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T/N: Original title's literal translation is "Both sides being Kitsune and Tanuki", which is hard to fully translate in english, so I'll just explain it here. In Japanese folklore, the Kitsune and Tanuki are prolly the most recognizable Youkais, consisting of supernatural, mischievous shapeshifting animals with human intelligence. Kitsune being a fox, and tanuki being, well, a tanuki (raccoon dog). They are both portrayed as sly and mischievous, and can be either benevolent or malevolent. They may not be enemies, but with their stories sharing so much in common, these two are often portrayed as rivals, and while they rarely engage in confrontations, they're usually through "magical showdowns of their shapeshifting ability", which I think means that they confront through cunning and trickeries, hence the title.



With Munin in tow, I returned back to the negotiation table.


Upon our arrival, I felt the eyes of Mira's people fixed on Munin.


She had her black wings out behind her after all.


[Is that her?]


Wright asked, to which Munin bowed.


[Yes. I am the Chief of the Forbidden Race———- the Kurosaga, Munin.]


I told the Mad Emperor that she was willing to go to Mira.


After that, Munin started talking about the Forbidden Race.


She also spoke about her desire to defeat the Goddess.


It was almost the same as what she had told me before.


However, the parts that needed to be blurred were discussed beforehand.


I guess she would be a good story teller.


Mira's camp seemed to be satisfied with the motive she had given.


It seemed like Munin finished her piece.


After exchanging a few words with the other side, Munin stepped back.


I suppose that was a sign that she was leaving the rest to me.


Taking her cue, I spoke.


[Your Majesty, I would like to have a few moments…… to privately discuss with Liese-dono.]


[Very well.]


[Liese-dono, would it be alright?]


[? Y- Yes.]


Liese and I moved a few distance away from the negotiation area.


We were close enough that the Mira group could see us.


Soon after, the two of us returned to our seats, to which the Mad Emperor asked.


[Have you reached an agreement on the matter?]


[Yes. Regarding the matter of Prime Minister Liese-dono going to your country as a representative of the country to conclude an alliance———]


I turned my head back to Munin, who was standing beside me, and continued.


[This is just in case…… but would there be any problem if Munin-dono, the Chief of the Kurosagas, went there as a representative of the country?]


[Fumu……]


The Mad Emperor kept his eyes downcast and pondered.


After a few moments, he then raised his gaze.


[If Munin-dono is qualified to do so, I don't mind…… but what do you think, Liese-dono?]


[Yes. Unlike Belzegia-dono, she is from my country and is one of the Heads of our various tribes.]


Saying this, Liese indicated Niko and Gio beside her with her hand.


[For example, the members of the Four Warlights in attendance here are also Heads of their own tribes. At present, the decisions in our country are decided by a council led by these Heads…..]


Using that as leverage……


"In other words, the Heads have the appropriate qualifications to be the Prime Minister's representative."


—is what Liese explained.


Hearing her explanation, the Mad Emperor nodded his head.


[With that being the case, the Forbidden Race——— the Kurosaga's Chief, Munin-dono, also had just as many qualifications as the others huh.]


The counselor seemed to be writing something on a piece of parchment.


He had just been ordered by the Mad Emperor to take a seat.


Could he be writing a record of the proceedings?


Perhaps, they may have needed to report to the three Elected Imperial households.


Thereupon, the Mad Emperor asked.


[What do you think, Wright?]


[Let's see…… Considering their past history, I think it's natural for them to be wary of going to a country they're unacquainted with. That would explain why their King didn't come out for this negotiation as well. And above all…… The three Elected Imperial households don't know the pecking order in the Faraway Country. Moreover, even we ourselves can't confirm its authenticity. Even if their side says she's their Diplomat, we'll have to accept it.]


[Fuuu…… I suppose that really would be the case huh. As long as the said person is officially sent by their country as their representative, we have no choice but to accept them as "qualified".]


His eyes slackening, the Mad Emperor looked towards me.


[So that's how it is.]


[……………………]


It was just as I expected huh……


The signing ceremony for this alliance.


