Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
The room was decorated with huge paintings all over the walls and furnishings from all over the world. The room is a symbol of power, with every piece a work of art. This is the emperor’s chamber, the place where the emperor lives, and it is also a hidden room that only his aides know about.
Prime Minister Gils was there. Sitting in front of him was the 48th Emperor Greyheit.
“Do you have something to say?”
With a glass of wine in his hand, the emperor turned his keen, hawk-like eyes on Prime Minister Gils.
“Is that the correct way to treat the first prince? If you were going to use Hiro-sama, there would have been no problem in demoting the other princes in the line of succession.”
“That would have interfered with our future plans, wouldn’t it?”
“That’s why the first step is to weaken the Krone family.”
“The old nobles think only of their own self-preservation. The corrupt Krone family is a typical example. But even if it is an old dog, if it bites you, you would still get hurt. Then you have to throw it in a cage, take away its food, weaken it to the fullest extent, and then strangle it.”
“It would be better if it just stayed in its cage…”
“Therefore, let them think they are taking the initiative. Don’t let them know our intentions and slowly lure them to their deaths. If the old nobles fall, new nobles will emerge, and the Grantz Empire will be further revitalized.”
Smelling the aroma of wine, the emperor dropped his glass on the floor. The glass shattered loudly, and the red liquid spread its stain on the expensive carpet. The Emperor’s smile deepened as he watched the scene.
“I don’t like stagnation, you know.”
The emperor stopped Prime Minister Gils with his hand as he tried to clean up the debris.
“It’s okay, just ignore it. More importantly, do you know how capable my new son is?”
“That being said… perhaps this person will know better.”
As Prime Minister Gils clapped his hands, a man dressed as a traveler quickly appeared behind him.
The man spoke as he dropped to one knee.
“…To be honest, I could not have guessed it myself.”
Prime Minister Gils’ eyebrows twitched. The man disguised as a traveler is one of the most powerful in the Schaum family secret organization, the “Secret Neck.” How could he not even be able to estimate the strength of the others? Prime Minister Gils spat out a few words with disappointment.
“Is there really that much of a difference in power…?”
The man’s head hung down in regret. He spent his days training to the point where he wandered between life and death, devoting everything he had to refine his skills until his Lord gave him a mission in person.
His first task was to check the boy’s strength, which should have been an incredibly simple request for a man who had been through so many rough patches.
“When the boy disappeared, the farmer who I hired was captured. That’s all I know.”
“Enough. We’ll deal with it later. For now, get some rest.”
He disappeared as if assimilated into a shadow.
Prime Minister Gils sighed and bowed to the Emperor.
“It seems that I have chosen the wrong man. I apologize.”
“Don’t worry about it. I know very well what the Secret Neck is capable of.”
The Emperor closed his eyelids and let out a small breath.
“Let the Secret Neck infiltrate the Berg Fortress. Make sure it does not fail this time.”
With that, Prime Minister Gils left the Imperial Chamber.
――The next morning.
Hiro, who was sleeping in bed, was awakened by the morning sun illuminating his face. There was no sign of the room owner he was sleeping next to, who seemed to have gone out early in the morning.
(Where am I supposed to wash my face…?)
He approached the door to the hallway to find a place to wash his face. However, the door was opened from the other side. The person who appeared was Rosa, who exuded a seductive atmosphere, her breasts pressed tightly into her military uniform.
“Mmm, you’re already awake.”
“I’ve just woken up. And now I need to wash my face.”
Rosa pointed her thumb behind her back at Hiro, who was asking for the location.
“But first, you have a visitor.”
He tilted his head at her curiously and looked behind Rosa. There stood a man with a long, thin face―Prime Minister Gils.
“I apologize for the early intrusion.”
As he bowed, Hiro felt a question mark appear on his face.
“Why is Prime Minister Gils here?”
“I’m here to deliver a letter from the Emperor. I knew I couldn’t leave it to anyone else, so I took the trouble to come to you.”
“A letter from His Majesty?”
“Here it is. Please read this alone.”
After handing over the letter, Prime Minister Gils took one look at Rosa, bowed and left.
As Hiro watched him go, he noticed Rosa looking at the letter.
“Do you want to see it?”
“Only if you think it’s worth showing.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Rosa started walking down the corridor and quickly turned around.
