[Elfrieden Kingdom Capital Parnam]
It was the city where [Castle Parnam], where the Elfrieden Royalty dwells, is located. The castle town surrounding Castle Parnam flourished, the walls surrounding the city brings up the image of a medieval European city-state. The roofs on the buildings were a uniform orange, their appearance fitting well with the city’s classic ambience.
There were main streets running east, west, south, and north with Castle Parnam at the center, each connecting to their respective gates, where carts and large beast mounts stream endlessly. Other than those there were countless small stone-paved streets running radial lines from the castle, and there were more streets connecting those streets together, looking like a spiderweb (or maybe a snowflake) when seen from the sky. On either side of those streets stood shopping districts and artisans’ districts, perpetually bustling with people.
Today was a national holiday, furthermore a holiday celebrating the enthronement of a new king, so the shopping districts are even more busy than usual. Because of the sudden change in rulership the castle town was in a tense state for a short time, but once it was clear that the enthroned king was the summoned hero, that the old king handed over the throne out of his own will, and that the hero was to wed the king’s daughter Princess Liecia so as the father-in-law the previous king won’t be treated badly, the chaos resolved itself. It was because the former king ‘was loved’ during his rule to begin with.
[Well, if the king is all right then all’s well I suppose]
[It must’ve been hard with the Empire’s pressure and all. I’m glad he could get that load off his shoulders]
[Now he can probably relax. Good for him, huh]
It was generally interpreted favourably like so…. it seems the King’s carefree attitude was a national trait. Soma, who had the throne pushed onto him against his will, expected at least one opposition movement to rise against the sudden change, but he took it without a fight¹. In any case, the scenery in Parnam today was that of humans and therianthrope and dwarves coming and going in peace.
¹ «TN: Literally he took it like taking an underarm push»
That afternoon, a white horse ran on the stone pavements as if cutting through the peaceful atmosphere.
The one riding it was a beautiful girl in red and white military dress uniform right out of [Rose of Versailles], her platinum blonde hair tied in a ponytail, fluttering in the wind. Her age is about 16-17. Her transparent-seeming white skin and tightly-fitting military uniform accentuated her well-balanced figure.
Just the figure of the girl riding on the white horse would unmistakably make for a pretty picture. Seeing her, people along the way spontaneously let out sighs of admiration and raised cheers when they realized that she was the country’s ‘princess’.
“Princess! Congratulations on your engagement!”
“I wish you happiness!”
Without knowing her actual feelings, they gave her such warm cheers.
The sound of their cheers did not reach her ears in her current state, though.
“Father, Mother, please be safe…. I’m coming for you.”
She, Liecia Elfrieden, muttered with a face of grief.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Father! What is the meaning of this!”
The Royal Private Chambers. A large room so large a king size bed couldn’t dominate it, each and every one of its furnishings were elegantly crafted. Normally, this room should have been the royal couple’s bedroom and private room, and after the handing over of the throne it should’ve been given to Soma, but Soma who disliked the trouble involved in moving gave permission to the previous royal couple to continue using it so these two were still here. Incidentally, Soma still doesn’t have his own room. The reason he gave was because I don’t need one right now.
The sight the out of breath Liecia saw when she threw open the massive doors was the sight of her parents on the attached balcony enjoying a refined afternoon teatime and holding a cream scone going “Here, say aaah—” “Aaaaaah—”. Liecia sat down hard for a moment, but immediately stood up and drew close to the previous king with an angry look in her eyes.
“I, ran all the way here from my regional patrols when I heard Father’s throne was usurped! So why are you going [Here, say Aaah—♪] so carefreely!”
As it happens, in addition to the title of Princess (fiancée to the current king after the abdication), she also graduated from a military academy and possesses an Officer title. Her social position itself isn’t that high, but due to her high birth she often gets orders to go around to each regional army for sympathy calls and the like. She was on one of those missions just now but upon hearing of her Father’s sudden abdication she came in a big hurry.
