Chapter 45 – Killer Queen

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“What’s the story with us gathering here, I wonder?”

“It is an announcement by Princess-sama and that Hero-sama, you know.”

“The knight-sama with the thin sword? I heard he played an active role again!”

“They say he repelled the large army of Vichy with a few soldiers.”

The topic of the noisy populace, if one had to say, it is one-sidedly focusing on the new noble of Fokalore, Hifumi, rather than on the princess, but it was mostly due to Hifumi’s orders that it became the talk of the town.
Because of the Third Knight Unit being nonchalantly mixed up within the crowd, although it would be announced by Princess Imeraria after this, the matter of Hifumi’s involvement had been circulated already. This kind of information manipulation work was the first time for the Third Knight Unit, but because of Sabnak leading the operation after having received the request from Origa, it was effective to the degree of surprising all of the knight unit.
Sabnak is also slipping into the crowd.

“Apparently that knight of the thin sword is within the royal castle currently. I am told he has achieved amazing war results with Vichy as his opponent, you know?” (Sabnak)

While buying sweets at a stall, he spreads the topic as gossip.

“Ou, I guess he will again receive a reward from Imeraria-sama. He is a great fellow.”

While smiling at the good response of the old man manning the stall, he watches the reaction of his surroundings in a casual manner and understands that all of the people in this place, the voice had reached, are indeed listening carefully with great interest.
(Good grief, what a way of manipulating the hearts of people. It is a personality resembling the demons from fairy-tales.) (Sabnak)
While continuing the mission, Sabnak had a complicated feeling whether he should feel happy or frightened having accepted this kind of personality in the requested matter.
In the meanwhile, the Third Knight Unit checked everyone standing in front of the royal castle. “Soon the princess will make her appearance!” they repeated continuously in a loud voice.
Even as their voice become hoarse close to being mute, the crowd doesn’t cease to chatter.

“Oh, Princess-sama!”

With someone raising their voice, the commotion subsides. The knights having exhausted their throats ended up feeling depressed.
Having made her appearance on the balcony, it was Princess Imeraria.
And next to her was Hifumi. In a shadowy place near the back Origa could vaguely be seen waiting.
(Well then, what will happen this time?) (Sabnak)
Sabnak had already a feeling that it wasn’t about something possibly happening but rather about something definitely going to happen.

◆◇◆◇◆

Not being at the audience hall anymore, Imeraria had personally invited Hifumi to her office. Urging him into the reception sofa, a maid prepared black tea.

“So, it is about this time’s case, but… ” (Hifumi)

“The entire situation is my responsibility. Although the matter with Pajou is regrettable, I only implore you to not punish the other knight units and the people at the castle. Can you accept just this much… ?” (Imeraria)

Interrupting the topic Hifumi has started, Imeraria straight away apologizes like that.

“Ah, that’s fine already. Even if I acted violently now, it would only be a story of repeatedly dealing with shitty opponents anyway. That’s boring.” (Hifumi)

“In the first place, far from having a foundation in group combat, there isn’t even decent training in inter-personal combat, don’t you agree?” a worn-out dissatisfaction began to leak out from Hifumi’s mouth on the occasion.
Although it is strange, Imeraria was relieved that the standard of this castle’s knight’s didn’t raise Hifumi’s interest.

“Then… ” (Imeraria)

“Ah, I am understanding that this time the responsibility is yours. The mastermind died. Since, rather than killing you, there is an even better task left for you, I won’t kill you now.” (Hifumi)

Even though his words aren’t permitting a peace of mind in the least, her life has been spared.
But, I wonder what is that better task than killing me? Imeraria was uneasy. Even if he demanded her as a woman, she wouldn’t be able to refuse. If he was really desiring this of me, I should try to take my own life, I think?
However, as she resolved herself by putting strength into her slender arms laying atop her knees, she decided to not give up her life no matter what happens until her brother is safely crowned and until she discovers a plan to somehow calm the man in front of her.
But that plan was quickly denied.

“You will become the sovereign. Because I will support you by getting rid of the opposition, you will become the absolute ruler of this country building a powerful and sturdy state. Let’s say that this will be your atonement for this time’s affair.” (Hifumi)

“Such… ! Then, what about my brother… what will happen to Ayperos? In that kid’s surrounding there are supporters pushing for that kid to become the next king. If I were to aim at becoming the queen, it will end up becoming a strife disregarding mine or that kid’s intention.” (Imeraria)

“I don’t care. There won’t happen anything if he is obedient, but if he opposes this, I will kill him.” (Hifumi)

Hifumi’s face showed that it wasn’t significant enough for him to listen to such topic and that he would cut him down without doubt. It is an extremely calm face.

“However, even if I intend to succeed as queen, I don’t have the ability to do that either… ” (Imeraria)

Before summoning Hifumi, she was unaffected by these matters without getting in contact with them and was simply called saint by the people. Compared to the time she thought I am only a decoration after all, she had now reached the point where she took politics into her consideration more or less.
But she hasn’t received any education in becoming a statesman. As a result of that, she has lost the knight she trusted. Currently she is monopolizing this country.

