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After the leaders of the three races currently capable of acting finished their meeting, things around Renya suddenly became very hectic.
First, various troubles cropped up about the treatment of the demon survivors Renya had brought with him. Renya had absolutely no clue just where the information about them got leaked, but the news that the lord of Klinge had brought demons back home from the demon country spread to the human countries, resulting in the Trident Principality being confronted with extreme criticism by some of the human nations. They mostly claimed that it was unnecessary to rescue those demons, who had always been regarded as the enemies of the world so far, just because they got persecuted by the demon king himself, but the nasty aspect of this was them aiming their criticism at the Trident Principality, and not at Renya who was the perpetrator of it all.
“What’s the difference?” Renya asked while scanning a copy of a written protest that was delivered to the principality while having been co-signed by several countries with the Holy Kingdom being the first on the list.
Although it had lost most of its authority, it seemed that the Holy Kingdom’s name still held some clout. Just when Renya was about to get up in order to erase the Holy Kingdom from the map once and for all since their continued existence was causing too much trouble and had a bad, lasting effect, the archduchess stopped him from going through with it.
“If you～ crush the Holy Kingdom～ at this point～, it’ll create huge numbers～ of homeless people, Renya-san～”
Even Renya didn’t regard creating huge mountains of corpses as a hobby. If he planned to crush the nation while considering that, he had no option other than getting completely rid of everyone concerned with the royal rule. This would still result in many people dying, but it was also the method that would require the lowest death toll while achieving the objective of crushing the nation.
However, what would be left in its wake would be huge numbers of citizens without their king. According to the archduchess, it’d be extremely bad if all these people lost their place to go.
“Keeping something alive～ even if for form’s sake～ as empty shell～ or not doing so～ are two completely different things～”
“Are you telling me we should ignore them?”
The power of the countries, which have co-signed the protest note, fell short of the current strength of the Trident Principality, even if put together. But, that only applied during normal times. If those countries attacked the principality after it had expended large amounts of its power in the battle against the demon king or in the middle of it, things wouldn’t end nicely.
The archduchess grumbled enviously that the other races were truly strong at such times. The elves had a unified nation where the emperor ceaselessly had a firm grip of the whole country thanks to his very long life-span, so even if some of the elves harbored some discontent, the emperor’s will would eventually take priority. The beastmen were a lot simpler. Because they believed those who were strong to be great, they became one single monolith if someone took the lead after defeating everyone else, unless they got disapproved by someone else with a considerable amount of ability. Even the dragonoids, whose current situation was unknown because of the cut-off communication, didn’t seem to be overly rebellious since the decisions of the Witenagemot, which gave Renya quite a bit of trouble, are binding for all of the race.
If you followed that line of thought, only the humans had factions, which would always try to sabotage common efforts, even in such a situation where all nations had to band together to oppose a common enemy or problem afflicting all of them. Renya felt a strange feeling of admiration about human nature not really changing much, even when talking about another world.
“So, what are you going to do?”
“It won’t show～ its effect at once, but～ I’ll try to slowly siphon off their unity～ by scattering poison among them～ and thus causing them～ to dissolve into a gooey mud～”
Renya thought, You’re no friggin’ spider, about the archduchess’s way of phrasing it, but she seemed to mean it seriously. Of course, her remark was just a figure of speech.
In the first place, all human countries had become quite impoverished because of the great war caused by Hero Yuuki. They were receiving support in personnel and goods from the Trident Principality, the victorious nation, and many countries were in a state of barely maintaining their form as states. Opposing the one providing all the aid under such circumstances could only be called extremely stupid or bravery at the level of a hero. Once again it caused Renya to be oddly impressed by their actions, but he decided to shelve this for the moment. In the end, the Trident Principality doubtlessly had its hands in various places of the current world.
“I’ll freely～ deploy all kinds of schemes～”
In short, the archduchess would use that influence to instigate, deceive, persuade, and assist those who were easy to manipulate and those who were somewhat less problematic in those nations. She was planning to take control of the human nations through pro-Trident factions.
“You’re quite the villainess.” Renya curtly commented the archduchess’s idea like that, but she didn’t show any signs of being perturbed.
The archduchess’s scheming should keep the bloodshed to a far lower limit than Renya making a move. However, although people would simply get killed if Renya made a move, it was also possible that the archduchess’s schemes would result in some people facing a much worse fate than being killed. Then again, the archduchess didn’t take the risk, which might afflict those getting deceived by her schemes, into account anyway. That was also the part which Renya referred to when calling her a villainess.
“Do you～ have any better plan～?”
“No. That’s why I left it to you.”
