The mining town was on fire.
It was Alexis Knights by the order of Leonard himself who set the town on fire.
The report said 30,000 Line town’s people died.
It took half a day to prepare everything and right now it was late at night.
All of the people of Line town had left their homes. If they move all at once, it would draw suspicion, thus they leave in a small group. Alan and Eidonia’s soldiers took the role to escort them.
In short, it was the same as usual. Just like when they subdue the bandits, taking the individual people’s extenuating circumstances into consideration, Leonard would give them leniency. But if he just spared their life, the other lords might start saying ‘let punish them all for their crimes.’ That was why he had always reported falsely and said that he had killed everyone.
But the impression between ‘Killed all the bandits’, and ‘They might’ve started a rebellion, but to kill all 30,000 people including women and children’ was completely different.
Leonard looked up at the burning town from the foot of the mountain.
Shera was next to him and the knights were resting some distance away.
“I’m sorry…” Leonard said that words toward Shera.
“I couldn’t play the role of a Hero you want me to be…”
“Ah…” Shera responded with a smile as if it was nothing. “For me, the sound of serving the Demon King is kind of cool, you know?”
Whether that was a joke or her consideration, Leonard could not tell.
Leonard then opened his mouth with a serious expression.
“If I face the same situation in the future, I will make the same decision, you know?”
“The next, next one too?”
“As many times…”
“That’s fantastic is it not?”
Due to Shera unexpected words, Leonard instinctively stares at her who continued to smile.
“Those who love gossips would definitely say something like this… -Look at that, he is indeed a bloodsucking prince, Nosferatu, after all…- As if they understand the Demon’s mind. For me, it would be indeed a headache-inducing situation. However, those who were being saved would be grateful toward Leo-sama. That’s why, the next time Leo-sama do it again, they would also feel grateful toward Leo-sama. If you then repeat to do that again, and again, and again… At the end of the line, this country would be full of people who feel gratitude toward Leo-sama. And I think, that is wonderful.”
Leonard couldn’t help but feel fascinated by her innocent smile.
“After all, we’re aiming for legendary Hero folklore where the Hero regains people’s heart. And I believe Leo-sama is really got the hang of it. -”
*There, There* She pokes his cheek innocently.
“You’re really positive thinking huh?” Or one could say, she was a tough person. Despite having a delicate body.
“That is my redeeming feature after all…”
“No wonder my aunt lay her eyes on you… -”
There were many people who were just smart. Rozalia would’ve known that. But Shera was not only had wisdom in her. Because her ability to always look forward and the will to never give up, there would be no place for her to fall.
If one look at her smiles under the starry skies, listen to her voice and being close to her, one would be able to believe that the future would always be bright. That was her character.
“As I said, there are many other amazing people out there!”
The person herself seemed not accustomed to being praised, her face turned bright red. To hide her embarrassment, she hit Leonard left arm.
“You’re hitting the wound, stop it…”
Shera stopped hitting and started to kiss Leonard’s left arm instead.
Leonard could feel her soft lips from the kiss.
“Does the pain goes away?”
Leonard had no choice but to assent. –
And then at that moment, there was an awkward voice from behind.
“Ah–… I’m sorry for disturbing your flirting time but…”
The person was Tiki. Contrary to her apologetic voices, her eyes were like a cat that found its prey.
Next, to her, there was Garai who looked embarrassed while looking at Leonard and Shera.
“I-I’m not flirting, you know?”
Why did Shera look so happy about that?!
Leonard questioned inside his mind. *Cough* After he cleared his throat, Leonard asked the two people what they needed.
Garai and Tiki’s expression then turned serious.
“I’d like to hear more about the plan you told us during the daytime… Your Highness.”
“Emm, I heard that time that your highness and the others had something to do, right? Your dearest wish, was it?”
“I don’t mind telling you but… Are you interested in it?”
“Rather than interested…” Garai stopped talking…
Garai and Tiki then looked at each other, both of them were wondering from where to start the topic, after a while, they both then decided.
“I want to return the favor to your highness.”
“Let us help your highness out!”
“We did it!” Shera raised her right fist up to the air.
But, after noticed Garai and Tiki surprised look, she immediately pulled her fist down.
“W-Well, i-it’s nothing, see? O-Oho… Ohohoho.”
She uses her right arm to cover her laugh, trying to cover her mistake.
She then winked at Leonard and spoke with a low voice, “We’ve gained a considerable strength eh?”
Leonard, instead of answering her, he requested a right handshake.
His left hand had suffered arrow wound by Garai.
He requested handshake showed how he respected Garai’s ability and welcomed him.
That memorable day was the last day of the fifth month of the year.
