And~ here is the last chapter I said we will release ^^
Chapter 6 of vol 5 (chapter 59).
For all of those who asked- there are too many wtf moments in this chapter ~.~
I will make a suggestions post next week for what project to pick up next, with all the things I don’t want to see (easier than what I do want XD).
But that is for next week! ^^ For now, enjoy the last chapter from us~!
Chapter 3, Episode 6: Reunion
They pass through the main gate— as they do, they are welcomed by gentle, heart-warming cheers.
Hiro and the others are riding a carriage used for triumphant returns pulled by two white horses.
There is no roof nor any windows. The only thing it has is a handrail to prevent one from falling.
For a carriage meant for the Imperial family, it lacks in brilliance and the decorations can be considered plain.
There is a reason for this— It is because the leading actors are the passengers, not the carriage. So by giving the carriage a plain look, it draws attention to those riding inside.
There are three people in the carriage— more accurately, two women and one man— and they are waving their hands towards the people gathered around them. The one wearing a red dress is Liz, and the one wearing a black dress is Rosa.
The one sitting in between them is Hiro.
(Wow… It feels like there are more than before.)
There are hordes and hordes of people packed on each side of the road. There isn’t the slightest of space to be found between them. The main road was overflowing with so many people of all ages, that they had no choice but to clap their hands above their heads.
『My Lady Celia Estreya~ you’re so cute~!』
What surprised Hiro the most was Liz’s popularity.
After Liz, the name people were shouting the most was Hiro.
Rosa seemed to be most popular with the men, and their energy was intense.
All the men of the Imperial capital wore perverse expressions before the allure of the widow.
「Hehe, look at the unsightly faces of all those men.」
Said Rosa like a demon while she kept her smile.
As she does, Liz gives her a stern look— It seems she’s criticizing her older sister for her slip of the tongue.
「Sister, it’s rude to say things like that. They’re gathered here for our sake.」
After being admonished by her young sister, Rosa shrugged her shoulders like a child who was caught for a prank.
「Sorry. I’ll be careful from now on.」
Their arms are heavy with gifts from the people. They were all passed along to them by the soldiers. They were mostly flower bouquets, but there were some boxes of varying sizes as well— perhaps with jewels in them— and there were letters attached to some too, suggesting there were nobles and merchants mixed in the crowds.
And as for Hiro—
「Here, there’s another one for you.」
Rosa cheerfully handed him a flower bouquet.
Hiro forces a smile as he receives it. With the carriage bursting with yellow, blue, purple, white, and various other colors, there was nowhere around him to place the bouquet. But most of them had mud on them or had missing petals. They were not the type of flowers you would find displayed in a store. They were all flowers one would find blooming on the side of a road.
「These are presents from those who will support the future of the Imperial capital. Take good care of them.」
Said Rosa, seeming slightly jealous.
It was quite unexpected— Hiro was overwhelmingly popular with the children.
In other words, most of the flowers around Hiro were from children.
As Hiro scratches his cheek to hide is embarrassment, Liz turns her gaze towards him.
「I’m not doing too bad, either!」
Perhaps it was a gift from a child, but Liz had a crown of flowers on her head.
Thinking how charming it was the way Liz was competing with him, Hiro lets out a big smile.
Then, he turns his gaze to the people— and as he does, he catches sight of a certain young girl.
Her clothes are slightly dirty, and in both her hands, she holds a red flower.
She nervously looks towards Hiro.
Perhaps she’s trying to approach the coach as she takes a step forward, but she is blocked by a wall of adults.
Said Hiro to the carriageman. Liz and Rosa looks at him puzzled.
But without any explanation, Hiro grabs the handrail in the rear and jumps down from the carriage as his black clothes flap behind him.
The people are astir and send ill-mannered stares his way. Hiro waved his hand to the side to rein them in.
Silence— It became so quiet you could hear a nail drop. The people shut their mouths without any hesitation.
It’s not like he used magic. And neither did he use the force of a third party such as a spirit.
The people were captivated by Hiro’s majestic appearance.
A wind blows through the main road.
It tussles Hiro’s bangs and roughly strokes the eyepatch covering the left half of his face.
Just as the wind leaves, the guards surrounded Hiro as if they suddenly remembered their duty.
『Your Highness Hiro, please return to the—』
Before the soldier is able to finish his sentence, Hiro raises his hand to silence him.
Then, he took one step toward the people.
「Won’t you please open a path for me?」
Unable to utter any words in response, one by one, the people create an opening.
It took a bit of time, but a space big enough for one adult to pass through was produced.
Ahead of the now open field of view, the slightly dirty young girl stands with a bewildered expression.
