༺ Parade (2) ༻
After the war ended, the victory festival established itself as the grandest event hosted by the empire.
The highlight of the festival was undoubtedly the victory parade held on the last day.
The procession of knights in dazzling armor, the mass march of soldiers armed with spears and shields, and finally, the spectacular and powerful magic performances by the palace mages.
With the majestic sight of the victorious imperial army from the last war, interest was further heightened by the news that the heroes’ party would participate in the parade this year.
In other words, this meant that an even greater number of people would flock to the main roads of the capital.
While the imperial police would surely mobilize a substantial force to control the crowd, once they arrived, the place would be so crowded with people that they would barely be able to move. Not to mention, they would have to leave at dawn just to catch a glimpse of the parade.
I wasn’t willing to endure that much hardship to watch the parade. The festival sightseeing over the past few days had been more than enough by just wandering the streets.
So, the place I was at now was the rooftop of the Opal Black Dormitory.
The students of the Opal Black Class were gathered here, including me. All except Elizabeth.
Marian sighed heavily and spoke.
“Ha… I barely managed to reject my mother’s request to stay together until the festival ends, and now I find myself back at school…”
“You can leave if you don’t like it.”
“…No, well, I don’t exactly dislike it. It’s just that it feels odd that while everyone else is out enjoying the festival, we’ve returned to school…”
Marian grumbled her grievances as she sat on the blanket-covered floor.
“If you don’t like crowded places, you could have said so in advance. Thanks to my grandfather, we can comfortably watch from the VIP seats. There we can watch quietly, in a place where there’s no one else…”
Titania cheerfully replied.
“Ay, Marian. We gathered here to cheer for Elizabeth. In that sense, I think this place is the best.”
“Well, I guess…”
According to the information Schultz had provided in advance, the airship parade was supposed to start from the palace, fly along the central road, and then return to the palace.
Therefore, from the 3rd district right next to the palace, the Philion Academy, we should be able to get a good view of the airship parade.
Schultz, who was next to me, spoke in a calm voice.
“Titania is right, Marian. We’ve seen the parade many times already. I think it’s not bad to do something like this once in a while. When there are many people, unexpected things can happen. From that perspective, I think it was the best decision for the students to be here together. Isn’t that right, Instructor Eon?”
Although my hesitation to go and see the parade was the biggest reason, I nodded slightly as if agreeing with Schultz’s words.
Then, Schultz turned to Marian with a ‘see?’ expression, and Marian finally gave in.
“Okay, okay! I’m not exactly against this either!”
Following Marian’s words, Gwyn, who had been quiet for a while, cautiously added.
“I’m a bit disappointed… I wanted to see the Continent’s Seven Heroes like my Master…”
Gwyn seemed a bit regretful about not being able to see the heroes and saints who were revered as the Continent’s Seven Heroes, like Sword Saint, in person. Seeing Gwyn’s expression, Schultz smiled and pulled something out of his bag.
“Don’t worry. I knew you’d feel this way, so I prepared this.”
What Schultz pulled out was a magical radio that we often saw in the lounge, and an object resembling a short stick.
I could immediately tell what it was because it was something I’d seen many times on the battlefield.
“Oh, as expected, Instructor recognizes it?”
“It’s a sensitive item that shouldn’t be carelessly released to the public.”
“Of course, even I can’t get a military-grade telescope. This one is a civilian model that was recently released. It has adjustable magnification, so it won’t be lacking for watching the parade from here.”
Gwyn asked in a curious voice.
“A telescope? What’s that?”
“It’s a tool that allows you to see distant places as if they’re nearby… Rather than explaining in detail, it will be much faster for you to understand by using it yourself. Would you like to take a look?”
“Huh? Uh…? Wow! It’s like people are right in front of me!”
Gwyn excitedly looked around, unable to hide her excitement, holding the telescope in her hand. Schultz exclaimed in surprise at her enthralled look as she held the telescope high towards the sky.
“Wait a minute, Gwyn! If you do that wrong-“
I quickly reached out and grabbed Gwyn.
