Chapter 78. Heroes from Far Away (3)
Having Giacomo Albino joined us gave me enormous confidence. It meant that we have been in desperate need for talents in key areas.
“My lord, where do you wish to go to?”
Giacomo Albino came with us after parting with his family belongings.
“We are going to the fortress of Bastogne.”
Bastogne was an ordinary city, but it has changed into a fortress city after the nearby Luxemburg was ruined by the demon king Jackerd.
Greatly concerned after having seen Luxemburg burn, Count Anthony who was the ruler of Bastogne employed all of his wealth, and transformed Bastogne into a super fortress.
“Do you have a specific business there?”
“There is a key to resolve the current situation.”
Giacomo Albino showed great interest in what I said.
“My lord, you’ve said that you wanted to be the arbiter in the quarrel between the fire demon king Jackerd and the feudal lord Trier. So then the solution to that is in Bastogne?”
The cause for the two great men’s quarrel was a simple one. It was that Count Anthony, the ruler of Bastogne, had died without an heir. As a result, argument arose with respect to who would take control over his territory.
Bastogne, Hoschfoch, and Malmedi. These three territories were under the rule of Count Anthony while he was alive. Many aristocrats and demon kings of the empire claimed their rights to succession, and Jackerd, the fire demon king, and Trier, the feudal lord were the most likely candidates.
“As I do not know the back drop of the story, would you mind giving me some background information? My lord.”
“Of course. Senor Capitain. However, before that, I must mention the fact that the fire demon king Jackerd’s attitude toward humans had changed from about 20 years ago.”
Jackerd, the demon king, was originally a hardliner demon king that was responsible for the bloodbath called ‘the great massacre of Luxemburg’. However, from about 20 years ago, he had begun a campaign of appeasement and absorbed humans into his territory.
“Senor Capitain. I believe that that was a classic stick and carrot strategy. He had come to the realization that he would lose out if he was to continue his old ways. Look at the demon kings on the east side of the empire. Isn’t every one of them well off?”
Unlike the west side of the empire where the hardliners were rampant, the east side of the empire was the homeland for the moderate demon kings. The fellowship between the humans and the demon kings in the east side of the empire was so extreme that at this moment, one could not exist without the other. The wealthy city of Pilsen which was being ruled by the spy king Kubalt was a classic example.
“The demon king Jackerd must have had doubts seeing such situation. He had killed the humans based on his own demon belief system, yet he could not escape poverty. On the other hand, the demon kings in the east, the traitors, or heretics, as he would put them, would fill their warehouses with goods, everyday. Everyone knew that their palaces were overflowing with ivory and gold.”
“Ah, so that’s why the fire demon king Jackerd had changed his ways?”
“Correct. He finally realized that he had to let the humans survive if he wanted to fill his warehouses with goods. However, that would only be a decision, lasting for only a moment. Once the demon king Jackerd assesses that he has enough food and wealth for a war, he will once again cause a bloodbath.”
That’s why I’m calling it a stick and carrot strategy. To do that, the demon king Jackerd has put in a lot of efforts. He married the older sister of Count Anthony who was the ruler of Bastogne. When I pointed that out, Giacomo Albino put on a bitter smile.
“That was definitely shocking. That fire demon king marrying a human.”
“Count Anthony probably did not see any other option in order to protect Bastogne. Since the demon king Jackerd made ashes out of Luxemburg where in his lord was living, Count Anthony would have done anything to ensure his own safety.”
“From what I hear, there is an adult daughter between them.”
“Correct. A beautiful girl, blooming into a young lady. And she is also the reason for the current situation.”
When Count Anthony died without a successor, the fire demon king Jackerd insisted that his own daughter had the right to succeed.
“Hahaha! That crafty demon king came up with a scheme.”
Giacomo clicked his tongue as he was lost for words.
“That idea probably did not originate from his head. The fire demon king Jackerd is dull, and impatient.”
However, he had power. He reminded me of the demon king Odegosh, the 3rd in the line to the power, who was killed after falling into my trap. Personally, he was much easier to fight against than the crafty water demon king Amunde.
“He must have an excellent strategist?”
“That’s right. I think I sort of know who it is.”
It was necessary to take out that strategist in order to come out on top of the current situation.
“Senor Capitain. I have a favor to ask of you.”
“Please tell me. It seems that you have the very first assignment for me. Hahaha.”
“I’ll find an appropriate time. Please assassinate that strategist at that time. Only that as the powerful demons are protecting him, it won’t be so easy.”
“Krrrrrrh. It will be fun. It’s the perfect assignment for me to get a good work out for the first time in a long while. My lord.”
As the work was in full motion, I was thinking about killing off the demon king Jackerd’s strategist. Once the brain is eliminated, the demon king Jackerd would go back to being the asinine person that he was.
