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  Ill-Boding Flames  

“To hell with that albino freak!”

The snowfall was heavy that night.

Over in Dormundt’s High-End Residential District, an angry voice could be heard, along with the sound of something getting kicked. A well-dressed young man with wolf ears was throwing a drunken tantrum.

“Angels? Gimme a break! He sure looks like a normal guy to me! Dammit, I wanna pummel his stupid, girly face until it looks like a potato!”

“Kyle’s temper seems worse than usual today…”

“I don’t blame him. Viscount Niersbach, his father, was prosecuted and imprisoned by the commoners. They even stripped him of his right to govern Ravale, an authority originally granted to him by Marquis Findolph.”

The raging drunk, Kyle, was accompanied by two others of similar dress. One was bespectacled and looked more intellectual, while the other was chubby and seemed rather meek. Each was a former noble who lived in the High-End Residential District.

“It’s a crying shame,” the bespectacled young man said in reference to the fate of Kyle’s father. “But soon, our days of biding time will be over, and our counterattack can begin.”

At those words, Kyle spun around from where he was kicking at a stone wall. “You mean, you got the goods?”

“Huh? What are you two talking about?”

“My family and the Archride family are distant relatives. They sympathize with our situation, so they sent us something to help… Namely, these.”

With an evil grin, the bespectacled young man pulled a round pot out from under his coat.

“What’s that, some sort of pottery? If it is, it looks a little crude.”

“Of course it does; it’s full of gunpowder. It’s a bomb they call Roaring Thunder.”

“A—a bomb?!”

“Not so loud, moron! But still, I’m surprised you were able to sneak them in. Shipping those things over during the night is one thing, but getting bombs into the city proper must have been tough.”

“Oh, not at all. The commoner swine are only wary of us nobles.”

“You mean, you used peasants as mules?”

“Of course. And we’re running the whole operation through their filthy hovel of a residential district, so our efforts should go undetected for some time.”

“I-I’m surprised you got those peasants to side with you.”

“Heh… Equality might seem nice on the surface but leads to a world that’s harsh on the incompetent, and there’s no shortage of incompetents among the commoners.” The man was right. Not all the commoners were on board with the message the Seven Luminaries were spreading.

Some people just wanted to leech off the nobles. Others doubted their own abilities and feared the prospect of a society built on competition. More still simply didn’t trust the Seven Luminaries themselves. There were folk of many minds on the subject. The bespectacled noble had gathered such people and used them to sneak the bombs into the city.

“When spring comes, and the subjugating army with it, we’ll use catapults to blanket the town in these things. The Seven Luminaries will find themselves hit from both sides.”

“Heh, I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to watch that albino punk crap himself.”

“B-but…if we do that, the commoners might actually kill us…”

“What are you talking about?! We’re nobles! We have justice on our side!”

“Quite right. The emperor is sure to be most pleased with our hard work. You’re a member of the imperial nobility, too. It’s time to start acting like it.”

“O-okay… Yeah, you’re right.”

The trio continued making their way down the darkened street.

“Huh? What’s that?”

Right in front of them, they saw a strange structure cast in the moonlight. It was like a little unfinished hut built right off the side of the road. It had a roof and supports but only two walls. The glasses-wearing noble looked down at it.

“Ah, it’s one of the shrines the Seven Luminaries have been building around town of late.”

“What’s a shrine?”

“A word of Yamato origin. They worship some idol called a jizou by way of these little huts.”

“Huh. So what, they’ve got a little statue of that blond kid in there?”

Curious, Kyle walked over to the half-built hut and popped in through one of the unfinished walls.

However, it was too dark to make out anything clearly.

“Tch. I can’t see for shit. Hey, Marco, gimme some light in here.”


The plump noble lit up his lantern.

Now that it was illuminated, Kyle could make out a large, cylindrical pillar inside the hut.

“Huh? What’s this supposed to be?”

“…Yeah, why’s it a cylinder?”

“It certainly doesn’t look like a statue…”

“Heh-heh-heh. I figured it out, guys. Those lowly savages don’t have the technology to carve statues, so they just stuck a big rock here instead to try and trick us.”

“That seems eminently plausible. Primitives are fond of their stone circles, after all.”

The two of them let out scornful laughs.

“Guess we don’t have a choice, huh? As representatives of the empire’s greatness, it’s our job to teach them a thing or two about class.”

Kyle turned the wine bottle he was holding over and poured its contents onto the pedestal on which the cylinder was enshrined.

“You like that? Tasty, huh? Nothing like the stale wort you paupers drink. This here is sweet, mellow, full-bodied booze. The finest stuff around. Drink up, O mighty God of the poor savages! Ha-ha!”

Suddenly, the three heard something. The sound of metal on metal and footsteps treading on the fallen snow.

“Kyle, someone’s coming!”

“I recall hearing that they assigned guards to their little shrines, so I suspect it’s that.”

“Tch. It’d be a pain if they found us here. Let’s bounce.”

Kyle and the others quickly left the unfinished hut and vanished down an alley. Not a moment later, the bespectacled noble was proven right, as the guard returned.

“…Whew. Man, when it gets this cold out, the ol’ bladder starts working overtime…”

The young, shivering soldier had no idea. He hadn’t the slightest hunch just how much his little mistake would contribute to the coming tragedy.

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