Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Once Hiro entered the mansion, the servant led him to the dining room. In the center of the room, there was a circular table covered with a white sheet, with dishes arranged all over the table. In addition, the table was decorated with beautiful flowers and candlesticks that were slowly glowing.
The women were seated on finely decorated chairs. There was no seat of honor. Everyone faces each other as equals, which is one of the advantages of a circular desk.
Hiro wondered where he should sit.
“You can sit here.”
Rosa pointed to the chair between her and Liz.
But this time, he had a companion – Hugin. When he looked at her from the side, he saw that it was her first time in this kind of situation, and as expected, she was looking around, her eyes moving busily, showing her confusion.
“Hugin, come here.”
It was Liz who gently called out to her. Her thin, white fingers rested on the chair between Aura and Liz.
Hugin stepped forward with a tense look on her face. Her body was tense as well. Liz, who could not help but notice her condition, opened her mouth again.
“You don’t need to worry about etiquette and manners. As long as you enjoy the food, that’s all that matters.”
“Ugh, thank you, Liz-neesan…”
“Come on, have a seat. I’m starving, and I can’t wait any longer.”
Hugin let out a slight laugh at Liz’s joke and took a seat.
“Well, let’s eat.”
Rosa clapped her hands after confirming that everyone was present.
Then the door connected to the kitchen was opened. The servants came into the dining room with a sumptuous meal in their hands.
“I’ve brought in specialties from all over for this occasion.”
Rosa said proudly.
Hugin rolled her eyes at the sight of a meal she had never seen before.
“Fumu, this is amazing. It looks delicious.”
Skaaha, who was supposed to be a former princess, also expressed her surprise, clearing her throat and her sparkling eyes.
“There’s also lamb, which Cerberus likes. I’ll share it with you later.”
Liz spoke to Cerberus, who was sitting at her feet. Aura was seated nearby, wrapping an apron around her neck in a familiar gesture to keep it clean.
(Oh… I thought I’ve seen this scene somewhere before…)
Hiro remembered the family restaurant on “Earth.” Aura reminded him of children sitting in small chairs with their families. There’s no doubt that Aura would be upset if he mentioned it, so Hiro watched the food being laid out without saying a word.
“Now that the preparations are over…”
As the servants finished laying out the food, Rosa raised her arm lightly with a glass of wine in her hand.
“First of all, let’s give our gratitude to the Spirit King for bringing us all here safely. Then we will report to the twelve great gods of Grantz that we have defeated the Grand Duchy of Dral.”
Following these words, each of them grabbed a glass of water or wine that had been prepared for them and said, “Cheers.”
After the toast, the women began to chat and laugh as they tasted their favorite dishes. In the midst of the bustle, Rosa put her face close to Hiro’s ear.
“There have been reports that the Krone family is showing signs of disquiet.”
At the ominous words, Hiro stopped his silver spoon from scooping up the soup. Then he placed it quietly on the dish and glanced at Rosa.
“Heh… what are they trying to do?”
“It seems that they’re desperately trying to recruit young men from the villages and towns to do some kind of tricks.”
“I can only think of one thing.”
“And I’ve heard that orders for equipment from the city blacksmiths have increased dramatically in the last few weeks.”
“Do you have any idea who they’re planning on targeting?”
“I don’t think they’re going to fight anyone. It’s probably just an attempt to threaten the emperor.”
Maybe it’s an insurance plan in case they are held accountable for their actions in Felzen. However, it’s too early to start preparing. If it were something that was predicted beforehand, it would be a different story, but if it were to avoid being held accountable, they wouldn’t take such a hard line as threatening the emperor with an army.
There is a territory called Zuik that came under direct control after Viscount Wurst’s death. However, before Hiro left for the Grand Duchy of Dral, it was transferred to the unaffiliated central noble family, the Mark family. The Krone family demanded that the emperor reconsider his decision, but the emperor did not take any action, and the rift between the two sides deepened.
“I assumed it was because of the Zuik incident, but… is that right?”
“Yes, that’s correct. It’s also a major trading point. It’s a territory that the Krone family would like to reclaim.”
Rosa continued to speak.
“I predict that the emperor will not budge and will try to weaken the Krone family in tomorrow’s conferral of honors.”
“That would be nice and all, but… it won’t happen, will it?”
“The weakening of the Krone family will be what we are aiming for, but we don’t know where to go from there.”
With a deep sigh, Rosa crossed her arms and made a difficult face.
“The Emperor is planning to bring down the Krone family and make the new Mark family the leading central noble family, but even if they become one of the five major noble families, they will not support you or Liz. Because that would mean kneeling before me.”
The reason for this was that Hiro already had the eastern nobility behind him. Furthermore, due to the war with the Grand Duchy of Dral, everyone knew that Hiro was behind Liz.
“But I can assure you that for the time being, the Mark family will not be hostile. For the time being, we’re stuck here, and we’ll just have to sit back and watch.”
The western nobility supports the Third Prince Blutar, and the northern nobility supports the Second Prince Selene, so there is no room for them to enter. So then, it would be the other heirs to the throne, but their ranking would be extremely low compared to Liz and Hiro. The closest would be the nephew of the previous emperor, but there was no telling that he would live to see the end of his days. Then Hiro suddenly had a question.
“Come to think of it… are there any younger brothers of the current emperor?”
