So, here’s the prologue and chap 1 part 1 for the third volume, hope you can enjoy it as well. Cheers~
There were no stars in the cold sky. The thick clouds obscured the glow of the moonlight. There was no light reaching the ground, and the strong wind roared like a beast with its roar.
“Quickly, this way!”
A girl’s hurried voice cut through the air as snow blended with the freezing wind covered one’s vision. The boy in black looked up, but the blizzard obscured his expression. The girl rushed over to him and held out her hand.
“Are you okay?”
The boy’s gait was heavy. It would be understandable after such a long battle.
“I’m sorry, I’m fine, let’s move on. If we stay here, we’ll freeze to death.”
“That’s true. Even if we can escape from our pursuers, in this blizzard, we’ll be stuck anyway…”
The boy took the girl’s hand. It’s getting very cold. There seems to be little time left.
He didn’t have the luxury of staying warm, but at least he would have to find a place to shelter from the wind. Once the blizzard is over, the next step will be to escape from their pursuers.
Until then, they should conserve their strength as much as possible.
“Let’s go over there. No one seems to be working there at this time of night.”
The boy pointed to the cowshed, where they could maintain a reasonable body temperature and avoid the wind.
“Aah, but if you don’t like it, we can go somewhere else…”
The boy blurted out his words. The girl is a member of the royal family, after all. Her pride would not allow her to spend the night in a cowshed. That’s what he thought ― but the girl tightened her grip on the boy’s hand.
“I don’t mind. No one would believe that a princess slept in a cowshed.”
The girl took the initiative and began to walk away, putting her fingers to her mouth and smiling.
“But it’s a secret. The people would have a stroke if they knew.”
“Of course I understand.”
After a wry smile, the boy shrugged his shoulders. No matter what difficulties lay ahead, he would have to move forward with the girl. However, as if to ridicule the two, the snowstorm grew more powerful.
Chapter 1 – A New Problem
Fort Berg ― the keystone of the southern part of the Great Grantz Empire. The fortress was built on the border with the Principality of Lichtine and is surrounded by high walls in preparation for external enemies.
The most conspicuous feature is the central tower where the command center is located. On the third floor, there is a room called the study. The room was illuminated by the morning sun shining through the window ― and a boy was waking up from there.
He has black hair and eyes, and his soft face is well-groomed. However, the eye patch covering more than half of his face gives a distorted impression to those who see him.
Before coming to this world, his name was Hiro Ooguro. He was adopted by the Grantz imperial family and was given the grand title of the fourth prince. He is currently known as Hiro Schwartz von Grantz.
At the same time as he was yawning, a small bird’s chirp hits the window and strikes his earlobe. When he raised his upper body, the book slid off his body with a thumping sound.
The books that had been piled up like a mountain range around him collapsed like an avalanche.
“I must have fallen asleep here… again. Liz is going to be mad at me.”
Hiro looked at the mess in the room and scratched his head with a miserable expression on his face. It has become a routine for him to spend his meals and sleep in his study. It wasn’t that he didn’t have a room; he had a room on the second floor. But since the study is on the third floor, it’s a hassle to go back and forth.
“…I have a lot of research to do.”
He said this excuse to no one in particular, and the pile of books under his feet collapsed. What appeared from the pile was a white-furred wolf named Cerberus.
She’s a rare creature that doesn’t exist in the central continent, but Liz picked her up when she was a child after she was washed ashore from the Eastern Islands, and Liz has been raising her ever since. According to Liz, they are like sisters.
[T/n: I guess I have to change the pronoun for Cerberus to her from now on.]
“I guess Cerberus slept here too.”
The third floor is mainly a playground for Cerberus, so it’s not unusual for her to be here. In fact, it could be said that she is becoming the master of this place. The soldiers can’t even set foot in here without Cerberus’ permission.
“Are you keeping me warm, so I don’t freeze to death?”
Cerberus’s only reply was a wag of her tail from left to right. After observing Cerberus for a while but getting no answer, Hiro stood up, shrugging his shoulders.
“Now… I’ve got to get back to my room before Liz finds me.”
He put his ear to the doorway of the room ― a heavy wooden door ― to make sure that the corridor was empty.
“Cerberus, please be quiet.”
Hiro turned around and put a finger to his mouth. Cerberus, behind him, opened her mouth wide and let out a single sigh. The gesture could be taken as a sign that it was useless and should be stopped.
“It’s breakfast time. Liz should be eating in the dining hall. Don’t worry. We’ll make it.”
After patting Cerberus on the head, Hiro smiled. The noble white wolf looked up at Hiro with a frown, but she sighed heavily when she twitched her nose. Hiro was puzzled as to what this meant, but he soon learned the answer.
“Hiirooo! How many times do I have to tell you that you can’t sleep in the study again? You’ll catch a cold!”
