The Three Countries in Between
In between Mūzeg, which was located in the center of the eastern continent, and Lemuse, which was located further south of that, were three kingdoms known as〈The Three Kingdoms〉.
From the west, in order they were,〈Kingdom of Kushana〉,〈Kingdom of Zuria〉,〈Kingdom of Filarfia〉.
While they were adjoining the powerful country of Mūzeg, they were rare countries that had banded together to form the〈Alliance of Three Kings〉and were warding off any invasions by Mūzeg with help from each other.
However, Mūzeg which had recently stretched its evil hands to the west and the north, absorbing any and all countries in the way, had begun to pressure them.
Since Mūzeg’s attention was still in the north and west, they weren’t too serious with their invasion yet and thus, they were able to get some amount of peace but it was rather obvious that it was only a matter of time before that peace would end.
The Alliance of Three Kings was a strong alliance.
Also, all three countries, although not as lacking in principles as Mūzeg but, were earnest in gathering strength in order to protect themselves.
The previous kings of all the three countries died as if they had been plotted against and in a five year period, all the countries were succeeded by new, young kings who were much more inclined to gather strength in any way possible.
With those three countries, Lemuse more or less had a non-aggression treaty.
It was more or less, since it was rather pointless to even have that non-aggression treaty.
In the first place, due to the foolishness of the King of Lemuse, even if they did nothing, the country would soon fall. In such a situation, they found it pointless to even consider using their precious military strength against such a country.
The three countries had already formed a treaty for the distribution of the land owned by Lemuse, once the country destroys itself.
Lemuse itself was a declining country, however, the land and resources in the country itself did have some value.
When compared to Mūzeg, it was a rather insignificant amount but, the three countries which felt like clinging to straws definitely could not ignore that land.
There was no need to specifically use up their military strength for this purpose but they felt they definitely should obtain it. Even if they let it be, it will fall to ruin itself anyway. They made sure they were at least prepared to seize the lands once the country falls.
That was the perception of the three countries.
By the way, when the king of Lemuse applied for the non-aggression treaty, he wrote,
『We have recently discovered a rich mine under Lemuse. We shall send over rare ores from our side so please take that into consideration and grant the non-aggression treaty』
――Or so, he had exposed in the letter.
He was definitely an idiot.
Who shows all their cards from the beginning.
『What will you give us in order to consider the non-aggression treaty?』, before that could be asked, he himself gave an unguarded answer.
The young kings of the three countries received that letter while either laughing or smiling wryly.
What the king of Lemuse had proposed was not a deal but rather 『servitude』.
What the king of Lemuse was doing was not a political negotiation between countries but rather the weak begging for something from the strong and entering into servitude.
That person didn’t even have a shred of dignity as the king of a country.
The current Lemuse definitely did not have the power to go against the three countries.
However, those young kings knew about the noble Lemuse of old.
Which is why, they couldn’t help but ridicule the current king of Lemuse with quite a bit of irritation mixed in.
『Where did that idiotic Lemuse, that tried to save the Demon Lords by itself, go off to?』
The terrible incidents that took place at the turning point of the era, when Demon Lord hunting had started to prosper.
During that time, the only one who raised their voice and said, 『That is just wrong!』 was the idiotic Lemuse.
Lemuse was definitely idiotic but,
『…it was noble』
Even though everyone thought it to be odd but it faced off against extremely powerful enemies without cowering at all.
It was against Mūzeg which hadn’t grown as powerful as it was now.
However, even then, Mūzeg was still very powerful.
At that time, the three countries were weak countries that could do nothing but shrink back in the face of the contention between Mūzeg and Lemuse.
The confrontation between Mūzeg and Lemuse did not result in a war but, the series of events that led to the death of the〈Technique God Flander Crow〉led to two heroes leaving this world.
In the face of that event, the public opinion of the other countries were divided into those which agreed with Mūzeg’s Demon Lord hunting and those which were against it.
However the torrential flow of the era was cruel to the weak.
So, now that the era has progressed thus far, no matter where you look, you’ll only find countries in 『agreement』.
Lemuse was already in decline because of their foolish king, so the only ones left over are,
『We, the three kingdoms huh』
In the eastern continent, out of all the countries surrounding Mūzeg who were still able to compete against Mūzeg were only the three countries.
However, in reality, even those three countries were,
『In the end, even we ended up desiring the power of Demon Lords so we’re not really that different from Mūzeg huh』
They had already dirtied their hands.
In order to resist Mūzeg’s tyranny, they needed power no matter what.
They no longer had any qualifications to find fault with Mūzeg.
