Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
After the quadrilateral meeting was over, Hiro left the room and was stopped by Rosa.
“My lo… Black Dragon King-dono, can you spare me a moment?”
“…What is it?”
When he turned around, he saw Rosa standing there with a slightly happy look on her face.
Hiro had heard that she had been extremely busy since she became Prime Minister. Even so, her beauty was the same as when he first met her. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that she had become more refined.
“I would like to talk to you about something. Could you come to my room this evening?”
“Understood… I’ll be there.”
He knew what she wanted to talk about. For the past two years, information about Grantz had been delivered to Hiro. The fact that the king of Baum visited this time was an important matter for the Grantz side ― the Liz camp ― in terms of outwitting the opposing faction. As always, Hiro was impressed by Rosa’s keen eye for not letting an opportunity to win slip away.
“I look forward to it. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
She probably had a lot of other things to do. Rosa said so and left quickly with a wave of her hand behind her back. After watching her back, Hiro was about to start walking again.
“Please wait, Black Dragon King-dono!”
Karl came around in front of him. His face was full of joy, and he snorted slightly in excitement.
“I’m glad I asked you to help me. Thank you so much.”
“It’s just a matter of mutual interest, but I’ll make sure you keep your promise.”
He glared at Karl, who bowed repeatedly.
“Of course, I will return to Lichtine immediately and promptly deliver what I have promised.”
Karl left with his escort soldiers, perhaps happy to deliver the good news to Ranquill, his feet bouncing and his light footsteps echoing in the corridor.
Shaking his head tiredly, Hiro was about to step out again.
“Wait a minute.”
He got stopped a lot today.
When he turned around with a fed-up look on his face, he saw Skadi standing with an imposing stance.
“What do you want?”
“You’ve been talking to each other, haven’t you? The man who had been so soft-spoken and obstinate responded with words the moment he heard what you had to say. What are you up to?”
He could sense the anger in Skadi’s eyes as though she was about to snap at him at any moment.
Still, Hiro’s expression remained calm, and he just stared at her with cold eyes.
“They call us a small country ― but we are in charge of a huge structure called a country. Everyone has one or two things they’re up to.”
The world was not so naive that a nation could be run based on goodwill. If you dared to, you would be destroyed by other countries, and if you walked away, your country would collapse. But that did not mean that retreat was acceptable, and the only course to take was to keep looking forward. Even if ruin awaited in the future, there was no way to stop the monster called a nation.
“That is why countries come closer to each other. Sometimes they become enemies, sometimes they join hands again, sometimes they solve their problems, and sometimes they create new conflicts.”
An endless cycle from which there was no escape. People were forever trapped in that framework.
“Yes, that’s true. But not from your point of view.”
Skadi declared. She denied Hiro’s truth from the very beginning.
“You only think of us as stepping stones.”
“Why do you think so?”
“Because you don’t see us. I don’t know where it is, but you are looking far ahead. You don’t care about our country. You just see it as a passing point, as cold as a stone on the side of the road.”
“Heh… you have a keen eye for observation; I’ll give you credit for that.”
Hiro did not deny Skadi’s points but slowly raised his hand and held up his index finger.
“But you are mistaken about one thing. I’m not trying to use you as a stepping stone.”
He raised his middle finger again and smiled as he walked over to Skadi.
“But I’m not going to walk around being nice to everyone.”
When he finally raised his ring finger, he made a fist and slammed it against the wall.
“I intend to leave those who cannot resist the flow of time that lies ahead.”
Perhaps alarmed by Hiro’s series of actions, Skadi jumped back and distanced herself.
Hiro stepped forward with a mischievous smile at her overreaction.
“I don’t mean to be an obstacle. I just think it would be unbearable to let someone die without a moment’s notice.”
Only those who could withstand the fires of hell were needed in the future. Only a handful of the strong would survive.
The weak, who could only serve as a stepping stone, should just sit back and watch without interrupting.
“You do you say ― Hey?”
Hiro’s provocative words and actions may have pushed her to her limits, and Skadi pulled out the claws from her waist.
In response to Skadi’s anger, the blade turned black.
