The Giebe of Kimberger was sweating slightly, despite the cool Spring air, as he knelt before the Saint of Spring, Unofficial Head of the Gilberta Company, Daughter of the Archduke and Royal Messenger sent by the Zent, Lady Tohsaka.

…She looked exactly like an adorable little girl. If not told that she would soon be baptized, the Lord would have believed her a child of four or five years, with her short stature and puffy cheeks.

It was hard to imagine that she was an individual given a special assignment for the King himself, despite legends of her talents preceding her. And it was disconcerting the fact that as an officially appointed Royal Messenger of the Zent himself, with a documented assignment, if they were found to be hindering her in any way, they would all be put to death.

Giebe Kimberger, being a rural knight whose sole job it was to watch the gate, was NOT qualified to deal with a Royal Messenger.

Kimberger gave the proper noble greetings to one of a higher station with the sharp inflections of a man deeply connected to the military.

"It is an honor to have you here, Lady Tohsaka. If there is anything you require, say the word and my men and I will do everything within our meager powers to assist you." Kimberger said in his usual gruff voice, hoping that the young lady would accept their feelings, but not actually ask anything of them.

If she wasn't true assistance in her task, they would be in trouble, as there were only two Leyscholars in the entire province, and they only knew how to do basic paperwork. Even Kimberger himself, despite being an Archnoble and Geibe, only had Commoner Servants to assist him, instead of a Noble Attendant and Scholar.

All of their nobles had been trained as Knights.

If Lady Tohsaka was hoping for assistance in her research, that was just not going to happen.

"I am very grateful for the offer, and there is a task that I hope you can assist me with." Tohsaka said, and Kimberger nearly started to whimper as she pulled out a piece of parchment. "I already have some of my father's scholars working on this, but if you have the manpower to spare, I want you to obtain as many of the items on this list as you can."

Kimberger sighed in relief, realizing he was only being asked to gather materials for her research and not participate himself, only to stare with wide eyes at the items written.

Minerals, metals and Feystones of various types, in absolutely insane quantities.

"Are… Are these really necessary for your research?" Kimberger said, paling as he knew he would never be able to complete the list.

While none of it was rare, the sheer quantity of what was asked couldn't be quickly gathered.

"For the work on the border gate, no. However, His Majesty has tasked me with more than just that. This is for another assignment I was given involving the stability of the Country as a whole." Tohsaka said before smiling. "Don't worry about the budget though. The Country is covering it."

"I see. Very well, I will put our resources on it." Kimberger said with a nod. "Is there anything else."

"Nothing that you wouldn't normally provide to any guest. Though a hidden room for my research will be necessary." Tohsaka replied. "Now, let me take a look at this gate."

"Of course. Travisher, I'm assigning you to be Lady Tohsaka's escort while she is out in our province. Guard her with your life and take her wherever it is that she needs to go." Kimberger ordered one of his men. His personal escort Knights for whom he trusted his life to.

"Yessir!" The man replied at once.

Travisher was a tall man with bright orange hair and a slim frame. Despite being a Medknight, he was loyal as could be and cared nothing for politics or bribes. The honor of defending the land was enough for him.

"Thank you for your assistance." Tohsaka said with a smile, giving Geibe Kimberger hope that his province would survive this storm.


"How is it, Milady?" Brigitte asked Rin as she finished casting a dozen different spells to analyze the border gate only to let out a sigh of frustration, even as all of the knights around her stared in open mouthed disbelief at her skills with mana.

"I think that this is going to be a giant pain." Rin openly admitted. "We should have started this during the beginning of Winter, when the magic reinforcing the gate would be at its weakest, and the logical solution to this problem isn't to open the gate. It is to simply destroy it and replace it with a new one."

"What!?" Lieseleta squeaked in shock at her master's declaration.

"If you lost a key to your lock box, finding a way to replicate the key is a lot harder than just breaking into the box and replacing it. Honestly, if we got here two weeks earlier, I could have had this gate cracked open in a few minutes. Right now, it would likely take me till the end of today." Rin said to everyone's shock.

