Extra 01: Balthazar 01
The Imperial Guards… is a traditional position that has been implemented since the days of the Lothar Empire.
The best of the best was chosen to be Imperial Guards, and their duty was to ‘die as the Emperor’s shield’, and they were looked upon with respect and awe by the people. There was no end of people who wanted to take this prestigious position, and the competitiveness was endlessly high.
… All of that was in the past. The 6th Emperor, Edward III, ‘sold’ this position for money, through the infamous ‘right to buy’.
Anyone who paid money could claim this prestigious position, and it sold like hotcakes.
As a result, it became a tool for nobles and merchants to ‘give dignity’.
The 7th Emperor, Edward IV, abolished this, but the title had been sold to too many people. Furthermore, during the reign of Edward III, the Chancellor held the right to appoint people to the Imperial Guards (the sale was done by Edward III), and Edward IV was unable to regain this right.
There was no trace of the ‘powerful Imperial Guards’ of the past in the current Imperial Guards.
But even if they were rotten, they were still Imperial Guards. If all of them can’t fight, then they can’t fulfil the role of a ‘guard’. Therefore, several capable people were appointed as Imperial Guards.
Balthazar Chevillard is one of those people.
As a commoner, he was ostracised by his aristocratic superiors and ridiculed by the troops in the unit that he once belonged to for ‘sucking up to aristocrats’.
The only way for him to relax is to go to his favourite bar, Goose… To see the poster girl.
“You’ve had too much to drink, Balthazar. You have work tomorrow, don’t you?”
Aina, the 19-year-old poster girl. She is said to be the most beautiful girl in the commoner’s district. However, her father, the owner of the bar, looks scary, so the number of customers in Goose wasn’t much different than from other bars.
And the drunk person being dealt with by Aina, is Balthazar.
“Hehee. It’s time for you to go home, Imperial Guard-san.”
“Shut up, Schwarov. Don’t call me that.”
Balthazar is 24 years old, and still in the prime of his career, but he looks older than he does as he regularly visits bars and grumbles with the poster girl.
“What’s wrong with calling you that? Didn’t you say the Imperial Guards pay well?”
Balthazar was asked by a regular customer who was sitting on the same table as him, and he replied with a frown.
“I’m not using it since I’m unmarried, so I’m just saving it up. And I’m doing odd jobs for aristocrats, it’s disgusting.”
Then, one of the customers lifted his empty mug.
“Which means it won’t hurt your wallet if you shout us a drink! Aina-chan, one more!!”
“Alright. I’ll shout you a drink. Aina-chan, me too!”
At the sound of Balthazar’s voice of despair, the people around him cheered, “Whoo!” and asked for more drinks.
“This is the last round~!”
Aina warned as she received the silver coin from Balthazar, then she quickly gave the Master the order she had just received.
Balthazar caught a glimpse of the Master’s eyes from the back of the bar and it was obvious his eyes weren’t smiling.
The scary Master will come out if I don’t take my leave soon, a strangely calm part of his brain thought, and Balthazar sighed.
He had survived to this day in aristocratic society as an Imperial Guard. No matter how drunk he got, a part of his thoughts was still coherent.
“It’s not worth it, it’s not,” just as Balthazar said this to himself, the ale he ordered had arrived.
“Oh yeah, Balthazar, are you going to be part of the upcoming parade as a guard?” Aina asked.
“I guess,” he answered.
“So, you’re going to meet the Emperor too?!”
“Oh, the rumoured young Emperor? I hope he resembles the late Emperor or His Highness Jean,” Balthazar’s drinking companion said, and he frowned.
“He’s a 5-year-old brat. He’s been spoiled from birth and he’s worthless.”
“You can’t talk about him like that.”
Aina pointed at Balthazar and his mouth slackened, then Schwarov asked, “… So, do you think you’ll actually get a chance to see him?”
“Yeah. I’m sure I will. I’ll be guarding the ‘Smallest Fortress (Emperor’s Carriage)’.” Balthazar sounded annoyed. He threw roasted beans into his mouth and drank his ale.
“Then you might be able to talk to him in person!! Balthazar is surprisingly amazing.”
Balthazar looked hurt by Aina’s honesty. He coughed and said, “I’ll tell you if anything interesting happens, Aina-chan.”
“Oh, that’s nice. Then that’ll be our entertainment the next time we go out drinking,” Schwarov said.
Balthazar yelled angrily, “I’m not talking to you!!” Then, the Master came out from the back of the bar.
“You’re disturbing the other customers.”
Balthazar, who had already taken a beating from the ex-soldier Master’s arm before, drank up the rest of his drink and said, “I’ll come again,” before leaving.
His back exuded the sorrows of a typical bachelor.
Balthazar Chevillard was a commoner; however, his family lineage was not that of a farmer, but they are retainers who had been employed by a certain Viscount House for generations.
