It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (16/60), enjoy~
“Then, let me tell you my opinion.”
Hiro had no choice but to present the strategy that he had been envisioning from the beginning. If he were considering the future of Liz and Aura, this would be the only way.
(The rest is a race against time. I’ll settle this in as short a time as possible.)
Hiro took a deep breath to quiet his mind and then looked at the emperor again.
“I think we should invade the Grand Duchy of Dral.”
“Oh, you mean the Grand Duchy of Dral instead of the Felzen region?”
Hiro explained to the frowning emperor with hand gestures.
“If we deal with both the Felzen remnant army and the Grand Duchy of Dral at the same time, the reconstruction of the Felzen region will be delayed by ten or twenty years. If that happens, the unification of the central continent that His Majesty the Emperor has in mind will be nothing more than a dream.”
“How can you be so sure? I may abandon the Felzen region and reach out to the Grand Duchy of Dral or the Steichen Republic in order to expand westward.”
Isn’t the current situation the result of not being able to abandon the Felzen province? Hiro was tempted to ridicule him for it, but he held it in and then developed his own theory.
“We can’t do that. No, let’s just say it’s impossible.”
He instantly organized the information he had obtained so far in his mind. Optimizing the information to the emperor’s satisfaction, he came up with an answer.
“The anger of the Felzen remnant army will not subside even though we abandon the Felzen region. Rather, they will attack the west to take revenge. And if we were to start a war not only with the Grand Duchy of Dral but also with the Steichen Republic, the western part of the country that borders the three countries would collapse unbearably. If that were to happen, it would lead to a situation that could shake the very foundations of the Grantz Empire. If that happens, we won’t be able to talk about unifying the central continent.”
“If you know that much, why do you need to invade the Grand Duchy of Dral? It will only add unnecessary trouble.”
That’s the most important thing… The emperor let out a heavy breath.
“We can’t devote any more strength to the west due to the repeated battles.”
The first conquest of Felzen ― the third prince Blutar invaded Felzen.
Aura, who has an unparalleled intellect, joined the general staff, and as a result, they were able to win the battle, but due to the Third Prince Blutar’s blunders, the damage to the troops was enormous.
This was followed by the second conquest of Felzen, in which the emperor personally invaded Felzen and Stobel made outstanding achievements, but it is said that a large number of troops were deployed in order to bring down the royal capital of Felzen. In addition, the army that Liz led this time ― a percentage of which came from the nobility in the west ― and the defeat this time would have rendered many soldiers useless.
“That doesn’t mean that there’s no time left for the central nobility to send soldiers.”
Hiro took over the emperor’s point and stood up, putting strength into his legs.
“While we are gathering soldiers, the fort where Brigadier General Aura is holed up may fall. And above all, we can’t be sure that Liz is safe in captivity.”
“If you understand that, then give up. If we lose the Flame Emperor, we can’t be so foolish as to attack the Grand Duchy of Dral. You will join the Third Prince Blutar in the Felzen region.”
“That is why it is the right time to take the initiative, and now is the perfect time to do so.”
Hiro brushed off the emperor’s words. He stomped his foot to make him listen.
“The Grand Duchy of Dral and the remnants of Felzen’s army both believe that this is their moment to strike. There is no margin for error. The Grand Duchy of Dral has just made a truce with the Steichen Republic, and they must have pushed themselves to go to war this time. The remnants of Felzen’s army have lost their leaders, and the people’s hearts are breaking up, and the soldiers are physically and mentally exhausted from repeated battles.”
Hiro’s confident words dominated the space. His voice was fervent as he refused to be contradicted, and the way he expressed his opinion was imposing in front of the emperor, even giving off the air of a king.
“This is where we have the upper hand. If you want to expand further west, please leave it to me.”
The emperor narrowed his eyes as if observing Hiro, then spoke out in a stern voice.
“As I said earlier, what about the troops? There is no room in the west. If there is no time to let the central region gather troops, then the same can be said for the distant east. If you want to call it the south, then I have to laugh. It borders the Steichen Republic. There is a possibility that they will be reluctant to leave. We don’t have much time left to persuade them.”
“Yes, that’s why I’m going to invade the Grand Duchy of Dral with only my private army.”
Even the emperor was appalled by these words. It’s no wonder ― Hiro’s private army is less than three thousand, and even with the addition of new recruits, it’s only about five thousand.
The Grand Duchy of Dral did not march its entire army into the Felzen region.
Even had signed an armistice with the Steichen Republic, they would still be on alert and have many defenders left. Even if it is estimated lightly, only no more than 50,000 troops could be mobilized.
When they heard that they were going to be attacked by only 5,000, even the clown would have a serious look on his face. It was an insane thing for anyone to say.
“The Grand Duchy of Dral will be just as surprised as you are. However, that is the normal way of warfare. By exploiting their weaknesses, I will upset them and make them anxious so that the Grand Duchy of Dral will withdraw from the Felzen region.”
As if to say, “Laugh if you want,” Hiro pointed his hand at the emperor and said forcefully.
“I will then defeat the returning Grand Duchy of Dral in one fell swoop and force them to sit down for negotiations.”
