Noon, 14th Day, 11th Month, the Year 2813.
A heavy atmosphere covered the audience room.
The color of tension appeared on the face of the guarding knights who had lined up on the left and right.
Such an attitude was natural.
Because the hero who had ended the civil war, and the ruler who tried to get rid of such a hero will face each other after a long time.
The guards, and the civil servants. And also the major nobles.
Everyone’s line of sight was looking at the kneeled man waiting for the Queen to enter the room.
“Long time no see Baron Mikoshiba. Raise your head.”
When Ryouma was still kneeling down in front of the throne, Lupis voice echoed from the top of his head.
Meltina who was standing on her side, looked at him with a sharp gaze.
This Meltina was the same as the one whom Ryouma had seen during their first meeting.
“Indeed it has been a long time. Your Majesty.”
As per Lupis order, Ryouma lifted his face, showing a gentle smile.
On his face, neither hatred, anger or disdain towards Lupis could be seen.
It was a perfectly aristocratic expression.
And a gentle smile that looks good.
Looking at him, the atmosphere inside the audience room relaxed.
Although it was not something made public, the upper part of the aristocracy understood the feud between Queen Lupis and Mikoshiba Ryouma.
They were worried that this talk would end up with an assassination attempt, but it unexpectedly began with a gentle start.
It was no surprise if they all ended up stroking their chest feeling relieved.
But in the next moment, their face became stiff once again, when Lupis spoke.
“I think the situation was written in Elena’s letter, but let me say it straight. I would like for you to participate in the reinforcement mission to help Zalda Kingdom, together with Elena.”
They all thought that the two would talk for a bit before beginning this kind of talk.
After all, this was kind of history in the making.
They all thought that the two would talk for a bit to amend their relationship and relax the atmosphere first, but Lupis seemed to think differently.
She chooses to be straightforward.
Perhaps it was not something favorable for the nobles who value formality, but on the other hand, it left a good impression in the eyes of Ryouma who did not like such pointless formality.
Ryouma answered with a firm voice and a gentle smile on his face, while everyone looking at the two’s exchange was left with a stiff expression.
“I will accept the order.”
A stir happened after everyone heard Ryouma’s reply.
Certainly, those who knew Mikoshiba Ryouma would not believe the sight in front of them.
His personality aside, it was only one year and a few months that had passed since he had been given Wortenia peninsula as his territory. An uncharted territory abandoned by the kingdom for many years. It was a territory with no citizen to pay taxes.
In a practical matter, after being given such a land, there was no way for him to store up the power to gather soldiers in such a short amount of time.
Naturally, most people present in the audience room thought that Ryouma would refuse Lupis order.
Only a handful of people who knew Mikoshiba Ryouma could think the other way around.
“However, I have several requests.”
Following Ryouma’s words, a stir happened once again.
(Well, I guess this is natural…)
Lupis quietly nodded, urging Ryouma to continue.
She was calm on the surface, but she had prepared herself in case he refuses her order.
Yet on the contrary, her order was being accepted plainly, but the man in front of her was not that naive.
He was a man possessing a wizened face with a gentle smile that looked good.
Although his physique was good, his overall look was kind of mediocre.
But, Lupis knows this all too well.
That the man in front of her eyes was actually a beast that could devour anything.
It was only over a year ago, when Gerhardt brought princess Ladine, the illegitimate child of the previous king.
And the knight order who was originally the shield and spear of the royal family, 80% of it was being controlled by General Hodram, were pitted against each others.
While she could only rely on Mikhail Banashu and Meltina Lecta who were her guards and aides since a long time ago.
Then at that time, the man appeared in a situation when even a hope of light could not be seen.
He was the man that in order to create a beachhead, had drowned thousands of enemy soldiers, and since afterwards, he was hailed as the ‘Demon of Irachion’
Brutal, cruel and cunning… A man who will take any means necessary to achieve his goals.
However, on the other hand, he was also a sincere man who respected Lupis.
At least he was a man that can be believed more than the fickle nobles.
(Yet despite all that, I betrayed this man…)
Indeed, on the surface, for the reward of his service during the civil war, he was given the Wortenia territory and also a noble rank.
However, Lupis herself knew that her act was actually out of fear towards the man in front of her.
There was neither hospitality nor kindness when the Kingdom gave him the frontier territory, the without-revenue Wortenia peninsula.
