Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
The Great Imperial Capital of Cladius ― the most prosperous metropolis in the Central Continent. Those who visit the city for the first time would first be overwhelmed by the height of the outer walls surrounding the city.
Next, the large number of people filling the central streets or the number of street vendors will make their eyes roll. Or maybe they will be welcomed and pressured by the giant statues of the twelve Great Grantz Gods.
If one were to look up at the azure sky to calm the mind, the Imperial Palace would come into view. The imperial palace, which has remained unchanged for a thousand years, is a majestic sight for the people living in the city below and awe-inspiring for visitors from other countries.
September 24, 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
The central street was busy with people coming and going, but that was only under normal circumstances, and now soldiers were blocking the street as a wall. Because of this, people are forced to the edge of the street, but there is no sign of dissatisfaction or complaint on their faces. On the contrary, there was a mixture of anticipation and nervousness, and they were all gazing towards the main gate.
When Hiro and the others went through the main gate, they were greeted with heartwarming cheers and gentle shouts of joy. Hiro and the others were riding in what was called a triumphal carriage, pulled by two white horses.
It had no roof and no windows. The only thing it had was a handrail to prevent people from falling. For a carriage that carries the imperial family, the luster was kept low, and the decoration was rather plain.
There is a reason for this: the main actor is the rider, not the carriage. That’s why the carriage was designed to be inconspicuous and modest to complement the rider.
There were three people on the carriage, one man and two women, waving to the crowd. The one wearing a red dress was Liz, and the one wearing a black dress was Rosa. Sandwiched between them, sitting on a chair, is Hiro.
(Wow… I feel like there are more people than before.)
Both sides of the road were filled with people, people, people, and people. He couldn’t find any gaps. The central street was filled with people of all ages, men, and women, to the point where they had to clap their hands above their heads.
“Celia Estrella-sama~. You’re so cute~!”
What surprised Hiro the most was Liz’s popularity. The first thing the people said was her name, followed by Hiro.
Rosa seemed to be popular mainly with men, and their enthusiasm was tremendous. The men of the Imperial Capital were all making sloppy faces at the widow’s sex appeal.
“Fufu. Look. Those men’s disgusting faces.”
Rosa said with a smile on her face as if she were a demon king. And then Liz’s eyes darkened ― she seemed to have heard her sister’s misspoken words and condemned her.
“It’s rude to talk like that. They’re here for us.”
When her sister warned her, Rosa shrugged her shoulders like a child who has been caught playing a prank.
“I’m sorry. I’ll be careful from now on.”
They have one arm full of gifts from the people. All of them had been handed over after passing through the soldiers. They are mainly bouquets of flowers, but there are also boxes of various sizes inside ― perhaps containing jewelry ― and the letters attached to them suggest that nobles and merchants are among the people. They may be mixed in with the people.
As for Hiro――,
“Look, you got another one.”
Rosa happily handed him a bouquet of flowers. Hiro smiled as he received it. There were no more places around him where he could place the bouquet.
Hiro’s surroundings were filled with flowers in various colors: yellow, blue, purple, and white. However, most of them were covered with dirt or missing petals and were not the kind of flowers you would find in a store. They were wildflowers, like those blooming on the side of the road.
“These are gifts from those who will support the future of the empire. Take good care of them.”
Rosa said, looking a little envious. Surprisingly enough, Hiro was overwhelmingly popular with the children. In other words, most of the bouquets of flowers around Hiro were given to him by children.
When Hiro blushed to hide his embarrassment, Liz turned to look at him.
“I won’t lose too!”
Liz’s head was adorned with a flower crown, probably given to her by a child. Hiro’s face lit up as he smiled at Liz’s attempt to fight back.
He then turned his gaze to the people ― and caught sight of a girl. She was dressed in dirty clothes. In her small hands was a single red flower. With a fidgety gesture, the girl threw a glance at Hiro.
She was trying to get closer to the carriage, but she was blocked by a wall of adults when she took a step forward.
Hiro said to the coachman. Liz and Rosa gave him a dubious look. But without explanation, Hiro grabbed the rear handrail, flipped his black robe, and jumped off the carriage.
The people murmured and threw glances at him. Hiro waved his arms to the side as if to restrain them. The area quieted down as if it had been hit by water. The people closed their mouths so easily.
It wasn’t as if he had used magic to force them or that the power of the spirits had worked. It was the people’s admiration for Hiro’s majestic appearance.
A cool breeze blew through the quiet central street.
It swept over Hiro’s bangs and gently caressed the eye patch that covered the left half of his face. As soon as the wind died down, the soldiers in the guard began to surround Hiro as if they had just noticed him.
“Your Highness, Hiro. Please return to the carriage――.”
Before the soldiers could finish, Hiro silenced them with his hand. Then he stepped in front of the people.
“Please give me some space.”
One by one, the people made space for him. It took a few moments, but there was enough space for one adult to walk through.
A dirty girl was standing with a puzzled expression on her face when her vision opened up. As if to reassure her, Hiro smiled. He invited the girl with his hand and bent down.
He looked at the girl as she walked up to him and said with a smile.
“Could you give me that beautiful flower?”
After a short pause, the girl broke into a smile and held out the red flower. He stood up and patted the girl on the head.
After thanking her, the girl turned away and ran into the alley as if to hide her embarrassment. After watching her go, Hiro returned to the carriage and sat down on a chair.
Instantly, the people exploded in cheers. Commoners, nobles, and royalty, despite the differences in status, they are all human beings.
