It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (109/119), enjoy~
May 21st, 1026th year of the Imperial Calendar.
A flock of birds crossed the clear sky like a cloud. Swimming happily in the obstacle-free sky, the birds glided over the people who live and work on the ground.
A huge city, surrounded by walls on all sides, overflowing with people in neatly lined stalls, finishing their business and returning to the cramped rows of buildings. In the center of the city stood a palace with a majestic appearance worthy of its name of luxury and splendor.
This was the Great Imperial Capital, Cladius, the capital of the Grantz Empire, one of the most ancient and prosperous metropolises in the Central Continent.
Overlooking the metropolis, which was dominated by an atmosphere full of history, is the Imperial Palace Venetian.
Unlike the heat that flowed from the cityscape below, the vast grounds were filled with a solemn silence that makes one hesitate to say a word. In the center of the site, the Imperial Palace reigned like a king.
At the huge entrance stood a strong soldier, and nearby was the soldiers’ quarters where a group of soldiers slept. This had been newly set up in response to a series of break-ins by bandits two years ago.
Once inside the strict entrance, you will be greeted by strong soldiers again. At the entrance, luggage was searched, and a thorough physical examination was conducted. The nearby waiting room was filled with noblemen and lords from various countries. From there, it was straight down a long corridor, past the throne room, and around a few corners to enter a section of the palace that only the most important figures of the nation were allowed to enter.
This was once the home of those associated with the Grantz Imperial Family, but it was also the site of the tragic murder of most of them in the First Prince’s rebellion two years ago.
Because of this, many of the rooms were unoccupied, and some of them still smelled of blood.
Further on, there was a place guarded by female soldiers.
This was the entrance to the large bathhouse set up for the emperor, and the women guarding it showed a strong desire to keep even the rats from entering.
This was no surprise, as the woman who was currently in command of the Grantz Empire was bathing there.
In the large bath filled with steam, many beautiful women were standing around, clad in light silk. Some of the women were carrying swords, and the atmosphere was a bit noisy.
Their eyes were fixed on a huge bathtub. There was a giant lion statue in the center, with hot water spewing out of its tough-looking mouth, and the splashes of hot water filling the tub were glistening in the sunlight streaming in through the windows in the ceiling.
In the bathtub, there was a girl with red hair without a stitch of clothing. Her well-proportioned limbs are reasonably tight, and the graceful sexiness that exudes from them colors the steam ― the sweat that flows down her pearly skin shines like jewels, further enhancing the fragrance of her luster. The perfected form of the woman made everyone feel as if they were in a fantasy created by the gods. That’s how attractive she was to the eye.
Celia Estrella Elizabeth von Grantz.
She was the sixth princess of the Great Grantz Empire, the holder of the “Flame Emperor,” and was considered to be the next emperor.
She was in a state of meditation.
She closed her eyes and repeatedly took deep breaths as if she was trying to reach the bottom of the water. She was aiming for the deepest “realm” in order to draw out the power of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword “Flame Emperor.”
(I can still dive… still… still…)
The feeling of being able to breathe but not being able to take in oxygen was what diving into the “realm” is all about. She groped her way to a place shrouded in darkness, the memory of the past holders of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword. Then, the next thing she knew, the area was enveloped in light, and when she opened her eyes, an enormous amount of information was created in an explosion. In front of Liz, an overwhelming scene was unfolding over and over again.
(Not here… I’ve already seen this place. There’s got to be more.)
Cutting off the view that was forcibly burned into her retina, Liz continued to dive for the deepest part. Her breathing gradually became ragged, her chest repeatedly rose and fell violently, and her face began to contort in pain.
She clenched her lower lip and tried to endure the pain, but it was too much.
A new light exploded at the end of her hand as she struggled to find oxygen.
“Ah, gahah… Not… not yet… I can’t proceed from here, right?”
Liz looked up as she bent her back and pouted in agony as the ground sucked in a great deal of sweat.
The cloudy sky was so stormy that it looked like it was about to start pouring.
As if to add to the anxiety in the sky, the ground was dotted with large holes that had been gouged out.
