Chapter 0268 Circumstances of Each Country
“Kukuku, did you see that fire-attribute magician’s dumb face! That was a landslide victory for us!”
Back in Abel’s office, the water-attribute magician was smiling devilishly….
He was very pleased.
“W-Well…his expression didn’t waver much…”
Trying to refute, His Majesty the King was met with the stern gaze of the premier duke.
“I-I could see through his expression that he was trying to hide his surprise…”
“That’s right, there you go.”
Abel revised his opinion, and Ryo nodded repeatedly.
Marquis Heinlein, listening next to them, remained silent.
Perhaps he had come to terms with the fact that that was the way things were with those two.
Nevertheless, there was a matter that needed to be brought to their mutual awareness as soon as possible, so he initiated the discussion himself.
“The dispatching of delegation to the Western Countries…we need to look into it.”
“Mm. I was surprised when I heard the proposal…but the question is, why now and why that in particular?”
The question Abel posed was the same as the one Marquis Heinlein had when he heard it.
The timing of the proposal was too abrupt.
“Um~, is it really that difficult to go to the Western Countries?”
Ryo decided to ask the question in earnest, as he had no knowledge of the Western Countries.
Better to ask for the way than go astray.
“Oh, you bet it is. First of all, there are no roads leading there from the Central Nations. No direct trades, let alone regular exchanges. There are several small states scattered throughout the region, and we’ll need to go through them…but they aren’t the safest of places, and in some places, there are no countries at all. No decent merchant would venture there to do business. And from either side, be it the Central Nations or the Western Countries, it is physically difficult to have regular exchanges.”
Abel answered Ryo’s question.
Ryo’s eyes widened at the answer.
“Abel gave a decent answer…”
“Oh, give it a rest. You may not realize but I’m still the king of this country. I would know at least that much!”
Abel yelled in reply to Ryo’s terrible words.
But then, a question suddenly popped into Ryo’s head.
“Come to think of it, the hero Roman and his party came from the Western Countries, right? And, you know, Arthur Verasis, the advisor of the magician order, has been to the Western Countries when he was young…”
“Yeah. But they’re all top-notch adventurers, aren’t they? Even Arthur must have been a B-rank adventurer at the time. Makes sense that such a capable lot would make it there in one piece. But when it comes to protecting a large number of non-combatants who aren’t used to violence, as in this case…what do you think, Marquis Heinlein?”
“Yeah, it’s going to be pretty challenging.”
Marquis Heinlein replied, nodding several times before continuing.
“We will have to pass through at least four small countries to reach the QC Duchy, the easternmost of the western countries. These are the corridor countries, as some call them. In all, it’s a month-long one-way journey, but the intervening pitch-black forest, Lanci Gorge, and Hunsun Mountains…will pose quite a challenge.”
Ryo was honestly impressed by Marquis Heinlein’s explanation.
“As expected of the Prime Minister…you’re more informed than His Majesty the King…”
“Hey, you, premier duke, I heard that!”
The relationship between the number one and number two of a country is usually not a good one, but in the Kingdom, it seems that there’s no such concern….
“If we were to send a delegation, I think it would be a question of size and who to send as the head of the delegation.”
Marquis Heinlein said.
Abel, Marquis Heinlein, and Ryo were sitting on the sofa, having the discussion.
With some Kona coffee in front of them.
“It’s kind of a hassle that we’ll have to see what position the Empire takes.”
Abel said, sipping his coffee.
Ryo asked, tilting his head, not quite understanding what he meant.
“Who the Empire appoints as the head of the delegation will determine who we send as the head of the delegation as well. For example, if the head of the delegation is a negotiator from the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then a person from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be fine. However, if, for instance, Lady Duchess Rubin from earlier, in other words, the sister of the current Emperor, is appointed as the leader, we will have to appoint a member of the royal family or a high-ranking noble as well.”
“That’s indeed cumbersome~.”
Abel explained with a frown on his face, and Ryo muttered to himself as if it were someone else’s problem, thinking that such aspects between countries, hidden from the general public, are not only difficult to understand but also cumbersome~.
Even though the premier duke is undoubtedly a high-ranking noble….
“Besides, there are others to consider besides the Empire and our Kingdom…”
Marquis Heinlein said, to which Abel replied.
Jayclaire, capital of the Handal Union. The governor’s office.
“What a royal pain…”
Lord Aubrey, the governor, said while letting out a heavy sigh.
The Union also received an invitation from an Imperial envoy for a joint mission to the Western Countries.
After sending off the imperial envoy, Lord Aubrey sat on the sofa in his office, contemplating the matter.
Sitting across from him was his right-hand man, his aide Lamber, looking at some documents and said.
“My Lord, even if you say that…”
“I know. The Empire will take the lead, and perhaps the Kingdom will also send a delegation. We can’t send some nobodies that would make us look inferior compared to the two countries…I know it sounds ridiculous, but if we make policies that destroy the country’s reputation, it may rub some people the wrong way. The best way to ensure smooth governance is to make the people realize that their country is a great power, respected by neighboring countries. If we send a poor delegation to the Western Countries, who knows what they will say about us for decades to come.”
Lord Aubrey said with a wry smile.
“Now then, who shall I appoint to take charge of this…”
In his mind, he was having a hard time choosing the right person.
As a coalition government, no decision has been made yet, obviously…since they just received the news from the Imperial envoy an hour ago.
The bureaucrats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were apparently in a hurry to consider the matter.
Although that being the current situation, Lord Aubrey is the governor of the Union.
He felt it necessary to come up with something on his end besides whatever the bunch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would come up with.
If after pooling ideas together and looking into it, it turns out decent, great.
Or if both sides ended up coming up with the same idea, even better.
No one can run a government if they are so foolish enough to be without a plan until someone brings it to them.
“I’ve thought it over and…I can’t think of anyone else besides that old man…”
Lamber broke into a smile upon hearing Lord Aubrey’s muttering.
“I wonder if he’ll accept…. you’re very wary of that venerable personage after all, sir…”
Lord Aubrey chuckled and accepted Lamber’s opinion.
“I finally replaced him two years ago, and now he’s living a secluded life in…where’s it again?”
“Fost, it’s situated in the north. A city that has grown considerably in the last five years…it’s a nice, scenic place with good quality iron ore.”
“I see. I’m going to take a quick stroll there. As for the kingsguard…I guess a company will do. In case I end up getting attacked.”
Saying this with an expression that was neither serious nor joking, Lord Aubrey left the room.
He left behind a large number of unapproved documents on his desk along with Lamber.
“…Um…you’ll be gone for at least three days…what are you going to do about all these documents…?”
Lamber’s mutterings fell on deaf ears in the office.
After a day, Lord Aubrey arrived in the northern city of Fost.
The city spreads out on both banks of a large river.
The west bank is the city center, and the east bank is lined with the mansions of wealthy merchants and nobles.
Lord Aubrey and his company-sized kingsguard arrived in front of one of the largest mansions on the east bank.
Naturally, the gatekeeper was puzzled.
However, the carriage in which Lord Aubrey was riding had the coat of arms of the Union painted on it.
Moreover, the company-sized kingsguard accompanying him was a fearless unit, with a presence that could not be ignored by anyone who laid eyes on them.
With that alone, even the gatekeeper could understand that the person riding in the carriage was no ordinary person.
The commander of the company-sized kingsguard dismounted his horse, approached the gatekeeper, and asked.
“This is the residence of His Majesty Roberto Pirlo, the former king of the Kingdom of Capitone, is that correct?”
“Indeed, yes. May I ask who is this gentleman?”
The gatekeeper too in turn asked, properly.
He does measure up to what one might expect of the gatekeeper of a mansion in which a former king resides.
“This is the carriage of Aubrey Hubble Coleman, the Governor of the Handal Union. Could you please inform your lord of our presence.”
“Governor…Lord Aubrey! R-Right away sir. Please wait a moment.”
With that, the older of the two gatekeepers ran into the mansion.
The one who remained behind waited, his face tense, unable to move at all.
“Does the Governor of the Union have that much time on his hands?”
Lord Aubrey was shown into a room, with a cup of coffee placed in front of him as he waited, when an old man opened the door and walked in suddenly, saying so.
His gray hair was trimmed short, with no beard, and his back was ramrod straight.
But he was definitely an old man, and looked to be over the age of seventy.
But there was power behind his gaze, and many would tremble if they were to look him squarely in the eye…even now, after he’s retired from active service.
The person he was addressing, however, was Lord Aubrey.
“Thankfully, I’ve been in this position for thirteen years, so I’ve gotten a little used to it.”
He replied and sipped his coffee.
“Did it occur to you that maybe I put poison in that coffee?”
“Not for a second. If you get rid of me now, who’s going to hold the Union together? Your Majesty knows it best.”
Lord Aubrey possesses full confidence in his presence to say such.
“Hmph. I do think I was right in choosing you as the governor…but I also hate your gut.”
Saying that, the old man sat down in front of Lord Aubrey.
The Kingdom of Capitone.
One of the ten major countries that make up the Handal Union
The core of the Handal Union is the Ten Countries.
Representatives from each country make up the Ten-member Council, which was originally the supreme decision-making body of the Union.
Thirteen years ago, the Union suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Kingdom. During the so-called ‘Great War’.
After that, the Ten-member Council chose Lord Aubrey as ‘governor’, and a ‘commander’ in time of war to rebuild the Union.
At this point, the power relations were certainly more in favor of the Ten-member Council than of the new governor, Lord Aubrey.
Which wasn’t surprising since they had the power to appoint governors and commanders.
Quite a number of governors had been elected and presided over the Union in the past, but the Ten-member Council had always been above them.
But after Lord Aubrey took over as governor, the balance of power changed.
About a decade later, the governor, Lord Aubrey, had become much more powerful than the Ten-member Council.
The main reason for this was that nine of the ten members of the Ten-member Council had been replaced.
The representatives of each country who make up the Ten-member Council are the king, grand duke, or duke of each country.
They are the highest authority in their respective countries.
However, since Lord Aubrey became governor, they suffered a series of unfortunate events….
Some died of illness, some were attacked by thugs and never to be heard from again, and some were involved in a coup d’etat and died….
Naturally, when such things happened so conveniently and at such opportune moments, one wonders if someone was pulling strings behind the scenes….
Needless to say…it didn’t take a conspiracy theorist to figure it out.
And in this case, the person most likely to be pulling the strings was the governor, Lord Aubrey.
He had that much power, ability, and motive….
The nine who were replaced…were those who had become the new supreme powers in their respective countries…and they were content with their positions alone.
They recognized that the supreme power in the ‘Union’ would be held by Lord Aubrey…for their own protection.
To protect the position they held in their respective countries.
If they desired even the supreme power in the Union and were killed like their predecessors…it would all be for naught.
Thus, Lord Aubrey, as the highest authority in the Union, was able to demonstrate his acumen without being restrained by anyone.
Nine figures were replaced.
But only one man kept his seat in the Ten-member Council without being replaced.
That is Roberto Pirlo, the previous king of Capitone, who is seated right before Lord Aubrey.
Of course, that isn’t to say that Lord Aubrey trusted King Roberto Pirlo…or didn’t try to replace him.
It’s just that King Roberto Pirlo was more capable than most and defended his position against all obstacles.
And two years ago, Roberto Pirlo gave up the throne of the Kingdom of Capitone and his seat in the Ten-member Council to the crown prince, and finally went into hiding.
“So, what brings you all the way from Jayclaire? I need to go fix my sword after this. So make it brief.”
“I am surprised to hear that His Majesty is a smith.”
Of course, that was a lie.
Lord Aubrey knew that King Roberto Pirlo was a smith by hobby.
He also knew that that was why he chose Fost, where good quality iron ore can be extracted, as his hiding place.
“Hmph, keep lying through your teeth. Fost was a pioneer village that produced good iron ore and had talented blacksmiths who sometimes produced remarkable swords. I, too, once commissioned a sword without revealing my name…. But the village was attacked by a pack of war wolves and perished…. It’s such a big city now.”
Roberto Pirlo looked out the window as he said this.
He had become fond of looking at the view of the city on the other side of the bank.
“Actually, an envoy from the Empire came yesterday…”
Lord Aubrey began by telling him about the mission to the Western Countries.
“…I would like to ask Your Majesty to take charge of the delegation from the Union.”
“You do know I’m already seventy-five years old, right? Yet you’re asking such an old man to make a trip to the West? Good grief…the governor of the Union is as cold-hearted as they come huh…”
Roberto Pirlo said with a frown.
Nonetheless, Lord Aubrey knew that he wasn’t really against it.
Hence why he came to ask him in the first place.
“I believe that Your Majesty once spoke of your admiration for the Western Countries.”
“…I’m surprised you remember such a thing from so long ago.”
Roberto Pirlo had told him in a conversation that took place before Lord Aubrey was appointed governor.
Lord Aubrey, who boasted an excellent memory, could not have forgotten.
“But why me? I’m sure there are younger and more suitable options.”
“As far as I know, the only person in the Union who has retired but is still competent and able to stand on equal footing with whoever the Empire or the Kingdom puts forward is Your Majesty.”
“The Union can’t really be that short of talent…”
Nevertheless, Roberto Pirlo brought his hand to his chin and thought deeply.
Then he muttered.
“Whoever they put forward, huh…”
After that, a full minute passed in silence….
“Fine, why not. I’ll be putting out a list of demands, but sure, I’ll go.”
Roberto Pirlo accepted, and Lord Aubrey bowed.
“However, if, for instance, the Empire puts a high-ranking official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge, in that case, we’ll also appoint someone from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and not Your Majesty…”
“What a letdown, after stirring things up thus far…”
Roberto Pirlo shook his head slightly a few times in response to Lord Aubrey’s words.