Book 7, Chapter 21

Disgrace

The Outlands were a strange place with no set paths to power. The passage of time and many crises would certainly lead to personal growth, and one could always absorb chaos energy itself to gain a boost in strength. Of course, finding chaos energy required great fortune as well. The fourteen families of Faust were now faced with an uncertain future; they could be facing a high-level legendary being, or they could be facing a full epic being as well. Apeiron could have become a servant of chaos, or she could have retained herself completely. Regardless, she was sure to be absurdly powerful.

Considering everything he had learned from Duke Orleans, Richard found the Emperor’s Bloodthirsty Philip title rather ironic. The First Princess was someone so crazy that she had been voted against despite her sheer power; compared to her, Philip couldn’t be more normal.

From the looks of it, Apeiron could just claim the throne without even bothering about the vote. As someone who had unlocked her bloodline, she would succeed Philip the moment he stepped down. However, she would participate anyway purely for vengeance. The same people who had voted against her decades ago would now have to endure the humiliation of scraping at her feet.

Richard suddenly laughed. He had been conspired against so he couldn’t vote for Nyris, but those who did so couldn’t vote for their own candidates either. Instead, they would have to bow their heads while he remained completely uninvolved. It was unlikely for anyone to have expected him to walk away from this better off.

Once done reading up on all he could, he headed to his practice room to meditate. The two new hearts were still bottomless pits; no matter how much energy was fed in, they would just swallow it without hesitation. Apeiron’s strength would be revealed when she showed herself; it was far more important to focus on the negotiations tomorrow.

……

Night slowly gave way to dawn, and at ten in the morning the representatives of each family gathered in a small chamber of the assembly building to wait for the royal family and the diplomats of the two other empires. Everyone was lost in thought, and even long-time enemies like Duke Joseph smiled at Richard’s presence. All of their hatred was insignificant in the face of what was to come. This seemed to be an autumn of troubles.

The royal family appeared exactly at 10:10, consisting of Prince Neil and Chairman Thor. Thor personally set up a map of the mainland of Norland in the middle of the hall, so detailed that even baronies were marked down. Everyone soured at the sight; it was obvious that these negotiations would involve reallocating some of the territories of the Sacred Alliance to the Sacred Tree Empire and Millennial Empire. Many of those present had interests in the borders, especially those who had expanded in recent years.

Once the map was set up, the envoys joined the conference room. Marquess Miranes was a famous minister of the Sacred Tree Empire, but his presence was well overshadowed by a youth who looked less than thirty years old. Earl Kimbaye of the Millennial Empire was known far and wide, his father being the Iceridge Duke and his mother being Empress Gelan’s blood daughter— a sister of Greyhawk.

The Earl was an outstanding talent who was both gentle and wise. Although he looked rather ordinary for a family of beautiful men and women, his presence alone could make one forget all about that; he was the prince of many young ladies’ minds. Despite not liking practice, he found advancing all too easy; entering sainthood in his early twenties, he was already level 19. Kimbaye was the envy of warriors and mages everywhere.

Neil took charge of hosting the negotiations, introducing all parties before they could begin. Once that was done, Kimbaye gestured for Miranes to go ahead, and the Marquess stood up and bowed with incomparable etiquette before starting, “Anyone who can sit here is a hegemon of the Sacred Alliance. I believe all of you know that Emperor Philip has been wounded in the Land of Dusk, but the Alliance is responsible for the defences of both the Fort of Dawn and the City of the Unsetting Sun. Once the Daxdians recover or realise how empty the fortresses are, they will launch another large-scale offensive. Both the Sacred Tree Empire and Millennial Empire are willing to assist in the defences, and if needed we can take on full responsibility for one of them. Which specific fortress can be determined by the Sacred Alliance, but our armies will need compensation.”

The opening remarks were simple and concise, but they still left the patriarchs present with a sinking heart. It was quite clear that the Marquess had no plans of playing nice. 

“In order to protect a fortress, the Sacred Tree Empire hopes to receive the following territories as compensation.” Miranes reached out and his finger started drawing a red beam of light, adding an outline to the map. The line wasn’t even halfway complete before more than half of the fourteen people stood up and glared at it.

“You… This is a disgrace!” Duke Mensa almost screamed. If it weren’t for the fact that he didn’t have the power to fight Miranes, he might even have drawn his sword. The Sacred Tree Empire was asking for nearly a sixth of the Sacred Alliance!

Even Earl Kimbaye’s rather gentle smile froze up for a bit, and as he pinched a map in his pocket he muttered something about being too kind under his breath. Those on the side of the Sacred Tree Empire were sitting quietly with stone-cold faces, but the excessive calm betrayed their thoughts; they hadn’t expected such a dividing line either. There were many places where Miranes had asked for hundreds of kilometres more than even the most aggressive requests in the original plan.

In the end, the Marquess showed plans to draw more than three million square kilometres of land into the Sacred Tree Empire. He then pointed to Earl Kimbaye, “Now, it’s time for the Millennial Empire to make its demands.”

“We need the following areas,” The young Earl said, standing up and taking a minute to look at the map. He shot out a turquoise light that demarcated an equally enormous section that shocked the people of the Millennial Empire the most, but strangely enough a considerable amount of his request overlapped with that of the Sacred Tree Empire. It was a meaningful gesture.

Be they standing like Mensa or sitting like Duke Orleans or Richard himself, everyone felt like each dividing line was a scarring whip left on the face. None of them were naive, even Richard could do a good job of enduring humiliation if he ever wanted to, but this was far worse than any of them had imagined.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA