The three of us entered the dining room where we regularly had our meals and found Jonas-san talking with the other employees.
“What seems to be the matter, Alan-san?”
“I would like to request a meeting with Tarus-san right now if he isn’t busy with work. I’ll have Ria participate as well.”
“I see. I shall check with Master, then.”
Jonas-san went back after a short while together with Tarus-san.
“Let us discuss matters in the consultation room over there,” Tarus-san offered.
The consultation room was a small room that can seat about ten people inside. One of Tarus-san’s employees brought us some tea.
“Would it be fine for Jonas to join us in this discussion?”
I looked at Cleria to get confirmation.
“I do not mind.”
Cleria gave her OK. I do think Jonas-san was someone trustworthy as well.
“This may sound somewhat abrupt, but I have been using an alias while interacting with you all up until now. I must apologize for this matter first. My true name is Cleria Starvine.”
Tarus-san and Jonas-san’s expressions immediately changed to that of astonishment. Oh, man. To think even a butler living in another country is familiar with her. It seems Cleria’s actually quite famous. Maybe he got to know about her from Tarus-san.
“Y- Your Highness. There is no need to apologize for this matter. In lieu of Your Highness’ situation, I fully understand why you had to do so.”
Tarus-san was visibly flustered.
“There is actually no need to address me as ‘Your Highness’, Mr. Tarus. You are not a citizen of the Starveek Kingdom in the first place, Mr. Tarus. And I no longer hold such a position of repute as well.”
“…Understood. Cleria-sama. What is it that you wish to discuss with me?”
“I would like for you to share any sort of information you have about the current state of the Starveek Kingdom.”
“I see. So it’s about that… I was traveling out of the city until recently and am not that familiar with the entire situation, so I’ll have Jonas tell you in my stead.”
“What would you like to know first, Cleria-sama?”
“If you have any information regarding the battle in the Ludvic territory, I’d like to hear about it first.”
“First, I must apologize for the fact that the information I know may have been somewhat embellished due to it coming from the rumors circulating about among the merchants in the city. The information may not be entirely accurate, so I ask for your understanding.”
Jonas-san then took out a small memo pad from his suit’s inside pocket and went over the contents.
“Regarding the battle in the Ludvic territory, the defending forces led by Earl Ludvic numbered six thousand troops. On the other hand, it is said that the combined southern and western armies they faced numbered about forty thousand. I do not know the exact particulars regarding the battle itself, but it seems that the allied noble armies forced the Earl’s troops to retreat into the castle in order to hold a battle of attrition. The allied armies repeatedly asked for the Earl and his troops to surrender. The Earl, however, refused to capitulate. And after two weeks of grueling battle, the castle was finally taken. According to the villagers who witnessed the battle from afar, it seems like the Earl and his forces were intentionally dragging out matters in order to buy time for some reason.”
“My uncle probably did so in order to earn time for me to successfully escape. Do you know what happened to the Earl in the end?”
“It is said that the Earl fell in battle the moment the castle was breached. His corpse was recovered later on, so it is all but confirmed.”
“…So it really was the case.”
“There is also this sort of rumor going around. There were several witness accounts regarding a number of the Earl’s forces secretly leaving from the castle before they moved inside to invite a siege.”
“I do not think any of my uncle’s troops are cowardly enough to desert him in battle. He probably persuaded a number of them to escape willingly, knowing that they were about to fight a battle with no hope of victory.”
“After the Earl’s territory fell, most of the northern and eastern nobles surrendered one after another. And after thirty-five days, all nobles in the kingdom have capitulated to the rebels.
“And there was a new round of information we just received yesterday. Twenty days ago, the southern Marquis, Lord Agustini, declared the founding of a new kingdom. Its name was revealed to be the Alois Kingdom.”
“……Lord Agustini. The Lautrigen House. I have met him once before. Alois Kingdom… So they restored their former kingdom’s name.
“Thank you for the valuable information you shared with us, Mr. Tarus and Mr. Jonas. I can do nothing about it for now, but I swear to repay this favor in the future.”
