By the time Riku and Roppu had regrouped with the other troops, it started to rain.
The troops leaded by Leivein were settled at a forest a bit away from the royal capital hiding there.
Even though the trees served as substitutes for umbrellas, the rain would still steal the warmth of the body. All both of them could do was to wait there and have the hood of their raincoat low over the eyes and keep in hiding there.
“…You are late, captain.”
With her raincoat on, she peeked through the gaps of the trees.
About only half an hour had passed since they escaped from the royal capital. However, Leivein still didn´t come back. Riku strained her eyes as much as possible to see at the distance, but there were no results to doing that.
Minute by minute, the time kept passing.
The more the time passed, the more Riku became unable to contain herself.
“Roppu, I leave this place to you. I will go see the situation there.”
“Pl-please wait, colonel Riku!! Isn´t colonel still worn out!!”
But Roppu held Riku´s left arm in order to stop her. The other Riku demon subordinates also hurriedly went over to try stop Riku. One person clung at her foot, another one went in front of her path to try block her, and another one tried to hold her down by holding her shoulders from behind.
“That´s not good, colonel! Did you forget the order to retreat!?”
“Didn´t we properly deliver princess Catherinne to them? Colonel´s work has already been finished!!”
“That´s right! If you don´t rest, you will die of blood loss, colonel!”
Riku herself didn´t care about her condition. However, from any other people´s perspective, it was clear that Riku´s body was close to her limit.
Of course she had stopped the bleeding, but even so, she had lost a great amount of blood.
Since she had left the royal capital, Riku has been walking unsteadily and her view started to tremble. They understood that Riku was worried about Leivein. But now that she finished her task, Roppu and the other demons believed that having her body rest and recover its strength had the priority.
“Thank you for worrying about me. But I will be going.”
However, Riku declined their warnings. Riku glared at the demon that was holding her shoulders behind her back.
“To begin with, other than me… Is there any soldiers that has a chance of victory against Raimon Barusak?”
“Th-that… So is the case, but…”
“And so, I will be going now.”
In order to advance forward, Riku acted to the point of pushing the demons aside.
While raising a small groan, the demons desperately tried to hold Riku down.
“Co-colonel! Please, stop!”
“Please, be patient! Please, just for now, be patient!”
“Step back. This… Is an order.”
Muttering in a low voice, Riku forcefully shook away the demons.
A great number of demons fell down to the ground, and while giving a sidelong glance to them, Riku went forward. However, even if she was able to shook away her subordinates, Riku had reached her limit. When she gave one step, she felt her strength leaving her in one go. By the time Riku could only give three steps, her sight became blurred and she ended up falling on her knees.
Leaning on a tree, Riku put her left hand on her forehead.
Not only her view was becoming blurry, but a silver powder started to fly around. She started to hear a piercing buzzing in her ears.(TL note: ???)
“Very well, then I will go check it myself.”
With those muttered words, Riku felt the blood leaving her face.
Raising her head sluggishly, she turned her eyes to the direction of that voice. Standing there, there was a small shadow wearing a hood.
“Yes, it seems you´ve captured the princess. You´ve done well, colonel Riku Barusak. In a few days, you will be promoted to major general.”
While saying that, the small shadow approached her.
Riku became unable to speak anything due to the appearance of the person that wasn´t supposed to be here. As if the small shadow had misunderstood Riku´s reaction, after thinking a bit, she removed her hood without caring about the rain.
“It has been a long time, colonel Riku Barusak. Have you forgot? It is me, me.”
“…It has been a long time, Charlotte…sama.”
After Riku greeted her, Chalotte nodded satisfied.
“Umu, umu, you remembered, Colonel. You may think this as a honor; I will personally go check the situation of general Leivein Adlar and his subordinates.”
Charlotte left the place high in spirits. In place of Riku or other demons, Charlotte was going to check Leivein´s situation.
That´s why, without thinking…
Riku was in panic. Everything Charlotte got herself involved didn´t end up well. If Riku let Charlotte go to the royal capital, she will without doubt come back carrying problems with her. Moreover, Leivein was at the royal capital. He will definitely end up dragged into it.
“It´s dangerous. Please, you shouldn´t go, Charlotte-sama!”
