Third Imperial Princess’s Butler Volume 1 Chapter 5 part 3

“I didn’t abandon it… it had it taken away from me. This country… we had a happy nation.”

“Taken away?”

Princess Krell looked our way, but I shook my head.

I’ve never heard of such a thing. There’s no historical record of the Empire invading the Safira Kingdom. Historically, these two countries had little interaction. That’s still the case today, and they haven’t formed any alliances. Yet, there was a genuine hatred in Erne’s voice.

“Even the royals don’t know… I’m sure only a few people in the Empire are aware. The underhanded and vile things the Carreralonde Empire is doing to the Safira Kingdom. Now… that country has become nothing more than a puppet state for the grand Empire.”

“So, the Empire’s upper echelons are invading the Safira Kingdom using methods other than military force?”

It’s a typical method of aggression used by large countries against smaller ones.

There are various methods, like making enticing offers to the small country’s nobles and passing legislation in the parliament that benefits the large country in exchange. Gradually, the small country becomes more aligned with the interests of the large country, eventually turning into a full-fledged puppet state. Publicly, they might be referred to as a subordinate state.

However, there’s something I don’t understand.

“It’s hard to comprehend that the Empire would keep such an invasion hidden from its citizens. Normally, such an achievement by the Empire’s government would be loudly proclaimed to the citizens.”

Even for a small country, turning another nation into a puppet state would be a significant achievement. It would be an excellent opportunity for the Empire’s government to showcase its competence to the citizens. So, how is it possible that even the citizens, let alone Princess Krell, are unaware of this…? What’s going on?

When I asked Erne, she said with contempt:

“The government won’t say anything to its citizens… They are doing something that would cause resentment. I’m sure they only share it with a select few in the Empire. They’re doing cowardly and despicable things to the Safira Kingdom that can’t be made public.”

“Eugenics…”

As I thought of a possibility, Erne nodded.

I see. So that’s what’s happening. It appears the government of this country is thoroughly rotten.

“Roth, eugenics means…”

“In short, the Empire’s government is insane. Anyone in the Safira Kingdom who dares to oppose the Empire’s orders is killed. Likely… even her master… that must have been the case, right?”

“Yes, you caught on quickly. I appreciate it.”

I sympathized with her a little. At the same time, I understood the reason behind Erne’s intense desire for revenge against the Empire.

“My master, Lord Rias, directly opposed the tax increase ordered by the Empire. Lord Rias did everything to protect the livelihood of the people. But it was futile. Four days after submitting dissenting document, Lord Rias, along with all the estate’s servants, was killed by assassins.”

Before I knew it, tears were flowing from Erne’s eyes. What emotions were they carrying? Anger, sadness, regret… or perhaps all of them? I couldn’t discern them.

“Lord Rias… even with only one arm left, let me escape. And then said we wouldn’t meet again… and couldn’t live anymore, so I should be the one to escape. I couldn’t forgive for trying to leave me behind alone… but there was no other choice. I still dream about Lord Rias face, just out of reach… It’s more painful, lonely, and sad than anything I’ve ever felt. That’s why I’ve been living with the sole purpose of seeking revenge on everyone in this country who took away my precious people.”

“So, you decided on revenge.”

“…Yes! That’s right!!”

Erne’s voice echoed.

“That talk about it only being the Empire’s upper echelons, and the citizens having no involvement… it doesn’t hold up! A country is made up of its people! Every person in the Empire constitutes the essence of the country itself! That’s why I’ve vowed to exact revenge on every single person in the Empire, regardless of their status, gender, or anything else! I’ve lived with that purpose up to today!”

“Erne-san…”

“This flame of vengeance is all I have left!” I don’t need to harbor any sympathy. I don’t need to direct any fake feelings of pity, thinking “oh how sad.” What I want isn’t sympathy, but time! So don’t get in my way! This is my final loyalty and love dedicated to Lady Rias!”

“…”

The moment I heard Erne’s scream, something snapped inside me. It was like a string that had been pulled taut suddenly cut loose.