King.


Prime Minister.


The other side isn't so knowledgeable about the status of the people on our side.


No……


Even if I were to go to that signing ceremony on their behalf, I think that could have worked.


The point is that the provision of forces from the Faraway Country through the alliance is just secondary……


Their main target really is the secret of that sealed room———– and the Forbidden Race that unlocks that room.


"If we can just get the secret behind that sealed room, we can, through extreme logic, cancel this alliance."


That was probably what they were thinking.


This fact, as far as we're concerned though———– is something we can use.


[Well then……]


As soon as the scene was settled, the Mad Emperor spoke.


[Your group and Munin-dono are going with us to Mira———-]


[No…… If it's possible, we'd like to take some time before we depart.]


With the situation like this, I want to avoid going to Mira with the Mad Emperor and his group.


[Fumu.]


[Before we leave, we need to take care of the aftermath of the previous battle. Even I have my own duties I need to fulfill in the Faraway Country now……]


First of all, there's that matter regarding Yasu, who is currently sleeping.


I want to settle things with that guy before we go to Mira.


I'd also like to give some instructions to those guys in the Faraway Country.


And most importantly———— I still don't fully trust the Mad Emperor or Mira.


Mira's imperial capital isn't a distance that can be reached in a day.


If we were to be attacked by a large group of people while we were camping out……


As expected, such a scenario is bad.


That's why, I want to go to Mira separately, not with the Mad Emperor and his group.


The Mad Emperor seemed to have a look of understanding in his face……


[Very well, do as you wish.]


He accepted my offer.


I don't know if that reaction was because he knew what I was thinking or not though.


[Well then, I'll give you a Special Class Certificate.]


The Counselor looked surprised.


Repositioning his round glasses……


[N- Not First Class——— but Special Class?]


[Of course. Their presence is indispensable for our country now. I don't want some trivial matter to hinder their way.]


The Mad Emperor replied mischievously.


Wright also nodded once towards the Counselor.


Nodding in response, the Counselor didn't say anything more and stepped back a bit.


[The Special Class Certificate, which indicates that you are the "personal guest" of the Mad Emperor, is a pass that is valid in most places in Mira's territory. At the same time, it guarantees your position. With that in possession, it won't be a problem even if you were to visit Mira separately from us.]


In short, we'll be cordially received with that huh.


[Your Majesty, you have my gratitude.]


[……Fly King. From your exchange with the Prime Minister, it would seem that you have only recently become involved with the Faraway Country.]


[It is indeed as you had said.]


[Can I ask how you came to be on the Faraway Country's side?]


[That is——– for a simple reason.]


Yes, it's for a simple reason.


A very simple reason.


[From now on, one of my people will be an inhabitant of the Faraway Country.]


[………………….]


[I can't let the country where my friend would live be trampled upon by others…… This is the main reason why I am now supporting the Faraway Country. And Alion's Goddess has sent her soldiers to the Faraway Country———— She had sent a group having such cruelty within their minds. We may have defeated them this time, but the same thing may happen again in the future. That being the case…… We need to cut off the problem at its root. In other words, we must completely crush Goddess Vysis. If there's anyone standing in the way of achieving that——— I will not hesitate to become their "enemy".]


[And that would be, even if…… you stand against my Mira huh?]


[That would be if Mira stands in my way.]


Hearing my words, the Mad Emperor chuckled.


[That's a far cry from a just cause…… Just for your personal reasons huh. They're scary, people like you, I mean.]


The Mad Emperor sits up.


Thereupon, as if switching gears, he spoke.


[Well then, we will return to the imperial capital first. Hostilities with Alion have already begun. Even though they are all excellent, we can't just leave such a situation to the retainers forever. We have a lot of work to do.]


Saying this, the Mad Emperor pointed to his own face.


His clear blue eyes reflected Seras' figure.