Hiro smiled in an attempt to put her at ease. He invites the young girl over and crouches down.
After the young girl tottled over and met his gaze, he spoke calmly.
「Do you think I can have that beautiful flower?」
A short moment passed before the little girl gleefully presented the red flower to him.
Hiro accepted, then stood and pat the little girl on the head.
Once he thanked her, the little girl turned around and ran to an alleyway as if she were trying to hide her bashfulness.
After watching her go, Hiro returned to the carriage and sat in his seat.
In an instant— the people burst with cheers.
Commoners, nobles, the Imperial family, though they may differ in status, they are all human.
It’s an obvious concept, but the Imperial family is an existence close to gods.
Which is why people have a certain thought somewhere in their minds.
That— the world they live in is different.
The Fourth Imperial Prince, a member of that Imperial family, stopped to give his attention to a poor young girl who even commoners would avoid.
He accepted a flower covered in mud from who knows where, and not only did he thank her, he pat her head— and his movements were so natural and beautiful. Such a miracle only exists in the world of paintings.
Witnessing such a scene in reality, it’s understandable that the people couldn’t stop their hearts from jumping.
Hiro raises his hand in response. Even more cheering erupted.
The ceremonial carriage starts off once more— With a gentle smile, Rosa turned her gaze to him.
「Not bad… Why? Hehe, though I think that’s a wonderful quality.」
There is a deep affection in her voice. She wants to embrace the young boy— she holds her own body with both her arms as if to hold back that impulse. As Hiro creates a defensive wall of flower bouquets in silence, he noticed Liz was looking in his direction.
She was staring intently at the red flower in Hiro’s hand.
「… This is…」
「Is something wrong?」
As Hiro asks, Liz nods slightly.
「That flower’s called an 「anat」*. It’s a flower that only blooms in a special place. It’s rare.」
TL note: Kanji is lotus.
After Liz finished her explanation, she tilted her head and let out a groan.
「Hmm~… But it’s weird. This— it’s…」
Her words are cut off by the band’s performance.
Hiro opened his mouth to ask her to repeat what she said. But it closed once he saw the main gate of the Imperial palace.
In the corner of his eyes, Rosa was moving quickly.
「We’ll probably have an audience with his Majesty the emperor at night as planned. Once we’re done, we should be jumping right into the dinner party.」
Rosa tells him quickly. After responding with a nod, Hiro looked overhead.
The sun is still high. It’ll probably be another two hours for the sun to set.
Now, what to do until then…
Liz let out a groan next to him.
When Hiro looked, there was tension in her well-featured face.
It may be that she’s recalling the time she was demoted.
But right now, she has a reliable sister with her. He doesn’t think there’s a reason for her to be so anxious…
But Hiro concluded that it was just human nature to be uneasy and gave Liz a pat on the shoulder.
「It’s okay. It won’t turn out the way you’re thinking, Liz. In fact, you might have the opposite problem.」
Perhaps Liz didn’t understand what he meant as she knit her brows with a grimace.
「Well, just look forward to it.」
After Hiro whispered, the main gate of the Imperial palace opened solemnly.
「Well, well… if it’s isn’t your Highness Hiro Schwarz. It has been a while. I have been waiting to see you.」
The one who welcomed him with a low bow was the prime minister of the Grantz Grand Empire, Bizan Gillish von Charme. He looks like a serious person in appearance, and maybe it’s because of his silver-rimmed glasses, but this man gives off a cold impression.
「Thank you for coming to greet us. Aren’t you busy with other affairs?」
Said Hiro as he extended his hand to Prime Minister Gillish.
「My work is not much. We have talented people working in the Imperial palace.」
After shaking Hiro’s hand, Prime Minister Gillish turned to Liz.
「Your Highness Celia Estreya. I have heard many rumors about you. And have you grown a bit perhaps?」
「Maybe just a little… You’re still growing your beard, Prime Minister Gillish.」
As Liz says this with a forced smile, Prime Minister Gillish laughed and nodded.
「How long ago was it— You once told me to shave it because it didn’t suit me, didn’t you? But since I grew it this long, I thought I would try a little longer, but it isn’t growing very much.」
Says Prime Ministers Gillish as he strokes his chin looking embarrassed.
Hiro looked on in surprise. It seems his messy facial hair was not just stubble.
He just assumed he was too busy to shave it or that he had no interest to.
He doesn’t know when Liz told him it doesn’t suit him, but if this is what it looks like after two or three months, it would probably be better to just shave it off.
After going back and forth about whether or not to tell him, this is what he ended up saying—
「Umm—… will we be getting an audience as scheduled?」
He concluded that everyone has different taste and not to get too involved.
