It was time for our audience with the Empress.
In the back of the room was a throne, with a person seated in it.
She had long, crimson hair and fiery red eyes to match.
She was clad in black armor, wore a mantle and had two swords sheathed by her waist.
She was resting her elbow against an armrest, her hand supporting her cheek, as she looked at us.
“Thank you for traveling all the way here. I am the Empress of this Empire, Dorothea Naa.”
Her voice sounded rather low for a woman.
Her speech patterns were quite masculine, and her voice was somewhat husky, but you could tell that she was undeniably a woman.
However, there was something in her voice that made her seem extraordinarily dignified.
It was the kind of voice that made you want to obey her unconditionally once you hear it.
“It is an absolute pleasure to meet you. I am Yuu Bauer, the representative of the student exchange group from Bauer Kingdom. I am grateful for this――”
“Enough. There is no need for such pointless formalities and displays of diplomatic etiquette around here. It’ll just be a waste of time.”
Yuu-sama, who was used to keeping her true intentions well-hidden, had her introduction cut off curtly and brushed away by an irked Dorothea.
Yuu-sama was so taken aback that she hesitated to speak again.
Without wasting a moment, Dorothea continued.
“You must’ve seen the Imperial Capital by now. Tell me your impressions.”
“It is a wonderful capital city. The people here are quite energetic――”
“Flattery will get you nowhere. It’s just a waste of time. Don’t make me have to repeat this again, Yuu Bauer. I won’t forgive you next time.”
While she was resting her cheek against her right hand, Dorothea began tapping the armrest of her throne with her other hand out of frustration.
“There is no use in speaking with you anymore. You answer me instead, Rei Taylor.”
“Don’t act surprised. I’m asking you to tell me your impressions of the Imperial Capital.”
I was a bit uneasy at being called on so suddenly, but I couldn’t dodge the question, so I told her exactly what I thought.
“Your Majesty, you might’ve taken that as flattery, but since I just got here, I personally don’t have any strong impressions of your capital city. I guess, if anything, I thought it was rather lively.”
Based on my knowledge of RevoLily, I tried to give Dorothea an answer that might appeal to her personality, but I was reprimanded by Claire-sama.
“Are you saying my capital city wasn’t enough to surprise you?”
“That’s because Bauer’s capital city is just as lively as yours.”
“What did you think about the sight of our melting pot of races? You don’t see that in Bauer.”
“Ahh, you’re right about that. I see that you really do have a meritocratic system going on. I found that pretty interesting.”
Claire-sama shot me a nervous look, since I was speaking so carelessly that one could hardly believe I was actually holding a conversation with the ruler of a nation.
However, I think I was probably on the right track.
“Hmm…… You weren’t all that surprised, huh. It seems that Bauer unexpectedly uses the same system. I will have to re-evaluate things, then.”
“What surprises me the most is how beloved Your Majesty is by your people. I thought they would be more afraid of you.”
“While ruling over other people by using fear is one reasonable way to handle things, it is no match when it comes down to being well-liked and respected. I love that sort of rationality. ”
“Yes, I think you have a good method going on there. By the way, Your Majesty, do you, by any chance, have the ability to brainwash other people?”
This time, it was Yuu-sama and Misha who glared at me after I spoke.
I may have been a bit too straightforward.
While waiting for Dorothea to react,
Dorothea’s was facing downwards as her shoulders shook.
“Ahahaha! Rei Taylor, you sure know my personality like the back of your hand. You are just as mysterious as the rumors say.”
“Brainwashing, huh. I see you were so weary of that, you ended up bringing that religious artifact with you. What a cautious bunch, you all are.”
Dorothea spoke like she was mocking us.
Yuu-sama’s eyes widened with surprise.
Dorothea knew about the true form of the Tears of the Moon.
Yuu-sama lowered her head in a panic.
“This is… I apologize for being ill-mannered……”
“Enough. You made your preparations appropriately. So, what do you think? Now that you are bowing down before me, do you feel any sort of manipulation from me?”
“No, not in particular. What about you, Claire-sama? Are you in love with Her Majesty yet?”
“Good, good. What do you think, Claire François? Your beloved is the one asking you that question, you know? Have you been charmed by me?”
Dorothea looked like she was having even more fun than before as she asked Claire-sama.