The remains of a battlefield ― yet there was only one dead body.
In such a strange landscape, there were two figures.
One is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed young man, and the other is a dark-haired, dark-eyed young boy.
“…Still not enough.”
Liz slammed her fist into the ground in frustration, then stood up, wiped the sweat from her forehead, and began to walk. This is the second time she has been to this place; this is the memory of the first emperor Altius, the former holder of the “Flame Emperor.” And the blond-haired, blue-eyed young man who appeared in front of her was the “First God,” one of the twelve great gods of Grantz.
If the people who believed in the twelve great gods of Grantz saw him, they would have fainted in surprise. The nobles and lords might shed tears of joy. But Liz’s interest was not in him.
Her gaze caught only one thing: a scarred boy lying near a headless corpse.
He was breathing so thinly that he looked like he was about to give out, and there was a hole in his chest that looked like it had been pierced by a spear. There was so much blood flowing that any normal person could have bled to death.
Moreover, a large amount of blood had been spat out from his mouth, and it was covered in blood bubbles. Liz reached out her hand to wipe his mouth, but she couldn’t touch him as if she was grasping a mist.
“Why… why didn’t you leave? “Hiro,” you don’t have to take on this kind of responsibility. But… why…?”
When Liz looked up, she saw Altius on his knees, tears streaming down his face.
“Forgive me, forgive your ungrateful brother-in-law, forgive me for not being able to do anything for you.”
Altius took out a white talisman from Hiro’s black robe.
It looks like a spirit talisman, but Liz judges it to be different from the atmosphere she senses.
It was easy to imagine that it was something else, something that had been prepared just for Hiro.
“It’s my fault. I could have seen this coming, but I let my personal feelings take precedence because I didn’t want you to forget me. After all, I should have wiped your memory and forcibly sent you back to ‘Earth’.”
While placing the white talisman on Hiro’s forehead, Altius repeated his apology over and over again as if he was repenting. In the meantime, Liz saw that the white talisman was glowing and began to remove something from Hiro’s head.
“I’ll take care of the rest. You go back to your world――”
Just then, a gust of wind blew.
Liz felt a strange sensation in her throat, an eerie feeling that made the hairs on her body stand on end. It was as if she was trapped in a dungeon, and the eerie air clung to her body.
“My curse has taken hold of you, and you’re still alive? You’re a stubborn little bastard.”
It was not real, but it’s overwhelming presence pierced Liz’s entire body.
She didn’t know who it was. It was because its form was invisible. But even so, she could sense that something unpredictable had appeared in front of her.
Perhaps Altius could see it since he stared straight into the void and gritted his teeth.
“Do you really wish to fight me again in such a form, Formless King?”
“Now that I’ve lost my body, I’m no match for you. Let us have another chance.”
“Then be gone. And regain your strength, for next time, my fangs will pierce you.”
“Hmm, three hundred, five hundred, seven hundred, and even a thousand years from now, if you are alive.”
“…The age of the gods will end in my generation. I’ll be sure to find you and destroy every last bit of your soul.”
“Fuh, kuku, that is also impossible. You can’t fight me on that either, as long as your brother-in-law is still around.”
The sound of mocking laughter quivered in the air and disappeared. The only thing left behind was Altius biting his lips in regret, having lost the ability to say anything in response.
Eventually, after a suffocating silence, something strange happened to Hiro’s body.
The large hole in his chest was beginning to close up.
When Altius saw this, he patted his chest with relief and expressed his gratitude.
“Hiro, my brother-in-law. It’s really goodbye now.”
Altius smiled regretfully and began to walk through the wilderness with Hiro in his arms.
“I will leave everything to you. Will you forgive your brother-in-law for leaving you with nothing but his power?”
Liz followed behind them, trying not to be left behind, and listened to Altius’ words.
“We’ve been through a long war, lost family, lost friends, and yet we kept running together, believing that there was hope. And yet, all that was left was a flattering “power”… and nothing of importance took shape. This is the result of our mutual struggles.”
