A Step of the Mad King
「Hasim-sama, the date and time of the next Summit of Three Kings has become clear」
「By the way, which country was the information leaked from?」
「The Kingdom of Zuria」
「…Seriously, Crisca has always been naive when it comes to such things」
Hasim was receiving the reports from Aisha. Reports related to the next〈Summit of Three Kings〉.
Hasim had the plan to intervene in the next summit of the alliance of the three countries.
「Well anyway, other things seem to be going well so, I guess I’ll leave out the scolding for now.
…Besides, in this situation, that one is basically a small fry」
In the past, Hasim had 『trespassed』 into Aios Academy.
Different from the first and second princes who were his brothers, he was not loved by his father. Rather, he was hated instead, of course his father would not allow him to attend Aios Academy.
Which is why he trespassed.
With a nonchalant look, he took the lectures there.
He piled up strategies to make sure he wouldn’t be found out by the first and second princes, always kept an eye out but Hasim definitely had the courage and the skill to pull that all off.
In the end he was found and thrown out but having been able to pull that off for several months, showed that Hasim had infiltration abilities that would put your run-of-the-mill spies to shame.
For Hasim, those few months before he was caught was an irreplaceable period.
In those months, Hasim had made many friends.
Among those, there were three individuals who he was particularly close to.
With long hair tied up and a slim body, with an easygoing air around him was a man with gentle features.
With a large clumsy body, however with a very gentle and calm gaze was a large man.
Lastly, a woman with such a beautiful appearance, albeit cold personality, that she was praised as having beauty comparable to the moon.
Always wrapped in dark blue, with that she looked like a beautiful woman that came with 『thorns』 which she didn’t even bother to hide, such a beautiful woman.
It was only later that he learnt that those three were the heirs to the three kingdoms.
Aios Academy was a place that put maximum importance on academics and made sure to keep dangerous topics like political conspiracies at bay.
For that sake, like a masquerade ball, it was a rule to hide one’s name or position.
Which is why it was a coincidence that Hasim became friends with those people but it is also possible that the reason they were all able to get along so well was because, since their homes were neighbouring countries, their cultures and customs were similar so they had a lot of common grounds to bond with.
However, unlike those people, Hasim was not the heir.
Even still, when he later found out that the three had set up the summit of three kings as if to fix this era, he was secretly delighted.
And then, those three, after their summit of three kings set right their countries which till then had slowly been moving towards subordination to Mūzeg and once again brought them to the noble pride that Lemuse once had. When he heard that proclamation by those three, he felt an even stronger patriotic urge.
He had heard such a talk from them during his time in the academy as well but, since they all had fake identities, whether it was the one talking or the one listening, it was not easy to know whether it was serious or not. It was a rule of sorts, talk in such a way that it was hard to tell whether it was seriousness or jokes.
However, Hasim was sure at that point.
――They are serious.
At the same time, he felt like saying, 「You did well」.
However, he couldn’t say it.
He wasn’t in any position to say it.
He had finally resolved himself to a coup d’etat but in the beginning, like the protest from earlier, he thought he would be able to convince his father, the king of Lemuse with just words.
Although he did not regret his actions from that time but, when he thinks of the backs of those three who took actions so much faster, he did honestly feel that he had taken too much time to reach this point.
「Is it fine for that father of yours…well, to leave him be like that?」
「Yeah, it’s fine. In fact, let’s have him swim around more」
He was suddenly spoken to by Aisha which abruptly brought him back to the current situation.
「It might actually be useful that father is clearly a foolish king no matter who looks at him. I don’t think there are any other kings who are nearly as foolish as him to the point that he would stun anyone. If that much is seen through, then we wouldn’t even be doubted」
The fact that the king of Lemuse, his father, wanted to serve under Mūzeg might even work to help trip Mūzeg up.
At first he had a 「I need to do this immediately」 sort of feeling but, in the end, he desisted.
His calm self kept whispering to make use of this situation.
「I’ll use my father to hide my actions. We should do everything that we can while we’re hidden like this. Intruding on the summit of three kings is one of those actions.
Until we start taking action, as much as possible we should not get noticed. Either from the inside or from the outside.
…Especially from the inside, if they find out that I am taking action, there would be serious repercussions」
With his saliva flying, he smiled bitterly as he thought about his father and brothers who continued to slander him at all times.
「Well, that’s the case so, whether the inside or the outside we have to extremely when it comes to concealment or spying」
「Please leave it to me. Like the darkness we will make sure to get Hasim-sama into the place of the summit without fail」
Aisha bowed down elegantly next to Hasim.
Seeing that, Hasim thought, 『How beautiful』 and then deliberately spoke up in a sarcastic tone.