Hiro stroked his eye patch, then smiled fearlessly.
“In the meantime, I think His Majesty should wait and select a diplomat.”
It was more than an opinion, it was a provocation, a verbal blade that pierced the emperor. For a while, the emperor was taken aback, but then his throat began to tremble a little.
“Kukuku, kuhahahahahahaha! You dare to say that in front of me!”
Hiro was also surprised to see the emperor, who did not usually shake his emotions, laughing loudly and blinking his eyes. It took a while for the emperor to say his next words.
Eventually, the emperor’s smile faded, and he looked at Hiro happily as if he was impressed by his boldness.
“Fuh, very well… if you insist, you may do as you please. I’ll just sit back and relax.”
“Now, before I leave, there are a few things I need your approval on…”
“No need. I told you I’d leave everything to you.”
“Are you sure?”
As soon as Hiro confirmed, the emperor nodded broadly and pointed his hand at him.
“The Fourth Prince Hiro Schwartz. Now you have dared to speak in front of me; you must bring a satisfactory result. Then there is no need for you to ask for my approval in the future.”
“…I understand. So, I’m going to be leaving right away because I don’t want to waste any time.”
Hiro bailed out lightly, then quickly turned on his heel and left the throne room.
Things are going to get busy. He had several letters to write. But there is no time to write them in his room, so he will do them in the carriage.
He would leave the arrangements for the horses to Driks. He will be suspicious when he hears the destination, but there will be no problem when it is reported to his higher authority. It will be known to him later.
(Now, let’s head west to the borders of the Grand Duchy of Dral and meet up with Ghada.)
When Hiro gathered his thoughts and walked out of the imperial palace, Hugin and the others waited for him in front of the carriage.
“Wise brother! Have you finished the discussion?”
“Yes. It went off without a hitch.”
Hiro smiled at Hugin as she ran up to him and then got into the carriage. Hiro took his seat and spoke to Munin, who got in after him.
“So, have you had a chance to look into it?”
Hiro asked Munin what he had ordered before entering the imperial palace.
“In the east district, there was no sign of the Golden Lion Knights. It was really quiet and deserted. The servants told me that they had been gone from the Grand Imperial Capital for about two days now. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you where they went.”
Munin bowed his head apologetically, scratching the back of his head.
“No, that’s enough. Thank you.”
After all… it seems that the emperor has moved the elite “Golden Lion Knights” of the First Imperial Army.
Hiro is worried about what the emperor is planning to do, but he will not interfere. The emperor will want to minimize damage to the Golden Lion Knights as much as possible and will want to keep them out of the way as much as possible because the Golden Lion Knights exist to protect the Great Imperial Capital.
“And how were things going with you, Driks?”
As Hiro looked to the right of Munin, he saw Driks wiping his sweaty forehead.
“There were no results here either. Prince Stobel, after his house arrest was lifted, said that he would return to his own territory and led a small force to disappear from the capital. It seems that General Loing was also present there.”
Suppose the whereabout of the released Stobel is unknown. In that case, he could have joined up with the Golden Lion Knights, who disappeared at the same time, but this is highly unlikely.
Stobel’s credibility with the emperor has fallen to the ground. If anything, he must be harboring a considerable grudge against the emperor for having been placed under house arrest. It’s hard to believe that such a dangerous person would be entrusted with the command of the Golden Lion Knights.
“I can’t help but wonder if I should be thinking about this more… But, the first priority is to take care of the Felzen region.”
It’s best to be vigilant, but there’s nothing that can be done when the direction is unknown.
“Speaking of which, wise brother, a nobleman from the east came by a while ago and asked me to give you this letter.”
Hugin said so and held out an envelope with a faintly sweet scent. The sender was Rosa. Hiro quickly broke the seal and took out the sheet of paper.
It began with a lengthy love note. He apologized inwardly, saying he would read it later, but as he skimmed it, he arrived at the true meaning of the letter. The letter’s content was that while Hiro was away from the Grantz Empire, the rift between the Krone family and the emperor had deepened, and there had even been an event that made the conflict between the two clear.
(Heh… the direct territory of Zuik was handed over to the Mark family?)
Zuik is a territory that came under the direct control of the emperor after the death of Viscount Wurst.
It was handed over to the largest noble family among the factionless ― the Mark family. However, the Krone family could not remain silent and demanded that the emperor reconsider his decision, but he refused. Still, they couldn’t give up and proposed to the emperor again to set up a place for discussion, but he refused.
(This is a big move… Is the emperor planning to let a new nobleman rise to power?)
Hiro put the letter in his pocket and looked at Driks.
“I’m going to write a couple of letters now, and I need you to prepare a fast horse.”
“Very well. I’ll get you one right away.”
Driks turned to him just before he got out of the carriage.
“It will be too late for that, so I’d better get going now. I’ll catch up with you soon.”
“I’m sorry to impose on you such a troublesome task.”
“No, no, I’m used to this kind of work.”
Driks left a single smile and went off running. Next to Hiro, who watched him go, Hugin took out the writing utensils and arranged the place so that he could write his letter quickly.
