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The messenger, who departed Pursang, which got independent from Vichy, arrived at Fokalore while actually hiding the order Get in contact with Fokalore feudal army he had received.
At that point in time not only Hifumi but also 150 soldiers from the feudal army departed in the direction of Horant in order to rescue their friendly troops.
However, this was convenient for the messenger from Pursang. His order is to talk with Hifumi, who’s the feudal lord, or Alyssa, who’s the military’s top. If those two headed to the capital of Orsongrande, it would be easier to explain to the king of Pursang, Minoson, if he directly requested help from the queen as well.
Even the news that quite the number of soldiers from Fokalore’s feudal army had departed towards Horant, will be advantageous to Pursang. For Minoson, who doesn’t want a riot currently occurring and is frantic in stabilizing the country, it’s at least good information that the war potential of Fokalore has decreased.
Even so, after overtaking Fokalore’s feudal army, which was advancing in a group, what he heard when he arrived at the capital, where he headed in a hurry, was the news of a new enemy called demons.
“… What the hell does that…”
The messenger, who got to know about the queen’s absence at the royal castle, was unable to exchange brief words with anyone as the person in charge was away and thus decided to gather information in the capital as last resort.
Hearing the most recent news from a bar’s guest as part of that, the messenger heard the unfamiliar term demons.
“They say that demons are apparently demi-humans living in the wastelands. I ain’t getting it quite well either, but having a new demon king, they gathered up because they gonna attack human cities, aren’t they?”
“After that has become known, the knights and soldiers are training with a tense atmosphere”, says the drunkard, who calls himself a carpenter, and laughs with a “Hehe.”
“Considering all that, you seem to be quite carefree.”
The drunkard’s mouth, which became plenty talkative after being treated to booze, gushed forth one word after the other once asked briefly by the messenger.
“No matter what kind of opponent it is, that Knight of the Slender Sword-sama will handle it in one way or the other. Anyway, he is an outrageous man who covered the whole wastelands by himself. Moreover, as he brought down one of those demons, it won’t be a great problem.”
“Yea, it’s decorating the plaza close to the royal castle. It has a face resembling humans, but since it’s alive even though it’s just a head, it’s really different from a human.”
“Just as head…”
On the next day he tries to find the place he heard about from the drunkard and it’s certainly decorated with a demon’s head.
Having been installed on a high stand so that it doesn’t get touched, the head, which was affixed by a rope on top of it, looks down on the people in a provoking manner and opens its mouth to raise a mute voice.
“This is, amazing… Orsongrande intends to fight such things as well?”
After he mutters to himself, he rethinks with a it’s different.
If they come out from the wastelands, Vichy will be dragged into it. Although we are apart from the wastelands, it won’t be limited to them, even if Pursang won’t get involved.
“We don’t have the combat potential and technology to fight such monsters though.”
“The reasons to ask Orsongrande for its cooperation increased”, the messenger clicked his tongue quietly.
“Is it fine to take a little moment of your time?”
When he looked up at the freshly severed head, which can be even called ominous, there was a man who addressed the messenger.
The young man, who wore an extremely typical linen clothes while looking like a lean person, smiles friendly with his whole face as if it was completely drawn onto his face like that.
“Haa, what is it?”
“Did you come from Vichy’s direction by any chance?”
“… What’s wrong with that?”
The man waves his hands while saying “Nothing, nothing” to the messenger who is suspicious of him.
“Please don’t be on such alertness towards me.”
The man, who brought his face close quietly, says in a voice that can’t be heard by the surroundings,
“You and me have come from the same place.”
“Or rather, I’m living in this place for a long time already in my role as liaison. If you like, won’t you chat with me for a little while? I want to hear news about my home country.”
“I see. Given that I want to know about Orsongrande’s circumstances as well, if possible, it will be helpful to me instead.”
Entering a restaurant which is his favourite one according to the man’s words, they take a private room.
“If it’s this place, we will be able to talk at ease. As the employees are tight-lipped as well, we can talk without worry.”
“That saves troubles.”
“So, how’s the country’s situation?”
Once he ordered simple meals and drinks, he breeched the topic at once.
The messenger, who drank a mouthful of diluted wine, talks to explain the circumstances at the time he left Pursang.
“Pursang itself is heading towards stability. Representative…. King Minoson has said that it’s still not a situation where one can feel relieved. If we can tie friendly relationships with not only Orsongrande but Fokalore as well for the present, that will turn into a restraint for Vichy, he said.”
“I see. That means you came to this city as his envoy.”
“Well, that’s how it is.”
By no means can he say that he came to this place after ignoring his orders.
“Well then, it’s about Orsongrande’s situation, but that side seems to be heading towards a war with Horant. A part of the nobles plotted to invade Horant and it looks like the queen headed out to suppress them while leading the troops herself.”
“Furthermore”, while swinging the steamed potato, which he stabbed with his two-forked fork, in front of his face, the man says,
“It seems that Earl Tohno is preceding towards Horant with his close aides while the army’s main unit is trailing after him.”
