The next morning Mahiro gathered the retainers still in the castle to a war council. The big roundtable, missing the king and his direct subordinates, looks deserted. Just how nervous must these young soldiers and high officials with domestic posts be, being left behind as representatives in a war council they would normally never attend? And, upon hearing about yesterday’s incident,
“Is that the truth, Pariel!?”
“It’s not one of the prince’s careless remarks, is it!?”
“For heaven’s sake, please tell us that it’s a lie, Pariel!”
(Why are they only speaking to me…?)
Of course, these officials do not hold much faith in Mahiro. But, to begin with, Mahiro usually never attends these war councils either. He’s almost sick with the feeling of not belonging.
The only ones among them who are not upset are Minister Karlo, who surveys his surroundings timidly, and the blithe Edelweiss…
“Silence. You are in front of His Highness, the Crown Prince Mahiro.” (Kaien)
This man with the thundering voice is Prime Minister Kaien. He is a masculine man in his early thirties, his black hair tied back and a monocle on one eye.
A genius, he studied politics and graduated from the academy in the Republic’s capital. It’s rumored that if he were a Majin he would have been an important figure in the Empire, and could have easily become a minister in the Republic. Curiously, he remains in this small country in the disputed zone.
“Sir Prime Minister, this matter…”
“I heard from Lady Edelweiss last night.” (Kaien)
At least it looked like everyone was able to agree with why the gates haven’t been closed and the army hasn’t begun preparations according to Edelweiss’ explanation yesterday. In fact, even now that dawn has broken, the imperial army hasn’t come to attack.
Even so, Kaien continues with,
“However, I don’t think that they will wait forever. Since the troops are already here for the surprise attack, spies should have infiltrated the land near the castle by now. Once they realize that there’s no trap at all, they will invade at once. Even without that, the enemy is also low on time.” (Kaien)
The king’s procession left yesterday, taking many of the castle’s soldiers as an escort. It’s unlikely that the imperial army will forget how defenseless this country is right now. Kaien continued, bitterness seeping into his words,
“But, even if we conscripted new soldiers, they couldn’t be trained within a few mere days. There’s absolutely no way that the small countries of the disputed zone, which are in the same situation, will share their soldiers with us. Meaning, there’s only one path left: gathering volunteer soldiers from the people and defending this castle to the last man.” (Kaien)
Defending to the last man.
A sombre atmosphere, evoked by the grave words of the Prime Minister, settled over everyone.
“I hate violence!” (Mahiro)
“That’s why, I won’t allow a single sacrifice for the sake of defending the people of this country.” (Mahiro)
No one wants to consider the inherent contradiction in his words. Even Kaien nods at the words of the unusually meek prince.
“Then, let’s immediately pass it on to the soldiers and post notifications in the land near the castle…” (Kaien)
“Although you might call it violence as well, hunting animals isn’t the same. After all, even I want to eat a delicious steak or some boar stew. Exterminating monsters doesn’t count either. That’s because it’s something important for the sake of securing an area for people to live, and is also a source of resources for our livelihood. However…” (Mahiro)
The expression in his eyes suddenly changed as Mahiro lifted his face and surveyed everyone present.
“… people fighting amongst each other is something I can’t consent to. Why is there a need for fellow people, who can understand each other through words and have awareness, unlike monsters and animals, to hurt each other? This I can’t agree with, no matter what.” (Mahiro)
The unusually strong statement causes a commotion among the retainers. The prince’s words are correct. But right now, in this situation, such naive illusions must be broken.
And yet, one could see the strength of his will through his manner, as he objected to Kaien’s more realistic approach.
“However, even if you wish for that, Prince, I can’t believe Princess Lunas, famed for her military prowess, would consent to a meeting like what you’re suggesting.” (Kaien)
Yes. Lunas told him to come meet her, but that was simply a condition for surrender. It’s a completely different matter when it comes to negotiations. How are we going to establish equal grounds between us? And, what will these negotiations cover?
The Prime Minister ruthlessly tore into his argument.
“We don’t have any cards that can be played against the Empire. The Empire will definitely attack. How can we resist them without using force?” (Kaien)
But Mahiro isn’t about to yield at this point in time.
“The soldiers are also our people. Father entrusted this country to me. And it was none other than Father who taught me that a country is nothing more than its people. I won’t allow anyone in this country to come to harm.” (Mahiro)
Kaien takes a deep breath.
“Then… do you have a plan?” (Kaien)
“I think that we should set a trap.” (Mahiro)
A ridiculous statement from Mahiro, who had returned to his usual pompous manner. The Prime Minister and the other retainers are left completely speechless.
“I mean, they haven’t attacked yet because they expect a trap. So we should set a trap. The people won’t be hurt if we have a trap. Well, the imperial army will have to experience something mildly painful, though.” (Mahiro)
Kaien sighed very, very deeply.
“That is not a real solution. The problem is that they are only the Empire’s vanguard.” (Kaien)
“Vanguard, you say?” (Mahiro)
“There are only a few hundred riders. To be able to hide on that mountain, even if we’re generous, there could only be a thousand soldiers, give or take a few hundred. No matter how small Mismarca is, that’s not enough to seize an entire country. ” (Kaien)
Many muttered “I see” and “Indeed” at the Prime Minister’s words.
“… In other words, it’s a vanguard for taking the castle entrusted to Prince Mahiro and us. If and when the surprise attack succeeds, the main force will likely be deployed to take control of the country. ” (Kaien)
“Oh, I geeet it. I seeee.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro folds his arms with a “Yeah.”
“Then, a mountain-load of traps or one absurdly big trap…” (Mahiro)
“There are things you can’t handle with mere traps. That’s what I’m trying to say.” (Kaien)
His Excellency the Prime Minister is slowly becoming irritated.
“But, you know, well, there’s a first for everything. Look, it’s because they wanted to stage a surprise attack, that they got this close. Even father said that it will take a lil’ bit longer for a large army to move, didn’t he? Stalling by talking with them until father comes back…ain’t that something similar if it means that we can hold this castle until then?” (Mahiro)
“Ahahaha.” Only Mahiro cheerfully shrugs.
