Disclaimer: I do not guarantee a 100% accurate translation. Do kindly notify me if you see any mistake.
What’s Dreadful is—
The current king of Haiderota, Remi Christian Duevre, was a person of legitimate lineage among Haiderota’s legitimate lineage.
On the other hand, the leader of the “Rebel Army”, which had spread its influence centring on Yururogu in Haiderota’s northern part, was Euchemard Duevre. Although he was of illegitimate lineage, he was a person who had inherited the blood of the respectable royal family.
The biggest cause of Haiderota’s break-up turmoil prolonging this much was, in contrast to the successors of the legitimate lineage, who under normal circumstances were faultless, being entirely mediocre people only, people who were certainly allowed to be called “great men” appeared one after another in the successor of the illegitimate lineage and that family.
Maybe it was because various things happened that even though she should be tired, she couldn’t sleep very well that night.
However, due to that, she noticed the commotion immediately.
Valeria, who had pushed the blanket aside and stood up on the bed, pointed at the candlesticks which were installed on the room’s wall in turn. “Shupii, Shupii”, tiny flame arrows ran and gradually expelled the darkness from within the dark room.
「Karin, Petra! Wake up!」
Calling out to them so, she jumped down from the bed. When she had changed her underwear in a big hurry and worn her usual ceremonial dress, Valeria rushed over to the window and pulled open the curtains.
「…What’s~the matter? It’s not morning yet, right…?」
Groping for her glasses that were placed at the bedside and then grabbing it, Petra complained in a seemingly sleepy voice. Karin, the other party, straightened up her back and got up, and then narrowed her eyes and seemed to be listening carefully.
「…The horses are neighing」
「It’s noisy outside. Something might have happened!」
Valeria pushed open the window and revealed her face.
The town, which had already fallen asleep when Valeria’s party got into their beds, was ruled by an unexpected commotion. The voices as if many people were shouting, the neighs of horses, and moreover the sounds of horses’ hooves could be heard from extremely nearby. In addition, a burnt-like smell was somehow permeating the night air that carried a little moisture.
「It looks like a fire has broken out from the rear stable」
When she was startled by a voice that flew here suddenly and looked to her left, similarly opening the window, Dimitar was leaning forwards. He had already finished changing his clothes. Or rather, since it was this alert boy, he might have been taking a nap in a war preparation state without even changing his clothes in case of an emergency.
「How are Karin-sama and Glasses?」
「They’re awake, but—」
「Finish changing your clothes. I’ll take Gacha Pink and go to your room」
Saying so one-sidedly, Dimitar then withdrew his face.
「…What does he mean? What happened?」
Karin asked Valeria who had closed the window and turned around.
「I don’t know yet…, but for now, it looks certain that a fire has occurred at the rear stable. Richternach-kyou said that he’ll arrive shortly」
「Eh—, I wish that he’d wait just a little」
When Valeria looked, Petra, who was dressed in her underwear, was looking into the mirror and fiddling with her hair. Valeria put her hand on her temple and sighed “ha~a”.
「…Will you put on your clothes before combing your hair?」
「I don’t mind in particular though~」
Looking at Valeria with a glance across the lens, Petra smiled meaningfully. Valeria put on a thin dress and her tabard and snorted slightly.
「If you’re saying that, even he isn’t interested in you, and he won’t care either, will he? He said that he likes older women」
「Are~? This is surprising; Valeria, you had that sort of conversation with him~?」
Intending to lightly sidestep it and yet was strangely hounded, Valeria became at a loss for words.
Then, there was the “domu domu” sound of a knock with weight and a little girl’s voice that could be called carefree.
「Valeria-sama—! Karin-sama—! Petra-sa~n—! Please open up!」
「You don’t have to confirm one-by-one」
The voice of an arrogant boy and a “gain” sound similar to striking metal was heard, and the door opened with a “gachari”.
「Iya~n, I haven’t finish changing my clothes yet~」
While fastening the buttons of her blouse, Petra raised an unnaturally sweet scream. However, Dimitar just glanced at her and ignored her, and quietly closed the door after checking the corridor once.
Bettina, who had ran up to Valeria with a “gassha gassha”, stamped a little with a “dosu dosu” and spoke, looking excited somehow.
「It’s terrible! The fire at the back, it seems like an arson!」
「…If you think about it, that is so, isn’t it? In this season, the stable originally isn’t a place that seems to use fire after all」
Karin calmly analysed.