He stopped and looked up at the sky and then finally looked at Liz.
“It’s ironic, don’t you think?”
“…Maybe. But it’s not for nothing.”
Altius nodded in satisfaction, though it was unlikely that Liz’s response had been received.
“You are my successor. Keep walking the path you believe in. Have no regrets.”
“Yes, I know.”
When Liz answered without hesitation, Altius laughed with a face that seemed to be on the verge of tears for some reason.
That’s where the memory ended. The world began to collapse, filled with rubble.
A dazzling light covered Liz’s vision, but she didn’t even blink, just staring at a single point.
“Hiro… I will surely come and take all of you.”
It was a sign of the determination that had grown over the past two years. These are the words that strengthened the girl who once threw a challenge in front of the boy, a determination that continues to boil with a heat that never cools down.
When she opened her eyelids, she saw the usual bathhouse.
The smell of sulfur instantly filled the depths of her nose as she took in oxygen to her lungs.
When Liz stood up quietly, her smooth skin splashed with the hot water, and the hot water that had accumulated on her collarbone flowed down to wet her long, shiny belly button.
The palace ladies in attendance let out a gasp of admiration at the sight, but they instantly came to their senses and rushed to Liz’s side with clothes in hand.
However, from a third person’s point of view, each of her gestures was a sophisticated move.
As she left her wet body in their hands, she recognized the figure walking toward her.
“Liz, the Prince of Lichtine, has arrived.”
She is a woman who exudes a bewitching atmosphere of seductiveness with a hint of bewitchment in her beautiful face.
Her hair, gathered in a single bun, was swept forward from her right shoulder and bounced over the twin hills that adorned her ample limbs.
The dress she wore had a bold cut around her thighs, and the beauty of her legs peeking out from there was lustful and sensual and greatly aroused sensual desire.
“You seem to be nervous, so don’t suddenly do anything rash.”
Myste Cagliara Rosa von Kelheit.
She was the former third princess, the acting head of the Kelheit family, and Liz’s half-sister.
“It depends on the attitude of the other party. I will not make any concessions because the lives of my people depend on it.”
Liz told the palace lady to bring her military uniform and rolled her eyes at her sister again.
“Rosa-aneesama, what’s wrong?”
Rosa, who had her hand on her chin, looked at Liz’s body as if she were licking it.
“No, because the number of people who apply to become palace ladies for this body is increasing every year. It’s so troubling that it’s putting pressure on our country’s finances. Isn’t that right?”
When Rosa asked the palace lady who was wiping Liz’s body to agree, she turned her cheeks red and lowered her face.
“What a foolish thing to say… She’s in trouble, too.”
“No, there’s no end to the number of marriage proposals from the nobility. They know that it’s useless considering the position that Liz is in right now, but they still show their disappointment when rejected; it’s a sinful appearance.”
Then, Rosa stroked Liz’s collarbone with her index finger and slid her finger through her chest. She keeps her mouth open, unconcerned about her sister’s cold stare.
“As I thought, maybe it’s because your breasts have grown a bit in the last two years.”
“…I can’t take it anymore.”
After walking past her sister in dismay, Liz left the bathroom, sat down on a special chair in the dressing room, and once again entrusted her body to the palace ladies.
As the acting emperor of the Grantz Empire, she needed to look presentable since she was about to have an audience with Prince Lichtine. It was outrageous to show up with hair that was still wet.
“I’ve grown taller, and my hair has grown longer, so it’s starting to look shiny. Even as a woman, I can’t help but feel something tingling in the back of my mind.”
As if to show her dismay that she was still going on, Liz propped her arms up on the armrests of her chair and rested her chin on them.
“Look, he was here before. You know, the shameless merchant who brought a mountain of gold coins to share with us for one night. Liz was horrible that time.”
As if she couldn’t take it anymore, she pointed at Rosa with a glare.
“Prime Minister Myste Cagliara Rosa von Kelheit, if you have nothing to do, then leave.”
The ranks of the Grantz Empire have changed over the past two years.
