Back at the Capital, Calvin was receiving reports about how Liam’s territory was being torn apart.
Members of his faction had gathered, and there was great excitement in the air.
—The Guide, who had reverted back to a hat, was watching from the sidelines.
“It’s your time to step up! It’s time for you to strike Liam’s territory!”
With the Guide fanning the flames behind the scenes, the aristocrats were all riled up.
“Your Highness Calvin, this is a chance, a chance for us to strike Liam’s territory with full force!”
Despite the aristocrats’ excitement, Calvin maintained a calm attitude.
“—Support the ones that are charging recklessly. We won’t be making any moves ourselves this time,” he ordered.
Everyone else in the room was shocked, and even the Guide stood up while screaming, “What!?”
He only had a bit of his powers left, so he had been unable to seize complete control of Calvin.
Calvin’s eyes were glued to the reports.
“I still find it hard to believe that he went missing because of a summoning magic. It’s probably a trap,” he deduced.
“T-that might be true, but would they really do such a thing? Besides, the Banfields are heading towards ruin. Isn’t this the perfect opportunity for us to attack with our entire force?” they objected.
“We suffered a setback just a while ago. I’d rather not dive into what could potentially be a trap. We’ll have the other forces test the water for now. If the rumors turn out to be true, Liam-kun would no doubt suffer a great reduction in strength,” Calvin reasoned. “That’s when we’ll confront him.”
The aristocrats turned to look at one another.
“Even if he comes back safe and sound, he’ll need to invest years of time to set things back to how they were,” one of them said.
“If he’s really unlucky, he might not be able to extinguish the fires of unrest even after decades, if not longer,” another continued.
“I guess we could bide our time for now,” the rest agreed.
Everyone regained their composure upon hearing Calvin’s words, but the Guide was dissatisfied with how things played out.
“Strike, damn it! It’s your chance to do so! Why are you backing away at this critical juncture! You even have my support!”
Upset that Calvin and his subordinates were not moving as he intended, the Guide banged on the desk before him with the tiny limbs that were growing out of his hat.
‘We are the legitimate successors of the Banfield Family! We will follow Lord Liam’s will, and I, Christina, will be taking command of the situation!—Those that disobey will be killed!’
‘We have Lady Rosetta under our protection, meaning we are the ones that carry the fate of the Banfield Family! I, Marie Sera Marian, swear to kill anyone that goes against us!’
Inside Liam’s mansion which was situated on the Banfield Family’s main planet, Klaus was sweating profusely.
Although he was average in terms of his abilities, he was tasked with keeping the knights in line.
At this time, he had his head buried in his hands.
“Lord Liam’s close aides suddenly turned coats!?”
Both Tia and Marie were central figures among Liam’s knights.
They were highly competent, and Liam relied on them very much.
However, when Liam went missing, they rose up, each insisting that they should be the one to cover for Liam’s absence.
Tia mobilized Liam’s fleet without his permission, while Marie whisked Rosetta away before gathering what forces she could gather from the fleet that was scattered around.
On top of all that—
‘I hear that the Banfield Family does not have a successor, but fear not. The blood of the Banfields happens to flow in my veins thanks to someone from two generations ago. Since this is an emergency, I am willing to offer my help.’
‘The Astreed Family, which was once a branch family under the Banfields, have the right to serve as the successor. I’m also backed by the leaders of the Cleo Faction, so make me your deputy head.’
‘I am pregnant with Lord Liam’s child! He should be the next head of the Banfield Family!’
—He had been dealing with such individuals from the morning.
They were clearly aiming for the power and wealth of the Banfields.
Klaus, who had to entertain this farce, was getting more and more tired with each passing day.
However, it was the knights that were supposed to be his allies that afflicted him with ulcer pain.
“Klaus-sama, when are we going to beat those people up?” They asked.
“If we get rid of those two, Klaus-sama would become the leader of the knights!”
“We have already prepared ourselves and are ready to fight at a moment’s notice!” They told him excitedly.
These bloodthirsty folks were raring to have Klaus fight against Tia and Marie.
While enduring the pain in his stomach, Klaus gave out orders.
“—We will be on standby and protect this planet until Lord Liam returns.”
Klaus, who had neither the thought nor the ambition of taking advantage of the situation, sought to maintain the status quo.
