Gate – Jietai Kare No Chi Nite, Kaku Tatakeri - Volume 2 - Chapter 14
It was already past midnight. Yet Piña was not in bed, but deep in thought in her office.
There was no way she could sleep if the situation continued to deteriorate like this.
She had not yet decided how to deal with her failures or foolishness, so she could not relax. Frustration and worry tore at her heart as she agonized over what she should do next.
The room that Piña used for her office was once the previous Count Formal's study. The furniture was high quality, featuring items like a heavy, polished desk, a comfortable chair, and the room itself was filled with the fragrance of parchment and ink.
Were these all relics of the previous Count? Things like monocles made from insect chitin, quill pens, a bell to summon the maids, all of these were proudly displayed on the desk. There was a thick stack of tax collection reports on one side of the table, as well as records for land management and tax records, and yes, come to think of it, she still had to send for a good man to help manage the Formal estate. All these were problems Piña was thinking of resolving.
She waggled the quill pen, scrawling several bright ideas on the parchment, crossing them out, writing more ideas down and then cancelling them again.
Underlined on the parchment was: ’’Is there a way to avoid breaking the treaty?’’
However, all of Itami's men had escaped.
If they did not get completely wiped out between here and Arnus, they would definitely return to base and make a report. There was no reason for them not to.
If she wanted to stop them from making their report, she would have to catch them or kill them.
Question: if she sent pursuers after them, could she capture them?
With her current battle strength, could she stop these people, who drove off a Flame Dragon?
When she saw how they had abandoned their own leader and run off, they seemed like honorless cowards. But in truth, they clearly had the power to annihilate Piña's knights in seconds, so she had no idea why they would act so weak. What worried Piña was the suspicion that there was some other reason for it. Paranoia began filling her mind as she began wondering what other schemes her hidden enemies might have in mind for her.
She had drawn Bozes' and Panache's faces on the parchment, with ’’stupid’’, ’’moron’’ and other such words beside them. In the end, she gripped the parchment tight and tried to think.
She now knew that there was no way to avoid the treaty violation becoming public knowledge. Time only flowed one way, and the more she thought about it, the more hopeless it seemed.
Yet the Princess grabbed her head and muttered, ’’Don't give up, don't give up’’.
Piña considered something else. She would not stress herself over an impossible question like this. Instead she would consider how to make up for her previous mistakes and reduce the impact on her side.
War was simply a continuation of diplomacy, and diplomacy was like a game of cards. If one wanted to clash with an opponent with strong cards, there were three strategies. Avoid having one's opponent play his strong cards, induce him to waste his strong cards, or gain strong cards of one's own.
However, these strategies were useless if one did not understand one's opponent, since one could not counter what one knew nothing about. All she could do was keep her opponent from gaining even more strong cards.
We have two strikes against us. First, we guaranteed the free movement of the Jayesdeef, but we attacked them. Second, we captured Itami, and we did not treat him hyu-main-ly.
For the first, like Aldo said, a good idea would be to apologize as quickly as possible. No, that might actually be the best move we could make in that case.
For the second, the Jayesdeef preaches hyu-many-tearian treatment of their opponents, and they might even be considered the ’’good guys’’, for a given value of ’’good’’. If we honestly explain that it was a communications error, they might treat us kindly. In the best case, we might not lose anything at all.
However, apologies and atonement would be giving the other side a valuable opening to exploit. For example, the idea that they might ask for compensation or other things was the source of Piña's worries and unease. There would be no way they could refuse any demands made by the JSDF who had such overwhelming fighting power and destructive ability.
Piña was willing to negotiate with the JSDF because she had seen their power with her own eyes.
However, Piña's authority limited her to being an intermediary. Could the Empire's diplomats understand the terror of these opponents? Would the Emperor and his advisors understand?
Piña was beginning to discover that right now, she alone in the whole Empire knew what they were up against.
In the past, Piña believed that the Empire's hard-line, imperialistic negotiation policy, paired with the threat of their military power, was a reliable strategy. The young diplomats would skilfully debate their counterparts and produce a long list of demands the enemy could not refuse, and in the end they would force the enemy to bend the knee. These scenes had filled her heart with joy.
