It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (87/110), enjoy~
Lily and Elena left the inn and headed for the nearest train station. They proceeded a few stops and got off the train at the nearest station to the shipyard.
“How much do I have to pay?”
“This will be my treat.”
Then Lily held out the ticket she had just used. Her armband, a symbol of her service at the castle, waved on her arm.
“I’m a respectable wage earner myself. It didn’t bother me at all!”
“…How can such a fast transportation be so inexpensive?”
“If not, commoners wouldn’t be able to use them. It doesn’t matter if an ex-convict or some obsessed prince uses it. The price will be the same.”
She seemed to be referring to Tigre, but of course, Elena did not respond.
Now that they were close, the number of commoners had dwindled. The only people around were the craftsmen working in the shipyard or the knights and civil servants on their way to the military port.
Elena then looked at her surroundings here without hesitation.
“I think I’m going to have to go on a real tour of the enemy now that I’m here.”
“Go ahead, go ahead! Take your time and enjoy it!”
As she walked with Lily, Elena kept her eyes focused on ensuring she didn’t miss anything.
The first thing that struck her was the size of the place.
It was a shipyard, but perhaps because it was adjacent to a port, it also had many processing facilities. There was a processing facility for sea crystals and even a warehouse for weapons to be loaded onto battleships. All of them were crystallizations of technology that surpassed that of Heim.
Every time she saw one of them, Elena’s common sense was overturned, and she could feel the country’s strength.
Her face was not pale, but she was squinting with difficulty.
“Are you feeling unwell?”
“Do you know why?”
“I know, and I’m asking. I think you should forget about Heim.”
They continued to walk.
Eventually, they entered the shipyard, where there was a battleship in the dock before it was launched. The shape of the ship was slightly different from the battleships already docked at the port.
While Elena was looking at the battleship, Lily spoke to a worker.
“Can I have a word with you?”
“Yes. How can I help you?”
The worker looked at Lily’s armband and replied frankly.
“How much of an impact does this battleship have against hostile forces?”
“Will it be against monsters? Or will it be against humans?”
“Right… for example, against a port city?”
Then the worker understood the meaning of the words. He thought that the official in front of him wanted to know the effect on a specific person.
“I assume that the target is the port town of Roundheart ── At the design stage, two ships would be about this much.”
The worker said and held up two fingers.
Elena, who was standing next to her, thought that it would take two days for the ship to conquer the area. But the reality is not so simple.
“Two ships and twenty minutes should be enough.”
“…Twenty minutes? That’s ridiculous──”
“It is possible. That town is extremely vulnerable to attack from the sea.”
“It’s only a matter of firing a weapon into an unprotected town, of course.”
Finally, Lily thanked the worker, and he returned to his work.
Elena, stunned by the unimaginable force of the war, still could not move her body.
“The battleships you see here are newly built battleships that will be used as a force against a potential enemy.”
Lily looked at Elena and told her with serious eyes.
“We lost a lot of battleships during the Sea Dragons attack. Naturally, they need to be replenished. And the new models that will be built will have a much different performance compared to the old ones.”
“Therefore, Elena-sama, you are already overwhelmed. Even though I lived in Heim for a few years, even the one ship here is enough to be a force against Heim. There are already several ships anchored in the royal capital──”
“Are you saying that we can’t win even when facing an uphill battle?”
“Are you angry? So what are you going to do about it?”
Lily, who was more provocative than ever, wanted Elena to give up. She wanted her to forget about Heim and live in Ishtalika. But Elena has unshakable faith and will never respond to her wishes.
“We’re all inferior in some ways.”
“I’m not talking about inferior parts. On the contrary, what do you have over us? Area? Population? Or culture? Or technology?”
“We have a long history. That is until we conquered a continent.”
“Then we are the nation that united the continent.”
The two sides stared at each other without backing down.
A dangerous atmosphere filled the air, but it was Lily who gave up first.
“…Elena-sama. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but you’re really too stubborn.”
“If you knew that, then give up. How many years have you worked for me?”
“I’ll tell you something now, Elena-sama, you work too much, don’t you? You were always taking up my time, even when I was sleeping.”
“Thank you for your help. I would like to tell you that, just between you and me, my new subordinate is not as good as you.”
