“It’s been a while, father.”
“Hmp, I’m surprised you came. Whether you came because you were frightened of the consequence or not, what matters to me is that you’re still doing what I tell you to do.”
We were in the castle of the Albert territory’s capital city. In other words, we were in what I used to call home.
As for why I travelled to this place that I thought I would never return to, it was because my father sent a message telling me to meet with him after he has arrived from the royal capital.
In addition, the messenger also told me—in a very condescending manner, I should add—that they had an army ready to attack the village at a moment’s notice, but they were willing to stay their hand depending on the answers I would give in the meeting.
“According to what I heard, your Gift apparently allows you to easily build buildings. Thanks to that, you managed to build a city in a wasteland like that in such a short time. Aside from its uselessness in combat, it seems I underestimated your Gift.”
“If you hand over the princess, I have no qualms in you continuing to use your Gift. Even if it’s to build yourself a good fortress. So, how about it?”
I was asked what I thought on the offer, but the way I was asked made it clear I couldn’t refuse.
That made my body tense up, but I steeled myself and spoke.
“…before I give an answer, I’d like to ask something first.”
“What is it?”
“…father, once you’ve gained control of the entire kingdom, what do you plan to do?”
My father displeased as though he wanted to ask why he even had to talk about such a thing.
Despite that, he still chose to answer.
“Firstly, I’ll strengthen this country. To that end, I’ll take away the armies of every lord and incorporate them into mine. Once it moves precisely according to my commands, it’ll become the strongest kingdom army there is.”
“…and what do you plan to do with this kingdom army?”
“What else is there to do? Attack another nation, of course. Before long, all the neighboring nations would become mine, and I would hold the legacy of an unrivaled domain.”
…yeah, his reply’s pretty much what I expected.
It was inevitable that my father’s way approaching things was quite different from me who has lived a previous and totally different life, but even in terms of this world’s standards, my father would be considered an extremely militaristic and hegemonistic man.
“I fail to see what meaning such a path can have.”
“Governing the territory to be better than what it currently is and making the people’s lives be richer and fuller, that is what I believe a lord’s most important duties are. So, why someone would sacrifice the lives of their people simply for the sake of territory expansion is beyond me.”
“Don’t be a fool. Territory expansion is the most important goal a lord should strive for. To stand still is to stagnate. One should always aim to expand.”
It seemed clear that no matter how much we talk about it, we would never see eye to eye.
But then again, if it was so easy to change my father’s mind, this much of an expansion during a single lifetime could never have happened.
“I expected this to be the case, but it really seems I can’t offer you any assistance.”
“Offer assistance? You seem to have the wrong idea here. I’m not asking you to do something, I’m telling you. You have no choice in this whatsoever.”
“No, I do have a choice. I am my own person, and I’ll do whatever I decide to do. Not what you want me to.”
“…it seems I’ve failed at educating you.”
With immense intent to kill, my father drew out the sword hanging from his waist.
“There is a limit to how stupid you can be. The moment you nonchalantly stepped in here, the only choice left to you is to do what I tell you.”
“Yeah, even I’m not stupid enough to walk here myself.”
“What are you saying?”
“Well then, if you’re going to attack me, go ahead and do it. I’ll be waiting in the wasteland.”
My father had a questioning look on his face when I made my consciousness return to my real body.
Yes, the one to attend this discussion with my father was a body double. By the way, whenever a double receives a certain amount of damage, it would simply vanish.
◇ ◇ ◇
When Marquis Albert slashed Luke’s chest with his sword, the latter mysteriously turned into sand that then fell to the floor.
“It’s not his real body…? …still, for him to declare war on father…”
This person breathed out a sigh of relief after stealthily watching the exchange before the Marquis and Luke.
For some reason, the words Luke spoke of earlier crossed his mind again and again.
–––I am my own person, and I’ll do whatever I decide to do.