Chapter 70. Abyss Rising (7)
The event in which the people had beaten the demon king’s delegation to death has shaken up the empire. Having been characterized as the tragedy of Wittenweier, that incident has also been highly criticized by the human feudal lords.
-I express my deepest regret on this matter, and condolences to the dead delegates.
The feudal lord of Saxon has made a public statement, first.
-Any behavior which violates the chivalry will be punished!
Even the crazy demon king, Halberstad, who was deeply infatuated with the human chivalry, expressed his support.
-The citizens of Wittenweier must feel shame. If they understand what the consequences of dishonor are.
Even Moritz, the duke of Hessen-Kazel, has joined the criticism parade. They weren’t the only ones, either. From everywhere within the empire, both the demons and humans, alike, criticized the citizens of Wittenweier.
This act was that much of a barbarous behavior. Only then the citizens of Wittenweier recognized how wrongly they behaved, and were on the edge with fear.
“Duke Valer! We’re sorry!”
“Please, spare us!”
The citizens have now begun to grab on to me for mercy. I, too, sternly scolded their violent act.
“No matter how close we are to a war, such uncivilized behaviors will not be tolerated!”
As I said, in a way to allude that I might not get involved in this matter, they all went in to frenzy. After this event, Wittenweier had already been isolated from the empire.
On top of that, due to the war between the feudal lord Triar and the demon king Jacquer, there was no one, who was influential enough, to interject. It was because as the two great men were at war, the countless demon kings and feudal lords were involved either directly or indirectly.
In fact, after the proclamation, some of the human feudal lords were willing to go as far as justifying the demon king’s army, should they seek revenge. No one was interested in the fate of this free city.
The Wittenweier citizens were, certainly, at the brink of a disaster. They had no other one to turn to, except me. However, I amplified their concerns by heartlessly chasing them away.
“Pappenheim. Spread a rumor.”
“What should I say now?”
“That I’ll be leaving the city.”
“Yes sir. They will go insane.”
As expected, the citizens, once again, rushed out to the city hall.
“Please, do not desert us! O, your highness!”
“Without my lord’s protection, this city will be like a candle in the wind!”
Everything was moving in the way I wanted. The process of isolating Wittenweier, and having them realize that I was the only one they could depend on. In this situation, I threw the bait in order to obtain what I wanted.
“This fight is no longer justified. You won’t even have any excuse for your illogical, violent behavior.”
When I purposefully put on a stern face, the people lowered their heads to the ground. And they said that they would do anything I wanted them to do.
“I’m afraid that their war flag will enter through our castle’s gate. They will pillage our properties, and enslave our wives and daughters. O, Duke Valer, the knight of the knights! Please save the distressed Wittenweier!”
“Please, save us!”
As everyone prostrated, they broke out in cries. I, finally, realized that the time has come. However, as telling them what they wanted to hear immediately will cause me to lose face, I brought up something for them to consider.
“In the ancient days, when a nation was faced with great challenges, the old countries made it a custom to endow a wise leader with temporary authoritarian power. That was to centralize the nation’s power in order to navigate through the challenges. At the same time, by clearly specifying the extent of the authority and the duration, it was possible to eliminate any negative effects of having a temporary authoritarian government.
By now, I assumed that the citizens would have understood what I was getting at.
“Wittenweier is currently in no different situation as to that of the nation, in the ancient times, which faced dangers from foreign invasions. Only by forming a strong unit, around a strong leader, we can defeat that powerful demon king’s army. Should we follow that tradition then we may be able to protect this city….”
As I kept telling them that I might just stay in the city, their countenances changed and were responding positively.
“That’s right. Duke Valer!”
Everyone was in frenzy as if they have found a way out of a labyrinth. As the conditions became favorable, I finally said what I wanted.
“Then give me the authority which is similar to the temporary authoritarian powers, as was done in the ancient times. If you can do that, I will make sure that we come out of this in glory.”
The citizens’ rep asked upon hearing me.
“What can we, the lowly citizens, do in order to endow you with those powers?”
“It’s simple. Accept me as your leader and obey me. Then by the aristocrat’s authority set by the past precedence, I will accept this region as my territory, and rule over you.”