“Anyway, I firmly refuse to do something like do battle. I mean, do you think that even an army that could win would really win if I were the one to give orders? Is that really okay with you?” (Mahiro)
Put that way, this is a threat.
A commotion breaks out in the war council.
“If that’s really fine with you, I will immediately give the order to attack! Of course I will take the lead. I will kill Princess Lunas by running her over with my beloved steed. No, for real. Actually, isn’t this pointless? If there are no objections, I will depart for the front.” (Mahiro)
It’s a unanimous refusal. Moreover, everyone is pointing rather rudely at Mahiro for some reason.
“U-…Understood, Prince…” (Kaien)
Even the Prime Minister folds, cold sweat gathering at his temples. Someone who usually deals only with straight-laced people like the King and his direct subordinates, he’s completely exhausted from simply speaking to the outrageous Mahiro. Even if I petitioned with support of countless high officials, the one who was officially given full authority is Mahiro. Fortunately Mahiro is laid-back, but you could say that this is a downside of a monarchy.
Fixing his slipped monocle, Kaien says,
“Holding out until the King returns is reasonable at least. However, prince…exactly what kind of trap do you want to set?” (Kaien)
“Ha ha ha, look at this!!” (Mahiro)
Mahiro threw a copy of a notebook onto the table with a *bam*.
“These are my top-secret files. It’s a trap data book.” (Mahiro)
“?” Everyone is baffled.
“I have tricked countless people, male and female, inside and outside the castle, with a one a day quota, and recorded the countermeasures and tendencies. This is the culmination of that research.” (Mahiro)
“Isn’t that useless!?”
Pariel shouted on reflex. I mean, just how many times was I caught in a pitfall?
“Well, don’t say that. At present, the only one in this castle who hasn’t fallen into one of my traps is Edelweiss.” (Mahiro)
“Eh? Even the king?”
“I was severely reprimanded …” (Mahiro)
Remembering it, Mahiro deflates. But he quickly recovers in the next moment.
“Though, having overcome these hardships, the pinnacle of traps has been attained! Wild buffoons like those Empire soldiers will fall into them 100 out of 100 times! We can serve them up on a platter like boar stew! Or, at least, that’s the idea. ” (Mahiro)
“Isn’t it no good, with just the idea?”
Pariel said, but Mahiro still laughed loudly.
“As such, everyone, please split into groups at once and start constructing. The arrangement will be thus. ” (Mahiro)
Mahiro produced a blueprint of the castle with a shuffle. No, upon closer inspection, it’s a map of the entire area surrounding the castle. Realizing this, someone speaks up,
“But prince…if we openly move soldiers through the whole city, the people will panic. Besides, such a large number…” (Kaien)
“If that’s your only concern, there’s no problem. I have already started rumors for a cover. They will be preparations for a festival.” (Mahiro)
“Festival?” Everyone knits their brows.
“Indeed, a festival! I always thought we should have one…don’t you think that it’s far too lonely to have only the harvest festival in autumn? Right now is the perfect occasion to ask the citizens!” (Mahiro)
“No, but, that is…how is that related to these traps?”
“If it’s a festival, the people will naturally decorate the city and get all hyped up, but…those decorations are actually all traps.” (Mahiro)
“Ooh…” Understanding swept through the war council.
“I see, with this you will be able to account for the shortage of soldiers…!”
“Moreover, since it’s preparations for a festival, the imperial army won’t realize that we are actually strengthening our defense…!”
“Ooh, it’s truly killing two birds with one stone. As expected of you, Prince, you sure are well versed in crafty schemes!” (Karlo)
Says Minister Karlo.
“You know, when you proposed making everyone wear maid uniforms, I was genuinely worried for the country.” (Karlo)
“Well since we still have that money, we will use it for the trap. Wait, it’s not everyone. I only spoke about women between 12 and 35. May I be sentenced to capital punishment by the treasured family sword if males were ever to wear a maid uniform.” (Mahiro)
“That won’t happen.” (Pariel)
Pariel soothed the agitated Mahiro.
“Yeah, then. That’s how it is. Over here is the detailed blueprint of the trap.” (Mahiro)
The blueprint rustles again.
“At first glance it looks like a simple decoration. It’s something so ingenious that even those setting it up and those setting it off won’t understand. But, since it’s designed only to react to a specific trigger and is a chain reaction, we have to be extra careful when setting it up. It’s not the 2-han-regulation1 of mahjong, but we are basically aiming for a 3-hit combination, yes!” (Mahiro)
He makes a thumbs up.
“As such I am going to the land near the castle to look for even more trap materials.” (Mahiro)
*nimbly jumps down then stands up*
“Kaien, Edelweiss, I leave the rest in your care!!” (Mahiro)
*runs at full speed*
“Wha! He’s gone once again!? Wait! Pleeease wait!” (Pariel)
After Mahiro left, the war council breaks up.
“… Lady Edelweiss.” (Kaien)
Kaien catches up to her as they walk through the hallway, away from the war room.
“What is it?” (Edelweiss)
“Just what is the prince thinking?” (Kaien)
“Who knows.” (Edelweiss)
“What do you intend to do?” (Kaien)
Edelweiss looks at the blueprint in her hand.
“I will put the chamberlain unit to work…unless you’re referring to something else?” (Edelweiss)
“Is it really fine to go along with this?” (Kaien)
Kaien looks at the plans for the land near the castle in his own hands.
“I don’t know. But it’s His Highness’ order. Prime Minister Kaien, please feel free to make use of the soldiers besides the chamberlain unit together with Minister Karlo.” (Edelweiss)
Kaien lowered his voice.
“… Won’t everything be resolved if you defeat Princess Lunas?” (Kaien)
“You must be joking.” (Edelweiss)
Unexpectedly the maid didn’t laugh, not even a twitch of the lips.
