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Chapter 40 – Coercion

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3138 characters
Translator: Yuki English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1555 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

“Among all the gifts, aside from dear Shizu’s, Miss Lily’s gift stands out the most! Ahahaha!” King Akira laughed heartily.

“Thank you for appreciating my modest gift,” Lily replied graciously.

“That gift offered insights that truly broadened my horizons. My Asuka Kingdom has been isolated in this dark, desolate continent for far too long. Everyone, join hands with me, the Princess, and the Prime Minister. Let’s strive together to restore Asuka Kingdom’s brightness and prosperity! Cheers!” Raising several cups of wine in succession, King Akira’s joy was palpable, as if rejuvenated with a youthful zest.

The attendees lifted their cups in response. Witnessing the King’s grand aspirations, the Princess felt a surge of pride and determination to work diligently for the kingdom’s future and its citizens.

“Your Majesty,” the Prime Minister interjected.

“Lord Prime Minister, what would you like to share?”

“We have a distinguished guest from afar wishing to convey his congratulations. Would Your Majesty like to meet him?”

“Huhuhu, if he’s traveled such a distance and comes recommended by you, I will gladly receive him. Bring him forth.”

Following the king’s nod, a command echoed, “The guest is granted entry. Announce their arrival.”

In no time, the gate guards announced, “Envoys from Heian-kyo have arrived!”

The festive hall, previously filled with laughter and chatter, grew eerily silent at the proclamation.

Even King Akira, mid-gesture with his wine cup, paused, his gaze shadowed with suspicion.

“Heian-kyo’s envoy?” Both Lily and Ayaka shifted uncomfortably. The history was no secret: Heian-kyo was a bitter adversary of the Asuka Kingdom. It was Heian’s previous emperors who’d decimated the Asuka clan and exiled them to this bleak, barren island of Iyo. What brought their envoy here now?

The hall’s gates creaked open, revealing a tall, lean man with a pallid face, dressed in somber court attire. He was followed by two stone-faced, imposing samurais.

King Akira and Princess Asuka’s expressions chilled. The previously jovial atmosphere now weighed heavy with tension.

King Akira waited in silence.

With audacious confidence, the envoy scanned the room before halting on the King, standing unabashed and displaying no deference.

“By order of the Cloistered Emperor, Emperor Emeritus, and the reigning Emperor, and on behalf of our great general, the Heian Dynasty wishes to extend special congratulations on the Asuka King’s jubilee,” the envoy declared, raising a jade tablet.

“How dare you stand before the king without kneeling?” An official boomed.

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“Why would an envoy of the world-ruling Heian Dynasty kneel to barbarians of this realm?” The envoy retorted, disdain evident in his voice.

“Watch your tongue!” An incensed samurai official began to rise.

“Peace, everyone!” The Prime Minister intervened with a placating gesture. “Let’s be understanding. The envoy, being foreign, may not be familiar with our customs. Today we celebrate His Majesty’s birthday; let’s extend our hospitality.”

But the air grew colder as murderous intent glinted in Asuka’s eyes.

Suppressing his rage, King Akira addressed the envoy, “Considering our kingdom’s past with the Heian dynasty and the bloodshed of our forebears, it’s audacious for you to appear at my birthday celebration. Do you not fear I might order your execution?”

“Ahahaha, it’s well known that envoys are spared even during wars. Moreover, I’m genuinely here to celebrate.” The envoy motioned, and the accompanying samurais presented a selection of gifts, though they paled in comparison to Lily’s offerings.

“We have no need for your paltry offerings! Leave at once!” A military official snapped.

“Mind your manners!” The Prime Minister shot back, “Regardless of past events, the envoy has traveled far to join our celebrations. Shouldn’t we uphold our kingdom’s honor?”

King Akira, though ready to rebuke the envoy, held back following the Prime Minister’s words. “Your gifts are accepted. But for your safety, I suggest you leave promptly. My generals are not known for their patience.”

“Your Majesty, there’s still a paramount gift to present.”

“Oh? And what might that be?”

On the envoy’s cue, another samurai stepped forth, bearing a golden scroll, a jade tablet, and an official’s hat.

“This is?” King Akira inquired.

“It’s an imperial decree,” the envoy began, unfurling the scroll, “appointing you, Your Majesty, as the Lord of Iyo. A prestigious third-ranked position. You’re to guard Iyo Island. Isn’t this a high honor? Shouldn’t you express your gratitude?”

The atmosphere thickened with tension.

Crash!

King Akira’s wine cup shattered at the envoy’s feet.

“I am the sovereign of Asuka Kingdom. How dare a mere emperor from the Heian dynasty appoint me? Are they insinuating my surrender?” King Akira’s fury was palpable, his chest heaving with indignation.

