|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2851 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1376 words|
As it became known that the heroes of all countries were assembled together, the onrush of onlookers also increased dramatically. We were in a large square not too far from the palace, a place originally meant to gather troops, but since there was no military emergency the place was open to the public. That made sense, even if the empire heavily focused on its military strength, the populace would grow dissatisfied if there were no festivals or leisure activities.
There were many seats for nobles there too, where we heroes stood in the front lines, then the imperial family behind us followed by high-ranking nobles. The seats were arranged like stairs since a flat platform would make it impossible for the people behind to see anything, but this way everyone could see what happened in the square, while they could also see us. Then around everything were the regular citizens, loudly talking with each other and pointing at us. Amidst all that noise, the emperor stood up on a raised platform, which quickly made everyone silent, either because they had been accustomed to that, or because they feared angering the emperor. It really was an odd country.
“Today we stand united because of one reason. Recently we’ve seen signs that indicate the resurrection of the Demon King, and now the heroes from all countries have gathered here to show their support for our empire of Leble, and I’ve organized this celebration so everyone can see who they are. As the days go by, monsters grow stronger and cause more damage, but it’s my sincere wish that the sight of not only our hero, but those of the entire continent united in one place can inspire you to stand up. We fear no Demon King! I vow we will restore everyone’s peaceful lifestyle! It’s our responsibility to let everyone rest easy!”
As soon as the emperor stopped talking, loud cheers erupted from the crowd. Meanwhile, we heroes responded with a forced smile, being treated like some form of exhibit. I felt like the emperor’s speech was filled with many false claims, but seeing how strong of a reaction it got I felt like Leble was in a worse state than I imagined. Otherwise, it was hard to imagine they would react so strongly to the sight of foreign heroes.
“They’re just a military powerhouse, everyone must have many silent complaints.”
Bandit spoke in a low voice, he was sitting by my side. I was of the same mind, and from the flow of things, I had a good idea of what would happen next. They would announce everyone with an exaggerated demeanor, and it was almost as if my mind was being read.
“Barbaros, hero of our empire! Step forward!”
Leble’s hero replied instantly and stepped forward. As he walked, the cheers from the crowd became even louder and I felt like my eardrums were about to burst. But at the same time…even though we had seen each other a few times and even fought, this was my first time hearing his name. Barbaros suppressed his usual odious face, faking a bright smile pretending to be an actual hero as he waved at the crowd. Maybe he only acted so rudely in places where his countrymen could not see him? Either way, I could never approve of his malicious personality.
“A few days from now, Barbaros here will head out to the Haunted Lands to get rid of the Demon King. He’ll show the way for the remaining heroes to follow! He’ll make our empire proud!”
Once again, there was wild cheering. As far as I knew, everyone could decide themselves when they wanted to head into the Haunted Lands, making sure all members are strong enough to survive there as we slowly increase the territory we control. Otherwise, if someone rushed ahead it was easy for them to be ambushed and annihilated by monsters. Trying to sneak in to defeat the Demon King without caring about one’s life afterwards was no different than attempting to assassinate it, but everyone is entitled to their own ways. Some people might think the same as the emperor, others might think more like me.
The emperor continued his speech after that, and either everyone admired him a great deal, or they were filled with courage after seeing Barbaros, but the cheering kept getting louder to a ridiculous extent. The rest of us heroes had a gentle expression all the time, but I was convinced we were all fed up with everything. That torture continued for around an hour before the ceremony was over and we were released.
When we arrived back at the castle, it felt like a replay of our first time there, all of us plopping on the couch exhausted. It really had been a grueling and boring time.
§ § §
The boring opening ceremony was over the next day, all of us heading to the parade ground. There were rows of knights, mounted cavalry, and troops armed with spears surrounding the place. It almost looked like an actual military parade there, but since we were supposed to just watch a small mock battle I figured I was thinking too much about it.
The emperor sat on the tallest seat, where he could watch over the entire grounds, below him were the nobles, then one step below; me and the heroes. Because of our positions, everything happening behind and above us was clearly audible, so emperor aside, we had to bear hearing all the gossip and comments from the nobles without a choice to ignore them, which quickly ruined my mood.
“They look quite well trained.”
“Their coordinated movements as troops are quite something to behold, but that makes sense as they’re a military country. Though their individual abilities aren’t as good as ours.”
Luvias spoke as we watched the mock battle start. Being the princess, she was probably the one analyzing the fight with the most interest out of all the invited heroes. Given that Bordaule’s relationship with Leble was not quite amicable, though also not straight-up antagonistic, there was still a chance war might break out between the two countries in the future. So Luvias had to watch carefully to see if she could identify any type of weakness in their troops.
From what she said, it seemed that someone highly powerful and skillful could overpower their organized armies. The first person that came to mind was the magician that used to be in my party ages ago, Sorciere. Her large-scale spells were even more powerful than mine, so if used properly she was able to destroy an army of a thousand soldiers with a single spell. Currently, Ciel maybe would be able to defeat a hundred if she tried really hard. In the end, every country had to decide whether to focus on the quality or quantity of their armies, Leble falling on the latter. They forcefully enlisted more people to their armies, continuously increasing their numbers and training as a group. Though I still could not figure out who they wanted to fight with.
The mock battle lasted around one hour, and afterwards came one-on-one matches between the most confident knights. These were slightly more skillful than the ones fighting before, but they were still weaker than Karin was a while ago. Even a single proficient adventurer would be able to wipe the floor with them. There was nothing new to learn from watching that, nor could I figure out more about Leble, so the entire time I was mostly focused on stopping myself from yawning. The same was happening with the other heroes, Annero stood motionless with his arms crossed, while Bandit was dozing off without a care. The only one watching attentively was Freya.
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Finally, the last knight had his opponent’s sword pointed straight at his throat after being disarmed, at which moment he gave up and the match was over. When I thought it was finally over and I could relax, Barbaros’ party showed up in front of the emperor and bowed.
“There’s something I wish to say, your Imperial Majesty. May I speak?”
“Go ahead, you have my permission.”
“Then if you’ll excuse me.”