Chapter 73: Bad Law, Old Law
I rarely left the palace of my own volition when I was a puppet and I have never strolled freely in the capital. I only rode in a horse-drawn carriage at the founding ceremony, like I was told to.
The last time I left the palace on my own volition was during the tour. I could only gaze at the capital through the carriage window at that time.
… Ah, I did go out to check how many castle walls there are, but that’s about it.
So now that I have real power as the Emperor, I can roam wherever I want…? Nope, not at all.
I’m riding the ‘Small Fortress’ to give a speech at the cathedral again. The guards were in a triple formation, and only those who had undergone a background check were allowed to approach me.
Although it may seem a bit excessive, this level of protection may be necessary for an emperor’s bodyguard.
Until now, there was no chance of someone assassinating me as long as I was a ‘convenient pawn’ for the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies, but it was different now. I don’t know who will target me or when I will be targeted.
But it was hard to grasp the situation in the capital while looking at it from a carriage. I can see it at a distance but there are many things that I can’t understand from inside a carriage. I’m also curious about the price of goods for the commoners and the cleanliness of the back alleys. These things should be inspected in person rather than having it investigated and reported back to me.
But there will definitely be chaos if I go inspect these things with this many guards… and we were temporarily blocking the streets every time I passed.
I asked Balthazar to arrange a small number of guards so that I can inspect the capital… but he told me it was impossible. He told me that it would be dangerous to reduce my guards further since there are still a lot of low-ranking aristocrats from the Chancellor and Regent Factions and merchants under their control in the capital.
By the way, I appointed Balthazar as the ‘Captain of the Imperial Guards’ and entrusted him with the leadership of the Imperial Guard. I actually wanted to appoint him as the Commander of the Imperial Guards, but in order to avoid the potential backlash from the other Imperial Guards, I decided to create a new position that was ‘under the Commander of the Imperial Guards and above a Squadron Leader’. He was practically in charge of the Imperial Guards right now since the Commander of the Imperial Guards was currently in prison.
That said, I wouldn’t leave a good impression on the citizens if I have a lot of guards with me and create chaos, so the inspections will have to wait until after the civil war.
Tax and internal reformations cannot be implemented until after the civil war is over. I must win the civil war first. Everything will come after that.
I’m going to make a speech to ‘enlist’ people… in order to win this war.
The speech was extremely simple and was over quickly, and unlike the one that I gave right after the coronation, it was purely an ‘explanatory’ speech.
I went back into the cathedral while waving my hand a little in response to the cheers of the people. But still… I wonder why the people are allowed to look the Emperor directly in the eye and cheer while he gives his speech, but not when passing him. I can see the faces of the people in the front row clearly.
But anyway, I talked about two main things during my speech.
The first was that the Chancellor’s son has rebelled against the Emperor under the name of Duke Raul and that a fort will be built on the border of the Raul fief to prepare for his army. The citizens of the capital already know that Duke Raul had raised his arm; it wasn’t strange to them that a fort would be built to prepare for when he attacks.
The second was about recruiting ‘workers’ for the construction of this fort. It was a public work project of sorts. I explained that they would be paid and well fed, and that there would be soldiers stationed at the construction site to guard them. I also promised that they would be paid even on days when that were ‘non-construction days’, like during the time they needed to travel there, though I wouldn’t be paying them the full amount for those days.
I believe their reaction was somewhat alright. The pay was the same as what they would be paid if they worked in construction elsewhere, but their meals are guaranteed and it wasn’t often that one is paid for the days when you’re on the move, even if it was just a small amount. They probably believe they are getting a good deal for a job away from home.
Well, I don’t expect them to trust me unconditionally. It would be enough to get a few hundred people at first. I expect more people to apply after that by word of mouth about whether the job pays properly or not.
… What about the draft, you ask? That was the draft.
It just so happens that the enemy will come while they are building this based on the frontline and they will have no choice but to take up arms.
So, this wasn’t ‘recruiting’, it was ‘enlisting.
Well, in other words, I was deceiving them.
Of course, they will be building something. I would rather have them build a strong defensive position on the hillside than a fort. Then, when a certain number of people has gathered and the camp is somewhat complete… especially to the point where the people inside cannot easily get out, I will invite the Raul army over.