“We weren’t really usurped, we abdicated out of our own will”
“I don’t care about that! Why did you renounce the throne all of a sudden!”
“We talked with that man and believed he is necessary for this country. This is something we judged as one with the responsibility of looking after the country. We take no objections.”
The instant he made that declaration he seemed to show a little bit of the dignity of someone who carries a kingdom on his shoulders, so Liecia was reluctant to press the issue any further.
“Uuuh…. but, to even arbitrarily decide my marriage”
“You can talk it out between yourselves. The engagement was originally something our side insisted on him. If you don’t want to Soma-dono won’t force you to.”
Liecia looked to her mother for help, but the former Queen smiled and said.
“Go see Soma-dono first. This concerns your life after all, you should decide your future course by yourself. We will respect what you decide.”
So this is what they call not having an island to cling to. Liecia slumped her shoulders.
◇ ◇ ◇
Liecia was walking through the castle at a quick pace.
She left this castle a few weeks ago to do her regional patrols. She was wondering how the castle was doing after she hadn’t seen it for weeks, but everyone in the castle were running. The soldiers, the chamberlains, the bureaucrats, and even the ministers were all running. The sight of the round-bellied cabinet minister sweating from his forehead going “huff huff” as he ran was so surreal she stood there dumbfounded.
This has never happened before. The castle’s atmosphere was supposed to be so relaxed you’d think that time flows more slowly here. The chamberlains and cabinet ministers would walk softly, and it should have been so quiet you can hear the voices of the soldiers practicing at the courtyard from anywhere in the castle. Didn’t Liecia enter the military academy even though she was a princess because she was sick of that kind of atmosphere?
But look at it now. No matter where you go in the castle you can hear somebody’s footsteps.
Liecia called one of the maids who was running in a flurry.
“Can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Ah, why if it isn’t Princess. Do you have anything for me to do?”
“Ah, no… The castle’s looking busy, did anything happen?”
“Um, no? Nothing in particular”
“Really? It feels somewhat busy to me though…”
“Yes. Ah, but it’s probably the effect of the new king. Looking at the way he works it feels inexcusable to leave all the work to him. I as well feel that I shouldn’t be so slow… ah, I’m in the middle of something right now so please excuse me.”
“T, that so? Do your best”
Looking at the maid leaving in a quick pace, Liecia became dumbfounded. Just how is that new king working to even make a maid go that far! Just what kind of person became my fiancé. Liecia was at her wits’ end.
The Royal Governmental Affairs Room. As Liecia opened the door the first thing she saw was a mountain of paper. The documents were piled up high in a heap, all but overflowing from a large desk that can seem to fit two grown men laying down. That was not all. Looking around there were several bureaucrats on other long tables fighting hard before similar bundles of paper.
As Liecia became dumbfounded, there was a young man’s voice from behind the mountain of paper.
“Oi, the one who just came in”
“…………………. Ae!? What!?”
She let out a strange sound as she came to her senses, but the owner of the voice didn’t seem to notice.
“You, can you read? Can you do arithmetic?”
“D, don’t take me for a fool! I have received decent education!”
“Good then. Come here and help me work”
“Help you!? Who do you think you…”
“Don’t worry about that, help me. This is a ‘Royal Order’.”
As he said that, the person behind the mountain of paper stood up and finally showed his face.
This was the first meeting between Soma and Liecia who had just been engaged the other day.
Liecia would later on recount her first impression of him being “a young man with tired eyes.”
◇ ◇ ◇
In stories where a hero was summoned to another world there were lots of cases where the hero was given special powers upon being summoned. In most cases, it would be the power to face off alone against a thousand or a power that looked useless at first glance but is actually an incredible power that could conquer the world, the so-called “ME STRONK”²-kind of power.
