Hello, nice to meet you.
My name is Mint.
May I know your name?
That was my introduction.
Though there were a lot of ways to say it, any introduction would generally be worded like that, so mine was pretty basic. However, what makes our encounter a bit different from everyone was because we met through letters.
My father is a soldier and my mother died at a young age. As a young Colonel of an armed force in the war, my father, who ran around the battlefield, was naturally busy and had no time to come home. As a child, I managed to understand his circumstances since my nanny taught me gently about it. However, my father who completely left his only daughter in the care of a nanny, thought that his action was inexcusable.
One day when I was four years old, a letter came from my father. He said that there were children who grew up in a slightly special environment in his unit. I didn’t have anyone to talk to since people around me were all grown-ups. And I was wondering if I could talk to someone, who was the same age as me, through letters.
Somehow, I was able to write sentences without any mistakes. Thus, the inexperienced me continued to write line by line without hesitation.
Well, I was the only one who thought that I wrote it without any mistake. Children sure are confident. So, I want you to laugh it off and let it pass like some childhood stupidity.
Putting that aside, just like usual, I wrote a reply to my father with the help of my Maid, Shasa.
I usually wrote something like, “Father, how are you?” Or “When are you going to come home?” Or “Father? Are you getting injured?”, But this time, I only wrote: “Just do it!”.
I got an immediate response from my father. Of course, considering the distance from the battlefield to my house, the quickest route was about three weeks if there was no delay. The distance for going back and forth was more or less twice that. “What should I write to my Father…?” I started off with a reply for my Father and then proceeded to write a greeting to the pen pal that I was just introduced to for the first time. But I didn’t feel nervous or tense since it was only a letter.
That was our first letter exchange. My father said that my pen pal was a child raised in a special environment. What kind of person was he? Could we get along just fine? I felt a little nervous, but my heart was thumping in excitement as I waited for the reply.
The reply came immediately. Since it arrived exactly in 3 weeks, the reply should be written promptly after my letter came. I tossed aside my Father’s letter which came along with it and opened it happily. But I came to understand what Father meant, as immature as I was.
I am Anne.
There’s a flower here.
What was that?
In a way, I had managed to learn her name and the reply also arrived safely… so I waited for the next letter in excitement every single day, since I understood that anything could happen that could possibly halt the delivery.
Anne was a mysterious girl. According to Father, she hasn’t talked much to people. But I wasn’t upset even if she couldn’t talk properly because I could just teach Anne about it. During the time we exchanged letters, I heard that my letters went through inspection since they were directed to a military member. But I didn’t care much. I was still a child anyway.
I was also told that I shouldn’t tell anyone that I was exchanging letters with a friend who was on the battlefield. As a young child, I vaguely understood that people affiliated with the military usually had ‘special circumstances’, so I kept that promise.
That means that this kid was my secret friend.
What a cute name.
What kind of flower is it?
Since I don’t have a name, Colonel made one for me.
It’s already withered.
Of course, it was already withered. Still, what did she mean by having no name? The young me was torn whether it was okay to ask her about it.
It’s unfortunate that the flower is already withered.
If you make it into a pressed flower, it can last much longer.
My Maid just said that to me earlier.
Since my father should be there, you can ask him to show you how to make it.
I got a reply about five weeks later.
The place where I keep the book for the pressed flower got burned by the enemy. I lost the flower.
My heart was broken.
Thinking about it now, I was always confident that my letters would never be caught in inspection, and even before this, I rarely got my heartbroken. I wanted to praise myself for being tough.
Surely because my name, Mint, held a meaning of ‘A child that keeps growing no matter how many times being she’s plucked out, and overpowers others with her tremendous vitality’… Though, I intended for myself to be reserved and live a simple life since it would be bad if I wasn’t careful.
Anne, what color do you like?
You like just any color?
Then, do you also don’t like any color?
Anything is fine with me.
I think I’ve come to understand Anne a lot.
I am told to ask what color Mint likes.
Anne is really honest.
I like blue. Both its deep blue and light blue, I like them a lot.
Is that so?
Seems like you’re not interested.
You are easy to read since you’re so frank. I like it.