But if they tried these tactics on the Jayesdeef...
’’My stomach hurts again...’’
Piña took out a new sheet of parchment and began a report to her father, Emperor Molt. She wrote that the enemy possessed unprecedented power and fearsome fighting ability, and described everything that she had seen and heard about them. However, halfway through, Piña could not continue writing, and in the end she ended up scratching random lines through the report, even breaking her quill's nib in the process.
’’Who would take this fairytale seriously? Not even an idiot would believe it!’’
After all, even she could hardly believe what she was writing.
She would worry about the report later. For now, she just wanted to discuss their plans for the future with Hamilton.
’’To begin with, we need to decide how to deal with Itami.’’
Currently, Itami was sleeping within this manor.
If he's willing to play dumb and keep quiet, we can cut our losses. No, if it works, we might end up having an ace in the hole instead.
The question then was how to persuade Itami to shut up. What could they bribe him with? Or perhaps they could use the fact that he was a man to seduce him? Or perhaps, both at once?
But then, there was another question who would she charge with that task?
Of course, she had considered handling that part herself. However, Itami was merely a minor commander of about ten men. Even if he led a special forces unit, in the Empire he would be a centurion at best. A lowly commander like him was certainly not worth her body. The gift of an Imperial Princess would be reserved for a higher-ranked person.
Then, who should go?
Hamilton might be suitable for the task. She had experience with men, and should be skilled with them. However, she was an important consultant for Piña, and if the needed time for interaction dragged on too long, it would be too late to regret her choice. So Hamilton was out.
As she thought further, the names of Bozes and Panache appeared in her mind.
Since they had created this mess in the first place, it was only fitting that they take care of it.
More to the point, the two of them were very suited to this sort of work. As for why that was the case, it was obviously because of their looks. Bozes' hair looked like it had been spun from pure gold, and she was a highborn daughter of Marquis Palesti.
Panache was the daughter of Baron Kalgi, and though she was not of higher social rank than Bozes, she had fearsome eyes, and the combination of her presence and looks was unbeatable. If she used the two of them as a honeytrap, no man on earth should be able to resist them.
Although it was a waste to use them on a small fry like Itami, when she considered the severity of the situation, a lineup like this was necessary.
Piña decided not to worry about the final question whether the two of them had the necessary personality for such a task. She had already decided it was a perfect plan and was determined to carry it out. In any case, deciding to give the necessary orders made her feel a little safer.
And so, Piña rang the bell on the desk.
To calm herself, she sipped some of the fragrant tea. In that moment, the candles flickered in a small breeze.
A maid suddenly appeared from somewhere outside of Piña's field of vision, lifting her skirt with both hands in order to curtsy with a slight flexing of her knees. Piña accepted the gesture of respect with a regal nod.
’’Your Excellency, what do you wish of this one?’’
’’Mm, go bring Bozes and Panache over.’’
’’But they are sleeping, milady.’’
’’Never mind. Wake them up.
’’Then I will go now.’’
The maid left the study with those words, and Piña rose from her seat. While she waited for them to show up, she tidied up the desk. In particular, she tore up the piece of parchment which contained less than flattering remarks about Panache and Bozes.
Springtime had finally arrived for Kurata.
A high elf girl, a quiet, expressionless magical girl, and a mature dark priestess onee-san in a Loli's body... why is it all the girls we've met in the Special Region are Itami's type? GM, I want to reroll this dungeon! All the grumbling and grudges he had been holding in his heart until now were dispersed in a single moment.
After all, the kind of girl he liked had finally showed up. No matter how one looked at it, Kurata was having trouble completely suppressing the excitement in his heart no, he had a goofy grin plastered all over his face. However, he was afraid that giving in to his desires and pushing people down might lead to terrible consequences, so he forced himself to keep quiet.
In particular, it was Persia, the cat-eared glasses-wearing maid, who captured his attention.
