Chapter 142: The Changing International Situation (1)

It wasn’t important whether King Bauchen directly surrendered or not. As long as King Bauchen was a prisoner of war, it didn’t matter what the official statement from the Republic was; that could always be made up. 

“If the King officially surrendered, then I guess we were defeated and lost this war.”

“It seems so.”

Milton responded bitterly.

When they joined the war in the beginning, he had never thought they would be defeated. He believed in the Strabus Kingdom’s strength and had thought that as long as the neighboring countries weren’t dumb, they would actively cooperate. 

But look at the results. 

The always strong and dependable Strabus Kingdom had collapsed because one of their Masters, O’Brian, had betrayed them. From the start, the neighboring countries didn’t even bother cooperating. And although Milton had tried his best, Siegfried was too extraordinary and couldn’t be beat. Put all that together, and this was the result. 

Defeat. 

The Strabus Kingdom had been the one holding them together, but with their surrender, this war was lost. Milton could independently lead his army and continue the war, but as long as the Strabus Kingdom had completely surrendered, it was a foolhardy action. However, thanks to Viscount Sabian’s plan, they had managed to swallow up the Hildes Republic. 

It could be said that the Lester Kingdom had taken over the Hildes Republic’s capital and occupied about 80 percent of the country’s territories. Although they had lost the war, the Lester Kingdom had gained a lot. First of all, the kingdom’s territory had increased by 1.5. Since most of the Hildes Republic’s land was mountainous, it wasn’t useful as agricultural lands, but it was rich in iron that it was the Republic’s main product to export; ultimately it was a rich land. And on top of that, the burden on the frontline was gone since there wasn’t anymore anxiety over the Northern border. 

If they hadn’t been able to conquer the Hildes Republic, then the Lester Kingdom’s state of affairs would have been quite poor. It wouldn’t have been enough if the Eastern frontline attacked them while the Lester Kingdom had been defending against the Hildes Republic in the North. 

‘Once the war is over, I should reward Rick and Tommy with something great.’

Viscount Sabian had presented an extremely rough plan that was created on a half-baked hypothesis, but Rick and Tommy had turned it into a success.The two of them had made the biggest contribution in this war. 

Just as Milton was mentally organizing the results of this war…

“Marquis Forrest, what is your next plan?”

“I’m thinking of staying in the East and stabilizing our borders, Your Majesty. Until now, the eastern border has been facing our ally, the Strabus Kingdom. I’m assuming there’ll be a lot of work needed on the walls since we didn’t worry about it too much before.”

Queen Leila let out a deep sigh at Milton’s response.

“This war isn’t officially over yet. How can you be thinking about wrapping things up already?”

“Queen Leila, are you perhaps thinking about continuing right now?”

“Absolutely. If we stepped down now, all we’d have won is just the Northern region’s Hildes Republic.”

“Isn’t that enough, Your Majesty?”

Queen Leila shook her head at his question.

“I’d say ‘barely’ with just that.”

For a second, Milton thought she was too greedy.

“Your Majesty, are you thinking about attacking the western part of the Strabus Kingdom?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“That’s a reckless idea, Your Majesty. Even if it won’t be difficult to conquer the Strabus Kingdom now that they’ve surrendered, the country is too big and if the Republic were to attack, we won’t be able to block them.”

Milton’s words were extremely realistic but Queen Leila looked determined.

“That’s only if we took the territories by officially engaging in war.”

“You mean… you’ll just steal the territories without fighting?”

“Yes. I have a very good idea.”

When Milton saw Queen Leila’s dazzling smile, he couldn’t help but think to himself.

‘Tsk tsk, what is my lovely vixen trying to do now?’

Queen Leila. Currently her Intellect stat was 94 and her Politics stat was 95. Even if they were both clever, Viscount Sabian focused on the tactics of war while Queen Leila specialized in domestic affairs. Seeing how she was this confident, it was highly likely that her plan to attack the West didn’t revolve around war, but on sheer cleverness. And even if Milton didn’t know what her plan was, he was certain about one thing; the people she was plotting against would get pissed about it.

“What are you planning on doing, Your Majesty?”

“Hm, please gather up the quickest horses immediately.”

She continued to talk confidently.

“We will take the western region of the Strabus Kingdom without shedding a single drop of blood.”

***

Count Teira was a nobleman who owned a fief in the western region of the Strabus Kingdom and he was currently spending his days drowning himself in alcohol. It wasn’t even a hardship.

He had just lost his country and, soon enough, he’d be losing his entire family line and his peerage. The Capital had been invaded and the king had surrendered; at that moment, the Strabus Kingdom had been defeated. 

Of course, some nobles hadn’t accepted it and fought back with an army made up of volunteers, but they hadn’t lasted long. The Republic had announced that any nobles who rebelled would be executed along with their family members even if they surrendered. However, if they surrendered peacefully, the Republic would allow them to live and even let the nobles keep some of their private properties. 

But that was it.

The Republic didn’t recognize peerage so nobles would be stripped of their titles. It was a given that if you were no longer a nobleman, you would lose your estate. Title and territory. For nobles, this was worth as much as their life… no, depending on interpretation, it was worth more than their life. Why? Because it was a legacy that had been passed down from their ancestors. How could he just watch that happen without going crazy?

“Damn it, how can I stay with the Republic when they’re honorless? Should I just take my assets and flee to another country?”

Count Teira had been asking himself the same question multiple times a day, but soon, he shook his head.