“When I was still studying politics in the Republic, I heard rumors of a woman who assassinated an entire chivalric order in the Empire.” (Kaien)
“Is that so?” (Edelweiss)
Her expression hasn’t even changed. This woman would likely have the same cold, beautiful expression even if someone died in front of her.
“… I’m certainly not doubting you, but Lady Edelweiss, you are not plotting anything, are you?” (Kaien)
“You are free to think whatever you like.” (Edelweiss)
She remains exactly the same. There’s no sign of her being shaken by the suspicion. Having said that, she isn’t offended either.
“I have been simply ordered by His Majesty to cooperate with His Highness to a reasonable extent.” (Edelweiss)
“… Then it’s fine. Apologies for the offence. ” (Kaien)
She is a mercenary. She has not sworn allegiance to any person or country, and has been hired with money. In a certain sense, she is a woman with the purest motivations.
“No, don’t worry about it. It’s not just His Highness, people often wonder what I am thinking as well.” (Edelweiss)
Well I guess that’s true. Aside from Mahiro, who pushes the limits of idiocy as part of his character, this perpetually emotionless woman is also a mystery, albeit in a different way.
“However…the nation is the people, eh? If nothing else, at least Prince Mahiro looks like he is properly thinking about the country.” (Kaien)
“Yes,” Edelweiss affirmed.
“Then I shall believe that at the very least.” (Kaien)
“As for me, I have a problem with him being too kind though.” (Edelweiss)
“I agree. With the world the way it is…even His Majesty is concerned. ” (Kaien)
With that, their paths split, as Edelweiss heads to the office of the chamberlain unit, and Kaien to the military command department. They bid farewell to each other.
The disguise is just like yesterday and the day before yesterday. The two arrived at the town surrounding the castle. The northern main street connects the castle and the north gate. In the middle is the central plaza. A beautiful water fountain sits in the middle of it. As the largest plaza, it is often called the heart of the castle town. This is especially true today. The announcement of a festival had made it more lively than usual.
“For the people to be able to have fun in a festival even in times like these, that was certainly unexpected!”
“Looks like even that stupid prince comes up with something nice occasionally? It’s improved my opinion of him a lil’ bit!”
The people, unaware of the state of affairs, were lively and busy with the preparations for the festival. All over the place lumber is cut, shaved and fit. At first glance it doesn’t look as if they are making anything but simple lamps, gates and arcades.
And, under the soldiers’ directions, finished articles are carried to strategic positions along the northern and southern main streets, as well as important side streets. Anywhere the Empire is likely to pass is carefully set up.
“Hurry, something thought up by that stupid prince will definitely be stopped once the king comes back!”
“Aye, it’s something like ‘when the cat’s away, the mice will play’, right!? We are going to cut loose with all our heart before that!”
Moreover, everyone is well-motivated.
“… Are they praising me or speaking ill of me?” (Mahiro)
“Hmm, now, now, prince…after all everyone’s so happy.” (Pariel)
A tall shadow appears behind them.
“… I see. So the prince always slips out of the castle like this, eh?”
“Ah, Lord Kaien…” (Pariel)
Once Pariel turns around, she finds the Prime Minister standing there, his monocle glinting in the sun. His pale, glum face gives the impression that he’s always in the castle, but with the situation being what it is, he’s likely serving as commander of the army.
“Yoo, Kaien. As expected, you work fast.” (Mahiro)
“It’s an honor to receive your praise. But then again, I’m no expert in things like these, so…” (Kaien)
Since this man holds a reputation for flawlessness just like Edelweiss, seeing him scratch his head with such a troubled expression has an unexpected charm.
“Well, well, how about using this as chance to get a little tan? You will be well-liked. Prime Minister, it will boost your popularity, you know!” (Mahiro)
“I’m no match to you, prince… However, in all honesty, I had my doubts about this plan, but…” (Kaien)
He spreads out the plans he received from Mahiro during the war council. And, as if comparing it with the townscape of the land near the castle,
“Now that I look at it like this, I understand how it makes sense. Above all, the cover of it being a festival is great. Had we declared it to be preparation for battle, the people likely wouldn’t have worked with such zeal.” (Kaien)
The people are plenty aware that this country is small. There’s no doubt that they would have fallen into considerable despair and pessimism, as might be the Empire’s intention.
But, everyone working in this big plaza looks lively and their eyes are sparkling. The men doing the carpentry, the women bringing sweets and tea, and even the children are affected by that cheerfulness and are taking the initiative in helping out. There’s no way for them not to be festive and boisterous with the sudden festival. The preparations are progressing quickly as well.
“For you to be such schemer, Prince Mahiro, I would have never thought that of you.” (Kaien)
“Although I’m not accustomed to being praised, flattery will get you nowhere.” (Mahiro)
Despite his words, the prince squirmed, looking happy.
“Hmm, if you’re fine with something small like this, please feel free to touch it.”
“Pointing at someone’s chest as you please! Moreover, what’s with the “something small like this”!?” (Pariel)
“Hahaha…no, prince. I’m honestly admiring you. Does that mean that you knew…perhaps predicted even the advance party hiding itself in the mountains?” (Kaien)
While a bump forms under the hat pulled low over Mahiro’s head,
“Even I’m not that arrogant. But, now that I think about it, I did think that the mountain over there was the most suitable place for those kinds of people to lurk about in the vicinity. Though it was just by coincidence that it was my test course.” (Mahiro)
“I see. … In that case it’s my oversight. I have not been vigilant enough as Prime Minister, I suppose…” (Kaien)
The one actually ruling is the king. The ones enforce the rules are the ministers. But the one responsible for proposing and scrutinizing the reason behind everything is the Prime Minister. If you put the relationship between the king and the Prime Minister into military terms, it’s comparable to that between a general and his tactician.
“Now, now, you said it yourself, you are an expert in politics after all, Kaien. Besides, it’s all moot at this point anyway.” (Mahiro)
“I thank you for your consideration. Even the rumors about your kindness seem to be true.” (Kaien)
“Weeell, not really…please, do have a feel.” (Mahiro)
“I’ve suddenly developed a headache, I shall excuse myself now…” (Mahiro)
“Hahaha, take care.” (Kaien)
Mahiro waved, Pariel bowed deeply and they left. Kaien watches them leave.
