Dolls

Chapter 43 – Demon Queen

 

I got a bad feeling when the Earl started talking about the Physio Logos on his digression. His theory is wild. Reproducing what happened over 600 years ago? With both the emperor and dad working together? I’m unsure about what to think of all this.

(I dunno… Don’t you think that your theory is undermining the influence of that rotten sage a bit too much? You barely even mentioned him on the whole thing.) Weiss commented.

His point made sense. It’s unlikely that Asklasua, who messed with the fate of so many people, would have such a small impact on the current state of affairs.

However, Phillka interjected, (I think it’s the opposite, Weiss. Aren’t we being too conscious of the Sage? Isn’t that what is creating the Physio Logos?

(That’s not to say I agree with the Earl’s theory in its entirety though. If things were the same as they happened 600 years ago, the whole plan would have been made by the emperor.

(But why would an 80 years old man, who spent his entire life as a puppet of the aristocracy, suddenly decide on a revolution? Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to pass the title on to the next generation without incident?)

It wasn’t the Earl who answered Phillka’s question, it was Kajero, (What if the person who is going to become the next emperor is the culprit? He could be preparing the groundwork now, so as to eliminate the corrupt aristocracy as soon as he gets the throne.)

This was a surprising development. I thought everyone would deny the Earl’s theory, but instead, we’re actually having some healthy discussion.

I suppose it’s because the Earl’s theory tried to minimize the influence of Asklasua. I’m sure all of us, me included, were thinking about how everything had to be the Sage’s fault, so we were stuck and having a hard time figuring out what to do.

But when we started thinking of things from a different perspective, we were able to move the discussion forward…

–Indeed, if you were to push the blame of everything on me, then you will be unable to see the truth in front of your eyes.

I could see the Sage shrugging his shoulders in my mind. The image was incredibly clear, and his voice echoed on my head too…

Am I too tired? Or did the Sage maybe leave something like an alter ego of himself on me? I should ask Kajero to look at my inner world later, just in case.

There’s something that needs to be done first though.

(Earl, if Solute truly wanted a revolution, wouldn’t it be natural to ask Altirea for help?) Phillka asked him.

(His pride as a father might not have allowed him to.) The Earl replied.

(What about Cactus? He had a wife and a child. Could they too have become dolls? This would alter the way Cactus makes his decisions without a doubt.) Weiss asked.

(As far as I know, they did not become dolls.

(However, it’s not impossible that Cactus, who is also a parent, might have understood Solute’s feelings and decided to aid him in his plans.) Kajero replied.

While I listened to everyone’s discussions, I started to solidify my own conclusions. I didn’t say anything yet, for I am the lord of everyone here, except Phillka. My words would surely turn the tide of the conversation, so I preferred to hear what they had to say instead of intervening.

But now, I believe it is time for me to make a statement. We have already talked plenty and theorized what we could, but we don’t have a way of arriving at the truth right now. We have too little information.

If we want to know everything, it’s best to catch the people involved and let Weiss read their memories. And that might be the best course of action right now… The power of the dolls is enormous, so we shouldn’t worry about what is possible or impossible, and instead worry about how to execute our plans, so as to reach our goals.

And this is what I have been thinking about. There may be some holes in my plan, but with everyone working together, we should be able to fill them.

So, we’ve had enough discussion. Let’s end the theorizing now, and start moving forward… With those thoughts in mind, I threw my gaze to Kajero.

(Well, I think I have already given my opinion on everything I could reply to.) Kajero, who understood my intention, said.

(Even my great wiseness isn’t limitless.) Weiss commented.

(Me too. It’s been a while since the genius me had such a heated discussion. I feel a bit dizzy.) Phillka said.

(I’ll share a secret Elixir that I obtained at the south with you later then, Phillka.

(But for now, princess, please give us your sacred decision.) The Earl stated.

Seems like everyone understood what Kajero was getting at. They sure are good at reading one another, aren’t they?

Then, it’s my turn now. I took a deep breath and said, (Then, please listen.)

***

[Kajero’s PoV]

At this moment, a strange unease feeling took over me.

No. It wasn’t just now. This feeling of incongruity has been around for a while… Ever since my very precious young lady woke up after defeating the Sage in the spiritual world.

It’s a vague feeling, but… It’s as if her age-appropriate-girlishness has disappeared.

Sure, there were times where she acted too mature for her young appearance before, but recently, it seems like this overwhelmingly mature part of her is the only one standing out.

Even though she lost the puppet magic that has supported her up until now, she is not upset, she moves naturally as if it was not an issue.

And then, there is this incident… How is she so calm when her father has been accused of treason? How can she so calmly accept the fact and start thinking of what to do in the future?

I’d be glad if this meant that, with our help, she has grown up, but… Right now, it feels as if a reflection of Altirea is moving in a direction that she herself doesn’t want to.

(Then, please Listen) As our liege said that, everyone went silent and waited, (Figuz, thank you for your hard work. You stayed quite a while in the empire, so I’ll fix your frayed spots later.

(Earl, thank you for your detailed explanation. The knowledge you have acquired over a thousand years was truly helpful.

(Kajero, Weiss, Phillka. Thank you for all the help during the discussion. This decision was only made possible due to everyone’s feedback.)