「It’s like I’m an object huh」
「Please put up with it」
「I get it」
Hasim couldn’t help but smile bitterly once more and waved a hand towards Aisha.
「Oh and also, tell Reynald and the rest to hurry up with the excavation of that mineral deposit. We might be able to use the magic stones excavated from that magic stone deposit for something.
No, in all probability, we will use it.
If we look at the actions of the country with the most developed machinery industry, Kushana, it is rather obvious that Muran is definitely doing something. Most probably something related to magic stones」
「Magic stones, is it?」
「That’s right. I received a report that the peddlers frequenting the Kingdom of Kushana were biased towards carrying magic stones. The observational might of Marchioness Myure is rather phenomenal」
Magic stone, as the name suggests, is a stone filled with mana.
It has its own source of mana.
Fundamentally, a source of mana is something that only living beings generally have, however, a magic stone is unusual in that even though it is a mineral it has the ability to contain mana.
When we talk about ores or the ground, it’s easy to think about mana gushing through it from underground ground veins but as it comes under the category of an ore, it is a rather commendable that it is capable of containing mana.
However, this fact was something that people who used mana as their source of power were extremely thankful for.
Difference in the source of mana could end up creating a difference in the performance of techniques and not to mention, the nature of the source has to match the technique or else it would not even invoke.
That was why, a majority of the people who had a use for a mana source would choose a magic stone over any other ore that came under the category of ores that could contain mana.
「I have received your message for Earl Reynald」
After Hasim nodded, Aisha paused for a moment before slightly opening her mouth again.
However, without saying anything she closed it.
It seemed like she was troubled over whether she should speak up or not.
「What happened Aisha? Tell me what it is」
However, Hasim did not miss that action.
Now that it had reached this point, Aisha had no choice but to speak up.
She resolved herself and spoke the words she had been worried about saying.
「――Recently, there seem to be some subordinates of your father who have been complaining in a roundabout way. It may be that they have already sensed that something is happening」
Aisha did not want to increase Hasim’s anxiety with such speculation since she did not have proof to back it.
On one hand, there was no way to know whether or not that speculation could become a major issue in the future.
As a 『maid』 she wanted to keep quiet for her master’s sake.
As a 『spy』 she wanted to properly report for her master’s sake.
Aisha was excellent on both fronts which is what was causing her worry.
「How much do they know already, is that it?」
「Yes. ――What orders should I pass onto Earl Reynald?」
「That’s right…, if they are too persistent then it is fine to take action. Well, their detection of us should be delayed as much as possible though. ――We have to get rid of all the flies that gather around with only their interests in mind though」
Aisha did not miss the fact that Hasim had a cruel expression on his face.
That expression was only for a moment before it immediately disappeared.
「If we talk about my father, unless it is right in front of his face, he wouldn’t even notice. Even if he did notice, he wouldn’t try to do anything about it since it would seem like a frightening prospect. That’s why, the ones we need to worry about are the people around him」
Since he had been with his father for such a long time, he was able to firmly state what actions his father would take.
It is a possibility that his father would take some large actions but if he did, he wouldn’t take any decent actions.
「…it’d be troublesome if information is leaked outside the country huh. …Alright, if there are any who make such movements, let me know. I won’t kill them but, at the very least I’ll have them tied up somewhere」
Hasim spoke with a serious expression but it soon turned into a more relaxed one.
「――well, even if they find out now, Mūzeg probably wouldn’t really care. A mere few magic stones aren’t nearly enough to make Mūzeg come steal it from Lemuse」
Mūzeg would not care much for Lemuse. This was something that Hasim was convinced about.
From the start, it’s a country that Mūzeg wouldn’t gain much from having conquered so it seems like they’re going out of their way to keep them alive.
If they completely took over Lemuse then they would have to send some talented or capable person over.
Hasim had already predicted that Mūzeg’s king would find that alone to be too troublesome to do.
Even for Mūzeg, talented military officers aren’t freely available.
If that is the case, since they can take it anytime they want, they might as well avoid breaking the wills of the citizens and have them search for any and all benefits that the country may have and then take it when they have the time and energy to do so.
「…that’s probably how it would play out」
However, he couldn’t be completely relieved.
If Mūzeg decides to seriously take over the three countries then it may first want Lemuse in order to perform a pincer attack.
In order to save up power, Mūzeg had sent its military to the north and west so that expectation could be put off for now but,
「At the moment that the King of Mūzeg is sure that he could completely crush the entire military strength of the three countries, he would probably swoop down on them immediately」
That is probably the time limit.
「…we have to do something before that」
He placed his head in his hand and with his fingers kept drumming his cheeks.
If we start thinking about things then there is no end.
Every single one of them is a possibility.
The most important issue is the one going on right now.
Lemuse is in a transparent situation, it has no colors.
