Lorphys’ royal castle had a sturdy make.
The town around it was organized for efficiency. If you want to put it another way, it gave off quite a simple impression.
And within that simple castle, the audience hall alone was extravagant. It’s just, it looked to be that a number of ornaments were forcibly adorned.
The red carpet spread out, and at the room’s highest point sat the princess in a large chair. Beside her sat her engagement partner, the prince of Selva.
Princess 【Annerinne Lorphys】 had her hair in a half up. But her long hair was her pride. It was tied at the end, and when she sat, she would drape it over her shoulder.
Her violet hair began to turn pale around a third from the tip.
A white dress, and perhaps for the sole purpose of resting her hair on, a red mantle was hung around her shoulders.
Her skin was pale, and had a kind-looking expression. Her slightly-drooping eyes contained green pupils.
But her face looked a little troubled.
She took some fleeting glances at the reactions of her fiancé beside her… 【Dario Selva】. Perhaps her smiling fiancé wasn’t quite amused, as his smile was stiff.
His white hair, and comfortable white clothing made his tan skin look overly prominent. His red eyes were looking at us.
Beside the royal princess… a few steps down, sitting in the closest position to the couple, Prime Minister 【Lonbolt】 cleared his throat, and proceeded the conversation.
“Well then, your request is to be left independent. Is that correct?”
Former High Priest Gastone-san denied it. The heads of both men looked oh-so lonely, so perhaps a sort of sympathy had been built. Lonbolt-san’s tone of voice was a kind one.
(Lonbolt-san looks like he has his troubles.)
While he didn’t have hair on his head, his eyes were sharp. His body was slim enough to make people watching him feel worried. That was Lonbolt-san.
“No. Not our own independence, we wish to retake our country. The reason we have opened this meeting in Lorphys is only to proclaim we will not be launching any attacks on your side.”
Around were nobles and knights, enough to make the audience hall feel narrow.
From the Jewel, I heard a rude voice.
It was the Seventh.
『… It’s shabbier than my mansion.』
The Third spoke.
『Well, even when compared to what the Fourth had at his time, they have less land. There’s no helping it.』
Confirming the faces around, the Fifth.
『They’re too small in scale, and they can’t gather troops… if they don’t have the numbers, they have to raise the quality. I see, they do seem to be putting some effort into it, but… why does only this room feel so strange? The others are nice and simple.』
The Fourth spoke.
『It’s kinda in bad taste. Even from my point of view, it’s in bad taste.』
The Sixth seemed to be looking at Dario.
『… Could it be that prince called Dario’s preferences? Around his arms and neck, he does have an excessive amount of ornaments. Even when he doesn’t seem to be an upstart or anything.』
Selva was a country with a considerable amount of history. They weren’t new upstarts, but I couldn’t say they had particularly good taste either.
(Is that their national character? In that case, it’s been arranged to match Selva.)
Lonbolt-san addressed Gastone-san.
“I see; so you’re aiming to retake. And for that sake, you seek our assistance.”
The one to speak out there was Thelma-san.
“No, we will move of our own accord. Let’s see. After reclamation, there will surely be times we’ll seek out your assistance.”
Aura-san stayed quiet. Both she and Thelma-san were wearing the dresses Monica had prepared, and the eyes of the surrounding men gathered on them.
Dario whispered something quietly to princess Annerinne.
After observing that action, I looked around. I didn’t let slide that Alette-san and the other knights were making some unpleasant faces.
And royal princess Annerinne opened her mouth.
“But I’m sure moving individually will prove difficult. What say you to taking up a stay in Lorphys? I think there’s a share of things we can do for your cause.”
“No, the sentiment alone is enough. While Zayin is bringing so much trouble to Lorphys, we know full well how much we’ll be afforded.”
What we wished for here was an agreement not to lay hands on one another. And my personal goal was to see the princess.
Beside me, Novem was expressionlessly looking at the princess. Now wasn’t the time to smile, but she was making quite a serious face… rather than that, it felt as if she were ascertaining something.
On my other side stood Miranda.
Miranda was sending her eyes at Dario.
Princess Annerinne was…
“If you come under our side, I’m sure negotiations will become possible. We’ve finished preparations to hand over our mithril. Won’t you lend us your strength in evading this war?”
In regards to that persuasion, Thelma-san.
“I appreciate the proposal. But this war has already passed the point of evasion. Armies of both sides are already gathering on the border. It seems small fights have already broken out. And Zayin won’t back down until the result they seek is before their eyes.”
Zayin didn’t want mithril from the start. What they wanted was a pretext to attack. It’s only that mithril had come out at around the right time.
When Thelma-san was about to persuade Princess Annerinne back, her fiancé Dario made a move. He stood, and clapped his hands.
After all eyes gathered on him, he opened his mouth.
“No, this is truly wonderful. A Holy Maiden making a stand for her homeland… no, former Holy Maiden, was it? I do find it beautiful. But instead of looking only at yourselves, I wish for you to look at Lorphys’ current state of affairs. Not to be mean, but you are the ones who have caused its current strife. Isn’t it only reasonable that you lend your assistance?”
It was a sound opinion, but I knew.
Selva was moving in the backstage, and they were steadily making preparations.
Putting together the information gathered by information dealer Rauno-san, and the conclusion he reached… hearing his hypothesis, there were a few places I could nod to.
(Selva is in a hurry.)
The reason for their hurry was that they neighbored the two maidens of the great war… the country shared a border with both of those women of war.
To oppose them, national power was a necessity, and they also needed cooperation with other countries. Rauno-san hypothesized that it wasn’t Lorphys, but Zayin that was aiding them.
(Well, I can’t really say where their real objective lies, but whether it be whittling down, or snatching, there’s no doubt that a tasty outcome awaits for Zayin and Selva.)
And this time, Lorphys’ position was that of the prey.
Aura-san opened her mouth. She seemed to have had enough of the atmosphere here.
“… We are saying we will resolve the problem on our own. And our proposal is just as you’ve heard. Wouldn’t that be most beneficial to your side?”
It was a rise to action in the parts of Zayin’s territory that had once belonged to Lorphys. So far, we had captured a declining fortress, and we were going to direct ourselves as an independent power from there.
It was a pain, so I didn’t really want to do it, but if we weren’t going to stick onto Lorphys’ side, there was no choice but to choose a route like that.
I mean, the current Lorphys was close to moving by every word of fiancé Dario. It was moving to Selva’s will even more blatantly.
(If we went and joined this side, we’ll either be confined to the reserves, of assassinated… what a pain.)
One of the lined up nobles raised their voice.
“Your highness. If they make a stand in the remote regions, Zayin will have no choice but to direct some of their troops there. Meaning it will cut down their deployment on the front lines. Wouldn’t it be best to accept this talk?”
The other nobles as well.
“Right now, chipping away at the enemy forces is vital. From Zayin’s perspective, there’s no way they could overlook the stand of these former Holy Maidens. More so, I think it fine if we offer them a bit of backing ourselves. Goods, as well as soldiers and funds. The more they have, the better for us.”
He said to support us, but he was seeing us as a diversion for the enemy. The right decision if he wanted to protect his homeland.
There, Princess Annerinne.
“Even before war has begun, you already think of fighting… it is the government’s role to search for ways to avert it no matter what.”
(She’s got a point there. But the mistake she’s making is…)
The Sixth put my thoughts to words.
『… Naïve. It isn’t before war has begun. It’s long since started. Perhaps this girl would’ve become a fine queen if she didn’t put out her mouth in times of peace.』
The Third too.
『Her appearance is nice; just right for a decoration. Well, the problem is how she’s blind to love, perhaps?』
Right, perhaps she had fallen for Selva’s prince, but she was at his every whim.
The horrible part of it was how she took Dario’s words over her own vassals. Various internal problems had broken out, and Lorphys’ domestic affairs were a mess.
(She’ll immediately change her stance on her fiancé’s input, so we can’t really trust her.)
The reason the ancestors proclaimed Princess Annerinne as terrible, was because we had found such information. Her words held no credibility. That’s why we couldn’t trust them.
There were too many insecure factors to be had with her as our ally. So we took some distance.
Alette-san offered her opinion to princess Annerinne.
“Your highness, it wouldn’t be strange if Zayin moved at any moment now. Averting it is already impossible. I beg of you, for the sake of both causes, use this meeting to…
And once again, an opinion was cut off.
Dario pointed at me.
“You were permitted to stand in this hall because you were to be the next vice-captain of the knights, but it seems you were not of such caliber. Negotiations are to be had until we can attain the greatest possible outcome for the people. And do you have knotholes for eyes? A mere adventurer… what’s more, a nameless adventurer, and part-time knight captain? Do you seriously believe one who has never commanded soldiers can bring down a fortress? Then let us say it as we stand… you are incompetent.”
Hearing those words, the Third shook with laughter.
『T-truly. Lyle… hasn’t experienced a real war yet. That one isn’t a mistake.』
I was of the same opinion.
And I saw the knights and nobles in the audience hall holding back their anger. Even so, Dario continued to speak.
“From what I’ve heard, you’ve gathered no more than a hundred adventurers. Will you even reach that fortress of yours?”
Alette-san followed through tor me.
“… Even in Beim, Lyle-dono is an excellent adventurer. I shall guarantee it. I believe he has outstanding future prospects.”
“How far off the mark can you be? This is why Lorphys’ knight brigade is no good. Knights pretending to be adventurers, and laboring themselves over…”
To Dario’s side, Princess Annerinne spoke.
