Chapter 49: Sunrise on the Hill
The sun rose in the east in this world as well.
The light peeked through the small gaps in the Heavenly Mountain Range… which were as high as the European Alps on Earth. The people of this land called this the ‘God’s Arrow of Light’ before the arrival of the Holy One Religion. The light of God that gave power to the living and destroyed evil. The army, bearing this light sigil on their backs, marched with perfect coordination, and even looked divine.
“Your Majesty, it seems that the two groups have arrived.”
I stood up from the stump that I was sitting on when I received this report from Henri du Malow.
“They truly are an elite force… since they can march in perfect form even without a commander.”
Timona should be dealing with both chiefs. We couldn’t keep them waiting.
“Your Majesty… I wish you all the best.”
Rosalia didn’t know what to say to me and seemed more anxious than normal.
… Or was it simply because she had just woken up?
“Luck… huh? That’s a fitting phrase.”
Indeed, this meeting was like a battle for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were killed on the spot by the two chiefs, who were both more powerful than me.
Well… we’ll see what happens.
A hastily made round desk with three chairs. It was too seedy looking for an Emperor to receive guests.
But this was what I asked Timona to do: no need for unnecessary niceties and all the chairs had to be the same height.
The two who were already sitting down in the chairs noticed the Emperor and tried to stand up.
“No need. I haven’t had my coronation yet.”
Any unnecessary titles or formalities would only be an obstacle in front of these two.
I sat down on my chair and faced them.
“This is the Chief of both the Gotilova tribes, Genadieffe la Gotilova and the Chief of the Atururu tribe, Atururuche don Pearl Istavan ro Peter.”
Timona silently left the room after he introduced the two.
Chief Gotilova raised his eyebrows as if he didn’t expect the Emperor to talk with them alone.
The Atururu Chief, on the other hand, didn’t change his expression, but his eyes seemed to be looking at me with interest.
“I am Carmine de la Gade Bungdalto. I will get straight to the point… what should I call you two?”
I said this mainly out of consideration for the Atururu Chief. His official tribal name is long, and he has no imperial title.
“Peter Pearl is fine.”
“You can call me Genadieffe.”
“Very well. You two can call me whatever you like.”
I said as I observed the two. Genadieffe the Chief of both Gotilova tribes is a muscular man with a medium build. He looked like a barbarian with his beard and outfit. He had an overwhelming presence. Well, the Bungdalto tribe were originally barbarians too.
Peter Pearl, the Chief of the Atururu tribe, had brown skin which was rare for people in this area. He looked younger than his actual age. He was almost expressionless which made him look intimidating.
I put Timona in charge of their weapons… But the two of them look like they can kill a child with their bare hands. I can’t let my guard down.
“This is almost diplomatic… You’re very different from the rumours.”
I nodded at Genadieffe’s words. The three of us were seated at the round table and were equally spaced without any superior or inferior seats just like in a diplomatic negotiation.
“I am about to ask for your support. What use would it be to play the fool now? Since the decision is in your hands.”
I already know that their goal is to assess the Emperor.
If they were going to be hostile from the start then they would have attacked already, and if they had only come to greet the Emperor because he is the Emperor, then they wouldn’t have sat down at the table to have a conversation.
“I see. You are absolutely right.”
Genadieffe continued while toying with his beard.
“Let me ask you something. I heard that Your Majesty went to the Theanabe Union border to inspect the frontlines. How was it?”
“You are being very vague. What is it you want to say?”
“Did you hear about the resentment and grief of the people who are suffering from being plundered?”
… Oh, so he knows that much?
“I heard it very well, and I’m not the kind of person who will get excited from hearing those sounds.”
“Then what do you think of the act of ‘plundering’, Your Majesty?”
… I see. That is a very deep question. Not to Carmine, the Emperor of this world, but to Carmine, the reincarnated one.
… No, I’ll think about that more later.
“If you want to know why the plundering is taking place, then you can put it in one word, outcome.”
“Hoh, outcome, is it?”
“Yes. If the politics of the Empire up until now have been a formula, then the plundering is the solution. The plundering that will happen from now on will all just be a solution. To change the solution, the formula itself must be changed.”
The Empire must change, but I don’t have the violence to intervene against the violence of the military.
“Looting isn’t a foolish act to begin with. It can be a part of a tactic. It can instill fear into the enemy’s citizens, squeeze their supply and raise the soldiers’ morale. If you can’t govern by occupying, then plundering is a viable option.”
Even on Earth today, looting occurs during chaos caused by demonstrations and disasters.
A world without looting and a world without war. That is an idealistic world. It is good for a monarch to hold those ideals, but a monarch shouldn’t be caught up in them. An impracticable theory kills people.
“Then… how can we eliminate plundering? The answer is simple. We can rebuild the entire army into an elite force that doesn’t need to plunder. A highly motivated army, disciplined by a military code who can instill fear into the enemies and effectively manage their supplies.”
“Hoh… The Gotilova’s are unbeatable in the mountains… but we will plunder if necessary. Are you saying that we’re not enough?”
The corners of Genadieffe’s lips curved up in a smile. I don’t feel any killing intent from him, but he was intimidating. Is it because he feels like he’s been told they aren’t the best?
But I have no intention of backing down.
