Because of Alyssa’s pursuit the numbers of the Vichy army dwindled even more though they took flight escaping Rhone.
The offensive lasted for a few days and the activity of the border security in Rhone was arranged to resume. All was explained to the citizens of Arosel and the tidying up began. Alyssa returned to Arosel wearing a tired facial expression.
“… Sleepy” (Alyssa)
“Yes, thanks for your hard work. Sleep well.” (Origa)
Having received the report from Alyssa, Origa saw her off unsteadily returning to her own room within the building of the Lord.
Origa herself had to commit herself to such things as returning the temporarily refuging citizens back to their own homes and giving orders to the soldiers left behind to clean up the city. Having her injury completely healed by the magic potion, she acted more vigorously than before.
And now she is handling her own and Hifumi’s share of travel preparations.
In the briefing session with Midas, Midas had no other choice but to accept the one-sided instructions in regards to the report contents from Hifumi. The result was a report stating Pajou and the other knights of the Third Knight Unit, which Hifumi had killed, had been killed in action in the battle with Vichy.
Because it would cause a huge loss of face for the royalty, if the truth of Imeraria giving the order to assassinate another noble were to be spread, Midas gladly accepted that kind of conclusion as it was far more amicable than he had imagined it to be. Although it was wrong towards Pajou, there was no better solution without this whole situation having a dramatic impact on the princess.
But Midas’ tension recurred once he heard Hifumi’s words after this topic was settled.
“I will go to the royal castle soon as I have to talk with Imeraria.” (Hifumi)
“Yo-You have to talk… ?” (Midas)
“No matter how you look at it, I am a noble of Orsongrande, so it is necessary to return triumphantly and give a report of the victory, I think.” (Hifumi)
Like this it became a matter of Hifumi heading towards the royal capital, alongside the surviving members of the Third Knight Unit, by himself without taking any soldiers along. In order to protect the territory, all of the territorial soldiers will be left behind.
“It will be only us, so I won’t particularly mind if you attack me during the trip, okay?” (Hifumi)
“You must be joking…” (Midas)
As Hifumi laughed impishly, Midas barely managed to squeeze out an answer.
The political centre of Horant is the capital city, Ludan.
The Ludan castle, where the aged king Suprangel Geng Horant (T/N: >> Supurangeru Gengu Horanto) resides, is called royal castle. He has been holding the throne for the long time of 50 years.
However, the one having substantial ability in the ways of politics, being his directly descending grandchild, was Belldore. (T/N: >> Verudore <<)
The elder king had declared to pass the crown to Belldore, who had no children of his own. Even the experiment with the magic tool, orchestrated by Vichy, was something pushed forward by Belldore for the sake of gaining moderate accomplishments.
With the authority of the king being very powerful, the order of royalty is an absolute for the few nobles of Horant as well. The standing of regular soldiers drafted from the common folk is quite low. But the gathering of funds upon the king’s order for the sake of developing the magic tool had been remarkable. With the wealth that was brought about due to the magic tools, criticism from the masses was suppressed.
“How is the situation developing?” (Suprangel)
“It’s going well.” (Belldore)
When the king inquired with a hoarse voice, Belldore answered standing upright.
“The aggression-rising magic tool Ganga and the emotions-restraining magic tool Elrik are almost complete, too.” (Belldore)
“However, there are flaws as well…” (Suprangel)
“Installing Ganga causes the target to go on a rampage or die. Being upon the effect of Elrik causes the actions of the target to become sluggish. Also, the target’s judgement declines sharply. Still, there are ways for practical use either way. There won’t be any problems if we use it only on soldiers and make sure to have the commander make the judgments and give out directions to the soldiers.” (Belldore)
As Belldore answered confidently puffing up with pride, King Suprangel nodded his head.
“Very well. It is fine to go with your results as they are. You will also give the researchers a reward to show them your generosity.” (Suprangel)
“I shall follow your words.” (Belldore)
Furthermore the king decided to listen to the opinion of Belldore concerning the situation in the other countries.
“… For some reason Vichy and Orsongrande seem to be noisy…” (Suprangel)
“It appears that there is a young noble of Orsongrande, having obtained the trust of the princess, acting violently and rudely. He has been bestowed the territory including the national border to Vichy. I hear he shaved off an unknown size of territory of Vichy. Isn’t the battle continuing even now?” (Belldore)
“Even at the border of our country to Orsongrande there seems to be movement.” (Suprangel)
“Since we have officially sided with Vichy and because even our country’s soldiers are heading towards the border, they have apparently deployed their soldiers in response. They won’t attempt to make contact though.” (Belldore)
If they start an all-out war on this side, it will become a war at two fronts for Orsongrande. It means that while continuing the war with Vichy, Orsongrande won’t start something right way. That was the common opinion shared by King and grandchild. Once the war with with Vichy ends, the reason for Horant to deploy its soldiers will vanish as well.
