Chapter 43: An Important, Important First Step
During a backdraft… when there is a fire in an enclosed space, the fire dies down due to incomplete combustion and the combustible gases such as carbon monoxide ‘builds up’. When the windows and doors are opened during a fire… and oxygen is supplied to the fire, the carbon monoxide combines with the oxygen and undergoes a chemical reaction to create carbon dioxide. An explosion occurs during this chemical reaction.
This is a backdraft (or so it is known on Earth). All this requires is an enclosed space, incomplete combustion, a spark, and oxygen to be supplied and time for the carbon monoxide to build up.
This was the easiest chemical reaction that I knew which could be reproduced with magic.
First, the magically created ‘flame’ is covered with a barrier that doesn’t let oxygen through… 『Perfe Alex (Perfect Barrier)』and then the ‘flame’ is forced to continue to burn with magic to continue the incomplete combustion. Then when carbon monoxide has filled the barrier, the entire barrier is moved to the target and released. It reacts with the oxygen in the air at once, causing an explosion… artificially creating a backdraft.
The advantage of this magic would be that the explosion was caused by a chemical reaction.
For example, 『Flama Lacus』is just a compression and projection of pure heat energy, so it doesn’t affect Chistel which is only for ‘anti-magic’, but I can generate this ‘heat energy’ by converting mana, so this heat energy has magic as its origin and Chistel can protect against it.
But the artificial backdraft that I used this time was a pure chemical reaction, so Chistel can’t protect against it. This would be effective against mages in this world who tend to only prioritise protecting against magic.
But well, there was another reason why I chose this magic this time.
One of the weaknesses of this magic is that there is a slight time lag before the carbon monoxide reacts with the supplied oxygen, and that was one of the reasons why I chose to use it. After all, he needs to protect against it. I even told him I would cause a ‘backdraft’. I knew that he would be able to protect himself against it, even if only just for a second.
When the flames subsided, the man in the tattered butler’s suit kneeled down and raised his hands in the air.
“… I give up. I don’t stand a chance against you, and I have no energy left. There’s nothing left I can do.”
“It looked as if the explosion was perfectly blocked by the 『Portal to Another Space』 though?”
“That requires preparation… Besides, that was the last one.”
Really? He probably has at least one more on reserve.
“I can’t believe… The body double is from the same world as me.”
“Hmm, that’s a shame. If you’ve come this far and still can’t come up with an answer… then why don’t you reevaluate your assumptions?”
The man widened his eyes at those words.
“You can’t be… the Emperor himself?”
“I have my reasons. I’ve been acting the fool since I was born. I’m confident that I’ve become an expert at acting like a fool now… So? Will you still try to assassinate me?”
“… No, if that is true then that changes everything… I see, so we’re negotiating.”
Good. So, he wasn’t happy that I was a foolish emperor.
“Then let’s negotiate… Well, you don’t have the power to refuse though.”
“Now then, can you tell me your Master’s name?”
“That’s the only thing I will keep to myself. Even if it costs me my life.”
Well, you seem extremely loyal, but you’re more trustworthy this way.
“Very well. Then let’s proceed under the assumption that this ‘Ojou-sama’ is an aristocrat from the Empire.”
I can guess the position of this ‘Ojou-sama’ in this case.
“If she’s the daughter of a key member of the Chancellor or the Regent factions then I don’t see her being at a disadvantage because I’m a ‘foolish Emperor’. So, she must belong to the neutral faction or is the daughter of someone who isn’t a key member of either faction, or she might be the daughter of a key member but doesn’t have peerage.”
If she were from the neutral faction, then Count Vedett would have told me about this in advance, and if she wasn’t a key member then it would have been especially difficult for this butler to attack me today.
“We had a major delay today because of those idiots… and you could have hidden in the mansion for a long time with your magic… but you could have still been discovered. So, you knew that I would be arriving at this time. And you wouldn’t be able to return after the assassination if you don’t know where everyone is in the mansion… So, she is a family member of a key faction member but she’s not the heir. Am I warm?”
If he wasn’t going to return after the assassination then there would be someone outside who would be observing the results of the assassination, but I haven’t been able to detect anyone like that. It’s safe to assume that he acted alone.
Also, a low-level aristocrat would have a difficult time knowing where I am staying. The death of the Emperor before they are ready is disadvantageous to both the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies… The Emperor’s detailed itinerary would be kept strictly confidential.
“The view of this ‘Ojou-sama’ likely differs from those of her ‘house’… Or something like that?”
The man in the butler’s uniform silently shrugged his shoulders… Hmmm, I can’t read anything from his expression.
“She believed that the foolish Emperor would be harmful in the future and plotted to assassinate him… So, she wants the Emperor to be a proper person. Well, the current situation certainly needs to change.”
“But you want to maintain it. You’re not satisfied with your situation and are simply waiting for an opportunity?”
“Of course. They will stubbornly survive if I do things half-heartedly.”
I could take political power even now depending on how I went about it, but there would be a problem after that. I can only do my best to maintain the area around the capital with no military strength. Defeating Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl will just be a pipe dream.
That isn’t good. The Empire will weaken even further.
“So, my proposal is… will you help me?”
“You want me to help you, who is called a fool?”
“What? I’m not asking you to be my ally or help me now. I’m also looking for the right timing, and I will be troubled if you act on your own. So, here’s my proposal. If I take complete control of the palace and the area around the capital then what awaits me is a civil war with Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl’s armies, when that time comes, I would like ‘Ojou-sama’ to take over her house and follow me.”