Gwyn, her wrist caught, looked at me with a surprised expression.
“Don’t look at the sun. You could go blind.”
Schultz continued with a pale face.
“He’s right. Looking directly at the sun can be dangerous as the light is concentrated through the telescope. So it’s best not to look at the sky. I’m sorry, I should have told you that first….”
I spoke sternly to Gwyn, who was dazed.
“Don’t casually use a tool you don’t know how to use. Be careful.”
Then, Gwyn obediently nodded her head like a well-behaved child.
“…Yes, yes. I’ll be careful. Uh- Instructor.”
She seemed to have changed what she was going to call me halfway through.
I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was just my imagination.
Gwyn brought the telescope back up to her eyes and this time, she observed her surroundings more carefully. At her cautious appearance, Schultz smiled faintly and turned on the power of the radio he had brought along with the telescope.
As the radio was switched on, a clear female voice started to guide.
[Dear listeners. As you’ve all been anticipating, the grand finale celebrating the end of the festival, the victory parade, is about to begin. The march will start soon, so for those of you on the road, please focus on the scene in front of you, and those listening to the radio, please sit comfortably and listen.]
When Schultz turned on the radio, it seemed as if the heat from the distant scene was transmitted through it. The students’ atmosphere also began to rise.
“It’s kind of fun…!”
“I agree. The atmosphere seems quite nice, doesn’t it?”
Titania and Marian happily exchanged words, and the other students began to enjoy the distant parade, each spreading out a blanket and sitting on the ground, or leaning on the rooftop railing.
And on cue, the radio began to announce the start of the parade.
[Ah, look, everyone! The figure at the very front of the parade is none other than the ‘Hero of light’, Wilhelm von Galatea, the little sun of the Empire, chosen by the Holy Sword!]
[Following him is the ‘Battlefield’s Saintess’, Charlotte Orsia. Despite having remained on the continent to continue her efforts in purification after the war, she has made a special visit to the capital for today! The citizens are warmly welcoming the Hero’s party with fervent cheers!]
[Next is the march of the Royal Guard, the strongest knight corps that guards the royal family! At their head is Frida von Sternlicht, a member of the Hero’s party and deputy commander of the Royal Guard, the ‘Iron-blooded Knight’. Her appearance draped in a white dragon cloak is truly dazzlingly beautiful!]
[And now, ‘Ashen Witch’ Greta von Runhardt, the chief mage, is making her appearance with the royal palace mage corps. Ah, look at that! A 6th circle magic Flame Cannon is flying towards the capital’s sky! Look at those beautiful flames! A truly spectacular parade is unfolding!]
Boom! Boom! The sound of the fireworks exploding in the distance echoed.
The screams and cheers of the people reached us here.
I deliberately ignored such noises, curling up and lying down on the ground.
Looking up at the blue sky like this, all I saw was white clouds.
All the noise and bustle on the ground must feel like a different world to the clouds in the sky.
Thinking about it that way, it didn’t seem so bad to live as a cloud if I were to be born again.
At that moment, a familiar loud noise was heard from somewhere.
A single airship tore through the clouds and soared into the sky. The students who saw it screamed.
“Look over there! It’s an airship!”
“Elizabeth! Elizabeth! We’re here!”
“…Won’t it be useless? I think even the dormitory building would barely be visible from up there….”
Gwyn pointed to the sky at the sight of the rising airship, and Titania waved her hand mightily as if to show the airship. Schultz looked at the scene with a bitter smile, and Marian, pretending not to care, looked at the sky with a surprised expression.
Saladin leaned against the wall, crossing his arms and watching the airship’s flight, and Batar was carving a wooden sculpture with a carving knife, his gaze directed towards the sky. At a glance, Batar’s work seemed to resemble the form of an airship. Oznia was taking a painful nap, resting her head on Titania’s knee.
In such a peaceful atmosphere, a faint smile unwittingly lingered on my lips.
However, shattering that tranquility, a sudden explosion was heard from the sky.
The moment I witnessed the airship engulfed in flames and smoke.
I felt the peace I had been feeling disappear.
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