“That’s right, but I’m not saying your tribe isn’t well trained. What you lack is logistical support. You are lacking in squads that don’t fight such as a reconnaissance squad, an intelligence squad, a supply squad, and treatment squads. So, you are forced to plunder to get information, to show the enemy your might and to get supplies. What we need is the ability to keep occupying, the ability to keep fighting.”
“To keep fighting… I see.”
“It’s impossible to make such an army in my generation, but if this is the ultimate goal, then reforms and trials must be made with this in mind.”
“… Hmmm, interesting.”
Genadieffe’s eyes become more serious than before.
The entire sky was getting brighter with every second. It was about time for the Ghafur army to arrive… but I can’t be impatient.
“Then let me ask the question that our ancestors asked the emperors of their time… What is an Emperor?”
“They are the most central cog in the governing body.”
This was the answer that I’ve been trying to come up with ever since my reincarnation.
“… A cog…”
“That’s right. A cog is hard to replace and if it breaks, the machine stops working and a cog must not go missing.”
For example, the Emperor, who is said to be sacred and absolute, can paradoxically give ‘absoluteness’ to a law by upholding the ‘law’. Also, being an Emperor gave one advantage over other nations. This advantage cannot be ignored in negotiations.
There are other advantages of having an Emperor, but they aren’t prerequisites.
“… You seem to think that an emperor is not necessary.”
“It is necessary now. The nation won’t operate if the emperor is gone, but just like how magic tools are advancing every day, the state will also change. If a more efficient component than the ‘emperor’ appears, it’s highly likely that the emperor will be replaced with that.”
An emperor isn’t someone who absolutely needs to exist. I, who know the history of Earth, know that very well.
“In… a few hundred years, a nation in which the people choose their representatives by majority vote will appear and this will soon become ‘normal’ in that future. Kings and emperors will cease to have any real power if they still exist.”
It would be fine if they don’t exist, but as a reincarnated person, I know that the monarch can be an emotional pillar for a nation.
“But at the same time, ‘tradition’ isn’t… something to be ridiculed no matter how useless it may be. It takes a moment to break it, but it takes a century for ‘tradition’ to be born, hence its value.”
I, for one, am fine with the monarchy system being abolished, but once something has been abolished, it cannot be restored.
That’s why I’m leaving it be. The later generations will be able to choose between a monarchy, a republic or a constitutional monarchy.
“I have only one principle: to give the future generation as many choices as possible… in every aspect. Having a monarch is one of them.”
“It’s hard to imagine a world without kings.”
“Really? If mankind were to become extinct, then the existence of kings will surely cease to exist as well.”
“… I see. Well, well…”
Genadieffe muttered a few words then continued, “He’s much more than the rumours say he is.”
Those rumours wouldn’t be about me being a ‘Foolish Emperor’, right? So, they came here… even though they know how I actually am.
“What did you want, Peter Pearl?”
Genadieffe spoke to Peter Pearl who had remained silent for a long time.
“… I only have one thing to ask you: Will you protect my tribe?”
I see, that is a reasonable request.
“Then, let’s talk about the benefits.”
But even if they request for a specific amount of money I can’t give it to them, so I can only… make empty promises right now.
“The only way I can do that is after I gain real power… How about I promise freedom of religion, abolition of the West sect of the Holy One Church, recognition of the Atururu tribe as citizens of the Empire and protecting your culture, and bestowing the Atururu tribe Chief with an aristocratic title…?”
I proposed while thinking… I’ll be at a loss if they ask for immediate benefits.
“Alright. I will be your vassal.”
Peter Pearl nodded in agreement… that was easy. I’m afraid now since it was too easy.
… Didn’t I feel something like this when Timona agreed to be my vassal as well?
“Then what will you offer me, Your Majesty? I’m already an imperial aristocrat.”
“I will officially recognise your region as an autonomous territory which is a part of the Empire and ban all tariffs… That’s what you want isn’t it?”
The Gotilova’s are powerful enough to become independent at any time, but they haven’t because they can’t.
Their territory is in a mountainous area, so they lack food. That’s why they couldn’t become independent from the Empire, who are one of the largest grain-producers in the continent, no matter how much the Chancellor harassed them.
The Chancellor harassed them by… imposing exorbitant tariffs on their food supply. Abolishing that would be the least they expect from me for their cooperation.
They will still need to depend on the Empire for food even if the tariffs are abolished, so there’s no need to be stingy.
“I’ll also do something about the toll taxes that the aristocrats impose. I can’t say that I will get rid of it completely though since we need it for national maintenance and such.”
I looked at Genadieffe and his shoulders were shaking slightly. Then, his shoulders started shaking more and more…
“… Kukkukku… Haahaahaa!!”
He suddenly started laughing loudly.
“Fine! We will make a ‘Five Generation Oath’ with you… From now on, our tribes will serve as your shield in accordance with that oath.”
… What is the ‘Five Generation Oath? Also didn’t your attitude suddenly change too much?
“Now, Your Majesty. We are at your command. What can we do for you?”
Just as I was about to ask what the ‘Five Generation Oath’ was, Timona informed me that the enemy was approaching. We immediately started talking about our strategy.
The negotiations were a success, right? … I’m a bit nervous for some reason though.