Chapter 152 – Age of Tyrants(2)
Everyone remained quiet due to the overwhelming declaration.
They were being told to throw away the capital city that had a history of 500 glorious years. They had to force out the citizens of the capital who harbored that glory in their hearts―as if they were chasing out a bunch of animals. To make matters worse, they were ordered to also dig up the graves of previous emperors for the sake of money.
Kurz gulped. The same word was going through the heads of all the generals who were currently seated in the tent.
Someone spoke up amidst the cold silence.
“……Your Highness, we understand well how much you wisely cherish your men.”
Kurz quickly turned to face the deputy officer, Baron Wittenmyer. He was famous for having gray hair despite being young. He constantly looked somber due to the bags under his eyes.
‘It’s the smarty-pants general.’
Kurz mentally clicked his tongue.
It wasn’t just the members of the Imperial Princess Faction that was present. Talented individuals who were once from either the 1st or 2nd Imperial Prince’s factions or took a step back from the disputes entirely were all gathered here. Among them, Baron Wittenmyer was a young man who was once fervently on the Crowned Prince’s side before converting to the Imperial Princess Faction.
Kurz Schleiermacher couldn’t help but be uncomfortable around Baron Wittenmyer. The Baron was a bit too ethical for his taste. Kurz heard that Baron Wittenmyer had never gone out with a woman before, so he wondered what type of joy the Baron could possibly be living for.
“Your Highness wakes up before anyone else and sleeps later than anyone else. During this time of desperation where our soldiers are starving, the commanding officers of other nations are eating extravagant meals like grilled pork, and yet, Your Highness alone eats the same meals as everyone else.”
“That was a slight act of hypocrisy.”
The Imperial Princess responded without any hesitation.
Kurz Schleiermacher was in awe as he listened in on their conversation. The Imperial Princess had openly called her good deed an act of hypocrisy. Could any other ruler do the same? Kurz knew that genuine good will was only born when someone was capable of admitting their hypocrisy.
Baron Wittenmyer continued.
“Indeed. Your Highness refuses to wear elaborate military uniforms and wears frayed, black outfits like a lay priest. Your bedding is also similar to that of low-ranking officers……Of course, I know that that is a way to show a type of military order.”
An older general shouted.
“It is fine.”
The Imperial Princess raised her right hand to stop the older general. Her eyes signaled Wittenmyer to keep talking.
“However, similar to how some lies are mixed in with every truth, I believe that some pieces of the truth are also mixed in with every lie. The ability to skillfully manipulate truth and lies……Your Highness may refer to this as hypocrisy, but I would dare to say that that is the virtue of a great ruler.”
Isn’t this smarty-pants saying something rather nice?
Kurz’s attitude changed. Smarty-pants Wittenmyer wasn’t making an argument against throwing the capital away, nor was he talking about how we should maintain the empire’s dignity.
The Baron carried on.
“My insight may be short, but I am certain that Your Highness is more befitting to be a ruler than anyone else. The fact that someone of your caliber would make such a tyrannical decision……I am certain that there must be some advantages and disadvantages to your decision. I wish to know the pros and cons that Your Highness has considered.”
Baron Wittenmyer gazed around the room.
“I believe that the others here are also equally curious.”
The atmosphere in the room instantly changed. People were no longer denouncing the Imperial Princess for giving a tyrannical command. They were now simply curious to know why their wise lord would make such a rash decision. They all turned to look at the imperial princess with a serious gaze.
‘Wow. As expected of the smarty-pants.’
Kurz Schleiermacher was honestly impressed.
The Baron had stepped forward in everyone’s stead. He first went a little far as he taunted the Imperial Princess’ virtue. Once he did, those loyal to the Imperial Princess were enraged. This alone was able to slightly alter the mood of the room.
Immediately after, he revealed that his taunt was actually a compliment. He did so by saying that every truth had some lies hiding underneath and how that was the virtue of a ruler. Everyone here knew how to look at the world pragmatically. They knew that that was truly the virtue of a great leader.
Everyone agreed with Baron Wittenmyer’s underlying intent. They also asked the same question……. Why had the Imperial Princess decided upon a plan that sounded nothing but self-satisfying? Was there something to gain from it?
‘He’s so formulative that I almost wouldn’t have noticed.’
Kurz acknowledged that the mood had changed thanks to the smarty-pants. He had escaped from the shock and was now simply waiting for the Imperial Princess to open her mouth.
Imperial Princess Elizabeth spoke.
“Baron Wittenmyer, answer my question. What would our Habsburg Empire lose by abandoning the capital?”
“Understood. By abandoning the capital, there will be three types of losses: short-term, mid-term, and long-term.”
Baron Wittenmyer answered without any hesitation.
“First, in terms of short-term losses, we would estrange our public sentiment. We have already erased almost half of our nation’s land through our scorched earth policy. A large portion of the citizens who lost their homes have created refugee camps near the capital. The public sentiment around the capital is already incredibly unstable……. If we announce that we would also be abandoning the capital, the symbol of the empire, then the people would undoubtedly start a rebellion.”
The other generals nodded.
That’s right. A rebellion started by the people was probably the biggest thing they had to fear. Normally, you could subdue them by using military force, but the current situation was not good.
“The Demon Lord army would be approaching us from the outside while our people would be stirring on the inside. Adding to this, although there are not that many left, the existing members of the 1st and 2nd Imperial Princes’ factions would try to take advantage of this. The empire will fall into ruin.”
“What are the mid-term losses?”