Anne, what color is your hair? Mine is deep magenta. And my eyes are light pink.
White. My eyes are blue.
You need to tell me those things earlier.
When I said I like blue, you were supposed to tell me by then.
Because I’ll be happy.
Because I like Anne.
I also don’t know why.
You haven’t been reading my letters properly right? Please tell me honestly.
I am sorry.
Since you apologized, I will let it slide only this time.
It was really cold today.
Each person only got one layer of blanket, so it wasn’t warm at all.
That’s really sad.
It will be nice if Anne could warm up a bit.
My room is warm, but I still caught a cold.
I am praying so Anne wouldn’t catch a cold.
The Colonel is requesting for a leave and is about to submit it in a matter of seconds.
Please tell him that I am better already, so don’t come here.
You said you’d be okay with anything, but I don’t know what will be good enough for
you as a present. I found some interesting bugs, so I am sending one to you.
Since people say that ‘many’ is better than ‘a few’, I got you the one with many legs.
Thank you for the gift.
So that’s why I got a centipede in my package.
I had many speculations before I read your letter, but I am really happy that you thought about me while sending it.
It’s just, I’ll be happier if you send me anything other than living creatures next time.
Is it still alive?
I’m sure I killed it already.
I’ll be more careful next time.
That’s not what I meant.
I did an examination at school.
Seems like I have the aptitude for magic.
Are you happy?
Yes, I am happy that you can do much more now.
I’m glad to hear that.
If Mint is happy, I am also happy.
Me too, I am happy if Anne is happy.
So, please don’t get injured and be healthy.
Something happened at school today.
But when I got home, Sasha was baking apple pie so I didn’t mind it anymore.
Sasha’s apple pie is always perfect. I want Anne to try it too.
What happened at school?
Mint always says that it’s good, I want to try it someday.
On parents’ visit day, I was made fun of because my parents didn’t come.
I know that there’s no helping it, but Father will be sad if he knows about it. So, please keep it a secret from him.
The Colonel is leaving the headquarters with a sword in his hand.
It’s too late.
That’s really a pain.
Please stop reading my letter in front of my father.
Today, there was nothing interesting that happened in the unit so we
held an arm wrestling contest. The Colonel broke all of the people’s arms
and then the Chief Medical Officer broke the Colonel’s arm. The medics
were noisy because their workload got increased.
Please send my regards to the whole unit for the inconvenience that my father caused.
Today, a boy in the same class asked me to be his lover.
I was surprised.
Though he said that I am only beautiful if I sit still, once I rejected him, he said that I was ugly and I shouldn’t get carried away.
What a busy person, to take such a sharp turn like that.
Have you ever been in a relationship, Anne? If you know how to nicely reject someone, please tell me.
I’ll kill him.
Isn’t that too risky? I would be rejected by society that way.
I’ll kill him.
Does that mean that there’s no other way for me to reject him nicely?
In society, I think we need to go through troublesome procedures to interact with each other. So, I need to be more serious about it.
That boy seems to be talking bad about me. I feel a bit annoyed.
I’ll kill him.
Should I tell the Colonel?
He is the last resort in the matter between kids. And I would be troubled if this matter gets into attention. So, please don’t.
I’ll kill him.
During the time we exchange letters, that boy seemed to have started dating this girl from another class and has stopped talking badly about me.
I am relieved that this matter got solved peacefully right before the exams.
After all, peace is the answer.
Thank you for listening to my problems.
I’ll kill him.
I am happy that things have calmed down.
I’ll kill him.
Don’t sandwich the word calm with such scary words.
It doesn’t sound calming at all.
I’ll kill him.
I think Mint should be angry.
My guy friends already got angry for my sake, so I don’t really mind it anymore.
I’ll kill him.
I’ll kill him.
I’ll kill him.
Let’s just stop this scary sandwich, okay?
I read a novel that is quite popular lately.
It’s a book about romance and being caged.
The male lead of the story says “From now on, you can only talk to people that I allowed to” and, though the book mentioned that female lead is into him, shouldn’t you report that as human right violation to the authorities?
