Just two more until this mini-arc finished, and then three epilogue chapters~ Enjoy!
ED: clover, eristol
Louis Ode-Ignitia appeared while wearing a number of wreaths that had become crumbly on top of his armor.
It seems that he was pretty frightened by the crowds who were in the puppet state.
His neck was thickly bandaged in an exaggerated manner.
I heard that the scratch he got when he was manipulated was much smaller than that.
“Don’t be deceived! Everyone should know that!
The kind of trickery this impostor prince used in the tournament!”
His voice cracked into falsetto in his hysteric.
Louis hated Auguste, and it couldn’t be helped if he hated him.
But after witnessing such a miracle, he still denied it to that extent.
“Auguste, since this is about you, why did you manipulate the dragon in such a cowardly way?
Your Majesty, this guy must be hiding something suspicious.
You should conduct a severe interrogation!”
Louis spitted aside.
In a complete change from the festive mood, the crowds were shaken by the scandal he brought up and became still as death.
The people seemed to be perplexed.
One is the miraculous prince who is loved by God.
And the other is a skilled knight who has built real achievements.
Considering the character of both sides, they couldn’t decide which one was saying the right thing.
But, there had to be few people who knew more than the rumors about the two people.
“Louis, are you still saying such things?”
“I will tell you many times until Your Majesty understands.
Because Auguste definitely did cheat!”
“Let me tell you once again.
There is no technology to manipulate the dragons at will, except by using telepathic power.
It is possible to get the spirit of the dragon to go mad temporarily with magic or some kind of medicine.
However, such a simple method cannot make someone suddenly be able to ride on a dragon.”
King Ignitia lowered his eyebrows and looked sadly at Louis.
From his expression, I could see a bit of distress.
“Louis. Stop making false accusations.
Is there any evidence that Auguste did something wrong?”
“Your Majesty, is there any evidence that he didn’t do anything wrong?”
“This is a pointless argument.
If you accuse someone, you must show evidence backing that argument.”
“‘Someone’? What’s with that ambiguous way of saying it?
It is not anyone else, I’m telling you to prosecute Auguste.
Or, are you planning to make some leeway for him because he is the son of Your Majesty?”
“You are saying nonsensical things.
Louis, calm down.”
Louis shook off the hand of the King who was trying to calm him down.
He revealed a fiery anger and shouted at Auguste.
“How can I be calm!
Auguste definitely did some trick!
If you examine him, you will find traces of forbidden magic in this country!”
“Heeh, for example, is it like what I found in your room?”
Another voice which belonged to neither King Ignitia nor Louis echoed.
It was a very familiar voice for me.
A tall youth appeared as if breaking through the ocean of people.
His dark blue outerwear which Aurelia aristocrats like to wear was embroidered with sparkling golden threads.
While sparkling in the light reflected from the sunshine of the southern country, he walked forward dashingly.
Beautiful blonde hair, emerald green eyes.
On his generous face that appeared to be infinitely gentle, was a smile that also contained bottomless evil.
That was undoubtedly the figure of my older brother, Eduard Aurelia.
“Eh~~ why is Eduard-oniisama here?”
『Meo~~~~w, what a lovely gentleman……eehh? That is Erica’s older brother?』
“Yes, why do you ask?”
『Please introduce me to him later.』
Eh, is Eduard-oniisama her favorite type?
He is a very different type from Auguste.
Rather, I wonder if she is fine with any handsome man.
I turned my distrustful gaze towards Palug, but she was merrily staring at my brother without noticing it.
“Aah……Eduard, it’s you.”
“Your Majesty Henri, I apologize for bothering you when you are busy.
There is something that you will want to hear as soon as possible regarding the investigation of the case.”
“Who the hell are you! His Majesty is talking to me right now!”
“Louis Ode-Ignitia, you must remain silent.
I cannot bear to hear your foolish utterances.
The one who keeps silent for eternity will look a bit smarter.”
Brother didn’t care about Louis and kept walking gracefully.
Even though he looks so kind, that smile appears villainous.
Louis who was ignored turned red and approached my brother with his hand on the handle of his sword.
“Impertinent! Don’t you know who I am—”
A wand appeared unnoticed in brother’s hand.
He didn’t have anything until a few moments ago, it seemed like magic.
Louis who was petrified after the wand was waved, lost his balance and stiffened in a pose as if crawling.
“…………!? ……, …………!!”
“I have something I want to ask you later. Please remain a bit wiser like that until then.”
At brother’s work, father who was beside the King had an expression as if he had swallowed a bitter pill.
Yes, that method was a bit too severe to be used against a member of the royal family.
“Eduard……that was too excessive.”
“It’s fine, Ernst. I don’t mind it.
Is there any reason for this, Eduard?
For example, about what you have found in Louis’ room that you mentioned earlier……”
“As one would expect of Your Majesty, you are correct.”
Father wanted to interject, but King Ignitia had forgiven him for being disrespectful.
Eduard-oniisama turned towards the King and bowed elegantly.
King Ignitia had realized something, and he sent a pitying gaze towards Louis for an instant.