In a situation where escape is impossible, they will also choose to fight if they have a crossbow or a relatively easy-to-use weapon in their hands. It was also advantageous… to be on a fortified slope. I hope that the thrill of fighting in an advantageous position outweighs their fear… though I won’t know if it will or not until it happens.
I didn’t dare mention this, but battling will also be included in ‘non-construction days’. I intend to pay them more than their full salary when they are in combat, so that I will have more people who say they got a good income instead of saying they were tricked. The citizen’s opinion of me shouldn’t worsen much.
… Of course, that’s if we win.
And… I’m going to hold another ‘recruitment’ at a later day, but I don’t think… I can expect much from it.
No one wants to die, and everyone wants to fight with an army that can win, but the Empire’s recent feats have been disappointing, so very few people would want to join the army.
And it was currently summer… if this was a leisure season for farmers then they would do other work, but unfortunately, the farmers are busy this season.
That was one of the reasons why the ‘public work (enlistment)’ was being declared in the capital. Farmers are unlikely to accept work even if it pays well, but city dwellers might.
The other opinion I have in this era was to ‘draft’ them, but a lot of people will run away before they reach the destination.
I also don’t know who would be drafted. There wasn’t a profession for this, and mercenaries cannot be trusted, so I would need to have ‘soldiers’ who can fight, such as those from Duke Warung’s army to join. But it would be difficult to draft valuable soldiers since they needed to defend the capital, capture Count Bunra’s fief and secure a line of communication with Count Chamneaux’s fief in the upcoming days. It was possible to draft a small number of people, but getting them to the destination would be a problem…
After much consideration, I concluded that the most efficient way to recruit people was under the pretense of ‘building a fort’.
By the way, if the ‘public works’ was announced after the ‘enlistment’ then people might find out that we couldn’t gather soldiers, so we are gathering them under a different pretense. I was careful about which order to announce these things this time.
… I will even lie to the citizens to protect the Empire. I don’t know if having a monarch who does this is good or bad, but am I considered a ‘good ruler’ as long as they cheer for me?
I got back into the carriage with those thoughts in mind and headed back to the palace.
There were three heads displayed along the way. They were the heads of the chief doctor, Augusto Claudiano and three others. The heads of the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies which were displayed here as well had already been recovered and placed into the same coffin as their body.
Their heads were gruesome, but these heads were even worse. Their heads had been stoned so many times that they no longer retained their original shape. The citizens may have held back since the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies were nobles or perhaps, they were surprisingly well liked by some people.
… These are the ‘results’ of my decision. I’m not going to turn away.
The executions were carried out relatively quickly after the trial. The chief medical officer, Augusto Claudiano and three others were executed for their role in the assassination of the previous emperor and their heads were put on display. Another two who were involved were also executed.
The former Marquis Freed Aquicurl-Nove was also executed on the same day. His body was laid to rest at the same place where the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies was. At the time of his execution, he uttered various curses at me, but I didn’t get any magical response from his words, so I ignored them.
His son, Philippe de Aqiucurl and Count Nummecht were imprisoned for life.
Alexia, who was also serving a life sentence, was imprisoned in the tower instead of in jail; it was the same tower where Vera-Sylvie was imprisoned. Count Chamneuax had requested that she be imprisoned there.
I didn’t need to fulfill his desire for revenge… but it wasn’t a big issue to imprison her in the tower, so I decided to grant his request this time.
Marquis Theodore Arndal and Count Theophane Vadpo have already been released since they received an innocent verdict. They were in the Regent Faction with fiefs in the north that was flanked on the east and west by the Chancellor Faction. They would be good diversions whether they choose to follow Duke Aquicurl or break away from the Regent Faction and follow Duke Raul. Of course, I don’t mind if they join the Emperor Faction either. I don’t mind what they do since I intend to leave the north alone for a while. So, I released them unconditionally.
… Incidentally, none of the other innocent verdicts were announced except for these two.
The other three who were fined, Count Bernardin Pescar, Count Marius Kalkus and Alexia’s lover, Count Jean Copardwall, were charged an exorbitant amount of money.
Well, this was all legal since there wasn’t a maximum amount one could be fined.
These three will never be able to pay it, so I told the merchants who were under the influence of the Chancellor and Regent factions that I would allow them to pay the men’s fines for them. The merchants left after telling me that they would check how much funds their company has.
