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The moment she crossed the drawbridge, Lunas smiled boldly.
“How daring. Even after seeing the state of the castle town, they haven’t closed off the castle?” (Lunas)
Reiner takes in the view, speculating quietly,
“Perhaps they ran away and failed to close it in their haste? It’s too clumsy.” (Reiner)
“That might also be true.” (Lunas)
Reasoning that it’s better to go ahead with fewer people, she took no one except for her two maids and Reiner along.
There’s a single reason for this. This place is, beyond any doubt, the enemy’s stronghold. If we were to be challenged by Edelweiss, a common knight – no matter how elite – would die in vain. Even the front yard, from the castle gate to the castle, is infested with the same types of monsters as the town, just as that boy said.
How about inside the castle then?
“It’s a complete freak show around here.” (Lunas)
Lunas only managed to hold in her laughter because of the shock of seeing the entrance hall. *Crunch**crunch* on the right. *Thud**thud* on the left. *Slice**slice* on the floor. *Zap**zap* at the walls. Automatic devices. A monster-corpse-production factory.
Lunas inhales sharply.
“How irritating. I leave it to you.” (Lunas)
The two maids acknowledge their orders with a bob of their heads. They depart at a swift pace.
Reiner was doubtful. To deal with those traps, we should have called several knights from outside. However, the maids simply go ahead.
“It’s a good opportunity, Reiner. Watch closely.” (Lunas)
The stoic-looking one pulls throwing knives from her sleeves. Four in each hand, eight in total. She swung her arms out.
Women from the imperial capital are said to be strong, but that technique prompts even Lunas to praise it. That sound is not one normally associated with a knife. With destructive power similar to that of a cannon ball, the traps are noisily destroyed.
At that time, the other one, the maid that seemed much gentler compared to the first, concentrated magic power to her palms. A chantless spell. The beam of light she fired ricochets multiple times, leaving spider webbing lines behind. All the monster bodies in the hall have been annihilated and even the rubble created by the previous maid was cleared away.
The two maids bobbed their heads again and quietly returned to their usual place behind Lunas.
Impressed, Reiner asks,
“Princess. The one called Edelweiss is stronger than these two?” (Reiner)
“At least as far as I know. In the first place, the one who trained these two is Edelweiss. It seems they were chided very much.” (Lunas)
The two nodded while casting their eyes down.
“How about it, Reiner? Are there any knights among those outside that surpass these two?” (Lunas)
“The only thing I could say is that it depends on the situation.” (Reiner)
If we’re caught in the psychological blind spot that they reside in, being maids…or if they just use an advantageous position from within this huge castle…it’s unlikely that we’d be able to put up a good fight against them.
He finally grasps Lunas’ intention. In the end, she was right about their battle prowess.
“Now then, what are we going to do? Once the castle is cleared out…hmm. There’s no need to hurry, but well, I guess we should at least go see the throne.” (Lunas)
From there on, the party was able to proceed forward smoothly. There were several simple traps, but ones that might pose a threat like those in the entrance hall did not appear again, the remainder being equivalent to a child’s tricks. Of course the maids quickly dispose of these without Lunas’ input.
Even so, Lunas remained alert as she asked,
“What do you think?” (Lunas)
“Including monsters in the plan signifies a departure from all established tactics. As expected, they must have escaped in fear in this unexpected situation.” (Reiner)
“…True. Even if they had the courage to use monsters in their plan, I don’t understand the level of traps in the castle. How about you guys?” (Lunas)
Once Lunas brought up the matter, the stoic-looking maid answered,
“Assuming what I heard from you, Princess Lunas, was true, using monsters in battle is unprecedented.”
Meaning, it wouldn’t be strange if something unexpected happened.
“I see. For example, the monsters overran the castle because they couldn’t completely control the magic…huh? Or maybe they didn’t think that the monsters could even get into the castle?” (Reiner)
“I guess General Reiner’s conjectures are also reasonable in that sense.”
The stoic-looking maid lowered her head swiftly, thanking him for his additional input. Following that, the gentle-looking maid said,
“But, Princess, the boy you met said that the monsters inside the castle were his work as well, didn’t he?”
“He did. …However, now that I think about it, I don’t understand. If it was just to drive us away, it would have been fine to just deploy monsters in the land near the castle…” (Lunas)
And then, as if hit by a realization,
“If the monsters inside the castle were the black market boy’s own work, it would be simple. That boy probably intended to curry favor and ingratiate himself with us. In that case Prince Mahiro is just trash that ran away after being defeated by his own plan.” (Lunas)
“I see. You are saying he was betrayed.” (Reiner)
Reiner and the maids unanimously agreed.
They ascend up to the fourth floor. Finally, on the way through the hallway leading to the throne, they encountered people. Reiner reflexively places a hand on the longsword on his back, one second faster than Lunas.
Three enemies. One of them a man wearing a monocle and his hair knotted in the back, with guns in his hands. One is an icy beauty of a maid who doesn’t seem inferior in any way to the two behind Lunas. And the other one is…
“You are, if I remember correctly…it was Pariel, wasn’t it?” (Lunas)
A joyous expression broke out on Lunas’ face.
Pariel is shocked. Unintentionally she loosened her grip on her sword. This princess not only marched into the castle town, but also into the castle in the middle of enemy territory with just those troops. And seemingly without any sense of danger at that, as if she was just in town to sightsee.
“And…it’s been a while, Edelweiss.” (Lunas)
Lunas amiably greeted.
“It has been a long time, Your Highness. I’m happy that you seem to be healthy.” (Edelweiss)
“Lilith, Francois, are you serving her Highness properly?” (Edelweiss)
The stern maid scowled at Edelweiss’ words.
“Stop with this nonsense. We aren’t your subordinates anymore. No, right now we are enemies to each other. Is there any reason to be worried about us? Stick to your own business.”
The gentle maid stuck out her tongue adorably.
“Yeeeah. There’s nooo need to listen to teacher’s scolding anymore.”
*glare* Edelweiss’ expression sank.
While they managed to remain in position, the two maids visibly trembled and appeared to inch further behind Lunas, belying their calm appearance.
“Lady Edelweiss, they are…your acquaintances?” (Kaien)
“Students from my time in the Empire.” (Edelweiss)
“Moving on,” the princess laughed, looking fed up.
“This is just the usual exchange. So, who are those two?” (Lunas)
“Over here is Mismarca Kingdom’s Prime Minister Kaien Gremnam. This is the Royal Knight Pariel Karlreisel.” (Edelweiss)
“I see. That girl, she was one of your subordinates after all, eh?” (Lunas)
Well, given the circumstances, I guess I understand why she would ask that. Pariel sneaks a peek at Edelweiss, who responded to Lunas,
“It is just as you have guessed. It looks like she was rude to you some time ago, so allow me to extend an apology in place of my subordinate.” (Edelweiss)
“No, don’t worry. After all, I had quite a bit of fun. So, is Mahimahi here as well?” (Lunas)
“Who knows. There is no one with such a name amongst my subordinates. The one who acted as driver in the previous incident isn’t my subordinate.” (Edelweiss)
“Hmm…then I suppose it was true that he’s no civilian in military employ. Edelweiss, how much of this whole situation was your plan?” (Lunas)
The grand chamberlain blinks, looking surprised.
