“Did the rules … fail to avoid a war?”
Jeanne asked, looking uneasy. I shook my head.
“Oh, no, the rules definitely worked. At least during the time the two gods antagonized each other, the worst case scenario of total war breaking out due to the two gods was avoided. The god of the east disintegrated in the end, losing the power to fight, and the god of the west felt safe and stopped their vigilance”
“So it’s a happy ending. Where’s the problem in that?”
“… well, if it ended there, everyone would have lived happily ever after”
“There’s still more?”
“This is all I can say for now. Sorry, but I can’t show my hand just yet”
I cut off the conversation with a strong tone. Jeanne seemed to be even more curious, but abandoned it when she saw my eyes. When I relaxed my shoulders, I said to Jeanne.
“You don’t need to worry, you’ll find out in time. It won’t be any trouble for the Empire”
“… it’s disconcerting”
“I want you to trust me on this, but as far as our country is concerned, we want to walk in step with yours. As long as Empress Maria upholds that ‘humanity should band together and fight the Demon King Army’, the Kingdom will not be your enemy”
Jeanne looked at me doubtfully.
“You didn’t sign the Humanity Declaration, and you still want us to believe you?”
“The Humanity Declaration isn’t the only treaty there is, right? We couldn’t be part of the Humanity Declaration, but I think our country could agree to a bilateral alliance with the Empire. A secret one”
“Secret alliance … is it?”
I made a clear nod.
“We would be settling our domestic matters soon, and we’ll be reforming the military next. We plan on rebuilding the military with the intent of having them move with one will. Also, we’ve de-clawed Amidonia with this incident, so we no longer need to reserve some of our military on the western front. The Army of Elfrieden can now move freely. … and there it is. Right now, the Empire had received calls from the Confederation of Eastern Nations for reinforcements, right?”
“… yes. They’re mostly an assortment of small countries, but most of them are signatories of the Humanity Declaration. As the leader, we would of course send troops to their aid”
“There it is. I’m wondering if you can’t leave that task to us”
What I’m proposing is this: At the center of this continent there was the Star Dragon Mountain Range where wise dragons live in their natural defenses. If the demons wanted to go south, they would have to invade through its west or east. At the western side there was the Empire, but an attack through the east would be handled by the Kingdom. Concretely speaking, if the Confederation of Eastern Nations called for military support, the Kingdom would dispatch relief forces. However, there are procedures for that.
“At that moment, when the Empire as the leader of the Humanity Declaration received the appeal, you would sound out to the Kingdom, and we would respond to your call and dispatch troops. That’s how we’ll do it on the surface”
“… It seems somehow, slow. What for?”
“Power-wise, we still can’t be called a large country, but territory-wise, we rank second if we exclude the Demon King Territory. If word goes out that the largest and second largest countries joined in an alliance, countries are going to go on alert. In particular, Amidonia, Mercenary Nation Zem, and the Republic of Torgis, who’d be sandwiched between us. That’s why we don’t want it to be known that the Kingdom and the Empire are in an alliance”
“I see. That’s why you wanted a secret alliance”
Jeanne made a thoughtful face, probably thinking what the plus and minuses were there for the Kingdom. However, the Empire had nothing to lose by doing so. They could spare the troops they would’ve sent east and strengthened the defense on the western side where their country touches the Demon King Territory. If there’s anything they’d be worried about, it would be our intentions … but Jeanne finally made a big nod.
“I don’t think there’d be any loss to us to accept that. However, is there really any benefits to you to do that?”
“If pressed to ask, then I’d say it’s to have the trust of the Empire. That, and by participating in the war, you wouldn’t be asking for any support money afterwards”
“Well, of course. That was only asked of the countries that don’t participate in the war … but are you sure? I don’t think it can be called a benefit …”
“… well, it doesn’t pay to be mercenary when the existence of humanity is at stake. Other countries won’t look at us kindly if we acted indifferent even though we’re stable”
“I see …”
Jeanne folded her arms and groaned, “hmm”
“In that case then the problem is how close the cooperation would be. The Empire and the Kingdom is on either ends of the continent, so it would take time to convey our intentions. It’s good to be able to deflect relief appeals but the time it would take will be a problem”
“About that, I’ve thought of something. … Hakuya, bring that”
Hakuya stood up and left the room. He came back carrying a box. He then presented the box to Jeanne. The latter received the box with a perplexed face.
“And what might this be?”
“Feel free to open it. I want Lady Maria to have it”
“…? This is … a receiver device? Ah!”
Jeanne seemed to have noticed. Inside the box, there was a simple receiver device I used when giving Georg and the others the Final Counsel.
