A while after the news programme ended, the broadcast receiver placed on the plaza in a corner of Vannes was showing a pair of man and woman. The man was a young man wearing a black tuxedo while the woman was a young dark elf girl in a red dress. In contrast to the man who was standing magnificently, the woman was looking tense. Right then, one of the audience said, “oi, isn’t the man Elfrieden’s King?” and in response, those who had seen the Elfrieden Army enter Vannes said things like “that’s right! I saw him when he entered!”, or “that’s Elfrieden’s King Soma!” or “there’s no mistaking him!”.
Not knowing that he was being talked about like that, Soma put on a gentle expression and put a 20 cm long thing with a rounded end 1 to his mouth and said [Good evening].
[Songs accompany the world and the world accompanies Song. There are songs that are handed down through the ages]
[W, wait, what’s that line!? That’s not what we rehearsed, right!?]
Looks like that line was ad-libbed and confused the young girl.
[I’m this show’s presenter Souma Kazuya]
[I, I’m Aisha Udgard!]
[Hang on, Aisha, don’t be so tense. Smile, smile]
[Y, Your Highness too, why are you speaking politely!?]
[Well, I’m a presenter here. Can’t put on airs just because I’m the king, can I?]
[But you just went back to your normal tone while you said that!]
[Whoops, my bad]
Soma made a light joke and Aisha became the butt of it. An Elfriedenian would have looked at those two warmly with a smile, but the people of Amidonia had perplexed faces on. They have heard that Soma was the one who ingeniously trifled with the brave Gaius VIII and valiantly killed him 2. They could not associate that courageous and wise King with the young man who was teasing the dark elf they were seeing on the broadcast.
“His highness the Prince lost to this?”
“I know, he must be trying to get us to let our guard down!”
“But why? Vannes already surrendered, didn’t we?”
“Well, that’s … hm, I wonder why?”
Away from the bewildered residents of Vannes, Soma continued his presenting.
[Now then, this broadcast is Elfrieden’s first ever Music Programme. We have gathered ladies with all different kinds of singing voices of for this broadcast. These three are all wonderful talents, exactly what I’d call Lorelei]
This was the moment when the term that was this world’s equivalent of idol, the [Lorelei] was conceived.
[This programme was brought to relieve all you who are tired after a day’s work. Please have a listen to the Lorelei’s songs to the end and ‘relax’]
[Why is the last word in monotone!?]
[Don’t mind it. Anyway, it’s your line next, Aisha]
Prompted by Soma, Aisha flusteredly continued.
[Ummm … We have three singers today but Elfrieden is currently recruiting those of you who are proud of your singing voices. M, myananyawyomya 3 …]
[Q, quiet down please. Umm … men and women of all ages, self-recommended or otherwise are allowed]
[Well, we certainly do want some male singers. Hum, but you can’t really call men Lorelei, can you. What should we call them then? Merman?]
[That’s a monster’s name already. It doesn’t need to be related to the sea, right? Ah, um … anyone who’s proud of their singing voice and anyone who loves to sing can apply for an audition at a “Lorelei” branch store in a city near you]
[Lorelei has branch stores!?]
[Why are you surprised Your Highness!?”
[Well, I’ve been leaving everything related to the auditions to Juna …]
[By the way, the main store is the one in Lagoon city]
[The one in Parnam is a branch store!?]
Someone in the audience in Vannes giggled as Soma did his retort. That person hurriedly covered his mouth. He thought he might get beaten up by the others if they saw him laugh seeing a broadcast. That was why the plaza in Vannes had been wrapped in a tense air for a while. Not knowing the tension in Vannes’ plaza, Soma continued.
[Now then, let’s call them in. The first Lorelei is a legal loli hobbit with the looks of a young girl but the heart of an adult, miss Pamille Caroll!]
[Miss Pamille’s favorite thing is taking a nap at lunchtime, but lately she’s been feeling really good and slept until morning, and then sleep in late. … um, Your Highness? Is this information really necessary?]
[Now then, let’s hear it for Pamille Caroll with “Koi no Dig Dug” 4 !]
As Soma said that, a somewhat carefree tune played. At the same time, the broadcast projected the image of a balcony in a wide hall. There stood a lovely young girl who looked about twelve years of age clad in a dress with lots of frills attached. This must be the Pamille Caroll he was talking about. Pamille brought both her hands over her chest and began singing in a bell-like voice that matches her appearance.