“How much, you ask. What exactly?” (Edelweiss)
“Don’t play the fool. First you had that girl forcefully scout our encampment with a relic of the ancient civilization. Then you pretended to lure us into a trap by keeping the castle gates wide open. And lastly…the current state of the castle town. Well, I think that last one isn’t your work though.” (Lunas)
“All of those were carried out by none other than Prince Mahiro.” (Edelweiss)
“Hoo…how interesting. Though I heard that he’s quite the coward in rumors.” (Lunas)
“He is a coward and a fool, but his brain seems to function well.” (Edelweiss)
“Prince Mahiro is behind you, right? I’d like to meet him by all means.” (Lunas)
“With all due respect, Your Highness. Prince Mahiro is not beyond this corridor.” (Edelweiss)
Hearing that, Lunas suddenly shows a disappointed expression.
“Is that so? How regrettable. I guess he escaped himself and left his retainers to protect the throne. Then there’s no need to meet him. If it’s trash like that, I have met countless already…” (Lunas)
“He’s not trash!!” (Pariel)
Pariel shouted on reflex.
If he was mere trash, he wouldn’t be adored by everyone. It would be impossible for him to persist in his pacifism.
“Pariel, keep your words in check.” (Edelweiss)
“What are you saying, Lady Edelweiss!? Even if she’s an imperial princess or whatever, isn’t she the enemy?” (Pariel)
Pariel immediately readjusts her sword stance.
“Stop it.” (Edelweiss)
“There’s no way that I, as a knight, can allow my lord to ridiculed like this when she doesn’t know anything about him!” (Pariel)
She glares at the other party.
“The prince is nonsensical, but he’s a kind person! Because he didn’t want to sacrifice a single soldier, let alone any of the citizens, he gave up the city and the castle! You don’t even have the slightest idea…!” (Pariel)
Unexpectedly, Lunas makes a complete turnaround and smiles.
“Then I shall apologize.” (Lunas)
“What, if there’s even a single retainer willingly sacrificing their life for him like you, then he’s a good ruler. Even if the country will perish as consequence.” (Lunas)
That single word. Perish. That reality stabs at Pariel’s chest.
“I don’t dislike such person.” (Lunas)
Lunas shifted to a calm look.
“The prime minister over there, are you going for it as well? That kind of gun won’t make a single scratch on my armor.” (Lunas)
Kaien takes a single breath and then,
“…I guess I have no choice but to stop.” (Kaien)
He lowers his beloved guns. He can’t be blamed for that. In the first place, he isn’t a soldier, and guns are at an overwhelming disadvantage.
“Edelweiss, how about you?” (Lunas)
“You must be joking. I haven’t been ordered by His Majesty to go as far as throwing away my life.” (Edelweiss)
Mahiro only told her to buy time, and to not do anything unreasonable or die. If she follows those orders, then there’s no option but to surrender…but if I just backed down here and now despite her insults, then it would have been better if I had refused the post of Royal Knight from the beginning.
“Sir Kaien, Lady Edelweiss, please fall back.” (Pariel)
Pariel swung her sword in preparation, and aimed it at Lunas.
“…Hoo. I see.” (Lunas)
“Reiner, keep her company.” (Lunas)
The one called by her is the young general who only wore a coat and no armor on this battlefield. His calm demeanor that lacks any eagerness gives one the impression as though he is a faithful hunting dog.
Expressionless, the silver-haired general drew the bizarre longsword on his back. It was completely black – from the hilt to the point of the sword’s point. It looked as if it had been forged from one piece of obsidian.
Pariel’s eyes widened, and she shivered.
“Reiner… Black, sword…? You mean, the Silver-haired Ogre…!?” (Pariel)
A cold, quiet presence that she hadn’t taken note of up until now, due to Lunas’ overbearing presence. However, he is definitely one of the Three Swords of the Empire, along with Lunas, the Sword of the Gleaming Light. The Hunting Sword. Reiner Langbalt.
He’s a genius in swordsmanship, the youngest champion in the Empire’s Fighting Tournament which is held several times a year. Because of his extraordinary achievements, he was granted one of the three legendary, sacred treasures that were used in the ancient conflict of the gods…『Black Sword』.
Pariel adjusts her hold on her sword, which was slipping from her clammy hands.
I mean, I was chosen to work in the castle because of my swordsmanship, and that wasn’t for show. Besides, those are just the rumors about him. There aren’t any legends of his military prowess like Lunas. In that case the story of him being the youngest winner in the Fighting Tournament might just be an exaggeration. It’s a story from the Empire, a far away, foreign country.
If it’s such a big longsword, there will be a discrepancy in the stress on destructive force. Since I won’t be able to lock it down as if using a dagger, the style will be naturally the deciding factor. I can’t just charge into a showdown against an opponent with such a large sword whose strength I don’t know. I will wait for hm to make the first move. The fastest strike without showing any gaps. If luck is on my side, I will cut him down with that. Otherwise I will defend immediately. I should approach with a nimble move like that. To begin with I have a slender sword putting importance on speed.
There should be a gap I can take advantage of…
However, while Pariel was frantically strategizing, as if he were tired of waiting, Reiner emotionlessly muttered,
“If you aren’t coming, I will.” (Reiner)
Pariel is taken aback.
The silver-haired swordsman walks towards her, calm. Without measuring the distance between them, or even falling into a sword stance, he just walks up to her, the sword dangling in his hand. That’s his sword style? No, it must be confidence in his skills?
In that case that composure comes from overconfidence-
She almost didn’t see it at all.
Just one overhead swing, as if swatting a fly. That’s all it took to cleave Pariel’s sword in two.
He sheathed his sword in the same way he drew it – without a single expression. And he goes back in the same way he had come.
Only the broken stub of a sword is left in her hands.
“I’m done, princess.” (Reiner)
The third imperial princess who, for the first time, seemed to be having fun, muttered with a fed-up expression,
“…That’s why you are a boring man.” (Lunas)
And then she turns to Pariel, who is still dumbfounded,
“Pariel, that’s enough to prove our victory, right?” (Lunas)
It’s not a matter of being enough or not…
Pariel responded feebly. They never took her seriously at all. If he felt like it, he could have bisected her just like that. Just remembering that moment and what could have happened is enough to cause her to be soaked in cold sweat.
“Prime Minister. And Edelweiss. I will have you become our prisoners as well. We won’t do anything bad to you if you stay obedient.” (Lunas)
Kaien’s heavy sigh probably signifies his compliance. Edelweiss opens the path towards the throne hall.
“Let’s go then. Come to think of it, a bloodless victory is a first for me as well. Well, not having to deal with the stench of blood is certainly a good thing.” (Lunas)
The princess is in a rather good mood. She’s walking ahead as if it was already her castle.
“Come on, let’s go.”
Pariel, still sitting on the floor, is pulled up by one of the maids following the princess. She’s not bound by a rope either. After all they know that she doesn’t have the will or the means to resist any longer.
“A Majin?” (Reiner)
The one who asks is Reiner. Pariel looks at him dejectedly.