“That receiver has been tuned to one of our country’s orbs. I would like madam Jeanne to send me one of the Empire’s when you get back there. Tuned to one of the Empire’s orbs as well, of course. We could then contact each other any time”
In other words, using both countries’ orbs and simple receivers, we would create a hotline between the Empire and the Kingdom. Unlike the orbs, you can carry the receivers on foot just fine. When either country contacts the other via the receiver, the other could simply go to where the orb is and open a conference session. We couldn’t send any documents this way since we’re only getting transmissions, but it would be possible when combined with bureaucrat-level shuttle diplomacy. Jeanne was impressed by the proposal.
“Then even Elder Sis who couldn’t leave the Empire could easily converse … what should I say, King Soma’s power of imagination gives me the chills”
“But you exaggerate. It’s a common thing in the world I came from”
“To think something like this is common … um, Soma, your highness. If I may say something rash …”
“Hm? Let’s hear it”
“Thank you very much. Also … Princess Liscia”
Liscia was startled from being suddenly called to, but Jeanne continued without minding.
“Won’t you return the throne to Lord Alberto? The Empire is willing to wholeheartedly support him”
Recommendation to abdicate. Hold on, what is she saying to a country’s King!? Liscia was taken aback for a moment but after having processed the statement her face turned red.
“What are you saying all of a sudden! That will certainly not happen!”
“Why not? This is Lord ALberto’s Kingdom to begin with. Then as Lord Soma is free, come over to us! If you do you can be a prime minister or any rank you want! I’ll even throw in my Elder Sister now, so please be our Emperor!”
“Are you out of your mind!? Do you understand what you’re saying!?”
“Of course I do. Lord Soma’s ideas will lead to a new era. I want to see what kind of Empire Lord Soma could make with Elder Sis. … had we known we wouldn’t have accepted the war support money and got Lord Soma to come at all costs. Would you be willing to come over now?”
Before I could say anything, Liscia loudly slammed the table.
“OF COURSE HE WOULDN’T! Soma is my … our country’s indispensable person!”
She made a menacing look, showing her fangs. I’m honestly happy that she thought so highly of me, but we’re in a negotiation right now. I pat Liscia’s head.
“Calm down Liscia. I’m not going anywhere, okay?”
“… Sorry. I lost my cool there”
“You to Aisha. Stay! Hands off the sword handle”
“A, aren’t you treating me too roughly!?”
Ignoring Aisha’s protests, I looked at Jeanne.
“Sorry, but I can’t accept that”
“Fuh … all right. However, it’s true that we’re regretting it”
Jeanne bowed her head, “thank you for listening to my rude remarks”
“Returning to the topic of alliance … such an important issue cannot be decided by me alone. Since you have magnificently suggested a top-level conference using the Royal Broadcasts, I think it’s proper if you personally discuss this with Elder Sister. In line with that, I would like to return to the Empire with a few of your diplomats, and leave some of ours to take to the Kingdom”
“We of course need to exchange signed documents. Hum … how about this. Appoint one of the diplomatic delegation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary 12 and establish an Embassy on both countries’ capitals. It would be inefficient to travel back and forth everytime we need to come to a decision.
“That would be magnificent! We shall put it under consideration right away. Really … King Soma’s wisdom is an ever-welling spring”
“Like I said, it’s not mine”
Afterwards, Jeanne and I came to a mutual understanding and discussed many things. Like, about how Lady Maria wanted to stop slavery. She had been wanting to abolish this hotbed of human trafficking, but now with the looming threat from the Demon King Territory, she was able to do so under the name of Human Solidarity. Having anticipated that this would be hard to accomplish in times of peace and that she should do it now, it looks like she’s not just a ‘flower child’.
As for myself, I also agree that we should stop slavery 3, but I thought it was too early for it and decided to “wait”. Sudden changes, even though (I think) it was good, would lead to chaos. Having known how much chaos the Arab Spring (I don’t mean to decry the movement itself, of course) engendered in the surrounding countries, I had been careful about these things.
That was why, regarding slavery, I mentioned to the Empire that it should be done a step at a time, and if possible to match with the movements the Kingdom was pushing.
… that kind of important stuff came out one after the other, so the bureaucrats on both sides were running around in a mad rush. They continued until late at night, even after the conference had been settled. I’m sure they would be staying up all night. Giving the bureaucrats a side glance, I took Liscia and Jeanne out to the office balcony.
◇ ◇ ◇
It was late autumn and also late at night, the air was chilly. I asked Selina to prepare hot milk in mug-sized wooden cups, not necessarily to celebrate the successful end of negotiations with, but just to have a toast between us three.
“To the prosperity of the Empire,” said Liscia, raising her cup.
“To the growth of the Kingdom,” said Jeanne, raising her cup.
“To the friendship between both our countries,” I said, rising my cup.
