Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi Chapter 394
――The Next Day. Throne Room.
「Do it, Hardlett.」
The king gives the signal for me to put my hands on the wall of Rosario’s mobile room ―― or the mobile prison as it is called.
When I transfer force into my arm and push my feet firmly into the ground, the metal wall bends with a grating sound until passing its load limit and falling inward with a loud crash.
Oohs and ahhs echo from around me.
「He can topple a steel wall with his bare hands?」
「That’s impossible for a human. Only Lord Hardlett can do it.」
「Next is this one……」
I grab a thick metal pillar next and pull as hard as I can.
The pillar was jammed deeply into the floor and wouldn’t budge from a bit of jiggling.
But I feel the king and the others staring at my back, so I wouldn’t look very cool if I stopped here.
Furthermore, Rebecca and the female servants of the palace are watching.
If I show them how much of a man I am, the chances of making them mine will increase.
I motivate myself to use more strength until the center of the pillar breaks off, which removes the support for the similarly metal ceiling and ultimately causes it to start crumbling on its own.
The ceiling, walls, floor, and pillars of the room were all metal, setting it apart from the wood and stone of the throne room, and everything collapsed with a jarring cacophony of clinks and clanks.
Rosario’s mobile room was turned into a pile of scrap in an instant.
The furniture and bedding left inside all get crushed. I think it’s a little bit of a waste.
I take a glance behind me at my judges.
The ministers are in awe, Erich has a sheepish smile on his face although I can tell he is extremely happy, and then Kenneth is clapping with a surface level smile.
No, they aren’t the ones I want to see. I want to know the reactions of Rebecca and the female information officers and servants.
Rebecca reacted like she discovered a new species of monster.
I guess it’s hard to make girls into your prisoners with just brute strength and muscles alone.
「What power. His thick arms…… the bulging muscles…… so lovely……」
One of the servants has a feverish gaze.
I can definitely do it with her. I’ll make sure to remember her face and invite her.
After the thunderous crashing and murmurs settled down, the king promptly stands up.
He isn’t yelling angrily.
He’s actually speaking rather softly in a place like the throne room.
Nevertheless, I strangely feel a certain force and dignity behind his voice.
Everyone probably felt the same way as they all stopped moving and chatting between themselves to focus solely on the king.
「What Hardlett destroyed just now was…… my weakness.」
Nobody opened their mouths.
It seems I’ve destroyed a pretty important thing.
In the completely silent room, I could even hear the buzzing in my ear.
Following the roughly ten seconds of deliberate silence maintained by the king, he raises a hand and turns to a certain minister.
If I recall, he is an internal affairs minister, ‘Something or other’.
「I order for all the towns and villages in the king’s land to be mobilized. Apart from a portion of the artisans, conscript all capable young men and draft a suitable amount of women and children, leaving enough to deal with the miscellaneous tasks.」
The minister gasps.
The king then turns his hand to a man resembling a great feudal lord.
「In regards to your actions with rebellious intent.」
「T-that is the Military Commissioner’s――」
As the man tries to object, the king stares quietly at him, discouraging him from speaking any further.
「In regards to your actions, I will not judge the offense for all eternity. I will not shine the light of the law on you either.」
People start making a commotion. After all, the king essentially acquitted him.
「I will treat your rebellious actions like they never happened. It seems that you are not satisfied with the way the Military Commissioner did things, but I want you to consider henceforth that Erich’s orders are my orders. Fight the enemy without holding a grudge, got it?」
The king proceeds to stare at the feudal lords and Erich.
「As you wish.」
Erich kneels to the king and faces the feudal lords.
「A-as you wish……」
Pressured by the king’s gaze, the stunned feudal lords also lowered their knees to the floor.
「That takes care of the conflict within the kingdom. I will order for the same complete mobilization to occur in all of the feudal lords’ realms.」
I felt like I heard a “geh” sound, but the king doesn’t stop there.
「Aside from those placed in difficult situations, withholding soldiers is equivalent to an act of treason. I doubt there are any such disloyal persons here who would do that.」
Nobody utters a word, though they probably don’t internally agree.
