Translated by KaiesV
Edited by KaiesV
The King’s estate.
King Philip was slumped over in his comfortable chair.
The lunch prepared on a small desk beside him was only slightly touched.
His appetite was not satisfied due to the fatigue he could not get rid of.
The king simply closes his eyes and contemplates the current state of his country.
It has been more than a month since the long rains, but the appeals from all over the country have not ceased.
The office he had been in just a few minutes earlier was swarmed by officials seeking approval in turn, so much so that his right hand shook as he held the seal of approval.
「If only Roger were here to help me…」
The king muttered something like that, but immediately shook his head as if to deny his own words.
It was by the king’s own order that his right-hand man, the Prime Minister Roger, was returned to his estate.
And as more detailed reports came in from the south, including the territory of Garandolf, he became more and more convinced that he was not mistaken in his judgment.
The damage to the territory of Garandolph was the greatest in the Kingdom.
However, Roget not only responded quickly to end the chaos, but also provided food aid to the surrounding fiefdoms that were nearly starving to death.
——It was a close call.
But he could not rest easy.
Thanks to Roger’s differential arrangement, the South has escaped the immediate crisis.
But it was only temporary.
Messengers have been sent to the neighboring religious state of Pastia to ask for food aid—— Of course, with the price of the purported donation—— However, there was no assurance that the stockpile would last until their return.
——Should we spend more or spend less
The royal family has food for contingencies.
Although a large stockpile, half of it had already been released in the current famine.
The king sits in his chair and looks at the window facing east.
His eyes reflected a clear sky, a change from last month, but it was not the weather that worried the king.
「How will the new emperor emerge」
It was last year that the young emperor was enthroned in the Empire of Carrhs, located to the east of Rynegard.
Six months before the coronation ceremony, the previous emperor fell ill, and a struggle for succession broke out.
There were three persons with the right to succeed to the throne.
The first son, the son of a side chamberlain.
The second son, the son of his legal wife, and the young imperial daughter, Juliette Carrhs, born to another concubine.
Normally, the eldest son would have been the crown prince, but the position was still up in the air due to the emperor’s reservations about the regular family.
Therefore, since the fall of the emperor, the factions of the princes became more and more opposed to each other day by day.
Juliette also had a right of succession.
However, she showed no interest in the imperial throne and enjoyed only long rides, hunting and playing like a man.
Although some of her subjects strongly admonished her for not being a good candidate for the throne, she often forced them to go along with her games.
These behaviors, combined with her mother’s low status, reduced the number of those who promoted her, and even some of Juliette’s relatives switched sides to the two princes’ faction.
Everyone thought it would be a struggle between two real princes.
However, the flow of events began to change drastically when the seven close advisors favored by the previous emperor in his later years began to make their moves.
As the emperor’s agents, they were able to keep their power at their command.
They were enjoying the very spring of his life, but because of this, they were shunned by the prince and other people.
When the emperor died, their prosperity would end.
On the contrary, the new emperor could be accused of tyranny.
With this sense of crisis, they turned to Juliette.
She is a girl who does things without thinking and does not even have a faction.
She was the perfect puppet to install on the throne.
They decide to carry Juliette on their shoulders.
From that point on, the actions of the close associates were extremely vicious.
They first approached the second son, and after having him exorcised, they blew the whistle that the emperor really wanted the second son, the son of his legal wife, to take the imperial throne.
They then offered to hold a banquet to celebrate the emperor’s slight recovery.
——His Majesty intends to declare then that His Highness is his successor.
However, he doesn’t know what kind of interference his son will make if the matter is leaked.
He then begged to proceed as a get-well celebration.
They whispered sweet nothings to the guests and had them make arrangements for the banquet without showing the shadows of his closest advisors.
Next, they meet secretly with the eldest son and tell him that the exact opposite is true: it is a banquet at which the emperor declares that the eldest son is the heir apparent.
——However, it wouldn’t be surprising if the younger brother, who found that he could not inherit the company, went berserk.
Just to be safe, they would recommend that he have a skilled man in attendance who will spare his life for the sake of His Highness.
As if out of concern for his eldest son’s safety, they advised him to secretly arrange for an escort.
On the day of the feast that both parties had been waiting for.
The eldest son suddenly collapsed after tasting the food.
The vassals, who had attended the event as uninvited guests, were suspicious that the second son might have been responsible.
When the second son tried to explain the unexpected attitude of his closest advisors, his head was chopped off by his eldest son’s guards who were enraged.
The emperor, who had lost his two sons in front of him due to his own simpering attitude, also declined rapidly and died after naming Juliette as his successor.
For her, who had no faction, she entrusted her favored close advisors to take care of her affairs.
The plan came to fruition.
With their own desires for the next step in their lives, the vassals head for the coronation ceremony of the lovely new puppet emperor.
But all Juliet had in store for them was not further status, but only the gleam of a cold blade.
Suddenly, soldiers rush into the audience chamber where the coronation ceremony was being held, and slash at the closest vassals.
They were so astonished that they did not even try to protect the emperor, but rather fled behind him, and some even tried to use him as bait.
However, in the face of such resistance, every last one of the close associates lost their lives.
The noisy hall was quieted by the voice of a girl whom everyone had underestimated.
——The traitors who sought to devour the empire have been defeated!
At the sound of the voice, the soldiers who have broken in simultaneously offer their blood-soaked swords to their chests.
With that gesture, the imperial aristocrats of the thousand and one nations present understood in an instant by whom this gruesome purge had been carried out.
Immediately they were down on one knee, and the only people standing in the audience chamber were the soldiers who had offered their swords and the girl who glared at them from her seat above, stepping timidly down the stairs where blood was pouring down.
Juliette was playing the fool.
She was playing at being a fool to make her brothers lose their guard, and at the same time, she was selecting the people who would be around her.
She secretly revealed her heart to her trusted advisors and secretly built up her own faction behind the scenes.
The reason why she let those who admonished her play with her was to have secret talks with her in a place where no one else could see them.
The girl who had demonstrated the prestige of the empire rose to the position of emperor in both name and reality.
「30% will be left.」
There was no way that the empress, who had stabilized the empire with numerous reforms after her accession to the throne, would have missed this opportunity.
Fearing an imperial invasion, Philip makes the decision to gradually reduce the release of stockpiles.
This was the best he could do for his starving subjects.
As he was about to ring the bell on the small desk calling for people, there was a knock at the door of the apartment, bringing word from the chamberlain who had entered that someone was seeking an audience.
「Who is asking for it」
「I am an emissary of the Duchy of Clanetta.」
The answer was so shocking that it made the king waver as he was about to get up from his chair.
These days, he have received many messengers from all over the country asking for his support.
And that it would come from the largest pantry in the kingdom, the Clanetta family!
The king, however, rolls his eyes at the words added by the chamberlain who senses his misunderstanding.
「Rest assured, Your Majesty.
Clanetta’s emissary is asking for permission to assist other territories.」
「…I’ll be right there.
Take the messenger to the audience chamber.」
The attendants left, and the king himself was about to head for the audience chamber, but he spun around, walked back to his easy chair, and hurriedly stuffed his lunch into his mouth.
Now that I know the food situation in the kingdom, there is no way he can make them leave the food behind and throw it away, even if they have no appetite for it.
Grasping his role and responsibility, the king left with strong steps.
「Raise your head.」
At King Philip’s words, the blue-haired messenger of Clanetta, who had been kneeling on the lower seat, raised his head.
He was, surprisingly, a youthful young man of seventeen or eighteen.
He did not recognize his face, and the clothes he wore, although well tailored, were reminiscent of those of a commoner.
「Who the hell is this little…」
「Clanetta appears to be short on personnel…」
Court officials waiting in the audience chamber and—— lower nobility—— whispering to each other.
The person sent as an envoy to the king is usually a senior member of the family or an expert in the field of his choice.
The reason for this is the need to report accurately during the brief audience.
Either way, many of them are older than their mature years for these reasons.
Then a young man with somewhat of a boyish innocence appeared, and the bureaucrats began to make a fuss.
But the king lightly raised his arm to silence them and spoke to them in a soft tone, urging them to report back.
「Welcome, messenger of Clanetta.
Let us hear what you have to say.」
「Hah, I humbly submit this report.」
The messenger briefly described the damage in the other territories and conveyed Clanetta’s desire to provide support, despite the scornful glances he received from the nobles on both sides of the table.
The contents of the report were more accurate than the research that had come to the king, indicating the high level of intelligence gathering ability of the territory.
「There’s some, I would like to ask.」
「Please feel free to ask any questions you may have!」
And true to his word, the messenger answers the questions posed by the king without excess or deficiency.
In the process, the king learned for the first time that food was being withheld at the gates of each territory, and that support was not being provided as expected.
The king looked around at the surrounding bureaucrats with some discomfort, and saw that some of them were trembling.
Perhaps he was doing something similar in his own territory.
The king secretly sighed and announced the royal decree, wondering which of the two was lacking in human resources.
「An imperial decree shall be issued to all those belonging to the Kingdom.
No one shall stand in the way of Clanetta’s support and take away her load.」
The bureaucrats in the audience hall fell flat and went to their places as if they were being urged on.
The king called out to the still deeply prostrated messenger and made him look up.
「Thanks to Clanetta and you, we now know exactly what is going on in the Kingdom.
I thank you.」
「It is my pleasure.
On behalf of my Lord, I thank you.」
「What is your name, son」
Asked this, the blue-haired young man proudly replies.
「My name is Claude.
I am dedicated to the Duke of Clanetta and his daughter Elizabeth.」
Clanetta had a good retainer.」
「Thank you for your kind words.
Through Clanetta, I will be even more loyal to the royal family.」
Leaving Claude to bow deeply again, Philip retreated from the audience chamber.
He was a little envious of the Clanetta family, they were young, capable, and loyal.