I apologize if things sound weird here and there, its hard to form a sentence without butchering the original, yet still keep the essence, (playing grimm notes and going through my vocaloid library there’s just many good songs I didn’t know about)
16, Conclusion and Motsunabe (Second Chapter)
(Author’s note: Update ⅖)
There is no time left.
I, Ekress, has sent Gann to Shuri, and was heading to Gingus by myself.
This scandal, I must end it as quick as possible.
The reason was simple.
When I was worrying about the information was leaked by Ganglabe-dono, a letter arrived.
The sender of the letter was the famous 『Gourmet Princess』, the princess of the Newbyst Royal Family. Although she is still young, she holds extraordinary talent, a genius who is deeply related to the kingdom’s internal affairs.
It’s from Tebis Newbyst.
She is in possession of a peculiar information network, and is extremely knowledgeable about even the affairs of foreign countries. Her network is thought to have nothing it doesn’t know; that even if Gann was to investigate it, he wouldn’t find anything special.
Looking at the her letter, my spine flowed with cold sweat.
According to it, the criminal that they had arrested was someone the royal family is on friendly terms with.
Therefore, they’ll take procedures to take him off us.
Regarding the charges, the royal family will take responsibility and seek out the truth of the matter.
It’s well worded. Despite the fact that we do not want our relation with Newbyst to become dangerous.
Newbyst is, after overcoming the war between Yuyubi, a large country which achieved rapid growth.
Food is especially excellent.
Their self-sustainability is staggeringly high, and even their ingredients are of the highest quality
And thus, now that they had received Yuyubi’s mine as compensation, they realised improvements to their horse-carriages and transport mechanisms for the sake of food transportation. As a result they were able to gain wealth through food export.
Far surpassing a level of which we could ignore, before we realised, it came to the point where we had to depend on Newbyst for food supplies.
Which is why if this proposal is refused, they will probably exercise economical sanction, limit their food exports and attach a high tariff to it.
That’ll make the food shortage within the territory to become even more severe, let alone becoming a terrifying blow that drags everyone down with it.
However, what relationship does Shuri and Newbyst have?
It’s not normal for a princess to personally turn up to come take away a criminal.
At first, I had thought that Shuri was a sort of spy who was working for Newbyst.
However for the sake of sorting the information, when I investigated Shuri’s possessions, I understood the entire truth.
Carved onto his knife, is the crest of Newbyst’s Royal Family.
His ability was recognised by Newbyst, which meant that even now he is an excellent chef they highly desire at their service.
That means that us from Sounity, had fabricated false charges and thrown such a talented person into jail.
Of course, we from the first prince’s faction did not. To the bitter end it was under the leadership of the second prince’s faction, Gingus. And I was working in order to free Shuri.
However those matters, are absolutely unrelated to Newbyst.
Their point will be nothing more than 『The request for the person who was thought to have committed a crime, Shuri』 even to the end.
That conversation has nothing to do with the truth of the crime.
Just simply, wanting the person, only Shuri.
If we yield to this then, it will affect the honour as a Feudal Lord.
If we refuse, economic sanction is waiting.
We’re cornered. In order the break through this, we can only come together, sentence Shuri as innocent, set someone up to be responsible for this scandal, and work this out properly both inside and out. And then when Tebis-sama visits, we have no choice but to show that 『This problem has already been resolved and the person involved has already consented』.
“This is why, Gingus. How do you explain yourself”
I was facing Gingus in his private room.
As he sat on an office chair, he was glaring at me with a sour look.
On the desk was the report with all the information I had acquired until now and the wineglass I had obtained.
Each of them, evidence, that he couldn’t run away from.
“Let’s stop the excuses and explanations. I want you to say the truth”
“Ah? Why do I have to say something like that to brother”
“You cannot be forgiven for having done this. As your brother, I must get to the bottom of this responsibility” (TL: 責任を精算?)
“If it’s now, you can still revoke your right for heir and end this matter. Newbyst has already departed for us. Finish this matter quic-…”
“Shut the fuck up!!”
Shouted Gingus all of a sudden, eyes wide open.
My body wound up stiffening due to his extremely ghastly look.
What is it, out of the blue?
“You’re fucking annoying!
A woman like you pretending to be a man has no right to order me around!”
My face went pale from surprise.
He shouldn’t have known. Because when Gingus reached the age of being aware, I had already turned into a man.
I lived without letting him know, deceiving him, behaving as his brother.
