The Rusworth Kingdom.
It was crowned by the name of monarchy, but as with Lorphys, the king was absent. If there was was to be a difference, it had no proxy, nor was the seat left vacant. The queen was given full rule.
Up to now, there had been a king, but in this generation alone, a queen had been enthroned.
We returned from Galleria to Lorphys, and from there, we were held up by the process to enter Rusworth.
But after paying the initial passage toll, there weren’t any divided territories beyond, so there wasn’t a tax.
They just took a large sum when you entered and left.
Jumping down from Porter’s roof, I borrowed a spot at the village we’d stopped by, and camped the night.
The roads were mostly standardized and uniform, and I couldn’t feel the individual colors of lords as I had in Galleria. In the first place, Rusworth only had a king, and the imperial peerage of its nobility, it seems.
There were governors dispatched across the lands, and that must be why it felt so uniform.
But the atmosphere of the village we arrived at was questionable.
The first village was passed through was terrible. They had been living terribly poor lifestyles.
But as we closed in on the countries center, it looked as if the villages and towns were gaining energy in accordance.
The village we stayed the night at was one with a dubious air.
The merchants gave many thanks to the governor who permitted our stay, before he returned to his mansion in good spirits.
Around the governor, the villagers gathered.
“Oh governor, can’t you do anything about it? Many of our youths were wounded in the last war. We’re not in a state we can dispatch the requested ten.”
When the chief-looking man said that, the governor looked uninterested.
“And what of it? Rules are rules. If you’re unable, then you’ll have to pay the exemption fee.”
The land he managed was, at the end of the day, a temporary charge.
Ignoring the complaints of the people, he returned to his estate.
Parking the large-scale Porter at its designated point, Clara came over to me.
“Lyle-san, please move Porter as well.”
“Eh? Yeah, got it.”
She was tilting her head, so I spoke of the exchange of the governor and chief. Upon hearing it, Clara…
“Rusworth is a country managed by its royalty. Spin it positively, and it’s monolithic, but perhaps their rule isn’t attentive enough.”
Dispatching governors to various regions and having the royalty manage it all was the way of the land. Because of that, you could say they had unification.
But seeing that unification firsthand, it looked problematic.
From the Jewel, the Seventh.
『… That governor is none too enthusiastic about his job. If that’s the norm, there are sure to be problems.』
The Fourth looked at Rusworth’s state of affairs.
『More than that, is it just my imagination, or is it getting more plentiful as we close in on the center? The air is quite dicey.』
With different ways of rule, the problems that came out would be different. But it was an atmosphere different from Bahnseim.
“Different countries have different circumstance, I guess. No, I knew that, but…”
Clara agreed with my opinion. She held up her staff, and as the surroundings had grown dark, she used magic to light them up.
“Well, understanding from reading it in a book, and experiencing it are different. It seems the entire area’s been standardized, so we should be able to move smoother than in Galleria, though.”
It’s true that if you wanted to move around, Rusworth had exceptionally better conditions.
Looking around, I found the villagers of dubious air looking at Porter with wonder.
There, the Third offered me a proposal.
『Lyle, try gathering information here. Why not let Eva unravel her songs a bit? It seems that governor is still quite close, after all.』
I also thought it was a good idea, so I called Eva over.
“… High minister?”
Night. Within the tent, I verified the information Eva had brought in.
Novem and Aria were also inside, listening to her words. But Aria looked quite sleepy.
Eva recited the info she drew out of the villagers with pride.
“Right! The position of high minister came to be over ten years ago, by the sound of things. Up to then, the king was the one handing down all the political decisions, though.”
Hearing that, the Fifth spoke from the Jewel.
『No, isn’t that normal? Even if there’s a minister, in the end, the decisions come from above them… was he granted a level of authority then?』
Novem listened to Eva’s story.
“The information we got in Beim before was mainly about the two maidens of war. We didn’t look into their personal relations too much.”
I found it a little regrettable.
“If I knew there were convoys guard requests earlier, I would have left it to Rauno-san. But right now, he’s looking into what’s beyond Fortress Redant.”
Perhaps not wanting the conversation to derail, Aria requested a continuation from Eva. She was sitting in a chair, trying hard to keep from nodding off.
“More importantly, what’s this about that high minister?”
Watching a sleepy Aria, Eva let out a sigh.
“And I’m saying the current high minister is holding up the political side, while Rusworth’s queen is the pillar of the military face. In Galleria, that Gracia-san’s doing it all, but in Rusworth, it’s being held up by two.”
That sort of title must have quite a reason behind it. But the Fourth displayed a conflicted response.
『… High minister, huh?』
Milleia-san questioned his question.
『Something about it strike you as off?』
The Fourth didn’t give a clear response, but he seemed to think the situation of both countries was far from favorable.
『That Gracia girl was the same, but the one who she fights, Eliza, was it? Rusworth’s queen may be reliable on the battlefield. But looking at the country’s internal affairs, I can’t seem to calm down.』
Their military might was still uncertain, but it does seem something was bothering the Fourth.
(But I do think both political and military affairs are only complete when held together.)
I couldn’t help but be suspicious there was something going on in Rusworth as well.
After that, we managed to travel to Rusworth’s center relatively smoothly.
The fact a fortress city was at its heart was the same as Galleria, but speaking to scale, while I couldn’t say Rusworth’s was twice as large, it was considerably big.
But I had realized the problem point Rusworth carried. No, perhaps it’s best to say I was made to realize it.
On the way to the capital, the wealth had entered my eyes.
And the closer you got to the central citadel city, the more abundant the villages and towns grew.
“You’re in time. With this, we’ll be able to make it in time for the next war.”