However, the reason they continued to resist Mūzeg was because, as atonement for having dirtied their hands with Demon Lord hunting, they wanted to at least protect the rural small countries.
『Above everything else, we cannot allow any more Demon Lords to be hunted. Since we have ourselves made that mistake…we know the sadness it accompanies』
The current era was far more chaotic than anyone could ever imagine.
Compared to Mūzeg, which was very obviously brandishing its power and shedding a large amount of blood, the three countries which were trying to bury the rotten flesh that kept leaking out may just be the more troublesome of the two.
On that day, in the royal residence of one of the three countries, the country that specialized in the machinery industry,〈The Kingdom of Kushana〉, the shadows of two people could be seen.
One of them was the current king of the Kingdom of Kushana,〈Muran Kiel Kushana〉.
The other one was, same as the earlier person, the current king of one of the three countries,〈The Kingdom of Filarfia〉,〈Fasalis Filarfia〉.
His country boasted an extremely powerful cavalry.
With an easygoing air, his long hair tied at the back and a slim figure was the King of Kushana, Muran and next to him with a solemn air, short hair and a heavy build was the King of Filarfia, Fasalis.
The two were talking while walking through the corridor of the royal residence of Kushana.
「….Hey, Fasalis. What do you think about it?」
「Think about what? You always say a few words too few」
「We have a close relationship don’t we~ Fasalis. ….Don’t you get it?」
Fasalis had a sharp gaze that could make someone feel like they were shot, however, to Muran who had a carefree smile on his face, he turned a friendly gaze towards him.
Fasalis thought on Muran’s question for a little while with a grunt that sounded like it should come out of a beast.
Finally, he understood what Muran was trying to ask and spoke up.
「Do you mean, about the path the three kingdoms should take from now on?」
「Oooh, you got it right. Even though I didn’t really think too deeply on that」
Muran looked at Fasalis when he raised a reproachful voice, laughed like he was teasing him and put both his behind his head and walked unsteadily down the corridor.
「…It’s probably going to get rather tough from now on. I went over to take a look at how Mūzeg is doing recently, I made sure to disguise myself so they wouldn’t know who I was. When I observed them, I unexpectedly saw〈Serius Brad Mūzeg〉over there」
「Yeah yeah, that one. …Though seriously, that one is totally impossible. Even though I trained myself quite a bit before I became a king but, even then I ended up thinking that it was impossible. …Actually, I might have thought it was impossible because I trained myself that well.
Anyway, I don’t want to stand in the frontlines if possible. I really couldn’t think of him as a normal human being」
「In that case, it’s impossible for me too huh」
「Well, Fasalis probably wouldn’t die though. …Anyway, we’re kings now. Our bodies have dulled down quite a bit compared to when we were attending Aios Academy though」
Muran stopped in front of a certain room and turning towards Fasalis who was walking up from behind him, gave an exaggerated bow and spoke up.
「Here we are, King of Filarfia. This is the conference room」
「Stop that, you’re a king too」
「Don’t get so angry~. There’s a wrinkle in your brow now」
A room in the royal residence.
The room that was called the conference room was actually Muran’s personal room.
In other words, it was the room of the king of Kushana.
Muran followed Fasalis into the room and after passing a seat to Fasalis, he sat in his own desk chair as well.
Since the sunlight coming into the room was annoying, he closed the curtains.
「No good, Fasalis, do you remember?」
「Remember what now?」
「That guy, that guy」
As usual, he spoke with a few words too few causing Fasalis to groan while taking off his large cloak.
The groan that escaped from Fasalis was exactly like that of a beast.
「His groan sure is scary~」, while thinking that, Muran gave a shrill laugh and waited for Fasalis to answer his question.
「Oooh you got it right~. I didn’t really prepare for an answer so now that you’ve said it, I have a, 『oh that’s right』 sort of feeling」
It was the usual retort, however, Fasalis knew that his answer had matched with what Muran was trying to say so he could do nothing but sigh.
「Which great household do you think he was from?」
「He probably wasn’t from a great household right? That was why he was thrown out of the school partway right? Even though he was taking those lectures so brazenly, he wasn’t even a student of the school you know? …he had a scary level of impudence and was a genius strategist too」
「Kudo was the one who managed to beat that Serius Brad Mūzeg in a board game after all」
Aios academy was the best academic institution on the continent.
It was an institute that had many excellent students gather from all over the continent, Muran and Fasalis had attended that academy as well.
The academy, which practiced a policy of excluding any political circumstances of the students, had many members of royal families attending.
It was because they could get an extremely high level of education, while ignoring such social differences.