“You are still young. If I am not mistaken, you are 14 years old, right? It is even fine to learn from a noble or the prime minister from now on. Besides, a statesman isn’t a person that does something with their own ability. I believe that you will excel as statesman if you find capable retainers and use them skilfully.” (Hifumi)

Why is that man talking about politics to a royalty like myself? Notwithstanding my confusion, he is giving me words of consolation. Even if only slightly, my feelings are settling down.
However, this is definitely a mistake, she also understood.

“You aren’t an incompetent person like your brother who is clinging to his parent, I think. For now it is fine to make a move in order to protect the country and save those around you. During that time you can forge strong soldiers. Ah, it is also good to send them to Fokalore for training! I will polish them without fail.” (Hifumi)

“… What the hell are you aiming for?” (Imeraria)

“By increasing the amount of strong people it will become a lot more interesting to oppose this world. People who have trained their techniques will oppose people boosting with raw strength. I want to increase the number of people thinking up refined schemes to kill people with sharp senses. I also want new weapons to be created for the sake of killing very efficiently.” (Hifumi)

While having glittering eyes like a boy talking about his dreams, to Imeraria, what Hifumi was talking about, was similar to the words of a tyrant she had only read a bit in the past.

“Then, this world, this country will end up lapsing into chaos.” (Imeraria)

“I wonder whether that’s what will happen or not, it depends on what the people of this world want to do. In the world I come from, war advances technology. For the sake of victory people forge their minds putting a lot of effort into coming up with elaborate schemes.” (Hifumi)

Just what kind of blood-stained world is that? Imeraria became terrified by just imagining it. From what world had the hero been summoned?’
It was several young nobles that came and entered the room at that point.

“Imeraria-sama!” (Maid)

The nobles entering in a rude manner pushed the maid standing in attendance aside. Seeing Hifumi’s face they snorted as if scoffing at him.

“I was wondering who it was, but I see it’s the upstart who became a viscount recently, huh? But it seems you were skilfully buttering up to Imeraria. Now that we have arrived, there is no business left here for you anymore.” (Noble)

Furthermore, several of the other nobles also scold Hifumi.

“Imeraria-sama, the commoners are currently gathering in front of the royal castle. Something about receiving words from Imeraria-sama.” (Noble)

“The populace is… ” (Imeraria)

Imeraria turns her sight towards Hifumi.

“Ah, it is me who had them gathered. Let’s make a showy proclamation though you are leading this country only for a short time now, is what I think.” (Hifumi)

In place of Imeraria, who was lost for words, the nobles roared.

“Bastard, you are getting cocky trying to monopolize the national politics.” (Noble A)

“Moreover, what an attitude towards Imeraria-sama! Impermissible!” (Noble B)

While listening to the screaming voices of the nobles totally undisturbed, Hifumi stood up calmly, took out his katana and drew it.
At that moment a single noble had his head separated from his body.

“Men only raising their voices are superfluous. Only those holding the will to fight are necessary.” (Hifumi)

◆◇◆◇◆

As Imeraria looks out from the balcony of her office, the entire part of the castle is crowded with people. Even the word ‘many’ is lukewarm in regards to the amount of expectant gazes, she feels.
Up until now she had gazed at the city from this balcony. She had addressed the populace, just like now, many times, but it was the first time for her to step on the stage while feeling this heavy-hearted.
Sporadically seeing the figures of the Third Knight Unit, she inadvertently wanted to call out to them to save her, but this was a situation she had brought upon herself. Although they might come running if she requested their help, she knows what will happen then.
Next to her Hifumi is standing. In the back there is the former slave called Origa, who is now his attendant.
And behind her a number of corpses of the young nobles are scattered about. They have been young nobles not long ago. They didn’t consider in the slightest that the upstart of low social status would oppose them or that he would really kill them.
However, that wasn’t the reality. Without them noticing how kind the world had been to them, their end already came.
From now on the significance of social status will gradually vanish. It will become a world where ability will be the criterion and not pedigree, Hifumi had told her.
Unable to imagine it well, Imeraria asked whether this world wouldn’t become a place where the strong oppress the weak then, but Hifumi laughed and shook his head.

“It is the fetters called birth that label a weak person to remain weak. It will be a world without the binding of lineage making it possible for the weak to defeat the strong.” (Hifumi)

Although Imeraria couldn’t understand after all, she still grasped just one thing. The detestable judgement and the poor conclusion of obeying to something called difference in pedigree just because they are royalty or nobles, Hifumi wants to raise the number of people being judged by their true strength.
This is an extremely frightening world, but Imeraria mustn’t fail to protect the country within such world.
Although she has no power to fight herself, she is able to come up with something. Hifumi said. There are also people surviving by using their head even without resorting to brute strength.
Think, and ponder about it, Imeraria tells herself. As it is now, the contest to become the sovereign will begin between the Imeraria faction and the Ayperos faction. It will result in many people dying. Even Ayperos or her mother might be amongst those.