Despite that, why.
Why does he know?
“I knew. The first thing I did when I brought together my intelligence and military departments was to do a background check on older brother. When I heard the information at the time, I couldn’t believe my ears.
I didn’t want to think that the reason why I had to live as a rehash was because of my older sister who was pretending to be a man!
Was it because I was born late?
Was it because I couldn’t be relied on?
I couldn’t help but hate and hate, anything and everything!
If there’s a thing called fate then, I never thought I would be this fucking hateful!
What hate, it couldn’t be helped that I, myself was miserable!”
Gingus jumped up from his chair and punched the table.
Punching, punching, punching.
At some point, he started crying.
“Why, why is it…. Did we make a mistake somewhere….
I know…. Even that Gann is actually our brother”
“I heard it when Father muttered it drunkenly….
But now, after so long, how am I supposed to treat Gann….”
“It’s already too late”
Gingus wipes away his tears, and raised his face.
“Brother, please don’t leave this room and stay here”
Gingus draws his sword from his waist, pointing it at me.
There’s no, killing intent. I think but……!
“Ekress-sama. I want you to stay in my room.
From here on, a violent storm will be ravaging through this castle.”
“I called out to the commanders of Ganglabe’s Mercenary Corp.
I will arrest them all in one go”
“Impossible! What would happen if you do that!
Besides, there’s also the danger that they’ll release their subordinating troops to run wild!”
“I already said, there’s no time. Brother did as well.
Securing those guys before Newbyst comes, and report that the scandal this time was their fault.
Regarding the cook, we’ll hand him over obediently”
“Even if you do that, Newbyst won’t consent!”
Gingus picked up a piece of paper from the table.
“If my investigations are correct, Princess Tebis is infatuated with the chef. Her plans to invite him as her own imperial cook had been moving forward for quite some time now.
To that kind of princess, those other commanders are actually a nuisance.
Restraining the her favourite chef, that’s their existence.
Which is why, by handing over the chef as negotiation material, the situation this time will be resolved.”
“There’s no way…”
There’s no way something like that will go through.
Thinking about it normally, there’s no way that would go through.
Even if it’s true that Princess Tebis wants the chef.
Using the just chef, I don’t think that it can improve the trade negotiations that will probably begin from here on.
In the first place, the reason that Princess Tebis is coming here is still to 『Demand for the person, Shuri』.
We don’t know if there will be trade negotiations or not, and to harm or confine the commanders of the mercenary corp for the sake of securing the chef is out of the question.
If we do that, for the sake of the thing that Newbyst wants, we’ll even have to play the villain and promise to take responsibility.
If it comes to that, it’s the end. Using our food trade as a shield, we don’t know what unreasonable demands they might make.
If that becomes a precedent, Sounity will completely become Newbyst’s puppet.
“There’s no other way”
Gingus said as if to interrupt my thinking.
With a hoarse, fading voice.
“If it’s brother, with your smarts then, I bet you’ll think that my idea is full of holes. And even think 10 or so steps ahead.
But you see. I understand, since I can only see right in front of me.
We are trapped.
If that’s the case then, no matter what we do, we will be at checkmate.
Don’t you agree?”
Yes, we are already trapped.
We have been trapped since the step when Gingus tried to hurt Father.
No, if it was then, maybe we could’ve still done something.
In the end, that kid.
The fact that we got involved with Shuri himself, it might’ve been our end.
The relationship with Newbyst.
His position in the mercenary corp.
In a place we don’t understand, we don’t know, he may have extended his hand unaware, and formed a relationship.
“It’s about time for them to come”
Gingus sheathes his sword and sat down on his chair once more.
“It’s time the commanders arrive at the castle.
No matter what brother tries now, you cannot change what happens from now on”
“We, can do nothing but watch over the events that are to occur from here on.
Come now, you should watch too brother”
Gingus said, looking at the ceiling.
“Will it be destruction, or will it be checkmate.
Those are the ends to our fate”
Yes, there is no longer anything I can do.
I was so frustrated blood was dripping from my fists.
There is already, nothing I can do.
What should I do….!
“Now then, what do you think of this situation”
“Ganglabe. I think this is a trap”
“I, as well. This sort of letter came specifically from the guy who ordered for our house arrest. My gut tells me there has to be a catch”
“I think so too, su. From the information I grasped, I think the other side is in a rush, su”
We were holding a meeting in front of a letter which arrived at the inn.