His father was killed in battle when he was 15 years old, so he went to the battlefield as a retainer… The Viscount, his Lord and General at that time, gave him a recommendation and he came to the Imperial Capital by himself when he was 21. He was involved in maintaining public order in the Imperial Capital as a member of the guards, and it was just this year that his abilities were recognised, and he became a member of the Imperial Guards.
He was satisfied with the high salary of an Imperial Guard at first, but within a month, he had grown sick of it.
The aristocrats looked down on him for being a commoner and they were jealous of him, so he was forced to look after them. It was understandable that Balthazar felt disgust for his new superiors (the aristocrats).
More importantly, they would also be the ruin of the aristocrats that Balthazar knew and who commanded troops on the battlefield. The corrupted aristocrats who nest in the capital are just so greedy…
He hasn’t quit his job despite suffering so much because he is strong, but more importantly, he couldn’t return to his home.
His former colleagues in the guard where he worked until last year, seriously disliked him for ‘cosying up to the Imperial Guards’. That was how much the citizens of the capital disliked aristocracy.
“The Emperor and Crown Prince were killed by an aristocrat…?”
This is the rumour that every citizen in the capital has heard, and many of them believe it.
Balthazar also believes in this rumour, and he even thinks that the two Archdukes may have done it.
“But the rumour’s spread too far… I can only assume that someone is spreading it deliberately.”
“Oh, scary,” he shrugged, then he finally reached his house in the aristocrat district.
This is called the aristocrat district but that didn’t mean that only aristocrats lived here.
Aristocrats basically keep their distance from other aristocrats. Of course, there are some who are said to have ‘close’ relationships, but their relationship can change drastically as the generation changes.
Therefore, there was a lot of distance between the aristocrat’s homes. Between their houses live those who serve aristocrats or work at the palace. The house Balthazar lives in falls under this category.
He opened the ornate door of his home… which was small but too big for one person to live in, and it had a garden. He lived alone in a quiet house without much furniture.
Like how Balthazar’s family is working for a Viscount House, it was normal for a whole family to work for a House for generations; therefore, there were no houses for bachelors in the aristocrat district.
It would have been fine for Balthazar to hire a maid, but he kept insisting that it was comfortable alone, so he didn’t hire any.
… And yet, he went all the way to a bar in the commoner’s district because he wanted to socialise with others. Of course, he also can’t cook for himself, so he had to go out to eat.
The room he entered while tipsy was a mess, in contrast to the other rooms which were empty. It was correct to say that he didn’t use any other room except for this one.
“Ah, I have to work again tomorrow. What a pain,” Balthazar said to himself as he laid down, using the scattered clothes on the floor as beeding.
“I should buy a bed sometime…”
A bed is too expensive for many commoners. This man made enough money to buy one.
Even on the morning of National Foundation Day, Balthazar arrived at work exactly on time. He was a serious man at work no matter how unmotivated he felt.
However, when he saw his superior in a bad mood early in the morning, he regretted that he hadn’t arrived later.
“Ah. What’s wrong?” Balthazar spoke to the man.
The man scoffed before replying, “The guards forced their way through! Don’t they know about tradition?”
Balthazar was annoyed at the condescending attitude that his low-ranking aristocrat superior always showed him. He was curious and asked, “The guards? They’ll be guarding the parade?”
The guard unit was newly established. Their duties are the same as that of the Imperial Guards.
They were the product of the so-called ‘factional strife’. Since the Imperial Guards belonged to the Chancellor’s faction, the Regent’s faction created a new unit on their own. Therefore, compared to the ‘ruined’ Imperial Guards, the guard unit can only be described as ‘shabby’.
(They can’t guard anything, can they…?)
Balthazar thought that guarding the Emperor was a hassle, but it is what it is. He was going to do it and he was going to do it right.
“Half. Ah, we’re the ones guarding the Emperor’s carriage. Good luck.”
(… Call him His Majesty properly, you pig.)
Balthazar inwardly cursed his fat and stout superior. He didn’t expect anything from the young Emperor, but the aristocrats who only saw the Emperor as a pawn weren’t compatible with him.
“Hmph, if you understand then get going. You’re a knight even though you’re not even an aristocrat. Do they not care about tradition?”
The man may have sensed Balthazar’s inner thoughts and waved his hand as if to drive him away.
(It was the Chancellor who forced the position of knight on me.)
He left the room and headed for his beloved horse; his inner thoughts were stormy.
In some nations, knights also had an aristocratic status, but they were treated delicately in the Empire.
This was due to the influence of the ‘right to buy’ policy. Aristocrats had called themselves ‘Fomar Aques (Imperial Knight)’, but Edward III treated it as a new position and put it up for sale. It was the most popular title under the ‘right to buy’ policy.
As a result, there are countless people from mercenaries to mid-level merchants and even thieves who call themselves ‘Fomar Aques’.
However, Balthazar was appointed as ‘Quole Aques (Imperial Guard)’, which existed before that, and is completely different from ‘Fomar Aques’ which was created for the purpose of selling, but unfortunately people didn’t know the difference.
