Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
There was a room in Venetian, the imperial palace of the Great Grantz Empire, where the world’s finest furnishings were gathered and displayed. However, the room was somewhat devoid of individuality. Perhaps because of the mixture of various things, although it was luxurious and gorgeous, the scene could be described as bleak.
The owner of this room was the previous emperor, Greyheit, and was now replaced by Liz, who was the acting emperor. Liz was sitting uncomfortably in a luxurious chair, listening to Rosa, who was sitting opposite her.
“20,000 of the Fourth Imperial Army have just arrived. There are another 20,000 private soldiers from the Muzuk family, making a total of 40,000 troops. Alternatively, the army of 30,000 in the east that we sent to the south will be on the defensive in the coming days. It should be possible to carry out the operation to recapture Felzen without any worries about the rear.”
“I’m not worried about that. I am more concerned about the quadrilateral talks.”
In the coming days, a meeting will be held between the Steichen Republic, the Principality of Lichtine, the Great Grantz Empire, and the small country of Baum.
On the agenda was the mediation between the Steichen Republic and the Principality of Lichtine.
Currently, both Steichen and Lichtine are in dispute over the rights to the Zahle River.
There was a reason for this complicated situation.
It all started when the Principality of Lichtine crossed the border and occupied Fort Burg from the Steichen side, which controlled the Zahle River, amid the civil war within the Steichen Republic that broke out last month. However, Steichen, exhausted by the civil war, really wanted to focus on domestic affairs, while the Principality of Lichtine, also suffering from famine, wanted to avoid war and stabilize the situation in the country. Neither of the two countries had the strength left to fight a war.
“Indeed… the Principality of Lichtine has brought up the small country of Baum.”
The Steichen Republic had decided that it could not settle the dispute through dialogue between the two countries and had asked the Great Grantz Empire to act as an intermediary. However, the Principality of Lichtine, perhaps fearing that it would be left to its own devices, pulled out of the small country of Baum.
“Thanks to this, the central street was blockaded, and its income decreased. In addition, the treasury’s goods have decreased significantly due to the increased security to welcome the princess shrine maiden. I can only think of it as harassment by the small country of Baum.”
Rosa cursed in her words, but she did not mean it from the bottom of her heart.
This was because the small country of Baum was providing the funds. But it was still painful to see the central street blocked off for days at a time.
“Well, we can still keep the rulers of the three countries glued to the Great Grantz Empire. Thanks to that, the southern countries are no longer an obstacle to our recapture of Felzen.”
Perhaps that was part of his plan.
The quadrilateral talks ― not all of them would be to their advantage.
The fact that the small country of Baum intervened in the talks must mean that they were trying to do something.
“You should be careful, Anee-sama. There is no doubt that the small country of Baum is up to something. It is impossible for him to cooperate with the Principality of Lichtine with only good intentions.”
“I know that. I know what he is trying to do and what he is after. In the meantime, we should find out what he is trying to achieve and what he is so anxious about. Once we know that, we will know why he left Grantz.”
Liz had revealed the identity of the “Black Dragon King” to Rosa.
If the identity of the “Black Dragon King” were to be learned during the four nations’ talks, Rosa’s mental state would no longer be normal. Therefore, Liz thought it would be better to reveal the truth rather than expose Rosa to a blunder so things could proceed smoothly.
(But Skaaha knew about it, didn’t she? Even before I told her… why?)
As Liz was about to dive into the sea of thoughts, Rosa interrupted her without a moment’s pause.
“And about the First Imperial Army.”
The lion’s army was the strongest in the Great Grantz Empire.
Since only the emperor possesses the authority to command them, they have been dissipating their resentment since the death of the previous emperor, Greyheit, only by scattering throughout the central region to maintain security.
“We can’t just let them run things on their own. Even if we use the authority of the acting emperor or the prime minister, we will only receive opposition from the nobles and princes. It’s not an emergency situation, so I think it’s best to maintain the status quo for the time being.”
They can’t afford to give the southern nobility ― the Muzuk family ― any chance to take advantage of them. Liz’s camp does not have the luxury of making unnecessary enemies.
“The First Imperial Army will not be moved, and only the Order of the Golden Lion will be sent westward under the guise of maintaining security. The situation is such that there is no reason to leave them idle.”
“Who has command?”
“Liz can take the command after the dispatch. There are already rumors that Liz will be the next emperor. And they will follow you obediently.”
“Wouldn’t that upset the Muzuk family, which is in control of the military affairs?”
“There is a way. The small country of Baum has gone to great lengths to come this time. I’ll take advantage of it. We’ll have to make a plan to weaken the power of the Muzuk family.”
With a wicked smile on her face, Rosa cleared her throat. Rosa’s happy emotion was showing on her face as if she was planning to outmaneuver the Muzuk family.
Liz smiled wryly and offered her advice.
“But there is one man who could be a nuisance. You’d better watch out for that man. I don’t think he’ll just sit there and let you get him.”
“Oh… you mean that man named Rozl? He’s going to take part in the operation to recapture Felzen this time. He may have decided that taking down Liz would be more rewarding than taking me down.”
