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Magi Craft Meister 466
14 Family Trip Arc
14-17 Gossip 26 – Laojun and the Celuroa Kingdom
The Celuroa Kingdom was the largest of the small group of countries. Its population was around 200,000 people.
It had grown strong enough to swallow the Korin Kingdom to the south 200 years ago, and the Rivas Kingdom to the east 100 years ago. It was a country that had grown in leaps and bounds in terms of Magi Engineering.
The capital city of Essiah had a population of 18,000. Its inhabitants took great pride in the historical value of the city, since it once had been the royal capital of the former Dinard Kingdom.
However, pride is easily replaced by arrogance and self-conceit.
Most of its aristocrats were haughty, and in fact, their abilities were nothing to write home about.
The king two generations prior, Guillaume Bronieu Du Celuroa, who was the current king’s grandfather, was said to be the ancestor who revived the country.
The government, which was centered on aristocracy, was changed to be centered on royalty. Several laws were put in place, and magical technologies were encouraged.
Guillaume also gave preferential treatment to engineers in order to encourage technological development. He created the ranking system that rated the engineers by giving them the names of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and so on.
Thanks to this, a culture centered on magical technology blossomed, solidifying their position as the number one country from the small group of countries in terms of automata and golem technology.
It was Guillaume who subordinated the neighboring Frantz Kingdom with military power, turning it into a semi-vassal state.
Though there was a general sense of tension perceived by the neighboring countries, he had several friendly diplomatic relations, and his people praised his reign.
The current King of Celuroa, Richard Valois Du Celuroa, was Guillaume’s grandson.
Unlike his father, Cybele Valois Du Celuroa, who had faultlessly followed Guillaume’s steps, Richard had his own policies.
“Head of Domestic Affairs Lanbureau, bringing in today’s report.”
“Head of Foreign Affairs Beaujorie, bringing in today’s report.”
He removed all relatives from the political aristocrats at the royal palace from their positions of power in order to prevent any usurpation of the throne.
In their place, regional politics were left to his direct blood relatives, namely, other members of the royalty, to rule each region as a duke or grand duke.
The order of succession to the throne was clearly defined in order to prevent house turmoil as much as possible.
However, the fact that national affairs were ruled by meritocracy while regional affairs were ruled by a doctrine based on blood relations brought an imbalance that caused various conflicts.
It was also the hotbed for the estrangement of the regional great houses, which in turn brought about the rise of the Unifiers.
All such aristocrats had already been purged since then, and it seemed that politics were carried out only by those who were faithful to the kingdom, at least on the surface.
However, behind the scenes, there was a constant battle for power and the order of succession to the throne.
The lord of the northwestern part of the Celuroa Kingdom, including the provincial city of Goa, was Duke Hubert Bertin de Perchamps. He was the king’s cousin and brother of the current queen, and was 9th in succession to the throne. He was 40 years old, and his body was as wide as a beer barrel.
He was eager to rule the territory in a different way than his grandfather Guillaume.
He wanted to center his rule not around “the law”, but around “the people”.
It indeed sounded good to speak of “the people” ruling the cities instead of being subject to “the law”, which could sometimes hand down cruel verdicts. However, that would give birth to “favoritism” and “unfairness”.
The towns in the territory were governed by the duke’s direct relatives, such as his younger brother, who began to consider only their own personal interests.
Some people disliked such governance and left the town, but the fact that the situation wasn’t much different in other towns and that most of them wouldn’t welcome any outsiders ended up in those people giving up and returning to the town.
Since fleeing abroad was subject to severe punishment, most of the people lived their daily lives in a state of near-resignation.
It was also a fact that the people could spend their days quietly as long as they didn’t commit any serious crimes and fulfill their obligations such as tax payment.
In that sense, it could be said that it looked like a peaceful and gentle rule.
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“Damn those filthy commoners!”
That day, Albert, the son of Duke Hubert, returned home utterly indignated. His sister Beatrix was there with him.
“Brother, let’s just send some soldiers to the house of that… Stear… whatever that woman’s name is!”
“Yes. And let’s talk to Father about our incident with that demon.”
Goa was where the stronghold of Duke Hubert, who ruled over the northwest, was located. That day, the duke was at home.
“Father, there’s something I have to discuss with you.”
“What is it, Al?”
The duke would normally call his son Albert “Al”.