「The soldiers on the lookout had noticed the outbreak of fire and taken the horses out from the stable for the time being, but it seems that they behaved violently and ran away. I think that it’s noisy because of that…, but if we assume it to be arson, it becomes a troublesome matter」
This tabard inn was assumed to be where special envoys of Haiderota or Amaddo would fundamentally sojourn. Setting fire to the establishment there meant that it might be valid to think that it was the deed of the people who held animosity towards Haiderota or Amaddo.
In addition, if he set fire at this timing, the possibility that this was an offence of someone who aimed for Valeria’s party also existed. The fact that Dimitar was placing one hand on the hilt of his favourite sword as he stood near the door indicated the tensed current situation.
Dimitar tightened his mouth and looked at the door. That face was a face that had sensed something. Valeria could hear the noisy footsteps of “dota dota” approaching as well.
「E, excuse me!」
Malena, who was wearing her military cap, came flying into the room in a hurry without even a knock. Letting sweat float on her forehead and busily breathing “fuu fuu”, she looked around the room’s interior.
「I-i, it, it looks like there’s no abnormality—f, for the Amaddo’s guests; t, that’s the most important thing! W, well then, I’ve to hurry, so—」
Grabbing the back collar of Malena who had turned on her heel with a “kurori” and tried to leave the room, Dimitar spoke.
「What on earth happened?」
「Ehh? No, that’s, um…」
「It’s evident that some emergency has occurred… for the sake of protecting both Her Eminences too, I believe that I’ve the right to hear what happened though?」
「Ah, that’s, I understand what you’re saying, but—」
「…I’d like to ask Diaghilev-geika or Sigibert-kakka directly. Where are the both of them staying at?」
「Awa… Dia, Diaghilev-geika is, um… s, searching for, His Excellency—」
The complexion of Malena, who was mentally overwhelmed by Dimitar, suddenly changed after explaining to that extent. It felt as if she had unintentionally made a slip of the tongue.
Valeria knitted her brows and asked Malena.
「By any chance… did something happen to His Excellency?」
「N, noo! There’s completely! N, no such thing no such thing! H-H, His Excellency is alive h-h-h-haii!」
At her panic state that was too terrible to look at, it was understood that something had happened to Sigibert as expected.
Dimitar shook Malena lightly while grabbing the nape of her neck, and then discarded his courteous tone and spoke in a low voice.
「What’s the matter with His Excellency? If you don’t speak honestly, I’ll make the matter of Haiderota making light of our country’s Dominas into an international problem, you know? I’ll have you take responsibility for it too」
「Ahhhh, l, like I said, D, Diaghilev-geika is, properly, searching for, H, His Excellency」
「Is His Excellency missing? And Diaghilev-geika is searching for him?」
「T, that’s right!」
「So, in the meantime, the state guests from Amaddo are left as they are without being informed anything? This is a big problem」
「Ehhhhh!? It’s a big problem even though I’ve spoken honestly!?」
「That might be so. After all, the leader of the Gale Chivalric Order (Furigana: Rorudor Rafuale), which is in charge of security, is missing, and the vice-leader left us alone and went to search for the leader. …If something happens to us in the meantime, it’ll be a break-up of diplomatic relations, and a war if things don’t go well, you know?」
「If an unforeseen situation happens to both Our Eminences, our country will have to deal with your country with a firm stance. Of course, since it means that the seals will be insufficient, the need to make an excuse to each nation of the alliance will arise, you know? —Saa, if you understand that, then say the truth quickly. For the sake of protecting yourselves as well, accurate information is necessary」
Pressed for an answer by Dimitar, Malena’s chubby skin turned ghastly pale and she became frightened. It was natural that Malena who originally looked timid would wilt if she was pressed for a decision which might become such an international problem while the two people at the top position weren’t here.
And then, Dimitar had probably seen through that too, so he threatened her severely. Before long, Malena caused her throat to exaggeratedly sound a “gokuri” and started to explain the situation in a faltering tone.
「T, the truth is… His Excellency and Diaghilev-geika, before resting, had an arrangement to discuss about the plans for tomorrow and thereafter, but His Excellency didn’t come to the hall even though it was time for the appointment. Thereupon, just when Her Eminence who had felt suspicious was about to go towards His Excellency’s room, flames rose at the stable—」
「In the end, His Excellency is missing?」
「It, it seems to be like that… and because of that, Her Eminence ordered me to confirm your safety—」
「Before confirming our safety, you should say such an important matter without glossing over it」
Making usual drastic cuts of sound argument typical of this boy, Dimitar went out to the corridor.
