“That’s not my job.” (Hifumi)
Having enjoyed to his heart’s content the luncheon with Imeraria in the royal castle he visited together with Origa, Hifumi listened to her request while drinking an after-meal black tea and quickly refused it.
“What’s the deal with the coach standing out even at the real deal? Besides, what I’m currently teaching them are techniques for interpersonal combat. I think that the knight folks have plenty of experience with methods of escorting others while cooperating with each other.” (Hifumi)
Having logic thrust at her, Imeraria was unable to go on with her persuasion.
Imeraria didn’t overlook how Origa, who watched the situation, revealed a faint smile.
“If you believe your own army to be lacking, you just have to make Fokalore send soldiers. There’s also no need to especially move a large number of people from the capital.” (Hifumi)
“But, an envoy from the capital not being present at the time of welcoming people from another country is…” (Imeraria)
“Phyrinion is at the border, isn’t she? If you send a letter or something written by yourself and some knights as guards for her, it will keep up appearances, right?” (Hifumi)
He requests a refill of black tea from the maid being in waiting and gently stabs the fork into the cake that had been provided.
“Can you possibly dispatch soldiers from the Tohno Earldom then?” (Imeraria)
“Idiot. I told you to make them send soldiers, you know? I’m not the one you have to ask about in regards to this.” (Hifumi)
“It will probably be fine if you give instructions to Phyrinion and while at it, have her negotiate,” he eats a slice of cake.
“There’s no need to worry, Your Majesty. It’s not something Alyssa would decline. And it’s probably nothing that demands a particular reward either.” (Origa)
As if throwing a lifeline, Origa spoke up to Imeraria who’s in confusion.
“But, if you could concern yourself with Alyssa a bit so that she’s allowed to get used to the kingdom’s nobility…” (Origa)
“Yes, that’s no problem.” (Imeraria)
Originally Alyssa is a foreigner as person from Vichy. Although it’s not unusual for merchants to pass back and forth between countries, it was unprecedented for a single soldier to convert to another country and to even become a noble heir. Since Hifumi’s influence is still going strong, there’s no public opposition, but as soon as Hifumi’s influence fades after his retirement, Alyssa won’t be able to elude a strong backlash by the citizens and nobility if she makes some kind of blunder.
“Since Alyssa-san is close to me in age, I’d like her to come to the royal castle as friend. I will also provide education in Orsongrande’s etiquette to her.” (Imeraria)
“Thank you very much for your kind consideration.” (Origa)
Imeraria immediately understood Origa’s true motive behind relying on her in regards to Alyssa. If their plan goes smoothly, Origa will be sealed together with Hifumi. Even though excellent civil officials will still be left afterwards, she’s probably anxious.
While being careful to not show it on her face, Imeraria is nervous in front of the big task of negotiating with the demons. Hifumi opens his mouth,
“You don’t have to worry about Alyssa’s lodging. I will stay here. Once Vepar arrives, call me. After all we are no strangers.” (Hifumi)
“Just what did you do in the demon’s country…?” (Imeraria)
“Just a little sightseeing tour. You can employ Viine if you are going to send a letter to Fokalore.” (Hifumi)
Viine has gone out to sightsee the capital together with Puuse since the morning. Since she said that she’s going to grab lunch outside, she likely intends to return in the afternoon.
“Understood. I will immediately prepare the necessary documents. How is the progress of the knights?” (Imeraria)
“Because their bodies were trained, it’s easier than teaching amateurs. I was really troubled with training Origa.” (Hifumi)
“P-Please don’t talk about that. Even I’m embarrassed about the events back then, so…” (Origa)
The voice of Origa, who casts her eyes down with a bright red face, is frail and delicate, lacking its usual pressure.
Imeraria was aware of Origa receiving training from Hifumi right after he came to this world due to the reports from the Third Knight Order. She didn’t feel anything at all back then, but being now shown that exchange in front of her eyes makes her quite angry.
After clearing her throat to gloss over that emotion, Imeraria takes a sip of the completely cold black tea. I forgot to put in sugar. Yuck, it’s bitter.
“Hifumi-sama, is it alright for me to ask a question, too?” (Imeraria)
“What is it for you to be so formal?” (Hifumi)
As usual Hifumi’s expression had a faint smile making reading his mind impossible, but Origa, who’s next to him, stares at Imeraria with a somewhat tense feeling.
“Hifumi-sama’s…no, what kind of world is the ideal world you are imagining, Hifumi-sama?” (Imeraria)
Being about to say Hifumi-sama’s desired, she reworded.
“I’m still inexperienced as statesman. I’m well aware of that. I’m royalty, but it’s not like I received education in that direction. …Honestly spoken, I’m only doing things ad hoc as I haven’t even decided the shape I’m planning for Orsongrande.” (Imeraria)
Since a war started, I dealt with it. Since a problem with Horant occurred, I dealt with it. Since the demons attacked, I dealt with it. And, after sensing the possibility of Hifumi’s existence jeopardizing the reign by royalty, I will deal with it.
