If you ask why I was blindsided, then I’d have to say because my outlook was too narrow. The eyes of the Black Cats and the Kingdom of Elfrieden were only trained on Vannes itself.
With the relief for the people of Vannes and its environs as justification, we regained Vannes in a way that did not violate the Humanity Declaration. That was the plan. To begin with, even though we did gain substantial funds in reparations in the last war, we didn’t believe Amidonia under the management of Julius had the means to pay. Amidonia’s finance ministers had somehow disappeared prior to the battle, and there whereabouts were still unknown to this day. The military-first Julius and the people surrounding him would probably be unable to restore Amidonia as it currently is.
Also, due to Gaius’ death, transfer of authority was not properly done, and even without anything done on our part, the country was clearly in for some rough times. The lords would have made Julius the target of their scorn, and the people would grow dissatisfied having to be taxed to pay for reparations. If they came to a civil war, they would naturally be unable to pay the reparations.
That was why I acted so as to be able to regain Vannes. This way, even if it turned out that the reparations could not be paid, we could still taste the rewards of being victorious, though as unsightly as it is (since the Carmine and Vargas duchies were dismantled, they would be sufficient for domestic rewards). Regarding the appeal of the citizens of Vannes, they were actually usable when the Empire came and urged their return. We could elect a temporary ruler for Vannes and nudge them in the direction of assimilation with Elfrieden.
But the reason we accepted their return nonetheless was to allow the Empire to take the position of arbiter. If we abused a loophole in the Humanity Declaration and made them accept our takeover of Vannes that day, we would have plastered mud on the face of the Empire. That was why we let Vannes be returned for the time and kept the Empire at bay (making them look good in the process). This way, the Empire’s dignity won’t be shaken once we regained Vannes later.
Thus the Kingdom’s eyes were only trained on Vannes, but an unexpected situation happened outside it. It was feared that the Kingdom Army retaking Vannes would be met with the Principality’s Armies heading straight back … but in the end, Julius never made it back to Vannes.
◇ ◇ ◇
When the Principality’s army, led by Julius to suppress the people’s rebellion, made to return to the re-occupied Vannes, further news came about, lots of them. At the same time the Elfrieden Royal Army entered Vannes, riots broke out all over the Principality of Amidonia’s territory.
The details were varied. There were citizens overthrowing the tyranny of their rulers, deposing their lords and took control of the cities. There were great nobles, distrustful of Julius’ capability, revolting in order to have him replaced. There were nobles who were grieved at how Julius suppressed the people of the northwest, sheltering the runaway citizens in order to make a show of resistance to Julius. There were nobles from Roroa’s faction, raising their armies in revolt due to how Julius disregarded the princess’ ideas upon the inheritance of the throne … and so on. The reasons were wide-ranging.
Among them there were even cities who saw the Royal Broadcasts ran by the Kingdom of Elfrieden and wanted to be incorporated into the Kingdom themselves like Vannes was. What was strange was that despite the reasons being varied, they all happened at the same time as if it had been decided beforehand. Before long, the go board that was the Principality of Amidonia was brimming with the black pieces of the rebels and the whites that were Julius’ Principality Army had lost their Liberties 1, becoming a dead block.
No longer able to know friend from foe, Julius’ Principality Army, while still being within the Principality, was beset by enemies on all sides (naturally, since they were within their own country). Now that they had fallen into this situation, they were unable to fight the Royal Army nor suppress the rebel armies. Deserters appeared from among the Principality’s Army as it was relentlessly chased down by the rebel armies. In the end, the Principality’s Army was scattered and Julius took along a small number of retinues to find refuge in the Empire.
Thus Amidonia was temporarily broken up and devoid of a ruler. From the Kingdom’s point of view, we were able to regain Vannes and eliminate a hostile nation. Though unexpected, the current situation was everything we could’ve wished for and then some. Current, that is, until the breakup ended soon after, nay, it was ended soon after.
Because Amidonia’s enemies came and invaded.
◇ ◇ ◇
Those that moved were the Holy Orthodox Empire Lunaria in the north and the Commonwealth of Torgis in the south (the Mercenary Country of Zem in the west did not put in any pretense of invasion due to permanent neutrality but it is believed that they supplied mercenaries to both countries).
The Holy Orthodox Empire Lunaria was the holy see of the Lunaria Orthodox Church that worship the moon goddess Lunaria, a theocratic country whose Pope manages all affairs of church and state. The Lunaria Orthodox Church, together with the Faith of the Mother Dragon who lives in the Star Dragon Mountain Range, were the two great religions of the continent. Their faith called for benevolence, fraternity, and forbearance, but there are those among the most zealous believers that possessed an ideology of denunciation of other faiths. It was similar to Judaism, Christianity, or Islam on Earth (incidentally, having adopted freedom of religion, Elfrieden could be treated as a polytheistic state).
