Thirteenth Chapter – Capturing the Empire
A Red Memory
“I don’t think the Empire should stay like this any longer.”
We were in the middle of our lunch break a few days after the incident with Philine had settled down.
It was an unusual sight, but there weren’t that many people hanging around in the classroom besides Claire-sama, Philine, myself, and a few other students.
The three of us were having a pleasant time chatting with each other and eating our lunches together when Philine suddenly blurted out that line.
“What do you mean?”
Claire-sama prompted her to continue as she snuck a glance my way.
This…… could probably be an opportunity for us.
“It’s not just Bauer. The Empire has been invading various other countries left and right. At this rate, I feel like the Empire will hit a dead end.”
This was an issue that Philine had always been aware of but kept all to herself.
Despite being called a decoration of a princess, she was giving it her all in her own way and had thought a great deal about the Empire, just like what a proper member of the Imperial family would do.
“That’s true…… The Empire has made too many enemies. Although the military strength and national power of the Empire have gotten them this far, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll continue to work in the future.”
“Yes. Especially if the Empire sees a change in leadership…… If something were to happen to my mother, I think the Empire would lose its entire backbone in an instant.”
“We have to do something before that happens,” Philine added.
“In that case, Philine-sama, what do you think would be the best course of action?”
Philine probably brought the topic up to consult us for advice, but Claire-sama wanted to acknowledge her opinions first.
When the question was directed her way, Philine took a moment to think it over before opening her mouth.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do but to shift from our current invasive policies towards conciliation.”
‘Alright,’ I thought to myself.
No matter what state the Empire was currently in, it was good we were able to confirm that Philine recognized this.
“Conciliation diplomacy, huh…… But trying to move towards that with the way things currently are seems quite difficult. There are so many different problems that have to be resolved first.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Philine-sama, from your perspective, what obstacles do you think are standing in your way from achieving that conciliation?”
When Claire-sama posed the question towards her, Philine stopped to think about it again.
“More than anything, the fact that my mother sees no fault in her current policies is probably the biggest issue. In other words, if I can convince my mother to change her views, I think we could make some changes right away.”
“That’s true. For better or for worse, Her Majesty Dorothea has a strong influence on the Empire. Their policies hang on her decisions as well.”
“But we’re talking about Her Majesty Dorothea here. I doubt her mind could be changed that easily.”
She had that kind of personality, after all.
Moreover, I experienced a glimpse of this firsthand during my audience with her, but she was handling the Empire’s policies in her own way.
“I’ll need to prepare a lot of resources, and because everything has somehow been working out so far, it’ll be difficult to persuade her. At the very least, it’d be good if I could find other people that agreed with my views……”
She was having this conversation with people like us, who came from another country.
Most likely, Philine didn’t really have that many friends.
“It’s not like those people don’t exist though. For example, the elderly man that serves as my mother’s aide roughly shares the same views as me.”
Ahh, the old man who has to go through so much.
If I remembered correctly, his name was Joseph-san.
“However, because of his current position, he can’t express his opposition towards my mother. He occasionally touches upon the issue, but he can’t go any further than that.”
In RevoLily, the old man was a strong supporter and ally of Philine’s, but it seemed they had not established such a relationship so far.
In other words, currently, he wasn’t an enemy to her, but he wasn’t exactly an ally either.
“And……. I’m not sure if I could call them my allies, but there’s a group of people that I’m well-received among as well.”
“Eh, that sounds amazing. Which group would that be?”
“…… The military.”
Hold up, hold up.
If you’ve got a foot in the door with the military already, this conversation should already be over by now, right?
“Ah, I’m sorry. They’re part of the military, but I was referring to the non-commissioned officers.”
“You surprised me for a moment there.”
“So why are you well-received among them anyway, Philine-sama?”
When Claire-sama asked her, Philine explained shyly.
“When I went to visit a part of the military once on some official business for an inspection, I saw a non-commissioned officer being extremely overworked by a drill instructor…… The troops tried to explain that this was normal, but I couldn’t stand to see it.”
It seemed that she interfered immediately.
It was commonplace among militaries in every country for their soldiers to engage in incredibly rigorous training, but it seemed that Philine’s actions at the time were correct.
The instructor in question had frequently overworked people during training, so he ended up being punished and dismissed from the army.
Ever since then, it seemed that Philine became a little bit popular among the non-commissioned officers in the army.
“I didn’t think Philine-sama held that kind of popularity.”
“Please don’t say it like you’re so surprised! I’m painfully aware of it myself already, so it hurts!”
Paying no attention to Philine’s objections, I wondered if there was a way we could make use of this.
“…… To be honest, it might be a little difficult. The military is where my mother holds the strongest influence.”
“This would probably be a different story if I was popular among the officers instead,” Philine said as she laughed weakly.
So she says, but I felt like this information could be used for something later, so I made sure to keep it in a corner of my memory.
“What about Hilda? If I remember correctly, she plays a big part in the Empire’s magical technology department, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, that’s true. Hilda has a very impressive background. The Empire is incredibly advanced when it comes to magic. The magical technology department is second only to my mother when it comes to having a voice within the Empire, and Hilda herself holds a lot of political power. However――”
“Somehow, it seems like she’s dumped me.”
Philine laughed briefly.
She was probably referring to what happened at the ball.
“It seems like Hilda has her sights set on Rei right now. If you want to borrow her strength, Rei would probably have a better chance than me――”
“It’s different, Philine-sama.”
