Saturday, May 4, 2019

Alderamin on the Sky Volume 6 (2 of 5)

Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Hiiro

「Huff… Huff…!」「Hah, hah!」

In the suffocating darkness, the smell of mud lingered in the air. Aside from the Lantern Light of the Luminous Sprite, there was no other form of illumination.

── There really wasn’t anything, not even a speck of star or moonlight, the entire land was engulfed in darkness.

In a corner of the darkness, four soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder as they swung their hoes. The soldiers behind them loaded the dirt onto hand carts and pushed them away. After a certain amount of progress was made, the pioneers would erect pillars to stop the tunnel from caving in.

No one could remember how many times this was repeated. In the dark tunnel, the passage of time lost half of its meaning. Only the gradual accumulation of fatigue and hunger made them feel the that time was flowing.

「Huff, huff──」「Hey, wait! Stop!」

The sergeant supervising the work shouted from behind the soldiers working their hoes. They turned their dirt covered face back, and the sergeant lift his gaze from the map in his hand and said:

「… According to the plans, we are almost there. Be more careful with the excavation.」

The soldiers’ eyes lit up at that. After receiving the orders to be dig with care, their hands worked their hoes even faster. The fruits of their endless hard labour was at hand, and the soldiers quickened their pace──


One of the soldiers yell suddenly. His hoe broke through the dirt without resistance part of the way. He retracted the hoe, then pushed the blade in again. He then repeated this step from a different angle, making a rectangular hole.


A beam of light shone in from the hole. It was obviously the brightness of sunlight, and stung the eyes of the soldiers who had grown used to the darkness.

The group looked at each other with joy, and turned back to their supervisor behind:

「We dug through it! We made it through~!」

When they heard the shouts of the soldiers running back from the tunnel, the other Kioka soldiers working on the same project cheered. In retrospect, the project had gone on for more than half a year. Everyone trapped in the Hiored Ore Mines yearned for this news.

「Yeah!」「We tunneled through!」「Report to the Colonel! Quick!」

Without needing his comrades to urge him, the messenger had already dashed out. The feelings of excitement made them forget their fatigue. The messenger stumbled through the base, and reached the headquarters in no time.

「Colonel! Report, the tunnel has been completed!」

He knocked the door and yelled without waiting for a response, but didn’t get an answer after waiting for some time. When he was feeling that something wasn’t right, a soldier passing by cleared his doubts:

「Colonel Arkinex went to survey the enemy base, and should be at the western part of the base.」

After a curt reply, the soldier started running again. Despite getting out of breath, his legs that wanted to relay the good news didn’t slow down.

The messenger reached the western part of the base shortly, and saw the white haired officer standing with a group of soldiers. He wanted to shout 「We tunneled through!」, but remembered that this place was close to enemy grounds. He suppressed his urge at the last moment, and approached slowly:

「Colonel, the tunnel──」

As the messenger reported as quietly as possible── he felt that group had a tense air about them.

「… What’s going on?」

As a hasty bird took flight in the breaking dawn, Kioka Army Colonel Jean Arkinex watched the enemy base through his telescope as he muttered. His companions First Lieutenant Miara Gin and Captain Taznyado Harrah stood on either side of him with stiff faces.

From Jean’s position, he could see the imperial army that had encircled the ore mines was marching to the west with a long procession. They seemed to have marched for quite some time now, with the leading elements disappearing behind the horizon.

「They seem… to be withdrawing. Most of their forces here are gone…」

Miara Gin gave her cautious opinion. Harrah nodded seriously after hearing that:

「It seems that we have won.」

He was implying that things probably wasn’t that simple. Jean felt the same, and tried to deduce the reason from the unexpected scene before his eyes:

*Mum… This might be a trap. They might be lifting the siege intentionally to trick us into escaping the mines. Those units might be feigning a retreat, and will detour to our back to ambush us when we withdraw…」

「That might be plausible… But I doubt that dark haired brat will propose such a plan. During the last meeting, he completely saw through how stubbornly we want to hold on to this fort.」

Harrah said with his arms crossed. Holding out here until reinforcements arrive── that was their plan. If that was the case, they wouldn’t abandon the mines and flee even if the siege was lifted. Judging from the previous talks with the enemy, the enemy also understands that.

「If it isn’t a trap… then did something unexpected happened? Maybe something urgent happened back in their home country. Something so important that they had to go back even if they had to give up on seizing the mines.」

「If that is so, then it must be pretty serious. Something that can shake the whole Empire.」

「And… What might that be?」

「Well, for example── a large scale civil unrest.」

When the white haired officer said the most likely answer in his mind, Miara Gin gasped.

「Leaving our own nation aside, the Empire has plenty of underlying issues. The Shinaak we incited last time is one of them. I heard they were exiled from the Grand Arfatra Mountains and relocated to a plains, but there is still a possibility of them revolting again.」

「If they did, they will be suppressed quickly. The Shinaak has lost our backing and the advantage of terrain, no matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to start a revolt big enough to break the Empire.」

「That is true, any potential unrest they might cause won’t be enough to make them withdraw their entire army. It should be another reason. Maybe── it’s the military. Maybe the Imperial military, which is the base of the Empire, is the reason behind their troubles.」

Jean knew that the Empire’s military posed the biggest threat of unrest. The two large factions of their military had a long history of rifts, and if this smothering tinder erupted into an inferno, just how wide would the fire spread── Jean couldn’t even imagine that.

「… No, instead of playing detective here, we need to confirm this.」

Jean restrained himself from rushing to a conclusion. Doing so would cloud his mind with flawed prejudice, and lead to a crushing defeat. The awareness of Ikuta Solork’s presence demanded the white haired officer to be extra cautious.

「E-Erm, Colonel…」

Someone called out to him timidly from behind. Jean finally remembered that his subordinate was here to make a report, put his thoughts on hold and turned back:

「Ah, pardon me. Any reports?」

「Y-Yes! We have just bored through the tunnel!」

The soldier smiled in relief after finally making his report. When they heard that, his Kioka comrades rushed to him.

「Wonderful! This is great news, how is the progress with the tunnel?」

「Yes Sir! With our current speed, it will be big enough for horses in about two hours!」

「Good. Once the preparations are done, send a section of scouts to recon. Harrah, I will leave the selection of the team to you.」

「Got it. I will pick a bunch of quick and careful guys.」

Harrah ran back to the base with his orders. Jean watched him go, thinking that this was the best hand he could play now. However── the white haired officer looked in the direction of the retreating enemy through his telescope again.

「… Is this a trap, Ikuta Solork? If that is so, I won’t hesitate in ignoring it. But if it’s not── then we might meet again in a different battlefield.」

Jean said to his absent opponent. His personal feelings that had nothing to do with tactical advantages burned in Jean Arkinex’s heart. Arkinex was aware that they were commanders on opposing sides, but this emotion still grew stronger with each passing day.

「I’m a soldier. If you show a fatal opening because you get distracted with your internal unrest, I won’t hesitate in stabbing you in the back── However…」

He tightened his grip on his telescope. His silver eyes seemed determined to relay his feelings to beyond the western horizon:

「If possible, don’t let me see that boring back. I understand this is just a childish obsession. But even so… I want to stab you from the front when I kill you…!」

Chapter 2: Three Way Fight

To the east of central Katjvarna was the Miogaroki Province. Its main product were figs, pomegranates, papayas and other fruits, and had many heritage sites before the 「Three Loyal House」 united the Empire── and was known for these legacy sites from the warring era.

