Debold, the second son of the Müntzer marquis family, brought ten guards and ten chamberlains with him as he left the royal capital. It all looked like a parade-like spectacle, with leaflets prepared for him rolling around. That was something Hifumi clearly saw when he returned to the royal capital with Alyssa.
On the scattered leaflets, “According to princess Imeraria’s wish, for the sake of the peace and harmony of the nation, Debold Müntzer has become the peace envoy”, could be read.
Despite it being the royal capital, the literacy rate was low. So even though some people picked up the leaflets, the extent of those who could read them was practically non-existent. Part of the crowd, consisting of drunkards and carefree people, were cheering loudly. But the huge majority were coldly appraising the flamboyant noble.
Like the people below, on the castle’s balcony, Imeraria saw them off with a cold gaze.
“Imeraria, did you need me?”
The one who called out to her was the Third Knight Unit’s Pajou.
“Oh, it’s Pajou.”
Turning around and seeing Pajou’s face, Imeraria relaxed a little.
“With this, I too, for the government’s sake, have sacrificed someone else, haven’t I?” Imeraria spoke but then mocked herself.
[No, the first victim should be he who is hailed as a hero] “Debold was aiming for you, Imeraria. In my humble opinion, shouldn’t this be viewed as self-defense? Besides, the one who suggested this was me, so let me be the one to shoulder the sin of sacrificing that man.”
“… I’m sincerely happy over having your loyalty. Well then, in order for that plan to not come to naught, we can’t do anything but advance, can we?”
Following Imeraria, Pajou left the balcony and the two entered Imeraria’s office. Pajou was tormented with a sense of regret. Not because of the plan with sacrificing someone, but mainly due to what she had previously told Imeraria.
Earlier, after having separated from Hifumi, Kasha and Sabnak joined Pajou, who had already returned to the royal capital. In order to quickly report to Imeraria, the three briskly cleaned themselves off and arrived at the castle gates.
After Kasha managed to get permission to enter, they were all rewarded with some gold by Imeraria in recognition of their services.
As they had previously received remuneration from Hifumi as well, Kasha did show some restraint in the beginning, but she was eventually forced to accept the gold as funds to start her life anew.
While Imeraria, on the other hand, was thinking that if they could use some money to win over someone having been close to Hifumi, it would be a cheap price to pay in the long run.
After all, if Hifumi kept going like this, continuing the war and building up strength, who knows when he would have a full-blown confrontation with Orsongrande. Fearing that, Imeraria wanted to hear Pajou’s opinion, having seen Hifumi’s manner of fighting close up. As the report concluded and Sabnak and Kasha stepped back, Pajou began a long follow-up session with Imeraria.
“At first I didn’t think Hifumi would be able to accomplish numerous amounts of military achievements as he has now. This, of course, is a matter of my predictions being too naive since we knew that only his individual military prowess was strong. But him having experienced countless battles, it seems that we still underestimated his absurdness.”
“Imeraria. I can say that I’m of the same opinion. The prime minister would also agree with us on this conclusion. No one could have expected that his love for battle would enable him to brilliantly take control of the enemies territory with such ease.”
While someone may be strong individually, it doesn’t mean he will survive on the battlefield. And as far as the two of them, having undergone training for nobility and knights respectively, in terms of strategy and tactics, Hifumi’s an expert. Besides using methods never seen before, he also had the lowest amount of possible casualties… those were all completely unexpected accomplishments.
News of Hifumi’s activities had been brought to the royal capital by merchants coming from Vichy, and had already become the topic of conversation within the capital. Everywhere you went you could hear how the “Knight of the Slender Sword”, with barely any casualties or losses, had overwhelmed Vichy. It was just as it was in one of those heroic tales.
It was slightly exaggerated, but mostly true. Something that should’ve been good news for Orsongrande was conversely quite unpleasant. Even if the Royal castle didn’t want Hifumi’s popularity to rise, there wasn’t much they could do about it.
If it continued like this, Hifumi may take away all the popularity Imeraria was having, as well as the sense of respect towards the royal castle, for himself.
“He really is a hero, but above that, he’s a lunatic. He’s nurturing both cities and the people within them for the sake of fighting, and creating environments in which he can kill others.”
Using intentionally strong words, Pajou told Imeraria.
She didn’t intend to say that but it was a necessary step for the formation of her plan. For only under the leadership of the princess could her plan be carried out.
