Chapter 315 – Winter King (Rex Hyemis) (3)
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Armies don’t move during the winter.
Humans don’t need to hibernate during the winter, but that wasn’t the same for armies. Most armies enter a winter slumber around November. They would then come out to stretch in March or April.
However, monster soldiers are able to sprint on the battlefield starting from February. Monsters are more robust against the cold than humans. With simple calculations, the Demon Lord Army could start moving about 2 months ‘earlier’ than the human armies.
The time when the Demon Lord Army will move was determined. February, near the end of winter. April is when humans are busy harvesting the crops they had been protecting throughout the winter. Moreover, Fall is when they are busy reaping the crops they had worked hard to raise throughout the summer.
The Demon Lord Army moves during periods of time when humans are either terribly busy or do not want to move.
This has happened constantly for the past 3,000 years. It was only natural that humans would start to despise demons because of this.
Paimon had made up her mind to overcome that hatred and create a single society. To others, she probably seems like a lunatic. If you give a lunatic actual strength, then they go beyond being a lunatic and become a monster. History’s monster…….
I first went out of my way to quickly host a ‘victory celebration’.
I held a party under the pretext of celebrating our victory over Brittany. I invited the ambassadors of each nation to this party. My goal was simple.
I was going to hold a gathering with the royalists before demonkind could be mistaken for a republican race.
The invitations had Rudolf von Habsburg’s signature. They were official invitations from an emperor. Of course, no one was stupid to not understand that this was actually a ‘friendly diplomatic gesture’ from the Demon Lord Army.
The human kings immediately dispatched their delegates as if they had been waiting for this.
The party was held rather extravagantly.
“I offer my felicitations, Your Excellency.”
“The prestige of Habsburg has shaken the heavens. There is no one who is not in awe of Your Excellency’s impressive victory.”
Ambassadors from every nation gathered in front of Emperor Rudolf to butter him in praises. Funnily enough, the Habsburg Republic’s ambassador was also among them. This man would smile wryly from time to time. He must’ve thought that the ‘prestige of Habsburg’ was ironic.
Barbatos and I were standing next to the Emperor.
Barbatos covered her mouth with her hand as she let out a long yawn. She was someone who found empty formalities and vanity the most wearisome. The party was opened under my proposal, but she probably didn’t want to be here.
All Barbatos did was yawn, but the impact of it was immense.
The ambassadors froze up and the mood became cold.
A mere vassal had dared to yawn openly while the Emperor was in the middle of welcoming guests. Even if Barbatos is the justice of the Supreme Court, a regent, and the actual usurper of the empire, this still greatly went against etiquette.
“Chief Justice, how could you do something so discourteous before His Excellency the Emperor?”
“Ah, yeah. My apologies, Your Excellency.”
Barbatos meekly acknowledged her mistake.
“I ended up being discourteous due to the hardship of fulfilling my duties to the Empire. Please forgive me.”
“You are forgiven. I know better than anyone else that the Chief Justice has been working hard day and night for the sake of the Empire.”
Emperor Rudolf happily accepted the apology.
The ambassadors’ expressions changed conspicuously. This was probably quite an impressive sight to them.
The Emperor whom they had thought was only a puppet just had his authority acknowledged. Demon Lords were proud beings who could confidently declare that no one could stand before them. And yet, they had respectfully referred to a human as ‘Your Excellency’.
I was almost certain that the ambassadors were ordered to ‘figure out whether the Demon Lords genuinely intended to create diplomatic bonds with humans or not’. For that sake, we made a public display of acknowledging a human ruler’s authority.
It’s obvious, but diplomacy starts by acknowledging the other party’s authority. This reception had a good start.
The delegates talked more energetically than before. The flattery went on longer and their choice of words became more varied.
It was finally the ambassador of the Habsburg Republic’s turn.
“Your Excellency, I am here in Her Excellency the Consul of the Habsburg Republic’s stead to praise the Empire’s honorable achievement. The victory achieved by Your Excellency is a happy occasion not only for the Empire, but it was a great victory that established a nation’s true ruler as well. Our Consul is always in awe of Your Excellency, the genuine ruler of the Empire.”
The delegates from other nations had complex looks on their faces. It really was a complex compliment.
For starters, while the other ambassadors used the word ‘Habsburg’, this person was the only one who said ‘Empire’. There was an undertone that implied that they were the true heirs of Habsburg.
The term, ‘a nation’s true ruler’, was also concerning. As most people are aware, Barbatos is currently the regent of the Empire and is using the Emperor’s authority however she wants.
Despite this situation, they uttered the term ‘true ruler’ in front of the Emperor? If you misinterpreted his words, then you might think he was mocking Barbatos and the Emperor’s power that had fallen to rock bottom.
That was probably his intention, too. How impudent.
However, their scheme looked superficial to me.
“Oh! Has my sister congratulated me?!”
Emperor Rudolf rejoiced as he looked genuinely happy. His tone was clearly different now compared to when he was talking with the other delegates.
“A delegate has arrived from our brother nation, so a brother’s joyous occasion becomes the joyous occasion of siblings. Is my sister living a peaceful and healthy life with the time bestowed upon her by the Gods?”
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
The ambassador from the Republic answered. He couldn’t hide the surprise on his face.
“It is thanks to Your Excellency’s dear concern.”
“Haha. What could I have possibly done to help my sister? Since she was little, Elize has always been good at everything she did.”