I believe the buds of new rebellion were watered.
However, it turns out I didn’t need to worry as the king smiled daringly at the feudal lords.
「Swearing loyalty to the king is a duty of a feudal lord―― at the same time, it is the king’s duty to answer that loyalty. In this war, I will not turn any land stolen from South Yuguria into king’s land, instead I will distribute all of it to those with contributions in battle.」
That made people go “ooh”.
South Yuguria is literally made up of the southern region of the Central plains.
It’s pretty terrifying to think that all of it will be given out.
Well, that’s only if we win though.
「I know that everybody feels Goldonia’s disadvantage. I’m sure there are also those devising betrayal within their hearts.」
The king holds up a hand to restrain the feudal lords.
「If yesterday’s version of myself remained, that might have been a path to go down. However, it is different now.」
The king looks around at everyone with wide open eyes.
「I believe we have a sufficient chance for victory. Those in doubt, pull out a map of the past and compare it to what Goldonia currently looks like. You must know that turning your back on me is a bad gamble.」
The king grins and pauses.
It was the king who turned the kingdom of Goldonia into a powerful nation which rules over the northern region of the Central plains. There is no room to debate that.
「Would you like to see?」
Celia takes out a map from somewhere within her chest and offers to share it with me.
Does she carry that with her all the time? I have no interest in the map itself, though I’ll still look because Celia’s warmth is still lingering on it.
The feudal lords start saying things like “nobody here is disloyal” and “I promise to distinguish myself in battle”.
Their faces showed a sense of fright rather than doubt or dissatisfaction.
Honestly speaking, I’m sure some feudal lords actually considered defecting or surrendering to South Yuguria.
It’s no wonder because we’ve been losing on the map since the start of hostilities.
But those thoughts were blown away after seeing the current state of the king.
Nodding contently after inspecting the expressions of the feudal lords, the king then swings his arm to Erich.
「Military Commissioner, the traitors are long gone. Therefore, the surveillance within the country is unnecessary. Have all the soldiers head to the frontlines. If you do not have enough, the numbers will be supplemented by the conscriptees. Relay any needs you have to me. Do not refrain from asking, no matter how ridiculous the request may seem.」
Erich lowers his head deeply, almost touching the ground, with his knee still on the floor.
Even though I can’t see his expression, I feel a sense of relief, satisfaction, and an inspired atmosphere coming from him.
The king turns to Kenneth last.
「You will immediately head to the Olga Federation to personally negotiate with them and ask them to provide reinforcements.」
「But the Olga Federation is still recovering from the damage suffered in the earlier war. It won’t be easy to――」
Without changing his tone, the king speaks over Kenneth.
「It is your job to make it happen. Do it.」
His peremptory order is somewhat forceful and at the same time also heartening.
In a situation like this, it is the most troubling if the king tells you “You can’t do it? Then what should be done?”
If he orders you to do it without arguing, then you simply have to do it. That much is easy to understand.
There’s also the option to run away.
「Reinforcements, military ships, supplies, acquire everything that would give our country an advantage.」
「I will do my utmost.」
Although Kenneth has a stern face, I don’t feel any trace of bewilderment from him.
「Aegir-sama’s orders are also easy to understand. In this situation, probably……」
Celia compliments me.
In this situation, I would probably say “figure out how to deal with it somehow”.
When Kenneth leaves the room, the king rises and yells for the first time.
「Let all the people of the kingdom know! Goldonia will now fight the enemy with all of its strength and win. Nobles, citizens, peasants, everyone will be used to bring this nation victory! My cowardly self is no more. We are not chasing South Yuguria away. We will crush them, pursue them and swallow them whole!」
Everyone cheered in response. That’s a relief.
When I look over to Rosario, she gives me a little wink and wiggles her finger mischievously.
Those who don’t know her real personality would probably be surprised that she could make such playful gestures.
I notice that she has bags under her eyes, clearly indicating her level of fatigue.
She must have been pounded all night by the king last night. Then she took the chance to persuade him in bed and help him get back to his usual self.
Rebecca suddenly turns to me, as if sensing something out of place.