“If you’d forgive me, I have a plan I’d like to present to you.”
“Go ahead, let me hear about it.”
The plan Pajou had thought about was, simply put, ‘to make it seem like Imeraria was the one who ended the final war’. That Arosel, while under Orsongrandes control, was essentially an unnecessary territory and would be difficult to govern.
First of all, they’d use Debold as a messenger to provoke Vichy into dispatching troops to take back their previous territory. While they’re fighting Hifumi in territories such as Fokalore, which he had just recently been bestowed, or Arosel which has recently become occupied, Imeraria would unconditionally surrender Vichy’s former territories with an absolute concession. Lastly, they’d secretly make an agreement to cease hostilities. Pajou planned to achieve these plans all in one go.
“Debold will probably be killed. And the majority of the soldiers leaving for Arosel and the like will die as well. But with this, Hifumi’s military gains will reach its limit. And we’ll then publicize that you were the one who brought back the peace.”
“Vichy’s soldiers should be able to hold Hifumi back, shouldn’t they?”
First of all, the initial unrest would be over there. And as a result of Vichy taking up arms, they should be able to tear into Hifumi and afflict some damage.
“That being the case, we need to have Vichy counterattacking with a lot of soldiers. It’s necessary to provoke them to the extent they believe that unless they attack with all their power, they’ll have no option but to face ruin. For that purpose, we have the peace envoy bringing a provoking letter.”
“…Please give it some thought.”
Having returned for the day, Imeraria called Debold to her office the next day.
Finally, his own turn has come. Catching a glance of Debold triumphantly striding over towards Imeraria, Pajou saw him off with a mix of remorse and resolve. It’s for the sake of the country!
Understandably, Vichy’s central council received the letter Hifumi sent first.
“Hand over Beirevra, huh?”
Scanning over the letter presented by their spy, the elderly council member let out a sigh.
Right now he was the only member in the room. All the other members were spending their time dealing with their own cities. He was called Minoson, a city representative of the city located furthest away from Orsongrande, so after having gathered an assuring amount of soldiers, he stopped.
The other council members had plans to gather soldiers soon as well but were generally behind schedule. Their territories were whittled away, making it clear that just defending the city would prove hard. The cities near the national border were frantically thinking up any means of defending their cities.
If Minoson’s city was attacked, it meant that Vichy would’ve already collapsed at that point in time. Of course, he wouldn’t not make any great effort just because of that. War is unchanging. For the sake of a new era, any powerful people on the losing side would have to be sacrificed. That’s just the way it is.
“Even so, this is troublesome.”
The problem was the letter lying in front of him.
Concerning giving up the spy called Beirevra, Minoson was well aware of what had happened over by Arosel. If giving him over would end all this, it would’ve been a good option.
But currently, Beirevra’s whereabouts were unknown.
He was summoned before the council before this letter’s arrival, where he briefed them on the news from Arosel. He was a man past thirty, with a small stature, and facial features giving him a cunning expression.
With the threat of Hifumi approaching Vichy, and himself being summoned, perhaps he suspected something. The second time he was summoned, he never appeared. Other spies looked for him but found nothing.
It’s quite unlikely he went towards Orsongrande or the Beast’s territory. It would seem natural if he were to use one of the intermediaries he got close to in dealing with the distribution of the magical tools to cross over to Horant. But an inquiry was made, and Horant responded with a formal letter that there were no records of him crossing the border. Minoson didn’t believe them at all though.
However, they didn’t strongly pursue Horant for that.
After all, if Vichy takes an aggressive stance against Orsongrande, Horant making a display of gathering soldiers it would apply some pressure. A proposal would then have been made so that depending on the situation, both Horant and Vichy would attack, forcing Orsongrande to defend on two fronts at once.
They were allies, although it wasn’t an alliance without obstacles. It’d be hard if it was only Vichy, but granted that Horant were to join them, they could turn the tables on Orsongrande.
“Doing that, they will have to wrack their brains on the spot for a countermeasure.”
The council members gathered within two hours. They didn’t really have any opposing opinions, so Minoson’s plan was approved.
Currently, in accordance with the letter, there are no other alternatives than Vichy unconditionally becoming a vassal state of Orsongrande, or being completely absorbed. For the moment, Vichy won’t respond to the demands or talks of reconciliations. They will gather the troops from all their cities and recapture some city-states. After an assured victory, they’d enter negotiations with Orsongrande.
