Chapter 16: Arrival at the Empire
“… I see. What a splendid cityscape.”
Ten days have passed since Lute received the report from Klaus. Currently, Lute and his team were in the capital city of the Froysel Empire “Bely”.
The reason for this is extremely simple: a summons to Lute was given in the name of Emperor Friedrich.
So, Lute, who received the order, Heinrich as Lute’s escort and valet, and Azure as a guide and reporter for the empire, and the carriage carrying them, set out for the capital of the empire, Bely. Lute’s men, except for Heinrich, were to stay behind with the invading army. The decision was made to avoid slowing down the journey by taking extra people with them, since Lute would be able to handle most of the problems that might arise along the way.
“Even so, as expected of the two great empires. It’s a long way to the capital……”
“That’s right. I didn’t think it would take ten days for a horse-drawn carriage, even a high-speed carriage using a ‘light horse’ to make a round trip. I wonder how many round trips from one end of the country to the other would be possible.”
“No kidding, it was a smart decision to narrow down the number of people.”
Recalling their journey so far, the two men, both from a small country, let out an admiration similar to exasperation.
The carriage that Lute and the others were riding in was different from normal ones, and even among the carriages owned by the invading army, it is one of the wagons held by the invading army that has specialized performance for transportation and evacuation of dignitaries.
The carriage is pulled by a [magic beast], a type of beast that has evolved from the normal type through the use of magic, the “light horse”. They are horses with high mobility among magical beasts, and can run faster and longer than normal horses by using magic to generate a buoyant force field when they run, thereby reducing the burden on their bodies.
In addition to this, the carriage itself is made of lightweight yet sturdy wood, and the driver is a special person who can handle “lightweight” magic.
Thus, the carriage, which is made up of a horse, a body, and a driver, boasts a running capacity more than twice that of a normal carriage. …… The fact that it takes 10 days for even a carriage with such ultra-high-performance running ability to be completed shows the vastness of the empire.
“Once again, I think the messenger must have had a hard time. I heard that the invading forces used carrier pigeons to communicate, but the replies were carried by the soldiers, right? And I hear it took quite a short time to travel.”
“Yes. They are experts in the field. As you know, the influence of the empire is not limited to within the country. It is not uncommon for important and urgent communications to be sent outside the country. For such occasions, the empire trains specialized messengers who can travel long distances at high speed.”
Lute rolled his tongue at Azure’s explanation. His attitude toward information transmission is quite impressive. Asking Azure for more details, she said that in order to cover the vast territory of the empire, the use of carrier pigeons and other means of communication is being actively adopted. It is also said that new means of information transmission are constantly being sought, and it is declared in the name of the emperor that those who come up with groundbreaking ideas will receive huge rewards.
“In addition to the transmission of information, there are several other things that are promised as rewards in the name of the Emperor. Many of the citizens are inventors who want to get rich from their new inventions.”
“As expected of a technological superpower that is always on the lookout to acquire new inventions.”
Lute gave a wry smile, saying that this would be a great power. His stance of seeking new wisdom from a wide range of people, even from ordinary people, is indispensable for the development of technology. However, in the present age where social status has permeated as a social system, it is not so easy to develop a national project that does not depend on status.
What made this happen was, without a doubt, the emperor and the rest of the nation’s upper echelons’ insatiable appetite for “development”. This is evidence that there are many people in the empire who have flexible minds that kick aside common sense, and can be said to be part of the reason why the empire is able to reign as one of the two giants of the continent.
“If Lute-sama has any inventions or interesting ideas, please contact the Imperial Ministry of Technology. I am sure that you will be able to use your flexible thinking to come up with some great ideas.”
“No, no, no. That’s too much of an overestimation, Azure-dono. By the way, if possible, I’d like to refrain from doing that. New technology is often diverted to military use. I don’t really want to get involved.”
“……Is that right? Well, new technology can certainly be an effective tool in diplomacy. It seems that you, Lute-dono, do not want to get involved in national politics, and it can’t be helped if you are unwilling to do so.”
“… There are many things I want to say, but let me just say one thing. That ‘diplomacy’ definitely includes war.”
“I won’t deny it.”
“It’s scary oi…”
Lute shrugged his shoulders with an exasperated face at Azure’s matter-of-fact statement. War is the last resort of diplomacy, and it is something that should be avoided under normal circumstances. Talking about it as if it were a natural option in diplomacy, the empire’s temperament is clearly manifested….The fact that the Empire is so concerned with expanding its territory, there is no reason why the quick option of “robbing others” should not be buried as a last resort.
“…Well, that’s why the war with the Land Kingdom started so quickly. How could they consolidate that many people and supplies in such a short period of time and start a war with so much territory? And the beginning of the war was such an unpredictable and idiotic outburst. The fact that they were able to pull it off even then is proof that they are prepared for emergencies on a regular basis.”
“Of course. “It is too late to make hasty preparations in case of an emergency,” is the first lesson our soldiers are taught.”
“You have hammered it into even the lowest soldiers. That’s hardcore.”
Lute sighs with his cheekbones, having seen yet another example of what makes a powerful country.
