After once again rearranging the defense at the national border, Hifumi withdrew to Fokalore. letting the soldiers rest while the spear throwers were repaired and improved.
Even just rallying the troops split up in order to protect all their cities would take a considerable amount of time, and since there isn’t a clear head of the state, there will be disputes regarding who gets to be in command.
“Even if they come here, we can’t unconditionally accept them. We’ll soon be continuing our war with Vichy, so any specific exchanges will have to wait until after that.”
Origa was the one who interacted with the messengers.
“I don’t have the ability to be a politician to begin with. I’m glad I decided to train those civil official slaves ahead of time. If I were to try and gather people now, there wouldn’t be any time to sleep.”
Although it’s really a breach of etiquette, there wasn’t any need to hold back, as Hifumi was already aware of her presence. They had been conducting spy training for a while now though, in order to make her able to slip in and out soundlessly.
Since Hifumi’s very strict when grading, Alyssa had yet to receive a passing grade.
So she came. Without letting Alyssa see, Hifumi sneered.
“Ehh, the talk about your endeavors have reached the capital. How you repelled Vichy’s army without any losses.”
After being let through to the reception, Kasha was sitting down, face to face with Hifumi, but the conversation wasn’t continuing.
As she became flustered, there was a knock on the door, and Origa entered.
Discovering Kasha, Origa instinctively stopped, and she quickly lost the smile on her face.
Hifumi deliberately didn’t mention in what seat, nor make any hand gestures.
“So, what’s your business, coming here?”
“After receiving such a big favor and selfishly leaving, you think Hifumi will let you back again?”
Hifumi was listening to their exchange in silence. If it kept going as it currently was, it would just end with Origa one-sidedly throwing accusations at Kasha, who would end up being chased away. It’s about time to give her some timely help.
“Your workload has increased considerably. If it’s an acquaintance whose abilities you know, it should be easier to divide the workload, wouldn’t it? Besides, there’s also the next battle. I don’t want to work you too hard.”
With Hifumi showing concern for her, as well as holding her hand, Origa blushed.
“Well, I won’t reinstate you in the territorial army. Having someone who left just to later return giving orders would be a bitter pill to swallow, right?”
“For the moment, I’ll have you be my guard and secretary, so please give me a hand. A room in this mansion will be prepared for you.”
“Right. There is plenty of work to be done, so work hard.”
“It’s important to meet the other side’s expectations to some extent, at least.”
Although Origa didn’t understand what Hifumi meant, she did understand that his actions were backed up with confidence in something, so she didn’t say anything else.
The news about the annihilation of the pursuit unit from Vichy was quickly relayed to the central committee from the city accepting one of the fleeing soldiers.
From the news they’ve collected about Hifumi, it wasn’t a mystery about that they were repelled as the pursuing soldiers only numbered 300. They were, however, dissatisfied with the loss of soldiers due to them fooling around.
“But we now know what weapons they’re using, so isn’t it fine thinking of this as reconnaissance for the upcoming all-out recapture operation?”
Even before Debold came as an envoy, Vichy had decided to resist with force, so everyone calmly accepted that they were going to fight.
“If you look at it from the other side, if that Hifumi dies, won’t we stop Orsongrande?”
Amongst them, there were a couple who had seen princess Imeraria in the past. She had given them the impression of a girl unrelated to politics, and kind towards the populace. But these chains of events in Orsongrande have been sending mixed signals.
“Either way, like the old man said, if we can stop Hifumi, we can end this without some arbitrary reconciliation.”
“So, about how many soldiers are we going to send?”
“15000, huh? The Orsongrande soldiers we need to stop from going from Rhone to Arosel would be the viscount’s territorial soldiers and the border security, around 200 in total. Isn’t this excessive?”
“It’s better to have some flexibility, but… aren’t we just throwing money away?”
(What’s Orsongrande’s goal with attacking Vichy? To expand their territories? Their official reason is retribution, but it’s too severe to just be a matter of honor.)
“No matter how much we rush it, the gathering of the troops will take around 3 weeks. After that, we need to organize them in units, so we need around a month before the recapture operation can be started.
In front of the biggest gathering of troops since the founding of Vichy, the committee was in an uplifted mood. In the place they were normally noisily scrambling for profits, cursing each other, their wishes for victory above profit was ironically what brought them together.
“Well then, all that’s left is to place our hopes in our soldiers.”
Everyone nodded, and the meeting was finished.
The room Kasha was shown was on the same level as those Origa and Alyssa were living in.
“Somehow, it’s like we’re living in different worlds.”
Having received a complete restructure, the first floor had a couple of conference rooms and offices, and in order to make the passage through the entrance easier, making more space, it received an expansion. Inside was now a front desk, with five staff members working side by side.
“According to Hifumi’s instructions, we’re registering all the citizens and we’re making it obligatory to report births, deaths, and marriages. The reception desk is there to deal with that.”
“Isn’t it difficult to do all of that?”
Kasha couldn’t see it, but behind the counter were the desks of Caim, Brokla, and Paryu, checking that they worked hard. Because of that, even if they were clumsy, the staff members did their best.
If Hifumi wasn’t a bad person, Kasha wouldn’t be able to make herself do it.
After being shown the offices and storage spaces, and led back to her room, Kasha threw herself on the bed.
Although that’s how it looks, Hifumi might have some terrifying goal in mind, but after speaking to him face-to-face just now, Kasha couldn’t find anything to criticize him for.
Shaking her head, she dispelled the doubts arising.
Besides, she had to start working by Hifumi’s side tomorrow. Getting a better than expected opportunity to observe Hifumi was a stroke of luck. Now, what remains is to work hard in order to not be suspected. Trying to quickly get rid of the fatigue from traveling, Kasha slept until she was called for dinner.
Origa explained the information she got from Paryu, the civil official slave in charge of the family register, to Hifumi as he sat by his desk. She didn’t as much as glance on Kasha who stood next to him. Kasha had tried to get in contact with Origa a few times already, but she was brusquely warded off.
“As long as the city is of a certain size, there will be a slum. Even the royal capital has it.”
Slaves and penniless people run away from things like crime, entering the underworld, which in itself, would employ its inhabitants. Every day, people are dying, but the same amount of new people are streaming in.
“According to the information collected from people throughout the city, it seems there is a group managing the slums. We don’t know what their numbers are, but they are involved in things like abductions and robberies.”
There had been patrols of a couple of soldiers before, but when the inhabitants of the slum saw the soldiers, they went inside their rows of shacks, and didn’t come out, apparently.
“If I receive your permission, I’ll go settle that problem.”
Origa’s gaze caused Kasha to turn quiet.
“I can’t be causing trouble to…”
Calling her name, interrupting Origa, Hifumi looked straight at her and smiled.
It was something delivered from the royal castle, to show that you are the lord of a territory. On the left shoulder was the royal family’s coat of arms, and on the right shoulder was Hifumi’s newly designed family crest. It was a symbol with the motif of a katana and a kusarigama.
Seeing off Kasha, and the bowing Origa, Hifumi left the office with a wave of the mantle.
“…I must begin doing the preparations in earnest.”
That would be good, so let’s give it a go. Hifumi smiled as he walked with light steps, like a beautiful girl who couldn’t calm down before a date. The staff members on the first floor who saw Hifumi walk out, pleasantly thought that him being in a good mood was something nice.