The man frowned. Well, taking over a house has its risks.
“… What’s in it for us?”
“The survival of the family name. I’ll overlook that she belonged to a faction. I can let her family go or punish them… I don’t mind punishing only her opponents and pardoning everyone else either. The reason for me pardoning them will be that ‘they will devote themselves to the Emperor’.”
The vassals will be indebted to the ‘Ojou-sama’ not the Emperor. This will make it extremely easy to control them. Well, if the houses of the lords who will become my allies are in dismay, then I, of all people, will be troubled. That much trouble will be a necessary expense.
“She would at least like to have a title promotion. Can you guarantee at least that much?”
“That depends on how she acts. I’m sorry, but I don’t have a position to give away to someone who is incompetent. But she will be rewarded if she works properly. After all, the top brass will be purged, so there will be plenty of empty positions.”
I can even give her freedom if she wishes.
“I see. It seems like you’ve been thinking about things properly.”
“I am, and don’t worry. I have no intention of running this nation ineffectively through male chauvinism. I can’t afford to let talented people, either male or female, laze around.”
This was a necessary condition for the ‘Ojou-sama’ and should be the most attractive condition. This world also leaned towards male chauvinism, though not as much as my previous one.
“… I’m sorry, but I can’t give you a reply right now, but I will certainly convey those conditions to Ojou-sama.”
“That’s fine. I don’t even know what house you serve. Oh, and the conditions I mentioned earlier will apply to all the houses that join my side after I take control of politics.”
I should say this. It would be troublesome if they make a fuss later.
“Oh. Then those aren’t conditions that are available only to my house.”
“Oh? You shouldn’t compare knowing with not knowing. Especially now that you’re first in line.”
Normally, ‘first in line’ is information that should be withheld in negotiations like this. It is safer for people to follow suit, that’s why I said ‘when the time comes’ instead of right now. Furthermore, the specific timing was left to me… It would be too late for her to take over her house as soon as I try to invade. ‘The time to ensure success was now’.
That’s why it doesn’t matter if I disclose and emphasise that ‘they are the only ones who know this’.
“… You are right. It’s not like we’re paying in advance for this being overlooked.”
“Then, that concludes the negotiations. Now then…”
I looked around the room… I had protected the items that would be a pain to fix, but the walls, ceiling and carpet were pretty much burnt.
“What shall we do with this room?”
“I can repair the damage with my magic to some extent… but unfortunately, I can’t do anything with my low mana right now.”
“You’re low on mana?”
You can use as much mana as you want from the air.
“Yes. This often happens when mages fight each other. The mana in the area suddenly depletes and runs dry and is ineffective until mana flows in from somewhere else. This happens a lot on the battlefield… the battle just now was quite intense.”
“I see. From the looks of it, that spatial interference magic seems to use a lot of mana.”
Now that he mentioned it, it was hard to handle mana right now…? No, I guess I can handle it if I squeeze it out… Does it vary from person to person? Well, whatever.
“Hmm. Then wait a bit.”
I retrieve mana from the usual point in my body.
“… What are you doing?”
“I’m returning the mana that I compress and store in my body to the air. It won’t be as much as what you and I just used before… but it should be enough for you to repair the room.”
“… I see, this is why I am no match for you.”
The man in the butler suit laughed scornfully at himself.
“Really? You used mana before the battle too, didn’t you? This room isn’t under the influence of the sealing barrier because it’s isolated from the building and mistaken for a ‘separate building’, right? You also made it impossible for the guards to enter. You might have been able to win had you not used your mana for those things.”
I was also in a rather dangerous position because of this man’s attack. Yes, the one where he ambushed me from behind with a weapon. I had been reproducing an incomplete combustion to create a backdraft in the barrier ever since the battle began. If he had hit me at that time, then the explosion would have gone off.
I would have found a lot of unnatural things had I been cool. He had finally used 『Liberia Christel』 in that surprise attack to prepare to protect himself for the ‘backdraft’. I couldn’t move during the battle because I had a table-sized barrier behind me. I didn’t follow up with an attack during the continuous random Tortra of 『Flama Lacus』because he was desperate to protect his magic from the random reflecting rays of light.
So, he chose to ‘continue the surprise attack from behind’. Well, there’s no need to reveal his moves now, so I’ll keep quiet.
“I just inserted a few millimeters of ‘other dimensional space’. You… could have broken that much at any time you wanted. The 『Sealed Barrier』will return if you did, and the rest would be a one-sided match.”
… Oh? He’s convinced that I can use magic within the 『Sealed Barrier』. He really is dangerous.
The man’s magic continued to ‘repair’ the room while he was talking.
Oh, so that’s how you do it. Ah, that’s what you do when you heal. Hmm, I see. I’m learning a lot.
“Lasty, I would like to give you some personal advice in return for letting me live.”
The room was repaired to how it was before the attack and the man spoke.
“Hmm, let’s hear it.”
“You must never drink wine. Please don’t forget this. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
He said as he melted soundlessly into the background just as he had appeared.
… So, you did leave a way for you to escape. He would have escaped if I hadn’t said ‘negotiate’ beforehand.
… But like…
“I’m a kid, so I can’t drink alcohol.”
Hmm, what did he mean by that? Well, I don’t plan on drinking, so I should be fine for the time being.