She was not a cute little Loli catgirl, but more like an onee-san type panther or lioness.
She wore pince-nez glasses, but even they and her two feline eyes could not hide the cool image she gave off, and there was a special kind of feeling about her mature, sensual proportions which looked like they could barely fit into her maid uniform.
And unlike in the Akihabara maid cafes or pachinko parlors, she was different from the usual exhibitionist cosplay attendants. She did not wear one of those heretical maid outfits which lewdly displayed her body, but a proper set of work clothes. These tightly-fitted orthodox maid clothes dripped with the true essence of maidness.
As he watched his ideal catgirl maid take care of Itami, Kurata could not help but grumble, ’’Ahhhh, I'm so damn jealous, you lucky bastard, hurry up and introduce me to her or I'll put a cap in your ass! (It should be noted that shooting one's allies in their buttocks is not recommended.)’’
Itami grinned as he heard Kurata, and decided to throw him a bone. ’’Hey, Kurata, this young lady here is Persia-san. Persia-san, this is my subordinate, Kurata. I hope you'll get along.’’
That introduction was a starter's pistol for Kurata, and he immediately ran his mouth off.
’’M-my name is Kurata Takeo! Pleased to meet you!’’ followed by his nervous salute. However, his antics earned a curious ’’Nya?’’ from her, followed by a smile.
This was the first time Persia had seen a male expressing such pure admiration for her.
As a female Cat-person, Persia was proud of her looks. She was not an adorable kitty cat, but more like a mature leopardess, and she embraced her feminine nature as a source of appeal. In the past, there had been many men who looked at her with lewd eyes filled with desire, and just as many men who sensed her bestial nature and backed away in fear.
However, Kurata was different from them.
A female author once wrote, ’’Cats and women have an instinct for whether men have good intentions about them.’’ Persia, being a feline and a female at the same time, perfectly illustrated this point, and naturally, she could sense Kurata's true feelings.
Granted, his intentions were not entirely pure, but this was the first time she had ever encountered intense feelings like his which burned like a bonfire, and it moved her. And so, the two of them hit it off pretty well, and there was good chemistry brewing between them.
Much like Kurata and Persia were doing, the other maids of House Formal were getting along well with the JSDF troopers.
Though this was in the middle of the night, Formal Manor was still a noble home. Visitors to a noble home had to be entertained, therefore the maids brought out tea and light snacks for their uninvited guests. While the JSDF troopers were technically intruders, it hardly seemed that way from how they were chatting with the maids.
The martially-inclined Kuribayashi seemed to have found a kindred spirit in Mamina, the Warrior Bunny. Much like how the protagonists of manly action movies had a mutual admiration for each other, Mamina had seen Kuribayashi's moves during the previous night's battle and she admired her for them.
Lelei, on the other hand, was interested in Aurea the Medusa, so she drew close to carefully inspect her, even going so far as to touch the writhing tentacle-like strands of Aurea's snake-hair. Lelei gasped in awe. Throughout history, Medusas were persecuted by humanity because of their unfortunate habits, and they were an endangered species in this world. This was the first time Lelei had ever encountered a Medusa outside of her history books.
Rory, on the other hand, was stuck dealing with the chief maid, who was a faithful follower of Emroy. Rory felt that she couldn't just brush the chief maid off after seeing her earnest response, so she had to explain Emroy's message to her.
Mome the human maid was glued to Tuka, pestering her with questions about the jeans and the trendy T-shirt she was wearing, asking things like where she could buy them and so on. Tuka could only answer within her knowledge, which was largely limited to how it felt and so on. The maids were awed and rendered speechless by the stretchy, yet comfortable material. Tuka smiled bitterly and commented that wearing clothes like these which showed off her body made her a little uncomfortable at times.
On his part, Itami briefed Tomita and Katsumoto about the current situation before discussing their future plans. After they realised that the situation was not critical, they concluded that there was no need to force an escape.
At this point in time, Bozes, under Piña's secret orders, had arrived at Itami's door, with a pained expression on her face. However, nobody heard her knocking.
