Chapter 28: Who’s the Clown?
The investigation revealed that the Chancellor was guilty.
He was selling his unneeded weapons to several associations. He may have thought that he had dispersed the weapons evenly, but they were all business that the ‘Golden Fleece’ had opened under different names.
Now that I know the distribution route of the ‘Golden Fleece’s’ weapons, I can also see their next move.
The Golden Fleece had extended their influence far and wide. This was just my guess… but I think that the Golden Fleece must have been responsible for the Theanabe Union, for the Chancellor and Regent faction having different commanders, thus dividing the armies, and for having their armies consist mainly of mercenaries instead of their main force.
It was impossible for the two lords to ‘cooperate to create a single army’. They did both want to beat the Theanabe Union, but they were still themselves. The best they could do was to ‘temporarily suspend political disputes while they were engaged with the Theanabe Union’. It was impossible for two people who have been at odds with each other for a long time to cooperate beyond that.
But an army was raised with two commanders as if they were asking to be destroyed individually, and as a result, they suffered a major defeat against the forces of the Theanabe Union.
And now the blame game has begun in the capital. The Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies are now reluctant to send troops to the Theanabe Union again. Well, if we lose to the same opponent twice, then our honour and prestige will be in tatters. There was no need to hastily regroup the army and send them back to attack the Theanabe Union since they weren’t an opponent that we ‘must beat’.
War is expensive. A defensive war wasn’t a win-win situation. At best, there would only be prisoners of war and equipment left behind by the enemy.
Nations fought defensive wars even if there wasn’t anything to gain. You could say that this is why nations exist, but that wasn’t the case for the ‘Golden Fleece. For them, war was an act of losing a lot of money with little to gain. They probably didn’t want war. But they will be attacked at some point if they don’t do anything. They can’t even decide when they will be attacked.
Therefore, they instigated those two, got them to build an army and defeated them. If they were going to suffer losses someday, then they wanted to make sure that they would win and that their losses would be minimal. They also made us think that there would be little profit in blaming the Theanabe Union for this loss so that they could avoid a second invasion.
This was what the Golden Fleece had wanted to happen. They were extremely talented and terrifying. They control the Empire as they see fit.
But… there was another way of putting this. They didn’t want the army to be reorganised and deployed.
They wanted to sell more weapons to the central continent, but weapon production has yet to take off in the Theanabe Union. So, they have no more weapons to sell?
No, they do. They have the weapons they used in the defensive battle against the Empire.
The Golden Fleece’s next move ‘is to collect the weapons and armours that they had loaned to Theanave Union to sell to the central continent while controlling the Empire to prevent them from invading again’.
If that is their next move… then there is something that can be done. They only made this move because they were certain that ‘the Empire wouldn’t invade’, so we have to tear down that belief.
No matter how much one hates war, anyone who was stupid enough to neglect to prepare when they could be attacked… Ah, but there were a lot of idiots in some peaceful nations in my previous life who say stupid things like ‘cutting down defence expenses’ even though they scramble around frequently, yup.
Well, leaving aside those exceptions who can’t face reality, the Golden Fleece association aren’t idiots and will not neglect their military as long as the threat of invasion exists.
All we had to do was make the Golden Fleece think that ‘the Empire might invade again’ to stall their trilateral trade… and hinder their weapon sales.
The rest is up to my performance.
Conveniently enough, I was celebrating my ninth birthday. The Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies will both be visiting me since they had to keep up pretences.
The Chancellor was ushered in by the steward, Helck, as I was finishing breakfast and thinking about taking a nap. He didn’t even ask me if he could bring the Chancellor in… Who the hell does he think I am?
“Long time no see, Your Majesty. I came to congratulate you on your birthday as your vassal.”
With that, the Chancellor dropped to one knee and bowed his head. This was a rare Lothar-style greeting. It was originally used to show respect… but I can’t feel any respect from him at all for some reason.
On a side note, ‘court etiquette’ and ‘court language’ existed during the time of the Lothar Empire, but they were all abolished and simplified by the First Emperor of the Bungdalto Empire, Cardinal since they were ‘a pain in the ass’. I like that part of him.
He revived many aspects of the Lothar culture, and only the court etiquette was changed. He wasn’t good at those etiquettes, and that was why the Bungdaltos were treated as ‘barbarians’ by the Lothars.
Now where were we…
I adjusted my mood and spoke to the Chancellor.
“Oh! It’s been a while, Chancellor. It’s a good day. Take it easy.”
I haven’t thought about taking it easy since my reincarnation though. In my previous life on my birthdays, I would indulge myself in buying and eating expensive fruits that were used as gifts, buying and drinking craft beer that I normally wouldn’t buy, but in this life, my birthday is… a political event.
“Thank you very much, Your Majesty.”
Now then, shall I get to work?
