At the time when Phyrinion arrived at the city of Rhone at the border with Vichy and got off the carriage, some among the people, who arrived as refugees, got quite used to the city during those few days and started to do business.
“Although it tends to be overlooked due to Earl Tohno standing out, even the processing speed of the administration in the earldom is wide apart from other territories, isn’t it…?” (Phyrinion)
Hearing it from Caim, she knew about Rhone being used for the sake of receiving the refugees, but confirming with her own eyes that the city has started to function just like a city faster than she imagined, she could only mutter with her eyes opened widely.
“Ojou-sama, where will you be headed next?” (Krinola)
Krinola, who has been following her as maid even after she got married, descended off the carriage while carrying a bag with Phyrinion’s valuables in it.
Behind her menservants are waiting for instructions whether they should unload the luggage from the carriage.
“As it seems that they have been able to finish the temporary town hall, let’s visit that place first to give our greetings. Because it will likely be possible for us to get introduced to an inn there as well, take the luggage there.” (Phyrinion)
“Then, with the carriage until then…” (Krinola)
“No, let’s walk while examining the state of the city. We will leave the carriage here on standby. Once the inn has been decided, we will call the carriage over.” (Phyrinion)
Having put on boots with low heels that are easy to walk in before arriving at the city, she strolls through the city that’s enveloped in an atmosphere which is starting to get lively, despite still being chaotic, while only taking Krinola along.
“Simple stalls have been set up. Let’s grab something light to eat.” (Phyrinion)
“O-Ojou-sama, eating food from stalls, you say?” (Krinola)
It’s only to be expected for Krinola to be surprised. A noble’s daughter eating the rustic food of stalls is rare, or rather it’s something that’s almost impossible to happen. However, there are exceptions.
“You should know that I’m also a former knight of the Third Knight Order. Living normally inside a city and visiting bars and stalls was ordinary. It’s different from food made by our chefs, but such things do possess a different kind of deliciousness.” (Phyrinion)
“It seems they are grilling meat, so let’s get that”, Phyrinion walks swiftly and Krinola chases after her in a rush.
What was spreading an savoury aroma in the central part of the city that has turned into a plaza was spit-roasted meat.
Even though she chose a simple appearance for the sake of travelling, a noble daughter in a dress walking without any hesitation towards the stalls is something extremely conspicuous. If this was Fokalore, it would have ended with 「Such nobles exist as well, don’t they?」, but the ones organizing this city are mostly refugees from Vichy.
While gathering many stares, Phyrinion still arrived at the stalls without feeling timid.
“Mister, what’s that?” (Phyrinion)
Even the old man at the stall, who answered cheerfully after being addressed while focussing on the roasting, was surprised due to a woman in a dress standing in front of him.
“What’s that meat on the skewers?” (Phyrinion)
“R-Right. This is lion meat, which was caught by the soldiers of Fokalore, on a skewer… ma’am*.” (T/N: he adds a “desu” at the end to sound more polite)
“As I’m an acquaintance of Earl Tohno, you don’t have to mind your language.” (Phyrinion)
Once she mentioned the name of Earl Tohno, the old man showed an enthusiastic, bright expression.
“R-Really!? So, as for this lion meat, it’s a monster which the soldiers of Earl-sama hunt regularly. It’s delicious!”
“I see. Can you give me two of that then?” (Phyrinion)
“Wait a moment. They will be roasted well very soon!”
The old man, who explains that he ran a stall in Vichy as well, looks happy and talks about the period of several days after he came to this city. Being chased out of the city where he lived, he pulled a wagon with just a minimum of luggage after hearing the rumours of being accepted here and finally arrived in this city together with his family.
“After that, not only a home, but even this stall and the arrangements for stocking up were provided to me…”
Before anyone realizing, the old man is moved to tears.
Phyrinion listened to him while throwing in agreeable responses at suitable times with the her smiling poker-face she trained during her time as knight.
“It appears that these are also sold at the city called Fokalore. You know, they even politely taught me the way of preparing these. It was my first time eating those as well, but they are delicious.”
After lightly grilling the finely cut meat, it gets thoroughly cooked. The cooked meat is pierced on skewers and gets roasted until its surface becomes crispy.
“Well, it’s finished. Here’s your two skewers.”
Plenty of meat is stuck on the long skewers. Even one skewer easily exceeds 100 grams. It’s an amount that looks like it will fill ones stomach sufficiently.
“How much do I owe you?” (Phyrinion)
“No, no, please take it for free! Seeing as I won’t be able to repay the kindness to Earl Tohno-sama in my life, please let me at least offer this to his friend!”