“When you’re done reading, could you come to the dining hall? Breakfast is ready. And if you need to wash your face, the well is in the courtyard.”
Waving her hand behind her back and saying, “I’ll be waiting in the dining hall,” Rosa turned the corner of the hallway. Hiro looked down at the letter and let out a single sigh. The content of the letter is almost predictable.
(…I guess I should wash my face first.)
When Hiro arrived at the courtyard, he walked over to the well and washed his face. However, he realized that he had no towel. He looked around for something that looked like a cloth, but couldn’t find anything.
(I guess I’ll just leave it like that…)
Having half given up, he walked towards the cafeteria when he felt something soft on his head. He picked up the white towel and wiped the droplets of water from his face before he could see who had given it to him.
“Thank you. It helped――.”
He tried to say thank you but couldn’t finish. Because Aura was standing there, looking very angry.
“Black Prince… did you have fun yesterday?”
There were many things he wanted to ask Aura about why she was here, but…
“――What is the Black Prince?”
“That’s what a lot of the nobility are saying about you.”
“Yes. They say the Black Prince took advantage of a young widow and brought her to the mansion.”
“T-that’s bullshit… Besides, I’m the one who was taken in, aren’t I?”
“Don’t worry. It was just my thought.”
“…Don’t scare me.”
“Actually, they call you the Black Prince for seducing the steel woman.”
“The steel woman?”
“The Duchess of Kelheit’s alias. She is called that because she kept turning down engagements from other families by various means.”
Aura looked at me with disdain.
“You were able to seduce her in a short time and disappeared into the mansion. It’s no wonder it became a rumor. Many of the nobles want to learn from you.”
“…I didn’t know such a thing had happened.”
It’s not that he didn’t expect it. But he didn’t think it was that far of a leap to say they wanted to be taught like that. Hiro holds his head, wondering what to do.
Then Aura came up to him and looked up at him with leaden eyes.
“I told you yesterday to be careful with women.”
“You did… Sorry about that.”
“It was the Kelheit family that spread the rumor so quickly. No other family would have said anything to lift Hiro up. If it were me, I would spread the rumor that Hiro was a foolish prince seduced by a widow and ruin his reputation.”
“I wouldn’t do that either.”
“But she did the opposite, spreading rumors and raising her reputation. I want to commend her for her skill―but I send you my scorn.”
“…I don’t blame you for thinking that. I’ll take it in stride for now.”
“From now on, be really careful.”
Aura sighed and looked at the Black Princess Camelia.
“What was the Black Princess Camelia doing after that? Doesn’t it work when the Lord’s virtue is at stake?”
“Well, I don’t think she’s going to listen to me for a while.”
“I thought the Black Princess Camelia had a spirit in her.”
“Yes. Well, if she feels that my life is in danger, she’ll protect me.”
“That’s a very twisted spirit.”
A thousand years ago, before the Heavenly Emperor’s favor, she listened to me rather well. However, it seems that the Black Princess Camelia has become more and more selfish since the Heavenly Emperor appeared in front of Hiro.
(And I left her alone there for a thousand years.)
When he thought about it, it wouldn’t be surprising if she had strangled Hiro to death, and it might be a miracle that he was even able to wear it now. When Hiro looked down at his military uniform, Aura noticed the letter in his hand.
“Oh, it’s a letter from the Emperor.”
“You haven’t read it yet?”
“I’m trying to overcome my drowsiness. I thought I’d wash my face first. Besides, I have a pretty good idea of what the letter is about.”
Aura nodded at Hiro’s words.
“It should have said to attack the Principality of Lichtine.”
“If we don’t retaliate, the people will call us weak, and the nobles will complain. The worst thing that could happen is that some countries will join the Principality of Lichtine.”
Taking over Aura’s point, Hiro took out the letter from the envelope. The words on it were as expected, but there were a few things that caught his attention.
“Is that what you expected?”
“Yes. I guess it’s to make me earn an achievement.”
“A suitable opponent for Hiro’s first battle.”
The Principality of Lichtine can be said to be in a state of suffocation since its defeat the other day. While mobilizing as many as 15,000 soldiers, they were unable to produce any results. As a result, the Principality of Lichtine’s power of appeal must be in decline. With just a few threats, the nobles of the principality would surely choose the path of surrender.