[I learned this a long time ago from a traveling magician. The movement of one's eyes, the high and low fluctuations of one's voice…… He said that one could read a person's emotions and thoughts by the way they moved their arms and legs, and the way they breathed. By applying this technique, one can tell if a person is lying or not. I'm unable to do such a skillful trick…… It seems like Seras Ashrain has a similar skill. That signal you had given several times during our negotiations…… As you stood behind his back, you were probably estimating whether our words were the truth or lies and conveying it to him, weren't you?]


[………………………..]


This guy……


He saw through our actions huh.


He may not have fully disclosed Seras' abilities but……


He had sensed that she's verifying whether they were speaking the truth or not.


Feeling bewilderment from Seras behind me……


[No, that is……]


Seras' reaction isn't so different from her admitting it.


[Fuuu, I don't mind. Even if that were the case, I'll just talk on the assumption that people will see through my lies. Besides, that mask and its voice-altering function makes it difficult to read your emotions from your facial expression and tone of voice……]


Chuckling, the Mad Emperor slid his index finger across his white cheek.


His eyes narrowed, as if he could see through everything, the young and beautiful Emperor spoke.


[I'm  just glad that both of our ambush troops need not make any move.]


I guess they knew about the presence of our ambush troops huh.


[My apologies, your Majesty. However, we do not yet know each other well…… Especially due to that incident with the 1st Cavalry, we made sure that we had a plan prepared for unexpected situations.]


[What, you need not apologize for that. Rather, I was pleased to see that I'm conversing with people with no such oversight. That's the kind of person I prefer to tie an alliance with.]


[I don't mean to be presumptuous———– but it seems like your Majesty is a good-natured person.]


[Hmmm?]


[If you hadn't revealed that you were aware of them…… With skills your Majesty has, you could have taken advantage of it.]


[Playing the fool and catching the other party off guard huh.]


As if to shush me, the Mad Emperor brought his index finger to his lips.


[That magician also told me this. It is only when you speak frankly in regards to disclosing one's secrets that those who hear it will trust you.]


Speaking one's mind is better in winning one's trust than playing the fool huh.


It was indeed as he said.


This young Emperor———- really isn't easy to beat.


I mean……


Even he had no such oversights.


It's reassuring to think of them as our allies.


But at this point, we still don't know what he's really thinking.


Thereupon, the Mad Emperor moved his body to the side.


His blonde hair, shining in the setting sun, swayed lustrously.


[Fly King…… I'd like to have a private conversation with you once.]


The Mad  Emperor then turned his beautiful side-profile towards us……


[Well then———- I'm looking forward to seeing you again in the imperial capital.]


The Mad Emperor then gave quick instructions to Wright and his counselor.


After that, the Counselor stayed behind to work out the details with us.


Like, inquiring us what we would do with the prisoners.


And how they could make contact with the Faraway Country in the future.


Anyhow, it looks like I can leave the matters from here on out to Liese.



The rest of Mira's team is moving to leave with the Emperor.


As for me———


I was thinking about Kashima Kobato.


Her earlier reaction……


I can't stop thinking about it……


That reaction of hers, did she perhaps realize that it was "me"?


However———– I don't understand.


What was the factor that connected the current me to Mimori Touka?


I've paid careful attention to make sure that wouldn't occur.


[……………………]


Did Kashima also acquire an inherent skill of some kind too?


Could it be, she acquired a skill that allowed her to find out my true identity?


If that's the case, that would certainly explain her reaction……


But if she really was able to see through my identity because of her inherent skill———–


It wouldn't matter what kind of acting I do, it would be meaningless.


On the other hand, the person in question, Kashima, had already left the scene, escorted by Mira's soldiers.


As for Asagi, she seems to be exchanging some words with the Mad Emperor.


……Did Kashima really realize that the Fly King was "me"?


However, it's currently difficult to ascertain this.


Even if I try to approach her——— it would be extremely out of place for the "Fly King" to see Kashima.


It wouldn't have been strange if I were trying to enquire about the Mad Emperor's trump card, Asagi.


To get in touch with Kashima, I would need to be more natural with it.


With that being the case……


Once we've arrived at Mira, it would be easier to naturally make contact with her huh.