² «TN: 俺TUEEEE»
I thought, so I suppose I should have gotten some power, and of course, I seem to have been given some powers. The first is [Multiple Concurrent Parallel Thought]. I can now think several thoughts simultaneously. While having a meeting about matter A, I can think about matter B in my head. I feel like I can probably win a Shoutoku Taishi³ game against 10 people right now.
³ «TN: Prince Shoutoku (Shoutoku Taishi) can reportedly hold a conversation with 10 people simultaneously»
The other one is [Weak Telekinesis]. I can move things up to 300 grams in weight without touching, disregarding gravity. The lighter the object is, the more freely I can control it, also, together with Parallel Thought, I can move several things at a time. As a plus, it’s quite amazing that I can see from an overlooking vantage point outside my normal point of view.
Then to talk about what I can do to completely exhibit these two powers, it’s doing paperwork at three times the normal speed.
While looking over three documents simultaneously with parallel thought, I work two pens with weak telekinesis, and together with the one in my right hand I work three pens to sign each document. Yes, I’m making progress. In fact, if it weren’t for these powers I’d be buried in a landslide of documents right about now.
…… Yeah, I know what you want to say. That’s not a ME STRONK power at all. To put it in the words of a certain doujin’s shooting style [it’s a power only fit for paperwork]. Yeah, shabby. Even though it’s useful right now, but when you think that the reason I was summoned was to fight the Demon King all you can say is “how did this happen!?” Even if it wasn’t a magic strong enough to fight ten thousand enemies, at the very least I’d rather get something like a sword skill I can use to defend myself with.
To return to the main subject, as I was using those powers to combat the mountain of paper, the sturdy door was kicked in by a girl in military dress. She had a well featured face, transparent-white skin, flowing platinum blonde hair. She’s a beautiful girl that were I to see her during peacetime I would undoubtedly became fascinated, but to me who had already stayed up three nights I can no longer see her as a beautiful girl but only as some “fresh labor”. I half-forcibly sat her next to me and pushed two bundles of paper on her.
“Compare these two documents and when you see numbers that don’t match or different number of entries, put a checkmark on it.”
“Eh, what? What kind of job is this?”
“What you say…? We’re digging buried treasure”
I carelessly said, seeing the girl in uniform confused.
“More accurately, [Unaccounted-for Expenditures]. On one side is [Budgetary Requisitions] and the other is [Earnings and Expense Report]. Even if the demanded amount matches the expenses, if there are more expense entries than planned then they must be useless investment made up to use up the budget, or possibly embezzlement using investment as cover-up. We put a checkmark on those and if there’s any fraud we make the related place pay the loss. If we discover an individual embezzling money we’ll have them pay it back, and if the can’t pay it back we arrest them and seize their property.”
“A, all right”
Perhaps feeling threatened by the attitude of a person who had just done an all-nighter, she did as I told her. Just like that, after about two hours passing with her working silently next to me, the girl in military dress suddenly talked to me without stopping her hands check marking the documents.
“…… What is it? If you’re tired then you can have a rest if you want”
“Not that…… I haven’t told you my name yet. I’m Liecia Elfrieden, daughter of the previous king Alberto Elfrieden”
The moment the girl said that, the three pens I was manipulating stopped.
I stared wide-eyed at the girl who called herself Liecia.
“…… So you’re the princess”
“I don’t look it?”
“Well, you’re wearing military uniform. But…. yeah, you kinda look like one”
Now that you mention it, she has class, making me aware of her high-spec looks.
“I’m … Souma Kazuya. I’m acting as the current king for now”
Liecia turned her face towards me. We’re looking really close into each others’ eyes. Unlike me who was just taken aback, her golden pupils seems like she’s evaluating me. After staring for a while Liecia finally opened her mouth.
