Evening Glow Hannibal
While I had left the Ashtaroth castle in order to see a friend, it wasn’t as if we had decided on a place to meet.
All I knew was that he was in the town, so the possibility of us meeting was low.
But strangely, I did not consider an outcome where we didn’t meet.
We would surely reunite somewhere. It was with such thoughts that I walked through the streets.
And so I went to bookstores and other places that a tactician might like to visit. But I could not find the old man.
On the way, I did see the Saint walking around and eating happily, but though I did my best to avoid her, she found me quickly.
One of her golden hairs sprung up and she stopped and said, ‘I can smell the Demon King’ as her nose sniffed the air.
She had often reminded me of a dog, and so I gave up and called out to her.
“I see that you’re taking a walk, Saint Jeanne.”
“Yes. I’m patrolling the town in order to protect the peace.”
“I’d expect nothing less from a Hero. However, what is that in your hands?”
“This is a croquette and grilled corn.”
“I know that. But surely you cannot eat while you’re patrolling?”
“I know. So I am patrolling while I eat.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle, but I decided to join her.
“Give me one of them then. Let’s see, we can eat at the fountain in the plaza.”
Jeanne looked like she could not believe what she was hearing.
“It’s unusual for you to invite me on a date. I think the sky is going to fall next.”
The sky was blue and felt wonderful.
“I think it would be nice to shop and eat with you once in a while. I was actually out searching for someone, but was not able to find him. And so I will give up for the day.”
“I see. Well, I couldn’t wish for anything more. Just wait a minute.”
Jeanne said before running off. At first, I thought that she was going to powder her nose, but I was wrong.
She did not want to spare any of her food, and so she had gone to buy some more for me.
The concept of sharing food with a loved one was alien to her.
It was like her, and I couldn’t help but smile. And so I silently followed after her as she bought twice as much food as she originally had, and then we headed to the fountain plaza.
There, we sat down on a bench and ate croquettes and grilled corn.
The croquette was made with the new potatoes that I had brought in.
It was made through mixing hot boiled potatoes with ground beef and deep frying it. It was high in calories and popular with manual laborers.
I liked to eat them with vinegar.
Grilled corn had always been eaten here, but we now used a special breed that I had imported.
It was very sweet. And while it would not replace a main dish, it was a good side dish or snack on its own.
If you ate grilled corn with butter, you would experience such joy that you might think that you had become a celestial.
In fact, Jeanne’s face had gone slack, and she was basking in the pleasure.
“Ah…how wonderful. I am so happy…”
The Saint said as she ate the croquette and grilled corn. She looked very cute.
“My homeland was very poor. And I’ve never eaten something so sweet and greasy.”
“Well, food is rather plentiful in this world.”
Compared to the world that Jeanne was born in, this place had magic, which allowed you to freeze food in order to preserve it. And the distribution of goods was also quite advanced. So even during times of war, you could acquire good food.
“Yes, I don’t want to return to my world anymore.”
Jeanne started to eat my croquette as well, but I allowed her to. No one else ate food with as much joy as she did. And so I didn’t feel bad about sharing some of my own food.
However, I didn’t want her to eat all of it, and so I took just one out and brought it to my mouth.
The croquettes in this world were very sweet and delicious. You didn’t even need any Worcester sauce.
As Demon King and Saint enjoyed their croquette and talked, an old man approached.
He walked while leaning on a cane and then sat next to me without asking.
Jeanne looked annoyed that someone had sat between us.
She grumbled about the boorish old man, but I wasn’t angry. After all, I had guessed that this was the man that I had been searching for.
And so I handed the hooded man a croquette, and he bit into it.
He chewed on it noisily and then swallowed before saying,
“How delicious. It would be even better with some olive oil on it.”
And so I took out a bottle of olive oil and handed it to him.
The old man smiled.
“That’s why they call you the Demon King of strategy. You know what the other person wants.”
“The general Hannibal Barca is a Hero of the Mediterranean world. And so I thought that you would like olive oil in the same way that the Japanese like soy sauce.”
