So this is kind of cruel of Minorou: The next 3 chapters are all… not quite side chapters, but definitely not a continuation of this chapter. They’re all pretty long, too… what happened to all the reasonable-length chapters from before ;_;
Chapter 18 – The Eve of War
Papaldia Empire, imperial capital Esthirant, 1st foreign affairs department
A lot of information was gathered on Japan after Department Head Elto’s gave the orders.
First, they concluded that the Gra Valkas Empire was uninvolved. The country that drove away the oversight army flew a white flag with a red circle, which more or less confirmed that Japan was the culprit. It was still unclear why the oversight army’s wyvern lord squadron didn’t return, though.
They knew that the enemy ship only had one cannon, but they didn’t know why; maybe it was because it had such high accuracy? Still, they didn’t think it could overcome the pure brute force of a 100-gun ship-of-the-line. It seemed clear that single ship was very advanced, but was that enough to cause such a devastating rout? They just couldn’t believe it was possible.
There was the extreme case of the Gra Valkas magic ship, the Grade Atlastar, taking down Leiforia all by itself, but they were certain that there was some mistake in the intelligence; that information had to have been exaggerated to some degree. However, it was still true that Gra Valkas had the power to defeat Leifor, so they would have to be careful with them in the future.
In Admiral Poquetoire’s report, he described a cannon that fired 100 times and hit 100 times. They asked a military research group about this and were told “Even if we had another hundred years, it would be impossible for us to achieve that.” So, they concluded that it was unrealistic for a country outside the civilized areas to be more than 100 years more advanced than the empire. There was also Varhal’s fantastical report about the war between Rowlia and Japan, but when he returned he was diagnosed with a mental illness, so everyone agreed that his report was not trustworthy.
They gathered some interesting information about Japan from countries in the Third Civilization’s sphere of influence. Apparently, Japan only spends about 1% of its wealth on armaments. Knowing that, even if they had some equipment that was superior, they would quickly fall behind another strong country in the long term.
The 1st foreign affairs department thus came to two conclusions: first, while Japan should not be underestimated, at the same time they should not be feared; and second, they should attack them soon, before they have time to accrue more armaments.
Papaldia Empire, imperial capital Esthirant, imperial palace
The empire’s statesmen lay prostrated on the floor, the air in the room strained. The most important meeting in the country, with Emperor Ludius in attendance, was about to begin.
“The Emperor’s Assembly shall now commence,” declared the chairman.
“Are we in control of Altarus?” the emperor suddenly asked the army’s Supreme Commander Arde.
“Yes, the Kingdom of Altarus has been completely subdued. The main army is currently preparing to withdraw.”
“What should we have them do now… 2nd foreign affairs department head Rius, do you have any suggestions?”
“Yes sir! They could head north to eradicate some barbarians and acquire new resources—”
“Rejected,” the emperor interrupted to dismiss the idea.
“Y… I understand, sir!!!
“We… are upset,” the emperor articulated slowly.
No one else dared to speak.
“Our oversight army was repulsed by a conceited barbarian country to the east…”
“We believe it was… Japan? Hmph… send them to destroy the Kingdom of Fenn, who has good relations with Japan. They have always been quite brazen. Show the other countries what happens to someone who takes Japan as an ally. Geographically, Fenn is closer to us, so it would not be profitable to attack Japan first… Are there any objections?”
There were none. Emperor Ludius turned to face the Supreme Commander.
“Is this acceptable, Arde?”
“Of course, Your Grace.”
“This Japan who pushed back our oversight army may make an appearance as well.”
“We’ll simply destroy them as well. Though they are a weak army with old equipment, they still belong to the glorious empire, so to lose to a country outside the civilized areas… the 3rd foreign affairs department and the oversight army both bring shame on the empire.”
Rrrgh!!! The face of 3rd department head Kyeos distorted into a grimace. Arde resumed speaking.
“Your Grace, what should we do with the Holy Land of Gahara, situated just next to Fenn?”
“We do not mind Gahara’s people. There are still many unknowns concerning that country, but if they somehow become involved, then there is nothing to be done; your opponents will simply increase, but your victory is still assured. If possible, though, that situation should be avoided. We do not want to have exceptions during our generation… it is simply that… the first emperor took care of them.”
“Will Your Grace allow me to take care of the strategy and finer details of the mission?”
“Indeed, do as you wish. Let us think… after the war, you may also do as you wish with the people and land in Fenn.”
“Your Grace is too kind!!!”
The emperor had just granted an entire country and its people to a single organization. Being able to divide all of that up among the army would cause morale to skyrocket. Arde prostrated himself before the emperor.
“We… we… we are eternally grateful for Your Grace’s magnanimity!!!”