“Everyone” (Imeraria)

With Imeraria starting to talk, the crowd’s noise subsided into silence and everyone listened to her words.

“Due to Vichy and Horant this country is in peril now. However, thanks to the great efforts of the newly inaugurated earl, Hifumi-sama, a big miracle has happened.” (Imeraria)

Ooh~ … with the people raising their voices in admiration, voices giving praise to Hifumi can be heard.
Sabnak’s voice was amongst them as well.

“They are getting elated easily… ” (Hifumi)

The voice of Hifumi, who had a forced smile, reached Imeraria’s ears.
Then she suddenly hit upon a good idea.

“But, expecting the fight to finishing flawlessly, knights ended up loosing their life due to my blunder! Even though it would have been fine to just leave things to Hifumi-sama, because of me getting unnecessarily involved, valuable lives were lost!” (Imeraria)

Exaggeratedly covering her face with both hands, Imeraria was convinced that this matter would cause her popularity to drop. If she lost the support of the populace with this, it would become a setback in the plan of using her to manage the country.
Although this might cause her death, she didn’t intend to live just to become her own brother’s enemy.
Looking at Hifumi while concealing her face … he was grinning.

“Now then, Ladies and Gentlemen! The story just now is the truth, but I think it will be wrong for me to blame Imeraria-sama for that!” (Hifumi)

Slowly surveying the crowd, he makes sure that everyone is listening carefully.

“I, who fought in order to protect the country, feel obliged to forgive Imeraria-sama. That being the case, shouldn’t the knights, who had been deployed by Imeraria-sama for the sake of protecting us and the people of our country and died fighting towards that cause, receive our admiration?!” (Hifumi)

The crowd surged in response to Hifumi’s appeal.
Even though the knights of the Third Knight Unit, mixed amongst the crowd, were perplexed, it became a situation where the people couldn’t be controlled anymore.

“Imeraria-sama, me and all of you have to rack our brains how to protect the people, who are citizens of the same country as us! For this reason, think about it! It mustn’t be allowed for someone, who doesn’t attempt to do something and to accomplish something for this country, to take the throne! The only person suitable to stand up and lead us is Imeraria-sama!” (Hifumi)

With Hifumi’s words raising Imeraria to the top, the crowd is gradually becoming excited. Originally only being a person having popularity, with the hero approving of her conduct, the people welcome the mysterious feeling of expectation.

“I will make an oath here! I will support Imeraria-sama in becoming the queen. Together we will change this country into a country holding strong power! Everybody, please also support Imeraria-sama together with me!” (Hifumi)

The words of Hifumi, desiring for everyone’s individual support, had a powerful impact on the crowd. Until now it was strictly forbidden for them to meddle in politics, but just now the noble and princess in front of their eyes, admitting their own failures to the populace, said that the support of the people was indispensable.
As there were also those who applauded towards the princess, Hifumi’s praising voice became even louder.
Even after Hifumi accompanying Imeraria disappeared from the balcony, the agitation of the people didn’t die down for quite a while.

◆◇◆◇◆

“Now they have done it… ”

The story of Hifumi supporting Imeraria in succeeding the throne spread in a flash within the king’s castle.
Those of the prince faction are irritated by those news without hiding that.
Especially the high-ranking nobles, leading the faction, mistook the method as coup d’état performed in the absence of the prince within their raging minds.
The prince’s real mother, the queen, is amongst them as well.

“By no means I expected Imeraria to have such an ambition.” (Queen)

Her appearance, enduring her fury while gritting her teeth with grinding sounds, is somehow blood-curdling.
Having been the queen so far, rather than Imeraria, who would be married off to someone anyway, she loved Prince Ayperos, who would succeed as king sooner or later, dearly.
Although she believed that Imeraria had understood this as well, her facial expression is becoming even more grim due to the feeling called betrayal.

“However, Imeraria-sama is perfectly suited for the support of the populace.” (Noble)

“Something like the support of the commoners doesn’t matter at all! Haven’t you heard? The young nobles wanting to give the princess their advice were all killed! Even the conservative nobles won’t forgive this much oppression!” (Queen)

“If that’s the case, there is nothing left but to have Imeraria leave the stage eventually, it seems… ” (Noble)

“O-Oi… ” (Another Noble)

The speaking nobles, noticing that the princess’ real mother, the queen, is present at this place albeit being hostile towards the princess, fearfully turned their gaze in the direction of the queen.

“It doesn’t matter. It is that child that has betrayed me, as her mother, first.” (Queen)

Declaring this decisively, the queen immediately raised her hand in order to prepare for giving a command.

“So that you aren’t hindered by that man, kill that girl instantly at the time when she is sleeping in her bedroom! The most my maternal love allows is to ensure her passing away without having to suffer.” (Queen)

Seeing the pupils oozing with madness, the nobles of the prince faction bowed their heads all at once.

 


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