Because Bozes was nervous, her knocking could be more accurately compared to gently caressing the door.
She waited dumbly in the dark corridor for some kind of reaction.
She continued waiting, in front of the silent, unresponsive door.
As she waited, she began to get worried about a passer-by spotting her, so she looked left and right, before taking a deep breath and exhaling to relieve her tension. Even then, she still could not gather up the courage to open the door.
’’You will seduce Itami.’’ To Bozes, that order might as well have been a death sentence.
As a noble daughter, she had long been prepared for the eventuality that someday, she would be married off to benefit her family or for political reasons.
She was familiar with the idea that as a noble daughter, she might be called on to welcome guests and ensnare them with her body.
She was also very clear about how countless heiresses throughout the Empire had to marry people who were completely unlike the knights in shining armor that they dreamed of. No matter how luxuriously they lived after that, it was just a pretty way of describing a form of transaction. In truth, since there were people who had to starve and freeze in this world, this could be considered the purpose, or perhaps, their duty, for those who could fill their bellies and dress well.
But the most insulting thing was that she was going to have to give herself to Itami.
In her dreams, Bozes imagined that she would greet a duke, who was also a young officer of an enemy nation while dressed in an elegant sarong, and enjoy an exciting, intellectual debate with him for the pleasure of verbally fencing with an equal.
Armed with her greatest weapons (her jewels), clad in her strongest armor (her dress) and wreathed in fragrant perfume, she would play love games with him.
She would tempt him with her luscious body and dull his mind with her scent, her every movement saying ’’Do you want me? Do you want to have me? I can give my body to you, but if you want it, you're going to have to give yourself to me...’’ and so on, teasing him and drawing him out until her partner surrendered completely to her, and then they would make sweet love to each other on a bed of roses.
But her dreams were just dreams, and the reality was that Itami's bed would be her battlefield. They would not bond over the clash of blades, they would not even be able to develop feelings for each other, and she had already berated him with her tongue before stepping on and kicking him. She had gone into shock when she learned the truth.
And if this was a battle, then it was no longer on even terms. After all, her body was practically exposed to him already. She had applied a thick layer of powder to cover up the cut on her forehead, garbed herself in a revealing nightgown that she had gotten from somewhere and her hair was a mess of drills. In this tragic state, she was little more than the hourly discount at a brothel's going-out-of-business sale.
Be it physically or emotionally, she was already defeated. What kind of face would she greet Itami with? Maybe, after she entered the room, she should beg him for forgiveness and offer her body to him as a token of her sincerity.
Men were not creatures who would honor a plea like ’’Could you be gentle?’’ after you got into bed with them. If she did not manage to at least secure his kindness as a promise before she gave herself to him, it was not likely that he would listen to her once he was having his way with her. Then, what was she selling herself in such haste for?
She guessed that the task of actually bringing down Itami the boss character would be left to Panache, who would be coming after her. Bozes was nothing more than an appetizer to apologize and beg his forgiveness, sacrificing herself to cancel out the terrible mistake she had made. Like a washcloth used to wipe away stains, whether it was fine silk or tatty rags, she would be used and promptly discarded.
As she thought about this, her heart ached so much that she wanted to cry. But she could not cry, not now. If she cried, her eyes would go red and swell up, and it would ruin her looks, which were to be her weapon. Of course, there were men in this world who liked to see women cry, but she would have to wait until she was before him before crying her beautiful tears. And so, the moisture brimming in the corner of her eyes remained locked up there and did not course down her cheeks.
The hallway was silent, and behind this large set of double doors was the bedroom. There was another intervening door within the bedroom. The designers' intent had been to make sure that noise from the corridor did not disturb anyone within.
And so, Bozes finally gathered enough courage to open the door, and she walked toward the separating door in the deepest reaches of the guest room, the one that had loomed large in her mind for a while, intending to go to where Itami was.
Bozes entered silently and approached the bedroom. Her plan was to silence Itami with the sensual pleasures of her body before his sense of foreboding woke him up.
