The Return of the Prince
Editor: Darkdhaos, Seir K, CEObrainz
The capital of Versailles.
Franziska tilted her head.
—— Do Belgarians lack the sense of feeling tension and terror?
Even though security around the palace was heavy, but the city didn’t even have a gate, and she entered disappointingly simply.
Franziska of ‘Renard Pendu’ left her light armour with her sister, and put the crossbow she was so proud of into a basket covered with a piece of cloth as she walked alone on the streets.
She was wearing a fluttery dress that befit a girl of her age.
Her pendant which was proof that she was a mercenary was hidden inside her dress.
Starting from the south gate of the city, there was a broad stone paved road that led straight into the palace. The side paths were all in a straight line, so it was easy to navigate.
—— Did they not consider the possibility that they might get invaded by other countries? Are they that confident?
The residents of this city seemed to be a hundred percent confident that ‘an enemy nation that could reach the capital of Belgaria does not exist’.
That’s why they didn’t build any walls.
Even though Franziska felt uneasy about this, in the centuries since the capital was relocated here, the Belgarian’s confidence had never been proven wrong.
The High Britannia forces advanced was right at the capital’s doorsteps, but they still retreated. This thinking still held true even now.
It was annoying how prosperous the Belgarian Empire was.
Shops lined up both sides of the streets with all sorts of wares on display. The citizens walking pass Franziska were all dressed wonderfully.
Because of the numerous battles and the recent passing of the Emperor, there were some who wore black clothes in mourning… But no matter what, there couldn’t be so many nobles. Which meant that even the commoners could spare the effort to mind their dressing.
There were also soldiers guarding the city.
Their mission wasn’t to defend against enemy nations, but to maintain public order.
It would be bad if someone who recognized Franziska’s face was here, so she covered her eyes with her fringe, and appeared less conspicuous.
Franziska was born in the northern region of the Germanian Federation. It was a poor nation closed in by constant snow, their primary industry was earning money with mercenaries.
I have never been to High Britannia, but there isn’t any country more prosperous than this Empire right?
Why would any nation pick a fight with this country?
Franziska entered an alley and after walking a while, she went into a cafeteria built from red bricks.
After browsing the shop, she saw a young woman with an extraordinary air about her, and a 10 year old girl sitting opposite each other on chairs made from oak.
They were her elder sister Jessica, and younger sister Martina.
Franziska ordered a cup of coffee from a waitress and then headed to the table they were waiting at.
“Sorry for the wait!”
“Sister is back!”
Her younger sister stood up and hugged her.
Franziska endured the power of her pounce.
“Eheehee! Sorry for making you wait, Martina!”
“I don’t feel that I am waiting at all!”
Jessica sipped her coffee as she whispered.
“... You are five minutes late.”
“Ugh… I-It can’t be helped okay? It’s not like I went there to play.”
“Sit down first.”
The waitress served her coffee.
After making Martina sit, Franziska sat too.
She placed the basket with a short bow in it at her feet, then took back her leather bag. Her luggage was rather big. She took a sip of coffee first.
Uwah, the fragrance dissipating in my mouth, the joyous bitterness on the tongue and a faint sour taste. There’s also a hint of sweetness?
“It’s really delicious!?”
When Franziska was ordering, she thought the ‘coffee doesn't earn much money, the empire will burn…’ However, luxurious sugar seemed to have been added.
This coffee had turn into another type of beverage.
Like a type of dessert.
Jessica asked quietly:
“... Well? Any results?”
“Hmmp, isn’t that a given? There are plenty of Belgarian Officers in this city who lust after my beauty in no time. They then spilled the beans easily.”
Jessica crossed her legs the other way, and looked really elegant.
She straightened her slender waist, which accentuated the curve of her beautiful legs.
“Uwah, sister is so cool!” Martina commented with sparkling eyes.
Jessica tilted her head.
“... Is that so? Threatening them with a knife is the work of your beauty?”
“You saw it!?”
“As expected, that’s what happened.”
“Ughh… Before I bring them to the shadows of the building, it is the work of my beauty!”
She was too loud, so Jessica watched her surroundings.
Even though they were conversing in Germanian, there were Belgarians who could understand too. Franziska lowered her voice quickly.
“Anyway, there is good news and bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?”
“... Well… There’s nobody who would want to start with the bad news right?”
It seemed that way from the perspective of the listener.
“The good news is—— elder brother didn’t get hung. After all, executing such a famous figure would have great propaganda effects. Since there isn’t such news from the Fourth Army, he either escaped or is still alive… He is most probably employed. The Fourth Princess is passionate about improving her forces.”
Jessica said in the past:
“If she wanted to, he would have executed him already… Since she didn’t, the Princess must be hoping to take him in as a subordinate.”
Even Franziska agreed…
“I feel that the political struggle between the Second Prince and Fourth Princess has already concluded. The Emperor passed away right? Didn’t he already declare that he will take the throne?”
Jessica put the newspaper on the table.
It was published not long ago.
“That would be after the formal state funeral, it hasn’t reached the stage for the succession yet. He did say ‘I swear to inherit the will of my father to make the Belgarian Empire even more prosperous’.”
Franziska could speak Belgarian, but couldn’t read it. She could only make out single words. By the way, her sister Jessica was fluent in thirteen languages. According to her, the language of these nations mostly stemmed from the common tongue of an ancient Empire, so they were on the level of dialects. That ancient Empire was said to be destroyed by the Founding Emperor of Belgaria.
“... And? The bad news?”
In response to Jessica’s query, Franziska sighed.
“The Fourth Princess seemed to have left Fort Bonaire, and is returning to Fort Volks. They won’t pass through the capital.
“... I see.”
Jessica’s group traveled with Bastian in a shaky carriage. After they made a detour around the place they suspected to be the battlefield, the Fourth Army had already set off towards another direction.
When she saw how unmoved Jessica was, Franziska became anxious.
“I thought big sis could predict the location with divination!?”
“... Even without divining… The position of the Imperial Fourth Army isn’t important.”
“Why!? Big bro is there!”
“Even if we know his position, what’s the point?”
Indeed, the distance wasn’t the problem.
Even if the three of them infiltrate the Fourth Army, they wouldn’t be of any help to their brother Gilbert and his other captured companions —— that’s what Jessica divined.
Franziska felt the things Jessica see was different from what she saw.
“So, what should we do?”
“It is really easy to gather info from here to the Empire. First, let’s get in contact with the rest of ‘Renard Pendu’.”
Even though they lost the other day, that was just part of the mercenary band. There were still 700 odd mercenaries with the High Britannia First Division.
“... Well, 700 men wouldn’t be of much help in conducting a rescue operation.”
“It’s not enough!?”
Jessica looked up into the sky.
The sun was setting and the western sky was dyed a deep shade of red. It was almost time for dinner.
“... Yes… It’s not enough with just them… But we can’t ignore their will and strength. They are like the stars, sparkling in the night… Well then, at the side are Queen Margaret and his right hand man… there’s also the Second Prince and Fourth Princess… All of them are dazzling stars… Even though it is just looking up at the stars from the ground, but the capital is a very suitable place for that. After all, telling the future by astrology is my duty.”
“You mean we have to keep on collecting intelligence?”