“…What about it?” (Pariel)
“No, I was just a little bit curious.” (Reiner)
Saying that, Reiner hurries after Lunas.
Mahiro, who vanished after declaring that he was preparing for negotiations, still hadn’t appeared.
The throne room.
A huge hall that had once welcomed several hundred vassals in the golden age of the old Mismarca Dynasty. The solemn, golden throne that was placed in front of the thick curtain at the innermost area lacked a legitimate master for the first time in several hundred years of history…as if inviting a new master.
“I see. That’s a really imposing throne. Even my father’s throne cannot be compared to this.” (Lunas)
Observing in the same manner, Reiner says,
“His Majesty has said that he will relocate the capital to this strife area at the dawn of His conquest of the continent.” (Reiner)
“So it seems. Then I guess it’ll be this place. There’s no need to change anything here. I think the land near the castle needs to be expanded in the future, but…well, that’s a long way off.” (Lunas)
Lunas joked in good fun and lightly jerked her chin in the direction of the throne.
“How about it, Reiner? Want to take a seat?” (Lunas)
“No, with my social status…” (Reiner)
“Maaan,” Lunas sighed.
“For heaven’s sake, you are truly a man who can’t take a joke.” (Lunas)
She doesn’t have to talk in such frisky manner in front her retainers. But, no matter how frustrating it might be, I’m the one who lost. That’s an undeniable truth.
“Well, I guess I will sit on it first then.” (Lunas)
Just as Lunas began to walk towards the throne, a strange schlicking sound was heard.
The sound originated from the throne. Eyes wide, they all look around, wondering what’s going on. Suddenly, there’s a loud scraping sound and the throne slides to the back. Just under where it used to stand, there’s a gaping hole, and from within,
Pariel shouted reflexively upon seeing the figure.
“H-Huh…? You’re already here? Uhh…that’s a rather fast arrival. Excuse me for appearing from such a place.” (Mahiro)
With a “Heave-ho”, Mahiro crawls rather pathetically out of the hole.
“At any rate, it was my first time putting it on all by myself, so it took some time…” (Mahiro)
Standing up, he dusts himself off. He was no longer in his normal royal garb.
Instead he had on a deep crimson military uniform with a stiff collar and gold threads. A black mantle covered his back. He is also wearing a sash, a crown, several medals on his chest and the Mismarca Royal Family’s crest. It’s a uniform only seen at ceremonies, rituals and state receptions.
The throne automatically slides back to its original position.
Mahiro turned around to Lunas and bowed in a gesture of the highest courtesy towards one’s superior. When he stood up again, Pariel no longer recognized him.
A royal. A calm look comparable to those of the past kings. That was his bearing.
“Please allow me to welcome you, Your Highness Lunas, and thank you for making the long trip from the Imperial Capital to visit. However, I certainly did not expect for Your Highness to be the one to come, ex…” (Mahiro)
Loud laughter echoed through the throne hall.
“Haha! Ahahahahaha…! I see, it was you…!?” (Lunas)
Seeing is believing. However, even more than that, Lunas was completely satisfied with having her predictions betrayed in such an unexpected way, and smiles.
Smiling back, Mahiro bends his waist and bows once more.
“Excuse my previous discourtesy. Allow me to introduce myself once more…I’m called Mahiro Jukilnisk Edenfahrt, the one who has currently been entrusted with this country in place of the King, who is unfortunately absent.” (Mahiro)
He says that as if nothing was wrong, smiling as if this were a pleasant social call rather than an invasion.
“Yeah, I completely understand. In that case, I’m sorry for the other day as well. I truly never expected that…” (Lunas)
“Will you believe in my words this time?” (Mahiro)
“Yes, of course. Looking at the expressions of the prime minister and your retainers, there’s no room for doubt. …But.” (Lunas)
She pauses. Her otherwise bright expression becomes sharper.
“What do you intend, appearing before me so late in the game? I told you before: When we invade, I will take your head. Did you stay behind expressly for that?” (Lunas)
None of the soldiers, who ought to be protecting the castle, remain. Only a single powerless and unarmed boy stands next to the throne. Even if it hadn’t been Lunas, anyone would have thought the same.
“So late in the game? Oh my, you must be joking. On the contrary, Princess Lunas, it begins now.” (Mahiro)
“Originally it would be unsuitable to speak while standing, but…well, the circumstances are what they are. If you would kindly set Edelweiss free, we could have her brew us some tea though.” (Mahiro)
Lunas snickered. There’s no way that she would take the risk of allowing a hostile maid free just to make tea.
“Don’t worry about that. Speak.” (Lunas)
“Thank you for your understanding. First I would like to ask you something…what is to be found in this castle?” (Mahiro)
“What is to be found, you ask?” (Lunas)
“It might have been different in the past, but objectively speaking, there are many other countries that are equally worth taking in this strife area. So, why the Kingdom of Mismarca?” (Mahiro)
Lunas tilts her head to the side as though saying, “What about it?”
“What else could it be? If you look at this strife area as a whole, this country is still a leader-like state. If this place surrenders, the unity of the other small countries will fall apart. The Empire will even gain a border with the Republic.” (Lunas)
“That’s true. But…considering that, it lies too deep in the strife zone. Even though Mismarca is located in the center, several countries located further south are still in perfect condition. The Lazurka Kingdom in particular has been directly confronting the Empire’s domain as buffer zone. It’s one of the strife area’s military states, but to disregard them, I wonder why that might be?” (Mahiro)
While Lunas remained silent, Mahiro raised his index finger, adding “And one more thing.”
“It’s not like I ascertained this, and it’s only my conjecture, but…assuming I’m right, you didn’t have any intention of occupying this country from the very start, did you?” (Mahiro)
“Hoo. Your reason?” (Lunas)
“I don’t know if it’s a few hundred or a thousand, but there’s a limit to how many soldiers you can slip past the guard of Lazurka. If you were going to gain total control of this country, you would need at least 3,000. However, to move such numbers, your first priority would be to take Lazurka. Otherwise, assuming you were to force several thousand knights through, they would become scattered. There would be no meaning in that for an army. They would become isolated.” (Mahiro)
Even while stating his conjecture, he dons an expression as if challenging her. Until now Pariel had never seen such a confident Mahiro.
“Your Highness Lunas, Mismarca is too remote an area for you to come here. Once you consider this, there’s only one more possible conclusion left…” (Mahiro)
Mahiro turned to the side and took a few steps.
“The strongest elite unit, that rivals even a whole army, led by you, an Imperial Princess. The fastest possible, forced march. Just what is it that you want to obtain so much that you go this far?” (Mahiro)
“Did you empty the castle and stay behind only to ask me that?” (Lunas)
Mahiro nods at Lunas’ question.
“Yes. Since I’m a fool, my retainers, if they had remained, would have stopped me from doing something stupid like this under any circumstances.” (Mahiro)
“Isn’t that only natural!?” (Pariel)
“Prince, just as you say that you don’t want to sacrifice anyone, we don’t want to sacrifice you either! Why can’t you…!?” (Pariel)
“That’s it,” Mahiro says.
“You keep asking why, why, but I have told you from the beginning that I will somehow work it out by negotiation.” (Mahiro)
Just like usual, Mahiro laughed at Pariel and the other two, who each lament in their own way.