From the fact that Mūzeg did not really seem to care much about Lemuse, it could be guessed that Lemuse had not even entered into its sight.
If he thought back on it, then that meaningless 『servitude』 might unexpectedly not have been a bad option after all. Hasim laughed as he thought that.
「――Haha, it might just be possible that future historians might laud the current situation of Lemuse where it doesn’t matter whether it exists or not as, 『the greatest accomplishment of that foolish king』」
It’s possible that the King of Mūzeg thought, 「Even if we leave this king alone, it doesn’t seem like there would be any problems」.
Those words which Hasim spoke while laughing, in time, ended up becoming the truth.
「By the why, what happened to that group of Demon Lords?」
Hasim suddenly asked about the most important matter at hand.
「We still do not have any information on them. As you had predicted, a search of the closest town east of Lindholm Sacred Mountain did not bring up any traces of them. The residents had also not seen any rare travellers either」
「――I see, I see. I’m quite relieved knowing that they are smart enough to do that. ――If that is the case then they went to either,〈Duchy of Neuce Gauss〉or〈Tot Republic〉huh」
「I have already stationed people in both places」
「Well, for now it’s fine if they’re not caught by Mūzeg or the other Demon Lord hunting countries but, as soon as possible, I would like to get in touch with them and invite them to Lemuse」
Saying so, Hasim placed his hand on his chin and groaned in thought.
「――What is left is, which route they would take from Neuce Gauss. …They definitely wouldn’t head towards Mūzeg. Since they are able to run like that, they would either take a detour through the south or head directly east」
「Is it not possible that they might go to through the northeast and pass through the three countries?」
「Most probably. They probably…won’t head towards the three countries」
Hasim spoke, while deep in thought.
「They are better than the countries that concentrate on Demon Lord hunting but, there is a catch when it comes to the three countries as well. If there is a Demon Lord which knows that in their group then they would want to stay away as much as possible」
When he thought of that catch, his thoughts hastened and his expression warped with frustration.
「The three countries have also tried their hands at it once. …At an act very similar to Demon Lord hunting.
Right now they are against the idea of Demon Lord hunting and I will also, once again, tell them not to do it at the Summit of Three Kings but, even then, the fact that they have done it before will not disappear. It will remain etched into history」
Hasim already knew that the three countries had already tried their hands at something similar to Demon Lord hunting. It was at the time when Mūzeg suddenly turned around and became aggressive so they were in a situation where, even if they wanted to stop they were not able to. However, it does not change or excuse the fact that they have tried their hands at it.
「It may not have been 『hunting』, well, it was something similar…」
To be exact, they had somewhat forcefully, made the descendents of the Demon Lords hiding out in their countries to stand in the battlefield.
That was why, compared to the Demon Lord hunting that would end up killing the Demon Lords for no real reason, it was an act that could still be forgiven.
However, in the end, the fact that they had forcefully made them fight and also the fact that some Demon Lords had 『been left to die』 ended up becoming problems.
As a result, a situation that looked like Demon Lord hunting had surfaced there.
It’s different but it’s not different.
It was a rather subtle difference.
Although Lemuse had once ended up in a similar desperate situation but, it had not laid its hands on any Demon Lords which is why it was ridiculed as idiotic. The three countries were not idiotic which is probably why they took those steps.
In reality, because they used the Demon Lord’s powers in such a way, they were somehow able to chase Mūzeg away.
「It might be the fate of being in the era of war that causes such contradictions to occur. Though, I don’t think that it is okay to put all the blame for your own sins onto the era of war」
Hasim looked out of the window with a sad expression.
Even if he were to invite Demon Lords to Lemuse, even if he were to properly make it through the negotiations,
――If we let them die, then it’s exactly the same in the end.
The moment that happens, Hasim knew that he would, himself, end up destroying the noble, graceful impression that it has built up so far.
Failure would mean hell.
Just winning is not enough.
They have to win while protecting the Demon Lords.
In the first place, they require the strength of the Demon Lords in order to fight with Mūzeg.
――Even though that’s the case, wanting to save the Demon Lords is basically like putting the cart before the horse huh.
However, even then, they had to cross over that extremely thin rope with a headwind.
Their logic that was like that thin rope could, at any moment, be cut off by contradictions like a violent gust.
――But, I’ll cross over no matter what.
Hasim was only looking forward.
If someone looked at Hasim wholeheartedly crossing over that thin rope, they would only be able to see him as a madman.
If seen from the perspective of someone who couldn’t see what was on the other side of that rope, he might have looked like a fanatic running after his god’s idol.
However, Hasim alone did not doubt that the 『scene』 he wants is on the other side of that rope.
In time, the man who would be known as the〈Mad King〉to some people was trying to take another step on that thin rope.