“It will be fine. We are getting closer to elder brother.”
“Hah… Well… I will believe it since big sis says so…”
The Fourth Army was on their way back to Fort Volks. In terms of distance, they were gradually moving away from the capital.
“Sister, you are not feeling well?”
Martina looked at her worryingly.
It will be fine, Franziska said while patting her head.
“Hmm—— But what should we do? Even if we want to seek out our ‘Renard Pendu’ comrades, where are they now? With the way the situation is developing, wouldn’t High Britannia head back home? They will bring our comrades with them. Or would they dismiss them somewhere else?”
“Firstly, Oswald Coulthard isn’t that stupid to dismiss such a force.”
“That might be so, but isn’t Queen Margaret a little…?”
Franziska scratched her head.
Jessica didn’t deny.
“That’s true. Queen Margaret probably won’t withdraw. Let’s gather some information from the soldiers. They will probably pull something off with the Germanian Federation…”
“Why do you think that? Because of the stars?”
“... Before the war, they had frequent correspondence with the envoy of Langobalt Kingdom. What did you think their preparation is for, if not for such a situation?”
“Isn’t that simply preparation if they needed help to escape?”
“If Queen Margaret’s character could be seen through so simply, she wouldn’t have participated in her Army’s expedition to Belgaria. The High Britannia’s main forces had never lost any battle, so their losses were minimal.”
Even though they didn’t suffer much losses, they had to retreat because their supply lines were cut off.
With this in mind, it was understandable what their next move was.
“But, wouldn’t it be fine to not retreat from Fort Bonaire? Didn’t they hold a rather huge advantage?”
“... If they made any wrong decision, the battle would have ended. If they engage the First Army and the Fourth Army show up behind them, no matter how experienced the soldiers of High Britannia are, there would be deserters.”
“Well, that’s true.”
The Empire also has reserves.
When the palace gets within their reach, there would be a good chance that enemy forces would hit them from behind.
“It wouldn’t be a victory even if they got into the capital” —— Jessica added.
Even though big sis claimed to be a diviner, she actually says strategist like things most of the time.
“Realizing they would be caught in a pincer attack, Queen Margaret led her troops away. However, if they receive resupply from Germanian Federation’s Langobalt Kingdom, things would be different… She isn’t a woman who will return home so easily.”
“Isn’t that Oswald guy the one commanding the High Britannia forces? Colonel Coulthard?”
“He is just enamoured with the Queen… His love is very pure… Even though he could see the trends of the war, he still took command of the army as he understood the wishes of the Queen.”
“He knew he would lose the battle?”
“... Franziska too, you knew that ‘Renard Pendu’ had lost, but still want to do something for elder brother right?”
“I-I am different from him!”
“... We fight wars for money, it’s something we have to do to survive.”
“... This is necessary for Queen Margaret too. In order for her to live on.”
Jessica shrugged. She said in a colder tone than before.
“... Probably to stave off boredom.”
Kek, Franziska gritted her teeth.
“I will blow her away, that damn woman.”
“... That’s why, High Britannia won’t bring ‘Renard Pendu’ back with them… If we can gather intelligence in the capital swiftly, not only will we have more opportunity for communication, we will have more options if our strength increases. Let’s prepare for now… Until the chance to rescue elder brother comes up.”
That’s the most important point. Franziska nodded.
“Yes, I will definitely rescue him! He is our brother after all! Our family!”
Jessica looked to the sky. The clouds seemed to be burning because of the setting sun.
“... The star of the Second Prince Latreille is shining brightly. Seems like he had obtained incredible power.”
It’s not the hour to see stars yet right? Franziska thought as she tilted her head.
“You mean the Empire will win?”
“That is definitely so. Because the tides of the war are clear, there is no value in divination… However, it’s not clear if they will lose something… Since the war is still ongoing, that is very possible.”
“Well, you are right.”
“... I think Queen Margaret will return to High Britannia in the end… If you gain something, you will lose something else.”
“That damn woman can still go back after creating this entire mess?”
“... However, her star in the west —— Probably her home country, there are dark clouds looming. What should we do?”
“Well, the conflict within High Britannia has nothing to do with us.”
“... That’s true.”
Clap! Martina raised both of her hands.
Franziska looked up, and saw Bastian walked into the cafe.
He was a brown haired youth with a slender built. Just 16 years old, just like Franziska.
He was wearing sun glasses right now.
There seemed to be a reason why he was hiding his true identity.
A blonde girl was by his side. Even though she was a bit short and frail, she seemed to be the same age as him. She was Elise.
Franziska recalled their conversation in the carriage ——
That time, Jessica asked Elise with a calm tone:
“... By the way… Why did you lie about being a student studying abroad?”
The atmosphere in the carriage turned tense in an instant.
Bastian straightened his back.
Franziska witnessed Bastian’s strength before, so she became nervous. If this devolved into a battle, they would definitely lose.”
Elise seemed very calm.
“... Why do you think that is a lie?”
“The capital might turn into a battle field tomorrow… It would be dangerous if the Belgarian find out that you are a High Britannian, and you might be killed by the High Britannian Army by mistake too. If you are really an overseas student, it is too dangerous for you to head for the capital.”
“I see. It’s true, this was just a simple lie.”
Elise nodded in acknowledgement.
She admitted that was a lie immediately.
She pondered for a moment then said:
“Erm… I can’t divulge the details but… I escaped from High Britannia. I would go back some time, but that would be dependent on the situation within the country. As for why I am visiting the capital, it is to accompany Bastian on his goal.”
Bastian nodded with his arms crossed.
“I am not sure what I should do too! But I think I have to return to the capital.”
Elise smiled wryly.
“Going to the capital that might turn into a battlefield for such a reason? You might think it strange, but that’s how he is.”
—— A retard? Even though Franziska thought so, Bastian rescued her earlier, so she couldn’t said it out loud.
Jessica lowered her gaze.
“... We followed the High Britannia Army for some time before.”
Franziska’s body stiffened because her sister revealed this fact suddenly.
Bastian and Elise looked at Martina in surprise.
“This child too?”
Clap, she raised both hands.
“It’s —— true! Martina worked hard too!
“I see… It must have been hard…”
How should she explain this. Anyway, they didn’t seem to think of them as mercenaries. Franziska sighed in relief.
Jessica mixed in a lie.
“... We don’t have a home to go back to. So we want to seek refuge with an acquaintance in the capital.”
“So that’s it.”
Even though Bastian seemed agreeable, Elise didn’t look entirely convinced.
—— That was the conversation with masks they had in the carriage.
And their opponent back then, Bastian and Elise came to the table.
“Yo, sorry for the wait.”
“... Have you finished investigating the things you need?”
“There are some results. What about you? Found your acquaintance in the capital?”
Jessica looked at Martina, hesitant to speak.
She seemed to be hinting at something.
Elise seemed to realize something, and asked:
“Martina, have you eaten the cake in this shop?”
“They look delicious. Want some? I will buy them for you.”
“Really!? That’s great!”
By the way, the cake here is butter bread. Bread with sugar spread on top of it.
Although Franziska like that too… She decided to endure.
They left the table.
Her splendid performance impressed Franziska.
Jessica acted this way for two reasons. First was to bring away Martina who was bad at acting. Second was to draw the smart and observant Elise away from this conversation.
Right now, only Franziska, Jessica and Bastian were at the table.
Jessica lowered her head.
“... Thank you for your concern.”
“It’s nothing. There are things we don’t want kids to hear… So, what happened?”
Jessica said in a rarely seen depressed tone.
“... Regrettably, our acquaintance is gone… After asking the neighbours… The head of the family died in battle, and his widow went back to the countryside with her three children.”
That was a lie, of course.
They were mercenaries from the Germanian Federation, it was impossible for them to know anyone in the Imperial capital.
However, Bastian looked sympathetic, and showed an expression of regret.
“I see… Hmm… What are your plans now?”
“We are very troubled. Our money is running out.”
That was true.
If they were rich, they wouldn’t be mercenaries.
Even the continent’s strongest ‘Renard Pendu’ won’t possess gems like aristocratic ladies.
Even though the three sisters had the funds to return to the Germanian Federation, their objectives right now was to rescue their brother Gilbert.
They had to stay in the capital.
Jessica stared at the empty coffee cup on the table.
“... What… What should we do… Maybe I can write to another acquaintance for help?”
“Does he live near the capital?”
“... No. He is in the Germanian Federation. But there is no one else we can turn to. It pains me for my sister to live a hard life too.”
Hmm, Bastian crossed his arms and nodded.
Judging from his clothing, Bastian was a noble.
Not only was his clothes top quality, his sunglasses was expensive too.
In short, the plan was to ‘beg’. Jessica spoke plainly. But she didn’t blatantly show her tears and sorrow to him. By doing so, it will create an air of being troubled, and the situation won’t be too unrealistic.
Franziska wasn’t good at acting, but was great in a fight.
I should have followed Martina, I want to eat cake —— Despite thinking so, she lowered her head in order to not disrupt her sister. They just wanted this nobleman to spare a few days lodging fee from his dessert allowance.
“Alright, I understand.” Bastian slapped his knee.
“Just stay in my mansion. Others might talk unfavourably about this, but we are comrades who traveled and ate together. I could I abandon three girls? No, I won’t do that. Well… You won’t be treated like guests though, so how about it?”
The unexpected development made Franziska round her eyes.
“Are you for real!? Do you know who we are!?”
She asked without thinking.
Jessica kicked her under the table. Unnecessary—— that’s what she was implying.
Bastian smiled awkwardly.
“I don’t know at all. I am dull and can’t tell if someone is kind or evil… I failed miserably because of that before. However, I also dislike suspecting others.”
“... You are really a strange man.”
“Is that so?”
After finishing their conversation, Marina and Elise returned.
In Martina’s hand was a wooden plate, with five pieces of cake on it.
“We bought sister’s share too!”
Franziska couldn’t help shrieking.
However, she had been on the battlefield all this while, so she hadn’t eaten any snacks for two months.
“Bastian, how did the discussion go?”
“Ahh, they need to contact an acquaintance from afar instead. So I asked if they want to stay at my place for the time being.”
“What are you thinking, Bastian!?”
“What, you object?”
“Of course. Inviting young girls you just met back to your place is too shameless!”
“I-I’m not thinking about it that way!”
Bastian’s face reddened.
Franziska waved her hands.
“Ahh, not at all! No need to worry about that! We are fine with it! It will be a big help if you can let us stay! Erm, isn’t that right? Even though I am cute, that guy won’t do anything —— strange right?”
As usual, Jessica had an unreadable expression and said softly:
“... We won’t snatch him away, it will be fine.”
It was Elise’s turn to blush.
“I-I-I don’t mean that! I mean from a standpoint of a gentleman! And we are not in that kind of relationship!”
Martina ate her cake as if all these didn’t concern her.
“This is~ delicious!”
Bastian got up from his seat.
“A-Anyway! There are lots of empty room in the mansion, it will be fine! They won’t be staying in my room.”
“... I understand. I will be staying at Bastian’s place too, so I have no reason to refute other guests. My apologies.”
Franziska shook her head.
“No, not at all! It will be heavenly as long as there is a roof! Much better than camping in the rain and marching with the troops through the night!”
“... That’s true.”
“Cough, is that so!? Really!? Just like heaven!?”
Martina whose mouth was stuffed with cake raised both her hands.
There was no reason to reject.
Bastian smiled awkwardly.
“Looks like there aren’t any problems. Well then, let’s go. I have something to attend to tonight, so let’s finish this matter quickly.”
He walked out of the restaurant. Franziska and the others followed him closely.
The group walked along the streets under the evening sky.
—— If I succeeded in stalling the Beilschmidt Border Regiment… That strategist Regis Auric wouldn’t have made it to the front lines, the High Britannia supply line would be fine. We will defeat the Imperial First Army and take the Imperial capital…?
She would then stroll with her brother Gilbert and her sisters along this street. Together with everyone from the mercenary band too.
Even though she took care not to show these feelings, she was still regretting in her heart, clenching her trembling fist.
There was an extravagant gate before them.
Bastian continued walking confidently.
They approached the Palace Le Brane.
Passing through the residence of the nobles, they finally reached the main gate of the palace. This gate was like an art masterpiece.
Even though they were at war, the gate was completely open. It might be a grand gate, but would be useless in a battle…
The Belgaria Empire really likes to turn things into art, Franziska thought in surprise.
In comparison, the culture of the Germanian Federation was plain and practical. At most, they would have reliefs to create unnecessary uneven surfaces.
Even though Franziska had gotten used to the plain designs back home, she still admired the grandiose of the Empire. And the palace, which stood at the peak of all these extravagancy, was before her eyes.
She sighed subconsciously.
But, what were they doing here?
Hey? Erm, why did you come to the palace? Sightseeing? Did you come to sightsee?”
“Well… How should I put this… Erm…”
Bastian scratched his head.
He then took his sunglasses off.
His crimson eyes shone under the setting sun and turned brighter shade of red.
“This is my home.”
Franziska couldn’t understand momentarily, and turned stiff.
Jessica didn’t look surprised at all, as she already noticed.
Even though Martina made a surprised sound “Whoaa——!?”, she didn’t seem to completely understand.
Finally, Elise sighed.
“... Even though I wanted to tell you earlier.”
“Haha… I thought Elise already knew. Will it be strange if I introduce myself again?”
“It might feel strange, but you should still explain it clearly.”
“I see. But wouldn’t it be the same if they already understand?”
Once they started talking loudly, the guards at the gate approached them.
It was a soldier wearing top grade light silver armour.
“Hello there! Pardon me, but who are you? What is your business here?”
A slightly intimidating voice.
Franziska’s body turned stiff when she saw the Belgarian soldier approaching them, while Bastian answered openly.
“Ahh, just nice. Can you help me notify Marquis Bergerac?”
“I think he should still be the Minister of Ceremony… Maybe he will be fired this time.”
The guard was confused by his words, and stared closely at him.
“... Brown hair…. Eh? Crimson eyes…? Y-You… No, Sir… Are you…!?”
Bastian looked embarrassed as he brushed away his fringe.