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“Guards! Drag these three out and behead them!” King Akira ordered furiously.

“Your majesty, would you truly kill an envoy?”

“You’ve insulted me, belittled my country! Your execution is only fitting! Guards! Seize them!” King Akira thundered.

“Guards!”

The dignitaries and officials exchanged glances, yet no guards appeared.

“What is happening? Where are the guards?”

A heavy silence hung over the hall. The Prime Minister stood, breaking the silence, “Your Majesty, while these envoys have been discourteous and may deserve punishment, they represent the mighty Heian Dynasty. Killing them could provoke them and spell doom for our kingdom.”

“Lord Prime Minister,” Asuka, who had been quiet, now intervened, “Are you suggesting that my Asuka Kingdom lacks the might to defend itself?”

“Your Highness, that’s not my intent. Yet, this humble servant believes that accepting their bestowment might actually ease tensions with the Heian Dynasty. Such an alliance could be advantageous.”

“Prime Minister!” King Akira, seething with rage, slammed his palm on the table, “The Heian Dynasty has been our sworn enemy for centuries! How dare you advise me to cozy up to our tormentors?”

“Your majesty! I urge you to consider this for the greater good and the future of our nation!” The Prime Minister, with newfound courage, confronted the king directly.

King Akira’s fury was palpable, “What!?”

“Your majesty!” Suddenly, one after another, ministers rallied behind the Prime Minister, kneeling before the king.

“Please heed the Prime Minister’s advice, he thinks only of the kingdom’s welfare!”

“Your majesty, we implore you to accept the bestowment!”

The pleas multiplied as over half the officials knelt, their collective voices echoing through the hall. Their entreaties might have sounded earnest, but they were undeniably coercive.

“You traitors! You dare to corner me? Have you lost the will to live? Guards! Arrest them all!” King Akira’s anger teetered on madness.

Two detachments of armored ninjas burst into the hall, surrounding the Prime Minister’s faction and the envoys. Yet, they remained motionless.

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“Act! Seize those traitors!” King Akira commanded.

Again, no one moved.

The armored ninjas stared impassively, their gaze fixed on the isolated king.

“Tsukuba Arai! Do you dare challenge his majesty’s authority? Is this your rebellion?” A senior official, the previous Prime Minister’s nephew Sasaki, rose to accuse the Prime Minister.

“Seize this insolent old fool who misleads our king!” The Prime Minister retorted.

Obeying the Prime Minister’s directive, the king’s ninja guards apprehended Sasaki. A ninja unsheathed a short sword, swiftly plunging it into Sasaki’s chest. Lacking the power of an awakened, he was effortlessly slain.

Horrified, King Akira stammered, “This…is it a coup? How long have you plotted this?”

“Your majesty, for the future of our kingdom, we dare. We act for you and for all our people!” The Prime Minister declared resolutely.

“Your majesty, we beg you to accept the bestowment!”

The ministers continued their unified plea, kneeling in determined supplication.

“You…you all…” King Akira’s voice faltered, his face drained of color.

Asuka rose and approached the king. “Quite the banquet. It’s clear to me now; this is a coup d’etat. But have you all so easily overlooked my presence?” Flames, reminiscent of a phoenix, ignited in her eyes.

Beside her, Reika also stood, ready to face whatever lay ahead.

“Ehehehe.” From the sidelines, Tsukuba Naoya, still seated, set down his wine glass. A chilling aura emanated from his dark form. “Your highness, while the elders debate matters of state, we, as the younger generation and warriors, should refrain from interfering. Moreover, as my future bride, I suggest you take your seat.” The wine in his glass began to bubble and evaporate.

The main hall bristled with energy as the atmosphere grew palpably tense.

“Wife!?” Sonosuke, from the back, sent a table flying with a kick. “Princess Asuka will marry only he who has done the most for our nation. Brother Naoya, your family’s treachery has led these traitors to intimidate our king. And you speak of a marriage contract? This is plainly a coup! That ‘marriage contract’ is nothing more than a ruse to endanger the princess. I am Sonosuke of the Myojin Temple. Who dares to act against her will?”

Sonosuke stepped forward defiantly, and with a swift motion, a shining cross spear materialized in his grasp, positioning himself protectively in front of the king and princess.

“Who is this rogue monk, brandishing a weapon before the Prime Minister and the court? Is this a revolt?” An official standing behind the Prime Minister shouted, “Guards, seize him!”

(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

(Please visit Re:Library to show the translators your appreciation!)

A group of heavily armored ninjas drew their blades, advancing menacingly towards Sonosuke.

From the hall’s rear, Lily and her companions sat in quiet observation. Lifting her tea cup delicately, Lily sipped the brew, her eyes calm and unwavering. She remained silent.



 

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