It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (61/92), enjoy~
A freezing wind was blowing. The snow was raging so fiercely that it was nearly impossible to go outside.
The Levering Kingdom ― the largest fortress city, “Purple Snow City.”
In order to protect its people from outside enemies, it is surrounded by a deep moat, and its interior is fortified by double walls.
The only entrance and exit, a suspension bridge, is now closed, and the city is fully guarded.
Overlooking the city from the hillside inside the wall is the royal palace called “Purple Silver Palace.”
Decorated with snow, the purple and silver castle became chalk white and looked down on the city.
Many nobles were gathered in the throne room. However, none of them chatted with each other.
The queen’s authority was so powerful that it was hard to resist her majesty.
The nobles focused their slightly tense gazes on the glittering throne. Seated on the throne is the newly crowned Queen Claudia.
She has a gentle face, but lurking behind it is the face of a cunning schemer.
When she first took the throne after many twists and turns, many of the Levering nobles underestimated her.
However, they would soon be shown a sore spot.
Countless nobles had been stripped of their titles and had their houses demolished. Most of these were self-inflicted due to collusion with merchants, embezzlement, and heavy taxation to oppress the people.
The people were happy, but the nobles shuddered.
Fear breeds rebellion. For a time, many people, especially the great nobles, criticized Claudia, but she challenged the great nobles to fight without fear and used intrigue to win and establish a solid system. In about three months, she found herself reigning unchallenged as queen.
When the laughter that exuded a bewitching atmosphere echoed in the throne room, the nobles shook their shoulders and looked at her in unison. When Claudia laughs, everyone’s heart buzzes. She is the queen who can sentence people to death by laughing. The condemned nobles call it the “smile of death,” and they are hanged on the gallows.
“U-um… Queen Claudia, what was written on it?”
A nobleman summoned his courage and asked the question. Her gaze was fixed on the letter in her hand. It’s a letter of friendship from the fourth prince of the Grantz Empire.
“Fufu… I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and I think it’s finally arrived.”
Claudia put her hand over her mouth and laughed heartily in an amusing manner.
“The time has finally come for the Levering Kingdom to join the ranks of the powers. How can I not laugh and be excited about this?”
Many of the nobles raised their eyebrows, wondering at Claudia’s reaction. But Claudia was unconcerned and continued to laugh.
“Her Majesty Queen Claudia!”
A soldier enters the throne room with an air of dignity. It was a soldier with a face that the nobles would recognize. He is the captain of the queen’s guard, which was established when Claudia ascended to the throne, and he is a military veteran who Claudia went there herself to appoint.
He walked up to the throne, dropped to one knee, and bowed his head.
“The army’s preparations are complete. We are ready to sortie at any time. And I just received a message from the other party saying that we can run to our destination without being disturbed.”
“Thank you for your hard work. As expected of His Highness Hiro, he does everything with finesse.”
The nobles raised their eyebrows in disbelief at the conversation between the two, but some of them looked pleased. Claudia stood up after watching their reactions with amusement.
“The time of silence is over. It is time for the demon race to once again stand on the central continent!”
Claudia declares, leaving the throne and descending the stairs with graceful movements.
The way she walked on the red carpet was majestic and fascinated people.
Several nobles, who were beaming with joy, followed her. The nobles, who had not grasped the situation, bowed their heads in question as they watched the queen depart.
“Let’s get started. From here on, we are in the dark. Only those who believe in me will be able to follow me.”
Claudia drew her sword, which her ancestor, Rox, had left behind, and left the throne room majestically.
January 7th, 1024th year of the Imperial Calendar.
Hiro was in the imperial palace’s noble guest room. Seated opposite him was the second prince Selene.
There was no one else in the room. However, the atmosphere that both of them emitted was heavy, and the guest room was dominated by a strange sense of oppression as if a large number of people were crowded together.
“I never thought that you would threaten me…”
The second prince Selene, looking at the map, spoke up first.
“I just want to ask if you will cooperate or not.”
Hiro gave a cold look to the second prince Selene.
The second prince raised his hands and smiled as if to show his surrender.
“I will, of course, cooperate with you, my lovely little brother. Our interests are aligned, you know. Above all, if I don’t help you here, your scary friends will go on a rampage in the north, won’t they?”
“No, they won’t. As long as you cooperate.”
“You don’t have to threaten me to get my unconditional cooperation, do you?”
“I’m glad to hear that. First of all, I want to thank you for your wise decision.”
Hiro spoke plainly and then looked at the second prince Selene. To be precise, he was interested in the swords on his hips.
