Summer light steamed the world.
Sunlight reflected from the great ocean to the west illuminated the land.
However, the growing trees protected the city dwellers from the sun, and the sea breezes sent in from the ocean brought cool air to lower the body’s temperature. Today again, people with tanned skin were unloading cargo from trading ships and bringing in new cargo to watch over their departure.
This was the port city of Fierte, the capital of the country of Greif.
Among the six united kingdoms, the port city of Fierte boasts the largest in both size and trade volume.
Since Greif had the current unified king, trade with other countries was flourishing, and people were coming and going actively. On top of a hill overlooking the port city stood a luxurious and gorgeous royal palace.
The hill road leading to the palace was filled with soldiers.
The number of soldiers, more than 10,000, was nothing short of breathtaking, but the tense air made people feel uneasy and uncertain in their hearts.
Off the road on the rugged hill, encampments had been set up at intervals.
The flags dotted about were the emblems of the countries that made up the Six Kingdoms.
However, the kings who had led them were nowhere to be seen.
This was because their kings were gathered in a room in the royal palace of Fierte, the center of the Six Kingdoms, just past the heavily guarded hill road.
“King Scorpius is absent again?”
A woman sitting on a chair at a round table said while fanning herself with a fan.
Lucia Levia de Anguis, queen of Anguis, one of the six kingdoms.
If one word could describe her appearance, it would be ― bewitching.
Her fragrance with a hint of sex appeal was so sweet that it stimulated the brain, and her gorgeous features attracted others with just one glance at her well-groomed face. Her fine skin texture was as fine as that of the long-eared race, and it was no exaggeration to say that her blessed appearance was supreme. When she crossed her legs, her smooth thighs were exposed to the outside world, and all eyes were naturally drawn to the darkness at the base of her thighs.
“It seems that he is not in good physical condition, so I, the Prime Minister, will join you this time as well.”
The one who responded to Lucia’s words was the representative of the country of Scorpius.
It was difficult to grasp the subtleties of his emotions from the white hood and mouth. Even so, his characteristic long ears extending out to the side, combined with the whiteness of his skin, made it clear that he was from a long-eared race.
Lucia responded casually and snorted, seemingly uninterested.
“Hah ― isn’t that strange, huh? When I visited him last month, he seemed to be in good health, didn’t he?”
“He was overworked. There was no need to cause Lucia-sama any unnecessary worry.”
“But I would like you to tell me what it means that four years have passed since King Scorpius fell ill, and his condition is still unknown, even though he is being examined by a group of men with the greatest knowledge, the long-eared race.”
“Even the long-eared race is not omniscient and omnipotent. For example, I have some understanding of politics, but when it comes to medicine, I am completely out of my field of expertise. Even the long-eared race has its own strengths and weaknesses, just as the human race does.”
Lucia, perhaps stimulated by her mischievous spirit, smiled wickedly at the Scorpius Prime Minister, who avoided making any clear statements, and was about to launch a verbal attack when a thick voice interrupted her from the side.
“Indeed, Queen Anguis. Stop imposing your excessive expectations on us long-eared race.”
The man who interrupted from the side was the king of Tigris, a man who gave the impression of coarseness for the graceful long-eared race. Unfortunately, his appearance is not easy to grasp, as he is covered by a white cloak made up of a single top and bottom layer.
“I think the Scorpius Prime Minister is managing very well. He is governing the country admirably while King Scorpius is on his sickbed. It is not a strange suspicion to level at such a distinguished vassal.”
That is one of the reasons for Lucia’s irritation.
Lucia hid her mouth with a fan to hide her anger and glared at King Tigris.
“You think it’s a good thing that the long-eared race is in charge of running the country?”
Lucia was deeply displeased at the arrogance of the long-eared race to hold the real power while disdaining the human race.
There were two other countries in the Six Kingdoms ruled by “human races” aside from Anguis.
One was Greif, which had a united king, and the other was Azel, but because the queen was so young, she had no say in the country’s affairs, and she managed the country according to the wishes of the other kings.
Queen Azel, who was present at the meeting of the Six Kings, kept her eyes tightly closed to avoid the tense atmosphere and maintained silence to avoid offending the kings of the other countries.
