«AN: This starts with a different person’s POV. Apologies»
Thirty minutes have passed since the King declared a recess and now the award ceremony was resumed.
This is the little Mystic Wolf girl’s turn to receive his compliments.
I watched that scene together with the other prize winners.
“Your talent. Please use them for the sake of our country”
“H, hyesh! Undershtood!”
….. she stuttered, how cute.
I wonder what that cute little girl said to make ‘the King’s expression change and declare a recess’. She was also the only one called out to during recess. It’s indubitably something important for sure, but the me right now has no way of knowing it.
Ever since I arrived here I had been observing ‘that’ King.
He looked commonplace. The rumors say he was summoned as a hero, but the air he had around him was just like a common person on the streets. He wore no crown, held no cane, and wore casual clothes, though the design is unfamiliar. He did not look like a King even when standing before the throne. But then his eyes would shine with a kingly glint every now and again, a very elusive personage.
His actions as a King until now gets a passing mark, I guess.
He showed open-mindedness when taking the Dark Elf warrior’s request and also revealed a solution to the problem she’s been having without even aiming to. He showed consideration to the people with the Lorelei songstress’ case, overlooked my ‘deliberately insolent attitude’, and furthermore considered what I might have wanted and granted me that. Seeing the little Mystic Wolf girl’s case he seems to be good at ad-libbing. He does have some unrefined points but well, he gets a passing mark with this much.
However, the real test comes now.
I looked in the direction of the plump man sweating maybe cold sweat or greasy sweat next to me. It’s his turn to get a reward next. I’ve heard what his talent was from the man himself. Then as far as I can tell, his talent is ‘the talent this country needs the most’.
I wonder how the young King would see and judge him.
Will he show contempt to the man for his unsightly appearance, with his perfectly round belly and double chin.
Or maybe he will make him a laughing stock in front of the whole country.
Or maybe he won’t go that far but still disregard the importance of his talent.
If he did any of that then I can’t help but consider him to have no worth as a King. I don’t feel like working myself to the bone for an unworthy ruler. If that happens I think I’ll lock myself as a librarian and a bookworm in the Royal Library like he recommended.
“Let us continue, Poncho Pannacotta-dono of Potte village, step forward!”
As the Prime Minister Markus-sama called out, the plump man called Poncho waddled forward with his round belly wobbling. There were snickers coming from the audience looking at such a comical sight. making Poncho’s round face even redder. Even the Princess Liecia leaked a smile like she just saw something funny. Then I looked towards the King, and he had put on a ‘serious face’. Not a laughing or dissatisfied one, just a serious look at Poncho’s face.
“This may be easy to see but this man’s talent is that of ‘eating’. During our current recruitment there were many people putting forward their [Big Eater] talent but none prevailed against this man. Also, his love towards food is out of the ordinary, he had walked the four corners of the world sampling the local products and delicacies, the person himself claimed to have [eaten mostly everything that can be eaten]. Save for the fact that he had spent all of his assets for his culinary travels …. ahem. In any case, this is a talent that can be said to have no equal in this country ….”
“I’ve been waiting for this!”
The King moved before Markus-sama finished reading.
He then stood in front of Poncho and took his hands with a gleeful look in his face.
“I’m glad that you’ve accepted my appeal! I’ve wanted a capable person like you!”
“He…. ah….. eh?”
Poncho became flustered. His brain couldn’t catch up to the King’s words.
When he finally did understand, his face cramped.
“Y, Your Highness, you were waiting for me!?”
“That’s right! This talent search was held in part for the purpose of looking for personnel like you! You are the person who will save this country! Rather than any other talented person, I’m more happy that you’ve come. I’m glad I told the officials to recommend people like you if they saw you”
“T, to go that far… is my talent really that important?”
“Yes, the knowledge you gained sampling the local products and delicacies is the key to the country’s salvation”
Being told that by the King, Poncho became flooded in tears and sweat.
“I …. everyone called me a fatty and a pig … they said I was wasting my money on food … I only travelled because I wanted to eat, and I knew they were correct … can this gluttony of mine really be useful for the country?”
The King gave the crying Poncho a pat on the shoulder.
“Let the haters say what they like. Even doing a stupid thing can become a proper talent if you do it thoroughly! Your gluttony at all expense will save this country! So please lend me your knowledge!”
Being appealed so earnestly by the King, Poncho wiped his tears with his sleeve.
“Y, yes! If my¹ … no, my² knowledge can be of use please use it in any way”
¹ «TN: Oira»
² «TN: Watashime»
He replied energetically.