"That's… blasphemy." Abigail said in disbelief.

"Which is exactly why I'm going to have to do it the long and stupid way." Rin said with a sigh. "Guess I'd better get started."

Rin pulled out a pair of oddly shaped Feystones that were red as fresh blood and started to channel magic power through them, causing a pair of massive magic circles to appear as the stones floated out of her hands and suspended themselves in midair in front of the massive hundred feet tall gate that stood before her.

All of the province's knights who guarded the gate stared at her in open shock as Rin worked, dozens of smaller, but extremely complex, magic circles appearing out from the two circles she had made, visualizations of the magic arrays that were embedded within the gate.

Rin cursed the gods, as while the defenses holding the gate together only consisted of 6 large seals, each of which could be bypassed, the lock was made up of 44 different complex seals that would need to be completed within a specific order and timing in order to unravel. Each time she made a mistake, she'd need to start over.

This was going to be a massive grind.


"I hate this!" Rin cried after the second day, during their lunch break, too frustrated to care who was watching.

She was covered in sweat and her stomach hurt from drinking potions to restore her magic power.

She'd completed 20 of the 44 layers to the gates opening and closing mechanism, but every time she wanted to make progress, she would first need to spend the time and magic power needed to complete the first 20 steps, then attempt the 21st step to see if her new attempted solution would work, and if not, she'd need to do the first 20 steps again if she wanted another attempt.

It was an experience as infuriating as attempting to solve a 44 digit long combination lock, with the different parts located in different rooms.

"Maybe you should take a break. This isn't healthy." Lieseleta said as she tended to her lady with a towel. "You've managed to get through so much already. You don't need to push yourself so hard."

Rin was too tired to argue, even if she knew that with every layer she completed, the remaining layers became that much harder to crack.

She didn't have the strength to fight it as Taiga lifted her up and started to carry her back to the Kimberger estate.

She was still in a daze, her mind running through the things she knew about the 21st seal, as she was bathed, dressed, given a light meal in order to help with the potions in her stomach, and then put in bed, where she was unconscious within moments.

"I guess even Rin has her limits." Brigitte said as she gently touched the sleeping child's cheek. "Angelica and I will take the first shift, so you guys get yourselves something to eat."

Abigail, Sylphine and Taiga nodded and left to take care of their own needs so that they would be able to relieve their younger counterparts of duty.

Brigitte and Angelica stood guard over the sleeping Rin in silence, until Angelica noticed a sad look on Brigitte's face. "Is something the matter?"

"It's nothing. It's just… It doesn't seem fair, does it?" Brigitte said, causing Angelica to tilt her head in confusion. "I mean for a pre-baptized child like Rin to have to bear so many responsibilities. When I was her age, I was just running around with other kids my age swinging a stick, occasionally studying a little bit. She seems to have the weight of the whole Duchy on her shoulders, if not the whole Country. The expectations that have been placed on her… they just aren't reasonable."

"...I suppose you are right." Angelica said with a nod. "There isn't much I can do to help her though. I'm not good with complicated things. The only thing I can do is stand by her side and guard her with my life."

"...Angelica, am I… selfish?" Brigitte asked, getting another look of confusion out of the air headed girl. "Is it wrong for me to want to remain in Illgner when Rin is going through so much? All my life I was only concentrating on getting a husband who could help secure my home and protect the people I care about. Abandoning Rin, does that make me… a bad person?"

While she acts like it is all easily within her abilities, that didn't change the fact that Rin was having a mountain of responsibilities dumped on her, from the railroads and industries she has to manage and protect, to the interests of the Duchy and the Orphanage, to the assignments of the Temple and the Zent. Not to mention the other work she does that Brigitte was not privy to. The girl didn't sleep the long hours that a child should sleep, and when she woke up in the morning, she was always drained.

And she also had the emotional weight of soon being forced against her will to leave Ehrenfest behind and become a Royal Princess.

