The premonition that there might be some big event circulated among the population. Countless leaks of information, such as the soldiers, whose deployment had changed, and the apprentices, who lead the merchants visiting and leaving the royal castle, were whispering about it ahead of time.
However, if it’s related to the demons, only a small fraction of the people in the castle had been informed about their arrival in advance, and thus the city became uproarious for a while when the central area of the big street running through the middle of the capital was suddenly closed off and it was announced that a group of demons and beastmen had arrived for the sake of having an audience with the queen.
But, once it became obvious to the people that the human side was the superior one with the other side being the one visiting, and as the demons’ side was intentionally verbally lowered in their standing by calling it “having an audience,” the population’s unrest evidently calmed down quite a bit.
The high efficiency of the information deliberately spread by the former members of the Third Knight Order couldn’t be denied.
“But, the biggest impact has that man, I’m sure.”
A soldier, who guarded the road close to the palace, turned his eyes towards the person standing at the entrance of the plaza in front of the castle during the conversation with his colleague.
“Earl Tohno, eh? He’s been to the demon and beastment countries, no?”
“I heard he retired, though. Well, I think the people feel like the capital will be alright as long as the Knight of the Slender Sword is present.”
Seemingly because they feel safe seeing Hifumi, there are many soldiers whispering such things.
A soldier, who came running from the entrance in Vichy’s direction just moment’s ago, dashed off in the direction of the gate once again.
Very soon the demons will arrive at this castle.
At the entrance to the plaza. Hifumi, who boldly stands there with a calm demeanor while wearing the katana at his waist, gnawed on a fruit he had bought from a merchant a while ago. It has a touch of being like an apple, but its sweetness is close to that of a peach.
Just as he’s wiping the long line of fruit juice running down from the corner of his mouth, Midas approaches.
“Can’t you wait inside the castle?” (Midas)
“I haven’t been invited to this time’s conference. I’m an ordinary person who just came to see the face of a few old acquaintances for a short moment. Don’t mind me.” (Hifumi)
“Got it…any moment the elves and bestmen will arrive. After them, with a little distance between both parties, it’s planned to welcome the demons.” (Midas)
“Hmm…Reni came here ahead of them. I guess the one coming together with the elves will be Zanga?” (Hifumi)
He quickly bites through the fruit with the end result that it ends up in his stomach in a flash.
“I haven’t been told as much.” (Midas)
“Ah, I see. So, how long are you going to stay here?” (Hifumi)
“Meeting them here and guiding them to the castle gate is my duty.” (Midas)
He explains that the escort duty will shift from Fokalore’s soldiers and the royal army to the safekeeping unit in charge of the royal castle centered around the knight order at this point.
While Midas was explaining, the commotion, which could be heard in the distance, got gradually closer.
“It looks like they are about to arrive.” (Midas)
Based on him expressly voicing out something that’s obvious to anyone, Midas might be nervous as well.
Alyssa comes in sight on top of a horse at the head of the group with a carriage following her from behind.
Alyssa, who waves her hand grandly, made her horse advance while leaving the carriage behind, and jumped off its back in front of Hifumi.
“Long time no see.” (Alyssa)
“Indeed. How’s the territory doing?” (Hifumi)
“Since Caim-san and Miyukare-san are helping me out, I manage somehow…” (Alyssa)
Several men and women exit the the carriage that caught up as they are chatting.
A stir ran through the residents who were watching from a distance.
“It’s really been a while.” (Zanga)
“Zanga, huh? You were still alive?” (Hifumi)
“Thanks to you, right? The progression of that stopped as well. I’ve been spending a happy time with the various changing environments in this year. As of yet I still plan to live another another century.” (Zanga)
“Well then, I’m off.” Saying so, Zanga took several elves and beastmen along and passed next to Hifumi.
“If you’re going to start some mess, I’d like you to let us run away though, okay?” (Zanga)
“If you don’t want to get involved, you just have to pay attention and watch your vicinity.” (Hifumi)
No one around them heard the words they exchanged in whispers at the moment of passing each other.
