Interlude – Father and Son of the Royal Family

Emperor Amadeus II of the Adoastera Empire was alone, seated on the throne in the unattended audience room.

There wasn’t any scheduled audience forthcoming. This was a habit of the Emperor when he was deep in thought, and the Imperial Guard was on standby beyond the door.

In the mind of the emperor, who sat on his throne with his elbow resting on the armrest, the image of the black-haired young man who had just left the capital was projected.

“No interest in the past or the truth, everything is for his own purposes, huh.”

The old emperor’s throat shook with pleasure, as he chuckled.

“Shikibu, there’s no doubt that Sora is your son. Although his words differ, the path he’s treading is the same. However, unlike you, who are completely self-interested, it seems that Sora still holds feelings for others…”

Saying so, the Emperor had a distant look in his eyes.

“I wonder if this is the influence of his mother―Shizuya. She was a gentle-hearted girl. If Sora houses both the severity of Shikibu and the gentleness of Shizuya within him equally, then he truly carries the blood of both parents.”

Mumbling so, the Emperor closed his eyes, leaning his back onto the throne, and tried to trace his consciousness back into the past.

However, in the next moment, the Emperor’s reminiscence was shattered. The door to the audience room was opened with a loud noise.

The sound of iron-soled boots echoed, “Clack, Clack,” and a vigorous middle-aged man strode towards the throne, his face filled with an overpowering spirit.

His sharp, elongated eyes were blue, his arching eyebrows were so neat that women would envy them, and his high, prominent nose bridge was reminiscent of a sculpture created by a master craftsman. He was tall with elongated limbs, and there was not a single flaw in his walking figure. The smile on his lips emanated strong self-confidence, almost as if he truly believed he was the master of this palace.

The Emperor knitted his brows and addressed the approaching person.

“What do you need, Richard?”

“Is it so that a son cannot meet his father unless there’s a matter, father? Your words sound rather lonely.”

Crown Prince Richard clouded his handsome eyes and expressed his loneliness, but the Emperor snorted at his son’s attitude.

“You are a son I can be proud of, well versed in both literature and military arts, but unfortunately, you lack the talent for acting.”

Upon hearing this, Richard brushed his face smoothly, retracted his lonely expression, and let out a cheerful laugh.

“Ha, so I was too obvious? Well, Shion alone will be enough to play the role of a filial son who thinks about his father. I intend to take on tasks that Shion can’t.”

“Let’s be clear, amongst my children, you are the only one worthy of the Crown Prince’s role.”

With that, the Emperor for the first time, imbued his words with a hint of sarcasm.

“Paradise, Cornelius, Azurite, and even Mitsurugi. The aristocrats representing our kingdom are all in your support. Your position as the next Emperor is rock solid. You have maintained a good relationship with them. There is no need for you to feel insecure.”

“Your words are undoubtedly correct, Father, and they adhere to reason. The crown belongs to the Crown Prince next, even a child knows this. Regrettably, there are quite a few fools in this world who turn their backs to this logic. Because my position is rock solid, they think that the benefits that can be gained when it’s overturned will be great.”

Richard narrowed his eyes at this point, sending a meaningful glance at his father on the throne.

“To leave no room for those villains to act recklessly, Father, it would not hurt if you advanced my position one step further.”

“Do you ask me to abdicate?”

“Of course not! I am both your son and your subject. As a subject, it is disrespectful to even discuss the Emperor’s throne. However, you are aware of the disturbing rumors circulating within and outside the empire in recent years, aren’t you? If nothing is done, rumors may soon become reality. They will speculate that you are waiting for Shion to come of age and alter the order of imperial succession. What if they took advantage of Shion’s good nature and began scheming…”

The rumors might not just be rumors anymore.

Richard’s voice, uttering those words, was eerily monotonous.

“Shedding blood against my own brother is beyond distasteful. To avoid such a situation, I would like to request you, Father, to handle this matter. For instance, if Shion is demoted to a vassal, the fools will no longer have room to act recklessly.”