The sound of hurried footsteps came from the corridor as she uttered a motherly line.
“…What should we do?”
He asked Cerberus for her opinion, but the white wolf flattened her ears. Betrayed by his friend, Hiro looked at the window. He thought about cracking it open and running away, but he questioned whether he should go that far to escape ― and it would have been a fatal time for him.
The door was thrown open loudly. A chill, characteristic of the morning, entered the study. A beautiful girl was standing in the corridor with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face.
She has flaming red hair, and her red eyes are filled with light like jewels. Her eyes and nose are as well-defined as if a famous artist sculpted them, and her smooth white skin is an eye-catcher for young and old alike.
Celia Estrella Elizabeth von Grantz, the sixth princess of the Great Grantz Empire and commander of the Berg Fortress. Those who are close to her call her Liz.
Hiro gave Liz a mended smile.
“G-good morning… what do you need?”
“Yes, good morning.”
Liz returned the greeting with a refreshing smile. But then she turned around and made a difficult face and swelled with anger.
“So, what do I need, you ask? That’s not it. Why don’t you sleep in your own room? There is no bed in the study, so you have to sleep on the floor. Your back will hurt, and you’ll catch a cold.”
Liz sputtered and looked down sadly.
“I’m worried about you. I’m worried that Hiro will catch a cold and suffer.”
“B-but it’s surprisingly warm when you’re wrapped up in a book.”
“…What did you say?”
Liz’s eyes narrowed. When Hiro thought he had chosen the wrong words, it was too late. Liz’s hands reached out to touch Hiro’s cheeks. He braced himself for extreme pain, but…
“I won’t listen to any excuses. From now on, you sleep in your room.”
The only thing he felt was a gentle tug on his cheek. His heart was filled with guilt. He’d rather be beaten up. If he has been warned so gently, he can’t refute or disobey her.
“Good. Be really careful from now on.”
Liz stroked Hiro’s cheek a few times.
“Well, let’s go and have breakfast!”
She smiled as usual and started walking forward.
“…Let’s do that.”
Hiro smiled and left the study with Liz and Cerberus.
The dining room of Berg Fortress was located on the first floor. At present, it is crowded with the soldiers of the Fourth Imperial Army who have finished their morning training, and the lady of the dining room is busy running around the kitchen. With that in the background, Hiro and Cerberus headed for the officer’s table.
There, Tris was sitting, staring sadly at the cold food.
“Kid… my food is getting cold.”
The old soldier noticed Hiro and glared at him grudgingly. He is Tris Von Termier, a third-class military officer. A veteran soldier who has served Liz since she was a child.
“Don’t worry about it.”
That was said by Driks, a second-class military officer who appeared from behind.
“It was Sir Tris’s fault for not knowing what was coming.”
Driks sat down next to Tris with a plate of food in his hand.
“Good morning. Your Highness, Hiro.”
“Oh, good morning.”
Driks looked at Hiro’s hand.
“I see you haven’t eaten yet. I can get you some if you like.”
“No problem. Liz will get it for me.”
“Kid, do you think the princess is a waitress or something?”
Tris is trembling with anger. Then Driks tapped him on the shoulder and told him to quiet down.
“It’s normal for people who have the right to inherit the throne to dispute with each other. Compared to that, isn’t it wonderful that they get along so well?”
“Mmm… that’s true, but…”
Although they have only known each other for a short time, Hiro is surprised that Driks, who sat face to face with him, knows how to treat Tris. Then Liz came to the table with a bowl in both her hands.
“Hiro, I’ve brought it. Come on, eat up.”
There was a huge pile of meat on the table in front of him.
“It is indeed too much. My stomach will be upset if I eat this much.”
“Hiro’s food is often snatched by Cerberus, so I’ve included some for that purpose as well.”
“Oh, I see.”
Cerberus has indeed been stealing his meals for a while now. If there were such a large amount of food, even Cerberus would not be able to finish it. Perhaps it was thanks to the fact that he had been making her learn the art of war regularly that she had anticipated this.
Hiro was impressed by Liz’s growth.
“Then, I’ll take it with gratitude.”
As Hiro clasped his hands together, Tris and Driks also began to eat. After a while, Driks stopped and spoke to Hiro.
“Your Highness, Hiro. Your Highness Celia Estrella. I have a report on the matter of the former slaves.”
The former slaves ― the slaves who fought for the Liberation Army. They are currently living in temporary housing outside the Berg Fortress, and Liz and the others are providing them with food and other necessities. But it’s impossible to feed them forever. They must become independent as soon as possible. Hiro had entrusted Driks with a series of tasks to achieve this.
“I’ve sent the documents along with a letter from Your Highness Celia Estrella to Margrave Grinda.”
“Thank you. My uncle will not do anything wrong.”