Due to his oppressive manner, Phyrinion accepted the grilled-meat-on-skewer and thanked him.
Handing one skewer to Krinola, Phyrinion heartily put hers into her mouth while leaving Krinola, who is biting at hers timidly with her small mouth, alone. “There’s no way that dangerous food is normally sold at stalls”, she accepts that as fact. It’s a common attitude among the former members of the Third Knight Order that was emotionally close to the common people.
After the first crunchy texture, the fat of the meat, which contained the flavour of the vegetables that penetrated it thoroughly during the time of cooking, is overflowing with piping hot steam as it had locked up the savoury aroma during the time of getting roasted.
“It’s delicious…” (Phyrinion)
Rather than the strangely fussy noble cuisine, it allows her to experience a straightforward tastiness to an extent. It being several times tastier than the only-roasted meat skewers sold in the capital is something she slightly can’t agree with.
Once she realizes it, even Krinola is rapidly stuffing her mouth while roughly breathing through her nose.
Passing the skewer to the old man, Phyrinion gently wiped her mouth.
“There don’t seem to be any problems with Earl Tohno’s reign. It appears that you can even study here. Let’s stop the break at this point and head to the town hall.” (Phyrinion)
Once Phyrinion introduced herself at the town hall, Paryu came down from the second floor to greet her.
Although she looked exhausted, she showed a lovely smile thanks to seeing Phyrinion after a long time.
“Phyrinion-sama, it’s been a while. You are wearing a beautiful dress.” (Paryu)
“Thanks. This city seems to be in a very good state. I can’t believe at all that this city had been destroyed once.” (Phyrinion)
“Hahaha… it was difficult.” (Paryu)
Phyrinion gently places a hand on the shoulder of Paryu who casts her eyes down with a dispirited look.
“S-So, are you inspecting the national border, Phyrinion-sama?” (Paryu)
“Let’s see. Wondering whether I could be helpful to my husband, I planned to confirm the situation with Vichy and the demons since it’s a rare chance, but…” (Phyrinion)
“In that case, we have gathered the information we heard from all the refugees. I can’t give it to you, but there’s no problem if you transcribe it. Do you wish to look over it?” (Paryu)
As expected, her orders are thorough in regards to information, Phyrinion felt. If this was a feudal lord from another city, they would have been pressed with handling the refugees and wouldn’t even be able to think of gathering information like this.
“Yes, that will be a help. So, was there some aspect that caught your fancy, Paryu? Such as the movements of the demons…” (Phyrinion)
Paryu inclined her head to the side due to Phyrinion’s question.
“If it’s the demons, they have already been repelled by Lord-sama though…?” (Paryu)
Why don’t you know that? is the feeling of her reaction.
Once she listens to the details, she learned that Hifumi had long ago attacked the demons who attacked Vichy and moreover snatched the arm of their general after provoking him plentifully.
“E-Earl Tohno didn’t mention that with even a single word…” (Phyrinion)
“It’s probably because he didn’t consider it as important? I heard that he talked about it as if there wasn’t much of a resistance.” (Paryu)
“That’s the problem?” (Phyrinion)
Listening to the detailed account and furthermore looking at the documents prepared by Paryu, Phyrinion was at her wits’ end.
“This is… doesn’t that mean that the humans, including this country, have declared war against the demons without Her Majesty knowing about it?” (Phyrinion)
If one says it accurately, it was a provocation on the occasion of sending back the military forces that came to scout the humans’ power after beating them up, but it doesn’t change the result.
The demons had definitely turned into the enemies of humans.
“… I have to report this to Her Majesty through my husband.” (Phyrinion)
I intended to send only simple information, but even if I have to employ adventurers, I must report this in as few days as possible.
“I resigned as knight, but that doesn’t mean that I will ignore it as noble of this country… Haa, today will be an all-nighter.” (Phyrinion)
“I will have Krinola keep me company as well. Tonight I will draw up a lot of documents and then send them first thing in the morning”, with that Phyrinion left the room prepared by Paryu. She did so while leaving the documents behind in order to request black tea and the arrangement of adventurers from Krinola who is unpacking the luggage in the adjacent room.
“Please collect as much information about Hifumi-sama’s current status as possible. To be precise, it’s not just his current status. I don’t mind if it’s information regarding his previous movements as long as it’s something that allows us to predict the situation now.” (Imeraria)
At the moment the intelligence that Hifumi departed from Fokalore reached Imeraria, she gathered several people she believes she can trust.