“Yea, if it’s about that, I know that. On the way of getting here I passed Fokalore’s troops as well.”
“I see, then…”
The messenger frowned due to the man casting a shadow on his face all of a sudden.
“Is there something bothering you?”
“It’s about the demon we have seen not long ago.”
Downing the cup of wine in one go, he place it on the table with a *clonk*.
“If those ((demon)) troops came invading towards the direction of Fokalore or Vichy, it might be possible to oppose them to some degree with Earl Tohno absent. Even without that, I wonder whether Fokalore or Orsongrande would make a move with their leaders absent, if Vichy started an offensive against our Pursang?”
“Uuh… however, Vichy has no intention to take an aggressive stance against Fokalore.”
“Wasn’t it inconceivable that Horant would make such a move either?”
“If someone thought that they might have the prospects for victory, that assumption would likely crumble easily”, the man shakes his head.
“As a matter of fact I called out to you because I want you to deliver certain objects to our home country. Originally, someone like me, who is expected to stay hidden, won’t get in touch with others willingly.”
The man gently smiles at the messenger who asked with a feeling like grasping at straws.
“It’s magic tools that strengthen soldiers which I obtained from Horant. If it’s this, it might at least be possible to not get easily crushed by Vichy.”
“There’s such a thing?”
“Although it’s something I got my hands on by chance, I was at a loss without a partner whom I can trust to transport it as the objects are what they are. It’s disappointing that you couldn’t get in touch with the queen, but won’t it be a sufficient accomplishment with this? Since I have it at hand right here, I’d like to request it from you by all means, if possible.”
The smile of the man at that time was slight different from some time ago, but the messenger was unable to notice that.
Once he saw off the messenger who vanished into the city while thanking him many times over and pulling a cart with all the magic tools and potions placed on it, the man erased the smile from his face.
“… It seems to have gone smoothly.”
A middle-aged man, who carried the dishes and called himself clerk, called out to him.
“Humph. It would have been even better if he was related to the central committee of Vichy, but well, I guess it turned out well. Even though you didn’t mention the city’s name with a single word from your side, it saved us trouble that he flapped his mouth on his own accord. It was an easy job.”
The men, who returned to the store’s interior, enter an empty resting room for employees inside, pull the chairs to themselves with familiar motions and sit down on them with a *flump*.
“The seed has been sown. Tell that to Prime Minister Kuzemu. With this we can put out undivided attention on the fight with Orsongrande without having to worry about Vichy meddling. His Excellency, the Prime Minister, is a person quite attentive of the small details, too.”
Pouring wine into a cup by himself, he gulps down around half in one go.
“Let’s see, if it’s later possible to kill the Knight of the Slender Sword-sama according to the predictions of His Excellency, even I will get promoted once I return to the country. What do you think?”
“If it goes smoothly, certainly.”
“That would be nice.”
Hifumi stays composed even if it’s about telling a suitable lie, but since he basically doesn’t do it with the reason that it’s troublesome to falsify one’s social status if one doesn’t hide their face as well, the messenger had no difficulty to recognise the black-haired person, who turns up while mounted on horse from the front close to the capital, as being Earl Tohno.
The messenger, who intended to go as far as Fokalore, ends up flustered due to seeing an important person in an unexpected place. As Hifumi ended up making no progress due to failing in handling his horse, the messenger was somehow successful at calling out to him.
“A-Are you Earl Tohno-sama?”
“Who are you?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi returned with an amazed expression to the young messenger, who came talking to him, while frantically soothing the horse which shook its head.
After hearing the giggling voice of Origa, who was behind Hifumi, the messenger becomes red up to his ears out of embarrassment.
“I-It’s sudden, but excuse me!”
Jumping off the horse, the messenger kneeled down on one knee while holding the reins.
“I was dispatched as messenger from Biron Earldom. I’m called Ose. I came to tell you the war progress in Horant’s direction… and about the final moments of Ma Carme-sama.” (Ose)
“I see. Thanks for your troubles. Alyssa, listen to it as well.” (Hifumi)
“Y-Yea. Ma Carme’s final moment, you say, you don’t mean…” (Alyssa)
Looking at Alyssa, who stepped forward while mounted on horse, the messenger stiffens.
“What’s wrong?” (Origa)
“N-Nothing. That is… because Military Director Alyssa-sama…” (Ose)
Due to Ose being lost for words, Alyssa tilted her head to the side, but Origa turned a sharp gaze at him.
“You are Ose-san, aren’t you?” (Origa)
Ose, who held an impression of her being a peerlessly beautiful woman from Ma Carme’s stories, was confused seeing Alyssa’s appearance one might still call that of a little girl, although he thinks that she’s cute, but he came to his senses thanks to the voice of Origa who put pressure on him.