Looking around, almost everyone couldn’t grasp the situation and were flabbergasted. The only ones who remained composed were Markus-dono who was showing self-restraint cultivated through his duties and the Dark Elf Aisha-dono who strangely had complete faith in the King, and also Gyna Dorma-dono who somehow was looking at the King with appraising eyes.
The King turned back towards the throne and said to Markus-dono.
“Prime Minister! There is a custom where the King grants a “name” to a retainer who shows promise, right?”
“…. ah, yes. There is, but …”
“Then Poncho. I will grant you the name [Ishidzuka]. It’s the name of an ‘Insatiable food-searching evangelist’. Be proud and work under that name”
“Y …. yessir! Thank you very much!”
That was the moment Poncho Ishidzuka Pannacotta was born.
The first retainer King Soma employed for himself was the plump high-appetite Poncho.
I wanted to shout in joy.
Good performance! This King knows where his priorities lie!
It was a test for the King whether he would employ Poncho or not. Even if he didn’t realize his worth but still employed him because he might be useful in the future he would have passed, and I consider him failed if he rejected him just by his appearance, but I never thought he would welcome him to this extent. This is a happy miscalculation.
He might just be able to save this country.
At least he is a worthy lord to serve under.
I felt excitement simmering from within myself.
…. Looks like I can’t let myself be just a bookworm.
“O King, may I have your ear?”
◇ ◇ ◇
“O King, may I have your ear?”
After all the rewards have been handed and I was just about to declare the end of the ceremony, the black-clothed young man Hakuya Kwonmin stepped forward and knelt. His sleepy eyes were now open wide. I was amazed at how the atmosphere around him had changed so much.
I had a hunch and asked Hakuya.
“You have something to say as well?”
“Yes. This is impolite of me but I have been recommended by someone else for this matter, but I want to make a self-recommendation”
Self-recommendation. He wants to promote himself?
“Hm …… I’ve granted you the position of the Librarian of the Royal Archives, right? By self-recommendation you mean that’s not enough? What do you wish for?”
“If I may, then I’d like to work under Your Highness”
“Not as a librarian?”
“Yes. I believe that my knowledge can support Your Highness’s hegemony if you will allow it”
“Ha ha ha”
He grandly said ‘hegemony’, and he said he can support it with his knowledge, what is he thinking, I wonder. A strategist supporting military and diplomacy, or a prime minister³ supporting internal affairs, maybe … or maybe even a [Prime Minister⁴] supporting everything like Zhuge Liang or Cao Cao. I looked Hakuya straight in the face.
³ «TN: Saishou / 宰相»
⁴ «TN: Joushou / 丞相»
“This is interesting, but do you have the talent for that?”
“I believe I do”
“Not just reciting the law?”
“Excuse me but I believe I said [I’ve read many books about Law, Culture, and The Arts⁵]. I have driven various fields of study into this head, from Astronomy above to Geology below”
⁵ «TN: AKA Engineering»
Somehow he says stuff like Toyotomi Hideyoshi, huh… but this makes the feeling of discomfort I had earlier clear. I was stuck on the ‘reading every book’ part even though he could recite law. In other words his talent did not come from only studying law. For him, being able to recite law was merely one fragment of the knowledge he had studied.
“Why did you hide your talent earlier”
“Because I wanted to make sure the lord I serve is worthy”
“Why do you reveal your talent now”
“Because I have made sure the lord I serve is worthy”
So full of confidence. Is he just all talk or does he have something to show for it.
…… I still couldn’t judge either way right now.
“I’ll leave you to Markus! I’ll place this person in a rank that befits his abilities”
“Thank you very much”
Markus and Hakuya gave a simultaneous bow.
Several days later Markus would come rushing into my office in tears saying “My King! Did you tell me to teach you how to ride a flying dragon!”, but there was no way I could know that right now. This was my chance meeting with the man who would later be called [Elfrieden’s Black Eminence⁶]
⁶ «TN: 黒衣 can be “black clothes” or “one who pulls the strings behind the stage” after the kabuki stagehands that took this role who are dressed in black»
◇ ◇ ◇
In history there are scenes that would easily be turned into plays in later eras. The requirements for those are
One, it has to be the turning point of an age.
Two, there has to be a star appropriate for a play.
These are the two requirements.
In the history of Elfrieden, the event that would be reenacted in dramas in later eras the most was [King Soma’s Personnel Gathering].
This scene is said to have three leading actors.
From Soma’s point of view, this scene was just another one of his exploits, but from the point of view of Hakuya Kwonmin who would come to be called the [Black Eminence], it was the [turning point of an era], and from a certain person’s point of view, it was a Cinderella story that turned their life upside down.
But opinions are divided as to who the third person is.