Depending on the time, place, situation, and the person itself, I would just hit him if that happens to me.
Also, I remember that novel is for adult women.
Who let you read that?
Please tell Father that I need to talk to him.
I will send a letter shortly.
The Colonel is too depressed to go to work, so they told me to do something about it.
Please tell the whole unit that I apologize for the inconvenience my father caused.
I’m sorry for the late reply.
I was dying, but I turned up alive.
I heard from my father about it.
I am really glad that Anne is alive.
Please don’t worry about writing a reply.
I will hold back sending you letters, so just write back whenever you are free during your treatment.
If there is something that you want, I will send it to you.
So just tell me, okay?
I want letters from Mint.
Leave it to me.
Thank you so much for a letter that is even thicker than a novel.
I can understand that every single day, Mint is being too healthy for her own good.
Make it sound a little nicer please.
Mint is too healthy for her own good.
Why is it getting more direct? I demand for an answer since you’re already feeling better.
Today, I read in a book that best friends have matching items and match their appearance.
Yes, some people really do that.
Since you mentioned it, do you want to have matching things with me?
If it’s an item, most of them would hinder you in the battlefield. So, how about hair?
For example, we can braid one part of our hair.
I did it.
It had now become a trend to braid one’s beard in the unit.
That’s a disaster.
The colonel is also doing it.
Tell him that if he comes home with that beard, I’ll regard him as a total stranger.
I’m torn up.
Is it about joining the military?
Father told me to listen to him.
But I won’t.
Some of my classmates got married after graduation, but I don’t want marriage or further education.
I want to look for a job.
I don’t recommend the military.
It’s not for you.
I sent over magic woven blankets that I developed myself this winter.
Since the heat is generated automatically, no matter how cold the weather, you will be warm with just one layer.
Thanks to that, I am referred to the Department of Magic Section 2, which mainly develops magic tools.
To magicians like myself, section 1 might be the ultimate goal. But my magic disposition and trait are not suited to it.
I am fifteen now, the same as you. I am no longer a child. I know what’s for me and what’s not for me. I also know how it’d be like if I join the military. I am old enough to understand what I’ve chosen to do.
No matter how much I’ll cry or grit my teeth, I only want to do it first and regret it later.
I just can’t stand it anymore, to be the one who can only wait and pray for all of you to be safe.
Please Anne, you are my best friend whom I really wish to meet.
I want you to support the path that I choose.
I want to see you.
If we can’t meet until the war ends, please let me do my best to end it.
To the idiot Mint.
Thanks to the blanket, this winter is warm. I am able to hold my bow and sword firmly because my fingertips aren’t frozen. My body is also responding fast during the raid. Thanks to Mint there are only a few casualties.
That’s why, Mint, the big idiot.
Thanks to you, I can’t really persuade you more than this.
Thank you Anne.
Let’s end this war together.
And then, when the war is over, I will be the first to find you.
I will be the one to find you, so please wait for me in the royal capital.
The road is dangerous.
It will be a dangerous journey for you because aren’t familiar with travelling.
You must wait.
Please promise me.
Are you really?
Please swear to me.
I received so many letters, so I wonder what happened.
For some reason, I am not impressed at all. Let’s work together to end the war from now on.
Due to the development of magic tools, the distribution of goods has improved and the three week distance has shortened to three days. The long war has ended. When the truce agreement is finally official, I was already two years in the military.
I braid my hair loosely, and put on my foldable wand which could turn into a pendant on my neck. I take a look in the mirror and step back to look at my entire body. There should be no problem. It’s my usual appearance. Even though I haven’t slept for three days, I dress myself up often enough to do it unconsciously. However, today I need to be more alert than usual.
When I raise my head to ask Sasha, the bell which informed of a visitor is ringing at the same time.
“My Lady! The Lord is home!”
Sasha, whose gray hair has grown and oftenly rubs her joints because they hurt, raises her voice in excitement. Responding to her, I quickly go down the stairs. Then, I reach the entrance just as the person coming from outside closes the door.
“Welcome home, Father!”
“Mint! You’ve grown so much!!”
