The Last Shred of Pride
“Don’t butt in, Bill.”
Dor-sama spoke with a glum voice.
On the other hand, His Majesty William laughed with a smile on his face.
Perhaps it was a natural perm, but he played with his curly black hair with his fingers as his dark brown eyes stared gently at Dor-sama.
His height and build were roughly the same as Dor-sama, but the atmospheres that surrounded them were completely different.
If Dor-sama was considered a strait-laced politician, then His Majesty William was somehow charismatic―― rather, my impression of him was that he seemed like he could pass off as a scam artist on the streets.
“You’re so serious, Dor-sama. Even though you’re supposed to be a clever person, I guess you were too clever for your own good and now you’re just awkward.”
“Don’t make fun of me. We were in the middle of a serious conversation just now, Bill.”
“Of course, I see that. I’m trying to take this seriously too, but I wonder why nobody seems to understand that.”
“Ahaha,” His Majesty William laughed frivolously.
“What sort of relationship do Dor-sama and His Majesty William have with each other?”
I asked Lene.
“Dor-sama studied in Appalachia as an exchange student back in his academic years. It seems that he became acquainted with His Majesty William then.”
According to Lene, the two of them hit it off quite quickly.
The two of them were both outstanding students, and they both wanted a partner that they could stand on equal footing with, so they acknowledged each other as invaluable rivals.
Ever since then, their relationship has continued this way for the last 20 years.
“Dor, you’re just trying to force yourself into the role of a villain, aren’t you? You’re trying to protect Claire-chan’s idealism.”
Dor-sama’s eyes looked like they were telling His Majesty William, who sounded like he was joking around, that he was saying unnecessary things.
“What do you mean when you say that he’s forcing himself to be a villain, Bill-sama?”
Claire-sama looked dumbfounded as she posed the question.
“Dor-sama just wants to protect you, including your beliefs and high aspirations. That’s why, in a situation like this, where it was difficult to accomplish, he decided to turn himself into the villain instead.”
In response to Claire-sama’s gaze, Dor-sama averted his eyes awkwardly.
It seemed that they were on the mark.
To Dor-sama, the Kingdom of Bauer was his number one priority.
There was no doubt about that.
He would be willing to sacrifice his own daughter if it proved beneficial for Bauer.
That was proven back when the revolution happened.
However, that didn’t mean that his daughter wasn’t important to him.
Dor-sama loved Claire-sama in his own way.
Even if his way of expressing his love towards her was difficult to understand.
“If that was the case…… then you should’ve said so from the very beginning. We could’ve had a more reasonable conversation even without you needing to insult me, you know?”
“Even so, the reality hasn’t changed. I still believe that we should stand by and watch the coup d’état take place.”
Dor-sama folded his arms and closed his eyes.
Seeing him acting just as stubborn as Claire-sama made me think that they were really like father, like daughter.
“Dor, you’re so stubborn.”
“In that case, what would you do instead, Bill?”
“I think it’s better to prevent that pointless coup d’état from happening.”
Claire-sama was colored with joy when she finally found somebody who agreed with her views.
“Are you just going to let an opportunity like this pass by?”
“No, you can’t even call this an opportunity, Dor. Rather, there are dangers that might come up instead.”
“What do you mean?”
“Listen closely,” His Majesty William prefaced before continuing.
“The coup d’état is scheduled to take place on the day of the summit, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Wouldn’t that be the perfect opportunity to pin the blame for it on somebody else?”
“What if they accused us of intentionally triggering the coup d’état instead?”
“That would be a baseless accusation.”
“Would that really be the case though?”
His Majesty William tilted his head.
“In reality, we’re already aware of the coup d’état. We know about it, and we’re planning to leave it be.”
“That doesn’t prove that we triggered anything.”
“That may be true. However, if Dorothea suspects that her enemies instigated the coup by gathering a group of fools to rise to action against her, she’ll destroy us without even bothering to ask about our side of the story.”
“And perhaps some of the participants of the coup may get publicly tortured, interrogated and then forced to confess that they were being guided by a spy from Bauer or something. Worse comes to worst, they may get extorted into pinning the blame on Bauer, and then in the end, you’ll be the ones that’ll have to take responsibility for it.”
“Well, I doubt it’ll turn out like that so easily.”
Dor-sama voiced his protests.