Prime Minister Gillish responded to Hiro’s question with a nod.
「Yes, it will be at night as scheduled— It will be in two more hours. I was thinking of having you wait at the mansion until then…」
「All right. We’ll pass the time as we want until then.」
「That would be most helpful. We will send a messenger when the time comes…」
Prime Minister Gillish conveyed this to Hiro, bowed, then returned to the Imperial palace.
After Hiro watched him walk away, Liz came and clung to his arm.
「Hey, hey, let’s go to town.」
Hiro was already planning to do that.
As he turns around, he sees a large luggage being taken off the carriage.
Rosa was covered in sand and dust as she gave out orders to the soldiers.
「That reminds me, what’s that luggage you brought with you, Hiro?」
Most of the luggage was placed together in one spot, but the only one Liz was pointing to was a bit separated.
Hiro smiles like a child plotting a prank.
「That? You’ll see when we get to town.」
「You could just tell me now.」
「If I told you now, you might only be half as surprised.」
「Hmm… it’s going to surprise me that much?」
As Liz asks for confirmation, he wonders what he’ll do if she’s not—
As he says this without much confidence, Liz detaches from his arm and stares into Hiro’s face.
「Then I’ll look forward to it. Be prepared if it doesn’t surprise me.」
Leaving him with those fearsome words, Liz runs to where Rosa is, but she turned around partway.
「I’m going to help out and finish this up real quick! You hurry and get over here too before my sister yells at you!」
Hiro shrugged and turned his gaze away from Liz. Then, as if drawing a line, he shifts his gaze below.
Looking down from the small hill upon which the Imperial palace is built— was spread a radiant town.
＊＊＊＊＊ ＊＊＊＊＊ ＊＊＊＊＊
Jovial rays of light shine down all over the town.
If you look up at the sky, there isn’t a single cloud there. It was truly fine weather, and the people coming and going along the main street had smiles blooming on their faces. The cheerful voices of people are carried by the wind, and their footsteps on the stone pavement play a light melody.
While walking along with the bronze statues of the Twelve Great Gods of Grantz looking down on you, once you pass the bustling hordes, you arrive at a plaza with a fountain garden.
If you go east from here, it’s the business district, with buildings lining on each side of the road.
Unlike the main street, this place is filled with brawny people.
The reasons are various.
It’s because it’s filled with necessities for adventurers, like blacksmiths, inns, tool shops, and bars. Of course, the same goes for those who aspire to be mercenaries or soldiers as well.
But with such a vigorous group of people, it’s impossible to avoid disputes.
With discord comes insecurity for the common citizens. So to offer slight peace of mind, there is a station for soldiers on a corner of the eastern main street with the purpose of maintaining public order.
Next to the station is an inn— and the alleyway between those two buildings is where Hiro is currently walking.
「It’s been a while… I hope they like it.」
As he mumbles cheerfully, there is rough breathing behind him.
When he looked back over his shoulder, there was a brawny man with what you could say was a muscular face, sweating and panting with his tongue out like a dog. His name is Hansel. He is a former mercenary, but after many various events, he is now one of Hiro’s private soldiers.
「Master Hiro, are we not there yet? This is exhausting, even for me…」
Said Hansel, who was carrying a massive amount of luggage.
「Don’t sound so pathetic! Get walking already! You sorry excuse for a brother!」
Harsh words come flying at him. Behind Hansel was a girl who was also carrying a massive amount of luggage. It is Hansel’s younger sister, Gretel. She’s wearing beautiful clothes which accentuate the lines of her body, but because of the luggage, her overwhelmingly alluring body is hidden by its shadows.
「It’s heavy for me, too! I readily accepted this, but it’s heavier than I thought! But I’m doing my best. And yet you, you’re…!」
「Don’t kick my ass! What are you going to do if I fall over?!」
Hiro smiled wryly seeing the usual sibling bickering.
The bags they were carrying held candy and toys.
They’re heading to other side of this alleyway— to deliver these to war orphans taken in by the spirit temple. A load big enough for dozens of them is by no means light, and trying not to bump into anyone is mentally taxing. What’s more, because they have to step firmly so as not to fall over, it’s obviously exhausting, even for trained soldiers.
(That’s why I said let’s use a carriage…)
With all this luggage, Hiro was planning to use a carriage at first.
『Hehe, what do you take us for, Master Hiro? It’s precisely for hard labor like this that you must use us! We don’t need a carriage for this much luggage. It’s a waste of money!』
『I feel the same way. This much is not a problem. Please take me as well!』
They petitioned him as they bowed. He brought them along because he felt bad refusing them outright, but… when he looked over his shoulder again, you could clearly see the fatigue on their faces.