「Those who have a strong desire to reveal their identity usually keep their family’s name as their alias and would strut around proudly but,〈Kudo〉and〈Brad〉were really hard to understand on that point」
That said, people from royal families would have a hard time once they have raised their fame as royalty so, fundamentally, they would be enrolled into the academy before they started acting like royalty.
Over and above that, it was a custom for people like that to use an alias when they attend school.
「Brad is a rather common name after all. Kudo is a slightly strange name but at least, it doesn’t make you think of a particular country. Since he was thrown out of school like that, he might formally not have been part of a royal family」
As part of their education for gifted people, before they joined the political scene, Muran and Fasalis had enrolled into the school for a few months. However, that is something that applied even to the prince of the Kingdom of Mūzeg,〈Serius Brad Mūzeg〉.
In the end, Muran and Fasalis did not become close friends with him but seeing that there was an exceptional student, their curiosity got the better of them and they approached Serius.
「After we found out about his real identity, I was seriously scared you know. …Something like, isn’t he pretty much an enemy」
「It was something that happened because it was the Aios academy. I think it was rather miraculous that we ended up in the same batch in that short stay」
「Damn it~, If this was the case, I should have at least punched that handsome face at least once”
「It probably wouldn’t scratch him anyway」
「Oh shut up」
「Well, isn’t it fine either way? It was a fine competition on the face of it. You, in your own way, were rather popular with the ladies right? …You can’t compete with him when it comes to power so just bear with that fact for now」
「Da, damn it…!」
Muran puffed up his cheeks like a child causing Fasalis to laugh lightly.
「…Anyway, let’s get back on topic」
Fasalis fixed his collar while Muran regained his easy-going air and sat back down in the chair.
「If Mūzeg, which is concentrating on the north and west were to face us with their entire military might, do you think we would be able to handle it?」
「…That’d be impossible. I wouldn’t say that there is no way at all but, we’d be pressed for numbers though」
「What about that 『Magic Cannon』 that you had ordered to have developed?」
「The weapon itself is finished but the magic stones that would become the fuel for it aren’t sufficient. The magic stone deposits in my territory were much less than what I had assumed. This was my mistake. …I’m at the point where I’ve even considered crushing Lemuse and stealing their magic stone deposits」
「If we crush Lemuse then we would lose our reason to fight against Mūzeg though」
Muran and Fasalis were standing a certain 『border』.
In the past, they had seriously stood against Mūzeg’s appointment of Demon Lords and Demon Lord hunting. That was because, they saw the level of sincerity that humans should aim for in the actions of Lemuse.
After that time, Lemuse had started to steadily decline but it still managed to hold on quite well. However, right now, that was all about to be brought down by that foolish king.
The three countries, like with Lemuse, were coming close to the point of decline and were mentally starting to yield to Mūzeg.
Maybe there isn’t any need to resist Mūzeg anymore.
Over and above everything, they had already done the same atrocious things as Mūzeg had done.
Rather than living on with that contradiction, they might as well just hold onto the unity between the three countries and just form an alliance with Mūzeg instead.
Their pride would shatter.
However, they would get a sense of peace.
If sincerity doesn’t exist then wouldn’t it be fine to just fill the world with irony?
「…Damn it, we were too young weren’t we?」
「Are you regretting it?」
「No, at the very least, I don’t regret having become king. Even now, I feel that I have been able to contribute quite a bit for the sake of the country, definitely more than my father ever did. …Just, Mūzeg is growing larger at a much faster pace than we are, it’s rather difficult to grasp anymore」
「That might be so」
A silence permeated around them that made it hard to speak further.
「…this time. Let’s decide it with this time. The path that we people take. It is also the job of the king to worry about the citizens of the country.
The pride of the country, the nobleness of the citizens, something like being the guiding principle for that…though that is all assuming we actually survive」
「An age of war makes such inconsistencies seem rather common though」
「It’s a horrible era. …Though we have no right to say something like that」
「Yeah, that’s true. …In that case at the next〈Summit of Three Kings〉should we add in Zuria’s princess and decide on some policies?」
「Oi, Fasalis, if you called her a princess now, she’d definitely get pissed off right?」
「I know, I won’t actually say it in front of her」
Fasalis once again, laughed lightly.
As he finished laughing, Fasalis looked towards the window with a look of nostalgia.
「If, like those days in that academy, if〈Kudo〉was here…do you think he would have come up with a better path for us?」
「…those were fun days huh」
Muran as well, looked out of the window at the sky. It seemed like both of them were seeing the same scenes passing before their eyes.