The next day after the meeting, Malfas set off on his travel from the simple settlement during the morning and Reni and the others gathered their luggage together with all residents after seeing off Malfas in the morning, because they will depart after lunch as well.
The ones leaving the settlement amount to around 200, roughly 80% of all residents. A few dozens consisting of those excelling at battle among the beastmen and the humans, who are attached to Swordland, stayed behind. The group staying behind seems to plan to visit the villages of other beastmen and build a force that will oppose the demons.
They chose different paths in life, but it was a calm separation without any quarreling.
Packing their luggage on several wagons, the travellers, except for the children, move by walking in order to protect the wagons, just like at the time when they arrived at this settlement.
Many of the people, who waved their hands and bid farewell, had tears blurring their eyes.
“Until the very end they said that they’d like Reni to stay behind, didn’t they?” (Helen)
Helen muttered to Reni and Gengu, who walked at the front of the group together with her, just when the group staying behind wasn’t visible anymore.
“It can’t be helped. There ain’t nothing I can do if they take fighting as given.” (Reni)
Even so, you should be able to handle it somehow, it’s not only Helen that shares that thought, but it was likely the same for the group staying behind. However, Reni denied it stubbornly. In her eyes it can’t be helped if they have to fight to resolve a problem, but she dislikes to resolve a problem as a result of fighting.
In the end the group staying behind chose a tigerman as temporary mediator. As one of those bought by Hifumi as slave, he admires the strength of Hifumi and continues to train his body. He’s a man who also actively participated in the vigilante corps and a person that looked more frustrated than others when they were driven out of the slums.
“I think the only difference lies in what you use as basis for judging whether you won or lost. As leader of the group I believe it to be our victory if we can create an environment where our comrades can live properly until they are met by their natural death.” (Reni)
“… I see.” (Helen)
Helen replied curtly. She felt that the things that Reni was saying are correct, but logically she couldn’t understand them well.
It’s odd for me, who is a rabbit beastman who are weak at fighting, to say so, but fighting for the sake of protecting something or someone isn’t something bad per se, is it? Helen believed. But she can also agree that getting others dragged into that fight is definitely weird.
Helen decided to stop pondering any further while checking the lie of her glossy hair by rubbing her long ears with her fingers. I won’t reach a satisfactory answer anyway.
Gengu, who walked next to them, listens to Reni’s talk and smiled happily. There are probably various considerations for him as well. However Helen is not that much of a child to ask him directly.
She throws a fleeting glance to the rear.
The reason being the depressed-looking beargirl and tigergirl who are walking silently among the group inside the forest. It’s the younger sister Riedel and her friend Olra whom Malfas had entrusted to Zanga.
In Helen’s eyes it looked as if Olra was harbouring some feelings of love towards Malfas, but as she didn’t go with him, their relationship apparently hadn’t gone that far yet.
“Oh well, there are various circumstances, aren’t there…?”
It’s not the time for me to worry about others, is it? Helen sighs.
After leaving the village where rabbit and sheep beastmen live together, she had met various men, regardless of race, so far, but as she was busy with her work, she hadn’t had any opportunity to start a romance or to go steady with someone.
For beastwomen finding husbands at the age of Reni and Helen is definitely not too early. But, she doesn’t feel like finding such partner at all.
“A boyfriend, eh…?” (Helen)
Gengu is too old, and the other guys are just not my pair of shoes either.
When she pondered about who else there might be, I guess Hifumi comes to mind.
“… Nai wa~.” (Helen) (T/N: Had to do it… xD “No way”)
“What not?” (Reni)
“It’s nothing.” (Helen)
Looking at Reni who seems to be already sleepy due to the preparations and gathering of the luggage throughout the morning, the question 「I wonder whether there’s anyone Reni likes?」 suddenly popped up in Helen’s mind.
While watching her best friend who walks sluggishly, Helen thought that Reni liked Hifumi at some point, but she believes that it doesn’t mean that she liked him as a man.
Sooner or later, I might get some love consultation or something like that.
“Well, what will be will be, huh…? Gengu-san. How long do we have to walk to Hifumi-san’s city?” (Helen)
“Hmm… at this pace, I think it will take around ten to twelve days.” (Gengu)
“I see. Please help us our guide.” (Helen)
“Please leave it to me.” (Gengu)
Gengu laughs without showing in his attitude that he’s likely worn out from going back and forth. He laughs, but since he’s baring his fangs, he’s a bit scary.