That Holy Orthodox Empire Lunaria, in regards to the current conflict, sent their armies to their borders with Amidonia under the cause of protecting the Lunarian Orthodox believers within Amidonia, taking a posture to protect the refugees from Amidonia and if need be, to march into Amidonia in order to rescue said believers. However, with regards to their movements themselves, they were slow. This was probably due to the fact that Royal Armed Forces had been deployed around Vannes and they wanted to avoid conflict with us.
As of the present, the ones that had already crossed the borders were the Commonwealth of Torgis in the south. The continent gets colder the further one went south, and at the southernmost tip, the Commonwealth of Torgis was a frigid land. The southernmost peninsula in particular was covered in ice and snow for half a year round, with turbulent winds overhead that would even ground wyverns. It is said that not even the Empire in its heyday was able to lay a hand on such unrelenting nature. The country’s army ride on Yak-like creatures that could only live in the country, becoming a fighting force unmatched in cold lands.
The fact that the Commonwealth of Torgis had come to invade the country quickly spread throughout the Principality. The Principality was currently uncoordinated and they could take whatever they want from it. Were Torgis to go north, Lunaria would also start to move before they could mount a response. If that happened then Amidonia would crumble and be split apart.
Fortunately, the Torgis Commonwealth Army’s advance was met with a hard fight by the Lord of the southern fort city of Nerva, the veteran old general Hermann. Having come to the conclusion that, rather than being split apart, they would rather leave the country whole in the hands of someone they could rely on, the people of the Principality recalled the bright expression of the King on display over the Royal Broadcast. They young King who managed to govern Vannes without problems and even appoint the Principality’s loyalist general Wanda.
… that is to say, me. Before I knew it, Amidonian public opinion had converged on having me merge Amidonia and oppose Torgis and Lunaria. In the process, those who wanted Amidonia independent (actually, those who started revolts in order to supplant Julius) were eliminated by the Mergerists. The fact that the general stalling the Torgians at Nerva, Hermann Bach and the former finance minister Gatsby Colbert, having gained the trust of the people by his support through the economic difficulties, had co-signed their support for the Mergerists was huge.
And thus the petitions for merger coming from all over Amidonia reached me. … hm, it was like, how the hell did this happen!? Comparing the plus and minuses of annexing Amidonia, turns out the minuses were bigger. The plus points were the increase in population and the strengthening of national power in the long term. Amidonia was rich in mineral resources, granting a safe supply of minerals not available for mining in the Kingdom.
The minus points are that just when we finally managed to solve the food crisis in the Kingdom, we had to confront the one in Amidonia. That ruling will be difficult since we were enemies just until the other day. That our borders will be longer, where we once only bordered the Eastern Coalition, Amidonia, and a bit of the Torgis Commonwealth, we lost the Amidonian border only to gain ones with the Mercenary State of Zem and the Holy Orthodox Empire Lunaria (politics gets harder the more countries you have on your borders). Also, there was the loss of the yearly payments, though we weren’t really counting on it in the first place.
Looking at it that way, it’s obvious that there were more demerits to merging Amidonia. However, we don’t have the choice of saying ‘no’ now. The reason was because the reasoning of ‘there were more demerits to merging Amidonia’ would shake our cause of ‘annexing Vannes into the country due to the request of the people of Vannes’. If we allowed Vannes’ entry and denied the others, we would be talked about behind our backs, “what, so they only wanted to take the land they desired after all.”
Also, if we left Torgis’ and Lunaria’s invasion alone. We would end up having borders with them anyway. Furthermore, ruling an Amidonia wracked by food difficulties was hard. If the two countries failed in their management and caused famine or internal wars in the former Amidonian territory, refugees would have flowed into our country. In that case, it would’ve been better to take care of them all to begin with. It would be difficult right now, but if we take a long term view, I’m sure we could regain the capital. Sheesh.
In the end, I decided to allow the merging of all of Amidonia into the Kingdom, and declared such to foreign powers. At the same time, we moved the navy forces under Excel that was stationed in the south of Elfrieden along the borders with Torgis, ready to assault at any moment. From the Commonwealth’s point of view, they would be anxious that their home country would be invaded while their lords were out attacking Nerva, and immediately began their retreat. They left Amidonia like the falling tide.
Furthermore, Lunaria, who had stationed troops along the borders, called off their war preparations after having seen Amidonia unified. They, unlike Torgis, made no big moves, and thus we couldn’t discern much about what they were thinking, which was disconcerting.
But anyway, it’s about the particulars of the Amidonia merger now.