No, it had to change. Two years ago, the emperor was killed in the First Prince’s rebellion, and the Six Kingdoms’ invasion resulted in the loss of the Third and Fourth Princes. Taking advantage of the confusion, a mob of bandits attacked the imperial palace. Rosa was injured in the attack, the second prince was also seriously injured in a battle with the intruders, and Prime Minister Gils lost his life to them.
The Great Imperial Capital was plunged into chaos as a series of unprecedented incidents occurred.
Then, it must have been an unexpected event for the head of the southern nobility, Rosa’s rival faction, the Muzuk family, Vetu.
While Vetu was away with Liz, Rosa took advantage of the opportunity and launched her attack. The central nobility, who lost their authority due to the rebellion, and the western nobility, who were exhausted by the repeated wars, were brought into the fold with the financial power of the eastern nobility behind them, and also by making the most of the lie that she had conceived Hiro’s child through Vetu’s trickery.
When Vetu came back after the post-war process was over, Rosa fortified her ironclad defense and successfully won the position of Prime Minister as the successor to Prime Minister Gils.
“…You used to follow me around saying sister, sister, sister.”
When Rosa made a sulky gesture with her mouth agape, Liz sighed as she changed clothes.
“So, you should do something that is typical for the Prime Minister.”
“All right, all right. Don’t be so harsh. If Liz doesn’t like me, I will cry.”
She shrugged her shoulders without seeming to be offended.
“Then let’s get down to business.”
After changing to a more serious look, the palace ladies who were taking care of Liz left the room.
After she finished changing her clothes, Liz sat back in her chair and looked at Rosa, who switched from her sister to the Prime Minister.
“I received a letter from the Muzuk family ― Vetu.”
Vetu lost the battle for the Prime Minister with Rosa, but with his achievements in the conquest of the Six Kingdoms, he was promoted to Secretary of the Ministry of Military Affairs to prevent the decline of the power of influence.
The emperor had the right to appoint him, but the previous emperor, Greyheit, had died during the rebellion of the first prince. Although it was announced to the world that he was ostensibly lying ill, Vetu took advantage of the gap created by such complicated circumstances and took the position of Secretary of the Ministry. However, since Rosa had also forcefully obtained the position of Prime Minister, she could not strongly criticize Vetu.
For the past two years, Vetu had kept his representative in the Great Imperial Capital and himself in Sunspear, his headquarters.
“I thought he’d make a move by now, but finally, he has.”
“Yeah, he’s been working behind the scenes to get Liz as his puppet.”
“So what’s in the letter?”
“It’s a request to Liz, the sixth princess of the Great Grantz Empire. He requests that you go to the Steichen Republic to reinforce the Jotunheim faction.”
“Why in such a place?”
The Steichen Republic is a federal state that was originally divided into a number of countries.
About 500 years ago, three countries that were fighting for control of the southern part of the central continent ― the Principality of Lichtine, Jotunheim Kingdom, and the Nidavellir Kingdom ― formed an alliance in order to compete with the Grantz Empire.
Eventually, the Principality of Lichtine became independent from the Republic, and the two remaining powers ran the Steichen Republic, but three years ago, the situation began to change a bit.
After the death of the Supreme President of the Senate, the next Supreme President was to be elected, but the Jotunheim candidate was poisoned to death by the Nidavellir faction.
Some of the Jotunheim faction then retaliated by killing the Nidavellir candidate. This series of events deepened the conflict between the two camps and turned the Steichen Republic into a civil war.
“But I thought it was clear that the Nidavellir faction was going to lose because so many senators had turned to the Jotunheim faction.”
“It seems that this is not the case… and that the Nidavellir faction has begun to regain strength since the beginning of this year. We’ve received reports from our spies that the situation is quite tense. The investigation is not going as well as expected. But what is certain is that there is someone behind them.”
After hearing that much, Liz seemed to get it, leaning back in her chair and raising one hand.
“…So Vetu is trying to sell a favor by cooperating with the Jotunheim faction and use it for diplomacy later on.”
“On the surface, yes, but I think Vetu’s true intentions lie elsewhere.”
“His true intentions?”
