Choiboy84 here. We hit $50 so here’s another episode for everyone.
The support and readership is much appreciated!
We are now at $5/50 =)
Chapter 2, Episode 5: The Imperial Capital
Looking above head, a colossal castle wall glares down, giving off a sense of intimidation.
The water in the deep moat surrounding the castle walls is drawn in from the Kendall River to the north, and in the clear water, lives various underwater creatures.
There are large crowds of people coming and going across the bridge which is suspended from the other side.
The main gate beyond it is open, and soldiers are inspecting luggage.
Hiro blended in with the flow of people and crossed the bridge. After having his belongings inspected, he passed through the main gate.
Hiro is overwhelmed by the scenery expanding before him.
Stretching out from the entrance of the city, is a wide road paved with stone.
Along the road on each side stood bronze statues at fixed intervals, all large enough to pierce the heavens.
The large, elaborately carved statues of the Twelve Great Gods of Grantz looked down and welcomed the people who visited.
There are people crowding the areas around their feet.
Each space was bustling with people, with stallholders vigorously shouting and interacting with customers.
「… There are definitely much more people now compared to a 1,000 years ago.」
But he can’t stay there staring at the sights all day. Hiro began to walk.
He walks along as he restlessly surveys the area.
He looks much like a country bumpkin lost in a big city.
There is a group standing in front of a stall serving alcohol, already making merry with a bottle in hand in the afternoon.
「Our longstanding enemy, Forzen, has fallen to ruin! Drinks, bring out the drinks! We can’t stand here and not celebrate this!」
「Shouldn’t we be celebrating the Sixth Imperial Princess who repelled that countryside dukedom instead?!」
「And apparently, a descendant of the Second Emperor was there!」
As he passes the lively street looked down upon by the gods, he is welcomed by a grand fountain garden.
Quite in contrast from the entrance, this place has a relatively calm air about it.
One thing that remains the same though, is that every single person has a smile on their face.
Every citizen, not just the drunkards, must still be feeling the lingering joy from last month’s victory.
The fountain garden is crowded with all sorts of people who are there for various reasons. There’s a woman with her child, a drunken man, a mummy-like man with bandages wrapped all around his body, and a young man who appeared to be a student reading a book.
There are children gathered around the fountain, the centerpiece of the garden.
The pillar of water which rises into the sky, together with the clouds behind it, gives off a mysterious air of refinement. The sprays of water glimmer, and the sound of water which hits the ears gives off a sense of elegance.
Hiro, who was peacefully viewing the scenery, turns his gaze around once more.
This was because he got the feeling that he saw someone he recognized.
He finds him right away. The man whose body is completely wrapped in bandages— It’s Alfred.
Even if this is the Imperial capital, he’s probably the only one to have such an odd appearance.
Actually, the palace guards are currently pointing at him suspiciously.
Hiro waved his hands in an exaggerated manner.
After first giving him a sidelong glance, he then fixed his gaze on Hiro.
Once he had his sights set on Hiro, Alfred began to approach him.
「… Why are you here?」
He said, with displeasure in his voice.
「His Majesty, the emperor called for me.」
「Ahh, I see. Indeed, there’s no reason for you not to be called for.」
「What about you, Alfred? What are you doing here?」
「My superior was summoned by his Majesty, so I am here as an escort.」
「No, no, someone higher up— Third Imperial Prince Brutar.」
Alfred begins to walk after saying this, so Hiro naturally follows him.
「The Third Imperial Army— It was found out that the Imperial Black Knights were mobilized for personal use. Well, there’s no way it wouldn’t have been, but it was during the time his Majesty was on his military expedition. That would certainly call for questioning.」
「I feel like he deserves it though. Plus, he tried to capture Liz.」
「But in terms of results, we ended up fighting alongside each other, so his punishment will likely be relatively light.」
Alfred adds that the problem is probably how the First Imperial Prince will be dealt with.
「There’s a huge uproar in the Imperial Palace. People are talking about him targeting the Sixth Imperial Princess’s life, and that he almost killed the Second Emperor’s descendant. It’s complete chaos right now.」
「But still, he possesses 「Mjölnir」, and most importantly, behind the First Imperial Prince stands the Krone house of the Five Great Nobles. Because he has the support of the greatest faction, the First Imperial Prince must be dealt with carefully. His Majesty himself may be troubled.」
「They say ill weeds grow apace in these situations, don’t they…」
It’s difficult to surmise his expression due to the bandages, but there’s no doubt it’s one of distress.
「And the fact that you’ve appeared here, Sir Descendant… that will cause yet another commotion. I wonder what will happen.」
Hiro questions Alfred, who gazes at the sky with a distant look in his eyes.
