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Chapter 1: Hinoe
When I arrived at the castle after receiving a summons for the Prime Minister’s advisor, a young girl dressed in an extremely nostalgic kimono and a group of samurai-like men awaited me. The ten-year-old Princess Shirayuki had a dignified appearance despite her young age. Although she was still young enough to be called a child by many, her face was stiff, perhaps due to being the envoy on whom her nation’s fate was wagered.
“I am Shirayuki, the third daughter of the King of Hinoe, Motonari.1 I would like to express my deepest gratitude to His Majesty for granting me this opportunity of an audience despite the suddenness of my visit.”
In the audience room filled with retainers in rows stood the young princess, courteously bowing to King Vikram who was seated on his throne. She and her seven protectors had journeyed all the way to Palcemith from the distant land of Hinoe.
It must have been quite the arduous journey.
The shortest way to reach Palcemith from Hinoe was around the north, through the Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth and the Republic of Cemtoah. But the Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth looked at Hinoe with a covetous eye, wishing to make it a vassal state facing the Eastern Sea. If Princess Shirayuki, the daughter of the King, were to cross their lands, then they would not stay silent.
Even if they took a route that avoided the territory of the Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth and went around to the south, passing through the Kingdom of Dardenia and the Grand Duchy of Oakneth without any problems, the Republic of Cemtoah lay ahead. Although the Republic of Cemtoah was a country with good relations with the other countries on the continent, the convenience of transportation tended to decrease drastically during the rainy season. If you didn’t have a vehicle or other means of transportation suitable for the monsoon, it will be difficult to navigate even the paved roads.2
The reason why they had to go all the way expressly to the Kingdom of Palcemith to ask for help seemed to lie in the gaze of Princess Shirayuki.
Her gaze was on the man who stood in between the throne and the visitors, his gaze piercing through the envoys from Hinoe unrelentingly while maintaining a composed attitude.
He was the owner of the sword whose name was close to the [Dragon Slaughtering Sword] of which the Princess spoke. He was none other than the wielder of [Quistacis: He who Controls Dragons], Jolga Von Oswein. He was the current head of the Oswein family and the present Knight Commander of the Royal Knights of Palcemith.
And he was the man who was my lover.
I might have had an idea of her reasons, if she had truly come to ask for help from Jolga.
“Princess Shirayuki. For you, the daughter of His Highness Motonari, to take the trouble of coming and asking for help, I understand that there must be a very good reason. But first I wish to ask you something. What happened in Hinoe?”
Urged by King Vikram, Princess Shirayuki nodded and received a long, thin package carefully wrapped in cloth from one of her attendants who was standing at her side. Something heavy seemed to be inside, enough to make the princess stretch her elbows when she caught it.
“…Exactly in the year that I was born, there was a great rumble in the ground in Hinoe. The earth split in two and many people were swallowed by the chasm formed, losing their lives.…Moreover, a huge snake with steel scales appeared from the abyss and demanded yearly sacrifices.”
That familiar word made my spine tense.
“There is an ancient legend that has been passed down in Hinoe. Our ancestors came to the continent of Yugena from a distant foreign land. In the days of lore, a large fiendish serpent inhabited our motherland beyond the sea, and demanded a young maiden be sacrificed each year, just like what is happening now in Hinoe. It is said that a distant ancestor of the Sasaragi clan succeeded in killing the serpent by intoxicating it with wine, and obtained a sword from its tail.”
Ah, I see.
It was the legend of Yamata no Orochi.
As the retainers listened to her story with keen interest, I casually observed Princess Shirayuki and her attendants.
Among the seven who followed the princess as she continued to explain earnestly, the two young men standing right beside her seemed to be around the same age as Sigurd and Lutora. Both of them bowed their heads obediently, but I could sense their attention on Jolga many times for a while. Moreover, their gaze was a bit disturbing and made me feel a sense of danger. Even I could sense it, so of course, Jolga, despite his calm demeanour, must also have noticed.
“That sword was melted and forged into two swords using a special process.…This is one of those swords.”
One of the young men behind her took the long, thin bundle that the princess was raising up, walked up to the throne on which Vikram was sitting, bowed his head, and presented it with both hands. Urged by Vikram’s gaze, when Sigurd received the bundle, he took off the cloth that was wrapping it. What emerged from the inside was a katana, its scabbard and guard firmly fastened with a scarlet cord.
“Yes. This is the treasured sword handed down in my family…the [Dragon Slaughtering Sword].
“…I cannot undo the cord though.”
Sigurd tried to untie the scarlet cord, but the knot was tied so tightly that he could not undo it with his fingers. Lutora took it in his hands to try, but it was in vain. Even Vikarm took the [Dragon Slaughtering Sword] from Sigurd and tried it, but the results were the same.
“It is said that the cord can only be unravelled by a person who is capable of handling the sword.… In Hinoe, it has not been untied for more than ten years.”
“…My father was not blessed with a talent for martial arts, and to my shame, neither are my two older brothers. In recent times, only my grandfather, a master of martial arts, was said to have been able to use it, and ever since he took to heaven, the royal family lost its last user of the sword. It is said that the [Dragon Slaughtering Sword] can even cut through steel scales. Although we have the means to defeat the Orochi right in front of our eyes, it is not possible to wield it.…We asked all the skilled people in the country to attempt to use it, but the sword did not respond.”
“…And thus you came to Palcemith?”
