Chapter 81. Lovers of the Century (1)
“My lord, a new gift was just delivered.”
Max spread out the gifts received from the people inside the mansion. There were so many that he did not know what to do with all of them.
“Just have them piled up nicely.”
Sitting in a well supported, comfortable chair, I leisurely read the newly arrived letters of support.
-We, the stonemason guild, proclaim our passionate support for you, Count.
-I caught a glimpse of you in the distance, yesterday. I was infatuated with you, at the first site, but I only shed tears due to different birth classes. I pray that you would have the generosity to take me as your maid….
-I’ve spent 10 years in the military. Please do call on me should you require security details.
As I was a human, I couldn’t help, but be thrilled about receiving such letters. Having great self pride, I felt I have reached the sky, being the subject of the never-ending accolades.
Many visitors also stopped by, and I made wall posters by organizing and writing down the conversations I had with them. The title was <Actions of Bravery>. It was a summary of strategic maneuvering, so that the people would incite.
Instructing Max, I had him post those posters to various locations in the city. The latter half of the post was interesting, and it described that a true leader must be a totalitarian, fighter, and diplomat.
And I introduced the recent successes which I had, and emphasized that only I could be the one’s sole leader.
Such writings would not do anything during peaceful times. In fact, people would turnaround and decry my condescending attitude.
However, as the fire demon king Jackerd and the feudal lord Trier were roaring about, such words were very convincing. A hero would be born out of chaos. People welcomed my outright boastfulness.
“What’s the reaction like?”
I asked Max regarding the posters.
“They are causing great reactions. The dominant idea of having you, my lord, as the leader of the city is percolating from everywhere. When the city patrol unit took down the posters, it led to hand to hand fights. At this time, the people of the city are protesting as they were angry about that incidence.”
“That is so right.”
The changes weren’t just happening from the outside. Even inside the mansion, changes were brewing.
“Please do let me know if anything is not to your comfort.”
The leader of the mansion security has volunteered to see that I was comfortable. Initially, he and his men had treated me rather harshly. However, as if they have sensed the opinion of the people of the city, their behaviors have changed by 180 degrees.
“You guys are doing so well, how could I not be comfortable.”
As I turned my head, as if I wasn’t too moved too much by his comment, he looked to be flummoxed. His attitude toward me has become more and more meek and submissive, perhaps, worrying that I might have been discontented from his earlier actions.
“I might have been a thorn in your eyes with my actions in the past.”
“Huhuh, you were just true to your tasks.”
Although I said that, my words had thorns. The leader of the security team did not know what to make of it.
“You won’t be dissatisfied with my actions going forward.”
“Alright. You may leave.”
When I said that I’ll see how things go with a gesture of my finger, the head security lowered his back by 90 degrees as he left.
“Of course. Please rest comfortably!”
When he left, Max said as he looked quite amazed.
“It seems as if you’re putting a spell on them. How could that proud security head lower his upper body by 90 degrees with a flick of a finger?”
I snickered when I heard that.
“Well, it is magic. The magic of power.”
New changes began to take place from the next day as the head security became submissive. I was authorized to make speeches to the people that gathered at the front of the mansion. An official came out from the castle to prevent me from making speeches, but it did not go well with the head security that has now become my stooge.
“Look here! We love you!”
Appearing before the crowd, I only spoke of pleasant things. That was, with the topics which brought about celebratory laughter.
“Dear people, when you drink with the officials from the castle, please hide several wine bottles under the table, so that you can throw the bottles at them whenever they speak of utter nonsense!”
My speeches were always very successful as it brought out such reactions. By now, my reputation and namesake overwhelmed every name in the city. More and more, the influential people in the city began to approach me with flattering gestures.
“You will need lots of money when you are about to do great things. Consider this as a small token of support for your efforts.”
The city commerce guild donated 10,000 Florins as a political fund.
“We, the Cross Archers will do our best to keep you safe.”
The Cross Archers from Geneva have sworn their loyalty to me. They were in charge of the security of the city from the top of the castle walls. Hence, there was no longer a risk of getting shot by a Cross Archer when passing by underneath the castle.
“My lord, it was said that Richelieu was despondent as he plopped down into his seat.”
I snickered at the news which Max has delivered. It was probably very unwelcoming for Richelieu and his loyal servants, but as far as the year 1,614 was concerned, everything was moving in my favor.
“Richelieu was capable, but he was just a little dimwit that just began his usefulness. Even the title of the holy count was the beginning of his career. All that he can do is to use his diplomacy in order to stop the two great forces from immediately invading. Of course, able to do even that is a great feat.”
At the present time, he has underachieved what he hoped to be, a greatest leader in the future. However, that was because he hasn’t fully matured, yet. That was the reason why I didn’t want to recruit him until a few years down the road.
“No matter what he does, he is on the palm of Buddha.”
“Who is Buddha?”
I realized that the time has come to make the final strike. Richelieu was already in the right place.
“Max. Spread a rumor.”
“What should I say?”
“Say that the emperor’s special envoy is en route.”
“Are they really coming?”
“Perhaps, but that’s not the important thing. What’s important is that there is such a rumor.”
On the next day, the rumor of the emperor’s special envoy arriving was percolating everywhere. That was the decisive blow. From that day, some of the officials from the castle began to come to me.
“We’re here because we believe that you’re the only one who can save the city of Bastogne.”
I graciously welcomed the officials that came, deserting Richelieu.