“Demotion to a vassal” means stepping down from the royal status and joining the ranks of the subjects.

Since they would no longer be royalty, they would naturally lose the right to succeed the throne. And once one has become a vassal, they cannot return to being a royal again.

In the Adoastera Empire, it was not uncommon to use the method of demotion to vassals to avoid chaos in the imperial succession. For example, one of the Three Great Houses, the Duke of Paradise, was formed when the brother of the Second Emperor stepped down to the vassal rank and was granted the Paradise Territory.

Having personally experienced the struggles of the imperial succession, Emperor Amadeus II paid meticulous attention to preserving the position of Richard, the Crown Prince. In fact, Richard’s younger siblings of close age were demoted to vassals at an early stage.

Yet, Emperor Amadeus II has taken no action regarding Prince Shion.

This fact was undoubtedly fuelling the rumors of discord within the royal family. The words Richard had just mentioned, “there may appear those who speculate,” likely reflect his own concerns.

However, the Emperor remained silent in response.

If one were to speak of Emperor Amadeus II’s true intentions, he had no desire to disinherit Richard. He had also considered the option of demoting Shion to a vassal.

Yet, the reason the emperor hasn’t reached a decision is nothing other than his view of Richard’s militarism as a danger. He spills too much blood in his quest to be the continent’s conqueror.

Emperor Amadeus II himself was greedy for territory and power in his youth, and his severity was feared by neighboring countries. Therefore, condemning Richard’s methods would be like spitting at the sky–even considering this, he has no choice but to shake his head when asked if he can entrust the empire to Richard now.

For now, as Amadeus II is still on top, he can restrain Richard’s actions. Richard is showing an attitude of paying attention to his father’s words.

However, once he inherits the throne, Richard will no doubt disregard his father’s restraint. He will all but confine his father and take control of everything as emperor.

The reason he can say this with certainty is because Amadeus II himself did the same to his own father.

The emperor thinks it’s fine, as far as it concerns him. It’s just karma, his own actions coming back to him.

However, he was concerned that Richard’s hostility would be directed at Shion. There was no guarantee that making Shion a subject would eliminate Richard’s hostility.

Also, demoting Shion from the royal family might lead to a conflict elsewhere.

Specifically, the conflict between the eastern nobles who support Shion and the central nobles led by the three prestigious families would intensify.

Although the central nobles overwhelmingly have power, it cannot be denied that a small spark of conflict could set the entire empire ablaze. If you take a cynical view, there is even the possibility that Richard, or the central nobles who support Richard, could stir up the eastern nobles by using Shion as bait and force them into a rebellion to take control of the east’s power.

As an emperor, he wanted to settle these problems during his reign. Therefore, he continues to sit on the throne, pushing his old body.

However, there is a certainty that this won’t last long. As the emperor gets older, Richard will surely press him to abdicate the throne sooner.

This, too, is something that Amadeus II did to his father.

— “A father and son too alike,” would be a phrase with too much irony.

The emperor, resting his elbow, let out a small sigh without his son noticing.

The audience room was enveloped in silence. The one who broke that silence was Richard again.

“By the way, Father. I heard you invited a strange person into the palace.”

Richard changed the subject with a nonchalant expression. Perhaps even Richard didn’t intend to confront his father at this stage.

However, this could also be taken as pressure, indicating he was keeping tabs on his father’s activities in the palace.

Not a few courtiers are tilting their loyalty towards the latter when comparing the aging emperor and the robust crown prince.

Indeed, the Emperor had no intention of scorning such individuals as disloyal. Of course, it was not a pleasant matter, but when thinking about the future, it was natural for the scale of loyalty to tilt towards the young Crown Prince.

The Emperor responded coldly to his son’s words.

“A strange person, that’s an awkward way to say it. You must already know that this man was both Sakuya’s messenger and the heir of the Mitsurugi family.”

“Ha, as expected of you, Father. You see through everything, don’t you?”

After a pleasant smile, Richard narrowed his eyes.