「What shall we do, Richternach-kyou?」
「Go to His Excellency’s room. Diaghilev-geika should also be there anyway」
「Ah!? P, please wait just a minute! I’d like everyone to stand by in the room—」
Although Malena tried to restrain them desperately, there was nobody who would obey her. Following Dimitar, Valeria and Bettina, and moreover Karin and Petra, walked in the corridor at a quick pace in succession. If one were to add a reason that looked real in curiosity, huddling together and taking action with everyone was easier to protect themselves at the critical moment—was what one could probably say. One would think that perhaps this decision wasn’t wrong.
Sigibert’s room which was prepared on the first floor was a little smaller than the room that Valeria’s party was resting in, but if one considered that he stayed alone, it was quite spacious. However, that gorgeous room was now devastated, a mere shadow of its former self; Clotilde Diaghilev who had snugly worn her uniform was standing stock still beside the window that was casually left open.
When Clotilde, who had known that Valeria’s party had came along, knitted her brows slightly, she bowed lightly and began to talk of her own accord.
「I’m sorry for the report being late. It’s a state of emergency, so—」
「It… certainly looks like a state of emergency」
Looking around the interior of the ruined room, Dimitar sighed.
「It… doesn’t seem to be a thief」
「Hai. For a deed of a thief, it’s too skilful」
It didn’t mean that one could just secretly open the window to enter Sigibert’s room to steal. He’d also need to traverse that vast garden without being discovered by the members on the lookout, and in the first place, Sigibert’s sword which seemed really expensive was left as it was in this room. There was no way that a thief would disregard such a thing.
「Is it a kidnapping?」
Even though Dimitar asked, Clotilde neither denied nor affirmed it. Maa, as long as one saw this situation, the impression it left of a kidnapping was very likely.
Even in such a tensed scene, Clotilde—in contrast to Malena who kept being nervous—didn’t destroy her resolute expression.
「…At any rate, we’ll put the effort into His Excellency’s search and rescue. I’d like the guests from Amaddo to remain here, please」
「I’m sorry… that, are you telling us to handle the firefighting at the stable and the confusion of the members there?」
When Karin indifferently asked a question in return, Clotilde exchanged glances with Malena and kept silent as if she was troubled.
「We’ll be troubled if either one of Your Eminences doesn’t stay」
Dimitar continued Karin’s words.
「The gentlemen of the Gale Chivalric Order most likely won’t move on our instructions. Not to mention, if they heard that His Excellency who is the heart of the group was kidnapped, isn’t it possible that the members who have strong patriotism will shake free from our control and start saying that they’ll go to the search for His Excellency?」
「…I think that such a thing won’t happen though」
Biting her lips, Clotilde shook her head.
「Puyol-geika, please remain here together with Arushanbor, consolidate the members and control the situation」
「Haa! U, understood!」
「Afterwards, upon making the vigilance strict and ensuring the guests’ safety, send out a search party for His Excellency with Arushanbor as the commanding officer」
「Understood! …H, however, Diaghilev-geika, what will you do…?」
「I’ll be going ahead」
The minute that she said so, Clotilde bowed to Valeria’s party and jumped out through the window with a speed similar to that of a wind.
「W, well then, I’ll return to my mission too!」
Saluting with a “bishii!”, Malena then ran out to the corridor with a “dota dota” too. “After ensuring the guests’ safety”—even though she was told something like that, to have left Valeria’s party there, she was someone with quite a careless nature.
Inside the ruined room where a night wind which smelt burnt blew in, the Amaddo team of five people, it was unclear who had influenced the rest first, gradually and mutually started to exchange glances.
「…What shall we do?」
「What shall we do~?」
「Ano, I’m sleepy, so I think that it’s fine if we return to our rooms and sleep」
「…Before that, I think that it’s better to help with the extinguishing of the fire though」
「A, ano sa」
Valeria looked at Dimitar fleetingly while caressing her lips.
「What… do you think we should do?」
「Are you asking me?」
Curving his mouth, Dimitar asked Valeria back as if it was unexpected.
