|This chapter is translated by Durasama and is unedited.|
The Imperial castle which symbolizes the Hoelscher empire, surrounded by a deep waterway that is about 20-meters in depth, also surrounded by strong castle walls where magic-like defenses were active. Guards are always stationed on the castle walls, even an aquatic demon would be shot in the waterways, as an entrance, there is only one front gate with a huge drawbridge.
The people who are able to come to the Imperial castle is also limited, only people who have permits imbued with magic are allowed to enter. In front of the drawbridge, there’s a huge post that resembles the triumphal arches in France, If you don’t clear the examination to enter the castle here, you wouldn’t be allowed to cross the drawbridge at all. If you try the impolite way and invade the castle, you’d be thrown into the waterways where demons thrive.
The inspection at the post is also quite merciless. For example, even if you were a trader of supplies going in and out with an entrance permit through regular procedures, every product would be inspected one by one. Therefore, it’s also impossible to try to invade by hiding in the luggage.
In other words, what I want to say is that, trying to trespass into the Imperial castle is extremely, extremely, difficult.
Towards that kind of fact, Kouki thought about it while waiting in line at the castle inspection ahead of the triumphal arch, he looked back and glanced over his shoulder. There, his usual party members and his childhood friends Shizuku, Ryutaro, Suzu, and also Hajime’s group were there.
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Kouki’s group came back to the Imperial capital in order to enter the Imperial castle in a dignified manner.
Kouki’s thoughts. They were a diversion to allow Cam and them to escape the prison without additional commotions, and. Obviously, because Hajime had magic that allowed transfer through space he went with them on the rescue, although escaping wouldn’t be that difficult, if the security is already this severe just to enter, the guards inside of the Imperial capital is better left unsaid.
Lets say that you knew of the dungeons location through questioning beforehand, if the exact location is not understood, space magic transfer to a pinpoint location couldn’t be used. Thats why, after invading, its necessary to search on foot. Still, there’s no helping it that you would tip your hat to the person who accomplished such things without being caught. Kouki instinctively felt the “difference” between them again, “Ha~a”, and leaked out a sigh.
By the way, an outside military unit was in charge of the distraction that kouki’s group caused, because it’s impossible for the military units in the Imperial castle to come out explicitly, it was hardly useful at all. Somewhat like, [What happened?], it was only on a slightly higher level than unrest.
“Next~…..you’re an unfamiliar face. ……Let me see your permit”
The guard soldiers looked at Kouki’s group with a suspicious expression.
The amount of people who can enter the Imperial castle is limited, so the guards know most of the faces. And, normally on their first visits people wear their best clothes, however they were extremely well equipped for a group that’s been invited to the Imperial castle for the first time. Thats why, like Kouki’s group, people dressed up like adventurers are rare. They were suspicious so they began to become more cautious.
“No, we don’t have any permits, in its place, we have this…..”
“Ha? A status plate? Just what……”
Naturally, Hajime and them did not have a permit to enter the Imperial castle. But, Kouki’s position is useful here. After all, he is the “Hero”. The trump card of the human race whom God sent into the game with the Majinzoku race and was viewed publicly as “God’s Apostle”. For example, even if that wasn’t the actual reality of the situation.
Although the guard gave them dangerous looks when they said they didn’t have permits, his eyes twinkled when he read the characters “Hero” displayed on the status plate, he alternately looks back and forth between the status plate and kouki’s face. From the guards reaction, the surrounding colleagues were beginning to pay attention.
“Ehtto……Hero……sama, right? God’s apostle that was summoned in the Kingdom?”
“Ah, yes, that’s right. I’m the hero. Though I came with princess Ririana who is here……due to a few circumstances”
From the guard’s mutter, his colleagues learned of Kouki’s identity and began to become increasingly noisy. Their expressions were natural, “Why, did you come separately from princess Ririana?” “Why, didn’t you communicate this beforehand?”, their questions were full of doubt.
However, the other party is God’s apostle whom they believe in, surely they were in charge of a secret mission that was given to them, for the time being, they passed the word to the higher-ups.
As expected, even for the hero, because they didn’t have the courage to let a person who wasn’t scheduled to enter the castle with their own discretion, several guards disappeared while dashing into the Imperial castle as they were frightened to rudely keep them waiting.