Such a thing was an open secret among the ruling class within the Rozeria Kingdom.
“Try to say it…”
Lupis said those words while preparing herself.
She had already made her decision.
That was why she was planning on taking full responsibility.
Lupis had decided to take any conditions for the sake of protecting her country.
No matter how painful the requested terms were, she planned to accept it.
Because there was no other way to protect the country.
That night, Ryouma received a visit from Elena inside the room assigned to him.
Sitting down on the sofa, the two gazed at each other.
“It was a quicker reunion than I thought…”
Elena looked at Ryouma’s face with a gentle smile on her face like a mother would.
“Indeed. I’m also feeling surprised by this situation.”
The lamp placed on top of the table illuminates Elena’s face.
(She looked a little bit thinner since the last time I saw her.)
While responding to Elena’s talk lightly, Ryouma eyes were directed toward Elena’s face.
When he saw her during the audience, he did not notice it because of the distance, but it seemed like she had been working hard; she looked tired.
“Did my advice end up being a waste?”
It was about the advice Ryouma told Elena before they parted ways over a year ago. <TLN: The advice that the kingdom would fall within 5 years, and that she should find a new life somewhere>
“Well, I can understand why you did that. I myself never thought the situation would deteriorate this much, to be honest… At first, I wasn’t sure how to say this to Elena-san…”
Ryouma told her his thoughts without hiding anything.
It was Ryouma who supported Elena in her current position, and in regards for giving the chance of performing pay-back revenge on Hodram and his family.
It was inevitable for her to take some kind of responsibility despite the ship called the Rozeria Kingdom had almost sunk.
Such thoughts appeared on the back of Ryouma’s mind.
“As expected… At that time, we should’ve executed Gerhardt.”
Ryouma shook his head towards Elena who uttered those words with a sigh.
“If I’m to look at the current situation, even if we abandoned Mikhail and executed Gerhardt at that time, it would not have made much difference.”
“You mean that she is unqualified as a ruler?”
Elena narrowed her eyes and looked at Ryouma’s face.
Those words can be regarded as slander towards the ruler.
“I won’t say that she’s disqualified, but it is true that she’s not suitable for the job. Well, if she were to have someone capable who can be trusted to hold the real power, and she comes to be a symbolic existence, then results would have differed considerably.”
Towards Ryouma’s answer Elena’s eyes lost its sharpness, and sadness begins to surface on her face.
That was what Elena felt.
“I guess you’re right… Certainly, that would be best for this country and her highness Lupis too. If only, someone like you supported her…”
It was a nonsense imagination.
Although he had helped during the civil war, Ryouma was not a citizen of the Rozeria Kingdom. There was strong opposition from the aristocrats and senior knights in this country to give him more pedigrees.
While they have their individual pride as nobles and knights, they all have a similar high-handed thought pattern when it comes to commoners.
Nevertheless, if he was a Rozeria citizen, they would have consented.
Even if they did so reluctantly.
However, Ryouma was different.
Not only was he not a citizen of Rozeria Kingdom, he was also a mercenary with a dubious background.
The reason why they accepted Ryouma as a noble with a baron rank, was because it had been done for the purpose of keeping the troublesome person away until it died, it was a story that no one was going to question loudly.
The Wortenia peninsula was also a special territory, that was why everyone accepted it to be given to him. Had it been a normal circumstance, such a thing would be impossible.
Being thrown into such territory, Mikoshiba Ryouma would not be able to engage in the country’s administration.
Of course, Elena was also a commoner, but in her case, she was given her current position because of the achievements she had gained over many years while also being the citizen of the country.
The nickname she had also spread to the surrounding countries and became some kind of national pride.
Her situation was far too different compared to Ryouma.
And the biggest reason was that Lupis herself pushed Ryouma away.
With all those conditions, Elena’s dream was a dream that could not exist.
But still, Elena felt regrettable.
Such words binded Elena’s heart.
“Well, let’s leave such story aside…”
Elena tightens her expression while she looked at Ryouma.
An assumption was no more than a hypothesis after all.
No matter how much she regrets it, the situation won’t change.
(Right now, there’s no other choice but to do what I can…)
Indeed, she was right, because right now, another nation had begun to bare its fangs towards the Rozeria Kingdom.