Chapter 69 is here! We’ve reached a very important threshold
Anyway, for the Patrons, Chapter 70, Chapter 71, chapter 72 (Easy mode) and chapter 73 (Normal mode) are all available on the Patreon page.
So, here’s Chapter 69, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
If someone like Eustache or Cellvis had been responsible for the current situation, Albert would probably have restrained himself.
But the one behind it all was none other than Kurats.
A commoner from the remote village of Gaura, which was no different than a savage tribe that knew nothing other than hunting and farming.
How could Albert control himself in any way when such insignificant trash was trying to get in the way of his ambitions?
Had he been preparing all this time for nothing?
All the efforts he had put into winning over the first princess’ heart and preparing to take the throne were for nothing?
He was so close to his goal, and yet he was going to be overthrown by some plebeian who couldn’t tell his left from his right?
(I’m not letting this ridiculous circus go any further!)
【”Your majesty, do your trust this man more than me? If we entrust the foundation of our national defense to some commoner from a remote region who presumptuously calls himself a noble, how will we be able to face our ancestors?”】
In times of peace, Albert’s words would not necessarily have been irrelevant.
Some nobles would even have openly nodded in approval, saying ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking’.
However, this was a time of war.
And more importantly, Albert was belittling the decision of the king himself.
【”Then, let me ask you. What’s there to say about a person who went through great trouble to obtain his title and yet did not get a single taste of the luxurious life of a noble, but instead rushed to save Lapland from its terrible crisis, and even led reinforcements to their princess? If sir Gaura had been on Asgard’s side, Lapland would have been long gone, and our Jormungand kingdom would most likely have been trampled down by now.”】
This was getting dangerous―― Eustache could tell. King Christopher was becoming irritated.
However, Albert kept going.
Psychologically, he could not accept the presence of an outsider like Kurats.
【”Your majesty, you’re saying you’d rather believe a mere commoner over your senior statesmen!?”】
At that precise moment, Eustache finally understood the true nature of Albert.
Albert had received a great education and was very well versed in matters that pertained to domestic and foreign affairs. Eustache had been hoping for a long time that Albert would follow in his tracks and become his successor, the kingdom’s next prime minister.
He was not lacking appearance-wise either. He was a charming and handsome man. Before he took the first princess as his wife, he used to be the type of young noble who gave rise to the target of the high-pitched screams of the court’s ladies, with the many scandals that entailed.
He also possessed one of the most important territories of the kingdom; a key location for the mobilization of any forces towards the border. This fact alone made him one of the pillars of the country’s military affairs.
As if that was not enough, this young man had soon grown up to become the head of the biggest faction in the kingdom.
But in reality, all of this was just the cunning facade of a mere child, who could not stand to not have what he wanted.
The man who wanted to prioritize his own individual desires over the country was him, not Kurats.
(I thought I had a good eye for people, how did I not see this…?)
While Eustache was coming to this realization, Christopher’s gaze also changed. It was only now that he understood how dangerous Albert’s nature truly was.
Christopher couldn’t help feeling impressed yet again. It was thanks to Kurats’ scheme that Albert was acting so reckless and exposing his true nature.
After all, Albert would never have lost his calm to that extent if it wasn’t for the shock of falling head-first in a trap after celebrating what he assumed to be a flawless victory.
【”Then, Albert, I’ll ask another question to you, my subject. Whose will do you think bears more weight? Your king’s or yours?”】
A king’s role was to, on one hand, coordinate the interest of the nobles, and on the other hand, to listen to the requests of the various classes that composed the kingdom, and reflect said requests in the country’s policies.
But in essence, the king represented the nation, and he had the final say in everything. His decisions took precedence over everything else.
Once the time of debate was over and the the king had made his decision, his vassals and subjects had no right to disagree.
That was the way things were in a feudal monarchy.
And that very same king currently had an expression that showed he was ready to discard Albert on the spot depending on what he was about to answer.
That expression was plenty enough to put a definitive stop to Albert’s wild outburst.
Looking behind him, Albert found that the majority of the nobles who were supposed to be close to him were looking at him with cold eyes.
No one was willing to defend him.
【”Well, of course… your majesty’s will trumps all.”】
Albert had committed a fatal mistake.
The trust and influence he had been building up for years had just vanished without a trace.
As high as his chances to become the king were, he had abusively called the princess of a country an impostor, and had threatened the king to choose between himself and Kurats.
He was trembling in dread of what he had just done.
Just one more step.
He could picture himself a single stair away from gazing upon the throne he was desperately seeking.
Everything Albert did was for the sake of going up that illusory staircase.