Hajime and them are placed in the waiting room of the post.
After waiting 15 minutes.
Disregarding “Yue who was on Hajime’s Knee” which became a scene so natural that nobody bothers to tsukkomi anymore, Shia was sitting on the other Knee, Kaori and Teio formed a partnership at the last second and held on to his hands respectively, then they began to hear the ~Dota Dota~ footsteps coming from the drawbridge.
“I heard that the Hero’s group had come here….Is it you guys?”
“Ah, yes, that’s right. That’s us”
While saying so and showing his appearance, it was an especially large empire soldier, it’s possible to tell that he’s of a higher rank from the attitudes of the surrounding soldiers. He, while impudently staring at Kouki, and checking Kouki’s status plate, he began to glance at the other members in investigation.
In the process, when Shia who was in the blind spot was seen, his eyes opened widely in surprise. And he began grinning an unpleasant smile of interest. Towards the unpleasant glance, Shia’s body shakes slightly.
“I’ve confirmed it. I am the commander of the third regiment, Grid Half. Word of the hero’s group has already entered princess Ririana’s ears as well, she’s waiting in her room. I’ll have my subordinate guide you. ……By the way, hero, the Usagininzoku? She doesn’t have a slave collar on her right?”
“Eh? No, she’s…..”
The man who introduced himself as Grid Half asked about Shia as he returned the status plate.
However, Kouki was troubled on how to answer. She wasn’t a slave, the choker that Shia wore looked nothing like a slave’s collar, he hesitated if he should declare that she was Hajime’s lover or not. “Even if you ask me such things……” he honestly replied.
Did Kouki’s answer allow him to judge to not expect anything which cause him to become quiet, Grid glanced over towards Shia. And, they managed to guess the reason why he is so intensely paying attention to Shia.
“Yo~o, Usagi lass. I’ve got a few questions for you. ……What happened to my subordinates?”
“Subordinates? …..Um….what do you…..”
From Grid’s sudden question.
For an instant, although Shia had no idea what he was talking about, she seemed to have guessed and her eyes were opened wide in astonishment.
The empire soldiers who had a direct relation to Shia were limited. It was naturally, the group of people that cornered the Hauria tribe when leaving the Sea of Trees. Many family members were killed, abducted, placed into slavery, and it was the enemies that drove Shia to go to the [Raisen Great Canyon].
“It’s odd huh? Even though she’s returned, none of my subordinates came back, why are you still alive and in such a place? A~a?”
Grid gradually approached to corner Shia.
Right, he was the commander of the forces that attacked Shia’s group that came out of the Sea of Tree’s before. Because Grid who was the regiment commander didn’t personally come to capture Shia, she had no memories of ever seeing Grid before, however Grid firmly recalled that there was a rare Usagininzoku with blue-white hair.
In Shia’s mind, the expressions of the empire soldiers had when attacking to tease them and the sense of hopelessness of losing a family member at that time, flashed back. While unconsciously raising out a groan and her expression stiffening up, one step, trying to back away…..she felt a warm touch on her cheeks and became startled.
If you look, just as usual, Hajime picked up shia’s cheeks. And, immediately after that, she felt warmth in her hand. That was Yue.
Her eyes looking up showed no worries, if anything it was amazement, a slight color of scolding appeared though. It seemed to imply, “Don’t be overwhelmed by small fries of this level, Greenhorn”.
Shia who was looking at Yue and Hajime, with a wry smile said, “I’m alright now”. No matter how you looked at it, the events which took placed was a trauma, the present Shia was unmistakably a strong person who had enough power and spirit to crush the monsters in the great labyrinths to pieces. There’s no reason for her to be overwhelmed by the pressure that one officer was releasing.
Shia with an attractive smile after decisively straightening her spine towards the approaching Grid. And declared to Grid who instinctively stopped advancing.