So I wonder if you’d like to come back? Elena asked. Lily was taken aback by the unexpected words, but then she smiled broadly. It was the most beautiful smile she’d had since they met.
“Do you miss me when I’m not with you anymore?”
“In terms of work, yes. You used to be very good, but now you’re a little too tight.”
Elena then muttered sadly.
“If I had been born in the same country, I would have had a good relationship with you.”
If only she had been born in Ishtalika. Or if Lily had been born in Heim.
She liked being with her so much that she could not help but think about such hypotheticals.
“By the way, it was a big day yesterday.”
“The crowds. Is this town always like that?”
“Oh… Actually, it’s because Her Highness the Second Princess and her family are here.”
To be precise, the crown prince was also here, but she deliberately did not mention it.
“Olivia-sama is in this town?”
“Of course, you can’t see her.”
“I know, I know. I was just… reminiscing about the old days.”
“…Well, that’s why there are so many people here. There are a lot of noblemen here, so it’s a lot of work.”
“Oh, so that’s how I met the man from yesterday?”
“The man from yesterday?”
Since Lily is skilled in covert action, she might be able to tell her something. Thinking back to the robed man who had helped her find a place to stay yesterday, Elena asked if she knew anything about him.
“I think he’s probably a nobleman or a wealthy man. The innkeeper was surprised, so I think he must be famous.”
“Oh, yes… maybe.”
“So if Lily knows who he is, I’d like to thank him.”
“Ah… I couldn’t see his face, so I guess it’s hard to find him.”
These were the only excuses she could come up with.
She turned her head away, and her cheeks tightened at the inescapable fact.
“But he had beautiful hair. …Yes, he had a clear and beautiful hair color, just like Olivia-sama’s.”
“A-anyway, Elena-sama! It’s time to have lunch!”
“What’s the matter with you…? Why are you being such a gluttonous person all of a sudden?”
It would be bad to tell her that he is her daughter’s lover.
It’s like having a troubling secret.
At any rate, Lily has her work cut out for her. She continued to lead Elena around, laughing again and again at the astonishment on her face.
◇ ◇ ◇
The days they spent together went by quickly.
On the first day, they looked around from the shipyard to the military port. It was only natural that Elena was surprised and felt the difference in strength.
On the second day, Lily continued to lead Elena on a tour of some of the facilities in Magna. When Elena returned to the inn after dark, she filled up a sheet of paper with the information she had learned.
On the way, she also asked Lily about Krone.
She wanted to know how she and her father-in-law were doing, but all she could hear was that they seemed happy. It was a shame that she didn’t know what kind of life they were having.
Elena let out a sigh… and looked out at the gently swaying sea.
Soon she will be on her way back to Heim.
However, since she will be returning via Euro, she will not be able to return directly to Rockdam or even the port town of Roundheart as she did when she arrived.
But unlike the outbound trip, the ship was first class.
“This is going to be a nice trip.”
She said, looking at the ship docked at the pier.
The ship was small compared to a battleship but still huge for Elena, a person from Heim.
“Elena-sama! Are you ready?”
Lily, who had been moving forward to check the ship, called out.
“Yes, I’m fine!”
As she replied and hurriedly rushed over, a horn sounded from the ship. The sound was as loud as the size of the ship, signaling that the ship was about to sail.
“This is a bit of trivia, but our ship has two different types of horn. The sounds are different.”
Lily put her face close to Elena’s ear and said.
“One is for sailing──”
“And the other one?”
“──Is the sound of heading to the battlefield.”
But Elena was unfazed and said, “I’m glad it’s not the latter,” as if she had no choice.
“You’re boring. Oh, I’ve already loaded your luggage in your room!”
“Thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, even though we’re enemies.”
“I wish we weren’t enemies, though.”
“Personally, I think you’re a good friend.”
“Geez! What’s the point if you’re not going to be on our side?”
Elena couldn’t help but nod back at that wish.
“So! Are you going to tell the princes what you know?”
“Of course I will. I’ll be punished if I don’t tell them.”
“…Well, that’s the way it’s going to be.”
“What, you’re not satisfied?”
She couldn’t read Lily’s emotions in front of her. It was hard to describe the expression on her face, which seemed to be both disgruntled and sad.
