It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (14/52), enjoy~
October 28, 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
Schnee Fortress ― the courtyard.
Hiro and the others were getting ready to leave. Munin and Hugin were loading food and water onto a wagon. As he watched them work, Hiro sat in the courtyard and looked at the sky.
Then he heard the sound of snow being stepped on, and he turned his head.
Claudia was standing there, her side hair brushed by the wind.
“Why don’t you take it a little slower?”
“No, I have a lot of things to be concerned about. I’ll excuse myself now.”
“Then there is no reason to force you to stay. I wish you a safe journey.”
“Well, I just heard from a soldier. It looks like you’ve regained the royal capital.”
According to the soldier, it was only yesterday that he received the news. The faction that supports Claudia has freed the captured nobles and driven the rebel army out of the city. With the completed magic weapons in her possession, her throne is now unassailable.
“Yes, I will return triumphantly once the post-war process is over.”
“As the descendant of a former ally, I hope you will make this country prosperous.”
“Yes, I will make it rich enough to rival the Grantz Empire.”
“I have high hopes for you.”
Then Hiro smiled cheerfully at her.
“Are you satisfied now that everything is going according to your plan?”
The tone of Hiro’s voice was sharp and pointed, though it was delivered with the ease of small talk.
Claudia smiled, a little unexpectedly, yet with interest.
“Heh… where did you start noticing that?”
“From the beginning. It was unnatural from the moment I met you, but I became convinced when the crown prince Fraus murdered the king.”
When he first met Claudia, she had single-handedly destroyed a band of bandits. And yet, instead of standing up to Fraus, who had no great ability, she was crying over her father’s corpse. Anyone would be sad to lose a parent, but what comes after sadness is anger.
And yet, she just stood there, stunned and motionless, waiting for Hiro to come and save her.
“Not only that, you need to do a better job of acting. You were laughing when you saw Haniel’s body. I was so angry that I almost forgot myself.”
“Ara, I thought I’d hidden it, but did you see it?”
“It’s not so easy to fool my eyes, you know.”
“Oh, I see, I forgot the existence of the Heavenly Spirit Eye.”
“Do you really want the throne so badly? You’ve lost so many loyal subjects.”
“My father and brother were not fit to be kings. Above all, if you care for your people, if you care for your soldiers, if you respect your country, you must make some sacrifices. The most important thing is that I, the one who caused this tragedy, cannot remain unharmed.”
For the sake of the country, even parents and siblings become enemies. Hiro thought that she was a very cruel and terrible woman.
“What would you have done if I had not been sent as an envoy?”
“At that time, I would have used the Fifth Imperial Army. All that would have happened is that Hiro-sama’s current position and the Second Prince would have been swapped.”
“The Second Prince will not be easily taken advantage of. I’m sure the Levering Kingdom would have been destroyed.”
“So be it. I guess that means I am not fit to be a king either.”
Hiro sighed. He thought she was a strong woman. She has a core that will not be broken.
“Are you planning something this big by yourself?”
“Yes. First, I told my brother, who was jealous of me, that I would succeed on the throne. Then, as expected, he went on a rampage, murdering the king and becoming a traitor.”
The rest is easy, Claudia said, smiling confidently and holding out her arms.
“Garius had always disliked my father’s conservative ways, so it was obvious that he would cooperate with my brother. Baal had also been his educator, and he had always told him the wrong stories. Haniel is a loyal general. He will never forgive my brother for killing my father. It wouldn’t have been so difficult if you hadn’t steered him wrong.”
“But no matter how jealous he may be, the crown prince Fraus is probably not stupid enough to plan a rebellion just because of that. There must have been some other reason.”
After saying that, Hiro narrowed his eyes sharply and looked at Claudia.
“Maybe they knew you were an elf.”
Claudia’s calm face changed to a frozen expression as she stared at Hiro.
“Do you know about this?”
“It was more than a thousand years ago. A heretic was born into the demon race. The skin is white as snow, the magic power is immense, and it can even use legal power that it was not born with, so it was called “elfinization” and was abhorred.”
As their numbers grew, they came to be persecuted by the demon race, and in order to escape the threat, they migrated to the western continent and began to call themselves a new race, the Long-Ear races. As the generations passed, the magic power disappeared, and eventually, the “elfinization” stopped, though it should have faded away in the long history.
(I guess it’s atavism. This is why the king hesitated to give up the throne to the crown prince Fraus. Claudia took advantage of this and had her brother kill the king.)