“I don’t know a thing about your subordinates. They were likely people who were slow in the head, maybe they were eaten by some kind of demon that appeared somewhere? Also, there’s no reason for me to answer your questions at all”
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“…..You sure are getting full of yourself. A~a? Did you think you were safe because you’re with the Hero’s group? If you’re not a slave, then you probably solded away that body of yours? A prostitute’s life, I won’t be taking such tongue from you”
Although Grid said those dangerous words while dangerously steeling up his eyes, Shia had already removed eye contact with Grid, her eyes told that she didn’t care. Rather, having called Shia a prostitute, the other women looked at Grid with anger.
While looking at Shia’s attitude, his veins appeared and his expression twisted with anger, when he noticed the looks, to deceive them he smiled and declared to Kouki.
“I’m terribly sorry, Hero-dono. This Usagininzoku seems to know something something about my subordinates that have been missing since 2 months ago, Will you listen to my request? If you need an Usagininzoku woman, I can prepare another for you, this time around…..”
However, a voice interrupted before Grid finished talking. At the same time that Grid glanced towards the voice, his expression cramped up because of anger, there the annoyed looking Hajime was seen.
“Don’t open your mouth, underling. Your role is already over. Making us stay forever over foolish things. Quit wasting time and guide us quickly”
“Why you little……”
“Can you not understand the meaning of being silent? To us, we don’t even have a miniscule amount of time to spend on you. Know your place”
To Hajime’s words, Grid’s face is dyed completely red because of the hooligan who picked a fight since they didn’t want anything to do with him. His eyes became bloodshot in anger. Even then, self-control was something a regiment commander was required to have, with just one wrong line to “God’s Apostles” he would definitely be cut from his position, he became silent and the subordinate in the back began to guide them.
Disregarding Grid who was staring at Hajime with bloodshot eyes, Hajime’s group left the room as if nothing happened.
Although Kouki’s group had slightly cramped cheeks because of Hajime’s objection, the females looked refreshed. As for Hajime, there was no intent on being sarcastic……If he knew of that, blood might have gushed out from Grid’s blood vessels.
However, it seemed that a “crotch smash” was about to happen if he still didn’t understand because he had called Shia a prostitute……Grid should be happy for himself to have such self discipline.
Hajime’s group didn’t worry about the piercing gaze that came from behind them, the huge suspension bridge was extended and they followed the pale expressioned guide.
That was the first word that Ririana said to Hajime’s group as they were guided into the room in the Imperial castle. Although she wore a smile on her face, her eyes were cold and didn’t smile at all. It seemed to express, “Explain the circumstances right away damn it!”.
Most likely she was busy to death from the Empires conferences. Inside of her, no matter how she looked at it Hajime’s group appearing was troublesome, unexpectedly, there was no helping that she said such things. In a sense, it was a sign of familiarity……though it might not be as well.
“Besides the farce at the Imperial capital, why on earth is everybody here? I demand a clear explanation. Yes, I strongly, strongly, demand for one. I won’t forgive you if you trick me! Especially, Nagumo-san! It was definitely you who pulled the strings from behind the scenes! Don’t treat others as if they were someone elses problems and stop feeling Shia-san’s fluffy usamimi’s! Yue-san’s also caressing and touching Shia-san’s cheeks as well!”
Ririana’s lost it! She glares at Hajime with enough power that it seems to create sounds.
It’s exactly as she said, Ririana thought it was Hajime’s idea in the Imperial capital, and it was also his idea to come to the Imperial castle. Putting it simply, Hajime has been recognized as the leader of the group, the schemes which would normally be considered insane could only be formed from Hajime’s mind.
And, Hajime who was being blamed, was unusually gently feeling Shia’s usamimi’s while she sat on his knee. On the other knee, Yue had both hands from the front and was caressing and touching Shia’s cheeks.
“Your voice is too loud, princess. What’s the problem? Today, Shia’s kinda unstable”
“Unstable…..you say? is she not feeling well somewhere?”
At once Ririana became worried immediately, shes a good person as well.
Shia that receives the glance, though biting her lip to endure something, her expression began to loosen from her ears being felt and her cheeks being caressed, when she raised her face she showed a smile and said, “I’m fine”.
The reason which caused Shia’s emotions to become unstable was obviously because of Grid.
However, it was not unstability from fear in particular. It was the opposite. She was restraining her overflowing murderous intent. No matter how you say it, Grid’s group was the hateful party that took away a lot of Shia’s family. As long as she gets over her trauma, only strong murderous intent flows afterwards.
