“Kuzunoha company’s peddling permission?”
“Yeah, he has saved my and his Majesty’s life in Rotsgard. We called him here to give our gratitude, so doing nothing won’t do. Raidou made a petition himself, and it isn’t a subject that needs any heavy regulation, so I have given him a response geared towards accepting.” (Joshua)
“Is there some sort of problem? A number of nobles that want him to make a store will probably be unsatisfied with this decision, but it shouldn’t be disadvantageous for us.” (Joshua)
“Yes, I think Joshua-sama’s thinking is correct. If he wished for it, it should be appropriate as an expression of gratitude.”
“It makes me happy that Hibiki says so as well. But well, the fact that this is currently the only request of Raidou makes me feel troubled though. It would actually make me feel more at ease if he were to ask for land or a peerage.” (Joshua)
A conversation with Joshua and Hibiki.
The conversation was about the Kuzunoha Company.
The promise that Joshua made to Raidou about the permission for the peddling the Kuzunoha Company did on the territory.
The two were talking about that matter.
Bredda was also there, but as of now, he hasn’t joined the conversation.
“He probably thinks he has obtained plenty enough compensation.” (Hibiki)
“No way. To say it is plenty enough when he saved the king and prince of a major power, there shouldn’t be a person who thinks in that way.” (Joshua)
“…If it’s him, it is possible. He is that kind of person.” (Hibiki)
“It is certainly true that Raidou has an uhm…a kind way of thinking, that doesn’t fit a merchant. But even he should have some sort of avarice. I would also like to recompense him a bit more. It wouldn’t be good to leave strange lingering discomfort after all.” (Joshua)
“You wanted to say he has a naive way of thinking, right Joshua-sama? That’s actually right, you know.” (Hibiki)
“Even so, that’s not a word that should be directed towards someone that has saved my life, Hibiki.” (Joshua)
Hibiki restates the words of Joshua who chose his words.
Joshua rebukes her, but there was no stormy atmosphere between the two.
Bredda was silently drinking tea.
It was easy to see that this is an usual occurrence.
“What are Joshua-sama’s thoughts about how we should associate with them from now on?” (Hibiki)
The true meaning of Hibiki’s question was not to ask the opinion of Joshua’s personal opinion only, but to include the king’s stance, and the will of the nobles.
Joshua is the advisor of the king, and the number of people that think his opinion is the opinion of the king are not few.
“He himself is someone that doesn’t hold evil intentions. The strength they have as a company and the ability of its employees can become a threat depending on the sides it takes, but in basis, I think I want to build a favorable relationship. It is clear that it is not simple peddling, and in reality, the contribution Mio-dono achieved outside her schedule in the reconstruction was splendid. It seems like they have cooperated with the reconstruction of Rotsgard as well, but from what I see, they probably have done more of their part in the work than a simple cooperator. I was about to overlook that part in the report that I had gotten.” (Joshua)
“Rotsgard has already regained its former form and is advancing to a step further than that. It is saddening, but the speed to stand back up was clearly different from the capital. There’s no doubt the Kuzunoha Company played a big part in it. Just looking at their achievements, it is truly an appealing existence, but…” (Hibiki)
Anguish shows in Hibiki’s face.
“As I thought, there’s problems too huh. In my eyes, they look like partners that can become extremely beneficial though… Then, from Hibiki’s viewpoint, how does he look to you?” (Joshua)
“Right now it is hard to put it in clear words but…there’s a few points.” (Hibiki)
“I don’t mind. Let’s hear it.” (Joshua)
“First of all, he doesn’t have an interest in the war that’s currently occurring in the world. On top of that, even though he is the Head of a power that can be considered a nation, he doesn’t have any intentions to gain more than what he personally views. It is incredibly unstable, and engaging them carelessly is way too dangerous.” (Hibiki)
“Assuming that there are a number of other people that have the same power as Mio-dono in the Kuzunoha Company, and taking Raiou-dono’s power into consideration as well, then not only a mercenary group, they would possess a military force akin to a nation. I consider it is proper to think of them to be in a nation level. But what’s that about not being interested in the war? I don’t understand the part about being unstable either.” (Joshua)
“It means exactly as I have said. He has the notable characteristic that no matter how much the hyumans, demi-humans, and demons do war with each other, he won’t care. Also, he has no discrimination towards the demi-humans, and it is possible that if asked to provide accommodations because of troubles…they would most likely sell goods even to the demon race.” (Hibiki)
“No way! That’s an act of betrayal towards hyumans!”
Bredda speaks out for the first time.
