Chapter 154 – Desert Rose

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At the time when they left the chaotic castle, Hifumi, Origa and Viine weren’t questioned by anyone, or rather, they weren’t seen by anyone.
Horant’s soldiers of both factions, who fainted due to the stench, are carried out by Orsongrande’s soldiers. There aren’t any casualties, but there’s a great number of those who have nightmares.
Orsongrande’s raid party, which is scattered about outside the castle, is retrieved and the fainted soldiers of Fokalore are carried out from the second floor as well.
Having said that, Hifumi’s group, which jumped down from the third floor into the disorder outside, started to leisurely walk towards the castle town.
The city’s people are coming back from the previous evacuation, and the servants are heading to the castle in groups, too.
Reopening the stalls as early as possible, there also were resolute merchants who have started calling out to potential customers.

“Shall we go buy some suitable food?” (Hifumi)

“Yes, let’s do that.” (Origa)

“Master!” (Viine)

Viine rushes over to Hifumi who walks while leading Origa.
Viine, who runs with her rabbit ear and breasts wobbling, gathered the attention down-town due to the people there encountering a rare beastman with a well-featured face and figure.

“I have passed on the verbal message for Alyssa-sama to a soldier-san of Fokalore.” (Viine)

“Okay, good work.” (Hifumi)

No more than a brief comment. Those were short words of gratitude, but Viine was happy even with this small communication. What she wished for is here.

“Thanks to my husband’s kindness, it has been decided that you will be granted the position of a minister’s secretary in Fokalore. Please do your best, okay?” (Origa)

Viine has a troubled expression toward the words she was told by Origa.

“Umm… secretary, what’s that?” (Viine)

“So I have to start from there…” (Origa)

The position of minister’s secretary, which was given to Viine, was a post Hifumi created moments ago. It sounds as if it’s quite the title, but in short it’s no more than her being entrusted with odd jobs, which were done by Origa and Caim, while being in a position of working as exclusive assistant of Hifumi.
However, for Viine it’s essential to be able to work close to Hifumi. Something like the details of the job comes second.

“Thank you very much, master! I will work hard at it!” (Viine)

“Well, it will be fine if you handle it properly.” (Hifumi)

When Hifumi is pondering Shall I take some horses from the camp for Fokalore’s soldiers?, a sole little girl approaches.

“Hifumi-sama, I looked for you.”

The girl, who wore the clothes of a servant, bows elegantly and looks straight into Hifumi’s eyes.

“Who are you?” (Hifumi)

“I have the privilege of serving in the castle. I’m called Levi. I’m one of the servants who has been in charge of Tannin-sama’s care.” (Levi)

“I see. So…? I wonder whether you can have me hear an agreeable reason for having approached me while scattering an irritating level of blood thirst.” (Hifumi)

Hifumi’s surrounding, which confronts her, becomes freezing and the air turns heavy.
Origa, who is used to such situations, is calm, no, grasping the iron-ribbed fan, she is clad in the same air as Hifumi.
Viine made sure to not become a hindrance for Hifumi and Origa by taking some distance.

“W-What are you talking about? Being requested to pass a verbal message to you, Hifumi-sama, from Tannin-sama, I just came to…” (Levi)

“Humph… do the maids in this place hide a dagger inside their apron while coming to give a verbal message?” (Hifumi)

Before Hifumi finishes his question, Levi took out a knife from the chest part of her apron.

“Yaaa!” (Levi)

The dagger’s point, which was pushed out alongside her yell to encourage herself, could be called fast for her slender arms, but even so it falls short of injuring Hifumi.
Hifumi, who seized Levi’s small right hand as if wrapping it up, restrained the bottom of her neck with his left hand while averting the dagger’s point to the side.
Using the force of the pushed out hand just like that, he casually pulls her right hand.

“Gyaaaaaah!” (Levi)

Hifumi coldly lowered his eyes at Levi who tosses herself about in great pain while raising a scream that doesn’t befit her adorable appearance.

