Emperor Chapter 62: The Cards are Falling into Place
“Where are you headed?”
I shrugged slightly at Timona. The room was secured by the spies, so the call would be undetectable, but what should I do?
“Well, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
They’ll know I was faking my symptoms if I go outside.
“How about a bath? It wouldn’t be unnatural for me to tell the maid that you’re feeling unusually well.”
I stayed in my room except for that time when I went to get the ceremonial sword. This was natural behaviour for an emperor who was under the influence of guandeleo, so I’ve only been able to get my body wiped and have my head washed for the past few days.
“Alright. Can you arrange my bath for me?”
“As you wish, I will go ahead and get it ready.”
Timona went to the bathroom first, and I spoke when he was out of sight.
“Do you have something you want to say to me?”
Count Palatine Vedett was next to me.
“No… but I have something on my mind.”
Something on his mind… huh.
“About how to get Count Chamneaux on our side?”
People’s hearts will change even if you get a convenient reply through fear, so it’s better to appeal to their emotions. That’s why I used the girl to persuade Count Chamneaux.
… The method I used wasn’t much different from what the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies use.
“I hope that was alright. The Count has no choice but to obey you under these circumstances. The problem is with your emotions not with your reasoning… What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t expose ‘yourself’ to your vassals too much.”
Ah, the call. He was being reasonable.
“I got it. I’ll be careful.”
He’s telling me to be like an emperor.
“By the way, Count Palatine, did you spread the information about the deaths of the previous emperor and my father?”
“… I did. Did I do something unnecessary?”
Like Balthazar had told me, the citizens in the capital didn’t view the emperor in a bad light because there was a rumour that the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Cermeonies had assassinated the popular Crown Prince Jean. The Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies were hated by the people, and the people are more sympathetic towards me.
“No? Keep doing it but don’t let them find out about it.”
I don’t consider manipulating… information bad. Misinformation and lies will spread without restrictions. I have seen the good and the bad of this in my previous life, and in an age where the masses have yet to be educated, it will be difficult to decide whether the information was true or not. Some degree of information manipulation was necessary so that the populace won’t get confused.
… Even if it was justified, people cannot forgive what can’t be forgiven. I was on that side in my previous life too,
“But haven’t the Chancellor and the others heard the rumours?”
“They probably have, but they understand that it will only make things worse if they punish people for it.”
He rules his own fief, so he’s cautious in that area.
If he were to do that then he would have to do it thoroughly, even to the point… of terror, but the opposing faction would exploit this. That’s why he can’t do anything.
… He somehow managed to maintain this fine balance of power.
When I returned to my room after taking a bath, Count Chamneaux was kneeling and gently offered me the earring.
I took it politely and spoke to him.
“Are you sure?”
He was talking to a daughter who he wasn’t allowed to see for more than ten years since she was imprisoned. I imagined he would have wanted to talk to her longer.
“I will overthrow the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies at my coronation and crown myself the emperor with my own hands. Then, your imprisoned daughter will be released as soon as possible. Will you side with me, Count Chamneaux?”
“… I had planned to obey you after you were crowned, but I was wrong. I pledge my absolute loyalty to you right here and now. I cannot apologise for the delay in my pledge.”
“Thanks, Count. Your loyalty to the Empire is genuine.”
Well, I don’t understand what people are thinking, but I’m certain that Count Chamneaux is on my side. The least risky option would be to join me since even if the Chancellor or the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies says that they will release Vera-Sylvie, there’s a chance that the other faction will intervene.
“Now, make yourself comfortable, Count Chamneaux. I have a favour to ask of you.”
The first step was to get information about the army gathering in the capital. Count Chamneaux was now the general in charge of this army, but…
“It is difficult to find out the exact number of the army?”
“It is. With an army this large… there must be at least 40,000 men.”
“But if they’re mainly mercenaries… then wouldn’t it be difficult to disband them?”
What should I do with this force? Even if the commander of the army, Count Chamneaux, supports the army, that doesn’t mean that all of his men will readily follow his lead. After all, this wasn’t his army, but a mash of troops. Some of them may even rebel.
But mercenaries are hired with money… so they shouldn’t openly rebel as long as they receive their payment.
“Some of the troops are from the lords and the majority of them will be troops from the Chancellor faction. Lord Raul’s main army isn’t able to move from his fief due to the increasing movement from the Gotilova tribe… Are they also your allies, Your Majesty?”
“Yeah. They’re supporting me.”
… But well, I’m not sure if I can control them, but I stayed silent about this since I couldn’t tell Count Chamneaux about it.