This proclamation brought much shock to the people. It was because from enjoying the freedom of living in a free city, they would, once again, kneel before a lord.
Even in the moment of being driven to the edge of a cliff, the citizens could not easily decide as they knew what freedom tasted like. Ultimately, they would succumb to my demand, but I attempted to make it go a bit smoother.
“However, I’ll, as was done in the old authoritarian government, set the duration.”
The citizens’ faces turned brighter when the lordship would be a temporary arrangement.
“Will you really do that!”
Was it naivety, or was it just believing only what they wanted to believe, it seemed that the foolish people only thought that I would only do what was good for them.
How foolish was that expectation?
Spend an enormous amount of money on war, and simply go away afterwards. What kind of trade was that?
They had no chance of enjoying a free city, anymore. If one received something, one must expect to make a payment in return, in order to enjoy freedom.
“Of course. As an aristocrat, I’ve raised my army in concern for the safety of the empire’s citizens. It will suffice if the venerable emperor highness’ character can be spread by offering kindness and through negotiations, so how could I covet the city?”
“Ah! Ah! You’re the true example of the knighthood, Duke Valer!”
The foolish people were mistaking a conman’s example as the knight’s example. It was obvious, but my plan was that when the fixed duration was to expire, I’d make this and that excuse and extend the time, and ultimately take over the city.
“Then from now on, accept me as your lord and obey me.”
“Truly, we’ll do so!”
“I’ll speak to the emperor and ask for my new title, so after that, do address me as Earl of Wittenweier.”
When he heard me, the citizens’ rep approached me with all sorts of sycophancy.
“Why would you only wait on the emperor’s ordination? We praise the grace of your highness, so nothing prevents us from addressing you as the Earl.”
Sounds of verbal agreements exploded from the back. Then someone in the crowd yelled.
“Long live the Valerstad, the Earl of Pon Wittenweier!”
Then everyone followed in hollering the same thing.
“Long live the Earl! Long live the Earl! Long live the Earl of Wittenweier!”
Everyone was in frenzy as they all screamed loudly. I smiled warmly towards them. Alright, the domesticated animals have placed reins on their own necks. It was now time to assess heavy taxes and demand military service.
“Kurud. How is your neck?”
“Hahaha. I don’t feel a thing since you’ve put it back in perfect order.”
Kurud, who had been executed in order to calm the angry people down, was working at his desk as usual.
I cut off his head in a show, but there was no way that a day walker would die just by getting his head severed. Of course, had he been left alone, he would have died, but I used undead treatment to put his head back together.
He was not only a member of the city assembly, but also a capable administrator. In his past life, he had directed his talent in corruptive behaviors, but now he was working hard for me.
“Here, take this. You’ve done well.”
“Lord, such a precious thing!”
What I gave him were 10 crystals, containing darkness. They were the items which were brought by Walpurgis from the Sisterhood’s convent. They were precious resources for the vampires of the darkness.
They were used as healing potions like the humans used them to treat themselves, and also used as the energy source for inciting dark spells.
“I only worked to serve you, my lord. I could not accept such precious items.”
“You’ve done very well. It’s natural to be rewarded. I am cruel to my enemy, but I wish to take good care of the people under me. Do take them in peace.”
I felt lucky that Kurud was happy. It was because even if he was invincible, it could not have been a very pleasant experience to get his head severed before the crowd.
“My life is in your hands.”
I instructed him to assemble a citizen’s army.
“Tell everyone that they all must arm themselves. Need to assemble, at least, 3 thousand citizen soldiers in Wittenweier. Tell them that they are to use their own funds to arm themselves.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Also, put out a message to the cities along the Rhine River, Bryzach and Freiburg, to assemble citizen armies and join you.”
“What should I do if they do not respond positively?”
“No need to worry. They could only respond positively.”
The demon king’s army was stationed on the west of the Rhine River, and my army was on the east side. The pressure that the free cities near the Rhine River were feeling must be tremendous. Ultimately, they would have to pick one, and I believe picking the human would be more appealing to them.
“Yes, my lord. I’ll execute your order.”
As he was supposed to be dead, he oversaw the city’s administrative work from his office. According to his order, a citizen’s army was assembled in Wittenweier.