This was in spite of the fact that he could have split off from the Banfield Family to create an independent force.
The people around him, however, seemed dissatisfied with his decision.
(Someone’s actually going to act up and start a war at this rate. Lord Liam, please come back as soon as you can!)
The knights that Isaac brought along were formal vassals of the family head from previous generations, and they were currently residing in the mansion’s lounge that was meant for executive class individuals, enjoying premium sake and having a blast.
They were having a feast and enjoying their time along with some ambitious maids and officials that wanted to suck up to them.
With the territory’s rapid expansion and development, a lot of people with ambition had suck in to the Banfield Family.
Military officials, agents sent by Calvin and other hostile factions, as well as foreign spies trying to disrupt the Banfield Family’s territory were participating in this affair.
“There seems to have been a lot of development in the last hundred years.”
A knight with beards was sitting on the sofa with a beautiful woman waiting upon him.
He was someone that had abandoned the Banfield Family when Liam’s grandfather was still the head of the household.
At the same time, he was the most skilled among the knights that had tagged along with Isaac.
As such, Isaac had appointed him as his head knight.
The intruders, after occupying the lounge, were trying to gain allies within the mansion.
Their strategy was to have things fall apart from inside, but all that they were really doing was playing around with Liam’s wealth.
The knights in particular were just ransacking the mansion.
“Take a look at this sword! It’s a piece of art!”
“I found a mobile knight that’s meant for elite guards in the hangar. It’s mine from now on.”
“Look what I found!”
Laughing, a knight entered the room while dragging with him a damaged doll.
It was one of the mass-produced automatons that Amagi requested Liam to purchase.
Its clothing had been torn and its joints dislocated.
The knight had brutally hit and kicked the doll before grabbing its head and entering the lounge.
“There are dolls in this mansion? As I thought, Liam’s no good. He lacks awareness as an aristocrat.”
“That, or he simply has no pride. He’s full of himself just because he got rid of some pirates,” they mocked.
“Whatever, I doubt he’ll ever come back, and even if he does, Lord Isaac would be in charge by then. After all, even His Highness Calvin the Crown Prince is supportive of Lord Isaac.”
Liam would have no place in the household even if he were to return.
This was why they were behaving wildly without a shred of concern.
Someone entered the lounge.
“What is going on here!?”
—It was Brian.
Noticing Brian’s entry, Isaac’s head knight stood up.
“Yo, it’s been a while.”
“What in the world do you think you’re doing!? Not only have you been causing a scene at the lounge since early morning, you’ve even laid your hands on Lord Liam’s possessions! Release it this instance!”
“Oioi, stop making a fuss out of a doll.”
Brian’s expression turned pale, and the head knight continued speaking, believing that Brian was scared of him.
“Butler-dono, let us not make too much noises. You don’t want to displease Lord Isaac now, do you? You’d prefer to continue working in this mansion, yes?”
Brian’s eyes became sharp.
“This Brian would rather leave the mansion than to betray Lord Liam.”
“What astounding loyalty. I truly don’t understand your thought process.”
“Nobody expects you to understand. After all, you’re someone that already abandoned the Banfield Family,” Brian sneered.
“I simply left to protect the former head. That said, the newbies seem to be getting ahead of themselves. They would need to be reeducated in the near future.”
As vassals that served the previous generations, they looked down on Liam’s knights who were mostly newcomers.
Brian did not speak back and left the lounge after retrieving the doll.
Before he left, however, he gave his former colleagues a word of advice.
“Lord Liam may be a compassionate man, but he can also be extremely frightening at times.—You should prepare yourselves for what’s to come.”
The head knight raised both his hands as if he was surrendering.
“That’s scary indeed—but why should I be afraid of Liam when he’s not even here? By the time he returns, everything here would belong to Lord Isaac.”
The knights and the traitors laughed in unison.
—On that day, the mansion was flipped upside down.
“Yeah! I saw the knights bullying it with my own eyes.”
“I-it was apparently destroyed. This is real bad. We might be held accountable as well.”
The maids’ expressions had been pale since the morning.
When Serena, the head maid, arrived, the three maids straightened their backs.
“Stop making so much noise. Even at times like this, maids of this household must be able to perform the work that has been given to them.”
However, this wasn’t enough to pacify the terrified maids.