It seemed that the Empress was already aware of my relationship with Claire-sama.
“While I think Your Majesty is an incredibly interesting person, I do not feel any sort of artificial attraction towards you.”
“That’s right. Claire-sama and I are very lovey-dovey, after all.”
“Ahahaha! I see, I see. I have not caught your eye, it seems. That is a shame.”
Dorothea stood up from her throne.
Her mantle fluttered behind her as she walked towards us before stopping in front my and Claire-sama’s eyes.
Looking at Dorothea from up close, her beautiful face felt quite powerful and frightening at the same time.
I heard that she was in her late thirties, but she didn’t look any older than her mid-twenties.
“As I thought, you are the core of Bauer’s revolution, huh.”
She flashed us an intimidating smile as she questioned us.
“No, Your Majesty. The revolution was powered by our people. It was not something that Rei and I could have achieved all by ourselves.”
“I don’t like your humility. I value all of you highly, since you managed to destroy all of the plans that I spent years and years preparing.”
Did she really want to discuss this right here, right now?
This was supposed to be the first step in our negotiations for peace, yet she was exposing her own role in the previous revolution to us.
“You, what do you think about working under me?”
“Don’t make me repeat myself. I’m asking if you would like to become subjects of mine so I can make use of you. If it’s you lot, I’ll make sure you have everything you need while under my command. I’ll guarantee a reasonable price. What do you think?”
Claire-sama looked incredibly confused.
Well, that was to be expected.
We merely came by to exchange our greetings, but now we were suddenly being recruited to the other side.
“Surely, you jest…..”
“Claire-sama is mine, so can you give up on your love for her?”
“Hahaha…… Just as the rumors say, you really are quite the clown, Rei Taylor. I’ll let it go. Keep entertaining me.”
“It’s not like I came here for your own amusement, Your Majesty.”
After hearing my reply, Dorothea snapped back with,
“Oh, that’s right. You’re here as a part of Bauer’s plan to appease us.”
“Let’s not talk about anybody’s hidden motives here. We merely came here to greet you as representatives of the student exchange group, Your Majesty.”
“Ahh, come to think of it, there was something like that, wasn’t there. Forgive me, I typically don’t see the value in remembering such trivial matters.”
Is this Empress okay in the head?
Ah, a person that looked like one of her attendants seemed to be thinking the same thing.
“Quiet, old man. Leave your grumbling for later.”
The attendant, who looked to be even older than Dor-sama, did exactly what he was told and shut his mouth.
Well, I think he had every right to admonish her.
Looks like he had his fair share of hardships.
“Well, this is enough for a greeting. Did you need anything else?”
“We brought a gift with us as we are visitors to your Empire. Please accept this from us.”
Yuu-sama went back to speaking as if she was just reciting lines off of a script.
Dorothea had a bored expression on her face as she waved her hand and said,
“You can just leave that anywhere. I’ll send you something from the Empire in return later. Anything else?”
“Nothing from me――”
“May I ask one more thing?”
As Yuu-sama tried to wrap the audience up, Claire-sama spoke up.
“Your Majesty, do you have any intention of ceasing your invasions of other countries?”
I usually didn’t get caught off guard by anything, but even I was a little surprised by Claire-sama’s remark.
That was how straightforward Claire-sama’s question was.
“Hmm…… You said something quite daring there, Claire François.”
“Please pardon me for my rudeness. So, what do you think?”
As expected, since it was something even the Empress couldn’t speak about carelessly, she had to stop for a moment and think about her response.
“Invasions, huh. Is that how you see it?”
“Are you saying I am mistaken?”
“No, you’re not wrong. No matter what my true intentions may be, you’ll just see it that way regardless. It’s the truth.”
“What are your true intentions?”
“I can’t reveal that to you. Perhaps if you join my command, I will tell you.”
“In that case, I will leave the conversation here.”
It seemed that Dorothea wasn’t truly intending on trying to rope us in today.
So that meant our conversation was finished here.
“I see, what a shame.”
Somehow, Dorothea looked a little unhappy.
She had to be acting, right?
“That will be all.”
When Yuu-sama gave her answer this time, none of us raised any objections.
“Alright, then this concludes the audience. Enjoy our empire. Dismissed.”
And that was how our first audience with Dorothea ended.