Balthazar was also disgusted that people labelled him as a ‘knight’, but if he was just a commoner and not a knight then his superior wouldn’t have even spoken to him. That is what status is.
… Balthazar would have been more than pleased not to have to talk to them.
Balthazar regained his composure when the aristocrats finished their mass at the ‘Founders Hill’.
The Emperor got into his exclusive carriage and Balthazar also strode his beloved horse.
(At any rate, you’re very small, Your Majesty… That’s the Emperor of this nation?)
Balthazar secretly thought, “This nation might come to an end.” Balthazar, who frequented the commoners district, sensed that from some of the citizens in the capital.
Balthazar took his place next to the Emperor’s carriage as it began to move. It would be a lie to say that he wasn’t curious about the appearance of the child who he had just seen from a distance. However, it was disrespectful to stare at the Emperor. He kept his horse facing the front. His duty is to protect the Emperor.
(Well, there’s really no need for that, is there?)
The carriage the Emperor was riding in is equipped with all kinds of defensive techniques. The efficiency was so great that it is said to repel magic and even live ammunition.
If someone wanted to assassinate the Emperor while he’s riding in this carriage, then they would need to bring a cannon, which has recently been put to practical use in Lord Raul’s fief.
(Although a single person wouldn’t be able to shield it if a cannon was shot at the Emperor.)
He thought this as the march continued.
Eventually, the Segue Gate came into view. It’s currently being expanded, but the original Imperial Capital, Cardinal, is located beyond this ‘inner wall’. Therefore, on National Foundation Day, the citizens of the Imperial Capital, who live outside the ‘inner wall’ will gather here as they did back then.
As soon as they passed through the gate, everyone cheered loudly.
““LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!!””
““OUR HOPE!! OUR LIGHT!!””
The sound of their loud cheers startled Balthazar’s horse. He quickly calmed his horse down, but he had gotten a little too close to the carriage.
“Why are they happy…?” Then he heard a small mutter. It was a boy’s voice.
(His Majesty’s voice sounds like this…)
Balthazar heard the Emperor’s voice for the first time, and he felt strange that his wish would come true in such a way.
(Come to think of it, it’s an honour to be addressed directly by the Emperor.)
He knew that such an opportunity would never come to a commoner such as himself.
(Hmm? But was he talking to himself? … If he’s not, then it’s alright for me to answer.)
Balthazar wanted to answer the Emperor because he thought it would make for good conversation at the bar. He was certain Aina would be happy if he told her about this.
It was unlikely for a five-year-old to remember his face, and in the worst case, he could say that he thought he was being spoken to, so it would be rude not to answer. He was certain it wasn’t disrespectful. Balthazar slowly pulled his horse up to the carriage.
(Why are they happy…? Isn’t it because they like the ‘Emperor’?)
Being a ‘child’ may also be one of the reasons for his popularity. Although the citizens of the capital were suffering from the hardships of life, there were few who would fall so low as to turn their anger at a young child.
But answering like that is… Balthazar worried, then spoke, “It’s because they expect great things from you. Both the previous Emperor and your father were popular with the people.”
After saying this, Balthazar regretted that he hadn’t given a better answer.
The young Emperor was stunned, then he muttered, “I… see.”
It was then that Balthazar saw the Emperor’s eyes for the first time.
His golden eyes began filling up with joy. He really is a child. He’s that happy to know that the voices are directed at him. Balthazar thought.
However, after shutting his eyes for a moment, the Emperor opened his eyes again and Balthazar couldn’t believe they were the eyes of a child.
They were the eyes of a soldier, heading off to the battlefield and ready to lay down his life. The determination in his eyes wasn’t half-hearted either.
The Viscount he once served… the General he once served, had that look in his eyes before a decisive battle.
(No, it must be my imagination… it must be.)
There was no way a five-year-old boy could have eyes like that. Balthazar told himself and the Emperor spoke to him again, “You taught me something good. What’s your name?”
Balthazar’s instincts were telling him not to give his real name. It felt as if he was going to fall into an enemy trap on the battlefield.
(Sorry, Schwarov. I’m borrowing your name… Oh, but I don’t know his last name.)
“Schwarov le Goose, Your Majesty.”
Perhaps it was because he was thinking of Aina earlier, but he quickly made up a fake name consisting of his drinking buddy’s name and the name of the bar.
“I see, I’ll keep that in mind,” the young Emperor replied, and Balthazar bowed his head and quickly pulled his horse away from the carriage.
(Well, shit. I shouldn’t have talked to him.)
It was too late to regret this. But he had given the Emperor a false name. The Emperor won’t find out that it was Balthazar who had spoken to him, and he would probably forget about Balthazar right away. Thinking that time would solve the problem, Balthazar decided not to think about it too much.
But he was scared, so he didn’t talk about this even when he went to his usual bar.
However, his fate had already been decided.
As it turned out, Carmine never forgot about this day in his life.
It was the day that the young Emperor decided to rule his nation himself.