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Chapter 2 – The Black Prince
The throne room featured a vaulted ceiling and a marble floor――a red carpet extended in a straight line through the center of the room. On the left and right, colonnades lined up to the throne, and the lords and nobles were lined up to fill in the gaps. There was also a familiar face among them―the first prince, Stobel.
The one sitting on the throne is so young that it’s hard to believe that he’s over 60 years old, and next to him is Prime Minister Gils.
The throne room is filled with a heavy atmosphere that would cause an ordinary person to swoon, but Hiro, without fear, moves forward on the carpet, swinging the hem of the Black Princess Camellia.
“…Is he really the descendant of His Majesty the Second Emperor?”
“He is so young. Isn’t he still a child? Even so, is that――perhaps, the Black Princess Camellia?”
“Hou――that young man has indeed possessed the style of a King, isn’t he?”
“There’s no tension and no indication of being overwhelmed in this tense atmosphere. I didn’t know how he could walk so confidently. Then again, is he really a big shot, or is he just insensitive?”
Words spilled out of the nobles in a whisper.
Hiro stopped a short distance away from the Emperor and fell to his knees, tapping his left chest with his right hand. The movement creates a breeze. The hem of his cloak swooped up and fell to the floor.
The Emperor said as he looked down at Hiro with eyes like a true jade. Prime Minister Gils solemnly stepped forward and unfolded a sheet of parchment.
“The first prince Stobel, third prince Blutar, your treatment has been decided. Come forward.”
The huge body of the first prince Stobel kneeled on the right side of Hiro and bowed. He was followed by the third prince, Blutar, a man with a bald head and evil-looking eyes. He got down on one knee on the left side of Hiro.
“First, the third prince, Blutar. You are hereby dismissed.”
Oooh, said the delighted voices of the nobles supporting the third prince, Blutar.
“Next, the first prince, Stobel, you are deprived of your achievements in Felzen. You are hereby sentenced to three months’ house arrest.”
There was a sigh of relief from the nobles who supported the first prince Stobel for the light punishment.
Even the opposing faction of the third prince, Blutar, did not complain. This is partly because Blutar’s punishment was also light, and if they complained, it could be retracted. However, there was a murmur from the factionless nobles.
“Ridiculous. He tried to kill the sixth princess!”
“Is it because he still has the Thunder Emperor?”
“He should be demoted in the order of succession or deprived of command of the First Imperial Army.”
Amidst the slowly growing discontent, Prime Minister Gils raised his voice.
“Quiet! You are in the presence of His Majesty!”
Silence reigned as if struck by water, but the hatred and rage spreading in the throne room could not be contained.
(Now… I wonder what they are thinking. If this continues, there will be great dissatisfaction.)
The punishment for both princes was too light. It’s no wonder that the factionless nobles thought badly about it. It’s a different story if they could deal with that much of a spark right away.
“Next, Hiro-dono. You will be made a third-class military officer for your achievements in the war against the Principality of Lichtine.”
Hiro thought it was appropriate, but Prime Minister Gils’ words did not end there.
“Furthermore, in accordance to the testament of His Majesty the First Emperor, you are hereby accepted as the fourth prince of the Grantz imperial family and will be the fifth in line in the succession to the throne. Depending on your future achievements, you will be promoted in the order of succession.”
Hiro almost looked up at the unprecedented treatment. It’s because he had always thought that he would be welcomed at the end of the imperial family and given a share of the frontier territory.
A silence filled the throne room. No one was able to speak.
While everyone was dumbfounded, Prime Minister Gils pulled out a piece of paper――a white piece of paper that was not illuminated by anything but shining.
“I have received proof from the Princess Shrine Maiden that he is indeed the descendant of His Majesty the Second Emperor. And to add to that, the Black Princess Camellia also recognized him.”
The nobles’ gazes busily moved back and forth between the letter of the Princess Shrine Maiden and Hiro.
“Hiro-dono. You will henceforth be known as Hiro Schwartz von Grantz.”
As soon as the Prime Minister clapped his hands twice, several handmaidens appeared and unfurled a huge banner. The flag was black with a dragon holding a white silver sword.