“But, what about now? It should be impossible to stop me at this point. Now that we’ve come this far, you guys can’t use any excuses either. If you do have any, I’d like you to tell me. Give me a plan that would work in this situation other than negotiation.” (Mahiro)
Pariel was speechless and somewhat infuriated. Not only did this prince insist on avoiding sacrifices at all costs, he also demanded a plan of attack in this situation, where anything but negotiation was impossible.
Now that I think about it, he did say so from the start. That he wants to negotiate. But, at that time everyone dismissed it as his usual nonsense. Even when he stood on the balcony, going on about running away, it was still possible to call the soldiers back. Even if we had no chance of winning, we could have fought to the bitter end.
However, right now there are no soldiers and in front of us is a being we have no way of overpowering. Indeed, even though we should stop him, there is no other option.
Mahiro turns to Lunas.
“Besides, I hate violence. I dislike staining this castle and this land, where I was raised, with the blood of people. I emptied the castle for precisely this reason.” (Mahiro)
“So the monsters outside were your doing after all, weren’t they?” (Lunas)
“I asked my friend for a big favor. The citizens will follow what the soldiers say, but the same cannot be easily said about soldiers…even if they marched in ranks, they would quickly be drawn into battle. However if I remained here by myself, I believed that it would pique your interest enough for me to talk to you. ” (Mahiro)
“Now I see. It seems that you have managed to trick us successfully.” (Lunas)
Lunas narrows her eyes and smirks.
“Very well. If you have this much resolve, I will tell you. It’s just as you say. We don’t really have any particular interest in this country. I was given only one mission by my father; to bring back the Holy Devil Cup1 handed down the Mismarcan royal line.” (Lunas)
It looks like it wasn’t just a secret from us. Apparently it had been kept an absolute secret – even the maids behind Lunas are shocked.
“The Holy Devil Cup, that legendary…vessel said to control this world!? Something like that exists in this country!?”
“Seems so. I don’t know the details either. Besides, even if I say Holy Devil Cup, it appears that only the empty vessel is to be found in this country.” (Lunas)
“The powers of the Holy Devil Cup itself have been printed into several crests, scattered and ultimately lost. Unless you gather those as well, it’s meaningless, but…” (Lunas)
No, that’s not right. Even Pariel understood that much.
Even if it’s empty right now, it’s still a legendary, holy relic. By obtaining that legend, the emperor will probably gain much more support by the Majin in the form of an almost religious fervor. It should be possible to gather the scattered powers one way or another later on…
At that moment, Mahiro – looking as though all of that has nothing to do with him – says,
“I see, so this was your target after all, huh?” (Mahiro)
He produced a rather worn-out-looking silver cup with a wide opening, a shallow bottom and complex engravings from his mantle.
“Is this the trump card the prince mentioned before…!?”
Kaien gasps in admiration. Pariel also widened her eyes upon seeing the world-renowned legendary treasure whose whereabouts were lost to the mists of time.
“Then, in order to locate this, Prince you…”
“Yeah, guess so. Certainly, if it’s an item like that…but…” (Mahiro)
However he keeps mumbling. There must be something.
But, what is he going to do now?
At this rate it will simply be stolen by Lunas and her people.
“That makes things easy. I’d like you to hand that over to us.” (Lunas)
As expected. Lunas holds out her hand to Mahiro as if it’s natural.
“I don’t mind, Princess. But I have a condition.” (Mahiro)
The corners of Luna’s mouth quirked up, guessing his condition already.
“You will probably tell me to pull back the soldiers if I don’t plan to occupy the country anyway.” (Lunas)
“Yes. Everything will be over with that.” (Mahiro)
“Please wait.” (Edelweiss)
Edelweiss states, calm and commanding as usual,
“Certainly, this place might survive like this. But, have you considered what will happen after that? If this falls into the hands of the Empire, it won’t be a problem concerning just Mismarca any longer. Not only the strife zone, but also the entire continent…” (Edelweiss)
“Even if I don’t hand it over here, it would have been the same if they had tracked it down on their own accord. Besides, I’d like them to go back, since father and the others will return soon. Father never told me to protect the Holy Devil Cup, after all.” (Mahiro)
“Such a…! How irresponsible…!” (Pariel)
As if she had just seen an excellent comedy, the Third Imperial Princess could no longer hold back her laughter, interrupting Pariel’s distress.
“…How regrettable, Prince Mahiro. Let me make one correction to your previous conjecture.” (Lunas)
Sobering suddenly, a dreadful promise appeared in her eyes.
“Don’t look down on the Empire, you big simpleton. If struck by our First Front Army, a state at the level of Lazurka will surrender in 3 or 4 days. And, as long as we have such a splendid castle, it will be an easy task for us to hole up in here for one or two months. If you like, I can let you watch the annihilation of Mismarca’s army as a prisoner from here.” (Lunas)
Pariel couldn’t help but to drop her shoulders.
At this rate this country and this castle will be lost alongside the Holy Devil Cup. There are no more cards to play. However, even in her despair, from the corner of her eye she saw Mahiro…
…laughing. His shoulders shook with the effort of stifling his laughter.
“What’s so funny, Prince?” (Lunas)
“N-No, no, Princess. Let’s see. As expected, I think the ideas of a fool like me are worse than none at all…” (Mahiro)
Mahiro lifts up the cup high into the air and shatters it on the floor.
The smashing of the cup is accompanied by a high-pitched sound, almost like a scream. It reverberates through the throne hall. When the lingering echo finally trails off, the room is filled with noise.
Even Lunas, trembling excessively…doubted the sanity of the boy laughing in front of her.
“You bastard…! Do you understand the gravity of what you have done!?” (Lunas)
The emperor revealed the existence of the Holy Devil Cup to her and her alone. Even this country kept the existence of the Cup from the Prime Minister and Edelweiss. Its influence and significance is not simply at the level of a single nation.
It’s a relic that affects the entire continent, if not the whole world.
“Aha! Ahahahahaha! Wow, that’s a blast.” (Mahiro)
After he convulsing with laughter for some time, he finally seems to catch his breath.
“Your expression finally changed, Princess Lunas.” (Mahiro)
“…What, was that…!?” (Lunas)
“Be relieved. This is something I swiped from a suitable place within the castle. It’s a cup that looks like the real one! Look, it’s painted. Jeez, all of you reacted so seriously without even confirming the facts…!” (Mahiro)
A loud, grating laugh. A disrespectful attitude that takes things one step too far. Lunas grits her teeth in an attempt to hold back her rage.
“gh…Son of a bitch.” (Lunas)
“I was wondering what I should do if you really went back with just this. As expected of you, Princess Lunas! Ahahahahaha! Well, that’s great, what a pleasure!!” (Mahiro)
As expected? Lunas’ eyes took on a terrifyingly calm bloodthirst. Interesting. How very interesting. Really. This boy.
However, it’s unfortunate, but there’s only one…hiccup.
“You sure have some nerve to make a fool out of me.” (Lunas)
“I tried to look cool with all my might, but after all, I am known as a fool through and through…it was fun nonetheless. It’s getting late, so shall we put an end to this?” (Mahiro)
Mahiro reached into his pocket again. He takes out a metal plate about the size of a palm.