“It seems that the various officials are all present here, so I can report this here.”
“Aah, thank you for your work, Eduard. Please continue.”
“Then, by your will, Your Majesty Henri—”
Brother made a dramatic gesture and turned around towards the other aristocrats.
“I was conducting a secret investigation along with Klaus Hafan and others who are not in this place, in accordance with the royal order.
As for the contents of the investigation, it is about the existence of ignorant nobility who are in collusion with Gigantia of the South.”
“Specifically speaking, there is a suspicious flow of money between Ignitia and Gigantia, and an inflow route of magical slaves from the southern continent.”
Brother answered father’s question readily.
Noises spread among Ignitian aristocrats.
In Ignitia, which is built upon the liberation of slaves, slaves are the most forbidden among the forbidden things.
Magical slaves who have their souls bound with inhumane sorcery are the worst.
Gigantia’s sorcerers drive a magical tool made of metal in human beings by〈Machining〉, and enslave them.
It binds the soul of humans by magic, robbing them of mental and physical dignity.
Humans with a Cursed Nail driven into their body won’t be able to resist any command of their master.
It is to the extent that even the order of suicide is executed without hesitation.
The prosperity of Gigantia was built by faithful slaves who they can utilize as much as they want.
“Before we received the orders, His Majesty was aware of the existence of the traitor.
Magical slaves who pretended to be ordinary humans and were hiding in the Kingdom.
Prohibited items derived from Gigantia that were circulating in the back society.
His Majesty suspected the traitor to be one of the leading aristocrats in Ignitia……particularly the Ode-Ignitia.
However, as a result of thorough investigation, your stepbrother Charles was proven to be innocent, though.”
“I……I am innocent. That’s a false accusation, Eduard.”
Louis, who had been released from Hold, was still on his hands and knees as he glared at brother.
Eduard-oniisama looked down on Louis with a smile full of composure.
“I don’t know anything about the collusion with Gigantia.
I am someone who is connected to the royal family of Ignitia.
I won’t be a friend of filthy fellows who use giants and slaves.”
“If that is the truth, that would be nice.
But the evidence we have says that you are the traitor.”
Brother took out several bundles of papers and scrolls and a sealed letter from his favorite bag.
On some of them were the name of famous Ignitian businesses that even I know of.
“Your Majesty, Father, please check.
This is the back book of illegal transactions led by Louis Ode-Ignitia and instructions to the relevant ship.
Aah, please rest assured. All the mentioned slaves are already under protection.”
“Hmm……what do you think, Ernst?”
“Your Majesty, certainly this is probably related to slave trading.
They brought them to the bottom of the cargo hold using two sugar crates.
Indeed, it seems as if this is a fake record.
Moreover, the foods loaded at the same time can cover more than double the number of the crew members.”
“Duke Ernst, please show it to us too.”
Father added an explanation about the document and turned it towards the Ignitian aristocrats.
In some of the books, it was clearly stated that he had loaded human beings for slavery.
Anger emerged in the expression of Ignitian aristocrats who read through the materials.
“N-no! This is false accusation!
I’m being framed by those companies!”
“Besides these back books, there is a letter about the secret agreement between the royal family Ode-Ignitia and the royal family of Gigantia—the Gattine family.”
“Unfortunately, it’s genuine.
The coat of arms which accompanied it was appraised, the seal stamped on this letter is unquestionably of the Gattine family.
Perhaps Your Majesty may remember this handwriting.
For example, when you were signing a ceasefire agreement between the Federal Kingdom and Gigantia.”
When brother took out a letter, Louis widened his eyes.
He also forgot to blink and groaned with a hoarse voice.
“W…….why, is it here……can’t be……this stupid……”
“Your house was quite strictly guarded, so I also burned a hand.
But just a while ago, everyone slept well.
Thanks to someone, I was able to bring out everything that you hid.
I do not know who did it, but I must thank him.”
When Eduard-oniisama smiled devilishly, Louis shuddered.
Auguste seemed to be unable to bear it and diverted his eyes.
Yup, that’s right.
No matter how I think about it, that was due to Auguste’s wide-area mental interference.
Louis kept trembling in despair for a while.
However, he suddenly got up and turned a malicious gaze towards Auguste.
“Eduard, you should check Auguste again.
Auguste who is inferior to me cannot possibly be able to manipulate so many dragons.
He surely hides a grave foul play.”
“Even though you are manipulating the dragon in a fraudulent way……you want to say that?”
“Wha- ……what are you saying! This quack alchemist!”
Louis cried out as if exploding.
Apparently, his intention of dragging Auguste down backfired.
Louis tried to stop him before brother could say something, but he was immediately held down by a strong soldier.
“Well, everyone, it is not just back books and letter we have seized from him.”
“Don’t! Stop it! I beg you, stop there!”
“Please look at this magical tool.”
Ignoring Louis’ agonized cries, Eduard-oniisama took out a small piece of metal from his pocket carelessly.
Everyone who saw it inhaled sharply.
It was a single nail.
