A long chapter this time ^^
I got tests coming up next month so there might be delays in releases =T
Have fun reading!
Let us know what you thnk~! ❤
Chapter 2, Episode 6: The Imperial Palace
The moment they entered the Imperial Palace, they were surrounded by a large number of soldiers.
It wasn’t to capture them though. Hiro’s body was searched by a palace guard, and Aura’s, by a court lady.
Afterwards, Aura turns back to Hiro.
「It seems someone has come to greet us.」
Hiro looks behind Aura and notices that a young man in his prime had arrived.
「You have come a very long way. I am the prime minister of the Grantz Grand Empire, Bizan Gillish von Charme. I am relieved to see that it seems like you’ve arrived to the Imperial Palace unharmed.」
The man bows his head, looks up with a refreshing smile, then begins to speak.
「Am I correct in presuming you are Master Hiro?」
「Ah, yes. My name is Hiro Ouguro.」
「… I hear you claimed to be a descendant of his Majesty the Second Emperor.」
「Yes, that’s right.」
Gillish narrows his eyes in response to Hiro’s answer.
「First, we will have you prove that. May I have you come with me?」
He turns his back to the two and begins to walk, and so, Hiro and Aura began to follow after him.
Click, click, the sound of their shoes rings throughout the hallway.
The upper portion of the wall on the right had windows adorned with gorgeous ornaments, and they were lined along the wall all the way down the pathway as a display of fortune and power.
Rays of sunlight shine through those windows and light up every corner of the hallway.
From the windows, you can look down on the beautiful town streets, and you also get the perk of being glared at by the soldiers standing guard by them.
On the ceiling is a grand drawing of the Spirit King and the Twelve Great Gods of Grantz. Hiro found an image of a warrior in black facing his enemies, which seems to be the Hiro of the past.
Hanging from the ceiling was a beautiful and exquisite chandelier.
「There have been many until now who have claimed to be a descendant of his Majesty the Second Emperor.」
The voice of Prime Minister Gillish travels through his back and hits Hiro’s eardrums.
「However, not a single one of them truly were. Regardless, there is a neverending line of those who still pretend to be.」
Prime Minister Gillish turns right at the end of the hallway.
「Which is why, even though they were the words of her Highness Celia Estreya, unless we have proof that you are a descendant of his Majesty the Second Emperor, we are unable to trust you. Honestly speaking, I am currently overcome with this feeling of, “not another one”.」
It can’t be helped that he is annoyed, with so many imposters showing up.
「The Grantz Grand Empire is a militaristic nation. There are many who worship 「Mars」. Myself included of course. If someone claimed to be his descendant, and it turned out to be a lie, it wouldn’t end in mere disappointment. I would not be able to hold back my explosive anger.」
Prime Minister Gillish stopped in front of a certain room and looked back.
「I pray that you are telling the truth, Master Hiro. For her Highness Celia Estrya’s sake as well, I truly do.」
Prime Minister Gillish unlocks the door and enters the room.
Hiro and Aura follow after him.
There were walls painted white on all four sides of the room and no windows.
In the center of the square room was a coat hanger, and on that hanger, was a black mantle.
There is nothing more in this room.
Prime Minister Gillish continues walking, then waves Hiro over once he arrives at the hanger.
「There have been 2,089 people who have claimed to be a descendant of 「Mars」 until now. Every single one of them have died as soon as they put this on.」
Prime Minister Gillish carefully grabbed the black mantle and spread it across his arms.
「This is the 「Black Camellia」 which 「Mars」 once wore. A spirit dwells within here, and like the Five Imperial Spirit Swords, it chooses its master— If one who is not acknowledged by the spirit uses it, they will likely fall under the curse of the spirit and be visited upon by death. However, even if you are not acknowledged by it, if you are a descendant with the protection of the Spirit King, you will not die. We will verify your claim through this means.」
Finally, Prime Minister Gillish quietly asks Hiro if he is ready.
