Part 5 of chapter 1.
<This is Kaze Number 1. No changes in the “rumor”.>
“There are no changes, huh.”
<Kaze Number 1 reporting no changes.>
<Kaze Number 2 reporting no changes.>
“A moat and a wall around the castle; a classic defense. I wonder what place should we attack?”
<We should request an investigation, then.>
“I just sent in a request right now.”
<We, the Kaze, are here in the castle. Isn't the best choice to open the gates from within?>
<Is this castle really such an impregnable fortress?>
<The founder of the old Mismarcan dynasty was the head of the old Majestia family...so, in other words, he is of the same blood as the current Imperial family. That means our magic and our techniques are very similar. I don't know how much power Mismarca has retained, but this castle was built during that age. I saw some unfamiliar crests earlier...they had a bell and a hammer on them. I don't think those are ordinary magical defenses.>
“...It was probably some kid from the neighborhood who got lost.”
<It's an empty house; things like that probably happen from time to time.>
“Wait, where have I seen that kid...”
“No way, probably not.”
<Do you need backup?>
“Nay. Let's stop here. This country has good security. We should change locations soon. It doesn't look like he saw me. Then, the next time will be at one six zero zero. Acknowledged.
<Number 1 acknowledged.>
<Number 2 acknowledged.>
“End of transmission.”
The kid was leaving by climbing up the wall.
Then, just where did he enter from?
If he had jumped into this garden filled with bushes and scrubs, he would've made a louder noise.
“...Emergency. I need to change my location.”
<As I thought, there was a problem.>
“No, its not such a big issue.”
<Number 1 acknowledged.>
<Number 2 acknowledged.>
“End of transmission.”
Mahiro landed a bit roughly on the paved stone street. It was a pretty high wall. He brushed away the dust that gathered on his clothes, disguising him as a common citizen.
“Now, what to do...”
Mahiro adjusted his hat that was dislodged during the fall low over his eyes.
“As expected, the visitor was there, huh...”
Mahiro gave the uninhabited houses a fleeting glance, and was just about to leave when...
“I found you, young master!”
He turned around, startled. Pariel was furiously riding towards him on her fierce, gray horse.
“You already found me?! Ungh, you've been getting good at this lately...!”
“Now, young master, come home and study like an obedient young man! Oohohohohoho!”
She even chased him into such a street, shouting so scarily.
“Where would you find a home tutor that looks like an adventurer?!”
Pariel was wearing a casual, sleeveless attire instead of her usual collared uniform, brandishing her sword as she charged at him. Anyhow, Mahiro started running away from her.
“I'm currently a free person! Humans, no matter who they are, have the natural right to liberty! Heaven gave everyone equal rights! Someone! Anyone! Help me please! Right now an innocent, young boy's basic rights are being cruelly trampled over!!”
Mahiro sprinted with all of his strength, dashing all over the place, trying to escape.
And, so, Mahiro was caught.
Clip clop, clip clop. Pariel had put the exhausted Mahiro behind her, and the two rode together on the walking horse.
“Ha...It's bad to run so much...”
“Isn't it because you don't exercise enough? So, you should at least practice the sword a little...”
“Haa, haa, I ran...from the horse...for thirty minutes...isn't that proof enough...of my health...haa, haa.”
Well, that was so, but.
“By the way, Prince.”
“Why are you riding behind me?”
“What about it?”
“What about it...a guy riding behind a girl is...to be honest, poor behavior, isn't it?”
“Right now, I'm not a high-class young man, so that shouldn't matter.”
“...Right now, I'm really tired.”
“Riding a living animal is very cruel, isn't it.”
“No one thinks that about riding a horse. And aren't you riding one right now?”
“If it's really like that, ride behind me, then.”
Pariel had a bad premonition.
“Prince...don't tell me you don't know how to ride a horse?”
“To be frank...yes.”
“It's okay. Turn left here. I won't escape anymore, so let's return to the castle together.”
“Turn left...wait, you want to go outside the town?!”
“Didn't I say so? Inspection.”
Mahiro kicked around his feet.
“I-I get it! Stop throwing a tantrum like a child! You'll make the horse go wild!”
The town was surrounded by a wall, with various gates allowing people passage. They headed onto the main street, away from the castle, towards the southern gate.
“...What is it?”
This small country had no particular value for traders and other travelers. Therefore, there usually weren't many people entering and leaving the country. But today, the place was crowded and chaotic. The two went closer for a look.
“Out of the way, out of the way! We're closing this gate right now.”
“What's the reason? Tell us the reason!”
“We have orders not to let anyone in or out!”
“My fish will rot!”