A lovely young girl singing in a lovely voice. Seeing the spectacle, the people of Amidonia thought, cute, but they didn’t question whether the song was good or bad, they were just perplexed. The Royal Broadcast was showing a young girl singing. Was the scene happening before their eyes real or not?
“What’s with that girl. She’s really cute”
“Yeah, well, she’s cute … but is it okay to use the Royal Broadcast like this?”
“Don’t ask me. Like I’d know that”
“Lord Gaius would never have used it for anything frivolous”
“Is this kind of thing normal in Elfrieden?”
Conversations of such nature were exchanged all over the place. Is this the difference in culture between Elfrieden and Amidonia? Was the King of Elfrieden the one who produced this broadcast? The people in the citiy of Vannes occupied by Elfrieden received a particularly big shock.
“I see … we’re in Elfrieden now”
Someone from the audience muttered that. That nonchalant remark spread among the audience like water soaking into parched soil.
“Vannes is now Elfrieden Kingdom territory, is it?”
“Well, that’s what occupation means, I guess”
“Which means we’re no longer in Amidonia anymore?”
“Huh, so there’s no problem with showing this kind of broadcast anymore?”
Meanwhile, in a different place from the confused people of Vannes, the broadcast continued. Pamille sang her song to the end while scattering her charm, then Soma and Aisha came back on stage.
[And that was miss Pamille Caroll with Koi no Dig Dug. I must say ~ music is really nice, isn’t it]
[I wonder why. I was thinking “That’s music, isn’t it” despite myself]
[Now then, continuing on to the next song, let’s have the next talent sing us a song full of spirit. Her best part is her volume forged singing sailor’s songs in men-infested fishing grounds. A simple cat-eared girl born in the Nine Headed Dragon Archipelago. Nanna Kamidzuki]
[Miss Nanna’s dream is to be able to eat her favorite fish Tuna whole, but she could never do it out at sea where they were on the lookout against food snitchers … um, is this really, actually necessary?]
[Now let’s give it for Nanna Kamidzuki with “Love Song Sagashite” 5]
[Ah, so you’re completely letting it pass …]
The next singer to appear was the lively cat-eared young girl Nanna Kamidzuki in a light punk costume. Her healty limbs liberally exposed by her sleeveless top and short pants and her peeking navel drew out her charm that was lovely despite its androgynity. As Nanna began to sing she jumped down from the balcony.
“H, hey …”
That scene made the audience hold their breaths, it was probably something not rehearsed. They noticed the fixed orb hurriedly being moved. Her singing voice continued so there was no problem but for a while Nanna wasn’t showing on the broadcast. When she finally returned, Nanna looked to be enjoying herself dancing on the stairs underneath. As the audience sighed in relief, they were drawn into her song and dance.
“Good on you missy! More!”
“The song’s good too, huh. It feels lively and bright”
Having gotten used to it by the second performance, those voices came out from among the packed audience at Vannes. A young girl was enjoying herself singing and dancing. Every man who saw it would enjoy himself too. Unexpectedly, however, the women of Amidonia were more shocked than the men. Their attentions were focused on Nanna’s fashion show.
“Isn’t she cold wearing that?”
“It’s fine since she’s indoors, right?”
“But looking like that … isn’t she afraid she’d be yelled at for leading men astray?”
The Principality of Amidonia was first and foremost a military focused country. The men are expected to be strong more than anything, and the women modest and supportive of them. For that reason, besides in formal occasions, women weren’t allowed to dress up. The reason was that by dressing up, they would entice men and become a source of weakness, which was troubling. To say nothing about wearing those clothes that expose lots of skin 6 and standing in public view, that might have had gotten her arrested for upsetting the public morals.
“I suppose she wouldn’t get arrested in Elfrieden”
“It’s another country after all. The King looks like a nice person, too”
“… how nice”
But women who wanted to be beautiful, women who wanted to dress up exist across national borders and ethnic boundaries. They wanted something like Pamille’s frilly dress earlier and Nanna’s open costume now. If they could, they also wanted to try wearing that and dancing. Their clothing lit a spark of fire in the hearts of the Amidonian women. Especially those who lived in Vannes.
“We’re not in Amidonia anymore, right?”
“So that means we can dress up too?”