“Well, it’s a bit embarrassing to state my own name—— I am Heinrich Trois Bastian de Belgaria, Third Prince of Belgaria. My grandfather is Marquis Bergerac.”
The guard saluted loudly.
“M-My sincere apologies!! Please be lenient for our punishment!!”
“It’s fine. It’s natural for you to not know if I came back like this. But please, make haste.”
“By your command!”
The guard turned back and ran to the gate.
After he relayed the information, the other guards were stunned, and a lot of them scattered away.
Shortly after, a lot of maids rushed in briskly.
Followed by one person —— A stern elderly man with a chest full of medals and a mourning band on his arm.
“Bastian!? Is that really you!?”
“Yo Grandpa, I am back.”
“You are alive!”
Before him was Marquis Bergerac. He was the Minister of the Ceremonial Ministry, father of the Third Consort, Bastian’s grandfather.
“You fool! After you ran out from that school, you went missing!”
Now that he mentioned it, he didn’t contact the school again since he ran out of the classroom to chase Elise.
“And the war started shortly right after that… I felt that…”
“Hahaha! There’s no way I would die right?”
“Did something happen in High Britannia?”
“Not really. Their soldiers hacked and shot at me for a little though… Oh right, I met Queen Margaret and dueled with her right hand man. Oswald is amazing, and unreasonably strong.”
Marquis Bergerac collapsed dizzily onto the floor.
This sparked off a commotion with the maids, who shouted "Check it!" "Check his heart!" "The analgesics!"
Franziska who was listening in while standing at the edge could only think ‘What the hell is he saying!?’
If she didn’t witness Bastian’s strength first hand, she would have treated this as a joke. However, he did seem capable of facing an army head on. In terms of combat abilities, he wasn’t far off from her brother Gilbert.
The old noble glared at Bastian.
“C-Could it be that this war… is because of your mistake?”
“... Well, considering the fact that I failed to stop the war, it could be my fault. But Margaret is serious about declaring war.”
“Just listening to what you say is enough to make my heart stop.”
“That’s not good. Talking with me is enough to make you unwell, maybe you need more exercise?”
“Moron! The problem lies with the content!”
“Hahaha… it sounds that interesting? Is my creative talent seeping through even in my everyday conversations?”
“Ughh, your actions created international problems everywhere. Tell what you did to Prince Latreille if you dare. It wouldn’t be strange if he throw you into prison.”
“What? Is my brother that sensitive now?”
“The Emperor just passed, and there is a large scale war after all. Even the Imperial Army suffered unprecedented losses.”
“I see… Can you tell me the details about that? Isn’t it strange that father died from old age? Didn’t he just take in a new wife? And he was eating meat during the New Year party right?”
The elderly nobleman looked at Franziska and the others.
“Who are the ladies over there?”
Even though it was obvious that he was changing the topic, it was natural for him to ask about the unidentified guests.
How should I put it.
Bastian looked in the direction of Elise, Franziska, Jessica and Martina.
“These are my friends.”
“They came from abroad, and don’t have a place to stay. Aren’t there plenty of spare rooms in the palace? Can you let them stay for a while?”
The wrinkle between the brows of the elderly nobleman became deeper.
“Ugu… What a reckless fellow.”
“This is a request from a royal to the Minister of Ceremony to ‘treat them like friends’ right? There is no reason for me to reject this. Which is the problem.”
“Hah… When the Emperor passed and many soldiers died in battle for the Empire, the Third Prince studying abroad in High Britannia came home with four women… This would become scandalous news.”
“Well, everything I do will become news anyway right?”
“Ughh… My old heart!”
As they conversed, the elderly noble ushered Franziska and the rest in.
Le Brane Palace——
The interior design could only be described as stunning.
Even though Bastian was the same as usual, Franziska and the others couldn’t speak as if they were overwhelmed.
If she visited this palace and still insisted on waging war against the Belgarian Empire, instead of being stupid, it was more likely that Queen Margaret would be think of as being suicidal. Franziska thought.
Or maybe, she wanted this palace.
The elderly nobleman and Bastian had more things to discussed, and went to another room.
After stating their accommodation request, Elise was given a single room, Franziska and the others were given a room for three.
The zone under the jurisdiction of the Ceremonial Ministry always kept several rooms prepared in case of emergencies.
Franziska entered the room assigned to them and felt dazzled.
“Is this for real…”
“He is an unexpected big shot.”
“I thought big sis already noticed.”
“... The stars didn’t tell me this much.”
“Or rather, if you ask them right from the start, they probably won’t tell you.”
“... You mean the stars?”
“Yes, the stars. Hah… I thought we would need to sneak into a stables to sleep… But now, we have beds with canopy and sheets with golden threads…”
Waaahhhh, Martina pounced onto the bed.
“There isn’t any smell of straws!”
Jessica told her: “High class mattresses are stuffed with cotton.”
Even famous mercenaries were poor. And of course, Franziska had never slept on cotton bed before.
It was too extravagant, which made her heightened emotions cool down instead.
“I will sleep on the floor.”
“... What’s the matter?”
“Even though big bro is suffering in captivity… But we are sleeping here…”
“... Don’t be stupid. If you accumulate too much fatigue, you won’t be able to use your strength during the critical moments and fail in rescuing elder brother. Don’t think of such meaningless things.”
“If you say that, that kid will also sleep on the floor.”
Looking up, she could see Martina sleeping in the middle of the bed. Even though it was just evening, she must have been very tired.
Jessica sat on a luxurious chair in the corner of the room. Embroidered cushions were placed on the chair, and its legs had beautiful patterns. It matched her unexpectedly well.
“... They said that dinner would be brought to our room, I will wake you when they come. Franziska, just rest for now.”
“What about you, sis?”
“... I have things to think about for now, so I will sleep later.”
“Then I will too! I don’t know much about thinking, but I can wield a weapon.”
“... If the maids come in with dinner… and see you with a crossbow, they will definitely scream.”
“... Alright, just sleep first. You don’t look well.”
“But I always look cute!”
Jessica smiled gently.
“... In order to protect us, you have been on edge this entire time. The stars told me that this place is safe. Take a rest for now. Thank you, Franziska.”
The stars and things like that couldn’t be trusted.
But she felt like sleeping when Jessica asked her to rest.
—— Is this her spell?
Franziska laid onto the bed. Her consciousness fell into deep slumber.
After Bastian finished talking to his grandfather, he ate his dinner quickly and returned to the back of the palace.
He changed into clothes befitting a Belgarian noble, and tidied his attire.
Elise stood beside him.
“You finished your conversation with your grandfather?”
“I already asked the necessary questions. If we talk further, he will lecture me until morning. So I ran off after apologizing.”
“... It must be hard.”
“I mean for your grandfather.”
“Eh!? Well… I didn’t get into this mess because I want to.”
“Fufu, just kidding. So, did you talk about anything that bothered you? You don’t look so good…?”
Bastian washed away the dirt of his travel with perfumed water, and wore top quality clothes and sunglasses.
He looked less tired than this morning —— but was shocked that Elise noticed such a minute change.
By the way, Elise was wearing a Belgarian noblewoman laced dress. The dark green dress matched her blonde hair really well.