His Majesty William nodded and said,
“That might also be true, but the fact that you believe the coup d’état is a valuable card to keep up your sleeve is also an incredibly simple way of thinking too, don’t you think?”
“And besides, Dor. Going to war isn’t as simple as adding milk to tea. We’re going up against Dorothea, you know? No matter how things turn out, it’ll definitely be complicated either way. If that’s the case, it’d be better for us if we just chose the way that won’t lead to us losing the things that are important to us so easily.”
“The things that are important to us? Are you referring to Claire’s rose-scented ideals?”
“You’re such an idiot, Dor. I’m talking about human lives. Listen closely, Dor. It’s okay to be covered in politics and diplomacy, but if we ever forget how precious human lives are, we’d just be nothing but fiends, you know?”
“…… You’re just glossing this over.”
Dor-sama shrugged His Majesty William’s words off.
“Dor, I’m still angry, you know? Back when the revolution happened in Bauer, you didn’t even consult me, your best friend, for help, and you were so foolishly willing to throw Claire-chan’s life around like that. You look down on people’s lives too much just for the sake of the greater good.”
“Is that so bad?”
“It is. Could you show your grandchildren a future like that and still be proud about it?”
Dor-sama seemed to have troubles admitting to it.
He was at a loss for words.
Perhaps he just needed one last push.
“Dor-sama, may I say something as well?”
“You don’t need to be so served with your father-in-law. What is it?”
“Yes, well, I think that even if your idea is very practical diplomatically, it’ll still leave a bad aftertaste. In the best case scenario, if the participants of the coup d’état are caught, they’ll be sentenced to death. However, in the worst scenario, in order to prevent something else from happening again, they might end up silencing their family members as well.”
“…… That’s true.”
“It’ll be easy for people from other countries to pin the blame on Dorothea―― however, it’s clear as day that she holds the most influence over the citizens in the Empire. The citizens in the Empire might end up harboring animosity towards the people of Bauer, and it could lead them to becoming even more closed off than ever.”
“If the coup d’état provided nothing but benefits to Bauer, then I’d have no qualms with what you’ve been saying, Dor-sama. However, I think there are too many risks associated with it this time.”
Dor-sama fell silent and thought to himself for a bit before saying,
“Claire, I want to hear what you think.”
Claire-sama cast her eyes downward for a moment before staring straight at Dor-sama.
“I want to save them. I think they are the seeds that can grow into something that have enough power to change the Empire.”
“Yes. The person that sowed them was Princess Philine, but those seeds have been growing steadily by themselves. It would be regrettable if we pulled the sprouts out before they have finished growing.”
“Is that a judgment you’ve made based on your emotions?”
Claire-sama denied it flatly.
“I think that if there’s anybody that can overthrow Dorothea and the dictatorship, it’s going to be the people of the Empire. If the people start to think for themselves and form doubts about the Empire, the dictatorship may disappear naturally.”
“In other words, you’re saying that Bauer can potentially benefit from this too?”
“Yes. If the Empire stops with its hostile and invasive diplomacy, that would undoubtedly be beneficial to Bauer. So in order to make that happen, we can’t let those soldiers die here.”
Dor-sama carefully contemplated the words that Claire-sama left him with.
Perhaps in his mind, he was running through various calculations and considering the pros and cons to it.
“Very well. I won’t stand aside and turn a blind eye to the coup d’état.”
“! Thank you very much, father!”
“It’s too early for celebrations, Claire-chan.”
His Majesty William quickly rained on Claire-sama’s parade.
“We still haven’t thought of ways to stop the coup d’état yet. If we can’t come up with anything, in the end, it’ll still happen.”
“That’s…… Maybe we can just persuade――”
“That’s probably a bad idea. Claire-chan, Rei-chan, you two are the ones who ultimately ended up being the ones that drove Princess Philine out of the country, right? I highly doubt the people that are all geared up for the coup d’état would be willing to listen to anything that comes from your mouths.”
“…… That’s true……”
Claire-sama thought it over.
“Um, I might have an idea.”
“Hm? What is it, Rei-chan?”
“If they won’t listen to anything that we have to say, then why don’t we just look for somebody that they will listen to instead?”
“That might work, but who are you thinking of specifically?”
In response to His Majesty William’s question, I answered with,
“Joseph Gesner. The Empress’ right-hand man, as well as one of Princess Philine’s supporters. I want to try and persuade him into listening to us.”