Stronger than the Strongest
“Haah…… Haah…… I’ve returned, mother.”
“Philine…..? Why are you here……?”
Dorothea had a skeptical look on her face as she stared at Philine, who had greeted her all out of breath.
Well, that was to be expected.
This was a development that she never expected to happen.
“Philine-sama! Please wait for us!”
A crowd of people followed suit and entered the venue as well.
Most of them were wearing military uniforms―― more accurately, they were wearing the uniforms that non-commissioned officers wore, although some people among the crowd weren’t.
“You’re…… Adelina Reiner, Otto Reiner, Hildegard Eichrodt, and Friedelinde Imer…….?”
“At your service, Your Majesty.”
“It couldn’t be helped. It was the Princess asking me for help, after all.”
“I’ve come to avenge my motherland!”
Each of them spouted something out at Dorothea.
It seemed that everybody had something they wanted to say to her.
Adelina-san, who was so concerned over the state of her home country that she was willing to start a coup d’état.
Otto, who was so worried over his older sister that he was willing to take matters into his own hands and attempt to assassinate Dorothea.
Hilda, who was recruited under Philine’s wing in order to shift the Empire’s diplomacy towards conciliation.
And finally, Frieda, who had been waiting to make a comeback ever since her homeland was destroyed by the Empire.
“What is this farce, Philine?”
“It’s not a farce, mother. We’ve come here to deliver a final warning to you.”
Philine made a powerful statement.
Just looking at her, she felt nothing like the weak and timid girl like she was before.
“Fu…… Fuhaha……. Ahahaha! A warning…… A warning, you say? You guys……. You dare to deliver a final warning to me, Dorothea Naa?”
Dorothea burst into fierce laughter.
It must’ve sounded like nothing but a joke to her.
That Philine had come here to hand her one final notice.
As she continued to laugh,
“What a funny joke. How interesting. If that’s what you plan on doing, then I’d like to see you try.”
“If you bore me with it, I’ll strike you all down,” Dorothea said as she backed down for the time being.
Philine pulled out what looked like a large stack of paper out of her bag and started talking.
“During my trip abroad, I managed to go around to several different countries to negotiate with them.”
“Negotiate? What were you negotiating?”
“They were negotiations to establish cooperation in order to start a siege against you.”
Dorothea looked surprised.
Right after we had talked Adelina-san out of her plans, Joseph-san told us a secret.
That she was going to come back today.
Philine wasn’t wasting her time wandering around in disappointment.
Rather, she had been plotting against her own mother the entire time.
She went around to every single nation, patiently persuading each of the leaders, promising to compensate them, or manipulating them into lending their support.
And she steadily managed to put everything into action.
In the end, this was what she achieved――
“Here are blood-signed documents from the leaders of each of the six nations that surround the Empire. These people signed with their blood, swearing that they would no longer cater to you, mother. If the Empire refuses to join the new international order, then we will rip everything from you all at once.”
This was essentially the bluff that Dor-sama had conjured up earlier, only it was about to happen for real.
The daughter, who was once a crybaby, had come back to bite her own mother in the throat.
Even a baby lion was still a lion.
“Do you plan on killing me here? That’s fine too. I’m well prepared for that.”
“But no matter what happens to me, and no matter what actions you take from here, this is a complete diplomatic defeat against the Empire. It’s checkmate, mother.”
We managed to defeat Dorothea as an individual.
Dorothea was incredibly strong.
She was undoubtedly stronger than anybody else.
However, even she could not lose to the sheer number of people that Philine managed to recruit under her wing.
Dorothea had lost against the very bonds that she had mocked earlier.
Dorothea raised her sword.
Philine didn’t look away.
She stared right back at her mother without flinching.
“Is that really alright, Dorothea?”
“――! What are you talking about, Rei Taylor?”
Dorothea stopped her sword just a few millimeters above Philine when she heard my words.
“The match has already been decided. It’d be unsportsmanlike for you to act like a poor loser, right?”
“I still haven’t――”
“If you kill Philine right here, it’ll just end up being a touching tale of a princess who stood up against her beloved mother for the sake of the country―― only to have her neck cut off in the end.”
“From the perspective of the cause and through the work of some media manipulation, it’d be worse for her to kill her now, wouldn’t it?”
Claire-sama and I both applied salt into her wounds.
Dorothea had caused everybody a lot of trouble already.
Doing this should be forgivable.
In reality, nothing would change at all if she killed Philine off right now.
She was the driving force behind the formation of the siege, but she was not the commander of it.
Even if Philine died, it would not change the fact that Dorothea had already lost.
“I…… I lost……?”
“Yes, it’s your loss, mother.”
Philine’s voice sounded gentle.
“To such a powerless little girl……”
“That’s right. To a little girl.”
Dorothea sat down on the spot.
She lowered her sword and stared upwards.
The expression on her face looked refreshed, like something that had been possessing her had finally left her body.
“Looks like it’s settled then.”
“Yes, it seems so.”
The non-combatants, including Dor-sama, emerged from the shadows.
Fortunately, nobody there seemed to be hurt.
“But the number of casualties is too great.”
The soldiers that risked their lives to bare their swords at Dorothea.
Those lives would not come back.
―― is what I thought, but,
“What are you talking about? Everybody’s still alive, you know?”
When I heard Dorothea’s faint words, I rushed right over to the soldiers.
Their legs were bleeding, but when I checked for their pulses, it seemed that they really were all alive.
“Rei Taylor, Claire François, Philine. This is your victory, but you need to be prepared to take responsibility for it.”
Dorothea said something vague.
“What are you talking about?”
“Gather your strength right away, the demons will soon be attacking in large numbers.”
I was a little worried.
I wondered if Dorothea had gone insane after suffering at the hands of defeat.
However, it seemed that my worries were unfounded.
“I’m still sane. There was a demon spy among us that I deliberately let escape a while ago. He thinks I killed all of you.”
What was the meaning of this?
“Mother, please explain everything from the beginning.”
“There’s no time for that. This is a war that I set up against the demons, but now, I’ll have to pass that torch onto you.”
I couldn’t understand what was going on.
Why did she have to be so self-sufficient!
“At least explain the bare minimum to us. If you don’t tell us what’s going on, we can’t do anything either.”
“Hmm…… Well, you are aware of how the Empire is right at the forefront of several demon territories, right?”
“That was where I met them.”
“Who are you talking about?”
When I asked her that question, Dorothea’s face was dyed blue.
Yes, even someone like Dorothea turned pale.
“The ruler of the demons―― the one called the ‘Demon Queen’.”
(??’s point of view)
My messenger came back.
Now was the perfect opportunity.
All of the world’s leading figures were gathered in the Empire right now with Dorothea, who was trying to kill them all.
It was certainly a good opportunity.
A once-in-a-lifetime chance.
What kind of opportunity, you ask?
Isn’t that obvious?
“―― The perfect opportunity to destroy the world, huh?”
This marks the end of chapter 15 (“The Summit Arc“)!
The release date for chapter 16 is slated to come out during mid-October. As always, the pre-release will come first, with the public release following it one week after… Please stay tuned for more information about this, which you will be able to find on Inori-sensei’s pixivFANBOX.
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As always, thank you all for reading I Favor the Villainess! We’ll be back with chapter 16 in about a month.
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