「So, where are you heading?」
「Were you following me without knowing anything?」
Alfred shrugs his shoulders in shock.
「What would you do if I were an assassin.」
「There aren’t any assassins who stand out as much as you.」
Hiro was currently walking along the eastern main street.
Unlike the central street, this road has a number of stores lining its sides, like blacksmiths, weapon shops, and curio stores.
Perhaps because it was such a place, those who could be seen in the area were adventurers, mercenaries, and the like.
It is a street with a violent atmosphere flowing through it.
Alfred enters a small path between the guard house and an inn.
After walking the dimly lit path for a while, they were welcomed by blinding sunlight, and there stood an old temple.
「Lady Aura is here.」
Alfred said and pointed towards the shade of a tree where Aura was sitting.
Beyond her, were a number of knights clad in black armor with a large group of children surrounding them.
Unbefitting their stern appearance, the knights were holding large quantities of snacks in their arms.
It seems the children are swarming around them with that in sight.
「They’re war orphans. Those children were taken in by the spirit temple. 」
「Why is there a temple in a place like this?」
There are likely many people of the central continent— especially those of the Grantz Grand Empire, who believe in the spirit king.
So why is there a temple erected beyond an alley like this?
「It’s because spirits favor this place.」
Hiro understood after hearing Alfred’s answer.
As if isolated from the developed town, this place is overflowing with nature.
The area around the temple was covered in grass, with flowers of red, white and various other colors. They all seemed to be enjoying the breeze.
Simply looking at the temple bathed in the sun’s light, it felt as if your soul were being washed clean.
「With the development of the town, at some point, the east side became a dangerous place flooded with adventurers and mercenaries. They tried to take a number of measures to change it, but it seems like they didn’t go well.」
「Yeah, I don’t think you can chase out adventurers and mercenaries from the east side at this point.」
If you tried to destroy something that had already taken root, the resistance would likely be great.
「Exactly. That’s why they built the guard house to protect the children.」
Alfred says it was probably built before they came.
「It also happens to be where the Imperial Black Knights are currently stationed. The man who was previously in charge could hardly be considered to have been passionate about his work. Lady Aura chased him out and came to be in charge of maintaining the public order of the eastern area.」
It looks like Aura noticed them as Alfred spoke boastfully.
She left the shade of the tree and approached the two.
「… What an unexpected guest.」
「It’s been a while… Actually, I guess it hasn’t really.」
「What business do you have here?」
「I was called for by his Majesty the emperor.」
Hiro dropped the jute bag that was on his back onto the ground and carelessly thrust his hand into it.
When he pulled his hand out, in it was a single sheet of paper which looked like a piece of trash.
「… It looks like garbage no matter how you look at it.」
Indeed. Hiro thinks so, too. It looks even worse than when Liz handed it to him.
After being handed the letter and reading it, Aura tilted her head.
「I understand the gist, but how do you intend on entering the Imperial Palace?」
「… With my black hair and eyes.」
「That won’t work right now. It seems there is currently a dispute among the different factions in the Imperial Palace… I doubt the palace guards will give you the time of day.」
「If I show them this letter…」
Aura sighs and shakes her head with her hand on her forehead as if she were troubled.
「… Do you think anyone would believe this garbage-like letter to be from his Majesty the emperor?」
While calling it garbage, Aura deftly folded the letter with one hand and handed it to Hiro.
「A letter from his Majesty the emperor is something one may never receive in their entire lifetime. To treat such a thing so crudely like garbage is unheard of. Even if you were allowed passage with this, you’ll be executed for lese majeste.」
「That’s true, huh…」
「There’s no choice. I will go along with you.」
「If I go with you, you will be allowed entrance.」
「I would be grateful for that, but…」
As he looks behind her, it seemed the children had gathered around them at some point.
Further behind her, the Imperial Black Knights, who are known as the elite of the Third Imperial Army, have been knocked down by the children.
「Big thith Aura! Where are you going?」
A young girl with a lisp tugged at Aura’s sleeve.
Aura pats the young girl’s head and smiles.
「I am going to the Imperial Palace. While I’m gone, this bandaged man here, Alfred-man, will play with you.」
Hiro is certain that Alfred had a startled look on his face.
Aura ignored him, said to Hiro, 「shall we go,」 and began to walk ahead of him.
「P-Please wait a moment! Lady Aura, whaaaaa!」
Not knowing what you would call restraint, the children rush Alfred. In no time at all, you could no longer see his figure.