“I knew it… The Regent aristocrat armies are scattered in small forces everywhere. It seems that most of the old Aquicurl aristocrats aren’t participating… On the contrary, some of them seemed to have joined with Lord Warung.”
“They joined Lord Warung?”
The old Aquicurl aristocrats were rebelling against the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies… but was that reason enough to side with Lord Warung?
“Are you aware of the current situation of the former Marquis Aquicurl-Torre fief?”
Aristocrats in Marquis Aquicurl-Torre fief… were the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies’s former political enemies and whose fief was ceded to the Aplada Kingdom just before I was born.
They weren’t satisfied with this kind of reconciliation since they hadn’t lost, so they were resisting against the Aplada Kingdom, who had come to occupy the region.
They didn’t receive any support from the Empire and their resistance was suppressed one after the other.
“The aristocrats in Marquis Aquicurl-Torre’s fief certainly have reason to resent Lord Aquicurl… Are you telling me that they have sided with Lord Warung along with the old Aquicurl aristocrats?”
Which means… the resistance who were supposed to be in Aplada Kingdom are now in Lord Warung’s army? Would the Aplada Kingdom, who are connected to Lord Raul, allow that to happen? … No, it would be better for them to take advantage of this opportunity to expel the rebels from their nation than to have them rebel in their own land.
Then, are Lord Raul and the Aplada Kingdom not that deeply connected? This may be valuable information… I’ll think about diplomacy later.
“Likewise, troops are coming from the former Empire fief in Rocourt Kingdom as well. They have joined up with the aristocrats of Marquis L’Mitedeau’s fief… were they your doing as well Your Majesty?”
I see… No wonder Fabio’s army is so large.
“Yeah. They have sworn allegiance to me.”
… If Fabio can control them that is.
“Then… you don’t require me to help you to get the army on your side.”
“There are too many uncertain elements in the army you lead… You can just use them to defend against Lord Warung’s army. In the meantime, I will seize the aristocrats in the capital and take full control.”
Most of the aristocrats in the capital will participate in the ‘coronation ceremony’. If I can gain control of the ceremony, then I can seize the aristocrats. The lords’ troops who are participating in the battle against Lord Warung won’t be able to take action easily if I suppress the aristocrats.
“After seizing the capital, I will take the time to disarm or dissolve Lord Warung’s army and the allied forces.”
“You will? I’m sure Lord Warung will follow you if you get rid of the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies with your own hand.”
Lord Warung raised his army with the cause of ‘defeating the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies who are monopolising the government and liberating the Emperor’. If I succeed in seizing the capital then Lord Warung’s cause will be lost in the form of an ‘achievement’. He could have chosen to take real power as the new Chancellor if the Emperor was really powerless, but I am no longer completely powerless with Fabio’s army, the Atururu cavalry and the Gotilova, who are not here.”
So, there are only two options he could take. Those were to obey the Emperor or not. He stated that he would liberate the Emperor when he raised his army, but he isn’t crazy enough to act in such an incomprehensible way such as confronting an Emperor who had freed himself from the control of the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies.
Well, I don’t know if he will follow me forever.
“You think so?”
“I do. He is that kind of person… So, you are asking me to keep Lord Warung’s army in check to buy time?”
Lord Warung will probably obey me if I seize power, but it is possible that his army will act preemptively before I take control.
“That is part of what I’m asking you. It will take some time to bring everything under control, so I would like you to standby and not engage in battle. But I also have another request for you. I would like you to send troops that you trust to ‘hold’ the gates.”
I plan to seal all the entrances and exits to the capital to prevent the aristocrats from escaping. Count Palatine Vedett has already proposed a plan to seal the inside of the gate, but his plan might not be perfect, so I needed to hold the gate shut from the outside as well.
“Is it enough just to hold the gate shut?”
“Yeah, the inside of the gate is already under my control, but I want you to hold the gate shut from outside just in case. I also want you to suppress the east side of the capital.”
“The east as well…? I’ll need to allocate more troops in that case. I understand. I promise I won’t let a single person escape.”
The east wall of the capital hasn’t been completed, so I will have to send extra troops to the east.
“Thanks for your help… Count Chamneaux. These are things only you can do. I promise to reward you handsomely for your service if you succeed.”
… To tell you the truth, I could have asked the Atururu Cavalry to lock down the capital, but they will be in charge of surveillance this time.
Of who? Of Count Chamneaux of course.
Count Chamneaux will probably do as I tell him, but I don’t know if he will follow my instructions perfectly. For example, he may turn a blind eye and let those who have a connection to him escape. That’s what I’m trying to prevent.
… I have faith in him, but I can’t trust him.