However, as she opened the innermost door, what greeted her was a cheery, lively atmosphere.
The room was brightly lit with candles, and the maids were chatting and having tea with the soldiers from another world.
Worse, nobody seemed to have noticed Bozes' presence.
She was ignored.
She was overlooked.
She was about as substantial to them as air.
I worked so hard to gather my resolve, and this is how you treat me?
How dare you ignore me, Bozes, the second daughter of House Palesti?
What huge brass balls you have.
Are you mocking me for being a rag that you throw away after filling me with your seed?
Of course, she did not actually say that, but her rapidly-growing hysteria filled in the blanks for her. As a woman, she could not tolerate the insult of being overlooked.
The only way to vent the anger building within her was with the work of her two hands.
Although it is hardly professional to describe the following events with manga-style sound effects, I hope you readers will forgive me for writing them in this way. Right after that, she did the following:
In addition to the black right eye from yesterday, now there was a bright red palmprint on the left side of his face. In addition, it looked like some kind of five-clawed cat had scratched him on both cheeks. Truly, the victim's face was a picture of tragedy.
’’That... what on earth happened?’’
After a huge disturbance in the middle of the night that had nearly flipped the roof off the house, the JSDF members now stood before Piña, along with Bozes, who had been dragged before her, as well as the manor's maids.
The Imperial Princess Piña Co Lada now felt like she had swallowed a burning stone, given the scorching pain in her abdomen, and then asked for an explanation why there were more injuries on Itami's face. She was scared stiff, of course, but given her circumstances, she had to ask.
’’Who else could there be but her ~nya?’’
’’Ara, but everyone knows that already, right, Miss Persia?’’
After Kurata followed up on her words, Persia led the maids aside.
’’The bruise on the right eye was already there, it had nothing to do with this time.’’
After their testimonial, Rory, Lelei and Tuka stepped away from the group.
The only one left was Bozes, her hands pressed behind her back by Kurata and Kuribayashi.
Bozes lowered her head. ’’It, it was me’’, she said, in a voice as loud as a mosquito's buzzing.
Piña's sigh was deeper than usual, so much so that everyone in the hall could hear it.
It wasn't just her stomach which hurt. Piña grabbed her head, which felt like it was going to explode.
’’How am I going to take care of this...?’’
’’Well, about that, we just came to take the Lieutenant back. We'll let you guys handle the rest as you please. We're moving out at dawn.’’
Tomita said that in order to wash his hands of any messy responsibility. He had no idea what was going through Piña's head. To him, all he had seen was a girl he liked beating up Itami.
But the way Tomita said it, ’’Do as you please’’, sounded like an ultimatum to Piña.
And when Lelei translated it, her flat, emotionless tone made it seem even more like a threat.
’’That... that is quite troubling...’’
Piña could not just let 3rd Recon go like that, so she was looking for ways and means to keep them here, like saying ’’How about breakfast with us’’, ’’Please accept our hospitality’’, and so on.
Kurata stood aside and explained in an apologetic tone, ’’In truth, Lieutenant Itami's been summoned to address the National Diet, so he has to get back to his country by today.’’
Lelei's translation used a slightly different word, and thus the meaning changed.
’’Lieutenant Itami has been summoned by the Nihon Senate and must return by today.’’
When Piña heard this, she had a look on her face much like Edvard Munch's ’’The Scream’’.
In the Empire, only individuals with super-elite bloodlines and careers were granted the honour of stepping into the Senate Chamber. A highly-placed person would have a chance to steer the ship of state and become a leader of men. Even if one were a low-ranked officer, they would be permitted to brief the senators on the progress of the war, and they might even have a chance to directly address the Emperor himself.
And once Piña learned Itami had been called to speak before their Senate, she immediately mistook him to be part of Japan's elite and an important man in his country.
To think we upset such an important person... if this gets worse, the Empire is doomed, I have to think of something quickly...
At that moment, Piña instantly made a decision.
She clenched her fists and rose forcefully to express her determination.
’’Then, I pray you will allow me to travel with you!’’