「Maa… if I clear away my prejudice and assess it, then “is the best person who can make the decision which is beneficial to us in such a state of emergency not me or Karin, but you?”… is what I think though」
「…That’s a rare, decent conclusion」
Dimitar, who had grinned broadly, folded his arms and nodded exaggeratedly.
「If we consider your safety to be first, then it goes without saying that we should remain here and pass the night. Most likely, the thief’s aim from the beginning is the kidnapping of Sigibert-kakka. Therefore, even if we remain here, the possibility of the thief coming to attack again is low」
Setting his personality aside, Sigibert was the cousin of the current Haiderota’s king, and a royalty who also possessed the throne inheritance right; hence, it was perfectly thinkable for him to be a target of kidnapping. In particular, since this place was a provincial town that was distant from the capital, and the security system too, speaking of which one, was put together centring on Valeria’s party, this was probably the ideal chance for the kidnapper.
「…Is there also a pattern where you don’t consider our safety to be first?」
「Should I call it “Amaddo’s national interest”… ma, if our Crown Prince is present, he’d probably give an order like this」
「If His Highness had come, perhaps he’d tell us to rescue that His Excellency and then amply demand gratitude. I individually think that that’s better too」
“However—”, Dimitar looked at Karin.
「If it’s only me and you, it’ll be all right even if I decide and make you follow me, but Rudbeck-geika is also here after all. Discuss by both Your Eminences and decide. —You’re fine with that, right, Glasses?」
「That “Glasses” way of calling me may not be nice~」
「Then I’ll attach a “chan”」
「A, ano~ …Dimi-san?」
「I don’t intend to listen to your opinion from the beginning. Do shut yourself away in the toilet」
「N, no way!」
「Be quiet. Even if you shake your body with a “furu furu”, it doesn’t look cute. Or rather, the metallic sound is nothing but jarring on the ears」
Kicking Bettina’s body lightly with his boots that had increased its strength due to metal plates, Dimitar gazed at Valeria and party as if hurrying for a decision.
「W, what shall we do, Karin? What shall we do?」
「Even if I’m told “what shall we do”… I’m sorry, try to think about it calmly, Valeria」
Karin pointed at Petra and then explained clearly in an easy-to-understand manner.
「In the current situation, it’s impossible to prepare a carriage, isn’t it? Therefore, in order to pursue the criminal who had kidnapped His Excellency, we’ve no choice but to leave Petra who can’t ride a horse here」
「Ah, I see」
Valeria and Karin, even if there were no horses, could move at a considerate speed if they used their magic, and Bettina could also follow them. But nevertheless, it felt pitiful to leave only Petra here.
「Dimitar, what’s the best thing to do in order to move the fastest in the current situation?」
When Valeria asked so, Dimitar put his hand on his slender chin and nodded after opening his eyes wide as if he was slightly surprised.
「That’s right… ma, there’s the pattern of me running and pursuing by myself. If it becomes a very long distance pursuit drama, a horse is indispensable no matter what though」
「It’s unacceptable that it’s you alone! Since we’ll be braving dangers and demanding gratitude, it’s no good if we don’t properly make it into an “Amaddo’s Dominas surpass Haiderota’s Dominas” that sort of composition!」
「…Did you eat something bad?」
「Iya… the you of tonight is saying nothing but relatively decent things」
「If that’s the case, you can just praise me honestly, right!」
Although she angrily folded her arms, she didn’t feel bad somehow.
「Well then, Dimitar and I, and the other is Bettina…」
「Iya, it’s better to leave Gacha Pink behind」
「Eh~? Why? I won’t say that I’m sleepy anymore!」
「Since we don’t know how much distance the pursuit drama will become or how much time it’ll take, the possibility of the cartridge becoming empty on the way can also exist. If you become unable to move, there won’t be a pursuit or anything. Besides, this person will immediately say indecent topics and hold us back」
「It’s not an indecent topic! I really want to pee only!」
「Anyway, we can’t take such a you along with us and carry out a long distance pursuit drama. You’ll be the house-sitter」
Dimitar then looked at Karin, seemingly wanting to say that he wanted to hear her opinion.
「…If Valeria is fine with it, I also don’t mind though」
「Then it’s decided. Karin and Petra will assist with extinguishing the fire and… the medical treatment if there are wounded people. It feels uneasy if it’s just that plump-chan somehow」
「And then, Bettina—eto」
「Why did you hesitate to speak there!?」
「Iya, after all… is there physical labour, I wonder?」
「You can let Gacha Pink retrieve the horses that had escaped into the entire town. —You’ve also become familiar with the treatment of horses in your own way already, I think」
When Dimitar interrupted the conversation from the side, Bettina clapped her hands and shouted with exultation.
