The exchange with the demons proceeded smoother than everyone had expected. Because there were no people experienced with things like laying the groundwork and foreign diplomacy on the demon’s side, not to mention Vepar, it took the shape of them accepting almost all of Orsongrande’s proposals without demanding any changes.
“Was it a good idea for you to not go ahead to the capital together with the beastmen?” (Alyssa)
Alyssa, who waits for the visit of the demons at Rhone’s national border, asked Zanga, the leader of the elves, who stood next to her.
“It’s unlikely that I would have a chance to carefully look at the faces of the demons due to meetings, briefings and such, if I had gone over there. Don’t worry, even the demons’ queen is probably not that much of a fool to go on a rampage here.” (Zanga)
Zanga laughed with a “Hihi,” and answered Alyssa to give her a peace of mind.
“The ojou-chans of the beastmen might be a lot smarter than I am. They don’t have pent-up resentments like us, and they didn’t feel down even though they had their city taken away. They are quite good.” (Zanga)
Alyssa couldn’t quite understand what Reni was thinking to go ahead to the capital. She didn’t have much time to ponder about it either though.
“Ah, they are here.” (Alyssa)
A group slowly approaching their location along the highway had become visible.
It’s horse-mounted people who had gray hair and blue skin.
Obviously being protected by them, several carriages advanced in a row while causing loud clattering sounds.
“We finally arrived, eh?” (Vepar)
“Your Majesty, my butt hurts.” (Nyarl)
“That’s nothing you have to point out…” (Pheres)
Once Vepar, who received a report of the border having come in sight from a soldier riding alongside the carriage, sighed, Nyarl, who was sitting opposite of her, expressed her discontent.
The travel from Vichy’s central area had been nothing but painful for Vepar who isn’t used to carriages. She wondered whether she would be able to do some paperwork in advance, but since she ended up sick within 5 minutes after the journey started, she gave up on that idea early on, and continued to bear the unpleasant vibrations affecting her tailbone.
“Once the conference is over with, I guess I will give orders to research about padding for carriages.” (Vepar)
“You won’t have any time for something like that. Even under normal circumstances we are in a situation where we are lacking personnel to even govern our new territories, let alone collecting the taxes.” (Pheres)
Pheres, who sits next to Nyarl, calmly comments while sorting documents.
“How nice for you to not having gotten sick.” (Vepar)
“I grew accustomed to it.” (Pheres)
When Vepar was putting great effort into forgetting the pain through a light chat, the carriage stopped and one of the escorting soldiers once again approached on his horse.
“Your Majesty. Humans are awaiting us at the city’s entrance.”
“Got it. We’re getting off, you two.” (Vepar)
While the soldiers secured the vicinity, they slowly got off the carriage. A step had been provided, but it was of a simple ad-hoc make.
Once she sucked in the air outside the carriage after stepping on the footboard, she felt like her gloomy mood until just now cleared up a bit.
Looking in the direction where the carriage is facing, she discovers several humans standing around 50 meters ahead.
“…The ratio of women is high, isn’t it?” (Vepar)
“It’s the same on our side, no? Please get off quickly. My back hurts.” (Nyarl)
“Show a bit more respect to the queen.” (Pheres)
Once Vepar starts walking towards the city while accompanied by Pheres and Nyarl, the other side walks in their direction, too. Tension ran through the guards on both sides and the atmosphere became chilly. Realizing that there are several elves mixed in with the humans, a threatening air blends into the demons’ tension.
Keeping a moderate distance, both sides came to a halt and a single woman walked forward on the humans’ side.
“Queen of the demons, Vepar-sama, correct? By the decree of Orsongrande’s queen, Imeraria Torie Orsongrande-sama, I came to welcome you. Phyrinion Amazelot is my name.”
Phyrinion explained that she had also been charged with the duty of mediator by Horant, the other country that would participate in the conference, and bowed.
“I appreciate your efforts. I’m Vepar, the queen ruling the demons. Since I will leave matters in the hands of your country, please take care of me.” (Vepar)
“Please leave it to us and be at ease. Well then, I’d like to formally give you an explanation about the schedule from now on. Please follow, I will guide you into the city. We will lead your retinue to an inn first.” (Phyrinion)
“Thanks…But before that I’d like to ask one thing.” (Vepar)
Since Vepar’s eyes focused on Zanga before even finishing to speak, everyone could guess her next question.
Zanga steps forward before Phyrinion could answer.
“I’m the elves’ representative, Zanga. We are guests in this city, too. Since I’ve heard that you demons would meet the humans’ rulers, I wanted to use the occasion to give you my greetings.” (Zanga)
“That means you joined up with the humans?” (Vepar)
“It’s slightly different. We received their protection. We asked them for help because we can’t win against you demons.” (Zanga)
Even Vepar has no intention to start a quarrel here, but it’s not like she can ignore the irregular existences called elves either. It’s humiliating, but seeing as we don’t know how many elves have entered the city, I can’t discard them as negligible force.