“I need to deliver these goods today!”
“At least let me take these medicines!”
“I'm only going out to hunt for a little bit!”
“That's right! What do you mean I can't return to my home?!”
The crowd was grumbling its dissatisfaction and was just on the verge of erupting into a riot.
“Why are they closing the gates?”
“...As I thought, the Empire is coming? That's the captain of the defense squad...”
After getting closer, Mahiro got off of the horse and asked a young guard with a serious face.
“What's happening here?”
“Huh? It's as you see. We're closing the gates now, and will inspect and check everyone leaving the country...Y-Your Highness!?”
Hearing the guard's panicked shout and seeing his pointed finger, the tumult around the gate immediately died down as everyone turned around to look at Mahiro. The captain, however, had a different reaction to Mahiro's appearance.
“Don't tell me you escaped from the castle again...I didn't expect the idiot prince to be here...!”
“Don't say something cold like that. It's pretty mean. This is different from the usual.”
That was because the prince always acted like an idiot.
“It's exactly because of you always doing something like this! What are you doing...? You were supposed to remain in the castle as His Majesty's replacement...well, this gate is the center of attention right now.”
It seems that the captain knew of Mahiro's usual behavior. Inside the station, there were a few simple tables and chairs made out of wood, and several polished shields and spears were propped up against the wall. It was very much so a common guard station. There were several young looking guards inside .
“Ah, the Prince! Welcome! Please enjoy. Do you want some juice?”
“Prince, I have some new card games here! Let's play together! I won't lose this time!”
“Prince, do you want some ice cream? Ice cream!”
“Prince, there's this dancer girl at the bar in the downtown's second district that makes you feel so good...”
Well, the guards were being friendly, and really almost overly so...
“Who said that you idiots could take a break?! Return to your stations!”
As the captain yelled angrily, the various young soldiers rushed out, escaping his rage.
“Prince, you seem to know these people really well. And wait, what was that suspicious comment about a bar?”
“E-eh, um, that was, you know, that was a secret message about Edelweiss.”
As Pariel sighed, Mahiro turned around to face the captain with a direct face.
“Leaving that aside, who ordered the doors be closed and caused such an uproar?”
“Yes, it was on orders from the Minister of Internal Affairs, Kalro. It was to prevent spies from the Imperial army from infiltrating.”
“...That was why everyone was prevented from leaving?”
“Of course they weren't told the reason. We can't have a disturbance after what His Majesty said this morning...”
“Then stop this at once.”
At these unexpected words, the captain's and Pariel's eyes grew wide with surprise.
“Hmm? There's no meaning to it.”
“No meaning to it...we can't so easily...”
“Anyway, if you continue this, there will be people hurt. Fish will rot. The factory over there will be unable to function because it didn't receive today's delivery. And most of all, if that clinic doesn't receive these medicines...”
(By any chance...)
Pariel wondered how this Prince was able to know the lives of the citizens so minutely. The captain was probably thinking the same thing as she exchanged looks with him.
“If some famous, wanted criminal snuck in, then how do you plan on stopping him from escaping? Return to the usual state of alert at once. I order you this with the full authority that Father entrusted me with.”
“Also, notify the northern gate of the same thing afterwards. Use Edelweiss's name, though.”
“Huh? But isn't this your order, Your Highness?”
“The captain over there won't listen if you mention my name. Even though I'm serious this time.”
“Aha, I see. I understand. Then, I will go immediately.”
The captain departed from the guard station. After the doors were opened, the crowd began to disperse with thoughts of relief. The captain returned, and used to telephone to relay the order to the captain of the northern gate. Chin. He hung up the wall-mounted telephone with a loud clang.
“They said that they will stop inspection at once.”
“Good. That's one thing settled.”
But, Pariel said.
“What if there really was a spy who infiltrated here?”
“It'll be all right. They haven't invaded here yet.”
“That is so, but...”
“Well at least everyone was able to return to their peaceful and stable lives.”
(How should I say it...)
As she thought, the prince actually gave some thought to being a prince. Even though it was supposed to be a normal thing, she felt great relief at this. Even though the prince was always messing around, he was still kind at heart. That was probably why the king said such things, and put such a task on Mahiro's shoulders.
Pariel unconsciously smiled.
“So, the king knew you wouldn't be going out to play?”
“...Well. As you heard from Father, I won't need to do anything special. The retainers will handle everything, so all I have to do is sit on the throne.”
“So, Prince, why did you do that then...?”
“Since I don't have to do anything, it shouldn't be a problem if I use this time to play!”
“It's important that you sit on the throne!”
So, in the end, the two returned together to the castle.