“Do you know what this might be, Princess Lunas?” (Mahiro)
“…A crest talisman?” (Lunas)
It’s a magic item engraved with a crest to simplify the process of spell casting and handling the backlash of sorcery. Ones that can call a breeze or start a fire are commonly sold in marketplaces in every country, but the amulet in Mahiro’s hand is clearly different from those cheap items. It was easy to see that the beautiful plate, intricately carved and inlaid in addition to the crest, is likely the work of a renowned artisan.
In any case, there’s no doubt that it holds a complex spell. In other words,
“I see…with the negotiations having failed, you intend to switch to a magic battle?” (Lunas)
Luna grips the big shield in her hand a little tighter. If it’s an average spell, I can completely block it with the Shield of the Praying Angel.
“That’s an interesting mode of combat for me.” (Lunas)
I don’t like harming unarmed, unresisting people, but if I’m pushed, I’ll gladly chop this boy up.
However, Mahiro unexpectedly shook his head and asked,
“Are you aware that the same crest is on the castle wall?” (Mahiro)
…No, there was something like that.
Lunas recalls the report written by Kaze. A crest had been carved onto the walls of the castle, not a family crest, but it could be the one in his hands. I dismissed it as a decoration but…
Holding it before the rather skeptical Lunas, Mahiro proudly explained,
“This is a crest called Mallet with Chiming Bell that was created by the Ancient Mismarcan Dynasty. It’s a sacred treasure used by the most prominent Majin, which was referred to as Outer long ago…it seems to be something imitating the “Bell of Destruction” and “That Which Tolls the Bell of Destruction.” 2 The imperial family would certainly know of the miracles caused by those sacred treasures, right?” (Mahiro)
Her expression completely changing, Lunas was horrified.
Those are sacred treasures belonging to the two people at the pinnacle of the Outers, referred to as members of the Myriad Series. 3
“Annihilation…? You don’t mean…you bastard…!” (Lunas)
“As you have deduced. I will erase this castle. Well, even the land near the castle will likely completely cease to exist in the aftermath of this. To tell you the truth, this is the real reason I evacuated the citizens. Since the monsters will vanish with us, it won’t even be necessary to deal with them.” (Mahiro)
“There’s no way that the real thing is…!” (Lunas)
However, Edelweiss, an authority in Mismarca, disagreed,
“Please wait, Your Highness Lunas. Regarding that, I have had the privilege of seeing it before. Even the effect is something that I have heard His Majesty mention before.” (Edelweiss)
Lunas chews her lip.
Hidden under Edelweiss’ brazenness was a subtle uneasiness. If that woman senses impending danger, there’s no room for doubt.
Mahiro began laughing again.
No one here can decisively say whether that’s an act, the truth, or a joke. If it’s the truth, there’s no way that he’s laughing from the bottom of his heart. But if he’s truly laughing, it’s even weirder.
Timidly, Pariel asks Mahiro,
“…Prince…that’s a joke, as usual…right?” (Pariel)
“That’s why I told you to escape.” (Mahiro)
“Such a…” (Pariel)
For just a moment, Mahiro’s smile dropped a little as he looked at Pariel and the others. .
“If there was one blunder in my plan, it’s this single point. Even though I made such a scene and told them to escape, there are three idiots who not only were not disgusted with me, but even came back. I didn’t need loyal retainers. In order to die for the sake of the future in a time like this, I don’t need a single loyal retainer. “(Mahiro)
“Pri…nce…! Cut it out!!”
The royal knight trembled, consumed by inconsolable wrath.
“That’s why you were determined to play the fool, even to the extent of neglecting your training?! You are saying that you simply continued to live with people talking behind your back just for the sake of dying!? Is that the royal duty you mentioned before, Prince…? Such a life…what’s the point of such a life…!” (Pariel)
She looks his way, her heart breaking for him.
“Something like this is wrong…! That’s not what you call living! Nobody is born for the sake of dying! Even if you’re royalty…!!” (Pariel)
“…Didn’t I spend my time thoroughly playing around for that reason?” (Mahiro)
The prince says, as if completely confident in his own words.
“It’s fine for me to die at this point. It was a fun life. Especially after you became my guard.” (Mahiro)
“That’s why I didn’t want to pay that back with ingratitude. It’s also why I didn’t want anyone to stay behind in the castle. ” (Mahiro)
Lunas felt a wave of disgust at the sheer arrogance of that argument. ‘Or maybe he’s saying it for that overly honest girl
“Stop spouting stupidity. Are you saying that you are casting away such a loyal retainer, your country and moreover the Holy Devil Cup at your own discretion? Does that mean the the king approved of that?” (Lunas)
“No, but father should agree with this as well.” (Mahiro)
Edelweiss immediately refutes that,
“Certainly not, Your Highness. There’s absolutely no way for that to be true.” (Edelweiss)
“But it certainly is. He vacated the country with the current authorities and the capable first army. And you said so as well, didn’t you Edelweiss? That it’s within his calculations that I would evacuate the people.” (Mahiro)
“But, Your Highness.” (Edelweiss)
“And father said that a country is its people.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro, who had continued to smile until then, suddenly returns to a serious look.
“In other words, the country remains. The land near the castle, the castle itself, those are nothing more than the framework of that which is called a country. There is still father, the chief vassals and retainers who follow him, and above all, the citizens. A person with my father’s principles can rebuild something like a castle and city at any time.” (Mahiro)
Having finished his speech, Mahiro nodded as if that was the final decision.
“I also only just realised this recently, but father is that bold a tactician. He might use this as just cause and supersede the king of Lazurka, who I hear tends to be neurotic, and bring together the entirety of the strife zone…as the Mismarca Dynasty reborn. ” (Mahiro)
For an instant Lunas was tempted to attack Mahiro while his guard was down.
“What nonsense…! You are saying that he will even allow his own country to become collateral damage…!? I’ve never heard of such a strategy!” (Lunas)
However, Mahiro points out,
“But, Your Highness Lunas. From just your expression I can tell that you yourself are unable to deny that possibility.” (Mahiro)
Lunas didn’t have a reasonable comeback. She curled her lip as shame swirled in her chest.
If it’s this fragmented group of small countries, they are certainly a disorderly faction. But what if they are consolidated into one? They will become a third force comparable to the Republic and the Empire in the blink of an eye. And if they ally with the Republic to oppose the Empire, their national power will be equal to that of the Empire.
If it’s the Mismarcan king, the legitimate successor of the ancient dynasty, that possibility can’t be completely excluded.
Of course we targeted the sacred treasure in this country because of that assumption. If that Holy Devil Cup vanishes here,
(It will turn into a dire situation, no…!?)
The continent will be split. It’s likely that the current imperial military command predicted that and has concluded that several times more people, time and national power…would be wasted by the battles from here on out.
“If I can take one of the imperial family down with me, my death is a small price to pay. I can save the lives of the thousands or ten thousands who would likely be killed by you in the future.” (Mahiro)
“…I see. You are thorough.” (Lunas)
Lunas notwithstanding, Reiner and the two maids are poised to attack Mahiro. They’re already leaning forward, ready to reap the life of the enemy in the shortest possible time.