In the throne room after Hiro left, the emperor was quietly sitting in a chair with his eyes closed. His limbs were weak, and he could not move a single finger ― it was as if he had lost consciousness.
As Prime Minister Gils approached him with a pained expression, the emperor’s mouth twisted in amusement.
“Hiro Schwartz… interesting. For some reason, even with my “wind,” I cannot read his thoughts. No, there is some kind of obstacle, or should I say wall… that prevents me from touching the true heart that lies deep within.”
“Your Majesty… I think it would be dangerous to go any deeper into His Highness Hiro.”
Prime Minister Gils did not hide his uneasiness, and the emperor raised his eyebrows suspiciously.
“If you are so sure, there must be some reason for it.”
“I did some research on His Highness Hiro, and I’m sorry that I did it without Your Majesty’s permission, but… I did everything in my power to find out who he is.”
“I won’t be offended by that. So… did you find out anything?”
“No, that’s… I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t find out anything about him. Although he inherited the appearance of the second emperor, there were no such rumors left behind.”
Prime Minister Gils shook his head in disbelief, and his voice shook with seriousness.
“…Don’t you think it’s strange? I am the Prime Minister of the Grantz Empire, and despite my best efforts, I still don’t know who he is. Wasn’t it too early to welcome him into the imperial family?”
“All we needed was the added value of being a descendant of the God of War. Compared to that, his background and ability would not be a big problem.”
“However, His Highness Hiro is more capable than I had expected. If we steer the ship wrong, the God of War may turn on us.”
“At that time, we may do as you please. We can move him to the frontier, or we can use him up. If he wants to do something against us, all I have to do is bury him with my own hands. What do you have to worry about?”
“That’s true, but…”
Prime Minister Gils had a complicated expression on his face as if he had something caught in his back teeth. The emperor sighed one sigh of exasperation and then opened his mouth again.
“If you want to say something, you can say it clearly. You know I’m not that long-winded, don’t you?”
As soon as he heard these words, Prime Minister Gils made up his mind and looked straight at the emperor.
“Should we put the collar back on His Highness Prince Hiro? The more people we have to protect, the more of a burden it will become. After all, it was a mistake to separate Her Highness Celia Estrella from him.”
“That’s why I tightened the loose collar this time. The same is true when I mentioned Brigadier General Aura. His expression was extremely calm, but he could not hide the irritation that seeped from within. He was clearly looking at me as an enemy.”
The emperor then took out a sheet of report and fluttered it in the air.
“Above all, there are many interesting things awaiting us in the Felzen region. It will be possible to put new constraints on him. From now on, let’s discipline him as a good pawn.”
The emperor snickered, but Prime Minister Gils’s expression never cleared up.
“His Highness Prince Hiro will certainly turn against you if he finds out that you are behind all this. Isn’t it too dangerous with the First Prince Stobel showing signs of disquiet?”
“As I said before, Hiro Schwartz will be put under new constraints. There is nothing wrong with Stobel. My wind sees through everything.”
The emperor rose from his throne and handed a letter to Prime Minister Gils.
“Send a fast horse to Selene; we need insurance in case Hiro Schwartz fails.”
“For the Second Prince Selene…?”
“Yes. I thought about using the Golden Lion Knights but decided to call them back. If I think about the future, I want to avoid any losses.”
“Very well. So about the future Your Majesty talking――.”
Prime Minister asked the question, but a gust of wind made him brace himself. When he opened his eyes fearfully, he found that the emperor was gone, and only the throne was left without its master.
“…You are always like that. You think everything is going your way.”
Prime Minister Gils, who sighed in distress, had Stobel’s presence in his mind. He was a pathetic man who had been used by the emperor’s ambitions. He was broken, and what he wanted was not status, honor, or power. He only wants to take the emperor’s life and continues to accumulate strength.
He may be trying to use Hiro as a counterbalance, but Prime Minister Gils feared that he might create a new lion.
“Even your wind is not omnipotent. It has its blind spots.”
Prime Minister Gils looked down at the letter handed to him by the emperor.
“The reason why the First God Altius didn’t fall out with the God of War Schwartz is because their powers were in opposition to each other, and they had a solid bond, which is rare in times of chaos.”
He then took out a red talisman ― a spirit talisman ― with his left hand from his pocket, piled it on the letter, and crushed it. Then, fire erupted from the gap between his fingers, and the emperor’s letter in his right hand was destroyed by fire.
“His Majesty the Emperor ― you’ve grown old. If you were another ten years younger, or even twenty, things would have gone your way.”
As the unpleasant smell of burning flesh filled the air, Prime Minister Gils’s smile deepened as he stared at his burned palms ― then the sound of suspicious footsteps filled the hall.
His eyes, lit with caution, turned to the source of the sound. Beyond his gaze ― the man’s steps on the red carpet were light but somewhat hesitant.
“…..Driks ― no, my eyes. Is there a problem?”
When Prime Minister Gils called out the man’s name, he bowed before him in the manner of a vassal.
“I’ve come to ask you for further instructions.”
Driks turned his eyes to Prime Minister Gils with a coldness that was unthinkable in his usual appearance.