“I do not dare accept your grace, Cleria-sama. There is no need to owe us anything for this sort of information. I shall endeavor to collect even more useful information for you henceforth,” Tarus-san declared.
“…Why would you go so far for us, Mr. Tarus?”
“It’s no trouble at all. It’s a merchant’s habit to collect information after all. It comes with the occupation. I would just have to put a little more effort into it, that’s all.
“My father was originally a merchant from the Starveek Kingdom. But he fell in love at first sight with my mother and chose to stay in this city instead. So I consider myself half a citizen of Starveek.
“My father died four years ago, but I’d often heard how splendid the Starveek Kingdom was from him when he was still alive. Perhaps he was just missing his former homeland. So it’s only natural that I put forth my best effort to help the sole princess of the kingdom my father so loved.”
“Mr. Tarus…… You have my utmost gratitude.
“However, there is something you need to be informed of, Mr. Tarus.
“The ruler of this Belta Kingdom, King Amado, is actually my second cousin. I came to this country in order to solicit his aid.”
After that, Cleria talked about what happened to Elna’s comrades.
“In other words, this country’s ruler, King Amado, is actually cooperating with the rebels, or rather, the newly founded Alois Kingdom. If you lend me your aid, it means that you are going against your country’s king as a consequence.”
“I see… To put aside ties of blood in exchange for benefits is an action typical of a monarch.
“However, since there is no official order by the state for your capture, Cleria-sama, I do not think we will have many problems. And I do not think the castle will put forth such an order in the first place as well. After all, if the king were to order his subjects to capture his own cousin to aid rebels, his own prestige as a monarch will be tarnished as a result.
“So you do not have to be so worried for us, Cleria-sama.”
“…Understood. I thank you for your help once again.”
“Well then, now that I’ve been told of this matter, I believe it would be best if I met with my fellow merchants in order to procure more new information for you,” Tarus-san offered.
“I am in your care.”
I, Cleria and Elna went back to our room in order to discuss our next plans more.
“Well, we did acquire some information, but it doesn’t seem like they would lead to a viable course of action.”
“Certainly. But gaining a trustworthy ally such as Tarus-san in this country is a good start. It’s all thanks to your suggestion, Alan.”
“I didn’t do anything big. It’s actually thanks to Tarus-san’s character. So what do you plan on doing, for now, Cleria?”
“I do not know… What is it that I should do? Ideally, I would very much like to regain my country. But what would justify me doing so?
“Should a member of royalty whose reign allowed a rebellion to occur be allowed to take back the country in the first place?
“For the kingdom’s citizens, it may not matter much to them which family ultimately reigns over the country – whether it’s the Starvines or the Lautrigens.”
“That certainly cannot be the case! The Starvine royal family was adored by the people! A majority of the nobles subject to your reign also greatly respected you!
“There is something wrong with this rebellion. I cannot put my foot down on what exactly it is that I find off, but I do know something is horribly wrong with it.
“I am a royal guard in service to Cleria-sama. My loyalty shall forever be yours.”
“Thank you, Elna. But the royal family only has me now, and the country has fallen. Wouldn’t it be better for you to come back to your hometown?”
“As you said, the Starvine royal family still has you, Cleria-sama! And I’ve already sworn to the Goddess Ruminas that I will always serve you and protect you from harm, even if it costs me my life.”
“Oh, Elna! What have you done!?”
Hm? Uh, I couldn’t follow their conversation just now. Is there anything wrong with swearing to protect someone in God’s name?
It’s probably a religious matter. I can’t just carelessly ask for details, so I’d better refrain from it altogether.
And I don’t know how the two of them would react if I told them I wasn’t familiar with Goddess Ruminas.
“……I see. I understand your determination. I am truly gladdened by your loyalty, Elna. I will never ask you to return to your hometown again. Let us get through this together!”
I kinda didn’t get some of that, but it seems they’ve managed to resolve themselves anyway.