Wortenia Senki (LN) - Volume 1 - Chapter Ep

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“What is the meaning of this?!” A shout of anger reverberated through the audience chamber. 

It was the voice of the Iron-Blooded Minister, Durnest. The Emperor who lorded over the audience chamber listened to Shardina’s words, his elbow resting on his throne’s armrest. 

“That concludes my report. You may do as you will.” 

Standing before the Emperor were Shardina and Saitou, along with Celia, Rolfe and Orlando; the commanders of the search party. 

The memories of the few days that followed the incident surfaced in Saitou’s mind. After Ryoma and his group got away, Shardina waited until dawn and gathered the soldiers dispatched to the forest. She gambled on the faint hope that they would yet catch up to Ryoma, and threw all her forces to that pursuit. She would only let him get away as long as she didn’t have the forces to hunt him down, and once her soldiers were gathered, the situation had changed. However, Shardina didn’t find Ryoma in the end. 

“So it was all for naught, then...” 

“I don’t think this could have been avoided...” Saitou replied to her whisper. “It took us too long to gather the troops...” 

Ryoma likely assumed he’d be pursued. A normal person who interpreted his opponent’s words however he would was convenient for them, and such a person would believe they wouldn’t be pursued until they left the border. It was the fact that Ryoma never made those kinds of naive mistakes which made him so formidable. 

“Let’s head back to the capital.” 

Those words made Saitou grimace. Now that they’d failed to capture Ryoma, they had no reason to loiter around in the forest. They’d have to lift the blockade on the border checkpoint too, or it might strike a blow to their economy. That applied to Celia’s group in the south, too. 

But while he understood that perfectly well, Saitou couldn’t easily agree to this decision, because he wasn’t pleased with how Shardina dealt with the situation. Failing to apprehend Ryoma was a huge blunder, and the worst part wasn’t that they had failed to catch him, but the fact they had succeeded and he still got away in spite of that. There were even casualties among their knights. Even if they couldn’t anticipate Ryoma having collaborators, there was no getting around the fact Shardina had failed at her duty. 

“Durnest’s gonna steam like a kettle over this.” 

Saitou could easily imagine the minister shouting them down in the Emperor’s audience chamber. As his name implied, he was a statesman with a will of steel and the resolve to spill his own blood if need be. Even a royal like Shardina wouldn’t make him change his attitude. 

“Lady Celia will be problematic, too.” 

Having her family killed made her the most zealous out of everyone involved in this mission. How would they explain this to her? 

“Well... We’ll think of something. Celia is no fool. If we explain the situation, I doubt she’d try to find any more fault.” 

That might be true if this was Celia in any other situation... 

Saitou doubted she’d keep the same levelheadedness with her family killed. Perhaps reading his thoughts from his expression, Shardina shrugged her shoulders. 

“I’ll take care of it. Whatever the case, we have no choice but to return to the Emperor.” 

With that said, Shardina left the forest behind and regrouped with Celia. And now, she could only wait for her judgment after explaining all that happened. 

“Even an Imperial princess cannot be forgiven for such failure!” 

“Durnest. Shut up for a while.” The Emperor’s voice cut down Durnest’s words as he prepared to scold her even more severely. 

Saitou shook off the thoughts in his mind and turned his concentration to the Emperor. 

“I have no intention of finding fault in Shardina’s handling of the situation.” His grave voice reverberated through the throne room. 

“But... Your Grace!” Durnest’s face was washed over with surprise. 

“Obey me, Durnest!” The Emperor said, pounding on the armrest with his elbow. “True, Shardina failed to fulfill my order. That much is fact. But the man’s skill was beyond prediction. What could she have done differently?” 

The Emperor’s words left Durnest at a loss for words. And he was right. If anything, the fact that they had caught him once was close to a miracle considering they didn’t have a name or a face to go by. Durnest knew this. 

“But we cannot let the otherworlder get away.” 

The empire’s dignity was at stake, and that was the most important part of all for Durnest. 

“I know. However. Shardina and Saitou are both crucial members of my Empire’s forces. Even if it is for the sake of killing the despicable man who slew Gaius, I could not afford to have them sacrificed for it and weaken my Empire in so doing.” 

No matter how low the probability, they couldn’t afford to lose the captain and vice-captain of the Succubus Knights, the pride and joy of the Empire. It was exactly now, when they were weakened by Gaius’s death, that losing more people who could make up for that loss would hamper their plans for domination. 

Considering the many factors at play, Shardina’s choices were apt ones. 

“However...” The Emperor’s gaze fell to Shardina. 

These were not the eyes of a father looking upon his daughter, but of a king ordering a vassal. 

“Unavoidable though it was, you have still failed to obey my orders. Henceforth, I order you to take over Gaius’s place, and conquer the eastern countries!” 

Shardina and the other four present lowered their heads at once. They realized that in place of a punishment, the Emperor had granted them a new posting to gather merits in, and make up for their failures. 

“We will answer your expectations, at all costs!” Shardina’s voice echoed through the throne room. 

On this day, the Empire of O’ltormea began its conquest of the eastern lands in earnest, a movement that would go on to involve the escaped Ryoma Mikoshiba. The western continent was on the cusp of a great event. 

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