That day, a shock ran through the entire Kingdom of Elfrieden.
Rumor has it that King Soma was finally raising a subjugation army against the Three Dukes who wouldn’t stop their defiant attitudes. This rumor shook the people. There had been many opinions regarding the King and the Three Dukes’ discord, but the majority of the people never thought that it would escalate into an armed conflict. They had lightly thought that before the country breaks, either the King’s side or the Three Dukes’ side would give in, and before anyone noticed it they were already on the verge of an armed conflict. Rather, it’s impossible to cool down now that it’s come to this.
◇ ◇ ◇
There are some people who heard the news jumping for joy and wearing a wicked smile.
The Principality¹ of Amidonia’s Prince² Gaius VIII.
¹ «TN: A duchy-level territory that exists independent of a kingdom»
² «TN: here in the sense of Monarch of a Principality as opposed to Son of a King. I’ll be using Crown Prince for the latter henceforth»
He had gathered the generals who are the leaders of the country and made a loud declaration.
“The time has come! Let us gather our troops at the border! Once the chaos starts we will begin our invasion into Elfrieden under the pretense of reinforcements! Our goal will be the south-western breadbasket! We shall take back what was once our forefathers’ lands that had been stolen from us!”
“”” OOOOOOOOOO!!! “””
The gathered generals raised admiring voices, but among them …
“Please wait Milord!”
There was just one dissenting voice, a man stepped out and knelt in front of the throne.
The country’s Minister of Finance, Gatsby Colbert. Gaius glared at him quizzically.
“So it’s Colbert”
“With all due respect Your Highness, please reconsider this Elfrieden invasion! Our people are currently suffering under the food difficulties and the recession! If we go to war now our people are going to starve to death!”
“I know that. That’s why it’s vital that we take back the breadbasket region”
“We will need lots of resources to undertake this war! If we had those then we should be able to import foodstuffs from abroad! Rather than fighting a war we’re not sure to win, and even if we win we aren’t sure to get enough returns for the expended effort, we should better enrich …”
Gaius roared at Colbert. He stepped down to him and kicked him flying.
“You administrators always say the same things! Work for domestic affairs, this isn’t the time for that, is that all you people ever say! Look, while you’re doing that our country is falling into ruin, and in contrast to that Elfrieden that was languishing under that fool of a previous King is now making a comeback since the new King was crowned!”
“T, that is … because the new King Soma strives for national enrichment …”
“You’re still talking!?”
Gaius once again kicked Colbert flying. Something inside his mouth was cut and blood flowed through the sides of his mouth. However, Colbert did not stop speaking plainly.
Your Highness … Our country’s military has only a third of Elfrieden’s manpower, and our national power isn’t even a fifth of theirs. This is a very, very reckless plan!”
“That I know! That’s why now, when the three Dukes and the King are at a standoff is a good chance!”
“But you don’t know how long this will go on!”
“Ha ha ha, that’s nothing for you to worry about. That fearsome General Georg Carmine is the one insurrecting rebellion. That youngster of a King won’t easily bring him down. It’s the same even if Georg wins. With a traitor at the country’s reins they can’t settle down easily!”
Colbert bit his lips.
(Is that why he’s so confident! Out of the Three Dukes only the celebrated General Georg Carmine raised his flags in revolt, but that is obviously a good chance for the Principality. Honestly, there’s no saying whether a good chance like this will come around again in the future. Even the Prince is no longer young. He likely did not want to pass a chance to stand and lead in front of an army. However … that way of thinking is too naïve!)
“Please listen, Your Highness! If we invade Elfrieden we will be censured by the other countries! We have signed the [Declaration of Humanity’s Coalition against Demonkind]!”
“…… the [Humanity Declaration], is it?”
This is the first time until now that Gaius showed a faltering expression.
