Although those working within the castle are elites, the work of the maids starts early in the morning.
There are also many people, who are taking breakfast to their masters before the sun has risen in the dormitory of the girls. Dawn is crowded with maids reporting for work.
Given that Sabnak has a long history of working in the provinces by himself, he will at least do basic cleaning and prepare tea in his spare time to get it done quickly. Having led a life of not being accustomed to take a person in his service like other nobles, Sabnak even rarely tells Shibyura to do this or that.
On the contrary, he isn’t in the office since morning. Today’s the same.
“Well, then let’s start.” (Shibyura)
Since basic work like cleaning has become her second nature, Shibyura repeated a fixed cleaning routine every day. She also has pride in tidying up all places, even dim rooms, within the castle.
“… It bothers me.” (Shibyura)
Even such girl couldn’t help to be worried about a place in the room since today morning.
He ended up dodging how he got into the room, but she knows that there is some secret concerning this cupboard.
Being bothered by it once, her hands have stopped cleaning and she has turned her view to the shelves standing like that for around an hour.
“Let’s try examine it just a little bit.” (Shibyura)
And once she firmly pushed the wall right next to the cupboard, it opened.
“This is…” (Shibyura)
It’s an entrance where a knight wearing his armour barely fits through, but for the petite Shibyura it has plenty of size. As she peeks inside, she can see a dim passageway continuing onwards.
Once she timidly stepped into the passageway, the door closed automatically.
(I wasn’t aware that there was such passageway.) (Shibyura)
If it’s possible to take an even better short-cut to the dining hall, it will become even easier to prepare the meals for Sabnak, with such feeling she advances through the hidden pathway.
Shibyura was surprised to the degree of jumping up when she was suddenly called.
“Don’t shout. Slowly turn your face in my direction.”
Once she finished turning her face as ordered, she saw a person, she had already seen somewhere, pointing a thin blade towards her.
“Tell me your name and affiliation.” (Hifumi)
“… I’m Shibyura Winger. I’m working as maid in the castle.” (Shibyura)
Having a weapon pointed at her for the first time in her life, her voice has been trembling even though she pretends to be calm.
“You appear to be Earl Tohno, right… ?” (Shibyura)
As Shibyura asked him that, Hifumi lowered his katana.
“That’s right. If I’m not wrong you were Sabnak’s maid. Why are you here?” (Hifumi)
Even though he has lowered his weapon, Hifumi’s look is sharp as usual as if seeking for gaps in Shibyura defence.
Although she hesitated for a moment, she honestly tells him that she was investigating the place of Sabnak’s coming and going out of curiosity, because he has also seen the place where she has been talking with Sabnak in the office.
“That guy is…” (Hifumi)
“It’s not like it’s highly classified information”, seeing Hifumi being in a huff, Shibyura casually observes him anew, wondering Is this the person that has been feared by everyone within the castle?
I don’t know to which country his clothing belongs and he has black pupils and black hair, I hadn’t seen anywhere else. Although his appearance looks to be young, no different from me, he also has continuously an even stronger, oppressive aura than father.
“Anyway, leave from here right away. If you were mistaken for an invader, you wouldn’t be even able to complain about getting killed.” (Hifumi)
“Kil… This is within the castle… ?” (Shibyura)
Hifumi shifts his attention towards Shibyura, who raised her voice unintentionally, as if seeing something strange.
“The place is irrelevant. Things, people, faith, all of it is fine. If you consider protecting something, you will have to get rid of hindrances without hesitation. Those, who are deceived by handicaps and helplessly fear that, are… idiots.” (Hifumi)
“And, since I will properly teach Sabnak about the importance of information, it’s fine for you to tell him to wait in his office at night”, Hifumi vanished to the other side of the gloomy passageway.
At the time Hifumi was still secluding himself in the hidden pathways to confirm the structure within the castle, a messenger from Vichy arrived.
In the place being a room that is used as reception room within the castle, there are two knights standing in the back of the prime minister. Two soldiers, acting as attendants, are accompanying the envoy.
“It’s the first time for us to meet each other. I’m called Roshi and was dispatched by Vichy’s central committee. I’ve heard that new king will be enthroned in Orsongrande at this time. As representative of Vichy, I hurried to extend my congratulations.” (Roshi)
He handed over a list, which is recording handicrafts and fabrics native to Vichy in addition to magic tools apparently made in Horant, while telling “Please take this as a little gift.”