Renya had no alternate plan. For this reason he was unable to deny her plan, and thus he had decided to entrust all the decisions in regards to this matter to the archduchess.
“Leaving that aside, just what kind of commotion is going on over here?”
With the matter of the human nations entrusted to the archduchess, the other commotion bothering Renya pertained to the Klinge’s circumference. He was aware of the three races having mobilized a staggering amount of troops for the sake of the battle against the demon king which was expected to take place in the near future, but for some reason those troops were successively gathering in Klinge.
Klinge was a city with a fairly big scale considering its population. But, the lodging facilities originally owned by the city would be easily overrun with this influx of soldiers, especially considering that it was unclear just how many troops it would be.
The leaders of the races had apparently realized that Klinge’s lodging facilities wouldn’t be able to handle such a rush of visitors. They had the government officials and high officers stay inside Klinge while having the lower ranks of their armies set up camps outside Klinge. Accompanying this, the amount of materials flowing into Klinge exploded. Even the storehouses quickly ended up going overcapacity, resulting in the materials, which couldn’t be stored away, being left out in the open after covering them with cloths and similar.
Due to the mountains of documents forwarded alongside the goods and people, the local civil officials of Klinge completely lost all willpower to even scream, and silently pursued their work of processing all the paperwork while being half-dead. At this point, their office looked like pandemonium as corpses were laying around all over the place.
“As for the battle～ against the demon king～ we decided we’ll use Klinge as starting point～ to break through～ all the way up to the demon king’s castle～ through just one invasion route～”
“We decided, you say… Oh well, whatever. And?”
“In line with this～ we’ll amass～ our troops in Klinge～ our front line base～ and launch our attack from here～…”
“And why haven’t I, the lord of this land, heard anything about this?”
The highest authority of the Trident Principality was the archduchess. But, Renya was ruling over Klinge, and if they were going to use the city like that, it would be just proper to first contact him about it.
“Our conversation～ just now～ is the official notification～”
“Please understand～ since we’re～ currently at war～”
Since it would hinder any action during war if you had to get the agreement of each landed nobility, the principality seemed to have a rule that the archduchess could override their authority during wartime. Renya was far too estranged from this kind of information and thus it was obvious that he’d heard about this for the first time, but now that he had been that he couldn’t do anything about it since such a rule existed, he had no possibility to complain about it either.
Although it triggered some chaos, nothing that could be called damage afflicted the residents of Klinge so far, so Renya gave up on bickering about this as he had no choice anyway. The ones getting the short stick of the end were the civil officials who were increasingly turning into zombies in their office, but while thinking that they had no choice but to accept this for the same reason of being in the middle of a war, Renya asked the archduchess about a completely different matter.
“It sounds like an investigation team is going to enter the demon town?”
This was about a written application addressed to Renya which Mayria had discovered among the huge pile of documents sent to them. Because investigators of the elves, beastmen, and humans wanted to go examine the demon town that had landed right next to Klinge and stayed there just like that, they had sent an application to get permission. Renya had passed it on to Emil, and after the demons discussed it amongst themselves, they had notified Renya’s place that they would allow the investigation team entry into their town.
“Is there～ any problem with that～?”
It was decided to carry out the investigation as soon as they had put together a team from the personnel that was currently coming to Klinge in droves. The personnel selection had apparently been proceeding steadily, but it was nowhere written or mentioned what they wanted to investigate in specific.
“Isn’t that somehow weird? Though I can fully understand your desire to investigate.”
So far neither the Trident Principality nor the elves nor the beastmen had regarded the presence of demons in the vicinity of Klinge as a problem. Certainly, the demons were enemies they had opposed up until now, but this time a hero had appeared from among them, and that hero had shown her will to fight against the demon king together with them. Moreover, it was a situation where Renya, very likely the strongest combat asset among the combat forces affiliated with the three races, was a friend of the demon hero. Thus the leaders had apparently decided that it’d be better to welcome Emil generously rather than entering an endless cycle of doubting her and her motives.
Of course this decision was also based on the idea that they would have Renya solve any possible problem, if something happened, but Renya considered that to be fine as long as it didn’t lead to any complaints.
“So what the hell do you want to investigate there? Even if the other party might be demons, I won’t give my permission if you simply want to do something like a house-search, even if the demons themselves might agree to it.”
From the demons’ point of view, they could understand that the elves and beastmen feared them, and thus they planned to accept house searches like the ones Renya mentioned, and depending on the circumstances, the questioning of a part of their brethren, but from Renya’s point of view, the demons were similar to little birds that had leaped into his bosom. According to a proverb, even hunters wouldn’t shoot down small birds, and although Renya was no hunter, he’d never allow something like that to be done to the demons, especially considering that Emil was his friend.