(Schemer, huh…? I guess the one pulling the reins is Edelweiss after all. Or otherwise…)
“Prime Minister, the guard captain of the southern gate says that there’s a slight problem with the work in the vicinity of the gate…”
“Got it. I suppose this place will be alright without me. I will head south. Send a carriage around.” (Kaien)
Just before lunch.
“Good grief, how much longer are you going to sulk for? They won’t get any smaller. Actually, according to word on the street, fondling makes them bigger.” (Mahiro)
“That’s bullshit!!” (Pariel)
“Eehh…? But, according to the books from the ancient civilization…” (Mahiro)
They entered the western neighborhoods of the lower city.
The lower city, with its high traffic flow from the gate and proximity to the castle, could be considered the face of the area. However, even though this place is equally close, the buildings of shady peddlers and bars line the streets. As you head deeper into the area, you can even find houses made of cardboard that house homeless freelancers…it’s a fairly shabby area. Having said that, since the country and its people are peaceful, the area still isn’t considered dangerous. And even here, the festive atmosphere has begun to take over.
“What kind of business do you even have in a place like this?” (Pariel)
“Didn’t I say that I need more materials for the trap? My favorite store is in this area.” (Mahiro)
Turning into an alley between some dirty brick apartment buildings, he turns right, then left. The area begins to look more and more like a den of thieves, and Pariel begins to wonder if they are still in Mismarca.
“Wh-…What’s this gigantic cardboard building…?” (Pariel)
“Since Mismarca is a free nation, as long as they don’t block the street, these cardboard houses can be any size they want. Depending on how you see it, you could even say that the people living in them are better off than those diligently living in the normal apartments, since those are harder to reconstruct. ” (Mahiro)
“I-…Is that so…?” (Pariel)
Finally, they turned into what looked like a dead-end.
“There’s a store in a place like this…?” (Pariel)
“Look there!” (Mahiro)
Mahiro pointed. On the first floor of one of the apartments, a signboard hung from a plain door.
『Grindelwald’s Licensed Sorcery and Alchemy Guild
General Store Emilio』
“Well, the shopkeeper seems to actually have graduated from the school over there as far as I’ve heard. Ah, by the way, he’s my friend.” (Mahiro)
Pariel sighs deeply, “… A friend, you say…?”
“Anyone home!?” (Mahiro)
“Is anyone there!!?” (Mahiro)
“… This store, is it really open?” (Pariel)
“If it’s not, I’ll be in trouble. Anyone there!?” (Mahiro)
Finally, a rustle was heard from the inside. .
“… Shut the hell up. What time do you think it is right now…?”
“It’s noon! Noon!!” (Mahiro)
It was the first time Pariel had seen this stupid prince play the straight man.
“… We basically only open at night…”
The door cracked open, and a shockingly cute, blond boy poked his head through the gap. He’s only half-awake, and he grumbles and rubs clear blue eyes framed by long lashes adorably. He seems to be around 15 or 16, like Mahiro.
“Ah…prince…? What do you want?”
“I’m a customer! Customer! What kind of attitude are you showing to your best customer!?” (Mahiro)
Then the boy turns his blue eyes towards Pariel.
“… Who’s…that young lady over there? Your girlfriend, prince? Humph, how lucky for you.”
In contrast to his unmotivated voice, the door was slammed quite hard in their faces.
“… As you can see, his character is flawed.” (Mahiro)
“A-Ah…I see.” (Pariel)
“No actually, he’s just rude! Emilio! Do you really believe that someone as noble as I will be satisfied with a woman of this level!?” (Mahiro)
“It’s not like I follow you around because I want to!!” (Pariel)
Anyway, the boy, who appears to be the owner, poked his head out once more.
“… Who?” (Emilio)
“Uuumm. I’m his guard, Pariel.”
Given that he seems to know about Mahiro being the prince, Pariel flashes the crest of the Royal Guard at him.
“Prince…you, why the hell have you brought her along…” (Emilio)
“She’s fine. In that massive castle, Pariel is the only one who does what she’s told.” (Mahiro)
“Hmmmmm….soooo you get her to do everything you say every night? How very nice for you..” (Emilio)
“Wha-Wh-wh-wh-whaa…!? What incomprehensible shit is this brat spouting!? Come out! Heeey!!!” (Pariel)
Her face bright red, Pariel kicks the door.
“Umm, Pariel, your language…” (Mahiro)
“It’s because he keeps saying weird things, prince!!” (Pariel)
“… Emilio, this is the fourth time. Please forgive me already.” (Mahiro)
“Fiine, whatever…I’m wide awake now anyway. Come in.” (Emilio)
At last he opened the door completely.
The interior of the store looks like a storage room – nobody would ever believe that it was a business. Weapons, armor, magic items….at first glance they look authentic, but once you look properly, it’s just mountains and mountains of questionable junk. At least there is a counter, but it’s littered with newspapers still in the middle of reading, half-eaten bread and other stuff. Emilio only has one suspender strap on his shoulder, and his shirt looks like it’s never even heard of the concept of a pressing iron before. Judging by his bed hair, he probably slept in those clothes. It appears that Mahiro calling his character flawed isn’t unjustified in the least.
“Sit wherever you want. Is coffee fine with you?” (Emilio)
What is Mahiro doing, while Emilio has gone to make coffee for us? He pulled two broken, cushioned stools out of one mountain of junk.
“This is a terrible store…” (Pariel)
“However, once you get used to it, it’s cozy.” (Emilio)
Emilio came back a lot faster than expected. He puts the half-eaten bread in his mouth, clears away the newspapers and takes three steaming cups off a tray, lining them up on the counter. No longer half-awake, Emilio appears to be more sociable. I guess he’s a cute boy after all, Pariel thinks.
