“Let us continue, Tomoe Inui-dono of the Mystic Wolf Tribe, step forward”
Speaking with a quavering voice, the ten year old animal-eared little girl stepped forward, moving out her right arm and right leg at the same time. Mystic Wolf Tribe…. so those are wolf ears, not fox ears. Her sunburned skin and big, round eyes were cute. Her bushy tail coming out of her tribal-looking clothes were strained, likely because of the tension. What’s this, so lovely.
“This young girl possesses the very rare ability to converse with wildlife. Upon taking her to the stables she was able to correctly guess everything from the horses’ conditions to their history. According to herself, she heard it straight from the horses’ mouths, a gift truly worthy to be called a divine gift”
Ability to talk to animals, is it. Another really surprising person appears.
While I was thinking that Liecia whispered from beside me.
“The Mystic Wolves’ country is way up north. There shouldn’t have been any in this country”
“….. So a refugee”
Several countries were engulfed by the Demon King Territory expansion. The people who lost their countries went south and entered the countries there as refugees putting pressure on the economy. Each country dealt with them in their own ways. There are countries that proactively sheltered them and there are those that worked to expel them, but even the countries that shelter them put them to grueling manual labor like in the mines and such or took them as soldiers to fight the Demon Race, so from the point of view of the refugees, it was hell either way.
In our Elfrieden Kingdom we opened refugee camps near the capital Parnam. Right now their treatment is being ‘put on hold’. Lending a helping hand to refugees while our own citizens are short on food supplies will only incite rebellion. That said, expelling or putting them to hard labor will incur the refugees’ enmity. It would be terrible if they became covert terrorists. Even what we’re doing now is bad for the public order but there’s little we can do now besides maintaining the status quo.
In order to lend a hand to others, we need to first be content ourselves.
That’s what I’ve been feeling recently.
“Well, I’m not going to go back after saying if you just have talent I have use for you. If they have talent I don’t mind if they’re our citizens or other country’s or refugees. I don’t have room to be picky”
“You can say that again”
Then the little wolf-eared girl who was introduced as Tomoe timidly opened her mouth to talk.
“U…. umm…. Mr. King….”
“Hm? What is it?”
“Um….. uhh….. I, I ha…. I have something to say….”
She’s wringing her voice, she’s squeezing it. Honestly, I can barely hear it.
“You have something to say? I don’t mind so speak up”
“Hyes….. um… actually…. mumble mumble mumble”
“Hm, what is it? I can’t hear you if you don’t speak a little louder…”
Tomoe’s eyes teared up. Seeing a girl who can still be called a little girl with a face like that is somewhat emotionally harsh. Moreover, this scene is being broadcast throughout the country. The people are going to say “the king made a little girl cry” behind my back.
“….. All right, all right. I’m going over there so please don’t cry”
I walked close to the little girl, the guard Ludwin made a stern look but I silenced him with my hand, then I crouched down and put my ear near her mouth.
“Now I can hear you. Come, speak up”
I said that and listened to the girl’s whispering, then…
I doubted my ears. I stood up and looked at Tomoe straight in the eyes.
“….. Are you sure?”
“Have you ever told this to anyone before?”
“N, no…. I haven’t”
It’s half reassuring and half annoying considering what’s to come after this.
It’s not about rare talents anymore. This little girl is unmistakably a ‘bomb’ for this country.
I need to take measures immediately.
….. Calm down, breathe in, breathe out. Don’t let anyone in the room see you shaking.
“Haa…. I’m a little bit tired. I’d like to put a short break in right now”
I looked at the people around, Liecia seemed puzzled. The others are making roughly the same response, but that doesn’t matter. First of all I signaled Liecia, Markus, and Ludwin with my eyes and raised my voice.
“We shall take a half-hour break from now. We shall grant the rewards to the remaining two people including this girl after that. Gyna-dono”
“Yes, what shall it be, Your Highness?”
I called the songstress and she stepped forward.
“The scene in this room is being seen by the whole country through the Royal Broadcast. I’d feel sorry for making the people wait while we take a break. So I’m wondering if you could fill in the half hour with your songs?”
“Very well, Your Highness. Song is the pride of our clan. I shall sing with all my heart”
Gyna gracefully bowed as she said that. That moment, our eyes met.
A gaze that seems to have seen through something…. looks like she guessed that something’s afoot. She understood, stayed silent, and did as asked, like a mature woman would.
Even without her looks and singing voice, this is the kind of subordinate I wanted.
“Well then, citizens, until later”
Thus the award ceremony was put on recess for a while.
◇ ◇ ◇
While Gyna-dono is buying me time, I gathered only the people I can trust in the office.
The people here are just Me, Liecia, Markus-dono, Ludwin, and Tomoe. Incidentally, I had Aisha who swore an oath of loyalty and wouldn’t leave my side stand guard from the other side of the door so that nobody listened in on us.
“Is this really something you have to be on high alert for?”
Liecia asked, bewildered, and I only nodded.
“It’s really an unlucky situation. Did anyone here hear what Tomoe-chan-said?”
