Chapter 173 – Curtain Falls
Border city Rhone. A seemingly relieved voice can be heard atop the wall built towards the highway.
Ahead of where Phyrinion, who stands at the historically most peaceful front line, is looking up to inside the wall, Alyssa just finished throwing a wooden tube, which had a stone tied to it as weight, outside the wall.
A hole within the wall. According to the dwarves: if you peer though that opening which seems to be for the sake of shooting, you could see the projectile drop into the thickets which were to be found next to the highway.
Additionally, it’s at a distance one can barely confirm by sight. Just like her predecessor, it seems to be no mistake to label Alyssa as person who represents the militaristic nature of the Tohno Earldom.
“It contains a letter for the demons, so check it out!” (Alyssa)
Once Alyssa loudly called out towards the thickets, a thicket close to where the letter had dropped shook. It’s unclear whether it shook with the intention to give a reply or to simply retrieve the letter, but even Phyrinion senses the tension transmitted by the surrounding soldiers who are holding onto the spear throwers while holding their breaths.
Alyssa, who used to be a lovable mascot and her superior before, is now the feudal lord. Among the male soldiers a wild atmosphere of making new resolves and performing self-styled rituals of offering their lives had begun to run rampant. But, basically they are guys that get the things done that have to be done.
“Alright, the mission is done!” (Alyssa)
Once they heard the voice of Alyssa, who jumped off the wall, the tension escaped from everyone. Of course there are soldiers who stay on alert as they are on duty, but there’s no need for those to tremble nervously during their observation duty.
Rather, they were told to relax and slowly observe how things go, and to let the spears fly if something happens.
“Continue the lookout as usual. I leave the rest to you.” (Alyssa)
“At your command!”
Alyssa curtly orders a nearby lower-ranking commanding officer and then comes over to Phyrinion.
“It’s done. Now we have to wait for the reply.” (Alyssa)
“Thank you. Well then, I will wait in this city until there’s a reply from the other party.” (Phyrinion)
“Though it’s a boring city as there’s nothing here,” Alyssa laughs, but Phyrinion thought, If you watch the people, it’s a mountain of treasures.
From the way of the wall’s build to the construction of the surveillance system, and moreover the management methods to receive refugees. It’s to the extent that she would immediately send letters to the capital and her home to dispatch people to study these things here, if there wasn’t the exchange with the demons.
“No, rather it’s surely in such state because the battlefield is nearby, right? I wonder whether I should propose it, even if it’s just for the future.” (Phyrinion)
“Propose what?” (Alyssa)
“Ah, no, it’s something unrelated, Earl.” (Phyrinion)
While Phyrinion is pondering about this and that, a new letter from the capital arrived.
“…I wonder what’s this about?” (Phyrinion)
“I-I can’t say anything about it…” (Clinora)
Not knowing what face to pull, the maid Clinora shook her head at Phyrinion, who was speechless while knitting her brows. The content of a letter she was told about by her master is nothing the likes of a maid should comment on.
“Her Majesty the Queen is pregnant…the other party isn’t mentioned here, but no way…you don’t say!” (Phyrinion)
I should send congratulations as noble of the kingdom, but I also have to coordinate it with my husband Vaiya. I must quickly send a message home, send a congratulatory gift to my husband and have it delivered to the royal palace in the name of my husband and father.
“Good grief, I feel like my time as knight had been a lot less stressful.” (Phyrinion)
The announcement of Imeraria’s pregnancy was carried out on a grand scale.
Except for those who knew about the situation like Sabnak, it was an eye-popping surprise to the chief vassals like the prime minister. There were opinions that the news should be withheld as much as possible, but Imeraria rejected that.
“It’s nothing disgraceful. There’s no particular need to state the identity of the father, but no matter whether the child will be male or female, there’s no doubt that they will become the official successor. I have no intention to oust this child.” (Imeraria)
“But, I’m worried about the effect on the nobles…”
“Just how many nobles, who have the backbone to publicly state their opinion against royalty, exist? Besides, if it came to choosing a husband for me, it would turn into quite the dispute, wouldn’t it?” (Imeraria)
With Vichy’s destruction, the only option to take a husband from another country is limited to Horant. Seeing as Imeraria’s child will automatically become the successor, everyone agreed that it wouldn’t be overly smart to let the blood from another country enter the royal bloodline. It wouldn’t be strange for that act to be perceived as invasion into the bloodline by Horant.
Having said that, if it comes to choosing a husband from among the nobles, it would become extremely complicated. That’s because becoming the maternal relative of the royal family grants one a very influential voice. At the moment there’s also the special situation of Imeraria being the only royal left alive. If it was a good family that sent the prince consort, their clout would become immeasurable.
If Imeraria were to officially announce that she chose a noble from within the country as husband, it would likely end in a lot of blood being spilled. In the worst case it would develop into a civil war between the nobles.
“Not knowing the other party who made the child with me is convenient. Since they have a social standing that wouldn’t allow for it, it won’t be announced. Or it might be fine to assume it was managed…hidden for the sake of avoiding a dispute between nobles or a despotism by blood relatives.” (Imeraria)
The move of announcing Imeraria’s pregnancy, which highhandedly made use of the state’s power to an extent that hadn’t been seen in the past, gave a huge shock to the ones serving inside the royal castle, starting with the maids, much less to say about the civil and military officials. The news was released to the general public while that shock was still lingering.
Starting with the plaza in front of the royal palace, it was posted in front of the various guard stations of the soldiers and knights all over the capital. Even while feeling baffled, a celebratory mood immediately spread among the population.
This time the announcement was only posted at the bulletin board at the entrance to the plaza. In the name of offering a peace of mind to the pregnant queen, it was decided to set up a temporary restriction for entering the plaza in front of the royal castle.
“This also serves as preliminary arrangements to welcome the demons.”
At the meeting about how to deal with Hifumi, Imeraria explained the intention behind going as far as giving such an order.
She lets her eyes wander across the attending personnel such as Sabnak, Vaiya and Prime Minister Adol. All of them nodded with humble expressions. Only one person, Origa, somewhat glared at her with eyes as if she’s going to shoot her to death.
“…Anyway, any prying in regards to the child’s father is prohibited. As it’s probably useless in regards to gossip, we will intentionally propagate what I said before and leave it alone afterwards.” (Imeraria)
Because there were no particular objections to her words, Imeraria decided to continue.
“Vaiya-san, what’s the situation with the knight order’s training?” (Imeraria)
“Yes. Going by the words of Earl Tohno, it’s completed more or less. There are issues with the coordination during group combat, but I think we won’t need that much time to fix that.” (Vaiya)
“Adol-san, is there anything to say about the preparations for receiving the demons?” (Imeraria)
“I have arranged for the possibility to reserve a high-class inn near the castle as lodging at any time. It depends on the number of people, but if it’s less than 20, the inn can receive them satisfactorily. If they have more people than that, I will prepare a different lodging for the escorting soldiers.” (Adol)
“But,” Adol continued.
“Given that we have no good grasp on the customs and food of the demons, I’m not quite sure what to do about that part…” (Adol)
“That should be resolved by asking Hifumi-sama. Since it looks like he spend some time in the demon settlement, I think he will be able to consult us in various ways how to receive them.” (Imeraria)
“E-Earl Tohno will?” (Adol)
This gathering is a meeting with the objective of sealing Hifumi. Adol was bewildered by Imeraria proposing to “rely on Hifumi.”
“We have no other option. If you ask that gentleman with the proper courtesy, he will gladly teach you. That’s right, isn’t it Origa-san?” (Imeraria)
“…Indeed, Hifumi-sama is a kind person after all.” (Origa)
Tension traveled through the venue when Imeraria called out to Origa, but Origa simply agreed in a calm demeanor.
