How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom: Volume 10 (Premium), page 1part #10 of Realist Hero Series
Prologue: The Countdown to Marriage
— Afternoon on the 2nd day, 2nd month, 1,548th year, Continental Calendar — Parnam Castle —
“Heh heh heh! At last, it is complete.”
It was a clear day, and fairly warm for the winter season. In a curtained, somewhat dim room, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at a certain work of mine. That was because the thing I’d found time in my busy schedule to slowly work on was finally finished.
Fwahaha! It would be no exaggeration to call this the ultimate weapon.
I’d never lose again.
That was how excited I was about this.
“What’re you grinning about?” Liscia, who was sitting on the bed, said in exasperation.
This was Liscia’s room. Though the layout of the furniture hadn’t changed since the last time I was here, we had recently installed a crib for our children, Cian and Kazuha. It had only been a month since they were born, so the children lived next to Liscia.
I lay down my completed work and turned to sit backwards in my chair, resting my elbows and chin on the backrest as I watched Liscia and the children. It was currently time for breastfeeding.
Liscia’s hair had grown out to the same style as when we’d first met. With her hair tied back at the nape of her neck, Liscia lowered her clothes off one shoulder, and gave milk to our child with a gentle expression on her face. Her beauty was so divine as to make me think she’d been cut from a portrait of the holy mother.
Cian finished, and now it was Kazuha’s turn. The now-full Cian was lying in the crib with his eyes closed.
“Oh, come on, I finally finished them, you know?” I picked up the thing lying at my side and showed it to Liscia. It was two sets of baby clothes. “Well? Don’t you think they came out cute?”
The little hooded outfits were hand-sewn by me.
Upon hearing we were having twins, I’d started coming up with ideas, then taken measurements after they were born to begin work. I was confident with the results.
Incidentally, I’d apparently been grinning the whole time I was working on them, and my other fiancées had found it super off-putting.
When Liscia saw the unusual design of the outfits, she sighed. “Yes, they’re cute, but those are practically costumes. What creatures are they modeled on?”
“Machapin and Zukke.”
“I’ve never heard of them?”
“Well, yeah, they’re fictional creatures from my world.”
Machapin and Zukke were the main characters of a children’s show I’d watched a long time ago.
They were blue and brown with relaxed faces, and when you looked closely, you started to doubt whether or not they were really cute, but they had a strange charm, and many products were released of them.
Setting out to make baby clothes for the twins, the first thing that had come to mind was that full-body costumes based on Machapin and Zukke would be adorable.
“They were modeled on Nessie and a yeti, I think?” I added.
“I get that I don’t get what you’re talking about... You seem to have put a lot of effort in, but they’re babies, they’ll make a mess of them in no time, you know?”
“Well, I did make two more sets, so they’d have a change of clothes.”
“Focus that passion on your administrative duties. You’ll make Hakuya cry, you know?”
“But I refuse.”
“Honestly... Oh.” Feeding must have ended, because Liscia pulled Kazuha away from her and patted her on the back to burp her. Then, carrying Kazuha over to the crib, Liscia laid her down next to Cian. Kazuha soon closed her eyes, mumbling as she went to sleep.
Kazuha tended to get cranky when she was alone, but if Cian was there, she went to sleep easily. Since they were twins, was it reassuring to have her other half next to her?
Liscia and I stood side-by-side looking down at the children, who were sleeping with full bellies and peaceful expressions.
Just looking at them made me feel happy, too. I hoped they’d drink lots of milk, sleep well, and grow up healthy.
Liscia laughed wryly. “You’re grinning again, Souma.”
I must have had quite the smile on my face, but could you blame me? I mean, Liscia’s expression wasn’t that different.
“Oh, come on, aren’t our kids super adorable?” I said.
“A doting parent already? ...Well, I feel the same way, though.”
“I mean, seriously, I’m just so happy.”
“When you say it so directly... that’s kind of embarrassing.” Liscia let out an embarrassed laugh.
Oh, I loved her so much.
“I’m happy, being surrounded with family like this.”
“Hee hee! We’re not married yet, though.”
“Ah! Speaking of marriage... we’ve finally set a day for the ceremony,” I said.
Our wedding ceremony, which had been pushed back repeatedly by Liscia’s pregnancy and the campaign in the Union of Eastern Nations, finally had a date: the first day of the fourth month of the 1,548th year (this year) of the Continental Calendar. That would be the day of my coronation and marriage to Liscia and the others.
When I told her that, Liscia let out a deep, emotional sigh. “In two months, you finally will be the real king, not just the provisional one.”
“Yeah. And you’ll all stop being queen candidates and become queens.”
“It’s been about two years since you came to this world, I suppose. But with all that’s happened in that time, it’s hard to believe it’s only been two years.”
“Yeah... I’m sure the me of back when I was first summoned could never have imagined the situation he’d be in now.”
I had five fiancées, and children already born to one of them. It felt like I’d come to a very far away place.
