Chapter 523: Three Individuals, Three Desires
Capital Goldonia – King’s Quarters.
The king of Goldonia, Alexandro I, in light clothing unbefitting of his authority and without the use of a servant, lines up three gla.s.ses on the table.
He then calls out to the two male guests.
「I can’t pour for you if you’re kneeling. Why don’t you sit on the sofa?」
The two men were Military Commissioner Marquess Erich Radhalde and Domestic Affairs Commissioner Marquess Kenneth Baldwin.
Both of them were second only to the king and it was natural for them to always be accompanied by several attendants, yet they did not dare bring anyone else into the king’s quarters and answered the summons on their own.
「Then, don’t mind if I do.」
「I would humbly rather remain on the floor.」
Erich, who was about to stand up, glares at Kenneth in disgust at the blatant act of ingratiating himself with the king, prompting Kenneth to glare back as if accusing Erich of being a vulgar and rude person.
Their exchange lasted an instant, but the king, having seemingly seen it all, smiles wryly and fills the gla.s.ses with alcohol himself.
「Take a seat, you two.」
The king’s request turns into an order and the two immediately sit on the sofa without a hem or a haw.
Rosario peeks in, but senses the king’s gaze telling her not to come, and quietly bows before disappearing into the adjoining room.
「Firstly, Lord Radhalde. I heard you suspended the inspection of your demesne to answer my summons. It appears I am lacking consideration. Forgive me.」
「Not at all, there is nothing else I should be prioritizing when His Majesty calls upon me.」
Kenneth directs a sarcastic smile at the bowing Erich, mocking him for having spare time to visit his manor during the crucial time after the war, while Erich sends a glare filled with bloodl.u.s.t back at him in such a way that the king can’t see.
The king s.h.i.+fts his gaze to Kenneth next.
「As for you, you were so busy with the restoration that it cut into your precious personal time.」
「It is restoration to the kingdom belonging to Your Majesty. I can find as much time as needed for it.」
This time Erich looks at Kenneth as if to say he was probably spending all night polis.h.i.+ng an intricate plan, which Kenneth responds to by chuckling and turning his eyes away purposely avoiding Erich.
The king did not address that situation, rather he turned to the gla.s.s containing amber liquid and said.
「There is something curious that caught my attention.」
Both of them cease fighting and become tense.
「I believe it was south of Trisnia, near the border of the city states. Viscount of House Helsen and Baron of House Witt are in a dispute over territory. Apparently, Lord Witt has finally aligned his troops on the land in contention.」
Witt is a new n.o.ble family and Helsen is a traditional n.o.ble family.
「With all due respect, Your Majesty, this matter all started when Lord Helsen sent his people into the territory to create a settlement. Lord Witt’s dispatch of troops is the unavoidable means he is using to defend his land.」
「Your Majesty, I have recommended the two houses meet to discuss the issue, but Lord Witt continues to refuse. Lord Helsen is the one who has done everything in his power to avoid clas.h.i.+ng.」
The two of them present their cases and stare at each other at the same time.
「Someone came from the newly granted territory too. Baron Nahmur was the only one absent without leave from the meeting held between my governors. The Baron was informed by his messenger about the meeting’s schedule, but he was not told of the purpose and came to me saying he was humiliated.」
Baron Nahmur is a new n.o.ble surrounded by traditional n.o.bles in the vicinity.
「With all due respect, Your Majesty, Baron Nahmur is a notoriously crude and violent man. His messengers have also been known to behave in the same manner and I have received reports regarding their detention due to trouble caused in other territories. Shouldn’t the blame lie solely with Lord Nahmur?」
「I won’t say the conduct of Lord Nahmur and his subordinates is acceptable by any means, but if it was known that the messenger was an important one, blame can be a.s.signed after his duty was carried out or he should at the very least be allowed to pa.s.s his message to another messenger. One can see the clear malice behind such an act.」
Both of them form sentences that oppose each other.
Both already knew about the impending trouble in advance.
It was not an isolated incident, but part of a larger factional conflict between the new n.o.bles and the traditional n.o.bles.
「I guess I should end the preamble here. The main subject is of a different nature.」
Neither of the two individuals were surprised at what the king said.
Those concerns raised were too trivial for the king to personally invite the heads of the military and government to his private quarters.