“He wants me gone. He wants Liz to reinforce the Jotunheim faction and lose to the Nidavellir faction. Then he will blame Liz for her failure and try to undermine my power.”
Rosa shrugged her shoulders and stared at the floor as she continued.
“But I’d like to have a track record in this area. In the past two years, we have been pushing for reform by looking internally. Many nobles are dissatisfied with our policies.”
Vetu must have known this, and that’s why he threw out this difficult problem.
“But if the Jotunheim faction wins, it will show Liz’s power inside and outside the country, and it will also break Vetu’s nose. I don’t like being taken for a ride by Vetu, though.”
“Then let’s go. If I can’t overcome that many obstacles, I won’t get the throne.”
Liz answered immediately. Rosa rolled her eyes in surprise but quickly narrowed them in a dazzling way.
It was because Liz was full of confidence. She nodded her head several times and smiled.
“…Okay. I’ll take care of the preparations.”
“Then let’s have the meeting with the Prince of Lichtine next.”
Liz got up from her chair and called the palace ladies back.
Without being ordered to do anything, they began to carefully rinse and trim Liz’s hair.
When Rosa noticed that Liz’s hair was beginning to look better than when she had first been embarrassed, she softened the corners of her eyes in deep emotion.
Through the skylight at the top of the atrium, the sun peeked out in all its dazzling glory. The marble floor peeking out from the red carpet shines with reflected light from the brilliant sunlight pouring down from the ceiling.
The chalk columns that occupied both sides of the vast space were lined up vertically to the throne.
Standing to fill the gaps were the Grantz nobles.
This is the throne room in the center of the Grantz Empire, the Imperial Palace Venetian.
(Ge-General Ranquille… It’s still too much for me.)
The young prince of Lichtine, Karl Olk Lichtine, had a tense look on his face.
The civil servants supporting him in the back are also shrinking under the gaze of the Grantz nobles. The reason they were here was because the deadline for the non-aggression pact they signed with the Grantz Empire had passed. Although he had visited the Grantz with his civil servants to sign a new treaty, Karl was completely overwhelmed by the difference in rank.
(Obviously, we people from Lichtine are out of place…)
Even if the quality of the clothes they wore was the same, compared to the Grantz nobles who have adopted the latest fashions, they seem to be somewhat lower in grade.
(I’m reminded of the difference in national power when I come here.)
As Karl was feeling depressed, a drum was beaten.
Perhaps this was the signal for the start of the festival, but the musicians began to play a heroic tune.
But Karl didn’t have time to relax and listen. He was nervous, but more than that, he was transfixed by the beauty of the woman who appeared in front of him.
(Could it be… Her Highness Celia Estrella…?)
No, it’s probably her sister ― Karl mistakenly believed that it’s her sister, but he’s trying to regain his memory of two years ago.
(There’s no doubt that.. the atmosphere she wore was a remnant of that time, but with the disappearance of her childhood.)
She was a beautiful girl even then, but how could she change so much in just two years?
Karl is not only astonished but also terrified.
(Terrifying… If she hadn’t been chosen as one of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword, if she had been born as an ordinary princess, she would have surely left her mark on history as a leaning beauty.)
All the kings would have started a war over her. They must want to keep her with them even if they have to fill the Glaozarm Mountains with Grantz’s gold coins.
His imagination was stirred up from too much agitation, but the next thing he knew, the performance was over, and Liz, who was described as a leaning beauty, was sitting on her throne, glaring at Karl and the others.
Karl hurriedly got down on one knee and bowed his head. Even behind him, he could feel the civil servants moving hurriedly over his back. They seemed to have frozen when they saw the sixth princess.
“I am Karl Olk Lichtine, Prince of the Principality of Lichtine. I am here to sign a new treaty with your country. I have brought with me a small gift of the specialties of the Principality of Lichtine. I also brought some of our own medicines for His Majesty Greyheit, who is recuperating.”
“Thank you, Prince Lichtine; I’ve heard that your medicines are very effective. I am sure that His Majesty Greyheit’s condition will improve.”