“W-What did you do?” (Viine)

Viine, who approached timidly, had a pale expression.

“I only dislocated her shoulder a bit.” (Hifumi)

“There are no suspicious people in the vicinity. It seems she acted by herself, Hifumi-sama.” (Origa)

He answers Origa’s report with 「I guessed so」. She was far too ill-prepared for an assassin considering those do it systematically.

“Shut up!” (Hifumi)

He grabs the neck of the suffering and agonizing Levi.

“Just answer one thing. What’s the purpose of you having tried to kill me?” (Hifumi)

Due to Hifumi’s question, Levi tries to no match his line of sight while revealing her tears.

“Then, were you asked by Tannin whose name came up earlier?” (Hifumi)

“Rig-…” (Levi)

Levi started to say something, but the hand, which grasps her neck, was filled with strength before she spoke the words.

“Origa, Viine, sorry, but please investigate who this Tannin guy is and where he is. I will be in the restaurant over there.” (Hifumi)

“Understood.” (Origa)

“Ah, don’t ask the surroundings of Nelgal or Imeraria. It’s obvious that it will become troublesome.” (Hifumi)

☺☻☺

Imeraria, who recovered the next day, woke up in the high-class inn which was prepared by Nelgal, and sat up on top of the bed.

“Your Majesty! Is your body alright?”

The attending maid rushed over to Imeraria and called out to her uneasily.

“Yes, I’m okay. … Though I’d like to bath in hot water.” (Imeraria)

“I will have it prepared right away. And, is it alright for me to contact Sabnak-sama? Since he was very worried…”

“Yes. I ended up having caused him to worry as well. Is it currently still noon?” (Imeraria)

“It will become noon after around one more hour, Your Majesty.”

Throwing off the thin dressing gown, Imeraria was depressed thinking I showed disgraceful behaviour once more while changing into a robe for taking a bath.

“Then, please call Sabnak-san, Vaiya-san, Puuse-san and Alyssa-san. I want to have lunch together with them.” (Imeraria)

“As you wish.”

◆◇◆◇◆

“Though I believe your physical condition to no be perfect yet…”

“Your worry is unnecessary. Rather than that, I was able to look over this document, but… is that alright?” (Imeraria)

After the luncheon, Imeraria, who received a written invitation from Nelgal, checked the letter which was delivered in addition, and visited the castle in a hurry after being surprised about its details.

“By no means do I want to believe that you have proposed a treaty which is disadvantageous for yourself.” (Imeraria)

Nelgal showed a smile at Imeraria who played the fool with “It seems my head feels dizzy.”

“It means that we got this much assistance from you. Besides, it doesn’t mean that there’s no profit for our side.” (Nelgal)

The contents of the draft created by Nelgal firmly promised the lending of magic tools from Horant for cheap and that neither side will try to claim reparation from either side regarding the damages to both countries. Moreover, the time limit and the upper limit of the quantity is intended to continue for the period of Imeraria’s reign.

“Everything is for the sake of preserving a connection with your country and to avoid being doubted unnecessarily. Besides, the magic tools, which have been developed by us, well, how to say it, are like that, but since we have progressed quite a bit thanks to Hifumi-san, they also serve as thanks for having received your help this time.” (Nelgal)

“It’s shrewd, I guess”, Nelgal winks.
Having been worried whether he is fearing that it would cause domestic fights due to those circumstances, Imeraria was relieved.

“Then I will gladly accept concluding a treaty in this shape.” (Imeraria)

“Thank you very much. Let us create a written contract right away.” (Nelgal)

Nelgal, who called a civil official and ordered them to make a clean copy of the draft, began to completely stabilize as a king.

