──Nosa, a town near the border of the Demon Territory──
Princess Sophia woke up on a hard bed.
She looked around, recalling that this wasn’t the Imperial Capital.
“I arrived in this town yesterday…”
Sophia let out a long sigh.
The journey from the Imperial Capital to the border had been too taxing.
After entering the town, she left the carriage and quickly entered her room at the inn, at which point she reached her limit.
I remembered refusing the help of the maids and changing into my nightgown.
After that, I don’t remember much.
It seems that I managed to get on the bed, though.
“I think the Empire should improve the roads.
Even though it’s located at the border, people and soldiers still travel to and from the area.
At the very least, they should do something about the rocking of the carriages…….”
I muttered out loud.
‘I wonder whether we should improve the roads or design carriages that don’t rock.’
I stretched my arms while thinking about that.
“Stupid, what’s the point of such thoughts when you’ve been driven to the northern border?”
I got out of my bed.
I was staying in a double room.
One was my bedroom and one was a guest room.
It was smaller than the rooms in the detached palace, but there was nothing wrong with that.
This mansion belonged to Nosa’s mayor.
The troops from the Imperial Capital used this place as their base.
Until a dozen days ago, Liana and Zagran’s troops were stationed in this town.
Sofia and the others arrived as if to replace them.
That’s why they were still using the same house.
However, I would have to remain here for much longer.
While thinking about that, I opened the window, allowing a gentle breeze to drift in.
It carried with it the smell of nature, indicating that a forest must be nearby.
“…… What a nice breeze.
The air is much purer than that of the Imperial capital.
From the window, I caught sight of the tall walls of the city.
This town was designed to defend against an attack by the Demon Territory.
That’s why it boasted towering walls and accommodations for the soldiers.
Even if there is peace, the Empire will not overlook preparations for an attack from the north.
“I’m curious to see what’s in store for us here…”
I extended my arm and closed the poorly built window.
Even such a trivial movement caused my breathing to become ragged.
I took a seat on my bed to calm myself.
“I have to get back to the capital as soon as possible.
It’s not…… good for Liana to continue to be under the influence of Zagran…….”
However, I don’t know how to accomplish that.
If I expended all of my light magic in the military training, would they allow me to return to the capital?
I came here to cast light magic.
If I used all my magic power and became a burden, they might not need me anymore.
“…… I hope Zagran will forgive me for that.”
“Your Highness Sofia.
Are you awake?”
Suddenly, I heard the voice of my second-in-command, Mariella, outside the door.
Good morning, Mariella”
“Your Highness, how are you feeling?”
“Better than yesterday, I think.”
“That’s good to hear.
May I request a favour?”
“Could you have a word with the mayor and the head of the commercial district?”
Mariella asked from behind the door.
“It seems that the arrival of numerous soldiers has upset the locals.
I believe it would soothe them if Your Highness made an appearance and spoke a few words.”
I understand why the residents were upset.
During the monster subjugation, countless troops were stationed here.
If new troops arrived soon after that, some people might wonder if there was going to be conflict with the Demon Territory.
It was natural to be anxious.
“I will calm the people down.
This is also the role of the Imperial family.”
“Thank you very much.
I will come for you as soon as I am ready.”
“Your Highness should rest until then.
We’ll resolve everything else.”
From the other side of the door, I heard Mariela’s fading footsteps.
The maids arrived soon afterwards with a change of clothes.
They said, “We will help you change your clothes,” but I refused to let them into the room.
The maids who had accompanied me were all subordinate to Zagran.
With them by my side, they would learn of my thoughts and even become aware of my physical condition.
Even if this was unavoidable, I didn’t want to be monitored from the first day I arrived in town.
As I changed into a simple dress, I examined my physical condition.
I felt much better than I had during the trip.
I still became tired easily, but that couldn’t be helped.
Whenever I wore clothes, I felt heavier.
The clothing itself was very light, so I’ve always wondered what the cause was.
“In the words of the…… heroes, I’m ‘useless’.”
After saying that, I sat down on the bed again.
A few moments later, Mariella knocked on my door again.
She escorted me to a hall, the people I was to meet waiting for me inside.
“I am honoured to have been granted an audience with Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia Dolgalia!”
“There is no greater joy than this.
Thank you, Your Highness.”
In the hall, the mayor and the representative of the commercial district humbly welcomed me.
I couldn’t see them clearly because my face was obscured by a thin veil.
Mariella had put it on me before we entered the hall.
According to her, an imperial princess was not to expose her face to commoners, but I had never come across such a regulation anywhere.
It was probably one of Zagran’s orders.
A line of soldiers stood in front of me, for my protection.
While gazing at the mayor through the gaps of the cloth, I bowed as an Imperial princess should.
“I am here by order of the emperor.
I am Imperial Princess Sophia Dolgalia.”
She was still weary from the journey, but she was capable of speaking at least.
As an Imperial princess, she was duty-bound to relieve the people’s anxiety.
“I am aware that most of you are concerned by the sudden arrival of the soldiers.
However, there is no need to worry.
This training is not for war…”
“It is only natural for us to prepare our border region for the threat posed by the Demon Territory.”
Isaac interrupted my words.
“The soldiers of the Dolgaria Empire train every day, intending on becoming heroes.
This military training is a part of that.
If you witness the strength of our soldiers, your fears will disappear.”
“Please wait a moment, Isaac Mueller!”
However, he continued on despite my protest.