Hiro nods. There is no tension in his face.
(This brings back memories…)
This black cloth ran alongside him through numerous battlefields. Without thinking, his cheeks loosen from nostalgia.
He stretched his hands out to try to grab it, but 「Black Camellia」 slipped away from Prime Minister Gillish’s arms and fell to the ground.
The fact that the black cloth fell despite there being no wind caused creases to form between Prime Minister Gillish’s brows.
Prime Minister Gillish did not drop it on purpose.
Hiro knew that as well.
(It’s probably sulking.)
The spirit which dwells within 「Black Camellia」 is a moody one of darkness, and compared to other spirits, it is honest with its emotions and difficult to handle.
Hiro sighed. It can’t be helped that it’s angry, seeing as how it was left alone for a 1,000 years.
(I’m sorry. I made you wait for such a long time.)
He apologizes to 「Black Camellia」 on the floor and stretches his hand out.
However, the black cloth slips through Hiro’s hand, then gently floats up.
Hiro seemed troubled as he looked at 「Black Camellia」, wondering if it wouldn’t forgive him after all.
Seeing the cloth float in midair, Prime Minister Gillish’s eyes were opened wide in wonder, and Aura was looking on with great interest.
In an instant, darkness swells up and coils around Hiro’s four limbs. It wrapped around his entire body in the blink of an eye, as if it were swallowing him whole.
Prime Minister Gillish and Aura’s eyes widen in surprise at the sudden occurrence.
Hiro disappeared into the darkness, then when he reappeared, he was no longer in his school uniform.
He is wearing the old military uniform of the Empire. On top, he has on a jet black mantle with a golden dragon design at his shoulders.
A black cloth blessed by a spirit. A relic left behind by 「Mars」.
「Black Camellia」, with its air of mystery and elegance, is know thusly in one particular country…
The overwhelmed Prime Minister Gillish laughed unconsciously.
「Haha, this… truly is…」
Prime Minister Gillish kneels right on the spot and bows his head.
「Please forgive me for my insolence. I am extremely delighted to be able to meet the descendant of his Majesty the Second Emperor.」
「Well, I’m just a descendant, so it would be a problem for me if you humble yourself to me. I’m not the man himself.」
The truth is, he actually is the man himself, but based on Prime Minister Gillish’s behavior, he’d probably faint if he knew that.
Either way, having someone older than you humble themselves before you like this would leave anyone at a loss.
As he looked towards Aura in an attempt to seek help, he saw that she was staring at him intently.
Concluding that she was going to be of no help, Hiro speaks to Prime Minister Gillish, whose head continue to hang down.
「… Umm, will this serve as proof?」
「Ah, no, now we will have you go to Frieden.」
Perhaps to pull himself together, Prime Minister Gillish took a few breaths before opening his mouth to speak.
「If one who claims to be a descendant of Schwarz appears, confirm it at Frieden. If it be true, grant unto him a befitting status. Those who do not adhere to this last testament will fall to the Spirit King’s curse. Are you familiar with this last testament?」
Prime Minister Gillish stands as Hiro nods.
「Originally, we would have had you go to Frieden first, but we can not have one whose status as a descendant is uncertain to meet with the Princess Maiden. If something were to happen to her, we would draw criticism both domestically and internationally. And so, in consideration for her safety as well, we have come to confirm the validity of those who claim to be a descendant with「Black Camellia」.」
「This way,」 said Prime Minister Gillish, after which he urged Hiro out into the hallway.
「And so… we will have you go to Frieden next, and once the Princess Maiden acknowledges you—」
Prime Minister Gillish noticed a palace guard running towards them from ahead and stopped speaking.
「Lord Charme! A spirit knight has just arrived who appears to have been entrusted with a letter from the Princess Maiden to his Majesty!」
「From the Princess Maiden to his Majesty… All right. I will go immediately. You go on ahead and let the spirit knight through.」
The palace guard salutes, then returns the way he came. Prime Minister Gillish turns back.
