Having put 10 knights to the sword, Hifumi is sheathing the katana in the scabbard on his back very contentedly. Imeraria timidly made an appearance from within the shadows of the bed.
Although he senses her movements, Hifumi doesn’t even look at Imeraria as if not caring about her existence at all.
As she shifts her line of sight to the corner of the room, where Hifumi had sent her mother flying before, she saw the queen’s corpse.
Observing her mother having died while displaying a reproachful facial expression, Imeraria was confused whether it was fine to mourn or to rejoice.
Looking at her own room ornamented with splatters of blood, she is re-thinking how it came to this.
Together with Hifumi, Imeraria ended up announcing her intention of inheriting the crown in front of the populace. The very same day, after quickly finishing her work, she returned to her bedroom.
“Why has such thing… ?” (Imeraria)
Changing into a light red night-gown, Imeraria sat down on the bed and heaved a long sigh.
With a terribly worn-out mood, she feels her heavy shoulders.
“I wonder what the hell he is thinking?” (Imeraria)
Imeraria still can’t comprehend Hifumi’s thought process.
Obviously the reason isn’t that he wants to become the king. Going by the information from the Knight Unit, it seems that he has ended up entrusting the administration of his territory, with only a few policies, to the civil officials. Furthermore, even reducing the overall tax rate and reaching the point that the territorial soldiers are close to the masses, his reputation amongst the majority of the populace appears to be good.
Although he is using a lot of funds for the development of weapons and such, it isn’t like he is particularly living in luxury. If he has spare time, he will look around strolling through the city. Many people have witnessed him doing such things as practicing his swordsmanship.
“He is a feudal lord who is fair and kind towards the populace and doesn’t shirk away from putting in effort for the sake of protecting the people.”
That seems to be the evaluation being held by many people about Hifumi.
As that assessment is totally different from the one she came to see and hear about, Imeraria can’t suddenly believe that this is the same person they are talking about.
“Do you hate the royalty and nobles?” (Imeraria)
Even though she pondered about that, she had also received a report stating that he had killed a considerable number of the slum’s inhabitants. Simply put, without concerning himself about social status and official position, there doesn’t seem to be any deciding factor but only whether or not one is hindering him. That summed it up entirely.
She is at her wit’s end as she thinks about it.
Having obtained the support of the masses, there is no one else as difficult to deal with as that lunatic. If she removes him unskillfully, she will end up being viewed as villain here.
The lost Imeraria’s ears pick up the sound of knocking.
“What’s the matter?” (Imeraria)
There was a maid waiting for orders in front of the bedroom, but she entered nervously.
“That is… Earl Tohno has come…” (Maid)
Towards the baffled maid, Imeraria sighed for the umpteenth time today.
“Visiting the room of an unmarried woman at night-time… It doesn’t matter, please let him through.” (Imeraria)
The maid seems to be worrying about the danger and rumors of letting a man enter the princess’ bedroom, but Imeraria doesn’t care about Hifumi’s lack of common sense anymore.
“There is no problem. It still can be called good that he didn’t just come and enter forcibly.” (Imeraria)
“That’s a reprehensible way of talking about someone.” (Hifumi)
Pushing the maid aside, Hifumi entered.
He is carrying some large package on his shoulders.
“Receiving my ill manners is something called minimal resistance. And? What might that be?” (Imeraria)
“Before that.” (Hifumi)
Interrupting Imeraria’s words, Hifumi turned around to the maid.
“Get in touch with the Third Knight Unit and tell them to come here. Let’s see… Call out to the nearby Midas and tell him to come here armed for the sake of guarding.” (Hifumi)
As the maid is darting her eye’s about due to suddenly receiving orders, Imeraria commanded her to do as she was told.
With the maid leaving the place after bowing, Hifumi tosses the package, he was carrying, on top of the bed. The long and narrow object was thrashing around on the bed.
“Oh, it woke up.” (Hifumi)
“This… is it a living creature?” (Imeraria)
Imeraria instinctively jumped back from the bed and hid herself in Hifumi’s shadow.
“There isn’t any need to be so scared. It’s your mother after all, I guess?” (Hifumi)
Although the queen’s hair was disheveled and her clothes were stripped off, she was glaring at Hifumi in a condition of having her hands tied behind her back and a gag forced into her mouth.
As Hifumi removed the gag, a scream burst out from her.
“Behaving in such manner towards me, do you really think this will finish peacefully!” (Queen)
“Hi-Hifumi-sama, why did you do such a… ?” (Imeraria)
Imeraria grabbed Hifumi’s arm. The queen changed the target of her verbal attack, of what she thought about this treatment, towards her daughter.
“Imeraria! I never expected you to use such a sort of way! To seduce a man into doing something like binding your mother… Finally you showed your true feelings because you are aiming for the crown!” (Queen)
Due to her mother scowling at her with a bloodcurdling facial expression, even Imeraria lacks any words.