Rather———


I guess I should also make plans on the assumption that they already know who I am.


For the time being, it seems like they're on our side.


Even if they were to find out, it will be easier to deal with them than those on the enemy side.


However, my concern now is that Asagi and her group may have been spies sent by the Goddess———–


There's a possibility that they are actually on the Goddess' side.


Until I'm sure, I have to take this possibility into consideration.


……My thoughts are starting to go in circles.


Though I say that, at this point, there's still too little information to conclude my plans for the future.


[My apologies, Milord.]


At that moment, Seras spoke, sounding like she was reflecting.


[If that "apologies" were for the fact that you were exposed in regards to giving me signals after verifying the truth or not, then you don't need to apologize. It's not your fault, Seras.]


Seras reacted as if my words really were spot on.


Hanging her head down in shame, she made her body look smaller.


[I- It was indeed an apology for that……]


[You're still the same usual extremely serious Knight-sama huh.]


[I- I'm truly ashamed.]


[Really? I think you did well in these negotiations though.]


As I watched the Mad Emperor and his group leave, I said.


The Mad Emperor and his group came from the opposite direction of where we came from———– disappearing to the west.


It was as if their departure was like the sun was setting.


When I looked up towards the sky, I saw that the sunset was gradually fading.


The sun had just set, framing the boundary between the sky and the earth in shining orange.



We were now on our way to the door.


The ambush troops joined us on the way, and we were all on our way back.


Some of Mira's group will stay nearby until tomorrow.


"If there's anything else you wanted to convey to us, tell them by tomorrow", is what we were told.


Turning my gaze at Liese, riding nearby on Roa, who was earlier together with the ambush troops, I called out to her.


[It seems like we've somehow settled things huh.]


[You're right———– Though I say that, it's going to be tough from here on out. By the way, about sending Munin to Mira as my representative…… In the end, it was settled that it would be Munin huh……]


In the end, it was decided in the discussion with Mira's people who remained at that place.


Thereupon, Liese peeks towards my face……


[As expected…… I guess Wingeds look better than Arachnes huh……?]


[Hmm? Ahh, that wasn't my intention for suggesting that. I myself like the way you look, and if the other party weren't familiar with some species of Demi-Humans, I think that the sooner they get used to you, the better.]


[S- Saying you like me is just———]


[…………………]


I guess it's just like Liese to interpret my words that way.


I snorted.


[What's wrong with liking your appearance?]


[You really are——— a bad guy……! N- No, I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with that…… T- The heck is with that!? The heck is with you!?]


"Anyway.", I pull Slei towards Liese.


Making sure that my voice wouldn't be heard too much by the people around us……


[I don't fully trust Mira's side yet.]


[……Me either.]


[So said by the one who was bashful when the Mad Emperor complimented you.]


[A- Anyone would be bashful when they get complimented! That's just normal, isn't it!?]


[The Mad Emperor sure has a good face after all. With that face of his, neither man or woman would feel bad about being complimented by him.]


[Uuuuu…… I've learned by experience not to judge humans by how good they look, like that time with Mikhail. Even if they have a nice face and a good manner, that doesn't mean they can be trusted! Geez, what's with you humans!?]


[I'm a human too, you know?]


[Y- You're different! ……Wait, we're getting off-topic!]


Returning back to the topic……


[From the start, what the other side wanted was to get their hands on the Forbidden Race. That's why, they'll probably attack us and try to capture Munin———– If it's the Forbidden Race, they could also make use of them as a great bargaining chip against Vysis after all.]


Liese kept her attention to my voice in silence.


[However, if it's just me and Seras, the two of us can ride away on Slei's third form.]


[As for Munin…… ——–Ah, I see. If she takes the form of a raven, she wouldn't even need to be counted as people riding her.]


[Exactly.]


Putting aside weight, as expected, there would be a balancing problem when three people are on board.


Slei's movements would also slow down.


[But if I'm there with your group…… It would be difficult for three people to ride Slei huh.]


[Riding in itself would be the problem.]