You are authorized to use the coat of arms of His Majesty the Second Emperor. You shall serve in honor of your ancestors.
Most of the items that once belonged to him were returned to him. Hiro can only smile.
(They got me…)
If the princes had been deprived of their succession rights or demoted in rank, the nobles who supported the first and third princes might have had a civil war. However, the unexpectedly light punishment discouraged them from doing so. Furthermore, the birth of a new prince throws their thoughts into confusion.
The two choices that come to the nobles’ minds are: should they switch to the new prince, or should they continue to wait and see?
Because the new prince even has the title of “God of War” descendant. If they carry the boy, they could gain tremendous support from the people.
(I see, it’s all been pointed at me…)
In this regard, the factionless nobles who were unhappy with this punishment could easily approach Hiro. They could outmaneuver the powerful nobles who were trapped by factional ties and control the momentum. Their minds would be occupied with how to outmaneuver the other nobles rather than rebel against the Emperor.
(But… this is an opportunity for me too.)
In the future, people with all sorts of agendas will be approaching Hiro to take advantage of him.
(Then, let’s use it to my advantage, too.)
Hiro lifted the corners of his mouth in amusement.
“Then, let’s continue with the banquet. The lords and nobles should enjoy it to the fullest.”
After saying that, Prime Minister Gils left the hall with the Emperor.
The first prince Stobel and the third prince Blutar also left the hall with their respective subordinates. In turn, the servants came in to begin preparing for the banquet.
Then Aura walks in to see Hiro, who is left unoccupied.
“Have you experienced something like this before…?”
Aura gives him a somewhat probing look.
“Eh, what do you mean?”
“…Anyone would be nervous to walk in such a tense atmosphere under the gaze of the powerful nobles of the Great Grantz Empire. But the way Hiro walks is like something that has happened in the past――I felt like you were used to it.”
“No, I was pretty nervous about it too, you know? M-maybe it’s because of the eye patch. You can’t see my expression.”
“If you insist, that’s fine with me.”
Perhaps the intelligent woman recognizes Hiro’s true identity. Hiro sighed and lowered his voice.
“What would happen if someone from the past suddenly appeared in the future?”
With narrowed eyes, Aura paused for a beat and opened her mouth to choose a few words.
“…Is that hypothetical?”
“Yeah. Hypothetically, what do you think will happen, Aura?”
“For example, if the great “Hero of a thousand years ago” showed up today, a lot of people would think that he would be a hindrance.”
“I guess so.”
To Hiro, who agreed, Aura continued to speak in a matter-of-fact, unassuming manner.
“The people will be delighted. But for those in power, he is nothing more than a nuisance. Such a dangerous presence is inevitably going to be crushed. To avoid that, it is reasonable to hide your power――or call yourself a descendant. That way, the people surrounding can find it acceptable.”
“Having said that, most people wouldn’t believe you if you said that you’re a god.”
[T/n: Schwartz is considered to be the god of war.]
“That’s certainly true.”
“But you never know what will happen in the future. It’s wise to be prepared for anything that might come out at any moment.”
“Yeah. You’re right.”
As Hiro brought determination into his eyes, a nasty look came through Aura’s eyes.
“It’s a hypothetical. You don’t have to look that serious.”
“……T-that’s right. Hahaha.”
Aura smiled at Hiro, who was scratching his head to fool her.
This is where a pleasant melody touches the earbuds. The musician’s performance was beginning to play in the hall. When Hiro looked around, the servants had finished their preparations and were standing back by the wall.
Next, the hall entrance――a large number of nobles entered through the open door.
Hiro looked at the scene and then took a deep breath repeatedly.
(This is a battleground. I have to find out who can and cannot be trusted.)
For the future, it would be better to contact the Krone family as well.
(Still, I should wait for them to come to me.)
If I contacted them first, it could start a new rumor.
If a rumor started that the Second Emperor’s descendants had supported the Krone family, it would be a lost cause.
(Well, I guess that they won’t be at this banquet.)
