The international summit between the heads of state of Yggdrasia’s large countries, conducted through the ‘clairvoyant mirror’ magitools, had been going on for days.
The destruction of the Saplings that were the cornerstones of human civilization had begun with the Dark Lady Whitehare. It had subsequently given rise to an insurrection of demihumans, the resources of the human race, and even sabotage in the name of their so-called ‘resistance’.
And then, in a treasonous act to mankind, the Sage had summoned an Evil God: the Unseelie Lord. Its manifestation had set off a battle of supremacy between itself and the Dark Lady to determine the owner of the throne of Evil. And as though the floodgates had been opened, the Dark General monsters and even the hitherto silent dragons had joined the demihumans in attacking human cities. Of the ninety-nine human countries, nearly half had already fallen.
While the flames of war had still not yet spread to the Central Continent, the Southern Continent and the Western Continent — where the Unseelie Lord had been summoned — had lost most of its countries, giving rise to a vast amount of refugees and casualties.
The human leaders had engaged in some measure of censorship to avoid panic among the populace, but there had been a particular rumor that was suspected to have been disseminated by the demihuman resistance.
The Dark Lady and the Evil God are aiming for the World Saplings.
The rumor had caused those living in settlements lacking thick, protective walls, such as small countries and rural cities, to start looting food from stores and evacuating. Several cities within the Central Continent were already beginning to be paralyzed.
And finally, the biggest problem was that the gag order was already slowly leaking. A certain piece of information formerly dismissed by leaders worldwide had now become a matter of extreme contention.
The mana coming from the Saplings wasn’t infinite, and exhausting it would bring the world to ruin. Thus, the Dark Lady’s objective hadn’t been the extermination of mankind as was originally believed, but to build a new World Tree system by destroying the old Saplings.
If this was true, then the Evil of the world wouldn’t be the Dark Lady but instead mankind. To humans, those who had prospered due to their monopoly of mana, this possibility was not something they could accept.
But there were dissenting voices, still.
There was information that the Dark Lady gained strength with each Sapling destroyed. In which case, this was simply the Dark Lady rampaging in her desire for power, and once she had it all, all of humanity would be trampled under her feet. So to preserve the peace of the world, the Dark Lady must not be allowed to gain any more power.
This was the belief advocated by those who believed in the God of the Temples, beginning with the Holy City Ayune.
Nobody knows which was the truth. Perhaps both might be wrong, or both might be right. The only one who could know was the Dark Lady herself.
As war neared their own countries, the heads of state continued their fruitless arguments. And then the alliance of the Academy City of Cinqres and the Marine City of Vingteun poured oil into the fire with a new proposal.
“We, the Academy City of Cinqres, propose to abandon the Saplings to remove ourselves from being targets of the Dark Lady and the Unseelie Lord.”
“We, the Marine City of Vingteun, support the proposal together with our neighbors, the countries of Handt and Ouze.”
Of course, the idea was immediately decried by many other countries.
“Are you insane?! You would abandon the very cradle of humanity?!”
“Why would you throw away the Sapling’s mana?! Have you forgotten the pride of mankind?!”
“And how are we going to explain to our people that they’re going to have to live like animals again after all this time?!”
“Who would take responsibility if monsters attacked?!”
The proposers replied, scoffing.
“What, are you actually thinking you’ll get off lighter if the Dark Lady or the dragons attacked you instead? Dream on.”
“Demihumans aside, we can’t afford to let our countries be involved with the Dark Lady’s fight with the Unseelie Lord. It’ll be the end for us.”
“There have been reports that the Dark Lady does, in fact, possess some intellect.”
“If the Dark Lady gains strength by destroying Saplings, then why don’t we let her kill the Unseelie Lord for us?”
The pointless argument soon devolved into insults, and the host of the summit, the Pope of the Holy City Ayune, was forced to announce a vote. Only three large countries voted for: the Academy City of Cinqres, the Marine City of Vingteun, and the Free City of Seis. Two countries abstained, while everyone else voted against. The motion to abandon the Saplings failed.
Afterward, the militant faction led by Vingtuit, Battrol, and Quinze Kingdom proposed further deployment of flying battleships, and the motion passed. Thus ended the summit.
The images and sound on the clairvoyant mirror cut off. Within a windowless room, Tischlar, the emperor of Touze, leaned deeply back on his chair. He called for the only other occupant in the room.
“…hey, old man.”
“I am here, young master.”
“That first vote… you know who the other abstainee is, right?”
“I believe it is likely to be the City of Medicine, Lantoure. At the moment, most of Lantoure’s neighboring countries had already fallen. They don’t have the resources to support their neighbors and take in the refugees.”
“Yeah, of course. And Lantoure’s governor fears the loss of their knowledge more than the loss of the Sapling’s magic… Old man, can you contact Cinqres, Vingteun, Seis, and Lantoure? Make sure nobody knows you’re doing it. Oh, and call the ambassadors from Qatore and Quaronze to meet me.”
“I leave it to you.”
The old butler quietly bowed and left the room, himself already no longer on Tiz’s mind. As he stayed seated in his chair, the emperor tightly grasped the scabbard of the magical sword on his waist.