The Kingdom of Fenn had a population of five million and vast lands. There was enough to make every soldier a noble even if they distributed it evenly. Arde’s loyalty towards the emperor only grew stronger.
Kingdom of Fenn
The Kingdom of Fenn was 210 km east of the Papaldia Empire, a country in Fillades. East of Fenn was the Holy Land of Gahara, and 500 km east of Gahara was the island of Japan. Because they were situated between Japan and the continent, it was very important to Japan to be friendly with Fenn.
The entire kingdom was so safe that it resembled Japan in times past. After the two countries formed a diplomatic relationship, there were now regular high-speed ferry services that traveled to the capital city Amanoki as well as to a town on the west end of Fenn called Nishinomiyako that brought in droves of Japanese tourists for sightseeing. Compared to tourists from other countries, Japanese tourists were plentiful, well-behaved, and loose with their wallets, so the citizens of Fenn gladly welcomed them.
In addition, it was common knowledge that the Japanese army drove off Papaldia’s oversight army, so the people of Fenn were extremely hospitable to the Japanese tourists. For example, it was very common for tourists trying to pay for local baskets (basically like taxis in Japan) to be told “I cannot take money from our benefactors” and have their payment refused.
Tenth Private Ain was assigned to guard Nishinomiyako. However, because of Fenn’s outstanding public safety, Ain’s job basically boiled down to staying on top of current affairs and guiding lost tourists (usually Japanese).
“So peaceful… it would be great if this went on forever…”
The empire had a lot of pride. He didn’t think chasing off the oversight army would be enough to make them give up. If, by chance, the empire decided to seriously invade them, this town of Nishinomiyako would most likely be the first place they’d attack. He began considering evacuation procedures and what measures should specifically be taken to protect the residents.
Suddenly, something came to mind. Did the Japanese people coming to sightsee understand Fenn’s current situation? They played around and explored as though peace were eternal. At present, there were almost 1,000 Japanese tourists staying in Nishinomiyako, while there were nearly 3,000 in the capital city, Amanoki. The people who came to visit Fenn did not seem to be particularly rich, so Japan as a country had to be unimaginably wealthy if it was so easy to go overseas. It would be best if the empire didn’t come, but…
Ain shivered at the thought of the empire’s long shadow.
Papaldia Empire, imperial capital Esthirant, 3rd foreign affairs department
The clerk Raita was manning the reception window as usual. It was really tiring to have to deal with so many barbarian countries. He had lost a lot of weight from all the stress. He thought that Japan was just one of those barbarian countries, so even though it was bad that the department manager hadn’t come back yet, Raita still stopped the Japanese envoys at the door. Normally it wouldn’t matter since Papaldia was always right, but in this case they had been defeated, of all things. The emperor was extremely furious about it.
“Aah… shit!!! Why was I the only person to draw the short stick?!”
There was a huge storm over his report. He had been aiming for a promotion, but all chances of that were now gone with the wind.
“Ah man… dammit…”
He had gone and made himself depressed again. Just then…
“Hello, we are with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We apologize for bothering you so often, but has the department manager’s schedule been finalized yet?” someone called out blithely. Raita looked up to see the Japanese diplomat responsible for torpedoing his career.
(Ah, this isn’t fair… why did you come to my window?! Isn’t the window next to mine open too?! With this timing too… are you trying to make me write more reports? Do you want me to die from overwork or something?)
Raita wanted to cry, but he swallowed his tears. They were just another customer. This time, he would simply escalate them to his bosses immediately.
“Please wait for a moment… I will go check now.”
These were the crooks who caused the emperor’s trust in the 3rd foreign affairs department in drop to rock bottom, so his report quickly made it up the chain of the command to the department head. An hour later…
“I apologize for the wait. The 3rd foreign affairs department head Kyeos can see you now. Please come this way.”
The Japanese diplomats exchanged glances. To suddenly be taken to the department head was unexpected. The diplomats from other countries all looked up at the Japanese diplomats in shock. This would normally never happen. The Japanese diplomats were brought to a separate building with a window. The building was primarily white, with numerous columns covered in delicate carved art. The ceiling was ornamented with sculptures made of pure gold, showing off their national power. This display was certainly meant to intimidate representatives from other countries, but the representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just made idle chat in a waiting room.
“This waiting room reminds me of this castle in Venice I can’t remember the name of, when I went to Italy on vacation once.”
“Ooh, I think I know what you’re talking about… umm, what was the name of it…”
While they were chatting, there came a knock on the door, then the clerk Raita entered.
“Department head Kyeos is ready to see you. Please come with me.”
They through the building, turning several times before arriving at a stately door. Raita took a breath, then… knock, knock.
“You may enter,” came a voice from inside.