The mixed group of humans, elves and beastmen, which is led by a representative that walks without listening to that exchange while being half asleep, advances through the forest.
Hifumi and Origa went on a carefree sightseeing tour and fully enjoyed the famous local products of every place they visited. When the two arrived at the royal capital, they were told 「Her Majesty the Queen is awaiting you at the royal castle」 by the sentries. However Hifumi only replied with a 「Oh, really」 and went to a suitable inn in the castle town.
With the knight order fully grasping his movements, veins popped out on Imeraria’s forehead who had received their report.
Knowing or unknowing of Imeraria’s worries, Hifumi took Origa out to enjoy a shopping stroll as he had promised her and it was just before noon of the next day when he finally went to the castle.
“… There are various things I’d like to say, but first of all, thank you for making such a long trip.” (Imeraria)
“No problem, don’t worry about it. I was able to take it slowly for the first after coming to this world after all.” (Hifumi)
The place where the two of them met was the room where Imeraria had gathered Sabnak and her other chief vassals to hold a meeting the other day.
Inside the room, which she had even cleared of maids, the two are approximately five meters apart from each other with a table in-between. Both of them wear composed expressions, but Imeraria is eagerly struggling to hide her nervosity and complicated feelings.
“So, what’s your business with me?” (Hifumi)
Due to the question of Hifumi, who quickly stretches a hand towards the baked sweets, Imeraria takes a sip of her black tea as if trying to show her composure.
“… Before that, what’s Origa-san doing?” (Imeraria)
“Isn’t she shopping? Since I bid farewell from her when I left the inn, I don’t know where she went.” (Hifumi)
“A guard… no, that’s a pointless concern, isn’t it?” (Imeraria)
Something like a noble aimlessly going shopping by themselves is unthinkable even with a relatively good public order in the area, but by now Imeraria considered it fine to treat Origa in the same way as Hifumi.
“The knight order is monitoring her anyway. There’s nothing to worry about, right?” (Hifumi)
“They monitored you, Hifumi-sama, but why should they do the same for Origa-san?” (Imeraria)
“There were two presences who followed Origa at the inn. I felt like I know them. I guess someone from the former Third Knight Order.” (Hifumi)
Even Imeraria doesn’t know who exactly it was, but she thought that he’s likely right about that.
Judging that they will be only pick at each other even if they unnecessarily argue back and forth any longer, Imeraria took out an envelope that had several sheets of paper in it.
“This is the report of Phyrinion-san who headed to the national border after meeting with you at Fokalore, Hifumi-sama. It mentioned that you had a battle with the demons, but would you be as kind to explain the circumstances to me.” (Imeraria)
The report, which Phyrinion finished up in a hurry, was able to reach the royal castle after to overtaking Hifumi who carefreely enjoyed his trip. Vaiya, who gloomily looked at the contents written there, immediately reported to Imeraria and passed the letter to her.
He ended up presenting Phyrinion’s report together with papers that contained love letter-like contents for her husband. Imeraria was bored seeing words of love composed by the same sex though.
“I wanted to fight them. Although they are stronger than common humans, their numbers are low. If they don’t prepare a bit better, it won’t be enough for them to strike at the human camp with its big numbers, I suppose. Ah, their magic was quite nice. I met a guy who created a sword in the air. Even the other small fries were considerably superior in comparison to human magicians.” (Hifumi)
Imeraria takes quick notes while listening to Hifumi’s story. That’s because she knew that even if he phrases it as if it’s trivial information, important intelligence can be won out of it.
“… Didn’t you consider reporting that to me, Hifumi-sama?” (Imeraria)
A criticizing remark and a gaze which says that.
“It’s the circumstances of another country, right? What’s more, I already stopped being a noble. The report has come in from the border, hasn’t it? Then, shouldn’t you first feel a sense of danger due to the report not containing any information about the demons?” (Hifumi)
It’s a fair argument, but Imeraria fixedly stares at Hifumi without saying anything. And not just that. She fervently searched for what Hifumi wanted to say behind his mockery-like words.
Gulping down her spit, she opens her mouth.
“T-The ones called nobles don’t stop being nobles just because they retired as family head. It’s not like it’s fine for them to not serve the country. I constantly need information to protect the country. Cooperating with that is the duty of the people which also includes the nobles.” (Imeraria)
Upon Imeraria’s rebuttal, Hifumi clapped his hands and laughed.