Normally, tailor shops would send their workers to take measurements, and the clothes would only be ready after a week, and intrinsic costumes would take a month. Even the Ceremonial Minister won’t push for a dress to be fitted immediately to keep up appearances.
“You look really cute in that dress.”
“Eh!? W-What… are you saying, Bastian is really…”
His abrupt words made Elise blush.
“Alright, the heroine in my next work will wear this then.”
“... I knew it would turn out like this.”
Such incidents only happen because Bastian was always collecting material for his ‘future masterpiece’.
Back to topic.
Bastian scratched his combed head.
“Well, I asked about many things… But I am most concerned about my brother and father.”
“Once again, I express my condolence for the passing of the Emperor.”
“No, it’s that… Brother is something who would do that.”
Bastian checked his surroundings.
He was walking on the widest road in front of the Belgarian palace. Even though it was well lit after the sun setted, there weren’t many pedestrians due to the recent passing of the Emperor. At least, there wasn’t anyone close enough to listen in on their conversation.
“I didn’t see it or have any proof. But, my brother entered the room of father and his newly wedded wife… And found them dead. Isn’t that strange? Also right now, brother’s heavy infantrymen are guarding the door and the only ones who could enter freely are the chamberlain, a few doctors and the maids.”
“W-Well, since that is the chambers of the Emperor and the place he passed, unauthorized persons shouldn’t be allowed to go near…”
“There’re rumours that even the personal doctor of the wife was forbidden entry, earning the wrath of the Estaburg Kingdom and threatening war.”
“Well, the Belgarian Empire is always at war, so it’s normal for relations with other nations to deteriorate. We refused to send her body back to her home country nor let her doctor inspect the corpse, it’s weird right?”
“... That is very true.”
A gloomy cloud loomed over Elise’s face.
She realized the possibility that the truth might differ from the official report on the cause of death of Consort Johaprecia Octovia.
Which was regicide.
Elise asked with a disappointed expression.
“Why do the people in the Empire allow such violence?”
“The same reason why High Britannia couldn’t bring Queen Margaret to justice. There is no evidence. There are many suspicious points, but nothing decisive. Also, many of the ministers acknowledge that my brother is qualified to be the next Emperor.”
“... How could this be… Isn’t he a rebel?”
“Well, my father isn’t that passionate about politics and military affairs. And High Britannia seems to be losing.”
“That’s the problem here!?”
“There isn’t any doubt that this nation is seeking a strong ruler. Even though I don’t think this is right… The nation will definitely fall if the monarch is weak.”
“So they acknowledge him…”
“The chamberlain Marquis Beclard accepted him, and the grand nobles around the capital belonged to the Second Prince’s faction. Instead of facts, the focus is on which choice would yield the most benefits.”
“You think this is fine too?”
Bastian crossed his arms.
“Hmm… Instead of the facts, isn’t what he will do after becoming Emperor more important?”
“... You think the same way too…”
“... You think the same way too…”
“Like I said, I think this is correct. After all, I promised that guy.”
He gently touched the leather pouch on his waist. The notebook of Roland, a friend he met in High Britannia was inside.
It was a book he wrote in order to spread liberalism.
There is a way for all men to pursue happiness and freedom —— That’s what he said.
Right now, there wasn’t any freedom in the Belgarian Empire. The nobles indulged in luxury, the commoners were oppressed, and the unending war continued to rob countless lives and wealth.
“There need to be a change. However, I don’t think everything about the Belgarian Empire is bad. We shouldn’t destroy the Empire completely.”
“That’s true. I also feel that a dramatic revolution will bring misfortune to the masses.”
“What should be changed, what should stay the same… I don’t understand. That’s why, I will ask someone who might know.”
And so, Bastian and Elise walked down the street that night.
After leaving the residential zone of the nobles and the central area with shops geared towards the aristocrats, they headed towards the outer region where most of the commoners lived.
Turning into an alley from the main road, they saw a bar just before they got lost.
The building was built with red bricks, and several times the size of other houses, which made it look huge.
Even though most of the buildings in the vicinity closed their windows and doors, and the streets were quiet with few people on the streets, only this shop had light shining out of its open windows. The wooden door was also half opened.
A sign hanging above the entrance had the word ‘Provenus’.
Bastian opened the door.
A lamp hung from the ceiling, and the room was brightly lit.
At the counter to the left of the entrance was a staff cleaning wine glasses. He slanted his eyes and looked Bastian’s way.
There was a screen inside the bar, and the seat behind it wasn’t visible. It divided the space into another room.
In the center was a large round table, with four messy tables placed in other places. Several men with wooden mugs placed their elbows on the table.
The patrons were all adults.
About thirty odd men in total.
There wasn’t just food on the table, but newspapers and books too. It appears to be not just a simple bar.
They stopped their discussion, and looked at Bastian and Elise with sharp eyes.
In Belgaria, one was considered an adult at age 15, so Bastian and Elise were adults. There wasn’t any problem with them being here.
However, they still attracted a lot of attention.
Elise was a bit scared, and tugged on Bastian’s sleeve.
“E-Erm… Do we need to come here? Will we be fine inside?”
“Now that you mentioned it, you have to be 17 to be considered an adult in High Britannia. You can’t enter a bar at 16 right?”
“Because you can only drink if you are an adult.”
“But in Belgaria, you are an adult at 15.”
“... Well, it would be an issue if they conscripted kids into the army, so the law is written that way to accommodate this fact. Be it mentally or physically, those who are not 17 are not of age yet. There are even some nations who set the mark at 18 or 20.”
“Even if one is 15, they could still kill an enemy in single combat. It is only natural to treat someone who can kill others as an adult. This is also a form of respect to the enemy who are killed.”
“It is because of such thinking that makes the Belgarian Empire neglect the rights of women no matter how much time passes… Well… Enough about that… Is the person we are looking for here?”
“It’s my first time meeting her too.”
Bastian walked into the depth of the bar.
The customers simply stared at him in silence. He was really prominent after all.
—— They seem to be wary of something?
He asked the staff behind the counter.
“Is it convenient?”
“Sorry dear customer. Our bar don’t have tea that suits the taste of a young master.”
Even though his words were polite, it was the same as saying ‘go on home you brat’.
They might be plenty of commoners who hated nobles in other cities, but there weren’t many of them in the capital.
Bastian said with a smile:
“Don’t make such a scary face. I am looking for someone. Her name is Bourgine.”
The staff scowled his face when he heard that name.
The bar turned quiet.
Gaze that was filled with annoyance and wary turned into obvious hostility.
One patron —— A well built man drew his sword.
The other patrons scrambled to the wall to avoid being drag in.
Armed with a sword, the man approached.
He didn’t exert unnecessary strength on his shoulder and arm. From the numerous scars on his muscular arm sticking out of his shirt, he had the bearing of a veteran.
He was probably a soldier, or served in the past.
“Professeur Bourgine isn’t here. Go home. This is not a place for a noble brat like you to play.”
“Can I assume that I need to make an appointment before I can come here?”
“I already told you to scram.”
“I refuse. I have to meet that person.”
“You want to die, you noble brat!?”
The man swung his sword.
Half the people yelled ‘finish him off!’, the other shouted ‘don’t be rash!’
The sword sliced down.
But Bastian didn’t move.