In order to not have Leivein get in danger even more than that, she must at least not let Charlotte go.
However, destiny was heartless. Without even noticing Riku´s feelings, Charlotte showed a kindhearted smile.
“There is nothing to worry. What? I will be back in a few moments.”
Saying only that, bringing some soldiers along with her, Charlotte left the forest and headed towards the capital.
Even if Charlotte was going to where Leivein is, if it is someone like her, she will only increase the problems. Even if it is only for a minute, Riku needed to stop her.
Riku hurriedly tried to go after her, but she tripped on her feet and she ended up falling down. Even thought she did an ukemi, without she being able of doing it properly with only her left arm, Riku violently hit her head onto the ground. (TL note: Ukemi is that judo thingy you do to lessen the impact of a fall. I couldn´t think of a way to translate this to english :/)
With bad conditions such as the cold rain pouring at her, the intense pain, the accumulated exhaustion, and as if this wasn´t enough, the lack of blood, Riku´s sight was gradually becoming black.
Even if she tried to stand up, she couldn´t muster strength.
Even if she tried to extend her hand, she couldn´t raise her arm.
There was nothing that could be done. She couldn´t do anything anymore. Strength kept leaving her body.
Just before her consciousness was wrapped by the darkness, she had the feeling that she had heard the sound of an explosion coming from the direction of the royal capital.
It has been two weeks since then.
Riku´s accomplishment for successfully abducting princess Catherinne was acknowledged, and it has been decided that she would be exempted from the exam and be promoted to major general.
The ones that had influence in the government were mostly demons of noble birth, and the ones that could submit changes in the policies for the demon race were demons of rank above general.
But even so, considering the ranking of a major general on the army, it was still possible for those of that rank to give their opinions.
At that day, Riku had been invited to the Demon Lord castle for her first participation of the meeting.
While fixing the collar of her newly-made military uniform, she straightened her back and walked through the corridor. Her straightened up back looked exalted, and to anyone that would look at her, she looked like a diligent person oozing out with honesty.
Lazily looking at Riku´s back, Vrusto let out an exhausted sigh.
“…Hey, ojou-chan. Uh… Are you alright?”
“I´m fine. There is nothing to be worried about.”
Even though Vrusto worriedly spoke to her, Riku indifferently answered back.
Riku was in this mood all the time since she came back from the royal capital. If taking into consideration how she had lost one arm and other things too, it wouldn´t be strange if Riku became depressed and became a shut-in. But despite all those things, from the outward, Riku maintained a composed appearance.
For what Vrusto heard, the Demon Lord army had had a good fight at the royal capital.
That was especially for Leivein Adlar, who was able to fight Raimon to equality.
However, that fight was nothing but a diversion for the sake of successfully abducting the princess.
Therefore, once Riku had retreated, Leivein too would withdraw. The attack of the pursuing spiritualists was fierce, but even so, they somehow were able to get to the gates of the capital. And when they finally rushed out to outside the gates… An incident had happened.
“”Mu, you are too late. I became tired of waiting.””
The provisional Demon Lord Charlotte had gone to where Leivein was on her own volition.
Because of the unexpected appearance of Charlotte, Leivein and his subordinates were caught off guard. Right at that time, from the lookouts of the royal capital, the spiritualists launched a massive attack onto them. Infusing demon banning power into the catapults, they had poured a hail of stones onto the demons.
Charlotte, who had been protected by Leivein, was able to be left out without serious injuries. However, the same couldn´t be said to Leivein. The compensation for protecting Charlotte from the attack was big; without any signs of waking up, he became in coma. From what the doctor had said, the possibility of him waking up again was extremely low and the hope of him being cured was close to zero.
Riku adored Leivein.
After hearing something like that, it would be impossible for her to live normally. Rather, the situation was to the point that it wouldn´t be strange if Riku abandoned her work and kept staying at the room Leivein was in.
However, without any signs of Riku caring about Leivein´s state, Riku was showing enthusiasm on participating in the meeting.
By what Vrusto had seen from how Riku would act at the battlefield or the sliver of insanity he had seen at that time at Karkata, it felt as if Riku was a different person.