Passing as part of Zanga’s group, Alyssa also enters the castle as guard.
It had been decided for Fokalore’s soldiers to be on standby at the plaza. Although they had somewhat nervous expressions, there are many smiling soldiers among them compared to the royal army’s troops. They are somewhat tired, but they look as if they still have a lot energy left in them. The supply members, who accompanied them, start preparing meals and other miscellaneous things.
Fokalore’s soldiers start eating in shifts while sitting in a corner of the plaza. There were also some who saluted Hifumi after meeting eyes with him.
As Hifumi answers by coolly waving his hand, a commotion even bigger than before becomes audible.
“They arrived, eh?” (Hifumi)
Orsongrande’s carriage, which was escorted by demon soldiers, slowly approaches.
Blue horses and gray people. They were a strong stimulus for the residents, but without acting surprised, the guarding soldiers watched the vicinity warily.
Once Midas stepped forward, the demons stopped.
“I’m sorry, but I’d like to ask you to go by foot to the castle from here on. We will take care of the horses.” (Midas)
“…Please give us a short moment.”
A taciturnly demon soldier turned his horse around and led it next to the carriage. After confirming something with the people inside, he swiftly turns his horse and returns while grasping his reins.
“I checked back with Vepar-sama. Please take care of the horses.”
Midas calls his subordinates. Each of them receives the reins of the soldiers’ horses and leads them away to a corner of the plaza.
“If we could have someone to teach us how to look after them…” (Midas)
“Then please allow us to send someone along.”
“That will be a big help.” (Midas)
While the horses with their imposing bodies and round, cute eyes look in the direction of their masters as they are being pulled away by the reins, they are guided to a place opposite to Fokalore’s soldiers together with the care-taking demon.
The first who got off the carriage, which was surrounded by soldiers, was Phyrinion. She wears a noble-like, conservative, impressive dress with a modest amount of embroidery. Grabbing its hem, she’s carefully descending with the help of the step.
Behind her, Vepar showed up.
“…Long time no see.” (Vepar)
“Do you enjoy your role as queen?” (Hifumi)
“Being asked that by the person who pushed it onto me sounds like nothing but sarcasm to me.” (Vepar)
It was a talk not understandable for Midas who listened from the side, but he grasped that they have some kind of connection.
“Well then, Your Majesty…” (Midas)
“Have a look at that.” (Hifumi)
Holding back Midas who tried to speak to Vepar, Hifumi pointed at the center of the plaza.
A long and narrow pedestal has been installed over there and then covered with a cloth.
“That’s something which was entrusted to the kingdom by the demons. It’s better you take a look before going home.” (Hifumi)
“…Going home, that’s not what I would call it.” (Vepar)
“If you want something, you should just take it by force.” (Hifumi)
“Haa…We have to talk later, so please give me some of your time.” (Vepar)
“If there will be such spare time, sure.” (Hifumi)
The atmosphere changes.
In a hurry Midas wedged his body in-between the two.
“Your Majesty, I have been given the honor to guide you, so please, come this way!” (Midas)
“Oh my, I see. Please take care of me then.” (Vepar)
Phyrinion walks right next to Midas with Vepar and her demons following behind.
Once the last of them passed, the entrance to the plaza was closed off by soldiers.
Unintentionally Hifumi is inside the locked area. Although the soldiers pay constant attention to him, no one calls out to him either. Seeing as Fokalore’s soldiers are on the plaza, it looks like it will become a problem for him to leave. That’s what everyone thought.
“Now then, I wonder, in what way are they going to make their move?” (Hifumi)
Suppressing his itching heart, he taps the pommel of his katana with a finger.
“This is the decisive battle. Don’t make me bored.” (Hifumi)
“Going straight to the point, I have no intention to continue the war.” (Vepar)
After the arrival it was planned to hold only a meet n’ greet and then start the conference on the next day, but upon Vepar’s wish it was decided to have an early meeting ahead of schedule.