“What is the reason why you don’t want to become emperor?”
“Do I have a right to answer that?”
“No, I was just confirming.”
Hiro smiled coldly and stood up from his chair.
“I don’t want you to break your promise. I’d like to eliminate as many sources of anxiety as possible.”
Approaching the second prince Selene, Hiro looked down at him with cold eyes.
“I like that. That cruel look… is very intriguing. But I wish you would smile like you do when you treat Liz.”
“When I’m sure you’re on my side, then I’ll welcome you into Liz’s camp with a smile.”
“…That’s harsh. But don’t worry. I have no intention of antagonizing you just yet.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
Hiro mended his ruthless smile and turned his feet to the door, carrying his luggage under his arm from the desk.
“Liz will be leaving soon, so I’ll be leaving now.”
The moment his fingertips touched the handle…
“You are truly a sad man, aren’t you?”
Hiro was stopped in his tracks by the words of the second prince Selene.
“You have to be careful, you know. The enemy is everywhere. If you look around, you’ll see that we’re under siege, and we have to make sure we don’t get caught in the middle. They’re really… nasty people.”
“I know that.”
Hiro immediately responded to the second prince Selene’s advice, turned the handle, and stepped into the hallway.
Today is the day that Liz and the others will be leaving. He must see them off in good spirits.
Considering the high possibility that they were already waiting for him at the entrance, Hiro walked quickly down the hallway, but he recognized the figure of Prime Minister Gils walking in front of him.
“Her Highness Celia Estrella was waiting for you at the door, Your Highness Hiro.”
“Oh, as I expected…”
“Then I’ll take my leave.”
After exchanging light bows, Prime Minister Gils walked past Hiro.
At that moment ― an unfathomable chill ran down his spine, and he turned around.
It wasn’t just his imagination. Hiro put his hand on the back of his neck. The only time he has ever experienced that feeling of electric current flowing through him was on the battlefield. Certainly now, Prime Minister Gils has unleashed a murderous intent.
“They are really… nasty people.”
Hiro muttered to himself without hiding his displeasure and then started walking again.
It’s a straight corridor that leads around a corner ― a place where many high-ranking officials lost their lives in the rebellion.
Looking at the back of the corridor, he could see many people gathered there.
“It’s getting colder, so make sure you don’t get sick. Wear as many blankets as you can when camping.”
When he reached the entrance, he found Rosa muttering a motherly remark.
Liz looked slightly annoyed as if she had been told repeatedly.
However, this changed when she recognized Hiro, and she smiled.
“Oh, Hiro! You finally came!”
She waves to him, bouncing on the floor.
Aura was behind her, her gaze looking down as she read her favorite book, The Black Book. As Hiro approached the girls, he said some parting words.
“Be careful on the road.”
With the emphasis on marching speed, there were less than three hundred guards.
It is unlikely that any ruffians would attack Liz right now, but it is important to keep an eye out.
“I have crossed Mount Himmel with as few men as I have today, remember?”
Liz mentioned the first time she met Hiro.
“Yeah… right. I was a real slow learner back then.”
But even so, Liz and the others did not abandon him and continued their journey with Hiro. He wondered if he had been able to repay even a small part of that debt. Hiro felt deeply moved and vaguely aware of how fast time had passed.
Seeing his expression, Liz withdrew her smile and turned serious.
“Don’t be reckless, okay? I’ll be back as fast as I can; just don’t do anything reckless.”
“…I’ll be waiting for your return.”
Hiro nodded, trying not to let his inner thoughts be noticed.
“Be more careful with the head of the Muzuk family. He’s a very sharp man. You never know what he’s up to. If you have to make an important decision, I’ll leave it to your judgment.”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Like I said before, you can trust me.”
Liz smiled in annoyance. Hiro was worried about her, so it couldn’t be helped.
“Yes, it will be the last time. The only thing I want you to remember is to follow your heart, not the hearts of others. Do you understand?”
Hiro reminded her. The air was not conducive to joking.
Liz nodded nervously as if she sensed this.
“I know. I’m not going to give up my feelings on anyone. I’ll do what I want.”
Hiro made a cheerful expression at Liz’s honest nod.
“I believe in you. Go and do your best.”
He patted Liz on the head.
“Don’t spend all your time reading, Hiro. If you’re skinny when I get back, I’ll make you eat a lot of meat.”
“That’s not healthy!”
Before Hiro could finish, Liz was hugging him.
The soft smell of her hug passed through his nostrils, and he could feel her gentle thoughts.
