!"
"That does sound appealing, but this time's different. Well, you could call it a problem with my house, or perhaps something of the sort... there's a place I want you to go with me. Of course, if you'll go then I'll save you, and I won't lay a hand on you."
Aleist cowered from the sound of the approaching footsteps, thinking a little before giving a nod.
(If that's all it takes, it's a cheap buy.)
He thought and nodded, but that would turn out a tremendous mistake.
"Very well, then wait a moment."
Nate walked out of the alley, in a theatrical voice, proclaiming to the pursuing women where Aleist had run off to.
"Big trouble! Senpai leapt over that building and went that way!"
"Good work, Nate!"
"Don't let him get away, find him!"
"If that's where he went, I can use some friends from the knight brigades to encircle him!"
(I'm scared. They're scaring me. Let's learn to be just a little more graceful, ladies...)
Once everyone had left under Nate's deception, she beckoned to him. Aleist left the alleyway, relieved he had been saved.
"You really saved my back there."
"You don't need to thank me. Because you'll be properly working in exchange. Yeah, now that I know you're going to help me out, that's a huge load off my shoulders."
Nate pat her chest in relief. And Aleist recalled he had never asked for the destination.
"Come to think of it, where are we going?"
"Ah, about that... it's the Kingdom of Celestia. My House flowed in from there, and there's been a bit of a request made to us this time around, so I have to make the trip. I really am relieved you're coming with me. I mean, one wrong step and we'd have an international incident on our hands. No, perhaps bigger than that?"
Before a delighted Nate, Aleist's understanding was unable to catch up.
The air passage from Courtois to Celestia was, to the five of them, a fresh experience.
Flying through the open sky was a white dragon with four wings. Its body was a size larger than the normal wild dragon. With the size of its body and wings, its arms were also thick and burly. But if you said such a thing, you would hurt that young maiden of a dragon.
Among the dragoons, the most famous knight's partner... riding Sakuya's back, Izumi Shirasagi's ponytail flowed in the breeze. Her silky hair swayed to and fro. Normally, the gale would be much worse, but the barrier erected with magic protected the five on the dragon's back.
Hailing from a foreign region called the orient, Izumi was a beauty of black hair and black eyes. She was once Rudel's classmate and a person who understood him well.
More than friends, less than lovers, both sides accepted that.
At present, while being enlisted in a knight brigade of elites called the high knights, she was granted the position of special inspector to keep an eye on Rudel- who caused problem after problem. They were going to a foreign nation this time around, so she wore the blue knight clothing worn by high knights. Her chest was large enough to force up her clothes, and at times eyes of envy were concentrated on her.
"The kingdom of Celestia is a small nation. I've only ever read about it in books, so I'm somewhat looking forward to it."
When Izumi said that, the girl of long green hair beside her muttered disinterestedly. Differing from humans, her ears stretched a great deal. A woman with the characteristic ears of the elves... Millia looked towards Rudel with her green eyes.
Izumi had said she couldn't take on the role of special inspector alone, and by calling to her fellow alumni Millia, Millia also became one of Rudel's inspectors. Note, her modest chest was never the target of any envious eyes.
"It's that place with the large volcano, right? I'm surprised people are able to live in such a place. It seems pointless, or perhaps even admirable."
Millia's statement was answered by the overly serious Rudel.
"It's true it's an active volcano, but while I don't know how, it's a country that somehow controls the volcano. And because they're close to a volcano, the hot springs are famous. It seems the land's suited for growing fruit. Courtois also imports its fruit wines, haven't you ever drunk it before?"
"There's no way any of us have every tasted the sort of wine you drink, Rudel."
Averting her eyes from Rudel, after spitting some cynicism she shut her mouth. She did seem to have a nature that couldn't be honest with itself, and Izumi could only think that was doing nothing but harm to her as she gave a bitter smile.
"But this is a surprise. I thought you'd return to the outer reaches at once, Rudel."
In order to change the subject, Izumi recalled the contents of this time's special mission. To summarize, by sending an especially conspicuous dragoon, they were to show the dignity of Courtois. There may have been political motivations behind it, and Izumi worried whether Rudel would be against those sorts of things.
Their job on the outskirts wasn't over yet. Despite that, they alone were carrying out such a decorative mission. As long as it was an order, she knew he would accept it, but she worried what he would be thinking underneath.
The man seemed quite enthusiastic to be heading off on a mission. But at Izumi's question, he made just a bit of a troubled face.
"... I want you to keep this from Sakuya, but she got real worked up when I told her we were going to do a special mission. See, last time we did something big, she had to keep house... as long as Sakuya's happy, it can't be too bad. Even if it's just at the level of an errand."
An outrageous reason. Rather than the importance of the mission itself, he took it up to dote on his dragon. Hearing that, Millia breathed a sigh as she spoke.
"You're the same dragon idiot as ever."
Izumi touched the white back beneath her as she smiled.
At times, the dragon would let out a resounding roar. To Izumi who could hear the thoughts she transmitted, she could tell that was a happy roar. Her appearance was that of a dragon much too splendid, Sakuya was a child born not a few years ago.