The attendees are Vepar, Imeraria, Reni, Zanga, and for some reason Origa. Each of them has advisors and escorts, but only Origa is sitting there all by herself as if it’s a matter of course.
After a round of greetings and everyone besides Imeraria and Reni showing their surprise at the fact of Origa being Hifumi’s wife, the first to speak up was Vepar.
“The demons obtained enough territory. If you allow me to complain as statesmen, it’s so much that we don’t know where to put our hands first as the territory is far too big.” (Vepar)
Imeraria faced Vepar, who laughs pleasantly with a high-pitched tone, with a smile.
“That certainly sounds difficult. We can provide you some advice if necessary.” (Imeraria)
Verpar said that she wants to stop the war, but everyone present saw through the underlying intention of “quitting while ahead since they had enough gains.”
Yet, Imeraria casually played that down. That’s equal to her saying that she doesn’t mind the demons occupying the country called Vichy.
“…You have such a lovely face and yet you’re so cold-hearted.”
“I’m going to become a mother soon. Showing my child an appearance as mother and statesmen that’s only gentle will be a disgrace.” (Imeraria)
Everyone except for Origa dons troubled expressions, not knowing how to react, due to Imeraria laughing while stroking her belly. Origa’s expression is obvious even without saying anything.
“To put it bluntly, if compared to the objective of a ceasefire, the occupation of Vichy by the demons doesn’t matter at all to me…in other words, to Orsongrande. It’s my duty to protect this country, no matter what else I have to sacrifice for that sake.” (Imeraria)
“I give up. You got me there. I surrender. I don’t mind making an agreement right here and now. The demons won’t invade Orsongrande, and I will also have the troops at the border withdraw.” (Vepar)
“You have my gratitude for making a wise decision.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria smiles sweetly and brings it to a close with “The war has come to an end with this.”
“Well then,” with that Imeraria turned her eyes towards Reni and Zanga who still haven’t said anything during the conversation.
“What do the elves and beastmen intend to do?” (Imeraria)
“We want to gather the people with aspirations and build a city somewhere as beastmen race. Until now we lived in a part of the wastelands’ country, but since we were driven out…” (Reni)
Once Reni throws a quick glance at Vepar, she quickly averts her eyes.
“Then I shall allow you to reclaim land inside Orsongrande. An area under the direct control of the kingdom, or, depending on the circumstance, I will talk with Alyssa-san so that you can use a part of Fokalore.” (Imeraria)
“Thank you very much.” (Reni)
The name Alyssa popped up, but after hearing about the details of the meeting, she quickly ran away while saying that there’s no way for her to be able to stay awake throughout the meeting. About this time she’s probably eating a meal in the castle’s dining hall.
“Our people will live all over the place. Some will go together with Reni-chan’s group, others will stay in Rhone. As long as you give us your permission to live in this country, we will handle it one way or the other.” (Zanga)
“Is that so…?” (Imeraria)
Zanga herself is uncertain whether to go with Reni or to stay in the capital together with Puuse. Now that the entire race lost their task of sealing the demons, there’s no point in acting together, Zanga said as if complaining.
“Understood. I will permit that as well.” (Imeraria)
“I’m grateful…” (Zanga)
The discussion advances so dispassionately that it’s almost a disappointment.
Sabnak, who stood behind Imeraria as guard, imagined how relaxing it would be if the dissolution of the meeting could take place in the same manner.
But, it’s scheduled for that to definitely not happen.
“By the way, there’s something I’d like to request of you, queen of Orsongrande.” (Vepar)
Those words were the signal from Vepar.
Inside the handwritten letters between Vepar and Imeraria there was a shocking suggestion by Vepar that was treated as top secret. Imeraria personally had already accepted it.
“In the battle with the humans, there was someone who stole an arm and pissed off one of ours…it’s that Hifumi. I’m sorry, but can I have your permission to let us fight against that Hifumi for a bit?”