Liz looked fed up with Rosa’s amused remark.
“…There seems to be no time for relaxing… But we may be able to see it as an opportunity to see what Rozl is capable of.”
“I’m thinking about that too, but there’s Aura-dono and Skaaha-dono over there too. They will help you. Don’t take on too much on your own, but consult with them carefully.”
“Yes… I will do so.”
“In any case, Vetu remained confined to the south. Because someone named Rozl has been leading the troops on his behalf, I will try to find out what he is thinking, but it is more likely that he will remain silent this time as well.”
Sooner or later, the time will surely come when they must confront Vetu directly. Vetu must have felt the same way about that. That was why he had been preparing for the coming day by staying in his own territory.
“Keep an eye on Vetu’s movements, as there is a possibility that he may connect with the Six Kingdoms.”
There was no reason not to be cautious. In national politics, the unexpected happens. The more excessive you were in these matters, the better you would be able to cope with the anomalies that may arise later on.
“I don’t think Vetu will be that desperate… but let’s assume the worst.”
“Yes, please do.”
The question remained――,
“I wonder about the north… I’ve heard bad rumors about it for a while now, but lately, it’s become more and more pronounced. How are things going with Selene-aniisama?”
“I hear he is recovering well, but more importantly, the Bromell family is growing stronger and stronger. The balance of power in the north is on the verge of collapse, but even if we offer our cooperation to Selene-aniisama, he will not accept it. We will have to wait and see how things go for the time being.”
“I will send a letter to him as well. It won’t matter if it’s too late.”
“He’s a stubborn man, you know.”
Rosa’s face turned down seriously with a skeptical expression on her face.
“I’ll have to persuade him patiently, but the question is whether there’s enough time left to do that.”
“Is the situation that dangerous?”
“On the surface, the Sharm family still has the upper hand, but if you look at the map of the noble lords that the Bromell family has entangled themselves with, the “White Silver Castle” is surrounded.”
Under siege and without reinforcements, the castle will fall into the hands of the Bromell family. If this were to happen, the stability of the north would inevitably collapse. There was no way that the south would sit idly by and watch. They will attack the Central as if to catch each other’s breath.
“If they were to take action, it would be when our eyes are completely focused on the Six Kingdoms. The Bromell family will launch a surprise attack. And after eliminating Selene-aniisama’s entourage, they may try to negotiate with him as hostages behind our backs.”
“If so, let’s keep an eye on them. Even if Selene-aniisama does not want our help, we will intervene in the north if we deem it dangerous. I’ll leave the decision to Rosa-aneesama.”
“I understand. Let’s proceed with the preparations.”
As the conversation seemed to be winding down, Rosa opened her mouth, seemingly remembering something.
“In that case, we can dispatch the Order of the Golden Lion to the north.”
The idea may have been to check the Bromell family, but in the current situation, that would likely cause a very dangerous situation.
“We don’t know what might trigger an outburst. We don’t want to provoke them and cause trouble in the north. Selene-aniisama may be doing something about it, so let’s just wait and see without interfering.”
Even Selene was not the type to just sit back and be beaten, and he must be thinking of a way to fight back.
Rosa also believed so and smiled as she nodded her head honestly.
“I understand. Then, I’ll increase the number of spy teams and let them search for information.”
“Yes, I’ll ask you to do that.”
“I have other business to attend to. I’ll leave you now.”
Rosa stood up and stopped to turn on her heel.
“Right. I’ll give you this. It is a report on the investigation of the emperor’s cemetery. Don’t expect too much from me. I intend to continue my investigation there as well.”
Putting the thick report on the desk, she continued.
“You will leave for Felzen tomorrow. Get some rest today. You can read the report on the way.”
With that, Rosa left the room.
Even though Liz had grown up, Rosa’s treatment of her younger sister had not changed.
Their positions may have reversed over the past two years, but it was honestly a relief to know that her attitude was still the same. The number of people who greeted her casually two years ago had decreased drastically. She felt a sense of loneliness, but the elation of being so close to the throne still prevailed. That was what she must keep in mind. She did not come this far alone.
“…I must read it properly.”
Liz took the thick report in her hand and pressed her forehead against it.
Rosa took time out of her busy schedule to continue her investigation. Even though it was not the Prime Minister’s job, she did not complain at all, but for Liz’s sake, she spared no time to sleep and continued to visit the emperor’s cemetery.
If that’s the case, I’ll be punished if I don’t take a good look at it, thought Liz.
“Even so… it’s not comfortable for me to read it here.”
Liz turned her head away from the report and looked around.
“It’s a strange room… I wonder if any of the emperors slept in rooms like this?”
The room lacked any semblance of cohesion.
While it has the luxury and splendor of a room, from Liz’s point of view, it looks like a storeroom.
Some of the items were worth enough to buy a city, but to be honest, she had no interest in them and wanted to sell them off and put them in the treasury.
“A history of looting ― as many countries have perished as there are furnishings.”
The emperor’s room was full of such things.
They displayed their achievements in their rooms and passed them onto the next emperor.
