Chapter 9: Intermission – King, Former General, and Witch I
It was late summer, just before the start of autumn.
The king of the Greisis Kingdom, Soleil, was working overtime alone in his office, late into the night. Reading the report in front of him, he massaged his forehead with his fingers. In the past, this amount of work would be nothing, but it had been getting tough as of late.
(I’ve gotten old…)
He complained silently. Still, he possessed the appearance of someone in their 20s so such a statement could almost be seen as sarcastic.
The reason why Soleil rubbed his eyes wasn’t because of fatigue. The contents of the report were what was troubling him.
It was a report on the entire drug incident that occurred that summer. It was handed in by his oldest son Marcus and had practically everything about the incident written down.
The sequence of events in the incident and its conclusion; the criminals and those involved with them; those arrested; the victims affected by the drug; future countermeasures; and the signatures of managers from the Military Bureau, Patrol Bureau, and Research and Development Bureau were submitted to the king.
As Marcus, the most likely candidate to inherit the throne, was the one who submitted this report, it reached the king’s hand without being snuffed out halfway. Furthermore, there were initials and seals all over the documents, so it would have been nearly impossible to alter anything.
According to the person himself:
“I met directly with the managers in charge and received their signatures.”
Marcus grinned as if freed from a heavy burden.
The report explained how the manager of the orphanage, Baron Armin, packaged and handed the drug over to several sellers.
Baron Navy’s eldest son, Ignatz Navy, had identified Baron Armin and has also named multiple aristocrats and merchants, who sold the drug after buying the ‘sweets’ under the guise of donating to the orphanage. These folks were already in the hands of the Patrol Bureau and were waiting for the law to judge them.
But as they were aristocrats or those with supporters in high places, it would be hard to pin any punishment fitting the crime on them. Besides, they only sold the drug and to those who had wanted the drugs and willingly paid for them. Furthermore, Marcus surmised that since the victims’ family members wanted to hide their connection to such a dangerous drug, they wouldn’t prosecute.
In the end, the ones arrested under these charges would most likely only pay a sum of money and lessen their sentence by several years.
(He really is doing a good job…)
Soleil sighed again. According to the report, Baron Armin had reached his limits managing the orphanage and so he acted as an intermediary for the drug trade. The sellers merely sold whatever they received from the baron. The orphanage only participated in the trade, not production, so Marcus was unable to uncover any info on the drug’s refining process or production requirements. Even the three, still unidentified, corpses couldn’t provide anything usable as proof. If Baron Armin was still alive, they would have some direction to investigate, but with the man dead, the chain had been cut off and the drug’s origins could no longer be investigated.
(Even though we’ve gathered this much proof, we can’t reach a verdict due to it all being circumstantial… And there’s still something about Baron Armin’s case that’s bothering me.)
The conclusion of the investigation of Baron Armin showed that the baron was in the wrong. However, there were signs that his business was manipulated into its decline. When it finally sunk and he was left in a tough position and without aid from the kingdom, the drug trade became his lifeboat.
(It’s too much of a coincidence… Then, was it planned?)
In that case, Baron Armin was dragged into this and played right into the true criminal’s hands. And that criminal was still hiding and planning something.
Soleil recalled his youngest son. That child had noticed this. He must have planned to expose the mastermind with this incident, eliminate the crisis strangling the kingdom’s people, and reduce the malicious powers inside the castle. But unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse.
Soleil looked down at the report again. The reason why the boy’s name didn’t appear once in this report was Marcus’s decision.
The reason for Marcus purposely excluding Herscherik’s name must be to protect the boy. He was the 1st prince and the son of the king and a princess from an allied country. He concluded that since he had supporters backing him, he should stand in the frontline of the investigation, and provide some protection to his supporter-less younger brother, Herscherik.
This Marcus showed a strong determination.
(I’m glad that he has matured, but…)
Soleil furrowed his brow.
He had a notion that Herscherik was up to something this summer, as his own chief butler had already given him his report. Of course, it was only because the king and his confidant were already paying attention to the boy, since he was three in fact, that they noticed his actions now. But this incident may have also revealed the prince’s existence and abilities to their enemies.