The nail head was engraved with the emblem of the white rose of the Gattine family, and the whole metal was engraved with magical incantation from the South.
That thing can enforce slavery if you embed it in a person, or change the body into a giant.
If you embed it in other creatures, in exchange for complete control of them, they would suffer unimaginable pain.
This little nail is the worst and the lowest torture tool produced by Gigantia.
“He’s lying! I don’t know anything about Gattine’s Holy Nails and the like!”
Louis screamed shamelessly.
But no one trusted him anymore.
Gazes of contempt and distrust were fixed against Louis.
“Well, I will not deny that I am a liar.
This was not seized from Louis’ mansion.
This magical tool was excavated from your dragon, Camellia.
By the way, what did you call this just now?”
“Guh……! Just now……that’s different! That was just a little mistake!”
The red face of the raging Louis turned pale in the blink of an eye.
Eduard-oniisama hid his contempt with an indifferent smile, he turned towards Louis and said:
“Do not speak, Louis Ode-Ignitia.
The only ones who call this a Holy Nail are the people of Gigantia……our enemy country.
The people in the Federal Kingdom call this a Cursed Nail.
Whatever happens, we will not call this thing as something ‘holy’.”
Eduard-oniisama looked at Louis who became speechless.
I could see the quiet anger in his eyes.
“Your dragon, Camellia, refused for this to be extracted.
As long as she harbored this abominable magical tool, she should have known that she would continue to experience hellish pain.
She……surely, she tried to protect you.”
As if she loves you, Eduard-oniisama continued.
A serious gaze different from the dark smile from before was directed towards the other side.
Unintentionally, it also drew my line of sight toward that direction.
In that direction, I wonder if Camellia is still suffering agonizing pain right now.
“Rather than that, you have driven a dirty Cursed Nail into your dragon!?”
“Are you an idiot! You used a Cursed Nail for the sake of cheating?!!?
“Do you want to win that much, you fiend!”
“You stained the image of the dragon knights! Compensate with your life!”
The anger of the people of Ignitia exceeded the boiling point and condemning words against Louis could be heard.
It was not unreasonable.
That was an unnecessary act of violence towards the dragon and was an abuse.
Simultaneously, it was a serious breach of faith against the state.
King Ignitia approached Louis with an expression of distress and pity.
The King looked down at Louis quietly, but Louis didn’t try to match his line of sight.
“I……I intended to replace your deceased father.
However, I guess it is impossible.
I am not in the position to inform you of important matters.”
To the words of King Ignitia, Louis responded with a hysterical laugh.
“HAHAHAHA! You’re acting as my foster parent?
Not only the throne, but you’re also going to take my father’s son away!
I never once thought of you as my parent!”
Hearing Louis’ outcry, King Ignitia had a deep bitterness on his face.
However, even against his nephew’s such manner of speaking, the King patiently persuaded him without raising his voice.
“No matter what you think, you need someone’s backing.
Eventually, Auguste will need a trustworthy confidant.
I thought that my thoughts would be transmitted even if it takes me some time.”
“Like my older stepbrother, you want to put a collar on me.
I will decline such a thing. I will not be tamed.
Neither by you nor the cowardly Auguste.”
Louis stood up, shaking off King Ignitia’s hand who was trying to reach for him.
Soon, both of his arms were restrained by soldiers once again.
“I will not accept your order.
That’s right, I will never lower my head to you bastards!
Not to the Usurper King, nor to the Impostor Crown Prince.
Both of you are all alike, you see me with hypocritical eyes!
The royal family today is full of fakes!
The legitimate heir to the throne was supposed to be me!
Hahahaha! Be cursed!
Whoever attempts to unjustly steal my country, I will curse you all!
King Ignitia shook his head with an exhausted appearance.
The Queen supported the King, while father exchanged looks with Eduard-oniisama.
“Bring Louis Ode-Ignitia to the prison.
Never let him approach his dragon.”
“Yes, I understand.”
With the clanking sound of metals, steel handcuffs were put on Louis.
Two soldiers came over to drag Louis.
As the tension loosened, everyone thought that with this everything was over.
“……‘Never let him approach his dragon’?
Hahaha. What an idiot.”
Together with Louis’ ominous murmurs, a small purple shadow jumped out of his tabard.
When the shadow grazed it, the steel handcuffs that were hanging on both hands of Louis fell off.
The two soldiers who had flanked his sides bumped against the purple shadow and staggered onto their knees.
Armors around the soldiers’ abdomen were gouged as if twisted off and their clothes were wet with blood.
A small purple dragon perched on Louis’ shoulder.
The small dragon spat out two pieces of metal dripping with blood.
“Go, Silvetica! Kill the filthy usurper, kill Henri!”
The purple dragon Silvetica flew from Louis’ shoulder.
So, to summarize: during the tournament, Louis’ skill with the dragon was a sham since he used the Cursed Nail on his dragon, which made his dragon did whatever he wanted. Auguste’s skill with the dragon was genuine, because even if he rode on a drunk dragon, it didn’t make him suddenly able to ride a dragon, as the King said. That was all on Auguste.