So what am I going to do beyond that?
What kind of country am I going to rule after eliminating Hifumi and restraining the demons’ threat?
She had postponed that while being swept away by her busy days.
At the coronation ceremony she carelessly stated, “I have the obligation to create a good country, where everyone can live in abundance. It’s my mission to build a country that allows them to believe that protecting it was worth it,” to the population. That’s no lie, but if she thinks back on it now, those are empty and embarrassing words.
“The ideal world, huh? That’s really simple. A world where everyone can do whatever they want to do.” (Hifumi)
Upon those words, Imeraria at first considered it to be an unexpectedly normal answer. But she immediately realized her own error.
“Everyone, that’s impossible, isn’t it?” (Imeraria)
Simply put, Imeraria’s wish and Hifumi’s wish run counter to each other. A peaceful, world with no disputes as desired by her and a world that keeps evolving through dispute as desired by Hifumi; neither of those two can come into existence.
“I guess. That’s how meaningless it is what you are trying to accomplish.” (Hifumi)
Draining the refilled tea, Hifumi stands up with the words “The lunch was delicious,” and quickly leaves.
Origa, who stood up likewise, called out to the bewildered Imeraria.
“Your Majesty. Desiring anything and everything like you do is foolish. That’s what he meant. I was taught the expression Someone who chases two rabbits won’t catch either.” (Origa)
Circling around the table, Origa looked down on the queen.
“You are trying to achieve peace for the country by abandoning Hifumi-sama. Since you have already decided to cut him off, demonstrate a resolve befitting that, please. Otherwise it will result in you losing everything.” (Origa)
Origa exits the room at a quick pace, chasing after Hifumi.
Being left behind, the queen was lost in thoughts for a while by herself. Then she headed to her office in order to prepare the documents. Her aura at that time was so intense that it didn’t let anyone get close to her.
“Don’t you think that such important task isn’t the job of a retired knight?” (Phyrinion)
At the time the letter from Imeraria reached Phyrinion, being passed on from Caim who received it from Viine, it had been copied on a sturdy, thick parchment, obviously usable even as a document certifying a mission. Comprehending the instructions to be used for that important task, Phyrinion felt her stomach getting heavy like lead.
“It’s such an important job? As expected of you, miss…madam. Even after having retired, the trust in you by Her Majesty is still running deep.”
“The location was simply bad.” (Phyrinion)
As she keeps on reading the instructions, the discomfort in her stomach transforms into pain.
There are two major orders for Phyrinion. Monitoring the ruler of the demons and guiding them to the capital. In an enclosed memo was written, “Given that I’m requesting Alyssa’s cooperation, coordinate your actions with her.”
“Somehow it feels different from usual.” (Phyrinion)
Phyrinion felt uneasy towards the written details rather than the content of the letter.
The signature is definitely authentic, and since the sealing is something that can only be used by the queen, the possibility of it being a fake is low.
“Different, you say?”
“Hmm…how to express it? It has the feeling of being ordered, I guess? I’m simply surprised since her wording had more of a requesting tone before she succeeded the throne.” (Phyrinion)
“It’s a trifle change, isn’t it?” Phyrinion smiled at Clinora, but in her mind she was scared as she became aware of a different observation.
(If she uses a retired knight, the royal castle’s forces won’t be whittled down, even if the demons go on a rampage in worst case. Taking it a step further, she can even aim for a decline among the forces of the Tohno Earldom that boasts a higher military power than the royal castle…? This is definitely not the idea of Her Majesty.)
It’s said that the person appearing to be a demon, who brought the letter, withdrew without entering combat. There’s also the possibility of them lacking combat power, but the act of them simply choosing to escape without trying to hurt anyone means they are truly desiring a discussion, doesn’t it?
“…Though that’s no more than expectation based on hope. Clinora.” (Phyrinion)
She stands up from the chair and curls up the letter.
“I will go consult with Margrave Alyssa Tohno. Can you choose my clothes and accessories for the sake of welcoming the demons’ queen-sama at your own discretion?” (Phyrinion)
“Indeed. Although I think that it’s no more than a honorific task, I will become a mediator, so I beg you as it will also place a burden on you, Clinora. If there are no good dresses and accessories among my things, go and buy them in Fokalore.” (Phyrinion)
Leaving the words, “Take all the guards along and make sure to take a breather with everyone while you’re at it,” Phyrinion headed toward Rhone’s temporary town hall.
“Caim-san, what do you think?” (Alyssa)
“It’s a request by Her Majesty. I think it will be difficult to decline it. Also, only Fokalore’s soldiers and a part of the border guards directly dealt with the demons. Since there are no other forces that can take over that task either, I think it’s adequate to assume you taking charge will be connected to obtaining an immediate achievement, Alyssa-sama.” (Caim)
Following Phyrinion’s visit, Alyssa decided to hold a discussion using the council room. Caim and Miyukare are attending in addition to Phyrinion and Alyssa.