Elise who was hiding behind yelped “Hya!?” softly, but that was all.
The blade flashed before his eyes.
It didn’t reach —— Bastian could already tell.
“I am not here to fight, I have some important business with Bourgine. I promised my friend.”
“I don’t know the reason… But no matter what it is, the Professeur won’t meet a noble like you!”
His opponent took a step forth.
The next swing will definitely reach.
Bastian could dodge, but he had to protect Elise behind him. To be safe, it would be better to defend with his body.
There would be no room for discussion if I draw my dagger. Aside from this bar, I don’t have any other clue in finding that person.
—— Can’t I do something unarmed?
Bastian clenched his right fist with a crack.
The man slashed down.
A sharp voice came from behind him.
That man froze.
All eyes in the bar turned to the owner of that voice.
A woman holding a walking stick appeared from a seat behind the screen.
She wore a long dress, and had a scarf hanging down over her green blouse. It was the dressing of a normal citizen.
She was about 30 years old.
Her legs seemed unwell, so she had to use a walking stick.
There wasn’t anything special about her brown hair that was tied up, and hung over her chest. Her skin was pale and her limbs slender like a patient.
However, the man with the sword backed away after meeting her gaze.
“Master, you can’t come out! He might be a soldier sent by the noble faction!”
“A child like that? Without even a sword?”
“You can never be too safe.”
“Just intimidating with words would be fine, but if you really slash at him, that would be violence, not a warning. I don’t remember asking you to protect something like that.”
“I-I didn’t plan on cutting him down for real…”
The man sheathed his blade.
She asked Bastian:
“You mentioned a promise with your friend?”
“Ah, yes I did… Could you be Bourgine?”
“They call me that, but I don’t know if the Bourgine you are looking for is me.”
“Do you know Jean Roland de Tiraso Laverde?”
Her eyes slightly widened.
She then sighed.
“That child is studying abroad in High Britannia.”
“Yes, we met Roland in High Britannia.”
“Roland is looking for me?”
“Erm… Not really, but it concerns him… it will take some time to explain.”
Bastian felt pained when he thought about Roland. Elise lowered her gaze.
Bourgine pointed inside the bar.
“Can you tell me more?”
The patrons who had been observing cautiously showed surprised expressions.
“Professeur!? Is this fine!?”
“... I just want to hear what he has to say. Have I ever been afraid of anyone?”
No one refuted her.
There was a round table behind the screen, and besides it was a two seater couch.
Further into the bar were scattered barrels, bricks and pieces of wood.
Bastian and Elise sat down on a couch.
She introduced herself as Morgane Bourgine. She was a commoner who used to work as a teacher in a certain school in the capital, and was living in seclusion right now.
Bastian and Elise was using the alias they used in High Britannia. They did not trust the other party completely yet.
“If you are living in seclusion, does that mean someone is after your life?”
“Well, the nobles are targeting me… Because I exclaimed my objection to the policies of the nation publicly.”
“What kind of objection?”
“Fufu… In the open plaza three years ago, I shouted ‘This country is rotting’.”
“The minority ruling class are oppressing the commoners making up the majority of the population, we have to change this situation. Human should have the inalienable rights to pursue happiness.”
“The open plaza? You mean the one in front of the palace!?”
“That is the place where the most number of people gather right?”
Bourgine nodded, making Bastian break out in cold sweat.
The ideology she was propagating was known as ‘Liberalism’.
Since Roland was a liberal, then the one who taught him that ideology would be a philosopher.
But to shout it out in public…
“Isn’t that reckless?”
“But it’s not against the law.”
“True… But wouldn’t you be targeted by the nobles and earn their ire?”
“I was fired by the school that day. They said that there was a problem with my working attitude.”
Elise raised her brow.
“That’s what happens if you go against the aristocrats in the Empire…”
“That’s right. They think that oppressing commoners and weeding out dissidents are natural. Just like reaping harvest from the field and pulling off the weeds.”
“If you knew such people would be your enemy, was there a need to make such a strong speech in the open plaza?”
What a strong willed woman.
“Although I lost my job, but thanks to the support of those who agree with me, the liberalism movement could go on. I have been to High Britannia several times because my mother is a native there. I shared what I experienced there with the people around me.”
“Everyone has the right to pursue happiness… huh.”
“That’s right, and as I was continuing that movement, that child visited me.”
She was talking about Roland.
When he was 13, he came to the capital with his merchant grandfather, and heard the speech Bourgine gave at the open plaza.
After that, he returned to the south and self studied for a year. In order to learn more, he used all means to sought her out.
That really suited Roland’s fanatical style, Bastian nodded.
“That child is very smart, learning tirelessly like sand absorbing water. He learned High Britannian by himself at home too. After that, he wanted to study even more in depth knowledge.”
“So he went to study abroad?”
“Yes… Even though I tried stopping him as it would be dangerous if war breaks out.”
Bastian was shocked.
“You knew war will break out!?”
“That’s right. I knew that the pro-war faction in High Britannia was gaining popularity, so it was just a matter of time before war breaks out.”
Elise’s expression gloomed.
“War did break out, so your prediction was correct… But there are many who opposed the war too.”
“Yes, I know that too. However, I don’t think they could stop the tide of war. It is very regrettable.”
“... That’s true.”
Bastian tried their best to stop High Britannia from declaring war against Belgaria, but they failed in the end. Elise’s face turned dark as she recalled all that.
“Alright then… That’s how my relationship with Roland is. Well? Am I the Bourgine you are looking for?”
“Yes, we didn’t get the wrong person.”
He never doubted that she was, but he stilled answered anyway.
Bastian then took a deep breath.
To be honest, he was more nervous than the time he dueled with Oswald, or when he leapt off the tower.
Bourgine was Roland’s teacher. The teacher who influenced his life and thoughts heavily.
And she was very concerned with the well being of her student.
He had to tell her.
It wasn’t the first time he informed another person about a death, but he had never felt so much pressure and a heavy heart before.
He looked her in the eyes.
“Roland… is dead…”
Bourgine closed her eyes and fell silent.
She mourned his passing for a moment.
Opening her eyes, she simply nodded without asking for more details.
“... Roland had his ambitions. No matter what the outcome is, it is the result of his decision. If I listen to the circumstances of his death and say ‘that is his wish’ or ‘he must have regrets’... it would be sacrilegious to his will.”
“So that’s how you feel.”
Bastian used to think that Roland was sad and full regrets. It was hard to accept the way he died.
However, he might be wrong to think of it that way.
“More important would be what the two of you think.”
“... I… Want to inherit his will. What he entrusted to me —— was to let the world progress. Progress into a world where everyone can pursue their own happiness.”
“For the sake of your friend?”
“That’s part of the reason. But I am thinking, maybe what he say might be true. That’s how I feel after reading this.”
Bastian took the book out from his pouch.
This was the book left behind by Roland.
He placed it on the table.
Bourgine took the book.
She flipped through it slowly and sighed.
“It’s just like that child to write down his ideals.”
“Is it wrong?”
“No… In the first place, there isn’t any right or wrong for ideals. After reading this, do you think this is right?”
“Yes but… I don’t think I understand it completely. So, I need someone to teach me. If possible, I hope that would be you.”
