V2 Chapter 74: Ambition

Gilmore Berch was frustrated.

The reason was a report he had just received. It stated that Sora Mitsurugi, who had been bestowed the Signet Ring by the emperor, had been seen in the port town across the river with Claira Berch.

The fact that Sora would arrive with Claira was within Gilmore’s predictions. However, he hadn’t even imagined the part about the Signet Ring, causing him to exhale in a grumbling manner.

At present, Sora was equivalent to an imperial emissary, and the Mitsurugi household had to greet him with the appropriate courtesy.

For Gilmore, who had intended to control Sora by offering Claira’s absolution, it was a huge miscalculation.

“What kind of trick did the brat use?”

Claira had left the island just the other day. Despite the fact that there should’ve been little time for the two to come to Demon Island, he wondered how they managed to secure an audience with the emperor.

Even for Gilmore, it would be challenging to have an audience with the emperor in such a short period. Even though he was a senior vassal of the Mitsurugi family, from the emperor’s perspective, he was merely a subordinate of a subordinate – a vassal. It might be possible if the counterpart was the crown prince, but that’s only possible if there’s a track record of serving the prince until now.

It was hard to believe that Sora, who had no rank, no official position, and no achievements within the empire, could have an audience with the emperor and be granted the Signet Ring, a symbol of trust, in such a short period.

It was inevitable to suspect that it might be a fake. However, the royal Signet Ring was made by carving the highest-grade diamond – adamant. Moreover, it has been enchanted so that its authenticity can be magically verified, making it nearly impossible to produce a counterfeit.

“In other words, it’s genuine.”

Gilmore, exhaling in a grumbling manner once again, crossed his arms with a stern face.

If the Signet Ring was genuine, then the next thing to consider was Sora’s objective.

The report about Sora had been brought by a port official who crossed the sea ahead of him, but it didn’t touch upon why Sora had come to Demon Island.

Normally, issuing a boat ticket to the island without confirming the purpose should not happen. However, the person on the other side held the emperor’s Signet Ring. The officials likely had no choice but to move as directed.

The first thing that comes to mind regarding Sora’s purpose is that he managed to sway the emperor to acquit Claira – but this is almost impossible.

In principle, nobles who own territory are granted judicial and legislative powers in their territories by the emperor. They have the right to make laws governing their territories and to punish those who violate them. For the emperor to interfere with this over the head of a noble would be tantamount to trampling on that noble’s face and rights, a move that could undermine the relationship of trust between the sovereign and his vassals at its roots. It could easily lead to a rebellion against the empire or a defection to another country.

If the opponent were some minor nobility, it might be possible to suppress any resistance with the authority of the Adoastera emperor, but the emperor would not be foolish enough to do that with the Mitsurugi family. The reason Gilmore had judged that Claira couldn’t be acquitted was based on these considerations.

However, there are concerns.

Gilmore, as a magistrate of the Mitsurugi family, wielded power and was involved in external negotiations. In this context, Gilmore was approaching Crown Prince Richard.

This was a setup for elevating himself and the Mitsurugi family in the next empire, but from the emperor’s perspective, it would appear that the Mitsurugi family was ignoring the aging him and ingratiating themselves with the young crown prince.

If Sora had touched on that point and persuaded the emperor – the possibility that the emperor moved to acquit Claira cannot be denied.

If Gilmore were in Sora’s position, he would advise the emperor to eliminate the Berch family, who are fawning over the crown prince. Then, promising to pull the Mitsurugi family back from supporting the crown prince to supporting the emperor, he would gain the emperor’s backing.

Thinking so far, Gilmore clicked his tongue loudly.

“This isn’t something a boy can think of. Someone must have provided him with wisdom. Either Gozu Sima or Morgan Skyship.”

Gilmore mused with a serious face. The head of the Berch family, who has ousted many political enemies through conspiracies, always has a strong sense of caution against conspiracies trying to trap him. And that caution sometimes creates nonexistent illusions.

Just as the phrase “suspicion creates phantoms”, Gilmore is now envisioning a conspiracy where “someone in the family who harbors hostility towards the Berch family is colluding with Sora Mitsurugi to bring him down”.

Excessive suspicion was a flip side of impatience. There was also a sense of defeat at having his conspiracy turned against him. If he didn’t take action immediately, the power he had struggled to build up to this day might be crushed in a single morning. This was a future that Gilmore could absolutely not accept.

Gilmore had ambitions. He wanted to obtain unrivaled power within the Mitsurugi family and wield it fully.

The bigger the stage to wield power, the better. First in Demon Island. Eventually in the Adoastera Empire. If he could wield his talents across the entire continent, that would be the true desire of a man. Gilmore Berch could make the significance of his birth known to all people in the world.