“Fufufu, when my brother found out that I was an elf, his face was truly terrifying. It was then that he started advocating for the supremacy of the demon race.”
She smiled happily, tilted her head, and continued.
“It’s because of this that Hiro-sama decided to use me. Isn’t that right?”
“May I ask why you think that?”
“I am a descendant of a former ally and popular among the people, so there is no problem in appointing me as a king. The most important thing is that I am an elf. I can be used as a pawn in case something goes wrong. Isn’t that what you decided?”
As she said, Hiro was planning to let Claudia take over the throne the day he had an audience with the king. Even if the rebellion did not occur, even if the king were still alive, he would have used various schemes to dethrone him.
“Even so, I would not have resorted to such disastrous measures. That’s the difference between you and me. I would never have sacrificed innocent people to have you take over the throne.”
“But the means are different; the goal is still the same. As a result, I inherited the throne.”
So… Claudia put her hand on the hilt of her magic sword, the Auto Claire.
“I’m very grateful to you for that, Hiro-sama, but I have no intention of being your puppet.”
“You don’t have to obey me. Not unless you want to corrupt history.”
“Ara, I thought you were going to use force, but you’re letting me off the hook?”
“Whatever your ultimate goal is, our interests are still aligned. Besides, as long as you don’t get in my way, you can do whatever you want.”
As Hiro quietly placed his hand on the hilt of the Heavenly Emperor, he looked at Claudia.
“If our goals are repulsive to each other, then we will simply eat up all of those ideals.”
“Then let us look forward to that time. I think that Hiro-sama is on my side.”
“…I have no idea what you mean.”
“Do you like the current Grantz Empire, Hiro-sama?”
Claudia reached out and touched Hiro’s silent cheek.
“That’s not really true, is it? If you knew what happened to your distant ancestor, the God of War, and the children of the five Black Heavenly Generals who gathered under him after the death of the second emperor. There would be no more love.”
As Claudia said, the five generals known as the “Five Black Heavenly Generals” ― except for Rox’s descendants ― were falsely accused by the third emperor, who feared their fame, and their families were beheaded. In addition, those who were part of the “Raven Army” left behind by Hiro were also considered a threat due to their high fighting strength and were defeated in deception for plotting a rebellion. It is recorded that they were defeated.
“The honor was regained when the fifth emperor formally apologized, but that doesn’t change the fact that they died in regret.”
Claudia covered her mouth with her hand as if she was lamenting and gave him a provocative look.
“Don’t you want to avenge the stain on the history of your ancestors?”
“Even so, your goals and mine may intersect, but they will never overlap.”
“Gentleness alone is not enough for a nation, Hiro-sama.”
“Still, I will follow my own path.”
Hiro quietly brushes Claudia’s hand away and stands up.
“I’ll see you when I have the chance.”
“Hiro-sama will surely come to my side. I’ll see you then.”
With that, Claudia also began to walk in the opposite direction of Hiro. Hiro walked towards Hugin and the others.
“Are you ready?”
“Wise brother! We can leave at any time!”
Hugin answered innocently, and then the main gate of Schnee Fortress opened. A loud noise drew the attention of Hiro and the others. A horse was galloping towards them. The rider on the horse was someone familiar.
“Your Highness! Please return to the Great Imperial Capital as soon as possible!”
It was the second-grade military officer Driks, who had been sent to the second prince. He jumped down from the back of his horse and kneeled down in front of Hiro.
“Brigadier General Aura is isolated in Felzen region! Her Highness Celia Estrella, who was on her way to rescue her, was also raided and defeated by the Grand Duchy of Dral!”
He wanted to ask many questions, such as why Aura was isolated, what happened to the Third Prince Blutar, and why the Grand Duchy of Dral was in the Felzen region, but first and foremost was the safety of the two of them. Hiro spun his words while desperately trying to quiet his mind.
“…..Are the two of them safe?”
“That’s ― the safety of both of them is unknown!”
Hiro clenches his fists tightly, exhales deeply, and closes his eyes.
“Send a fast horse to Ghada. After meeting up with the Raven Army in the Great Imperial Capital… we’ll go to Felzen region.”
No, Hiro shook his head gloomily as he thought about the future.
“No ― our target is the Grand Duchy of Dral.”
Not knowing the meaning of his words, everyone looked at him and was taken aback.