Liscia giggled. “Hee hee! Come to think of it, Souma, when we first met, you said, ‘I’ll probably quit this whole king gig in a few years, anyway. We can tear up the engagement then,’ or something like that, didn’t you?”
Yeah... I did say that, huh? It felt so long ago now.
“Don’t bring it back up too seriously,” I said. “It’d be a problem if you wanted to call things off at this point.”
“Obviously. But, back then, I thought, ‘If I become his family, could I tie Souma down in this country, I wonder? If I can make the marriage a fait accompli...’”
“Huh, you were thinking things like that?”
She’d been ready to marry me from that early on?
Liscia smiled proudly. “I did, in fact, manage to become your family and make the marriage a fait accompli, so isn’t that impressive?”
“...Yeah, I’m no match for you.” I gave Liscia a light kiss.
It had been embarrassing before, but we could kiss more naturally nowadays. Liscia didn’t look like she minded it, either.
After the kiss, I awkwardly scratched my cheek. “Ahaha... But there’s a problem that’s come up regarding the marriage.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“With my coronation, the marriage with all of you, and the first public appearance of the children happening together, Roroa and her people are getting worked up.”
They apparently wanted to mobilize the entire capital in a massive celebration. It was the sort of idea you’d expect from a girl who loved festivals so much.
Liscia smiled wryly. “That’s so like Roroa, but... it sounds like a lot of trouble. What’s involved, exactly?”
“The initial plan included holding wedding ceremonies for any of my subordinates who wanted them, too. The House of Arcs and Hous
The Captain of the Royal Guard, Ludwin, would be marrying Genia the Overscientist, while Hal was planning to marry both Kaede and Ruby. By having the castle run those ceremonies, the hope was to have wedding ceremonies all around the capital for the event.
“We found other subordinates who wanted to take this chance to get married, but... because the event got too large, we don’t have enough couples to marry during it. If possible, having marriage ceremonies for those who serve me directly would be convenient, I’m told.”
“But marriage isn’t that simple, right?” Liscia said, chiding me, and I could only nod.
“Well, yeah. But we have a number of couples who feel like they should be coming together, but aren’t, so I think it’s up to them to act.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Poncho for one, Ginger for another.”
“Ohh...” Liscia nodded, seeming to get what I meant.
Those guys were in a situation where it wouldn’t be strange for them to get married at any moment, but they themselves were so awkward that there was no noticeable progress whatsoever.
I want Poncho, in particular, to settle down soon...
The number of marriage meeting requests coming into the castle was starting to have an adverse effect on the bureaucracy. I understood Poncho’s opinion on the matter was important, but still.
Was there really nothing that could be done...?
Chapter 1: The Red Oni is Blue
— In the middle of the 1st month, 1,548th year, Continental Calendar — Magna Domain, Randel —
The city of Randel in the west of the kingdom had been the central city of former General of the Army Georg Carmine’s duchy, and it was now the property of Hal’s father, Glaive Magna.
It was also the place where the Forbidden Army and the Army had clashed during the previous war.
Granted, the only real battle had been fought at a fortress built nearby, the walls being only lightly bombarded, so the city itself had taken no damage. Now that a year had passed, it had returned to its previous calm.
The House of Magna’s mansion was in the castle town at Randel.
This city was ruled by Glaive, so normally he would have been able to live in Georg’s former abode, Randel Castle. However, knowing Georg’s true intent in what he’d done, Glaive could not bear to reside in the man’s castle, instead living in his mansion in town and going to the castle only for work.
This was the mansion that, today, Halbert had brought Kaede and Ruby back to.
In order to reward the soldiers who’d participated in the expedition to the Union of Eastern States, they were taking turns being given long-term leave. Halbert and his partners’ return was making use of that leave.
Glaive welcomed the three with open arms. “Ohh, I’m glad to see you home safe. Little Kaede, and Madam Ruby, too.”
The “little” for Kaede and the “madam” for Ruby was an indication of how long he had known each of them. While he had known Halbert’s childhood friend Kaede since she was a little girl, he was hesitant to be too familiar with the newcomer Ruby.
The two of them gave Glaive a light hug with somewhat awkward smiles.
“We’re back, Sir Glaive,” said Kaede.
“We have returned, Father,” said Ruby. “You needn’t address me so formally, though.”
“Oh, I see. Let me just call you Ruby, then.”
Glaive was usually stern-faced, but now he was all smiles.
“No matter how many accomplishments my son makes on the battlefield, they can’t equal the feat of bringing two wise and beautiful ladies into our house. He’s always been a handful, but I must praise him for taking you two as his wives.”
Kaede giggled. “You’re exaggerating, you know, sir.”
“You’re embarrassing me,” Ruby added.
Seeing his father dote on his future daughters-in-law, Halbert sighed. “I’m back, too, you know?”
“Hm? Oh, Hal. I hear you distinguished yourself in the Union of Eastern Nations, too. You do me proud as a father, but don’t let it go to your head and do anything to put my daughters here in danger.”
“Yeah, I know,” Halbert responded meekly to the lecture.
