Chapter 69: Time to Collect Evidence
It had already been a week since my accession to the throne.
During this period, the armies of Lord Warung and Lord Chamneaux occupied and secured the fief that was originally under the direct control of the Emperor. Although, there wasn’t much resistance. Most of the magistrates in the Chancellor and Regent factions who were in control had already fled.
The capital had issued an imperial decree regarding the ‘Rebellion of the Three Families’. This was only announced to the capital and its surroundings, but I intend to notify all the lords about this along with other information.
I had declared this at the audience, but I had only placed the responsibility on Aquicurl House and Raul House. I have decided to charge the lords who had attacked L’Mitedeau House and the other two families under the instructions of the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies.
This was our limit. If we are too harsh on the lords in the Chancellor and Regent factions, then they will all turn against us. We won’t be able to win the civil war if all the lords from the factions turn against us and then I won’t be able to govern.
This was my basic policy as the Emperor. I will severely punish Aquicurl and Raul House and be relatively lenient with the other lords. I intend to be lenient towards them for a while.
The lords who participated in my coronation ceremony are still under the guise of ‘interrogation’ instead of being unjustly imprisoned. The Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies committed many crimes, including assassinating the Emperor and the Crown Prince and tax evasion. The lords were being questioned about whether they helped the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies with their crimes or if they had known about their crimes.
… Well of course I expect all of them to say, ‘I don’t know’.
I don’t expect to get a testimony from them either. Their interrogation was only conducted to buy time. In the meantime, I had the spies and bureaucrats working under the Treasurer to spend a week scrutinising every document that remained in the palace.
I will release most of the aristocrats but not all of them. If there is evidence that deserves to be judged, then it will be judged. It was necessary to make an example.
As it turned out, there was little evidence of any wrongdoing.
They aren’t stupid; they’ve already covered everything up. The wrongdoings of the Regent Faction were probably covered up by Lord Aquicurl’s eldest son who held the official position of ‘Secretary General’, and the wrongdoings of the Chancellor’s faction were probably covered up by the Chancellor himself.
But they had evaded tax as well as other crimes on a large scale. The figures were obviously unnatural because they were all covered up. These documents which were apparently never disclosed even when the Treasurer requested them were apparently documents that ‘pretended they hadn’t evaded tax’.
On the other hand, the Treasurer had good records of ‘reported tax revenue’ and ‘reported annual expenditure’. All the tax evasion took place before the reports went to Lord Newnbal. So, what he had with him were the ‘post-tax evasion records’. We found many discrepancies when we compared the two documents.
It was impossible to know who had evaded taxes and to what extent since the documents had been falsified, but it was clear that they had ‘done this illegally’, so they will be judged for it.
And we have also secured evidence of their wrongdoings although it wasn’t much. We hadn’t gotten this evidence through investigation; it was brought to us by the Western Church.
By the way, Count Newnbal’s close associate who was suspected to have been involved in the disappearance of the Emperor’s personal funds was found to be ‘innocent’. I know who the culprit is… but I don’t know what to do with them.
“Your Majesty. Daniel de Pierce has come to make his report.”
Timona interrupted my pondering.
“Let him in.”
An Imperial Guard had been assigned to protect him since the coronation ceremony. Timona had settled into his attendant role as he should.
Daniel looked around the room for a moment after he entered. I wasn’t surprised since the interior had changed so much.
I had cleared out all the excessive décor that wasn’t to my liking. I don’t feel at home with all the gold and jewel décor in the room. I’ll put up with it to a certain extent when I’m out though.
… I’ve just noticed that the way he looks around is similar to how Count Palatine Vedett looks around. This was what people who could fight did. Perhaps he had a military background.
Daniel bowed and began his report.
“We have carried out Georg V’s execution, Your Majesty. His five most trusted retainers have also been executed as well.”
“I see. Thanks.”
Georg V, the Great Leader of the Western Church, was sentenced to be executed by ‘burning’ within the Western Church. The Western Church buried people in the earth or by fire, so they believe that the soul will not be allowed into the afterlife if the person has been executed by burning. Even the Emperor cannot be burnt at the stake without the church’s permission.
This was decided by the Western Church, and I only had to acknowledge it. They probably knew what I wanted since that thing happened with Baron Nan. Though, there were people in the church who resented him as well.
He was executed for accepting bribes and unjustly exercising the Inquisition. Taking bribes was against the ‘Great Principles’ which absolutely must be followed. It was understandable that Georg V had been executed by burning since he had committed a crime that should not be committed.
… Well, accepting bribes was easy to get away with since the church accepted ‘donations’ and ‘contributions’. There weren’t many cases where the church would accuse someone of taking bribes. That is why bribes are rampant in the palace as well.
Daniel de Pierce was the person who had collected enough evidence for his crimes to be considered a bribe.
“You did a great job.”
“Georg V was a man who was put into his position by the Chancellor’s influence. Many of the clergy were dissatisfied. Well, with him. He would have been burnt at the stake even if I didn’t have evidence against him since his backer is gone.”
Well, because it seemed that he had used the money he got from bribes on himself.
“But it was thanks to you that his subordinates were wiped out. Isn’t that right?”
My purge had been bloody too, but I only killed two men. In contrast, the purge within the Western Church spilt much more blood. Who said the church had no power? I forgot that being able to use magic is the same as being able to use a sword.
“But some of them escaped.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter if they join up with Lord Raul’s army. We’ll fight them eventually… Also, thanks for giving me that evidence.”
The evidence collected by the Western Church illuminated the bribes received by Georg V and his associates.
The aristocrats who had bribed them were not only from the Chancellor faction; some of them were from the Regent faction as well. Georg V was bedazzled with money. Since he had been trialled by the Western Church for accepting bribes, the aristocrats who had bribed him can be trialled for giving out bribes.
“We are honoured to be of service.”
“And now for the next Great Leader… I won’t be nominating them. That would be better.”
“… Thank you.”
Georg V became the Great Leader through the Chancellor’s influence. The dissatisfaction of the clergy over this matter exploded and he was burnt at the stake. So, if I were to, for example, nominate Daniel as the next Great Leader… then he will bear the brunt of their dissatisfaction.
Things won’t go well just because the Emperor was the one who made the decision. There will be a struggle within the church for a while.
“The church will be unstable for a while.”
“It will stabilise as soon as the turmoil in the nation is over.”
Well, that’s true. Whatever happens won’t happen until the situation in the nation has completely settled.
“… Did you have something else to report?”
I asked Daniel since he looked like he wanted to say something. He hesitated then spoke as if he had made up his mind.
“Your Majesty, Count Palatine Vedett must stop interrogating the palace doctors immediately.”
Count Palatine Vedett was currently interrogating the palace doctors who were involved in the assassination of the previous Emperor. The way he was conducting the interrogation must be the problem.
“He’s like a beast.”
“It probably isn’t pretty to watch.”
He was more like a machine than a beast from the moment he decided to help me. He was like a robot who had been programmed to be the ‘Guardian of Lothar’.
“I believe Count Palatine Vedett has extraordinary feelings about the assassination of the previous Emperor. Am I wrong?”
“… No, you are right. tThat is why you should rein him in. His actions are like…”
The assassination of the previous Emperor Edward IV. If he hadn’t been assassinated then I might have been able to ascend to the throne more easily, but then again, I might have been killed off early by the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies for being an obstructive successor. So, I didn’t want to seek revenge against those who had assassinated the previous Emperor.
But I was overlooking Count Palatine Vedett’s actions because I don’t plan on forgiving them either.
“He might be doing it out of revenge, but at least he’s not venting his anger out on them. The only people who are still being questioned by him are those who are definitely guilty. Some of the palace doctors were released without even being questioned.’
The palace doctor who had examined Baron Nan was one of them. Perhaps that doctor was allowed to examine Baron Nan at that time because they were innocent.
“I won’t stop him as long as he doesn’t make a mistake since he would do the same for me. He has done other work and has achieved results there as well.”
The way he did things was problematic but the things he did weren’t wrong, and most importantly, he got results.
… Or perhaps that seemingly vengeful interrogation was the best solution he could come up with.
“I know he is a dangerous man, and I also know why you are worried, so don’t worry. You may continue to monitor him.”
“… I apologise for bringing this up. That is all I have to report.”
Daniel bowed after he said that.
… Did something happen between these two that I don’t know about? I have to be careful…