“Go on and drink. I’m out of milk though. By the way, did something happen today? All the noise made it rather hard to sleep properly.” (Emilio)
“Rejoice, Emilio. It has been decided that I’m going to hold a festival.” (Mahiro)
“Festival? So you’re doing whatever you want while the King isn’t here?” (Emilio)
Emilio takes a sip of the piping-hot coffee. Mahiro does too. Seeing this, Pariel imitates them.
“?…somehow it has a bland taste, doesn’t it?” (Pariel)
“It’s instant coffee after all. No beans involved. It’s just powder dissolved in water. I ordered it from the Far East.” (Emilio)
Pariel sighs. I see. Pariel takes a second sip. Because the Far East often excavates legacies of the ancient civilization, they probably also have the machines to create this powder.
“So, umm…this store, what kind of shop is it?” (Pariel)
Pariel pointedly surveyed the storeroom-like interior again. Things were crammed into every available space.
“Didn’t you see the signboard outside? It’s a general store. We sell everything and buy everything.” (Emilio)
Is that what a general store is?
“Though, I suppose we specialise in magic and related items. So, Prince, what’s up today? A skirt flipper? Or something to peep somewhere?” (Emilio)
“Stupid Emilio, saying something like that…” (Mahiro)
“… Look, this is the fifth time just today.” (Mahiro)
“What kind of things are you buying!? And you, just what are you selling!?” (Pariel)
“Did he do something to you as well, miss? But, this is a general store. As long as you have the money, I will even import it from the imperial capital Rottenheim.” (Emilio)
“Are you for real…?” (Pariel)
‘This store operates on a surprisingly large scale.’ Pariel questions him some more,
“By the way, it caught my attention earlier, but it’s also written on the signboard outside. That Grindelwald so-and-so Guild, what’s that about?” (Pariel)
Emilio tosses the last of the bread into his mouth and washed it down with coffee.
“Grindelwald’s Sorcery and Alchemy Guild. It’s a wordy name, but it pretty much just means that these are the headquarters of black magic.” (Emilio)
“Isn’t that forbidden!? That’s the one where you curse people by cooking chicken blood and charred newt, no!?!” (Pariel)
Putting on an innocent expression, that seemed to suggest that he wouldn’t hurt a fly while propping up his cheeks.
“I think you have a sliiight misunderstanding there, miss.” (Emilio)
“Now, now, Pariel. There’s a reason Emilio is discrete and does his business in a corner of the city like this, you know?” (Mahiro)
“He just can’t make an appearance in public because it’s too shady, right!?” (Pariel)
Pariel hit the counter with a *bam* and stood up.
“Such store should be suspended from business! I will have its license revoked right away!” (Pariel)
“How troublesome. Being told something like that, even I…” (Emilio)
Emilio’s eyes gleamed ominously.
*click* Emilio pulled a revolver out from under the counter. With the barrel of a gun pointed in her face, Pariel draws her sword and levels the point at his throat.
“Indeed…this is amazing. Does that mean that even though the prince is a fool, his guard is the real deal?” (Emilio)
“How rude.” (Mahiro)
“Don’t underestimate the Royal Guard!” (Pariel)
Despite that, Emilio still had a grin on his face.
“What’s so funny!?” (Pariel)
“Miss, look!” (Emilio)
*plop* A gunshot.
Flags of all the nations dangled from the muzzle.
“Ahaha, miss, it’s because you got all worked up. How cute. Geez.” (Emilio)
“Yeah, yeah, even I got embarrassed. If society were to learn that I was accompanied by such a guard, I wouldn’t be able to walk under the sun anymore either…” (Mahiro)
“Y-Y-You don’t have to go so far with your remarks, do you!?” (Pariel)
“True. As guard you are really splendid, indeed.” (Emilio)
After saying so, Emilio takes a breath,
“But, I guess you fell one step short.” (Emilio)
“…!? Eek!!” (Pariel)
Something bit my foot. Just as she thought that, her hand, her arm, her body, her head…
Something thick, like plant vines, grew out from within the mountain of junk. They wound around Pariel’s body and lifted her into the air, completely immobilising her.
“What are these!? No way, a monster!?” (Pariel)
“The nature of my business being what it is, of course I have a barrier set up in the store. All the merchandise is just there for camouflage.” (Emilio)
Now that he mentions it, the tentacles are coming from eerily glowing magic crests around the room, strategically concealed by the piles of junk.
“I mean, I can’t have the premises be searched, or inflexible clients like the young miss here…argh, forget it. This is why I asked you from the start, didn’t I, Prince?” (Emilio)
Emilio completely changes and shows a bothered expression.
“A female knight is more than likely going to be a thickheaded fellow like her. Because of this I’m going to have to look for a new tenant again.” (Emilio)
“Well, I will have her listen to a proper explanation later. Rather than that, if you leave now, I will be in trouble. The country is in a crisis.” (Mahiro)
Emilio stops and stares at Mahiro’s uncharacteristic seriousness.
“… Mmh, okay, I see. That was quite the convoluted situation, but I think I understand. So that’s why there’s a festival…and you want to use my goods to drive the imperial army away?” (Emilio)
Even after such a story, Emilio calmly sipped his now-cold coffee.
“That’s how it is. Therefore, I’d like you to have everything we discussed before prepared. ” (Mahiro)
Mahiro put a memo on the counter. Pariel, still hanging in midair, can’t read the contents from this angle.
“Say prince… I did hear that you are an idiot, but even I’m starting to doubt your sanity?” (Emilio)
“That’s rude. It’s a plan I came up with personally.” (Mahiro)
“… Well, it’s business, so I welcome it, but…” (Emilio)
Emilio took a short breath, puts down the cup and starts to use an abacus while gazing at the memo.
“This is different from the toys you bought so far, it will cost quite the hefty sum.” (Emilio)
“That’s fine. I’m currently capable of using all the funds in the national treasury. Get it as soon as possible, money is no object. Buying lives with money, that’s a cheap price to pay.” (Mahiro)
Emilio glanced at Mahiro.
