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“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz. Prime Minister Gils is waiting for you.”
As Hiro approached, the gatekeeper moved at the same time and opened the door. The sweet scent that had been pressed inside was released slightly outside, and the warm air enveloped Hiro. The smell of an old building is always soothing. When the air is so close to what it was a thousand years ago, it’s no wonder that Hiro’s eyes narrowed with nostalgia.
(I have a lot of memories here. It really makes me feel like I’m back.)
When he entered with such a feeling of nostalgia, he found a large crowd of people waiting for him. At the head of the line was Prime Minister Gils, and surrounding him were probably the high-ranking officials in his entourage.
“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz, we have been waiting for you.”
“It’s been a long time, Prime Minister Gils.”
After a brief exchange of greetings, Prime Minister Gils turned to the side and bowed with an encouraging attitude.
“Please continue to the throne room, where His Majesty the Emperor is waiting.”
Hiro began to walk, urged on by Prime Minister Gils’ hand. Prime Minister Gils followed behind him. Many footsteps reverberated in the corridor, probably because the dignitaries were also following him.
Hiro couldn’t help but wonder why they needed to follow him.
“Prime Minister Gils, I have a petition from the people of the central region. They want you to do something about the nobles who are forcing people to pay heavy taxes, but they’re distant relatives of the Krone family…”
“You are to be very careful with them in my name. It would be a shame to have an armed uprising at a time like this.”
“The son of the Nickle family has requested an audience with the emperor.”
“…Just leave it alone. You don’t have to deal with them because their treatment will never be reversed. Don’t bother me with such matters.”
“This is from a northern nobleman who has discovered a new mine, but due to the steep canyon, it is infested with monsters, and he is asking the government to bear part of the cost of subjugating them.”
“What on earth is that…? The details are not put together. Send a fast horse and bring the person in charge to me.”
The dignitaries handed out reports in rapid succession, and Prime Minister Gils sent precise instructions.
“I am sorry, Your Highness, Hiro. It’s not something we should be doing in a place like this…”
“Don’t worry about it. None of the information I’ve heard seems to be classified.”
He must have taken time out of his busy schedule to see Hiro. That’s why he is busy with his work even while he is walking.
Hiro has a thinly veiled sense of the reason for this.
Probably because of the priority given to Felzen’s matters, other things have been put on the back burner. That is the job of the high-ranking officials, but all of the matters that Hiro just heard about are very difficult to judge, so they may not have been able to decide on their own.
However, the busy schedule of Prime Minister Gils was of no concern to him. Hiro didn’t care and opened his mouth, looking forward.
“I heard that Aura, who was on a mission in Felzen, was not only isolated but also defeated when the Grand Duchy of Dral raided the army led by Liz.”
“That’s definitely it. Her Highness Celia Estrella seems to have moved her troops to save the isolated Brigadier General Aura, but it seems that the Grand Duchy of Dral intercepted them…”
While being irritated by Prime Minister Gils’s unreasonable way of speaking, Hiro interrupted him to hurry up.
“What is the safety of the two of them?”
“It seems that Brigadier General Aura has fled to a nearby fort… but unfortunately, Her Highness Celia Estrella has been captured by the Grand Duchy of Dral.”
The weight in his voice ― Hiro felt it and fell silent.
Even so, his past experience and the knowledge he has cultivated instantly formulate a tactic in his mind. What would be the best, and what would be necessary to rescue her?
If she were captured by the Grand Duchy of Dral, then he would have to prepare the appropriate materials for trade. However, if he is dealing with Felzen’s remnant army, their demands will probably go up.
They probably want the Grantz Empire to retreat from Felzen, but there is no way that the emperor would approve of them giving up the territory they have worked so hard to acquire. If that were the case, Liz’s safety would never be guaranteed.
If so, then there is another way: find out who is dissatisfied with the Felzen remnant army and arrange for it to collapse from within, but this will require a great deal of effort and time.
It was bad… He thought.
Every plan that came to mind was being destroyed one by one. It didn’t take long for him to realize that all the knowledge he had accumulated so far was useless.
(No, there is one. I can use the strategy I had in mind from the beginning. But this is…)
That strategy was the one he was going to implement once Liz was safely on the run. However, considering that Liz was captured, this strategy would be dangerous for her.
Hiro felt himself getting stuck like an insect trapped in a spider’s web.
Just before his thoughts became completely clouded, Hiro punched himself in the leg.
(This is when I should keep my cool. There’s no need to corner myself in selfish imagination.)
Although Hiro forcibly broke off his thoughts, his face was filled with a dark shade, not as bright as usual, and he was only growing impatient.
“Please ask His Majesty Greyheit for details.”
Hiro was jolted back to reality by the voice of Prime Minister Gils.
In front of him was an opulent double door ― it seemed that he had arrived at the throne room while he was thinking.
A soldier on guard opens the door for him.
As he stepped into the throne room, Hiro noticed that there were no nobles or lords in sight.
Not only that but there was no sign of the imperial guard that protected the emperor. Frowning with suspicion, Hiro walked on the red carpet to the throne.
“The Fourth Prince Hiro Schwartz. Good to see you back safely.”