They were all different in scale, but if you ask the local which one was the largest, they would all answer 「Zalulu Hunger Castle」. That building was undoubtedly the biggest in size and had the strongest backstory in the entire province. Surrounded by a fence that looked like a field of spears, it had three intimidating towers of uneven height, and gave off an eerie aura.

The castle was built over 400 years ago, and could still serve as a defensive stronghold. This wasn’t because of the architect’s timeless design, but because the place was renovated many times throughout the years. The Igsem faction had maintained this castle in private for use in the event of a national emergency.

The name 「Zalulu Hunger Castle」 originated from the horrible death of Marquis Barne Zalulu who ruled the region back then. Forces from the  「Three Loyal House」 seeking to unite the nation scored numerous victory against the army opposing them, and that army was forced to use this castle as their grave.

Marquis Zalulu held on to this castle with just 600 soldiers, and refused to accept his defeat despite being surrounded by an army of 10,000. He forbid his men from surrendering and ordered them to fight to the last.

However, unlike the Marquis who was hoping to take his pride to his grave, his troops were growing tired of their lord’s antics. With inevitable defeat at hand, they realized that they had chosen the wrong side. The soldiers who chose their lives over their pride discussed in secret, and decided to sell out the Marquis for their own safety── and the method they used was the reason behind this tragedy.

What they did was simple. When the Marquis went into his personal chambers on the sixth floor of the castle, they nailed the door shut from the outside. With the only exit sealed, the Marquis was trapped, and the soldiers hoist the white flag and let the enemy in. The commander of the Three Loyal Houses didn’t break down the door leading into the Marquis’ room, and said to him from the corridor── if you relinquish your authority and yield to us, I will open this door.

Marquis Zalulu was furious, and refute that humiliating offer. The commander didn’t say anything more, and just ignored the room and the person inside── that was how the Marquis died.

The portable water inside the room prolonged his suffering. The Marquis slowly withered after more than a month. He couldn’t escape from the sixth floor window, which became an outlet to spread his groans of anguish and agony.

Thirty six days after he was confined to his room, the room turned silent and the commander finally broke the door down. There were many rumours on what happened next── the most well known rumour states that the bones on the Marquis’ arms were bare, and that the Marquis chewed them off because he was too hungry.

Because of this tragedy, the castle in the Miogaroki Province had the nickname of 「Zalulu Hunger Castle」. There were countless ghost stories related to this castle, such as groans from the windows of the sixth floor, and an old man with skeletal arms wandering the corridors. Some soldiers who were more timid would cry if they got posted there.

「Okay~ What do we do now?」

Right now, in the sixth floor 「confined room」 of the Hunger Castle known for its bloody history, two soldiers unfazed by the rumours sat inside. Honorary General Yorunzaf Igsem sat arrogantly with his feet on the table and head held high:

「The central military headquarters in the capital Banhataal── or rather, all the prominent military facilities in central had been seized by the Remeon faction, and they even sealed the roads, so it will be difficult to link up with the Igsem factions in the other provinces. We have been completely cut off.」

In contrast to what he was saying, 「One Armed Igsem」 sounded intrigued. On the other hand, Field Marshal Solvenares Igsem stared out of the only window in the room and remained as quiet as a statue.

「Sigh, it’s not all bad news though. The Field Marshal is safe and has an army of 4,000 with him. This place is a little rundown, but we have a base of operation. This is good enough for us to launch a counterattack.」


「And now, the problem is the Emperor. How long will we remain the official army?」

When Yorunzaf said that, Field Marshal Igsem broke the silence for the first time:

「──No. According to imperial law, an edict issued during a coup to illegally transfer military authority cannot overturn the edict issued before that. Hence, it doesn’t matter if any edicts will be issued in the future, we will always be the official army.」

「That might be true legally, but an edict will still be issued, right? It’s the same with the Jewel Voice Broadcast. Just one sentence will be enough to convince the people who aren’t legal experts.」

Thinking things through pragmatically, the old general crossed his legs on the table the other way.

「But there’s something I don’t get── why hasn’t that happened yet?」


「If I was that Terushinha kid, I will force His Majesty to issue an edict that 『Terushinha Remeon will succeed Solvenares Igsem as the highest ranking commander of the Imperial Army』, even if I had to strangle him. Even without any legal basis, getting the Emperor to verbally support your cause is the correct move to make. It will be more than enough to agitate those people pretending to be patriots.」

After stating his view boldly, General Yorunzaf grunted:

「If it is possible, anyone will do that in this situation. But he didn’t which mean an issue had happened which prevents him from issuing an edict… How would the Remeon faction treat the Emperor? They wouldn’t purge the royals and enact a military dictatorship, right?」

It would be too hasty for them to do that right now── the old general’s words might be deemed dangerous, depending the way it was interpreted. However, he was just thinking about things by putting himself in the enemy’s shoes. Field Marshal Igsem didn’t complain as he understood that, and continued the conversation:

「Or His Majesty’s health is ailing.」

「Yes, His Majesty have not been well for a long time, it might be possible that he is too sick to issue an edict── Hey, Zeoh! Who is the current Emperor of the Katjvarna Empire?」

The fire Sprite sitting on the armrest of its master’s chair answered immediately:

「Arshankrut Kitra Katjvanmaninik.」

「──Oh? At least he is still alive.」

The General leaned back on his chair without looking particularly concerned.

When the Emperor pass away, according to the norm, his partner Sprite who saw him off will announce his death to all Imperial citizens. That was done through the 「Jewel Voice Broadcast」── a miraculous method where all the Sprites in the Empire would say the same thing. This method could also be used to issue imperial edicts, and this ability was the reason behind the Emperor’s heavenly mandate.

The Jewel Voice Broadcast after the Emperor’s passing might be delayed, but all the Sprites in the Empire shares real time knowledge on who was the 「current Emperor」. This meant that at the moment the Emperor’s partner Sprite saw him die, the other Sprites would also learn that fact. According to imperial law, when the current Emperor passes away, the next person in the line of succession will be declared the new Emperor.

And so── if the Sprite witnessed the death of the current Emperor, the answer to General Yorunzaf’s question could not be 「Arshankrut Kitra Katjvanmaninik」.

「Strictly speaking, if they isolate the partner Sprite, it is possible to hide the death of the Emperor… But that is a serious crime, and there is no reason for the Remeon faction to resort to that. If the Emperor is dead, they just need to push the next royal in line to be the new Emperor. The First Prince is in their hands, correct?」

「That is most certainly it. The only royals that can escape the hands of the Remeon faction would be the Second Prince in Saregita Province of the Southern territories, and the Third Princess who is working under Major General Saba in the former Eastern Territories.」

「We can’t do anything about the Second Prince, but was it a mistake not to recall the Third Princess from the Eastern Territories? Yatorishino’s group is rushing over from there, correct?」

「No, if we let a royal join in the fast march, there might be delays as we will need to avoid danger. The priority right now is to gather our forces as quickly as possible.」

「… That’s true. In this situation, instead of the Third Princess, getting the troops to rush back speedily is more important. If we don’t recall him, Saba will just watch quietly from the sidelines. Entrusting the Third Princess to him might be the best move.」

The enlightened old general nodded. Instead of forcibly recalling them and adding more uncertainty, they should let the grey forces remain grey── that was the plan of Field Marshal Igsem. And he wouldn’t seek the aid of the navy for the same reasons.

