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“I’m sure you’re all wondering why I gathered you here.”
Ein said as he put his hands on the table, his chin leaning on top of his hands. He sat at the single chair that was located on the east end of the table, while the rest of us—me, Iris, Carbuncle, Luca, Kiri, Alt-nii, Harvey, and Clavis—were sitting on the seats to the north and south side of the table.
This positioning indeed made it seem like we were all on a meeting that was initiated and led by Ein, but actually, that was the case after all.
We were now in the Loera’s main residence, as per Ein’s invitation.
Dmitria, Valerie, and Briar didn’t come because they had some schoolwork they needed to do. Meanwhile, the younger ones, Leti, Freyr, and Freyja were playing together in the royal castle.
The place we were having this ‘meeting’ was the Loera residence’s library. A place befitting for a meeting.
Before the meeting even started, Ein guided us to the library as he boasted about it.
“Our residence’s library is only second to the imperial library. There are even some records entrusted only to us here.”
At first, I thought he was exaggerating, but Luca affirmed his boast.
“The Loera family is indeed the ‘record keeper’ and ‘advisor’ to the royal family,” he added.
So, while the other three ducal houses got to deal with defending the borders, the relatively safe Loera family didn’t just have it easy, for they had another important task to do.
Back to the current situation, we were going to have a real meeting, this wasn’t just a joke.
“The situation is getting worse, can you all tell? I never imagined I’d live in a key historical moment,” Ein said with a serious face, but there was a hint of excitement on his eyes.
Although he wanted to discuss about a serious matter, he was merely an eleven-year-old boy, so obviously there was some childishness left in how he viewed matters. Even so, he tried not to let it show, albeit his eyes betraying it.
All of us nodded, except for Carbuncle who heaved a very long and audible sigh.
“Geeeeez, I can’t understand you Non-Draconis. I now understand why my kin decided to live separately from all of you.”
“Are you going back, then, Kuu-chan?” Iris asked in a worry.
Carbuncle stopped sighing and looked at Iris and all of us, who were looking at her expectantly.
“Nah, not now. But you get the deal, I won’t get involved no matter what. I’d breach the most fundamental rule of being a dragonkin if I were to get involved in the war between Non-Draconis, I’d be a pariah,” Carbuncle shrugged.
In the next second, she grinned as she said, “But once the situation gets bad enough, I guess I can help you all to escape to another land to live peacefully.”
“Out of question,” Luca quickly said.
“Nope,” Kiri answered.
“Eeeh…,” I was at a loss of words.
Her offer was good, but I got why Luca and Kiri rejected it and why the rest of us didn’t positively respond to her offer.
I was getting attached to the life I had and abandoning it and everyone I knew to live in another land didn’t seem to be the best solution. If any, I’d try my best to do something in the best ability I could do, to help my loved ones resolve this issue so that we could resume our peaceful lives together.
“Alright, I know. But if push comes to shove, I wouldn’t mind doing it for you guys,” Carbuncle shrugged.
“We appreciate it,” Luca said.
For Carbuncle to offer it, it was clear that she held us to her heart. We weren’t just some worthless mortals whose lives she couldn’t care less.
She had come such a long way after living with us for so long.
“Putting that aside, as far as I know, the adults are thinking to approach Cielle kingdom,” Ein pulled us back to the topic.
Luca nodded in response as he added, “Naraka empire’s hostility is frightening and our country thinks that negotiating with them is useless, so we’re starting with Cielle kingdom, who seems to be more amicable. Father is thinking about sending delegations to Cielle kingdom.”
“Delegation…,” I muttered.
“It’s not yet decided, but Luca and I are among the delegates,” Kiri said.
“Huh?” I was surprised at Kiri’s statement.
“Indeed. Father can’t leave the country. Mother shouldn’t too, for Leti’s sake. I am the best candidate,” Luca said.
“But you’re the crown prince…,” Harvey said.
“I already had my coming-of-age ceremony. Asking the adult crown prince of a country to negotiate doesn’t seem to be out of question, right? The experience is going to teach me a lot of valuable lessons, too,” Luca responded.
“In exchange, they are also going to send their kingdom’s crown princess as part of their delegation here,” Kiri added, as if understanding what Harvey was asking about.
In other words, it was all a fair trade. If they had a bad intention towards our country’s crown prince, we could do the same with their crown princess and vice versa. I guess the fact that Cielle kingdom agreed to do this was because they also trusted us and wanted to express their goodwill in return. This looked good. I hope it’d be a success.
But, even so…
It felt so surreal.
We were already at an age where we could shoulder bigger responsibilities like this, huh?
I turned to look at Luca. He must have shouldered bigger responsibilities than the rest of his peers, as he was going to succeed the throne in the future.
Right. We were no longer children that had to be protected from the world’s danger all the time. We were now adults that had to learn how the world works, to inherit our ancestors’ legacy.
“Obviously, it’s not just going to be us. Father said he’ll send other trusted personnel with us,” Luca added.
Among the candidates listed, I recognized Gale—one of the royal spies, and Medea—one of the royal magicians.