“I deeply apologize, Dario-sama. But Alette made that statement with the country’s well-being on her mind. Please permit it.”
『Well, she’s young. Around the same as Lyle? Love errs her judgement. It’s a fatal flaw at this point in time, mind you.』
Within the hall, the surrounding nobles and knights began to realize where they stood with Dario. We were being completely left behind.
I held back on giving a bitter smile, and sought permission for my next statement.
“Beg pardon. Is it alright if I have a say?”
When it quieted down, Lonbolt-san looked at me, and permitted it.
“… We are the ones who should be apologizing. Please go ahead.”
Not to Dario, I spoke whilst looking at Princess Annerinne.
“Well then, as long as we’re able to get a fortress in our hands, would the problem cease to be?”
Perhaps irritated at being ignored, Dario stuck his mouth in from the side.
“You’ll take one down? One ignorant of war sure knowns how to flap his mouth.”
Dario was in his mid-twenties. But as far as I’d researched, there were no records of him stepping onto a battlefield. I looked at Princess Annerinne, and tried again.
“Well then, about the fortress… If we get out hands on Fort Noinyl, will all problems between us be resolved?”
Well it really wouldn’t resolve anything.
But still irritated, thinking we couldn’t do it, Dario spoke.
“Just try it. Lose and come back if you will, but please make sure you don’t get that Holy Maiden of yours stolen while you’re at it!”
The Fifth let out his voice.
『It’s because it’s more convenient for him if we’re out of the picture. More so, maybe it’s best for him if we were crushed and disappeared altogether.』
And the princess as well.
“Yes. If you can accomplish it, we will feel more secure with leaving the Holy Maiden in your hands.”
(Already treating her as the Holy Maiden. What’s more, acting as if they’re of higher position? It’s not like we’re relying on them… but it’s convenient to say the least.)
When I bowed, I felt a reaction from my Skills.
There was a presence hurriedly approaching the audience chamber.
The Third called over to me. I felt some mischief in his voice.
『Lyle, how about you…』
Hearing him, I mused over how embarrassing it’d be if I failed, as I made a grand gesture.
“Very well. Then I, Lyle Walt, shall take control of a fortress. What, it’s a simple matter. Let’s see… yes, and that’s the end of it.”
When I snapped my fingers, some ridiculing eyes fell on me. Princess Annerinne was taken aback. Looking at me, Dario.
“Have you lost it?”
Said that, with an indecent smile on his face. Novem beside me opened her mouth.
“Lyle-sama, you’re joking too much.”
And Miranda as well.
“It would be better if he was always like that.”
They were both mildly amazed. But neither of them looked down on me.
And the hall’s door burst open with some momentum.
The one who opened it was a knight who looked to be a messenger. Perhaps he had rushed here, as he was out of breath. After taking a single deep breath, he spoke.
“M-message in! Fort Noinyl has been…”
The surrounding reactions were quite interesting. Eyes opened wide, quite a few were looking between my face, and the messenger’s.
Inside my head, I…
(Thank god I was right… I was saved the embarrassment.)
I was overcome with relief.
“… Fort Noinyl has been taken by a group calling themselves the Holy Knights!”
Within the ensuing uproar, I spoke to the princess.
“Glad to have resolved our matter. We will be heading to the fortress. Don’t worry, we’ll draw the enemy away for you. It should prove at least mildly to Lorphys’ advantage. Ah, and we don’t need any reinforcements. I’m sure you have it rough as it is. This chance we’ve created for you… please put it to good use.”
When I gathered up all our members to leave the chamber, a voice called out to me from behind. It was Dario.
“W-wait! Do you understand what it is you’ve just done!? With this, Lorphys and Zayin have lost all chances of avoiding this war! This is all your responsibility!”
From the Jewel, I heard the voice of a Third enjoying himself.
『Lyle’s fault? Ahahaha! No, no… this is your problem with Zayin, and you just happened to make it a tad easier to take a stand, so he did it. And he gave you prior notice, so doesn’t that make him the upright one? How cruel. Even with prior notice.』
(Prior notice, is it? Well, I did tell him before the information got here, but how ill-natured.)
The Third seemed to be having fun, knowing it would come to this. He really was a schemer.
I knew I had prepared enough forces to take it down. But I never thought the messenger would come in at that very moment.
I turned, and gave my response.
“Oh, you’re putting the blame on me? But how troubling… you see, I have no right or obligation to Lorphys. I question whether there’s a need for me to take responsibility. Well then, it will be getting busy from here on, so I shall be taking my leave.”
As I left the hall, I saw Alette-san stick up her thumb in a position that Dario couldn’t see.
She was considerably delighted.
But it really would be getting busy.
“Now then, on to the next move.”
I hurriedly moved onto the next move.