A room inside the military academy.
There, a nobleman from the Berkley family confirmed the contents of a suitcase his follower brought him.
“This is the cursed star poison?”
Inside of the suitcase was a capsule filled with a purple liquid.
The substance inside of it was poison.
“Try your best to avoid contact with it. Rather than poison, it’s more of a curse.”
“So this thing will really curse whoever I use it on?”
The underling began to explain how the liquid worked,
“If you use this, you can kill Liam without ever being found out. The power of the curse is no joke. It’s the literal materialization of those who were burned alive when their planet was destroyed.”
When a planet was ruined, all living beings residing on it were killed as well, this substance was the manifestation of their negative feelings.
If one were to ingest it, they’d suffer from it’s powerful curse until they died.
The only way to treat it would be to use an elixir, and if you didn’t have one available, you were finished.
And if enough time passed, not even elixirs would be able to save you, leaving death as your only option remaining.
“–father and the rest of those old men are acting too conservatively. I’ll be the one to kill Liam, which in turn will solidify my position as one of the family’s executives!”
The follower lowered his head.
“At that time, please don’t forget to give me credit as well, please.”
“I know. Anyways, where did you even get this from?”
With a sly grin, the henchman gave an unexpected name.
“Do you know the ‘Planet Restoration Activist Group’?”
“I’ve heard of them.”
“They’re actually dealing with these items under the table. While they’re a charity organisation on the surface, in truth they illegally poach various things from the destroyed worlds. They don’t take that ‘planet restoration’ crap seriously.”
While they did have the capability to do so, they tried to avoid revitalising the planets if possible.
Instead, they dealt with and moved illegal goods for enormous profits.
“Well, that doesn’t really matter to me. So I just need to put this in Liam’s meal?”
“The capsule itself will melt, but it’s contents will be undetectable. If you mix it into soup, it’ll just be mistaken for another ingredient.”
“…hehehe, this day will be that guy’s last.”
◇ ◇ ◇
The person sitting opposite to me was the brigadier general of the military police.
Such a guy was taking an impudent attitude, treating me like the criminal responsible for the recent death in the academy.
“Count, I’ve heard that you were quarreling with the Berkley family.”
The brigadier general was choosing his words carefully, despite the fact that I was still only a cadet.
I was that powerful after all.
However, I was innocent, so I wish they’d stop treating me like the culprit already.
“What’s the basis for these accusations? Where’s the evidence that shows that I’m the killer?”
“The dead cadet was a member of the Berkley family.”
“What about it? There’s a lot of people with the Berkley surname. How am I supposed to know which one you’re talking about? Or are you just trying to pick a fight with me?”
In the first place, the fact that some cadet died didn’t interest me at all.
And beyond the interrogation room door–
“You bastard! To actually lock up Lord Liam like this! I’ll kill you! Don’t think you can just imprison my lord with no evidence and get away unscathed!”
–Marie was yelling out in vulgar language.
It seems that the military police had gathered just to hold her down.
“Please calm down!”
“We have permission from the academy for this!”
“We’re only checking his alibi!”
Listening to such words, I turned to the brigadier general in front of me.
“So it’s your personal judgement that’s determined me to be the criminal?”
“Well, no matter how you look at this situation…”
Just because I’ve declared myself hostile to the Berkley family, I’m the murderer?
I hate false charges.
They remind me of being falsely accused of things during my previous life’s divorce.
A new person appeared outside the room.
Apparently it was Tia, who had just become a fourth-year student at the academy.
“You fossil! Lord Liam graciously allowed you to serve at his side, and yet you still allowed him to be confined in a place like this?! As I thought, we don’t need someone as useless as you!”
“You minced-meat bitch!”
I thought she had come to help me, but it looks like she just came here to pick a fight with Marie.
From the noises I could hear coming from beyond the door, they were no doubt brawling it out.
“Y-you two need to stop!”
“Call for reinforcements!”
“Someone get a cadet instructor!”
The military police was in a frenzy, while the brigadier general was holding his face with his right hand as he sighed.
I don’t really care if they fight, but are they not going to help me?
My evaluation of those two was rapidly dropping.
“I’ll smash a fossil like you into pieces!”
“I’ll cut you back down to the chunk of meat you were!”
The door was struck with tremendous momentum, distorting it and cracking the walls.
What the hell were they doing?
Were they not aware of their positions as my head and deputy knights?
I was getting angry.
“If there’s really no evidence, then I’m leaving.”
As I stood up while saying that, the brigadier general tried to stop me.
“I won’t. Try again once you have proof.”
As both the insides and outsides of the interrogation room were growing noisy, a military police officer burst through the door while out of breath.
“Your Excellency! We’ve found evidence!”
“What?! I see, well done! Count, you can’t escape now!”
As the brigadier general tried to arrest me, the military police officer shook his head.
“N-no, you’ve misunderstood. The evidence came from the dead cadet’s room. It seems he’s smuggled in some cursed star poison.”
“…w-what?! Contact headquarters, and evacuate all cadets from the school building immediately!”
Completely forgetting about my arrest, he started to fall into a panic.
Even so, to use cursed star poison… I’ve heard of that before. If I remember correctly, it was something like the concentrated mass of people’s curses and resentment.
It was something that’d definitely kill you if you ingested it.
To be drinking something like that, were the people from the Berkley family idiots?
◇ ◇ ◇
Dying while suffering– there laid the man who tried to assassinate Liam.
The guide– who had come to the room, looked down at the man’s body with a sad expression.