This request. Imeraria has already allowed it up to this point with “Do as you see fit.”
Sabnak thought that the queen is planning to seal Hifumi if things go as smoothly as him becoming unable to defend himself, or at least shave off some of Hifumi’s strength by giving Vepar this permission.
But, that’s not Imeraria’s aim.
At that time Origa’s face was hidden, but once Sabnak, who was standing diagonally across her, carefully looked at her, he realized that she was laughing.
“Your Majesty, we are going to leave. It would be better for us to not get involved any further, right? Zanga-san, you too.” (Reni)
“You’re surely right. For an elderly like me, it looks like it’s become a little too exciting talk.” (Zanga)
Imeraria didn’t stop Zanga and Reni who bowed and then left the room quickly while taking their guards along. After all there was no need for her to persuade them otherwise.
“Vepar-san, is that avenger going to come here?” (Imeraria)
“No, but, as soon as the location has been decided, I will be able to call him over right away.” (Vepar)
“Oh dear! Magic? The demons possess truly magnificent techniques.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria acted exaggeratedly surprised towards Vepar’s remark.
Vepar, who doesn’t suspect any bad intention behind it, proudly pushed out her chest, but next it was Vepar’s turn to be surprised.
“Then it will be alright if we can have it quickly settled in front of the castle. There are some soldiers on the plaza, but it’s wide and open. Hifumi-sama has been there just moments ago, too!” (Imeraria)
“A match on the plaza in front of the castle, what wonderful idea, Your Majesty!” (Origa)
Obviously agreeing, Origa raised a loud voice, too.
“…Eh? Are you really saying that?” (Vepar)
For Vepar it was a godsend suggestion. Even if Bashim, who harbors a bitter grudge towards Hifumi, took along some subordinates, it’s apparent that he will easily have the tables turned on him.
“B-But, if Hifumi is attacked in front of the residents, our position will become worse, won’t it? Will it once again turn into a battle with you under the premise of a just cause?” (Vepar)
“It’s fine.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria gently put her hand on top of Vepar’s who’s agitated.
“If a part of your subordinates go on a rampage, Hifumi-sama will suppress them. Even if Hifumi-sama were to lose, the things we have to do are the same. You will stop your subordinates, honestly apologize for their misbehavior and I will pardon it. If we announce that in front of the people, their fear towards the demons will fade, and it will connect to our diplomatic relations from now on. Don’t you think?” (Imeraria)
Due to the contents which were proposed quietly, like a whisper, Vepar felt a faint urge to deny. After all it would take the shape of her, who finally became a queen, apologizing to another country.
As if having predicted Vepar’s hesitation, Imeraria spoke up,
“Oh my, it’s not right for Vepar-san to apologize for something done by me after all. Then, how about doing it in the following manner?” (Imeraria)
Imeraria tightly grasps Vepar’s fingers and revises her suggestion.
“I will send out my soldiers as well. While pretending to be humans, your side can aim for Hifumi-sama’s head to your heart’s content. The more people there are, the more incomprehensible will the situation become for the residents. And then, at a suitable time, we just have to stop our soldiers by calling out to them. There will be accidental collisions as well, but both leaders will jointly accept those as tragic accidents and we will boldly declare that there’s no need to fight.” (Imeraria)
With that they would be on the same level. With the vague reasoning of “accidental collisions” both sides are going to intend to stop the fighting.
“U-Understood. But, is that fine with you?” (Vepar)
“I suppose there might be several unlucky soldiers. But…” (Imeraria)
Imeraria fills the grasping fingers with strength.
Vepar felt a slight pain, but she believed it to be a pain demonstrating Imeraria’s resolve.
“This is an important matter. It’s something we have to do, right?” (Imeraria)
“Is…that so? Understood…umm, best regards.” (Vepar)
They separate their hands and then shake hands once again.
“Let’s talk about the details. Right now.” (Imeraria)
At the time when he was ordered to go summon Puuse, Sabnak had a ghastly pale face.