“Yes. I heard that the Knight Commander in this Kingdom wields a treasured sword called [Quistacis: He who Controls Dragons]. While I am aware there is nothing in common between the Orochi and a dragon, but such little time remains that we must cling on to this sliver of hope.”
The princess bit her lip, hanging her head in shame.
“The Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth is trying to invade our country on the pretext of defeating the Orochi. On paper they insist that they only intend to come to the aid of their neighbour Hinoe, but their true purpose is subjugation. If they enter Hinoe, they intend to leave behind soldiers to stay.”
…Hm, that’s clever.
If our troops stay here, it belongs to us.
It’s quite a crude method, but it makes sense.
“Try it out.”
“As you wish.”
Seeing Vikram present the katana to him, Jolga went to the throne and accepted it with both hands.
A commotion ran through the audience chamber.
The moment Jolga touched it, the knot on the cord binding the [Dragon Slaughtering Sword] came undone by itself. Jolga’s hazel eyes narrowed slightly as he lightly pulled at the mouth of the sheath, taking out the blade from the scabbard.
The blade was engraved with a beautiful crest and had not a single trace of rust despite having rested in the scabbard for more than a decade.
Certainly, one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds, which came from the tail of the Yamata no Orochi was said to have been forged later on by the technique used to forge the legendary metal of Hihi’irokane. I believe one of its features was that it was said to never rust.
“Ah…Ahhh…As I thought, you really are!”
In contrast to the Princess Shirayuki, who put her hands over her mouth and shouted with a mixture of astonishment and joy, blatant hostility arose from the two young men behind her. They gnashed their teeth, their fists trembling where they were clenched on the floor. They glared at Jolga with an intense gaze that seemed like it could kill. Was it jealousy of Jolga, whose abilities had been recognised by the sword, or was it something else?
“Your Majesty, please, I beg of you, won’t you save my kingdom, Hinoe? I request Sir Jolga’s assistance. If this continues, Hinoe will be destroyed by the Orochi or by Lidsalessaloth.”
Seeing the young princess bow earnestly, pressing three fingers 3 against the floor, was enough to stir anyone’s desire to protect.
I slightly raised my head and looked at Morino who was standing beside the throne. Morino, who had been staring intently at Jolga holding the sword, noticed my gaze, nodded lightly, and spoke to Vikram.
“Your Majesty. I wish to state my humble opinion.”
“Go ahead, Morino. I don’t mind.”
“Thank you. First of all, I would like to thank Princess Shirayuki and her attendants for taking the trouble to journey to Palcemith. I’m sure the journey must not have been not an easy one. I have the utmost respect for your efforts and beliefs. I will immediately go and ascertain the truth of what the Princesses said about the plight of Hinoe. However, looking at the [Dragon Slaughtering Sword] the Princess brought along, I believe that there is no room for doubt.”
Princess Shirayuki looked a little relieved at Morino’s gentle words.
However, though he appeared gentle, Morino had already been Palcemith’s Prime Minister for some time. He wouldn’t simply show his soft side to a group who had suddenly arrived in the castle from a foreign country, albeit after a long journey, and even had the audacity to directly appeal to the King.
“However, it’s a different matter if you ask us to dispatch Commander Jolga to Hinoe. Commander Jolga is key to our Kingdom’s defence and we cannot simply leave our country unguarded that easily.…You understand?”
“I understand. I am asking for assistance from this Kingdom’s guardian after all. I have already thought of an appropriate compensation.…Asagi.”
This time, a youth who was standing behind the Princess, one of the five attendants who had accompanied Princess Shirayuki, handed over something wrapped in cloth.
Opening up the wrapping cloth with arabesque patterns, stored inside it was luxurious and lustrous beautiful white fabric.
“This is called ‘silk.’ In the continent of Yuzhina, only Hinoe has a method of making this special fabric, and it is highly valued in all countries, sometimes being traded for the same price as gold. And for this…”
“A silkworm, right?”
At my unhesitant words, Princess Shirayuki froze in place and her attendants’ eyes grew wide.
“The method for making silk is a treasured secret. How…did you!”
The stares of the envoys from Hinoe seemed like they would burn a hole through me, but I simply grinned back.
I didn’t think it was a thing to be so shocked about in the first place.
As long as one used others in manufacturing, one should’ve anticipated the risk of information leaking. Well, in this case, I just knew about it from my previous life.
“Before you go any further, let me tell you that mulberry cultivation is quite popular in Palcemith.
“As the harvest of mulberries grows, so do the number of fields.
“…That’s right. You don’t boil them for eating, do you?”
As Morino and I exchanged words, Princess Shirayuki’s complexion grew even worse.
Mulberry leaves are the staple food of the silkworm, and the process of extracting the silk involves boiling the cocoons in hot water.
By implicitly telling them that “We know the raw materials, fodder and processing technique for it,” we made it difficult for them to use silk as a bargaining chip.
As if to deliver an additional blow following my words, Morino asked leisurely, “…Now then, let’s hear it.”
“Princess Shirayuki. What do you plan to offer as compensation for borrowing the Knight Commander?”
The two waiting behind Shirayuki are Seiji and Tokiwa.
The remaining five are Asagi, Tsurara, Tori’ichi, Fukagawa and Yoimachi.
I know that this chapter was super heavy on mythology, but could you leave a positive review for this on NovelUpdates. It really makes me sad to see those 1 stars from the haters…