“Honestly, it was a great disaster. It’s regrettable that many lives ended up lost, but… I have nothing more impressive to my record than getting crowned. I was able to obtain the achievement of suppressing the domestic disturbances at the same time…” (Nelgal)

“It has been decided that Kuzemu will be accused of the crime of having sent soldiers against the king though it’s post-mortem. The rebels, including their families, and their relatives are scheduled to be punished severely”, Nelgal explained.
Also, the people who followed Kuzemu, except those who committed crimes against parts of the citizens, would be given back their former posts after being acquitted.

“The ones who suffered the most troubles are the servants working in the castle. The oil doesn’t come off easily. The stench hasn’t disappeared yet either. I decided to lockout the first floor, except for the stairs, for a while.” (Nelgal)

“It’s something you have to properly reward them for. The matter of wages is important, but I believe it’s indispensable to acknowledge their value after examining them accurately.” (Imeraria)

“I shall engrave it into my heart. Please treat me well from now on as well by offering me various guidance and encouragement.” (Nelgal)

“Yes. Please resolve yourself for it.” (Imeraria)

Due to Nelgal requesting it earnestly with exaggerated gestures, Imeraria takes a posture of acting self-important like a noble’s daughter.
After a short while they burst into laughter as they couldn’t endure it any longer.
A single maid rushed into the room which was filled with a harmonious mood.

“Your Majesty!”

“How noisy. Did something happen?” (Nelgal)

The out-of-breath maid held her chest and handed a memo to Nelgal.

“… I see. Got it. Call one of the soldiers and tell them to get the person in charge to this place.” (Nelgal)

Seeing off the maid who once again leaves with a quick pace, Imeraria asks Nelgal,

“Did something happen?” (Imeraria)

“A civil war in Vichy… no, Pearsan went independent. It seems battle broke out between Vichy and Pearsan.” (Nelgal)

Imeraria tilted her head to the side due to Nelgal’s words.

“Isn’t the scale completely different? I can’t believe that a small country with around one independent provincial city is able to win against a city alliance state, but… what is the head of Pearsan thinking?” (Imeraria)

“I don’t know. But there’s one thing I do know. Apparently Pearsan obtained some powerful weapon.” (Nelgal)

In the report was written that Pearsan is encroaching upon Vichy with overwhelming military might.

☺☻☺

“I guess I will last for a while with this. Shall I hide in father’s territory for the time being…?” (Tannin)

Tannin, who finished the preparations, ties a horse to the carriage loaded with the baggage.

“You are Tannin, aren’t you?”

“Who’s there?” (Tannin)

The one who called out to him was Hifumi who shouldered Levi’s body.

“You, huh…? In addition, Levi, is it?” (Tannin)

“This one?” (Hifumi)

“Uwaah!” (Tannin)

Having Levi’s body thrown at him by Hifumi, Tannin collapsed together with her small body while holding her.
Due to Levi not moving with a twitch even when receiving such treatment, Tannin’s face pales rapidly.

“Mentioning your name, she turned a dagger against me. What’s that about?” (Hifumi)

While indifferently looking down on them, Hifumi hits the ground with a steel staff he took out unnoticed.

“I-I don’t know! I haven’t ordered her anything!” (Tannin)

“Hmm?” (Hifumi)

He pressed the staff’s end against Tannin’s throat.

“You haven’t given her any order, huh? This one told me that you can return to the castle once I disappear. Even if you haven’t ordered her, it can be interpreted as you hinting her towards it, but…” (Hifumi)

“It’s different! That’s probably something that fellow did selfishly!” (Tannin)

Tearing off Levi’s body from atop Tannin, who frantically denied ((the accusation)), she turned over with her facing upwards.

“This woman has only lost her consciousness, but… if what you say is true, I have to make her suffer the consequences of having attacked me.” (Hifumi)

A heavy sound reverberates.
Hifumi struck Levi’s abdomen with the staff he holds.