There was no way the merchants weren’t aware of how much funds they have, so they were stalling for time. It seemed that they all contacted Duke Aquicurl or Duke Raul depending on what faction they were under.
I believe the fine will probably be paid. The factions have dissolved and both Duke Aquicurl and Duke Raul were starting from scratch. It seemed that some of the aristocrats have resorted to opportunism. So, it would be desirable for both Duke Aquicurl and Duke Raul to have at least one aristocrat who was willing to become their ally.
The merchants will pay their fines under the command of the Dukes and demand that the released aristocrats side with them. Naturally, they will side with the Duke as requested.
… It may sound like I’m just making more enemies, but there’s no guarantee that they would side with the Emperor no matter how grateful they feel since they originally belonged to the Chancellor or Regent Factions. So, it was better to at least use them to raise funds for the army.
Well, their fine would be paid in Raul gold or Aquicurl silver anyway. They aren’t worth much even if their face value is outrageous because of inflation.
… But there was one thing that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
It was to do with Count Jean Copardwall. Only the Empress would know why she picked a man who has the same name as my father to be her lover. But apparently, they were ‘childhood friends’. So, he benefited considerably as that old hag’s lover when her father was alive. That was the reason why he inherited the title of Count Copardwall at such a young age.
He benefited not from the former Aquicurl but from Alexia and was the number two in the ‘Alexia sub faction’ within the Regent Faction. Once freed, he could have brought together the ‘Alexia sub faction’ and created a fourth power.
But to my surprise, he wanted to be imprisoned in the same place as Alexia after demanding to be ‘castrated’ because he ‘wanted to be with the one he loves’.
Normally, one wouldn’t try to change their sentence when they’re being fined. This kind of selfishness normally wouldn’t be accepted… or so I thought… but it might be accepted.
Firstly, castration was said to be ‘the most shameful punishment equal to death’ to the Bungdalto people. The Bungdalto people valued ‘procreation’ and for them, ‘not being able to procreate’ was a fate worse than death. For this reason, the Bungdalto tribe has an outrageous law that says that all charges and debts will be cancelled upon castration. But in those days, the men couldn’t bear this and chose to ‘die with pride rather than be castrated’.
And there was a law passed during the Lothar Kingdom before the Lothar Empire accepted the Holy One Church that allowed a person to choose a heavier punishment than the one they were receiving. Since the Holy One Church who denied suicide was not accepted yet, this law was often used as a ‘right to commit suicide when sentenced to other punishments’.
However, due to the rapid spread of the Holy One Church for the convenience of the state, both laws stopped being used and were completely forgotten. They were probably forgotten to the point where even the idea of ‘abolishing’ them was also forgotten.
Count Copardwall was requesting his punishment by combining those two forgotten laws.
Documents proved that these two laws did exist, and they would be legal if no records of them being ‘abolished’ can be found… and Timona, who has been searching through the documents, has not found any records saying that these laws have been abolished and he believes he probably won’t find any.
We’re going to suffer from weird laws repeatedly if we don’t do something about this… I need to find some legal experts and sort this out.
But it seemed that he had not come up with this idea on his own. Apparently, he was making this request with the help of someone else. There were loopholes in his demand. Castration was considered as worse as death, but it wasn’t classified within the ‘ranks of punishments’ in the imperial law. And even if we were to castrate him, there would be no reason to imprison him, so he wouldn’t be imprisoned in the same tower as Alexia.
… But I was already willing to accept it. Frankly, I don’t have time to bother with someone like that… And if it makes him happy then why not?
I don’t remember her acting like a mother nor me behaving like a son. It wouldn’t be bad for me to do my first and final filial duty towards her.
… Honestly, Count Copardwall’s fief was a fief I would like to keep if I could.
His fief was to the east of Count Chamneaux’s fief, and his title hasn’t been passed on yet. There will be opportunities for me to intervene if he is imprisoned and his fief falls into chaos. If I take this opportunity to occupy his fief, then it would be easier to coordinate with Count Chamneaux. I want to keep his fief under my control.
Well, I’ll think about his punishment later. The problem was the person who had put him up to this… Apparently, the rooms where they were held were right next to each other. I guess I need to review the security system.
Anyway, that guy. The man who had memorised an ancient forgotten law that no one knew about. The man with alarming intellect… Charles de Aquicurl; the third son of the former Duke Aquicurl.