She smiled wryly.
“I am not sure how I should understand this… But liberalism is an ideal that would be disadvantageous to you nobles.”
“How would it be disadvantageous? Losing the privilege passed down to me by my ancestors? Those things don’t matter to me. I am betting my life on this… I will have no qualms if that’s all I will lose, I am even prepared to give my life if needed. Even though I failed…”
His wish of bringing Elise to the Royal castle and to keep Roland alive had both failed.
“... The people around you will object strongly though.”
“I am used to being criticized by others. What I need aren’t such things.”
“You want to learn from me… Are you serious?”
“Do I look like I am joking?”
Bastian already made up his mind.
Ughh… Elise could only show a dissenting expression.
Bastian already knew what she was going to say. Unlike High Britannia, the Belgaria Empire treated liberalism as a dangerous ideology and suppress it, even though there wasn’t any official restriction against liberalism.
If the people around him knew he was a liberal, he would lose his standing in society. After all, no princes had ever held such an ideology before.
And with his brother Latreille in power, there was no telling what he would do to Bastian who was a Liberal.
Despite all that ——
“I have to learn it. If I want to inherit his will, I have to learn the same thing as him right?”
“But, a child of nobility…”
“I am not a child, and Roland is a nobleman too.”
“That’s true… Back then, he troubled me deeply too. Was teaching him the right thing to do…?”
Bastian straightened his back.
“If you can only teach commoners, then I will break off ties with my family! Is that good enough!?”
At this moment, noise came from the other side of the screen.
“Someone told the guards that there is a commotion in this bar.”
From the tone, the one who entered were the police.
Bastian lowered his voice.
“... I created a disturbance?”
“... No. They are sent by the nobles… to look for me. We will talk about this next time.”
Bourgine picked up her walking stick and walked towards the piles of random items.
And reached out.
The side of the barrel opened.
—— It turned into a door!!
The seemingly useless barrel was used to conceal a door.
It had stairs that led downwards.
Some patrons were talking to the police at the storefront.
“Ara~ nothing~ happened here alright?”
“We will see after our investigations are done! Make way!”
“What are you searching for? Do explain to us properly. We will help you.”
They were stalling for time.
Bourgine climbed down the stairs in the barrel on her four limbs. She moved slowly because her legs weren’t well.
“... I don’t plan on showing myself to the police. What about you two?”
“I will follow.”
The police were supposed to catch criminals. However, being a liberal wasn’t against the law. Bastian didn’t understand.
Did this woman commit some crime and was running away?
Even so, he finally got to meet Roland’s teacher.
He needed to talk to her.
Bastian climbed into the stairs too.
“Elise, we are in a hurry, but it’s wet here, be careful not to slip.”
She climbed down timidly too.
It was pitch dark down here.
“Ahh, I see it.”
“... There isn’t any light here?”
“I know. That’s why I took off my sunglasses.”
Bastian could only vaguely see Bourgine’s figure walking forward while holding on to the wall.
He held Elise’s hand and advanced in the darkness.
It smelled moldy.
And smell like wine.
This was probably the underground cellar. But the air was full of dust, so maybe it was not in use anymore.
They continued in deeper.
Bastian could gauge the direction and distance he was moving accurately even if he closed his eyes.
They were leaving the bar from this underground passage.
What building was behind the bar?
Anyway, he knew they were moving to the underside of that building.
They walked along the wall, climbed up a flight of wooden stairs and returned to street level.
“Hmm… I see… It’s a secret tunnel to escape. How cool.”
“I didn’t break any laws, but the police are dangerous. I have to very careful with them.”
This was the ground floor of another building.
After leaving the pitch dark room, they went outside which was well-lit by the moon ——
After exiting the undecorated warehouse, they came to a narrow alley.
Unlike the rest of the capital, the ground here wasn’t paved with stone, and was only used to transport cargo.
Figures appeared in the faint moonlit night.
Soldiers wearing black uniform.
Bastian put on his glasses swiftly and stood beside Bourgine. It shouldn’t be dangerous since the opponents were policemen who uphold the law. But he took action after seeing how frightened she was.
“... Looks like an ambush.”
Her voice was trembling.
There were five policemen, and one of them stepped forward.
A man with a gentle face.
“Madame Bourgine I presume?”
“Where are you going at such an hour?”
“I-I’m on my way home…”
“Fufu, where do you stay? It’s dangerous at night. Allow me to escort you home.”
“Thanks but no thanks.”
That policeman glanced at Bastian and Elise. Bastian seldom appeared in public, so not many people know what he looked like. It was hard to imagine the Third Prince appearing in a place like this.
Their target seemed to be Bourgine, so they paid no attention to the two of them.
“Madame, we have reports of thieves striking here.”
“I see… How scary.”
“To be safe, can you let us check your belongings?”
Bastian had never been inspected by the police before. They probably hate liberals.
The only belongings Bourgine had was just a cane.
There shouldn’t be any problems.
She would just arrive home a bit late. Bastian thought naively.
When the policeman patted down her waist ——
They looked surprised.
“What is this!?”
The policeman opened his hands, showing a pair of golden earrings embedded with gems.
Bourgine shook her head.
“I don’t know.”
“Hohoo? This looked similar to stolen item reported by a citizen. Why do you have this on you!?”
“It has nothing to do with me. You came near me with that thing in your hand. Stop pretending to be retarded!”
“This is found in your pocket!”
“My clothes don’t have pockets.”
“Still trying to quibble about this!? Alright, take her in. We will investigate further at the station!”
Bourgine turned stiff.
The other policemen surrounded her on command to not let her escape.
"I know nothing, this is an injustice!"
“If you have anything to say, do it at the station.”
“Even if you tell me that, none of my companions ever came back from there!”
“Shut it! You destructive ideology instigator!”
The policemen reached for her.
—— They are doing such things!?
Bastian was shocked.
The ones who should be upholding the law did something so unscrupulous.
Bastian stood in front of Bourgine.
And faced off against the policemen.
“Isn’t this too much? I won’t go off with you all like this!”
“... From your dressing, you are a child of nobility… You know who that woman is?”
“I know. She is addressed as teacher by many people, including my friend. I should be asking you, what’s the deal with those earrings? A female thief walking around the street with a walking stick, keeping stolen items in her pocket? Stop bullshitting!”
“You think such a rubbish setting is forgivable!? If I am the reader, I will never accept it!”
“What are you talking about!?”
“The law doesn’t restrict discussion on liberalism! Using excuse to make arrests despite of that, are you really the police that maintain public order in the Imperial Capital!?”
His opponent stammered.
“I don’t know which noble House you are from… But she is a liberal! We can’t just let her go. Alright, take this kid in too!”
“I am not a noble.”
“Oh, a commoner. Your clothes are really high in quality.”
“I’m not a commoner either.”
Bastian took off his sunglasses.
Brush back his brown fringe.
Revealing his crimson eyes.
“I am the Third Prince of Belgaria, Heinrich Trois Bastian de Belgaria. I will remember all of your faces. It won’t be over so simply, brace yourself!”
The faces of the men all turned pale as they looked at each other.
Their shoulders trembled because of doubt and anxiety.