But now that the king was showing a hostile stance towards Asgard, then it was unavoidable that he would pick Lunaria as his successor since she excelled in fighting and military matters. After all, for better or worse, Felbelle was an obedient woman but she was only useful as decoration.
―― This was not how things were supposed to be.
Had Kurats not appeared, Lunaria would have been taken hostage in the name of becoming the wife of Asgard’s emperor, and Felbelle would have taken Jormungand’s throne, allowing Albert to rightfully become the next king.
This was neither a dream nor an illusion, but a clear vision of a future that could very well haver been. And yet, it was no more.
(Am I supposed to let this humiliation go?! I’ll return everything he did to me two-folds!)
Although he was feeling devastated, Albert still foudn the will to bitterly swear to himself that he would take his revenge.
【”This man, all by himself, has brought down sir Cabernard, the one they call the iron wall of Asgard. This is a historically unprecedented achievements. King Siegfried has granted sir Gaura with an honorary title of earl, and we shall also give him a title of earl, along with a fitting territory.”】
A title of earl was just enough for Kurats to be worthy of becoming princess Lunaria’s husband.
In his mind, Christopher had already finished the blueprint of the kingdom’s next government.
【”Let’s see, maybe the Adreward territory will do, since it’s under the royal family’s direct control…”】
The one who dared to protest against the words of the king before he could get too carried away was none other than his prime minister, Eustache.
Adreward, with its fertile plains, was historically passed on to the crown prince before his enthronement.
In other words, Christopher was basically officially saying that Lunaria was his next successor and Kurats the next king.
Kurats’ unmatched military might was certainly almost irreplaceable for the kingdom.
But no matter what, there were still too many things they didn’t know about him. They could not entrust the fate of kingdom to him as Lunaria’s husband yet.
【”What is it, Eustache? Do you object to that?”】
Christopher folded his arms, visibly displeased that something had come to dampen this rare moment of excitement.
But his reaction did not go any further than a bad mood.
He trusted Eustache’s judgement.
【”Sir Gaura’s achievements are certainly admirable, to say the least. However, so far, all he has shown is his strength. In order to entrust Adreward to him, he first has to show results not only in military matters, but also in political matters.”】
It was impossible to leave the kingdom in the hands of a man who only had military might.
When he was told so, Christopher found it hard to say anything back.
After all, Kurats’ origins were problematic, and his foundations as a noble were too weak.
That was why Christopher wanted to bring attention to his relation with Lunaria little by little. But Eustache had another idea.
【”So, how about we give him Bashtar instead?”】
【”What did you say?”】
Christopher was astonished that Eustache would even think of suggesting that place.
【”That would be more of a punishment than a reward.”】
【”That might be the case, but if he manages to fix up Bashtar, no one will ever doubt him again.”】
What Eustache was saying was that, for a commoner to become a king, he had to accomplish at least this much.
『Hey, Kurats. Tell him that you accept.』
(Are you sure?)
『No matter what kind of land they’re referring to, in the hands of the magic king, it might as well be paradise.』
In these kinds of situations, Kurats was more than willing to fully rely on Bernst. Because he himself had absolutely no idea what he was supposed to do.
【”―― I’ve thought about it, and I believe that sir prime minister makes a great point. I’d be happy to look after Bashtar.”】
【”Well, if that’s what sir Gaura thinks, then so be it.”】
Christopher concluded this exchange with a final nod.
Truthfully, he felt like he was being played by Eustache, but perhaps it was better to just let it go.
【”But what’s so abnormal about Bashtar? I’m afraid I have never heard of it before.”】
Bashtar was located at the northwest of Jormungand, about 300 miles (500km) north of the village of Gaura.
A hundred years in the past, the earl in charge of governing the remote region of Bashtar had brought a great growth to its mining and manufacturing industries, granting it a level of prosperity that had been unbelievable for a remote region.
Since it used to be and still was the biggest territory in the kingdom, the earl of Bashtar had also been put in charge of managing the whole western part of the country, which had given him a lot of influence.
However, that did not last indefinitely.
Their mining industry kept expanding, and their agricultural lands kept growing more and more, which inevitably ended up angering the monsters that lived around there.
And, 70 years ago, it all built up to a coordinated monster attack, which was later labeled as the Bashtar invasion.
This attack was led by the monster aristocrat who ruled over that area, Triastella.
The army of an earl who ruled over such an isolated place was nothing when faced with this invasion; it was annihilated in no time at all. By the end of it, more than half of Bashtar became occupied by monsters.
Having abandoned half of the territory to avoid going through any other monster invasions, the people of Bashtar started living very close to each other, in very limited space.
And now, every day, they lived in fear, not knowing if or when the next monster attack would come.