“Ahahaha! Those are nice words. The ideal might be like that. But, you should think about the oversight I told you about, shouldn’t you? Well, as for that, I guess Sabnak, Puuse and the people around you are at fault as well.” (Hifumi)
After laughing for a while, Hifumi smoothly took out a bundle of papers our of his darkness storage. The bulky documents have been put together with a leather strap. With just a fleeting look, one can see that they are densely filled with characters.
Imeraria, who received the documents that Hifumi slid over across the table, quickly scans the first several pages. What was minutely written there were the place from where the demons attacked first, the composition of their army, the magic they used and how Vichy dealt with them.
“This is…” (Imeraria)
“The documents Caim put together from what I told him. Do your best and look through them and then ponder about countermeasures.” (Hifumi)
“T-Thank you… very much.” (Imeraria)
“Well, I guess that planning to gather information is the correct approach. See it as reward for running around and keeping at it while keeping your mouth shut in Horant.” (Hifumi)
There’s no need to even think about who might have leaked that. The only who was present there and had a chance to talk with Hifumi is Alyssa.
After listing several grudges and hard feelings towards Alyssa in her mind while hanging her bright red head in shame, Imeraria clears her throat.
“Ahem. Putting the reason aside, it saves me troubles. As for the countermeasures, I will consult with Sabnak and the others, and arrange for them. Thus, next is the real reason why I called you here.” (Imeraria)
“Mmh? It’s not because you wanted this information?” (Hifumi)
“There’s that as well. But there’s something I’d like to ask of you.” (Imeraria)
While listening, Hifumi picks up a backed sweet and tosses it into his mouth. Only his gaze remained on Imeraria.
“I’d like you to teach your way of fighting to the knights, Hifumi-sama.” (Imeraria)
“If that’s the case, the instructions of Fokalore are carried out all over the place, right?” (Hifumi)
“That’s not it”, Imeraria shakes her head.
“It about your personal techniques, Hifumi-sama. I haven’t… seen it that many times, but everyone of the knights… Midas-san and Vaiya-san, of course Sabnak-san as well, have highly praised your strength and skills without reluctance, Hifumi-sama.” (Imeraria)
“You don’t have to praise me any further.” (Hifumi)
“I warmly welcome anyone who wants to become strong, but there’s no need to praise me for that sake. I don’t expect to be acknowledged by others and I’m not such a nice person either.” (Hifumi)
But, she didn’t fail to hear it, namely 「I warmly welcome anyone who wants to become strong」.
“Excessive sugarcoating is unnecessary then, right? … Please help us.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria stood up while talking and slowly bowed her head.
“Please bestow strength to protect this country to the knights of Orsongrande.” (Imeraria)
“… As means to protect the country created by you?” (Hifumi)
“No, it’s not only that.” (Imeraria)
Hifumi lifted one eyebrow due to the unexpected answer and showed fake surprise.
“Umm… right now I can’t tell you.” (Imeraria)
Seeing Imeraria hesitant to speak about it, Hifumi stood up while grinning broadly.
“From tomorrow onwards, right? I will start early in the morning. You have decided on the number of people, haven’t you?” (Hifumi)
“Yes. It will be 30 knights. Please do bestow your teachings on them.” (Imeraria)
“Got it. See you tomorrow.” (Hifumi)
Imeraria suddenly had a question for Hifumi who was about to leave like that.
“You won’t be staying in the castle?” (Imeraria)
“Yeah, I already took an inn near the castle. The retired married couple will spend its time carefreely among the people.” (Hifumi)
“Married couple…” (Imeraria)
Hifumi leaves the room with a “See you”.
Imeraria, who sat down once again, placed her head on the table with her face turned downwards.
“Don’t worry… I’m alright…” (Imeraria)
The maid, who entered in exchange for Hifumi, raised her voice, but Imeraria lifts a hand and waves her slender fingers.
After not showing her face to anyone for around three minutes, Imeraria raised her face energetically.
Inside the room there was a maid on standby while looking uneasy.
“Pass a message to Sabnak-san and the others. They are to gather here tonight.” (Imeraria)
“As you wish, Your Majesty.”
The maid quietly leaves the room.
Once again Imeraria was sitting absent-mindedly in the room by herself.
“… What should I do…?” (Imeraria)
No one replies. She has to find an answer by herself.
He stomach rumbled.
“I have to show that I’m full of spirit…” (Imeraria)
Standing up staggeringly, Imeraria started to walk in search for the lunch that should have been prepared in her office.