However, after thinking about their purpose for coming here, she wasn’t able to immediately kill him. That’s why, she desperately endured it. And, Hajime and Yue who understood this, tried to sooth Shia by indulging her.
For people who don’t know of the circumstances, when summed up, the relation of Grid and Shia were spoken, everyones expression became sorrowful, afterwards, Kouki’s group naturally resented them for that, and Ririana looked down with a dark expression. For Ririana, the enslavement of Demi-humans were commonsense in the world and allowed, she didn’t think it was far too unreasonable although she did feel resentment.
She who judged herself decided that she wasn’t qualified to say anything, towards the members that were making angry faces, “It’s fine~, really”, Shia said with a dazzling smile, they urged the continuation of the story from Hajime.
“And, why did you guys come here? What about your business at the forest? And also, what was up with the masked disturbance last night? It should almost be time for his Majesty, Gaharudo, to call us for a meeting. I want to get our stories straight ahead of time before we meet, so I’d like you to tell me the bare minimum if you would”
“Ma~a, don’t be so restless, princess. When night comes, you’ll understand everything. We…..want to hurry and wrap things up after all, we stopped for a slight detour…..that should be all that you need to know for now”
“S, such unreasonableness…..I’ll know when its night you say, it can’t be, do you plan to create another disturbance with masks again? I understand now! Nagumo-san was the one that made Shizuku and them dress in those embarrassing getups!”
“Don’t get so excited. You’ll grow bald, princess”
“I won’t grow bald! Just what are you saying to a lady!”
She seemed to realise that Hajime didn’t plan on speaking any further, moreover, Ririana who received such impolite treatment, “Even though I’m a princess…..”, while being depressed. Right next to her, Shizuku was, “embarrassing getups…..”, muttering quietly while being reminded of her dark history.
Afterwards, in the place where Ririana became depressed she explained the situation, apparently his Majesty, Gaharudo, was told of the story about the end of the church and gods who went mad.
However, as expected of their abilities reign supreme principles, the top of the country is in utilitarianism1. Though there seems to have been moderate impact, while fearlessly laughing he declared that the way they did things wouldn’t particularly change anyways. In other words, if it’s an enemy, they’ll be cut down, if you want something, then forcefully take it, the weak must obey the strong! is what he said.
Further more Gaharudo wondered how Ririana traveled to the Empire, he was anxious.
In other words, though he understood the story of the Kingdom being attacked, the amount of time that it took Ririana to reach the empire was far too quick. Though he was saved because the Empire also felt that an immediate conference of cooperation with the Kingdom should be held, it was impossible to arrive at the Empire after only 1 week of the attack.
At the same time, how did the Kingdom manage to drive away the Majinzoku’s army, he was considerably interested in their methods.
About the “Pillar of Light” that gave the demonic army forces a fatal blow, rather than talks about the God’s, excuses of “Heaven’s Judgement” wouldn’t cut it for Gaharudo. When it comes to that, naturally, he came to the assumption that someone had a weapon capable of destroying an entire army in one blow. To that truth, as the Emperor of the Hoelscher Empire, and as a person, he wasn’t able to overlook it.
If he investigates it, he’ll know immediately, Ririana who got permision from Hajime beforehand, especially talked about how troublesome Hajime was.
However, because she thought Hajime was wasn’t at the Empire but traveling around in a faraway place, he had actually entered the heart of the Empire and was meddling in Gaharudo’s greedy ambitions, then, on the other hand, what kind of movements will Hajime be taking from now on, Ririana was extremely anxious.
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……Mainly, in the sense that the Empire gets mysteriously wiped out from the maps.
Therefore, in the place where she would previously wait to meet with Gaharudo, although she couldn’t meet with him because of previous events…..Hajime is being evasive and unserious, Ririana was already, “If you’re going to do it~ do it seriously~”, while her state of mind was slightly neglectful. Surely, being uneasy about her own misgivings, she would never have guessed in her wildest dreams.
From Ririana, to some extent, heard the rooms door being knocked on and the contents of the conference with the empire was heard. It seems that time’s run out. While following the guide, Hajime and them are heading for the reception room where Gaharudo is waiting.