“H-head maid, um—we heard that one of Lord Liam’s attendants was destroyed by the knights that barged in. W-we were wondering if we’d also—”
They began shivering in fear.
Liam’s attendants—it would be imprudent to call them dolls, so they were referred to as such.
Serena understood their worries and tried to soothe them.
“None of you were at the scene, so you won’t be punished. If someone does end up getting punished, it would be me, as I am the person in charge. Now, enough of this and get back to your works.”
After watching the three leave, Serena fiddled with a bracelet-shaped terminal and projected some images around her.
These images contained the attendance records of her subordinates.
Excluding the ones that were either ill, on paid leave, or had other reasons to be absent, hundreds of people had not come to work.
When words spread that a doll was destroyed, however, half the traitors returned to their work.
Just like the frightened maids from a moment ago, they had realized that things were about to make a turn for the worse.
“—Well, this is well within my expectations.”
She had anticipated greater number of traitors, but her subordinates turned out to be better than she initially thought.
“There seems to be some kids with loose screws though. No, is shrewd a better way to put it?”
One of Liam’s dolls had been destroyed—if this wasn’t enough to wake them up, there wasn’t any point in Serena trying to save them.
At the royal palace of the Kingdom of Aarl—
I’m lying down sideways on the bed and chatting with Kunai who’s sitting upright.
“Lord Liam, I have figured out the masterminds behind the assassins. Several ministers and generals were involved in this,” she reported.
“Oh, is that so? Get rid of them then.”
“As you command!—What about the girl named Kanami? That girl has been extremely disrespectful towards Lord Liam. Shall I dispose of her along with the others?”
“Don’t. It’s fun teasing her,” I smirk. “So leave her alone for now.”
“W-will that be alright with you, my lord?”
Kunai seems confused, and rightfully so.
Normally, I’m not this forgiving, but for some reason, I don’t feel like killing her just yet.
I want to continue teasing her a little more.
“I’m not in the mood to have her killed, and it’s fun teasing her, so leave her be. As for the bastards that tried to kill me, get rid of them all.”
The ministers and generals of this country are frustrated over the fact that I let the beastmen into the castle.
I’d be angry as well if I was in their position,but this and that are different.
Since they sent assassins after me, I’ll deal with them in an appropriate manner.
I’m glad to have someone like Kunai who handles her job very quickly.
“The ones behind the assassins—they were apparently planning out the assassination even before the Hero Summoning,” Kunai said.
“After going through the trouble of summoning the Hero, they were thinking of killing her? Well, it does kind of make sense. I would’ve done so as well—no, never mind. People normally don’t resort to that.”
It would be in bad taste to assassinate a Hero that you’ve summoned for help after being pushed to a corner.
As I thought, a country that allows itself to be cornered is no good at all, and I say that for valid reasons.
“When the Queen is incompetent, it seems that the people around her are bound to be incompetent as well.”
“It’s as Lord Liam says,” Kunai agrees.
“Even so, for that Queen to—”
Someone knocks on the door as we’re chatting.
“Is it Kanami? What does she want from me?”
I can sort of tell who it is even before the door is opened.
Kunai opens the door for me, revealing the figure of Kanami whose brows are furrowed.
“It’s all your fault!”
What a cruel thing to say. At least tell me what this is about and why it’s my fault.
“I don’t possess superpowers, so I’d appreciate a clarification.”
I tease her while grinning.
It’s fun watching Kanami become frustrated over my attitude.
“I’m talking about the matter with the Queen! That girl’s around our age, but she’s been burdened with the responsibilities of being a Queen! How could you say such terrible things to her? Do you even consider yourself a man!? Enora’s feeling down because of you!”
—What is up with this girl? Does she find the Queen pitiful?
Is she showing sympathy for the Queen just because she’s nice?
Oh, Lord. This girl’s beyond saving.
“She’s a ruler.”
“So? She’s still a girl!”
“For a ruler, their age and sex do not matter. If she’s in a position of power, it’s expected of her to fulfill her duties,” I tell her.
“What a fool you are.”
It’s fun watching her seethe in anger, so I decide on the spot to teach her about various things in life.
For unknown reasons, I can’t seem to leave her alone.
Is it because her name’s the same as my daughter’s from my previous life?
Granted, it’s not like they’re the same person.
