“So that’s Demon Lord Rukie Evergard.”
Behind Sophia, Isaac and the other guard were trembling.
Most of the residents of the Empire had never seen Rukie before, the only people who had laid eyes on her being those who participated in the subjugation of Gargarossa.
The majority of them only knew of the existence of a Demon Lord and the legend of the time when humans and demons once fought.
So, when they saw the actual Demon Lord in front of them, the guards appeared terrified.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Demon Lord Rukie Evergard.”
In contrast, Princess Sophia gazed straight at Rukie.
She moved to get down on her knees.
“I, Sophia Dolgaria, as a princess of the Empire-”
“There is no need for such formality.
If you kneel before the Demon Lord, your position in the Empire would be compromised.”
Rukie extended her hand to stop her.
“What I desire is to solve the issues plaguing the border region.
I hope for this meeting to be one in which we are equals.”
“Is that…… alright?”
“I would like to benefit and learn from your people as well.”
Rukie smiled behind her mask.
“There is no need to restrain yourself.
Speak your mind freely.
I will also do the same.”
“Thank you, Demon Lord Rukie Evergard.”
And so the meeting began in earnest.
“First of all, regarding the military training being conducted by the Imperial soldiers…”
“I apologize for that.
I have already ordered my men to halt it.”
You are quick to respond.”
“I cannot permit training that would cause inconvenience to the people of the Empire.”
Princess Sophia looked at Rukie and said,
“As soon as the location of the next training session has been decided, we will inform you by means of a letter.
We would appreciate it if you came and observed it.”
“What is your opinion of a joint training session?”
“That is also a brilliant idea.
I will discuss it with my subordinates.
“The next item on the agenda is regarding trade.
Our Demon Territory would like to trade with the villages in the border region.”
“The upper echelons have given their tacit approval for trade with the border villages.
Oddly enough, military exercises have been an obstruction, but that will no longer be the case.
“How about trade with the town of Nosa?”
“Could we hear the reason first?”
“The development of the mine in the Demon Territory is proceeding smoothly.
We wish to use the silver obtained from it to increase the frequency of trade.”
“We need to persuade the mayor.
To do so, we need to present him with some kind of incentive.”
“That makes sense.
It seems that Princess Sophia is quite a wise woman.”
“I am also pleased to be able to speak with the Demon Lord like this.”
The Demon Lord who had never stepped out of the Demon Territory and the Imperial princess who could not leave the Imperial capital.
Each of them exchanged their opinions one after the other from their respective standpoints.
Isaac Mueller and the soldiers escorting the princess shouted in dismay, stunned by the proceedings.
“…… Her Highness Sophia is debating with the Demon Lord in a dignified manner.
Her Highness seems to have truly been awakened and reformed.
She’s just like the heroes.
This small officer’s role is only that of one supporting the hero,…… not a leading role…… Muu.”
At the Demon Territory’s side…
“I understand why the Imperial soldiers are so impressed, General Reisenga.
“Princess Sophia Dolgaria…… seems to be quite the character.”
Chancellor Kelve and General Reisenga were impressed.
I was surprised as I watched Rukie negotiate with the Imperial princess in such a casual manner.
I was also impressed by Princess Sophia, who hadn’t reatreated in the slightest even in the face of the Demon Lord.
Princess Sophia, who was conversing with Rukie, was extremely lively.
I felt that her appearance was similar to mine when I first arrived in the Demon Territory.
In the Empire, I was unable to freely practice my alchemy.
After I came to the Demon Territory and found work to do, I was finally able to create whatever I wanted.
In the same way, Princess Sophia could not make use of her abilities in the Imperial capital.
She probably had things she wanted to say or change about the management of the Empire’s territory and its relationship with the Demon Territory, but she was powerless to do so.
However, after coming to the border region, she became able to do so because her body became healthy.
Maybe that’s why she’s enjoying her meeting with Rukie so greatly.
“However, it’ll be advantageous for the Empire’s side.’
In response to Princess Sophia’s question, Rukie thought for a moment and then said,
“If it’s beneficial for the town of Nosa, then I can accept that request.
If the town obtains a large amount of silver from the Demon Territory, it will be enriched.
You could use the silver to trade with other towns in the Empire.”
“That should convince the mayor.
However, if the demons and demi-humans constantly visit, the townspeople may become wary.”
“Then why not construct a trading post halfway between the border and the town?”
“It would be too large a project to build a permanent structure.
We would need permission from the capital.”
“What about temporarily pitching tents?”
“That would be a good idea.
I would be extremely grateful for your assistance.”
After this conversation, Rukie and Sophia both paused for a moment.
“This conversation with you has been extremely pleasant.
I hadn’t imagined I would be able to hold such a conversation with a member of the Imperial family.