「… Back to the topic, I can’t figure out why the Remeon faction didn’t issue any edicts. I can think of two possibilities. The Emperor is too sick to issue one, or the Emperor isn’t in the Remeon faction’s hands──」


「If I have to say, the latter seem more plausible. My gut feeling tells me that the Remeon faction’s movement in recent days lack confidence. Assuming they have secured the Emperor, they should be more forceful with their attacks, instead of watching us from afar like this.」

General Yorunzaf said as he pointed out the open door on the other side of the room. Beyond the window in the corridor, a Remeon unit blockading the western road could be clearly seen. But they didn’t make any preparation to attack the castle, and was content with keeping watch over the Igsem faction holing up inside, and preventing reinforcements from joining them.

「In any case, having a royal with us will have huge significance in the coming days. The Emperor or the First Prince── if we can secure one of them, we might be able to even the odds.」

General Yorunzaf raised the corner of the lips, as if he was enjoying being the underdog.

「… By the way, those guys aren’t defending the east at all. They seem to think reinforcement will come from the west── from within the capital?」

「We can deduce that a large number of Remeon unit has been deployed along the Kudra mountain pass and other routes leading to the Hiored Ore Mines in the east, and they judged that this would be enough for their eastern defence.」

「Haha! They are looking down on the Igsem faction!」

The old general slapped his knee and laugh. Field Marshal Igsem who was looking out the eastern window nodded in agreement:

「── That’s correct.」

In his field of vision, the figure of a friendly force rushing towards him from beyond the horizon could be seen.

Until they entered the castle, there wasn’t any battle. The Remeon faction not expecting reinforcements to come from the other direction was one reason, and the second reason was── After a traveling more than a thousand km in 15 days, a pace beyond common sense, the 2,000 soldiers were relatively unharmed and gave off an intimidating aura.

「First Lieutenant Yatorishino Igsem reporting in.」

Eighteen days after a coup was staged in the heart of the Empire, a little after 11am, after confirming all the troops had entered the castle, Yatori and the unit commander Major Megu reported in to Field Marshal Igsem:

「You came earlier than expected. Long time no see, Yatorishino, well done.」

Yatori calmly answered the greetings from the 「other」Igsem standing beside Field Marshal.

「I’m flattered, but you should direct that towards Major Megu, Honorary General Yorunzaf.」

「I told you to not greet your grand uncle by his military rank! Damn you pair of father and daughter!」

After saluting her grand uncle who let out a deep sigh, the vermillion haired girl turned to her father:

「──Field Marshal Sir, can I ask about the coup and the current situation?」

「The Remeon faction started by suppressing the Banhataal capital and the Military Central headquarters, and seized control of the military bases in Central. They have blockaded the roads and cut off communications between us and the friendly forces in other regions. Including the forces in this castle and the reinforcements, we have around 6,000 men. In contrast, the Remeon faction has 20,000 soldiers taking part in the coup. In short, we are at a disadvantage.」

The Field Marshal answered plainly. Neither the content nor his tone sound like a conversation between parent and child. Major Megu watched the steel-like interaction between the two Igsem with bated breath.

「First Lieutenant Yatorishino, I hereby promote you to Major, and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel.」

「Yes Sir.」

Yatori wasn’t fazed by the sudden promotion. It would be unsightly for an Igsem in active service, who had to lead by example in such a dire situation, to only hold the rank of a company grade officer. On the way back here, she thought there might be a need to quicken her promotion.

「Major Nudakka Megu.」

「Yes Sir!」

「I want you to assist Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Yatorishino as her deputy. Do you have any objections?」

The Field Marshal asked seriously, and after a brief moment, she shook her head with a dry smile.

「… Even after breaking through the Kudra mountain pass swiftly, I estimated that the journey from the Hiored Ore Mines to here would take at least eighteen days. The one who shortened it to fifteen days… is your daughter. And she did so without losing any of our men, so General Yorunzaf was right in complimenting her.」

When he heard Major Megu’s words that sounded as if she was surrendering, the old general grunted as if that was a given. Field Marshal Igsem nodded and continued:

「── All field officers are to gather in the sixth floor commander’s office for a war conference.」

All four city walls had been sealed, and the residents had been advised to stay in their homes. Right now, the capital Banhataal was under lock down. The empty streets made it hard to imagine this was the usual bustling capital, and the Remeon faction soldiers had replaced the corrupt nobles of the past to form a temporary government. And in the palace deep within the city...

「… Why…」

In the elegant conference room surrounded by famous paintings── this place was used for policy discussion, but the nobles tasked with this important role were all dead. Alone with his adjutant in this luxurious room, General Terushinha Remeon was deeply troubled:

「… Why did reality deviate from my plan so much…!」

He groaned. From the coup until now, there had been too many unexpected problems.

First of all, Field Marshal Solvenares Igsem should have been captured in the military central headquarters. But he fled the base with 4,000 soldiers, barely shook off the pursuit by the Remeon faction and holed himself up in the 「Zalulu Hunger Castle」 of the Miogaroki Province.

For General Remeon, this was a serious deviation from his plans. He sent more than one company of wind gunners to capture Field Marshal Igsem who was alone. He picked the team carefully, and delegated command to the trustworthy veteran Colonel Saru Kualun, and was confident that even the strongest swordsman in the continent wouldn’t be able to escape this trap── However…
「General Yorunzaf… the long retired 『One armed Igsem』, just had to pick this time to visit the base, what an awful joke. We only planned to herd in one lion, but a second one jumped into the fray out of nowhere!」

The second Igsem. The ultimate joker card that threw a spanner into General Remeon’s plans. There was no way to plan for this. An old man in his seventies whose command capability and swordsmanship remained the same as his prime, and still posed the threat of a hundred man── who on earth could expect something so ridiculous?

「… Even so, I still should have made contingency for this. Because I’m the commander, this is my duty. In the end, Kualun’s unit lost their lives because of my poor command…」

「General Sir, please calm down…」

「Not just that. After Sol escaped the base── he actually went to the『Zalulu Hunger Castle』? Impossible! Not the Central second or third base, but a moldy castle built 4 centuries ago! It is preserved as a historical heritage site, but there’s no way it is tough enough for military use!」

Cutting off his adjutant’s words, the jade eyed general grit his teeth. The Igsem faction’s preventive measures against the General Remeon’s coup attempt worked splendidly. The maintenance of the castle must have been done in secret without letting the Remeon faction know about its intent. The military bases in Central had been secured in the coup, and he made arrangement to stop any escape attempts out of Central── and Field Marshal Igsem already made provisions for all that.

「Sol is leading the Igsem faction with 4,000 men. With so many people defending the fort, it will be difficult to crush their resistance…」

In theory, if he commits all the Remeon forces into attacking the castle, taking the Hunger Castle was quite plausible. However, he would need to recall the troops deployed at the Central bases, the capital, and those blockading the road. If he did that, the Igsem forces in the other regions would notice that something was wrong, and hurry to the Field Marshal’s side and take back the bases and capital which have compromised defences.

「The Remeon faction and Igsem faction are about even in numbers… If we fight an all out war, we will destroy each other, and Kioka will be the only ones that will be happy about that. I can’t afford to force the issue with brute force…!」

The burden of the nation’s future weighed down on the General. He felt as if all the bones in his body was creaking from the pressure… However, Field Marshal Igsem also want to avoid an all out war. And so, the coup would evolved into a negotiations with the backing of their forces, and to fight for bargaining chips.