“We could, couldn’t we? The angry soldiers all left the city anyways”
It ended up becoming that conversation. By the time Nanna’s lively song ended, applause erupted from the audience. Nobody worried about whether Soma was trying to win them over any longer. That was how much they enjoyed the show. When Nanna’s song ended, the broadcast temporarily cut off. They were probably putting the orb back in its place. After a while the broadcast came back on and showed the wryly smiling Soma and Aisha.
[… we underestimated Nanna’s liveliness]
[… you can say that again]
[I never thought that in an age where doing manzai with a mic was commonplace there would be someone who would introduce a 55-skits-legend-like overaction where you jump out of the frame of a fixed camera … My, Nanna Kamidzuki, such a frightening child]
[What are you talking about? And why did you say it in feminine speech?]
[Now let us return to the show. And for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s now finally time for our country’s prided Prima Lorelei to make her appearance]
[Miss Juna, she’s been popular since her first broadcast hasn’t she]
Thinking back to it, Juna Doma had completely become Elfrieden’s top songstress ever since the second Royal Broadcast. She was unveiled at the time of the Personnel Gathering Awards Ceremony to buy time to listen to Tomoe, and she became the charming host during the foodstuff gathering too, so her fame and popularity was going through the roof. Juna faced the popularity with a wry smile saying “I’m also a commissioned officer in the navy too, though”.
[… the National Assembly sent me a petition letter saying “please broadcast Juna’s singing voice more”, which of course weirded me out]
[Uwaa … umm, miss Juna was looking for herb tea for stiff shoulders lately … those who have them big have it hard]
[…. Well then let’s hear it for Juna Doma with “Lights ~ Haruka naru Tabidachi 7“]
[What was that pause just now?]
The screen showed Soma looking the other way while Aisha was glaring at him and faded out, in their place appeared the blue haired beauty Juna Doma. She was wearing a piece of fabric wrapped around her upper body while her lower body was clad in a pair of puffy white pants that tightened around her ankles. There was a thin silken veil covering her face, making her look like a dancer straight out of the world of “1001 nights”. Her beauty captivated the men and women of the audience, and when her voice finally came out, Elfriedenians and Amidonians alike swallowed their breaths.
The audience now knew what Soma meant when he said “Prima Lorelei”. Juna’s voice was not like Pamille’s voice that carried a unique character. However, her intonation that was overflowing with expressive power was seared in their memories deeper than Pamille’s did. Also, while the volume of her voice was far from Nanna’s volume that was forged in the fishing grounds, but her graceful intonations permeated deeper into their hearts. The audience were convinced, Juna Doma was without peer in history, the number one Lorelei of this age.
The Amidonian members of the audience were completely mesmerized by the three songstresses. So the Royal Broadcast could be this much fun, they thought. At this point, nobody cared whether this was a means by Soma to win them over any longer. It was an overused expression, but music is the act of enjoying sounds 8. That was why nobody noticed Soma’s intent.
There was only one exception.
◇ ◇ ◇
“That king. He plays dirty …”
In a plaza in the fortress town [Nerva] at the southwestern edge of Amidonia, one person who was blending in with the audience watching the broadcast muttered. That person was hiding themselves by wearing a hooded cloak and their expression was unreadable. What was clear was that the person was a slight bit smaller compared to the other members of the audience and that they were female judging from the tone of their voice. There was another person next to the hooded woman, who was dressed in the same way as her but had a larger build (though they were just at the average height of an adult male). They asked her.
“Playing dirty, is it?”
“Aye, dirty. He suddenly gies the people what Faither took awa’ from them. Julius cannae hope tae get his rights back now 9”
Well, tha’ might be guid for the folk tho, the hooded girl shrugged her shoulders. The hooded man standing next to her looked at her confused.
“Um, Princess. What did His Highness Gaius take away?”
“Whut else? O course it’s [freedom], Colbert-han”
The hooded little girl was Gaius VIII’s daughter Roroa Amidonia and the hooded man was the former Finance Minister Colbert who hid himself together with Roroa. Roroa pointed at the broadcast and said
“Ye dinnae think tha’ Amidonia will ever be usin’ the Royal Broadcast like that, dressin’ the bonnie lasses up an lettin’ the lads go ooh an aah over them d’ye? Faither dinna like tae spread tha’ kinda weakness around ye see. But that King wants showin’ the folk tha’ Elfrieden allows tha’ sort o thing”
“In other words, he showed them freedom”
Colbert answered, to which Roroa clapped her hands, aye, exactly.
