Ten days after the ending ceremony of the Lotus Cup.
After his lessons with Minerva at the Duke’s residency, he decided to stop by at the guards’ office for a while together with Moore.
「Welcome, though this office is just a shabby storeroom. 」
While having a bitter smile, Moore handed over a cup with water to Ardis.
「How unlike you to be humble like that. 」
「I mean, it would be pretentious of me to not be humble against a respected figure that has the titles of 『Sword Magic User』, 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』, and now even 『Lotus Cup Champion』. 」
「No matter how many titles you add on, I’m just a lowly mercenary. In terms of social ranking, aren’t you as a guard captain of the duke’s house better? 」
「Say that after trying to hide your teasing smile. 」
Ardis and Moore were lightly joking around. Although they haven’t known each other for long, they were still close enough to easily joke around with an easy-going atmosphere between them.
「Well, take a seat. You don’t have anything else to do while waiting Ojou-sama to release Rona right? 」
Offering a seat to Ardis on the long bench, Moore as well took a seat.
「It’s commonplace for Ojou-sama to dote on Rona these days……. Waiting for him every time is probably annoying for you but, Rona himself must be really happy. 」
「But Rona that guy, …………he’s getting fatter recently. 」
「Ah―……, that……. I mean, it’s natural after eating that many sweets. 」
Moore had an awkward response hearing Ardis’s spurt of the moment of complaining at Rona’s unbecoming.
As an awkward atmosphere started to form in the office, Moore thought to change the topic to the Lotus Cup.
「By the way, did you hear about Marquis Holguin? 」
「Yeah, the gist of it. The crown prince was not happy or something. 」
「He did too much after all. Even if it was for the sake of saving his face, his interference in the semifinals and finals was overboard. 」
Moore continued to have a bitter smile.
「And apparently the mana-sealing armband in the finals was tampered with too? 」
「Rather than tampering, my opponent was something that looked like it but totally different. The one that I wore had the right mana-sealing effect. But he had multiple buffs from magic when I had to fight with none. 」
As he heard about that part of the story for the first time, Moore’s expression distorted.
「You, is that even something winnable……」
「I had a tough one thanks to that though. 」
「It didn’t look like that from my side. In any case, the army’s reputation is in the dirt now. Thanks to a certain magician somewhere defeating all their elites. So was it all according to your aim? 」
Ardis didn’t answer but had a smile. Oh how scary, as Moore muttered before narrating what happened with the Marquis after the incident.
「Because of his misconduct, the Marquis was force to bear all the responsibility. Apparently there was an order to the Marquis to surrender his territory to his heir and be under house arrest, and all of his political power is also nulled. As for his heir…… I think he’s twenty-two this year? He’s still young and, the successions must’ve been out of the blue as well, so he must not be prepared for it yet. I think they will be occupied with fortifying their foothold for now, even if they do manage to stabilize, their power would’ve dropped a lot. 」
The Marquis house suffered great damage from the scandal this time. Of course their trust in the army was ruined, and their authority had considerably dropped as well.
At the very least, there’s no mistake that the Marquis’s daughter would no longer be a candidate queen for the crown prince.
Regardless, it’s not like Minerva would be reconsidered as a candidate again, and the person herself isn’t hoping for that either, so Ardis didn’t care much regarding that.
「You’re not satisfied with that much? 」
「No way. 」
Ardis denied Moore’s words of attempting to read his mind. They’re not like demonic beings that Ardis can dispose of just by his sword. On the surface, Marquis Holguin’s crime was made to be 『Overly interfering with the judging process of the Lotus Cup』.
The assassination attempts on Ardis and Minerva and even the matter regarding the mana-sealing armband in the finals weren’t disclosed to the public, and probably wouldn’t ever be told.
Although being punished to step down as the Marquis just for the Lotus Cup might seem overboard but, it’s likely what the crown prince and the upper echelons of the Kingdom had decided after taking account of his other misdoings that are not publicly disclosed.
