Debold, the second son of the Müntzer marquis family, brought ten guards and ten chamberlains with him as he left the royal capital. It all looked like a parade-like spectacle, with leaflets prepared for him rolling around. That was something Hifumi clearly saw when he returned to the royal capital with Alyssa.
Despite it being the royal capital, the literacy rate was low. So even though some people picked up the leaflets, the extent of those who could read them was practically non-existent. Part of the crowd, consisting of drunkards and carefree people, were cheering loudly. But the huge majority were coldly appraising the flamboyant noble.
“Imeraria, did you need me?”
“Oh, it’s Pajou.”
“With this, I too, for the government’s sake, have sacrificed someone else, haven’t I?” Imeraria spoke but then mocked herself.
“Debold was aiming for you, Imeraria. In my humble opinion, shouldn’t this be viewed as self-defense? Besides, the one who suggested this was me, so let me be the one to shoulder the sin of sacrificing that man.”
Following Imeraria, Pajou left the balcony and the two entered Imeraria’s office. Pajou was tormented with a sense of regret. Not because of the plan with sacrificing someone, but mainly due to what she had previously told Imeraria.
Earlier, after having separated from Hifumi, Kasha and Sabnak joined Pajou, who had already returned to the royal capital. In order to quickly report to Imeraria, the three briskly cleaned themselves off and arrived at the castle gates.
As they had previously received remuneration from Hifumi as well, Kasha did show some restraint in the beginning, but she was eventually forced to accept the gold as funds to start her life anew.
After all, if Hifumi kept going like this, continuing the war and building up strength, who knows when he would have a full-blown confrontation with Orsongrande. Fearing that, Imeraria wanted to hear Pajou’s opinion, having seen Hifumi’s manner of fighting close up. As the report concluded and Sabnak and Kasha stepped back, Pajou began a long follow-up session with Imeraria.
“Imeraria. I can say that I’m of the same opinion. The prime minister would also agree with us on this conclusion. No one could have expected that his love for battle would enable him to brilliantly take control of the enemies territory with such ease.”
News of Hifumi’s activities had been brought to the royal capital by merchants coming from Vichy, and had already become the topic of conversation within the capital. Everywhere you went you could hear how the “Knight of the Slender Sword”, with barely any casualties or losses, had overwhelmed Vichy. It was just as it was in one of those heroic tales.
If it continued like this, Hifumi may take away all the popularity Imeraria was having, as well as the sense of respect towards the royal castle, for himself.
Using intentionally strong words, Pajou told Imeraria.
“If you’d forgive me, I have a plan I’d like to present to you.”
The plan Pajou had thought about was, simply put, ‘to make it seem like Imeraria was the one who ended the final war’. That Arosel, while under Orsongrandes control, was essentially an unnecessary territory and would be difficult to govern.
“Debold will probably be killed. And the majority of the soldiers leaving for Arosel and the like will die as well. But with this, Hifumi’s military gains will reach its limit. And we’ll then publicize that you were the one who brought back the peace.”
First of all, the initial unrest would be over there. And as a result of Vichy taking up arms, they should be able to tear into Hifumi and afflict some damage.
“…Please give it some thought.”
Finally, his own turn has come. Catching a glance of Debold triumphantly striding over towards Imeraria, Pajou saw him off with a mix of remorse and resolve. It’s for the sake of the country!
Understandably, Vichy’s central council received the letter Hifumi sent first.
Scanning over the letter presented by their spy, the elderly council member let out a sigh.
The other council members had plans to gather soldiers soon as well but were generally behind schedule. Their territories were whittled away, making it clear that just defending the city would prove hard. The cities near the national border were frantically thinking up any means of defending their cities.
“Even so, this is troublesome.”
Concerning giving up the spy called Beirevra, Minoson was well aware of what had happened over by Arosel. If giving him over would end all this, it would’ve been a good option.
He was summoned before the council before this letter’s arrival, where he briefed them on the news from Arosel. He was a man past thirty, with a small stature, and facial features giving him a cunning expression.
It’s quite unlikely he went towards Orsongrande or the Beast’s territory. It would seem natural if he were to use one of the intermediaries he got close to in dealing with the distribution of the magical tools to cross over to Horant. But an inquiry was made, and Horant responded with a formal letter that there were no records of him crossing the border. Minoson didn’t believe them at all though.
After all, if Vichy takes an aggressive stance against Orsongrande, Horant making a display of gathering soldiers it would apply some pressure. A proposal would then have been made so that depending on the situation, both Horant and Vichy would attack, forcing Orsongrande to defend on two fronts at once.
“Doing that, they will have to wrack their brains on the spot for a countermeasure.”
Currently, in accordance with the letter, there are no other alternatives than Vichy unconditionally becoming a vassal state of Orsongrande, or being completely absorbed. For the moment, Vichy won’t respond to the demands or talks of reconciliations. They will gather the troops from all their cities and recapture some city-states. After an assured victory, they’d enter negotiations with Orsongrande.
They planned to go all out. As soon as they finished rallying their forces, they would march towards Rhone en masse.
By the time Debold and the delegation representing Orsongrande entered Fokalore, Hifumi had just instructed the dwarfs to construct a protective wall at the city entrance.
“So, make some diamond shaped holes in the wall, like this.”
“With this interval, you can use bows or javelin-throwing machines to attack. If the holes are too big, they’re useless, so we want them to be just barely big enough to aim through them.”
While the young dwarf was admiring Hifumi’s knowledge, Debold and company entered the city.
“How rude! I’m the Müntzer marquis family’s amazing Debold, a peace envoy appointed by her highness princess Imeraria! You lowly soldier bastards have no reason to do an inspection!”
Hearing the words ‘Peace envoy’, Hifumi approached the raging Debold.
“Huh, you’re that disrespectful upstart. Heh, if you’re the leader, no wonder your subordinates also behave like this.”
“This is my city. I’m the law. We don’t know what guys like you are bringing in, so we need to do a thorough search.”
As he ordered the coachman to continue, before he noticed, a drawn blade was gleaming in front of his eyes. Having drawn closer in an instant, Hifumi’s abruptly drawn katana made Debold tremble. His fear filled eyes reflected on the blade.
“I said so, didn’t I? Here, I’m the law. If you don’t abide by the rules, I’ll dispose of you as a criminal.”
“You bastard. With what you’ve just done to me, I hope you’re prepared… On her highness princess Imeraria’s imperial command, I’m an envoy on my way to Vichy’s central government.”
“That’s her highness the princess’ handwritten letter! It’s not something bastards like you are allowed to touch!”
“That’s enough, go along.”
“Is that so? Well, do your best.”
“Hifumi, is that really okay?”
“He’s just a pathetic clown. No need to take him seriously. We probably won’t even meet him again. Leaving that aside, the national border by Rhone will soon become a battlefield again. Rearrange the troops and ready them to leave.”
“I guess so. But it seems we still have time to spare. So let’s carefully prepare a welcome party for them. Alright, looks like we’ll be busy again.”
The premonitions Hifumi had about the war would be slightly betrayed by reality, just two weeks after this day.