“It seems that General Kylo, the new commander of the Fourth Imperial Army, is leading 10,000 troops to march on the Principality of Lichtine. It looks like Liz is joining them.”
As a result of his recent blunder, General Loing was placed under house arrest, as was the first prince Stobel, and it seems that the commander has been replaced.
“What about you, Hiro?”
“It says to join up with them as soon as possible and join the staff. Well, I guess it’s my job to make a difference in a weakened Principality of Lichtine while General Kylo weakened it further.”
“It’s not a problem if it’s all set up.”
“That’s right. He wants me to take control of the northern part of the Principality of Lichtine and use that as leverage to make peace with them.”
“That’s reasonable. If we destroy the Principality of Lichtine, there will be no country left to engage in the slave trade.”
“I feel sorry for the Principality of Lichtine that it has to live just for that.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Hiro took another look at the letter. What is bothering him is the last sentence that he did not say to Aura.
(That’s why Prime Minister Gils told me to read it alone, huh?)
He didn’t think that Aura would tell the others, but he didn’t know where it would leak from. He put the letter away, trying not to let his innermost thoughts be known.
Then Hiro said something that he had been wondering for a long time.
“Why is Aura here, anyway?”
She is the chief of staff of the Third Prince Blutar. There was a possibility that a rumor would be started that she was coming to the Kelheit family’s house.
“It’s not what Hiro thinks is going to happen.”
“Did you come here in secret?”
“I didn’t need to do any of those little tricks.”
Aura replied to Hiro, who tilted his head.
“The Imperial Palace is now abuzz with rumors about Hiro. It’s no problem for me to visit the Duchess of Kelheit’s residence.”
“You mean there is no time to worry about that?”
“You could say that. For example, if it is rumored that I have switched to Hiro, everyone will have to defend me that this is impossible for a girl like me. Otherwise, the indecisive nobles might flow to the Kelheit family.”
Aura’s influence is strong. Her achievements in pushing down Felzen, as well as her outstanding war record, are dazzling in the eyes of the nobles. That’s why they can’t start any strange rumors right now. The reason for this is that it might induce a change of heart in the nobles who are watching the situation unfold.
“It may have been yesterday, but today is a delicate time. No one is going to be poking around in the bushes.”
Aura continued in an indifferent tone.
“The reason I’m here, by the way, is because I’m leaving in half an hour. So this is a farewell greeting.”
“…To the west?”
“Correct. Felzen’s remnants are rampaging all over the place. His Majesty has given me orders to crush them.”
“I was hoping you could show me around the capital, but it looks like we’re both too busy for that.”
“I’m sorry, but that will have to wait for another time.”
Aura bowed her head and left, saying, “Well, I’ll send you a letter again.”
Hiro wanted to say goodbye to Spitz as well, but he would have to prepare for his departure, and Hiro would have to head for the Berg Fortress immediately. Deciding on another time, Hiro returned to the mansion and asked the maid where the dining hall was and went there. A servant was standing in front of the large door, and when Hiro nodded, she opened it for him.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”
“It’s all right. You can sit down here.”
Rosa shook her head and motioned him to the chair next to her.
As soon as Hiro was sat down, Rosa clapped her hands, and the maids came out of the west door―which connects to the kitchen―with food in their hands and noiselessly arranged the food. Hiro turned his head to Rosa before putting his hands on the food.
“The letter said that I should join the attack on the Principality of Lichtine. That’s why I’ve decided to leave immediately after eating.”
“Fumu, I see that is the case… then I’ll have to send you off magnificently.”
Without asking why, Rosa nodded as if she knew in advance.
After finishing breakfast, Hiro walked out of the mansion and was greeted by a large number of nobles. The moment Hiro appeared, all the nobles in line fell to their knees at once. The fact that all the famous nobles bowed down to a single boy was something that stunned everyone. In fact, the guards who had been observing from afar were looking at the scene with surprised expressions.
To keep the confusion from showing on his face, Hiro turned his attention to Rosa, who was standing next to him in her military uniform.
“Don’t worry; I just gathered the eastern nobles who stayed in the great imperial capital.”
“…It seems like there are too many of them, though.”
