Chapter 44: Sharing a Bed
The man in the butler’s uniform left and a short while later there was a knock at the door.
I told them to enter and sure enough, it was Timona. He entered the room, closed the door, and fell to a prostrate position in a fluid motion.
“It is my lifetime shame to allow an assassin to enter your presence, Your Majesty. I can offer no apologies for this blunder. I will slice myself to pieces with my own hand if you order me to do so. Please give me the order.”
… What’s with this grotesque apology…? Eh, you can’t be serious, can you?
“Who’s going to take care of the mutated corpse…? You don’t need to apologise. That’s how good a mage he was.”
Being able to interfere with space is usually a cheat. I’m jealous because I can’t use spatial magic.
I guess I need more theoretical knowledge and a more detailed image because imagining it like it was used in games doesn’t work.
I should reprimand him as his Master… but that’s a bit different from tormenting him about it.
Honestly, there would have been nothing I could have done if he had snuck in while I was sleeping… Ah, Timona, who’s on guard duty at night, might have prevented the attack. HE would have been able to prevent the assassination. I don’t need to reprimand him for the attack.
“I’m just… tired.”
I had just fought for my life. I’m tired physically and more importantly, mentally.
“… Should I call Rosalia-sama?”
“Why would you call her? By the way… a bit of time passed between the man’s departure and your entry. Were you isolated far away?”
“No. I was so angry that I kicked him.”
You used magic to catch him while he was escaping and kicked him? That’s difficult even for me.
… Hey, I told him I’ll overlook this, didn’t I? … Will this be a problem?
No wait. I told him I will overlook it, but I didn’t say anything about anyone else, so it should be fine. Yeah, it’s fine.
“… So? What’s going on in the front line?”
“Ah yes. Let me give you an update on the situation at the Theanabe Union border.”
Our purpose this time was to see the nation that we’re at war with… or rather, the rebels. Well anyway, the official reason is to see the front line and confirm that they are ‘fighting properly’.
And the Chancellor and the others are heading all the way to the front lines to deceive the Emperor into thinking that they were ‘fighting properly’.
In reality, they weren’t fighting properly. They will probably be surrounded by tighter security to prevent the Emperor from finding this out. They weren’t doing this to prepare for the enemy, no, they were doing this to prevent me from talking to commoners and merchants who know of the reality of the situation.
… It was a futile effort of course.
“The border appears to have already been breached. Our group has also changed its course and will likely be advancing beyond the border.”
“… Putting the Emperor in the frontlines? That’s how far they’ve pushed them huh.”
They weren’t using mercenaries this time, but was the fight really that one-sided even though the Chancellor is leading the Duke’s army?
“No, actually there are almost no battles on the frontline. The Theanabe Union forces have fallen back and the villages near the borders seem to have been abandoned. Lord Raul’s army is burning those villages and claiming, ‘they have won’.”
There are no battles?
“Could it be a trap?”
“Yes. But… but there’s no sign of the army laying low now are they hiding the fact that they have a larger army than Lord Raul’s. The troops close to Theanabe Union capital have also been destroyed which leads us to believe that they are avoiding a confrontation.”
“Tsk. They predicted everything?”
I clicked my tongue… I was hoping Lord Raul’s army and the Theanabe Union army would destroy each other…
“Are they cutting their losses? That’s very merchant-like.”
“Yes. They weighed the cost of losing soldiers in battles against losing a few villages… I think it’s safe to say that it’s gone below an acceptable level, and the Duke’s army has realised this so they haven’t gone beyond a certain point.”
Shyt. I guess it’ll end with a compromise.
… Well, we’ve confirmed the Theanabe Union’s forces, which means we’ve accomplished the minimum task of not sending more weapons and mercenaries to the Central Continent. I can only consider that this is good for now.
Then the problem is…
“Any movements from the Regent faction?”
“The Regent faction, you say?”
“Yeah. I don’t want them to give any extra support to Theanabe Union just because they want to thin out Lord Raul’s army.”
The ‘Golden Fleece Association was steadily expanding its profits in… the war-torn Central Continent. They want to sell things that are short in supply on the Central Continent at a high price. One example is weapons and mercenaries.
But there is one thing that has a higher shortage in nations at war.
And the Empire… has one of the largest ‘granaries’ on the Eastern Continent.
“I’ll be troubled if they give food to Theanabe Union just because they hate Lord Raul. The Theanabe Union will surely sell that food to the Central Continent.”
“I see. Then I’ll have a spy keep an eye on them.”
Honestly, I don’t believe the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies, who is strengthening his faction in the capital, can afford to do such necessary things… but I can’t tell what his sons will do since they are still in their fiefs.