“Excuse us,” Raita announced as he led the diplomats inside. “This way, please.”
The diplomats entered after Raita, then introduced themselves. “My name is Asada, I am an ambassador from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is my assistant, Shinohara.” Asada was a rather handsome man, while Shinohara looked a bit chubby but still confident as he made a bow.
“Please, take a seat,” a man in the room offered, so they did so.
(This kind of feels more like an interview than a meeting.)
These people were all representing the Papaldia Empire. Apparently, all of these diplomatic officials had a fair amount of power concerning foreign affairs. Asada could sense their authority as they introduced themselves.
- 3rd Foreign Affairs Department Head
- Chief of Eastern Affairs
- Manager of the Eastern Islands
- Assistant Manager of the Northeastern Islands
- Head of the Island Groups
They were arrayed from the highest position on down.
Department Head Kyeos asked, “So you are you the Japanese envoys… You have become quite infamous recently… Now, what is the purpose of your visit to the empire?”
“Yes; we believe we have engaged in an unfortunate misunderstanding with your country. Thus, we are hoping to repair our relationship and find out if there is still any possibility of establishing diplomatic ties.”
The Manager of the Eastern Islands suddenly stood up. “What?! An ‘unfortunate misunderstanding’?! You used some kind of trick to attack our oversight army, but you’re just sitting there talking as though it was just a trivial matter! Don’t think you’ll be forgiven just with that!!!”
The manager spoke to the Japanese envoys in the same manner he would with any other country outside the civilized areas. However, Asada did not back down.
“No, it was your troops who in fact attacked us first. We simply put out the cinders before they turned into a fire.”
“Are you calling our magnificent oversight army nothing more than cinders?!?!”
The manager’s eyes looked like they were about to explode out from his head. Department head Kyeos stopped him with a hand and bade him to sit back down.
“I see… you wish to restore relations with us…” Kyeos thought for a moment. “Well… myself included, I am afraid that no one in the Papaldia Empire knows anything about your country of Japan. First, I would like you to teach us more about yourselves. I want to know whether your country deserves to be associated with the empire.”
The Japanese envoys smiled brightly.
“We have papers for that purpose, and there are pictures included as well. This is the resumé we created to introduce our country.”
Shinohara handed out a packet of materials to each Papaldian present. They each looked at the documents in their hands curiously. The information was clearly written in the common language of Fillades.
The Chief of Eastern Affairs looked up. They didn’t have that much land; it was a medium-sized cluster of islands. However, their population of 120 million was almost twice as large as the empire’s 70 million. Even though they were outside the civilized areas, just like the Kingdom of Rowlia, their population was worthy of attention. However, the surprising thing wasn’t the population in and of itself, but rather the fact that they were this close to the empire yet no one ever realized that there was such a populous country there. He kept reading.
“They’re from another world?!”
A bit before the war between the Kingdom of Rowlia and the Principality of Kua Toine began, Central Calendar year 1639, they claimed that the entire country of Japan was transported to this world from another world. If that was truly the case, it could explain why the empire had never encountered them in all their history. But… aside from Mu’s myths, as well as the legend of the ancient sorcerous empire’s transference, there were no other stories of entire countries being moved around. As far as the 3rd foreign affairs department was concerned, they were simply delusional.
“How ridiculous! This, country transference, is complete nonsense! Are you treating us like fools?!” the Chief of Eastern Affairs yelled.
“Regarding the transference, our country still does not understand how it happened. We are still in the midst of investigating, so this is all the information we have available… We do have a request… we believe it would be best for a special envoy to be dispatched at least once to the country of Japan. We would like a Papaldian ambassador to experience Japan with her or his own eyes.”
The information they gave to the Papaldia Empire this time did not include Japan’s military capabilities, their absolute technological superiority, the number of passenger vehicles in use, images of the capital, or anything like that. They only put in innocuous stuff like their location, their population, local specialties, etc. Because they had heard that the empire was dangerous and prideful, they felt it would be better for an ambassador, one of their own people, to bring back that information based on her or his own first-hand experience. If the empire were a country that refused to send a special envoy, then there would be no possibility of a normal state relationship; that was the conclusion Japan had reached.
The Chief of Eastern Affairs chuckled. “Hahaha!!! You want the strongest country in the Third Civilization, and one of the world’s five superpowers, to send an envoy to some country outside the civilized areas full of barbarians?! Your army seems to be somewhat decent, but you only fought against our reserve forces who have outdated equipment! If we sent our main forces, things would not have gone so well for you!!!”
Department head Kyeos glared at the chief. “Calm down. You’re going too far. Do not forget that the emperor has the last word on our relationship with Japan.”
“Y—You’re right, I’m s-sorry!!!” the chief stammered, sitting back down.