“Orsongrande’s side has raised a set amount of military gains. Although the general outline is that it will end with Vichy’s side compromising, they are more or less resisting the outcome. Putting aside their quality, Vichy has prepared a great number of soldiers.” (Belldore)
After contemplating for a while about this information, the king said slowly as if chewing it thoroughly,
“Well then … Once the state of affairs has calmed down and the soldiers deployed at the border to Orsongrande can be withdrawn, I will use the opportunity to retire from this position.” (Suprangel)
“That is…” (Belldore)
“You will become the next king. It will be good for governing this country. But, show me the proof of the magic tools, Ganga and Elrik, being effective on the border soldiers. I have decided this to be your first accomplishment as king.” (Suprangel)
“Ha, I will make my move at once.” (Belldore)
“Umu, I am waiting for the good news.” (Suprangel)
For the news, of Hifumi leading the small force of Fokalore’s territorial troops against the military forces of Vichy and repelling them, to circulate in Horant, a few more days were still necessary.
There is a town called Münster (T/N: >> Miyunsuta) extremely close to the national border to Horant on Orsongrande’s side.
This town has the same scale as Fokalore and, including several farm villages in its circumference, an earl called Biron is governing it.
Biron isn’t particularly close to either the prince or the princess. He wasn’t very well-informed about the situation taking place close to Vichy where Fokalore played a central role as his territory could also be said to be on the opposite side. Even the the request for stationing the troops of the Second Knight Unit this time was something he only reluctantly accepted due to the documents having the signature of the prince. The communication with the knight unit also only started at the time the Second Knight Unit’s captain, Stifels, came to visit in order to exchange greetings. Biron’s stance was “Just do whatever you want.”
“Why has a knight unit come all the way to this place?” (Biron)
Without trying to conceal his dissatisfaction, Biron complained to his butler, standing close-by, as he was sitting dead tired on a sofa.
He was a still young head of a household at the age of 30 years. With the death due to illness of his father 5 years ago, he was called back home to succeed the Earlship although he had been working as bureaucrat in the capital.
Even the current circumstances, he understands that Vichy and Horant have a connection notwithstanding the lack of information. He also knew that there wasn’t even any point in provoking Horant. Of course, anticipating an emergency situation, a lot more soldiers are patrolling the area close to the border than usual. He also knew well that he might have to to dispatch troops on short call.
At any rate, since quite many soldiers were deployed to another place, the maintanence of public order in the whole town started to show holes. His only wish was for the whole situation to quickly finish not caring whether the rising noble Hifumi, whose face he doesn’t even know, wins or loses.
Not only that, in regards to the Second Knight Unit, turning up here recklessly and in a fighting mood, Biron was highly vigilant.
If something strange happens and hostilities with Horant unfold, he doesn’t have the intention to lose, but he will feel unease about the safety of the town of Münster. His own territorial soldiers will be depleted as well.
Moreover, the Second Knight Unit is building a simple fortress in the middle between Münster and the national border. It goes even as far that they are talking about inviting Prince Ayperos there for encouragement. To begin with, due to the influence of the princess’ popularity, Prince Ayperos has a thin presence with the plain achievements he has earned. Biron can do nothing but sigh.
“I guess it is a suggestion by the queen, but doesn’t she understand that starting a war here will cause his evaluation to pummel even more?” (Biron)
Or, do they have some certain plan for victory or tools able to make it happen, I wonder? Biron pondered about that. But if there were such things, it would be impossible for that haughty, over-confident Stifels to stay silent about it.
“If that new viscount called Hifumi or something like that is able to defeat Vichy at an early stage, then…” (Biron)
It reached the point that Biron thought to join Princess Imeraria’s faction, if he gets involved in the movements of the prince and the Second Knight Unit, although he kept a neutral stance before.
Hifumi, entering the royal castle together with Midas’s group of the Third Knight Unit, was immediately allowed to have an audience in the audience room. It seems to be about the matter of being conferred some kind of reward. Because of Midas using a fast to report the state of affairs, the room was dominated by an air of restlessness as if something had to be frantically smoothed over.
(I guess they plan to pay reparations. I think that’s an idea the prime minister came up with.) (Hifumi)
While thinking Maa, I don’t really care either way, Hifumi knelled merely for form’s sake.
Suppressing the quivering of her legs seeing that figure, Imeraria talked about the recognition of his services while standing in the audience room.
Her voice seemed to shake, but since the eyes of the other nobles rested on her, she desperately put strength into her stomach.
“Your military gains on this occasion were very splendid. Crushing a large army with such a small force is something that will be handed down to future generation in this country. It is extremely regrettable that the Third Knight Unit suffered such victims, but…” (Imeraria)
Although she senses how the inner part of her eyes is heating up due to bitterness, she keeps pasting a smile on her face.
“… As reward for his achievements this time, Hifumi Touno shall become an earl and be given new territory in addition to the territory gained as result of the war. Does anyone have an objection to this decree?” (Imeraria)
The nobles, lined up on both sides of the audience hall, remained silent.
It doesn’t look like they are giving their active support to this decree, but there is no way to not confer any reward in light of this much distinguished war service. Besides they didn’t think anyone would want something like a region placed in-between Hifumi’s territory and a foreign country.