Herscherik must have understood that as well. Soleil let out another sigh, too many to count now.
The door to the king’s office was opened without a knock.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty.”
Even though an action as rude as this would usually have led to an arrest, the king went to greet the intruder, who he knew could raise up quite a storm, with a smile.
The king knew that only this man was unaware of how disrespectful it was to enter the king’s office this late at night, or perhaps the man didn’t even think about the time when he entered.
The former general of the Greisis Kingdom, Lord Ordis, had walked in; he who was better known by his other name: the Blazing General.
“It has been a long time, Master.”
Soleil stood up and greeted the man. To Soleil, this man, Roland Ordis, was someone who deserved his respect—his swordsmanship master.
Although he said that, the king had just stuck to his 2nd brother’s side like a burr and ended up being trained while Roland was here for his brother.
“You’re no longer my student, you know… forget it. I appreciate you taking care of my son.”
Roland said with a respectful bow.
“I didn’t do anything.”
Soleil let out a strained laugh at the man’s words.
“I just gave the spark. The rest was left up to them.”
It had started with a request from the general. His son had absolutely no motivation for anything. The general had asked if there was any way to put life back in his son.
That was why Soleil had prepared a competitive stage to inject even the slightest stimulus into Octavian, in the form of Herscherik’s personal knight selection. Although he had arranged the contest he was worried about Herscherik’s well-being, he had also hoped that his son would be able to find a knight he would approve of.
And in the end, Herscherik chose his own knight. Furthermore, it was Lord Ordis’s son, Octavian.
“Among all the siblings, he’s the one with the most talent, if he’s willing to work for it.”
Roland had sensed Octavian’s talent. As he had trained many knights and soldiers before, he saw how bright Octavian’s talent shone, even out of the children who had inherited his talent.
If he polished his abilities, Octavian could one day become an existence who would overcome the Blazing General himself.
But there was one thing he lacked despite naturally possessing all the qualities of a knight.
Knights exist for their master. Without a master, a knight would not be able to fully utilize their power. Two years ago when Oran lost his fiancée, he closed his heart to the royal family—the very beings he was meant to be loyal towards.
But his heart was out of it and so he no longer worked hard. Even as his grades at the academy were dropping, he was probably unconsciously waiting for a reason to move again: a worthy master to serve.
“His Highness Herscherik resembles the late king.”
Roland closed his eyes as he went through his memories. Before Roland had become a general, he was the previous king’s personal knight.
“I often snuck out to town with His Highness.”
Back when the previous king had yet become king, the two went to the castle town together often.
“I only believe what I can see. Those who feign loyalty fill their reports with lies and convenient words.”
That was what the previous king had always said. Thinking back on it, it may have just been an excuse to sneak out, but in the end, the experience did benefit him greatly in the future.
Herscherik acted of his own volition and strove to do the right and just thing; something he believed would be best for the kingdom. Just like the previous king.
That wise and celebrated king, to whom Roland had sworn his body and soul, was no longer in this world. His last wish was for Roland to protect the kingdom from foreign enemies as a general.
But even Roland couldn’t win against old age. As time passed, he felt his body weaken, and he eventually retired, but he could not let this kingdom continue on its slow descent.
His two eldest sons inherited his will and became knights, but they were still somewhat lacking. Octavian following Herscherik, who resembled the previous king, felt like history repeating itself—like destiny.
“You have my gratitude.”
Roland lowered his head again.
“No, I’m nothing but a coward…”
Soleil felt that all the things he should be doing were piling up on top of his youngest son. But he couldn’t act carelessly anymore. If he did, then everything he had tried so desperately to protect would be null, even as his powerlessness caused more mayhem.
That was how powerful the enemy was.
“…Now then, how long are you going to act like that?”
Roland called out, facing the depressed king. To be more accurate, he wasn’t addressing Soleil, but the existence that had been hidden in the room since the start.
“Eh~ Roland, if you knew, you should’ve said so earlier. Even though I was reading the mood like a human for you~”
In this room that seemed to contain no one else other than the two men, the voice of a third person, a woman, resounded. With the ring of a bell in their ears, a woman appeared before them.