The prime minister noticed then, the envoy in front of me hasn’t realized that the quarrel between Orsongrande and Horant has mostly been settled already, now has he?
“Thank you very much for this. By the way, it’s not like we greatly advertised the coronation ceremony to that degree, but Vichy’s central committee seems to possess quite good ears.” (Adol)
Roshi’s smile, that looked as if plastered onto him, wasn’t disturbed by the words of Prime Minister Adol. He shook his head with a “No, no.”
“Only by chance. We used the opportunity to ask a certain noble-sama of your country with whom we previously also had business discussions. Becoming aware of the matter with the coronation immediately after entering your country, I immediately got in contact with my own country in a hurry. I’m very sorry that the envoy is someone of my degree, but above all, I was told that it was likely quicker to use me for the celebration.” (Roshi)
“Oh my goodness, you have experienced quite the troublesome journey. Please relax at ease until the coronation ceremony. We will prepare a room for you.” (Adol)
“Then I will gladly take you up on your kind offer. And, is it possible to receive an audience with the new Majesty the Queen? If you don’t mind it, I want to report all of this to the central committee, but…” (Roshi)
It came, huh? Adol thought. He wanted to avoid Imeraria getting in contact with him until he knows the objective of Vichy, if possible.
“The princess is busy with the preparations for the coronation ceremony. Once the ceremony finished, she might have a little bit time, but at this point in time, it’s quite…” (Adol)
“That’s right, isn’t it. How regrettable.” (Roshi)
“If it’s alright with you, I will listen to the reason for your visit.” (Adol)
Although he displayed a look of pondering over it for a bit due to Adol’s question, Roshi easily gave a nod.
“That’s right. If I’m able to discuss it with Your Excellency, the prime minister, in advance, it might be even better than conveying it while under stress of being in front of Her Majesty the Queen.” (Roshi)
As he said this much, Roshi corrected his posture, surveyed his vicinity and began to speak in a lowered voice.
“Concerning the previous sorrowful quarrel, I want to officially propose peace from Vichy. Now, if that’s possible, the central committee is considering to enter a peace treaty between your country and the central committee…” (Roshi)
While still floating a smile on his lips, Roshi’s eyes are piercing the prime minister.
“Of course we are the defeated side. Even regarding the reparations, I have the privilege of offering as much as is possible. Also, regarding the flow of goods such as magic tools etc, I’m prepared to discuss how to suit the circumstances of your country’s merchants.” (Roshi)
Due to the word “defeated,” the guards, which Roshi brought along, reacted with a twitch, but the prime minister purposely ignored that. They aren’t important.
First off, with this it is clear that they apparently don’t know that a direct trade between Orsongrande and Horant has begun. And even the central committee’s aim has become evident.
“Your offer became clear. Let’s prepare an opportunity for a conference once I’ve coordinated our side. On that occasion we will talk about the concrete details.” (Adol)
“Oh, thank you very much. Please convey my best regards to Her Majesty.” (Roshi)
Roshi exits the room while bowing many times over.
The prime minister, who saw him off, slowly inhaled the aroma of the newly, brewed tea into his nose.
“He gives off the feeling of being driven against the wall quite a bit.” (Hifumi)
“Earl Tohno…” (Adol)
From a different direction of the door, Roshi’s group left, in a direction where there shouldn’t be anything like a door, Hifumi entered the room and sat across Adol.
Although Adol was surprised with how he hasn’t heard him, it reached already the point of him choosing to whom to apply common sense after having seen the actions of the shinigami and Hifumi until now.
“Driven against the wall… that is probably so. Vichy still didn’t recover from the damage it received by you, Earl Tohno. The situation is that their country has been split apart.” (Adol)
“Accordingly, although the independent Pursang is being blockaded, if they are lawful state connected to Orsongrande as state, that place will yearn for support, if possible, huh? Besides…” (Hifumi)
“Have you realized something?” (Adol)
Hifumi, who laughed broadly, only said, “it’s the job of the Royal Knight Order from here on”, and stood up.