Imeraria, who didn’t fail to notice Sabnak unintentionally sighing in relief, decided that he should be given more education soon. Although it’s an honest behavior, openly showing delight ends beyond the commanding officer rank.
“Right now I have Phyrinion-san advance the preparations for the conference with the demons by cooperating with Alyssa-san of the Tohno Earldom. And it was specified by me to hold the conference in this castle.” (Imeraria)
“In this castle? Isn’t that dangerous?”
Upon Vaiya’s question, Imeraria replied in reverse,
“If it’s a narrow, indoor venue, our side as the defending one is at an advantage, no? Besides, I want some mechanisms prepared in advance.” (Imeraria)
“Yes. We will set traps. Sabnak-san, it’s construction work inside the castle, so I leave the monitoring of the laborers and the management of the construction’s progress in your hands as the one in charge. As for the details of the mechanisms, I will hand out the necessary documents later, so please arrange for meetings with the craftsmen of the related trades. However, publicly we will pretend that we are building a new audience hall in celebration of my pregnancy. Make sure that only the least necessary amount of people knows about the installation of the traps.” (Imeraria)
“Yes, my Queen!” (Sabnak)
Imeraria stately nods at Sabnak who swiftly stood up and bowed.
“Lastly I’d like you to listen since I’ve been pondering about one thing. It’s about Hifumi-sama’s sealing.” (Imeraria)
Taking a short break here, Imeraria looked into the faces of those present once more.
With their expressions being tense and their eyes focused on her, she continues speaking,
“Depending on the demons’ movements, we will carry out Hifumi-sama’s sealing at that time.” (Imeraria)
While deciding to handle the details depending on the conclusion of the conference with the demons, Imeraria declared that they would keep up-to-date with the circumstances, waiting for a good opportunity to carry out their plan.
“Yes, Your Majesty.” (Origa)
“That’s fine with you, right?” (Imeraria)
“Your Majesty, if you keep your promise, I intend to share the same fate as that gentleman. People can only obtain the greatest joy by repeatedly resolving themselves and investing their own efforts. It was the same for you, Your Majesty.” (Origa)
“…Very well. I will trust you.” (Imeraria)
On the next day after the meeting, the people working in the castle immediately sensed that the chief vassals had started to move hurriedly, but being given the reason that it’s for the sake of improving Her Majesty’s environment, the people fell for that overly vague deception.
When he heard about Imeraria’s pregnancy, Hifumi’s reaction was plain.
“I see. Origa, please buy a suitable congratulatory gift and send it to her.” (Hifumi)
Being told that while being given several gold coins, Origa received the money and said “Got it,” which finished the whole matter.
Without Origa saying anything in particular, this topic was never again brought up between the married couple. Rather than that, there was something that drew Hifumi’s interest.
“So in the end Vepar and her demons are coming here?” (Hifumi)
“Yes. With the reply from the other side, it has been decided that things will move in accordance with Her Majesty’s proposal…it looks like Alyssa, Fokalore’s soldiers and the representatives of the beastmen and elves, including Phyrinion, will accompany them.” (Origa)
Listening to the contents of the letter read out loud by Origa, Hifumi laughed while saying, “That’s interesting.”
“Are Reni and Zanga going to come here? No, Zanga is quite the old hag, so it might be someone else. Are they going to clear the wasteland’s fate in the royal capital of a human country? No, the triggers are assembled in Rhone or Fokalore, aren’t they? It will be boring if it turns into a dispute over there.” (Hifumi)
“Caim and the others would probably manage it smoothly. For him a riot inside the city, which he built up at great pains, will only be a bother.” (Origa)
“If it’s that guy, he will likely deal with such level of damage without even batting an eyelid. It might go as far as one of his eyebrows twitching due to the unnecessary budget expenses. Though Paryu might snap due to getting swamped with work.” (Hifumi)
Origa, who sat on the sofa next to Hifumi closed the letter.
