Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
“I heard it was a big deal to welcome the “Black Dragon King” as king this time.”
“…Yes, that’s right. Many people avoided welcoming His Majesty the “Black Dragon King.” But the oracle of the Spirit King cannot be ignored.”
“The oracle of the Spirit King… If that is said, the people will have no choice but to obey.”
The people of Baum, who worship the Spirit King, first and foremost believe in the words of the princess shrine maiden.
If she told them that it was the oracle of the Spirit King, they would have no choice but to follow it, even if it was false.
“Are you in doubt?”
The princess shrine maiden asked, and Liz only shrugged her shoulders.
It would be a lie to say that she did not have doubts. But there was no way to know for sure whether it was true or not.
The only person who could hear the words of the Spirit King was the princess shrine maiden.
“No, I was just a little curious.”
Liz smiled and shook her head, trying not to let her inner feelings be known.
“Well… if you have anything on your mind, don’t hesitate to ask me anything.”
The princess shrine maiden’s gaze never left Liz as she continued to smile unchanged.
“There is a millennium bond between Baum and Grantz, you know.”
The unexplainable chill that crawled up Liz’s spine… the smile of a somewhat chilly princess shrine maiden was visible and hidden under the moonlight. It was also the role of the princess shrine maiden to be able to combine the pure and the unclean, and this was the role of a person who should be in charge of running a nation. Liz envied her cunning to the point of purity.
“You are strong…”
“No, I’m not strong. I’m not even able to move from my own country, even though I’m told I have influence. It is no exaggeration to say that I can do nothing with this.”
She could not move easily. That was why the value of the existence of the princess shrine maiden was enhanced.
This may be the reason why they are called a big nation despite being a small country.
Liz, too, was no longer a stranger to the world. She would no longer be able to move around freely as she does now, and she would no longer be allowed to talk to the people and soldiers as casually as she used to.
If she took the throne of the Great Grantz Empire, she would be separated from the rest of the world, and she would have to live an uncomfortable life in an abyss where all kinds of spirits from the mountains and rivers were spreading.
“――Liz-sama, you seem to have something on your mind.”
Liz’s shoulders shook in surprise when the princess shrine maiden suddenly called out to her.
“I wonder if it showed on my face?”
It was dark. Even though there was moonlight, it was impossible to observe every detail of a person’s face.
Liz had thought so but then changed her mind.
The princess shrine maiden was pointing her “eye” at Liz.
“The clairvoyant eye can see people’s emotions, and although Liz-sama is better at hiding her colors than in the past, I can still ‘see’ something like a wavering.”
The “clairvoyant eye” was called the world’s three most secret eyes, along with the “lion’s eye” and the “heavenly spirit eye.”
It’s a special eye that has been passed down from generation to generation of the princess shrine maiden, and it’s nearly impossible to hide emotions from her, as even the slightest distress could be detected as color.
“I have heard a lot about you, Liz-sama. Even the slightest distress is perceived as color and is detected. That is why you must have been surprised once again at the vastness of the Great Grantz Empire.”
The princess shrine maiden looked up at the night sky, and Liz was also drawn in by her gaze and looked up above her.
Perhaps the wind was blowing fast, the thick clouds had passed, and the moon was shining.
The moon’s light warmly illuminated the ground, and the stars continued to twinkle as brightly as the moon.
“I was wondering if I will be able to control the giant lion when I take over the throne…”
The profile of the princess shrine maiden, who gazed at the healthy stars, did not allow any emotion to be realized.
“That’s what you’re anxious about, isn’t it?”
Not all ― but it’s almost as if she’s been told.
The decision was quick, whether to deceive or not or whether to admit it.
There was no point in hiding from her “eye.” It would be troublesome if her true feelings were traced back to her.
So, Liz answered with a smile that she had hit the nail on the head.
“Yes, you’ve got it right. I’m certainly wondering if I’m worthy of being an empress right now.”
