The series of events that started with the artless village raids incident had ended with the fall of Nossentes.
The Darkness God Corps and Ambassador’s party were riding to Sanc Adiet in the carriage that had been sent out to greet them.
The soldiers followed slightly behind them, escorting the prisoners of war. Rashanasha, Razshia and Elfiona were riding together in a separate carriage surrounded by guards that were both protecting and keeping an eye on them.
After the attack on the inn, Yuusuke carried Razshia to her room and cleared out the remaining traps in the inn. When he reached the point where he could take a break, he sat down for a serious talk with Rashanasha.
“For the sake of everyone here, you have to tell me everything—“
Rashanasha had told him everything and had bowed her head in apology to everyone in the room.
“It really feels strange returning to San Adiet like that…”
“It sure does… especially considering everything that happened to us.”
Rashanasha had confessed everything about her relationship with the palace officials and of her status as a Singing Princess being just a cover up for being a spy for Nossentes. Hivodir had told everyone about a great number of palace officials that were working for the Divine Parliament, so everyone calmly accepted the woman’s confession.
Still, the situation was serious. Although due to King Esvobus’ character, the palace would probably avoid the purge, no one expected that the spies would still be allowed to get away like that.
“I think that there will be a huge personnel shift soon.”
“I think that there will be a slight commotion, but we will be able to leisurely observe it from the side.”
Fonke and Isotta nodded, agreeing to what Yuusuke told them in a calm voice while Aisha and Vermeer only shrugged their shoulder at their captain. Vermeer alone did not explicitly show anything, yet he also looked to be at ease.
Yuusuke’s party had successfully accomplished their mission and returned to Sanc Adiet on the seventeenth day of Shalnar’s month of Water.
“Glad to see you back safely, Yuusuke. Everyone was worried about you.”
“Welcome back, Yuusuke-san. Welcome back everyone.”
“I’m back. Somehow, seeing you girls really puts my heart at ease.”
A major power with a long and rich history had fallen during ambassador’s friendship visit, thus Sanc Adiet restrained themselves from greeting the ambassador with a flashy welcome. Yuusuke, who still had to address Rashanasha’s situation, gladly agreed to this.
Thus, after being quietly greeted by Sun and Violet, the party proceeded to inform them about the successful accomplishment of their mission.
“Weeell, should I visit a woman’s place for once?”
“Today we only need to give in the report, so go ahead— hey, you’re acting improperly in front of a princess!”
Vermeer warned Fonke for acting a bit vulgar, when he was about to leave to visit a nightsinger. Noticing Aisha glaring at him in disgust he apologized, but Violet, not used to the jargon used by common soldiers, did not particularly mind that.
[“Just because she doesn’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s ok to speak like that.”]
Yuusuke saw his subordinates off, who were departing to their own rooms and various districts of the city. When he was about to return to his own room as well, Yuusuke suddenly remembered something and ran out after one of them.
“Hm? Yuusuke, where are you running off to?” asked Violet when they were walking towards Yuusuke’s room.
“I just forgot to finish something”
Violet wanted to talk to Yuusuke about Sorzak’s advances in Gimmick Motor research and possible applications of that invention. She could only watch, confused, as Yuusuke ran off somewhere.
“Captain? Do you need something from me?”
“No… or rather… regarding the inn at the port town, I wanted to talk about what I should do from on… Why the worried face, is something wrong?”
“Ah… about that?”
Yuusuke worried about the expression that Shaheed had shown at the inn, was his plan faulty? He wanted to ask Shaheed about that as soon as he could find his subordinate alone, without any onlookers.
“This incident did not feel any different from others, it felt that like it was someone else’s problem. Regarding the future, the Darkness God Corps and you, Captain, have both become quite close to her highness thus I believe that you will have a lot of influence on the future of this country. Looking at the situation from the Evil God’s perspective, I don’t know enough about it, but so far no one could stand up against it. Both, Gazzetta and Nossentes tried to lure you over to their side. Gazzetta had declared themselves to be your allies and has stepped up as a new major power, while Nossentes’ Divine Parliament had sent assassins after you and their long and rich history has come to an end. A huge country with five to six thousands of years of history has perished almost overnight.” answered Shaheed.
“With great power and achievements, you also gain connections and influence, yet you are not trying to use them to your advantage.”
“Regarding the Evil God… I did not deserve any of them, it was pure luck.”
“Those born with strength, those that have acquired it, I think the responsibilities that they are burdened with do not change merely from this. If you have the strength to achieve something, but choose not to because of certain circumstances, you can say that you did so because of responsibility. Yet if you choose to avoid if because you are not interested, this will be called an abandonment of your duties. Strength used for a reason, and strength used for the sake of using it. I believe that no person, born with great strength, can be forced to use it in a just way,” continued Shaheed.
“Would you wish to see me become a bureaucrat, Shaheed?”
“I’d rather see you becoming a ruler.”
“… isn’t is dangerous to be thinking like that?”
“It is only my personal opinion,” Shaheed replied to Yuusuke’s earnest question with a sheepish smile.
