V2 Chapter 68: Connections

Having heard the situation from Claira, I headed to Horus, the capital city of the Kingdom of Canaria.

If I wished to pass through the Demon Gate without bowing to the Mitsurugi family, and without resorting to force, the only option was to go over the heads of the Mitsurugi family.

That meant the Adoastera Empire. More specifically, the emperor who rules the Empire.

The Mitsurugi family is tasked by the Emperor with protecting the Demon Gate, they do not have the right to hinder those who have gained the Emperor’s permission. If I could gain the Emperor’s consent, I could pass through the Demon Gate freely.

The problem was how to meet the Emperor.

It goes without saying that knocking on the front gate of the Imperial Palace was out of the question. Almost a decade ago, I attended a banquet on behalf of my father and was spoken to by the Emperor, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar… But relying on such a thin connection felt far-fetched.

The first method I considered was declaring myself as the “Dragon Slayer” in the imperial capital of Adoastera, gaining fame by displaying overwhelming power. By demonstrating the skills of the Phantom Blade Style and exterminating monsters, I could attract attention and become the talk of the imperial capital. Participating in public duels or martial arts competitions could be a good idea.

As my reputation in martial arts grew, the emperor should eventually hear of me, providing an opportunity for an audience.

However, this method lacked certainty and would take too much time. Considering Klimt’s situation and respecting Claira’s feelings, it was essential to pass through the Demon Gate as soon as possible.

So, after much deliberation, the conclusion I came to was – connections.

Use connections to meet the Emperor. I had two people in mind who were connected to the Emperor.

One, of course, was Sakuya, the Emperor’s own daughter. The other was Noah, the Pope of the Temple of Law.

The princess is connected to the Emperor on a personal level, the Pope on an official level. If either could put in a good word for me, it could be possible to arrange an audience with the Emperor in a short time.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that either of them would agree to help me. Before that, it’s unclear whether either of them, both busy with wedding preparations, would agree to meet me.

That’s why, upon arriving in the capital, I immediately headed for the Dragnaut residence. Regardless of how busy the Princess or the Pope may be, I calculated they wouldn’t ignore a request for an audience via the Duke Dragnaut.

I felt bad for Duke Dragnaut, but given the situation, I decided to take advantage of the power of his Ducal family. Of course, I plan to repay this favor many times over in the future.

When I visited the Duke’s residence, unfortunately, Duke Dragnaut was not present. But, fortunately, his eldest daughter, Astrid, was there. After hearing the circumstances from me, Astrid graciously agreed to my request and promptly made her way to the royal palace.

Not only that, but she managed to arrange a meeting with the Princess for me, quickly and without any problems. Facing Astrid, who informed me of this with a smile, I could only bow my head deeply in gratitude.


“It hasn’t been too long since our last meeting, hasn’t it, Lord Sora?”

The familiar lines coming from Princess Sakuya made her look intriguingly at me.

There was no displeasure on her face. However, it was clear that every second she spent talking to me was as precious as grains of gold, given she was the leading figure of a nationwide wedding ceremony.

First, I should apologize for leveraging the duke’s household to get this precious time.

“Due to sudden circumstances, I have forced myself upon you. I beg your pardon for this intrusion.”

“You don’t need to be so modest. After all, I was the one who said you should rely on me without hesitation whenever you’re in trouble.”

With that said, the princess shifted her expression to a serious one.

“Now, judging by your face, the situation seems urgent. Please tell me about it right away.”

“Yes. In that case, I’ll take you up on that offer…”

I started to explain the situation to the princess. As I talked about Claira, inevitably my relationship with the Mitsurugi family also came to light, but the princess’ face remained calm throughout.

As I had anticipated, it seemed she had thoroughly investigated my background. The reason she didn’t touch upon it during our previous encounter could be because we didn’t have time for complicated conversations, but primarily, I believe, she did it not to arouse my vigilance.

Or, more simply, she might have thought it would be rude to delve that far on a first meeting. Regardless, if the princess knows about my relationship with the Mitsurugi family, I can skip those explanations.

Thanks to that, I managed to finish recounting the series of events without wasting much time.

The princess, who listened to the story, put her hand to her chin, seemingly deep in thought. After a while, she turned her eyes, reminiscent of black crystals, to me and slowly opened her mouth.

“So, Lord Sora, you want to meet my father to get permission to go through the demon’s gate, and you want my support for that — is that correct?”

“Yes, exactly as Her Highness has stated.”

“Understood. I will accept that request.”

The princess agreed without hesitation, just like when I had accepted Claira’s request a while ago.

Seeing me blink in surprise, the princess wore a smirk as if she had accomplished something.

“You seem surprised, Dragon Slayer. Did you not expect me to accept your request without any conditions?”

“Um, I apologize…”

“Hehe, it’s alright to be honest.”

With a laugh, the princess explains in a calm voice.