「Umm— should I carry some too, after all?」
When he said this, Gretel looked flustered.
「No, th-that’s not what we meant! It’s not heavy at all! In fact, it’s so light I feel like I can fly into the sky!」
He didn’t really understand, but it seemed like she could.
Seeing this, Hansel scoffed at his little sister.
「I understand you caring about Master Hiro, but don’t you think you should care more about my ass?!」
「Huh?! What are you saying all of sudden?! I care about Wise Brother but, wait that’s not what I, well but, it is kind of— wait, gahh— what are you making me say?!」
「Hey, I told you to stop kicking my ass! Your brother’s ass is at its limit already!」
After Hiro felt relieved seeing that they looked more energetic than he thought, he took his gaze away from the boisterous two and looked forward.
There is still more than an hour until the audience with the emperor.
Which is why he first came to deliver the toys and candy he bought for the children.
(That reminds me… Liz wanted to come, too.)
But she’s nowhere to be seen.
She’s probably picking out her clothes and getting her makeup done for tonight’s dinner party right about now.
He thinks she looks good enough naturally… but according to Rosa, it seems it’s necessary to leave at least a slightly better impression on the nobles.
He recalls Liz screaming.
As he does, Hiro unconsciously squints at the ray of light coming down on him.
When he takes another step forward— he comes out to a place which is filled with an atmosphere that is completely different from the hustle and bustle of the eastern main street.
As if existing in a complete different space, there stood the spirit temple in an secluded location.
The chirping of small birds hit the ears, the fragrance of flowers tickle the nose, and a gentle wind envelops the body. While enjoying the sensation of the lawn on the bottom of his feet, Hiro approached the children playing in an open space.
「Ah, it’s Mister Master Hiro.」
A little girl who was playing in the mud came racing towards Hiro.
「Have you been doing well?」
「Yeah. As usual. How about you Mister Master Hiro?」
「I’ve been doing well, too.」
The little girl nodded, but suddenly, she lifted her face.
He catches the girl in the panic as she suddenly clings to him.
Sniff, sniff, the little girl went with her nose.
「You sure smell nice…」
She muttered these words which made him uneasy about the future.
This is probably largely from Aura’s influence. He heard from Aura that she apparently reads to them here during her days off. For the boys, she reads tales of heroes, and for the girls, love and tragedy.
The little girl buried her face in Hiro’s stomach for a bit, but then she suddenly pulls away, looks around, then looks up.
「Why are you here today?」
「I brought candy and toys.」
With her eyes twinkling, the little girl takes about two steps away from Hiro.
「Thank you very muth.」
As she bows, she thanked him with a lisped voice.
Hiro pats her head in turn. The little girl wriggles as if it tickles.
「Ehehe~… But I don’t need that right now.」
The little girl swatted down Hiro’s hand.
「Right now, I want candy.」
After hearing her blunt statement, Hiro smiled wryly.
After a certain incident, out of all the children here, this little girl became the most attached to him.
But still, it seems he’s no match for the allure of candy.
「It’s in the bags the two behind me are holding.」
As he pointed his thumb behind him, Hansel was sitting on the grass looking up at the sky.
「Pathetic. And you call yourself an older brother? You should learn from Big Brother and Wise Brother.」
Gretel had also dropped her luggage on the ground and was looking down on her older brother with her hands on her hips as if disgusted.
「Mm… people I don’t know. Are they going to kidnap me?」
Said the little girl as she hid in Hiro’s shadow, only pointing her face towards Hansel and Gretel.
Because of various circumstances… this young lady twice as cautious as the average person.
As if to rid her of her insecurity, Hiro smiled and gave her a push on the back.
「No, it’s okay. Go on, those two there are kind people. They’ll let you do anything you want.」
「I see… Then I’ll go.」
With determination beaming from her face, the young girl balled up her fists and walked forward.
But she heads not towards Hansel with his scary face, but to Gretel who looks just a little bit nicer.
「Big Boobie Thith, give me candy—!」
「Ahh, a little girl covered in mud is attacking me!」
Gretel screams from suddenly being clung to.
「Give me candy. Pleathe.」
「I’ll give you some, so stop pulling my clothes off! Where did you learn that technique?!」
「Hoho— that’s karma for you.」
「You bastard, don’t just sit there watching!」
The now exposed Gretel kicked Hansel’s ass and sent him flying.
Looks like they’ll be fine. He takes them out of the corner of his eyes and starts toward the temple.
However— he was surrounded by a crowd of children and was unable to do so.
Before Hiro, who reflexively hesitated, stepped forward from the group a young boy who acted as their leader.