“Really? In our industry, humans are treated like cheap merchandise though.” (Emilio)
“It’s not like you put an actual price on them” (Mahiro)
“True. No point supplying if there’s no demand, after all…there we go.” (Emilio)
Flicking the abacus one last time, he fills out a sales slip.
“While you’re at it, how about some mercenaries, prince? A cheap, skilled bunch has visited the neighborhood.” (Emilio)
This general store really seems to deal in everything.
“I hate violence.” (Mahiro)
“Prince, you are a good guy. That’s rare these days.” (Emilio)
“Just add 『not that I care』, everyone else does it as well…” (Mahiro)
Pariel had been struggling against her bonds the entire time they were chatting, but the powerful tentacles didn’t let her move a single finger.
“Including the price of the goods, expedited delivery, a contingency fee, the consumption tax and several other expenses…I guess it totals to 120 million yen, rounded down as a special service.” (Emilio)
Pariel sputtered at the eye-popping amount of money.
“Wh-, Wh-Wh-…What did you buy?” (Pariel)
“Well, I guess that’s how it is, huh?” (Mahiro)
Not batting an eyelash at the cost, Mahiro signed the proffered contract with a flourish.
“Ah…!? You stupid prince…! That much money would be enough to buy thaaat mansion…” (Pariel)
“Hmm, as it is, the current me, with the power of the national treasury, could buy that mansion if I wanted to.” (Mahiro)
“I’m against wasting taxeeeees!!” (Pariel)
“She’s a lively young lady, isn’t she…? I suppose that’s why she makes a good officer of the court. ” (Emilio)
Emilio scratched his temple with the butt of the fountain pen while staring at Pariel who was still suspended in midair.
“That’s none of your business! Rather, how long do you plan to leave me in this state!? Let me down already! I have to close down a dangerous store like this for the sake of the people’s hard-earned tax money!!” (Pariel)
“That’s no good, Pariel. If you did something like that, I will die.” (Mahiro)
“Such evil merchant had been adrift on the streets…eh? Prince, you would?” (Pariel)
Emilio simply picked up the contract.
“You know, our contracts are actually two sheets of paper, the second being a carbon copy. If there’s a breach of contract on the second page, the signer’s soul is…” (Emilio)
“What are you casually signing a contract with a death god for, stupid priiiiiiiiiiiince!!” (Pariel)
“Yeah, well. That means, in order to preserve my life, this shop has to survive by staying profitable.” (Mahiro)
“But prince, what should we do about this miss? After all, we’ve caught her at long last.” (Emilio)
Emilio smiled guilelessly at Pariel, who ground her teeth.
“What, you ask…what do intend to do to me!? Aren’t you satisfied with having caught me!?” (Pariel)
Emil laughed sweetly, startling Pariel.
“Weeell, hahaha. Frankly, I can do whatever I want with you, even make you moan.” (Emilio)
“Moan, you say!?” (Pariel)
“But, let’s seeee. I suppose the most appealing thing would be to sell you off.” (Emilio)
Nodding quickly, Mahiro stage-whispered
“How much could you sell her for?” (Mahiro)
“Wai-…Wait a moment, prince! This is a joke, right!? Why are you conspiring with him!?” (Pariel)
Emilio considers Pariel for a bit.
Then smiles almost regretfully.
“But, she doesn’t have much of a chest, does she?” (Emilio)
“What the fuck was that, you asshole!? Hah!?” (Pariel)
“Language, Pariel.” (Mahiro)
“Or rather, it’s just these clothes…I’m actually a nice girl with an average C-cup!!” (Pariel)
How’s that!? Pariel thought,
“Ah, okay. What a half-assed loli you make. For that kind of taste, a flat-chest would get a better price, but…” (Emilio)
“Just what kind of fucking maniacs do you choose as business partners, you shitty brat!?” (Pariel)
After that Emilio pondered for a short while again.
“Prince…it pains me greatly to say this, but I don’t need this after all.” (Emilio)
“I see. As expected, huh?” (Mahiro)
“Don’t fucking treat me like an object, you asshoooooooooooooles…!” (Pariel)
“Then I will go acquire the goods immediately. I look forward to your next visit.” (Emilio)
Emilio sees them off, casually waving a hand with a charming smile.
“As if I’d visit this place again!! Just you wait! One day I will challenge you to a duel you shitty brat, got it!? Hah!?” (Pariel)
“Pariel…your language…” (Mahiro)
“…Ah. …Uh, I just, my local dialect…” (Pariel)
“What kind of home town is that supposed to be?” (Mahiro)
As they talk, they walk.
“But! Please choose your friends a bit better, prince! You are absolutely forbidden to enter that store ever again! Do you understand!?” (Pariel)
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah… banned from a store by someone other than the owner…I never expected that.” (Mahiro)
By the time they left the western lower city, it was already noon. The setting of the trap in the name of decorating the main street has paused. People were chatting and eating lunch under the warm sun and clear blue sky.
“… This is really a trap?” (Pariel)
“Hey, hey, don’t touch it carelessly. It’s not like a mere shock will do anything, but still.” (Mahrio)
That’s only natural. After all it would be a serious matter if the trap could be triggered by small children bumping into it. Mahiro roughly looks over three of them.
“Hmm, that should do it…I guess?” (Mahiro)
Touching parts as he goes, he examines the gate. Then suddenly, he loses all his liveliness from earlier.
Seeing Mahiro begin to look around restlessly, Pariel sighs and asks him what’s wrong
“Come on, prince, there’s nothing interesting left to do now, right? We don’t have time to waste on meaningless things. If you’re done, let’s go back.” (Pariel)
“Don’t ehhhh me.” (Pariel)
Suddenly, Mahiro stops walking. He pulls the brim of his hat low over his face. Following the furtive glances from under his hat, a stunningly beautiful woman in boots, trousers, and a coat can be seen. Two rather familiar maids stand behind her.
“P-Prince…those…no way.” (Pariel)
“H-…How strange…that princess is crazier than I am…!” (Mahiro)
It’s obvious just from her regal air, but with such magnificently sword at her hip, there’s no way she could be mistaken for anyone else.