“I’ll ask you when the time is right. Let me continue to explain.”
Based on the current circumstances, the issue would be resolved when the cousin succeeds the throne to the territory of the dead Count Anthony. However, the problem was that there was another cousin who had the right to claim the succession.
“Count Anthony’s was not living under stable conditions when he was alive. So, he forged another marriage relationship with the feudal lord Trier, another powerful person. He had a younger sister, and he had sent her to Trier feudal lord as his second wife.”
Although the feudal lord Trier was a holy feudal lord, he did not have any issues with marrying. That was because ‘The righteous deity Luben’ whom they served did not necessarily oppose the believers from marrying.
He had three wives and four concubines. The younger sister of Count Anthony was one of the three wives.
“Count Anthony’s younger sister bore a son after marrying the feudal lord Trier. He has also come of age this year. Naturally, the feudal lord Trier insisted that his own son also had the right to succeed Count Anthony as the leader of the territory.”
The situation turned quite tangled.
Based on the ranks, the older sister’s off spring was ahead of the younger sister’s off spring. From that perspective, it was possible to cast a vote for the daughter of the fire demon king Jackerd.
However, based on the oldest son’s succession rules, a vote could also be cast for the son of Trier feudal lord. The law of the empire recognized female lords, but oldest male was the core basis of the law.
Walpurgis, too, was recognized as the successor of the feudal lord Bayern because he did not have a male off spring who would have succeeded him.
“I see, so it is a race between the older sister’s daughter and the younger sister’s son? And behind them were the two great fathers, the demon king Jackerd and Trier feudal lord.”
Looking at it from the historical points of view, they would face each other to settle it, and both would meet their demise. The two great personalities would use great explosion magic at the same time, and they, along with their trusted advisors would get vaporized, in the end.
Truly, there was no comical situation like that. On top of that, what was funnier was that the Count Anthony’s inheritance would go to the 3rd person Richelieura.
It would simply be like handing the trophy to a spectator.
I was just going to watch the two personalities explode and the trophy go to Richelieura, but the situation has changed. As the situation has turned like this, I thought to take part of Count Anthony’s territory for myself while playing a mediator.
“Senor Capitain. There is the key to resolve the current situation in Bastogne.”
“That’s amazing. I just understand the whole situation, but I’m in the fog and do not see a solution. Yet, my lord is so sure of the solution that I’m only amazed at your wisdom.”
“I do not have the ability to see the great picture, but whenever problem arises, I do have the ability to dive down and see the solution.”
Perhaps, this could be termed as the classic wisdom of a con man. I’ve done well so far, but as my sovereign territory expanded, the situation was changing.
As I moved about externally, raising wars, I especially needed a capable person who could take care of the internal business. One of the reasons for going to Bastogne, this time around, was to secure such a person.
As soon as I arrived at Bastogne, I prepared the initial draft of the letter which I planned to send to the emperor.
Your highness, upon assessing the situation in the west, both opposing camps appear to seek compromises. However, they seem to be stuck on how to go about dividing up Count Anthony’s territory.
The focus of the three territories is the cities, Bastogne, Hoshpohr, and Malmedi. It has already been decided that Hoshpohr would be taken over by the demon king Jackerd, and Malmedi by the feudal lord Trier. That’s because each selected cities are closer to their respective jurisdictions.
The problem lies with the Bastogne which is located in the middle of the two cities. As they are endlessly bickering over that territory, the chaos is growing by the day, within the empire.
Hence, I would like to request that your authority, of the emperor, would be displayed in Bastogne. Although the demon king and the feudal lord are coveting Bastogne, the entire people of the empire are your subjects, after all.
There is no question that the people of Bastogne would welcome your highness’ embrace. Only then the demon king Jackerd and the feudal lord Trier would realize that their many plans were only empty vanities.
I believe then that the quarrel would end with each taking over their respective lands of Hoshpohr and Malmedi, and that the empire would praise your highness’ authority and grace.
Should you endow me with overseeing responsibilities over Bastogne, I’ll demonstrate your highness’ authority, over all of the empire, with all my heart and devotion.
To put it shortly, the letter was to ask the emperor to delegate or give the city of Bastogne to me. I discussed this matter with Kalione. That was because as she was residing in Vienna, the capitol city of the empire, so she would be very familiar and well informed on the emperor’s situation or the royal family’s thoughts.
– My lord, it has been so long since your last correspondence?
Kalione voiced her complaint as soon as I called her, using the magic ring.
– Since my birth, I have been confident that no other demons are more royal than I.
– I’m sorry. I agree.
– Also, I have been told that I’m the fairest one of all the women in the empire.