“However, I am not aware of what you and this man discussed. Sora Mitsurugi. I heard he was driven out of Demon Island for lack of talent, but apparently, he accomplished the feat of slaying a dragon in Canaria recently. I am not sure of the truth, but the fact that Sakuya chose him as a messenger probably means the dragon-slaying incident is true. Do you plan on having him serve as Shion’s guard?”

“No. Sora has no intention of serving our empire. I cannot ask him to serve either. After all, to Sora, the Empire is the enemy that cursed Claudia, his fiancée from a Ducal family.”

The Emperor glared at Richard.

Richard, who had been leading the plot against the Kingdom of Canaria, defiantly met the gaze of the Emperor.

“Father, as I reported the other day, I did mobilize the Mitsurugi through the Berch. However, it was not to curse the Duke’s daughter, but to eliminate the nobles in his land who were opposed to Sakuya’s wedding. The curse on the daughter was the wizard’s decision during the execution. It was not something Mitsurugi or I intended.”

“I think you were aware of this independent decision and left it alone.”

“That’s overthinking, I should say. However, let me speak candidly. Even if your words were correct, would there be a problem?”

Saying so, Richard smirked sarcastically.

“We did not harm the innocent people. Surely, you too have dirtied your hands with the blood of innocent young ones for the sake of national interests?”


“Well, it is indeed our mishandling that caused this series of events. Therefore, we promised considerable aid to the Kingdom of Canaria on the pretext of Sakuya’s wedding, and the Canaria side should have accepted it. I have also received a report that the aforementioned Ducal family followed the Canaria King’s intent. To bring this up now, in my humble opinion, would not benefit either country…”

Richard cut off his words for a moment and questioned the Emperor in a low voice.

“Is this Sora character an idiot who can’t understand this logic?”

“No, he’s not. Sora didn’t mention a word about the curse. I asked him about it and got it out of him.”

Regardless of the reason, it is the Emperor’s duty to take responsibility once the Adoastera Empire has acted.

The Emperor did not mention Richard’s involvement, and after acknowledging his responsibility for the curse inflicted upon the Duke’s daughter, he asked for Sora’s thoughts.

Sora himself did not touch on the matter, and he thought that stirring up trouble could bring out a snake. However, more than that, he strongly felt that this was a valuable opportunity to measure the caliber of the person named Sora.

In response to the Emperor’s question, Sora calmly replied.

“As for the Empire’s manipulation, of course I have my thoughts. I’ve heard from the Duke’s family that Jijinbou’s actions were unilateral, but that doesn’t mean I think there is no responsibility for the one who gave the original orders.

“However, the ones who have the right to blame are not me, who only swung my sword a bit at the end of the situation, but Claudia herself, who has been tormented by the curse for a long time, and also the Dragnaut Duke and Astrid, her family who have fervently supported her.

“But the three of them do not denounce the Empire. They understand that doing so would further widen the rift between the King, who wishes for reconciliation with the Empire. The conflict between the Canaria royal family and the Dragnaut ducal family, the leading nobles, can easily divide the country. They wanted to avoid that.

“The people of the Dragnaut ducal family, as nobles representing the Kingdom of Canaria, prioritized the peace of the kingdom over their own pain and resentment. I, who welcomed Claudia to my home, am now regarded as a member of the Duke’s family. If I were to act on my anger and blame the Empire, it would trample on the will of the three.

“So, I have no intention of saying anything to the Empire. Unless they lay a hand on Claudia again, or on the people of the Duke’s family…”

Remembering the look in Sora’s eyes when he spoke his last words, the Emperor shuddered slightly.

Sora did not particularly intimidate the Emperor. He merely stated the facts calmly. The Emperor understood that.

However, his gaze, like looking into an ancient, murky well, told of Sora’s inner feelings more clearly than a thousand words.

He may have made a mistake by not summoning Richard at that time, at that place. As he still exchanged words with Richard, the Emperor felt a not-so-small regret…

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