Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 346

Claude was rather surprised his much younger brother was fiercer than him!

Bloweyk said he hated Viscount Felidos as he kept wanting to recommend him to Bluefeather despite how often he had refused him. The old man didn't even pay a visit after the new year and personally got Bloweyk a conscription order in an attempt to make it fait accompli -- the same way he'd gone about it with Claude.

The old guy didn't expect that when he strolled up to the Ferd house with the order from Bluefeather, Bloweyk took out a document proving his enlistment with Ranger. The viscount's order was void since Bloweyk already belonged to another military unit, even if only as a reservist.

The old guy gave up and left, shoulders slumped. Felidos had tried so hard to draft a member of Ranger into Bluefeather and now he had to deal with the consequences. Bloweyk said the old man must be sick in the head. Why else would he have the ghastly hobby of forcefully recruiting people for Bluefeather? He also kept harping on about how Claude couldn't achieve what he did had he not gotten his recommendation initially.

Claude shook his head as he listened. He only made it as far as he had thanks to luck. He would've died several times over had he stayed in Bluefeather. The corps had suffered the most in the last war. First, they were surrounded on Amilia Plains. They only broke out of that by sacrificing thousands of men. Then they were all but eradicated on the Canasian plains. Claude could count on one hand the people he knew from his time in the corps still alive in its ranks.

Claude wondered where his little brother had gotten his proof. He apologised for forgetting to get him one himself and allowing Felidos to cause so much trouble.

Bloweyk said someone called Colonel Skri had visited them when Ranger's main force arrived in Whitestag. He said he was a friend of Claude's and apologised for not coming to his and Kefnie's wedding. He decided to visit Claude's son and check on his family.

Skri brought many expensive gifts. Though their mother had refused to accept them, Skri said he had a very deep relationship with Claude. The two had fought and covered each other's backs on the battlefield, so he asked them to not mind the gifts. Kefnie and Angelina were cooking for Skri while Bloweyk and his mother accompanied him. Bloweyk hadn't decided where he wanted to serve, so Skri recommended Ranger since his brother was in it as well.

Skri sent his adjutant with a proof of enlistment and a reservist uniform. When Felidos came with Bluefeather's conscription and wanted to send him off, he had the proof at hand.

Claude breathed a sigh of relief at his brother's luck and was thankful for Skri's goodwill. Bloweyk had lucked out. The proof was dated for the 10th month of the previous year, just in time for it to grant him access to Tribe 131's general promotion, making him a corporal.

He'd not held an army-issue musket, not even once, but he was already a corporal. He'd not undergone an hour's training, either, nor had he marched in uniform for even a single kilometre. He just had the luck of the draw. He became a serving soldier the day he became a reservist, and it qualified him for the promotions once he became an active member of a combat unit.

The timing of his service could have been better, however. Claude wasn't happy to have him in a combat unit during a war. He could have waited another six months before he would have been called up. His family could use him much more right now than Ranger.

Bloweyk said, "It's all because Anns couldn't stand staying home. She just dragged me along."

"Huh? What's up with Anna? Why can't she stay home?"

Bloweyk complained about his sister for the next half an hour, using colourful adjectives like she-tyrant, dictator, and demon-witch. All of which made Claude's stomach hurt from his laughter. Angelina clearly had a massive influence on Bloweyk. Claude did not doubt for a second that she was the sole reason the little spoilt brat had turned into a half-decent young man rather than a failure like his grandfather.

It took half an hour, but the truth finally came out. Their mother had turned up the heat on Angelina to marry so much in the last couple of months that even the stubborn young magus couldn't bear it anymore. She decided to visit her older brother, and dragged her little brother, kicking and screaming, along. Taking the little rascal to report for duty was a convenient excuse, after all, and not one she was about to pass up just because he did not want to. Her mother did get the final word in, however. She told the girl to not return until she had a husband.

Claude didn't know what to think of the situation. He should have handled these things before he'd departed. He couldn't exactly blame his mother for her angst. He was 28 and his sister, four years his junior, was 24; she was already getting very old to be still unmarried. Being single at her age would have been absolutely normal back on Earth, but on Freia she was already becoming old goods.

He had to have a good talk with his little sister the next day. He knew a couple people that might make a decent husband for her. He just needed to know what she wanted in a partner to narrow the list. He did not expect it to go easily, however. His sister was nothing if not stubborn. It had been balanced, even hidden, by her timidity, but since she'd learned magic that had vanished. Even Claude had found her difficult to handle since his return from the war.

The conversation turned to Bloweyk's training in magic. His talent was much worse than his elder siblings. Claude had broken into the world of magi in a year, but Bloweyk had taken two. It was his excuse for his lack of friends. He said he spent all his time meditating or otherwise engaged in training. He didn't consider it a worthwhile endeavour to find friends, either, since he didn't think of anyone he could beat into submission as worthy of being his friend.

He'd explored the old tower on Egret several times, hoping to make a similar find to his brother, to no avail. He got a couple good hunts in, at least. He had taken down a cloud leopard, a python, three wolves, and seven wild boars during his trips.

He was about a third of the way to his second ring. He had expected to get there in three or four more years back home. In the army however, his time for training would be much less and it could easily take him a decade to do it.

Bloweyk was certainly no rune magus. He'd specialised entirely on combat spells. Even the few alchemical-focused spells he knew, such as Magus' Hands and Fine Control, he used for combat. He particularly liked to dissect hibernating bears.

