“The Empire has been waging wars left and right, correct?”
Dor-sama said as he flipped through the pages of the documents we gathered.
The number of those countries was more than what you could count on one hand.
“You really don’t hold back with that tone of yours, huh.”
“It’s not like there’s a problem with that, is there?”
“How interesting. I’ll allow it. Continue.”
“Yeah, I’ll do just that.”
Dor-sama boasted that he could call upon any of these countries to instigate a large-scale military operation if need be even without the help of the three nations that were present.
“Do you really think you can pull something like that off?”
“I can. Moreover, some of the places that you think you have total control of will burst into a rampage as well. Surely even you can understand that much, right?”
Being cut off by their surrounding nations as well as making enemies out of them―― it was practically every politician’s nightmare.
However, Dorothea responded without even raising an eyebrow.
“Those countries are all around the borders. As long as the heart of the Empire is fine, nothing else matters. As long as I’m still alive, the Empire will not fall.”
I wondered how many people in this world could bluntly assert something like that without sounding like they were bluffing.
Dorothea seemed unbothered, but Dor-sama didn’t back down here either.
“It’ll gradually destroy you bit by bit. I have a document that summarizes the Empire’s food self-sufficiency. You’ve devoted too much of your budget to the military that everything else is slowly starting to decline.”
“We are in the middle of war right now. Those are necessary expenses.”
“That’s true. However, if things carry on like this and the fields in the surrounding territories around the Empire are razed, then…… in a few years, you’ll have to deal with a hell called ‘famine’.”
Dor-sama spoke with a cruel smile on his face.
His face looked very nonchalant, but the things that came out of his mouth were terrifying.
“Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? We get to watch our enemy starve out from the stands. We hardly even have to lift a finger too. All we need to do is prepare some defenses, watch our own backs and gather some supplies for ourselves.”
“So that’s how it is, huh. In that case, we’ll just go and pillage your countries in retaliation.”
“Can you really do that though? Your country is strong, but in the end, it’s just one nation. While you’re busy attacking us, you may get hit from several other directions.”
“…… You sure know what to say, don’t you, Dor François?”
“It’s an honor to have my name remembered by you.”
In reality, what Dor-sama was saying made a lot of sense.
No matter how powerful the Empire was, there was nothing they could do if all of the neighboring countries surrounding it turned into their enemies.
Of course, it wasn’t like things would work out so easily, but what Dor-sama said was not just a pipe dream.
In any case――
“What are you so worried about, Rei?”
“Well, I was wondering who it was that Dorothea reminded me of. I’m not talking about her appearance, but that domineering force of hers…”
“Is there really someone that is so much of a tyrant that she reminds you of them?”
No, but I was sure I’ve seen it somewhere――
“Ah, I got it. She reminds me of Dor-sama from before the revolution.”
Dor-sama pushed the role of the villain onto himself to fight for the greater good.
He was strangely similar to Dorothea in that way.
Or perhaps it could just be a misunderstanding of mine.
“To begin with, why are you so stubbornly trying to hold onto your unrealistic dream of unifying the world under your country anyway? You still haven’t even thrown away that sweet side of yours.”
“Sweet side? I’m sweet, you say?”
Dorothea’s voice started to sound strangely dangerous.
However, Dor-sama didn’t seem to care.
“You let your daughter off easy by exiling her after her attempt at rebelling against you, and you completely overlooked the fact that her friends from other nations were conspiring with her…… Just how much are you spoiling your daughter anyway?”
If I remembered correctly, Joseph-san said something similar before.
That Dorothea was concerned about Philine.
When it gets pointed out like this, it really did seem like Dorothea was quite a sweet person.
“Hmph, don’t talk like you know everything. Even though you’ll never know what it’s like to give birth to your own child.”
“As a male parent, it’s unfortunate that I can’t. However, there is one thing that I understand very well.”
“Oh? And what would that be?”
“The feelings of a parent who constantly thinks about their own daughter.”
Dorothea’s eyes widened with surprise for a moment.
“……. Claire and Rei are my daughters. That’s why I’m grateful for the affection that you’ve shown them as well.”
“……. Stop it. This is not the right time for it.”
Dorothea seemed a bit embarrassed over Dor-sama’s sudden expression of gratitude.
“Dorothea. I think it’s about time we talked about what you’re really up to. What is it that you’re trying so hard to accomplish all by yourself? Can’t we shake hands on it and join forces?”
Dorothea fell silent.
There were a lot of mysteries that surrounded her.
The reason why she was so stubbornly clinging onto her invasive diplomacy was one thing, but the thing that started it all was the biggest mystery of all.
“I’ll leave you with the final say now. However, I don’t want you, who saved my daughters’ lives, to suffer through this alone. Is there any way to get you to talk to us about it?”
It sounded more like a plea than a question.
Dor-sama was definitely trying to lure her out of her shell.
Even if he was a skilled politician, he still valued her life.
However, Dorothea could only answer with――
“You’re insulting me too much, Dor François.”
Dorothea called him out with a fearless tone.
“Do you really think I―― the almighty Dorothea Naa―― am that kind? You fool.”
“Hey, don’t you think you should quit it with that tough act of yours by now? If this were a game of chess, this would already be considered a check.”
Both Manaria-sama and His Majesty Sein nodded at His Majesty William’s words.
However, Dorothea remained stubborn.
“If you want me to yield―― and stop the Empire, then show me your strength. You’re allied with all of the countries that surround us? Alright, then give it a try. I’ll kick every single one of you to the curb.”
Dorothea proclaimed with what seemed like a crazed look on her face.
No matter how you looked at it, there was no way she could pull it off, but if it was her saying it, she sounded oddly convincing.
Perhaps that showed just how charismatic Dorothea was.
“Dorothea, this is your last warning. Change your foreign policy and join the new international order.”
Manaria handed out an ultimatum to Dorothea.
In response, Dorothea answered with:
“How redundant. I won’t lose to any of you. I am Dorothea Naa, after all.”
A clear “no”.
Everybody’s faces were dyed with a shade of disappointment, including Dor-sama.
Nobody dared to speak for a while.
“Hm, the negotiations collapse here, huh. In that case――”
“!? Rei, look out!”
I didn’t expect things to turn out like this.
Before I could process what was going on, I saw Manaria-sama kneeling on the floor with blood flowing from her shoulders.
I wasn’t sure what had happened, but Manaria-sama had fallen on top of me.
The perpetrator was most likely――.
“The first step is to destroy the most menacing threats. That’s part of the basics.”
Dorothea had unsheathed her sword before I knew it.
“What are you trying to accomplish……. Dorothea――!”
Manaria-sama asked with a sharp tone as she pressed down on the shoulders of her suit jacket, which was quickly being stained in blood.
“What am I doing? It’s simple. All of the leading figures from my enemy countries are gathered here right now. I just thought I’d use the opportunity to get rid of all of you at the same time.”
In order words, this was what Dorothea wanted to say:
“I’ll kill every single person here.”
“Rei, get ready!”
Claire-sama’s sharp voice echoed.
Before I knew it, Dorothea had appeared right in front of my eyes.
“I won’t let you!”
Manaria-sama managed to stop Dorothea’s sword with her own, matching the latter’s attack at mach speed.
“Manaria Sousa. Your weakness is that you can’t throw away the person that you love.”
“If it means I’m nothing like you, then I don’t mind being the way I am――!”
When Manaria-sama took a step forward and brandished her sword, Dorothea managed to separate from her.
“Rei, please administer first aid right away――!”
“It’s pointless. It’s completely futile.”
Dorothea raised her sword and braced herself.
“All of you will die here. Each and every single one of you will be hunted down like prey.”