Chapter 68: Audience
Three days have passed since the coronation ceremony. The capital was still sealed off, but it was impossible to completely stop people from going in and out of the capital, so of course it was impossible to stop the information about the purge and arrest from getting out. The population of the capital was too large to stop this.
I needed information now instead of using spies. I instructed the spies to investigate the movements of the lords whose heads of families were not present as well as the movements of Raul and Aquicurl.
At the earliest, information about the coronation ceremony would have already reached Lord Raul’s fief and Lord Aquicurl’s fief. They are expected to raise their army immediately.
Also, Count Chamneaux requested that I disclose information about the purge the day after the coronation ceremony. As I’ve stated before, this wasn’t information that could be hidden anyway, and gave them permission for him to share this information if it could be used in a meaningful way.
Count Chamneaux received my permission and informed the commander of the Chancellor and Regent faction units who had joined the campaign against Lord Warung about the purge that took place at the coronation ceremony. He also added false information: ‘a lot of the aristocrats fled, and it is suspected that they have fled to your units’, and ‘these aristocrats may attack the Emperor’s private army and Lord Warung who has just returned’.
Many of the aristocrats’ army commanders were vassals… so they were almost at the lowest stratum among aristocrats. They couldn’t digest this information and decided to return to their own fiefs for the time being. It was normal for them to decide not to stay in the vicinity of the capital which was filled with enemies.
Count Chameanux effectively neutralised the aristocrats’ forces. I appreciated that he didn’t disarm them but let them flee instead. It wasn’t good to have ‘enemy soldiers’ in the vicinity of the capital and we could exhaust our precious military force if they resist our attempts to disarm them.
They were untrustworthy mercenaries, but they are valuable assets right now.
The last thing I want right now is for them to try and rescue the aristocrats that we have captured. It was better for them to return to their fiefs rather than have them act rashly in the capital. Capturing the head of the family was the same as sealing off the army under their command.
Lord Warung, who has received my letter, seemed to have realised that we aren’t hostile towards him. He has already received an official letter requesting his return so that he could pledge his allegiance to the Emperor. So, I have asked him to come to the palace today. He will have an audience with me together with Count Chameanux and Fabio.
I had hoped to have him come yesterday, but it was impossible since his army was facing Count Chamneanux’s army. They were enemies until yesterday. Even if Lord Warung agreed to pass Count Chameanux’s army on his way to the capital, his vassals wouldn’t.
So, I asked both armies to move first. Count Chameanux’s army… which now consisted of mostly mercenaries, was asked to move to the south side of the capital, and the army led by Lord Warung and Fabio was asked to move to the west side of the capital, since it was easier to defend on these sides due to how they were structured.
It has only been a few days since the ceasefire (even though no battle actually took place), so I couldn’t let them go to the east side of the capital since there were no walls there.
Lord Warung passed through the gates of the capital with his guards. The citizens welcomed him warmly.
This may be because my speech gave them the impression that Lord Warung was a loyal subject, but he was also popular among the people when he was a marshal. A commander who brings victory is always popular.
I was about to welcome Lord Warung, Count Chamneanux and Fabio.
I decided to hold audiences at the palace where social gatherings took place during the reign of the 6th Emperor instead of the palace where the coronation ceremony took place. The palace where the coronation ceremony took place was in a secluded part of the palace which made it difficult to use and it still hasn’t been ‘cleaned’ yet.
… Some blood had been spilled when we were capturing the… attendees. Many people who work at the palace belong to the Chancellor or Regent factions, so I couldn’t get them to clean that room.
Lord Warung, Count Chameanux and Fabio came to the hastily prepared audience room. By the way, I had them drag out the throne that had been used by the 4th Emperor, Edward II. It was the simplest throne, but it was still elegant and comfortable.
I waited for them to kneel on the slightly elevated seat of honour. One might think that looking down on people and waiting for them to kneel is arrogant, but for an emperor, sitting and waiting on their throne for someone was the highest sign of respect.
Everyone ignored the emperor when he was a puppet. Naturally, manners that should be shown to an emperor weren’t. That’s why I act arrogant as an ‘emperor’ to protect myself. Only a fool would act friendly in the audience room. Familiarity sometimes leads to insults.
I have to play the role of a ‘strong emperor’ from now on.
Daniel du Pierce read the names and titles of the three men. This was normally the job of the Chancellor, but that position was vacant right now. A clergy can act as a substitute in times like this.
“Thank you for coming. Raise your head.”
Lord Warung had brought an aristocrat with him as a guard, but in this case, that aristocrat can be treated as not being present. To be precise, the guard was regarded as a weapon… a possession, so they weren’t allowed to speak at all. Likewise, my guards, the Imperial Guards, aren’t allowed to speak either. It was a bit formal, but this was a formal occasion.
“First of all, Lord Warung, thank you for heeding my words. I wouldn’t have been able to rise to action if you hadn’t raised your army. You have done well. You are the epitome of aristocracy.”
“Thank you for your kind words, Your Majesty.”
“I shall reward you handsomely for your great deeds immediately after I punish the traitors.”
For Lord Warung, this was a sudden purge and the rise of a young emperor who had been a puppet. He couldn’t trust what was happening so easily. He was probably still probing the Emperor’s nature.
He probably came to the palace despite this because the Emperor had denied that he was a rebel in front of the populace and because of the personal letter that I had entrusted to Nadine.