He was quite happy to be under his elder brother's wing again. Particularly because it would allow him to continue training in magic, even better now that he had ready access to his guidance. Claude didn't know how much help he could be to his little brother. He was a rune magus, and knew only about them and their training. His little brother, much like Sheila, walked a different path of which Claude knew next to nothing.

The talk continued late into the night. Sleep finally overtook the two as the black of the night was coloured with the icy blue of morning.

The two couldn't get any good sleep, however. Claude was too busy, and Bloweyk had to start on-the-job training. Claude was up the moment the morning horn sounded and started instructing his new subordinate. The two had breakfast, and called for Myjack. He was quickly informed, however, that the man had departed the previous evening and had yet to return. He didn't think too much of it, however, and called Gum. He had the man give his new subordinate a run-down on some basic combat training. He could not have his little brother and orderman embarrassing him.

Myjack returned to the camp that afternoon shortly after lunchtime with Angelina.

Claude nearly fell off his chair at what his sister reported when she noticed her brother eyeing her inquisitively.

"I'm marrying Myjack."

Angelina pushed Myjack to Claude with her last word. The poor guy stared at his superior like he was a wolf, and Myjack a rabbit.

"W-w-wait... When did the two of you decide this?"

To be honest, Myjack had been on Claude's list of possible candidates. He was just one year Angelina's senior. He had no loyalties other than to Claude. He didn't have a family to compete for his loyalty since he was an orphan, and he didn't have divided loyalties in the army or upper echelons of society since Claude had been his first, and hitherto only, superior, and was the one who'd made him what he was today. He didn't have any exceptional talents, but he was good enough to not be a burden, and Claude valued his loyalty more than he did any talent he might or might not have, since Angelina was more than capable of filling that part of the bargain.

The man was a second lieutenant, a decent rank for one of his age, if somewhat average by Claude's standard. He didn't have any extraordinary skills when it came to warfare or combat, but he didn't need any. His proximity to Claude was all that mattered in that regard. Claude would drag him up the ranks with him kicking and screaming if need be, not that he would do either of those things, of course.

"As much as I hate Mother's nagging, she is right. I'm getting too old to be single. It's about time I found a husband. Myjack fits the bill just fine. He's a good subordinate of yours, and doesn't have any deal-breaking flaws or bad habits. He's single of course, which is most important. We've come to fetch your blessing," Angelina declared.

Her tone and word choice made it clear she had not come for something that was Claude's to give, but for something that was hers to take.

Claude almost felt bad for Myjack. He'd watched his sister order him around like a servant during their stay several years earlier. Myjack was too used to being ordered around, and too adept and willing to go along, to complain, or even think twice about it. The two got along well enough in that sense, but Claude had never seen anything that could hint at a possible romance, even a hypothetical future romance. Myjack right now also didn't appear like a man who'd just been granted a wish. He instead looked like a caged animal.

"What happened?" Claude asked his subordinate.

"Sir, I was force--ouch..."

Angelina's hand bounced off the back of the poor boy's head.

"Don't go back on your word. Don't forget what happened last night. You have to take responsibility."

"Quiet, Anna. Let Myjack finish," Claude said, a headache threatening.

Bloweyk was right. Angelina had changed a lot. She'd become violent, something Claude had never seen in her before. What had happened between the two of them that merited Myjack 'taking responsibility'?

Myjack stared out the window, quiet as the grave. Angelina closed the door and raised her hand to cast Silence. Claude's gaze cooled. Myjack wasn't a magus, but Angelina had used a spell in front of him.

"He already knows I'm a magus," Angelina said.

It was all to blame on their carelessness. When Claude had instructed Myjack to prepare a place to stay for his sister, he rented a cottage since he knew she would be staying for a while. It was outside of town, and perfect for her.

He had been worried about her safety, however, especially since she didn't know local customs and wouldn't know to be suspicious of nikancha. He returned to camp to fetch two muskets for her.

Angelina, ever the alchemical researcher, had immediately gotten to experimenting. She'd been unable to do so for the month-and-a-half-long journey.

Myjack noticed something was off when he returned. The windows were shut and even the curtains were pulled. He suspected someone had broken in. It was Angelina's first day there and she should've left the windows open to air out the place and clean up instead of making the place airtight.

Afraid something had happened, he loaded one of the muskets and barged into the house. Inside he found a pearl of light floating in mid-air in front of Angelina. His eyes wandered to the ground in front of here, where he saw herbs and powders moving around on their own.

His sudden entry shocked Angelina half to death and the ingredients disintegrated as the array collapsed. When Myjack saw Angelina was fine, he put down his musket and his eyes darted to the floating light. The enraged Angelina immediately bound him with Magus' Hands and gave him a good beating, before she considered how she would deal with him.

He had barged into the room with good intentions and was closely associated with the family, not to mention being her brother's trusted adjutant. She was also not someone to just kill someone for being inconvenient. She thought about their time together a couple years earlier, and decided he would do as a husband and told him they were going to get married right then and there.

The poor boy was scared shitless of his superior's sister. He'd been cautious of her before, given her bossy attitude, but after what had just happened, he was absolutely terrified of her. It took her nearly an hour to calm him down and convince him she was not going to turn him into a frog or some other hapless animal for her experiments.

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