“Och aye. Thas why he plays dirty. Freedom is ‘free’. Soma willna’ hurt any gieing them that, but they’ll fight back if we take that awa’ from them. D’ye think that right awful brother will gie them [freedom] after borrowin’ the Empire’s power tae get Vannes back? … Aye right! He willna’ fash over the folk rebellin’, thar’s sure goin’ tae be chaos”
“Huh!? Did Soma even go so far as to even take the loss of Vannes into consideration!?”
“Thas how is lookin’ in ma eyes”
Colbert widened his eyes. This little girl in front of him, who if you took away her cloak would look just like a cute little tanuki, was able to accurately guess the aim of Soma who led Gaius VIII by the nose. If the Lord of Amidonia weren’t Gaius or Julius but Roroa, would the future of Amidonia have been different? There’s no mistaking it, is there. That realization vexed Colbert. However, the person herself, Roroa, wasn’t even thinking like that at all.
“Well he’s not an enemy Faither can win against. That’s cause Faither dinna ken anythin’ outwith the battlefield . Sheesh … no matter how many times A told him tha’ if we dinnae stimulate consumption an revitalize the economy we’ll stay in depression, but he never listens”
Hearing Roroa anguishedly talk, Colbert flusteredly said.
“Um, Princess … about your Father …”
“Ach, dinna fash yerself. A’m not all tha’ fasht anyway”
The other day Amidonia had just been crushed by Elfrieden in battle and word reached Roroa that her father Gaius VIII had been killed by Elfrieden’s King Soma Kazuya. But in contrast to the worried Colbert, Roroa only waved her hands.
“A wonder why, tho, whan A heard Faither died A dinna feel sad at all. So ev’n in the end A cannae get along wi’ Faither and Julius, eh …”
“If pushed tae say I’d say it wis more shockin’ tha’ A wisna’ shocked. Afore grudging Soma for killin’ Faither A’m rather more curious abou’ him. The way he restored tha’ old-fashioned country an the way he used the Royal Broadcast … A wonder whut sort o world he was aifter livin’ in. A wanna go and meet wi’ him. … Colbert-han, am A cauld-hearted?”
A pair of uneasy eyes peeked out from under the hood. Those teary eyes looked just like an abandoned puppy. Seeing Roroa like that, Colbert shook his head, no!
“Princess is not like Gaius, you truly were thinking for this country! That’s why you feel closer to Soma who also thinks for the people rather than Gaius or Julius who puts policy and ideology first! That is the sign that you’re the true Princess of this country!”
Colbert rattled on and on, and Roroa who should’ve had a look like an abandoned puppy, said:
“Really? Guid than”
Then she giggled.
(W, wait, was that crocodile tears!?)
Of course, even the gentle Colbert was angered, but he held himself back. That’s because both ways are possible with Roroa. This girl is capable of both acting like she was sad or acting like she wasn’t sad even though she really was. Only Roroa herself knew what was inside her heart. Colbert had known her long enough to understand that, being one of the few people who shared his economic sense. Which is why Colbert refrained from saying anything.
Looking at Colbert, Roroa smiled. She took his arm and began to walk.
“Come now, we hafta hurry as well. Soma is movin’ a lot faster than A thought”
As she walked, Roroa turned her head back. She saw Soma’s face in the projection and smiled.
(A’m not lettin’ ye do a quickie 10 on this country an run away whan you please. A’m goin’ tae git ye tae take proper responsibility. Git ready, Soma♪)
- It’s supposed to be a mic but since the Royal Broadcast Orb picked up all sound it was just decoration 11 ↩
- He only pierced through a gap in Gaius’ defense in the middle of a fight but these details weren’t made widely known ↩
- TN: She’s trying to say rounyakunannyo (men and women old and young) ↩
- TN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYL9qr52D6s ↩
- TN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ2t-DXVv_w ↩
- Just showing their hands and feet were considered too much exposure. ↩
- TN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHwzve31kNg ↩
- TN: the word for music (音楽) is composed of the words for sound (音) and enjoyment (楽) ↩
- TN: I hope I’m not overdoing Roroa’s accent Here‘s the last part without the accent if you find it too hard to read… ↩
- TN: yarinige: fuck-and-chuck / wham-bam-thank-you-maam / sleep with someone then disappear ↩
- TN: TIL wordpress supports proper footnotes. I’ll be using these from now on ↩