“”” Cheers! “””
We raised our wooden mugs. Since they’ve got hot milk inside, we only sipped them (we’d get burned if we gulped them down) … but, ah, this is delicious. I’ve been enjoying the great taste of cows’ milk since I came to this world. Because far from being pasteurized, they’re not even sterilized 4, they don’t destroy the taste of the milk. Even though it’s a safety problem … I can’t have enough of this!
“We’ve got a lot of profit from the conference this time, haven’t we now,” said Jeanne as she relaxedly savored the hot milk.
“The talks got really loing. It’s almost dawn already”
“… Now that I think back to it, we even talked about things we didn’t need to mention today”
Since we’ve made a Royal Broadcast hotline already, we could have discussed a number of agenda later. Because of that, I felt we did something bad to the bureaucrats.
“We got into a strange mood since it went well into the night …”
“Can’t be helped. We’re happy to have gained a reliable friend,” Jeanne said, laughing.
Friend, is it? Well, since we have a secret alliance, we could call the Empire our friends. As for how this secret alliance is going to influence the world later … I still can’t clearly say, but it’s reassuring to have another country with the same values as we do. The Empire should feel the same way. Then, Jeanne’s face suddenly turned serious.
“There’s something we would like to tell our eastern friend”
“What is it? O western friend”
“About the entity called the ‘Demon King’ in the Demon King Territory”
Demon King. In RPG terms, an entity dominating the demonic beasts and demon races. While not certain, it seems that such an entity exists, or so the previous King Alberto said.
“Have Lady Jeanne ever seen him?”
“No, in fact, nobody has. While the punitive force did penetrate to the deepest part of the Demon King Territory, that force came to almost complete annihilation”
“Hm? Then did you figure something out?”
“There are some among the demon races that seemed to possess capacity for language. We don’t understand the language, but there’s a word that seems to be frequently spoken. Our country’s researchers believed that the word is the name of the Demon King”
Jeanne paused there, then spoke the word as if pronouncing a verdict.
“The word is … Diable Roi 5”
“Diable Roi … ‘Demon King Diable Roi’?
“Yes. That’s what they say the Demon King’s name was”
Jeanne made a solemn nod. Demon King Diable Roi … hm?
“Demon King Diable Roi … Demon King … Diable Roi … Demon King …”
Huh? What the? I think I remember hearing this phrase before. A déjà vu? … no, it isn’t. I’ve heard it before. Where? Where? Not here, but where? Not in this world. So the last world? No, wait. Why Earth? There’s no Demon King on Earth. Why? I shouldn’t know any Diable Roi. And yet, why is it stuck on my mind?
“W, what’s wrong Soma!?”
When I came to, I was being supported by Liscia. Seems like I was holding my head and went unsteady. Seeing Liscia and Jeanne worried, I smiled and said “I’m alright”
“I just feel tired all of a sudden”
“Hum, it is late after all. Let’s call it a day”
Since Jeanne offered, we decided to officially announce what we decided tonight at noon tomorrow in the audience chamber with Julius present, and retire for the day. I asked Serina to show Jeanne to her room while Liscia and I went to Liscia’s room. I want to get to bed right away but since my bed was in the office, I can’t sleep with the bureaucrats working. Which is why I thought to borrow a corner of Liscia’s room.
“Soma … are you really okay?”
When we got to the room, Liscia asked me worriedly.
“… I’m alright. Just a little tired”
“Liar! Soma who could stay up three nights normally wouldn’t get so tired after only one night!”
“Hey now, being figured out from that is a little …”
“Haah … come”
Liscia sat down on the bed and urged me to sit next to her. It’s a heart pounding situation to sit side by side with a cute girl, but being put under the pressure of Liscia’s no-nonsense air, I quietly abided. When I did, Liscia held my head in her arms and laid it down on her lap. She’s giving me the second lap pillow since the date at Parnam. Liscia’s gentle voice came down on me from above.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to tell me the reason, but at least rely on me when you’re tired”
Liscia caressed my forehead.
“… Sorry. And thanks”
“Fufu, you’re welcome”
I closed my eyes and relaxed. The feeling of unease I felt when I heard the name Diable Roi and felt it familiar still hadn’t disappeared, but my heart was at ease just by having my head caressed. I was able to fall asleep without worry thanks to Liscia.
- TN: Ambassador Extraordinary: An ambassador on a permanent mission on foreign soil, as opposed to ambassadors ordinary, who are sent abroad for singular missions. ↩
- TN: Ambassador Plenipotentiary: An ambassador with full authority to represent the head of state. ↩
- but in my case, it’s out of economic rather than humanitarian concerns: I wanted to have them be free citizens and start making money as soon as possible. ↩
- After being milked out, they probably only put it in a metal tub like in “A Dog of Flanders” and cool it down with well or river water ↩
- TN: Literally Demon King. “Devil King”, actually. ↩