Now that she was closer to the top, she had a more detailed and accurate understanding of the issues surrounding the Grantz. The tyranny of the noble lords belonging to the regions, the rebellions, and smoldering embers that arose were growing larger and larger every day. Above all, the expansion of warfare had not stopped. Many countries were hoping for the downfall of the Grantz and were working below the surface towards that end.
However, this was nothing new. It was just that the pus that had accumulated over a thousand years, was about to erupt.
Successive emperors must have had the same concerns as Liz. They must have been terrified lest a piece of the assembled building blocks fall apart during their reign.
“I heard from the previous princess shrine maiden that the previous emperor, His Majesty Greyheit, was also troubled in the same way as Liz-sama.”
When he was young, the previous emperor Greyheit wished to unify the central continent and dreamed of becoming the thirteenth of the Twelve Great Gods of Grantz. He had destroyed many small countries and had also overthrown rebellions by force. It was often said that he was arrogant and vicious ― more belligerent than the First Prince Stobel, who had gone into hiding. Above all, he was bent on destroying Felzen by the time Liz could remember.
“Don’t you believe it? That man used to visit the “Spirit King’s Temple” and consult with the previous princess shrine maiden.”
The princess shrine maiden looked at the imperial palace and gently softened the corners of her eyes.
“Your predecessor had the reputation of being a kind-hearted person, the exact opposite of what is rumored in the world.”
It was a surprising assessment; she had to say. Therefore, Liz could not accept it completely.
Perhaps realizing this, the princess shrine maiden put her hand over her mouth and smiled wryly.
“Fufu, Liz-sama, do you know about the five-year spring?”
It is also a well-known story.
It refers to the period before Liz was born when there was not a single conflict on the central continent.
The name “Five Year Spring” was given to this period because it was the only time nothing happened during the reign of the previous emperor, Greyheit, who was one or two of the most belligerent emperors of all time.
“Actually, it was the time when His Majesty Greyheit met Liz-sama’s mother, Primavera-sama. The name “Five Year Spring” was given to protect the honor of the Emperor, but in reality, it was the period when His Majesty Greyheit was in love with her.”
It was hard to believe that Greyheit, who did not consider people to be people, had a pure heart to fall in love. So, stunned, Liz could not say anything but could only stare at the princess shrine maiden in amazement.
Meanwhile, she continued to open her mouth.
“I heard that the meeting between the two of them was shocking. I heard that Liz-sama’s mother suddenly hit him. She was working on a farm, and she punched him mercilessly in the cheek with her mud-caked hands.”
At the time, the southern part of the Grantz, which was suffering from heavy taxation, was frustrated with the emperor. In order to reduce the pent-up frustration, the emperor was forced to tour the southern cities.
Then, Greyheit, tired of touring, visited the small town of Lynx with only his personal guard in tow. They occupied a tavern and began to drink and frolic, and their insolence was so much that Liz’s grandfather, who was the lord of Lynx at the time ― his daughter Primavera ― ran out of patience and hit Greyheit.
“I heard that she shouted at him that an emperor who drank and made a racket while his people were suffering should be put to death.”
“I’m surprised she wasn’t executed…”
“I heard that she was very quick in her escape. The people around them were also taken aback.”
The princess shrine maiden laughed a little. She might have laughed out loud if it weren’t for the fact that it was nighttime.
That was how patient the princess shrine maiden was, with her shoulders quivering.
“But there is no way she could have escaped. Above all, she was famous in the south as a vivacious and beautiful woman, so she was quickly discovered, and it seems that she and her father came to the great imperial capital later to apologize.”
Even then, Primavera, perhaps in desperation because she thought she was going to be executed, caused a great commotion by shouting that the emperor was a fool in front of the high-ranking officials and noble lords.
“But His Majesty the previous emperor, Greyheit, laughed and forgave her. Not only that, but he also bestowed upon her many treasures.”
“I wonder if he got a severe beating when he was punched?”
The princess shrine maiden’s eyes showed some surprise when she heard Liz say that.
“Yes… Primavera-sama, while rolling her eyes in front of the many treasures, said the same thing to His Majesty Greyheit as Liz-sama.”