「My apologies. There is an urgent matter. May I ask that you wait a while?」
「I don’t mind… Should I wait here?」
「No, please wait in the nobles’ room. The one to show you there will be—」
After hearing Hiro’s reply, Prime Minister Gillish was about to call out to a nearby maid, but…
「I will show him.」
Aura cut in.
「Then I will leave it to you, Brigadier General Aura. I will return right away!」
Prime Minister Gillish rushed off.
While keeping her eyes on his back, Aura muttered.
「From the Princess Maiden… And directly to his Majesty the emperor at that. That’s rare.」
「Yes. When the Princess Maiden receives an oracle, it usually goes to the prime minister. But the fact that this is addressed to his Majesty, she likely received an important oracle.」
「So that’s why Prime Minister Gillish looked panicked.」
「Because if it happens to concern the fate of a country— it’s a serious matter. The letter will be delivered to his Majesty immediately.」
Once they came to a pause in the conversation, Hiro and Aura noticed something.
There were maids staring at them with puzzled expressions.
「We are going to be in the way of their work if we speak here. Shall we go?」
「You’re right. The nobles’ room, was it?」
「Yes. It’s right over there.」
After walking down the hallway a bit, a double door entrance with detailed ornaments appears.
Aura pushes them open in a familiar manner, then sinks into a sofa after entering the room.
Hiro sits on a sofa across from her while she grabs a bell placed on the desk between them and rings it.
Immediately, there are three knocks at the door, then a maid enters.
Aura looks in her direction.
「Please bring us two black teas.」
「Understood. Please wait a moment.」
The maid bends at the waist and bows, then exits.
「For now, shall we relax and drink some black tea while we wait?」
「Sounds good. I wonder how long Prime Minister Gillish will take.」
「I don’t believe he will keep you waiting too long… But it depends on the contents of the Princess Maiden’s letter.」
「I hope nothing’s wrong.」
An hour goes by as they chat idly.
The one who appeared in the noble’s room, was not Prime Minister Gillish, but a high official.
「Master Hiro, I apologize, but may I have you come to the throne room right away?」
「Third Imperial Prince Brutar and First Imperial Prince Schtobel should currently be in the middle of an interrogation in the throne room… Are they done?」
The high official nods his head to Aura’s question.
「Yes, it has ended without any problems. All that’s left if to await his Majesty’s decision, but I was told to show Master Hiro there first.」
「… Do you mind if I go as well?」
「Prime Minister Gillish said he doesn’t mind, but if you do, Master Hiro will enter from the front entrance, while Lady Aura will enter from the rear.」
「Understood. Alright, shall we go, Aura?」
Aura got up at the urging of Hiro who was already up.
They left the room, being rushed along by the high official.
The throne room—.
On the inside, the ceiling is blown out, and stretched straight across the center of the marble floor is a red carpet.
A row of pillars are lined up on either side of the room all the way to the throne, and filling the spaces in between are influential nobles wearing flashy clothes and standing in neat rows.
Among them, a familiar face— First Prince Schtobel is there, too.
Sitting on the throne is a youthful emperor who could hardly be thought to be past his sixties. Standing next to him is Prime Minister Gillish.
The throne room is filled with an oppressive air, enough to made an average person faint.
However, Hiro does not waver. He slowly walks down the red carpet as he swings「Black Camellia’s」 hem.
「… Is that the supposed descendant of his Majesty the Second Emperor?」
「He’s young. He’s still but a child.」
「Could that be… 「Black Camellia」?」
「Ohh— He carries the appearance of a king at his young age.」
「He looks neither nervous nor roused in this tense atmosphere… He’s either an impressive character or thickheaded.」
The room fills with murmuring from the nobles.
From a short distance away from the emperor, Hiro strikes the left side of his chest with his right hand and kneels down.