“... Y-You are a Prince? To actually…”
“Are you policemen doing such dirty deals all this while? On whose orders? The police is part of the military, and report to the Ministry of Military Affairs right? Is it the Minister’s orders? Who issued the order to apprehend Bourgine?”
The policemen’s faces reddened as Bastian asked his series of questions.
Their eyes turned bloodshot.
Their faces immediately scowled in anger.
“... Ugghhh… I-Impersonator! This guy must be an impersonator! It’s impossible for His Highness to be in a place like this, covering for a liberal!”
After all, liberals opposed the existence of the Emperor the most.
The Emperor was above all laws, and all citizens had the obligation to serve him unconditionally. Everything owned by the Belgarian Empire could be used at the Emperor’s pleasure.
As the sons of the Emperor, Princes enjoyed extraordinary privileges.
So on the matter of ideology, they would never tolerate liberalism. It was natural for the policemen to think in such a way.
“... As expected… Because of one’s standings, there was no use in talking.”
“Impudent Impersonator of His Highness! This is Lèse-majesté! I will mete out your execution right here!!”
It wasn’t clear if the policemen were certain that Bastian was an impersonator, or they wanted to seal his lips out of fear.
No matter the reason, the one at the front drew his sword.
It wasn’t the longsword used by soldiers on the frontline, but shorter single edged sabre. It was easier to use a shorter blade in urban terrain, and the lighter weight made it easier for patrols.
The other policemen also drew their swords and took their stance.
Bastian drew the dagger from his waist.
The Emperor’s sword.
Legends say that the Founding Emperor ‘L’Empereur Flamme’ forged seven treasured swords with the Tristei that was bestowed to him by the fairies.
Bastian was holding the treasured sword known as ‘Vite Espace Trois’.
The hilt had elegant carvings, and it had a triangular blade that was wide at the base and narrow at the tip.
It was about 4Pa (30cm) in length. It was supposedly as long as the feet of the ‘L’Empereur Flamme’.
Even though he took it out from the vault just half a year ago, he could use it smoothly now.
There wasn’t any feeling of excitement.
He didn’t exert any unnecessary strength in his hand.
As if he wasn’t holding anything, he could wield it as easily as if he was just swinging his arm.
The policemen thrust their swords at him.
Even though it was in the middle of the night, their shouts lack force and their movements were slow.
—— That’s how soldiers who had never been to the frontlines were like.
Bastian wielded his dagger.
Clink! A crisp sound echoed in their ears.
The sabre's blade fell to the policeman's feet.
The policeman’s sword broke at the base. No, it was Bastian who cut it off.
He looked at his opponents with slanted eyes.
“... The next slash would be for your heads. I have steeled myself to not show mercy for the things I want to protect.”
The men backed away, even the one leading them were frightened.
Rumours that the Third Prince of Belgaria being absurdly strong was well known. In terms of pure physical abilities, he was stronger than Latreille, who was the Field Marshal.
The policemen finally realized who their opponent was, as they trembled with a pale face.
A moment later, one man fled ——
The others then followed, screaming like kids in their flight.
Bastian sheathed his dagger.
“Ah… I let the chance to ask them who issued the order to arrest Bourgine slip.”
“Bastian, are your wounds okay!?”
“Hmm? As you can see, not even a scratch.”
Elise who was looking at him worryingly was relief after hearing him answering in his usual tone.
Bastian was heavily injured not too long over. His wounds have healed, but he had not recovered fully yet.
Bourgine’s brows furrowed deeper.
“... Are you really Prince Bastian?”
“What is the meaning of this? Since you read Roland’s book, you should understand what liberalism is.”
“To a certain extent. Is it strange for a prince to be a liberal?”
“... It’s hard to believe. Why would those who hold power think about destroying the current system?”
“I am not holding anything. This might make you angry… but I have gotten tired of luxury when I was 10, and the rules in the palace that I have to follow depressed me. Instead of that, I would rather fulfill the will that guy entrusted to me.”
“That’s part of the reason… But after reading his book, I think that ‘the Empire right now is wrong’. However, I didn’t study hard enough, so I don’t understand… What needs to be changed, and what needs to stay the same.”
“What if I tell you that I am thinking of destroying the Empire?”
“No matter what you tell me, I will judge by myself. If I think it is right, I am fine with the Empire being destroyed. But right now, I don’t think that is correct.”
“You might not be able to enjoy the life you lived so far.”
“You too, you can live as a teacher if you kept in line right? Why did you make that speech in the open plaza?”
“For my personal justice.”
“If that’s so, I am the same. Even if I might lose something, I have to do the right thing.”
Bourgine asked Elise who was beside Bastian.
“What about you?”
“... I… am actually from High Britannia. I will go back one day. To prepare for that day, I want to learn more about Belgaria. I won’t stay with Bastian if I get in his way…”
“Oh, I don’t mind you coming along. But you might encounter danger just like earlier.”
“It’s fine. For those with ambition, such things occur very often.”
Elise smiled and Bourgine shrugged.
“Would a noble aristocratic lady say that ‘such things occur very often’? You seemed very experienced?”
“Fufu… Perhaps so.”
Chased by rifle toting soldiers in the forest, traveling away from the cities for days, betrayed by her uncle, escaping from a fortress full of soldiers, jumping off a cliff…
Compared to these, their earlier encounter was ‘nothing much’.
Bastian said once again:
“Bourgine, I hope you can show me the way. As for whether I will take this path, I will decide for myself.”
“... As expected, you are a Prince. When asking someone to teach you, you will say ‘Teach me please’, alright?”
He had never used such words even to his father the Emperor. In other words, he had gotten used to it and couldn’t change his speaking style all of a sudden.
Bourgine squinted her eyes.
“Since you want to change, there are two ways here. Go back to the palace, and tell the Second Prince, Latreille your ideas… Depending on the way you present it, some of your proposals might be accepted, and this country will change for the better a little. Becoming a slightly more equal and free nation.”
“The other way?”
“... Mobilize the citizens. Emperors and nobles are not necessary for a country to exist. A country exists because of its people. Everyone had forgotten that… So to change the nation, we have to change the citizens. Can you do that?”
He couldn’t answer immediately.
If one were to say, that feeling would be very natural.
“... Change the citizens huh.”
“If you want to do that, you have to watch your words and language. If you are going to order others around like a prince, then you should go back to the palace.”
“I-I get it! No, erm… I understand!”
He stood up straight like a palace guard.
Pfft, Elise broke into laughter.
“I-It doesn’t suit you at all, Bastian.”
“Ara… My apologies. People have things they are good at, and aspect they are suitable for. You can learn the words by studying hard. As for the other things, you will have to remember it by heart.”
“Don’t say that with a laugh! That’s strange! Erm… other things? Can you tell me, Bourgine?”
“At least address me as ‘Professeur’. Since you helped me from the police and is an acquaintance of Roland… I will teach you everything I know.”
“I will be in your care, Professeur Bourgine!”
Bastian reached out his right hand.
Bourgine also reached out and shook his hand.
“I should be saying that. I have high expectations of you, Bastian.”
Elise turned her head suddenly.
Someone seemed to be looking at them with a smile under the shadow of the moonlight —— She felt such a sensation.