“That onee-san is the queen?” (Alyssa)
A young girl wedged herself in-between the standoff of Zanga and Vepar from the side. As Vepar widened here eyes due to the sudden intrusion, Phyrinion gently added another explanation.
“It’s Countess Tohno, the feudal lord governing the territory containing this national border.” (Phyrinion)
“I’ve heard about you from Hifumi-san. You use water magic, don’t you?” (Alyssa)
“T-That’s right, but you know Hifumi…Tohno?” (Vepar)
Alyssa cheerfully greets Vepar who tilts her head to the side in confusion.
“I’m Alyssa Tohno, the daughter of Hifumi Tohno.” (Alyssa)
“A-Anyway, please come inside. I believe there might be various parts I should first explain about the situation in our country.” (Phyrinion)
Seeing the surrounding soldiers being about to put their hands on the weapons because of Vepar raising her voice, Phyrinion quickly stepped in front of Alyssa.
At the same time one of the demons steps forward, too.
“I’m serving as Her Majesty’s secretary, the name’s Pheres.”
Of course secretary is a post the created for the sake of this time’s occasion.
“Her Majesty, me and several soldiers will accompany you. Nyarl, lead the other soldiers to the lodging house.” (Pheres)
Even though it was a very difficult start, the first contact was established somehow without any blood being spilled.
After this they will take a rest for one day in Rhone, then join up with the guarding knights dispatched from the capital in Fokalore, and lastly make the journey to the capital over the period of roughly two weeks.
Taking Reni along, Hifumi strolled through the capital.
Because all the knight, who he had trained, headed to Fokalore, Hifumi had been temporarily relieved from his coaching duty. He had been requested to act as advisor at the time of welcoming the elves and demons, but he has refused to attend with no more than three words.
In exchange, Origa goes every day to the castle for preparatory meetings in regards to Fokalore’s personnel besides Alyssa.
“The scale is completely different from the slums. Even in Swordland there have always been few people and stores.” (Reni)
“That’s only natural.” (Hifumi)
With Reni walking next to Hifumi, Helen and Gengu follow behind.
Hifumi, who’s no longer a stranger in the shopping district, stands out even under normal circumstances. In addition to this, beastmen are with him. As everyone chased them with their eyes as they walked, they expected that someone might call out to them or ask what was going on.
“Even Rhone has increasingly become a jumble, but it had liveliness. The stall owners treated us beastmen kindly, too.” (Reni)
“That’s Paryu’s and Alyssa’s work. I don’t know anything ’bout it.” (Hifumi)
While observing Reni, who talks happily, and Hifumi, who walks with a serious face, from behind, Gengu quietly brought his face close to Helen’s.
“I thought that it might be the case by chance, but as expected, Reni-san…about Hifumi-san…” (Gengu)
“It looks like she considers him as father figure or something like that. As male; I really wonder about that. She’s still not at that age.” (Helen)
“Is that so…?” (Gengu)
In case of Helen; if compared to until now, her head was already full with worries about the future developments of the whole beastman race, let alone their own village. The beastmen, who still aren’t unified as power, can be considered to be at a disadvantage in comparison to the elves and demons with their overwhelmingly low numbers.
She even thought that there might be a possibility if Reni and Hifumi become intimate due to some kind of chance. It’s a story that she absolutely doesn’t want to encourage for the sake of the beastmen though.
“Gengu-san, what are your thoughts?” (Helen)
“About what?” (Gengu)
“In regards to the beastmen’s future. Even setting aside the group that split off, saying that they will fight, we are only manipulated by the humans, by the demons, by the elves and by Hifumi.” (Helen)
Gengu didn’t consider it strange and out of place that she had mentioned Hifumi separate to the humans.
“I wonder. I’m quite bad at these kind of things. I only believe that it seems likely to be fun if I follow Reni-san ~ssu.” (Gengu)
“What’s with that? Isn’t that irresponsible for a male beastman?” (Helen)
Due to Helen’s displeased reply, Gengu scratched the back of his ear with his sharp claws. Given that I washed myself using plenty of soap in the wide bath installed in Hifumi’s mansion, my lie of hair, which used to be stiff and messy has now become soft. It’s strangely ticklish.
“Certainly, you might be right there. But you know, Helen, the developments on this world have already exceeded the scope of cities or races. It ain’t a scope that’s in the reach of my hands…no, my intellect ~ssu.” (Gengu)
He throws a whole grilled meat skewer, which he obtained at a stall along the way, into his mouth, and then pulls out the empty skewer out from in-between his fangs.
