Chapter 74: End Him or Make Use of Him? (1)
The third son of the purged Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies, Charles de Aquicurl… was in fact, not at the coronation ceremony.
On the day of the coronation ceremony, he was in one of the mansions in the capital owned by Duke Aquicurl (which has now been confiscated). It was believed that this man may have been aware of what was going to happen at the coronation ceremony quite early on.
He could have hidden or fled, but he didn’t do that; instead, he appeared at the palace and allowed himself to be caught.
… He did this all before the Imperial Guard had taken control of the palace.
He allowed himself to be constrained and was left alone since he wasn’t trying to break free… After all that, he brought up ancient laws and advised Count Copardwall to use them? It was a half-hearted attempt to help Count Copardwall, and we can assume that he made that move with something in mind.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to deal with him since he surrendered voluntarily.
It would be easier for me if Duke Aquicurl’s bloodline was thoroughly wiped out. It would also serve as an example to the other aristocrats, but we didn’t have any crimes to charge against Charles de Aquicurl, so he couldn’t go to trial. He hadn’t resisted and he wasn’t involved in any of the crimes that the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies had committed.
Assassination may be the only way to eliminate him if he cannot go to trial.
I could ask a spy to do it… but that would mean showing a new weakness to that spy and in turn, their chief, Count Palatine Vedett. I’m already relying on him quite a bit, but I don’t want to rely on him more than I have to… I think that will be dangerous. If Count Palatine Vedett gains too much influence, then it’s possible that we may end up with an Emperor who is under his control.
… There is no guarantee that that Emperor will be me.
I don’t want the spies to have that much influence. It would be impossible to diminish it once they have it.
I have succeeded in eliminating the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies who both held enormous influence and control over the Empire, but I only succeeded because those who had let down their guard.
I have already become the ‘Emperor who Purged Aristocrats’ to the aristocrats instead of the ‘Young Incompetent Emperor’ they knew me as. They will always be wary of me. Even Lord Warung, to whom I had sent a letter stating my intent in advance, brought his aristocrats with him because he was wary of having an audience with me.
It was unlikely for an Emperor who was already being guarded against to employ similar hardline tactics, especially when dealing with a spy, but I also find it difficult to believe that I can outwit a man who had remained neutral during his dealings with the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies by just scheming.
So, I didn’t want to use assassination against the Empire aristocrats. The risk was too great no matter how much I gained from it.
It seemed realistic to continue detaining Charles de Aquicurl for some reason.
I would need a reason to detain him. He was currently being detained because he ‘may be connected’ to Augusto de Aquicurl, who had raised an army, but that reason will cease to be valid once the Aquicurl army is defeated.
Him inciting Count Copardwall was a good opportunity to decide how to deal with him. I decided to meet with Charles.
I made my way to the prison where Charles de Aquicurl was held with Timona and Balthazar in tow.
This prison was the so-called ‘Aristocrat Prison’. Unlike the dungeons, which are designed to inflict pain and suffering, the rooms in this prison were decorated like any normal room. The cells would just be slightly smaller rooms if it weren’t for the bars.
Most of the aristocrats who were detained at the coronation ceremony are held in this prison. This prison, which had been empty for the past few years, was now full with aristocrats.
There weren’t enough rooms for those who had a title lower than baron, so they were placed under house arrest or in vacant rooms in the palace which meant they weren’t being monitored very closely.
Some of them escaped… but that’s alright. There are only so many Imperial Guards and spies.
By the way, even those who haven’t been convicted of a crime can be put into jail in this world… and this didn’t just apply to the Empire.
I believe this has something to do with the existence of magic. If you put someone under house arrest, then they will escape with magic. In fact, most of the barons who escaped were those who could use magic. There are magic tools which can create ‘Sealing Barriers’ but there’s a limit to their numbers.
That was why prisons that look like normal rooms were deliberately built. If you think about it, it is more efficient to confine a person in a room that can also be used for other purposes. It was normal in this world for aristocrats to be thrown in jail based on a single suspicion.
Well, all such ‘suspicions’ were being swept under the rug as evident from the fact that this prison hasn’t been utilised for the past few years.
Though, iron bars would be meaningless against a powerful mage. The previously mentioned magic tool is also used when detaining powerful mages. They are also used to prevent the detainee from escaping… Vera-Sylvie was also imprisoned within iron bars and a barrier.