“Ha, haha… I-I-If you understood the truth, it’s probably alright by now! Please go back!” (Tannin)

“What’s so funny? This one was your woman, wasn’t she?” (Hifumi)

“Humph, there are as many women as I want.” (Tannin)

Did his waist give in? Tannin doesn’t even try to stand up.

“That one is also one amongst many. What did she misunderstand? Intruding into my mansion, she even killed my servant. She’s insane.” (Tannin)

Tanning laughs with a “Hehe” as if he went mad.

“I just called out to her because she obediently believed what I told her and because she had a slightly cute face, but she was an unthinkably messed up woman. If you kill her in my stead, I will be thankful to you in reverse!” (Tannin)

A bluff to gloss over his fear? Tannin’s words are smoother than at the time when he seduces a woman.

“… You, it seems you were the general in the battle some time ago, but are you unable to differentiate whether a person dies or not?” (Hifumi)

“I feel completely disappointed”, Hifumi shakes his head.

“What do you think, Levi?” (Hifumi)

“… Ue?”

Once Tannin shifted his attention to Levi who has collapsed while facing upward, her eyes were completely open. While turning her head this way, only her eyes face him with a stinging glare.

“Tannin-sama… why…?” (Levi)

“Hasn’t he told me something like to kill this person?” (Hifumi)

Hifumi smirks.
The fainted Levi woke up from being stabbed in the abdomen by Hifumi.
And then she heard Tannin’s real feelings.

“S-Such a…” (Tannin)

“Tannin-sama.” (Levi)

Standing up slowly, Levi gently grasps the part of her apron below her chest. She ascertains the sensation of the knife being there.
Holding the knife which she took out quietly, she approaches Tannin who is still sitting.

“T-This is different! I never doubted your feelings, but this is, with words I was induced to say by this situation, it’s the truth that I l-l-love you!” (Tannin)

“Thank you very much.” (Levi)

Levi smiles sweetly.

“Your army was defeated, Tannin-sama. The surroundings of the castle are constantly filled with Orsongrande’s soldiers and the soldiers of Horant are made to work like slaves. That’s not a place where you belong anymore, Tannin-sama…” (Levi)

This contains substantial misunderstandings, but Hifumi doesn’t correct her.

Even if it’s one sword strike against Hifumi-sama is what I thought, but I ended up failing. Therefore, your last moment ((will be)) together with me here…” (Levi)

Grasping the knife, Levi raises her arm slowly overhead.

“P-Please stop!” (Tannin)

Tannin, who is in a state where he can’t retreat properly due to his knees trembling, couldn’t avert his look from from the blade’s edge reflecting the sun’s light.

“I shall follow after you right away. Resolve yourself.” (Levi)

“Hifumi-dono! Please save me! I will do anything!” (Tannin)

Ignoring his appeal, Hifumi tosses the staff into his darkness storage.

“Sav-…” (Tannin)

The knife pierces into his left eye which is shedding tears.

 


The thin blade, which slipped in fully until the root, had apparently a sufficient length to steal his life.
Tannin, who fell down with a dull sound, had properly died even after getting assessed by Hifumi.

“… Then.” (Levi)

Levi, who grabbed the knife and extracted it together with the eyeball, turned around and fiercely rushed towards Hifumi.

“Aaaaaaaaah!” (Levi)

Despite howling as if she had gone crazy, the unleashed knife with the eyeball attached never reached Hifumi.
The one attack by drawing his katana and attacking in the same stroke released from Hifumi’s waist is too quick.

“Regrettable. If you hid your blood thirst a little better, you might have come a bit closer.” (Hifumi)

Her slender waist was cut in two.
The lower half of her body collapsed on the spot.
The upper half is still alive.

“Tannin…-sa…ma…” (Levi)

She heads towards Tannin’s corpse while dragging herself with just her arms and pulling along her guts.

“Togeth…er…” (Levi)

Levi’s hand gently brushes Tannin’s cheek.
Releasing a satisfied smile, Levi’s life came to an end.

 


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