After pondering for a short while, the archduchess answered to Renya, “I swear～ that they won’t do～ anything that would～ worry you, Renya-san～”
“With absolute certainty?”
Once Renya looked at the archduchess, his eyes clearly telling her that things wouldn’t end well for her if she were to lie about this, the archduchess took his look on from the front, and nodded while staring back into his eyes.
Although it was a verbal promise, it carried a certain weight as it was one made by the archduchess. Renya pondered whether he should make sure by writing it down into an official document which would possess a strong, binding force, but because of the extra work involved with that and since the archduchess would likely interpret this as him doubting her, he abandoned that idea, and decided to trust the archduchess’s credibility.
“It’s a slightly abrupt change～ in topic, but Renya-san～ which would you prefer～ between Shion-chan, Mayria-chan and me～?”
“…What are you talking about?” Renya asked as he couldn’t follow the sudden topic shift.
In response, the archduchess declared with a very serious face, “This time～ the Trident Principality has moved～ to extinguish the fires～ caused by the chain of disturbances～ concerning the demons, but it’d be troublesome～ if it earns my family～ the reputation of backing～ an ordinary noble too much～”
Renya’s position ultimately was that of a single noble within the Trident Principality, and no more than that. The Trident Principality moving around to follow up on issues caused by a person of such standing was an exceedingly exceptional case, even if something would be going on in the background. As such the archduchess argued that people, who didn’t think of it as very amusing, would appear in- and outside the country.
“If I can have～ you marry～ one of us, it’d become possible～ to insist that we’re helping～ someone of our own blood, so～ I’m telling you～ that I’d like to give up～ and get intimate with one of us～”
“Should I go around and crush the annoying nations after all?” Renya asked while wondering how it came to be that the archduchess had included herself among the options in the first place.
The archduchess repeatedly and vigorously shook her head, “If you were to do something like that～, it’d earn the Trident Principality～ the label of being unable to control you～ on top of the issues I mentioned earlier～ This would make～ things only more troublesome～”
“But, just because of that…”
As this topic was far too sudden for him, it wasn’t anything he could answer on the spot. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t expected that such a talk would pop up sooner or later, but on top of it being way too abrupt, the timing itself was quite bad.
“Even if we were to discuss this matter now, there’s no way that I could give you an answer, you know?”
“I don’t mind～ even if we go with an engagement for starters. If it doesn’t work out～ no matter what, we’d also～ have the option to revoke～ it later on. Thus, man up～ and quickly make your choice～”
“As there’s also the issue of what the other party wants, going at it so irresponsibly…”
“I’ve already～ finished confirming～ the wills of the three～ I mentioned to you earlier～”
“You’re included as well!?” Renya retorted while shocked.
Unconsciously and involuntarily he traced his own lips with a finger due to the archduchess staring at him with a broad grin. While recalling a certain sensation which he couldn’t have forgotten although it wasn’t as if there were any traces of it left there, Renya shook his head after a short time.
“I can’t give you an answer here on the spot. No matter what you might tell me.”
“I’m slightly relieved～ as that’s an answer～ fitting you quite well, Renya-san. Though～ I believe that any ordinary man～ would have taken advantage of the situation～ and answered right away～”
It was a talk about becoming blood related to the most powerful and highest authority of the humans. Not to mention that all three of them could be called beauties in their own right. The archduchess appeared to think that men were creatures who would likely go for it at once and answer before she changed her mind on it, but Renya’s attitude of putting the reply on hold seemed to be something likable in the eyes of the archduchess.
“I’ll accept you～ taking some time to think it over～ but please decide～ at the latest～ before we sortie～ for the demon king’s castle～”
“When will that be?”
Upon Renya’s question, the archduchess pulled a troubled face for some reason.
“Hasn’t it been decided?”
“Various preparations～ are necessary, and it’ll also take time～ to gather the military personnel～”
“There’d be no meaning～ in failing because～ we rushed it. We’ve decided～ that detached forces of the elves～ and beastmen are going to buy～ us the necessary time～ by taking care of surveillance and diversionary missions～”
It was unthinkable that the demon king’s side would carefreely wait for them to finish their preparations. Mixed units of elves and beastmen would patrol the boundary line to the demon territory or restrain any transgressors while striving to stall for time and obtaining as much information as possible.
“Since it’s not like～ we’re going to have an ample～ amount of time, I’d like you～ to reach your decision～ as soon as possible, okay～?” The archduchess said with a laugh.
Renya somehow felt that making a decision on this matter would be more difficult than fighting the demon king. He snorted lightly while bending his mouth into a へ.
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