「S-Stop that. I am a noble! Do you think it fine to do this?!」
「I am his Majesty Schwarz, and I will defeat the mummy man! 」
「Then, I’m general Celia!」
「Then I’m his Majesty Altius!」
「Wh-What are you… stop that! Don’t touch me there!」
Alfred tries to speak, but the children simply ignore him.
Children are fearsome… thought Hiro.
They walk back the path they came and head north up the central street. Along the way, Aura speaks to Hiro.
「Listen, the place to which we are heading is thought of as a brilliant place where only the chosen people of this world live, and that is not incorrect. However, please do not forget that it is also a haunt of wicked men, swirling with jealousy and desire. You absolutely must not let your guard down.」
「Be careful of those who come in contact with you. You can not go carelessly to those who call out to you. Be especially careful of the women. There is even a case of an emperor in the past falling to ruin because of a woman.」
「Are you worried about me?」
She glared at him sternly after he said that.
「Please listen silently.」
「Unfortunately, I can not follow you all the way in. The one his Majesty called for is you after all.」
「You’re right. Well, I’m a bit iffy on the etiquette, but I think it’ll work out somehow.」
「I hope it does…」
After that, they both fall silent and simply move their feet along.
After they climbed over a gentle slope, an iron gate about five times Hiro’s height came into view.
The end points are sharpened like spears, and it gives off a solemn air.
Seeing Aura, a soldier runs over.
「Brigadier general. What brings you here today?」
「I was commanded by his highness the emperor to guide this person to the Imperial Palace.」
Aura pointed at Hiro.
The palace guard opened his mouth to speak as he stared at Hiro to evaluate him.
「… I have not been given such notice. I apologize, but I cannot allow entrance.」
A large crease appears between Hiro’s brows. That’s impossible.
The emperor personally sent him a letter.
There’s no way the palace guards weren’t told that Hiro would be coming.
(I wonder if someone’s behind this…)
There’s a high possibility of someone preventing Hiro’s visit.
It’s also possible that the palace guard may be under someone’s control.
Aura spoke quietly.
「Is that so? Then give me your name and affiliation.」
「You doubted me, a close aide of Third Imperial Prince Brutar. I will have you receive a fitting punishment.」
In other words, this is a threat on his position if he doesn’t allow him entrance.
The palace guard’s face twists in mortification. You can see from his expression that he is conflicted by something.
After a while, the palace guard hung his head.
「Please, pass through.」
He felt just a bit sorry for the dejected soldier, but Aura passed through the gate indignantly, so he followed after her.
There were many soldiers placed throughout the large grounds as security, with a small platoon constantly on patrol.
Hiro walks along a wide path surrounded by a rose garden as guards glare at him, watching for any suspicious movements.
Moving directly ahead, there is a large fountain and a four way split.
On the west side is an area lined with mansions of prominent nobles, and to the east, is the housing and training grounds for the elite “Golden Lion Knights” of the First Imperial Army.
On the north side, is the center of the Grantz Grant Empire, the Imperial Palace Wenezein.
As he comes abreast to Aura, she speaks to him.
「That palace guard earlier, he’s under the patronage of the Krone house of the Five Great Nobles. They support the First Imperial Prince, so please be careful. They do whatever it takes to get what they want. Do you know the incident regarding the death of the head of the Kelheit house of the Five Great Nobles?」
The Kelheit house is the house of great nobles who oversee the east.
Because they lost the head of their house about three months ago, his wife is currently acting as his deputy.
Publicly, it is said to be due to an accident from falling off a horse. In actuality, it seems the theory of an assassination is plausible.
「I assume that it is the work of the Krone house. I don’t have proof… but they’re going as far as proposing marriage to Duchess Kelheit, who only just recently lost her husband. They’re likely aiming to take over the Kelheit house. Because they’re such a shameless bunch, I doubt they would hesitate to poison you in the Imperial Palace.」
「I understand. I’ll be careful of the Krone house.」
After Hiro gives his thanks to Aura, they arrive at the Imperial Palace and he catches his breath.
It was not because of the beauty of the Imperial Palace, but the sense of nostalgia welling up from within his chest.
It looks like it’s been reconstructed a number of times, but it still has the vestiges of the Imperial Palace from a 1,000 years ago.
(… It almost feels like I’ve come back home.)
This was the first place he visited when he was summoned to this world.
This is where everything began.
He exchanged vows to be blood brothers with Altius, welcomed many friends, and made it through a world of wars.
It is also the place of ending, where the kingdom became an empire, the wars came to an end, and where he said his farewell to Altius.
The place of beginning and ending.
(No matter what awaits me ahead of here, I won’t stop.)
While embracing the premonition of a new beginning, a new tale, the “hero” from a 1,000 years in the past steps into the Imperial Palace once more.