Chapter 0384 Intermission – Empire Unrest Part 2
“The Duchy of Rubin army is now fully deployed.”
“Thank you for your hard work.”
Fiona briefly nodded at the report from Jurgen Bartel, Oscar’s adjutant and acting commander of the Rubin Duchy’s army.
“But, are you really sure this is okay? I wonder if His Majesty Helmut will comment someway if the entire territory is completely ready for war?”
Marie, Fiona’s adjutant and head maid, asked.
“There’s no problem. We can just say it’s to prepare for Linus’ rebellion and to deter a new rebellion from happening.”
Oscar answered without changing his expression.
“The Empire that seemed to be on solid ground turned into something like this in just two weeks…”
Fiona whispered while shaking her head slightly.
“In this situation, it’s a pain that the Emperor’s Twelve Knights aren’t all gathered.”
“The Emperor’s Twelve Knights?”
Fiona reacted to Oscar’s mutterings.
The Emperor’s Twelve Knights are the twelve best knights appointed by the Emperor to protect him.
Each one of them is truly a match for a thousand.
It is no exaggeration to say that it has been the dream of all people of the Empire in all eras.
“The Emperor’s Twelve Knights use force to dispel the danger that approaches His Majesty the Emperor. If the current situation progresses, there will definitely be people who want to cause direct harm to His Majesty the Emperor. While those capable of protecting him.. are few.”
“Father… Former Emperor Rupert’s Twelve Knights were removed by tradition. All of them became nobles and formed territory. As for the newly appointed knights, I believe there are… four?”
Fiona answered while thinking of the new Emperor’s Twelve Knights.
“Well, originally, this isn’t something meant to be done in a hurry, he would have taken his time to appoint suitable knights once he finds them, and there would have been no problem, but… that’s assuming the situation isn’t this rough. Security in the Empire will deteriorate for some time, except perhaps in the east and here in the southeast.”
“Eh? What do you mean…”
Fiona tilted her head at Oscar’s words.
“The southeast region is dominated by the Duchy of Rubin. The eastern region is centered on our neighboring Marquis of Kurkova. If they know about Fiona’s relationship with Marchioness Kurkova, they won’t make a move against her.”
“If they know about our relationship? I don’t think the rebels would think that way, though?”
Fiona asked, still tilting her head at Oscar’s explanation.
“The person pulling the strings behind this rebellion is probably Konrad-sama.”
“Almost definitely. If that’s the case, then he would avoid making Fiona his enemy. Putting aside an attack on the Duchy of Rubin, an attack against the Marquis of Kurkova would also make them Fiona’s enemy, right?”
Fiona immediately nodded to Oscar’s question.
Marchioness Kurkova is someone Fiona has admired for a long time and is also her most trusted noble in the Empire.
Fiona would do everything for her.
Moreover, the Marchioness was also someone who took care of Oscar when he was young.
He would help Fiona, not stop her.
Of course, the military power of the Marquis of Kurkova was by no means weak…
The Knights of the Marquis of Kurkova, led by Captain Norbert, a famous knight within the Empire, are known for their strength.
Perhaps because of the Marchioness’ training, the knights of the marquis’ territory all excel in martial arts, knowledge, and mannerisms.
It is also one of the Knight Orders that many aristocrats admire.
In addition, the Marquis of Kurkova is home to the only school in the Empire that does not require social status and even has a university, forming a kind of academic city.
It was built in the last ten years by the Marchioness with her personal funds.
The city itself is called the Academic City Sans Souci.
Three years ago, during the final stage of the invasion of the Kingdom, the neighboring Duchy of Moorgrund became the battlefield of a fierce battle between the Duchy’s army and the Imperial Army led by the Emperor.
However, the Marquis of Kurkova was spared from the war.
As a result, development did not stop, and it is now the most developed territory in the eastern region of the Empire.
That exceeded even Fiona’s Duchy of Rubin.
“I will absolutely protect this duchy and the Kurkova Marquis.”
Marie couldn’t help but agree with Fiona’s firm determination.
The Third Spire of the Imperial Castle… The Prisoner’s Tower.
Konrad was still in captivity.
“Your Highness, I would like to ask you something.”
“What is it, Rand?”
Konrad’s assistant Rand seemed to have something he didn’t understand.
Since Konrad had appointed him as his aide, it’s natural that he’s quick-witted and capable.
But fundamentally, Rand is a good person.
For that reason, he was by no means familiar with so-called conspiracy techniques and not very good at them.
Of course, for Konrad, that was no problem at all.
He actually thought it was preferable.
The Imperial castle is where evil spirits run rampant.
Konrad’s position and safety are not guaranteed even after he returns to his territory.
For Konrad, who is placed in such an environment, the good-hearted side of Rand, which in some cases could even be called ‘naive’, is comforting to have around him.
“Yes. The other day, there was a report that the 9th Army of the Empire had ‘disappeared’… It’s not that they were annihilated in battle, or that they were defeated, but that they disappeared… How did they disappear?”
“Oh, I see. It’s not like they disappeared through magic or anything. I just threw a ton of money at them.”
“Threw a ton of money at them?”
“Yeah. I said I would give them a lot of money if they left the army. So, everyone left the army. As a result, the 9th Army disappeared.”
Konrad answered Rand’s question as if it was nothing.
“I see. But the pay in the Imperial Army isn’t that low, right? If they leave the army, they won’t have any future income…”
“That’s right. They can serve in the army and get paid until they’re forty-five. That’s why I gave them a certain amount of money. I believe it was 100 million Florins per person.”
“1-100 million Florins…”
Incidentally, the annual salary for ordinary soldiers in the Imperial Army is 2 million florins.
For those fifty years.
“The 9th Army has 15,000 people… that is, 1.5 trillion florins…”
Rand said breathlessly.
“What, you calculated it? As expected of Rand.”
Konrad laughed openly.
“Is that… money Your Highness’s own…?”
“Yes, of course. I didn’t touch the Duchy’s money, so don’t worry.”
“I have been Your Highness’ aide for over five years, I apologize for the insolence, but I had no idea that Your Highness had that much money.”
“Well, it’s part of what I invested and increased from my mother’s inheritance. It’s not a huge amount.”
“No, no… even the duchy’s annual budget is three trillion florins, you know?”
“What, it’s only half of that amount? It’s not a huge amount after all.”
Rand commented while breaking out in a cold sweat, and Konrad responded with a laugh.
“Gold only has value when it’s used. Saving it up gives you peace of mind that you can deal with it if something happens, but that’s it. Money lives only when you use it. Father was very particular about that. He was very good at that… but Helmut-niisama isn’t very good at it.’’
Konrad said with his mouth curled up.
Whether it’s an Empire or a duchy, it’s important to manage it in a way that allows money to be used effectively.
The purpose is not to earn or save money.
It’s okay to collect it as a tax, but the ideal is to let people and merchants use money willingly.
Rather than them reluctantly giving it away as tax, let them spend it happily.
That is the role of the ruler.
Konrad understood that.
“In that respect, Helmut-niisama doesn’t have much understanding. That’s why people don’t like him…”
Even Rand beside him couldn’t hear his murmurs.
Helmut VIII was harshly evaluated by his younger brother Konrad.
But he was by no means incompetent.
There is no way an incompetent person can ascend to the throne. And survive two years at that.
Of course, ever since he was born and before he could remember, he had thought that he would someday become emperor.
He won’t deny that.
It was only natural.
Her father was Emperor Rupert VI and his mother was the Emperor’s first wife.
And he was the first child. Moreover, he was the first prince.
There was no way anyone in that position wouldn’t desire the throne!
Since then, he believed he had achieved as much as he had hoped for.
However, there were still some words that were always said.
“His Majesty Rupert was a great Emperor”
Yes, his father was a great Emperor. That’s a fact, he’ll admit it.
The problem was what lay ahead.
The people who say that continues in their heart. “His Highness Helmut is still inadequate compared to him.”
Maybe it was Helmut’s paranoia.
However, Helmut himself understood, even if he didn’t like to.
He was nowhere near as good as his father, Former Emperor Rupert VI.
Not in which aspects.
Or in what part.
It was… everything.
Helmut is by no means incompetent.
He probably has abilities and qualities that are well above average, even compared to past Emperors.
However, the people around him were not comparing him to past Emperors.
The person that his subordinates, people, and surrounding countries compared him to was Former Emperor Rupert VI.
That was why Helmut was so anxious.
Conquering the Knightley Kingdom or seizing its territory, something even Rupert VI was unable to do.
If he could accomplish that, it can be said that he surpassed Former Emperor Rupert.
That’s why he attacked King Abel.
If he could kill him, the still unstable Kingdom would be shaken.
The successor is only two years old.
The aristocrats who are meant to support the royal family have not yet fully grown up.
Even if he couldn’t conquer it, he should be able to seize some territory!
Even Rupert VI was unable to seize an inch of the Kingdom’s territory. If he could take it away, his evaluation of himself…
However, the attack failed.
When that happened, he started to worry about the domestic situation.
Helmut’s position was also far from solid.
He feared that his rivals would incite the Imperial nobility by pointing out the failure of the attack on King Abel.
Would they rebel against me?
The strongest contender was his younger brother Konrad.
Konrad Bornemisza, Duke of Stein.
Although he is only 23 years old, he has many subordinates he raised from young.
The third son of Former Emperor Rupert VI, and like himself, the son of the first Empress.
The only other child of the first Empress is their youngest sister, Fiona.
There had been reports that Fiona told Former Emperor Rupert VI that she did not want the throne.
In the first place, he must avoid making Fiona an enemy at all costs.
Because to make an enemy of Fiona meant to make an enemy of her husband, Count Oscar Rusca.
No joke, making Oscar his enemy was more terrifying than making the entire Empire his enemy.
That’s why Helmut was genuinely happy that Fiona wasn’t a contender for the throne.
At that, Helmut’s thought chain was interrupted.
“My apologies, Your Majesty. I have an urgent report…”
Unusually, Consul Martina Doner’s voice trembled slightly.
“At noon today, Duke Sigismund of Alant rebelled. It is said that General Ivo, commander of the Empire’s 3rd Army, who was at the Duke’s government office, and others were killed.”
As expected, that was a completely unexpected report for Helmut.
To be honest, he was thinking about the possibility of a new rebellion like Linus and Rolf of Moorgrund.
That would be impossible.
It was more likely that Fiona would rebel than Sigismund!
“Are you sure about that information?”
Helmut asked to confirm.
Consul Martina, who was asked, also understood what Helmut was thinking when he asked such a question.
“Yes. We have verified the information with both the report from the Empire’s 3rd Army and the report from Viscount Jewar who owns the neighboring territory.”
Sigismund, Duke of Alant.
He is the second son of Former Emperor Rupert VI. In other words, Helmut’s younger brother. Konrad’s older brother.
However, since his mother was the third empress and did not have a high social status, he was out of the race to be the next Emperor as soon as the third son, Konrad, was born.
Sigismund himself had no interest in politics and used his wealth and position to develop and protect culture and art.
That did not change even after he became a noble, and his Duchy of Alant in the western half of the Empire is recognized as the area with the most advanced artistic development in the Empire.
Naturally, he doesn’t like fighting, and his military power is by no means large.
He is the kind of man who openly declares that he would rather spend his money on art than on military equipment.
That Sigismund, a rebel?
Moreover, he killed the commander of the 3rd Army who was visiting the government office?
No matter how he looked at it, it didn’t fit the image of Sigismund.
Helmut shook his head again and again.
Although he was the Emperor… he had completely lost the ability to understand what was happening in his Empire…
“Your Highness, urgent news!”
The Third Spire of the Imperial Castle… The Prisoner’s Tower.
Konrad’s aide Rand hurriedly entered.
“What happened? Did Brother Helmut suddenly commit suicide?”
Konrad asked with a smile.
Of course, he knows that won’t happen.
“This is not the time to joke! At noon today, Duke Sigismund of Alant rebelled by killing General Ivo, the commander of the 3rd Army, who was visiting the government office.”
Konrad was shocked by Rand’s report.
Even for Konrad, Sigismund’s rebellion was unexpected.
“The most impossible things happen at the most impossible of times? That brother Sigismund rebelled? What on earth did Helmut-niisama do… or General Ivo do? No, that doesn’t matter. That’s not what we should be thinking about right now. This is different from Linus’ and Rolf’s rebellion. Although he is our half-brother, the Emperor’s younger brother rebelled. The influence it has both domestically and internationally will be drastically different. Moreover, with this… my life is in danger. If I were Helmut-niisama, the first thing I would do would be to kill me while I’m imprisoned. Since it would be better if there were fewer legitimate heirs to the throne. Sigh… the situation has completely changed.”
After muttering that much, Konrad turned to Rand and said.
“Rand, I will escape from the Imperial castle immediately and return to the duchy. Let’s leave here quickly so that Helmut-niisama doesn’t find out.”
All preparations for the escape were complete.
If everything had gone as originally planned, there would have been no need to escape, and the problem would have been resolved while Konrad remained in the prisoner’s tower.
However, something unexpected happened!
Of course, he prepared for an escape just in case that happened.
Konrad muttered softly in the carriage heading towards his territory.
“Nothing goes as planned.”