“That’s how it is. Somehow this fellow wants the prince to succeed the crown one way or another rather than Imeraria.” (Hifumi)
The queen snapped once again at Hifumi, saying this as if it is someone else’s problem.
“Be quiet! You king-slaying, seriously criminal, person! You are a fool pretending to be a noble without even having officially been conferred the title by the king!” (Queen)
“Is that so?” (Hifumi)
“… If it’s the kingdom’s law, then there will be no problem with being appointed to the rank of a territorial noble. As for the usual procedure, only the king would be able to do that, but…” (Imeraria)
“In other words, her criticism is irrelevant.” (Hifumi)
Although Imeraria believed Being a king slayer isn’t wrong, I think, since it simply was “revenge” for Hifumi, he apparently doesn’t believe this to be a wrongdoing.
Well then, Hifumi’s story is: while considering how to deal with the current problem for the succession of the throne, the prince faction was in the process of setting up an ambush within the castle. He found out that the queen had ordered the First Knight Unit to assassinate Imeraria. Therefore, once the entire knight unit exited the room, he restrained the queen.
Without believing in this story, Imeraria looked at the queen, but the queen didn’t deny it.
“It is only appropriate for Ayperos to succeed the throne. Imeraria, above inviting someone, who plunged this country into a crisis, to come into the castle, you are unforgivably scheming to usurp the country itself!” (Queen)
Imeraria felt as if she had been plunged into darkness.
For the sake of protecting the peace of this country, she is desperate. So that the country doesn’t scatter into pieces due to losing its king, she is frantically thinking. Even though she should have acted.
After her mother had collapsed, for the sake of her yet youthful and helpless brother, she somehow got until here while also struggling.
“So, what will you do?” (Hifumi)
Imeraria came to her senses due to Hifumi’s question.
“What, as in… ?” (Imeraria)
“At present it feels like she is your enemy rather than mine. Since it will also be troublesome if she keeps yapping about usurpation, I brought her here for the time being.” (Hifumi)
Rather than getting angry she is astonished about Hifumi pridefully being concerned about her.
“Such thing like being an enemy…” (Imeraria)
“This fellow wants to kill you. How can you not call her an enemy?” (Hifumi)
“That is…” (Imeraria)
Suddenly and forcefully drawing his face close, Imeraria can’t continue talking.
“Also, if you keep her alive as is, I am certain it will turn into a domestic conflict between your and the prince’s faction within the castle. The confrontation will continue on the surface and behind the scenes. The ones receiving the brunt of that will be the maids and menservants, or in other words, the populace.” (Hifumi) (T/N: The devil whispers…)
Speaking towards Hifumi’s conveniences, if there are fewer operating the country, it will also become easy to control the law, to sum it up in a sentence. But he purposely left that unsaid.
“If this fellow survives, she will become the prince’s supporter one way or the other and be a hindrance to me, I am sure. If this fellow doesn’t exist, it might be possible that the prince becomes obedient as well. In that situation, I am confident that you will be able to establish the stable political system you desire.” (Hifumi)
Imeraria pondered about it while chewing her lower lip to degree of blood running down. It becomes an escape in that way and after consolidating her thoughts, she squeezed out her voice.
“It is impossible for me…” (Imeraria)
The queen’s expression displayed that this was only natural, but before long her face turned pale due to the following words.
“Therefore, I want to leave the decision to Hifumi, but…” (Imeraria)
“A-Are you abandoning your mother!” (Queen)
Who was it that aimed at whose life first? Imeraria thought. It was a mortifying decision, but she was able to consent with her current words.
“Then I won’t hold back.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi drew his katana and struck the thin neck of the queen, laying on the bed, with the back of his katana.
Having her neck broken, the queen died with wide opened eyes.
“I wonder if that really was a good thing… ?” (Imeraria)
“I think it is still too early for you to decide that.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi lifted Imeraria at her waist and threw her down on the opposite side of the bed.
Hiding the queen’s corpse within the futon, he shuts the canopy’s curtains.
“Stay hidden for a while. There are several people coming this way here. Probably it is the lot from the First Knight Unit, coming to kill you.” (Hifumi)
“Midas’ group didn’t make it in time, huh?” Hifumi grumbled.
Usually the knight unit is bound to protect her, having been told about them coming to kill her was something she couldn’t yet comprehend within her mind.
“Because I will be protecting you for now, desperately think about how you want to change your surroundings and what would be fine to do after this. The matter about inciting Pajou; the intention was good but the plan to execute it was inept.” (Hifumi)
Being abruptly praised, Imeraria floated a facial expression of suspicion.
“Without that the degree of backbone, it will be impossible for you to survive the wars starting after this. I wonder whether you want to exact your revenge upon me one day? If that’s the case, don’t trip at this place. I want you to show your desperate will to survive until your blade reaches me.” (Hifumi)
Clenching her teeth with a grinding sound, Imeraria fixed her eyes on Hifumi.
“Yes, that’s fine. Anything’s fine, even anger. A like-minded person, having a volition, will certainly clash with me. There has to be a meaning in killing each other. It has to be enjoyable.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, pretending to not see Imeraria, drew his katana and ecstatically looked at the hamon. (T/N: Hamon: The visual effect created by the hardening process of the blade. Source: Wiki)
The footsteps of several people stop in front of the room.
When Midas and Sabnak arrived at Imeraria’s bedroom, after struggling along the way, it was the exact moment when Hifumi left the room.
Hifumi, fighting with an enemy that gave some kind of resistance, had a truly refreshed facial expression even though it was night.
“Too late. I already took care of all the prey.” (Hifumi)
“Imeraria-sama is?” (Midas)
“She’s inside. Watch your steps as there are corpses scattered all over.” (Hifumi)
While wondering what his kindness was about, Midas entered the room. Though simple, the bedroom was provided with high-class furnishing. A great number of blood-stained corpses were spread on the floor.
Even the miserable figure of the queen is amongst those.
“Hear about the circumstances from Imeraria. I am off.” (Hifumi)
“You are off, you say? Where to?” (Sabnak)
“My distinctive job.” (Hifumi)
Seeing off Hifumi, who was passing through the corridor while leisurely shouldering the katana, Sabnak shook his head with a face full of astonishment.
“Haven’t the knight units been decreased around half with today? No, wait, the Second is absent, so the decrement is only one-third.” (Sabnak)
“Are you joking around in this situation? Please guide Imeraria-sama to the spare bedroom. We will keep guarding without change until morning.” (Midas)
“… Though it would be nice if it were just joking around.” (Sabnak)
Someone’s scream could be heard from the other side of the corridor.
“Thus, since Hifumi-sama will be cleaning the trash out within the king’s castle after this, please make you rounds so that the trash doesn’t escape.” (Origa)
Suddenly coming to their office and even detaining those, with the exception of the knights on duty, wanting to go back, against their will, Origa gave the gathered knights of the Third Knight Unit an order under the pretense of it being an explanation.
Because all of them were aware what kind of standing the girl in front of them has, they abide obediently, as resisting it would be unwise, while having disgruntled thoughts.
“That… it is already time for me to go home…” (Female Knight)
“Not allowed.” (Origa)
“Not allowed you say…” (Female Knight)
With her colleagues consoling her to give up, the female knight sat down in resignation.
“Currently the castle is divided into the prince faction and the princess faction. It looks like the First Knight Unit is part of the prince faction. Going by Hifumi-sama’s explanation, it seems to be very likely that the First Knight Unit will move tonight in order to assassinate the princess.” (Origa)
“I don’t believe such foolishness. Not even as a joke. They are in the position of protecting the royal castle.”
Origa claps her hands in order to calm down the bewildered knights.
“At any rate, seeing that Hifumi-sama decided to make Imeraria-sama the queen, they will simply die if they turn hostile. As for the Third Knight Unit, you were given the role of restraining those trying to flee from the castle. Your location will be even further outside than the castle’s gate, which is guarded by the First Knight Unit.” (Origa)
Opening the iron-ribbed fan, she had retrieved from within her bosom, Origa is slowly swinging it for the sake of fanning the face while talking.
“Even if it is Lord Tohno’s instruction, behaving as if hostile to a fellow knight unit…”
Origa interrupted the mumbling words of refusal with the closing of her iron-ribbed fan.
“As if hostile, that’s not it, you already are hostile to them. Or are you one of the prince’s faction? In short, as far as Hifumi-sama is concerned, you already are an enemy…” (Origa)
Seeing the hand holding the iron-ribbed fan being filled with strength at a glance, the elder knights went out ahead.
“Please wait! I will follow Imeraria-sama’s will. Haven’t you called Midas’ group for that sake as well?”
“That’s right. Besides, there isn’t any need to fight. During the time Hifumi-sama cleans the castle’s interior, it will be alright as long as no people enter or leave the castle. Also, please tidy up tomorrow morning.” (Origa)
Any more sweetness dripping out from Origa’s cheerful smiling will be dreadful, the knights thought.
“Thanks to Hifumi-sama, the Third Knight Unit will take care of Imeraria very closely within the king’s castle. You will likely reach the point of being treated as very influential war potential.” (Origa)
“In addition,” Origa continues.
“If you are able to accept making an effort here in doing your job properly with a mindset of cooperation, then Hifumi-sama will kindly overlook the actions of the Third Knight Unit the other day, understand?” (Origa)
‘Though I won’t forgive you’, Origa’s eyes told them.
In this way the Third Knight Unit got stuck with standing watch at the royal castle without a wink of sleep until the next morning.