My father whom I haven’t seen for years turns around and smiles at me. He becomes a little thinner. When I decided to join the military, I wasn’t able to go home. Therefore, I haven’t been home for these years. I leap to Father’s extended arms, though he is still dressed neatly in military uniform. Then I quickly realize my action and clear my throat loudly. I proceed to pinch the hem of my robe and turn around to show it off.
“How is it?”
He smiles sweetly, but quickly holds his smile back and faces me.
“I got the wrong person. You are Sergeant Mint Abelgia from Magic Department Section 2. Thanks to your service, the number of survivors in the battlefield has increased. And in honor of that achievement… let me hold you!!!”
“At least give me a choice…!”
At the end I let my Father embrace me with his crushing grips. He got promoted from Colonel to a Lieutenant General. So just for today, I held him back tightly, as this was something that I always wished to do but gave up when I was little.
The long war has ended by a truce agreement. After being announced grandly, the full-scale war ended and the troops deployed were returning and my Father’s unit was included in it.
Father, who had triumphantly returned to the royal capital just a few hours ago, finished his visit to the castle and went back home although he was still busy. Back in the Triumphal Parade, there were too many people that I couldn’t catch a glance of my father’s unit. That’s why I’m really happy that Father decided to come home. Though I’m shy to admit it, I’m proud enough to tell him that. After all, I doubt that he will hold his seventeen-year-old daughter up and spin me around.
I really doubt it.
Ten minutes later, I am rubbing Sasha’s back while struggling with my spinning eyesight. Just before, I let my father who was still emotional to hold me in his embrace. But what should I expect from an active soldier who has been in the battlefield for years. He held his seventeen-year-old daughter while moving right and left, and jumped around with me in his arms.
“Anyway Mint, I am home early since I have something to discuss with you”
“Something to discuss with me…?”
Well, there are many things to discuss about. After all, my father had been neglecting our household. I understand why he wasn’t able to. But there were some people who shamelessly tried to take over deployed soldiers’ houses while they were still in the battlefield. If that happens, at least this kingdom will still protect them within its power.
So far, this household has been quiet until now. But that won’t happen anymore.
We were laying low during the war, but now that we have the time to fight for power. It will get messy in various ways. Not only politics, this era will change greatly.
Though I felt stiff from my thoughts alone, my father put on a cheerful smile on his face.
“It’s regarding your marriage.”
“You are going to get married again? Well… Father has been single all this time, so it will happen sooner or later. I’ll be a little lonely, but I’m not against it.”
Seventeen years have passed since my mother died. Nobody would disagree with him for taking a new wife.
“Don’t be silly. Sephalia will always be my one and only. It’s about your marriage”
Since when did my father suddenly start to speak in a language that I don’t understand?
When I tilted my head in confusion, Father is lowering his brows accordingly.
“You see, parents usually start to prepare for their child’s marriage earlier than this. But I have been neglecting you, and I know it’s not an excuse”
“Well, that’s completely fine”
I completely forgot that there’s still a possibility for me to get married. I have been busy with magic resources, machine parts, documents, medicine, and herbal medicine while I develop magic tools to the point I have no time to even sleep.
I was born as a daughter of a soldier, and I, myself, belong to the military. If there was an instruction to get married from the military, I would gladly follow it. But there were no signs of that, and both mine and my father’s environment didn’t really encourage such a thing, so I just completely forgot about marriage altogether.
However, when I just entered the military, such talk came up quite often. Since I was the daughter of a Colonel, of course there were people who tried to curry favor with me. “My Father isn’t here right now”, “Please pass it to my father”, “I can’t decide it myself, so please go to my father” I simply directed them to my father who was in a place that they themselves couldn’t easily intervene. So, they all ended up as friends to me.
The situation had calmed down thanks to that. However, it won’t be as peaceful starting from now.
“So, do you have a lover? Or maybe someone that you are interested in?”
“If it’s about that talk, I am really interested in specimen number 36”
“Specimen number 36?”