Arranging Ganglabe’s Mercenary Corps’ contact network I, Ganglabe had decided on the likely date we were to mobilise, when I read the letter from the royal castle and was reworking on our strategy.
That letter was from the second prince Gingis Sounity and it’s contents as follows.
『I wish to consider the punishment regarding the aforementioned cook.
Not only that I order that all the commanders are to attend to the castle』
In addition to it being written in a way that looked down on us quite a bit, and even despite us being angry that the contents, how no matter how you looked at it was a trap, we were thinking that this is a good opportunity.
“Let’s think about it.
It’s true that this letter is bullshit. Imprisoning the criminal, the castle should have the full authority regarding that what to do, so it’s suspicious that they would intentionally send us a letter. It’s normal to immediately decide the punishment, then call us out to that place.
Despite showing that they want to compromise, the contents seem to want us to just barge in without thinking. It’s extremely suspicious.
Most likely, I think why the contents are like this is because they think that if they decided the punishment then told us to come, we would take action from anger.
But you see, if we go in carrying this letter then, we can enter the castle without any hesitation at all.
Let’s take this opportunity to help Shuri out of there, and escape from this shitty territory.” (Ganglabe)
“That’s not a bad idea but, we don’t know where Shuri is held right?” (Cougar)
“They only said the dungeon after all.
It wasn’t confirmed if it was a special jail or a normal jail.
Since it’s a castle. It’s different from the guard’s cells.
Let me just say this but, we don’t know if there’s a special jail or not” (Ahrius)
“Once we get inside the castle should we erase our presence and search around together, su?” (Teg)
Teg’s suggestion is alluring but, there’s no way we can do it just like that.
“That’s dangerous Teg.
If we proceed with even one of us is missing as witnesses then, they might suspect that we left to recover Shuri.” (Cougar)
“That’s true. If possible, wait for an opportunity at the conference room, then request to leave but….” (Ahrius)
Ahrius said, looking troubled as she worries.
Indeed, Teg and Ahrius’ points are valid. If even one of us is missing despite it being a gathering for everyone it’ll be nothing less than suspicious. If we wait for an opportunity at the conference room then we might be able to do something with Teg’s scouting abilities but, that’s wishful thinking.
It’s not out of the question but, it’s rather unlikely.
Trying to sort this out, we don’t know the most vital information, that is, Shuri’s whereabouts.
It can even be said that this is fatal for a rescue operation. If we don’t know the location of our rescue target then, we can’t even think to plan the route, from the rescue to the breakout.
However, thinking about it now, this is strange.
Rumours have no doors. Even if it’s a territory like this, even if it’s the castle town, from the village to the city, it’s a truth which can be applied.
At any rate, by nature humans are not tough enough to carry grave secrets.
There are those who can with training and education but, normally you’d wish to tell someone.
By the way, this isn’t for the sake of adding to the argument. It’s also not for the sake of passing time with the pretty girl at the bar outside of town.
In short, it’s because you would want a comrade you can share such a grave secret with.
If you can’t carry it by yourself then, it’s fine to let others carry the burden as well. And then if the information leaks then it’ll be that person’s fault.
Dispersion of mental baggage. It’s one of the self-defence mechanisms humans have.
Which is why, there is one answer that can be derived from this.
There is only one person in charge of actually monitoring Shuri.
That guy is manipulating all the information so that it doesn’t spread outside. The opponent is quite skilled. I think it can be said that regarding information wars, that person has reached an expert level.
Most likely, it’s the man Teg saw have an audience with the first prince. I think that man is an elite of their spy department although he is acting as Shuri’s jailor.
Now then, what should we do.
To be honest, as long as we can end up grasping Shuri’s whereabouts, we’ve won.
Preparation for that sake. As it were, I’m worrying over the method of information gathering.
Being limited by time, an excuse to naturally send off Teg.
As I was contemplating, the edge of my clothes was pulled.
“Hn, What’s up? Riru?”
Riru lets go of my clothes and tilted her head looking curiously.
“Why are you worrying so much?”
“Because there’s no way to find Shuri’s whereabouts.
You understand right?”
Riru shook her head sideways.
“Riru doesn’t think that there’s a need for complicated tactics or strategies this time.”
What does she mean?
Before I could continue my words, Riru says.
“Break through the front. It’s good if we can rescue Shuri with a swift attack operation.
Contact our subordinates, if we guarantee enough members for a jailbreak then, the rest can be done with everyone’s strength like, donnn”
Riru spreads out her hands to represent the largeness of the, donnn.