◇ ◇ ◇
A little while after the withdrawal of the Torgis Commonwealth forces, I came back to castle Vannes in order to decide how to deal with Amidonia after the merger. Today, in order to acknowledge the services of the ones who defended against the Torgis Commonwealth forces, I was sitting on the throne in the audience chamber. Due to the suddenness of the matter, I didn’t bring too many personnel with me, but as usual, Liscia and Aisha were standing on either side of me, and Hakuya managed the ceremony on his own.
Today, the commendation goes to two men. Hermann Bach, who defended Nerva from the invading army of the Torgis Commonwealth, and his co-signer of the putting together of the fractured Amidonia, the former finance minister Gatsby Colbert (Gatsby if I called him by name, but since he was a former finance minister I suppose I shuold call him Caulver).
Hermann was a long serving general in the style of Georg and Owen, while Colbert was a thirty something intellectual looking man. Behind them, there were two big piles of something covered by a shroud, so I couldn’t see what was in them. Seems like they were gifts for me. I said to the two waiting on the carpet, “it’s ceremonial”, and first addressed Caulver.
“Lord Colbert. You did well to unite the people of Amidonia. Without your influence the confusion would have lasted long, and the people of Amidonia would have fallen into deeper misery. Allow me to thank you on behalf of the people”
“Your words are too generous for me”
Colbert made a deep bow as he said so. Though I nonchalantly talked about the people of Amidonia like they were mine, there was no reaction. Well … I suppose it’s to be expected given how he wanted to push everything onto me. Caulver then said
“Incidentally, Your Highness. There is something I want to offer you”
He then uncovered the shroud on one of the big piles. What came out from underneath were bundles of documents piled up like mountains. “I see,” muttered Hakuya on the side while smiling wryly. I don’t know what he “saw” but I asked Colbert.
“And this is?”
“Amidonia’s earnings call documents and papers related to privileges. They formerly belonged in Vannes’ archives but for fear of losing them in the fires of war, I had them taken away before the war started. Now that the war has ended I thought I should return them to the capital”
Ah, now that he mentioned it, when we took documents from Amidonia’s archives for collateral, each and every document of that sort were reported missing. So that’s what Hakuya’s wry smile is for. It’s got to be a load off his shoulders for him.
“I see. These are indeed magnificent gifts. Ruling will be much easier”
“I am honored to receive such praise”
“However, these should be returned by your own hands”
Colbert was struck dumb at me denying to receive them. Humm, can it recover a bit with this. With a grin on my lips, I said
“Former Minister of Finance of the Principality of Amidonia! Do you wish to work under me!”
Colbert replied almost entirely by reflex. Yosh, he could talk again.
“Very well. Then I will restore you to your former post in Amidonia. From now on you will be Elfrieden’s Minister of Finance, endeavor to support the finance in this new country”
“B, but I’m a person of Amidonia … will it be alright?”
“I do not mind. To put to use anyone that can be of use, that is the way of Elfrieden now. Were I to be picky over origins or nationality, I could never have rehabilitated the nation”
Actually, I wanted to have this kind of talent. I’m a liberal arts person so I’m not too good at calculating or judging finances (though I do have a lead over the typical person in this world). I would do anything to have a person with the capability to draw up a military expenditures budget in a not-at-all wealthy Amidonia and still not bring the country to an economic collapse. With a capable Minister of Finance to cut down on unnecessary expenditures, the budget might just allow for “thi~s policy” or “tha~t policy” that I hadn’t been able to apply until now. Yes, the dream widens.
“Finance Minister of the Kingdom of Elfrieden, Colbert. These documents will be as tools for you to work with. Take it back, and work for the sake of the territory of Amidonia”
“Y … yes! I will do as you ordered!”
Colbert prostrated himself again. I nodded, and then turned to Geneal Hermann next.
“Lord Hermann, you too have done well to defend against the armies of the Torgis Commonwealth. Without your efforts the Commonwealth armies would have passed through Nerva and eaten into the lands of Amidonia. Were that to happen, help from our country would not have made it in time and cause an even greater strife than what we have now”
Though being thanked like that, Hermann’s grim expression did not soften.
“Soldiers are protectors of the people. The lack of a Lord hardly matters. This one was merely doing this one’s part”
S, so stiff …. He’s like the worker type of guy who’s loyal to his work. If Owen was a ‘Gahaha-gramps’ he’s more like an ‘Obstinate gramps’. Humm, it’ll be a much better impression if I take him as an Japanese olden-day tsundere gramps. Let’s mentally translate his line into “i, it’s not like I’m doing this for you, okay! It can’t be helped that I have to protect them because there is no lord!”
Then Hermann arose and stood in front of the other heap covered in a shroud.