The man called Hannibal removed his hood. It was the old man I had met in Danke village.
He had given me a book on strategy back then.
“The book you gave me has become my bible.”
“I’m glad that it was useful. But surely it wasn’t necessary for someone like you. It reminds me of the saying about lecturing Buddha.”
“There is still a lot that I need to learn. Especially from a great general like you.”
“Perhaps I’m the one who should learn from you. But there is no point in continuing to praise each other. I must get to the point. You will have to fight a decisive battle soon.”
“That’s very direct.”
“There is no point in mincing words. But judging by your lack of surprise, you already knew that I was working with the ant army.”
“A goddess told me.”
“Oh? So you are favored by a goddess.”
“Favored. Well, she is partial towards me.”
“I see. The gods usually do not get involved with what happens down here. So you must be an exception. Because you are interesting to keep an eye on.”
“I feel like you are all exaggerating.”
“I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t usually come all of this way to meet someone. Scipio was the last person.”
“The Roman hero. The one who defeated the great Hannibal.”
“Aye, he was an impressive young man.”
“I hope that I have even a thousandth of his ability in strategy and tactics. Now, I know that it’s no use, but I would like you to switch allegiance.”
Upon hearing this, Hannibal burst into laughter.
“What a foolish thing to ask.”
“Is it so foolish?”
“Very foolish. Look at the blonde girl sitting next to you.”
“You mean Jeanne.”
Jeanne looked at me with a puzzled expression.
“Miss. If I asked you to join my army, would you agree?”
“I would not even consider it. I must always stay with the Demon King.”
She answered immediately.
“I’m sure it is not just her, but that eastern samurai would say the same.”
He was talking about Toshizou.
“Just as you all would not betray Demon King Ashtaroth, I would not betray my master.”
“And what kind of person is your master?”
“My master is like silk that drifts in a clear stream.”
“Very beautiful and strong. But also a very fleeting being.”
Hannibal said as he closed his eyes.
“She summoned me to this world. After I was defeated by Scipio, she summoned me even though I was old and wretched. And she gave my life purpose. I could be relied on, even though I was an old man.”
“So that is your master.”
“It’s not just me. She has enchanted many others. We all want her to be the future queen.”
“Future queen? So the person you are serving is not the current ant queen?”
“Yes, the future queen. There is no point in hiding it, so I will tell you. The ant queen is called Alioshe. I serve her daughter, Alesha.”
“Alioshe and Alesha….”
“Alioshe dug her roots underground and took Ismalia castle in just a few hours.”
“I am aware of that.”
“However, the ants are full of vigor when it comes to reproducing. Ismalia castle will not be enough for them. And so they will invade Ashtaroth castle soon.”
“Can it not be avoided?”
“Perhaps if my master was queen. But Alioshe is greedy and no one can stop her ambitions.”
“And the daughter cannot go against her mother’s orders.”
“Indeed. In other words, this is fate. Just as I had once made Rome tremble, I will now face you who have made this world tremble. It will be a battle of wits.”
“So it’s an unavoidable conflict.”
“Exactly. However, I am not sad. My blood grows hot by the thought of being able to go against a hero that is unlike any I fought before.”
Declared Hannibal, and then he stood up.
“I had a good time. And it was delicious. This is the best croquette I’ve ever had. Alesha would be very happy if I bought some to bring back to her. And in a few months time, I will take this castle and offer it to her.”
“I cannot allow you to do that. I understand your position now, but I have a duty to my men and the people here.”
“You have your duty and I have my right. I wonder which will prove to be the stronger.”
“I don’t know, but I will do my best.”
I said and got up. And then I shook General Hannibal’s hand.
The old man shook my hand firmly.
The man who once threatened the greatest empire in the world. The hand of the man who defied Rome was very thick. And hot.
I felt a passion that one would not expect from an elderly man, and I was so moved that I did not let go.
But I couldn’t hold it forever.
And so I released him.
We said our farewells and I watched him leave.
The sun was starting to set in Ashtaroth town.
And so Hannibal’s shadow looked extra long.