Philine looked bewildered when I interrupted her.
“Unless there’s a good reason for it, Hilda isn’t the type to get enthusiastic over a specific person. Her only goal is to get promoted and advance in life. For that purpose, she carefully scopes out whoever will prove to be a useful ally to her.”
“…… You seem to know a lot about Hilda, don’t you?”
“Are you starting to feel jelly?”
“I’m just talking to myself. Anyway, if you want to make Hilda your ally, you can’t be passive about it. You’ll have to prove your usefulness and worth to her.”
In that sense, I think Hilda is somebody that can be won over relatively easily.
Be somebody that’s of benefit――it’s that simple.
If you wanted Hilda on your side, all you had to do was prove that you were valuable.
“After that, you should probably try to recruit the anti-government rebel forces within the Empire as well.”
Philine gaped upon hearing an unexpected term.
“A-Anti-government rebel forces?”
“Did you think they didn’t exist? Among some of the states the Empire has conquered, there are several nations that are quite religious, you know? Even if those nations have been broken down by force, their faith still remains as strong as ever.”
Dorothea recognized the freedom of religions and missions within the Empire.
It wasn’t just lip service either, and it seemed that there was a strong focus on trying to combine the forces of the religious denominations.
However, the person herself slightly underestimated just how strong the power of faith was.
“From what I’ve heard, there are rumors that the rebellious forces are secretly making arrangements centered around a certain person right now.”
“Something like that is happening, huh…… If that’s the case, if I can get in contact with that person, do you think I could gain their cooperation?”
“Before that, Philine-sama. Are you prepared for it?”
“Yes,” Claire-sama nodded and continued.
“It’s fine if you’re trying to build a partnership with Hilda, since you’re both people from the Empire. However, when it comes to the anti-government rebellious forces, it’ll be a different story. Not only would you be going against the Empire……. but you would also be rebelling against Her Majesty Dorothea.”
Philine’s gaze quivered.
Even though she was determined for the sake of the Empire, most likely, she hadn’t prepared this far yet.
“If you’re serious about creating change within the Empire, you won’t be able to avoid a confrontation with Her Majesty. Are you ready for that?”
After falling silent for a while, bit by bit, Philine let the words spill out.
“In the past, there was a place my mother took me to.”
“? What are you――”
I interrupted Claire-sama, who had a questioning look on her face, before prompting Philine to go on.
“Would you please continue?”
“It was unusual for my mother to pay any attention to me, so I was naively excited as I wondered where she was taking me.”
Philine was facing downwards as she slowly spoke.
The story that Philine was telling us was an extremely important piece of her past.
The memory was what prompted her into having doubts about the state of the Empire in the first place.
“However, the place that my mother ended up taking me to was―― the execution ground.”
And it was something that carved a deep wound within Philine’s heart.
“There was a person who was being charged with political crimes against the Empire. At the time, I didn’t really understand such difficult concepts, but the man continued to oppose the Empire from the very beginning all the way until the very end.”
And then, the man ended up being decapitated right in front of Philine’s eyes.
According to Philine, she could not forget the red-stained sight she saw that day.
“I was terribly afraid, so I clung onto my mother. However, all that I got in return was her horribly cold voice.”
―― Everybody who goes against me will turn out like that. Are you scared?
“I couldn’t come out with an answer. To be honest, I was so, so afraid, so I couldn’t help it. However, what scared me the most wasn’t the sight of the execution ground. What I was truly afraid of……. was my mother.”
Ever since then, Philine had kept an immeasurable amount of distance away from her mother.
“My mother has an overwhelming amount of charisma. However, most of that is backed up by the fear she strikes in people. The same holds true with the Empire. If you defy the Empire, you will be killed, so that’s why a lot of nations are afraid. I have to put an end to that.”
After saying her piece, Philine turned her face back up towards us.
There was a fiercely determined look in her eyes.
“Somebody has to stop my mother, and I want to be that person.”
Philine spoke without hesitation while holding a firm gaze.
“I’d like to ask for a favor. For the sake of stopping my mother, please lend me your strength.”
Upon receiving such a compelling demand, Claire-sama nodded deeply.
“Yes, of course. Same goes for you too, right, Rei?”
“Yes. I will do my best.”
“I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere.”
Later that evening, Claire-sama and I were having a conversation while in bed.
“Let’s give it our best, for Mei and Alea’s sake as well.”
“I’ll support you as much as possible.”
We’ve taken several detours along the way, but we were finally taking the first step towards accomplishing what we originally came to the Empire for.
That is, we were going to capture the Empire.
We’re back with chapter 13! As usual, each part will be released every day at 11 AM UTC. This chapter will consist of 13 parts, we hope to see you over the next two weeks! If you haven’t done so already, feel free to join us in Jingle’s Discord server, where we’ll (try to) ping those who wish to receive notifications for any IFTV updates. Of course, anybody who doesn’t want to receive those notifications are opted out of them by default, so come swing by if you just want to chat!
If you haven’t heard already, I Favor the Villainess has received a manga adaptation! It is being drawn by Aono Sumio is currently being serialized in Comic Yurihime! It was released on June 18th in the August issue. If you have an Amazon.co.jp account and want to check it out, you can find the link by clicking here!
As usual, thank you for reading I Favor the Villainess, and I hope you all enjoy what’s to come!