「We need to produce effective bargaining chips to get the Igsem faction to surrender… The most effective move is to let the Emperor issue an edict to recognize us as the official army. We will then have the just authority, and give the Igsem faction a sense of defeat.」

The morale of the Igsem faction was high because of their pride as they were the 「official army」. The general was planning to use the first edict to make then waver, and let the First Prince who will take the throne in the near future express his support of the Remeon faction through the 「Jewel Voice Broadcast」 as a follow up. The Igsem faction would then lose their spirits.

「But, but… Trisnai! Where… have you hidden His Majesty!?」

After shouting the name of his sworn enemy that wasn’t here, General Remeon slammed his fist onto the table before him. This was one of his biggest failure, second to his failure to capture Field Marshal Igsem.

Shortly after the coup, his top priority was to protect the Emperor, and led this mission personally. After checking all the information available to him, General Remeon was certain that the Emperor and Chancellor Trisnai were in the restricted palace.

This indirect information wasn’t foolproof. So he took extra care and sent spies into the palace several days before the coup. His agents reported back periodically without fail, and up to the night before, they confirmed that the Emperor and Trisnai were still in the palace.

But when General Remeon’s team broke into the Emperor’s chambers, it was empty. They searched every corner of the restricted palace and uncovered several chamber rooms, but they were all vacant. The Emperor and chancellor had vanished into thin air.

… No, more accurately speaking, they had some findings. In a room on the second floor, they found someone who closely resembles Trisnai, dressed in khaki robes of a high ranking bureaucrat. General Remeon concluded that his agents were fooled by Trisnai’s body double, and the sly fox had outmaneuvered him.

「We can’t issue an edict without His Majesty… If we can’t issue an edict that supports the Remeon faction, then the Igsem faction will keep up their morale as the official army. This coup is slowly sinking into the worst quagmire…」

「… General Sir.」

「What should I do… I-I have to think of a way. I’m the one who dragged all these shoulders down into a civil war, the responsibility lies with me…!」


A strong impact hit the cheeks of the jade eyed general who was falling into a cycle of self loath. General Remeon turned stiff from surprise, and the familiar face of a woman leaned close to him, with her palms on his cheeks.

「……Lieutenant Colonel Lucika……」

「Have you snapped out of it yet?」

She looked right into General Remeon jade eyes with a sharp gaze. The one who boldly interrupted his train of thought was the general’s adjutant, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika Kursk. She was a female officers close to her forties, and some of her gossipy subordinates gave her the nickname of 「Ice Lady」.

「This isn’t the time for self reproach, General Terushinha Remeon. It’s not the time to figure out who is to blame, but to come up with a practical plan to break through this crisis. If we can’t achieve results, then there is no meaning in struggling and worrying about all this. Do you understand?」

「… Y-Yes…」

「Very good. Then stop with all your 『it’s my fault』. That’s just a waste of time.」

After saying that coldly, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika retracted her hands from her superior’s face. His face was still stinging from the pain as General Remeon finally realized how unhealthy his thought process was just now:

「… Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel. You broke me out of my rut. That was unsightly of me.」

He reverted to his usual dignified tone, and thanked his adjutant.

「It’s fine. I expected this might happen when the two of us are alone in this room.」

The General smiled awkwardly when he heard Lieutenant Colonel Lucika say that without any reservation. They had worked together for a long time now, and he couldn’t hide this side of him from her. Since a long time ago, pulling the general out of his cycle of self loath had been the job of his adjutant.

「There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The general’s careful and intrinsic thinking is both a pro and a con. We just have to think of a solution to this.」

「I’m thankful for your forthright advice, although your method is a bit too harsh.」

「If you want someone to remind you gently, you can just ask your wife. But in order to return to your home that you yearn for, we have to settle the troublesome matters on hand first.」

His adjutant’s sarcastic encouragement pushed General Remeon to regain his composure, and he reviewed at the problems again.

「… I need to think about this carefully. Without Sol and the Emperor, we are at a disadvantage. What should we do now?」

「We have two choices. We can try to win without any good cards in our hand, or we can try drawing the good cards we missed last time.」

「It is impossible to capture Sol without fighting an all out battle. As for the Emperor… Assuming the Igsem faction has him, the same conditions will apply.」

「Then we need to confirm if that is true.」

Lieutenant Colonel Lucika said plainly. The jade eyed general nodded seriously:

「… So we probe them for information. Will Sol be agreeable to a meeting?」

「That’s very likely. Both sides want to probe the other for information.」

We aren’t the only side that had been forced into a corner── After interpreting the Lieutenant Colonel’s words as such, General Remeon started narrowing down his options. But at that moment, an urgent knocking came from the door:

「Captain Kinerigo here! General, I have something to report!」


With the permission of the General, Captain Kinerigo barged into the room and briefed the General:

「Reinforcements had arrived from the east and linked up with the enemy in the castle! They number over 2000! The unit on watch is wary of a pincer attack from the Hunger Castle, and couldn’t stop the two groups from joining up!」

「… From the east, huh.」

This terrible news made the jade eyes general grit his teeth loudly. Lieutenant Colonel Lucika looked at him worryingly from the side, but he was still a general of an army, and didn’t lost his cool:

「If they arrived at this time, that means after the Hiored Ore Mines campaign received news of the coup, they returned by the shortest route through Kudra mountain pass. And they numbered 2,000── which is roughly all the Igsem forces that we expect them to recall. They made it here without any losses── it seems that I had been too optimistic.」

That last line was like a punch to his own face, and General Remeon completed his analysis of the current situation:

「The number of troops garrisoned in the Hunger Castle is now 6,000, enough to defend their base and send out a large detachment unit… We can’t afford to take our time with our preparations.」

「… That’s right. Your orders please, General Sir.」

His adjutant urged him quietly. Under the watchful gazes of his two subordinates, the jade eyed general decided on his next move.

In that very evening, Field Marshal Igsem agreed to General Remeon’s proposal to hold a meeting without any hesitation. As Lieutenant Colonel Lucika predicted, both sides wanted to probe their opponents for information.

After negotiating back and forth through their messengers, both sides agreed to hold the meeting in the middle of the Orumaoi plains, which was between the Third Central base and the Hunger Castle. A vast plain that was open for tens of km in all direction, neither side needed to worry about ambushes and traps.

「… Long time no see, Field Marshal Igsem.」

Under the cloudy sky that reflected the state of the situation, the two generals each led a battalion of cavalry as they met again for the first time in a long while.

「Stand down, General Remeon. You’re not saving the nation, and is splitting our country apart instead.」

Field Marshal Igsem used his position as the highest ranking officer of the Imperial Army to warn the rebel. General Remeon wasn’t fazed, and glared right back at his opponent:

「… That’s the first thing you want to say? You are still the same, stubbornly following the rules of the army.」

「That’s correct. Soldiers are only permitted to use force within the rules set by the government. You have crossed that line.」

「Just call me a traitor if you want to! It’s many times better than a dog that looks on as his country spirals into destruction!」

The jade eyed general roared. He knew it was meaningless, but he still voiced his emotions of righteous that was driving his actions:

「You should know very well! If we let the nobles abuse the government, the future of the Empire will be grim! Those fools who deploy the military for their own selfish desires instead of the good of the Empire have no right to lead the people! They belong in the furnace of hell!」

「That’s just your personal opinion. Soldiers should not interfere with politics.」

「Personal opinion…? You still think this is my personal opinion after seeing this situation? Open your eyes! Half of the imperial soldiers that used to serve under you concur with my view, and joined me in staging this coup! The right path of a soldier that you speak off had been reduced to empty gestures a long time ago! Our revolt is just!」

「That is not true.」

Field Marshal refuted General Remeon’s passionate views with an iciness that could even freeze steel.