“…. I couldn’t hear her. Her voice was too small”
“I didn’t hear it either”
The three shook their heads.
“….. Then I guess I don’t have to worry about it reaching the Royal Broadcast”
“I think it’s fine. It’s not really that sensitive”
….. Phew. That’s a relief. That’s one thing off my back.
“Is it that bad?”
“Yeah. It’s quite literally a bombshell announcement”
Everyone’s eyes gathered on Tomoe-chan, she shrank even further.
It looks like she’ll have a hard time answering so I’ll answer in her place.
“You heard that she can talk to animals, right?”
“Yes. That’s an amazing ability”
“It seems she can talk to ‘Demonic Creatures’ with that”
The moment I said that, the room froze.
Everyone was at a loss for words, opening and closing their mouths like goldfish.
Now then, before we talk in detail about this there is some prerequisite knowledge you need to know.
Namely, that there is a difference between what this world calls [Demonic Creatures] and what we call [Demonic Creatures] in our world¹. In our world the things known as Demonic Creatures are grotesque creatures that are neither human nor animal, but in this world [Undeads] like skeletons or zombies or ghosts, [Devils] like gargoyles or liliths or vampires, or [Brutes] like goblins or orcs or ogres are called Demonic Creatures, while every other living creature is called ‘creatures just like normal creatures they look like’.
¹ «TN: Demonic Creatures, or Mamono, usually translates into Monsters in RPGs and novels, but I opted to put Demonic Creatures here because of their links to the Demon Race (Mazoku)»
Concretely speaking, Red Grizzlies measuring up to 4 meters in length are animals, Monitor Lizards, even if you can only see them as dinosaurs, are lizards, Giant Ants the size of people are insects, and Man Eaters that eat humans are still plants. Furthermore, slime-type creatures that can split and merge and liquefy are also (though I can’t agree to it) treated as animals. By the way, Dragons and the like are called [Sacred Beasts] and are treated differently.
The reason these are not called Demonic Creatures is that they were already here in this world before the Demon King territory appeared. It’s precisely because they were part of this world’s ecosystem that their habitats can be isolated from humans. Practically, the horses in this world are what we would know as sleipnirs and domestic animals like cows or pigs or chickens all also have features arranged like monsters.
Returning to the topic, this means that what Tomoe meant was not animals, but [Demonic Creatures] like undeads or devils or brutes. Liecia drew near to Tomoe.
“What did you talk to and about what!?”
“I, it was a Kobold-san. Not like us…. they have a whole dog head, not just ears, but… the day before they attacked our village, they said [we can’t bring ourselves to attack people from the same family, so run away]. It was a miracle that I could understand what the kobold-san said, but…. thanks to that we were saved from disaster…”
“Which means…. not just the Demon Race, but also Demonic Creatures have the capability for reason”
Ludwin said so, groaning. According to this world’s common sense, Demonic Creatures don’t have a consciousness good enough to hold conversation with. That was exactly the reason why they are thought as like locusts ravaging the land with “eating” as their only goal or unmanned weapons wielded by war-loving Demon Race.
Exterminate the swarming locusts. Destroy the dangerous weapons.
Locusts and weapons won’t come for revenge for their fallen comrades.
Therefore, don’t hesitate and annihilate them.
…. The war against the Demonic Creatures in the world right now was generally done with that in mind.
But if those Demonic Creatures had capability for reason like Tomoe said, then Humanity had unwittingly entered a [War] with the Demonic Creatures. A quandary of a war with zero channels for dialogue. Humanity is wrapped in resentment against the Demonic Creatures for killing their family, burning down their homes, and taking away their land. But if this was a war, then it is possible that the side of the Demonic Creatures were also bearing the same grudges towards Humanity.
“If this leaks out to the countries…”
“It’ll be a pandemonium”
I dropped my shoulders, so did Liecia.
I don’t think all Demonic Creatures can be reasoned with. Seeing from the actual brutal acts they did, ones like the Kobolds who let the Mystic Wolf Tribe run probably only numbered a handful. But knowing that there are some Demonic Creatures that are like that, then the Demonic Creatures are not the enemy of humanity.
Right now, in face of the Demonic Creatures the nations have a united exterior.
If that kind of information spreads, it is possible that there would appear countries who prioritized their own profits and joined hands with the Demon King Territory. If that happens then it would be the downfall of humanity.
“Do you think the Empire knows about this?”
“….. I suppose they don’t yet. With Tomoe-chan’s special ability they would have gradually come to a mutual understanding. Even if they had contact they shouldn’t have been able to hear anything but animal cries”
“Which means that this information is right now under the monopoly of our country. Really…”
We got our hands on something incredible.
Really a bomb. It’s something useful but if we don’t use it well it won’t end in just burns.
“I, I’m so sorry…”
In response to my sigh, Tomoe-chan shrank, to which Liecia gave me a poke.
“Ah, no, I’m not blaming you. In fact, I’m thinking I’m glad you came to this country. I shudder to think what happens if another country got hold of this information”
“But are you going to hide this? If we’re found out hiding such a vital piece of information as this we’ll get branded as the enemies of humanity, you know”
“We would, won’t we. It won’t be good if we don’t hide it well and they think we’re ambitious”
I can only hold my head in agony to what Ludwin pointed out.
