Conferring of Decorations Ceremony
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The sports field of the Knight’s Academy had taken on an unusual appearance.
The lawn was carefully mowed for the day, with large areas of the lawn kept exactly at the same length. On top of that, a pillar was sung, an extravagant curtain was put up to make it look cool, and tables and stands in good condition from all over the academy were arranged to form a kind of award table.
There were two groups of people with 31 and 288 soldiers lined up in front of the improvised podium thus created. There were also about ten people standing a short distance away.
31 of them were students here, and 288 of those who came with me from Reform, which were also students of the organization that serves as the school of Knights there. A little farther back were those who left in the middle of the road.They hadn’t participated in any real battles since the Reform, so the medals they were awarded were naturally separate from the rest.
As for me, I was standing as a representative with Liao and Myaro.
In the surroundings, the current students of the school of Knights and the Witches of the school of Liberal Arts were standing and watching. The general public, who were not affiliated with the academy, were also mixed in the standing room.Since the hall of the school of Knights could not accommodate all these people, it was decided to hold the event outdoors.
On the uppermost tier, decorated with a curtain, sat Her Highness Telor, dressed to the nines. Next to her was Carol.
It was a slightly awkward sight, but it wasn’t good for politics to have Carol in a lower seat than Telor, so that was the situation.
“Now, before I present the medals, I would like to recognize the fourteen brave men who are not here. They fought and died to protect the innocent people who fled from Reform against an enemy that was twice our size. These fourteen include two who went to war from this academy a few months ago.” (Carol)
Carol stated fluently in a loud voice.
“Faldre Lehrer, and Maxim Larre. I’m sure that some of you here knew, were friends, or even parents and siblings of these two men. The least I can do is to tell you that their deaths were proud and honorable, as they were Knights. That is to say, they protected thousands of people, fought against an enemy army that was twice our size, and helped us to victory. It was the most righteous and noble act of a Knight, and if they were unwilling and threw away their spears, the enemy’s deadly blade would have torn apart the innocent people. There is no doubt about it.” (Carol)
This script must have been made up in advance through discussions with Myalo, but Carol seemed to have memorized it and was smoothly saying those words.
“I will not forget their devotion. And I will honor them with my condolences, and I will award them with medals in due course. Let the men of the family be honored.” (Carol)
In this decoration ceremony, there were three types of medals given. One is the Shaalta Order of Merit, which was made to be awarded to the participants when the planning of the expedition began.The other was the hastily thought-out Order of Merit in Kilghina, which was awarded to 31 men, two who had died, and four top officers. This one, as promised, had a high reward attached to it.
The last one was awarded to all the personnel who had followed the journey from Reform and was hurriedly created because it would be a pity if 288 people had nothing to gain from it. This was a kind of participation prize, and there was no reward.
Carol sat down, and then, Telor stood up to take her turn.
“Ah… uhm… Thank you for saving the lives of my subjects…” (Telor)
As for Telor, she seemed to be too nervous to get her lines out of the mouth.
‘Come to think of it, this is what it looked like at first. She’s not very good at being in front of people. Is it a stranger’s anxiety?’
After mumbling, Telor pulled out a cue card that she had in her pocket.
“On behalf of the royal family of Kilghina, I would like to thank all of you for your valiant efforts. My last duty as a royal was to save my people from being overrun, and to bring as many of their lives as possible to a peaceful land. That duty should have been done by the people of Kilghina, but we were not strong enough, and we had to rely on the help of Yuri Hou-dono, and he agreed to do it. I cannot express my gratitude enough. I hereby award you the highest Kirchner Medal of Honor.” (Telor)
When she had finished reading, Telor put the cue card back in his pocket and sat down in her chair.
‘I wonder who wrote the script. You let Telor say whatever you want, taking advantage of her lack of judgment.It must feel good for the Shaalta side for her to be able to say this, but the Kilghina have pride and independence too. Whether it’s offensive or not depends on the sensitivity to the text, but some people may be offended.’
‘Well… there’s definitely a part of them that feels troubled to have regained their pride. If Telor does too well, it could be seen as a symbol of revival, and that’s a difficult thing in this situation.’