The warmth is calming and soothing.
“You really should stop being so reckless.”
Her voice sounded as if it was about to fade away, and although he wanted to comfort her, he couldn’t think of any words to say.
In the first place, it would only make her look foolish if he were to say anything to her, having made her look like this.
Feeling a sense of regret, Hiro pulled away from Liz and wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes.
“Next time we meet, let’s meet again with a smile.”
Pulling his gaze away from Liz’s slight nod, Hiro looked at Aura behind her.
She also looked slightly unhappy about leaving Hiro alone.
“I want you to support Liz. I’m counting on you.”
“…Leave it to me.”
Hiro smiled at Aura as she hugged the Black Book tightly, and then he approached the person he saw out of the corner of his eye. He saw the figure of Skaaha on the couch set up at the entrance.
Skaaha was sitting there, looking pale, as if she was still not feeling well.
She noticed the presence of Hiro approaching and turned her gaze to him.
“…I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.”
Skaaha lowered her head, saying so at the beginning of her speech. She seemed to be ashamed of her helplessness, biting her lower lip in frustration.
“There’s no need to feel responsible. I just want you to heal and get back on your feet.”
“I appreciate your concern.”
“The vibrations from the carriage may affect your wound, but I would appreciate it if you could bear with it.”
“The Ice Emperor’s blessing will take care of that. If anything, I have dragged you down, and I believe I deserve at least that much.”
Skaaha replied with a shrug. She tends to self-deprecate. For better or worse, she is hard on herself. Her main goal is to avenge her relatives. That’s why she has always kept herself strictly disciplined on the battlefield, not taking advantage of others. If she continues to fight like that, she will break down one day.
“…I know it. Someday you’ll find it — the purpose of your life.
Hiro wanted her to walk towards the goal she had found for herself, not the one that was forced upon her. He patted her on the shoulder and told her something meaningful, then turned to his subordinates.
“Ghada, I wish you a safe journey.”
“Yeah, I’ll pray for your safety too, One-Eyed Dragon.”
“Ugh… I wish I could be with my wise brother.”
“I’m sorry. She’s been nagging me about staying since yesterday.”
Hugin is teary-eyed, and her brother Munin is puzzled and scratching the back of his head.
Hiro let out a chuckle and patted Hugin on the head.
“Be good to each other. And don’t fight too much and cause trouble for Ghada.”
Then Hiro untied the luggage he was carrying under his arm. When the cloth was opened, it revealed two spirit weapons. They were a pair, and they were rare among spirit weapons.
“Well, take these for the two of you…”
He was about to hand them to Hugin and Munin, but they opened their mouths in a panic.
“We can’t accept these! Spirit weapons are too much for us!”
Hugin shook her head, but her cheeks were loose, and her hands clenched the handle.
“…Oh, if I sell it, I can live happily for the rest of my life…”
“You stupid brother! If you do that, I’ll chop your head off!”
“Haha… It has a name, which is unusual. For Hugin, it’s “Kogarasumaru,” and for Munin, it’s “Nukemaru.” The shape is a bit unusual, but I think you can handle it well.”
[T/n: You can probably find out about these two swords here -> Click.]
These two weapons were made by Hiro’s acquaintance, a “dwarf man,” a thousand years ago when he was calling himself Schwartz. They are in the form of Japanese swords, which Hiro once used.
“Mine is the Kogarasumaru. It’s the first weapon my wise brother has given me!”
Hugin looked as if she was about to dance with joy. She looked like a child who had just been given her first toy. On the other hand, his brother Munin also looks at the blade and lets out a sigh of admiration.
Hiro then looked away from the impressed siblings and saw Ghada giving him a strange look.
“Do you have any questions?”
“I have none.”
“If I give a demon race a spirit weapon, won’t they get burned?”
Hiro whispered, and Ghada sighed regretfully, saying that it was difficult.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to make do with this for a while.”
Ghada showed Hiro the large sword on his back.
“I believe you will be able to use any weapon you want.”
There are only a handful of people who can defeat a pure demon race. He would be able to compete with any strong man with an ordinary weapon. He’ll need his own special weapon at some point, but there’s no time for that now, so he’ll have to give up.
“Well then, Hiro, we’d better get going.”
When he turned around, Liz was standing behind him.
“Yeah, I’ll see you later.”
“Oh, and buy me something when I get back, okay?”
She pointed at Hiro and ran out of the entrance with a fresh smile on her face. She seemed to be envious of Hugin and Munin. The next to follow was a petite girl named Aura.