His mantle gently floats in the air from the wind caused by his movement, then falls to the floor.
The emperor spreads his arms before his chest.
「—Let us begin.」
Prime Minister Gillish takes one step forward, then unrolls a sheet of parchment.
「First Imperial Prince Schtobel, Third Imperial Prince Brutar, your verdicts have been decided. Step forward.」
First Imperial Prince Schtobel, with his large frame, knelt to the right of Hiro and bowed his head.
Following him, was Third Imperial Prince Brutar. He was a bald man with a nasty look in his eyes.
He knelt to the left of Hiro.
「First, Third Imperial Prince Brutar. I judge your case to be trivial.」
You could hear the surprise from the nobles who support Third Imperial Prince Brutar.
「Continuing, First Imperial Prince Schtobel, your merits at Forzen will be repealed, and you will be under house arrest for three months.」
A sigh of relief escaped the lips of the nobles who support him after hearing the light sentence.
At the same time, there is no displeasure voiced by their opposition, Third Imperial Prince Brutar’s faction.
This is because, although the punishment is light, there is a chance it may be retracted if they voiced any disapproval.
However, there is a stir among the nonpartisan factions.
「Absurd… Did he not target the Sixth Imperial Princess’s life?」
「Is it because he possesses 「Mjölnir」 after all?」
「His position to the throne should be demoted or taken away.」
Prime Minister Gillish raised his voice as the voices of dissatisfaction steadily grew.
It suddenly fell silent, but the throne room swells with animosity and rage.
(Now… what might they be thinking? At this rate, the nobles are going to be left feeling great dissatisfaction.)
The punishment for both Imperial princes are too light. It can’t be helped that the nonpartisan factions have negative thoughts.
These were not embers that could easily be put out.
「Moving on, Sir Hiro. For your merits in the battle against the Lichtein Dukedom, I will make you a 3rd class enlisted officer.」
Prime Minister Gillish did not stop speaking there.
「Furthermore, in accordance with the last testament of his Majesty the First Emperor, you will be welcomed as the Fourth Imperial Prince of the Grantz royal family, and will be fifth in line to the throne. According to your merits hereafter, promoting your place in line to the throne will be placed under consideration.」
Hiro almost lifted his head without thinking because of the extraordinary reception.
He thought he would only be welcomed as a distant member of the royal family and be given a piece of land in a remote region.
The throne room fills with silence. No one is able to say a word.
While everyone was taken aback, Prime Minister Gillish took out a piece of parchment.
There are letter skillfully written on the white paper shining brilliantly without even bathing in the sun.
「We have received verification from the Princess Maiden that he is a descendant of his Majesty the Second Emperor. If I were to add further proof to that, it would be that 「Black Camellia」 acknowledged him as well.」
The gaze of the nobles restlessly alternate between the Princess Maiden’s letter and Hiro.
「Sir Hiro. Henceforth, you shall be known as Hiro Schwarz von Grantz.」
The prime minister claps his hands twice. As he does, a number of maids appear and unfurl an enormous flag.
It is a flag with a crest of a dragon holding a silver sword on black soil.
「You are allowed to use the crest of his majesty the Second Emperor. Do not bring shame unto your ancestor.」
Almost all the items he once possessed have returned to him.
Hiro couldn’t help but smile.
(They got me…)
If the Imperial Princes’ positions in line to the throne were demoted or taken away, there may have been an internal war between the nobles who support each of them.
However, the unexpected light sentences removed the possible of such intentions.
Furthermore, the birth of a new Imperial Prince throws their thoughts into chaos.
The one thing all the nobles had on their minds was probably the question of whether or not to switch their interest to the new Imperial Prince or to see how things played out.
Reason being, the new Imperial prince even has the title of being his majesty the Second Emperor’s descendant.
If they raised the young boy up, it could be said that they would possible receive tremendous support from the citizens.