「It is regarding the conflict between……you two.」
The tension shared by Erich and Kenneth could be cut with a knife.
「「As n.o.bles of Goldonia, we strive to cooperate for the kingdom’s――」」
The king holds up a hand to interrupt them.
Interpreting that to mean no need for a front, the two do not say anymore and zips their mouths shut.
「I am aware of the feud for power between the new n.o.bles and the traditional n.o.bles. I do not intend to hide that fact.」
The two nod slightly.
Although their chests were puffed proudly but not enough to be obsequious, their gazes checking to see if the king was mad still wavered.
「I――think it’s a good thing. If the ma.s.ses fought all over the place, the country would be in turmoil, but I know you two are not so foolish or tactless.」
The king smirks and stands up, moving himself to the window.
「I foresaw this happening, which is why I distributed the rewards and territory as I did.」
Although the king’s smile persists, his eyes pierce Erich sharply.
「You are my protege, the new n.o.ble who started it all from the Wings of Dawn. It is no exaggeration to say today’s Goldonia exists because of you and them.」
The king only rotates his eyeb.a.l.l.s to face Kenneth.
「You are the traditional n.o.ble who supported the kingdom of Goldonia longer than my father’s and my grandfather’s generations. ……no one views me as an usurper any longer.」
The outbursts of the king tormented by paranoia handicapped Goldonia in the war with South Yuguria, but also instilled fear of the king’s authority in all of the n.o.bles in the nation.
「Merit goes to the new n.o.bles, but the traditional n.o.bles proficient at governance will be important in the upcoming times.」
Erich leans forward.
Everything will be over if the king says the new n.o.bles are not needed in the future.
Understanding that, the king holds down Erich’s shoulder.
「But people change. Their thinking and abilities change as well. It is possible for a man who has risen through the ranks via military accomplishments to be a great official. And it is only through compet.i.tion that his skills can be honed.」
The king’s mouth forms into the largest smile of the day.
It is one of antic.i.p.ation, provocation and delight――
「I expect you two to fight. Strength, money, people, conspiracies, use it all in your compet.i.tion!」
The supposedly wise Erich and Kenneth freeze in place for a few moments.
「There are only two things you need to keep, your loyalty to me and the law of the land. Aside from that, I will overlook the rest. Kick down your opponent and show them you are the future of Goldonia!」
Contrary to the king’s words, Erich and Kenneth, who unconsciously stood up, forgot their rivalry and faced each other.
「It was all planned……I did not see this coming at all.」
「As reluctant as I am to admit, I am also a little flabbergasted.」
Seeing the two in shock, the king smiles in amus.e.m.e.nt.
「Well, I’m not suggesting you to kill each other. Although that may be fine if one of you surrenders. Look, there’s no point in plotting until you leave here. Now that the seal is broken, why not drink?」
The king pours alcohol in the two men’s gla.s.ses until liquid overflows, then sits comfortably on the sofa and crosses his legs.
「……by the way, I’d like to continue from where we left off. I heard Count Corbae messed around in Hardlett’s territory, and soon after his second son and 20 of his knights died in an accident. Do you know anything about this?」
「Unfortunately, no……I am no more than a fool.」
「I asked the Count, but he insisted repeatedly that it was an accident……」
After finis.h.i.+ng their drinks during the chat, the two bowed deeply and exited the room.
Once Erich and Kenneth stepped out of the kings chambers, their respective attendants jumped in, glaring at each other before walking separate directions.
「Oh Cedric, I must have kept you waiting.」
The man serving Erich is Cedric Leavat, 23 years old, and the eldest son of a knight house.
Although Cedric had an episode of bravery in which he led several cavalry in battle, he lacked the sufficient prestige to become Erich’s close aide.
However, Erich saw in Cedric a valuable talent among the new n.o.bles for schemes and domestic affairs that outshone his proficiency in the spear, and decided to keep him around so that talent can be honed.
「If I may ask, what business did His Majesty have with you? If that Kenneth was also called, I’m sure it wasn’t peaceful.」
Erich smiles to ward off his attendant’s overflowing ardor.
「A power struggle officially sanctioned by His Majesty is about to begin. I’ll need you to come into your own as soon as possible. If you want a shot at Kenneth’s jaw, you’re going to have to skirt around the law.」
「Yessir. I’ll make those nasty traditional n.o.bles and their boss cry!」
Cedric grins belligerently as he starts moving his pen rapidly as he walks.