“Then we will move on to awarding the medals. The Commanding Officer, Yuri Hou.” (??)
When the host gave the words, I stood up from my chair, bowed lightly, and walked up to Telor. As we had discussed, I made a deep standing bow once more.
“Yuri Hou has been awarded the Order of the Golden King Eagle Order of Merit.” (Telor)
Teruel gave me a single lily-of-the-valley and placed it in my hand.
“Thank you very much.” (Yuri)
The reason why a lily was handed over to me was because the design of the Golden Eagle Medal of Valor had not even been decided yet. The lily was the family crest of the Tuni Chartres family and was usually included as a design on the Kilghina Order of Merit, so this was given instead.
‘If you’re wondering why we’re having anConferring of Medal ceremony when the medals haven’t even been completed yet, it’s for the 288 soldiers from Reform. The 31 people are the school of Knights’ students here to begin with, so the medal can be collected at any time, but the 288 students are not. They have to start a new life now.’
‘It would be a problem to detain them here for more than a month until the medal is completed, so we decided to do it without waiting for the medal to be completed. The medals are made of iron and are given to soldiers who have fought valiantly. I bought up a lot of iron medals from warehouses and had blacksmiths make some minor changes to the design.’
I shifted a little to the side and then stood in front of Carol.
“Yuri Hou. You are hereby awarded the Great Winged Rising Star Order of Merit.”
As I stood and straightened my back again, Carol placed the medal on my chest. To put a medal on everyone’s chest with his or her own hand was Carol’s suggestion.
The Great Winged Rising Star Order of Merit was something that Her Majesty the Queen had ordered even before the departure of the observation party, so this one was in shape. It didn’t have the luster of a natural nobility order, like a baron or a baroness would receive, but it is made of cloisonne ware that seems to have been created by a skilled craftsman and looked magnificent.
“Thank you for your happiness. Your Majesty.” (Yuri)
I greeted him in the traditional way and saluted him, and Carol seemed to be making some effort to undo the grin on her face.
‘You were happy, huh? I was just teasing you, you know.’
When I returned to my seat, Liao was next to be called.
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After the presentation of the medals to each of them by Carol and Telor, they moved to the hall of the school of Knights with everyone in tow. The hall was rented out and round tables were in the process of being laid out for the final banquet.
I was standing on the platform for the first time here. The medal of honor that I just mentioned was given by the royalty to the lowly, and I was not in a position to make a speech or anything.
“We’re done here. You have all done a great job. Since we left this school, things haven’t gone as planned and it’s been an incredibly long journey. Many unexpected things happened one after the other. To tell you the truth, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. I hope you’ll forgive me for my ineptitude.” (Yuri)
It seems like a long time ago now, but me and Carol fell in with the eagles, and that was the beginning of the unfortunate events. In total, though, there were many events that resulted in a good outcome.
“Those of you who have followed me since I left the academy, those of you who have come from Reform. You’re all here… Therefore, I hereby declare the observation unit is disbanded. Thank you. It was a good unit.” (Yuri)
When I said so, I deliberately broke my posture, and the folded legs undid. I clapped my hands loudly to renew my spirits.
“From now on, I’m not your Commanding Officer anymore. Those who were my superiors, those who were my subordinates. From this moment on, you are my comrades in arms. Now, make yourselves comfortable. There’s no need to form up in formation. It’s too cramped. Spread out some more. When I’m done talking, it’s the last party we will have. So, are we going to drink in formation?” (Yuri)
With puzzled looks on their faces, the soldiers began to break ranks little by little.
“Here, spread it out. More and more.” (Yuri)
When I waved my hands, they spread out and became unorganized.
“Now that the pride and honor ceremony is over, let’s talk about something more immediate and unrelated.” (Yuri)
When I said that, Carol glared at me as if she was about to interrupt me with ‘Oi’. The others were slightly amused or had a strange look on their faces.
“Of course, I’m talking about the money. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and since we’re the ones who risked our lives to do the job, I think it’s more appropriate to give the reward to you than to your parents. Right here, right now, in cash.” (Yuri)
When I said this, I knew, or rather, many of the guys in the squad looked overtly happy. There was even a guy who made a pose of ‘Yosh!’.