“Hooo… No. That’s impossible. It’s difficult to sell lands right now, I’d only be able to gather 1/100th of my assets…”

The estate and the people living on the estate, not to mention the big merchant companies. A noble’s assets weren't something that could be moved quickly. It took a lot of time to sell and convert it into cash. Now, he didn’t have the time or conditions to do so, if he escaped right now, he would barely take anything with him. In that case, it would be better to surrender and try to get the Republic to allow him to keep as many assets as possible. Count Teira was drinking his days away because that’s the conclusion he had come to. But then…

“Count Teira, a guest has come.”

He frowned at his chamberlain. Count Teira had told his chamberlain that he wanted to be left alone, but he was still bothered. 

“Who is it?”

Perhaps the Republic had finally sent someone to formally deal with him. His chamberlain’s response was completely out of the blue for Count Teira. 

“It’s an envoy sent by Queen Leila of the Lester Kingdom, sir.”

“… what?”

Count Teira instantly sobered.

Lester Kingdom.

Before, he would have thought of the Lester Kingdom as a weak and small country in the western corner of the continent, but things were different now. They had blocked the Republic’s invasion and started a large-scale maritime trade. Not to mention, Milton Forrest had played a major role in the war and recently, the Lester Kingdom was emerging as a powerful country on the continent. So why was a monarch of such a powerful country like the Lester Kingdom personally sending an envoy to him?

“I’ll immediately meet with him. Lead him to the lobby, no, take him to the study. And make sure no one loiters around us.”

“Yes, sir.”

Soon, Count Teira met with a Knight.

“I am Shane Bonat, a member of the Central Knights of the Lester Kingdom.”

“Mm, I am Phileas Teira… a Count.”

He had hesitated before adding his title, but he did it anyway. He was still a Count, for now at least.

“I heard you were an envoy of Queen Leila. For what reason did you come here?”

“I only came to deliver a letter to you. I was told to wait until you responded before returning back.”

As he said that, Shane handed Count Teira a handwritten letter. Count Teira immediately broke the seal and read the contents, his expressions constantly changing. Once he finished the letter, he spoke to Shane. 

“Until when do I have to respond?”

“According to Her Majesty’s orders, I was told to return immediately with your response.”

“Immediately?”

“Yes, sir. She said there wasn’t a lot of time.”

“… I see.”

Count Teira gave a deep sigh as he looked out the study’s window. After thinking about it for a bit, he came to a decision.

“My answer is…”

***

A few days later.

“I, Phileas Teira, pledge my loyalty to you, Queen Leila von Lester, the only monarch of the Lester Kingdom.” 

Count Teira knelt before Queen Leila as he pledged his loyalty to her. Then, she tapped his shoulders with a sword as she spoke. 

“I, Leila von Lester, as the monarch of the Lester Kingdom accept Phileas Teira as a member of the aristocracy. His territory will remain under his rule as it has been so far.”

“I am honored, Your Majesty.”

Count Teira replied in the manner that was expected of a vassal to his liege. From now on, he was a member of the Lester Kingdom’s aristocracy; he was Count Teira of the Lester Kingdom. Once he got up, the others around them came and congratulated him.

“As expected, you’re resolved, Count Teira.”

“Congratulations, Count Teira.”

He smiled as he looked at the people coming to congratulate him.

“You were all much quicker than I was.”

“Hahaha… That’s only because we were much closer.”

“The timing would have all been about the same.”

The people talking with Count Teira were all former nobles of what was once known as the Strabus Kingdom. In particular, they were all landowning nobles in the western region of the Strabus Kingdom. All of them had scrambled to surrender to Queen Leila and naturally, she had accepted them as part of her kingdom’s territory. There were already over forty nobles who had surrendered to her. 

Normally, there would need to be a ridiculous amount of rewards to give to the nobles who had just surrendered…

But not this time.

Queen Leila had given them two conditions when she gave them offers of surrender. One, the continuation of their title. Two, the recognition of their rights to their territories. That was it. Just simple conditions where she hadn’t given them anything new but she acknowledged what had already belonged to them. However, from the perspective of the nobles who had gotten the proposal, it was an extremely good offer. Queen Leila had offered them the two things that would never have happened if they surrendered to the Republic.  

There was no way they would have been able to keep their title and territory when the Republic didn’t recognize the feudal system. No matter how they lobbied, it wouldn’t have happened. That’s because the basis of their government was different.

That’s why Queen Leila had been able to bring them in without spending a single gold piece. She had been anticipating this the moment she heard that Siegfried had attacked the Capital. 

The destruction of the Strabus Kingdom. The introduction of Republican politics. The nobles’ resistance. What would happen if she reached out to them?

Once she got that question in her head, there was no way she could sit still on her throne.

She could have sent a messenger to Milton to proceed further with the plan, but she decided she should go in person to be certain. In fact, the Strabus Kingdom’s nobles had all emotionally accepted the surrender to the Lester Kingdom because Queen Leila had come out to the frontlines and accepted their pledges of loyalty, one-by-one. This was like God’s perfect trick, no, it was like a demon’s masterpiece.  

The only reason Siegfried hadn’t been able to do something about this was because at this time, he was busy trying to persuade the other two Fuhrers. It was important for him to prioritize getting recognized in the Republic that it was impossible for him to stop Queen Leila from showing off her skills on the Eastern Front. Milton marveled at her skill as he watched Queen Leila make the Western region of the Strabus Kingdom hers from the side.

‘Wow… that’s possible, who knew.’

You were already mine, but I’ll keep acknowledging that you’re mine. But in exchange, you have to pledge your eternal loyalty to me.

That was the situation that Milton was watching from the side. Everything was going ridiculously smoothly, not to mention, the aristocrats that were swearing their loyalty were all deeply moved. 

‘I know she’s my woman, but she’s getting more wily.’ 

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