The [Declaration of Humanity’s Coalition against Demonkind] is the name of the declaration and international treaty made by the largest and militarily most powerful state on the continent, the Gran Chaos Empire, at the brink of the Demon King army invasion, to cease all wars between humans and cooperate to stop the Demon King army invasion. The essentials of the [Declaration of Humanity’s Coalition against Demonkind] can be summarized into the following three points:
First, to allow no change in borders due to wars or military operations between humans.
Second, to respect the rights to equality and self-determination of all peoples within every nation.
Third, for countries far from the Demon King Territory to support the bulwarks that are the countries near the Territory.
The second one is a bit hard to understand, but it is there in order to provide shelter for the peoples that are not the country’s majority. It was included due to the fear that because border changes aren’t allowed, then the countries might disenfranchise these peoples and deprive them of their property. It was not explicitly stipulated in writing, but in case a country were to violate any of these three points, the leader, the Empire, will intervene militarily. In short, this [Humanity Declaration] is a security treaty where, in exchange for disallowing aggression toward foreign countries, one’s country’s safety would be guaranteed by the Empire.
“By invading Elfrieden we would be inviting military intervention from the Empire! I beg of you Your Highness, please re-think this!”
“Sir Colbert, you need not be concerned about that”
The one who stepped up and said so was the Crown Prince Julius Amidonia.
A wicked smile was plastered on his handsome face that one may call a bishonen.
“The reason being, Elfrieden is not signatory to the [Humanity Declaration]”
“That is just sophistry, Crown Prince! We’re attacking a non-signatory country while we can’t even protect ourselves without the [Humanity Declaration]. That would stain the face of the Empire as the leader!”
“But diplomacy is all about the treaties exchanged. This all happened because of Elfrieden’s obstinacy to resist the Empire’s sublime intent to cooperate against Demonkind. We have made no mistake”
Gaius drew out his Royal Sword in hand.
Then he pointed the tip of it at Colbert who was groveling on the floor.
“Colbert. I will order you to house arrest”
“You will watch from outside. You will watch as we take back the land of our forefathers”
With that declaration Gaius gave not a single glance at Colbert as he took Julius and the generals and left the audience chamber. Colbert who was left behind can only bang his fists on the carpet as he bit his lips.
◇ ◇ ◇
A few hours later, a dejected Colbert tottered as he was walking along the castle’s corridors, when a charming young lady suddenly showed her face from behind a marble pillar.
“Howdy Colbert-san. How’s profits?”
“Princess!? Um, well …”
It was the first Crown Princess Roroa Amidonia. Colbert flew into panic, having shown a dejected face to Roroa. Roroa has had a good sense of economics from a young age and as she grew in age, she had taken to associating with large national stores and financial bureaucrats, and had unawares become a figure that was able to support the country’s economy from the shadows. For the 28-year-old Finance Minister Colbert, Roroa was a friend who understands business, a comrade-in-arms against the recession, and somewhat of a troublesome little sister character.
Looking at Colbert’s face, Roroa smiled apologetically.
“Your face … did ya give Lord Father some good advice again?”
“Eh, ah, you see …”
“Sorry my old man’s an idiot. Sheesh … keeping a retainer with good advice at arm’s length, the country’s gonna go head first to ruin. The hell’s he thinkin”
Roroa prickled with anger.
Seeing Roroa become like that for him, Colbert felt like he can forgive everything.
“Thank you very much Princess. Your sentiments are plenty enough”
“Really? So let’s be gettin ready”
“Huh? Getting ready?”
Not being able to cope with the sudden development of things, Colbert became confused.
Seeing that, Roroa smiled gleefully.
“Lord Father gave you free time anyways right? So let’s disappear with me. ‘S gonna be fine, I already talked to all the important finance ministers, I told them all imma go sightseein’ at old man Herman-sama’s place in Nerva♪”
◇ ◇ ◇
A few days later, at the same time Gaius VIII and Julius departed for the front, there was an incident in the Royal Palace where Princess Roroa and the Minister of Finance disappeared. However, by Roroa’s ingenious hand, this event was concealed, and Gaius and Julius never knew it happened.
«TN: The title refers to one of Sun Tzu’s Thirty-six stratagems»