The faction of the first prince Stobel could not possibly participate in this banquet, leaving behind the first prince Stobel who was under house arrest. Besides, the ground they thought was rock solid is beginning to shake. This is not the time to get drunk in front of an emergency. They had to make the best move, or they would fall down in the blink of an eye. They must be scratching their heads in a desperate attempt to figure it out by now.
(But I’m sure the third prince Blutar and the western nobility will join in.)
As he pondered, his sleeve was tugged.
“Hiro… is it okay?”
Hiro paused in his thoughts and turned his attention to Aura, who was looking up at him from below.
“If we stay together any longer, it will be suspicious, so I have to go now.”
Since she is a staff officer, of course, Aura belongs to the faction of the third prince Blutar. If she were with Hiro, who became the fourth prince, there would be a lot of speculation.
She might be suspected of having switched from her own faction. This is the perfect opportunity for those who have been loath to take her position. They will be accusing her of something here and there.
“That would be better; I would not want to put you in a bad position, after all.”
“…Mm. See you later.”
Hiro looked away from Aura, who was walking out with regret.
(The third prince, Blutar, is easily misled by the words of his vassals. It could be said that he’s easy to manipulate. I guess that’s probably why his faction grew.)
When he saw the third prince Blutar earlier, he thought that he is a very suspicious person.
That’s an advantage for Hiro. This is because if Hiro’s words can deceive him, the third prince will do what Hiro wants. If there’s an obstacle, it would be the powerful nobles on his side.
(How do I approach him?)
A thousand years ago, he used to escape from these annoyances. He was always on the front lines and returned to the castle only a few times. The cost of continuing to escape was great, so he dropped everything behind and returned to Earth.
However, there is no way to escape now. Although he may make some painful mistakes due to his lack of experience
(I sowed it myself. I have to finish it properly now.)
After settling his thoughts, he grabbed a glass of water brought by the waiter and headed for the long table where a luxurious meal was laid out.
Seeing this, several noblemen approached Hiro. Everyone is wearing gorgeous jewelry and fancy clothes.
(…These people look like they have a lot of desire to show themselves off.)
Well, that’s about the first impression. And then a nobleman of high rank emerged from the group.
“Your Highness Hiro Schwartz. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Ah, thank you.”
As they shook hands, the man’s lengthy self-introduction began to resemble a speech.
“――That’s it. Best regards in the future.”
A simple summary is that he is a noble who has a territory in the west. The western nobles support the third prince Blutar. Although it’s something not questioned this time, He is unsure what will happen in the future.
So, he guesses he’d like to get to know them, at least for now.
“All right. I’ll remember your name and face very well.”
As an untrustworthy person, the word “untrustworthy” was stored in Hiro’s mind. From that point on, the nobles gathered one by one. He was surrounded by a variety of greedy nobles, such as those who suggested marrying their daughters or those who recommended their sons as subordinates.
It was not until half an hour later that he was able to escape from the situation――.
Trying not to show his exhaustion, Hiro rested his back on the sofa near the wall.
(I’m surrounded by more than I ever imagined…)
He gulped down a glass of water in one go and let his gaze roam the hall. There were a lot of nobles spying on his situation. It seems like he’s still going to be repeating the greetings.
(But then again, the central noble house, which is organized by the Krone family, did not participate at all.)
He is not surprised because it was as expected. Still, it was also disappointing because he was prepared for a lot of things. Also, the most common nobles who approached him were the eastern nobles.
(They seem to have lost their cohesiveness due to the loss of the head of the Kelheit family.)
What he sensed in the eastern nobles’ words was their dissatisfaction with the acting head of the family, the Duchess of Kelheit. On the other hand, there are many who are siding with the Duchess as well, and the two are on the verge of splitting in two with each other.
(That’s where the Krone family, who support the first prince Stobel, took advantage of the situation.)
The Krone family is said to be in the clutches to take over the east. The Kelheit family, which has lost its head, is likely to be taken over by the Krone family in the near future.
If I just sit back and watch, the first prince, Stobel, will get his hands on the throne.
(…Now, what to do.)
A shadow falls over Hiro’s head as he ponders.
“Excuse me, would you mind if I sat next to you?”