Lunas can’t give the order. The distance between me and the other side is ten-odd meters. Even if it’s them, it will still take a breath of time. Even my own magic sword will require an instant.
Lunas ground her teeth while glaring at Mahiro and the crest.
If it’s such a large-scale crest, it will likely take several minutes to take effect. However, the activation itself should be instantaneous. A few mere minutes, once activated. No matter how small this country might be, it will be difficult to escape this castle and the range of the magic. It will be all the more hopeless if we have to gather the black knights who were split up to eliminate the monsters.
“…How interesting.” (Lunas)
In that case there’s just one thing I can do.
Lunas faces Mahiro and begins to walk without any hesitation. Nobody else dares breathe as they watch the situation unfold.
And then she arrives right in front of Mahiro.
“What is it?” (Mahiro)
He laughs foolishly.
He doesn’t understand. It’s already our victory. If he really intended to die, he should have activated the spell the moment I took a single step forward.
But he didn’t do that. In short, he has no plan to die. It’s a common bluff. It’s something that often happens on the battlefield. Lunas had seen it so many times that it was monotonous.
However, the sole difference was that he made a play out of it. Even now he’s continuing to play this role without even twitching.
I wonder how far is he willing to take this charade.
“I will test you once.” (Lunas)
In an instant Lunas unsheathes her Sword of Gleaming Light that cuts a hundred with one swing. Of course all would come to an end if she cut off this boy’s head or arm right now. And she’s capable of doing that whenever she feels like it.
In that case…I was made a fool of up to this point. I can’t settle down unless I ascertain exactly what caliber this boy is.
“I hate people spout superficial bullshit about what violence is and how war works.They’re a dime a dozen. But you are an interesting fellow. Someone who tells me that they will use violence for the sake of not allowing violence. In addition it’s the worst kind of violence with a scale far beyond the norm. How fascinating.” (Lunas)
“What about it?” (Mahiro)
“If you apologize while prostrating yourself before me, I will make sure that there’s no need for that violence. Not only will I pledge not to harm Edelweiss and everyone here, I won’t lay a finger on the people who return to the city. I will even peacefully negotiate with the king, when he returns sooner or later. On this occasion I will also swear that I absolutely won’t use the citizens or anyone else as a hostage for the negotiations. However…” (Lunas)
She points her blade at Mahiro’s heart.
“…you will die. How about that?” (Lunas)
Now then, how is he going to move?
It’s obvious. He has no other option but to apologize. The problem is how he’s going to do it. If he begs for his own life while disgracefully kneeling and crying, I will slay him on the spot. If he resolutely chooses death in accordance with his conviction of hating violence…that alone will make him a wise ruler and I will turn him into a prisoner, allowing me to listen to his stories for a bit longer.
“So, what are you going to do?” (Lunas)
Lunas waits expectantly for his answer.
However, the boy says something that is completely beyond her expectations.
“You must be joking. The one testing you is me.” (Mahiro)
I see, he’s going to struggle detestably. That option exists as well.
However, Lunas simply laughed off the crest he raised.
“Bastard, if you use that, you are going to die, too.” (Lunas)
And yet Mahiro simply laughs her off.
“Since I planned to die either way, that’s no problem. It’s a crest with the power to erase a whole country, albeit a small one. I assume it will take a bit of time to activate after it’s invoked. Therefore you will be able to kill me no matter what happens.” (Mahiro)
“However,” he takes a breath.
“How about you, Princess Lunas? Did you come here with the resolve to lay down your life?” (Mahiro)
“Have you resolved to kill your attendants over there right now right here? Have you informed the emperor and the military command to that effect? Are you standing here after personally assuring the future of the Empire after your death?” (Mahiro)
Lunas’ heart, which had been overjoyed at the prospect of finding long-awaited competition, is abruptly pulled back to reality.
“Don’t look down on me, the Imperial Third Princess!!” (Mahiro)
Lunas drew back – just a tiny bit – at the force of that pointed, verbal attack.
“You still don’t understand that you have fallen for my trap!? You are going to test me!? Just hearing those brazen words made me cringe!” (Mahiro)
“What…you bastard…!” (Lunas)
“Don’t forget that I’m asking you to choose between life and death! An incompetent, crazy, fool, who was left behind by himself in this puny country! And yourself, who stands tall while carrying the hopes and desires of all the imperial citizens by yourself! I’m asking you whether you have the resolve to call us equal!!” (Mahiro)
And then the boy guides the blade at his chest to his nape with his own delicate hand.
“…Now then, try asking your own blade.” (Mahiro)
What is this boy?
I can decapitate him. From here, I can kill him before he can invoke the spell. So what’s with this bloodlust I feel from him?
“It’s a simple gamble, Princess Lunas. Is your sword or my hand faster? Of course it’s fine for you to break the crest into pieces as well, but this thing is merely the activation crest. The real one is on the castle wall. Remember that it’s one of several hundred.” (Mahiro)
Is he saying that this is a stalemate? No way. That’s impossible. The one with her hands on his neck is me.
But, on the off chance that it’s the truth… If this crest is activated…
I will die? Me, the Sword of Gleaming Light and Lion in the Moonlight? Are you telling me that I’m going to vanish in this backwater country without even leaving behind some bones?
“…What are you hesitating for, Princess Lunas? It’s barely even a choice You will be able to obtain a single castle and a nation at the cost of a mere few hundred lives. But, it will be boring for you to acquire them so easily. Same applies to me as well. Since it will be boring to simply give them to you, we are playing a game right now, right?” (Mahiro)
No way! The scale is too big to call it a bet! Even the Holy Devil Cup has been wagered! Not just this country, the future of the continent is…!
“A game, you say…!? Asshole, do you understand what you are betting there!? What nonsense!!” (Lunas)
“Indeed. Otherwise you won’t become serious over such nonsense, right? That’s why we are playing such a game. That’s why, come on, let’s play, Princess Lunas?” (Mahiro)
Lunas felt chills run down her back at this boy’s composed smile. Before she had even realised it, emotions that she hadn’t felt in so long welled up inside her. Panic. Fear. The me right now is no different from this young boy who doesn’t even own a sword.
Everyone was dumbfounded.
Pariel and the other two had never seen such a broken Mahiro. Reiner and the maids had also never seen a Lunas who was so hard pressed.
“You little shit…! Are you really the Prince Mahiro who is regarded as simpleton…!?” (Lunas)
“What are you talking about at this point in time?” (Mahiro)
“Whether I’m a simpleton or whatever, it’s possible for you to die as long as I’m alive, Princess.” (Mahiro)
Finally, Lunas has been rendered speechless by this broken smile.
That’s right, he’s laughing even harder in this situation. He has really no issue with his own death. This crazy prince doesn’t mind dying. He doesn’t feel anything about his own death.
He doesn’t hate dying. And he’s even gone so far as to say that there’s merit in his death. However, he’s saying that he’s allowing me to choose since it would be dull to simply die.
He’s playing around. Indeed, I have been played.
I put on airs, threatened that I would kill him, that he would die, in my arrogance. How pointless. It was all too meaningless.