Not surprised by the strange phenomenon, Hiro looked at her weapon with emotionless eyes.
“A swing of one of the Five Elements of the Dragon Phoenix Sword ― a ‘Mad Claw,’ huh? It is the claw of the ‘king’ who once ruled the sky.”
When Hiro said this, the emotion drained from Skadi’s face.
“…Who the hell are you really?”
The reaction was just as Hiro had imagined, and he turned his face down as if to suppress a laugh.
“You want to know who I am?”
He held his mask with his right hand and let a joyful voice escape from his throat.
“…Did your Mad Claw not tell you?”
“Yeah ― it told me. It told me to fight you.”
Skadi looked around. Before she knew it, people had begun to gather.
“But it’s not good here.”
If the two of them fought here, the damage would be enormous.
“Follow me. Let’s do it in a calm place.”
With her back turned, Skadi, perhaps convinced that Hiro would follow her, strode majestically down the corridor without once looking back.
“….I see. It seems that she was chosen by the “Mad Claw ” and is not just a battle maniac.”
Clear, straightforward behavior, a winning personality, a strong sense of compassion, and a fastidiousness that hates crookedness.
She was a very capable person for a beastman whose virtue was to be a reckless rusher.
She reminded Hiro of one of his former subordinates, a beastman who was one of the five Black Heavenly Generals.
“This will be interesting. I will correct her haughty attitude just as I did with him.”
Hiro smiled happily as he stared at the back of the beastman who had yet to know defeat.
“Where are you looking while I’m talking to you?”
Lucia looked suspiciously at Nameless, who suddenly looked up at the eastern sky. However, no answer came back. He just kept staring at the eastern sky in silence.
“…..I really don’t know what you’re thinking about.”
The sky was a plain blue sky as usual, with only a few white clouds floating by.
Looking down, the balcony overlooks the port city of Fierte.
Surrounded by the blue sea and white walls, lush green trees called sea figs protected the people from the sun. Many ships were coming to the harbor today. Many of them were trading ships from the Vanir three kingdoms to the south, and among the wheat-colored people, the white-skinned long-eared people were conspicuous. Looking at them for a long time, one could sense a strange atmosphere in the harbor.
“It’s a sight I’m still not used to seeing.”
On the west side of the central continent, it was not unusual to see long-eared people.
Compared to the east, there were far more of them. Nevertheless, it was only in the last few decades that the sighting of the long-eared peoples had become commonplace here.
“The shut-in… has come this far out into the open.”
From the very beginning, the long-eared race were people who did not like to have much contact with the outside world.
In the countries other than the Western Continent and the Vanir three kingdoms, the area around Tigris, one of the six kingdoms, was an area where the appearance of the long-eared peoples was not unusual. In recent decades, however, they have become a common sight in all of the Six Kingdoms.
“Really… where have they been hiding all these years?”
For many years, the population of the long-eared people who had not appeared in the public eye was considered small.
In literature, it was written that the birth rate is low because of their longevity, and their beautiful appearance emphasizes their mysteriousness. However, when looking at the long-eared people in this way, it is easy to see that their ecology was shrouded in mystery.
“In fact… there are so many long-eared people out there.”
Lucia opened her fan to fan herself and turned her attention back to the long-eared race next to her.
“I see you have finally returned. Where have you been?”
Naturally, Lucia could not read the expression on his face, which was hidden by his hood. The only way to know what he was thinking in the dark was to guess from his mouth.
“…..I have been away for a little while.”
“Did you see anything interesting?”
“No, I don’t know. It was more like fear than amusement.”
That’s a strange impression. It is a simple reply considering that Nameless enjoyed peeping.
In other words, he “saw” something that was worth it. [T/n: I still don’t know about Nameless’s real gender right now, so I’ll just write him as ‘he’ for the time being.]
“So, what were you talking about?”
Before Lucia could ask him what he was thinking, Nameless’ question shook her eardrums.
Lucia, who had been in the same situation, simply gave up and returned to the conversation.
“…I was talking about whether or not it would be okay for me to return to Felzen.”