The third day after the return of the Darkness God Corps.
Cleaning of Nossentes collaborators had been continuing since the return of Yuusuke’s party. The punishment and replacement for the convicted officials had been decided in advance so the officials, responsible for dealing out punishments, had their hands full the entire time.
Volmes was punished with death by execution, the two severely wounded fire troupe members were punished with forced labor – assigned to the artless city cleaning duties. Rashanasha’s boss, the so called Count, was executed one day before Volmes.
“Still, so many punishments in such a short term, this is the first time you have done that, father.”
“An ancient country has just perished, our neighbors will take this as their chance to increase their influence.”
(T.N. these two dialogs are separated)
“To be honest, that’s a scary power.”
“You are telling me that…? Compared to Shinha who now rules over Nossentes and Gazzetta, my power is nothing much,” replied Yuusuke.
Truly speaking, if those that tried to make an enemy out of the Evil God continued to disappear like that, people would start thinking that this was Yuusuke’s real power.
“What I said when I first met you might not have been wrong after all ahahahaha,” Violet shrugged her shoulders. (T.N. probably a reference to “Are you the God of calamity…? Have you come to destroy my country?”)
“Oh you little!”
While everyone in the palace was busy dealing with the fallout, Yuusuke put his Gimmick development aside in favor of researching the medicine. Unhappy that her contraption, that was an imitation of a go-cart, was being delayed, Violet came to hang out at Yuusuke’s room.
“So? The bureaucrats have gathered today again but have not disposed of anyone yet?”
“They are in the middle of the discussion—“
Meddling into Yusuke’s medicine research, Violet was talking to Krielov who visited the room because of the matters related to the Nossentes incident.
Although it was distracting, Violet also had allowed Yuusuke to take short breaks once in awhile. Having heard Krielov’s voice, the youth stopped his work.
“Has the punishment for the girls been decided on?”
“Hmm… the Singing Princess, the spy girl that you brought back, and that stone faced child?”
According to the Nossentes’ officials and the members of the disbanded covert ops squad, these girls were specially selected as the most talented individuals for their jobs. Just because of their abilities alone, these three girls meant trouble.
This means that they had betrayed the country that they were being supported by. Such a deed would usually be met with the harshest punishment, but Yuusuke pleaded for them to receive the lightest possible sentence – public beating.
“Well, considering the officials, that’s a reasonable decision” (Krielov)
“Yeah, but… the execution of the punishment…” (Violet)
While Violet consented to Yuusuke’s feelings, Krielov explained that this was the most lenient punishment that would still serve as an example to other people. Although he said that, he could not shake the dislike that he also felt towards the decision.
“So what is the punishment like?” (Yuusuke)
“Exactly as it sounds. They will be publicly lashed.” (Krielov)
In the plaza that was used for punishments, on a raised platform the three girls stood on all fours, clad in shackles. Their lower body was exposed. The punishment was especially shameful as they were being exposed in the middle of the day with the executioner hitting their butts before a large crowd.
Even if the girls were being used as an example, this was still a displeasing sight. The executioner had hit them in the backs so they would reveal themselves as much as possible in front of the crowd while repeatedly beating them down.
Until the punishment was given, the prisoners were taken care by the executioner. This particular guy had a bad hobby of making his victims drink a lot of water before the execution, hoping that the victims would not be able to hold themselves for the entire duration of the punishment.
It was said that noble girls were usually so shy that most of them would pass out while being hit. There were some that even tried biting off their tongues in an attempt to kill themselves, so the prisoners were gagged to prevent them from attempted suicides.
After punishment they were forced to go on a walk of shame through the city with their faces exposed for everyone to see. For Rashanasha, this meant losing her status of a Singing Princess, for other girls, this destroyed their reputation no matter the skills that they were well versed in. That was actually one of the key intentions behind the decision.
It was said the punishment did not scar the body nor was it painful, but Violet was more worried about the scars that it left on the victims’ hearts. However, after the executions, such a disgracing punishment did not seem that harsh anymore. The count, that had used the girls, had already received the worst of it.
“Hmmm, so you have such punishments too…”
“I said so, didn’t I? Such punishments were not practiced during my father’s reign. What we see here is actually a very old practice.”
During the reign of the previous king, and the king before him, the court woman were living on the edge of the blade. If they found themselves part of some conspiracy or were reported by someone for “indecent behavior within the castle,” this was the punishment that was usually given to them.
The punishments were given readily – as much as a rumor of a concubine or a servant girl accidently stumbling upon the prosecuted at a wrong time was all that it took to be punished. King Esvobus did not have any concubines, some even said that no one ever saw the king bring concubines into the palace at all when he was young.
“Considering the officials, I can assume that it was the truth. Krielov, don’t you think that this guy is trying to keep Rashanasha for himself?” (Violet about Yuusuke)
“It can’t be, it sounds too good to be true…” (Krielov)
“But I wonder if that really was a punishment for them…” (Yuusuke)
After asking a few questions about the Rashanasha’s punishment, Yuusuke suddenly said:
“Then I will be the executioner.” (Yuusuke)