Liecia blinked in surprise.
“You’re not ambitious?”
“Yes and no”
“Which is it!?”
“As a statesman, I can’t say I don’t have any. Anyway, the current situation where we’re fighting a war to exterminate each other is not good. Fighting until one side is completely exterminated would leave the other side on the verge of death, as well. I guess we need to leak this information a little bit at a time”
I’ve made up my mind. I said while looking around me.
“We’ll leak information to the surrounding countries that [some of the Demonic Creatures show systematic movements]. If we leak rumors saying [maybe some of the Demonic Creatures have reason], the countries should move more carefully. At least they’d try to find out if the rumors are true.
“But that way, won’t they finally find out what we knew? If that happens then won’t it be useless to hide the information?”
“No Markus. Our trump card is not this information. It’s Tomoe-chan”
Tomoe-chan darted her eyes in surprise and I gave a firm nod.
“Even if people knew the Demonic Creatures possess intelligence we have Tomoe-chan’s ability. If the nations wanted to negotiate with the Demonic Creatures we can talk with them through Tomoe-chan while the others think of a way to do so. This is a great advantage”
I don’t know how far Elfrieden could negotiate by itself.
However, by having a unique pipeline we could seize all dialogue rights from the nations and avoid the situation where we’re not granted the right to talk. Our responsibility will increase accordingly, but it’s better than entrusting this country’s direction to someone else. We don’t want our future decided for us in a place we don’t know.
“So Tomoe-chan. Our country must shelter for you with all our power”
“Hyes!? M, me!?”
“Yes. I can say without overstatement that you’re much more important than me now. Honestly speaking, if some other country got wind of this and took you away this country’s done for”
“No way… that… can’t be true?”
Tomoe-chan restlessly looked around but not a single person affirmed. It’s no exaggeration to say Tomoe-chan holds the fate of this country in her hands. I can’t say for sure but another country could possibly be pretending not to hear anything and ‘dispose’ of her right about now. That’s how ‘crucial’ Tomoe-chan’s existence is.
“Which is why in order to give Tomoe-chan the best protection I want to have you live in the castle. If we leave you in th refugee camp we won’t be able to protect you when the time comes”
Markus-dono raised his hand.
“Isn’t it a bit suspicious to have somebody that’s not royalty live in the castle?”
“Then please think of a way she can be considered royalty”
“You sure are quick to say that… There are several ways in order for a townsperson to be considered royalty. One of them is to have her be adopted by Your Highness, but this is not possible since Your Highness is not yet married. Your marriage with Princess is going to take several years of preparation, too”
“But you see…”
“Don’t impose her on me”
Liecia huffed and turned her face away. For Liecia to have a home life with the ten-year old Tomoe-chan as daughter immediately upon becoming a wife is… I totally can’t imagine.
“Is there any other way?”
“Your highness can marry her as a concubine”
“That’s… dangerous in several ways, isn’t it?”
She’s a grade school age girl you know? Backbe○rd-sama² is going to suddenly show up going damn you lolicons!
² «TN: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/beako»
“For a political marriage her age is barely within the allowed limits”
“But it’s way out for me mentally!”
“Soma… If you do marry her then I’m breaking off our engagement”
“Why are you attacking me!?”
Somehow even Liecia is looking at me with cold eyes. I don’t have that kind of hobby!
“Anyway, can’t the previous royal couple adopt her?”
“Hm. I suppose that’s fine”
“It’s fine! I’ve always wanted a little sister!”
Being suddenly hugged by Liecia, Tomoe-chan fell into a panic. Liecia even wore a relaxed face she never showed up until now. On that subject, as Liecia’s fiancé she’d be my stepsister too, right?
A dog-eared loli stepsister… too many attributes.
“But but, I, I have a family”
Tomoe-chan said as she escaped her (to be) elder sister’s overly close skinship.
“I have a mother and a tiny little brother waiting back at camp”
“Ah, being an adoptee is just for your position so it’ll be fine. If Tomoe-chan becomes my stepsister then your mother and younger brother is family too, so I don’t mind you living together with them in the castle. Their living costs will be arranged on my side and if they want to work we’ll find them a job in the castle”
“Um…. in that case…. all right”
Tomoe-chan nervously accepted. Phew. Now I felt like I found a good spot to rest. Not that everything had been solved peacefully but I found something I can overturn the status quo with.
I picked up a stepsister on the way but since she’s cute then all is well I suppose.
“Now we should get back to the assembly hall soon. We shouldn’t burden Gyna-dono’s throat any more than this”
The thirty minutes are going to run out soon. This is about the limit for delaying things.
“Let’s stop the reward for this talent at just the prize, if we suddenly announce that she’s going to be adopted by the previous royal couple people are going to suspect something. Let’s give the matter some time and announce it some other day. I’d like all of you to act with that in mind. Understood?”
“““ Yessir “”””
Well then, now there’s only one person remaining. I wonder what talent does he have.
…. I hope he doesn’t have any special circumstances.