It’s Ko-Fi Supporters’ chapter (3/23), enjoy~
After an hour of swaying in the carriage, snow began to fall from the overcast and unstable sky. By the time the strong wind hit the windows, the temperature inside the carriage had begun to drop rapidly.
Unable to bear the cold, all the passengers except Hiro had started to put on their winter clothes.
――It was right after that that something strange happened.
The outside suddenly became noisy. However, strangely enough, the soldiers of the Great Grantz Empire did not seem to be in a panic. There seemed to be some kind of problem on the side of the Levering Kingdom.
“Please stay on board, envoys! Don’t worry; there’s no problem!”
It’s human nature to be concerned when told that something is wrong. Hiro got off alone, leaving Hugin and the others in the carriage, and headed for the front of the carriage, where something strange had happened.
The Levering soldiers around looked at him in surprise, but perhaps they thought it impolite to stop Hiro, the envoy, and the Fourth Prince, so they just looked at him and did not act.
(It’s been a long time since I’ve walked on a pile of snow.)
The sound of stomping on the snow felt good. Hiro’s footsteps were light as he exhaled a white breath and arrived at his destination.
――And then he gasped.
In the reddish snowfield, a girl was standing with a bloody sword in her hand.
Five corpses were lying around the girl. All of the robust bodies were slashed, and judging from the shabby equipment, they were probably bandits, but he didn’t know why this terrible scene was happening. However, there is no doubt that the one who created this situation is the girl.
“Claudia-sama! Why are you alone in a place like this!”
Haniel, who looked panicked, shouted angrily when he confirmed that the girl was safe. The girl giggled and put the back of her hand over her mouth, making her voice sound happy.
“It’s because I slipped out of the castle alone. And then I was surrounded by bandits.”
Her silvery-purple hair, which reached her waist, rippled in the wind, and she looked so out of place in this situation, with her charming, gentle eyes and well-developed nose. Her delicate face is both magical and beautiful. The most striking thing about her was the whiteness of her skin.
Hiro instantly understood.
She was the princess known as the “Purple Silver Princess” of the Levering Kingdom.
“I think we need to review our security measures. So that the peddlers can travel the streets safely ― ara?”
Perhaps Claudia noticed that Hiro was looking at her in a daze and turned her violet eyes towards him.
“Could it be that that person is…”
Abandoning her bloody sword, she approached Hiro, smiled gracefully, and bowed on the spot.
“I am Claudia van Levering, the First Princess of the Levering Kingdom.”
She then looked up and observed Hiro for a moment, then stiffened. Hiro, unaware of the change in Claudia’s appearance, offered his hand.
“Hello, I am Hiro Schwartz von Grantz, the Fourth Prince of the Great Grantz Empire.”
“I-I apologize for my behavior. I was surprised to see that you look as good as rumored. So the twin blacks are real.”
After clearing her throat once, Claudia held his hand in return. Her cheek was dyed red with embarrassment, and she looked up at Hiro.
“Um, I’m very sorry to bother you, but… may I accompany you to the royal capital?”
Hiro couldn’t ask the princess to go back herself, and when she asked him, he had no choice but to nod. Hiro nodded in silence, and Claudia’s eyes shone with happiness.
“Thank you very much! Then please let me hear your story in the carriage until we reach the royal capital!”
As if in a state of excitement, Claudia headed to the carriage where Hiro was riding.
“I’m very sorry, Descendant-dono. I really apologize for making you go along with Princess Claudia’s selfishness.”
“A journey is more fun with more people. So I don’t mind it.”
As Hiro smiles, Haniel is about to open his mouth when a horse comes galloping up behind him.
“Haniel-sama, a message has just arrived…”
After exchanging a few words with his subordinates, Haniel threw a few words to Hiro in a panicked tone.
“I wanted to guide Descendant-dono to the royal capital, but an urgent matter has come up. Please take the liberty of relying on Princess Claudia from here on out. I apologize for the urgency of this matter on horseback!”
As soon as he said that, Haniel went to Claudia’s side, and then, with about ten cavalrymen, he broke away from the army line and ran across the snowfield at full speed.
When Hiro came back to the carriage, Claudia bowed to him.
“I apologize. It seems that a problem has occurred in Haniel’s territory.”
Claudia said with a serious look on her face, so Hiro shook his head and then smiled.
“It’s nothing to be concerned about. I’d like to know more about the Levering Kingdom.”
“Yes! There are many good things about it. Let’s start with an explanation of the royal capital!”
Claudia had a big smile on her face and began to talk happily about the royal capital.
The largest fortress city of the Levering Kingdom, the “Purple Snow City,” has a deep moat to protect its people from outside enemies, double walls to protect the inside, and a suspension bridge as the only entrance and exit, making it entirely defensible. The streets, covered with snow, are a beautiful chalk white that instills dignity in the people’s hearts. If the weather had been fine, the sunlight would have illuminated the landscape and enchanted all who saw it.
Overlooking the city from the hillside inside the enclosure is the royal palace called the “Purple Silver Palace.”
When Hiro and the others arrived at the palace, Claudia led them to the royal hall.