「Hai, I understand! If so, I’ll do my best too~!」
「Then, I’ll leave the rest to you」
Dimitar stepped over the window frame and went out to the garden.
Amidst the darkness, members who carried torches were coming and going, appearing busy. Everyone was becoming restless to the extent that it was slightly doubtful whether the division of roles into “people who would extinguish the fire” and “people who would stand guard” was properly done. However, Valeria and party weren’t question by anyone even though they came out to the garden because of that.
「…So, what should we do specifically—」
Just when Valeria started to say so, her body was pulled by a strong force.
The ones who had set fire to the stable might have been the kidnappers. If a fire rose, it’d simply fall into chaos here, and furthermore they’d (Haiderota’s people) have to set the horses free whether they wanted to or not. As well as making them use part of their manpower for the sake of extinguishing the fire, it was a rather annoying move to prevent pursuit on horses.
Conversely speaking, there was no doubt that the thieves would use horses and try to escape in one breath in this interval.
When Dimitar, who had quickly activated the “Double Power (Furigana: Force)” magic, carried Valeria under his arm and ascended onto Tabard Inn’s roof, he jumped from there again and headed for the clock tower. The clock tower at the centre of the town, as much as one could roughly see, was the tallest structure in this Klutoreto. If it was from that top, a wide field of vision including the outside of the town could probably be obtained.
Although Valeria began to utter a cramped scream at the sudden matter, he didn’t intend to slow down his speed. Jumping from roof to roof lightly, Dimitar then jumped up to the top of the clock tower.
There was a preceding visitor on the steeple where there shouldn’t be anyone.
Valeria who was being carried on the shoulder by Dimitar murmured as if she was surprised.
「Costacurta-geika and Richternach-kyou—why are the both of you here?」
「It’s because the view is good. Diaghilev-geika also thought of the same thing, right? …We’ll help you」
Clotilde, who had knitted her brows for a moment, unexpectedly bowed in silence only without telling them to return to their rooms.
「—Did you see something?」
「Nothing except the town’s lights」
Setting the inside of the town aside, it didn’t seem that the thieves who had escaped to the outside of the town would gallop horses without any light. There was neither a moon nor a star tonight due to the clouds covering the sky, and the darkness was deep to the extent that nothing could be seen in the blink of an eye if one left the town.
If so, only the small amount of light which the thieves shone on their feet might be the sole clue to finding them.
「…Have they already escaped far away to the extent where even the light of their torches couldn’t be seen—」
Clotilde muttered, looking frustrated. It seemed that this woman also couldn’t suppress her emotions completely to the degree that they had thought.
When Dimitar let Valeria off nearby,
「If that’s the case, they might be found if we try to view from a slightly higher place」
「A higher place…?」
「Oi, you, take a look」
Grabbing the right hand of Valeria who was looking blankly, he faced the night sky and flung her with all his strength. Clotilde opened her eyes wide in surprise and alternately looked at Valeria, who danced in mid-air, and Dimitar.
「W, w, what are you doing all of a sudden—!?」
「It’s variously troublesome, so I’ll omit the explanation, but ma, this is our way of doing things」
It was getting troublesome to continue feigning friendliness as well, and Dimitar returned to his usual tone and smiled with a “nii”.
「Ah, ah! That way! Over there! There’s a light moving in the pitch-dark centre!」
Valeria, who had created a wind in the empty sky and somehow adjusted her posture, then pointed at the other side of the darkness and shouted. That white arm was pointing at the north of the town—or perhaps one should say “slightly northeast”. If the map of Klutoreto which Dimitar knew was accurate, there was only one road stretching in that direction.
Dimitar re-activated his “Double Power” magic, aimed at Valeria who was falling slowly and jumped.
「…With this, if it’s your mistake in vision, I can’t laugh, you know?」
「I, i, if you didn’t fling me all of a sudden, I could have prepared myself mentally a bit more! Or rather, it isn’t a mistake in my vision!」
「If that’s the case, then it’s fine」
Dimitar, who had caught Valeria in the air, made her clung onto his back and pulled Jagieruka out. The magic crest’s radiance extended from his right elbow towards Jagieruka’s blade, and the enormous magic power manifested as a violent gale.