In that case, what card I can play to stop him?
It would be different if this was a battlefield.
I don’t want to die in such a place. I don’t want to participate in such retarded gamble. And above all, there’s definitely no way that I want to lose…the Holy Devil Cup, which is the key to the conquest of the continent, in such a foolish manner.
After racking her brain over and over again…Lunas finally voiced the answer she reached.
“If I were to withdraw…” (Lunas)
Or something like that.
At that, Mahiro threw away the crest.
“Wh-…I still…!” (Lunas)
It’s not like I sheathed my sword yet. Cold steel is still pressed up against his neck.
“Such a hypothetical “if” wouldn’t have left your mouth unless you’ve admitted your defeat. Also, if I don’t do something like that, you won’t be able to trust me, right? I don’t believe that I will be forgiven for the many impolite and even rude words I said….but, well, I’m going to die anyway. I was fully satisfied with having been able to talk so much with you as a final farewell. Now then, cut off my head and hurry back home.” (Mahiro)
I was played.
Looking at Mahiro who had a peaceful smile, Lunas sighed.
Just how willing is this boy to die? Completely empty handed even. Even if it’s a gamble, it’s a situation where he can easily be killed, yet he smiles. What will happen if I kill him? And how am I going to report this once I return to the imperial capital?
The one who pretended to play around and allowed us to live after we blindly jumped into his trap is this man. Even if I brought his head back to the capital as a souvenir, it would only add to our disgrace.
Lunas laughs at herself as if she was sharing a joke with the smiling boy before her.
Just like that she feebly lowered her sword.
“…Understood. It’s my loss…” (Lunas)
Lunas’ companions shouted with horror at their master admitting defeat. However, Lunas sheathes her sword, ignoring them.
“Don’t mind it…it’s my responsibility as the one who charged straight ahead. Exactly as this prince stated, I was caught in a trap from the very start. If he felt like it, he was capable of erasing us without even holding such negotiations.” (Lunas)
Just at that time.
Flurried yells and noisy footsteps echoed in from the corridor.
“Your Highness Lunas! Your Highness, where are you!?!”
“What’s the matter?” (Reiner)
Hearing Reiner’s voice, a single black knight rushes into the throne hall. Helmetless, his face is pale rather than flushed, despite obviously having run here.
“With all due respect, I shall report! According to a report by “Kaze,” there’s a large number of military forces on the northern side of the land near the castle! I’m told that the Mismarcan army led by Mismarca’s king is approaching! Following them is an alliance of the various countries in the strife zone, and even further in the rear, the Third and Fourth Republic Divisions! Their numbers range from approximately ten thousand to a hundred thousand!! They will soon arrive on the castle grounds!!”
Musing over the report of the black knight just now and the words grumbled by Lunas, Pariel was shocked.
I think being able to hold a castle for three or four days is only limited to when the opponent comes from the strife zone. But, what appeared now is a decidedly larger army force exceeding that by far.
Reiner, whose entire expression had changed, looked up at Lunas. And yet the imperial princess just continued to mutter to herself, as if deeply impressed,
“I see…the talk about negotiations and all that was just a farce. That means the ties of the old dynasty were stronger than we had expected. And the capability of the Mismarcan king, who even dragged out the Republic…” (Lunas)
Her calm assessment of the situation is truly that of a military woman. She looked resolute.
“…I’m pretty sure he has been prepared with such measures since the time of the Empire’s first invasion, anticipating that this country would be targeted for the Holy Devil Cup.” (Lunas)
Such a legendary sacred treasure actually existing and moreover being left in an empty castle…the Empire couldn’t afford not to make a move. Even the Republic would have to send soldiers given this information.
Just like this prince, the king also exposed himself to danger and made the difficult decision to leave the country.
“The goal isn’t to crush us. Dragging out the Republic, always slow to start, and establishing an alliance with the strife zone countries and the Republic was definitely the main objective of the Mismarcan king this time…” (Lunas)
Having come to a conclusion, Lunas’ eyes fell upon the baldachin bearing the royal crest hanging behind the throne.
A snake wrapped around a sword.
“…Royalty of snakes, huh?” (Lunas)
The imperial princess, bearer of the imperial family’s Lion in the Moonlight, cannot hold back her laughter. And now the snake’s venom had defeated the mighty lion.
Lunas shifted her eyes to Mahiro,
“…You damn snake.” (Lunas)
“Father is the schemer. At most, I’m simply an actor.” (Mahiro)
Lunas nodded towards Mahiro who laughed brightly without a care in the world. The mood even seemed to imply that they have each acknowledged the other without any animosity.
“I see. In the end you were buying time for this. Certainly, you are quite the actor. Even while exposing yourself to danger to such an extent, you convincingly played the broken and suicidal man. It’s the first time I’ve met a man as bold as you.” (Lunas)
Facing each other again, their expressions were so calm that you wouldn’t believe that they belonged to opposing nations.
“Prince Mahiro.” (Lunas)
With that Lunas takes Mahiro’s hand with both her gauntleted hands. Even Mahiro is startled.
“Ye-…Yes? Your Highness Lunas?” (Mahiro)
“I like you. Become my husband.” (Lunas)
Mahiro blushed. And at the same time Pariel did as well.
She can’t even form any proper words.
Honestly, this is more shocking to Pariel than the moment that Mahiro had smashed the Holy Devil Cup. And yet the princess calmly continues,
“At any rate, the suitors that my imperial father and his ministers keep nominating are all stunned speechless as soon as they meet my eyes. On that point, you are already far superior. You met me face-to-face and on top of making a fool out of this me, you laughed when I pointed my sword and insulted you. I’m sure I won’t get bored if I’m with you.” (Lunas)
“No, umm, that is…” (Mahiro)
It seems that even the foolish prince, who always talks openly about such matters to anybody who will listen, is weak when the roles are reversed. Mahiro fumbles for words.
Watching him, Lunas’ personality seems to change completely, and she laughs sweetly like a maiden.
“Ahahaha, you turned red, you turned red. As expected, that expression is no act, now is it?” (Lunas)
For some reason, Pariel felt relieved after seeing Lunas’ innocent smile. This probably Lunas’ very own way of getting revenge for being deceived.
Mahiro hastily replied with a bright red face,
“I-Indeed! Yes! Ahaha! Yeah, that’s right, isn’t it? Well, you know, with this even I was beaten! It appears that you like to joke as well, Your Highness…!” (Mahiro)
“I’m serious though.” (Lunas)
Mahiro turned so red that steam rose from his head.
“You don’t really mind, do you Prince Mahiro?” (Lunas)
Edelweiss, who had approached without Mahiro’s notice, forcefully reset his thought processes with her paper fan.
“Umm, yes, it was nice to chat with you, but Your Highness, with the circumstances being what they are, I think this matter also concerns both our parents. Edelweiss and Pariel’s gazes are becoming rather painful. Given that this will be an international marriage, not only does it mean that we have to properly discuss it with our families and not just our parents, but also, umm, that is…” (Mahiro)
“I got it, I got it. Let’s leave the reply for another time.” (Lunas)
With that, Lunas left with her subordinates, though not without one final message,
“But remember, Prince Mahiro. What you chose today will lead into a dire situation from which you won’t be able to escape. In other words, it’s the path of carnage.” (Lunas)
Mahiro bore that grim warning in silence. If it had gone according to the Empire’s calculations, the Emperor would have likely achieved total control of the continent in a flash after obtaining the Holy Devil Cup. However, Mahiro has changed that fate today.
