GDoc here. I will be gone for over a month. Please read the status report on the sidebar.
Night Before (1)
The group arrived at the fort to spend the night preparing for the next day’s expedition.
Instead of staying in the fort, they camped at the open space in front of the fort, since the mission was also a training opportunity.
Although they had moved by horse all the way there, the student’s faces reflected their fatigue.
However, not one person laid down.
It was understandable.
Though they were a stone’s throw away from the knights in the fort, nobody knew whether atrocious monsters lurked within the forest covered in shadows.
Of course, near the imperial capital, no powerful monsters existed, but while that was true, the fear had not faded.
Everybody understood that they had better lie down for a little rest for tomorrow’s expedition, but the tension prevented their eyes from closing.
As several campfires were set up in the open space, acquaintances sat together.
The food had been provided by the fort, and the students ate to their heart’s content, and passed their time as they pleased.
It was particularly noisy around several of the female apprentice knights.
In such a somber environment, to the men, they were refreshing existences.
If there are many boys seeking to be knights, regardless of family status, then there are also many girls who are aiming to be knights, though of a lower status.
In many cases, they could be daughters of a family of knights.
The daughters would be able to interact with children of upper class nobles, with even a chance to marry into riches, so they actively socialized too.
However, during a military movement, they would stand guard while the knights patrolled the surroundings, so there was no strange atmosphere.
Even Cornelia was approached by a single male student, unlike usual.
It was unusual for her to be approached by a student.
Since she was even avoided by those of the same gender, Wynn, who had known her for at least a month, couldn’t remember her being approached by somebody of the opposite gender.
She, Wynn and Locke were gathered around a fire, when an apprentice knight named Regin suddenly approached her.
“Such amazing beauty. Your face, illuminated by the flames, looks exactly as if it had come out of a painting of the Goddess Anastasia-sama. To have met you in this place, it must be the work of god. How about it? Won’t you come and talk with us over there?”
“I’m sorry,” She immediately replied.
Cornelia gazed at the campfire’s flames as if entranced, and rejected Regin, who had knelt down and held his hand out in a theatrical manner, without even looking at his face.
Locke’s back curled, and his shoulders shook, but he was unable to resist bursting into laughter.
He didn’t even consider the possibility that he would be immediately rejected. 
Regin, who displayed a dumbstruck expression, shouted at the laughing Locke.
Locke stopped laughing for a moment and imitated Cornelia’s tone to apologize to Regin, then, being unable to endure it, he held his sides and burst out into uncontrollable laughter again.
“Shit, for the likes of plebeians…”
Regin, red-faced, glared at Locke, who was laughing, then shifted his attention to Wynn, who was seated.
“Hey, you’re Wynn. right? Last year, I beat you black and blue, but you still haven’t given up?”
Regin was the previous year’s top student.
During the examination, Wynn and Regin had a match, and he defeated Wynn.
“Hmm, Even though it’s a waste of effort. Shouldn’t you hurry up and return to a place that’s more fitting for you?”
“What the heck are you saying? Wynn’s swordsmanship is decent, if not better. Weren’t you his opponent?”
Recovering from his laughter, a red-faced, teary-eyed Locke talked back.
“Don’t say such stupid stuff. He lost because of his swordsmanship, as expected of a plebeian. There is a limit to being a sore loser.”
“Nevertheless, that is the truth.”
His smile fading, Locke spat out.
“Anyhow, it seems like the examiner was bribed with money and the sword was switched. Then, after the examination, the sword Wynn used was immediately disposed of to hide the evidence.”
“Why would I do something like that?”
“Isn’t it to accommodate Jade’s wishes?”
Amazed, Regin shook his head, and glanced at Jade, who was sitting at a place far away from them.
Jade wasn’t sitting with the other students in his clique, but sitting alone.
During the trip, it was strange that Jade wasn’t leading his lackeys.
Were Jade’s lackeys not participating in this mission?