The wind which Dimitar had brought forth naturally pushed the bodies of the two people who were falling. The place where Dimitar, who had received the wind and earned a distance in one breath, landed next was the top of the gate of the rampart that was built on the outer-most perimeter of Klutoreto.
「Don’t bite your tongue!」
Using the newly created wind as a cushion and softening their landing’s impact, and then jumping down to the ground immediately, Dimitar started to run. Naturally, no sort of light could be seen in their path. Their route was weaving their way through the inside of the wheat fields and continuing towards the north; after that, a dense forest was lying in wait.
「…To be visible from above probably means that the thieves haven’t entered that forest yet at that point in time」
「I mean, it isn’t necessarily so that that light is the thieves in the first place, is it?」
「…Don’t carelessly say things that might deny our actions from the foundation」
Although Valeria said so, that possibility was low. Klutoreto was a town that held a population of close to 10,000, and there were many amusement quarters where people would make merry and noise after sunset too; at any rate, the king’s cousin, Sigibert, and the four Dominas were sojourning today. Naturally, since going out at night was restricted to guard the important people, if there were people carrying torches and wandering aimlessly, it could already be viewed as rebellion elements disregarding the order of Haiderota’s royal family.
「…Ma, it doesn’t seem that the other party are kidnappers who would do this for mere money」
「What do you mean?」
「The one who was kidnapped is the king’s cousin, you know? Furthermore, the ones who were sojourning together with him are Amaddo and Haiderota’s Dominas. They won’t avoid the capital punishment if they failed in their crime and were captured, and even if it went smoothly, they’d be pursued as wanted men until they die」
Certainly, if they made Sigibert into a hostage, they might be able to get an enormous ransom. However, the risk and return didn’t counterbalance. If money was simply their objective, there were as many more lucrative methods of earning it as they liked.
「Since they kidnapped the king’s cousin to the extent of braving this much danger, their objective isn’t money. Something like revenge that stemmed from profound grudge… maa, if we think realistically, he might be a hostage for pushing through some political demand」
「Maybe. Though he’s like a gentleman who gets carried away easily and seems to perpetrate various things, I can’t think of that His Excellency doing things to the extent that he’d be resented by the people—」
When he was having such an exchange with Valeria who was on his back, the sounds of hooves approached from behind.
「Both of you! The horse!」
When they looked back over their shoulders, they could see Clotilde, who had straddled a horse, leading an unburdened horse and coming this way.
「This will be helpful. …It looks like it’ll become a long distance pursuit drama」
Without decreasing his speed, Dimitar jumped onto the horse while carrying Valeria on his back. However, the horse was unperturbed at that impact. As one would expect, the military country, Haiderota, had been gathering strong warhorses.
「Near the clock tower, Her Eminence’s follower just—the pink one」
「Ah, Gacha Pink?」
「…That person has that kind of name?」
「That’s wrong! She properly has a name called “Bettina”!」
「Anyway, since that person just gathered the horses that had escaped… I was saved the trouble at any rate」
Skilfully moving Valeria who was on his back to his front, Dimitar then asked Clotilde.
「Do you have some knowledge of the thieves?」
「You have, right?」
Clotilde momentarily held her breath and then muttered like she was squeezing it out.
「—They’re the subordinates of Yururogu」
In terms of society, dinner time had passed long ago. If it was as usual, this was the period of time when it was inevitable that his stomach would be empty, but maybe because of the tension, today’s Borha completely didn’t feel hungry. Although even if he ate something, he probably wouldn’t grasp the taste decently.
In the evening, Borha who had visited the Finance Minister, Kaparos-kyou, who was on friendly terms with his home’s older brother, told him about the conversation which he was made to hear from his younger brother as it was.
Kaparos-kyou, who had been listening to that conversation with a serious expression, told Borha that he’d return immediately and temporarily went off to somewhere, but when he came back shortly, he took Borha out from his office.
“Where in the world am I being taken along to?” The place that Borha who was somewhat on the verge of becoming uneasy was guided to was surprisingly, the king’s office where King Jeffren Francesc and the four elder statesmen mustered. Although Borha was directly called out to by the king before because his daughter was inaugurated as a Dominas, it was as if the atmosphere was different from that time. All the ministers were similarly grim-faced, but only the king was showing a fearless, to the extent of brazen, smile which was cheerful in some respects and resting his chin in his hands at the chief seat of the huge table. Even if it wasn’t Borha, one couldn’t help but become tensed in this atmosphere.