“Love, you say?” I murmured, then slapped Erne hard across the cheek. More of a punch than a slap. Erne rolled to the side from the force of my open-handed blow, grabbing her cheek as she pushed herself up.

“W-what?” She looked at me in bewilderment. I stepped closer and grabbed her by the collar.

I understood her grief and despair as a loyal attendant who had just lost her mistress before her eyes. If I were in her position… If I lost Princess Krell right in front of me, I might also choose to slaughter everyone from the nation responsible.

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However, as a fellow attendant, there was something I just couldn’t let slide.

“Erne, did your lord… did Lord Rias tell you to take revenge on the empire?”

“That’s…”

“I doubt it. From what you’ve said, a person who devoted to protecting the people would not entrust you with revenge . The wordsleft with you, the beloved, would not be a curse bidding you to take vengeance… but a wish for your happiness. Am I wrong?”

“…!”

Erne’s eyes widened, then gradually filled with tears… which overflowed and trickled down her cheeks.

Confident I was right, I took the silver ring from my pocket and tossed it to Erne.

“This is…!”

“It’s yours isn’t it? I’m returning it.”

Erne looked at the object in her hand with surprise and bewilderment.

The ring I had thrown was the one that had been on the pigeon’s foot when Princess Krell and I encountered it during our walk. It was simple without any lavish decorations or jewels. At the time, I assumed it had been placed on the pigeon for some recently trendy love ritual… but now with everything cleared up, I realized my thinking had been mistaken.

“When sharing senses with a familiar, the spellcaster must provide the familiar with an object deeply connected to them. That ring you always wore on your left ring finger… it must have been a gift from the lord you loved.”

“…”

Erne said nothing and kept her eyes fixed on the ring. Taking her silence as affirmation, I continued.

“The hatred and desire for revenge you feel toward someone who stole your precious person are tremendously strong and difficult for others to comprehend. In fact, you were willing to cast aside everything dear to you in order to exact revenge. I sympathize with what you and the others have gone through, and I understand the feeling of wanting vengeance…”

“Then—”

“However,” I interjected sharply, glaring straight at Erne. “I cannot agree with or sympathize with such unbecoming behavior for a servant who ignores her master’s final command.”

“—!”

Erne gasped, a tear trailing down her cheek as I gripped her collar and raised my voice.

“Remember! Did your lord want you to take revenge? Were the final words meant to curse you with misfortune? Was Lord Rias such a wretched person?”

“N-no—”

“Then this vengeance you offer is merely self-satisfaction. Loyalty and love against your lord’s wishes are useless foolishness. As one who serves, fulfill your lord’s desires! Especially if you loved Lord Rias as a woman. If your lord wished for you to find happiness, then strive to be happy. The joy you attain through effort will be the greatest offering to your departed lord.”

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“…”

“You have strayed from the right path. But there is still time to return to it.”

By the time I finished speaking, Erne had given up trying to hold back her tears. She looked up at the sky as tears poured down, crying out loudly without restraint. Her tearful wails echoed through the silent streets where people had fallen quiet.

I turned my eyes away from Erne.

I no longer felt anger toward her. She too was a victim, a pitiful victim of the disaster brought about by rotten people.

Of course, her sins do not disappear. Attempting to assassinate Princess Krell, trying to steal the etoile gate key, seeking to harm the citizens of the capital… She will have to atone for these sins all her life.

But the rotten imperial government is also to blame for her sins. It would be unfair to punish only Erne while letting those bastards off scot-free. The root cause must be thoroughly crushed, or else this tragedy will repeat. If all the people of the capital end up dead, there can be no justice for these sins. That cannot happen. The saying “a nation is its people” is apt – it would be unconscionable for innocent people unrelated to this to die.

Therefore, let us fulfill our original goal.

“Princess Krell, shall we go?”

“Is it alright?”

“If we stay here, the time limit will just creep closer. There’s less than an hour left. Let’s hurry. And Erne—”

Still carrying Princess Krell, I called out to the sobbing Erne.

“You stay here. I’ll at least clean up the aftermath for you.”

Leaving those parting words, I broke into a run,

Toward the sphere below spewing sinister black miasma.



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