“It’s a specimen that I’ve been watching in Section 2 for several years. It was originally a harmless plant, but this specimen was discovered being a parasite on a monster’s corpse. We are currently doing research on its seed, and after we germinate it, it seems that this plant gradually develops self-awareness. Recently, this specimen has been the center of interest of staff members in Section 2”
“Yeah, that sounds really interesting. But let’s put that aside for now. Do you have anyone that you are romantically interested in?”
It’s been two years since my interest in other things has surpassed my interest in human beings. No, it’s been like this since my school years. It was enjoyable, and is still enjoyable even until now.
“Then it’s not a problem if I pick your fiancé personally, right?”
Since it’s common for parents to take care about their child’s marriage partner, I don’t really mind it. Father even asked if I already had someone in mind, and I don’t have such a person. So it’s not a problem to me. As a daughter of a soldier, and as a military officer myself, I have no particular dream about marriage. I don’t hate the idea, but I’m also not interested in it.
I really don’t have a problem with marriage, but it would be bad if I can’t work anymore after being married.
When I asked him about it, my Father only laughs and tells me not to worry.
“I’m not telling you to quit your job. I am a father. Sure, I haven’t really been by your side, but I know that you are working hard and enjoying your job right now. I won’t block off your path… except for that one time when you decided to join the military”
“….Thank you so much”
Though Father had always been away, and I can easily count the memories of being held up by him, I can’t doubt his love for me. I know that he loves me so much. That’s why I never held a grudge against him for everything that he did.
“No problem. I’m not someone who will put my own life before anything else and let you live a miserable life. I can promise you that.”
If it is a marriage set up by such a person, I am sure it won’t hurt. I have eyes that can discern people, so I’m not really worried.
“But, isn’t the other party the one being troubled? He can’t really turn down a proposal from superior officer.”
“I didn’t force anyone. I properly asked the person about it, ‘Will you marry my daughter?’ like that and he…”
“He was in the middle of polishing his sword, didn’t even take single a glance at me, and said ‘I’d be glad’ in uninterested tone.”
“I don’t see him being glad at all.”
“Don’t talk further about it if you really don’t mind being married.”
“Well, I won’t mind if the other person is also okay with it.”
I don’t think Father forced the person since he is looking at me directly instead of letting his gaze wander around. But after hearing the story, I don’t think it’s okay at all. Especially regarding that person’s feelings.
“Though I think it’s too rushed, due to various reasons, your marriage will be held soon after this. After all, he is a really talented person, his battle skill is high, and his face… I think he will be a good match”
“Actually, he has a pretty face and did well in the battlefield despite being seventeen years old. I have a feeling there will be an uproar in the castle.”
Well, I also think that’s the case. During the war, and even after the war, there was only a few entertainment within the royal castle. It is common for everyone to be attracted to someone new. The more attractive the person is, the more intense it will get.
Historically, there are many cases where beautiful women had turned around the whole kingdom. Similarly, there are also many situations where beautiful men had shook the times. It’s just the difference between being exposed and not being exposed. But in any case, when women go wild, the world will be shaken around. It’s frightening.
“But is it okay for such a great person like him to take me as his wife?”
“It’s his own wish.”
“Is he one of those commendable people? Those people look at the moon and a turtle saying that they are the same.”
“That…well, that’s not exactly right, but it’s not too far either. He really is the one who wished for it. And if he marries another woman, you’ll be the one who feel complicated”
“Why would I have such a feeling when it is my first time hearing about him?”
There’s no way I will.
Even so, what’s his purpose to marry me? I feel really bad if he can’t refuse it because of my father. If we really get married, he will be the son-in-law of Lieutenant General. Perhaps my Father will get him promoted. That surely is worthwhile for a military officer. If he can find any merit in marrying me, that will be good. Because, if he looks for my value as a woman and a person, I will just say ‘Please stop it…’ since I am not confident in it myself.
“Also, I feel bad about it, but I’d like you to keep quiet about the fact you are already married for some time. He will also keep his partner a secret and announce only the fact that he is married.”
“In other words, I will be a wife just in name and there is a plan for divorce in the future?”
“Why would I make such a wild suggestion to my beloved daughter?! He is unexpectedly really popular, and we will just take a look at the situation. If things are clear, we will announce it officially. Do you even have the courage to stand up against those women from inside and outside the military?”