Unfortunately, we were currently lacking ‘Sealing Barrier’ magic tools in the palace. Charles was the third son of the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies, and we didn’t have spare magic tools to use on a man without a title or government position.
I arrived in front of Charles de Aquicurl’s cell, said a few words of thanks to the Imperial Guard and told him to step back, then spoke to the man who was kneeling behind the bars.
“Are you Charles de Aquicurl…? I will allow you to answer from now on. Speak.”
“With all due respect, Your Majesty. I confirm that I am indeed Charles de Aquicurl.”
“Then raise your head.”
I sent a signal to Timona as soon as I said that.
Seeing my signal, Timona manipulated his mana and pretended to use magic. I deployed a soundproof barrier when he did this.
Timona wasn’t incapable of using magic, but he wasn’t very good at it. As for me, I trust my own magic more than other people’s magic, but I don’t like showing people that I can use magic or what kind of magic I can use. So, I used this trick to hide my magic.
I should refrain from discarding cards that don’t need to be discarded… but I wouldn’t hesitate to use magic if I need to.
I looked Charles de Aquicurl in the eyes. He looked like the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies whom I had killed. Honestly, I don’t feel good.
“Why did you teach Count Copardwall about the ancient laws? Did you believe it would work in the first place?”
I commend you for pulling out old laws from the Bungdalto tribe and Lothar Empire but Count Copardwall doesn’t need to be imprisoned.
His proposal was obviously flawed. If he was that smart, then he could have found a law to make up for the flaw.
“No, but there was no reason to help him either.”
“Then why did you do that when you’ve remained silent until now?”
“It is simple, Your Majesty. I foolishly believed that his fief would be an important strategic position that you must seize.”
… As I thought, that was a present for me.
“Fortunately, he has no children, and under the Imperial law, if no heir to the title has been confirmed and the head of the family is unable to fulfil his or her duty as an aristocrat, then the monarch is ‘responsible’ for that title until a successor is determined. It would be better to let him keep his peerage, so that you can temporarily take control of his title after he is castrated and imprisoned by stating that he is unable to fulfil his duties as an aristocrat.”
A law created to prevent a power vacuum… I know it as well.
If Count Copardwall were to die, then his title would be passed on to his heir by his relatives or vassals, but if he were still alive, then the title would remain with him.
But if he is unable to fulfil his duties as an aristocrat then his fief would effectively be without a lord. Fiefs without lords are easily targeted by other nations and thieves. This was a law to prevent that.
Therefore, when an aristocrat dies, a successor is chosen to succeed them, and when they return, the fief is returned to them. This was only a temporary measure.
Right now, I want to keep Count Copardwall’s fief until this civil war is over, so it won’t pose a problem for me to secure it temporarily.
The law was originally applied to cases where an aristocrat was taken prisoner by another nation…
“But that law… shouldn’t apply if one is being held by their own Emperor, right?”
If such a thing was allowed, then I could send troops into the fiefs of all the aristocrats who were currently being held.
I can’t do that, so I used my head and used guises like trials and negotiations.
Charles de Aquicurl smiled at my words.
“This is not imprisonment, Your Majesty. There isn’t any other punishment waiting for him after he is castrated. After that, he will enter the ‘tower from which he will never come out’ out of his own free will. Your Majesty will not intervene with that…”
… I see. Count Copardwall will freely enter the tower from which he will never come out of…
That was a very convenient interpretation.
“Still, this could still be seen as a misuse of the law. It would give people a negative impression.”
“Let him take an oath. If he puts it all down into writing, then the lords will have no choice but to accept it. Besides, the strategic position of his fief is worth it… is it not?”
… He has a point, but this was a dangerous strategy that could make me a lot of unnecessary enemies.
… Am I being too cautious? Well, it could be a plan depending on the situation. I’ll think more about this later. There’s no need to take this man at his word.
Now, Charles de Aquicurl insisted Count Copardwall use the ancient laws… to create this situation.
He wanted to reveal the existence of an unneeded ancient law to create a sense of urgency and at the same time, show that he was familiar with ancient law. He also proposed a plan that would be beneficial to the Emperor. So far, the conversation was progressing according to his plan.
I would be happy to end the conversation here, but I am… interested in this man.
“What do you want?”
His response will determine what I do with him.