“Welcome. I truly believe that you’re the brave ones who wish to take action.”
Everything was moving in my favor. Now, all that I had to do was to wait for the emperor’s special envoy to really arrive. However, not everything in the world was that simple.
“My lord! We have an incident!”
“What’s the commotion?”
I criticized Max, but their behaviors were certainly warranted.
“The fire demon king Jackerd is personally leading a great army, and is en route to here!”
What the heck? According to the reconnaissance, the demon king Jackerd was leading 25,000 troops, and was personally on the move to Bastogne.
“That ignorant bastard! Is he coming here just because a checkpoint was damaged!”
As I was pacing around in shock, I remembered one thing. It was a got-you moment. Did Giacomo Albino succeed in assassinating Ultutu, the brain behind the fire demon king, maybe! So, as no one was able to advise him otherwise, Jackerd, personally, mobilized himself?
Of course, I thought about the possible events should the witch Ultutu was assassinated. However, I didn’t realize this acute mobilization of military forces. After all, what was damaged was just a mere checkpoint?
“That ignorant bastard demon king. He is much crazier than I had thought.”
The problem was that this was not the end of it. As soon as the demon king Jackerd was on the move, the feudal lord Trier also mobilized, commanding 30,000 troops.
In fact, they have been fully ready to engage in a conflict, but had been just waiting. It was just a matter of when. But now, as problem arose in Bastogne, it seemed that they were going to make that an excuse to engage.
“Damn bastards. They should fight somewhere else, not here.”
On the next day, messengers arrived from both sides. I was curious as to what kind of messages they were going to bring. And, in the evening, that curiosity was answered.
“Richelieu, the holy count, is looking for you, lord. He added that he will suspend annual pension payments, as well.”
“He is pushed into a corner. Let’s go.”
When I arrived at the castle, Richelieu showed two letters to me.
“Look. Count. They are from both sides.”
First, I looked at the demon king Jarderd’s.
“This is a message from Jackerd, the ruler of Rhymes, and the protector of the fire demon race. Listen, you, the holy count of Bastogne. If you align yourself with me, I’ll withdraw my wrath against your city. I’ll also destroy the conceited feudal lord Trier’s army, so choose wisely as you think about the precedence in Luxembourg.”
It was rather a grave threat. He brought out the events of Luxembourg which was like a trauma to the people, here.
“He intends to burn it down if we do not comply. Huh.”
As I clicked my tongue, Richelieu nodded his head with a heavy heart. Then I scanned the letter from the feudal lord Trier.
“I, the feudal lord, one of the seven pillars of the empire, and the supreme judge of the empire, command you. As a servant and the guardian of Bastogne, the territory of His Highness, you are not to collude with the demon king in any way. You are requested to align with me. I trust that you will not defy the great emperor.”
The conceit was through the roof. It was different from the obvious threat from the demon king Jackerd, but the level was discomfort was all the same.
“Jeez, both of these bastards.”
As I shook my head wildly, Richelieu asked in a heavy tone of voice.
“Please save the city. You said that there was a way.”
“Of course, there is a way.”
It became a bit complicated, but I was confident that I could resolve this. In fact, as one strategized, the original plan was never, really kept.
As new and unexpected events pop up, it was necessary to tweak the plan to recalibrate. The expectation that the opponent would always follow my plan was only something from a theoretical point of view.
The saying that ‘life is a war’ did not come about for nothing. So, I was quite flummoxed, but soon I found my peace.
“But, you know of my conditions.”
“Certainly. Demanding the authority. I will give it to you, count, so please save the city….”
I shook my head when I heard Richelieu.
“Demanding authority was sufficient in the past, but the situation has now changed. You will need to meet additional demands, before I can save the city.”
“What! How could you!”
I was serene even with Richelieu’s protest.
“Forget it if you don’t like it. I’m just a foreigner, anyway. I will just go back to Wittenweire, and forget about this place.”
“You’ve stirred up the city so much, yet you speak in such a way! That is highly irresponsible!”
Unlike his usual serene manner, Richelieu shook his mustache.
“I know that you’re upset, but do take it as a learning experience. Negotiation is like this. Had you given me your authority already, such new demands would not have been necessary.”
Letting out a sigh, Richelieu looked defeated.
“What do you want?”
“First, have everyone leave the room, except you and Daltanang.”
As all the other officials left the room, there only remained Richelieu and Daltanang.
“Good. I’ll tell you what my demands are.”
I walked towards Daltanang, rather than to Richelieu.
“Richelieu. Give Daltanang to me. I’ll keep her as my advisor.”
“What are you talking about! And what do you mean by her?”
Richelieu jumped up and down when he heard my demand. Daltanang cringed without saying anything. Instead of a reply, I moved my hand toward Daltanang’s mustache.
“This is rude!”
Daltanang tried to push away my hand, but like a moving ghost, I pulled out the mustache.
With a short sound, the mustache was cleanly removed. That was because it was a fake mustache which the play actors would use.
As soon as that mustache was removed, a good looking man’s appearance immediately changed into a beautiful woman. Daltanang was simply frozen in her place after I removed the mustache, and Richelieu brought his palm to his forehead. Regardless of what they were doing, I said hello with an exaggerated gesture.
And I kissed the back of her hand as it was the customary way of greeting a lady. Frozen in her expression, Daltanang only bit her lips. Richelieu, too, could not hide his shock.
I laughed as I looked at them.
“Relax. I said that I’ll clear the city of those two sons of bitches?”