If she hadn’t called out in advance, she wouldn’t have been able to gather such a large number of people. Hiro wondered when Rosa had been preparing for it, and he admired her skill in moving so many nobles around and not letting the other families know about it. Rosa puts her hand on Hiro’s shoulder as he is confused.
“Come on, let’s go. Black Prince.”
Hiro’s face tightened at the words he had heard somewhere before. A luxurious carriage appeared in front of Hiro. One of the nobles stood up and opened the door for him.
“Please get in. Your Highness.”
Hiro sat down on the sofa and spat out the words with a sigh.
“I have a question for you.”
There was only one person to whom he turned his gaze. It was Rosa, her ample body wrapped in a military uniform. She sat down on the opposite side of the carriage, crossed her legs with a calm face and tilted her head.
“What is it?”
Any gesture is a refined movement and looks beautiful in her hands. She is the former third princess, after all.
“I wonder how long you have been planning such a large scale?”
Hiro’s eyes were shining sharply as if schemes and deceptions would not work. Rosa, who had a bitter look on her face at that, shrugged.
“That was on the same day I got a letter from Liz. I figured it was an opportunity. The annoying marriage talks would be over, and the Kelheit family could be saved.”
“And what were you going to do if I wasn’t a descendant?”
“I was prepared to support Liz again then.”
“And what about the husband?”
“I was going to take in an orphan under the pretense that he was my husband’s illegitimate son. I told you, I must not be so unprincipled.”
“So you decided to support me for more than just the reasons we discussed yesterday.”
“Have you noticed that?”
“Yes. The fact that you’ve prepared so meticulously indicates that there are other reasons.”
When Hiro looked out the window, the scenery had changed completely.
It seems that Rosa had instructed them in advance, and the private armies of the eastern nobility had joined them. All of the soldiers wore armor with their lord’s noble house’s emblem, and many of their banners swam in the wind.
However, the one that stood out the most was Hiro’s banner, which depicted a dragon holding a silver and white sword on a black background. The dragon’s flag floating in the clear, cloudless sky was nothing short of breathtaking.
“What do you think of the Grantz Empire today?”
Rosa had a serious expression on her face when she looked back into the carriage.
“…I think they’re strong. It’s just that they’re overextending their reach.”
“However, His Majesty is aiming to unify the central continent. The territory will continue to expand.”
“I think our current territory is enough. If we expand further, the emperor’s authority may not reach the frontier. No, I’d say it already has.”
“That’s what the previous emperor, my grandfather, insisted. But the current emperor is keen on becoming the thirteenth of the twelve great gods of Grantz.”
“You think he wants to be deified?”
“History is made by people’s hands. Gods are no different. However, deification is not granted for half-hearted achievements. Even if it’s for an emperor.”
“So the condition for that is the unification of the central continent?”
“The first emperor became the First God for founding the empire, and the second emperor became the God of War for ending a turbulent world. For a variety of other reasons, all of these emperors have contributed greatly to the empire.”
There are some exceptions, though, who were not emperors but became goddesses. Rosa added, continuing her words.
“A feat that successive emperors have been unable to accomplish. By accomplishing that, the current emperor intends to become a god.”
“Does that connect to why Rosa is supporting me?”
“The emperor, however, does not live forever. He may fall in the middle of his dream. You don’t know what will happen then. I’m just preparing for it now.”
Rosa spread out her arms and spoke the root of her reason for supporting Hiro.
“There is more than enough land in the Empire. Even if we were to expand our territory, it would be extremely difficult to maintain it. We shouldn’t hope for more because sooner or later, there will be a breakdown somewhere along the line. It will be the spark that ignites a civil war in the Empire.”
Feeling suffocated, Rosa undid the first button of her military uniform.
“What this country needs now is stability. It needs people who look inward, not outward. So my late husband turned his attention to Liz. She was still young and not yet mature. However, he saw the future of the Empire in Liz’s pure and innocent heart. Although there were some dangers, as long as strong people flanked her, there would be no problems. Then, my husband was assassinated.”
Rosa made a regretful fist and stared out the window at the imperial palace.
“They took advantage of the fact that the factions were collapsing, and Liz was transferred to the other side. I was dismayed at my own inadequacy. That’s why I’m grateful to you for saving my sister from being trapped. When I read the letter from Liz, I was so happy I cried. And then――I got the idea to use you.”