「Soldiers revolting in the name of justice will just lay the seed of tyranny. If you seize the position of authority without any legal basis, you will soon be disposed of by another usurper. When such struggles for power becomes the norm, we will enter an era of chaos. That is what you are going to start.」

「No! I started this coup for the sake of peace! Given how corrupted the nobles are, who do you think should helm this ship? Who should the people place their trust in? Who else but us soldiers of course! This is the process of elimination! The Empire can only be saved if competent men like us lead the way!」

「No. Soldiers starting a coup to save a nation will only accelerate its destruction. Military might that voluntarily shakes off the restraints of the collar of law, can’t be controlled for real anymore. So it will destroy the nation and cast the people into chaos and lawlessly, until order is established again. It might take one, two, or even three centuries to do so, and the Empire of the past took an even longer time to break free of the chaos.」

「Not taking action is the worst decision you can make, and indirectly caused this result! There’s no point in worrying about the chaos in the future, our destruction because of the corruption is happening right now! Who will avert this crisis?」

「Only the official government can solve the issues with governance, not you.」

That answer made General Remeon face palmed himself:

「… You still have expectations towards the nobles? Or are you referring to His Majesty? You think His Majesty who is being hoodwinked by that sly fox will come to his senses tomorrow and rule in a proper way…? Stop kidding me. I know you are not someone that is so senseless.」

General Remeon hung his head low, and continued as if he was moaning:

「Let me hear your voice, Sol… Not as an Igsem, but as a friend.」

A deep silence fell between the two generals. After a long pause, Field Marshal Igsem spoke again.

「── If inevitable destruction awaits our country in the future...」


「We will have only one duty. To defend our nation until the day of our demise.」

This answer highlighted the insurmountable gulf between the two men.

The jade eyed general hope to save the country on the verge of destruction.

The fiery haired general swear to defend the nation until the day it fell.

Their paths were infinitely close, but would never cross like two parallel lines.

「… So that’s your answer.」

General Remeon said with an emotionless tone… They had this conversation numerous times, and he already knew the answer. The general felt weak for asking despite knowing the answer, and an insuppressible anger welled up within him:

「Enough── the conversation between friends is over. It is time for the negotiation between enemies.」

The serious fiery haired general met the sharp gaze of the jade eyed general. When both of them were about to condemn each other as an enemy── At that instant, they were interrupted by a rider charging in from the east:

「F-Field Marshal! Urgent report!」


The messenger who made his way around to the front reported to the Field Marshal quietly, careful not to let General Remeon overhear him:

「… An army is approaching from the east. It’s an imperial army numbering almost 10,000. We suspect that they are the entire campaign force sent to attack the Hiored Ore Mines…!」

Field Marshal’s face didn’t waver after hearing the report, and after thinking for a moment, he turned back to General Remeon.

「── I request for this meeting to be adjourned.」


「I have received a report of an army approaching from the east. They appear to be imperial forces, but I didn’t send for them. Is this your doing, General Remeon.」

Unlike the man before him, the jade eyed general look shaken. From how his face was twitching, Field Marshal Igsem judged that neither side expected this.

「I will be pulling back. We will reconvene after figuring the allegiance of this new force.」

「… I-I concur.」

General Remeon nodded bitterly, and the two units separated to the east and west. On his way back to headquarters, the unexpected stoppage threw the mind of the general into disarray:

「What’s going on… Major General Kubalha Saba, aren’t you going to watch on the sidelines?」

At the same time, the unexpected situation caused the Hunger Castle to fall into chaos, and only one girl stood by calmly.

「── I see. You came.」

From the castle window overwatching the eastern horizon, several long columns of an army could be seen marching in. They hoist the flags of the Empire, but with the current military divided it wasn’t sure who this group would side with.

Hence, their presence would have a huge impact on all factions in the Empire.

「L-Lieutenant Colonel Yatorishino, that’s…!」

「Calm down, there’s no need to be so surprised.」

She cautioned her panicking subordinates in a calm tone── That’s right, she was the only one who knew. She understood why the new unit was here, and what their goal was. The vermillion haired girl accepted the arrival of that army, with full knowledge of their position and motive.

「I know you are a man of your words.」

In the afternoon of the twentieth day after the coup, a new force appeared from the east. After noting the army garrisoned in the Hunger Castle, they diverted their advance to the north of the Miogaroki Province and set up a temporary camp there. On that same day, the Igsem faction and Remeon faction both received an invitation to a three way conference between the top commanders. The invitation was signed by Major General Kubalha Saba.

Field Marshal and the General had no reason to refuse. Which side the third force choose to align with would have serious influence on this coup. To win the advantage of numbers, they had to recruit Kubalha Saba to their cause.

At the agreed time the next morning, considering the position of the three forces, the second meeting was moved to the northeast region of the Orumaoi plains. It was also a cloudy day, and with the strong air current in the sky, there was no telling if the weather would clear up or worsen in an hour.


Similar to yesterday, Field Marshal Igsem and General Remeon arrived on scene with a battalion of cavalry. After a glance at each other, they didn’t say a word. They were putting the probing questions on hold for now, and focusing on the opponent that would be arriving shortly.

They waited longer than expected. About twenty minutes after their arrival, the last unit finally appeared over the horizon. Maybe they were not aware about their own tardiness, or this was some sort of psychological tactic── the approaching cavalry was frustratingly slow.

「Pardon me, it seems that we are late.」

Major General Kubalha Saba appeared on horseback in the center of their formation. Contrary to his apology, his demeanour was dignified and his face seemed refreshed, completely different from two months ago.

The jade eyed general was surprised by this change, but he still glared at this new opponent together with the fiery haired general.

「I have not issued any recall order to the Hiored Ore Mines campaign force. State your reason for your return, Major General Saba.」

That was the first thing Field Marshal Igsem asked. Major General Saba shook his head:

「Field Marshal Sir, I’m in no position to answer that question. Right now, I’m merely the chief of staff of this regiment.」

「I never give you such an appointment. You are still the regimental commander of the ore mines campaign force.」

「That unit has been disbanded, I’m not the commander any more.」

Major General Saba answered with an arrogant attitude, but ironically, they found his demeanour very familiar. Standing proud without any humility at all times, and retorting higher ranked officers without fear── that was his personality about twenty years ago.

「… What’s your goal, Major General Saba? What are you trying to do by interfering at this point in time?」

The baffling sense of nostalgia made General Remeon blink in confusion, and he questioned Saba directly. He wanted to recruit him, but he couldn’t make sense of Saba’s intentions.

「My answer is the same, General. I’m in no position to answer.」

「What do you mean!」

「Because the only ones qualified to make such a statement, are the top commanders of each faction.」

With that, Major General Saba pulled the reins on his horse to the side, as if he was returning to his rightful place. Two figures rode up from behind and into the vacant spot. One of them was a jade eyed youth with a stiff face, and the other was a dark haired youth that was controlling his horse with unskilled movements.

「Here, here── Hey, not there. Forward, forward.」

Nudging his horse that refused to move ahead in a straight path, the youth finally made it to the fore of his group and faced the two generals.