She was often judged on her appearance but was still a child who needed to be looked after.
'Special mission! Sakuya is strong! Sakuya is cool!'
Sakuya sung as she flew through the sky, and Izumi and Rudel watched her with smiles. A subspecies of gaia dragon that lived in the earth, Sakuya wasn't skilled at flying. Her movement speed was much lower than the average dragon. But this was a laid back mission. They had parted from the occasionally hectic border, and Izumi felt these sorts of missions weren't bad from time to time.
She turned towards the envious gaze coming from Nate.
"So what sort of business do the two of you have with the Kingdom of Celestia? As I recall, the decree just said we have to accompany you there and back, but..."
Before their departure, with an official decree from an organization called the defenders, came Nate and another individual. Aleist looking at Millia recalled how Nate had told them at the last minute they would be riding as well. In the midst of their busy departure, they accepted the decree and let them right on.
They were well acquainted, and they intended to confirm the paperwork while in the sky.
"Ah, you don't have to pay it any mind. While you're at it, I do recommend you pluck those things off your che... ow!"
As Nate envied her ample bosom with a smile, Aleist hit her on the back of the head.
"M-my apologies, Izumi-san! This girl has absolutely no breasts, so she gets jealous of those with a large chest."
Aleist followed through for her. You're not supposed to say that, or so Izumi only grew more worried. For the one on Aleist's mind Millia was a modest one on the opposite side of the spectrum from Izumi.
When Izumi looked at Millia, she saw a vein popping out on her forehead.
(Ah, this is that pattern of failure.)
Izumi looked at Rudel to find him humming along to Sakuya's song. He likely had no interest. Before she could become collateral damage, Izumi moved to Rudel's side and listened attentively to Sakuya and Rudel's tune.
'You're strong, Sakuya. Amazing, Sakuya! All~ The enemies go down in one blow!'
"Yeah, Sakuya, you're the best!"
Looking at Rudel and Sakuya, Izumi chose not to lend an ear to the fight going on behind them.
"Well excuse me! I'm sorry for having such a small chest!"
"You're wrong, Millia! Rather than large, I prefer a more reserved one!"
"Then that means I'm senpai's type! Millia-senpai, being flat isn't bad you know. Those lumps of fat are only ever in the way."
"When someone so envious of them says it, you've got no persuasive power!"
"You're wrong, both of you! What's important is balance, and size isn't every-"
"Come to think of it, Senpai, your big sister was stacked, wasn't she?"
"Why are you sending such a pitiful glance at my chest!?"
"Nate! Don't go there! You shouldn't touch on that one!"
"Aleist, so you were thinking it too! That's right, in the end, I've got nothing! Even when my sister's stacked, they always say!"
"... I know I'm not one to speak, but Senpai, you're a little off there."
Izumi ignored the quarrel behind her, but perhaps Rudel grew curious as he turned around. Looking at the circumstances of their argument, he made a face as if he didn't understand.
"... Izumi, what exactly did Aleist do wrong?"
Seeing Rudel tilt his head, Izumi shook her own. To be completely honest, Aleist's mistakes were beyond count. When he had a girl he liked, bringing a different woman along was yet another one of those mistakes.
(Ah... he was wrong from the very start. Well, whatever.)
Giving up, Izumi only prayed Rudel wouldn't turn out like Aleist.
"No, if you don't understand, then that's fine. Just stay the way you are, Rudel. That way, you'll reduce the casualties around."
The honest Rudel didn't understand but nodded anyway.
"I-I see. I'll do my best."
Seeing Rudel fail to comprehend, Izumi was relieved. He loved dragons so much he had little interest in anything else. But he had a status as a future archduke, and he had obtained a standing as a dragoon, the knights called the heroes of Courtois. It would be stranger if there were no women around her.
In truth, many women approached him with affection, but with his status and dragoon position, he declined their association. He always made it clear when it came to those things, a relief to Izumi.
... The reason she didn't go out with him was also such a problem of status.
"These sorts of missions aren't bad."
Looking over the lively three, Rudel spoke. Izumi was in agreement.
"Right. A carefree trip through the sky isn't bad at all. But Rudel, this is a mission in a foreign land, so you must exercise caution. In umm... various things."
Celestia was an allied nation, and she fretted over whether he might cause an incident. Rudel nodded with a smile.
"Leave it to me. It's not like I intend to cause any problems."
'Sakuya is fine too, Izumi!'
Hearing Rudel and Sakuya's responses, Izumi gave a warm smile and thought.
(Now I'm worried.)
They were responses that didn't give her the slightest peace of mind.
Emilio walked irritantly down a corridor in Celestia castle.
(Dammit! It's because that useless king relies on other countries...)
He had been that Celestia had requested the dispatch of a dragoon from its allied nation Courtois. The details that the knight brigades were all rounded up to hear were little more than a proclamation those knights weren't trusted.
But there was something more than that Emilio couldn't forgive.
(The plan when amiss. I have to do something...)