The middle-aged man with long, white, drill-rolled hair said that as he watched us arrive. The man was 【Redl Haldoir】… Rusworth’s high minister. This minister… the truth is, the closer you got to the city, the higher his reputation was.
This pointed to the fact that rule was centered around the minister himself.
Next to the man, a woman looked over the luggage loaded off of the large-scale Porter.
The second maiden of war.
【Elza Rusworth】. She watched the work go on from close by. No, I get the feeling she was inspecting it.
She wasn’t silent, but she had quite a quiet impression. The somewhat cold feeling I got from here must have been because of her mannerisms.
“Oy, you over there.”
The one she called out to was Novem. Novem came over to her, and was about to introduce herselve, but Elza-san deemed it unnecessary.
She lightly lifted up her light blue hair, the sharp look in her violet eyes giving a cool-headed sense. Despite her eyes being the same violet as Gracia-sans, the feel they gave off was different. And of course, Novem’s eyes were different as well.
“What could it be?”
“… You went to Galleria first, right? How was it, that witch’s state?”
Elza-san wore the clothes of a knight on her body, and once again, that point was the same as Gracia-san. But why did she give off a different impression from Gracia-san’s militaristic aura, I wonder?
Novem gave a troubled smile.
“We were merely guards, so we did not hold a conversation.”
Hearing that, Elza-san scoffed.
“I see. I wanted to hear of how she trembled as war approached. But no matter.”
Her silver staff was almost a mace. Holding it in one hand, and leaning it on her shoulder, she looked at the cargo, and spoke.
“The package from Beim made it in time. With this, we can fight without reserve. Next time, I’ll surely stop her breath.”
Her laugh and smile all gave off a needlessly cold something.
The minister lowered his head.
“Leave the government to me. Until you return, I, Redl, shall properly manage it all.”
I didn’t miss that fact that her response to the high minister’s words were just a moment late.
(What is it?)
“… I expect great things from you, high minister. It’s a goddessend that you’re here. Now then, I’ll return to the castle, and prepare myself. I leave handling the merchants to you.”
With the minister’s reply, Elza-san took her comrades along, and disappeared into the castle.
Once her figure had disappeared, the minister’s atmosphere inflated a little.
“Quit dawdling. We’re in a hurry here!”
The merchant representative, hearing that, hastened the ones carrying out their work. And the nobles gathered at the minister’s feet.
“High minister, with this, we’ll somehow make it for the war.”
“Yes, my thoughts exactly. Even so, showing a good face to both we and Galleria, Beim truly is untrustworthy.”
Yes, I agree with you word for word on that point, but that’s just how merchants are.
(And Beim’s merchants are merchants of death.)
For better or worse, Beim was a gathering of those sorts of merchants.
In the Jewel, it seems the Third noticed something.
『… Ye~ah, is he the one?』
The fourth sounded convinced.
『Quite right. A minister led astray.』
… Inside Rusworth’s castle.
After taking a shower, Elza lay on the bed in her single room.
“Hah, as I thoutht, Gracia-chan wouldn’t send a letter through the merchants. I was hoping just a little, though…”
Breathing out a sigh, she extended a hand to the crate in the room. In it was the present she had received before, along with a letter.
It contained a countermeasure for dry skin.
“I really want to thank her, but when I order these sorts of things, the high minister gets loud. Something about tax money being the blood of the people or something… look at a damn mirror already.”
While Elza was called the queen, she knew better than anyone that she was a convenient piece for the high minister.
From the start, within the royal line, she was known as nothing but strong. Even her family took their distance, and she spent most of her childhood in the remote reaches she’d been entrusted to.
The trouble in the capital was something she learned of only once everything was over. And of the royal line, they needed a king who’d serve as their puppet.
That was Elza.
“I must apologize by letter. And wait, it would be nice if I had something to give her… rather, I’d like some cuter clothes to wear.”
Almost all her garments were practical knight clothes for official dutites. She couldn’t wear the clothes of a king, and dresses were unfit for the position, so it came to knight clothing.
It was the high minister’s tastes, so he was satisfied, but Elza wasn’t the same.
She was suddenly brought to the capital, and made a queen. What’s more, if she didn’t do as the minister said, her life would be in danger.
The one who murdered the royalty who didn’t follow along was clearly the minister, after all.
She couldn’t quite sympathize with her blood relatives she’d never met, but she knew of the high minister’s unwholesome methods. She had even noticed how easy it would be to kill her.
“Hah, a war again… we’ve already done the arrangements, but honestly, I’m not on board.”
On top of the bed, she kicked her shapely bare feet up and down, holding her pillow. Despite her tall stature, it was cute enough.
After kicking for a while, she sighed, and stood.
… Guess I’ll prepare.“
She reluctantly reached a hand to the clothing prepared for her, took off what she had on, and began to change…
I saw an unbelievable sight.
Having separated from the convoy headed from Rusworth to Lorphys, I saw that sight riding May from the sky.
As a pale blue flame tried to swallow up the battlefield, a giant wall of ice formed to block it. The fragments of ice rained down into the ground, causing a cloud of dust to rise.
The impact sent people flying, but that was behind the two fighting, and those were soldiers trying their best to protect themselves.
On the battlefield, two women stepped out front, and continued a one-on-one duel.
The scene of their shockwaves injuring their own soldiers continued, and after a while, both parties backed down.
As I watched the scene from the sky, I…
“Those two are definitely not normal.”
And Milleia-san let her voice from the Jewel.
『… That’s a Rearguard Skill. Both of them have huge areas of effect that drag everyone in.』
The Fifth offered a line.
『If we got them into a siege, it wouldn’t be that hard to win, though. Well, as a fighting force, they’re plenty.』
The Third thought over it.
『All that’s left is how to lure them in.』
(… Eh? He plans to lure those ones in?)