Rosario instantly returns to being expressionless while I pretend not to know anything.
While the people are busy answering the king’s fervent spirit, Rebecca inches her feet closer to me without making a sound.
It’s a bit of a waste, but I should ignore her. I’m going to avoid her eyes at all costs.
「You’re acting suspicious.」
After official business ended, we were left alone with Rebecca in front of the king and Rosario.
「Now then, I have surely placed undue burdens on you as well.」
「No, I am just relieved that the king has returned to his usual strong self. To congregate before a powerful king is an honor for a retainer.」
There is no shadow or abjection to the king’s smile.
He is the same as he was when he first became king of Goldonia.
「I have heard about the events during the time I was mentally preoccupied and the war front might have collapsed if not for your accomplishments.」
「That was the strength of the Military Commissioner. The only thing I could do was display my military prowess to the enemy soldiers and teach them fear.」
I close my eyes, replaying the images in my head as I answer the king, who starts to smile unpleasantly.
「I’m also surprised you pulled Aless to your side. My suspicions of an abuse of authority remain, seeing how you acted on your own accord.」
「With the existence of a nation hanging in the balance, I chose to do what I thought was necessary. I swear to show my loyalty my achieving war merits that will overturn that, so please have mercy.」
The king finally chuckles, resting his elbow on the arm rest before speaking.
「Well, what’s done is done. It culminated in a benefit for the country, so I will overlook what you did. It’s fine if you forget the script you probably desperately memorized.」
「I’m busted, huh?」
It appears the king’s eyes have finally become clear.
Rebecca told me in advance that the king would definitely try to confirm how Aless was dragged in.
That’s why Celia wrote a script for me and helped me practice frantically last night in order to somehow explain our way out.
By the way, Celia was acting as the king during our practice and was treating me lenient to the end, so it didn’t really help.
When she forcefully acted arrogantly, put her legs up on the table and reclined back in her chair, she fell back and hit her head.
「I did not ask you to stay here to be censured. You saved my Rosario so I can turn a blind eye to a few things.」
The smiling king’s eyes turn cold in a split second.
「You’re different to those feudal lords who tried to rebel. Those who rebel once will rebel again. I will purge them quickly after winning the war.」
A smile returns to his face, though his tone stays cold.
「I will forget about whatever happened during the time I was befuddled. However, from this point forward, everything must pass my ear. Got it?」
It seems he genuinely went back to being himself.
He doesn’t recklessly doubt or overly fears and he properly calculates the benefits before moving.
The way he doesn’t show mercy is like how he acted from the start.
「Let us wrap that up here. I didn’t tell you to stay to threaten you, but to reward you. Apothecary, step forth.」
Natia lets out a dopey sound when the king looks at her.
Natia was also summoned along with us.
She wasn’t interested in politics so she was zoning out the whole time.
「You cured my Rosario. I would like to reward you as much as possible.」
Natia looks at me, troubled by the situation.
Rosario’s blindness was a ruse so it’s strange to get a reward for it.
The king must have thought her hesitation to be restraint, so he snaps his fingers.
「While I said ‘as much as possible’, I can’t bestow standing or territory during wartime. I know how plain it is, but please accept this gold.」
A bag the size of a sandbag gets placed in front of me.
This entire thing is filled with gold coins?
「There will still be war costs, so you don’t need to concern yourself with me.」
「To me, Rosario is a unique and unmatched woman. My pride would not allow me to not reward you.」
If he insists so much, I’ll take it.
Causing too much of a fuss would reveal the lie.
Natia’s ears wiggle as she looks at my face.
The way they’re moving is the same as when her favorite dish is served for dinner.
Her desire for money was never strong to begin with.
If this was Nonna, her ears would be flapping around fast enough for her to fly around the room.
「Thank you once more.」
Rosario smiles and steps in front of us.
「Are you alright? Be careful where you step.」
The king also readily stands up from the throne to follow her.
It is clear how important Rosario is to the king.
Rosario takes Natia’s hand.
「……I hate lying. This makes me a swindler.」
「Don’t say that. Please, indulge a little.」
After Rosario whispers, she strokes Natia’s ears and releases her hand.