(For him to have come to Rhone…)
Phyrinion felt slightly uncomfortable due to Caim, who should have stayed back in Fokalore, being present.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to personally check the territory’s state of affairs. I have scruples to leave it all to my subordinates.” (Caim)
“…I haven’t said anything!” (Phyrinion)
Caim suddenly explains as if having read her mind.
Phyrinion was extremely bad with Caim’s type. If I’m completely honest, it’s the same with my husband too, but even if I can comprehend that Caim’s excellent, he has too many shady parts.
Though it’s an impression slightly influenced by the grudge of having been previously forced to study to the extent of her losing weight.
“It could also be a trap, right? Though I don’t want to split up the guards too much.” (Miyukare)
As the one in charge of military affairs, Miyukare cannot avoid feeling anxious about there being an attack when the defenses have been thinned out due to them acting as sacrificial pawns for someone that called herself queen.
“There’s no specification about the numbers in the request by Her Majesty. What kind of previous arrangements are to be used when welcoming the demons?” (Caim)
“Basically Her Majesty told to me to do the fine-tuning myself and to report it to the royal castle. I wholeheartedly want to let the demons know about our schedule of welcoming them, but…I wonder if there’s any means to get in contact with them?” (Alyssa)
“As for that, I have an idea. It would be easier if the madam was present, but…let’s leave the selection of the guards to Miyukare then.” (Caim)
“How about limiting it to 30 soldiers? What are we going to do about the traveling method?” (Miyukare)
“There are sightings of demons riding horses. It’s very likely that they will arrive on horse this time. For our soldiers, it’s the platform wagons. The personnel will be split into horse riders and platform wagon passengers.” (Caim)
As the details are quickly and efficiently decided, Alyssa silently nods in agreement. It’s best to leave the soldiers to Miyukare and the comprehensive support to Caim. It’s me who has to approve it anyway. I will hear about the truly important matters from Caim.
“Is it okay for me to go with them?” (Alyssa)
“On the contrary, the option to not go doesn’t exist for you. It’s a mission similar to having received a royal command from Her Majesty the Queen. The family head not leading the forces as noble will set a bad example to other nobles.” (Caim)
“I see.” (Alyssa)
Looking at Alyssa nodding while saying, “I got it,” Miyukare stood up full of vigor.
“T-Then, as support, I will also…” (Miyukare)
“Miyukare, please stay back here.” (Caim)
“Who’s going to put the guarding soldiers in order during the absence of Lord-sama? You are here for that reason, right?” (Caim)
Her state of gritting her teeth with an expression that made it all too obvious that she can’t agree with whats being said is the impersonation of the antonym of the word graceful.
“Miyukare-san, please.” (Alyssa)
As she’s unable to say anything else after being told so by Alyssa, she feebly sinks back down on her chair.
“That means it’s going to be a little less than 50 in total with all the soldiers and chamberlains centered around Alyssa-sama and Phyrinion-sama? Let’s have several staff members accompany them as well. It’s not a bad thing for them to see the royal capital. And, I have a suggestion, Phyrinion-sama.” (Caim)
“Eh? Ah, what might it be?” (Phyrinion)
Phyrinion, who dumbfoundedly stared at things being rapidly settled in front of her eyes, reset her brain in a hurry after the conversation suddenly turned her way.
“Since it’s such an occasion, how about having several elves and beastmen come along as representatives? As they are going to live on this land, they should probably be allowed to at least greet Her Majesty.” (Caim)
“For you to say something so outrageous without hesitation…”
Caim is implicitly saying to make the elves and beastmen help with the escorting. Having them help the country and creating an excuse to meet with the queen is for the sake of showing off their usefulness as subjects of this country.
“According to what I heard, the elves have a history of having fought against the beastmen. Even the beastmen had disputes among the tribes in the wastelands. Won’t that serve as good advice?” (Caim)
“Caim…you are coming up with dangerous ideas that are no different from the previous Lord.” (Phyrinion)
“That’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s a really big help!” (Alyssa)
Phyrinion’s remark towards Caim was unnecessarily cynic, but Alyssa apparently took it as genuine compliment.
Once again Phyrinion’s stomach is exposed to stress.
“Anyway, I will ask for Her Majesty’s opinion on this matter. So, what shall we do about the communication with the demons?” (Alyssa)
“That’s simple. The demons have likely soldiers hiding to watch our movements on the other side of the border anyway. It will be fine if we throw a message with a weight attached at them.”
Except for Phyrinion, all those present nodded with an “I see.”
The former knight, who was worried about the way of treatment for letters between countries, seems to be in the minority in this place.