「Also that Hardlett seems to have caused a stir again. Just when I thought he was incredibly sharp, he suddenly goes berserk. I still can’t figure out the depths of his ability.」
「Goldonia’s greatest feudal lord……the war demon Hardlett……gulp.」
Erich comes out of the palace and continues as he boards his carriage.
「You never met him, right? It’s a good opportunity for you, so try and get familiar.」
「Yessir. Actually, my family received land in the neighborhood of Hardlett’s territory, and sent greetings as well as an invitation to an evening party……but he refused, probably because of the difference in family status……」
Erich chuckles and stretches his leg.
「He’s not someone who pays attention to status. He simply refused all requests because he couldn’t bother to read through them. If you aim for the time when his wife is not occupied, you can generally drag him in too……otherwise, you’d have to lure him with women. If I recall, you have an older sister who is unmarried, right?」
Cedric becomes visibly disturbed.
「N-no, not my sister!」
Erich laughs more, while Cedric has a grave demeanor.
「I’m not worried about my sister being attacked or anything rude like that. It’s just……her personality is problematic and she can’t be around people. Even more so when the person is a Margrave……」
「She was 26, right? There certainly must be a reason as to why she hasn’t received a single marriage proposal at that age. Still, I believe that guy would laugh and forgive a mature unmarried lady even if she splashed boiling water on him. Anyways, I’ll let him know you’re coming. ……after crus.h.i.+ng Kenneth, I need him to fully support me. Well, twice that, I’m the one who has to wipe his a.s.s――」
That is when the carriage jolts, coming to a sudden stop with a thunderous crash and throwing Erich and Cedric against the wall.
Cedric peeks out the window when the driver doesn’t respond and finds him lying on the ground.
「It looks like a wheel came off. There are no attackers in sight.」
Broken wood fragments littered the main street of the capital, attracting onlookers from the many buildings along the road and creating a commotion.
「Is it Kenneth?」
「He got us good. The wheels may have been tampered with, but I doubt we’ll have enough evidence to prove he was behind it. It’s a shallow trap if he’s aiming of our lives……perhaps he intends to ground our carriage in a busy street and humiliate the Radhalde name.」
Compared to Cedric who grimaces in frustration, Erich remains calm.
「What is our countermeasure?」
「The carriage maintenance employees have likely been bribed. In that case, I will make an example out of them and run them over with a carriage, making it look like an accident. What follows……although one move late, should suffice as retaliation.」
――At the Same Time.
「What did His Majesty say?」
Talger pops out from beside Kenneth.
He is a man opposite of jovial and lighthearted, rather he is a symbol of gloom and displeasure.
「He told me to fight openly. I didn’t see that coming. He probably gathered evidence from the incident with House Dulicy and House Maedlin. The atmosphere wasn’t right to bring up trivial matters.」
Kenneth replies and thrusts a bundle of papers kept in his pocket at Talger.
「It’s unfortunate. House Maedlin were cornered too.」
Talger utters before lightly tugging on Kenneth’s arm.
「My leg is in bad shape. Can you walk a little slower?」
Kenneth was about to complain why he had to adjust his speed, but thought better of it and waited for Talger to catch up.
「What did you do?」
「I devised a plan which should humiliate Radhalde-dono. You shouldn’t leave the palace until it is complete.」
Kenneth continues, pretending to admire a garden tree.
「Can it be traced back to us?」
「No. The relevant persons have been bribed and threatened into becoming p.a.w.ns.」
Kenneth nods to indicate his approval and sniffs an elegantly blooming flower.
Then he proceeds to smile at the disgruntled young man next to Talger.
「Not a fan of such tactics, Reval-dono?」
The man is one of Kenneth’s aides named Reval Schmidt, age 23, the second son of the Margrave Schmidt whose prestigious family owns vast lands in the northern region of the capital, and possesses the t.i.tle of Viscount himself.
「No, I don’t like it. You don’t need etiquette when beating those savage new n.o.bles, you need dignity. Should it not be the lowly side that sneaks around and plays tricks?」
There is a considerable difference in status between Reval, a Viscount with no territory or post, and Kenneth, the head of domestic affairs.
Nevertheless, Reval states his opinion proudly while being careful not to be disrespectful.