“…I want you to buy me one too. I’m looking forward to it.”
Aura followed Liz with an expressionless face that did not allow for rebuttal.
“…Fumu, I wonder what you want to buy me.”
With a bloodless complexion, Skaaha also left with a few words.
Before Hiro could say anything, Ghada and the others also went out, and the entrance became quiet at once.
“Looks like you’re going to be spending a lot of money.”
A hand on his shoulder caused Hiro to shift his gaze to the person next to him. Rosa was standing there with a nasty look on her face.
He decided to take the initiative before she could say anything and pulled out two letters from his pocket.
“This one is for Liz, and the other one is for Ghada. I’d appreciate it if you could give them to me when they get back.”
“Okay, but… are you going to start planning under these circumstances?”
“It’s situations like this that I can’t help but take advantage of. I had to make some major adjustments, but it should work out.”
Rosa didn’t say anything. She shook her shoulders slightly and looked anxiously down at the ground.
When the silence fell between them――,
Rosa said as she couldn’t stand the silence.
“Yeah. I know… Like I told Liz, I’ll be fine.”
Hiro smiled cheerfully and took out a spirit weapon from the Black Princess Camellia.
“It’s called the “Lion King.” You see the lion’s emblem on the hilt?”
This is the spirit weapon that the first emperor Altius used until he acquired the Five Emperors of the Spirit Swords.
Rosa’s eyes widened and her mouth half-opened as she had noticed the preciousness of the item.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to protect yourself from now on.”
She thought it was too much for self-defense, but her cheeks twitched.
“I-I can’t accept that. There are several spirit weapons in the Kelheit family. I’m going to use that one. So why don’t you just keep this one?”
“You can keep it; I don’t care if it has a name, though.”
In the past and present, naming things, not just weapons, sometimes works miracles, as if they have a will of their own. People generally say that it is because the soul dwells in it, and it is no different with spirit weapons. In other words, a weapon grows with its user. Hiro thought that there was a difference between having a name and having nothing.
“You have to become a user worthy of the Lion King. If you do, he will surely respond to you.”
Hiro held out the sword to Rosa once more.
“Are you prepared for it?”
Rosa looked at the Lion King and Hiro alternately, as if she was in doubt.
However, as Hiro seemed to have lost his patience, Rosa slumped her shoulders in resignation.
“Who do you think I am? I am the acting head of the Kelheit family, one of the five great noble families.”
Rosa snickered, took the sword, and hugged it as if it were dear to her heart. Then the tip of the blade was completely buried in the cleavage of her chest, which could be considered a deadly weapon.
Hiro, who looked away involuntarily, scratched the tip of his nose as he spoke.
“I-I have some preparations to make, so I’ll be leaving now.”
Hiro turned his back on Rosa to hide his embarrassment and started walking.
“Ah, hey, what’s the matter with you all of a sudden?”
Rosa threw a surprised voice at him, but Hiro didn’t have the courage to look directly at that scene again.
“I really need to hurry! I’ll see you later!”
He goes down the corridor almost at a run. It wasn’t like he was lying.
There really is something he needs to do.
(It’s from here. Once Liz and Ghada are outside the Great Imperial Capital, all that’s left is him.)
Hiro’s steps naturally became more leisurely, and the atmosphere he wore began to change.
(…There is no guarantee that we will meet again, but it is a strange creature that makes people smile and say goodbye. Because a while ago, we were laughing and talking――)
Hiro stopped and looked back. The empty corridor is quiet; not even a single sound can be heard.
(…Oh, that’s right. It was like this that day, too.)
The black eyes that do not allow light to pass through reflect nothing. It’s just an abyss that forbids everything.
Hiro’s calm nature gives way to a sharp, deadly presence, and he starts walking again.
His destination was the noble guest room, a room that welcomed guests from all over the world.
In front of the door stood the head of the Mark family, with a thin face that could be considered somewhat frivolous.
“Your Highness Hiro, the preparations are in order. I would like to ask for your decision on what to do?”
“Thank you for your efforts. Then let’s have a strategy meeting right away.”
“Very well, sir. The central nobles who agreed to the plan are waiting in the room.”
The head of the Mark family opened the door of the guest room and bowed.
“So let’s get started.”
After confirming the departure of Liz and the others, Hiro headed to the west to defeat the Six Kingdoms.
He was not going just to stop them. He will have to deal with 150,000 enemies with only 20,000 troops.
(Liz, I’m breaking my promise to you.)
Hiro prayed for Liz’s safety and stepped out strongly to carry out his purpose.