And during all this, Brigitte was thinking of cutting ties and returning to Illgner to live the sheltered life of a noblewoman.

It was no wonder that Rin didn't trust her the same way she trusted Angelica.

"Hm… Rihyarda said that retainers often have their own reasons to serve and that isn't a bad thing, so long as they serve loyally." Angelica said, not sure if that was what would make Brigitte happy, but not able to think of any words of her own.

"Can I be said to be serving loyally if I have one eye on the door?"

"...Isn't keeping an eye on the door what a Guard Knight is supposed to do?" Angelica asked, not understanding what Brigitte was saying.

"...Forget it." Brigitte said with a sigh, still clearly unhappy. Until she saw the deep look of concern on Angelica's face, as the girl wanted to help, but couldn't think of a way of doing so. So Brigitte smiled. "Thank you for listening. I needed someone to get that off of my chest with."

"You're welcome." Angelica replied, smiling back, glad that she could have at least been a little bit of help.

They stood around for a little longer, until Abigail, Sylphine and Taiga returned to take over the watch, freeing them to go and eat their own meals.

"How has the kitchen here been treating you?" Brigitte asked Nicola with a friendly smile as they enjoyed their meal together, Nicola eating with them.

Neither Angelica nor Brigitte really cared about noble stations, and Angelica had befriended Nicola while they were at the Temple.

The former Gray Robe Priestess, soon to be Royal Chef, took a while to become comfortable sitting at a table with nobles and being 'friends' with them, but was happy once she adapted to it.

"It is alright, though it doesn't contain the variety of ingredients that Lady Tohsaka keeps." Nicola said as bit into her own beef dumpling, savoring the flavor of the sauces that had been contained within.

"Well, you've done well regardless." Brigitte said as she ate her own.

"Nn." Angelica said, nodding in agreement as she chewed slowly, somehow managing to still look graceful despite having cheeks puffed out with food.

She then stopped as she sensed someone watching her, and turned her head to the door to see a young girl, only around seven years old, with long orange hair peeking out at them from behind the door.

The girl gave a squeak, and hid away for a moment, before shimmying to the doorway again to look at them once more. Her eyes were sparkling and Angelica smiled.

'She must have been attracted by the smell of food.' Angelica thought, taking one of the large steamed buns and holding it out, inviting the girl to join them.

The girl hesitated at first, but slowly approached them shily and took the offered food from Angelica. But rather than digging in, she just continued to stare at Angelica with her sparkling eyes.

"Yo…You're Angelica, aren't you?" The girl said nervously.

"Hm? I am." Angelica replied with a tilt of her head, wondering why the child was acting so strange. But if she had been starry eyed before, it was nothing compared to how she reacted to Angelica's confirmation of her identity.

"Wow! You're… You're really her! Oh wow! I can't believe you really came to Kimberger!" The child said, jumping up and down with excitement and hugging the food to her chest, not seeming to care that juices were leaking out and staining her clothes. Angelica was taken aback. "Sorry, my manners! I'm Judith! My father is the Knight assigned by Geibe Kimberger to escort Lady Tohsaka! Ple… Please take care of me, Senpai!"

"I… What?" Angelica said, absolutely confused.

"I… I'm sorry! You are just so amazing, being an Apprentice Medknight who can stand on her own against full fledged Archknights and was recognized by the Zent as being the top Apprentice Knight at the Academy before ever having enrolled in the Knights' Courses! I… I want to be just like you when I grow up!" Judith said, looking up at Angelica with pleading eyes. "Please! Please say that you will take me as your junior!"

Brigitte could only hold in her laughter.

While on paper, Angelica was the most amazing individual the Academy had seen in years, in reality she was a bit of an airhead who only focused on her own training. She was raised with no one expecting anything of value out of her, so suddenly finding herself with a fan who worshiped was more than a little off putting.

The goofy and terrified expression she had as Judith looked up at her, the same when she had whenever someone suggested that she write up a report, was absolutely priceless.

Angelica was so cute when she was flustered.