“Furthermore, I have been entrusted with a verbal message from His Excellency the Prime Minister that he has some questions regarding the reception of the demons. At this rate you might also be asked about the beastmen.” (Origa)
As for the elves it’s no problem since Puuse is already staying within the castle. Very likely she is seen as having become the elves’ mediator.
“Depending on what Imeraria and Vepar talk about, it might become slightly interesting. I guess I will also help out with the meeting on the appointed day. Ah, it’s fine to handle the demons’ bedding and food in the same way as with humans.” (Hifumi)
“Then I shall pass it on like that. …What is it?” (Origa)
A reserved knocking can be heard in the living room. A maid on the other side of the door replied to Origa’s question.
“It seems there are visitors for master, but…”
“You’re not making yourself clear, are you? Who is it?” (Origa)
“Looks like it’s beastmen.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi said before the maid could even open her mouth.
“It’s the nostalgic presence resembling wild animals. Show them in.” (Hifumi)
“As you wish, master.”
“Hifumi-san, it’s been a while.”
The one who entered the living room first was the sheep beastgirl Reni. With her usual, fluffy smile that lacked any tension, she walks over while making her white, frizzy hair sway.
Helen and Gengu entered behind her.
“Been a while.” (Helen)
“It’s been a long time since we last talked ~ssu.” (Gengu)
When everyone had sat down and tea as well as sweets had been distributed, Hifumi started a conversation with Reni.
“It’s quite the early visit. Did something happen?” (Hifumi)
“Nothing has happened yet.” (Reni)
Blowing at the hot black tea, Reni scattered the steam while answering.
“But something is going to happen, right? If we were to travel together with the demons, we would get dragged into it.” (Reni)
“That’s why we came here early,” Reni replied.
“If you believe that something’s going to happen, you always have the choice to not come, don’t you?” (Hifumi)
“I believe there’s nothing as scary as something you don’t know about. That’s something I was taught by you, Hifumi-san. After learning to live in a city, I was able to make a lot of friends. It opened up a new world for me. If I was still stuck in that time, where I lived in the forest while being frightened, I wouldn’t know about the demons and elves, and I would have likely been killed by demons or caught by humans.” (Reni)
“But, you deliberately came to my place. Didn’t you consider that to be dangerous?” (Hifumi)
Reni keeps smiling.
“The most information gathers around you, Hifumi-san. If I know how the danger will come to be, I should also know how to escape it. …I’m sure the danger will originate near you.” (Reni)
That’s the reason why Reni came to Hifumi’s place.
Properly perceiving the scent of danger, she considers methods to protect her friends. In order to carry out her duty.
“Well said. You are doing your very best, aren’t you?” (Hifumi)
Reni shyly laughed due to Hifumi’s praise, whereas Origa ground her molars.
“Get some rooms ready for these guys.” (Hifumi)
Seeing off the maid leaving the room after bowing, Hifumi looked at the face of Reni, Helen and Gengu.
“Well, it might be a good idea to slowly go around the city for a sightseeing tour. Come in contact with various food and tools. You need money, don’t you? I will give you some pocket money. It’s still a while until the festival starts anyway. Study by properly examining the city. Look for escape routes and hiding places in advance.” (Hifumi)
After all there will be an uproar that won’t be stoppable by anyone after the demons arrive, Hifumi thought. The death god has kept the true identity of the ability he gave to Vepar ambiguous, but Hifumi believed that she’s likely capable of sending in people from a distance.
In that case the stage for the chaos and battle will be the royal castle.
At that time the knights, soldiers and elves in the castle will face the demons. Though it’s regrettable that it seems like the beastmen will quickly escape thanks to Reni’s too good perception.
“You might have been able to secure yourself some special seats. Isn’t that great, Helen, Gengu? Your leader possesses courage and decisiveness.” (Hifumi)
It’s just the right time, Hifumi thought.
I would have grown tired of these peaceful days soon anyway.