(So all the spears are pointed at me, huh…)
At that point, the nonpartisan factions who were dissatisfied with the sentences were able to easily approach Hiro.
They may be able to jump the gun on the influential nobles who are tied down by the obligations of their factions.
Their minds are likely filled with thoughts of how to outwit the other nobles rather than revolting against the emperor.
(But… This is a good opportunity for me, too.)
It’s utterly impossible for one person alone to fulfill Liz’s dream.
Besides, becoming the Fourth Imperial Prince will probably make it easier for him to take various actions.
Those with different intentions will likely approach Hiro from here on out in an attempt to use him.
(In which case, I’ll use them as much as I want, too.)
The corners of Hiro’s mouth turned up cheerfully.
There is a place called the Emperor’s Room.
There is an enormous painting on the wall, and there are furnishings collected from all around the world adorning it.
They are all works of art, no matter which you choose. It can be said that a luxurious and extravagant room is a symbol of power.
In that room, is Prime Minister Gillish, and sitting before him, is 48th Emperor Greiheit.
「Is there something you want to say?」
With wine in hand, the emperor looked at Prime Minister Gillish with eyes as sharp as a hawk’s.
「Was it all right to hand down that sentence for the First Imperial Prince? If you are going to use Master Hiro, I don’t believe there would have a been a problem in demoting his position to the throne.」
「That would create an obstacle for the future plan.」
「As preparation for that— are you first weakening the Krone house?」
「Longstanding nobles only think of protecting themselves. The corrupted Krone house is a perfect example of that. However, even if a dog maybe be old, you wouldn’t simply get off with a wound if one bit at you. In which case, you have to throw them in a cage, take away their food, weaken them as much as you wish to, and keep them tied down.」
「If only they would quietly go into that cage…」
「Which is why you make them think they have the initiative. Without letting them know what we’re planning, you slowly entice them to the abyss of death. If you make the outdated nobles fall in that manner, new nobles will stand out, and the Grantz Grand Empire will likely be revitalized more and more.」
The emperor sniffed the scent of the wine, then dropped the glass on the floor.
The glass smashed with a burst, and the red liquid began to stain the expensive rug.
Watching this, the emperor’s smile broadens.
「I hate stagnation.」
The emperor stopped Prime Minister Gillish with his hands as he tried to clean up the broken glass.
「It’s fine. Leave it. More importantly, how skilled is my new son?」
「Regarding that… This one here is likely more knowledgeable.」
As Prime Minister Gillish claps his hands, a man who appeared to be a traveler quietly appeared from behind him.
The man kneels and begins to speak.
「… Speaking honestly, one as lowly as myself was unable to gauge him.」
Prime Minister Gillish’s brows twitch.
Even within the underground organization 「Fang」 which the Charme house employed, this man who was dressed as a traveler was one of the strongest.
To think that such a man was unable to gauge him. Prime Minister Gillish spit out this words in disappointment.
「Was there that much of a difference in strength?」
He hangs his head in regret.
This man did nothing but train while straddling the line between life and death, and devoted everything to polishing his skills.
He was acknowledged for his abilities and received this mission directly from his master.
And this first job of his was simply to gauge the strength of a young boy. For this man who survived so much carnage, it was supposed to have been a simple enough of a request to disappoint him even.
「Just when I thought the young boy disappeared, he had captured the farmer I hired. That is all I was able to learn.」
「That’s enough. I will decide on what measures to take later. Rest for now.」
The man disappeared as if becoming one with the shadows.
After letting out a sigh, Prime Minister Gillish looked toward the emperor and bowed his head.
「It seems I chose the wrong person. My apologies.」
「Don’t worry about it. I too know the abilities of 「Fang」well.」
The emperor closed his eyes and let out a short exhale.
「Have 「Fang」 sneak into Fort Belk. Make sure they do not fail this time.」
With that as his final word, Prime Minister Gillish exited the Emperor’s Room.