“I’m not a princess anymore. Since you usurped the throne my position is a bit delicate”
“Usurped…? I only had the throne being thrown wholesale at me by your father, you know! Even though I only wanted to live a tranquil life… Why did I have to carry this heavy burden”
“……. Just what happened? I know you’re the summoned hero, but why did it suddenly turn into handing over the throne”
“I’d like to know that, too. All I wanted was to keep myself safe…”
When I was summoned into this world I was on the brink of being sent to the Empire. The King didn’t seem too eager to do so but he had no other special plans, if the Empire made another forced appeal he can do nothing but send me over. Then if I was sent to the Empire in the end, no matter which way my fate turns there’s no bright future in sight. In order to protect myself, I needed to make them choose to not send the hero over.
The plan I presented to the king was to buy time by “paying the support money”, and using that time to press a “rich country, strong army policy”. Since they said “if you can’t pay then just send the hero over”, we can pay and get it over with. They would then lose any pretense with which to interfere. It was an attempt at intimidation but since it wasn’t a real intimidation, I judged that the Empire would care about their honor and not press any further than that. With the time we gained by that, we would advance the ‘rich country strong army policy’ and build a country that won’t yield even if the Empire threatens us again.
Of course, those two had objections. “This country doesn’t have the funds to pay the support money with,” they said. However, with the materials I examined, I showed them that payment is possible by selling off some government facilities, suppressing government spending, and handing over ‘the king’s private property’ to some extent. I attended an undergraduate program in socio-economics and dreamed of becoming a government employee. This much is within my field of expertise.
The King looked worried seeing the plan, but Prime Minister Markus seemed eager. He seemed to have judged that rather than sending the hero away to maintain the status quo, it was better for the country’s future to reform the economy. I was relieved at Prime Minister’s eagerness. As the person who suggested it I was probably expected to do some work, probably as a finance officer, helping with the reform… or so I thought.
“But then they made me King”
“Ah, um… sorry I guess”
“You have nothing to apologize for. Actually, you’re a victim here, being suddenly told you have a fiancé”
“Yeah, that’s true… wait, huh? I wonder which of us has the higher position. Was it bad that I haven’t been using polite language?”
On the one hand we have a former commoner, current King. On the other we have a former princess, current Queen candidate.
“……. I guess you can just talk casually”
“Also, don’t worry about the engagement. I’m only looking after the throne right now. I’ll probably quit being King in a few years”
“I didn’t intend to do more work than earning [support money] so I don’t get sent to the Empire to begin with. Now that the throne has been handed to me, I’ll at least put the country’s economy on track, but I’ll let the people choose what comes next. Of course, I’m okay with cancelling the engagement”
◇ ◇ ◇
Liecia stared wide-eyed at Soma who uttered such words.
(No no, he easily said so but does he understand how hard it is to do)
Even the military-obsessed Liecia who is unfamiliar with government affairs understands this country’s situation. It was on the brink of a [checkmate]. It was low in food sufficiency to begin with, the recession, the influx of refugees from the Demon King invasion, then the pressure from the Grand Chaos Empire…. all are causes for concern to deal with. In all likelihood, even if the previous King’s reign continued it’ll only last several more years. As might be expected from a military academy graduate, Liecia can see these things with a calm eye.
Therefore she somewhat understands the actions of her father who surrenders the throne to someone he sees as superior right on the spot. But then, could he even do this putting this country’s economy on track thing? If let’s say he could, then are the people going to let the King that accomplished such feats retire just like that.
“…. So, you think you can secure the support money?”
“Hm? Ah, I’ve already secured the support money for the Empire”
“I’m now raising funds for the reform. Frankly, it takes more money than paying the Empire”
No…. wait hold on right there! Already secured he says? the money the Empire asked was supposedly as big as a third of the country’s annual budget. It rivaled a smaller country’s total annual budget and he says he’s already got it ready?
“Where did you find that kind of…”
“I’ve sold about a third of the treasure in the treasure chamber”
“Treasure chamber…? The National Treasures!?”
He actually sold the National Treasures!? What is he thinking!
I questioned Soma who nonchalantly did something so outrageous as that.
“The National Treasures belong to the whole country you know! Selling that out on your own accord is treason to the people!”
