Eilz Kartis had come to Maust Castle,and so we took the opportunity to have a talk.
He looked like any kind old man when carrying his grandchild, but when we were alone together, he emanated the aura of an accomplished villain by just sitting there.
“Even I had not thought of destroying House Rentland so early. Your talents are most impressive.”
“I looked at the geography and decided that if we could get through the mountain pass quickly, the situation would move in our favor. There was definitely a risk on whether or not we would be able to take the fort, but the enemy would surely have their guard down, so I decided that it was a risk worth taking.”
“Yes, that is what is most impressive about you.”
Eilz laughed wryly. He had more white hairs on his head than the last time we met.
“I too can make tough decisions. I may be a senior statesman, but I will purge any who are suspicious, and stop uprisings before they have a chance to begin. I am confident in my abilities. However, you are so fearfully adept at warfare itself…”
He was chuckling, but about a third of his face expressed genuine fear.
“It was the same when defendeding Nagrad Fort. You displayed a certain genius ability in terms of fighting. Without it, it would have taken at least five years of scheming in Naguri prefecture. And yet you used this weapon known as ‘war’ to finish it in no time…”
“I, I tell myself that I’ve received a divine blessing from God when I act. Because–”
I drank a little bit of the wine on the table.
“A Hero who is great enough to make their own country must be protected by God. You need that much luck, or else you will die along the way.”
“Make a country, eh… That’s not entirely nonsense…”
Hahh… Eilz sighed deeply.
“Please don’t rob by sons and daughters of their lands. My children other than Serafina are also dear to me.”
“Father, you should spread out with your forces to the west. I promise you, I will not send any troops in that direction. I will not mistreat the father of my wife. I mean it.”
“Thank you,” Eilz said.
It was at that moment, that I stood above him.
The fact that Hasse declared himself the crown prince made quite the splash in the royal capital as well.
The dynasty decreed that any lords who visited Hasse would be stripped of titles and lands. But of course, they had no power to put it into effect.
I lost the pretext of keeping the peace now, but that only had meaning when your opponent’s forces were antagonizing you. And currently, there were no lords who could fight against me head-on. None could pose a threat.
In the first place, when the current Paffus the 6th had been on the insurrectionists’ side, Grandra the 3rd had stripped him of his status. In other words, the king’s orders were no longer absolute.
The reason was simple.
“–An Imperial degree would mean nothing if the royal line was split into two.”
My concubine, Fleur said. She was reading the letter that had arrived that demanded I hand over the crown prince.
I was now dozing off on her lap.
It was after the huge task of nominating Hasse and gathering all the lords together, so I need a short rest.
“That’s true. A lord who has angered one king can nominate the other and improve his position. But if such a thing continued, the authority of kingship would fall. You could call it, reaping what you sow.”
“The temple seems to be in quite the flurry as well. Especially temples that have had their authority guaranteed through praying for the king’s house. They must be quite troubled over who to side with.”
“We’ve made great advancements in terms of assigning temple territories. Thanks to you, Fleur.”
Fleur’s abilities with business were indeed very high. She had met with several temple priests and gave me a detailed explanation of the current situation. Which temples were allies, which were enemies. That allowed me to know which I should protect or not protect.
“I am happy to be of service to you, Count.”
I got up and wrapped my arms around her.
“Don’t talk to me so formally. You are one of my wives as well. You can call me ‘dear’ when we are alone together.”
“Thank you, de-dear…”
Serafina and Raviara were still tired after giving birth. And while I did meet with them, I still ended spending more time with Fleur these days.
Also, it wasn’t that I was obsessed with her body. Fleur had a sharp mind for politics. There was a lot I could learn from her.
“By the way, there was one very brilliant person among Hasse’s vassals. It seems that this person has worked very hard so that Hasse and his family could live comfortably. Apparently, the person is a dwarf.”
“Dwarf? Is he really?”
Fleur looked at humans with different eyes than me.
When I think of dwarves, though, not all of them, I think of bearded warriors. I also knew some who were specialists in gardening and were quite famous.
“Oh, the person is not a man, but a woman. But not a lady of the court either. She serves as a knight. I think her name was Kelara Helara.”
“Dwarves do have the funniest names. But, I get it. I will meet with her when I can.”
But to tell the truth, I was quite doubtful.
The thing was, I could not believe that anyone serving under Hasse could be that brilliant. A person with any talent would have gone and served someone else. Was this knight highly favored?
But when I finally did call for this woman, my impression was quite unexpected.
“I have arrived. I am Kelara Helera, Prince Hasse’s bodyguard. I am from a poor village to the west, my family were farmer-generals. From the fourth generation on, we were also trained as warriors. And so I was raised alongside Prince Hasse.”
I had expected a small woman when hearing that she was a dwarf, but she was not much different than me in height. She had brown skin, as was common in dwarves, and her voice would not have stood out among the descendants of any nobles.
“I have heard that even when Prince Hasse was a vagrant, that you managed several ceremonies for him, as would be appropriate for royalty. Can you tell me about that?”
“Very well. It was a ceremony for the beginning of January…”
Without hesitation, Kelara began to explain the different rites that happened within the year. Surprisingly, it was not just a memorization of ceremonies, she knew about the origins and past examples as well. She offered information on what could be changed and what to replace it with.
“–And so, vassals are granted swords in this ceremony. But the history of it only goes back one hundred years, so you can resort to an even older custom instead. Next–”
“No, that is enough. I understand it well.”
I understood that she was intelligent.
Kelara, huh. I wanted her to serve me. She would be very different compared to any of my current subjects.
A new female character has arrived. I hope that you enjoy it!