“The position Alyssa currently has is naturally related to my husband as well, but she solely owes everything to her efforts and abilities. Acting like you are harbouring strange suspicions is…” (Origa)
“Far from it!” (Ose)
Alyssa said “I see” in understanding due to Ose bowing his head with a force as if he was prostrating himself on the ground.
“Certainly, if compared to those at the same age, Alyssa is small.” (Hifumi)
“How cruel of you, Hifumi-san!” (Alyssa)
Looking at Origa, who released a charm appropriate for a woman who suddenly got married, Alyssa secretly sighed at her own appearance.
“Leaving that aside, please hurry up and talk. Did Ma Carme die?” (Hifumi)
“If that’s the case, let’s hear the circumstances”, Hifumi said.
“I don’t know whether he really lost his life, but going by the situation, it was hopeless, I guess…?” (Ose)
Hifumi listened with his arms folded on top of his horse about the gallant figure of Ma Carme told by Ose who was in tears.
Alyssa is weeping while clinging to Origa.
“He did it, didn’t he?” (Hifumi)
“… Ha?” (Ose)
Hifumi’s smile was reflected in the eyes of Ose who raised his face.
“Ma Carme performed quite well, too. Although I didn’t expect him to get done in by Horant, the developments so far aren’t bad. He was able to kill as many as possible with low numbers.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi strokes the mane of his horse in a good mood.
“The lot from Horant is great, too. It’s a reliable method to surround low numbers with many while using spear throwers and magic. Letting you get away was a mistake, but they are able to execute ((such strategy)) due to properly preparing for the sake of fighting.” (Hifumi)
What the hell is he talking about, Ose is confused and Origa says with an one-octave-higher voice,
“This is also the result of Hifumi-sama’s esteemed guidance. How magnificent.” (Origa)
Ose thought that the news, he brought back, were sad ones, however the hero in front of him is smiling.
Unable to comprehend that, he turned his look towards Alyssa, who should be crying, to look for some assistance.
What he found was a girl who sheds tears with an expression filled with rage.
“Yea, what’s up?” (Hifumi)
“I have a request.” (Alyssa)
Once Alyssa dismounted and handed the horse’s reins over to Origa, she bowed very deeply in front of Hifumi.
“The battle with Horant changed into… became a return match. This will also be my revenge.” (Alyssa)
Hifumi, who looks down on her from atop his horse, doesn’t eradicate his thin smile.
“That’s right. If you want to get revenge for Ma Carme and the others, this will be a return match. It’s no one else’s either. It your revenge.” (Hifumi)
“That’s why I will do it. Please let me do so. As Origa accomplished her revenge, please give me a chance for that as well.” (Alyssa)
Alyssa didn’t know whether this wish would be approved. If one considers Hifumi’s character, the possibility was high for him to go ahead by himself to fight. It wouldn’t be funny either if he plans to snatch away my enemies.
However, Alyssa is still far from precisely understanding Hifumi’s character.
In contrast to Alyssa, who is shrouded in anxiety, Origa was smiling.
“How interesting!” (Hifumi)
The sound of Hifumi clapping both his hands together reverberates on the highway.
The armies of Horant and Fokalore have grown up properly. At this rate they will likely become quite the struggle for Imeraria’s forces as well. Alyssa.” (Hifumi)
“What will successfully conclude your revenge?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi’s and Alyssa’s gazes cross each other.
“… Killing those, who ordered the death of Ma Carme and the others, and those, who actually killed them…” (Alyssa)
“There, there. That’s fine. It’s good with that.” (Hifumi)
Stretching out his arm, Hifumi, who gently caressed Alyssa’s hair, smiles in a good mood.
“I will leave it to you. It’s fine to use the army to your heart’s content. It will be a contest with Imeraria. So, don’t lose, okay?” (Hifumi)
“I will watch from behind.” (Hifumi)
“Yea! Thank you, Hifumi-san!” (Alyssa)
“Then, next.” (Hifumi)
Ose, who was completely treated as an outsider, unintentionally trembled with his shoulders when Hifumi’s gaze suddenly turned on him.
“There’s something I want to request from you.” (Hifumi)
“W-What is it!?” (Ose)
“Please go in the direction of Fokalore and convey the conversation just now to the Fokalore feudal army.” (Hifumi)
“That’s your reward”, retrieving one wakizashi from his darkness storage, Hifumi handed it over by tossing it to Ose.
“T-This is?” (Ose)
“It’s a wakizashi with the same ornament as Alyssa, the one Ma Carme wished for. If they see that, those guys from the army will likely realize that it’s a request from me.” (Hifumi)
“Such precious item…” (Ose)
“Take it. The fellow to get it died. If Ma Carme is still alive, it’s fine for you to palm it off by overcharging him plentifully. Because it’s this, he will probably fork over all of his money.” (Hifumi)
Ose strained his voice and said 「I have gratefully received it」 to Hifumi, who is laughing loudly, while hoisting the wakizashi above his head.
Although he didn’t see it properly as his sight was swaying, Alyssa and Origa appeared to be sobbing in Ose’s field of vision.