“My house, the House of Reinhardt and the Cliffdorf house are political rivals. I don’t have a reason to accommodate that guy.”
Locke was silent.
He was right.
Regin’s House, the Reinhardt Marquis house, were political opponents of the Cliffdorf Marquis House.
Both families produced many military commanders, causing many power struggles in military circles.
Regin was also surrounded by lackeys of his own.
Especially during this mission, he had many followers participating in the mission, unlike Jade, who seemed to be alone and isolated.
Since both families had that sort of relationship, Jade van Cliffdorf wouldn’t need Regin van Reinhardt to accommodate him.
When Locke had pressed the instructor, it was hinted at by the instructor, but then he was sent away.
“Even then, after the match, my eligibility as the top student didn’t change.”
This was also true.
Even among the apprentice knights, Regin’s swordsmanship was top class, even when he took the examination, his ability had already guaranteed his success.
He had no reason to cheat in order to become the top student.
“You understand? If you do, let go of your unrealistic dreams, and return to where you belong.”
Wynn’s eyes fell to the knight sword on his waist.
It was lent to him by the equipment department only for the duration of the mission, it was a second-hand good.
It was his dream to be officially awarded this.
Despite it being borrowed, after three years, he was able to wear it,
It was the first step towards that unrealistic dream.
“That reminds me…”
Cornelia, who had rejected Regin’s invitation and then remained silent, had moved her gaze from the flame to Wynn.
“Why does Wynn-kun not give up on becoming a knight?”
Wynn was looking down at the sword at his waist, ignoring the quarrel between Regin and Locke as if it were somebody else’s problem, when Cornelia’s question brought him to his senses.
He recalled the time when he received that question before.
It was at the time he had reunited with Leticia.
‘After attending for four years, how can you still hope to be a knight?’
He had thought that it was merely a question from a lost kouhai, so he had responded:
‘I swore to myself that I would become a knight, without fail.’
Even if it was an endlessly long path, he would surely arrive if he didn’t give up.
Wynn swung his sword every day believing that.
‘Furthermore, a close friend from the past is still trying her hardest, alone, in a distant place. Even if I don’t become a knight, I want to be able to proudly say that I have done my best… ‘
Due to the incident merely a month ago, Leticia felt even further away than those days, thinking on those days now.
“When I was young, I had admired knights. To me, knights were the strongest, the wisest, a blade of unbreakable determination. Protectors of the weak, and the final shield of their masters. The personifications of those ideals.”
Same as before, Wynn’s beliefs about knights had not changed.
Leticia was alone in a distant land, working her hardest.
She, who he never thought he would meet again, beyond his wildest dreams, returned as the “Brave”.
Having defeated the Demon Lord, she had accomplished that which nobody else could do.
On the other hand, he…
Without being able to become an apprentice knight, he continued to struggle on towards his dream.
“Becoming a knight, without talent, without magic, without political power, without money. Without anything at all. Except, without giving up on my dreams.”
He was merely continuing to struggle.
Because he only had this.
He averted his eyes from Cornelia, towards the embers rising from the flames. 
Leticia had not changed between the time when she was young and when she returned. Even now, she yearned for Wynn.
She had climbed to a place much higher than himself, while he continued to believe that he would arrive there.
The world she stood in was separated from him by an endlessly long, impregnable path, that he couldn’t imagine himself reaching there, but he still had his pride.
Leticia harbored goodwill towards him.
As a female, she had her eyes on the lone male, Wynn.
Even though he had noticed, Wynn couldn’t respond to those feelings.
His surroundings would never allow it. 
Even then, he could at least guarantee her position as a close friend.
Besides, until his vow to become a knight has been fulfilled, he can’t even call himself her close friend.
“Even if I continue to hope, I have already failed the exam three times. But, I believe that my determination wouldn’t lose to anybody.”
“Certainly, your determination must be number one in the empire.”
Hiding his feelings with a joking tone, Locke spoke up while patting Wynn’s shoulder with a smile.
“Hmm, an ambitious dream, for a commoner.”