「Phew~ it’s great that we reached here successfully… Ah, good afternoon. Field Marshal Sir, General Sir. I’m the commander of the Independent Imperial All Territories Stronghold, the 『Rising Sun Regiment』, Ikuta Sankrei. This is my adjutant First Lieutenant Torway Remeon. Nice to meet you.」

When he said that with a silly smile, General Remeon’s face started cramping up:

「Ikuta… Sankrei?」

The general said this unforgettable name as if he was saying some taboo. In that moment, even the existence of his son disappeared from his field of vision.

After a heavy silence, his jade eyes shot a murderous glance at the dark haired youth and Major General Saba.

「You think that joke is funny?」

「Huh, you don’t think it is? Major General Saba laughed really hard at it though.」

「Shut up!」

The general yelled at the youth. The corner of his eyes raised in anger:

「That is the name of a good friend of mine that I lost a long time ago…! It’s not for brats like you to use in a joke!」

General Remeon showed his strong displeasure── but Ikuta wasn’t fazed by this rage or retorted back, and showed a complicated smile:

「So you still call him your friend… I guess I should be happy about that.」

「You…! You still mock──」「That emblem.」

The Field Marshal’s words drowned out the general who wasn’t done yet. Ignoring the baffled general aside, the fiery haired general stared at the emblem of the brilliant sun on the youth’s chest.

「To think it had been preserved to this day… So you used the emblem of the rising sun and inherited your father’s regiment?」

「Sol? Even you…」

「That’s how it is. Hence, I am their highest ranking commander.」

The youth looked at the soldiers behind him and said. After falling into complete confusion, General Remeon slowly realized something from the conversation between the Field Marshal and the youth:

「W-Wait… Sol, hold up…! C-Could it be──」

「His background is real. That man is undoubtedly the son of the late General Bada Sankrei.」

The testament from the Field Marshal was strong enough to blow away all of the general’s thoughts. The jade eyed general stared with his eyes wide open, and was dumbstruck. Field Marshal Igsem took over the conversation in the meantime:

「But that is all. Command of the 『Rising Sun Regiment』 isn’t hereditary. The authority of the emblem to muster units during times of emergency is only recognized when the regiment is still a part of the Imperial military command structure.」

Field Marshal judged with a firm attitude. Ikuta nodded after hearing that:

「… That’s correct.」

「Hence, First Lieutenant Ikuta Sankrei, you are not the highest ranking commander of this regiment, and you may not call this unit the 『Rising Sun Regiment』. Know your place, you are just a company grade officer.」

「Yes, I’m fine with going back to that position. But after I have accomplished my goal.」

The youth gave a thick skinned reply. The Field Marshal turned his gaze towards Major General Saba once more.
「I hereby order Major General Kubalha Saba to fulfil your obligation as a soldier, and assume command of your unit again.」

「I refuse, Field Marshal Sir. Because I have always been the type to strive towards the light.」

He didn’t hesitate in his answer. General Remeon who snapped out of his gaze said in place of the Field Marshal:

「… With the nation shaking in turmoil, you are pushing the youth with the lineage of a famous general as the figurehead to build a new world order── is that the path towards the light that you are hoping for, Major General Saba? We haven’t met for a while, and your way of thinking have regressed 500 years.」

「General, I already explained many times before, that I’m just the chief of staff. As for the path towards the light, you will have to ask the Regiment Commander before you.」

「Have you forgotten your sense of shame, Kubalha Saba? Are you trying to make a youth that is less than half your age shoulder the crime of starting a revolution? This is beyond unsightly for a soldier, and plain inhuman!」

This strong accusation made Major General Saba open his eyes wide:

「Ridiculous── I drank all of my shame dry a long time ago! Ever since our sun was sacrificed by the villains in court, I have swallowed all of my pride along with the despair of my powerlessness!」

His roar from the bottom of his heart shook the air. Ikuta stopped the enraged Major General with one hand, and continued the conversation:

「General Sir, Field Marshal Sir, it doesn’t matter what you think, the commander of the unit of 8,000 men returning from the former eastern territories is me. You can blame Major General Saba if you want, but it will wiser to do so when there is more time to spare. After all, the situation is very dire.」

「… Are you serious, brat? You are just a First Lieutenant and not even twenty years old, and you want to talk to us as equals?」

「Equals? That’s taking things too easy. I’m here to exact dominance.」

He cast aside his pretense of politeness, and said such fighting words. Without waiting for his opponents to accept it, he started off with a monologue:

「… From what I can tell, the coup isn’t going well. Your priority target, Field Marshal Igsem, is standing well over there, and there have not been any edicts to legimitize your revolt. The Igsem faction is holding out in the 『Zalulu Hunger Castle』, and the Remeon faction has been spread thin to secure many bases, and can’t break through with brute force. I conclude that you are at an impasse.」

He didn’t hold back in voicing these irrefutable fact, which made General Remeon click his tongue. Ikuta observed their reactions as he continued:

「However, the Remeon faction still suppressed the bases in Central and blockade the roads. If the Igsem faction from other region can make it here, the Hunger Castle will be a force to reckon with. I think many chances were missed in the early stages to build up your advantage…」

The youth observed Field Marshal Igsem’s face as he spoke. But the Field Marshal looked as if he was wearing a mask, with no discernible change in facial expression. It would be tough to garner information from this person, Ikuta smiled wryly in his heart.

「In any case, both sides lack the decisive trump card, that’s why you are at a stalemate. It must be vexing for both of you, but this is great for me to interject from the outside.」

「… Which side will you align with? Since you have no intention of standing down, then you are aiming for an alliance?」

At this moment, General Remeon finally asked the crucial question. Ikuta was painfully aware of the two generals’ piercing gaze as he shrugged with a vague smile:

「Hmm, I wonder which side should I join?」

「Stop hiding it!」

「No, I really haven’t decided. This is a tough question. If you insist on forcing me to make a decision──」

The youth reach into his pocket with his right hand, and took out a silver coin before everyone:

「Let’s use this to decide. Heads, I will join the Igsem, tails, I will follow the Remeon. What say you?」


Under the watchful gaze of the two generals, Ikuta flipped the coin with his right thumb. The silver coin sprung into the air with a spin, and after exhausting its momentum about one metre in the air, it returned back to the youth’s hand through the same path.

「… Okay, heads or tails?」

The youth caught the coin with the back of his hand, and slowly removed his left hand concealing the coin. When a glint of silver was showing, General Remeon shouted in a panic:

「Wait! Deciding like that is…!」

「Alright I will wait.」

Ikuta used his left hand that was covering the coin to grab and shove it into his pocket. The dark haired youth then said to the startled General Remeon with a devious smile:

「Didn’t I tell you? I really don’t plan on joining either side. I hope the both of you can worry together with me.」

After confusing his opponents with his flashy words and actions, the youth suddenly crossed his arms.