[No, to begin with, I'm more of a non-combatant. I won't be able to defend myself if an arrow or an offensive magic flies from a distance———– I would just be a liability.]


[Sorry, but that was indeed the case.]


[I'm willing to receive such words if it's just that.]


[To be honest though, there's a limit to how much I can protect myself.]


[That…… couldn't be helped. What you just said is understandable. It makes sense.]


[Also…… That being a different matter, you have to start working on domestic matters from now on, right? I think it would be better if Liese's here handling the current situation.]


Bringing her fist close to her mouth, Liese had a look of understanding.


It seems that she's quickly simulating the future matters in her mind.


[Unnn…… I suppose you're right……]


[However, I think it's best if you could eventually leave it to someone else.]


[I suppose so…… From now on, I need to gradually distribute the authority to other people. Until now, I've been trying to do everything on my own too much.]


[Right.]


[Unnn.]


For the time being, things are going according to our plan.


This time, each side's conditions mesh well.


First of all, the other side's main concern was the Forbidden Race, and the alliance was secondary.


Also, the other side wasn't too knowledgeable about the important people in this country.


So, when Munin went to Mira as a representative of the country, they accepted it.


At that moment, Liese, who had been quiet for a while, averted her gaze——–


[……Thank you.]


Looking embarrassed, she expressed her thanks.


Thereupon, glancing towards Liese, who was riding on my right……


[Seras too, thank you for this time, okay? It was very reassuring to have you both here.]


[To tell you the truth…… I was a little overwhelmed by this intimidating aura around the Mad Emperor. I was wearing a mask, so people may not have thought so. That's why I thought it was mainly Milord who helped you.]


Currently, Seras has taken off her Fly Knight mask.


In response to Seras' words though, Liese shook her head.


[That's not true. Because everyone, including Seras, was there with me…… I somehow managed to hold on until the end.]


Hearing her words, Seras gently smiled.


[Well then…… I guess I should say "you're welcome" here instead huh.]


[Y- Yes…… You do that.]


Liese became bashful again.


With my gaze kept forward……


[Seriously, I wonder where the sharp tongue you had before went.]


[You———- You shut up! It went flying somewhere!]


She went and admitted it huh.


[Well, I think you vigorously screaming like that and pressing people for answers is your true self though. You should use your personality to the fullest when you can use it to your advantage. In the earlier negotiations, you were too worried about things and shrunk away too much.]


After the Mad Emperor left though, she seemed to be in a pretty good shape.


[Uuuu…… I know already. I'll take…… your advice to heart.]


[You sure are charming when you're docile, aren't you?]


[Wha……!? T- T- The heck is with you!? A- Are you saying I'm not usually charming!?]


[What's great about Lieselotte Ornick that I had mentioned earlier, that includes that part.]


[——————! U- Uuuuu…………. R- Really?]


[Yeah. But you'll have to figure out how to use it.]


[……Alright.]


[You sure are charming when y————]


[I've heard you say that already!]


Hearing the ruckus, Gio and Niko, who were ahead of us, looked back towards us.


[She's getting quite overwhelmed over there huh, our Prime Minister.]


[She would be no match for that man when it comes to verbal combat.]


With her form unchanged, riding the giant wolf next to Gio was Munin.


Looking at such a Munin, she giggled.


[This is the first time…… I've ever seen Prime Minister-san that happy.]



As soon as we returned to the castle, we had a council meeting.


We then shared information with the other members of the Seven Warlights who weren't present at the negotiations.


The alliance seemed to be going smoother than expected.


The meeting ended without a hitch.


In the end, we briefly summarized what we would do from tomorrow onwards, and then parted ways for the day.


After we parted ways, I returned to my room and had dinner with Seras and Nyaki.


After dinner, Nyaki went back to her room with Pigimaru and Slei———-


Knock, knock


——-when we heard knocks at the door.


Thereupon, Seras stands up from her seat……


[Yes?]


[Ummm, reporting…… The he——–]


A hurried voice.


I could also feel a slight panic from them.


Thereupon, the voice spoke.


[The Hero from Another World has awakened.]



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