“Deliciooous! …If it’s someone like Hifumi-san, who can completely upset whatever he likes with his own power, it’s a different matter though.” (Gengu)
“Because it’s irrelevant what she thinks about it herself, Reni-san probably came to Hifumi’s place in order to learn what everyone thinks,” Gengu says.
“Then why did she conclude that it has to be Hifumi’s place?” (Helen)
“That’s easy.” (Gengu)
He sinks his fangs into yet another meat skewer.
“That man has talked with the most races and people of different social ranks, right? It means he knows the most important people and those who live under them.” (Gengu)
What Reni desired was to meet the queen before the demons do.
Because proceeding in order was also rather convenient for Imeraria, Reni’s request had been granted right away.
It’s been decided that Reni will talk with Imeraria as the representative of the beastmen, Helen will act as her assistant, and Gengu will serve as their guard for the time being.
Hifumi was merely their guide.
Probably having been ordered by Imeraria to do so, Sabnak waited for Hifumi and the others at the plaza in front of the royal castle.
The plaza, which had been temporarily restricted from entering due to Queen Imeraria’s order, looks deserted. As it will turn into a problem, if the demons catch sight of Balzephon’s living head, which has been announced as 『Demon’s Head』 after sealing it magically and exposing it on top of a more than two meters high pedestal, which had been newly built in the center of the plaza, the head has been covered with a cloth and tied with a rope, making it seem like a street light waiting for repair in the eyes of an outsider.
“I guess me coming with you until here will be enough.” (Hifumi)
“Hifumi-san, you’re not going to meet Her Majesty?” (Sabnak)
“I have no business with her.” (Hifumi)
Dissatisfaction unintentionally appears on Sabnak’s face due to Hifumi’s cold attitude. He was one of the few people knowing that Hifumi is the father of the next king. He himself had been informed by his wife that he will probably become a father around the same time.
As he was delighted to the degree of dancing and running around until he was stopped by a good whacking of his wife Shibyura when he heard the auspicious news, he wonders how it’s for the man in front of his eyes
“…To be honest, I somewhat misjudged you in this matter. I won’t tell you to take responsibility, but at least a few wor…ugh!” (Sabnak)
“You, are you an idiot?” (Hifumi)
Having his neck grabbed by Hifumi, Sabnak was pulled forward by Hifumi, who’s shorter than himself.
“Do you guys intend to wreck the situation which that person desired?” (Hifumi)
Tightly grasping the neck’s spine with four fingers, he sinks his thumb into Sabnak’s carotid artery.
“Do you want to create a situation where stupid nobles will march on my place after it came to light? Do you plan to produce a group that gangs up on the finally born second royal member trying to use them as puppet, causing that person to lose spirit due to them?” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who removed his hand by thrusting him away, glared at the choking Sabnak.
“Because I considered her idea to be interesting, I cooperated with her only once. That’s all there is to it.” (Hifumi)
Seeing off the leaving Hifumi with teary eyes, Sabnak roughly wiped away his tears with the back of his hand.
“Ah…I ended up showing you something pathetic. Please follow me. Her Majesty is awaiting you.” (Sabnak)
“Thank you.” (Reni)
Thanking Sabnak, who said that he will guide them, Reni looks for just an instant at Hifumi’s back and then starts walking.
Helen and Gengu, who froze when they saw Hifumi getting angry, chase after her in a hurry.
“Hey, Reni. Will it be alright without Hifumi being present?” (Helen)
“Hmm…honestly spoken, it’s actually better for us, I think?” (Reni)
“Keep it a secret from Hifumi-san,” Reni whispered and then laughed.
“Why!? We are acquaintances of Hifumi, so even the human queen won’t do anything bad…” (Helen)
“Helen, that’s no good.” (Reni)
Reni shakes her head. The scent of soap spread from her swaying, frizzy hair.
“Unless us beastmen live while standing on our own feet…I want to be friends with Hifumi-san and the other humans, but I don’t want it to result in slavery.” (Reni)
“In order for that to not happen, we have to talk with the high-ranking people from now on and the beastmen have to search for a path of survival as beastmen, even though it can’t be helped that it’s scary,” Reni muttered with a trembling, subdued voice.
Her face, which looked back at Helen, doesn’t have its usual, gentle smile. It was pale and stiff.
At once Helen grasps Reni’s hand. Even her thin fingers with their tiny calluses had become completely cold out of nervousness.
“I will accompany you all the way, so…err no, I will do my best together with you.” (Helen)
“Oki, thanks, Helen.” (Reni)
Helen was able to feel slightly relieved due to Reni smiling while saying that.