Buying and selling people is an atrocity in the teachings of Ar Xia, and a crime under the laws of Arxia. In the past when Kaldia’s economic activities were devastated, my father used to dispatch his unemployed citizens outside the fief as public labourers, and this was how he paid the national tax. Although he was clever enough to avoid breaking the law by calling it a labour service, it didn’t change the fact that he was a slave trader.
What Epadena is doing was the same as what my father did. If you don’t have anything to sell, then you sell people.
So, how are the sold goods used?
The entire House of Lords was shook as I mumbled this.
“Slave soldiers… to increase Densel’s army?”
“Ah, how could they…”
“What a vile nation they are. I can’t understand why Planates would want to be united with such a nation!”
The northern nobles’ gazes became even more intense as the nobles verbally expressed their displeasure towards Giograd, and by extension, Rindarl. What have I done?
“Twenty days ago, a messenger from Paktushuki visited our gate along the border for the first time in eleven years and brought us detailed information on the situation over there. Epadena is about to suppress Jenhans. Even the nations on route that have allowed the army to pass through have lost significant numbers of people.”
“Paktushuki… is a nation with a trade permit? Are they that friendly that they would send a messenger to give us information even though they know they can’t enter?”
When the noble, who was hosting this meeting, asked this question casually, the Margave shook his head.
“It would seem they are. I heard that a group of Arxian merchants, who visited them more than ten years ago, contributed greatly to the economic development of Paktushuki. At the same time, the teachings of Ar Xia also spread throughout their nation, and although I don’t know what has happened to their nation since then because of the distance, the messenger also carried a diplomatic letter with them asking for protection from Arxia, as a sovereign nation.”
The diplomatic letter was favourable and the message it carried seemed to concern the reasons for the critical international situation.
… More than ten years ago? Perhaps the merchant I had killed was part of that merchant group. I’m talking about… Kamil’s father.
“There’s nothing that can be done now about the mentality of Rindarl, who now enslaves people of defeated nations. We can just change this with our victory. But we have other problems to face.”
“You’re talking about the royal army.”
Earl Lorenzorell, the son of the commanding general of the royal army, changed the topic. He is a strategist in the army and is here on behalf of the commanding general. He’s also my classmate Sieghart’s father.
“I’m sure everyone here is well aware that unlike the private knight orders and armies of the lords, the royal army is restricted by strict laws.”
The nobles started murmuring again at the sound of his voice, which sounded a lot like the commanding general’s.
The private knight orders and lord armies established by nobles basically exist for emergencies. They can act freely to a certain extent since they might not be able to make it to where they need to be in times of emergencies if they need to wait for permission, but if they do something wrong, then they will be punished for it later.
However, that wasn’t the case with the royal army, which is under the control of the House of Lords as an army directly under the King, and the state-appointed Jugfena Knight Order, which is also directly under the King.
… The warfare laws in Arxia are rather complicated. Generally, we mainly use our armies for self-defence, but it is possible for us to invade other nations when we’re in a state of war. However, we can only attack the enemy army under the authorisation of the King, and we can only invade land which belongs to the army.
The reason why the King has to approve the nations that we can attack is because otherwise, we would become a nation that will invade any kingdom during wartime.
There are three branches of armies at the border: The Royal Army, led by Marquis Lorenzorell, Jugfena Royal Army, consisting of the knights and commoners at Jugfena Fortress, and the armies of the surrounding lords, namely Margrave Junas’s army, and my Kaldia army, which has just returned.
Of those, only the lords’ armies are allowed to fight without the King’s permission since they weren’t a part of the Royal Army.
Of course, the other two armies have permission to intercept and counterattack the Rindarl forces at any time if they invade, but that’s the only permission they have.
In short, any attacks made on Rindarl’s allied forces aren’t authorised.
“Of course, under these circumstances, we will allow them to intercept allied forces as well. But we must discuss who will inform the soldiers of this.”
Permission given to the Royal Army is issued under the name of the King. That is to say that it is a royal order. The royal order isn’t something that a mere noble can pass on in the King’s name.
“So… who of the royal family will be sent to the frontline? That’s the issue.”
――― The meeting continued until the sun began to set.
The final nominee was Eric Tulle Dorvadine, the second son of the Archduke, and the son of his concubine.
“Hey! Why are you riding in the carriage with me?!”
Eric barked as he sat cross-legged with his arms folded in the seat across from me.
I hesitated on whether I should answer him or not, then wondered how I should answer while holding back a sigh.
“… Because I am Eric-dono’s bodyguard while we’re travelling to Jugfena.”
“Then you can ride a horse and swing your sword!”
“To be precise, I haven’t been assigned as your bodyguard. I was told to escort you under my banner. So, it’s actually my army who is protecting you. I train them to lead, but I’ll only get in the way of them working as soldiers to protect someone.”
“Argh, whatever. You’re noisy, shut up!”
Asshole. He asked me a question, and then told me to shut up when I carefully explained everything to him. What an annoying guy.
What was decided at the House of Lords on that day and the following day was immediately put into action, and after a strategy meeting with the Royal Army in the morning, as expected, exactly five days after I arrived at the Royal Capital, I set off for Jugfena with Eric, carriages loaded with supplies and soldiers from the Kaldia and Royal army.
Eric was annoying, which was to be expected after what had happened at the evening party on the night after the Academy started. But all the other carriages were filled with supplies for the frontline, and there was nowhere else to sit, so I had to put up with him.
I didn’t want to get involved with him any further, so I pushed Eric out of my mind and shifted my gaze out the window.
The landscape of Ryunfeld, located between the Royal Capital and Kaldia, is a long stretch of peaceful agricultural land. Every path in Ryunfeld was paved simply, and there were perfectly designed waterways everywhere. That’s what Ryunfeld looked like.
There were many industries in Ryunfeld, but they specialised in agriculture. It is known throughout the kingdom as a major grain-producing region who supports the Royal Capital.
As I was admiring their well-developed irrigation technology and cultivation tools, Eric barked, “――― Hey, why do you keep looking outside? There’s nothing there!”
Is he really bored? He told me to shut up, so I did, but now he’s talking to me again. He really is annoying.
“… There is something. I’m looking at the well-developed agriculture land in Ryunfeld. See, there’s irrigation work being done everywhere. It’s very useful as a reference.”
I couldn’t ignore him, so I held down my sigh and replied.
Eric frowned. He looked like he was straining.
“… Irrigation work? What’s that?”
“There’s some undeveloped land in my fief. We’re going to build irrigation channels in the rivers and lakes to eliminate flooding to make the land habitable.”
“Oh, good work.”
I thought I had answered his question, but Eric suddenly became irritated and spat out briefly.
… It’s getting more annoying to talk to him. Should I ask to ride behind one of my soldiers at the next stop? Maybe I’ll ask Gunter.
What is it this time? My gaze was apparently sharp when I looked at him for the third time, and he flinched for a moment. But he spoke firmly. It would have been better if he had kept his mouth shut.
“Alfred seems to acknowledge you a little, but Grace and I don’t trust you! Don’t make the mistake of getting too close to Alfred, you rising Junior Earl!”
Shouldn’t I be the one who should be telling you not to misunderstand?
How sad that I had to do something that would bring the displeasure of nobles from everywhere. I was the one who was troubled by the unexpected approach of the Crown Prince that night at the evening party.
“A rising Junior Earl like me cannot read what the Crown Prince is thinking. However, His Highness is an intelligent man who is blessed with a good environment, so I’m sure that he will quickly understand social status during his time at the Academy.”
“Hah? What do you mean by that?”
What do I mean? It means that you should quickly make the Crown Prince understand the differences in social statuses when you return from this trip.
I don’t have time to figure out what the Crown Prince is thinking. But as I have told him, I have no intention of becoming friends with him.
I’ve been awarded with two prizes recently, and I’ve gained status, money, and prestige; I have even received the greatest honour of being a noble. Perhaps because of this, the feelings that the northern nobles directed at me at the House of Lords was even more intense. Their stares told me that they would send an assassin after me if I tried to get close to the Crown Prince.
Well, unlike Eric, I probably won’t return to the Royal Capital until after this war is over, but I’m sure this chatterbox will tell the Crown Prince all about his frustrations and exasperations from his travels. That should make some distance between us… Probably. Or so I would like to believe.
It took two days on a carriage from the Royal Capital. Isn’t it natural that the group decided to stay in my Kadia fief on the way there?
In peaceful times, it’s unlikely that a person from an Archduke and Marquis House would stop by a newly promoted Earl’s fief and stay overnight. The servants of the former feudal lord’s mansion, the Golden Hill Mansion, which is now treated as a branch, weren’t able to cope with the situation. It seemed that Bellway, who had been entrusted with the management of the mansion, quickly gathered personnel from the surrounding villages, and they were barely able to prepare a warm reception for the nobles.
By the way, the reason why the reception wasn’t held at the new feudal lord’s mansion was simply because of location. The newcomer’s village and current feudal lord’s mansion was located away from the road that led from the Royal Capital to Jugfena.
“… It’s a shabby mansion, inappropriate for your position.”
The first thing Eric said when he got out of the carriage was as rude as ever, but his tone didn’t contain mockery or condescension, it sounded as if he had just carelessly stated this out loud.
“I’m sure the person who built this mansion didn’t expect to receive a new title.”
“Yeah, you’re right. No one would want to believe that a descendant of theirs would take credit for a victory that was won by a cowardly act.”
It seems that what happened in Lynx Plateau was well received by the nobles in the Royal Capital. It was talked about everywhere as if it was a fad.
“It’s true that if people knew that they would give birth to someone like that then they might not have children at all. If I knew that I would give birth to someone like the former feudal lord, then I wouldn’t think about having children at all.”
Not just my father, but what I said could be the subject of what Eric had said. The thought of my own children or grandchildren being able to hurt and kill people without changing their expression repulses me.
Eric’s shoulders shook and he glared at me even though he had made that kind of statement. Apparently, my comment had unintentionally struck a nerve with him.
… Oh, I see.
It wasn’t odd that my self-deprecating words would strike a nerve with him. ――― Eric’s stepmother, his mother’s murderer, shunned his existence.
I made sure that the Kaldia soldiers that I was taking to the battlefield with me were ready by the time we left the next day. From here, I will lead them, not in a carriage, but on a mounted beast. I’ll be leading the army, which has grown over the past three years to the point where it wouldn’t dampen our population after the Sill Tribe joined, while riding Rashiok.
Perhaps because it’s been a long time since I’ve come in contact with him, Rashiok seemed extremely happy.
His serpent-like tail was swaying behind him and his steps were light. When I stroked the back of his neck in an obvious gesture of affection, his ears twitched in pleasure.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been able to keep you company. I wish I could have taken you to the Royal Capital with me, but that’s just not possible.”
I said and he replied with a cry that sounded as if he was trying his best to say something. I narrowed my eyes and stroked the back again since it sounded as if he was saying that he understood.
“… Hey, he’s watching you, Eliza-sama,” the soldier running next to me said. It was Aslan, who had declared his intention of becoming a soldier in the Kaldia army three years ago, and was now the youngest light cavalry.
“Yeah… Ignore him.”
“What? Is he an attention seeker?”
――― Eric’s sharp gaze was fixed on me from a carriage which was driving a short distance away.