“If it’s necessary, I can be prepared for it. But my work is currently keeping me busy, so it will be helpful if my workload lessened”
I see. This is pressuring me in many ways. It is best if I can get along with him. But at least I need to avoid hostility, and in the worst case that we are estranged, it’ll still be decent to maintain that distance.
“Alright, the talk is over. Anne is outside right now”
“Why didn’t you say it earlier!? Father is a big idiot!”
I am still figuring out about my marriage right now….. but it doesn’t matter!
My long lasting friend, Anne. I can talk to Anne about everything. Even things that I can’t tell my Father who had raised me, and the things that I can’t tell Shasa who I am close with. She is a friend whom I never meet, since she is always in faraway places.
I intended to go see her when the war is over. But, she seemed to notice that as she arrived in the royal capital one day before her scheduled return. That’s why, I am restlessly waiting here while suppressing myself from going outside.
I originally planned to ask Father about Anne’s whereabouts and go out to see her immediately after our talk.
Yet, she has been behind this door all this time?
“Me?? … an Idiot??”
“Obviously! Even if our discussion comes first, it’s the courtesy to at least let her wait inside! Just how come?? It’s rude even if she’s your subordinate! Moreover, with this I am also being rude to my friend! It’s our first meeting, but I’ll blame you if she comes to hate me! Well, Anne is not that petty to get angry over this kind of thing, but I am the petty one since I’m angry now! Father, please reflect on yourself!”
“Yo.. you’re talking so fast”
“I’m used to it since my work is really busy. But rather than that..!”
Father who leans against the door steps aside and pushes the door open with his strength.
“I’m really sorry, Anne! I keep you waiting forever! Since we finally meet in person, hello! Nice to meet you! My name is…… Mint?”
When the door breaks open with force, my loosely braided hair gets blown away and slowly settles back against my back. With such force, I wonder if my hair got cut from Father’s careless strength. But perhaps such unrelated thoughts come up because I want to escape from reality.
The person who dressed in a ceremonial military uniform is a couple meters away from the entrance, observing the garden. One part of his white hair is long and thinly braided. He turns his blue eyes towards me due to the commotion. No, I got it wrong. His left eye is blue, but his right eye is magenta.
“Both of my eyes are different colors”
He promptly answers, but I’m not listening at all.
“Ampelopsis, or Anne”
“Ampelo….. porcelain berry??”
“When Lieutenant General picked me up, he named me with what’s growing there at that time.”
When I turn around, Father has already ran away inside the mansion with Sasha as a shield. I want to chase him inside, but I have no time for that. I look towards Anne once again.
Anne, who was at a distance a while ago, somehow already right in front of my face.
Though he is slender and delicate, his voice is really deep. And thanks to his long legs, he looks even taller despite having a thin figure. Whenever he moves, I can see his thinly braided hair swaying around.
“Since everything has settled, let me greet you again. My name is Ampelopsis, or Anne, and I am your fiancé now. Nice to meet you.”
When I tilt my head, this guy called Anne also tilts his head.
“You said you are my what?”
“You are a guy??”
“I am male since the beginning.”
He states without any expression.
“You are a guy…”
“Yes I am.”
“And my Fiancé…”
“Yes I am.”
“Your eye, it’s magenta …”
“Is it important? I’m sorry. I thought it’s better to tell you just one color.”
My thoughts that are still cluttered everywhere start spinning around, and what comes out from my mouth is only bewilderment.
The currently confused me can’t judge whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
I don’t get it. My fiancé is also my closest friend and I can’t understand why I doubt this fact.
“By the way, this is the marriage registration. Your signature, please.”
“Isn’t this too fast?”
“The ceremony will be on a later date, but I’m going to submit this document right now.”
“Under the command of Lieutenant General, I have the priest waiting in front of the gate.”
“Why is there another person falling victim to Father?!”
“From now on, we are husband and wife. I’ll be in your care.”
“Isn’t the engagement period too short compared to our friendship?”
“We will still be friends even after this. I’ll be in your care.”
“I’ll be in your care.”That marks the end of our four minutes engagement.