“It’s about some unscrupulous Magi Craftsmen in the territory, and someone who turned out to be a demon.”
“What did you say?”
The sturdy, comfortable chair the duke was sitting on squeaked after failing to stand the pressure made by the slight but sudden movement made by the duke’s 180-centimeters-tall and 148-kilograms-heavy body.
“Also, do you remember the short sword you gave me the other day?”
“Ah, yes. I bought it for 100,000 Tolls, but it turned out that that short sword was actually worth at least 10 times that value. Don’t tell me you actually found the artisan that crafted it?”
They were looking for a craftsman to make a short sword to give as a present to commemorate the adulthood of Her Royal Highness, who was to turn 15 that year.
“Well, no, but I found some commoners who had a short sword that seemed to be made by the same craftsman and tried to ask them about it, but they turned out to be quite the defiant people.”
“Hmm. But what about those automata guards I gave you?”
“…I’m truly sorry, Father, but… Though we had a numeric advantage, they were destroyed by a monstrous automata they had with them.”
“What did you say?”
“In addition, that boy, Andro, who had been appointed as an attendant to Beato, turned out to be a demon.”
“It’s true, Father. He called himself ‘Androgias the Wild’.”
The duke intimately entrusts his entire weight to the back of the chair. Once again, the chair squeaked.
“Yes. Beato and I defeated that demon.”
“I see. I expected no less from my own two children.”
Smooth words make smooth ways. In reality, if not for Reiko’s stun, not even a party of a hundred people with the skill those two had would have been able to defeat Androgias.
“What about those defiant Magi Craftsmen you mentioned earlier?”
“Yes, he had several friends with him, including this Stear… something or other, woman.”
The duke fell silent for a moment as if deep in thought, then finally opened his mouth again.
“Stear… Stearleana, you mean?”
“Ah, so that was her name.”
“That’s one fine woman… Ahem. So what happened?”
“The lot she was hanging out with had that crazy strong automata that destroyed all of our automata guards.”
“Hmm… So they were Magi Craftsmen as well?”
“That’s what it looked like.”
“Alright. Let’s bring them in. Go discuss the details of it with the housekeeper.”
“Understood. Thank you, Father.”
Thus the Selfish Siblings, Albert and Beatrix, ended the audience with their father.
However, at the time, Capella 10, one of the Quinta who operated under Laojun’s orders, was using “Invisible”, and was standing right next to the duke.
“…This concludes my report.”
“Understood. You are to retrieve that short sword. I will send you the money for it shortly.”
As soon as Capella 10 issued his report, Laojun’s orders came right back in. Shortly afterwards, 10 gold coins were transferred to him.
“We are not to steal this short sword.”
After eavesdropping on their conversation, they had learned that they had bought the short sword for 100,000 Tolls. Jin’s financial affairs –or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say Hourai Island’s budget– were ample enough for them to be able to afford to pay for the short sword.
They were to retrieve the short sword and leave the 10 gold coins, worth 100,000 tolls, in its place. Laojun secretly laughed at the thought of what kind of face would the duke make after realizing that the short sword had turned into gold coins.
The next target were the Selfish Siblings themselves.
Laojun handed out instructions to Regulus 11 and Deneb 25, who were in charge of Essiah, the capital of the Celuroa Kingdom.
“Slip this document into the Head of Domestic Affairs’ report.”
“Slip this document into the Head of Military Affairs’ report.”
Laojun had prepared two documents stating only the bare plain facts. They read as follows:
“After receiving unfair treatment, Stearleana Beta has gone into exile. Her destination is currently unknown.”
“There was an intrusion made by a person that seemed to be a demon, however, he was killed without prior interrogation, so no further information could be obtained from him.”
Laojun knew from Quinta that this kind of clumsy reports were what the current king hated the most.
This fact soon reached the king’s ears, which earned Albert and Beatrix a reprimand, causing their right to succeed the throne to fall by 10 places.
Albert fell from the 13th place to the 23rd, and Beatrix fell from the 21st to the 31st.
Their father, Duke Hubert, was also brought down by five positions. He was said to be in a very grumpy state for several days after being dropped from the 9th place to the 14th.
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“This is just the beginning. How should we proceed next…?”
The brains of Hourai Island, Laojun, would never forgive that family for their insolence against Jin and his friends.