During this time of the year the sun barely rose over the horizon. It was still noon, but the highway through the forest was already covered in shadow. When evening comes, the road will be dark as if it was midnight.
The Special subjugation force was marching towards an inn town near Trent Rietta border. They were resting at the side of the road when they were suddenly attacked and annihilated by a pack of the evil beasts. The evil beast attack within Fonclanc’s territory caught the force completely unaware and the soldiers were unable to mount any kind of resistance.
The soldiers within the force were highly skilled, but the force was assembled with haste and when a divine arts obstruction aura had hit them, disabling the communication type wind arts, the entire chain of command had collapsed and the force was acting sluggishly.
By the time the force had reorganized themselves, nearly one third of the soldiers had already fallen prey to the fangs of the evil beasts.
Their troubles didn’t end there, as the magic flutes that were supposed to counteract the effects of the divine arts obstruction aura did not function as expected – the aura had weakened considerably but did not entirely dissipate. In the end the subjugation force knights were practically blind because of the darkness, and the divine arts obstruction aura had forced them to resort to melee.
Eventually a mercenary group moving along the same route had stumbled upon the subjugation force and had escorted the surviving knights back to the port town.
It had cost a small fortune to gather all these skilled knights. After all the publicity and propaganda, the special subjugation force was forced to return home, tails behind their legs, and not having accomplished a single part of their mission. The entire mission was an utter failure, and a disgrace for Marquis Vordat.
However the Marquis was not a type who would lay on the ground after taking a hit. He immediately started analyzing the information, looking for something that he could use in his favor and had hatched another plan.
“So, your highness (the Marquis) is claiming that Yuusuke-dono had purposely supplied you with defective magic flutes?”
“I have heard of such rumors. Besides, I have heard that the soldiers had sustained heavy losses because the flutes were not very effective.”
“He had to prepare a huge order of flutes in a very short time… maybe he didn’t have time to properly test the flutes?”
“By the way, he was preoccupied with another project in the commoners’ district at the same time. Did he really earnestly prepare the flutes or…?”
All available officials gathered in the meeting and were trying to decide on the means to salvage the situation after the annihilation of the special task force. The Marquis’ faction did their best to compromise the Darkness God Corps.
Losing so many skilled knights was a hard blow to Fonclanc, one that someone had to take responsibility for. Everyone knew who stood behind the faction that was openly blaming the Darkness God Corps’ captain, but due to his status no one dared to oppose him.
The Marquis was standing silently, his eyes closed and arms folded. Everything was going according to his plan.
At that moment Yuusuke finally arrived at the meeting and entered the room while being debriefed by the Fire God Corps’ captain Krielov. The Princess was with them and her participation caused a lot of confused shouts from the nobles.
Everyone knew that Yuusuke was princess’ favorite. Even the Ivor family and Vordat’s faction hesitated to blame Yuusuke in front of the princess out of fear for their own reputation.
They looked towards their leader, and Marquis Vordat, who had been silent since the start of the meeting and slowly opened his mouth.
“Princess, we are having an important meeting now. Krielov-dono, I suggest you properly teach princess that such interruptions are not to be done.”
Krielov was at a loss for words and couldn’t come up with a reply. Violet had to take the initiative herself and addressed the meeting.
“Yuusuke and his knights are under my direct control, therefore it is my right and responsibility to be present in this meeting.”
“This time it is not a game, princess.”
“The special subjugation force incident? The magic flutes did not work as expected. To me it seems like a conflict between public and private affairs.”
Intending to remain in the hall throughout the meeting, Violet sat on a chair near one of the walls. The nobles became even more confused because they were used to the tomboyish and selfish princess, and the person before them now was anything but the Princess of the Flames that they knew.
Vordat threw an objecting glance toward the King, but his plea was ignored when the King raised his hand as if saying [“Let her stay.”] Marquis took a moment to gather himself and this time addressed the person in question.
“I believe you already know, that your magic flute had no effect on the modified evil beasts. Don’t you want to explain yourself?”
Yuusuke flat out denied the accusation that he was preoccupied with other work and therefore supplied the force with low quality flutes.
“There can be no way that the flutes were defective. But I have no explanation as to why they were ineffective…”
Yuusuke implied at the rumors about the evil beasts that were immune to the flutes and guessed that the subjugation force managed to stumble upon them. Marquis responded by pressing Yuusuke that he is saying that just to avoid taking the responsibility for the defective flutes.