However, Liz’s mother, Primavera, wished to share the treasures with her people and returned to her territory without receiving anything. The nobles and lords were up in arms about the rudeness, but the previous emperor, Greyheit, laughed it off and forgave her.
He then changed the tax rate to improve local governance, but he was especially generous in his support for the south, and his enthusiasm was tremendous.
“I heard that for about three years, the previous emperor, His Majesty Greyheit, kept sending letters to the Primavera-sama. I also heard that he traveled to the south many times whenever he had the opportunity. Overcome by his enthusiasm, Primavera-sama became a member of the Grantz imperial family as the fourth queen, even though she was a minor noblewoman.”
The princess shrine maiden stopped talking from that point on.
She simply looked up at the statue of “Goddess of Beauty” again as if to say that the topic was over.
The reason for her silence was quite understandable.
The “spring” did not last long.
Not long after Liz’s birth, the first empress committed a massacre in the rear palace.
When the previous emperor, Greyheit, who had gone to the north for an inspection, had returned, the palace had been burned down, and everything was finished. From that place, including the first empress who was involved, Liz’s mother, Primavera, was also found in a changed state.
Miraculously, Liz was saved by her grandfather. However, her grandfather passed away just like his daughter, and Liz’s uncle Kiork succeeded him as head of the family. Losing her backing, Liz was shunned by the nobles and lords, and she has had a difficult life up to the present day.
“There were hard times, but… my mother left me many things to cherish.
Although she has no memorable recollections, it is not clear whether she was aware of the danger to herself or not, but Primavera left many letters to Liz.
“Because of that, I held on to my dream and met Tris and Dios. Because I didn’t give up, Hiro led me to Aura and Skaaha… I was able to make connections with various people.”
Liz took one look at “Goddess of Beauty” and then turned back to the princess shrine maiden and began to walk away.
“I’d better get back. If I am away from the imperial palace for too long, it’ll create a fuss. Princess Shrine Maiden had better go back too. I think everyone is in a panic right now.”
“Yes, I will return in a little while.”
At the princess shrine maiden’s reply, Liz stopped and turned around, tilting her head.
“Do you want me to leave my guard with you?”
“No, it’s fine.”
Liz looked around for signs of life and noticed a few people looking at her. The breathing was inaudible, the figure was assimilated into the darkness, and the faintest hint of presence was blended into the air.
The princess shrine maiden also seemed to have a group of excellent people guarding her.
“I guess there’s nothing to worry about. Then I’ll leave you here.”
Liz’s footsteps were small as she left in the silence, perhaps mindful that it was late at night.
Gazing at the back of the kind-hearted red-haired princess, the princess shrine maiden opened her mouth so small that it could not be heard by Liz as if to let out a breath.
“Liz-sama, even the possessors of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword are usually unable to recognize it.”
From astonishment to calmness ― yet there was still a look of unquenchable surprise in the princess shrine maiden’s gaze.
Eventually, her expression changed to one of lamentation, and she looked up at the night sky concerningly.
“Is the eye-opening coming soon… how should I explain to His Majesty the “Black Dragon King”…?”
After shaking her head in concern, the princess shrine maiden looked at the stars shining brightly.
“Perhaps this is part of your plan――”
She continued to speak as if earnestly, hoping that he would tell her that it was a lie.
“O Spirit King… what do you think is happening?”
There was no answer.
The princess shrine maiden, who had given up, turned her eyes to follow Liz’s back once more.
Blackness covered her vision ― an abyss spreading out as if to promote uneasiness.
“Liz-sama… do you know one of the reasons why His Majesty Greyheit has been so fascinated with Primavera-sama?”
The summer night breeze softened the cool air.
A strange coldness assailed her body and continued to rob her of her body heat.
The anxiety only increased, and a mass of fear coiled in the depths of her heart.
“It was because she had red hair.”
The anxiety that was spewed out with the words was carried away by the wind without forming any shape.
They were endlessly entangled and dissolved into the darkness.