「Realistically speaking, completely suppressing the coup at this stage is nigh impossible. If you two have an all out battle until one side gives up, it is very likely that the Kioka will invade us. With our forces divided like this, we couldn’t put up much of a resistance, and would definitely lose.」

「Don’t talk as if you know everything. It is impossible for you to grasp the entire situation since you have just returned to the Empire.」

「That’s right, there are still some things I need to confirm. I can deal with that later, let’s get back on topic. Everything has its time and place. Anyway, I think the silliest ending will be for us to test the limits of each other’s patience. It will be detrimental to both sides if Kioka launches an invasion, but the first one to compromise will be put on the back foot── while we are forced to a standstill, precious time is being wasted. Isn’t that our current situation?」


「Sigh, I think this is inevitable. The more urgent the goal that is set in the beginning, the harder it is to make adjustment during a crucial moment── well, let’s confirm this for now. The Remeon faction’s strategic goals in staging this coup are 『purging the corrupted nobles』, 『protect the Emperor』, followed by 『setting a de facto military government』, correct?」

「… That is correct. We want to save the Emperor from the hands of the villains in court, and form a new government with soldiers. I will personally listen to the will of the Emperor, which will stop the abuse of military deployment, and achieve grand strategic goals with proper policies.」

「I understand. In short, the reigning Emperor don’t have the wits to rule normally, and even if he miraculously regain his past intelligence, his administration ability after being separated from the cabinet would be zero, since his ministers are the ones who know how to execute his policies. Which means── if a military government is formed, then the Emperor will just be a powerless figurehead, right?」

「I don’t deny that. However, everyone knows that this is many times better than the Emperor becoming the puppet of the villains in court. Since there isn’t anyone to rule the country properly, then there is no choice other than the soldiers taking up this task.」

「I know what you mean… But realistically speaking, if you don’t compromise on this point, it will be difficult to come to a consensus with the Igsem faction, correct?」

Ikuta turned his gaze from General Remeon to the fiery haired general as he said that.

「What are your views, Field Marshal Sir? Can you accept this military government?」

「Out of the question. That will be violating the separation of the military from the state.」

「I thought so too~」

The youth shrugged with an awkward smile. When he was about to grumble about his joking attitude, this situation suddenly felt strangely nostalgic to General Remeon.

── Calm down, Sol, Tel. Here, have some tea.

He remembered that man who would always mediate between them with a smile when their opinions clashes.

── Staying stubborn won’t solve anything, let’s take our time to find a compromise, okay?

The relaxed tone that would make anyone’s shoulder ease up echoed in his ears… If Solvenares Igsem and Terushinha Remeon were water and oil, then that man was a magical spoon that could mix the two materials together. With him joining the discussion, they would always find a peaceful resolution, no matter how difficult the question might be.


Why did he recall that memory at this moment in time? General Remeon didn’t understand either. The person before him didn’t look anything like his friend from the past.

Neither his looks nor demeanour resembled him. Even if Field Marshal Igsem guaranteed his identity, General Remeon still had his doubts. He heard about the many feats Ikuta achieved as a member of the 「Knight Order」, but at this stage, he just thought of Ikuta as a rash youth interfering with affairs on the national level that was beyond his station.

「And now, I hope both of you can think about the line that you absolutely can’t compromise on. Currently, the Emperor has been reduced to a puppet of the villains in court, who issue illogical order to the military. The Remeon faction can’t accept this. In contrast, the Igsem faction won’t permit soldiers to replace the traditional government formed by nobles, with the Emperor ruling in their place. So how about it? Your positions might seem completely different at first glance, but they might not be contradictory.」

But… Why is this brash youth doing this? Why is he trying to mediate between the imperial military that had split in two? And throw himself into this dangerous rift?

To fan the flames and collapse the nation? To form a independent faction amidst the chaos? To exploit the two forces that are at an impasse to maximize his gains…?

General Remeon didn’t understand his true intentions. All of his guesses seemed plausible. Assuming he really was the son of Bada Sankrei, then in a sense, he had the right to wish for the demise of the Empire. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he mourned his father’s unjust death too much, and was using this chance to exact his revenge.

However, that wasn’t true. Something deep within General Remeon, beyond his logical self was telling him this. It was a baseless gut feeling, but the General trusted his instinct even more as he watched the youth’s action. The youth’s desperate performance to look relaxed and jolly, while digging deep into his heart to formulate words and display his oratory skills── the General couldn’t help but see his figure overlapping with that of his late friend.

This youth was standing in this place with the same thinking as the old Bada Sankrei.

He was standing here In order to bridge the gulf that the despairing chasm between the Igsem and Remeon──

「Basically, I think the Remeon faction wants to return to the imperial army, that isn’t privatized by the nobles. Even without establishing a military government, we can achieve this by restoring the authority of the Emperor over the military, and ensure the independence and pride of the military. If we cut the nobles off from interfering with grand military strategy, then they won’t be able to privatize the army. Isn’t that so, General Remeon?」

The sudden question directed his way snapped the General who was lost in his thoughts back to reality. He shook off the remnants of the past from his mind, and quickly organized the main gist of the topic.

「… But they might not be agreeable to this. Taking back the privatized army is an urgent task, but the Empire’s governance needs major revision too. We need to establish a military government because the nobles can’t be trusted with this. Furthermore, the military can’t be formed independently. As you know, upkeeping an army requires a large budget. If we leave the treasury to the aristocrats who only spend money without making any, it is just a matter of time before the entire system is paralyzed.」

「It is natural for you to be concerned about this, but let’s think of it in a more flexible way. All the changes are done in one go. We take back the Emperor from the corrupt nobles, and revert the privatized army back to normal── let’s stop at that for now, and discuss the policy and governance problem at a later time. I understand the feeling of wanting to reach out and fix the problem, but the Igsem faction can’t accept that. For the sake of finding a compromise, we have to be patient sometimes.」

「You want me to consider doing this in stages? You think the Igsem faction will be agreeable to that?」

「It will be easy if they are agreeable, but that’s unlikely. Since they know the goal of the Remeon faction is to establish a military government, then they have to intervened. Isn’t that right, Field Marshal Sir?」

In response to Ikuta’s query, the fiery haired general nodded with his eyes close to affirm that. When he saw that reaction, the youth returned his gaze back on General Remeon.

「Sigh, that’s what I expected. But General Remeon, I hope you can listen without getting angry… Do you think the military government will succeed?」

「… What…?」

「Instead of leaving the governance to the nobles, it will be smoother if we did it ourselves── you probably think that way. It will be great if things were that simple, but I have my reservations. The essence of governance is to obtain funds from the people, make use of it, and let the money flow smoothly through the country── it involves the management of funds from the beginning to the end. It’s hard to imagine that you will have the required knowledge of all this, since you have spent your entire career in the military, General Remeon.」

「So that’s what you want to say… I know my shortcomings in governance, and will recruit consultants as needed, and had found the talents for this to some extent.」

「I will feel devastated if you didn’t prepare that much before staging a coup… But the problem is even more basic. Frankly speaking, I can predict the policy you will choose, and how you will fail.」

「… What?」

「Let me make a prediction. After establishing a military government, you will immediately impose strict economic control over the entire Empire, enforced by the might of the military. You will tax the nobles and merchants heavily in proportion to their wealth. To prevent the disproportionate distribution of resources, you will use a ration system, and heavily regulate commerce. Most of the taxes will be invested in the military to continue surveillance of the people, and an equal distribution of wealth.」

The General turned stiff. The youth hit the mark on all the policy that the General was thinking about implementing.