“Why don’t you say something, Queen Azel? Don’t be shy just because you are a newcomer.”
Queen Azel stood erect and unmoving under Lucia’s gaze.
Her body was tense like a frog staring at a snake, and her lovely rounded forehead was covered with a large amount of perspiration.
“Hahi! I-I don’t have anything to say ― b-b-but, it’s not indifference or anything, you know…”
The end of the sentence became more and more feeble, and Queen Azel eventually sat down in her chair and began apologizing repeatedly in a whisper. Finally, the air that had been tensely relaxed, and Lucia used a fan to dispel the gloom that was about to fill the air and then let out a single sigh of grief.
“When will she ever have the dignity of a queen…?”
After all, Lucia has no allies in this place.
The long-eared race had come to dominate the Six King’s Council, and the “human race” had lost its right to speak.
The population distribution in each country was now dominated by other races than “humans.”
“It seems that everyone has gathered here. Shall we begin the Six Kings Council?”
And the ones who appeared in the room were the original culprit who took the throne from Luca and Eagle, the Urpeth siblings. He was “Nameless,” the former king of Urpeth and the current Prime Minister of Greif.
“Nameless-dono, is it all right if the King of Urpeth has not yet arrived?”
“Yes, it is all right. I have just received a letter of apology. He is unable to leave his home country on another matter, and he will follow the outcome of the talks.”
Nameless sat down with a nonchalant look on his face, acting as if he were the king himself.
(Everything started going crazy after he appeared.)
About ten years ago, “Nameless” emerged at a rapid pace. An unknown person, whose identity was unknown, had risen to the inner circle of the previous king of Urpeth.
This became a bit of a topic of conversation, but none of the countries had the luxury of worrying about what other countries were doing.
With the exception of Greif, all the other countries were experiencing the rare phenomenon of a replacement.
(When the lid was opened… it turned out that the kings of all the countries were all long-eared races.)
The death of the previous king of Urpeth was also suspicious, and many of the vassals who had supported the country of Urpeth had lost their positions. Other countries are no different, with kings falling ill or losing their royalty, the long-eared race gaining power, and the unified king was also in poor health. It was also around the same time that Vanir three kingdoms in the south began to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
“Is the unified king absent as well?”
“He is not feeling well, and he said he would leave it to me this time as well.”
After the unified king stopped appearing in public, “Nameless” is now running the Six Kingdoms in his place. No, the long-eared race had begun to rule the Six Kingdoms.
“It is unfortunate.”
Despite his words, Prime Minister Scorpius never ceased to smile.
“I suppose it can’t be helped. Let us leave this to you, Nameless-dono.”
King Tigris allowed it, laughing cheerfully.
“I will follow your opinion.”
The queen of the Kingdom of Azel was still looking around with a timid attitude.
Nameless’s words were accepted without suspicion as if there was a script in place as if they were arranged in advance.
(It’s a farce, isn’t it? Everything will turn out just as Nameless wants it to, without any further discussion.)
Lucia desired to end the futile talks and return to the Felzen region as soon as possible. It would be nothing but a waste of time to discuss the issue in a place where she had no say in the matter, a union state that had been reduced to a mere shell. However, if she took a stubborn attitude here, the position of the “human race” would be endangered even more.
In order to regain the former Six Kingdoms, she must not make any suspicious moves, and she must vigilantly accumulate her power. The long-eared race wouldl eventually be driven out, and the “Equal” Union would once again be administered.
(But I don’t want to get along with the long-eared race.)
Lucia glanced at the “Nameless,” but as usual, his expression was hidden in the shadows, and only the corners of his mouth were visible. Perhaps noticing Lucia’s gaze, the darkness that ruled inside the hood stirred.
“Then, let’s get started; the topic is about Felzen.”
The sound of his voice again made it difficult to read his emotions. His voice sounded happy yet somewhat drawn out.
Whether he was acting or serious, there was a hint of mockery in his voice.
“We are currently in control of all of Felzen, but our influence is weakening as we move eastward due to the presence of Grantz’s forces along the border. This has caused many refugees along with the Felzen nobility, who are afraid of the Grantz, to flow to the west.”