“Pri-…Princess Lunas, right? What for did she come here…?” (Pariel)
“As if I’d know! Anyway, we are running away, Pariel! What would become of me if I was discovered after everything that happened yesterday…!?” (Mahiro)
Unfortunately, it seems she noticed them surreptitiously turning around.
“? You over there, aren’t you Mahimahi?” (Lunas)
Backs still to Lunas, they exchanged a look….and made a run for it!
Lunas’ objection hanging in the air, they made a desperate break for the castle.
“W-Whaat do we do!?” (Pariel)
“I told you, I don’t have a clue! Wait, aren’t there too many footsteps?” (Mahiro)
The two look over their shoulders.
They are being chased.
Running in a panic, they stop looking around and focus on running faster and faster.
“Pariel, distract them! I will use that to make my escape! I will definitely manage to get away!!” (Mahiro)
“What are you saying, young master? Aren’t you the one they have business with? Aren’t you the one called Mahimahi!?!” (Pariel)
“You are still my guard, right!?” (Mahiro)
“No, I’m just one of your private tutors!!” (Pariel)
While they were bickering, they ran frantically from one back alley to another, haphazardly threading through all the backstreets…until they finally stopped in a deserted street.
“Haa, haa, haa, see, I’m a good runner! What Empire, this is Mismarca, my own backyard. We’ve come this far, they won’t be able to cha….” (Mahiro)
A heavy boot in the back of the head sent him tumbling forward, faster than he’d been running, until he splatted against the dead-end. In short, they were overtaken.
“Gah, I will die!! I will definitely die!! By the way, this is the sixth time!! Tell me, just what did we do to you!! Ah man, why are you chasing us!?!” (Mahiro)
“Probably because you are running away.”
“No… Yes.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro meekly agrees once Lunas says this, the atmosphere reminiscent of a carnivore and its prey.
The princess isn’t out of breath either. The maids are right behind her, though their faces have somewhat changed in color. It’s probably a matter of life and death if they lose sight of their master in enemy territory.
Putting it like that, I feel some sympathy for them since we’re all just being dragged around, or rather, being abused by our masters.
“Ha-Haa, haa…great… Princess Lunas, these people…”
“Haaa…princess, you are really fast, huh…?”
They quickly put their hands together in front of them again, and waited calmly. As if nothing had happened.
“… Yeah, Pariel.” (Mahiro)
“I want proper maids like that as well.” (Mahiro)
“Proper, you say…what, are you not satisfied with the perfect maid already at your side?” (Pariel)
“… Her character is too flawed.” (Mahiro)
If the person herself was here, I have no doubt that she would have reminded you exactly why she is called the Harisen2. Startled, Mahiro anxiously scanned his surroundings before clearing his throat. Visibly pulling himself together, he said,
“… Or rather, princess, after you said such disturbing things yesterday, it’s unreasonable to expect us to not run away. Anyway, what did you come here for?” (Mahiro)
“Ah, about that. You informed the prince yesterday, right?” (Lunas)
“I properly informed the castle, yes.” (Mahiro)
“… I see. What’s with that peaceful main street then? According to one of the residents, there’s going to be a festival, but…” (Lunas)
“Indeed. They say that the prince ordered it. Apparently he wants to marrymake before the king returns.” (Mahiro)
“Hmm…by the way, you are fairly quick on your feet, aren’t you?” (Lunas)
“Ha ha ha, you are absolutely right. Just the day before yesterday I even raced a horse…” (Mahiro)
Lunas drew her sword.
“In other words, you are trained. You bastard, you are Edelweiss’ spy after all, aren’t you?” (Lunas)
“Ah…no, what are you talking about…?” (Mahiro)
“Didn’t you say so when you left yesterday?” (Lunas)
The sword was deftly pointed at Mahiro’s throat.
The escape to the backstreets had completely backfired. Especially with the festival in the main streets drawing people away, not a single soul was here to object. Seeing how the situation has progressed, it seems that she can no longer remain silent. Pariel raises a hand to to draw her sword…and feels a spike of bloodlust. One that conveys a willingness to kill without hesitation. One of the maids reveals several throwing knives that Pariel hadn’t realized that she had drawn, and the other one appears to have begun something magical.
“… Pariel, knock it off with the dangerous stuff.” (Mahiro)
It seems that a surprise attack will be impossible. Mahiro appears to have it under control. Pariel removes her hand from the hilt.
“That’s a wise move.” (Lunas)
The maid also puts the knives in her hands away…into her sleeves. The presence of a magic attack fades as well.
“There’s only one thing I want to know. What is Edelweiss thinking? Why is she preparing a festival even though she knows about the enemy army on her doorstep?” (Lunas)
“No…that’s…a trap after all, no?” (Mahiro)
Bah, this idiot prince spilled the beans so easily after all this.
“A trap, you say?” (Lunas)
“A trap disguised as festival decorations…or something like that. At least, that’s supposed the ploy here, I think.” (Mahiro)
Lunas lowered her sword, looking astounded.
“If you’re going to lie, do it better. From the looks of it, everything is made of wood. As if that could put a single scratch on the armor of the black knights.” (Lunas)
“No…well, that doesn’t matter to me…” (Mahiro)
“… Hmm, that makes sense.” (Lunas)
No, no, no, no and no! We saw them yesterday! What are we supposed to do if the person who devised the trap in the first place doesn’t care?
“Umm…young master. That…” (Pariel)
“Eh? What? I’m currently doing my very best to ensure our survival.” (Mahiro)
Ah, that’s true. I will save the questioning for later
“There’s another matter to be solved. Why haven’t you guys run away?” (Lunas)
For an instant Mahiro stared blankly at her.
“Why are you so surprised? I told you, didn’t I? I’m going to destroy this country. And yet, you haven’t run away. Why?” (Lunas)
“No…I mean, I don’t believe you.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro said it clearly. I’m pretty sure that these are his true feelings, and not simply an excuse this time.