Their spirits were on the high side. It was because as they were in such a situation, it would be better to defeat their enemy. Every citizen used up their own money to purchase armor suits and weapons.
Arming themselves with strong equipment was a way to survive, so they did not pinch their funds. For many days, the city’s ironsmith shop was quite busy. As the merchants heard the news, they brought weapons from other cities in order to sell.
As the city was turning busily, Tilly and Walpurgis arrived at the city with their 2ndary armies. Two infantry regiments, one cavalry squadron, a total of 5,000 troops. The citizens happily welcomed the newly arriving military forces.
The city was booming at its peak, although a war was about to break out. It was the first time that this much money circulated in the city, in a long time. There were so many activities in the city. It was quite ironic.
It felt quite awesome to have gotten together with Tilly and Walpurgis. I felt very confident to have two of the most well known heroes to be on my side.
“Well, Valer. What happened? They are calling you, Earl.”
Walpurgis shook her head.
“I’m curious, too. My lord. I heard that this city’s citizens have accepted you as their lord. How could this have happened in only 15 days?”
Tilly was very impressed, but at the same time, he couldn’t believe it. His reaction was well fitting as he was a genius in military maneuvers, but had no interest in politics. Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty details, I explained to them by adequately dramatizing what happened.
“So the Wittenweier’s citizens had created their own danger and ended up cooperating with you?”
As I nodded, even Walpurgis was praising me nonstop.
“Well done, Valer. I mean, I shouldn’t talk informally, now that you’re an Earl.”
“Hahaha. There’s no need. It’s only a mirage. The emperor highness hasn’t even approved it, yet.”
We, the three leaders, discussed the battles which were about to ensue around the Rhine River. Many topics were discussed, but certainly, Tilly was the one who made many prudent proposals.
“My lord. You have to decide whether to lead the citizens’ army or not. Based on that decision, the time of main attack will be determined.”
“After two months, the monsoon season will begin.”
If we wanted to finish the war and everything, it was appropriate to attack right now without the citizens’ army. It will take past the monsoon season if we are to assemble the citizens’ army, so might as well better wait until the end of the monsoon season to launch an attack.
“As each strategy has pros and cons, my lord has to decide.”
Tilly has explained in clear and organized way, both in pros and cons, from the military perspective.
However, I’m a lord. I have to not only look at the military point of view, but also the political aspect of it. I thought that our influence could be greater on other cities along the Rhine River if the battle was fought after the monsoon season.
Should the attack take place right now and sweep away the enemy like this, other than Wittenweier, our influence will not have much effect on other cities. On the other hand, if we were to amplify the fear, little by little, until the end of the monsoon, we can increase our influence. In the long run, I could also bring other cities to their knees.
So, I chose the latter. Of course, there was no need for me to explain my reasoning to Tilly. A wise lord had something which he does not share with his underlings.
“General Tilly. Will go with full force.”
“I’ll obey as you’ve decided. With the perfect preparation, we will deliver you a complete victory.”
I gave an order to Tilly, right there, right at that moment.
“Take 6,000 mercenaries and conduct mobilization training. Go from Bryzach, Freiburg, and to Rheinfelden and return.”
This was a demonstration of force under the guise of training. It was an act of asking the cities by the Rhine River to either join? Or be crushed.
Of course, some courtesy was needed in that advice. So, I wrote a letter and instructed that the letter be delivered to the mayors of the cities. That was nothing more than a threat, using fashionably written words.
[Anyone who sits silent will die three times. First, at the hands of the demons, second, at the hands of the citizens, and third, at my hands.]
That worked quite well. Soon, the cities by the Rhine River declared this fight as the great battle, and committed to diligently work with me.
“Follow Earl Valer!”
“Let’s chase away the demons and cleanse the empire under his leadership!”
Everyone was busy making such statements. And every city has made a promise to deliver 3,000 citizen troops and supplies. At this time, combining the citizen troops from the free city, the total came to over 10,000 troops.
“General Tilly. I’ll appoint you the leader of the citizens’ army. Train them well until we launch our attack after the monsoon season.”
Tilly was out of words as he observed everything from next to me. He couldn’t help his great appreciation for me for so quickly assembling about 10,000 troops.
“Have you used any magic?”
Tilly, this is not magic, but conning.