“It doesn’t seem that there is an objection. So be it. As replacement for my deceased father, the king, I, in my name as Imeraria Torie Orsongrande, grant Hifumi Touno the title of earl of the Orsongrande kingdom.” (Imeraria)
Sporadic applause could be heard. Hifumi got up remaining silent and left the audience hall after turning a fleeting glance at Imeraria.
While seeing him off and whispering in low voices about this impoliteness, the nobles left the hall before being prompted to do so by Imeraria.
“Imeraria-sama.” (Prime Minister)
Choosing the time when the other nobles had departed the hall, the prime minister stepped forward.
“What is it?” (Imeraria)
“That is… was it alright to do that?” (Prime Minister)
“What else did you expect me to do? There is no way that this country’s defense war potential can deal with him anymore. I have also heard about Hifumi’s turbulent kind of plan from Midas, but nevertheless there is no other choice but to use the fact that Hifumi-sama is affiliated to this country. Currently it is impossible to eliminate him.” (Imeraria)
After looking fleetingly at the king’s throne Imeraria tugged her pursed lips.
“Confirm the reason why he isn’t killing me. And then don’t fail to ask him directly what he is planning to do from now on. Please come to my office later on and give me a report.” (Imeraria)
“That is, because it is dangerous…” (Prime Minister)
“It will be futile to worry about plans or guards if it is meaningless.” (Imeraria) (T/N: In other words, no matter what they plan, any action will be pointless if they don’t know what Hifumi is planning)
Hearing about the news of having lost a trusted subordinate, Imeraria felt shaken for a short while, calming down only slightly. It would be intolerable for her to stop her own assigned duty for something like weeping.
“What is Ayperos doing?” (Imeraria)
“I was told he departed this morning to observe the battlefield at Horant.” (Prime Minister)
“Such a selfish thing…” (Imeraria)
Even though it would be fine for him to focus on preparing to become the next king, Imeraria thought. Prince Ayperos, having no accomplishments of his own, had consulted with his mother, the queen, without Imeraria knowing about it. She didn’t consider it to be necessary for the next king to be accomplished either.
Anyways, as the situation had to only settle down for the sake of crowning Ayperos, this was Imeraria’s current goal.
With Hifumi returning to the antechamber of the room prepared for him, Origa, waiting as chamberlain, stood up and greeted him.
Sabnak of the Third Knight Unit is present there as well. Having been summoned by Hifumi, he wore a bewildered facial expression.
“You are early, Sabnak. Take a seat for the time being.” (Hifumi)
“What business do you have with me… ?” (Sabnak)
Sabnak had been informed by Midas about Pajou’s final moments. On that occasion he was told that there is no malice regarding his survival, but as he still has betrayed his colleagues, he can’t sweep away his dread of possibly being killed.
“It’s fine to not have such formal posture. Just now I have also taken hold of the old Vichy territory ranging from Rhone to Arosel. I have also obtained the rank of earl.” (Hifumi)
He drank the tea Origa had prepared.
“Congratulations. Though it feels lacking as compensation for trying to harm Hifumi-sama.” (Origa)
Towards Origa’s words of praise, Hifumi gives an appropriate answer with “Ah, yes.” He has stopped listening to her seriously.
“From me likewise, congratulations. With this you are in name and reality a member of the greater nobles of Orsongrande.” (Sabnak)
“I don’t give a damn about the title, but there is hope that we can earn the necessary funds for our activities with this. But there aren’t enough helping hands.” (Hifumi)
“Helping hands?” (Sabnak)
Sabnak, not wanting to recall the only vague memories of an already remote past, remembers the hell of paperwork called temporary feudal lord of Fokalore and cold sweat runs down his spine.
“It is necessary to entrust the acting of a proxy for me to someone since I will be absent from the territory for a while.” (Hifumi)
In his eardrums Sabnak can hear the *doki doki* of his heart from within his body.
“Since the civil official slaves can handle it to a certain degree, it will be settled by acting as boss. Everything has been prepared as well, so it will be good if you come to Fokalore for around 10 days.” (Hifumi)
It has already been decided to designate Sabnak.
Including the case with Pajou, Midas, and himself, and considering the matter of turning a blind eye towards the Knight Unit, Sabnak simply wasn’t able to refuse.
“… Understood…” (Sabnak)
Convincing himself that it won’t turn into such a hell like previously this time around as there are even staff members, Sabnak told them that he had to prepare and left.
“Well then, all that is left now is Imeraria.” (Hifumi)
Just as Hifumi muttered this, a white maid enters and tells him that he has been called by Imeraria.
“Origa, gather the populace in front of the castle by having the Third Knight Unit assist you. It has to be a place where they can see the balcony we talked about before. Ah, yea, also tell them “There is an important announcement for the people from the princess.”” (Hifumi)
“Important announcement is it…” (Origa)
“While we are at it, I think it will be refreshing for those in the castle as well.” (Hifumi)
Origa responded to Hifumi’s words with a smile and laughter.