– I’m not sure what you are getting at, but I also agree with that. Your beauty is a strategic weapon of war.
A pretty doll, like in the image of Kalione, came to my mind. Unlike Walpurgis who was full of life and turned red quite often, it was a cold image, that of a winter land’s princess.
– So then why have you very little interest in me?
– Where is that coming from all of a sudden?
– I’ve definitely understood the value my beauty brings while residing in the capitol. I haven’t had a single peaceful day in which I was not bothered by most available bachelors, with the exception of the emperor. They are truly disgusting pigs. I want to trample them like the low lives they are, but that may allow some perverts to enjoy it somehow, so I can’t put myself to do it. The guilt that I have for my beauty is so great that I believe that I must leave the city as soon as possible.
The innocent girl who did not realize how powerful a weapon her beauty was, even after I’ve been telling her how pretty she was, was letting her observation of the capitol city’s society as the flood waters of sewage they were.
It seemed that she has been very lonely in many ways. Certainly, it must have been hard for her as there was no one in the capitol that she could have leaned on. I took Kalione’s complaints with an open mind.
– At any rate, the emperor showed no interest in me, at all. I was relieved about it, but also felt strange in some way. I believe that my beauty works on everyone, young and old, in the empire. But then, how come he has no interest in me?
This girl was growing more severe in her narcissism by the day. I supposed that as she is a real princess, it may be deserved.
– There is a reason for it. The emperor is a dragon.
She seemed quite shocked that she let out an uncultured scream. She got angry when I snickered hearing that.
– You’re laughing at a lady’s error. My lord is truly not gentleman like!
– I’m sorry, my child.
– Don’t treat me like a child, either! No one, even looking in this city, has the lady like appearance as I do.
She complained once more as she could not hide her surprise in learning that the emperor was a dragon. Yet, she believed what I said without any suspicion. Good.
– However, I still have doubts.
– In what aspect?
– There are only two men who have not interest in me in this world.
– What? There are two?
– That’s right. It’s truly illogical, abnormal, and lamentable. My beauty transcends all language barriers, but how can there be two who show no interest in me in this world.
She seemed quite unhappy.
– One of them is the emperor Frantz the 4th, but I can accept that since he is a dragon. To be seen as beautiful to a dragon, a woman must have shiny scales and beautiful horns, right?
– True. But then who is the other one?
– Who else! It’s you, my lord!
– How could you have left me, an innocent, lovely lady, all alone on the basis of training, and not even contact me on a regular basis? Although I’m doing my darnedest to be a fitting woman for you, it is very hurtful.
What was wrong with her?
– I mean, we are in a master and apprentice relationship. What are you talking about?
– That is true, but I ask for more attention.
As she was so audacious, I did not know what to say. Besides, it was more like a voice of a child hungry for affection than a strange feeling. I felt like I was looking at a complaining daughter.
– Just talking is not enough. Promise me that you’ll contact me regularly.
-… You’ve grown during my absent days.
She was more of an image of an insufficient princess.
– It is all due to your teachings.
If I was to teach her more, I felt that she would become the biggest con artist in the empire’s capitol. I earnestly prayed that I wouldn’t hear any news to the fact that Kalione had scammed a large amount of money from the aristocrat women of the capitol.
– Ummm… I’ll agree to your request.
Only then, Kalione changed her attitude and became more cooperative. So, I was able to discuss the content of the letter with her. To begin with, I explained my intention to her.
– I was sure that the content would lure the interest of the emperor. He is doing his hardest to maintain the empire’s status quo. That is because the balance of the empire’s west would be destabilized should this succession go over to either side.
– That means the emperor does not want either side to win?
– That’s right. The peace in the empire’s west has been maintained as both sides were mindful of each other’s movements. Should the balance be tilted one way, the stronger side will most likely overtake the other side through a war.
That’s why I wanted to have each side take over one city each, and leave Bastogne, the city in the middle, under the jurisdiction of the emperor.
– By doing that, other feudal lords that are mindful of the emperor’s power would become visible. As a result, I, who would be considered to be the loyal servant of the emperor, would rule and put a blind fold on the emperor.
Kalione was impressed when she heard me.
– It seemed to be a very appropriate proposal. I truly believe this can attract the emperor’s interest. You’re certainly great, my lord. You seemed to have a special talent in reaping the benefits from other people’s quarrels. I would like to learn your secret, if you have one.
I wasn’t sure whether she was complementing me or criticizing me.
– I’ll let you know one thing. When you want to plan a scheme, you have to put out something the other side wants. Only then there will be no failures.
Kalione could not stop being impressed by what I said.
– I’ve learned a lot today. I am confident that I’ll succeed 100% out of 100 schemes, following your instructions.
Gosh, what was this girl learning, anyway.