“I feel the same.
Learning that Demon Lord Rukie Evergard is such an easy person to talk to has come as a delightful surprise.”
“It’s still too early to make that judgment, princess.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“I am the ruler of the Demon Territory.
It is unwise to let your guard down like that.”
“I find that hard to believe.
I simply have to look at the people around you to understand.”
Saying that, Sophia looked at…… me.
“The Demon Lord who has such a person under her command cannot be considered an evil person.”
He is also the one who brought about my association with you.”
“I am grateful to him for guiding me to this place.”
“There are many in the Demon Lord’s territory who feel the same way.
I would be delighted to introduce them to you.”
Rukie also looked at me.
No, I only provided the item.
It was Soleil and the other pixies who connected me with Sophia.
“Lastly, we need to investigate the monster in the border region.
The Demon Territory would like to undertake this together with your soldiers.”
We will exchange letters later and set a schedule.”
“We don’t want something like Gargarossa to appear again.”
“Let us cooperate for the sake of the peace and tranquility of our people…”
After saying this, Princess Sophia let out a long sigh.
“Your Highness, are you feeling unwell?”
“…… I am fine.”
Sophia shook her head in response to Isaac’s question.
It had been three days since Princess Sophia used the [Footbath].
The effect should have worn off by now.
It would be great if we could allow her to use the [Footbath], but…… the town of Nosa has become more and more heavily guarded.
The pixies were unable to reach Princess Sophia either.
“I was able to speak to the people of the Demon Territory like this.
How could I say that I’m tired?”
“Are you interested in demons and demi-humans?”
“Yes, Demon Lord.”
Sophia responded to Rukie’s question with a gentle smile.
“Since I was a little girl, I have been reading the legends of the heroes.
I have therefore been… wondering about it for a long time.
How would I resolve the conflict with the Demon Lord? What would I say?
“I am honored to have met the Demon Lord and Thor Canaan on this day.”
Princess Sophia looked at me.
“Thor Canaan is a citizen of the Empire, but he has sided with the Demon Territory.
That is why I was able to muster the courage to attend this meeting.”
“Thor works under my direct supervision.”
There was a short pause before Rukie responded.
“He is also offering me counsel as someone familiar with both the Empire and the Demon Territory.”
“Is that so?”
“Enough about Thor.
More importantly, what about the matters that were decided at this meeting?”
As the Imperial Princess, I will definitely carry them out while I am in the town of Nosa.”
Sophia raised the hem of her skirt and bowed.
Then she looked at the armored warrior beside her.
“He is one of those who agrees with me.
Isn’t that right, Isaac Mueller.”
“If this meeting succeeds and the town of Nosa becomes prosperous, it will be to his credit.
It was only because he understood my intentions and accompanied me with his troops that I was able to meet with the Demon Lord.
Please remember the name of Isaac Mueller.”
“…… You have come to the right place.”
The man called Isaac Mueller tapped his helmet while sporting a troubled look.
He then let out a long sigh.
“…… I am Isaac Mueller, a supporter of Her Highness Sophia Dolgaria.
I am the commander of the soldiers.
I am also the one who will send you letters on behalf of Her Highness.
I look forward to working with you, people of the Demon Territory.”
He talked not to Rukie, but to Chancellor Kelve and General Reisenga.
In response, Chancellor Kelve and General Reisenga returned the greeting.
Isaac Mueller did not greet the Demon Lord Rukie.
It was likely because the soldiers escorting him and the soldiers further behind were watching.
The only person who exchanged words with the Demon Lord was Princess Sophia, and he wanted to make it seem as though he was only an escort.
He is a man who is very good at…… protecting himself.
“I have a proposal for everyone in the Demon Territory.”
Suddenly, Princess Sophia spoke.
“I will carry out what I have decided on this occasion of my own accord.
However, I do not know how the Imperial officials will react.
Depending on the situation, there is a possibility that I may be summoned back to the Imperial capital.”
“Yes, that is a possibility.”
“Aside from that, my term of office in the city of Nosa is merely three years.
After that, I cannot guarantee anything.
After saying this, Princess Sophia took a deep breath.
“In order for me to remain in the town of Nosa, I would like to become engaged to the Thor Canaan.”
She looked straight at me and declared such a thing.
Silence enveloped the meeting.
Rukie, Chancellor Kelve, and General Reisenga, none of them moved an inch.
Isaac Mueller and the others also stood with their mouths gaping.
It became clear that this was solely the decision of Princess Sophia.
“I’m sure that Thor Canaan, who is familiar with…… the affairs of the Empire, should know.”
“I understand…… but…”
“If Her Highness Sophia is engaged to me in the Demon Territory, it will be difficult for the high officials of the Empire to remove Her Highness from her post in the town of Nosa, I suppose.