However, it’s simple.
It’s simple but, kukuku.
“Haha, that’s true.
There’s no need to worry”
I once again looked at my comrade’s expressions.
Everyone was looking as if they agreed to this simple answer.
And with an impatient look as if they wanted to wreck havoc.
A swift attack operation huh.
I see, if I borrow the power of everyone here then wouldn’t we be able to get through this somehow.
The expert of the sword, Cougar cuts open a path.
The professional of archery and scouting, Teg can quickly save Shuri.
The master of magic, Ahrius annihilates the enemy.
The heaven-sent genius of magic engineering, Riru gathers attention with her inventions.
Lastly I, with my rough strategies, will rack my brain, and manage somehow.
Now then, when I was trying think of a strategy, Riru started talking again.
“Honestly speaking Riru has a concern with the rescue operation”
“Concern? What concerns do you have with everyone here being warriors capable of matching a thousand”
“It’s about Shuri”
“Shuri? We’ll definitely save him. From those at the castle, everyone”
“If we harm the people of the castle, Shuri will definitely feel hurt”
Riru looked downwards.
“Since, Shuri is kind. Up till now, he has supported Riru and everyone with our jobs and finding solutions to whatever he could.
But, if we’re reckless with the operation this time and get hurt, or hurt the people of the castle.
I think that Shuri will definitely be hurt thinking that it was his fault”
Riru looked down, her expression as if saying of her worries and anxious feelings.
Those words, made all of us think for a little bit.
Cougar, folding his arms with a difficult expression.
Ahrius, pondering with her hand on her chin.
Teg was grimacing, looking up at the ceiling.
Similar I too, change my thoughts, thinking we have to rework the operation.
Indeed, Shuri is kind. Thinking about what to cook while worrying about us, and building up good feelings between the subordinates.
To the point where he’s too kind.
I think he’s too kind to live amongst a mercenary corp.
Even if I say that, the workplace of a mercenary corp is in the battlefield. Shuri has also accepted that. Which is why I can’t bring myself to tell him to stop.
What about this time?
If I were to say then, the battle this time can be summarised with just revenge.
The reason being arresting Shuri.
Shuri is the victim. However, what would he think if we got hurt in a fight that has nothing to do with work, if it becomes that the people in the castle die en masse, and we return to being a drifting mercenary corp?
He might blame himself thinking that it was his fault.
On the contrary, it’s also troubling what Shuri would become if he was to look straight on, as the scramble of lives is being unfolded in front of him. Even the fact that Shuri has avoided going to the front lines until now, was due to that kindness.
I have seen this countless times.
Before going out to the battlefield, that person was a nice guy. Their skill with the sword wasn’t bad, and there was no problem with their character.
However, killing people on a battlefield, the smell of blood clinging to their body, the scenes of the battlefield filled with corpses wound up burning into their brain, and that guy ended up breaking down and quit. Regarding people’s deaths, not even mentioning that our jobs are the cause. Kind people cannot come with us.
That applies even to Shuri.
Shuri is kind. Originally, he shouldn’t be in something like a mercenary corp, it would’ve been fine even if he was working at a bar in town.
However, I met him, ate his food, and thought. I ended up thinking.
That this guy is necessary for our mercenary corp.
Which is why I took him in, keeping him here.
I understand that if I really thought of him as a comrade I should’ve let Newbyst have him.
If it’s there right now then, there’s no need to pull Shuri along to battlefields, he’ll be appointed to a high rank due to his cooking skill, it’s easy to imagine him achieving success. Safely, and at ease.
Having not done that, was my selfishness. It was just my own selfish judgment.
And that, must continue even now.
“That’s true. That guy is kind, a person who understands people’s feelings. I don’t want to show him too much of that stuff.
In that case”
In order to continue, I can only rack at my brain.
In order to protect my comrade, my family.
Making this brain rotate with all it’s power, to construct a strategy.
“Without hurting even a single person is, impossible but.
Without killing even a single person then, it’s possible somehow”
All the commanders focused at my words.
Wait for us, Shuri.
We’ll end this dispute, and go meet you!
(TL: So should I keep the brackets saying who says what all the time? or just when it gets confusing? Cause everyone actually has a unique way of speaking but it’s hard to convert it to english without it sounding weird and I don’t wanna go all ‘ay duncha go tachin dat’
I don’t know how to poll here so… Strawpoll yolo )