War, or most things, not just war, are determined by how well prepared we are. In other words, contingencies such as war are nothing more than a showcase; in fact, peacetime is when war is really waged. This is common knowledge for those who understand the nature of war, but for the lowest-ranking soldiers, often the third son or younger who did not succeed in taking over the family business, there are usually few who understand this principle.
But not in the empire. They have spread such war theories down to the very end of the line. In today’s world, where there is a strong tendency to say, “The soldiers at the end of the line should just follow orders from the top without knowing anything,” the difference in awareness is too fatal. There is too much room for growth between an army in which the majority of people have stopped thinking and an army in which at least everyone has the foundation to think. As time goes on, the gap with other countries will widen at an accelerated pace.
The earliest enthusiasm for war is so fundamentally different that, from Lute’s point of view, it is laughable
“Well, in regards to this war, in order to deal with the changes in the borders due to the annexation, we had to allocate more troops than usual to the Gilse area. Without that, I don’t think we would have been able to invade at such a rapid pace..”
“I see. In other words, there was no luck….. In addition to technological strength, military strength, and economic strength, we have been let down by luck as well. It would be pointless to prolong our life a little. Heinrich, it does not look like our homeland has long to live, does it?”
“… Your Highness. Please don’t ask me that.”
“Hahaha. That was a nasty question indeed. Well, forgive me.”
Heinrich let out a small sigh in response to Lute shaking his head saying that there was nothing he could do. Heinrich is one of those who chose to abandon his country and serve Lute. Therefore, he does not worry about the future of the Land Kingdom. It would be a lie to say that he does not have his own thoughts, but they do not sway his beliefs. If he were to venture to say so, he would say that he feels the fragility of the world, because even after the literal “miracle of demi-god Lute”, the Kingdom of Land cannot escape its fate of extinction.
Seeing Heinrich like that, Lute smiled wryly and clapped his hands to change the topic.
“Now, let’s stop with the sobering talk. The immediate future is more important than the not-so-distant future. After all, it seems we are almost at our destination.”
At the same time as these words were spoken, the carriage in which Lute and the others were riding stopped moving. It seemed to have arrived at the castle gate, and they could hear the gatekeeper inquiring about its direction.
And after a few exchanges, the carriage started moving again.
“… Hmm. It feels like we’re finally here. I wonder what will happen after this? Azure-dono, do you know anything?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I think that today, both of you will probably rest at the royal castle to heal the fatigue of your trip, and Lute-sama will have an audience with His Majesty the Emperor in the near future… As expected, I can’t say for sure.”
“Well, that’s true.”
What came back from Azure was the same prediction that Lute had envisioned.
It was only natural. No matter how much Azure was from the empire, she was with Lute and the others during this trip. She could not possibly know the schedule in the castle, so she could only give an estimate based on her own experience and knowledge.
“It can’t be helped. It’s a little scary, but we’ll take it as it comes.”
“I don’t think you need to be so defensive…”
“What are you talking about, Azure-dono. We’re from a small country that’s on the verge of extinction, you know? If we were to set foot in the royal castle of the Empire, the greatest of all the great powers, we would naturally be a bit nervous. Right, Heinrich?”
“That’s right. Let’s just say that, aside from His Highness, it is at least moderately stimulating for this old man.”
In addition, The two men who declared this had a very relaxed expression on their faces. Heinrich, because of his many years of experience, and Lute, because of his own extra-rational power and innate brazenness, were laughing in an aloof manner, showing no signs of nervousness. Involuntarily, Azure almost muttered, “What kind of a mouth do you have ……?.”.
“Well, that was a joke. But I’m prepared for some contingency.”
“… is it an unforeseen situation?”
“Yeah, but I’m not talking about a raid or anything dark like that. I’m just preparing myself for the unexpected welcome I’m going to get. I am a demi-god, after all. I can’t predict it without making jokes.”
“I see. Is that what you mean?”
Azure raised her voice in agreement with Lute’s words. It is true, without exaggeration, that Lute’s presence will influence the future of the nation. In addition, this is the first time in the history of the empire that a demi-god has offered to be subordinated to the government. It is unlikely that he will be treated badly, but what kind of response he will receive is completely unknown.
“We could get out of the carriage, and could be thrust in front of His Majesty the Emperor, if we’re not careful.”
Normally, an audience takes a long time to be granted. One must go through the proper procedures to request an audience, and then wait for permission to be granted. Only after permission is granted and a date and time are specified does the meeting take place.
From the standpoint of coordinating work and establishing authority, it is unlikely that such a process would be omitted, but it is not unlikely that an exception would be made when dealing with a transcendent person of demi-god status.
Therefore, Lute was prepared to the extent that he did not show it.
“Everyone, we have arrived”
──And the decision was right.
A breathtaking sigh emanates from Azure, who was the first to get out of the carriage because of her role.
Next, when Heinrich and Lute got off the wagon, they were met by soldiers dressed in unusual military uniforms and Azure kneeling on one knee.
“We meet you for the first time. The demi-god of freezing. I’m Liselotte Klamm Froysel. I am the one who has been bestowed by my father, His Majesty the Emperor, to play the important role of welcoming you.”
─ ─ There was a young silver princess.