This was the cause of the financial pressure on each country. Anguis, where Lucia ruled, was no exception.
Even after escaping the control of the Grantz, the Felzen region lost several villages and towns in the battles between the Felzen Liberation Army and the Six Kingdoms. As a result, the security situation had deteriorated, and the Six Kingdoms had been providing clothing, food, and shelter to the people who had abandoned their collapsed hometowns and drifted away.
The most troubled of these are probably the two countries that control the largest areas, Scorpius and Tigris. A policy error in the early stages of the project has created a huge backlash. They were short of manpower to deal with the situation, and their own people were complaining that they had released their wealth to the “human race” to appease public sentiment.
(That’s what happens when you jump at an immediate profit.)
Anguis, ruled by Lucia, received a small area in the west from the unified king.
Compared to other areas, security was relatively stable. Thanks to this, she was able to do her best to eliminate the distrust of the people. Her efforts were recognized, and with the unified king’s approval, she succeeded in expanding the area under her control. Her territory has tripled since the initial period, and she was now in charge of the new royal capital, and her rule was progressing smoothly. Other countries had adopted the same approach, but it had yet to yield any benefits.
“Don’t treat the refugees with disregard, but distribute as much food as you can to them. This is also necessary in terms of suppressing future rebel groups. If you feel that your country cannot provide for the refugees on its own, you will cooperate with other countries to help them.”
Nameless’s head shook, and it was directed at Lucia.
“First of all, we will take complete control of Felzen. In order to do so, we must be accepted by the people of Felzen. There are still those who stand in the way, the Felzen Liberation Army. We could use force to eliminate them once and for all, but we cannot give Grantz an excuse to intervene. We must weaken them peacefully.”
Nameless said, and then his mouth filled with a smile.
“It will be difficult to solve this problem through dialogue. Therefore, I would like to ask for the cooperation of Anguis.”
Lucia’s eyebrows furrowed at the abrupt request.
Nameless’s smile deepened as if he had noticed this.
“The Anguis Kingdom has been unexpectedly well received by the people of Felzen, hasn’t it? I am so impressed by Your Majesty Queen Lucia’s skill. I would really like to use you as a reference.”
“What are you trying to say… Nameless?”
“I am wondering if you would be willing to share your knowledge and skills with other countries. We would like to have Anguis dispatch knowledgeable people to areas controlled by other countries.”
“I cannot do that. Even my country does not have the luxury of human resources. The only way is for each of you to make your own efforts in this area. I will not spare any technical cooperation for that purpose, do you understand?”
“Yes, therefore, we will dispatch the missing personnel from Greif and, of course, from other countries as well. We will select the best ones, so they will not be less capable than your men.”
Lucia bit her teeth at Nameless’s offer. The others also agreed with Nameless, and all eyes were on Lucia. It would have been easy to reject the offer. But if she did, Nameless would use his power of coercion to disqualify her.
Nameless was afraid that Anguiss would become powerful after taking complete control of Felzen. This was probably why he wanted to drain the country of its human resources and reduce its power while he still had the chance.
“Of course, each country will provide aid in the form of goods. For the further prosperity and development of the Six Kingdoms, would you be willing to cooperate in educating the human resources of each country?”
This was an offer of cooperation, and as an allied nation, an offer made from an “equal” position.
Even so, it was only natural that Lucia’s position would become worse if she refused. She could not afford to strengthen the power of the long-eared race by making a difference here, but if she cooperated, her technology would be leaked, and even her personnel would be lost.
(…Whether they intend to monitor me or take me over from the inside, something must be done.)
Lucia immediately cut off the hatred swirling in her heart, spread out her fan, covered her mouth, and turned her cold, stern gaze on Nameless.
“Very well. If you say it is for the prosperity of the Six Kingdoms, I can’t help but cooperate.”
Lucia suppressed her tone as much as possible and finally said in a chilly voice.
“――I will make you regret it.”
She added a note of murderous intent in her voice so that only Nameless could hear her.
“I look forward to it.”
The mouth of Nameless, who coolly accepted the message, was stained with delight.
Everyone could sense the tension in the air between the two, but those who knew the history between the two could only watch in silence, as it was a common occurrence for them.