Prime Minister Adol, Royal Guard Captain Sabnak, Vice-Captain Vaiya and Knight Captain Midas. And there’s also the elf Puuse who had been officially employed as counsellor in the castle. As for Imeraria, she wanted to have the former Knight Captain Lotomago with her as well, but she felt awkward to involve someone who retired already.
“Moreover I want his abilities to be summarized and inspected once again.” (Imeraria)
“That is… what is your objective, Your Majesty? If possible I’d like you to tell us…”
“You don’t understand?” (Imeraria)
Due to the fact that it’s a talk that mustn’t be heard by others, they use the room for conferences as venue and even the maids have been kept out of the room.
In such circumstances Imeraria made Puuse sit next to her and is looking into the eyes of each of the men.
“You want to know Hifumi-san’s character… is what you are saying, after such a long time?”
“Right. It’s now after such long time. Having been manipulated by the things that man accomplished and did, I forgot to learn what kind of person that man is. … Besides, it’s also about Hifumi-sama’s way of fighting.” (Imeraria)
“Concerning the tactics invented by Earl Tohno, it’s not limited to our country, but also has been widely and openly made available to Vichy and Horant by him sending instruction units…”
Imeraria countered Vaiya, who advised her with all due respect, with a question.
“Those tactics and the combat technique Hifumi-sama uses aren’t that different, are they?” (Imeraria)
Vaiya is at a loss for words.
“I realized after participating in the dispute with Horant the other day. The protection of Horant, which was trained by a unit dispatched from Fokalore, is at that level and also I heard that everyone of the instruction unit that got killed had received Hifumi-sama’s guidance for a long time, but even so they still died due to Horant’s attacks. I saw the strength of Hifumi and Origa-san who directly received his guidance, but do you feel as if there’s a great difference between those?”
The one who deeply nodded at Imeraria’s opinion was Midas.
“Certainly. Earl Tohno’s movements are unique. There’s no one who can compare to his unmatched strength. The character of someone that accomplishes moving with a large number of soldiers is different. It’s difficult for me to express it, but isn’t making use of troops as he has been teaching a motion so that one doesn’t have to fight by themselves?” (Midas)
“I see. It’s surely as you say, Midas-san. That man likes to fight by himself. He hates someone else stealing his enemies.”
Sabnak agrees and Vaiya consents as well.
“Are you saying then that you wish to investigate the movements of Earl Tohno as individual, Your Majesty?”
Starting with the former Third Knight Order, Imeraria solidified her foundation through the military faction. Having said that, I wonder about him being a research subject for her as queen, Adol was worried, but her objective isn’t simple research.
“The goal is a counter-plan against the person called Earl Tohno.” (Imeraria)
The atmosphere of her major vassals becomes tense straight away.
Although they open their eyes widely, no one tries to open their mouth. What’s filling them is fright and worry. None of those present at this place except Puuse knows someone who lived after after opposing Hifumi.
Imeraria predicted that reaction.
“As everyone thinks, it’s a dangerous objective. It’s something that should be carried out carefully and discreetly. Hence, the investigation is a preparation for that.” (Imeraria)
“Umm… is that all right with you?” (Sabnak)
The one asking uneasily is Sabnak. According to his position he wants to prevent Imeraria approaching danger. He wants to stop it, but if it’s her will, that’s not going to happen.
Him getting her to change her mind by herself would be the best solution, but there’s no hesitation in Imeraria’s look.
“I have already decided. For the sake of protecting not only this country but also this world, that man’s existence isn’t necessary anymore.” (Imeraria)
“I’m well aware that I’m saying something selfish”, Imeraria explains.
“As long as that man exists, he will likely continue to manipulate this country and this world. A lot of blood will flow and countless disasters will be brought forth. … I also won’t deny that I have a personal grudge.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria didn’t talk much about her family that had been killed by Hifumi. “That doesn’t mean that I forgave him”, she simply mutters.
“As for the method; I’m planning to use the magic sealing formula which I researched after it was discovered by Adol-san. Besides, I will have Puuse-san cooperate with us as well. As first step in order to make the sealing a success, we will use barrier magic.” (Imeraria)
For the sake of obtaining this assistance, Imeraria promised Puuse protection and cooperation with the elves and the beastmen who became their friends, but since that also has merits for Orsongrande, it’s close to an assistance without any compensation.
“And I have asked for the assistance of another certain person in order for the plan to definitely succeed. I have already gotten their agreement.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria, who had talked for an unusually long time, suddenly felt a her throat being dry. She noticed that she had become tense without realizing it before.
She wets her throats with no more than a mouthful black tea.
“… It’s Hifumi-sama’s wife, Origa-san.” (Imeraria)