“I see. Yes, it is fine. We have decided to follow Your Majesty Queen Lucia’s instructions for the time being regarding the governance of Felzen, so you can do as you please.”
“Then this conversation is over.”
Not wanting to get comfortable with Nameless, Lucia began to walk with large strides. But Nameless called out to Lucia as she walked away.
“Don’t show any openings to the Grantz. If you show any sign of weakness, the lion will surely pounce on you.”
The meaning of this advice ― Lucia was well aware of it.
The wall that stood in front of Lucia was not limited to the Great Grantz Empire, but there were many barriers.
“Don’t keep your eyes on the top, or you’ll lose your footing.”
“Fufu, please take care of yourself, Queen Lucia.”
The tone was strangely inclined, but Lucia had one concern.
“Fuh, I know without being told.”
As expected, the person was a tricky one. Lucia turned around and glared at him.
“I’m glad to hear that my advice was unnecessary.”
“Well, see you later.”
Lucia stomped loudly on the floor and left, not bothering to hide her displeasure.
After seeing her off, Nameless looked up at the eastern sky again.
“Collision of fangs and claws…”
He hugged his own body. The cold air continuously assaulted him even though he was wrapped in a warm breeze. Nameless’ mouth trembled as he recalled the horror of the scene he had just “seen.”
“The ancient king who brought despair to the world ― even though he was destroyed… his remaining power is still alive and well even after a thousand years.”
The tremendous destructive power was burned into his brain. The ground was shaking, and the earth was cracking just as the two sides engaged in a fierce clash. Whenever the vivid and caustic scene returned to his mind, his heart beat faster.
Still, the fever did not last long. Eventually, Nameless stopped trembling, and a faint smile appeared around his mouth.
“It is only a relic of the past, after all.”
Nameless broke off his gaze and began to walk aimlessly, never looking up at the sky again.
“Fufufu, the loneliest and the scariest ― but now, without a body, you can never be a king.”
Leaving behind only his laughter, the figure of Nameless vanished, leaving behind a shimmering outline like that of a heat haze.
“What happened, Your Highness Celia Estrella?”
Liz, who had been called out, took her eyes off the eastern sky and turned to the leader of the Fourth Imperial Army ― the Order of the Roses ― which was riding alongside her. Then, looking around, she saw a large number of soldiers surrounding her, protecting her.
Then the sounds of the world returned as well. The hoofs of her beloved horse clomped on the gravel, the sound of the wind shook her eardrums, and mixed in with it was the sound of the soldiers’ boots and the creaking of their armor.
Liz smiled and rubbed her ‘eye’ with the back of her hand.
Lately, there had been a strange feeling in her eyes. Sometimes she felt as if a fog had settled over them. It’s not as if her eyesight had deteriorated… to the point where she felt out of alignment with the world.
In fact, it was easier to ‘see’ than before.
But there are times when she felt more distant than near, more near than far, and she lost her sense of distance.
(I think it was about two years ago…)
Luca Mammon de Urpeth ― the change came around the time of the battle with her.
Since that time, she has become able to perceive various things.
The change in the weather, the flow of the wind, the heaviness of the air, the subtleties of emotion, the things she had felt on her skin, she could now visualize them. The world jumped into her “eyes” as if to ask her a question. This was no different while sleeping. She once felt uneasy about this change, and without telling Rosa, she once asked to see a doctor who was exclusive to the Imperial Palace.
However, he diagnosed that her nerves had been sharpened by repeated wars. Or perhaps her eyes were tired from fatigue due to her busy schedule.
(I am not tired. Neither are my nerves sharpened.)
Even now, she felt it. She could sense the presence of Hiro, who was far away in the Great Imperial Capital, through her eyes.
It was unclear, but she can sense his presence in the foggy, hazy landscape. Then there are times when the fog suddenly clears as if the sun were shining through.
A vivid scene, the image of Skadi and Hiro colliding, was streaming into her mind.
(Maybe I should ask Aura and Skaaha when I arrive at Fort Delisha…)
Surely those knowledgeable girls might know something.
There was a good chance that they would be able to tell her the answer to what had happened to Liz’s eyes.
“I hope they are both doing well…”