Chapter 45: Don’t Look Away
On a certain day on the fifth month, the Emperor’s group arrived safely in the northern part of Count Bailer Nove’s fief… i.e. we arrived near the border that was shared with the Theanabe Union.
The town in the north was bustling as if they were holding a festival.
“It’s surprisingly crowded.”
It was just me and Rosalia inside the carriage like always. The rule was that only the Emperor and his wife were allowed to enter.
But now that I was here the carriage was always surrounded by aristocrats, because of this, I had to act as the Foolish Emperor. I’m really sorry.
“Yes, Your Majesty. Our fief is always this crowded. It must seem deserted compared to the capital.”
Timona le Chauvire, Duke Bailer Nove… I believe his official title is the Chief of Hunting. I remember him well because he had a strikingly croaky voice and the way he craved the limelight was unpleasant.
“I don’t know since I never leave the palace, but it was quiet when I left the capital.”
“What?! I was always on the frontline fighting against the rebels, so I do not know what it is like in the capital. Forgive me for my narrow view of the capital.”
He probably meant, “Isn’t it great that my city is more crowded than the capital?”
… Do you enjoy asserting your dominance on the young emperor? Your words and actions are like a braggart’s.
The city is only busy because of the ‘emergency war demands’… Economy is only blooming right now. I’m sure he’s receiving financial support directly from Lord Raul. This city, which was on the frontier, wouldn’t be so crowded without the war.
And this man comes to the capital on a regular basis. He makes fun of me in a roundabout way then leaves. I pretend not to notice his remarks, and he goes home satisfied every time, so it’s a lie that he doesn’t know what goes on in the capital.
Besides, it’s also a lie that he was on the frontline. I heard from Timona that he has been taking a percentage of the goods looted by the soldiers in this city, claiming it to be ‘tax’, and living the life. I think his body has doubled in the last few months. Sideways, of course.
I hate it. If all the aristocrats in this nation are like this, then it’s going to be tough cleaning them up.
“Hmm, good. Where is the frontline? Is it close?”
“Yes, it is. Please stop here for the night and we can head to the frontline tomorrow. I will show you around the city…”
You’re always in this city, so you think it’s the frontline, huh? I was being sarcastic; did you get it? … Ah, he didn’t get it.
But Rosalia laughed a little. Yay.
The next day at breakfast, Timona came to me when I was eating with the local aristocrats and Chancellor, which was rare. Timona was usually silent and reserved in the presence of the aristocrats in order to keep a low profile.
But Timona, of all people, came to me in the presence of the Chancellor.
“Please eat your breakfast sparingly, Your Majesty.”
Timona whispered a short sentence into my ears.
But that was enough.
I replied not with gratitude, but with those words since I didn’t want to be seen as suspicious in front of the Chancellor. Timona would get the message. It was really good advice.
I hadn’t forgotten, I just lacked imagination. I hadn’t experienced war in my previous life, so I only have an abstract image of what it is like.
… For me, who was born as an emperor in this world, to not know war is an inexcusable luxury.
The frontline… or so the Chancellor and the others claim. We are climbing the hills that overlook that area. The horses cannot go up with a carriage, so we are going up by horseback… The thick smell of blood was getting stronger and stronger.
“It stinks. My nose is getting strange.
“Hahaha. Your Majesty, this is the smell of the battlefield.”
The Chancellor in front of me said. He looked back at me, and his eyes calmly assessed me.
He doesn’t seem to have a problem with me talking about it if it’s just this level of physiological dislike, But if I were to show an attitude then I will not be able to out against the war or the army at all from now on. If he had said, “Your Majesty doesn’t seem to like the battlefield. You don’t need to think about things you dislike,” then I wouldn’t be able to say anything else.
They will probably get suspicious of me if I keep bringing it up, and I will be immediately disposed of if they believe I’m not a foolish puppet.
I must act simple-minded and short-tempered as if I were watching a play and like I had no idea that the people who were being killed were the same as me.
Since I wasn’t taught that war was bad, and the commoners and aristocrats are all people. I can’t be doubted by the aristocrats in a place like this.
Even if the scene spread out in front of me was like hell.
We arrived at the top of the hill. I looked down and saw a village in the Theanabe Union… no, a place that was a village there.
It was on fire; the fields, houses and even the people hanging from the trees by the roadside.
Count Bailer Nove pridefully told a lie.
“Please look. There were cowardly enemy soldiers hiding in that village, but we are victorious and undaunted by such a dirty strategy. It was a great victory.”
The Golden Fleece Association didn’t want to wear down their soldiers by engaging in battle, so they abandoned the villages which were close to the Empire, so the Theanabe Union army did not come.
Perhaps they resisted to protect their own village, and these guys claimed they were ‘enemy soldiers’. That is what led to this disaster.
The smell of blood, the smell of burning flesh, the smell of the smoke coming from the burning fields and a slightly pungent odour. Amidst the nauseating smell, the first sound I heard was laughter.
The soldiers were laughing.
Then, there was a sharp, resounding scream, then laughter again.
When I realised what that was, I thought after all this time.
――― Ah, this is another world.
The screams of men being burnt alive, the vengeful cries of women being violated and the cheers of the soldiers who watched this, and the laughter of the aristocrats lingered in my ears.
This is the norm of this world.
And… the devastation caused by my words. This was because I had asked the Chancellor about the suppression of the Theanabe Union and because I chose this as a destination for my tour.
――― This happened because of my order.
Perhaps, this disaster had happened because of my careless words or actions in the past, and if I were to regain real power as the emperor and ran this nation then the exact same scene would be repeated thousands of times.
――― That is an emperor.
“So, they are the survivors of the enemy army?”
“And those who collaborated with the enemy, but commoners cannot be trusted. We must kill them before they collaborate with the enemy again.”
“Hmm. I see. Then what are they doing?”
“Ah. That is… They are getting information about other enemy units. They won’t talk unless you do something like that.”
“Oh! They are already preparing for the next battle? Excellent, excellent.”
Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting!!
This sight! The smiles on those guys’ faces! And me, the powerless one who has to speak those words!
What a sinful being… the emperor is.
This spectacle is proof of that sin. They will get their share of suffering if there is an afterlife. If there is a hell, they will taste its torments forever.
I have already been reminded of that… So… I want to cover my ears and close my eyes.
How much easier would it have been if I had never come to this place; if I had never known. They just look at people as numbers and take hundreds and thousands of lives with a single document. That’s what the politicians of this world are. Can’t I also act like that?
I want to turn my eyes away from this scene as soon as possible. ―――― But, even so.
It’s even more sinful not to know.
“I want to see them fight.”
Don’t look away.
“Hmm, I want to see the danger… even if it is from a distance.”
Don’t let them sense your disgust.
“Ooh! It’s on fire. This is a sight to behold.”
And let this sight be etched into your soul!
“But it’s quite smoky… What? There’s a tent in front of the hill! You’re well prepared. As expected of the Chancellor.”
Deceive. Laugh. And don’t forget!
――― I am the emperor.
I burnt this scene into my mind until the sun set and the flames consumed everything in sight.