「Mister Master Hiro! Big Sis, she, she—!」
He was taken aback by the boy suddenly getting on all fours and bowing his head to the ground. He has no idea what’s going on.
As Hiro tried to say something, the young boy continued to speak first.
「We wanted to go see you for your triumphant return, but Big Sis said no, and we couldn’t go! I’m sorry!」
By Big Sis, they are referring to the maiden to whom this temple is entrusted.
Speaking of which, it seems the maiden gave the children detailed instructions on how to refer to him, but perhaps it wasn’t conveyed too well as they came up with this strange way of referring to him which ended up sticking.
In any case— now understanding the young boy’s strange actions, Hiro placed a hand on his shoulder.
「No need to worry about it. More importantly, those two behind me will give you candy and toys, so go on over.」
「Okay! Thanks Mister Master Hiro!」
With the young boy heading for the fairy tale siblings, the other children chased after him.
『『Give us candyyy!』』
Like an avalanche— they rush forward with a surging force.
「Wh-What do you want?!」
「Ahh, I was having enough trouble with just the little girl! Go away!」
They say that, but they probably won’t be rough with the children.
Because Hansel and Gretel used to be in a similar situation as these children.
With the screams of the fairy tale siblings hitting his back, Hiro stepped into the temple.
With a complete change from the outside, it’s quiet inside the temple, and when he breathes in, his lungs are filled with clean air. While enjoying the feeling of being cleansed inside, he looked around.
Here and there, he sees people worshipping inside the temple— They’re offering their prayers with clasped hands pointed towards the pedestal of the Spirit King. In a corner, is a maiden who is watching over the worshippers.
「Your Highness Hiro. Thank you for going through the trouble of personally coming here.」
While feeling some unease in her words, Hiro fished through his breast pocket and pulled out a bag.
「I’m sorry for intruding. I thought I would hand this to you…」
「Thank you very much. It is a great help.」
The maiden carefully wrapped her hands around the bag.
There’s a clinking noise. It’s probably the sound of gold or silver coins rubbing inside.
The spirit temple’s main source of income is the offerings from the worshippers— other than that, there is the aid from the Grantz Grand Empire and Baum.
But all of that is for maintenance costs, and does not include the costs to feed the children. So the maiden takes from her own pay to manage the expenses for the children, and learning of this meager situation, Hiro had come to make fixed donations.
After bowing a number of times, the maiden stares directly at Hiro.
「Now, getting right to it…」
「Huh? Right to it?」
The maiden was unsure of how to react to Hiro’s puzzled expression.
「U-Umm, did you not come here after reading a letter?」
「No, I’m not sure what you’re talking about…」
As Hiro said this, the maiden put her hands on her cheeks and said, 「What do I do…?」
A silence falls between the two for a brief moment.
As Hiro scratched the back of his head not knowing what to do, the maiden grabbed his arm after a bit of hesitation.
「Please forgive my rudeness. I think it would be faster for you to see, rather than me explaining.」
She gripped his wrist with an unexpected strength. She pulled him along, causing his feet to move on their own.
As he was wondering if this too was a result of her training at the Spirit King Mausoleum, the maiden stopped before a certain room and looked at him with a meek face.
「I did not know what to do, so…」
The maiden opens the door. There are two beds in a simple room.
There lie two people.
Hiro approaches suspiciously and took a breath.
「… When did they come here?」
「It was likely yesterday evening. I found them collapsed in a corner of the main street.」
As he listened carefully to the maiden’s words, Hiro looked at the two injured people once more.
One is a beautiful girl with metallic purple hair. But her face is pale with little life left in it.
The other looks to be in an even more critical state than the girl.
There is blood seeping from the bandages wrapping his entire body, and his handsome face is twisted in pain.
He’s not sure if it’s from his fever or his wounds, or maybe both—
At any rate, it’s certain he’s in a dangerous situation.
「I was unable to treat them… and calling a doctor was…」
She doesn’t have enough money to have these two treated.
Which is why she sent him a letter. And she probably misunderstood the situation when she saw Hiro come to visit.
「I’ll call for a doctor from the Imperial palace right away. Would you go outside and call Hansel and Gretel for me?」
Hiro watches the maiden leave the room from the corner of his eyes.
Then he dropped his gaze to the metallic purple girl— to the pendant on her chest.
The magic stone is emitting a brilliant light reflecting the rays shining in from the window.
Seeing this with his own two eyes, he’s forced to remember.
That while this is the same world, it’s also different— he’ll never be able to return.
「To think I’d see you here…」
This was a magic stone which belonged to one who was once known as one of the 「Five Heavenly Black Generals」.