It was still debated whether other nobles my generation would need to be delegates, and it would also depend on Cielle’s decision.
“The royal family of Cielle kingdom… I heard that they weren’t as complicated as Naraka empire’s?” Alt-nii mumbled.
“Yes. The emperor of Naraka empire had ruled the country for almost a century. He has a lot of descendants that don’t seem to be in good relationship with one another as almost all of them are vying for the throne that their father refused to let go,” Ein explained like a walking encyclopaedia.
I sucked in a mouthful of cold air.
They were already hostile among their own kins, let alone with the elves who were so contrast from them…?
“Meanwhile, the Cielle kingdom’s being ruled by King Deus right now. He only has two children with the queen: the older one is the crown princess who’s twelve this year, while the younger one is a prince,” Ein explained.
Ah, so if their crown princess is coming over here, they still have a prince there. Just like our country, who will still have a princess here once the crown prince is sent there. All is equal, then.
“So, once we’re sending delegations to negotiate, we will soon be able to persuade Cielle kingdom to cease their attacks, and we just need to dampen Naraka empire’s attack, right?” Clavis asked.
“Mmmm… Easier said than done. The probability doesn’t seem to be high,” Ein shook his head.
“Why?” Clavis asked.
“We might need quite some time to persuade them. It’d help if King Deus is welcome to the idea, but he’s quite a hot-blooded king who’s already biased with the Oni race, so we don’t think the negotiation will be done in a jiffy. It’s tricky, but we have to try, at least,” Luca answered.
If the emperor from Naraka empire has a 10/10 bias towards the elven race, King Deus of Cielle kingdom seems to have a 8/10 bias towards the Oni race. It’s still a high score, but way better than that emperor of Naraka… What’s his name, again?
“The emperor of Naraka… Err, he’s, uhm…,” I tried to recall his name.
“The emperor of Naraka’s name is Yominoma Shinokoutei,” Ein answered, again, like a walking encyclopaedia.
“…Let’s just call him Naraka’s emperor. Why is he suddenly starting the attacks against Cielle? Why is he suddenly asking for troubles after ruling for almost a century? Why now?” I quickly voiced my doubts.
If it was a new emperor who just ascended the throne and then started to attack, it’d make more sense.
But this was an emperor who had ruled for so long, who hadn’t really caused troubles back then. So why the sudden change of heart? Did something happen?
All of us turned silent afterwards.
“True. Although there have been several conflicts in the past, he wasn’t as brazen as he is now,” Luca said.
“Did something happen that offended him greatly?” Iris wondered.
“Meh, maybe he finally got a breakthrough and was confident in starting the war,” Carbuncle casually said.
But her words made a lot of sense, as all of us were silent again, engrossed in our thoughts.
“Ruling for over a century, but only dares to cause troubles now… Has he been trying to find something that he can use to his advantage all this time, and now that he’s gotten it, he became confident enough to start this conflict?” Ein muttered.
“That is possible,” Luca nodded.
“If that is true, he should’ve considered our country’s involvement in maintaining the peace, too. Could it be that he’s confident he can handle both our country and Cielle? Does he intend on swallowing the countries whole?” Alt-nii suddenly said.
“Huh, that’s so ambitious of him…,” I added.
“But it’s possible. Based on Father’s words about Emperor Shinokoutei, he is indeed a very ambitious man,” Luca said.
“Geh… All the more reason we have to be united with Cielle kingdom to stop this…,” I said.
The current situation is like this.
Naraka empire is against Cielle as well as Riviera who’s intending to stop them.
Meanwhile, Cielle kingdom is also against Naraka empire and doesn’t welcome Riviera’s intervention as they feel like their action is justified.
Riviera is trying to mediate both countries.
In other words, all three countries are against one another, which is bad.
If, at least, Riviera and Cielle are in the same direction, then it will be ton of times better than the current situation. Especially if Naraka empire is actually hiding a secret weapon that they’re planning to use to conquer both Cielle and Riviera.
“I actually wanted to come as part of the delegation, but Mummy and Daddy won’t let me,” Ein said as he was sulking.
“Well, you’re their only child. And you’re still eleven. You’ve yet gotten your coming-of-age ceremony,” Harvey said.
“I know, but this is going to be a very valuable experience,” Ein insisted. He then turned to look at Luca and said, “Can’t you help me persuade my parents to let me go, Big Bro Luca?”
Luca was surprised, but he shook his head.
“So this is the real reason why you’ve gathered us here? Unfortunately, no.”
“Aww… This is a waste, then…”
I chuckled looking at the slumped Ein, but then my eyes caught sight of Alt-nii who was lost in his thoughts, looking all serious. I rarely saw him like this, so I got a hunch… Could it be that he might be part of the delegation?!
After thinking that there was that possibility, I couldn’t chuckle anymore.
I turned to look at the ceiling as I pondered in my mind.
The peaceful days that I hoped would continue, actually didn’t seem like it could continue without a hitch.
With Luca and Kiri being involved, and the possibility of Alt-nii getting involved as well, I started to wonder…
Is there anything I can do to help, even if it’s only slightly?