“N, now, calm down. Since you say it belongs to the country then wouldn’t it be acceptable to sell it for the sake of the entire nation’s well being?”
“Yes, but…. There are things there with cultural and historic significance”
“Ah— I’ve excluded those things. The things I’ve sold are the hard assets like gems and ornaments”
Soma tracked down and presented a catalogue put together regarding the National Treasures from the stack of documents.
“I divided the National Treasures into [Group A: things with cultural value], [Group B: things without cultural value but has property value], and [Group C: others], and sold only Group B. Rather than selling group A it would be better to put them on display in galleries or museums at regular intervals for long term acquisition of foreign currency”
“That might be true, but… group C?”
“Magic items, magic books and stuff. I actually don’t know how to treat them. They’re something like weapons, so to speak. I can’t just sell them away or put them on display. Though the [set of hero’s equipment] looked like it’s going to sell for quite a lot”
“Please stop that…”
You’re still a hero, even for a moment… Ah, but you’re a King now.
“But, if we had that kind of money shouldn’t we have put it to arming ourselves to prepare against the Empire? I was taught to [better gamble 1000 yen in national defense than give one tenth of a rin⁴ in tribute] in the academy”
“I see your proverb and raise you a short proverb. [Time is money]. The effect is by offering war support money as sacrifice I can earn this country some much-needed ‘Time’.”
“What’s with your phrasing?”
“Don’t worry about it. Anyway, even if we increase our armaments there’s no meaning if we don’t solve our domestic problems. As long as the food and refugee problems aren’t solved, we’re going to keep losing popular support. If that happens we’ll be a country so brittle the Empire only needs to fan the flames a little before an insurrection happens”
“No way… The people should recognize what a threat the Empire is”
“That’s an idealistic view. [The poor can’t afford manners]. After all there can’t be morals nor patriotism on an empty stomach. Without any wriggle room for themselves they can’t worry about others”
⁴ «TN: 1 rin = 1/1000 yen»
The look in Soma’s eyes was awfully cold as he said that.
That was a terribly realistic view. I think it seems right on point.
It’s just that… I don’t know.
“Well now, should we get back to work?”
I felt as if my chest tightened from his gaze.
◇ ◇ ◇
We continued for another day and was finally able to secure a certain amount of money. Though it won’t bring us to prosperity it can act as funds for pressing reforms. Being able to raise this much funds from just the directly controlled territories without touching the ‘Three Duchies’, I think it’s worth praising.
Looking around inside the room there were dead bodies strewn about. Among the bureaucrats there are those who were sleeping face down on the desks, and there are also those who sleep laying back on their chairs, looking up at the ceiling. As for myself, I have already stayed up four nights, but by splitting my consciousness into three using parallel thought I can let them take turns sleeping one at a time so I don’t feel tired mentally (though since it’s physically exhausting I don’t want to use it frequently)
Meanwhile, on the Government Affairs Room sofa, Liecia was lying down sleeping. I quietly drew near and sat on the sofa’s armrest, gazing at the sleeping Liecia. In the end she helped me work until almost dawn. She must have lots of things to say after suddenly getting a fiancé, but I have to thank her for cooperating with my work despite all that.
I brushed the sleeping Liecia’s head. Her silky hair glided between my fingers.
The feeling of elation from being released from a long stretch of work probably had something to do with this. It’s quite an embarrassing act to do sober.
Liecia groaned and I let my hand off her hair. The next moment, Liecia opened her eyes and suddenly sat upright. She was still sleepy, looking blankly all over the place. I smiled as I called her out.
“Ah, morning… huh? I slept…”
“The work’s over. You want to sleep a little more?”
“Ah, no. I’m good. Rather, how about you Soma? You havent slept at all right?”
It seems like she’s already fully awake, and I’m honestly happy that she worries about me.
I got up from the armrest and made an exaggerated stretch.
“I’m planning to rest easy after this, but… oh, right. Will you come with me for a moment?”
“A walk before bed”