“By the way, visitors from Japan, our country rules over five countries within the civilized areas, and sixty-seven countries outside the civilized areas. Their sizes may vary, but overall we have colonized seventy-two countries. Recently, we also took over the Kingdom of Altarus, so now it has risen to seventy-three. How many countries does Japan rule?”
“‘Rule’… Japan does not impose our rule over other countries.”
All the Papaldian representatives broke out into laughter.
“Stop that, you’re being rude to our visitors. Just because a country has not conquered anyone else is no reason to laugh at them. We are in the middle of a diplomatic negotiation,” chided Kyeos. “Please excuse us… Moving on, regarding your request to send our people to Japan, would you be able to wait for about two months? There are various circumstances on our side, so… May I ask you to return again in two months? We will arrange lodging for you.”
“Yes, that sounds acceptable.”
“Good… then we shall meet again in two months.”
An odd smile surfaced on Kyeos’s face. This was the first discussion between Japan and Papaldia. After the meeting…
“Sir Kyeos, why were you so placid with them? The emperor’s orders were to ‘meticulously educate Japan.’ I thought that we should have ignored Japan’s peculiarities and simply threatened them with the emperor’s will…”
“Heheheh… this outcome was fine as well. I am, after all, the lead official with regards to Japan. This is only a small opportunity, but I had an idea.”
“Indeed, but I would advise you not to pry.”
“Yes sir! Please excuse my impropriety!”
“Heheheh… Japan, huh… I hope their national power is high enough to meet our expectations. But, they’re still just barbarians, so they’ll simply be defeated when the time comes.”
That unsettling smile once again showed up on Kyeos’s face.
Two weeks later, about 200 km west of the Kingdom of Fenn in the sea
A fleet that could strike fear into the hearts of any observers was on its way east. This was the Papaldia Empire’s imperial army. 211 100-gun ships-of-the-line and other gunboats, 12 dragon carriers, and 101 attack transports; 324 ships overall. Their destination: the Kingdom of Fenn. After rejecting the empire’s demand for land, they had driven off the oversight army with Japan’s assistance. The imperial army was not going to Fenn to punish them this time, but rather to destroy them. The oversight army’s defeat opened the door for General Cius to display his might.
“Make sure to stay vigilant,” he warned.
Fenn would become the imperial army’s second consecutive victory after the Kingdom of Altarus.
Japan, capital city Tokyo, prime minister’s office
Staff members bustled around as lawmakers read reports with serious looks on their faces. Based on information from the Ministry of Defense, the Papaldia Empire sent troops in force to the east. Coordinating with the input of other countries, it was determined that they were heading for the Kingdom of Fenn.
“What do we do?”
The prime minister was impatient. “There are a large number of Japanese tourists currently in the Kingdom of Fenn. Issue an emergency order for all Japanese citizens to return to Japan.”
“That is a matter of course, but we have not built any mobile phone towers over there yet. Even if we got in touch with the kingdom through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they would simply post something on a bulletin board like in the Edo era. It wouldn’t be effective enough.”
“Then I suppose we must stop that fleet.”
“The agreement between Japan and the Kingdom of Fenn does not include a provision for collective self-defense. Can we try to contact them through an escort ship like last time?”
“Even if we do confirm that their objective is to attack Fenn, we wouldn’t be able to do anything else unless they agree to open negotiations. Or what, should the escort ship just shoot them again? Even a single shot from our guns would result in numerous deaths! You’re just shifting the responsibility for that decision to the escort ship again! The last time, when our escort ship independently decided to confront that ‘oversight army,’ the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called it a ‘gross breach of authority’ and we were the ones who forced out the captain of that ship. How can you even think of allowing the same thing to happen again?”
“So what is Foreign Affairs doing now? Can they stop this?”
“The Papaldia Empire has finally opened a diplomatic channel to us, but we don’t have anything official yet.”
“How many months has it been since the transference? Foreign Affairs is certainly slacking off.”
“This is no time to be fighting among ourselves. Is there truly nothing we can do?”
In the end, nothing was decided, they just kept throwing useless ideas at each other. Time passed full of uncertainty.
TL note: The Fenn town of “Nishinomiyako” was written in katakana (meaning it should probably be transliterated), but at the same time it’s clearly supposed to be 西の都, which means “western capital.” Frankly, everything about Fenn is “Japanese-esque,” so I’m sure it’s intentional. “Amanoki” doesn’t have as obvious of a reference, though, especially since I’m still just learning Japanese. “Ama” could be any of sky, rain, sweet, sea, and “ki” could be tree, heart, spirit… maybe it is an actual reference, but I’m not learned enough to know it.
I’m also not very informed about Italy, so I don’t know what palace the envoys are talking about, but maybe it’s the Doge’s Palace?