“To put Liz on the throne, you mean.”
“I’m sorry about that.”
“No, I think I’d appreciate that.”
Because Hiro never had any ambition to become emperor himself. There is a possibility that he will be sent back to Earth. If such a person were to take the throne, it would cause unnecessary confusion.
Rosa laughed at the understanding Hiro.
“But. Whether you want it or not, emperors are also created by people’s hands.”
A white fingertip was pointed at Hiro.
“When the time comes, be prepared.”
At the same time, the windows of the carriage shuddered audibly. Rosa rolled her eyes and peered out the window. The people were smiling and waving their hands, shouting, “Black Prince!” at the top of their lungs.
People were lined up on both sides of the central street, and large amounts of flower petals were flying through the air. Even the street vendors had abandoned their work to join the line, and everyone was jumping up and down to get a glimpse of Hiro, waving and shouting to get his attention.
“Once again, I’m amazed at the popularity of the God of War. Even if you are a descendant, it seems that your popularity has not diminished.”
Rosa said proudly, but Hiro couldn’t help but be surprised that the name “Black Prince” had spread to the people, rather than the large number of people who had gathered.
(No, it was a setup. Even so, if one person calls out the name, others will do the same.)
As Hiro had predicted, the chorus of “Black Prince” began in no time at all. The cheers without a hint of evil were pleasant. It’s always the same, Hiro thought.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it? But that’s as far as the intoxication goes.”
Rosa looked at him with a serious face.
“Let’s talk about the future.”
“…As for me, I want to head to Lynx and then join the attack on the Principality of Lichtine.”
“Are you worried about Liz?”
“Yeah, that’s part of it. But I’m also worried about something else.”
“If you’re worried about Liz, you should head east to the Lynx. I think you can’t hire a private army yet, so I can give you an escort… what do you think?”
Even though Hiro is the fourth prince, he doesn’t have a territory as an income source. He will be given a territory depending on his future achievements. Until then, the military officer’s salary will be his immediate source of funds, but it will be paid at a later date. Also, he would have to hire a private army, which he would not be able to afford with a third-rate military officer’s salary.
If he asked Prime Minister Gils, he could probably get a loan from the national treasury, but he didn’t want to be in debt.
That’s why he decided to use Rosa―the Kelheit family.
“I don’t need an escort. I just need you to provide me with a carriage.”
“The security in the east is better than in other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean there are no bandits or monsters. If you’re worried about money, I can take care of everything.”
“If I have an escort, I’ll be late getting to Lynx. I want to catch up with Liz as soon as possible.”
“Well, if you insist, I guess I have no choice. I’ll have our fastest carriage ready. I will also give you some money; for the time being, you will need it.”
“Thank you, that’s very kind of you. I’ll repay you in time.”
“I don’t mind. I already have enough for my needs. What are you going to do now?”
She must be referring to the future, after the attack on the Principality of Lichtine.
“I will gather people I can trust and establish myself in this country.”
“Fumu. Then, if you are in need of money or troops, feel free to come to me.”
Seeing that Rosa held out her hand, Hiro smiled and grasped it.
“From now on, we’re in this together. Don’t you dare to die, okay?”
Hiro nodded at Rosa’s words and then decided to ask her what was bothering him.
“Let’s change the subject; what does Rosa think about the attack on the Principality of Lichtine this time?”
“I expect it to be an easy fight…”
It’s as Hiro expected, and he sighed. No matter who he asked, he was sure to get the same answer.
“We’ve defeated 15,000 enemies once. Wouldn’t anyone have thought so?”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“But don’t let your guard down. It’s a battle we can’t afford to lose, considering the future.”
Rosa echoed Hiro’s sentiments.
――It’s a fight that they can definitely win.
He had seen many a time in the past when people who let their guard down because they thought they could win the fight were caught flat-footed.
(That’s why there’s no harm in worrying too much.)
Hiro’s thoughts wandered to the events taking place far away. The Grantz Empire has many enemies, and in order to prevent other countries from taking advantage of them, it is absolutely necessary to avoid a hard fight.
In the meantime, the time is limited, and there are few moves that can be made.
“There’s something I need Rosa’s help with.”
In order to secure a certain victory, Hiro began to take action.