“…… I lost.”
It was a few days after Philine was sentenced to exile.
We had all gathered to see Philine off right before she was sent somewhere abroad.
The people that had come to see her off were Claire-sama, Hilda, the elderly man and myself.
It was just the four of us.
Frieda didn’t come.
It seemed that since Dorothea had made it clear that she was aware of the existence of the rebel group, they were now restricting their presence among other people to the bare minimum.
We were at the east gate in the Imperial capital city, Ruhm.
The scene looked similar to when we saw Lene off from the Kingdom, except the gate here was several steps above ours.
Which included the size of the gate, the robustness, as well as the number of people that passed through it.
Since there were a lot of people being inspected here, Philine, who only had a handful of acquaintances, and her being exiled didn’t seem like a big deal.
“Even though I managed to gain everybody’s cooperation here……. I’m really sorry.”
Philine apologized with a heartfelt look on her face.
It seemed that Philine was being sent to visit several other neighboring countries.
However, since her length of absence is currently indefinite, it was no different than being exiled.
There were about five attendants with her.
She didn’t have that much luggage with her, to the point where you could hardly believe she was the Imperial Princess.
“I’m sorry we weren’t able to help you enough too. We were defeated by Her Majesty Dorothea.”
“No, I think it was my fault for not expecting the surveillance to be so tight. That was my mistake.”
Not even Claire-sama’s apology reached Philine.
“But if that’s what we’re talking about, I think it was incredibly fortunate that I did not receive the death sentence. It really felt like I was about to get executed on the spot back there.”
I thought that perhaps Philine had started to bear some sort of animosity towards Claire-sama.
But more than anything, while there was still life, there was hope.
“I managed to have my life spared for now, but what exactly can I do while I’m exiled?”
“I get how you feel.”
Claire-sama and Philine were completely washed over by a gloomy mood.
“You can do anything you want. Now that you’ve been exiled, it just means you are completely free from the Empire’s clutches. You can just do whatever you want to do now, Philine-sama.”
“Fufu, you’re quite optimistic, aren’t you, Rei?”
“Rei’s way of thinking is just too simple.”
“It’s not a bad thing to feel depressed, but it’s also important to change the mood. Once you’ve relaxed a little bit, then you can bring yourself back up.”
Well, that’s something that depends on one’s personality, though.
“Still…… I am a bit disappointed with Her Majesty Dorothea, though.”
“With my mother?”
“I knew Her Majesty was a tyrant, but at the very least, I thought she acted for the sake of the nation. I don’t feel much compassion for her, but her abilities are authentic and genuine, and I assumed that her way of ruling was just one way of doing so.”
“Ahh, that. Claire-sama, you didn’t like what Dorothea said towards the end there, huh.”
“That’s right. As a politician, she was being way too rude.”
“Ahaha…… I apologize for my mother.”
Philine apologized weakly to Claire-sama, who was feeling incredibly upset.
“After meeting with Her Majesty Dorothea for the first time, we discussed our impressions of her, but apparently it seems that Rei’s impression of her was the most accurate. She really is childish. A biased child with too much power on her hands.”
Somehow, it looked like Claire-sama had been betrayed.
Even if she couldn’t empathize with her, it seemed that Claire-sama had accepted Dorothea’s rule as just one way of ruling.
However, that belief was wrong.
And that was why Claire-sama found it so frustrating.
“Everybody, please don’t underestimate Her Majesty.”
It was the elderly man that scolded us in a quiet tone.
“Not even Her Majesty Dorothea would be that short-tempered. While it’s true that Her Majesty has stated that she would leave the fate of the country in other peoples’ hands afterward, you misunderstand what she is trying to say. Her Majesty has her own thoughts about the matter.”
“And what would that be……?”
Philine asked with great interest.
Even after being exiled, it seemed that Philine had not lost her interest or respect in her mother.
“Just like what you are all worried about, Her Majesty Dorothea certainly is a superhuman at the helm of the Empire. That’s something that even Her Majesty is well aware of.”
“If that’s the case, why is she…….”
“This is what Her Majesty has mentioned in the past. She wants to do everything by herself. When she says that the future of the Empire is going to be left for somebody else to deal with, what she means is that after she falls from the throne and everything collapses, she hopes that everybody will band together and cooperate with one another to run the Empire.”
“It’s just that Her Majesty does not have a way with words,” the elderly man murmured pitifully.
“She feels the same as you, Philine-sama.”
“The same as me?”
“Yes. Her Majesty Dorothea has always been concerned about you, Philine-sama.”
“That’s…… No way……”
“It’s true. Her Majesty Dorothea has always hated the idea of getting you involved in political conflict, so she has always been concerned for you, Philine-sama.”
There was a complicated expression on Philine’s face.
It looked like she couldn’t believe what she was hearing right away, but it was something she wanted to come to believe.
“Philine-sama, I don’t think what you did was incorrect. Even I think it’s about time for the Empire to see a change in its diplomacy. But it’s not like Her Majesty is handling politics the way she is right now because she has a choice or anything.”
“So then, why?”
“I don’t know the details that well myself. However, Her Majesty has been suffering for a long time now. She was never the type of person who wanted to shed any blood if it wasn’t necessary.”
It was difficult to believe what the elderly man was saying.
It was an undeniable fact that Dorothea has been aggressively expanding the Empire’s front and invading many other countries.
And besides, even if she did have her reasons behind it, it wasn’t like the countries that were invaded would be willing to stop and listen to them.
“It’s almost about time for your departure, Philine-sama.”
One of her attendants conveyed the message to her.
Right, it was finally time for our farewell.
Philine-sama entered the horse carriage with a depressed look on her face.
There wasn’t even any time to exchange our farewells properly either.
The carriage began to move slowly.
When that happened,
“Claire, Rei, Hilda, elderly man, I’ve made up my mind.”
Philine yelled at us from the door of the horse-drawn carriage.
“I will believe in my mother! And even after placing my faith in her, I will not give up on the Empire’s future! I will definitely come back!”
There was a sense of strong will in her eyes.
When we first met, she was so timid and looked like she couldn’t do anything.
So the next time we meet again, I’m sure she will have grown even more.
The sight of the carriage gradually began to shrink.
We remained there as we watched it disappear into the distance.
“She’s really gone.”
“Are you okay with this, Hilda? You didn’t even get the chance to say anything to her before she left.”
“Yes, well… I didn’t have anything I really wanted to say in particular. Actually, if anything, I was ignored the whole time.”
Surely, there were farewells she wanted to exchange with her too.
“So our plan to capture the Empire has been set back to square one, huh.”
“It appears that way.”
“……. Please don’t talk about those things right in front of me.”
The elderly man said with a frown on his face.
“Huh? Old man, weren’t you one of the few people that had expressed their doubts about the Empire?”
“That may be true, but in general, I’m still on Her Majesty Dorothea’s side.”
The elderly man was somebody that could be described as an incredibly hard and loyal worker.
Right as I was feeling deeply moved, a young man in a uniform came over to us.
“Joseph-sama, so you were here, huh.”
“We received a letter from the Kingdom of Sousa. Her Majesty has already read it, but she would like you to look it over as well, Joseph-sama.”
When he was handed the letter, the elderly man skimmed through it.
His expression immediately stiffened.
“Did something happen?”
“Hey, Rei. He can’t just tell us about the affairs between the Empire and other nations like that.”
“No, I don’t mind, since the same thing will be delivered to the Bauer dormitory anyway.”
After saying so, the elderly man handed the letter over to us.
I took it and looked it over with Claire-sama.
This was what was written on it:
―― I would like to hold a summit between Sousa, Appalachia, Bauer and Naa.