“I’m not too worried about Margrave Grinda.”
Driks reacted to Liz’s words and turned his gaze to Hiro.
“However, it might be dangerous to assume that part of the territory taken from the Principality of Lichtine will be given to Margrave Grinda. I believe it would be unwise to assume that.”
Driks picked up a goblet filled with water. He quenched his thirst with a gulp, then pursed his lips and continued.
“There is a possibility that it will be shared out to other southern nobles. If that were to happen, our plans would be thwarted, wouldn’t they?”
“I understand your concern, but I assure you, we will get the land we want.”
Hiro laughed at Driks’ concerns and gave his reasons.
“The southern nobles will be busy from now on. They are busy trying to figure out how to get their hands on the territory of the Nickle family.”
The Nickle family is the household name of the now-deceased General Kylo.
His territory is located in the south, but the climate is close to the center. However, due to the south’s strong influence, it is an arid zone with little precipitation. As a result, the grasslands with almost no tall trees are suitable for pasture. The southern aristocrats, whose livelihood is selling stagecoaches and warhorses due to lack of resources, are thirsty for this land.
“Does it attract the attention of the southern nobles…?”
Hiro nodded in response to Driks question.
Hiro made General Kylo take all the blame for the mismanagement of the last battle. So the Nickle family can’t escape the responsibility, and with no head of state, they can’t get around.
The southern nobles will take advantage of this weakness and whip the dying Nickle family. At best, the punishment would be a small fief; at worst, confiscation. Either way, it is inevitable that they will not be safe.
“Besides, the nobles are paying attention to the oasis city that was transferred from the Principality of Lichtine. On the other hand, the land that we want is deserted, so no one will pay attention to it.”
The land that Hiro and the others wanted was bordered by the Great Grantz Empire, and the Principality of Lichtine had not taken any action to avoid unnecessary disputes until today.
Although the land was in disrepair, it would be possible to revive it if the water supply could be improved. They could draw water from Margrave Grinda’s territory and give part of the land to the freed slaves to cultivate. Another option would be to have them dig wells or excavate for ore.
“We can hire the freed slaves as workers, and my uncle’s territory will be richer, so we can kill two birds with one stone.”
Liz echoed Hiro’s sentiments, but that wasn’t all. The more power Kiork gained, the better his position in the southern nobility would be. It would go around and become Liz’s power, bringing her closer to the throne. There was only one thing that bothered him, though.
“It’s going to take some time.”
Instead of voicing his concerns, Hiro simply nodded.
“So, with that as a premise, I’ll be in close contact with Margrave Grinda to make preparations.”
With that, Driks lowered his face and returned to his meal. Hiro also began to chew his meat in silence but stopped when he noticed a piercing gaze from the side.
Liz had been staring at him the whole time. He couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. After swallowing the food in his mouth, Hiro opened his mouth to Liz.
“Um… do you want some?”
“Is that okay?”
“Yeah. I had a feeling you would.”
“I was just thinking how delicious it looks.”
“I see. Here you go.”
He offered Liz the meat.
The meat disappeared into her mouth, where her teeth were beautifully aligned. As he watched, Hiro noticed the stares around him. Tris was clutching his chest to the point where he thought he was hyperventilating. Driks shook his head in disbelief, and the officers seated around him whistled.
“Hiro, Hiro, one more!”
Liz clung to his arm like a little bird begging for food. But Hiro didn’t have the courage to share his meat again under such a rain of stares. Whether she didn’t realize it or knew it, she hurriedly said, “Hey, hey, one more piece.” What to do, he thought. Liz would see through any poorly conceived plan.
But if he treats her carelessly, Tris’s thunderbolt will pierce Hiro.
(I’m cornered, aren’t I?)
But the man who was once called the “God of War” came up with a strange idea. The noble white wolf, Cerberus, had appeared beneath his feet.
(I leave the rest to you)
Their gazes crossed. No words needed to be said. This was all that was necessary for both of them to understand each other. Cerberus jumped onto the long table and started to pounce on Hiro’s food.
“H-hey! Cerberus, what a bad attitude you have there!”
“Well, well, Cerberus was hungry, too. You’ll have to forgive her.”
He succeeded in shoving the last piece of meat into Liz’s mouth to shut her up. In the meantime, Cerberus, who had finished off the pile of meat, landed on the floor and dashed off.
“Geez, it can’t be helped… I’ll eat too.”
There was nothing she could do if Cerberus ran away. Liz gave up, took a seat, and began to eat. Although he didn’t get to eat much breakfast, Hiro was relieved that he was able to overcome his predicament. However, Liz’s next action caused Hiro to shudder.
“Hiro, here’s your meat back. Ahhh.”
The hardship was not over yet. Thus begins a noisy day for Hiro.