‘A lot of Knight’s households are wealthier than the average, but there are also a lot of not-so-wealthy houses. Many of them say that if I give it to their parents, it will be taken away. Fifty gold coins are worth about five million yen in gold.’
“Fifty gold pieces per person. I haven’t talked to your parents or school for nothing. So, they won’t know that there is a reward attached to the medal. However, they will know about it later, so if you are planning to spend it in a brothel or on gambling, be prepared to be scolded…The bag of gold coins is exchanged for a signature of acceptance. As you can see, the banquet is being prepared, so you can pick it up when you leave. Just so you know, if you get drunk and lose it afterwards, I won’t give it to you again.” (Yuri)
‘If there are 31 of them, at least one of them will go out at night with a lot of money and get stolen. If you buy a number of women in a high-class brothel and spend a sweet night, when you wake up in the morning, you can’t find your bag of gold coins. It’s easy to imagine such a thing.’
“And so… the people from Reform…” (Yuri)
Instead, it was this one that was the problem.
“There is no inherent reward for you. But I think you are the ones who need the money for the rest of your lives. It would be a shame for the reputation of Shaalta if those who fought so valiantly were to be thrown out into the cold with nothing but their clothes on. For that reason, I have prepared about fifteen gold coins for each of you, including the rewards for the four top officers, me, Liao, Myaro, and Her Highness Carol, and the feelings of His Highness Telor. Well, with this much money, you could live for a year in Sibyaku. If it’s in the countryside, it would be even more. I don’t think you’ll be looking for a new lord to serve while working in the fields.” (Yuri)
‘As expected, I don’t want them to be like the ronin students who study while working part-time.’
“As for serving the new lord… it is not something I can do with influence. You have gone training in the school of Knights, but you’re still young in appearance. Normally, the Knights who have graduated from the academy here are over twenty years old.” (Yuri)
‘These children were extracted from the knights who were in Reform in order of their young age, so they were all young men who were mobilized midway from the Knight’s Academy. They have been given the badge of knighthood as a wartime measure, so they are knights, but they haven’t actually finished the curriculum, and from the looks of it, I don’t think they’ve graduated.’
“In addition, as it was the case with Kilghina, the organization of the General households is strict and full of second and third sons who are unable to take up their roles. There are few places for newcomers to join. Seeking service as a Knight is not futile, but it may be difficult.” (Yuri)
‘In fact, it would be best to say that there are none. It’s difficult even for Knights who have already gained a high reputation in warfare. There is no way that a young man can pass through such a narrow gate of opportunity. Therefore, in the event that you’ve got a lot of money to spend, you’ll be able to take advantage of it.’
“Of course, you can accept the recruitment and join the organization as a soldier. You will be welcomed with open arms. There is also the hope that you will be promoted as you work your way up in the household. In that case, the Knight medal that shines on your chest will come in handy. That will depend on your efforts, but… there is another way.” (Yuri)
‘After all, I don’t want the people involved to be unhappy, no matter what future holds. There is a limit to how much you can do and I don’t think I will do anything for that, but if I could make my luck come true with a word or a fingertip, I would do it.’
“In other words, put down your spear and work among the common people. There is such a way for those who don’t want to work in war as a knight, for those who want to keep their distance from war. Putting down the spear may be a denial of the life you have lived so far. You may use the fifteen gold pieces to start your own business, and if you want, you can come to my company, and I will at least give you a place to work. It’s called Hou and Associates, but it has a reputation for paying better wages than others. The head office is across the street from the Hou household’s house in Sibyaku, so if you’re interested, go there.” (Yuri)
‘I’ve finished what I wanted to say.’
“That’s all I have to say. Is there anything else you want to talk about?” (Yuri)
I looked at the top officers’ group and they all shook their heads. Liao’s probably already made a speech when he brought these guys in.
“Today will be the last time we’ll all be here together. Tomorrow our lives will begin differently. Drink to your heart’s content and make tonight a night to remember.” (Yuri)
When I said this and stepped down from the stage, there was applause from everyone, and as if caught up in the applause, a thunderous applause broke out.
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