Rudolf talked normally as he partially removed his Emperor’s mask. The atmosphere in the room became warmer once the Emperor, the main character of this event, started to talk in a gentler tone.
“Looking back at it now, I feel as if the time when Elize and I ran around the palace together is one of my greatest memories. The Gods particularly blessed our childhoods with gentle and smooth music. To us siblings, each passing day was like an idyll.”
There was a distant look in Rudolf’s eyes as he looked up into the air and reminisced about the past.
“Of course, that beauty is actually fake. It is, in truth, a degree of ignorance that naturally attaches to one’s childhood. A degree of foolishness sprinkled on top of that ignorance to finish the false image of beauty. But I must confess to you all. I now yearn for even that ignorance and foolishness…….”
The Republic delegate didn’t know how to respond, so he opened and closed his mouth like a fish.
I held back my desire to burst into laughter.
That was all bullshit.
Rudolf and Elizabeth never had something like a beautiful childhood together. There was no way that’d be possible. Rudolf, the man who was currently a corpse and being controlled by Barbatos in real time, was a son of a bitch who had planned on raping his sisters and had tried to take the throne when he was alive.
However, the other ambassadors didn’t know this.
“Despite having reached such a worldly position, Your Excellency has not forgotten those who used to be close to you! The Empire’s future is bright!”
“Hypocrites are those who forget their childhoods. Scholars of the past once said that those who remember will be followed by wisdom and benevolence. Your Excellency’s sorrow is unavoidable as a ruler, but is it not a blessing for the Empire as a whole?”
The ambassadors spoke up to praise Rudolf’s humane side. It was as if they had been waiting for this opportunity. As expected of the ambassadors sent by each nation. They were all glib talkers.
“That is right. Do not be so concerned, Your Excellency.”
Only the Republic’s ambassador profound response. There was a clear undertone in his voice compared to the others. It was probably because he knew how dastardly Rudolf actually was.
Sorry, but our turn isn’t over yet.
“I am grateful to be consoled by you all.”
Emperor Rudolf smiled bitterly.
“However, similar to our childhoods, there are things that you cannot turn back. Be it Elize or myself, we always tried to do things on our own. We did not yield anything to each other. We were much too young…….”
“It would have been fine if one of us had backed down, but neither of us could. As a result, our glorious Habsburg was split into branches. The struggle between two young siblings split an entire nation. How could I not regret such a thing?”
The eyes of the Republic’s delegate went wide.
This was an elaborate diplomatic scheme. Emperor Habsburg had defined the reason behind Habsburg’s division as simply ‘a fight between siblings’.
The Habsburg Republic was established under the cause of being for the sake of the people and the belief that they were the true nation of Habsburg. A sibling rivalry wasn’t included in this at all.
Emperor Rudolf had kicked away these circumstances. He declared that the Republic wasn’t established due to some great cause, but because of a trivial power struggle between siblings. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Republic’s delegate shouted, ‘What kind of nonsense is this!?’
The placement of words was also clever.
At first, it might sound like he was confessing that this all happened because of them both, but it was actually different.
‘Since she was little, Elize has always been good at everything she did,’ he first uttered this line that sounded meaningless. Afterward, he added that, ‘We did not yield anything to each other.’ With this, it sounds like Elizabeth had created this issue because of her self-righteous personality.
“Oh, Your Excellency. There is no need for concern. Blood is thicker than water.”
“Habsburg will one day gather under a single glorious flag again.”
The other delegates started to pour kind words on Rudolf.
The Republic ambassador’s face was becoming pale. The situation was bad. At this rate, the Republic of Habsburg’s ‘independence’ will be treated as a mere ‘branch’ on the official diplomatic stage. He had to stop that from happening even if he had to be discourteous to the Emperor.
“Your Excellency, but…….”
I intervened right when the delegate opened his mouth. Everyone’s focus naturally came to me once the Emperor turned to look at me.
“A welcoming ceremony has been prepared. Is today not a joyous day where we are being sent praise by the other rulers? How about we allow everyone to forget their concerns in a way that matches the occasion?”
“Oh, you are right, Count Palatine Dantalian.”
Count Palatine was the new title that I was given recently. This position was right under duke and margrave.
Since Barbatos is the duke of Austerlitz and Rosenberg was a margrave, count palatine was quite the perfect position for me as the Plains Faction’s highest advisor.
“It seems I have brought up a rather depressing topic during such a good day. It would only be right to provide the ambassadors with a pleasant banquet to make up for this discourtesy. Now then, Count Palatine. Guide the ambassadors to the banquet hall.”
“As you command.”
I glanced at the Republic’s ambassador as I bowed. His face was as pale as a corpse.
Although Rudolf, who was the actual corpse, was smiling brightly, the person who was alive looked like he was about to cry. What a funny joke. Well, that’s the price for fearlessly using petty tricks while knowing that I was supporting the Emperor.
I’ve been giving Barbatos manuscripts to memorize. Our level of preparation was on another level. This should’ve been a good lesson for Elizabeth’s pet for barking arrogantly.
TL Note: Thanks for reading the chapter. This chapter arc feels like it’s going to be a lot of politics again. My favorite. (I miss the banter already). In any case, my cough keeps coming back and it makes me angry. Just let me be healthy again. PLEASE. I’ve been getting on ffxiv again just so I can do housing stuff again. I don’t know why I’m so addicted to it. The Minecraft server is still up, but I haven’t been able to get on as often cause I’ve been getting swept up to do other stuff lately. I’ll play more regularly again soon.
I’ll see you guys in the next chapter.