“The administration within the empire will almost entirely be destroyed.”
The Baron answered seriously.
“The administration is not simply handled between vassals. Where a report has to go, where tasks are handled collectively, and what sort of procedures policy plans have to go through, all of these things are managed within the administration. If we abandon the capital……then the empire will continue to be in a drastic state of chaos even if we manage to suppress the rebellion.”
As expected from the deputy officer who handles the military administration.
The Imperial Princess asked another question while the others were giving another nod.
“What are the long-term losses?”
“Humans would no longer have the strength to fight back against the Demon Lord army. It has been half a year since that accursed Demon Lord gave his speech……. Our situation is fairly better in comparison, but there has been open discord between officers and soldiers in the armies of other nations. I heard that the degree of disorder caused by the insubordination is uncontrollable.”
The sound of groaning came from various places in the room.
The people here knew better than anyone else how it felt when soldiers did not trust their commanders. For the past several months, they had to quite literally step out on the frontline in order to regain their soldiers’ trust.
There was a fair number of generals who fell in battle because of this as well……. If the people present weren’t both talented and lucky, they probably wouldn’t have been seated here today.
Baron Wittenmyer let out a small sigh.
“Your Highness is telling us to abandon the capital while we are in this situation. For what purpose are we moving the capital? The empire that should be protecting its people is running away to preserve the royal family……. Our nation’s dignity would plummet straight to hell. This would not only impact Habsburg. The people of other nations would also become disappointed when they see this. They would denounce us saying that this is simply what nobles do.”
The Demon Lord army would actively make use of this and push humans back in terms of justification, the Baron concluded.
“I suggest that we all go out together and face a valiant end. We can evacuate the people while making the royal family and the nobles of the empire remain. Of course, some nobles will try to escape, but we will force them to stay. We will then face the Demon Lord army. Every noble of the empire will most likely fall in battle. The empire itself may fall as well.”
“However, humanity will still have its pride.”
A silence fell over the room.
Kurz nodded. He had thought of that as well. Making the royal family, the knights, and every noble fall in battle while defending the capital was the most optimal option.
Such a noble fall would make the aristocrats and the commoners come together again. Sacrificing your flesh to strengthen the bones. But the flesh this time is them……that would be it. Was there any other method than this?
“An excellent idea, Baron Wittenmyer.”
“Thank you very much.”
“However, I have a way to overcome all three of those losses.”
The generals were surprised.
The Imperial Princess looked around the room slowly, but her gaze felt as if she were staring far off into the distance.
“Demon Lord Dantalian said that I had committed something immoral. My reputation had plummeted. Despite this, you all continued to believe in me and followed me this far. Therefore, I believe that you all have the right to hear the truth.”
“I murdered the 4th Imperial Prince of Habsburg……my little brother Robert.”
The air froze. The generals looked at the Imperial Princess and at each other in bewilderment.
“That is absurd……Your Highness, what do you mean……?”
Kurz couldn’t tell who had spoken. It honestly didn’t matter. It was a voice that was speaking for everyone here.
“I knew that I was different from everyone else around the age of 5. I could see things that others could not. However, a majority of other people were unable to see the things I could see. I then came to the conclusion that the empire will fall at that rate.”
The tent became quiet. Uncomfortably quiet.
Habsburg was still under the rule of the Emperor. However, he was confined by the Imperial Princess Faction. The 2nd Imperial Prince was also imprisoned in some secluded tower. In truth, Imperial Princess Elizabeth currently had complete control of the empire. The highest person in the empire was talking about ruin…….
“It is as Demon Lord Dantalian had said. Nobles are selfish and have no sense of responsibility or duty. Policies are fine as long as they benefit them. The royal family did nothing to disloyal subjects and loyal subjects were either ostracized or exiled to remote villages. We may have been called an empire, but we were actually a rotten corpse.”
The Imperial Princess smiled bitterly.
“We required a massive reformation. My first goal was to stop the fight between heirs. At that time, there were 6 heirs to the throne excluding me. There were far too many heirs. ……I dealt with 2 of them while Rudolf took care of the other 2.”
Shock spread throughout the tent once more.
The Imperial Princess mocked herself.
“As expected, the same blood flowed through our veins. I may have been different from my brother in every regard, but we were the same when it came to one thing: immorality. It would only make sense for me and my brother to fall straight to the bottom of hell.”
There was a feeling of solitude lingering in the Imperial Princess’ self-mocking face.
“Robert……my little brother’s maternal relatives were powerful. Grand Duke Brunswick was supporting him. The Grand Duke was definitely going to put Robert forward as a way to get involved in the battle for the throne. A powerful maternal relative would only hinder the stability of the empire. Therefore, I killed Robert without any hesitation.”
“He was a pure child. A child who had yet to even come in contact with things like the empire’s politics or his maternal relatives. To Robert, I was simply a kind sister. Thus, Robert did not die as Habsburg’s 4th Imperial Prince. He died as my, Elizabeth’s little brother…….”
The Imperial Princess let out a dry laugh.
“The Demon Lord was not wrong. I am a disgusting, murdering piece of trash. A monster that was born solely to protect our walking corpse of an empire. That is my true nature.”
TL Note: Thanks for reading the chapter. Wittenmyer is fine, I still hate typing Schleiermacher. Oh God, the day that I actually memorize how to spell that name is going to be depressing. I’m going to feel defeated. Well, nothing else to really say, so I hope you guys have a great May.
See you guys on the next chapter.