“There’s no way that I’m going to believe in something like the destruction of this country. You saw yourself, right? The happy faces on everyone preparing for the festival. How could I possibly believe that everything will be destroyed?” (Mahiro)
As a retainer, I wonder if I should admire my lord for these feelings? Or should I lament that I can’t defeat the enemy general even though she’s right in front of my eyes?
“I do understand that it’s something beyond my status, but, no matter what, since I have the opportunity then I will ask: Your Highness Lunas, couldn’t you at least wait until the conclusion of the festival before you begin the battle?” (Mahiro)
“I have no obligation to wait. After seeing it with my own eyes, I know that there’s no trap. There’s no need to wait any longer…but.” (Lunas)
After a short pause.
“When will that festival or whatever take place?” (Lunas)
“I believe it was from today at sunset for around nine hours.” (Mahiro)
“I see. Got it. You have until then to escape. If I encounter you on the battle front, I won’t have the time to speak with you like this anymore.” (Lunas)
And then she turned on her heels and left.
“… Pheew.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro sighs. Seeing this, Pariel also allows her shoulders to drop in exhaustion.
After a long sigh, “… For a moment I wondered what would happen to us… But…” (Pariel)
“No, well, we got something out of it as well.” (Mahiro)
“Come on, let’s get back to the castle. We have to prepare the festival’s program.” (Mahiro)
Unfortunately, when they finally got back to the castle, what they had feared had come to pass. Lunch time had ended long ago, and the dining hall was deserted. In other words, they missed their chance to get a meal.
The leftovers having been cleared away, Pariel and Mahiro could only miserably eat their rice mixed with tea, something they had only obtained after cornering the chef.
“Uuh…for my meal to be only one cup of tea with rice…” (Pariel)
“Well, don’t say that Pariel. Just think of it as diet.” (Mahiro)
“Ah, you’re right! Diet, diet ♪…bah, who’s fault is this!?” (Pariel)
The sound of rice and tea being eaten echoed through the empty dining hall, adding to the sorry atmosphere.
“Did you come back safely, Your Highness?” (Edelweiss)
Edelweiss. Kaen is with her, too.
“Prince…once again…you are here eating something amazing.” (Kaen)
The prime minister, who rarely comes to the dining hall, was apparently taken aback by the sight of royalty reduced to eating tea and rice.
“Yoo, you two. Good work. How come Kaien is with you?” (Mahiro)
“Ah…no, I just met her.” (Kaien)
“Okay. So, how’s the progress?” (Mahiro)
“The city is about 70% done. The majority will likely be complete by sundown.” (Kaien)
“As expected, that’s fast. What about your side, Edelweiss?” (Mahiro)
“It hasn’t progressed as far, since there are fewer people working compared to the vicinity of the castle.” (Edelweiss)
“Hmm, oh well. The city is the most important. Well then, let’s hold the festival as planned.” (Mahiro)
At which point Edelweiss interjected,
“However, Your Highness, in the worst case, when the enemy attacks, this means that the people will be directly in the line of fire.” (Edelweiss)
“No, that won’t happen. I was able to narrow down the time of attack when I went out to the city just now.” (Mahiro)
Edelweiss blinks. The Prime Minister expresses his surprise a little more directly.
“What did you say?!” (Kaien)
“The opponent is already aware of the festival’s schedule. It’s as you said before, Prime Minister, this isn’t a force for total domination of the area. It’s a surprise attack. They also want to avoid a riot. It’s not like a military parade, marching through streets teeming with people isn’t advantageous to them either. Besides, Lunas is a battle maniac, but she isn’t a madman who wants to commit genocide. I’m using that against her.” (Mahiro)
You could almost see the question marks popping up above everyone’s heads. Mahiro looked at each of them and elaborated,
“Everyone is obligated to participate in today’s festival. Make sure to gather everyone in the northern plaza, even if you have to put the sick on stretchers or prop up the injured with canes.” (Mahiro)
Obviously having guessed something, the prime minister narrows his eyes at Mahiro,
“Not inside the castle?” (Kaien)
“Correct. Take note, I want all the maids and soldiers in the castle to gather at the northern plaza as well. If they don’t fit, have them go north. Given where they’re camped, Lunas definitely won’t be coming through the northern gate” (Mahiro)
After hearing this much, even Pariel could guess at Mahiro’s plan. In other words, Mahiro has really no intention to sacrifice any of the citizens to the imperial army.
This is an evacuation…under the guise of a festival.
If he openly declared an evacuation, everyone would have fallen into panic. And even without that, there would have probably been injuries what with all the pushing and shoving. No, people would be tempted to bring along unreasonable large luggage, the roads would be jammed with wagons and carriages, and even that might not be the worst of it. But, if it’s a festival…
Kaien sighed. He looked as if he were forcibly calming himself after suffering a great shock…but cold sweat still formed at his temples. Pariel could sympathize. It’s the same as when he recklessly charged into the enemy camp, but this time it couldn’t be played off as a coincidence any longer.
“I suppose that’s that.” (Edelweiss)
Only Edelweiss keeps her usual, calm expression.
“I have no doubt that the castle will fall. Is that fine with you?” (Edelweiss)
That’s also true. All that’s left in the castle and the land beyond is an unmanned trap. With a little time and effort, it will be easily broken.
“Isn’t that fine?” (Mahiro)
“If I had to choose between the castle and the people, you know, I will pick the people without even thinking about it.” (Mahiro)
It’s a magnificent way of thinking, but,
Ideals are ideals. I wonder whether he really understands that that’s not reality.
- It’s a specific mahjong rule where you have to have 2 scoring combinations to win a hand. Don’t ask me, I’m no mahjong expert. But you should be able to look it up yourself. ;-)
- Now this might be either a typo or a nickname with a really bad pun. The Harisen here is written as 張閃 which would literally mean “Slapping Flash” … the usual harisen (the slapping stick which was referred in ch1) is written as 張り扇. The author might have mistyped or it might be a bad pun of Edelweiss being nicknamed as Harisen because she uses a harisen…I will go with latter for now and fix accordingly as we proceed