While they are doing business in the hyuman country, they sell goods to the demon race.
Thinking about it from the common sense of Bredda -no, from the common sense of a hyuman, it is an inconceivable act.
“…Even to the demon race? He didn’t look like he had such a lack of integrity though.” (Joshua)
Joshua narrows his brows at the opinion of Hibiki.
Because in Joshua’s eyes, Raidou didn’t look like a person that would sell goods to the demon race for profit.
“…It is not that there’s no integrity in profit. In that sense, I actually think he is loose. The point of beingr troubled is what plays a big part.” (Hibiki)
“For example, no matter the cause, if there’s a demon race village that was unable to secure food supply in winter and there’s a request for help, they would help them out even if it is a situation where even payment is doubtful?” (Joshua)
“Yeah. Of course, even if there’s a request for help similar to that from hyumans or demi-humans, they would most likely reach the same decision. He is…kind, after all.” (Hibiki)
“As a result, the war would grow longer…and a great number of lives would be lost, bringing ruin to the world as a whole, and yet, he would still do it?” (Joshua)
“He is kind after all. If there’s someone in trouble, no matter if hyuman or demon, he would most likely save them. Demi-humans wounded by hyumans, hyumans that were wounded by demi-humans…without discrimination.” (Hibiki)
“…I see. It is certainly true that Raidou-dono gave that kind of feeling. The part that he would choose help over profit. If in his mind, hyumans and demons are equally worthy of saving, they will become an incredibly troublesome existence.” (Joshua)
“Yes. For hyumans and demons alike, they will become an exceedingly dangerous existence.” (Hibiki)
“It is so sudden it is hard to believe, but since it is something Hibiki says, it is worth considering. If they are contributing to the demon race in the same manner as with us, it would not be good. But…even if that’s truly the case, we still have no choice but to continue with our current way of interacting. I see, so this is what’s troubling you, Hibiki.” (Joshua)
Joshua continued his words as he thought about the methods that can be taken with the Kuzunoha Company, and then, he noticed the reason for Hibiki’s heavy expression.
“…Yes. We have no choice but to have a favorable relationship with them. If they are an existence that brings benefits to both sides, we have to get involved with them as well.” (Hibiki)
The expression of Hibiki was still bitter, and it was comprehensible.
If it’s an existence that they can expect benefits in being involved with, even if they bring benefits to the enemy as well, they have no choice but to be involved with them as well.
Even if they are dangerous, as long as they don’t have a clear countermeasure for them, they won’t be able to break the deadlock, so they have to continue with how their relationship currently is.
“Fufufu, right. There’s no reason for us to throw away that benefit ourselves. And in truth, in this time’s visit, we have utilized them plenty after all. And yet, they are being taken as a threat. It is truly a misfortune.” (Joshua)
Joshua laughs in a self-depreciating manner.
The visit of the Kuzunoha Company has several objectives they have not been told about.
Thinking about that, a smile unconsciously came out.
“I will try to convince him at least. If…he were to side with us, it would solve most of the problems without doubt after all.” (Hibiki)
“It is written all over your face that you don’t think it will go well.” (Joshua)
“Honestly speaking, I don’t have the confidence. His sense of worth is already a lot more different than mine. I don’t know if we will be able to reach an understanding.” (Hibiki)
“I pray for your success. I want to continue having a good relationship with him after all.” (Joshua)
“Regarding that, I heartfeltly agree as well. It is someone I definitely wouldn’t want to be in trouble with after all.” (Hibiki)
“Someone you definitely don’t want to be in trouble with huh. Well, fine then. Regarding Raidou, I will leave the decision making to you. Well then Hibiki, you won’t mind if I advance things just as we have discussed, right?” (Joshua)
“Yes. I was meddled a bit by Mio-san, but there won’t be any problems. Let’s continue with it in one go.” (Hibiki)
The talk finished, and Hibiki stands from her seat.
Joshua also stood up a second later, and sees her off.
Bredda was about to leave the room following Hibiki as if natural, but at that moment, he was called from behind.
“Bredda, there’s something I have to talk with you about.”
Being in a different pattern from normal, Bredda let out a dumbfounded voice.
There have been times when Bredda has been in presence of the conversation between Hibiki and Joshua, but there’s never been something after that.
He was with the thoughts of only accompanying Hibiki, so it is an expected reaction.
“Ara, then I will be going ahead.” (Hibiki)
Hibiki didn’t show any special surprise and leaves promptly.
“Wai–, Hibiki?!” (Bredda)
The door was ruthlessly closed.