“It’s just that I’m personally disappointed that it turned out as expected.”
──As expected? Elena pretended not to hear the words she would normally ask without listening.
“It looks like the ship is about to sail. Are you sure you haven’t forgotten anything?”
“I’ve already checked everything; it’s fine.”
“Fufufu. I’m glad to hear that.”
The slowly approaching goodbye left a little silence between them. The sound of the waves lapping at the pier. The people walking in the area sounded louder than usual.
Well, she regretted her departure, but she couldn’t stay like this forever.
Then ── Elena said as she walked away.
“It was good to see you again. I too… sincerely hope to see you again.”
Then Elena put her foot on the ramp.
“Elena-sama. From the moment you board that ship, arrive and disembark, you will be a clear enemy. If I am ordered to do so, I must cut off your head.”
It’s obvious. On the contrary, she was still being let off the hook, so she couldn’t complain.
“So this ship and the ramp are the borders?”
“That’s what I meant.”
Lily was hoping that Elena would stop after hearing what she had just said.
“But you know, that was a little late for that. Thank you for letting me go this far.”
Elena, in front of her, stepped forward again.
“You’ve been stubborn to no end, haven’t you?”
Lily’s tone hardened.
“I am glad that you enjoyed your visit to Ishtalika. Although I am acting as a representative, I can assure you of a pleasant trip in the name of Prime Minister Warren.”
“…..Yes, thank you.”
Eventually, she reached the end of the ramp. Soon after, the ship released the ropes that had been tying it to the pier.
When Elena was no longer in sight, Lily muttered to herself in frustration.
“I was hoping she would give up.”
Then Lily thought about Warren’s intentions. She thought back to what had happened the other day when she had reported that she had found Elena.
“There was no contact, but perhaps Elena might be a guest.”
She thought about what he was going to say, but once again, it was an outlandish story.
“If that’s the case, we should give her a warm welcome. We can’t show her the sensitive parts, but we can show her the ship and some of the facilities.”
At the time, Warren spoke without hesitation, as if he had been thinking about it all along.
“Normally, I would want to capture her as a heavy figure of the enemy nation. However, she is also Lady Krone’s mother, so let’s not use violent means.”
“…It’s a pretext, isn’t it?”
“Well, I have no idea what you’re talking about. But ── I’ll leave it to Lily to guide her. Keep an eye on her.”
Of course, Warren had his own plans.
Good grief, she said, as she decided to stop thinking about it and looked at the ship.
“If Elena-sama does not report the knowledge she has gained on this trip, she will be labeled as a traitor. So she will certainly report without lying.”
That’s not all. When she found out about Ishtalika’s strength, she would certainly advise them to settle the matter peacefully.
“But if she does that, the prince might get angry and treat Elena-sama coldly.”
No matter how it turns out, he will bring her to the meeting, but Tigre will not be satisfied.
According to Warren, the only person in Heim who is troublesome is Elena. Therefore, it would be better if she was given unkind treatment.
It was a move typical of Warren, who never let his guard down in the slightest. However, there was one thing Lily could not understand.
“Hmm… If he’s wary of Elena-sama, I think it would have been best to capture her.”
He may have chosen not to provoke Heim inappropriately. Or maybe he had another idea in mind about what he was doing.
“I don’t know what His Excellency is thinking… Good grief.”
She hadn’t been told what the plot was. But it is certain that he is thinking about something.
“Elena-sama, what you have seen is only a small part of Ishtalika. …I hope your head stays connected until the next time we meet.”
With one last murmur, she disappeared into the shadows of the port town of Magna.
◇ ◇ ◇
“──I wonder what he’s thinking about.”
As Elena was led into the guest room, she expected much the same thing that Lily had been thinking just a moment ago, and she was thinking about Warren, who was supposed to be in the distant capital.
“I’ve been treated lightly. Does he really think… I’ve been rolled around in the palm of his hand?”
It was all just to be expected. She had also given a lot of thought to it over time.
“There is no comparison in war potential. That’s exactly what I’m talking about when I say there’s no comparison… but that doesn’t mean I’m going to lose.”
Without the slightest bit of trepidation, she said strongly.
“I’m not a weak woman ── Prime Minister Warren.”