“By the way, Chancellor, have you heard?”
“Excuse me…? About what?”
“About those rebels, Thea-something. You were going to destroy them, or have you not destroyed them yet?”
Didn’t you say something about them being “disloyal and treasonous people? You were trying to drag me out to war.
“Your Majesty. They are already calling themselves a nation. They’re not that easy to destroy.”
Hmm, you’re taking back your words. Well, the reason why they can’t be easily defeated is because of the weapons you sold. According to the reports I received, the Chancellor had also noticed this, and hasn’t been selling old weapons ever since… It’s already too late though.
“I see. I can’t trust the neutrals and I’ve heard that the Aquicurl soldiers aren’t that strong. I thought the Chancellor would be the only person who could destroy them… But well, if you can’t then there’s nothing to be done. Should I order Lord Warung to do it?”
The Chancellor fell silent for a while when I said that. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but you only have two options.
Lord Warung has already sent his daughter to the palace. If I order Lord Warung to defeat the Theanabe Union, then he will come to the palace. If Lord Warung were to join forces with the Regent Faction then the power balance, which puts the Chancellor at an advantage, would be tipped. The only way to prevent this was for him to say that he would defeat the Theanabe Union himself.
… His other choice? To ‘kill the Emperor and become the Emperor before Lord Warung and the Regent Faction join forces’. Well, he won’t get the support of the aristocrats if he does this. In a sense, my life was at stake… but it wasn’t the first time my life has been in danger.
“Your Majesty, I am not saying that I can’t defeat them, but it will take time.”
“But I haven’t heard anything about you putting together an army.”
“That will also take time. But please wait for a bit, Your Majesty. I will show you that I can defeat the Theanabe Union.”
The Chancellor only said ‘defeat’ not ‘destroy’. He had completely ignored my words. He was trying to change the subject.
Well, that was what I had wanted!
“Oooh, really?! I knew I could rely on you, Chancellor! I’m looking forward to… having a good vassal.”
This compliment balanced out the praise that I had given the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies for helping the Belbe Kingodm.
The Regent seemed to be making a lot of fuss about ‘the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies being my true loyal vassal’ which was why the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies didn’t like her.
Now then, when I told Fabio about this ‘idea’ that night, he asked, “If the Chancellor really does destroy the Theanabe Union, then wouldn’t the power shift in favour of Lord Raul?”
If the Chancellor won against an enemy who both the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies had lost against (even though they hadn’t fought directly), then the Chancellor’s prestige would increase and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies wouldn’t stand a chance against him.
But Fabio’s question was based on the premise that the Chancellor will obey the Emperor’s wishes.
Naïve, too naïve. A man who only sees me as his puppet will never do the proper thing.
Two weeks later, when I received a report that ‘Lord Raul’s army had engaged and defeated a large army from the Theanabe Union at the border’, I was overjoyed. I complimented the Chancellor and even gave him a reward, then I told him I was looking forward to the day that Theanabe Union is destroyed.
By the way, the Chancellor held the actual authority to give rewards, so I don’t know what was given to him. I guess he just took what he wanted. The Treasurer might be screaming again, but I hope he can endure it.
I received a report of the ‘Raul army’s victory’, but the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies wasn’t panicking, and the power balance wasn’t upset. If the report had been given accurately, it would have gone like this.
“Lord Raul’s army (a small force of mercenaries hired by Lord Raul) was (looting a village on the Theanabe side of the border) at the border when they ran into an army from (intercepted by a large army from) Theanabe, (so they fled, but this couldn’t be reported, so they engaged in battle with the villages who were resisting) and defeated them.”
The report certainly wasn’t falsified, yup.
This kind of falsified report wasn’t unusual. It happened a lot in my previous life. It was just that people could be stopped from making such falsified reports under the law, or the laws can be bent so that they can give such falsified reports.
People do whatever they want if they aren’t stopped; like announcing war or controlling information in a dictatorship. Well, the Chancellor was still a lot tamer than those people.
… I’ll keep this in mind as one of the charges I’ll slap onto him one day.
But my goal has been accomplished with this action.
The Chancellor can just have some random mercenaries loot the Theanabe Union whenever I want. It was easier and less expensive than building an army of his own. He will probably do this repeatedly.
But this was an invasion even though they were just looting. How can the Theanabe Union sell off their equipment when they are repeatedly being invaded?
A fool probably could have done this, but unfortunately, the leader of the ‘Golden Fleece’ is extremely talented. They couldn’t risk losing their base in the eastern continent, so they couldn’t sell their equipment, and their exports to the central continent would stagnate.
This was the most I could do now. This move was only to delay the Golden Fleece’s dominance, and it would become meaningless once the Theanabe Union starts producing weapons.
I will have to take control of politics by then.
This probably wasn’t something that would happen in the distant future.