“…Seriously, what do you want, Joshua?” (Bredda)
Because Hibiki was now gone, Bredda returns to his sibling way of speaking and takes seat in a slightly violent manner.
He asks for Joshua’s business.
“Brother, I have established several occasions for this kind of meetings, but you haven’t participated in any of them properly, right?” (Joshua)
“I am present only as a knight and a bodyguard of Hibiki. In the first place, I am not in a position to say my opinion.” (Bredda)
“Because there was the will of the king as well, I have given tacit consent to brother’s attitude until now, but with the capital in this state, I can’t just leave it as always.” (Joshua)
“…Listen here Joshua…” (Bredda)
“Isn’t it time to be thinking about the ruling of the country? Not as a knight, nor a party member of Hibiki’s, but as the successor of father.” (Joshua)
“…You are talking about that? I have decided to be the shield of Hibiki as a knight. If it’s about the throne, you succeed it. If it’s Joshua, there’s no one who would be against it.” (Bredda)
“I don’t have the gift to be a ruler. In this time of war, the role of the king is to encourage the whole country, and the one who is the most fit for that role of being the king of Limia is you, brother. In the first place, I have already abandoned the succession of the throne.” (Joshua)
“It is just fine to say you want it back. In the first place, me being the decoration and you being the counsellor is not that different from you being the one directly doing things. I refuse being a simple decoration hanging.” (Bredda)
“Abandoning the succession of the throne is not something as simple as that you know. Also, if you are able to fulfill the role of a decoration, then in a sense, it can be considered a talent for being king.” (Joshua)
“But I have been telling you haven’t I? I want to be of use to Hibiki—” (Bredda)
“If you think that way, why can’t you understand that being the next king is the best move?!” (Joshua)
Bredda tried to finish the conversation in the same note, but today was different in all senses.
Interrupting his words, Joshua shouted.
At the same time, Joshua hits the table and a loud sound reverberated in the place.
“…What did you say?” (Bredda)
“Looking at the current Hibiki, you should be able to tell. She is already in a territory that a normal person can’t catch up to. That’s right…there’s already no way for brother to become the shield of Hibiki! When in the party, the most you can do is guard the priestess and Wudi, right?!” (Joshua)
Watching the mock battle of Raidou, Joshua was able to understand plenty enough that Hibiki’s strength had already surpassed the line of normal.
She clearly had a strength that went a different path from that of a strong adventurer.
The same could be said for Raidou, but it was evident that it was a different dimension from the trained strength of Bredda.
“Joshua, you…what are you trying to…” (Bredda)
“Brother will definitely become shackles for Hibiki in time, that’s what I am trying to say. Before turning into that, I am advising you to help her out in politics! Let me tell you this, you are only a prodigy by birth. Because of the king’s lineage.” (Joshua)
“Shut up!!” (Bredda)
“For example, the three of Kuzunoha Company, no matter which one of those three brother fights, you wouldn’t be able to defeat any. But if you move as the king of Limia, brother will have plenty enough power to become the strength of Hibiki.” (Joshua)
“I’m telling you to shut up!!” (Bredda)
“This is father’s will!” (Joshua)
“…It’s not that I think this way. If the capital gets attacked again, is there an assurance that the king will be safe? If he were to fall in this state where we still haven’t announced the next successor… We can’t have the current Limia fight over who will be the next successor. Something like that, even brother understands, right? Father is thinking about announcing brother as the next successor. Things like reading the heart of your own father, you should at least be able to do that without having me telling you, brother!” (Joshua)
“I can still do it. I will become stronger and support Hibiki.” (Bredda)
“I know that brother is someone that doesn’t slack in his efforts, but not only Hibiki; the priestess, Wudi, and also Naval; everyone possesses outstanding talent. It isn’t something that one can keep up with just hard work. Fortunately, brother’s defensive sword style can become a help in moments of need. Please take heed of my words.” (Joshua)
“Then what will they do about my substitute?! Yeah, it is certainly true that my strength is lacking, but is there any other person that’s able to support the current Hibiki at her side? Before talking about being me being the king, shouldn’t you first find that person?” (Bredda)
“…There is.” (Joshua)
“I said there is one. We will be meeting that person after the Kuzunoha Company leaves though.” (Joshua)
Heartless words came from Joshua.
Bredda was at a loss for words, and was dumbfounded by the unyielding attitude of his little brother he had never seen before.
Finishing my plans of the day, I had returned to my room and was passing a leisure time with Lime.
He was doing maintenance to his katana that had finished recovering, in a good mood while talking about the state of the land near the castle.