“How can you prove that your goods were as good as you say?”
“Yes I could… excuse me for a moment.”
Yuusuke had gathered several porcelain cups from the meeting table and customized them. Common earth arts were of little use when producing porcelain cups and were only useful to decorate them after they had been taken out of the furnace, instead, Yuusuke’s art changed their appearance.
After all, for Yuusuke’s power it was all too easy since his power was able to completely overwrite the existence of the item. Thus, after the fluttering light particles had disappeared, a set of perfectly square pieces of porcelain was lying on the table.
Most of the nobles were witnessing Yuusuke’s power for the first time, and could only gape in amazement at what had happened in front of their eyes. Even the Marquis was slightly shocked.
“My power is able to create a perfect copy of any item. If I do not wish for the item to differ, the newly created item will be perfectly identical to the original one.”
Saying that he gathered the cubes and stacked them into a bigger cube with a slick surface and no gaps visible, and it was hard to tell where one cube was supposed to end and another begin.
Marquis groaned, holding the bigger cube. It was just a cube, but from the way it looked it was apparent that it would be very hard to recreate it, even using the highest quality tools. Palace officials eyed the cube with greedy stares, while the Marquis Vordat was playing with it in his hand.
Noticing their stares, Vordat placed the cube in front of him and cheerfully rubbed his hands. Palace officials had a tendency to collect interesting pieces of art or amusing technological contraptions, and he planned to use it for his aims. They were simple men, and with a little push they would do act as he wanted them to.
“For now I concede regarding the matter about the magic flutes. However why did you hide the rumors about the evil beasts that were immune to the magic flutes?”
“Didn’t I tell you about that when I handed over the flutes?”
“I was there at the time. Yuusuke had certainly stressed about that several times.”
The palace official who had received the flutes at the practice grounds that day noticed Marquis’ wink, but could not play dumb when pressed for evidence by a Corps Captain and his Princess and admitted the truth. Yet that instant the man shuddered from a piercing glance that the Marquis had thrown at him.
“So what you are saying is, you had warned them about it in advance but gave them no advice on how to deal with these beasts?”
The King has finally spoken after silently listening throughout the entire meeting. At the King’s words, the palace officials immediately lowered their heads, and, with little delay, Voldat had followed suit.
“Your majesty, this time the force was caught by surprise. Certainly this situation could’ve been avoided if they had been more careful.”
With this, the topic of the quality of the magic flutes and the validity of the information about the evil beasts was closed, and the meeting had returned to its original topic on how to deal with the current situation. To get a more accurate view on the situation, one of the bureaucrats had proposed to call a beast handler from the former Wind’s Edge, so that he could give an expert’s opinion on this situation.
This suggestion was approved nearly instantly and the next day a request was sent to Valerie, to get in touch with the former members of her organization. The Marquis didn’t brood over his failure at blaming Yuusuke during the meeting and started working on his next plan.
“The meeting ends here, I’m sorry for calling you over here so suddenly. Would you cooperate with us during the Wind Edge’s members questioning?”
“I’ll gladly help. After all I am Valerie’s acquaintance. Good bye.”
Yuusuke politely replied, even after he was called over to the palace only to respond to the false charges and impolite accusations. The count looked at Yuusuke’s smiling figure and then at his group of followers, and his face reflected the contempt that he felt towards the Captain of the Darkness God Corps.
All of his plans fell apart the moment that the Captain arrived to the meeting accompanied by the Princess. Few of his followers had opposed the Princess’ participation in the meeting and it ended with the Count being the one at fault for the fiasco of the Special Subjugation Force.
[“This man… he definitely has some kind of plan. I am going to expose him.”]
He made a mistake, hoping that there would be palace officials, other than the ones from his anti-Darkness God Corps faction, who would not trust the Captain of the Corps. His next plan would be to tear up the Darkness God Corps from the inside. However, he was still a ways off, there was much work for him to do. He had planted a spy near the Captain some time ago and now he had to carefully bid his time, waiting for that spy to obtain any useful information about the Darkness God Corps.
Yuusuke was certainly a formidable opponent, however the Count couldn’t expect any results if he didn’t take the difficult path.