“For me to worry… It´s obvious I would be worrying about you. When I finally thought you guys came back, you had lost you right arm, staff officer Piguro is missing, and captain Leivein became…”
“Be silent, second lieutenant Vrusto.”
For the first time, the glint on Riku´s eyes had changed.
Her devoted and honest expression didn´t change, but her eyes had the glint it would have when she would succumb to her insanity at the times in the battlefield. Although Vrusto became relieved that Riku didn´t change, because of the pressure, his fur stood up.
“Sorry, I won´t say anything.”
With the glint of Riku´s eyes, Vrusto became unable to say anything.
With the two not talking to each other, both headed towards the meeting room.
From then on, except for the provisional Demon Lord, bringing in escorts was not allowed. And so, Riku had to go in by herself.
“…You may go now. Now, go finish your tasks.”(TL note: I don´t know how to translate this ->ここまでで結構<-to english. Well, this pretty much means: it´s enough for you to follow me up to here. I just don´t know well how to phrase this up.)
Riku said without turning her head to Vrusto.
“I am a major general now, second lieutenant Vrusto.”
Recognizing that Vrusto had heard her, Riku opened the door to the meeting room.
Looking at her small back vanishing at the other side of the door, Vrusto was taken by a feeling of loneliness.
At the time Riku entered the meeting room, most of the demons were already present.
While sitting on their chairs, they threw a sidelong glance at the newcomer. Without caring about those gazes, Riku sat down at her seat. The mustached demons were whispering about something. The majority were nobles of prestigious families that didn´t belong to the military.
She had felt some interest in those conversations, but only for today, she would keep looking forward without caring about those.
“Umu, I´ve been late.”
Five minutes had passed since Riku had entered in the meeting room.
“Before we start the meeting, I will introduce you our new member. …Hey, stand up.”
With Riku standing up as she had been ordered, Charlotte nodded satisfied.
“It is major general Riku Barusak. Because now general Leivein Adlar is retired due to his injuries, she will be temporarily be the division commander of the fourth army´s Dragon Demon Division. Therefore, because of this exception, her authority will be the same as one of a general. Does anyone have any objections?”
The place fell silent.
Nobody was saying anything. The demons that were involved with politics twisted their face, but at the moment, even the staff officer of the Dragon Demon division Piguro is missing. If considering the military ranks, having major general Riku fill Leivein´s hole was a reasonable choice, and so it was difficult to object.
Giving a glance through the meeting room, Charlotte nodded once again while saying “Umu”.
“It seems there are no objections. Then, from now on, major general Riku Barusak has the authority of a general… In other words, she had the authority to control the division and the authority to submit documents. …Major general Riku Barusak, do you have anything to say about this?”
While had been silently hearing Charlotte´s words while looking at her forehead. (TL note: Maybe it would be better if I wrote face? Well, the literal translation is “somewhat at the forehead” though.)
However, because Charlotte had spoken to her, Riku needed to answer. Riku calmly lowered her head.
“I have nothing to say.”
“Umu, now then, today´s topic will…”
“Before that, I would like to propose a topic. Would that be acceptable?”
Charlotte became wide-open at Riku´s words.
But that surprise only lasted for an instant, and at the next moment, with sparkling eyes, she looked at Riku.
“As expected of the person that climbed up to major general in your age. Anytime I meet you, you are always enthusiastic about your job. Umu, since today´s topic isn´t very important, you may speak.”
Charlotte leaned forward a bit and was now listening to what Riku had to say.
It seemed she was interested in the first topic Riku was going to propose since she became a major general. The ministers and nobles that had been looking at Riku with contempt a while ago and also the demons that were affiliated to the military were all now paying attention to Riku.
The sights of everyone in the meeting room were now all onto Riku.
“Thank you very much.”
Riku turned her eyes from Charlotte´s forehead to her eyes that were filled with curiousity.
Although everyone was paying attention to her right now, there was nothing for her to be afraid about.
There was nothing to hesitate. Right now, all she needed to do was to act in accord to her beliefs.
In a well projected and clear voice, Riku spoke of what has always been hiding in her heart.
“I… would like to propose the dismissal of the provisional demon lord Charlotte Demonz.”