“I will surely ruin those who are disloyal to you as your sword and shield.”
“Well said, Lord Warung! There is no shortage of officials. Emperor Carmine of the Bungdalto Empire appoints you as marshal!!”
This was just a copy of what I had sent him in my letter.
It was decided beforehand that he would be appointed marshal and rewarded in return for me taking action thanks to his uprising and him not starting a fight with the army led by Count Chamneaux while I took care of the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies.
“Use your skills as a great commander to bring peace to the Empire.”
I nodded then turned my attention to Count Chamneaux.
“You have done an excellent job, Count Chamneaux.”
“I am honoured to receive your words.”
“Emperor Carmine of the Bungdalto Empire appoints you as marshal. Use your talents for the sake of the Empire.”
And of course, Count Chamneaux had been notified of this in advance. I decided to appoint two marshals to disperse power. Well, even these two would not be enough considering the size of the Empire… But that will have to wait until I’ve established my rule over the nation.
“I am delighted to be appointed as the marshal. I will destroy the enemies of Your Majesty and the Empire.”
“Hmm, and your daughter has been released Count. Count Palatine Vedett will escort you to where she is later.”
“… Excuse me?!”
Vera-Sylvie, Count Chamneaux’s daughter, was released on the day of the coronation. We had her rest, and then she will need to go through rehabilitation and be observed. Although she had improved a lot during the later half of her imprisonment, she was confined for a long time. She didn’t have enough food or exercise, so she wasn’t very healthy.
But well, she can return with Count Chamneaux if that is what they both wish.
After all, there won’t be any medics at the palace for a while. In fact, the ‘Storyteller’ elf, who knew a lot about medicine, was looking after Vera-Sylvie right now.
… Why are there no medics at the palace? Because it’s highly possible that the person who assassinated the previous emperor is one of the medics. All the medics were being heavily interrogated by Count Palatine Vedett right now.
Lastly, Fabio… This is the first time we’ve talked in public.
“My loyal subject, Fabio. I am grateful for your help once again. I must reward you for your many sacrifices and long devotion.”
Those words were more for Lord Warung and Count Chamneaux to hear than Fabio. I wanted to explain that the reason why Fabio, who led the fewest troops out of the three and had the lowest rank as an aristocrat, was being awarded more than the two was because he had been loyal to me for a long time.
“Thank you for your kind words, Your Majesty.”
By the way, my words might sound contradictory because Lord Warung was also supposed to have ‘previously sworn his allegiance to me’.
For example, Count Chamneaux has recently sworn his allegiance to me, but he hadn’t before that. In other words, ‘swearing allegiance’ could be interpreted as ‘not having sworn allegiance before that’.
And Lord Warung revolted ‘for the Emperor’. If he swears an oath of allegiance to the Emperor now then it can be interpreted as he hadn’t sworn allegiance to the Emperor when he rebelled, which means that him ‘rebelling for the Emperor’ was also a lie, so it was necessary to say that Lord Warung had sworn his allegiance to me since before.
Frankly, I don’t think anyone here would find fault in him for this. The problem was the former Chancellor and Regent lords. Most of the aristocrats that are being held will probably be released. If I were to kill them all then all the imperial aristocrats would become my enemies and I would be banished without much resistance.
And some of the released aristocrats will contribute to the Empire and make a comeback to central politics. I cannot stop them. If I bend the ‘reward and punishment’ principle, then no one would follow me.
That was why I needed to do things like this. It was troublesome but even in my previous life, politicians and fault-finding went hand in hand.
Now let’s get back to Fabio’s reward.
I received a piece of paper from Timona who was standing next to me. It was an official document signed by the Emperor.
“Emperor Carmine of the Bungdalto Empire hereby declares that the ‘Three Families Rebellion’ was the result of the previous Lord Raul and previous Lord Aquicurl’s oppression. Therefore, we shall withdraw all charges against Marquis L’Mitedeau House, Marquis Aquicurl Diederich House and Count Beria House, and work on restoring their honour. We also recognise the reestablishment of Marquis L’Mitedeau House and anoint you, Marquis L’Mitedeau.”
“I can’t believe it… I am truly, extremely grateful for this. I can finally avenge my ancestors.”
Fabio said with tears in his eyes while looking down.
“Our previous declaration will be issued as an imperial decree. You have done well to persevere until today. From now on, you will be known as Fabio de L’Mitedeau Denoueix.”
… This was a reward but also for me. It will be a plus for me to have Fabio gain power as an aristocrat, and the survivors of Marquis Aquicurl Diederich House and Count Beria House, who have been in hiding until now like the L’Mitedeau House, may side with me. This was also a good way to criticise the Chancellor and Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies.
“Finally… Lord Warung.”
He probably didn’t expect to be named and sounded a little confused.
“Is it true that you once rode with my father into the battlefield?”
“It is. His Highness called me a friend.”
“I do not know my father, so won’t you tell me about him? We’re in the middle of a national crisis, so I don’t have much time to talk to you about him… but I would like to hear about how my father was on the battlefield after all this has settled down.”
Lord Warung’s eyes widened in surprise, then he answered.
“Oh, my… His Highness would be happy to hear those words… Of course, Your Majesty. I would love to tell you about your father.”
Lord Warung teared up a little and my first real audience was over.