We’re currently in a different world and era—it would take something beyond a miracle for me to reunite with my daughter here.
The probability is infinitely close to zero. In essence, it’s impossible.
But if she does turn out to be my daughter, then fate is the only word to describe it.
It would be an event that has been predestined.
That said, there is no such thing as fate between my daughter and I.
It’s not like we’re even blood-related, so there’s no way that our hearts are.
—This is also why I hate children.
“Is that what you’re going to say to the dead? ‘The Queen has already done her best, and she’s a very kind person’—What would the people that lost their families think when they hear this?”
“I-it might not be a satisfactory explanation,” she stutters. “But I’m sure that they’ll—”
“You really don’t understand anything.”
If I were to be extreme about this, I dare say that ability is the most important thing for a ruler.
This is especially true in feudal societies.
Compassion? That is of secondary or even tertiary importance.
As a human, the Queen may be a wonderful person, but as a ruler, she’s a failure.
This is a world where even tyrants are hailed as wise kings so long as they can make their citizens rich.
—Take me as an example. I might be a sh*tty tyrant and all, but I’m being praised as a wise ruler.
Kanami looks down and takes in my words.
It seems like she’s at least got a brain.
Having said all that, I’m aware that I’m not fit to be a ruler either.
My personality’s downright trash, so I go about doing things while taking that into account.
I’m revered as someone great despite all the deception and unruly acts I’ve performed.
That’s just the kind of world we’re in, a world that smiles on the villains.
“When the country’s in a crisis, simply working hard isn’t enough. In fact, putting in effort should be a given. As of now, the Queen’s no different from a child that’s begging for compliments despite doing the bare minimum as a ruler.—From a citizen’s point of view, a ruler that can’t produce tangible result is the same as garbage.”
“Tell that to the people that lost their homes and their loved ones! Tell them that their Queen tried her best, but it wasn’t enough! You can try asking them for their forgiveness, but do you honestly think they’ll be willing to let things go for that kind of excuse? Can you, without going against your conscience, tell them not to resent their incompetent Queen? You’re addressing the wrong group here.”
If we were to really cherry-pick, there’s no end to the number of criticisms that someone can give to another human being.
I don’t have much right to criticize other people, but I can go on for days listing out everything that the Queen has been doing wrong.
Personally, I have zero interest in the wellbeing of the citizens.
In fact, I very much enjoy watching them squirm from high tax rates.
—Now that we’re on that topic, I’ll make sure to have my revenge. How dare they humiliate me with their child-making demo nonsense.
The first thing on my agenda after I return is to raise the tax rate.
“Your parents must be fools as well. I can tell by looking at their daughter. What on earth have they been teaching you?”
She’s a kind girl that’s considerate of others.
I used to hope that my daughter would grow up to be like that as well, but everything about my previous life was wrong, which means my dreams and hopes were also just the foolish ramblings of a man that couldn’t open up his eyes to see what the world was really like.
Kanami looks up with anger in her eyes.
“Don’t insult my father!”
“You’re not allowed to insult my father!”
“What’s this about? You like your dad that much?”
“It’s not about my dad, it’s about my father! You’re not allowed to talk trash about my father!”
Based on how she differentiates between the words father and dad, it’s clear to me that the one responsible for her naivety is her father.
This is starting to piss me off.
To think there’s someone like that besides me, not to mention that he has a daughter as well—this is the worst.
“That so? Then your father must be a naïve idiot that teaches his daughter all the wrong things. I can tell just by observing you. He must have said something along the lines of ‘always show kindness to others’, correct?”
Kanami shivers in anger, probably because I’ve hit the bullseye.
This girl’s father is truly a hopeless man.
Just as she’s about to whip out her sword from her waist, Kunai appears and punches her stomach, making her faint.
Then, with murderous eyes, Kunai draws her knife, ready to cut off Kanami’s head.
Watching Kanami who has fainted makes me think for a second.
She may be a victim of a no-good father, but at least that father of hers is loved by his daughter.
The same can’t be said for me.
“Are you certain, my lord? This girl was about to point her sword at you.”
“It was a nice pastime. Send her back to her room, and do not touch her. She’s my toy.”
I’m envious of her father.
He may be a fool like my former self, but he has done well in raising his children.
There’s no doubt that he’s a better father than I was.
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