Thinking back, the mistake came with that party of three. Gathered in order to protect a gate that held no particular value, they were hoodlums, soldiers in name alone. But perhaps their awareness along was high, as despite their paltry wages, they had risked their lives to give chase.
(When they're lower than the mercenaries hired to make up for numbers, my plan was...)
To add onto that, those hoodlums were following behind Emilio. All three were smiling. On top of the shoddy armor they were granted, they wore even shoddier medals granted to them for saving the princess.
What's more, by that they rose in rank to be official soldiers.
Celestia was not a large nation. For that sake, they prepared elites as knights, but when it came to soldiers, they were only gathered for the numbers. Normally, it was the knights who would carry out the mission. It was a country with few troops, but there was a reason for that.
In that past, Celestia was at war with the large power of Courtois. And as Courtois invaded with their dragoons as the main shaft, the god of the volcano revered as the country's protector repelled them. It was an event of about eighty years prior.
(Clinging onto past glory forever, it's because they worship something like that as a god, that this country is ruined!)
From then on, the people of Celestia were convinced that they were a people protected by god. For that sake, the notion the military might be unnecessary spread like the plague.
While being a small nation, they maintained an equal relation with Courtois... no, one wrong step taken and they'd be made light of, and that was largely due to these sorts of occurrences.
And come so far, the failure of the knight brigade was doing its work. Because the ceremonial articles were lost, it would take some time before the ceremony could restart. Irrelevant to the populace, the crowd or the castle, that dissatisfaction was directed at the knights.
The knight brigades remained in order to maintain public order, but in the attack on the princess, the populace began to hold their doubts. For that sake, the royals and nobles had an allied nation send in a dragoon, mainly to send a message.
When Emilio thought of just how much incompetence that showed, it irritated him to no ends.
(Because of that inept top brass, this country is...)
Once he had thought that far, a voice called to him from behind. IT was the party of three.
The unshaven large man was Ben. The tall slender man was Pano. The short and plump man was Passan. With splendid smiles, the three of them called Emilio...
"What's wrong, captain?"
"Keeping it bottled up isn't good for your body, captain."
"If you're hungry, let's go to the cafeteria, captain."
When he thought of how this lot had gotten in the way of his plan, Emilio was filled with a feeling of helplessness.
He held his head. Just where did he go wrong? The soldiers who protected Cleo were now stationed as Emilio's subordinates. This was something even Emilio, heralded as a genius couldn't predict. Of course, Emilio understood full well he was no genius.
He wasn't average. He was just a little talented.
(Why did my plan go so awry? I won't say it was perfect, but even so, I spent a long time preparing.)
Emilio's head began to hurt.
... But even so, he didn't give up.
(I can still correct it. Somehow the princess... the princess, with these hands...)
Emilio's sharp eyes still hadn't given up.
He suddenly heard a rowdy voice from inside the castle. At the ruckus, the party of three looked inquisitively at Emilio.
"... Let's go check it out."
Their flight over, Rudel's party descended into Celestia.
"We're a little earlier than scheduled."
At the designated landing point, the soldiers and knight platoons who caught wind of the ruckus were beginning to race in. Taking on the shape of a fortress city, the capital had a splendid castle erected in the center.
While the troops entered and gathered, they wouldn't approach. It was only natural. There weren't many men brave enough to see Sakuya and think to challenge her.
But while they tried to land at the spot they'd been scheduled for, it was too small for Sakuya. Carefully maneuvering her into that space, Rudel praised her.
"Well done, Sakuya."
'Praise me, praise me! Praise me more!'
When Sakuya wagged her tail in delight, Izumi cautioned her.
"Rudel, put a stop to Sakuya's tail. At this rate, there will be collateral damage. This isn't Courtois. If you break too many things, it will cause a huge problem."
Hearing that, Rudel immediately soothed Sakuya and calmed her down before dismounting her back. But there, Nate began to lead Aleist off somewhere.
"Ah, well then, we've got our own mission to deal with."
"Wait, mission? Eh!?"
Watching Nate pull Aleist off by the hand, Rudel grew anxious as he found out the man hadn't seemed to have confirmed the contents of his own mission. At the same time, he was curious just what sort of mission it might be.
(I guess It's got nothing to do with me. You do your best, Aleist.)
While Rudel waved his hand at his friend, Aleist cried something out.
"You said it was personal! Where did that official decree come from!? Hey, are you listening!?"
"You're being noisy, senpai! When you've come so far, just resolve yourself! It's fine, the decree is the real deal... its origin point is just a little dubious."
"As I thought!"
Rudel's worries only grew, but this was Aleist's problem so he decided to leave them be. He just sought some confirmation with Izumi.
"Izumi, Aleist's decree was genuine, wasn't it?"
"There's no doubt about it. Though it was a little suspicious."
While Rudel and Izumi lost themselves in thought, Millia in her defenders uniform looked at the entrance of the plaza and spoke.
"Guys, looks like our welcome party is here."
"Now then, let's execute the mission. You two stay behind me. You're supposed to act as my attendants, after all."
As Izumi and Millia nodded, Rudel got his specially-made white knight uniform in order as he waited for an envoy of Celestia to arrive.