“…the idea of trying to kill him using a curse wasn’t bad.”
If the assassination was successful, the guide would’ve been pleased, if not somewhat unsatisfied.
But the result was a failure.
Detecting the danger beforehand, Kukuri had reversed the situation and had him poisoned instead.
“Well, at least you had a connection to Liam. Everything you felt, all of your suffering and despair will become my power.”
After the guide placed his hand from the man’s face, his expression changed to a peaceful one.
The guide’s connection to Liam was so strong that any negative emotions unrelated to him couldn’t be absorbed efficiently. However, this also meant even the slightest connection dramatically increased the assimilation in turn.
The guide relished the man’s emotions as if he were drinking high-quality wine.
“It’s delicious, your feelings alongside the grudge of an entire planet’s destruction are quite pleasant. You were a fool, and I don’t even know your name, but I promise to use this power you’ve given me to its fullest.”
After regaining his strength, the guide’s mouth twisted into the shape of a crescent moon.
“I’ve regained quite a bit of power. With this, it should only take one– no, two or three more moves to drag Liam down to hell.”
Liam was the first person ever to ever torture him so.
Therefore, the guide resolved himself to never give up on his revenge.
Because of his careless actions so far, he had screwed up multiple times already.
He had regarded Liam as an insignificant existence, and had suffered the consequences of doing so.
“I need to gather his enemies. I’ll plan this out thoroughly, and then he’ll definitely–!”
The guide disappeared from the room in laughter.
◇ ◇ ◇
The imperial palace.
The prime minister could feel his temper rise as he read the report from the military academy.
His subordinates around him were nervous.
“…who approved the handling of cursed star poison’s treatment without authorisation?”
Questioning his subordinates, the prime minister wondered what punishment would be appropriate.
The problem was that the offending party was connected to the Berkley family.
Any normal punishment would bring various troubles.
It was necessary to crush their status first.
“Normally, the execution of their house would be appropriate, but one house is but a small fraction of the Berkley family as a whole.”
Even though they were a collection of barons, together they held the power of a ducal household.
As a gathering of houses, even if they punished one of them, it’d just be like cutting the tail off a lizard.
The Berkley family’s– no, Cashmiro’s neck couldn’t be touched.
How did they prosper so far? Besides the fact that they’re the only stable supplier for elixirs, they had also received much favour from the former Emperor.
They approached his majesty with gifts of elixirs, and in return he covered-up all their illegal deeds.
Before he had even noticed it, they had grown too large, bringing many headaches to the prime minister.
He had to crush the Berkley family for the sake of justice, for they were growing too powerful in the Empire.
They had that much influence.
“I won’t be able to reach Cashmiro’s neck at this rate.”
“Yes. In that case, wouldn’t it be better just to accept his existence and receive the elixirs he offers instead?”
“I’d rather die.”
The prime minister placed many expectations for Liam because he knew that he had the power to overcome this situation.
If the Empire could move, they’d be able to easily solve this problem, but they were too big and couldn’t react quickly enough.
And once they started moving, it’d be difficult to make them stop.
Because it was hard for them to take action, this situation would eventually lead to the Empire’s collapse.
A subordinate gave a report on another matter.
“Minister, because we’ve recently replenished our stock of rare-metals, the military is asking to replace their lost fleets.”
“…what they’re asking for is impossible.”
The Empire wasn’t the only intergalactic country out there.
There were neighboring countries adjacent to them, and even if you said there was quite a distance between them, they still had trades and disputes with them.
Naturally, they had armies stationed on the borders to solidify their defenses.
Sometimes they even invaded and conquered their enemies territories.
But the Empire’s large size only meant that they had more borders they needed to protect. Furthermore, there was always a battle happening somewhere.
Resources were being used faster than they could replenish them.
And rare metals were needed in the all-important engines for the ships.
Substitute metals could also be used, but due to the obvious difference in performance, there were many requests for ships built using rare metals on the front-line.
The army heard that Liam had recently sold a lot of rare metals to the Empire, so naturally, they took this chance to petition for a resupply.
The prime minister looked at the results from the most recent war.
“We’re being pushed on multiple fronts.”
One of his subordinates explained why,
“There are various reasons, but I believe the main one being that resources aren’t being used efficiently. There are cases of patrol fleets being increased to sizes far larger than necessary.”
They were important forces that protected imperial territory, and among them were fleets directly prepared by nobles.
Those cases happened when an aristocrat didn’t want to subordinate themselves to another, immediately becoming the commander of the fleet they arranged after they graduated from the academy.
While others had histories of preparing fleets full of obsolete equipment so they’d be relocated to areas free of strife they could laze about in.
In any case, there was a rise in wastefulness.
Some of them had even deserted to become pirates, turning into a problem that needed to be dealt with quickly– but they didn’t have the budget, the staff, nor the resources needed to do so.
“What a headache. It’ll cost money to reorganise them, but we can’t afford it.”
Their disbandment wouldn’t fix everything, and that was excluding the handling of their equipment in addition to the reassignment of their personnel that happened afterwards.
In the first place, there were multiple patrol fleets that were poorly controlled, where the soldiers weren’t even properly trained.
A fleet that didn’t conduct training regularly quickly lost it’s skill, so reconditioning was absolutely necessary.
The strength of the Empire was enormous, but they weren’t omnipotent.
“Now, what else is there?”
The prime minister was stressed by the problems that endlessly popped up, one after another.
Brian(´；ω；｀) “They’re painful. Our knights are… painful.”
Written by Mishima Yomu/Wai (三嶋 与夢)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com