(I’m on my way to return, aunt…)
Leonard, as his heart filled with thousand of emotions, he once again stepped his foot on the land of Alexis.
Nostalgic forestry view entered his vision.
Fresh air entered his lungs.
He then comes down from Zanzas and walked with his own feet.
In front of his eyes, he could see a village buried deep inside the forest.
Although it was completely hidden from the public eyes, the village was surprisingly lively when they stepped inside. Vibrant. Smile.
He could see men plowing the field.
The smokes from warm cooking rise up into the sky.
From the distance, he could hear people shouting, as they did a military drill.
“They did great, having such achievement in just two years…”
Leonard could not help but to praise them.
“Well, of course, everyone did their best after all…”
Frank, an obese knight, who showed Leonard around the village, replied with a smile on his face.
“If they didn’t do their best, then they won’t be able to live~…”
Next, to such a knight, his lady attendant, a lovely lady with a large body, Frau, gazed into the distance.
“If there’s appropriate compensation, Human would always manage to do their best…”
“That is why they have such energy~…”
Frank and Frau had a bright voice.
They were brother and sister who once served Rozalia, and now, they had the job of overseeing the village as the leaders.
No, the village was not just this one alone.
On the map, this area, close to the Karatz border, the part where it was covered by Enzu forest. In there, hidden villages were scattered.
Leonard gazed at the village entrance in front of him.
About 500 people were lined up.
Everyone was smiling, looking at their future in the villages in front of them.
They were Garai and Line’s people, not including Shera and the Alexis Knights.
Why they were there, the story was dated back to the ninth day of the fifth month. After he successfully regained the silver mine, Leonard returned to the imperial palace.
He had used a fast horses network to make an immediate report.
When he arrived, not much courtier there. There were only around 30 officials attended, compared to 100 people before.
The Prime Minister, Duke Morren, who ordered the recapture didn’t even appear, even General Glenkeith didn’t attend either.
The other 30 officials who attended looked at Leonard with tense expressions.
In their eyes, fear could be seen.
They had believed the false report that Leonard had burned Line town’s entire citizen, including women and children, just because they didn’t stop resisting.
Duke Morren and the others who didn’t attend must’ve been scared to face a young man who had performed such atrocity.
For Leonard, he didn’t have anything to do with them.
“Eight Prince, Leonard. We’ve fulfilled the imperial command, and returned.”
When he kneeled toward the emperor on the throne, he greets the emperor with a casual attitude.
“It is good that you’ve returned safely.” The emperor nodded slightly as if his neck was heavy.
It was quiet during his audience. That was because Leonard didn’t speak a word while kneeling down, he didn’t promote his military success just like how the others did.
The courtiers were looking at Leonard with scared eyes as if they were looking at a wild animal.
Such suffocating silence ruled the audience hall, after a while, the emperor opened his mouth as if feeling it tired.
“I have to give you a reward… Leonard, what is your wish?”
“First, I would like an appropriate reward for the knights and the soldiers…”
“That is of course. But, what do you want for yourself?”
“Territory,” Leonard responded immediately.
That was an indispensable thing he needs if he wants to regain Alexis.
“… Are you sure with that?” However, the emperor was surprised and asked back.
The courtiers were also the same, and soon, noise filled the hall.
For them, it was not natural either. After all, if Leonard wishes for that, it was the same as previous 200 Claude’s royal family members who left the position as royals and becomes nobles… It means, that the descendant of the emperor would become retainer. And whether Leonard understands that or not, even his detestable father looked worried.
“It can’t be, your highness” One of the courtiers stared at him with tension. “Are you saying you wish for the silver mine Line?”
“I didn’t say that.”
Leonard immediately denies it.
“… Then let us look up other suitable lands under the royal family direct control.”
“I also didn’t want that one, your majesty.”
“… Fumu. Then which do you want?”
As soon as Leonard requested without hesitation, the courtiers could no longer stay silent.
Their face was as if saying ‘How much this prince stupidity goes, I wonder?’. – It could not be helped for them to think like that, after all, it was a territory that Admov had taken.
Hearing that, the Emperor think deeply…
“… I don’t mind with that but… You’re not going to regret this right, Leonard?”
“Yes. I swear.”
“… Fine, I understand. Then, from now on, you will be marquis Alexis.”
Leonard bowed his head.
There was no objection from the courtiers. In their eyes, unwelcomed crossbreed becomes a vassal and what he wants as a territory was a territory that the enemy had.
Leonard didn’t have any other purpose to stay in the palace and was about to excuse himself but…
“… Please remember.” The Emperor said… “No matter what happens to you, you are still my children. Leonard.”
Leonard left without answering.
(What is he saying?), he looked unfazed.