The various countries of the strife zone and the Republic versus the Empire. The opposing forces were too balanced for anything but a long stalemate. In other words, today begins a new era of turmoil for the continent.
Afterwards, silence reigns.
The throne hall remains quiet. After a little while, the gathering of the black knight order in the plaza in front of the gate could be seen heading out towards the southern gate.
“…W-…We really won, right…? We…” (Pariel)
She mutters towards no one in particular. That excessively tense predicament almost seems like a dream now.
“Putting aside victory or defeat, the country remained in its best condition. And father and the others are back as well.” (Mahiro)
Looking at Edelweiss and Kaien, she sees them nod as well. Pariel could barely contain her joy.
“Amazing, Prince! You are the best! You really protected this whole country! …But, if you knew that the King was going to come back like this, you could have at least said something…” (Pariel)
Edelweiss and Kaien followed Pariel’s remarks with their own,
“Good grief. I don’t know how many years of my life span I lost this evening.” (Kaien)
“Even I didn’t know that you were such an actor, Your Highness. Had you been commanded to not utter a single word to anyone by His Majesty?” (Edelweiss)
Mahiro cackles loudly.
“As if! If I had known, I would have told you.” (Mahiro)
“Wh-…Whaa…!? T-Then, prince…you weren’t actually stalling for time at all…!” (Pariel)
“I did tell you, didn’t I? To run away.” (Mahiro)
Calmly, without any shyness,
“Not only Edelweiss, but even Kaien didn’t know. Didn’t father actually anticipate…that I would let all the residents get away and then probably escape with them? He didn’t say anything because he didn’t need to.” (Mahiro)
Even without a single person staying behind, Lunas’ group would have naturally retreated if the allied forces arrived before the Empire’s main force.
“Prince…why didn’t you run away then?” (Pariel)
“I only wanted to test how far I could go this time. If I had died, I would have amounted to no more than that. After all a deadbeat surviving serves no use.” (Mahiro)
“Such a! What kind of stupid stuff are you spouting? There’s no way that dying is a good thing, right!?” (Pariel)
“That doesn’t apply to me.” (Mahiro)
It’s a rare sight. No, that’s the real reason why Mahiro is always fooling around looking unreasonably happy. He’s showing a depressed expression for the first time.
“I hate violence. And yet, what will start from now on is an age of war. It will be an era dominated by violence. If that’s the case, I don’t want to live in such an era.” (Mahiro)
“Yes, but…even so, something like preferring to die is…” (Pariel)
Mahiro walks a bit and picks up that self-destruct crest. And then muttered to himself,
“But, let’s see.” (Mahiro)
“Since I didn’t have an opportunity until now, I didn’t have positive proof either. But this time I clearly understood. It seems I have eyes as well.” (Mahiro)
“Eyes?” Pariel pointed at her own eyes in confusion, and Mahiro lifted the corners of his mouth to a grin without making fun of her.
“It appears that battles can be won with mere words.” (Mahiro)
Somehow Kaien felt horrified by that confident smile. A chill ran down his spine.
“Something like that…you aren’t saying that seriously…!?” (Kaien)
“Princess Lunas didn’t use violence. I didn’t use it either. In the end, no one died.” (Mahiro)
Mahiro dangles the crest charm in his hands in front of Kaien.
“As long as violence isn’t used, this is just a card that represents violence.” (Mahiro)
The prime minister agreed,
“…It’s certainly just as you say, Prince.” (Kaien)
“In this world there are also situations which cannot be handled with just violence. Certainly, violence is remarkably easy to understand, moreover it’s effective. But, with just that, there are distinct disadvantages. Long story short, if you encounter violence, you simply have to surpass it.” (Mahiro)
Yes…just like we were scared and anxious about Lunas’ group. And also just like Lunas had her moves sealed by the crest charm in Mahiro’s hands, a violence exceeding hers.
A logical conclusion drawn without hesitation.
“It’s difficult to come to an understanding through talk because it becomes complicated. But I believe that it is possible for that exact reason. If the origin of violence is the intention of the wielder, then I just have to discourage them from it. Isn’t that quite simple? After all only words are capable of doing that.” (Mahiro)
Kaien was unable to hold back his laughter.
“…This is yet another great declaration, isn’t it? If you are capable of that… the Empire will…no, you will be able to achieve the continental conquest, that all the lords are crazy for these days, with mere words.” (Kaien)
“I do intend to do just that.” (Mahiro)
Edelweiss, who had watched him quietly up until now, finally spoke up at that point,
“…Your Highness. How far do you plan to take this joke?” (Edelweiss)
“Who knows. It might be limited to today. Either away, as soon as the other party draws their sword, it will be the end. Being able to assemble effective cards like today will probably be a rare and difficult thing.” (Mahiro)
Laughing, Mahiro handed the crest charm over to Edelweiss. But, after receiving and taking a good look at it, she knits her brows.
“gh… Your Highness, no way, this is…” (Edelweiss)
“Of course, it’s a fake.” (Mahiro)
I don’t know how many times it’s been now. She was lost for words.
Mahiro said that it’s a card that could only be played in this exact situation. But even that was an act. Having the people escape and at the same time preparing a place for discussions with Lunas…was for the sake of convincing everyone of the authenticity of a fake by exaggerating the stakes.
He truly denied any kind of violence from the very beginning. He only tested his own conviction.
At that point a rumble, caused by the marching of the large army the king brought home, shook the throne room. They had reached the outskirts of the city.
“But I did something regrettable. I think if it’s you, Kaien, you will understand.” (Mahiro)
“What might that be?” (Kaien)
“You saw it, right? The character of Princess Lunas. She exceeded my expectations. That’s beyond being broadminded.” (Mahiro)
The prime minister concurs with Mahiro’s sincere expression.
“Certainly, she calmly entered enemy territory with minimal troops. From now on, she may become our worst enemy.” (Kaien)
“That’s true. And with Princess Lunas’ character, it will surely be fine even if I take one or two concubines after the marriage.” (Mahiro)
Edelweiss’ paper fan on the back of his head and Pariel’s fist into his face. Mahiro, sandwiched by the two hits, collapsed on the spot.
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- Refer to Battlefield: Masurawo, was completely translated by Yorakuin
- Reference to Battlefield: Masurawo and O-Ri-Ga-Mi. Basically regalias used by the characters in those novels
- Another reference to earlier works. It’s about Meeko, a gluttonous Majin called Mouth of the Myriad Series, who held the “That Which Tolls the Bell of Destruction.” And Mareechi, a leering Majin and close aid of the Founding Demon King referred to as Eyes of the Myriad Series. She was in an opposing faction of Meeko and possessed the “Bell of Destruction” which cancelled out Meeko’s weapon. In the novel series there are six beings in the Myriad Series. All of them are mighty, some even called Gods.
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