“Despite Her Highness’ fatigue, she came to offer you words of encouragement.
Don’t forget this debt of gratitude.
It is Her Highness’ wish that you cooperate with my troops.”
Isaac then waved his hand and urged the mayor to leave.
‘No, the people are concerned, not because they doubt the strength of the soldiers, but because…’
“Your Highness, please come this way.”
Mariella, who was standing next to me, took my hand.
She forcefully pulled me away.
“Your Highness, simple greetings are sufficient.
There is no need for you to converse with lowly people.”
Mariella looked at me, anger swelling in her eyes.
“Your Highness’ duty is to cast light magic during the military exercise.
That is why you are here.
Please don’t forget that.”
“But, if the people are concerned about it, shouldn’t it be addressed……?”
I continued speaking, my speech broken.
“The people may believe that there will be war with the…… Demon Territory.
This is a town near the border.
The people in the Imperial capital possess a different perspective regarding…… demons and demi-humans than they do.
We need to…..
clarify that we have no intention of fighting them…….”
“As I thought, Your Highness is exhausted again…”
Saying that, Mariella summoned the maids.
She ordered them to prepare a meal and escort me upstairs.
We will have a hot bowl of soup prepared immediately.
Once you are warm and settled, you won’t need to think about anything else.”
“Mariella! I am supposed to be thinking about the people…”
“That is not your concern, Your Highness.”
Mariela cut off my words.
Then she said, in a hushed voice,
“I will take charge of speaking and negotiating with the people.
Everything will be done according to schedule, without any excess or deficiency.
I will ensure that the military training is carried out according to the will of the Minister of Military Affairs, Zagran.
There is no need for Her Highness Sophia to trouble herself.”
“Yes, I understand.
Your Highness, you are concerned about the people, aren’t you? Then let me provide Your Highness with the opportunity to tour the city.
If you ride a carriage around the town, you will come to understand the people.
Would that satisfy you, Your Highness?”
“Yes, that is fine.”
I could hear the energy fading from her voice.
It was apparent that Mariella was not interested in speaking with me.
“After dinner, I will bring a letter to Your Highness.
It is to inform the Demon Territory of the arrival of our troops.
I’ll compose the letter myself, so Your Highness needs only to sign it.”
After saying that, Mariella returned to the hall.
I was escorted to my room by my maids.
When I entered the room, I dropped onto a chair, my shoulders slumping.
‘I know that I’m useless, so I was prepared to be treated poorly, but this is worse than what I expected.’
‘Isaac, the unit’s commander, and Mariella, his second-in-command, are completely disregarding me.’
Each was trying to assume control of the situation, so they were solely focused on the other.
That was how it seemed to Sofia.
“……Will this continue for three years?”
I sighed and picked up a book from her desk.
It was a book I had brought with me from the Imperial capital.
It detailed the heroes speaking about their world and the feelings of the ancestors of the Empire in response to their words.
Whenever I touched the book, I felt strangely calm.
‘The knowledge contained in the book allows me to travel to places I never knew existed.’
It also taught me about the heroes who had returned to their world, which made me happy.
“In the world of the heroes, there was an item that could transmit someone’s voice far away, right? I think it was called a ‘smartphone’.
I wish I had an item like that as well…….”
I opened the window.
I closed my eyes and whispered – as if speaking to someone far in the distance.
“Heroes, please grant me something like a smartphone.
I want to convey to the people of the Demon Territory that…….
I have no intention of antagonizing them, to fight with them, or to drag the citizens into this situation…”
“────── No problem~”
I glanced around, surprised by the voice I heard.
‘It’s impossible to miss anyone in such a small room.’
‘Come to think of it, I think I saw a pixie while travelling to this town.
But the pixies aren’t a race that appears in public.
It’s impossible to think that they would want to speak to me.
“If that’s the case, will it really be a [Smartphone]?”
As I mumbled this, I heard a knock on the door.
I hurriedly shut the window and sat down in the chair, positioning myself to make it seem as if I had been reading a book the whole time.
Then I responded, and the maids entered the room.
They prepared my meal and then stood in a corner of the room.
“I will call you after I have finished my meal.
You may step aside.”
“I’m afraid that I’ve been instructed to stay by His Highness’ side.”
The young maid bowed to me.
It seemed that she had no intention of leaving.
I tried to avoid glancing towards the window while eating.
It would be better not to inform anyone of what had happened.
‘I heard that the Demon Territory has the power to defeat the Monster Gargarossa and its subordinates.
In the same manner, what if they have the power to…… transmit a voice far away, in a way I’m unable to understand?’
‘They may already be spying on us.’
In the end, I decided to stick to my decision of not telling anyone.
Uncertain information would only result in those around me feeling uneasy.
‘If the Demon Lord is using some kind of power to spy on us, it would be better to pretend not to notice for now.’
‘If we do that, we can feed them false information.’
‘I can also inform them that I have no intention to turn against them.’
‘Besides, this military training will be open to the Demon Territory.’
There was no need to hide anything.
‘If the Demon Territory truly possesses an item like a smartphone……’
‘I’d love to see it.’
My body was ‘useless’ anyways.
I wouldn’t be able to live much longer.
‘If that’s the case, I want to see the items from the world of the heroes before I die.’
‘After that, I’ll tell my sister Liana:
『There are things in this world that we can’t even imagine.
You can’t solve everything with strength alone.』’
‘As a sister, that’s all I can do for Liana……’
I mumbled my thoughts inaudibly.
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