Their fertile land and mines had been snatched away, and all that was left for them was infertile soil and barren land filled with nothing but rocks in sight.
Since no one would want to be responsible for such a place, it had unavoidably fallen into the hands of the royal family, which was doing the bare minimum to manage the territory.
(Monster aristocrat? So, he’s like the guy we fought the other day? Adrian, was it?)
『I wouldn’t say they’re the same. They may both be called monster aristocrats, but the one we met seemed like he was at the bottom of the chain. But that doesn’t matter, because the magic king knows no adversary!』
After the situation was explained to him, Kurats repeated word for word what Bernst told him to reply.
【”Then, I shall surmount all these difficulties and come back bearing good news, your majesty.”】
【”That’s great! If you manage to bring Bashtar back on its feet, I shall make you a marquis, you have my word!”】
【”I’m infinitely honored and grateful, your majesty.”】
The officials of the Jormungand kingdom were all looking at Kurats like they were watching something unbelievable.
Even though he had just come back to the kingdom with historically unprecedented achievements, he was immediately pushed inta a situation that was akin to being exiled from the kingdom.
The fact that Kurats could calmly accept this turn of event made him look like some kind of strange freak in everyone else’s eyes.
Although Albert was sneering, happy that Kurats was getting what he deserved, he could not suppress the thought that he actually might be able to succeed.
After all, pushing back the Asgard empire’s fourth squadron all alone was not any less incredible.
But Albert also came to realize something else at the same time.
The fact that Christopher was willing to let Kurats go deal with the Bashtar territory meant that, while he was going to take a hostile stance against the Asgard empire, he had no intention to actively attack them.
Kurats’ presence in the country could act as a deterrent, but that did not change the fact that the Asgard empire still surpassed the Jormungand kingdom when it came to military strength.
That being the case, Albert still had a chance to make things right.
(It’s not over yet! Someday, I will hang you head in the streets for everyone to see!)
【”―― Your majesty, may I make a request?”】
【”Oh, do you need something, princess Frigga?”】
【”The favors our country owes to sir Kurats are higher than any mountains and deeper than the sea. With your permission, I would like to follow him until I’ve at least partly repaid him.”】
At that moment, it suddenly felt like there were sparks crackling in the air around Lunaria and Frigga.
【”I have no reason to refuse… Sir Gaura, would you be alright with that?”】
【”Since I’m still inexperienced in terms of being a vassal… I’ll gratefully accept her highness’ offer.”】
(What’s the meaning of this?! It seems like we need to have a talk after this!)
Lunaria tried to convey her complaint through her gaze, but Kurats completely ignored her.
On the other hand, Frigga was not so subtle. She triumphantly held Kurats’ hand, and drew her lips close to his hear to whisper to him.
【”This way, I’ll be able to stay by your side, master.”】
No matter how one looked at this interaction, Frigga was clearly, and very straightforwardly, flirting with Kurats.
(Maybe I’m misinterpreting it.)
Christopher tried to reassure himself, but his cramped smile and the sweat on his forehead betrayed his true thoughts.
Kurats was a member of Jormungand’s royal court, but there was still a very real possibility that Lapland would try to make him the husband of the king’s younger sister.
Moreover, Kurats and Frigga had fought on the battlefield together. They were comrades-in-arms.
(This is bad! This is terrible!)
Two close comrades-in-arms, leaving the hustle and bustle of the capital to a more remote location, where they were going to share their beds and food. This was a recipe for a love story.
And of course, if they were to end up having a child there together, it was going to be hard for Kurats to refuse to marry Frigga.
Eustache could guess the kind of crazy delusions king Christopher was currently having, but this didn’t seem like the right mood for him to say anything.
【”Father! I’m also going!”】
【”P-please wait! Bashtar is not a suitable place for your highness to visit!”】
Eustache had a feeling this would happen. Lunaria, who was as full of energy and dynamism as always, had decided to do something reckless.
However, there was no way they could let Lunaria go to a remote place that was flooded with monsters. She was the future heiress to the throne by default now.
【”Your majesty, please say something!”】
【”You may go right ahead, Lunaria!”】
(What in the world is her own father saying?)
【”She will get to learn a lot from princess Frigga. Besides, letting the princess of Lapland work hard all by herself would put our country to shame!”】
【”Your majesty, that sounds like an excuse!”】
【”I’ve made my decision! I do not need your advice on this, Eustache, I know what I am doing!”】
【”That’s what gambling addicts always say!”】
Eustache was about to pull his hair out of his head from distress, but his desperate attempts to persuade the king bore no fruit.
And thus, it was decided that Frigga and Lunaria would both go to Bashtar.