There are those who put the spotlight on the Dark Elf from the forest who pledged allegiance to a her master, the East Wind Warrior who would always stand guard beside the King, the [East Wind Warrior Princess] Aisha Woodgard.
There are those who put the spotlight on the person discovered by the King learning the songs of the country, who brought forth the concept of [Lorelei], Elfrieden’s [Idols], the [Prima Lorelei] loved by the King and the People, Gyna Dorma.
There are those who put the spotlight on the refugee to whom King Soma and Queen Liecia fell in love with at first sight, the one ushered in as the pair’s stepsister, who would later be called the [Virtuous Wolf Princess], Tomoe Inui.
But to say who was reenacted the most, that would probably be Poncho Ishidzuka Pannacotta.
The way of the man who was ridiculed by the people around him as a fatso and boringly eat large amounts of food took the [King’s Personnel Search] as a chance and was able to turn his life around, would rouse the people, weary with the burdens of everyday life, into full vigor and be reenacted in dramas time and time again. Although being called a Cinderella story despite being a plump man might not be apropos, he was not hated but loved, and they would say it was just right for him.
Also, because the fact that the King accepted Poncho was passed on throughout the kingdom, it had the unforeseen secondary effect where talented people gathered in Elfrieden saying “If even he was appointed then I can too …” In later years, a proverb meaning “if we has to start somewhere then let’s do something within reach”, would be coined out of these historic events:
[First let’s begin from Ishidzuka]
◇ ◇ ◇
“Hey Soma, ever thought of returning to your country?”
That night, after the dinner party with the award-winners after the award ceremony.
Liecia and I were having tea in the royal office that had already became my private room⁷. It’s surprisingly convenient since it would be waste of money to deliberately make a room for my private use, and this way I can get to work straight after waking up. Though I think that way of thinking is somewhat workaholic-ish….
As we were taking a breather, Liecia asked me that question.
⁷ I usually sleep on the bed set on a corner of the room.
“What’s this all of a sudden, and we’ve just reached a good milestone by getting money and personnel, too”
“I asked precisely because we’re at a milestone …. I’ve been curious about it”
Liecia said while tracing the rim of her cup with her finger and having her eyes downcast.
“Soma was called out of our own convenience and worked more than we expected. … and yet we who called you over don’t know of any way to send you back. We’re the worst, huh”
“If I were in your shoes I think I’d be mad. So it wouldn’t be strange if you’re angry, either”
Liecia raised her face and looked me straight in the eyes.
“If you have any complaints then tell me. I’ll do anything if it will make up for it. So please, I hope you don’t come to hate this country, the country that you rule over”
“…….. A girl shouldn’t say something like that so easily”
I plopped my hand on Liecia’s head.
Sheesh … why do you have to look like you’re going to cry.
“When a girl says something like that to me I feel like giving in to my lust”
“Um …. If I may then please spare me the torture devices …”
“What kind of person do you think I am!”
I don’t have that kind of hobby …. maybe, I think.
“If I were pressed to ask then I’d like a miniskirt maid course, I guess”
“……. if you will it”
“If we have the money for that I’d rather put it in the budget,” I said and smiled.
“Besides, I don’t feel like going back to my world all that much. There’s nobody waiting for me over there, too….”
“I don’t have family. My foster parent – my grandfather just recently….”
Both my parents seem to have passed away before I was aware of the world. I was raised in my paternal grandparents’ house ever since, but grandma went when I was in high school, and grandpa continued on as if making sure that I successfully graduated from university with his own eyes. One of the reasons I had a preference for stability was because I had the handicap of never experiencing having parents, and I wanted to give grandfather and grandmother some peace of mind. Which is why my only regret was that I could not show them that I gained a stable job.
“Um … sorry”
“No need to say sorry. … rather than finding a way to send me back, I’d prefer having you bring my family’s graves here, I guess. I don’t want the graves of the grandfather who took care of me left unattended”
“I will absolutely help you on that”
Looking at Liecia gripping her hand tightly into a fist, I unintentionally leaked a bitter smile.
◇ ◇ ◇
[Character Sketch: Markus Hatov]
A half-elf whose service spanned the two reigns of Elfrieden’s 13th King Alberto and 14th King Soma. In Alberto’s time he served as prime minister, giving counsel to the King, and in Soma’s time he yielded his post after the [Black Eminence], Hakuya Kwonmin, distingished himself and he became the [Shichuu⁸], busy in charge of assembling the Royal Court. He gently passed Alberto’s reign and was busy during Soma’s reign, and because his work changed when the reigning King changes, he went on to be called the [Water of the Royal Palace].
⁸ «TN : Shizhong / 侍中 »