Then, Borha, who was made to speak of the subject from just now again, without being ordered to leave, was allowed to sit quietly at the foot of the table and had been shown the emergency meeting of Amaddo’s governing body the whole time.
「—Yururogu buying up large quantity of grains at this time is the best evidence that a large-scale battle is approaching soon. If it becomes so, there’s no opponent other than Haiderota, Your Majesty」
Military Minister Garido, who had ran through battlefields together with the king, then repeated in a deep voice.
「It isn’t impossible that those people’s family quarrel will spill over here. For the sake of protecting both Her Eminences as well, we should promptly send out our army」
「Garido-kyou… as one would expect, isn’t that too impertinent?」
Home Minister, Kamunyas-kyou, wiped his sweat and pacified Garido-kyou.
「It isn’t decided that Yururogu and Haiderota will enter a state of war yet—」
「It’ll be too later after they enter!」
「I, iya, nevertheless…」
「That’s right… first of all, the fact that Yururogu had moved its army towards Haiderota isn’t confirmed. We only know that Yururogu seems to be gathering provisions at this time…. Secondly, even if the fact that Yururogu had moved its army could be confirmed, unless there’s a reinforcement request from Haiderota’s side or anything, we can’t cross the national border and send in our army…」
Foreign Minister, Barzari-kyou, supplemented Kamunyas-kyou’s opinion in a hoarse voice while wiping the lens of his spectacles.
「Ho, hora! Isn’t Barzari-kyou saying it too, Garido-kyou!」
Garido-kyou, who had the loudest voice and the biggest physique among the four elder statesmen, was in fact the youngest among the four people. Conversely, Barzari-kyou, who was the oldest, was a pillar of Amaddo who had successively held important posts since the time of the previous generation. As one would expect, it seemed that Garido-kyou also couldn’t go against that Barzari-kyou head-on.
「In, in the first place, if we do such a thing, it can turn into a war between our country and Haiderota this time, you know? If our country and Haiderota sever our relation, won’t the alliance collapse! B, besides, I also don’t think that the understanding of the surrounding countries could be obtained—」
「The number one problem is… the matter of our country being interposed between formidable enemies called “Haiderota” in the north and “Bigerou” in the south…. Looking strategically, this isn’t a good plan…」
「Mu…! If, if that’s the case, I think that we should line up our country’s elite soldiers at the border at least so that they can rush in even at once!」
「Iya iya iya, even that alone is bad, right! In, in this situation, taking military movements that will stir up Haiderota is…」
Kamunyas-kyou glanced at Borha fleetingly and continued hesitantly.
「…T, the safety of both our country’s Her Eminences depends entirely on Haiderota’s move right now—」
「In the first place, why did we even send two Dominas to Haiderota at a time like this!? Why is the Head Director who insisted so not here!?」
「…Don’t say it that way, Barjol」
Very intimately calling out to the minister of the armed struggle faction who had angrily struck the table, the king smiled wryly.
「The one who suggested it was Orvieto, but the one who ordered them to do it was this me. If that’s the case, then I’m responsible. …Don’t make me say such an obvious thing now」
「However… Your Majesty, aren’t you being too soft on Head Director since the past—」
「Stop that as well now」
The king, who had destroyed his countenance with an even more wry smile, undid resting his chin in his hands and stood up, and then looked back at the huge tapestry that was hung on the rear wall. It was an article where a picture map of the continent with Amaddo as the centre was woven, and according to what Borha had heard, it was said that whenever Amaddo’s territory increased or the situation between countries changed greatly, the king would immediately have a new tapestry woven to match it.