That action is partly due to his a.s.sertive nature, but more than anything, it is probably because he thinks that Kenneth would not be able to ignore the prestige of the Schmidt family. Also, Kenneth had never been overbearing towards Reval.
「Hoho, how reliable. You are unmistakably someone born of the famed Schmidt family, now there is a task I’d like to entrust you with.」
「Anything you ask.」
Reval folds his arms, br.i.m.m.i.n.g with confidence.
「Goldonia’s greatest feudal lord, Margrave Hardlett.」
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Reval raises an eyebrow.
After running over his idiot son and followers with Schwartz, he became obedient.
「I hear Erich and Kenneth are having quite the fight with each other, but it’s with plots so I don’t think an army will be useful.」
Leopolt had closed the doc.u.ment regarding the army details before I realized it.
Then he asks one thing――
「Between Lord Radhalde and Lord Baldwin, who would you rather be under?」
What a silly question.
「Erich is my superior. Plus, I’m a new n.o.ble so I’ll be a.s.sociated with him.」
Leopolt takes a step forward.
「That’s for today. Then what about the future? Who would you like to be the eternal leader?」
I consider it for a moment.
And I don’t answer.
「What if I include one more person?」
Leopolt takes another step forward.
「Let’s add His Majesty. Out of the three, who would you rather have as the eternal leader?」
I still don’t want to answer.
Leopolt pulls away.
Somehow he seems to be emitting an aura of happiness despite his lack of expression.
He makes me so angry that I want to headb.u.t.t his solar plexus.
「Hey. I’m back――what are you doing?」
Sekrit walked into the room just when I was about to headb.u.t.t him.
「I was punis.h.i.+ng a gloomy b.a.s.t.a.r.d. And where the h.e.l.l have you been?」
She vanished without a word ever since the war with South Yuguria was over.
I know it’s Sekrit, but I’m starting to get worried.
「That city you’ve been piecing together, Zwei Elfie or whatever, well it piqued my curiosity when I heard it was a city of danger and adventure. I’ve come to introduce you to an eager candidate.」
It’s abnormal for Sekrit to use her time and effort on a single person.
「I’ve had my fun along the way too. It’s better to get rid of my post-war s.e.xual desires sooner than later.」
「What did you say!?」
I stand up, agitated.
That tanned body should be mine.
It’s a serious affair if she accepted another man’s embrace.
「How big was that guy’s d.i.c.k!?」
「Not even ten centimeters.」
I sigh and sit back down.
「Don’t scare me. I thought you cheated on me.」
「I don’t know what your definition of cheating is……anyways, I simply fooled around with a kid I picked up while travelling so it doesn’t count.」
Poor boy. Rough s.e.x with Sekrit was probably traumatic for him.
「Alright, back to your preference for males.」
I didn’t even notice that Leopolt isn’t here anymore.
Before I could protest, Sekrit was undressing and taking my formal wear from the wardrobe.
「I’ll dress as a man, so f.u.c.k me. Since I enjoyed being the giver with the brat, I want to be on the receiving end this time. Don’t hold back. I don’t mind if you choke me or beat me. I have a whip too.」
Sekrit takes the liberty of cutting a hole in the groin area of her pants with a knife, then puts her foot on the wall and spreads her legs almost 180 degrees to provoke me.
I throw my clothes off and hug Sekrit’s toned body.
「Where did you really go?」
「Fufu, I was hoping to see an adventurer worth a hundred thousand gold coins.」
I don’t get her at all.
I’ll insert myself for the time being.
I don’t have an ounce of interest in males, but this dressing up is nice.
It feels like a new door has been opened. I like it a lot.
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 25 years old. Winter.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend.
Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Elf Mediator. s.e.x King of White City. Mad Demon G.o.d. Poison Resistance.
Sekrit (disguised as a man), ??? (adventurer), Nonna (invitation accepted)
Total: 364 000
Rafen: 45 000, Lintbloom: 10 000, Richemott (former Libatis): 30 000, Zwei Elfie: 300
Personnel: Infantry: 1000, Cavalry: 500, Escort: 30
Armaments: Cannons: 30, Large Cannons: 15, Dwarven Cannons: 15, Field Artillery: 7, Chariots: 30
a.s.sets: -332 000 gold (dwarf trade +5000)
s.e.xual Partners: 808
Children who have been born: 70 + 567
Current Location: Rafen
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