「Thanks once again to Hardlett-sama as――」
Before Rosario could take my hand, the king squeezes in between us and grabs my hand instead.
What a blatant guard. Rosario smiles where the king can’t see her.
It’s a shame I couldn’t shake hands with Rosario, but if the king finds out about my interest towards her, I will be executed without question.
Celia, you don’t have to hold onto my waist from behind.
Now then, everything is finished.
I’ll talk to Erich and then return to Rafen.
That was when an information officer approaches the king.
「Your Majesty, something urgent requires your attention……」
It must be information that he doesn’t want to tell anyone besides the king because he hesitates when he sees me, so the king steps away briefly and turns his back.
It was at that moment.
Rosario, who was smiling calmly, quickly scans her surroundings.
Nobody is looking this way.
She pretends to trip over her feet and stumbles toward me……
Rosario’s lips press against mine for a split second.
「Rosario, what’s wrong?」
When the king turns back, Rosario separates from me like nothing happened.
「I merely tripped a little. My apologies, Hardlett-sama.」
「You just completed your convalescence so please take care of yourself.」
Rosario gracefully bows and sticks her tongue out teasingly so that only I could see.
「Please protect me too. If you do, you may one day be able to rule over me. And then……」
Once Rosario sees the king divert his gaze elsewhere once again, she grabs Natia’s hand.
「How dare you use some strange medicine on me. When I was being embraced by the king, I was forced to hide my eyes.」
She’s pinching her hand.
Well, that much is fine.
「Rosario, it’s about time……」
「Yes, Your Majesty. Well then everyone, I hope you all dedicate to his Majesty――」
Rosario returns to being meek and speaks in a fading tone.
Mm, she’s a bad girl.
When we returned to the mansion in the capital, Nonna, who wasn’t summoned with us, was unexpectedly sitting at the entrance.
「Rumor has it that Natia-san was rewarded.」
「You’re quick to find out when money is involved!」
While Nonna and Celia argue, I turn my eyes to the main road.
An unpleasant alarm starts ringing in my head.
「The sound of hooves? It’s not sane to gallop within the capital. It can’t be good news.」
Not betraying expectations, pedestrians jump out of the way and curse as the horse rushes past, heading in the direction of my mansion.
The familiar man is one of the guards from Rafen.
I ask before the mounted man could open his mouth.
「South Yuguria has descended on Rafen! Please return to Rafen at once!」
「Has my army been defeated?」
My personal army has been left to Leopolt and should be stationed in the territory.
There’s a possibility that the enemy came with an army too large to handle, but they should have at least received notice in advance.
It’s impossible that only Rafen is attacked so suddenly.
「The army is still alive. The enemy just suddenly appeared from the east……」
「Enough. It’s meaningless to talk here. I’ll go back now.」
Schwartz has already arrived behind me.
He also has his own mares and females back there and seems to be a little panicked.
「What about us…… what should we do?」
「Everyone except for Celia should stay here. It may become a battlefield.」
My tone is calm, but my heart is racing.
My women are in Rafen. I don’t think Leopolt is completely foolish enough……
「You tell Erich about what is going on. It’s urgent. I’m sure he’ll understand.」
Reality would move in a different direction than what I thought.
Erich surprisingly rode a horse to my mansion.
It’s too good to be true, but it’s perfect timing.
「An emergency situation has occurred. I am urgently――」
Erich speaks over me as I try my best to calmly explain.
「It’s an emergency. I was just notified that Magrado has fallen. A war council will be held immediately.」
Another horse comes running.
「Lintbloom is being raided by the enemy! It seems impossible, but the enemy travelled through the wasteland to the south……」
「All at the same time…… w-what should we do……」
As Celia becomes flustered, I clench my teeth and think.
The only road going to Lintbloom continues on to Rafen.
Along the road is a barren land without a single house or a single drop of water and dangerous beasts walking around. They can’t march through there.
It would be a different story if Rafen fell, but simultaneously attacking should be impossible.
Nonna also lets out a pitiful sound.
Natia went silent and left the bag of gold at the front door.
I couldn’t come up with a good plan.