They planned to go all out. As soon as they finished rallying their forces, they would march towards Rhone en masse.
By the time Debold and the delegation representing Orsongrande entered Fokalore, Hifumi had just instructed the dwarfs to construct a protective wall at the city entrance.
When a strange gaudy carriage, followed by around 20 people became visible, the guards and general populace got ready to welcome the incoming noble. Hifumi, however, ignored them and continued talking with the dwarfs.
“So, make some diamond shaped holes in the wall, like this.”
“Is it really okay, making a hole in the wall ?”
“With this interval, you can use bows or javelin-throwing machines to attack. If the holes are too big, they’re useless, so we want them to be just barely big enough to aim through them.”
“Haha, I see.”
While the young dwarf was admiring Hifumi’s knowledge, Debold and company entered the city.
Nevertheless, the soldiers under Hifumi’s leadership were thorough. Even if the traveler came from within the country, and even if they were an aristocrat, they were to be completely checked.
“How rude! I’m the Müntzer marquis family’s amazing Debold, a peace envoy appointed by her highness princess Imeraria! You lowly soldier bastards have no reason to do an inspection!”
Stopping the carriage, the soldiers were interfered with by the vain Debold, as he shouted at them with an ugly face. They could freely pass all other cities until Fokalore, where they were subjected to a normal inspection, which Debold was dissatisfied with.
Hearing the words ‘Peace envoy’, Hifumi approached the raging Debold.
“Huh, you’re that disrespectful upstart. Heh, if you’re the leader, no wonder your subordinates also behave like this.”
With a broad grin appearing on his face, he tried to make a fool out of Hifumi. However, Hifumi’s facial expression didn’t change.
“This is my city. I’m the law. We don’t know what guys like you are bringing in, so we need to do a thorough search.”
“What kind of absurd thing is that. It’s for bastards like you of low birth. This doesn’t concern me since I am of the Marquises lineage. Advance.”
As he ordered the coachman to continue, before he noticed, a drawn blade was gleaming in front of his eyes. Having drawn closer in an instant, Hifumi’s abruptly drawn katana made Debold tremble. His fear filled eyes reflected on the blade.
“Hiii… You bastard, what are you…”
“I said so, didn’t I? Here, I’m the law. If you don’t abide by the rules, I’ll dispose of you as a criminal.”
Debold’s face flushed. In the end, he didn’t resist Hifumi’s pressuring and trembled in disgrace. He gave a sidelong stare at the soldier who checked the roof rack’s contents on Hifumi’s orders. Without hiding his fury, Debold spoke in a trembling voice.
“You bastard. With what you’ve just done to me, I hope you’re prepared… On her highness princess Imeraria’s imperial command, I’m an envoy on my way to Vichy’s central government.”
Hifumi didn’t answer. He was given a small box with a seal on it from the soldier who found it. After carefully opening it, he found a pure white paper inside. This kind of paper was very rare in this world. It was folded and sealed with beeswax.
“That’s her highness the princess’ handwritten letter! It’s not something bastards like you are allowed to touch!”
Ignoring the screaming Debold, Hifumi took the letter in his hand and held it up against the sun.
The letter, sealed just as before, was quickly returned to its original place by the soldier.
“That’s enough, go along.”
“Remember this, you low-life. After I’ve fulfilled my mission, I’ll make you regret having that attitude.”
“Is that so? Well, do your best.”
Completely without interest, Hifumi returned to his meeting. All the while Debold glared at him until he was out of sight from the carriage.
“Hifumi, is that really okay?”
Origa ran over to Hifumi from someplace. A shuriken in her hand, as if she was going to throw it somewhere.
“He’s just a pathetic clown. No need to take him seriously. We probably won’t even meet him again. Leaving that aside, the national border by Rhone will soon become a battlefield again. Rearrange the troops and ready them to leave.”
“You got information that Vichy is going to attack?”
“I guess so. But it seems we still have time to spare. So let’s carefully prepare a welcome party for them. Alright, looks like we’ll be busy again.”
Of course. they’d have to use the various goods the dwarfs had made. Moving towards the Dwarfs workplace, one idea after another on how to fight against Vichy gushed forth into Hifumi’s head.
The premonitions Hifumi had about the war would be slightly betrayed by reality, just two weeks after this day.