The prime minister speaks as he though it’s something he should confirm,
“What do you think about the current Vichy, Earl Tohno?” (Adol)
“I don’t care. I have no intention to support either the central committee or Pursang. … Well, it would be great, if they did their best in competing with each other even more.” (Hifumi)
“… Though I have a request to you, Earl Tohno.” (Adol)
Without answering, Hifumi stood and looked into Adol’s face.
“Will you accept to be present at the conference between Vichy’s envoy and Imeraria-sama?” (Adol)
Hifumi, who showed a blank expression for an instant, laughed as if enjoying it in the next instant.
“That’s great. Sounds interesting.” (Hifumi)
The unit of Vaiya’s group that had been transferred to Fokalore, riding atop horses, arrived totally out-of-breath at the capital two days before the scheduled coronation ceremony. It was quite at the last moment.
“We have returned.” (Vaiya)
Vaiya, who went to report of their return, looked at Sabnak sitting at his desk and showing the expression of a shadow.
“A-Ah… Vaiya, huh? Thanks for your work.” (Sabnak)
“A-Are you alright?” (Vaiya)
“Yea, I’ve been slightly busy with various preparations… Since I want you to participate from now on as well, Vaiya, have a look at this for the time being. I will have you join in the guarding, including the guys you led back here.” (Sabnak)
“Understood, sir.” (Vaiya)
Once he gave him the compiled documents, Sabnak urged Vaiya to sit down at the reception. Shibyura quickly prepares black tea.
“So, have there been any results of you going as far as Fokalore? … With the exception of you finding a wife, that is.” (Sabnak)
“Please stop it. I obtained the permission from Viscount Amazelo, but since it has now become a talk of being adopted into their family, the marriage is still a long way off…” (Vaiya)
“Yea. Since you will honestly hurt my feelings, if you speak this joyfully, let’s close this topic now.” (Sabnak)
“… Though you will be able to manage one way or the other, if you consider doing something.” (Shibyura)
Shibyura mutters a few words due to the teary-eyed Sabnak.
“Listen, will you leave until I call you?” (Sabnak)
“Ah, it’s fine to not mind her.” (Sabnak)
Even while being puzzled due to the state of master and servant, which held a strange mood, Vaiya orally reported about the information of the shuriken and kusarigama, he had driven into him. He handed over a report to Sabnak he had prepared ahead of time.
“I heard these weapons were invented by Earl Tohno, but with the possibilities of capturing without killing and causing damage to an opponent on distance, I wonder whether there is value in considering these as official equipment, too.” (Vaiya)
“However, since no one but Hifumi used this in combat so far, isn’t there a necessity for at least your group, Vaiya, to be skilled enough to teach about those to the other members?” (Sabnak)
“Concerning the coaching, if we are able to obtain a final permission from Earl Tohno, it will be possible to even dispatch personnel for training from Fokalore.” (Vaiya)
“You’ve prepared considerably well.” (Sabnak)
“I was able to obtain Caim-dono’s cooperation.” (Vaiya)
“Him, eh? … Then I can agree.” (Sabnak)
Even for Sabnak and Vaiya, in the end they never seen a scene of Caim smiling broadly. They remembered the civil official slave, who holds an alias of arrogance for each of them.
“If that’s the case, Hifumi-san is just now within the castle… since he might be anywhere, it’s fine if you get permission to search for him. The other members are already getting coached by Hifumi-san. It’s even probable that it’s necessary for him to teach someone continuously.” (Sabnak)
“Besides”, Sabnak showed a bitter smile due to a new document on the table.
“We might be able to test the usefulness of this ‘kusarigama.’ Even as early as tomorrow.” (Sabnak)
The document has a tile called “Instructions for a mousetrap.”
“It’s a plan written by Hifumi-san. Tomorrow morning Imeraria-sama will meet with the envoy from Vichy. I hear that Hifumi-san will be present there, but… the movements of Vichy’s attendants are suspicious, going by Hifumi-san, who has been keeping an eye on them.” (Sabnak)
While listening to Sabnak’s talk, Vaiya goes ahead with reading the documents. It’s the first time he has seen the matter about hidden pathways, but apparently those were used for monitoring and as a test for combat.
“Please get ready to personally search for Hifumi-san from now on. You will be the person in charge of this operation, Vaiya.” (Sabnak)
“Roger, sir. Please leave it to me.” (Vaiya)
With this being the first military operation of the Royal Knight Order, both of them put fighting spirit into it.