「Ma… I’m angry, but rules are rules. Our country, which is called the “leading power”, breaking the rules first will set a bad example to the surroundings」
「Your Majesty! Then—」
「Make the preparations to mobilise the army. However, don’t move yet. When Yururogu really moves, and in addition, Haiderota comes to say “please lend us a hand”, we shall loan it at a price as high as possible」
「However, not doing anything until then is also…」
「I didn’t say that we wouldn’t do anything though」
The king, who had been putting his hands on his waist and looking up at the map, gazed at the Foreign Minister,
「First, we’ll inform those people of Yururogu’s movement under the pretence of kindness. Ma, even if we don’t inform them, even Haiderota might have sensed that movement about this time, but this will become a pretext to send in an emissary」
「As one would expect, Your Majesty, that’s an ingenious idea…. Let’s work out the draft of the personal letter at once. …However, as far as such an important task is concerned, who should we make to be the emissary…」
「I, indeed. This role requires going to Haiderota’s capital, and together with confirming the situation that both Her Eminences are placed in, diplomatic negotiations with the government there according to things and circumstances as well…」
「If so, Your Majesty, entrust here to me!」
Although Garido-kyou stood up packed with vigour, if they appointed such a hot-blooded ex-military person to be the ambassador plenipotentiary, the calm discussion might become a fist fight. When Borha was oozing cold sweat on his forehead at the unpleasant premonition, Kaparos-kyou, who had hardly ever open his mouth until then, raised his hand while stroking his white beard.
「May I, Your Majesty?」
「Should I say that it’s very economical… I’m thinking whether it’s reasonable or not」
「What is it?」
「The Crown Prince, who had led the Seal Chivalric Order (Furigana: Tanpries Aegis) and escorted both Her Eminences, should still be close to the national border. In this case, how about entrusting it to His Highness?」
「Though the personal letter can be prepared at once, it’ll take money and time to elect and send out a delegation from now. That being the case, if we’ve His Highness wait for orders at a nearby town for the time being, and deliver the personal letter there, and then have him head for Aurillac immediately—」
「This isn’t a problem of money and time, right, Kaparos-kyou! I don’t have objection to His Highness becoming the ambassador, but is it fine to decide something so serious with only that kind of point of view?」
「I didn’t decide it by that alone in particular, but… Your Majesty, may I make a slightly impolite expression?」
「I don’t mind」
「Well then… I shall say it frankly; if Garido-kyou, not to mention us four elder statesmen, goes as an ambassador, Haiderota will be vigilant more than necessary, and we might be confined before entering Aurillac. However, um… if this is His Highness, Haiderota will also probably happily look down on him, so it’s unexpectedly possible to enter the capital without difficulty, I think—」
It was certainly an impolite expression. However, the king, without even a look that his feeling was particularly hurt even though he heard that, nodded as if it seemed interesting instead.
「That’s true… Isaac has Orvieto’s son and Lindegoa’s successor, and that may be better than spending time in choosing people. Besides, in case it really does become the worst situation, an ordinary delegation can’t be the girls’ guards」
While tapping the table rhythmically with a “gon gon”, the king narrowed his eyes quietly. By doing so, he might be collecting his thoughts inside his mind. The four ministers also kept their mouths shut and seemed to be waiting for the king’s subsequent words.
「…All right, let’s go with that」
「Good gracious… it looks like today will be a sleepless night」
Barzari-kyou stood up first with a sigh mixed in.
「Sorry, to have work you old people so hard」
「If this is because of work, then…」
「Garido-kyou, send an express messenger to Isaac and prevent him from leaving while Barzari-kyou is drawing up the personal letter. Explain the circumstances properly too, all right?」
「Kaparos-kyou will discuss with Kamunyas-kyou and appropriately choose a present at your own discretion to have Isaac hold onto. Properly take into consideration the matter of our country’s honour as well」
Receiving the king’s instructions, the four elder statesmen started to move respectively. It seemed that there was neither day nor night for the important people who worked in the centre of the country.
Setting that aside, when Borha who had thought “what should I do?” was looking around restlessly, his eyes met the king’s.
「—Oh, thank you for your hard work, Costacurta-kyou. Countermeasures were completed without being delayed due to your information. You’ve my gratitude」
「N, not at all! Don’t mention it!」
Springing to his feet, Borha bowed very deeply.
「You’re probably worried about your daughter, but ma, I’d like you to leave here to us」
「Your daughter, who is the head of the Costacurta House, is also a distant relative to me. I intend to devote all my power so that she can return to the country safely, but… since she’s also a Dominas at the same time, it’s also possible that I must get her to fulfil that obligation. Be prepared for that」
「Eh…? That, w, what does that—」
Borha, whose uneasiness had returned suddenly at the king’s words, unintentionally asked a question in return with an impolite manner of speaking.
「Iya, there’s no deep meaning. Don’t mind it」
The king, who had shaken his head exaggeratedly, joined his hands together behind his back and left the office calmly.
Borha, who was left behind in the office alone, stared at the tapestry which was hung on the wall in a daze.