“This one too wishes to present a gift to Your Highness. This one wishes that Your Highness take it and not mind about giving something back”
Then Hermann took of the shroud. What appeared from underneath was a pile containing fabrics in various colors rolled up like roll cakes.
“Amidonia’s south is a land for keeping sheep and spinning fine wool. These are woven from that wool. This one wishes to give you this in offering”
“Ooh … can I take a closer look”
“As you wish”
I stood up and approached the pile of fabrics and touched one of them with my hand. Mm, feels good. This one, is it a carpet? I don’t really get it, but I can somehow tell these are fine goods.
A gift carpet …. I somehow feel like I’ve heard a situation like this before. If I recall correctly, there was a scene like this in Earth’s history … !?
“Say, Lord Hermann”
“I don’t suppose there’s a girl wrapped in one of these carpets?”
The moment I said that, Hermann’s face stiffened. Eh, for real!? Then, one of the textiles in the pile started wriggling. Whoa, is there an assassin there. But just when the guarding soldiers and Aisha began emitting killing intent,
“Oh waily waily. It’s supposed to be the surprise of a lifetime, why did ye find out”
The wriggling rug unrolled itself and a high school age girl came out from inside. Wearing her long hair in two bundles at around her neck, the twin-tailed girl had a shapely face and big cute round eyes. The girl, calling herself Roroa put her right hand to the back of her neck and her left at her waist, and twisted herself in a pose like a model.
“Though I’m not called I jump out anyway~ Tadaah~♪ It’s Roroa~!”
“Ufun♪”, said Roroa coquettishly. She’s slightly shorter than Liscia, and because her curves weren’t too prominent, she just seemed like a young girl forcing herself to look like an adult. W, well, she looked like a small animal doing this, and if you asked whether she’s cute, well, yes she was. Anyway, Roroa, isn’t that the name of Julius’ little sister!? Then while I was struck dumb by the suddenness of the situation, Roroa hmphed sulkily.
“Whut? Ye can’t follow the mood, Soma-han?”
Wow, that’s the first time anyone ever calls me –han … wait, this isn’t the time for that. Eh, why is it that both Gaius and Julius were scary dudes with killing intent but this girl’s all friendly going? Doesn’t the Royal house of Amidonia have a grudge on the Royal house of Elfrieden? Then, Roroa patted my shoulders.
“But I’m impressed that ye can see through my surprise. I was in there for an hour straight ye ken? … aye, it’s hotter than I thought”
Well, you were wrapped in a wool rug ….
“So how did ye figure it out? I was sure I wouldn’t be found out”
“Well, there was a woman who did the same thing back in my world” 2
“Ugh, she spoilered it! Blunder~”
“As an aside, I heard that she did it buck naked” (*apocryphal)
“Whut’s the deal with that woman. She a pervert or something?”
“Well she’s still one of the great people who was said to have changed history by the length of her nose…” (*opinions vary)
While looking at Roroa hugging her meager chest away from view, I breathed a sigh. Anyway, Roroa was wearing proper clothes. If she weren’t I’m sure we wouldn’t have so quickly gone on to having this kind of conversation. After all, two of my future wives were looking from behind me.
“Um, … Roroa, can I call you Roroa? You’re Amidonia’s young princess, right?”
“Aye. The beautiful, intelligent, water-dripping rock-drilling bishoujo of Amidonia, Roroa-chan, that’s me”
“Aaaah, sheeesh, I don’t know which one I should riposte first …”
“‘Riposte’? I wonder what ‘post’ you’re talking about and where you want it ‘posted’ in me? … blush♪”
“You’re not supposed to say ‘blush’! Also, stop it with the dirty jokes!”
“Nae can’t do, we just met each other, aye? Let’s first begin as spouses?”
“Going for the goal right away! You’re supposed to start as friends first!”
“You two … how do you get along so well on your first meeting”
While I was exchanging banters with Roroa, Liscia looked on with cold eyes. Right! For some reason, Roroa was rolling with laughter.
“That’s a good riposte, Soma-han, good riposte~”
“How are you taking this so lightly. Are you really Amidonia’s princess?”
“Aye. I suppose I should give my proper greetings?”
With that said, Roroa straightened her expression and made a respectful bow.
“I am the daughter of Amidonia’s Former Prince Gaius VIII, Roroa Amidonia”
Seeing such actions of hers, she strangely looked like a real princess.
“… and what does this Princes Roroa want to have come to this place?”
“Ah. Well, about the reason …”
“Dropping formalities already!?”
“There’s no need to mind that stuff, aye? After all,”
Then with a beaming smile on her face, Roroa dropped the biggest bomb of the day.
“I’ve come to offer Soma-han my hand in marriage♪”