If there is, their presence will be a hindrance.
Rosa affirmed. The current emperor used to have five older brothers, but all of them passed away due to accidents or illness.
“Of course, suspicion has been cast on the current emperor. But there is no proof.”
All of the incidents took place in the imperial palace and when the current emperor was away from the palace. Therefore, it was thought that he had hired assassins, but his suspicions were soon confirmed.
Since there was no faction supporting the current emperor, it was decided that he was not powerful enough to do something of such magnitude.
(It’s an interesting story.)
All five brothers are dead. Although he seems to have been able to hide it well, it is safe to assume that the current emperor is involved. But how did he do it? Although he is very curious, there is no point in identifying him as the culprit now.
(Still, I’d like to find some weakness. I’m hoping he’ll reveal himself at the audience.)
Tomorrow, when Hiro is in front of the emperor, he will be able to see the emperor’s intentions. And he will know the details of the newly rising Mark family.
“Do we know which nobles will be participating in tomorrow’s conferral of honors?”
“The Mark family, the Krone family, and the ones that have been rumored recently will certainly appear. And also, the head of the Muzuk family, one of the five major noble families that unite the southern nobility, has announced his participation for the time being.”
There’s no need to announce if you want to participate. In fact, if it’s the head of the five great noble families of the Muzuk family, there is no way that it will be rejected.
Rosa shrugged her shoulders in disgust and took a sip of wine before letting out a heavy breath.
“…He just wants to stir things up by confusing people with his thought-provoking statements. The head of the Muzuk family is a cunning man. I don’t think I’m going to participate, but if I show any signs of breakdown, they’ll bite me at once, so it’s best to be on guard.”
But more than that, Rosa said.
“The one you should be most wary of is the Second Prince Selene. He’s come to the Great Imperial Capital with a whole bunch of his followers.”
The wolf from the north, who had kept silent until now, began to move. Hearing this, Hiro’s heart was not at ease, but since the purpose of the other party was not clear, he could only watch in silence.
Even so, the feeling that welled up from the depths of his heart was not frustration but joy.
“Heh… this is getting interesting.”
He wondered what kind of change of heart the Second Prince Selene had, although he had said he was not interested in the struggle for the succession to the throne.
“It’s starting to smell bad.”
“The Second Prince Selene has led an army of 20,000 to the Great Imperial Capital.”
The southern nobility has a division of 10,000. The eastern nobility led by Rosa is said to have a brigade of 8000. It seems that the western nobility has not come to the Great Imperial Capital this time.
“…Because the west can’t afford it.”
Aura interrupted the conversation, wiping her lips with a white cloth as they glistened with meat fat.
“The west must be going through a tough time right now. I hear they’re struggling to keep the factions in line.”
Aura’s eyes flashed with sympathy.
“…Yeah. The Munster family’s centripetal force is next to nothing.”
The Third Prince Blutar is the third in line of succession to the throne and is able to hold it together, but if he were to drop out of the race for the throne, the western nobility would quickly fall apart. Although there is no blame to be placed on the western nobility in tomorrow’s conferral of honors, things will have to be handled more carefully in the future. Hiro’s plan is not to let the western nobility go under yet.
“Well, I guess our priority should be the Krone family.”
First, they have to crush the central nobility, which has the most corrupt nobles. This is the reason why they are showing disturbing movements because they know that. When they are held accountable in the conferral of honors, there is a possibility that they will really move the army they have gathered for the purpose of intimidation.
“That’s why the emperor didn’t set a limit on the number of troops when he summoned the nobles. I guess it’s just in case the Krone family chooses the worst option.”
In case the central nobility revolts… Hiro wondered if it was necessary to hunt them down to the point of resorting to such measures… But, on the other hand, he probably thought that if he could get the support of the people now, he could put them down as soon as possible.
However, the emperor’s will seems to be firm.
When he looked at Rosa, there was a hint of resignation in her eyes.
“I estimate that the central nobility can mobilize about 50,000 troops at that time, but if it were the Krone family before you were welcomed into the imperial family, it would have exceeded 100,000 at most.”
“If they can gather at least 50,000, they’ll have to join hands with others to compete.”
With the combination of the troops gathered in the capital, their strength can finally compete.
“In fact, even if the central nobility rebelled, it is unlikely that they would join forces.”
Rosa said. Hiro agreed with her.
All of them want to make a good impression on the emperor. They must want to keep the credit to themselves. If that were the case, they would not cooperate with each other, and if they were not careful, they would be defeated individually.
Even so, the emperor would certainly make a move to weaken the Krone family. If not, he would have set a limit on the number of nobles in the army.
“In any case, it will depend on what the emperor says tomorrow.”
Rosa smiled as she sipped her wine.
“No matter what happens, everyone except the Krone family is prepared for anything. This will not shake the foundation of the Great Grantz Empire.”
Rosa assured him. However, Hiro doubts that this is really the case. The decision is risky in the midst of so many intertwined agendas. There is nothing uglier than political strife. It is always the people on the inside that destroy a country.
If the Krone family is weakened, the next target will naturally be the Kelheit family.
This is because they have two heirs to the throne, Hiro and Liz.
(More importantly, there is also the possibility of outside interference.)
It’s better to be vigilant, but how to prevent the fingers from being extended from the darkness?
As Hiro pondered this, the night naturally drew to a close as he savored his meal.