“They ‘cast pieces’ away when they’re invaded… they’re no longer a nation.”
Normally, you would send out the army if you’re invaded. If the odds are against you, then you look for an opportunity to turn the tides.
A victory that comes at a great cost is called a ‘Pyrrhic victory’, but on the other hand, ‘war happens even if it’s not worth it’. Surrendering land because it is a ‘loss’ is… hardly the actions of a nation.
Of course, there are times when land is surrendered as a strategy for victory.
And perhaps, this was how the ‘Golden Fleece’ explained this to the feudal lords. The ‘Golden Fleece’ was only a trading company who were cooperating with the Theanabe Union.
Actually, the feudal lords were probably emasculated.
… Hmm, can this be used to pester them?
If the feudal lords are convinced that the forced retreat by the ‘Golden Fleece’ was not a ‘strategy’ but a ‘way to cut loss’, then they will probably rally against the ‘Golden Fleece’. They’ve been duped after all.
The question was how to do this? They can say whatever they want once they’ve recovered. The argument that the ‘retreat was for victory’ would make sense, no matter how painful it might be.
If that’s the case, then… I just need to create a reason as to why Lord Raul’s army cannot ‘withdraw’ and turn the current situation from ‘temporary’ into something that must be preserved.
“… Your Majesty. Your Majesty!”
I smelled the faint smell of flowers and realised that someone had called out to me.
Rosalia appeared before me without me realising. She was holding my hand and looking at me worriedly. I looked around… and saw that Timona had disappeared.
“Why are you here?”
“Lord Renan forced me in here… Are you hurt, Your Majesty?”
She knew that I had been attacked… He said something unnecessary.
“I’m not, so don’t worry… Did you hear about this from Timona?”
“No. The maid noticed. And the battle ended while I was gathering people… I am sorry.”
Rosalia apologised while obviously looking down.
I’ve accused Timona of something he didn’t do… but he did let her in my room. Well, I wouldn’t get angry at him over something as small as this though.
I guess he was telling me to ‘take a rest’ seeing as how he wasn’t in the room.
Let’s put that aside. The barrier was up even though the battle was intense. The maid being able to sense that battle despite this means…
“Is the maid a mage? And an excellent one at that.”
“… She is.”
“And you said you were gathering people… which means you brought other mages with you? And all of them are from the Belbe Kingdom?”
“Yes… Are you going to reprimand me for bringing them?”
“No. It’s up to you who you bring, but I’d like to know more about them.”
She is a Princess of a nation. There’s nothing wrong with not trusting the Imperial Guards and bringing your own. I don’t trust the Imperial Guards either!
“Of course, Your Majesty. Only three of them were able to infiltrate this group. The remaining 18 are deployed around the perimeter so that they wouldn’t be noticed by the guards. They are led by Salomon de Valverde, my uncle.”
He was a part of the tour group. It must be hard for him to get in contact with the mages outside from within the group, and he is a commander? He’s a former general.
“Are they all mages?”
“Yes. I should have sent the three of them in here, but I thought that they would slow you down and create unnecessary confusion if they weren’t prepared…”
Hmm, you say that as if it’s your responsibility…
“Lord Salomon made that decision, didn’t he?”
“… He did.”
“He made the correct decision. Don’t worry about it.”
I would have done the same, but well, the mages seem competent since they were able to judge that it would be pointless to intervene with the battle.
… Oh yeah, before Rosalia and I got engaged, the Belbe Kingdom was on the verge of sending kids who can use magic into battle as ‘soldiers’, weren’t they? I believe Salomon was the one who took care of them… maybe it’s that unit?
“We finally met up with the other 18 in this city. I am sorry for not reporting this to you sooner.”
“You don’t need to apologise again.”
I don’t feel comfortable with Rosalia looking at me like that.
“I might need to rely on them one day. Tell them I’m counting on them. And please stop looking at me like that.”
“But Your Majesty… It hurts me to think that something might have happened to you.”
“I told you I’m fine, geez…. You don’t have to worry that much.”
Well, I also know that emperors don’t directly fight, so I know I made her worried but, you know, it’s embarrassing. The way she’s acting.
“So… will you rest? I am also worried about that,” Rosalia said.
It’s unfair of you to look up at me with puppy eyes, Rosalia-san.
I really wanted to think about more countermeasures against the Theanabe Union… but well, I can just think about that in the carriage.
“Alright. I’m going to bed.”
… Hmm? Are you not going back to your room?
Are you sleeping here? You want to make sure I’m resting properly? … Is it alright for us to sleep in the same bed before we’re married? Well, we’re kids, so nothing will happen though.