They appealed to the next emperor, saying, “You, too, must show your power by destroying other countries.”
“The time will come for reckoning… though it may be decades or centuries from now.”
It rises, and it perishes, it perishes, and it rises again.
History repeats itself, and the Great Grantz Empire should not be able to escape from this cycle either.
“Still… this is not the time.”
Liz turned her gaze to the window in a room dominated by darkness.
“Hiro… you think so too, don’t you?”
August 20th, 1026th year of the Imperial Calendar.
The Great Grantz Empire ― a section of the village of Luon, located on the outskirts of the Great Imperial Capital.
Here existed a cemetery for the burial of the deceased, including those from nearby villages. The graves were small and looked desolate, but they were all well maintained, and there were no weeds to be seen.
The grave of Tris von Termier was also quietly erected there. It was no larger than the others, and it was not decorated with jewelry; it blended in without standing out from its surroundings. It was a modest structure for the grave of someone who had been a close aide to the acting emperor.
Hiro knelt down on one knee and placed a flower in front of the grave.
He traced the name engraved on the gravestone with his bangs swaying in the gentle breeze.
“Tris-san… I never thought I would see you again in this way.”
A loyal subject of Liz’s who lost his life in the civil war that broke out in the Steichen Republic. His life was full of tumultuous events, but he never betrayed Liz and continued to serve her to the end. Hiro heard that his death was a heroic one, as was typical of Tris.
“Please watch over Liz. She has started down a thorny path.”
Liz would continue to lose her loyal subjects. Those closest to her would die first, and yet the battle would not end, and her heart would be consumed.
Her heart may grow cold and her soul may shatter, just as it happened to Hiro, a thousand years ago.
“But don’t worry. Unlike me, she is strong and will not break easily.”
Hiro stood up and made a small bow.
“Let me take care of Liz. I will not let her go down the same path as me.”
Hiro flipped off his cloak and began to walk briskly.
“I will eat all the despair. And Liz will just keep walking, believing in the light.”
He stroked his mask with his right hand and let out a small smile.
“A fast horse came just now. It seems to be numb, wondering if you’re still not coming.”
Luca appeared soundlessly behind him. But Hiro did not stop walking and kept going.
“Well… but the primary reason I came to Grantz is here.”
There were several reasons why he accepted the request of the Principality of Lichtine.
The first of these was to visit Tris’ grave.
The position of king is a complicated one. It is not easy to leave the country. There was no way he could visit the grave of a single individual, and considering his relations with other countries; he could not cross their borders without permission.
Without an excuse, it is impossible even to visit a grave.
“So, where are the complaints coming from?”
“You must be surprisingly popular to receive three letters at once, one from the Prime Minister of the Grantz Empire, one from the Supreme Chairman of the Steichen Republic, and one from the cowardly Prince of Lichtine.”
“I am not happy about it…”
“It’s your fault for being late for what you call an important meeting.”
“Why not? The star of the show always shows up late, right?”
“Well, you’re not very self-aware, are you?”
Luca touched the mask on her face carelessly, as if she was annoyed with it. She must be annoyed at being made to wear something she is not accustomed to.
“I never thought I’d have to wear something like this… Eagle would be crying behind the grass if he looked at me like this.”
“It’s okay if you live in a closed space in Baum, but this is Grantz territory where nobody knows who’s watching. I don’t think revealing your true face so openly would be wise.”
When Hiro explained it to her, Luca snorted.
“Hah, I understand without being told. I just wanted to complain; you really are dull and uncaring, aren’t you? A man should just shut up and listen.”
“…..Sorry about that.”
After explaining a few things to her, this was what he got.
After all, if he made a joke to her, the sarcasm would come back to him tenfold. Even though he should have known this, he might have been a little distracted.
“…So, the princess shrine maiden hasn’t said anything to you?”
“I think she’s not saying anything because she can “see” us. The Great Grantz Empire is not as big as Baum, but there are a lot of spirits, and there are eyes watching everywhere.”
“I can see the greatness of it when you say it again.”
“Clairvoyance” is the ability to see far into the distance. Although it cannot hear words, it is an extraordinary eye that can read people’s emotions and, to a certain extent, understand what is going on.
“Your “Heavenly Spirit Eye” is also a cheat eye, but your… right eye is also very strange.”
Hiro stopped and turned to Luca with a curious look on his face.
“What is it?”
“No, it’s nothing. Maybe the different color of the left and right eye makes it strange.”
Hiro shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and started walking again.
“…..That may be so.”
Feeling Luca’s eyes on him from behind, Hiro covered his right eye with his right hand.
(I may still need to make some adjustments.)
The right eye that was lost in the battle with the Six Kingdoms ― but regenerated by the “miracle” left to him by Altius. It couldn’t be exactly the same, but it is still indispensable for Hiro now.
(Come to think of it… which one is Liz’s?)
The previous emperor, Greyheit, was holding the baby Liz in his arms that day at the emperor’s cemetery.
From the moment he saw that figure ― Hiro was convinced.
(Altius… If Liz is your descendant, she will surely be able to open your eyes.)