Karl bowed again. The sixth princess threw a word at his head.
“Then let’s get down to business. Prince Lichtine, tell us about the new treaty you wish to conclude.”
Karl’s back trembled from the extreme tension and fear that was building up in him. The sixth prince’s words contained a cold air that seemed to push him away.
“It’s really selfish of me, but I have a favor to ask of you, even though I know you’re being generous. I would like to ask you to return the northern part of our country to the Principality of Lichtine, which was transferred to the Grantz Empire two years ago.”
Karl could not raise his head.
He didn’t have the courage to take on the anger that had been forced on him by that beauty. Still, there was a moment when the atmosphere changed.
When Karl finished ― though it was faint, it was clear that there was anger in the air from the sixth princess.
“A great deal of money has been invested in that area over the past two years. With the cooperation of the indigenous people, a policy of resettlement is underway. How can you expect us to give it back now?”
For many years, the northern part of the Principality of Lichtine had been barren land.
However, that was only until two years ago, and now it has been reborn with better water management. The technology and skill of the Grantz Empire to accomplish this in such a short period of time is something to be admired.
This is why there was dissatisfaction within the Principality of Lichtine.
They began to criticize Karl and Marquis Ranquille for their arbitrary decision two years ago to hand over the property to the Grantz Empire. Karl complained in his mind that the country would have been destroyed if he hadn’t done so, but he was selfish and then spoke.
“I’m not saying for free. If you return it to us, we will give you eighty percent of the tax revenue from the northern part of the country for the next two years, as well as the lease on the nearby mines.”
These should not be bad terms. The money invested so far can be recovered from the mine alone.
And if they could get eighty percent of the tax revenue from the northern area for another two years, all the work they had done so far would not be in vain.
“As I mentioned earlier, the migration policy is being implemented with the cooperation of the natives. Some of the people of Grantz have already started living in the northern part of the country. Prince Lichtine, are you going to ask them to abandon their homes and return to their homeland again? How cruel can you be?”
The sixth princess’s anger swelled to the point where it turned into murderous intent.
A large amount of greasy sweat appeared on Karl’s forehead as he received a piercing gaze.
Karl gritted his teeth in fear as he realized that he had stepped on the tiger’s tail after all this time.
(I-it’s as they say… it seems that it’s true that the sixth princess puts her people first.)
Among the successive Princes of the Principality of Lichtine, Karl was on the side of compassion for the people. It can be said that he was a rare kind of person in Lichtine, where the slave trade is the main business.
However, perhaps because he measured the value of human beings by money, he could sympathize with the feelings of the sixth princess, but he could not understand them.
“Prince Lichtine, I know that your country is suffering from famine.”
Karl didn’t want to show his country’s weakness to other countries, so he didn’t say it, but the Principality of Lichtine was facing the biggest famine in history. More than half of the country was covered by desert, and since last year there had been no rain at all. This had not only prevented crops from growing but had also led to rampant fighting and looting between nobles in the oases scattered throughout the country.
When the Steichen Republic learned of this misfortune, they dammed the waters of the Zale River, which flowed into the Principality of Lichtine, further accelerating the famine.
“It’s understandable that you want the water in the northern part of the country, where the water supply has improved. But the Grantz Empire is not going to give up the northern part of the country while neglecting its people.”
Karl gave up trying to argue with the cold stare he was receiving. If he tried to be selfish any longer, he could be beheaded right here and now.
That’s how angry the sixth princess was, and the pressure on Karl was immeasurable.
“If your country wishes, the Grantz Empire will provide as much support as possible. I will send a civil servant to you later, so you can discuss and decide.”
“Prince Lichtine, a small banquet has been prepared. Take your time and enjoy it.”
And with that, the sixth princess ended the conversation and rose from her throne to leave.
(General Ranquille… I’m sorry. It was too much for me after all.)
There were no results, just a reminder of the pure difference in power between a girl who was younger than him.
(…The actors were too different.)
Karl bites his bottom lip in frustration at the disappointing result. He was so intimidated by the sixth princess that he could not look up even once.