After the judging was over, Soma, Aisha, and I returned together to the government office. Along the way, Soma suddenly staggered.
Aisha and I went to steady him, but Soma leaned his hand on the wall and said, “I’m alright, just a little unsteady,” while stopping us with his free hand.
“I’m fine. … please let me be alone for a while”
With that he went alone inside the government office. I peeked at his expression as he did, he was pale. He was obviously in bad shape. Left behind there, I talked to Aisha who was in the same situation.
“He was firm and resolute until just now … what happened?”
“I don’t know, … but”
“He looks like a young warrior back from his first battle. His first … killing”
“Which means … the fact that he killed the twelve nobles was weighing on him somehow?”
But that was something Soma did out of his own consideration, right? Then there was no need to regret. Also, Soma killed Gaius VIII of the Principality of Amidonia before. They weren’t his first kills. But when I pointed it out…
“This is just a guess, but with Gaius it was kill or be killed. However, in the twelve nobles’ case, there was no direct threat to His Highness’ life. Even though it was harmful to let them live, he must be continually arguing with himself whether or not his judgement to kill them was right.
Aisha said so as she watched the government office door in worry. … that’s right, I think Aisha’s correct. I heard the world Soma came from was peaceful. It was probably because he came from such a world that Soma hated things that would bring about death. That said, he wasn’t so optimistic as to think that things will be resolved without a single casualty. That was why the policies Soma took always try to bring about the most results with the least sacrifices.
That was something the ruler of a country would naturally be prepared to do. However, Soma’s own heart was probably not so bold as to allow more than the least amount of sacrifices.
“Say Aisha. How do you deal with a warrior like that?”
“Right … we make them forget, or maybe their superiors or seniors would invite them to drink or maybe play with women. These things … are things that you’d compromise on after some time”
Drink, or maybe ….
◇ ◇ ◇
The trial started in the afternoon. It’s turned completely dark now. I didn’t light any fire, and in the darkness of the government office I laid on the bed on my lonesome. There was a mountain of things I must do, but I told Hakuya in advance to let me skip on them just for today. I wanted to fall asleep, but contrary to that wish, my head was still clear.
When I tried working my head, the question of whether my earlier decision was correct or not popped into mind. I consider the execution of the twelve nobles was correct in the long term. Had I let them live, they would’ve hurt someone with a disaster they sowed, and I would surely regret it. Well, that’s what I desperately told my own heart so I don’t come to regret having killed them right now …
[Do all the cruelty in one go]
[The prince need not mind the blame of ruthlessness]
[To prevent falling to ruin, choose the path of war]
[Once you have fallen to ruin, it will be too late to regret what you should have done back then]
Machiavelli’s words replayed in my head. I was only searching for excuses, but if I was going to regret it either way, I should take the choice that kept those important to me from harm. I should’ve resolved myself when I made that decision, but that fact only made me more bitter at my wavering heart.
At that time, the entrance door suddenly opened. I moved my head to see, and there was Liscia and Aisha standing there.
They were only wearing two pieces of hand-towel-sized cloth each. One was wrapped around their hips, the other around their chests like a tube top. Though the open door allowed light from the corridor in, the room was still too dark to make out the looks on their faces. That said, their body lines emphasized by the light’s shadow was very suggestive. Though Aisha’s body height and nice lines were outstanding, Liscia had her own well-proportioned beauty. … honestly, if I weren’t down on the dumps right now, I would’ve lost all powers of reason and jumped them.
“… what are you trying to pull”
A chilling tone that surprised even myself. Shit, what am I saying. This is just me venting out isn’t it? I reworded myself in as calm a tone as I could manage.
“I thought I told you to let me be?”
“We can’t possibly leave you alone looking like that, no?”
Without minding it, Liscia sat down on the bed where I was laying down. Aisha also excused herself and sat herself down on the other side from Liscia. Whichever way I turned my head, there was a pretty girl’s ass waiting there. I had only the choice of covering my eyes with my arm and look up.
“What’s all this about … what do you want …”
“That’s … um … we wanted to make you, uh, forget …”
“ANYWAY! You can do, anything you like with us, so”
“Anyhow, this is the first tim doing this for us, so we’ll be in your care, Your Highness!”
“What are you on about Aisha. I’m … not in the mood for that right now”
“Uuuhh, maybe we should’ve brought miss Juna along too”
Well, Juna’s busy with the transfer from the Navy to us right now. Haah … whatever, they did this because they were worried about me. While I was thinking that, Liscia timidly asked.
“Um, Soma …”
“What is it?”
“… It’s cold, so can we get in the blanket?”
So they’re cold … it’s going to be winter soon, after all. They’d sure be cold in that getup. Actually, they could’ve gone in with clothes, right? Anyway, I ushered the two into the blanket. It’s a single bed with not a lot of space for the three of us, so the two of them naturally were glued close to me. Not going crazy being sandwiched by two half-naked beauties only showed how far I’ve fallen into depression.
“Phew. It’s warm”
“It is, huh. I feel like I can fall asleep just like this”
“This is my room and also the government office, though …”
But well … it sure is warm. I felt my unease gradually dissolve into nothing. Human warmth is great, huh. My heart felt lighter just by having someone right by my side. I can actually feel being protected. I can actually feel wanting to protect. I … can still go on.
“Both of you”
“What is it?”
I then fell into sleep.
◇ ◇ ◇
One month later came news that “The Principality of Amidonia is in Revolt”.