We were fascinated by her. We couldn’t take our eyes off her. Her pure white skin felt too pure for a human. She had the dignity of a statue.

Am I serving someone who is so transcendental, that she sways eternity itself? Her very appearance felt almost illusory.

She continued, (First things first, while the Earl’s theory is a good starting point, there are a lot of uncertainties with it.

(However, it is a very attractive ‘story’, so to speak. I believe we can work with it, but with a few modifications. Something like…

–An old emperor near his deathbed decides to wipe out the corrupt aristocracy, for the sake of the next generation.

–The loyal retainer, Solute Wisp, understood his majesty’s wishes and was willing to suffer the stigma of a rebel for his sake.

–And the aristocracy, who knows nothing, foolishly bicker back and forth.

(Don’t you think this would make for an interesting play? That it would be a wonderful ‘truth’ that we could tell?)

Altirea had a slight smile on her mouth. Her expression was sharp and beautiful, but at the same time… It felt like she was holding an executioner’s sickle. It was too sinister.

A breathtaking sight… With a vision of the Sage right behind it.

(Earl, I’ll order you. Please go to the empire’s capital and disseminate the ‘truth’.) She told him.

(As my princess desires.) The Earl kneeled in front of her, his expression filled with joy. Perhaps because he can see an overlap between her and princess Rastiyu, who was well known for her cuteness and decisiveness.

She then continued, (I’ll go to the empire’s capital with the dolls at the right time.

–The duke’s daughter will come to prove her father’s innocence and cleanse the corruption of the empire.

(Can you advertise this? It’s consistent with the rumors that you originally spread, so it shouldn’t be hard for people to believe it.

(Figuz can give you a map of the empire’s capital and its surroundings.

(And Kajero, I’ll ask you to prepare a strategy to control the empire’s capital. We want to detain both the royal family and the aristocracy, so please find a way to do it without them suspecting us, alright?)

Altirea’s words contained a mysterious and irresistible pressure. With her puppet magic, she could bend the will of the spirits, but… She has used it countless times, and the feeling was completely different than what I was feeling now. Moreover, she should have lost her puppet magic, so… What is this?

(Kajero?) She asked me.

The Mystic-Eyed Doll Princess frowned slightly. It seemed like the temperature of the room dropped sharply, as if everything was about to freeze.

(Understood, young lady.) I bowed with awkward movements. As if I was being manipulated by a thread… I just couldn’t help it. It was the first time I felt such awe.

… Or was it? I felt like something similar happened once in the past. Some vague memory from the time before I became a spirit.

While I tried to dig up these memories, the conversation kept on moving.

Altirea said, (Weiss, you’ll be doing a lot of work, so be prepared. You’ll not only be my escort, but you’ll also have to check the memories of the people involved.

(As for Phillka, I heard you found a way to erase memories?)

(I’m afraid I haven’t gotten to the point where I can erase someone else’s memories.) Phillka replied.

(I’ll give you as many materials as you need, so can you advance your research immediately?) Altirea asked him.

(It will be done before Altirea reaches the empire. I swear in the name of me, who is a genius.) Phillka then, kneeled too… She got even Phillka, who is neither a follower nor a vassal, to kneel.

Altirea continued, (I’ll also bring Feria with me. I made a promise that I’d bring her with me, and in this situation where doll magic cannot be used, I want as much strength as possible.

(Figuz, you’ll remain in Malgaroid for intelligence work. Please crush any information that is disadvantageous to us as soon as you find it. Don’t let it spread.

(This is actually the most important job of all. I’ll come back to Malgaroid once everything is done, as I don’t want to be incorporated into the new government.

(I’ll run away by saying that I wanted to recreate the story of 600 years ago, so the imperial family should now do their best to take care of everything.

(Then, while being praised as a heroine who saved this country, I’ll quietly live while making cat dolls.)

Is there anyone other than me who is holding some doubts over the current Altirea? With the way things are going, it wouldn’t be strange if she just destroyed the Stable dynasty and became the empress herself…

Altirea then said, (I don’t know who is plotting what, but I don’t care anymore. All we have to do is paint it my color. We’ll tailor reality to fit the Earl’s theory.

–Does anyone disagree?)

Nobody was against it. Altirea’s words reverberated as if they were spoken by an oracle.

It feels like the ancient story of a demon queen. The ultimate point of a creature called ‘human’, who tried to change the world to what it wished, by using a strong will.

I may be witnessing its birth right now.

***

[Sage’s PoV]

You look amazing. Truly wonderful. I truly regret that my body is asleep… Or perhaps I should be happy that I could remain as a souvenir.

Tired of being swayed by the situation, she now tries to turn to the side that creates the situation. She is proceeding to pave the way for herself.

Isn’t it the nostalgic return of the Demon Queen Altirea? This result is probably only possible due to the separation between the original Altirea and ‘she’ though. As ‘she’ is now on the foreground.

Superimposing. Superimposing.

Let’s speed up this plan to allow our exchange. The method is cliched, but please enjoy it.

After all, it is reasonable for a dragon that has risen to the heavens, then fallen to the ground, to become a snake… Now, will it take off and fly again, or will it keep on crawling?

I’ll look forward to the future, while staring at the Demon Queen from its very depths.

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