Book 7, Chapter 16

Sacred Covenant

At this time, even blood feuds between the various families were unimportant. The Ironblood Duke had made it clear that he wasn’t an epic being yet, and if Hidden Sword had battled him then the Millennial Empire knew something was up and had used the Sword Saint to test the Alliance.

The Sacred Alliance was now under threat of annexation; most minor nobles wouldn’t experience any change, but Faust’s fourteen certainly would be dealt a huge blow. The peace of Norland was maintained by a tenuous balance of power alongside the external threat of other planes like Daxdus. With the latter having been repelled for quite some time and the former about to be broken, the two established empires that did somewhat see the Alliance as a newcomer would ally to split Norland between themselves.

“That bastard Rundstedt!” someone swore suddenly, causing the rest to recall the strange situation in the Land of Dusk. Had Rundstedt given up and allowed the other empires to assist, the City of the Unsetting Sun would have to be shared but the Emperor himself wouldn’t have been forced into his predicament. In hindsight, it seemed like a conspiracy.

However, Philip himself spoke up, “I don’t believe Rundstedt was being malicious here; some people might have misled him into his position as well. The man is a natural soldier, but his wisdom leaves a lot to be desired.”

With the Emperor himself saying this, the patriarchs reluctantly accepted. Marshal Rundstedt was also quite powerful for a legendary being; that was the entire reason he had the City of the unsetting Sun in the first place. With the danger they would be in soon, any legendary powerhouse was a valuable force.

Philip seemed to be unfazed by it all, continuing calmly, “The second thing is that I’m planning to give up the throne. The Sacred Alliance needs someone either strong or with potential at its helm, and now I’m neither. My children have already been groomed for this, and right now I have some candidates I recommend. First is Neil; he might never be a top powerhouse, but he is a masterful governor and will certainly bring the Alliance forward. The next is Nyris; ever since he entered the saint realm, he has shown that his lightning destroyer bloodline is the purest in his generation. Becoming a legendary being shouldn’t be a problem at all, and he could go further. 

“But the problem with Nyris is that he isn’t a majestic character, especially with recent developments. That leaves us with a candidate that I’m rather surprised to recommend as well: Ryan. He is only thirteen years of age, but his blood is just as pure as that of Nyris and his character isn’t as questionable. If Fate smiles upon us, then he will become the most powerful in the generation and could even approach my own power. But he’s too young; if he’s allowed to climb the throne, you will need to have the patience to wait for him to grow up.”

Those present fell into thought as Philip explained the situation further.

Both Neil and Nyris were popular candidates for succession. The latter was originally lagging behind in points, but his alliance with Richard over the past few years had greatly grown his personal power to a point where it reached near parity. Nyris had also shown great potential when he broke through to sainthood, his bloodline advancing to the second stage and guaranteeing a bright future.

The lightning destroyers were a collective group of ancient giants with many specific species amongst them. With mythical star destroyers and powerful thunder titans, even the weak lightning giants could match up to dragons. One could only tell which specific bloodline they had once it advanced to the second stage, and Nyris had revealed the powerful darkthunder bloodline. This was a powerful existence even amongst the titans, making his future limitless.

However, his shortcomings were equally apparent; he had a personality problem. Philip didn’t elaborate too much, but how could the hegemons present here not know? Something strange had happened during the Fourth Prince’s blood awakening, and his personality had been twisted. The most striking of it all was the fact that his sexual preferences seemed to have changed.

Although nobody made a fuss about such things in private, some even participating themselves, it was another matter entirely to let such a person sit on the throne. It would certainly halm the Alliance’s reputation amongst the rest of Norland. 

However, one couldn’t just put the wise and calm Neil on the throne either. He was quite powerful for a saint, but it would be at least middle age before he reached the legendary realm if he ever did at all. Charles himself had codified a bias towards talent during the founding of the Alliance; if one could evolve their bloodline to the third stage, the sitting ruler would have to be a legendary being or they would automatically forfeit their right to the throne. The Sacred Alliance was ruled by a dynasty but it was also partly a union of major powers; the royal family needed to wield power.

From the looks of it, Nyris would certainly advance his bloodline to the third stage once he entered the legendary realm. If he decided to press his claim, this would lead to great turmoil.

However, the options only went from bad to worse. As the youngest prince, Ryan hadn’t even come to mind for most higher nobles. He had great talent, certainly, and there were many maids that proved his preferences, but that was ten years of waiting in the hope that the emperor would grow powerful and wise. This was an enormous gamble that left the Alliance hanging on a thread for a decade, far more than they could afford.

In the decades of Philip’s reign, few people could sincerely say that he was a great governor. One could even describe him as aloof, ignorant, but first and foremost he was a frighteningly powerful figure whose stance on anything was clear. Ryan had yet to form his own opinions about many things, and the constant game of politics would certainly affect his ability to be objective.

The Ironblood Duke suddenly spoke up, “Your Majesty, will you be choosing the heir or will it be by vote?”

“Vote,” Philip nodded.

Orleans didn’t say anymore, sneaking a glance at Richard.

There were two ways to inherit the throne of the Sacred Alliance: one was to be appointed by the previous emperor, which was relatively common in the other empires. However, the emperor could also propose a number of candidates and leave it up to the fourteen to decide. This was something unique to the Alliance, and showed the relationship between the royal family and the remaining hegemons.

It seemed rather limiting on the emperor, but it was actually quite beneficial for the royal family and even the entire Alliance to take the second route. The chosen emperor would be the one with the most political support, naturally gaining powerful allies, and any instability would be taken care of during the election process. Subsequent power exchanges would be peaceful with minimal internal friction. It also convinced any prospective emperor to foster close ties with the rest of the nobility, ensuring they didn’t isolate themselves and give a chance for a revolution.

Richard noticed the Ironblood Duke’s glance, as well as those of many others. These men were all old foxes, only caught because his own perception was very high, but it caused him to recall a certain clause in the Sacred Covenant that had been the establishing document of the Alliance. To qualify to vote for the next emperor, one had to own a floating island…

And they had to be a duke.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA