Chapter 10: The Day the Great Emperor was Born
I just lived.
――― I just lived.
There was nothing interesting about my life.
There was nothing special about me and I didn’t stand out more than others. I wasn’t born into a special family, nor did I have any misfortunes. My family raised me with love. I went to school, graduated, got a job and worked. That was all.
I had no dreams, no loved ones, no reason why I couldn’t die, no reason why I didn’t want to die… no reason why I wanted to die.
Therefore, I’m certain that my previous life came to an end in a very common way.
… I really hated that kind of life.
I still wanted to be someone special even though I didn’t have any talent or influence.
But I couldn’t. I didn’t even make an effort to become someone special. I didn’t have the nerve to do so, and I just lived in a hazy state of resignation.
I just lived. That was my previous life.
Maybe that’s why I’m surprisingly enjoying this life more than I thought even though I don’t know when I will be assassinated.
I don’t want to die. That is one truth. It’s the natural surviving instincts of a human… No, of a living being. That’s why I’m willing to give up my ‘special’ status as emperor.
But… I also thought this:
――― If I have to live as a boring person like in my previous life then…
I had a bad dream.
… It wasn’t exactly a bad dream, but it wasn’t a pleasant one either.
I woke up and sat up. It seems to be a little earlier than when I usually wake up.
Normally, the maids don’t start working until a certain time.
But today, they were in a good mood, and they quickly dressed me.
Which isn’t surprising since today is a major national event that occurs every fifty years: National Foundation Day.
I let the maids dress me as I remembered what I was told about today’s ceremony.
It all started 150 years ago. It is said that the first emperor of the Bungdalto Empire, Cardinal, later known as the ‘Founder Emperor’, decided to rebuild the empire on the Founder’s Hill near the imperial capital, following the wishes of the fallen Lothar Empire.
He gained the throne, toured every corner of his territory and informed his people of this. The citizens, who had missed the peace and tranquillity of Lothar Empire, welcomed the news with joy.
Fifty years later, Edward II, the fourth emperor of the empire who was known as a wise ruler, held a large ceremony to commemorate the founding of the empire. The citizens, who were normally told to bow their heads when aristocrats passed by, were allowed to raise their heads and cheer on this day.
This ceremony was also held 100 years after the founding of the empire, which meant that today is exactly 150 years after the founding of the empire.
It’s a parade. Aristocrats have a weak spot for ‘tradition’. I heard that both the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies will be present at the ceremony today.
I was put into a luxurious carriage.
And by luxurious, I don’t mean just the outside. It seemed to be a custom-made carriage with a very strong barrier magic on it. On top of that, there were a large number of cavalrymen guarding the carriage. They were also wearing armour and were armed.
… Aren’t they the main attraction of the parade? More so than the puppet emperor?
Well, it’s comfortable in the carriage since I’m alone in here. It’s been a long time since I’ve been alone. I can excuse anything.
I heard that only the emperor and his consorts are allowed to ride this carriage for the ceremony. I also heard that fiancées are allowed in here too though.
By the way, my fiancée, Rosalia, has gone back to the Belbe Kingdom. It’s not surprising since she’s their princess… If I’m not careful I may never see her again…
Now, it’s alright for me to nervously board the carriage, but it seems that we won’t be passing by the citizens for a while. First, I have to go pray at the church that was built on ‘Founders Hill’ and then the parade will happen on my way back.
That’s why I’m rocking comfortably in the carriage.
This is the perfect time, so I’ll summarise what Rosalia told me about the Belbe Kingdom.
Belbe Kingdom is located at the edge of this continent, on a peninsula to the northwest of this Empire. It has little agricultural land and its main industry is the export of mineral resources. It is economically dependent on this Empire but doesn’t have a direct border with us. In short, it is a poor kingdom.
However, it has a long history and was founded in the year 163 of the solar calendar. This year is the 460th year of the solar calendar, which means that the Belbe Kingdom has been in existence for nearly 300 years.
Incidentally, the solar calendar considers the year when the Holy One Religion’s ‘Saint Ain’ came to this continent as Year One. Most of the nations in this continent belong to the Holy One Religion, so it is common to count the years by this calendar.
Anyway, the Belbe Kingdom is a traditional kingdom, and the current Belbe royal family is said to have inherited the blood of the first emperor, Cardinal.
In other words, they’re my distant relatives.
But it’s a small Kingdom and isn’t a vassal state of the Empire. On top of that, the kingdom is currently in a critical situation, having been deeply invaded by the neighbouring nation.
To put it bluntly, it doesn’t seem to be a kingdom that would be beneficial to get involved with. That’s probably why the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies were observing them carefully.
But then the Emperor said that he was going to get engaged to their princess. The Chancellor and the others are having a difficult time as they are facing bitter opposition from the nations that are hostile against the Belbe Kingdom. However, even though the Empire is declining, it’s still the Empire. The Empire probably won’t be dragged into war in light of the difference in national power.
That’s all I understand as a puppet who can’t get involved in politics.
The church on the Founding Hill was much small and simpler than the one I went to for the funeral, but I liked the atmosphere. It was outside of the capital, so it won’t be easy to visit again, but it was a place that I wanted to come back to.
After the prayers at the church, I boarded the carriage again. The Chancellor and other aristocrats also got onto their own carriages, and the vanguard had already departed.
This parade will now enter the capital and head for the palace. During that time, the citizens are allowed to look up and raise their voices.
Let’s be clear. I’m scared right now.
I’m aware that I’m much better off than the citizens. I don’t believe that the people of a nation, where politics has stagnated due to the repeated political strife between the leading aristocrats, are living affluently. The Emperor, who should be improving this situation, is at the mercy of the leading aristocrats.
So, the people have a right to hate me. I think it’s natural for them to hate me.
I know that their anger and resentment is justified, but I’m afraid that it would be directed at me.
If the citizens revolt, then I will be sent to the guillotine. This is something that I’ve prepared myself for since a long time ago when I realised that I had reincarnated as… an Emperor. But I’m scared that I’ll be confronted directly with those feelings.
Still, the parade carried on.
I heard cheers from the front. Is that what they wanted? Aren’t they just being forced by the aristocrats to shout in joy?
Finally, the carriage I was riding in crossed the fates of the imperial capital.
I heard shouts of joy that made the air tremble.
““LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!!””
““OUR HOPE!! OUR LIGHT!!””
The citizens of the imperial capital were shouting at me. The dirty-faced and skinny citizens were smiling dazzlingly as they cheered for their young emperor.
“Why are they happy…?”
“It’s because they expect great things from you. Both the previous Emperor and your father were popular with the people,” one of the guards heard my mutter and replied.
I was stunned for a moment, then my body started to shake.
It’s ridiculous. It wouldn’t be strange for them to look at me with hatred and blame the Emperor for their difficult lives, and yet they praised the helpless Emperor.
I don’t know what feelings or thoughts they have for the young Emperor, but I wondered if I ever smiled at someone with so much hope in my previous life.
A crowd full of people… is something I had seen and is something that had been a part of my previous life, but their eyes are only on me now.
That in itself is terrifying. If their eyes were filled with hatred and anger, and if their cheers turned vindictive, then I’ll be killed in a horrible way.
But my shaking isn’t from fear.
I have never been this needed in my previous life.
I was ordinary and replaceable.
This feeling is definitely a foolish delight at having people have high hopes in me.
But… I found it worthwhile to spend my whole life achieving it.
Kingdoms fall and people die. It may all be in vain.
But even so, I’ll try my best to live as the Emperor.
I vowed to myself in the midst of the cheers that shook the earth.