「… This is necessary measures during times of war. Is there anything wrong?」

「It’s completely wrong. No one will be happy if everyone gets the same thing is the straightforward thinking of a military blockhead. While you are building up defences against our external enemies, your policies will create an even bigger enemy within the country. Even when powerful and influential people become your foes, you will stand firm in your sense of righteousness and charge on ahead without making compromises. In the end, the soldiers that used to be the guardians of the people will become a symbol of fear and hatred in less than a decade──」

「Don’t make baseless and pessimistic predictions! The threat of the Kioka is growing by the minute, and allocating most of the budget to national defence is inevitable! Taxing the wealthy is the logical choice! Or are you saying I should exploit the peasants?」

「Please calm down and listen to me. If any wealth they gain will get taxed, the subject of these taxes will take one of three actions. Either hide their income, protest against the policy, or perform shoddy work. You might prevent the first through absolute surveillance and suppressed the second through force, but you can’t do anything about the third action. The government can’t force the people who have lost their will to work. If you try to intimidate them to work by use of force, then that will just be slavery.」

「Do I look like a tyrant who will enact such foolish policies? The taxes will be maintained at a level that is bearable to the people!」

「You can’t imagine how hard it is to judge that limit. There had been many military government established by soldiers with the noblest of intentions, but they all made the same mistake. Do you know what that means? All of them forced their standards of pain endurance onto the people. Silently enduring the harsh training of their superior, long marches during campaign, starvation because of late resupply and the fear of death looming on the battlefield── this is normal for soldiers who are used to it, and 『endurance』 is a merit to be lauded. When someone like that governs, they will naturally think that the people has a high tolerance for pain too. They will wrongly assume that the people will still have the drive to work despite the pain they had to endure in their daily lives. Even if that is far from reality, they will still hope that things will progress in that way. That is the biggest reason why military governance are always short lived.」

「──! You are saying I will follow in their footsteps!?」

「I think so. Even compared to other officers, your values are modelled too much around the standards of a soldier. It is exactly because you are an outstanding soldier, that I am confident you won’t be a good governor. I will be frank, I think you will be a serious dictator that means to do good, but end up destroying the nation.」

Ikuta’s words were beyond that of an admonishment, and the shocked General Remeon’s jaw dropped. After stopping for a moment, the youth glanced at sideways at Field Marshal Igsem:

「Soldiers shall not interfere with politics. The Field Marshal’s pet phrase includes such a warning… The qualities of a soldier doesn’t intersect with that of governance. That is why we shouldn’t cross the line separating the two.」


「Hence, I object to the establishment of a military government. Returning to the original topic, why do you think the Emperor became a puppet of the nobles?」

The two generals found it hard to answer this question which had unclear intentions. Ikuta paid them no mind and continued:

「I think, it’s because the Emperor lives in the palace. If he keep staying in a place that had become the nest of corrupted nobles, even the noblest of man will fall in no time. However, if we think of it from another perspective, that means there won’t be any problems if he didn’t live in such an environment.」

「… W-What do you mean?」

「Simply put, I propose shifting the restricted residence to the central military base.」

The youth announced something so disrespectful with a cheerful voice. General Remeon aside, even the fiery haired general twitched his brows.

「The Igsem faction and Remeon faction will each provide half of his guards. He will be separated from the corrupt nobles, and with the Igsem faction keeping watch, the Emperor won’t end up as a puppet of a military government. We can revert back to the times before the privatization of the military, there won’t be any need for a major upheaval of the government body. This is the compromise agreeable to the gsem faction and the Remeon faction.」

「H-How is this different from establishing a military government with the support of the Emperor?」

「It’s vastly different. This is just strengthening the security around the Emperor as public order deteriorates during times of war, and not going beyond the military’s duty. We are just inviting the Emperor to govern from the new facilities inside the military base.」

「Aside from the restricted residence, the Banhataal palace have all the facilities needed for governance. There are also buildings with deep relations to the military, such as the Deep Green Hall and White Saint Hall… How should we make up for these when His Majesty governs from the base?」

「We can take care of them one at a time when they are needed. How many times does the Emperor hold an audience with others? Other than that sly fox, you don’t get that many chances to meet him, right? Frankly speaking, you just need to prepare a bedroom and doctors in the base. The minor nobles not involved with corruption can form the new cabinet, they are the ones who do the actual work in the first place. His Majesty is in no state to administrate anyway.」

「Watch your tongue…! Even with this plan, it will be extremely disrespectful for us to decide to shift His Majesty’s residence.」

「That’s true. So the quickest way is to get his consent. If you want to convince His Majesty, don’t you think now is a good chance, since all the naggy nobles are keeping quiet?」

Ikuta grinned from ear to ear. The two generals finally saw a path forward.

「Due to security concerns, we humbly request His Majesty to move his restricted residence to the base── this proposal is befitting for a soldier, since His Majesty’s safety is our top priority. If the Emperor agrees to this, then the plan can proceed smoothly.」

「It is possible in theory… But will His Majesty accede to this…?」

「The sly fox will never agree. But there is a chance we can convince His Majesty with time. If His Majesty is too frail to listen, then we can conclude that he is in no state to fulfil his duties as the Emperor. We should then summon the priests to complete the troublesome procedures of making the First Prince the Regent. This should have been done a long time ago.」

Ikuta state his views fluently, and looked at the two people before him:

「Well then, the most important thing right now── who has the Emperor right now, and how is he being protected? How is the state of his health?」

The moment he tossed out this question, the air froze. Field Marshal Igsem and General Remeon looked at each other, watching for any minute reaction. Their actions told the dark haired youth what the chilling answer was.

「… Huh…? No, wait… hold up. Could it be… neither of you found the Emperor…?」

Neither general answered. Unexpectedly, the youth was the one breaking out in cold sweat.

In this situation, hiding the Emperor was meaningless. In order to display their superiority, they should make full use of their bargaining chips. It was clear that neither of them had this chip in their hands.

「… The First Prince is under our protection.」

After a heavy silence, General Remeon said with a bitter face. For him, just showing this card was the limit of his advantage. He chose to share this information because he realized that the situation wasn’t under the control of everyone present here.

「… I see…」

He wasn’t showing it on his face, but Ikuta was flustered. He realized that he was facing a very troublesome situation.

Considering his health recently, the Emperor couldn’t have escaped by himself. That means, right now── someone not from the Igsem or Remeon factions had abducted the person with the highest authority in this country.

「… If I can say that I did it, that will be the fastest way to settle this issue.」

Ikuta made a joke to escape reality, then sighed softly. He did so to clear his panic, and thought about the next step:

「I’m sorry, but let’s table our earlier discussion. Even if we come to a consensus, we can’t execute the plan if the Emperor is missing… To be honest, I even thought of a plan in the event of the Emperor’s death, but I didn’t expect him to go missing like this.」

The youth grumbled as he scratched his head… And contrary to the complicated words he said, the three of them understood the situation in a very simple way.

And that was── whoever secures the Emperor would have the initiative in this mess.

「So we will be starting from this point… Regrettably, my preferred method of talking instead of acting won’t be able to solve everything.」

After processing everything he knew about the situation and looking at the big picture, a chill ran down Ikuta’s spine.

The missing Emperor and the three factions striving for supremacy. This had gone from confusing to being an outright comedy. The youth was the one who interjected into this situation in the hope of keeping this stalemate, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all the scheme of someone else. A malicious and sadistic will of someone manipulating the forces from the dark.

「…… sigh, let’s start by exchanging information. Why don’t we share everything we know about the Emperor before and after the coup?」


「You are free to lie or hide anything, but the worst thing we all fear would be the Emperor remaining missing as time is wasted. I think we should be generous with our information.」

With that warning as the opening line, the three of them started probing each other in a suffocatingly tense atmosphere.

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