Among them, only Cornelia wasn’t smiling, motionlessly staring at Wynn’s wry smile.
Within his eyes, which stared at the flame as he spoke, was the light of determination.
She had crossed swords with him multiple times during training, and each time, she had never thought of him as a failure for being defeated over and over.
At first, she had no choice but to partner with him because they both didn’t have training partners. However, upon seeing the determination in his eyes, above her own problems, she wanted to know more about him.
— It became the problem.
Even so, Cornelia couldn’t suppress the curiosity towards Wynn stirring within her.
Like Cornelia, in a different place, there was another person observing Wynn.
It was Aldo.
He was surprised to know that Wynn was participating in the mission.
His practical magic grades were considerably bad.
Not just that, the administration may have also looked down on him due to him being a commoner.
Therefore, he had judged that he would never be appointed for this mission.
“Which student are you interested in?”
At Aldo, who was observing Wynn’s back, a knight from the fort called out.
Like Aldo, he had been a knight on the front lines, he was Aldo’s old acquaintance.
“That is… is it Cadet Wynn? Is that guy the one Aldo is interested in?”
“It seems that knights are his ideal. Strongest, wisest, and a blade of unbreakable determination…”
Aldo closed his eyes to meditate on Wynn’s words.
“A childhood dream, isn’t it? A knight straight out of a fairy tale.”
However, even he, who had that impression, didn’t laugh.
It was true that that sort of knight only came from fairy tales.
Reality wasn’t that nice.
However, wasn’t the knight he described the knight that everybody originally aspired to be?
Though since ideals and reality differed, they had to choose.
“By all rights, he may have already become a knight long ago, that boy.”
“Eh? Wasn’t he a failure who had to repeat school four times?”
“That’s right, though only that one part of him is well-known.”
He moved his eyes from Wynn, and slowly walked away.
Though they were near the fort, there was no guarantee that demonic beasts wouldn’t appear.
For the plan, it was necessary for the work he was given to be performed perfectly.
“Even once, If anybody sees his swordsmanship, they would also have the same opinion as me.”
“Hee, that is interesting. A prodigy that even Aldo recognizes?”
“Ah, he should have been a prodigy…”
At the dark sound of Aldo’s words, the other knight also went silent.
Though the person himself was unaware, he was the one that “Leticia the Brave” loves as her Master.
How will his existence affect the plan?
If in the one in a million chance that Wynn lost his life, that person would appear, the “Existence closest to God”, and they and the empire would burn to the ground.
Nevertheless, once the plan begins, there would be no turning back.
‘Could his excellency be able to contain the Brave?’
They exchanged a cup before sending each other off with a smile. Upon recalling his superior’s face, Aldo sighed.
Whether the plan succeeds or fails, he would never meet that old general again.
There was no more time for that person.
For this reason, the plan must not fail.
With bitter determination, Aldo turned his gaze towards the Imperial Capital Simurgh.
- hard g sound. —back
- To the readership: Would you accept Regin’s words as a pickup line? (assume compatible gender of proposer, and that the proposer is not a jerk noble) —back
- something derogatory about commoners. It’s a sentence fragment. —back
- detective deduction! —back
- Reinhatto (Change one kana and get Rainbutt, which is what I had read at first…nickname?) —back
- for the uninitiated: senpai= senior, kouhai=junior. Notice the kouhai, senpai. —back
- callback to Ch 6. slightly changed translation, but now Ch 6 has been changed. —back
- pachi pachi sfx —back
- remember kids, peer pressure is not always good! —back
- inferiority complex? —back
I will not translate over the vacation, but take a relaxing break, while polishing my Japanese again. My status widget on the sidebar has some more info. I will be in Indonesia for around a month. If you see me, say hi! Meanwhile, I will not translate anything, but polish my Japanese. Translation isn’t helping me retain my grammar… I’m being spoiled by Translation Aggregator… See you all in August! Sorry that I couldn’t translate the next chapter, which was “Night Before (2)”