If they separate two people who are engaged with the permission of Her Majesty Demon King, it will incite the wrath of the Demon Territory.
If they were to have a child, things would become even more complicated.”
As expected of Thor Canaan.”
Chancellor Kelve thought of something similar and had just betrothed Mabel to me.
Chancellor Kelve could refuse to hand me over to the Empire on the grounds that I had a fiancée.
Separating Mabel and myself would incur the Demon Territory’s wrath just as it would with the engagement Princess Sophia had in mind.
By extension, it would make the Demon Territory an enemy.
The Empire would avoid that risk.
What Princess Sophia is proposing is an arrangement contrasting the one between Mabel and myself.
She intends to tie herself to the border region by receiving the Demon Lord’s permission and getting engaged to me.
“That is not an option.
Thor already has a fiancée.”
Demon Lord Rukie raised her voice.
“To break an engagement because of political reasons is not the way of the Demon Territory!”
“I have no intention of breaking the engagement!”
“What do you mean?”
“This is also better.
With a fiancée in the Demon Territory, it would provide Thor Canaan a reason to remain in the Demon Territory.”
If Thor does not leave the Demon Territory, you who became his fiancée will not be able to move either.
That would become a reason for you to remain in the town of Nosa…”
“Then the upper echelons of the Imperial capital will abandon the idea of recalling me.”
Princess Sophia’s cheeks were slightly tinted as she presented a gentle smile.
“Of course, the one in the Demon Territory should be his wife.
I am fine with being a concubine.”
“You are a princess, are you not? Or am I mistaken?”
“I do not have the right of succession.”
I know that.
I lived in the Empire, so I knew how low-ranking nobles and royalty were treated.
Perhaps, if things continue as they are, Princess Sophia…
“I will eventually be recalled to the Imperial City and sent away to another country.”
Princess Sophia looked around at Rukie, Chancellor Kelve and me.
“However, since I was born a princess, I wish to use my life for the sake of those in front of me.
For the people of the Demon Territory and the people of the border region.”
“Please wait, Your Highness! You, engaged to someone from the Demon Territory?
Isaac Mueller shouted.
His large body began to tremble, the armor on his body making clanking noises.
“If Your Highness does such a selfish thing, Your Highness might not be able to return to the Imperial capital again! There is a possibility that your name will be erased from the Imperial Family’s register!”
“I am prepared to do so.”
“Are you willing to never see your sister again?”
“I told you I am prepared to do so.”
Princess Sophia said firmly.
“I will write to Liana and inform her of my decision.
This is the answer that this useless princess has decided upon.
I want to show my sister…… with this body of mine that a princess is one who protects her people, one who sacrifices herself for the sake of peace.”
“Your Highness must be tired!”
“The meeting is now concluded! What Her Highness has just said was because she was too tired! Got that?”
“Wait a minute!”
I shouted out.
Maybe I shouldn’t have interfered, but I had a feeling that it would be bad if the meeting ended here.
I felt as if I would never see Princess Sophia again.
Besides, before we parted, there was something I had to do for Princess Sophia.
“Your Majesty Demon Lord.
Would you permit me to speak with Her Highness Princess Sophia for a moment?”
“Her Highness Sophia said that she wants me to be her fiance.
I want to determine what she really meant by that.
Besides, if Her Highness is tired, I think it would be better for her to rest for a short while in the tent.”
She must have understood what I was intending.
She looked towards Chancellor Kelve and nodded.
“Escort of Princess Sophia.
May I request that Princess Sophia and Thor Canaan-dono speak to each other privately.”
Chancellor Kelve said.
“Both Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia, who wishes to be engaged and Thor Canaan-dono, who has heard of the proposal, will feel regret if they part ways at this point.
If the escort is against it, then there’s even greater reason to talk.”
He looked towards Princess Sophia to confirm that she nodded.
“Then, what do you suggest we do?”
“We will prepare a tent for you.
Their respective guards are standing around them.
That way, if something happens, we can respond immediately.”
“Please respect the feelings of Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia.
Chancellor Kelve finished his explanation.
As expected of Chancellor Kelve.
He summarised the conversation wonderfully.
The Imperial side must have wanted to end the conversation here.
If there will be guards present, I think it will be harder to refuse…….
But only for 30 minutes.
Is that fine, Your Highness?”
Isaac said reluctantly after a while.
Princess Sophia nodded.
Of course, I had no objection.
Anyway, I wanted to speak with Princess Sophia privately.
I was also confused by the sudden mention of an engagement.
It would be great if the engagement with the princess is for the good of the Demon Territory, but somehow, I don’t feel at ease.
I have to properly speak to her.
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