The emperor sitting on the throne, who was sixty-seven years old this year, was full of youthful vigor, and his heroic supremacy was remarkable. However, his voice is filled with anger, and his expression is a little more stern than usual.
“First of all, let me praise you for quelling the civil war in the Levering Kingdom.”
“No, Princess Claudia is the one who fought hard; I didn’t do anything.”
Hiro said without any particular emotion and then dropped to one knee and bowed his head. The emperor, who was looking at the situation with great interest, opened his mouth.
“I’d like to ask you to give a verbal report on the status of quelling the civil war in the Levering Kingdom…”
Raising his face, Hiro turned his dark eyes to the emperor.
“In the meantime, let’s talk about the Felzen remnants and the Grand Duchy of Dral.”
With a hint of annoyance in his voice, the emperor began to talk about the details without hesitation.
Aura, who was acting independently of the Third Prince Blutar, fell for the enemy’s ruse and was isolated and surrounded by the Felzen remnant army. However, Liz sees this as an opportunity. She moves her troops to intercept the enemy, but at the same time, the Grand Duchy of Dral begins to march into the Felzen region and attack the fighting Grantz troops. In the face of this tremendous offensive, Liz decided to retreat.
It is said that Liz felt guilty and served as the rear guard, but she could not stop the enemy’s momentum and her troops were destroyed ― the enemy captured her.
“Celia Estrella must be rescued. She is the first holder of the Flame Emperor since the first Emperor Altius. She is too precious to be abandoned.”
“Does that mean… you will abandon Brigadier General Aura, who continues to fight in isolation?”
“Yes, that’s the plan. The Third Prince Blutar and his entourage were eager to save her, and they wrote letters about it. But the empire is full of people who are as good as the War Maiden. It’s not worth the sacrifice to save her, and I don’t see the need for it.”
“With all due respect, Brigadier General Aura’s talent can reach even the God of War. She is still young, and her talents have not yet blossomed, but I think it is premature to discard her simply.”
“So you’re saying that we should chalk up this blunder to youthful indiscretion?”
The glaring emperor took out a sheet of paper from his pocket. The emperor threw it down to Hiro and motioned with his chin for him to read it.
As he unfolded the paper ― the amount of damage written on it was enough to bankrupt a small country.
However, it was unlikely that this level of damage would disrupt the stability of the west, but it would have some impact. The emperor may be planning to have one girl, Aura, take the brunt of the dissatisfaction of the nobles and lords before it erupts.
“My ancestor, the God of War, must have made a blunder or two. But even so, the first Emperor Altius forgave him with a generous heart. Thanks to that, my ancestor is still loved by the people as the Hero King of the Twin Black.”
Aura should indeed be punished accordingly if her own rashness caused this event. However, if the cause of this incident is correct, it is because the emperor cornered Felzen.
It would be too short-sighted to put the blame on one girl and abandon her.
“The Fourth Prince Hiro Schwartz. Are you comparing me to the first emperor?”
A voice that made no effort to hide its displeasure came from the emperor’s throat.
The first emperor, Altius, left behind outstanding achievements. In contrast, the current emperor has never achieved any historical feats, and even his achievements are inferior by comparison. Compared to Altius, his self-esteem would be hurt, and his gaze was laced with murderous intent.
(I guess he’s in a big hurry. Well, I guess it’s understandable when all the countries are against the Grantz Empire.)
While inwardly dumbfounded, Hiro’s expression was quite serious, and he shrugged his shoulders without answering.
Immediately after that ― a wind blew.
Even though the window was not open, the cold wind grazed his cheek, and he felt an invisible blade against his throat. Even so, Hiro’s eyes did not waver at all, only looking at the emperor.
As the air began to creak with pressure, the two glared at each other and did not say a word.
The emperor’s eyes were sharp as if he could see into the depths of his heart. Hiro, on the other hand, had a calm face and a faint smile on his lips.
They stared at each other for a while, and then the emperor smiled thinly.
“Interesting. For your courage, I will amend the punishment of Brigadier General Aura. If only my courtiers had eyes like yours, I could sit on my throne in peace.”
The emperor leaned his back against the throne and let out a deep breath.
“Let me hear your opinion. There must be some reason to make me change my mind.”
“Then I have a question before I give you my opinion.”
“I will tell you what I know.”
“Has there been any request from the Grand Duchy of Dral regarding Liz?”
She has a high value as a hostage simply because she is the Sixth Princess of the Great Grantz Empire. Her value is immeasurable as the holder of the “Flame Emperor.” There must be a reason why they captured her alive instead of killing her, and there is no way they won’t demand something from her.
“There are no demands from the other party yet.”
Hiro showed his disappointment and put his face down so that his anger would not be noticed. There is no way there is nothing. Perhaps it was an inconvenient request for the emperor ― even if it was a hundred percent true, it was only if the other party was unaware of Liz’s value.
However, as a holder of the “Flame Emperor,” her appearance is known in the surrounding countries. She even led the army and served as its commander, so there is no way that the Grand Duchy of Dral and the Felzen remnant army do not know about it.
However, even if he were to persist here, the emperor would not say anything. Or he might even be offended. This is something he wants to avoid so as not to interfere with future operations.
He decided to make a compromise and forcibly end the topic with the intention of giving the emperor a favor.
“Then, let me tell you my opinion.”