However, Gilmore had no intention of overriding Mitsurugi Shikibu and controlling the Mitsurugi family. His loyalty to Shikibu, who had discovered him when he was a lower-class warrior, was real. What Gilmore wanted was to expand the Mitsurugi family’s influence across the continent as a proxy for Shikibu, who has no interest in political power.

Approaching the crown prince was also part of this ambition. If there were requests for military support from the crown prince or his party, he would send the warriors of the Four Flags as a top priority and win their favor.

This also includes the case of sending Jijinbou to the Canaria Kingdom.

Although it was a tightrope walk that could violate the rule of “do not invade, do not allow invasion”, Gilmore didn’t care.

For Gilmore, that rule was nothing more than a chain binding his ambition, and he felt no pain or itch in breaking it. On the contrary, he believes that such old rules should be discarded early, and he was planning to take action to abolish them when the time came.

If the Mitsurugi family’s military power could be used externally, all the battlefields would be swept by the Green Woods warriors. It would be easy to control the imperial nobles by defeating the three noble families. No, it’s not a dream to rule the Adoastera Empire instead of the royal family, let alone the three noble families.

Gilmore’s loyalty is to Mitsurugi Shikibu, not Amadeus II. Of course, not even Crown Prince Richard. If there’s an opportunity, and with Shikibu’s permission, he wouldn’t hesitate to expel the Adoastera royal family and push Shikibu onto the throne.

And so, with Shikibu reigning over the empire, Gilmore would take control of all the affairs.

The one to inherit the Mitsurugi family from Shikibu would be Ragna, who has a close relationship with the Berch family, and the position of the sword saint would be inherited by his son Dialt. The power of the Berch family will be handed down to the next generation without interruption, and the name of Gilmore, the founder of the family, will be recorded in the history books in golden letters.

――For now, these plans remain mere ambitions. They will still require a great deal of time to realize.

But they are by no means products of mere dreaming or delusion. Gilmore has attained enough power to assert this. Over many long years, he has slowly gathered it in his hands.

It all starts from here.

He won’t allow a brat who’s only just shown up to stand in his way.

Originally, Gilmore viewed the connection between Sora and Gozu-Sema as a threat, planning to eliminate it quickly before it could obstruct his ambitions.

However, after the previous battle with the demon gods, he learned that Shikibu held a not insignificant interest in Sora. Knowing this, he decided to use rather than eliminate Sora.

He employed his own son Dialt’s scheme because of this thought.

The content of Dialt’s scheme was to insinuate to Klimt the release of his sister, send him to the Demon Gate, and by conveying this to Claira, corner her into leaving the island, directing her towards Sora. As the eldest son of the Berch family and the flag bearer of the first flag, Dialt is in a position to carry out all the manipulations involved in this scheme. It is easy for him to instigate siblings and to change the defense of the Demon Gate to his advantage.

However, that’s only within the confines of the island. Gilmore was skeptical about Sora helping Claira, but to this, Dialt said. Sora, who had hurt Gozu and Klimt, had not harmed Claira, who was held hostage, but had released her without significant harm. Even from this one act, there’s no doubt that Mitsurugi Sora has feelings for Claira Berch.

After careful consideration, Gilmore decides to adopt this scheme.

Even if Sora abandons Claira, it would be a good opportunity to deal with the ungrateful adopted daughter Claira and the rebellious adopted son Klimt.

If Sora comes to Demon Island to help Claira, he will include Sora under the Mitsurugi family’s banner on the condition that he forgives Claira’s crime of leaving the island.

Of course, forgiveness does not mean absolution. Leaving the island is a great sin. Even if they escape capital punishment, it provides a reason to imprison them for life. If it’s like this, Sora can’t leave the Mitsurugi family in the future.

Or, there’s another option entirely. Give Claira as a bride to Sora.

Gilmore doesn’t have a good impression of Mitsurugi Sora, but he is indeed fascinated by the power to defeat the demon gods. If Sora has feelings for Claira, he can also bring the Berch family into the fold by giving him Claira.

If it’s like this, even if Shikibu brings Sora back to the position of the heir, the Berch family’s power won’t waver.

As far as Gilmore is concerned, it’s not necessary for the next head to be Ragna. If Sora acts according to Gilmore’s intentions, he doesn’t mind supporting Sora as the head. It’s a pity that the wealth and effort he has spent on Ragna until now will go to waste, but if he can gain the power of a demon god slayer instead, it’s not bad. That’s what he was thinking.

――However, Sora saw through his scheme and even dragged out the emperor to refuse to follow Gilmore’s intentions. In that case, he needn’t consider using or incorporating Sora, he should just eliminate Sora and those associated with him as originally planned.

‘Someone, bring Dialt here.’

Gilmore, who had ordered a vassal waiting outside the room to bring his eldest son, slowly lifted the corners of his lips.

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