Or maybe Duke Nyrestia had pulled some strings too.
「Rather, it was too much. 」
It was Ardis’s thoughts on his punishment. With Ardis’s strength, it’s possible for him to take revenge directly on the Marquis too. If Minerva were to lose her life, Ardis himself would’ve stepped forward no matter what the Duke or Moore would’ve said.
But it’s not like Ardis likes to antagonize a country or its royalty. If they’re willing to punish the Marquis rightfully, then Ardis has no reason to go against the law.
「There’s the matter with Ojou-sama as well, I don’t think His Excellency would stay quiet just yet. 」
Moore spoke of the predicted future sensing what Ardis was thinking. Duke Nyrestia would probably mercilessly trample on the successor of Marquis Holguin now that their house has lost most of their foundation.
A nobles’ fight should be kept between the nobles.
「Those things are better left with the Duke, his anger is justified, he has rights to exact his revenge. 」
Although if his successor didn’t have any relation with the assassination attempt on Minerva, it might seem unjustified for him to be bearing the brunt of it.
However, him succeeding Marquis Holguin would mean that he must resolve himself for the responsibilities as well.
「But either way, nobles, or rather the royalty are terrifying. 」
Moore shrugged while saying.
「The Lotus Cup’s real organizer is the Marquis Holguin house right? But suddenly, it became something the crown prince owns. 」
From Moore’s story, all organizing party for the Lotus Cup were apparently punished and the rights to organize Lotus Cup falls to the crown prince now, meaning the future Lotus Cup will be hosted under the crown prince name.
Ardis seemed convinced as he recalled something. There was the 『Advisor』 that suddenly took charge of the finals and announced the result. The man made the fact of 『By the name of the crown prince, His Highness』 clear during his announcement as well.
Although it didn’t seem significant at the time, it was most likely the proclamation of the crown prince taking charge.
That proclamation easily cleared all the audience’s irritation. And by kicking out the original organizing party, the crown prince party was seen in a good light.
In other words, the old organizers, the army and Marquis Holguin suffered greatly, while the crown prince benefited from it. On top of that, now that future Lotus Cups are organized by the crown prince, his authority in the army would increase as well.
While shaving off the power of another noble, the crown prince had skillfully manipulated it to increase his own. The crown prince had taken advantage of the chance that Ardis made.
「So I was used like a pawn huh. 」
「Is it irritating? 」
「Not really. Our purpose is different, and if the crown prince doesn’t do anything extra, there’s nothing I would say. 」
「That’s reassuring to hear. 」
「What? Did you think I would make a move on the crown prince for just using me? 」
「I mean, you would probably beat them down even if they’re royalty. 」
「Don’t be stupid. They aren’t like demonic beings. Just killing them would make it more cumbersome. It’s better to stay far away from any political figures. 」
「But you seem to be fine around Ojou-sama though? 」
「It’s not like Minerva is a political figure right? 」
「There’s a chance she might be so in the future though? At the very least, becoming a wife of someone like that…… is not entirely impossible. 」
Moore’s voice died down at the end.
A year after the assassination attempt, Minerva who didn’t show herself under the pretense of recuperation. Though no one would know that rather than recuperation, they were all transported into another world.
In any case, the fact is that the rumors of her being scarred by the assassination was spread, and that had certainly affected her marriage prospects.
However, despite the rumors, she’s still a daughter of a duke, there’s probably no chance she would be marrying into a house of lower peerage.
Regarding the dent in Minerva’s marriage prospects, Ardis can be said totally unrelated. Rather, if Ardis weren’t around during the attack, then it’s likely that she wouldn’t have returned from the other world.
Despite so, Ardis still felt a little painful knowing that. Now that he had known her for a while, Ardis couldn’t easily treat it as someone else’s problems.
A few days later, the reason why he couldn’t flatly refuse Minerva’s request was probably because of that too.