It may seem natural, but the imperial family is as important as a god in this situation. That’s why, in some way, they are thinking about it in their hearts.
――The world they live in is different.
The fourth prince, who is also a member of the imperial family, noticed a poor girl that even commoners would avoid. He accepted the flower, which was covered in dirt, and thanked her and patted her on the head ― a gesture that was so natural and beautiful. This kind of miracle only exists in the world of fantasy.
It was no wonder that people could not stop their excitement when they were shown this in reality. When Hiro responded to the people by raising his hand, an even louder cheer erupted.
As the triumphant carriage drove off again, Rosa turned her gaze to him with a relaxed expression on her face.
“Really… why? I think that’s a great characteristic.”
Deep affection permeated the tone of her voice. As if to suppress the urge to hug the boy, she embraced her own body with both arms. Hiro didn’t say anything but quickly made a barrier with a bouquet of flowers. Then he noticed that Liz was staring at the red flower.
“Hmm… this is.”
“Liz, what’s wrong?”
“The flower is called ‘lotus.’ It’s a flower that only blooms in certain places. It’s very rare.”
After the explanation, Liz tilted her head and groaned.
“Hmm… but that’s weird. This is――.”
Her words were cut off by the voices of the people. Hiro almost opened his mouth to ask her back. But he closed his mouth when he saw the main gate of the Imperial Palace.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Rosa had already begun to move.
“The audience with the Emperor will be in the evening as planned. When it’s over, we’ll probably go into the banquet.”
Rosa informs them quickly. Hiro responded with a nod and then looked overhead. The sun was still high in the sky. It would be another two hours before the sunset.
Now, what to do until then…
There was a groan from Liz next to her. When Hiro looked at her, tension was spreading across her well-toned face. She may be reminiscing about the time she was transferred. But now she has an older sister she can rely on. Hiro doesn’t think she should be too nervous, but…
It is human nature to feel uneasy, and so, Hiro decided and patted Liz on the shoulder.
“You’ll be fine. It’s not going to be what you think. In fact, the opposite might confuse you.”
Liz frowned as if she didn’t understand the meaning of the words.
“Well, just enjoy it.”
As Hiro smiled and muttered, the main gate of the imperial palace opened solemnly in front of them. Many people were waiting to greet them. From their uniforms, one could guess that they were high-ranking officials working at the Imperial Palace. And the man at the head of the crowd stepped forward.
Byzan Gils von Scharm, Prime Minister of the Great Grantz Empire. He has a serious appearance, and perhaps because of his silver-rimmed glasses, he gives off a somewhat cold impression.
“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you again.”
“Thank you for welcoming us. You must be busy with many things.”
Hiro got off the carriage and held out his hand to Prime Minister Gils.
“There’s not much for me to do since many talented people are working in the imperial palace.”
After shaking hands with Hiro, Prime Minister Gils turned to Liz with a cheerful smile.
“Your Highness, Celia Estrella. I’ve heard a lot about your feat. And you’ve grown a bit taller, haven’t you?”
“Only a little. By the way, Gils, you still keep growing that beard, don’t you?”
“You once advised me to stop growing my beard because it doesn’t suit me. But since it’s grown so long, I thought I’d try a little harder, but it’s still grown very fast.”
Prime Minister Gils rubbed his chin languidly. The beard that had grown halfway was no stubble. Hiro was not particularly interested in it, so he just assumed that the Prime Minister was too busy to shave it off.
Hiro doesn’t know when Liz told Prime Minister Gils that it didn’t look good on him, but after a couple of months, he might as well have shaved it off. He wondered if he should say something or not, and then he decided to talk.
“Erm… is the audience scheduled as planned?”
Hiro concluded that each person is different and should not get too involved.
“Yes, it is scheduled for two more hours in the evening. Until then, you are free to spend your time as you please.”
“I understand. I will be free to spend my time until then.”
“I will dispatch a messenger when the time is up, so please wait a while.”
Prime Minister Gils told Hiro, bowed, and returned to the imperial palace with the dignitaries.
As he walked away, Liz clung to Hiro’s arm.
“Hey, hey, let’s go to the city!”
“Yeah. I was originally planning to go to the city, so that’s fine, but――.”
When Hiro, who had slurred his words, looked back behind him, he saw that large baggage was being unloaded from the carriage one after another.
“Please take it down carefully; it’s an important item to present to the emperor.”
It was Rosa who instructed the soldiers in the midst of the dust and sand.
“By the way, what is that baggage Hiro brought with you?”
Most of the baggage was gathered in one place, but the one Liz was pointing to was placed a little further away. Hiro smiled like a child who had come up with a prank.
“That’s a secret. You’ll find out when you get to the city.”
“Why don’t you just tell me?”
“If I tell you now, the surprise might be reduced by half.”
“Mmm… is that much?”
When he saw Liz confirming it, he thought, what if it’s not so? Anxiety occupied his heart.
Hiro wasn’t confident, and Liz, who had left his arms, looked into his face.
“I’ll be expecting you. If you don’t surprise me, I’ll make you drink the Fire Emperor, so be prepared.”
With these horrible words, Liz ran to Rosa. Then she turned around.
“Come on, let’s help! Hurry up and get here too, Hiro, before Rosa-aneesama yells at you!”
Hiro shrugged his shoulders, cutting his gaze and looking down as if to chain it together. Looking down from the imperial palace, built on a small hill, there was a colorful city spread out.