Glaive found that attitude suspicious coming from Halbert. It felt like he was much less easily fired up than usual. In any other circumstance, he’d have said something like, “Don’t treat me like a kid forever!” and pushed back, but today he was acting awfully willing to listen.
“Did something happen?” Glaive asked.
“...Nothing really. Sorry, I’m tired, so let me go rest in my room.”
With that said, Halbert hoisted his luggage, and walked off towards his room.
When Glaive noticed Kaede and Ruby watching him go with concern, he cleared his throat to try and change the mood.
“Now then, both of you, come along now. My wife is eagerly waiting to discuss your bridal outfits.”
“We understand,” said Kaede. “Come on, let’s go, Ruby.”
Glaive led the two of them to the dressing room where his wife was waiting.
However, when the two passed through the door and he closed it, he glanced in the direction of Halbert’s room.
◇ ◇ ◇
Halbert was not resting in his room at all. He had in fact snuck out through the window, taking his two favorite spears to a copse in the mansion’s courtyard.
Halbert exhaled deeply in the cold winter air, then began to swing his spears. The sound of their blades cutting the wind, and the clatter of the thin chain that bound them together, echoed through the trees.
Block, thrust, slash... He moved as though he were fighting some unseen foe.
Most likely, he had a specific someone in mind.
However, the way he looked, swinging madly, only made it look like he was trying to cast off some indecision.
There was just one thought in Halbert’s heart as he swung.
Is it okay... for me to be doing this?
That was the one thing he considered.
Being given leave, coming home to his family with his fiancées, preparing for the wedding that was soon to come... that whole life separated from fighting put Halbert on edge.
Is it okay for me to be doing this...? Can I beat that guy this way?
His swings became more and more sloppy.
Because he was swinging wildly with more power than he could control, his pivot leg was unstable, and he shook left and right. He was gradually getting winded, too.
His inability to move the way he wanted fed further frustration, and Halbert stabbed his spears into the ground.
“Hahh... Hahh...” Halbert’s shoulders heaved with each breath.
A shadow approached him. “...Honestly. You’re a sore sight.”
“Huh?!” When Halbert turned to look, Glaive was watching from the shadow of a nearby tree. “Oh, it’s just you, old man...”
“Those ridiculous patterns won’t do you any good as practice. You’re just blowing off steam.”
Perhaps he had some self-awareness, because Halbert didn’t argue back.
With a single sigh at his son, Glaive approached and clapped a hand on Halbert’s shoulder. “Did you lose to someone in the Union of Eastern Nations?”
“Wha?! I haven’t lost yet! I haven’t lost... but... I met a guy I’m not sure I can beat.” Halbert reflexively argued back hard, but his words gradually weakened and in the end he sat down limply.
Glaive furrowed his brow. “There’s someone out there who could do this to you, the boy who was always so needlessly full of confidence?”
“...Fuuga Haan,” said Halbert. “His strength is on another level, and he’s got overwhelming charisma, too. When I saw what he’d accomplished, I felt myself being drawn in despite myself.”
What was stuck
“I admired the way he lived as if he was burning, and for a brief moment, I wasn’t even scared of dying. The fact that I’d thought that way made me many times more scared when I thought about it later. Still... at the time, I thought I wanted to use up my life as a warrior. Completely forgetting Kaede and Ruby.”
His father was silent.
Hal pictured the heroic image of Fuuga racing back and forth across the battlefield, leading the temsbock cavalry, who would fearlessly give their lives for him, having no regrets if they died along the way. He had been entranced by that sight, and though he’d managed to stop, he’d felt himself being pulled in.
“I was never so conceited as to think that there was no one out there stronger than me,” Halbert said. “That dark elf by Souma’s side—even with me, Kaede, and Young Miss Carla all teaming up on her, she still overwhelmed us. There’s always someone better out there.”
“Call her Madam Aisha, would you?” Glaive asked. “That’s the second primary queen you’re talking about.”
“That Aisha... Madam Aisha’s never going to betray Souma. So, as long as I’m loyal to this country, I’ll never see her blade turned on us. But... Fuuga’s from another country. He wants to make his name heard across the continent, too. For as long as he holds on to that ambition, eventually he and Souma... he and this country are going to clash.”
And he figured when that time came, the ones facing Fuuga would be him and Ruby. Because Fuuga flew around on his flying tiger Durga, Aisha, who didn’t have a flying mount, was at a disadvantage.
Durga was so powerful that any attempt to face him with a wyvern would stand no chance.
In the end, only Halbert and Ruby the red dragon were going to be a proper match for him.
“I need to get to a point where I can win against him,” Halbert said. “If I don’t, I can’t protect the country, or Kaede and Ruby. When I think about that... I can’t help but rush. I start thinking, ‘Is it okay for me to be doing this? If I don’t get stronger, I’ll never be able to beat him.’”
Getting married and gaining a partner meant having that much more to protect.
In Halbert’s case, he’d be gaining two at once, so the responsibility was doubled.
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