“As expected, they are still far from being finished in the reconstruction.” (Makoto)
“Right. There’s also the point that Rotsgard is just way too fast though. Mio-neesan showed several things, so there’s probably going to be a request for help from the prince or maybe someone else.” (Lime)
“If it’s about helping with the reconstruction, I don’t mind helping in a permissible level though. It would definitely be a lot easier for the people that come from Rotsgard if the groundwork has been done after all.” (Makoto)
“It would be great if that much is enough though.” (Lime)
“That’s the most we can do. No matter the case, if the war intensifies once more…” (Makoto)
“The demon race huh. I don’t think they will match the conveniency of hyumans and not attack in winter, but…I wonder what they are planning. If it were me, I would immediately come to crush the weakened Limia though.” (Lime)
For the demon race, winter is a season that’s easy for them to defend in.
For hyumans, it is hard to attack.
But just as Lime says, it doesn’t mean the demons will have a hard time attacking too.
This is something that I can say with confidence after meeting them; the Demon Lord is not the type that would loosen in the offensive.
He is a person that would attack with no hesitation.
In other words, there’s a reason why he is not going for the attack.
In that case, this time where they are waiting for spring and the time they are doing their best in the reconstruction is actually a vital time for the hyumans.
Because it means that the demons are preparing a hand that is bigger than attacking the current Limia after all.
“Right. Well, when the time comes, I will move as well, so it won’t turn into the worst scenario.” (Makoto)
“Boss will move? You didn’t seem to have much interest in the war though.” (Lime)
“Hm? I don’t have any interest in the war, I also have no intentions in participating. Just that, I don’t think the demon race has much intentions of meddling with merchants and adventurers that much, so no matter what happens with the hegemony of society, I don’t think much would change in our everyday life.” (Makoto)
“…Getting along with the demon race is kind of a…complicated feeling. Then what do you mean by moving?” (Lime)
“Meaning that I will try to save Senpai at least. I don’t know about this country though.” (Makoto)
“…That’s just like Boss-ssu. Hm? Someone’s coming. This is…Hibiki-ssu ne. This late in the night, that’s rare. (Lime)
“Senpai? If she has any business, it would be with me huh.” (Makoto)
“Most likely. Well, even if Boss and Hibiki pass a night together, nothing will be happening, so it is most likely not going to end in seduction.” (Lime)
“Oh, sharp words there. Leaving aside me, from what I know, Senpai is quite popular you know?” (Makoto)
“…Well, she pretends as if she knows how to deal with men. She is the same as Boss, so she won’t be able to do those kind of things.” (Lime)
“The same as me?” (Makoto)
“Hehe, just ignore this delirious talk of a man that has travelled along with her.” (Lime)
What is he talking about?
The points that Senpai and I have in common are pretty few, you know.
After a bit, knocking comes from the door.
“It is Hibiki. Do you have a bit of time?” (Hibiki)
“Come in.” (Makoto)
Just like what Lime said, it was Senpai.
“…So Lime was here too. Can you please…no, Raidou-dono, can you accompany me for a bit? It might take a while though.” (Hibiki)
Is it something that she doesn’t want to talk about in this room?
At the very least, it doesn’t seem to be something related to the priestess-san.
I don’t think we will be visiting her at this late of an hour after all.
“It is okay. Then Lime, I will be leaving for a bit. It is okay to go rest before me.” (Makoto)
“Okay. I will do that.” (Lime)
Lime lowers his head.
His mouth was smiling, but his eyes weren’t smiling much.
Maybe because Tomoe or someone of that line has asked him to be cautious of her?
But even if he is going to eavesdrop, there’s nothing that would trouble me if he heard, so I will just let him do whatever he wants.
“Then, let’s go.”
Senpai is trying to feign it as always, but I could tell from her body that she was tense.
Just like when we talked about the priestess, I don’t think this will be a comfortable talk.
Because of the recall ritual, it has become a pretty good development for me in Limia though.
Waterfall seemed to be the sober type of dragon, but she opened the library and brought us back, so she is quite the open-hearted fellow.
I have also received the peddling permission for the Forest Oni’s unit, and as long as we are able to return without anything happening, it would be great.
But it won’t go so smoothly huh.
It depends on the talk with Senpai, but maybe I should try talking with her about the recall ritual.
I think that information about returning home is important.
Yeah, that’s not bad.
The back of Senpai made a silence flow through us, and that provided me time to arrange my thoughts.
In time, Senpai’s legs stop and turns towards me.
Senpai and I were in a part of the castle, at a corridor where we could easily see all the land around the castle.