Gorgeous lights suspended from the ceiling illuminated the interior. Hiro walked on the red carpet laid in the center of the floor, followed by the dignitaries with offerings in their hands.
Despite the stares of the Levering nobles on either side of him, Hiro’s stately walk seemed to impress the nobles, and there were sighs of admiration from everywhere.
Soon after, Hiro kneeled on the floor and bowed in Grantz’s manner.
“Your Majesty, thank you for inviting me here today.”
“Welcome, thank you for coming. I am the king, Suvorov van Levering. I believe that my ancestor Rox would be pleased to have the descendant of the God of War here.”
“My ancestors would be pleased to hear that too. And please accept this small gift.”
Hiro sent instructions to the dignitaries. The gifts were arranged in front of the king.
“I thank you. Please give my regards to Emperor Greiheit.”
After thanking him, the king softened the corners of his eyes with a smile and opened his mouth to Hiro.
“By the way, do you have a wife, Hiro-dono?”
“I’m sure this is just a coincidence. If you don’t have a wife, I was wondering if you could make a match for someone here.”
As Hiro was pondering how to refuse, a person who had been standing by the king’s side stepped forward.
The moment their eyes met, alarm bells rang out from within his body.
The man’s gaze was filled with jealousy, hatred, murderous intent, and all sorts of negative emotions, and Hiro’s eyes darkened as well. However, the man only approached the king with a frivolous smile.
“Father, that can wait for another time. Hiro-dono must be tired from his long journey. Wouldn’t it be better if he got some rest first?”
He is the prince of the Levering Kingdom and is expected to be the next king, Fraus van Levering. It seems that he will exceed thirty years of age this year, which is considered old for a human, but perhaps the blood of the demon race is still strong in him; his appearance is youthful, and he does not appear old at all.
“Fumu, that’s also true.”
The king nodded deeply as if he accepted Fraus’ opinion and then turned his eyes to Hiro.
“Hiro-dono, I hope you have a good rest today. And I would like you to attend my beloved daughter’s celebration tomorrow, if that is all right with you?”
“Yes, by all means, I shall be there.”
Hiro bowed to the king, then stood up and turned away. He left the royal hall, surrounded by the applause of the nobles and lords.
The servant led him to a guest room in the Purple Silver Palace. He sat down at a nearby desk and took out two pieces of paper from his pocket. It was the organization chart of the Levering Kingdom and a report from a spy who was investigating the country.
“Rox… your country may be undergoing a major change after a thousand years.”
The current king is weak ― not a tyrant, but not a great one either. He is very ordinary and does not even have the supremacy to attract others. He does not have the dignity of a king, as Hiro found out when he met him.
“There were only a few people who would follow such a king. Even his son disrespected him.”
He remembered Fraus’ gaze ― a gaze he had only experienced on the battlefield.
The overbearing attitude of an ambitious man is a peculiar habit of those who have been pampered to the fullest.
“I’m worried about leaving the country in the hands of the current king, and it might be even more dangerous to let Prince Fraus take over the throne, so… what’s left to do?”
As if to interrupt his pondering, the door was knocked lightly from the outside.
It was Driks who came in. His face was dark and somber.
“It seems that the result was not pleasant.”
“Yes, I suppose we could say that this is already wartime. Even though the nobles from all over the country gather, there are too many of them.”
Driks was in contact with a spy who had infiltrated the Levering Kingdom. He took out a report from his pocket.
“The soldiers are gathering one after another from all over. The number is probably over 10,000 now. I expect the number to continue to increase.”
“Is the reason for this a lavish military exercise to celebrate the princess…?”
Hiro finished reading the report and leaned back in his chair.
“Do you know who is gathering the soldiers?”
“One of the three demon generals, Baal Van Bitenia. He has been in service since the time of the last king, and is trusted by the present king, and is greatly supported by the people.”
Such a person is gathering soldiers from all over the country in the name of military exercises. The king would not doubt it. There is nothing to it ― he must be convinced of that…
“What is the purpose of this? I don’t think he wants the throne now; it’s too sudden a move.”
The report said that the man named Baal had only moved in the last few weeks.
If the throne is not the goal, then attacking the Grantz Empire ― that would also be reckless. The standing army in the north is said to be 100,000, while the Levering Kingdom is less than 30,000 in peacetime. Even if they drafted an army, 50,000 would be the limit.
“It would be reckless to align with the Felzen remnants, and the neighboring countries would not align with them either.”
The fact that the Principality of Lichtine surrendered earlier than expected has made neighboring countries that have a grudge against the Grantz Empire hesitate to take action. Besides, Liz is leading her troops to Felzen. If she and Aura join forces, the remnant army will be suppressed in no time.
“But still, it’s better to be on guard.”
Hiro finished his pondering and opened his mouth to the door.
“Are Munin and Hugin here?”
The two of them walked in immediately. As soon as they entered, they noticed the air in the room and the tension on the faces.
“The second-grade officer, Driks, will continue to investigate Baal’s whereabouts with the spy who is hiding.”
When he turned to look at Munin and Hugin, they fell to their knees and gulped.
“I need you to do something for me, too. So listen to me for a moment.”