“Sora-dono promptly responded to my invitation the other day. At that time, I conveyed my wish for him to rely on me when he was in trouble. Despite that, if I took advantage of Sora-dono’s predicament now, my qualifications as a member of the Adoastera royal family would be questioned. Trust is the foundation of leadership, a principle those who stand above others must never forget. And, fundamentally, trust involves always keeping one’s word.”

The princess’ words and expressions were gentle, and she wasn’t forcefully asserting anything. Probably, as a princess, she was merely explaining the reasons for her decision.

Still, there was a sense of dignity from her, the dignity of a royal family that had reigned over the continent for three hundred years. That much was certainly felt.

Watching me silently bow my head, the princess continued.

“However, what I can promise is to facilitate a meeting between you, Sora-dono, and my father. The decisions involving the Demon Gate are exclusively the Emperor’s prerogative. Whether or not Sora-dono is allowed into the Demon Gate is at my father’s discretion. Please understand that this may end up being a futile effort.”

“I understand.”

I nodded obediently, as I never intended to ask so much from Princess Sakuya.

However, I couldn’t immediately agree with the words she spoke next.

“Also, I believe it would be wise to avoid relying on Pope Noah this time.”

“…Why might that be?”

As I’ve mentioned many times before, the Temple of Laws is the state religion of the Adoastera Empire. Naturally, there should be a close connection between the royal family and the Temple of Laws.

What could be the reason for Princess Sakuya, a member of the royal family, to advise against relying on Pope Noah?

In response to my doubts, the princess prefaced her explanation with, “This is not due to any personal issue with Her Holiness,” before sharing her true intentions.

“As you may know, Her Holiness is from the Cornelius family. For the Adoastera royal family, the Cornelius family, among the four great noble families, is an entity we cannot ignore. Even for an emperor, this doesn’t change.”

Relying on Pope Noah is synonymous with relying on the Cornelius family. Once the Cornelius family steps in, it becomes a pressure on the Emperor. Regardless of whether I intended it or not, regardless of whether the Cornelius family intended it or not, the Emperor would perceive it that way—Princess Sakuya explained and heaved a small sigh.

Looking at the princess, I couldn’t help but surmise her circumstances.

Even the Emperor, who has ruled over the empire for a long time, must often feel frustrated dealing with the powerful nobles. He might frequently feel as though his insides are boiling with frustration.

Relying on Pope Noah, who is connected to these powerful nobles, could risk offending the Emperor. That’s the warning the princess gave me.

Indeed, I inwardly nodded. There’s no point in invoking the Emperor’s displeasure while trying to persuade him. Frankly, I’d rather not owe Pope Noah too much. Now that I have the princess’ assistance, there’s no need to heavily rely on the Pope.

But, there is one thing I’m wondering about—I briefly glanced at the princess.

If I didn’t mishear her, she mentioned the Four Great Nobles. As far as I know, the powerful nobles of the empire are the Cornelius, Paradis, and Azurite families. Has another noble house risen to match these three? I didn’t see anything about that in the empire’s information that Miroslav recently collected.

As I tilted my head in thought, the princess, having read the doubt on my face, asked if there was something I wanted to ask. So, I honestly shared my thoughts.

After widening her eyes in surprise, the princess gave me an explanation, a bitter smile on her face.

“The Four Great Nobles are the three prestigious families you mentioned, with the Mitsurugi House added. The Mitsurugi House doesn’t involve itself in national affairs, so they don’t appear in public, but the current head’s wife is the real sister of Duke Paradis, and the fiancee of the next head is the eldest daughter of Duke Azurite. There is no other house that the three prestigious families are competing to send their direct daughters to, other than the Mitsurugi House.”

The reason the Cornelius family didn’t send a daughter like the other two families did was because if the Cornelius family—which is already strongly tied to the Holy Kingdom, as Duke Cornelius is the father of Pope Noah—were to also tie themselves to the Mitsurugi, the balance of power within the empire would collapse.

In other words, the Paradis and Azurite families were keeping Cornelius in check, according to the princess’s explanation.

…I was genuinely surprised to hear that the Mitsurugi family was considered on par with the Three Great Nobles.

I’d thought they were just known as one of the top martial houses in the Adoastera Empire, but it seems my understanding was quite shallow.

Neither my father nor Gozu had ever explained this to me, so I scratched my head.

Well, my father was only interested in swords and the Demon Gate, and Gozu was too busy with his inept eldest son’s education. They probably didn’t care about the weight of the Mitsurugi House in the empire’s internal affairs, so they didn’t think it was necessary to explain it to me.

――Speaking of which, Ayaka rarely talked about her homeland.

As I recalled this, I heard the princess’s voice.

“I’ll draft a letter to my father now. Please wait here for a moment.”

“Thank you very much! I promise to repay your kindness in this matter.”

With that, the princess smiled sweetly at me, turned around, and left the room.

I bowed deeply in her direction, expressing my utmost gratitude.

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