Chapter 145: Armistice (2)

‘Do the same thing? Can’t be…’

The nobles of the Western region of the Strabus Kingdom surrendered their territories to Queen Leila after just a couple letters from her. They had easily passed over their territories after receiving recognition for their title and acknowledgement of their estates; something that they wouldn’t have gotten from the Republicans. Like Aesop’s fable, it was much more efficient and quicker to take something away with the Sun’s strength than it was to forcefully take something like the Northern Wind had tried. If you think about it, it was something that the Valence Kingdom could do just as well to the Southern region of the former Strabus Kingdom.

Queen Leila read Fuhrer’s anxiety on his face and riled him up even further.

“And that’s not all, is it? You haven’t even stabilized your conquered territory. Would the people and the leaders of the occupied area just let it go if you continued to fight an impossible war? Sporadic resistance groups would most likely spring up everywhere.”

“You have a reason for being so sure about that?”

“It’s national pride. Not to mention, the people of the Strabus Kingdom have an extreme aversion to Republican affairs to begin with. You should know that better than me.”

‘Of course, I’ll also be secretly fanning the flames,’ Queen Leila thought to herself. 

The more Queen Leila continued to talk, the more Fuhrer Schheimer felt cold sweat running down his back.

‘She’s bluffing. It’s just a guess. However…’

It was too dangerous to just ignore what she was saying. What she said could happen, and when it actually did happen, the damage to the Republic would be immense.  

‘No. Let’s be alert and careful.’

Fuhrer Schheimer bit his lips hard. Once he refocused, he realized that he had been swayed by the other’s words almost like he was bewitched. This couldn’t happen. Their original purpose was to endure even if they were inflicted damages by the unreasonable war. They couldn’t abandon the Western region. This was the minimum they had agreed upon before setting out for this diplomatic conference. He couldn’t give up on it because he was convinced by the other person’s eloquence. 

“Even if that’s the case, we will not give up what is rightfully ours. If you don’t return to the Western region, there will be war. This is our decision.”

As Fuhrer Schheimer bit out those words, Queen Leila thought to herself. 

‘You’re trying so hard.’

Queen Leila was sure of her victory at this point. Simply put, her opponent was a pigheaded and obstinate old man; the type to clearly determine his goal and strongly insist on that goal. In negotiations, these types were often victorious. Of course, that depends on the opponent. For Queen Leila, negotiations and diplomacy were all about being thoroughly prepared and creating a situation in which she could win. Rather than getting what she wanted from the diplomatic meeting, she would have the outcome be 80 percent determined before the meeting even started and finished up during the diplomatic meeting. For Queen Leila, a stubborn old goat like Fuhrer Schheimer was an easy fool to deal with. 

Already convinced of her victory, Queen Leila leaned back against her chair.

“Fine. If we can’t compromise, then I have no choice but to continue with the war.”

“Whatever you throw at us, we’ll take it and throw it back.”

“Ah! For your information, before we start the war, let me tell you something interesting, Fuhrer Schheimer.”

“What could possibly be interesting…”

“I heard that Duke Ryan Catel jumped ships to the Andrews Empire.”

“……”

For a moment, all the Republicans paled. The Strabus Kingdom had three Masters they had been proud of. One of them died and another switched over the Republic. The last one had been missing, Duke Ryan Catel, but it turns out, he had devoted himself to the Andrews Empire. This was something that was anxiety inducing for the Republicans. 

“Not to mention, I heard that Duke Catel had conditions before switching… I’m not exactly sure but, I think it was something about revenge for his destroyed country…”

“Ugh…”

Fuhrer Schheimer bit his lips tightly while Fuhrer Painheim groaned as if he’d been punched in his gut. They were seriously in danger if Duke Ryan Catel really switched his loyalty to the Empire and asked for revenge against the Republic in return. Either way, the Empire would have to keep the Republic in check and if they were able to gain a Master, then they would have the justification to raise an army. Although the Valence Kingdom was in the middle, there was no reason for them not to cooperate with the Empire. The allied forces of the Empire and the Valence Kingdom would push in from the South.

“Where did you get that information…?”

Queen Leila smiled at him as she responded to the question Fuhrer Schheimer spat out. 

“I have a contact in the Empire. Let’s say I heard it from a close friend.”

“……”

Fuhrer Schheimer bit his lips firmly. He didn’t know if this information was true or false, but what if it was true?

‘This is the worst.’

Even if he was stubborn, he couldn’t continue to insist on the war in this situation. How could he continue forward just based on his gut when there was clearly a cliff in front of him?

Siegfried, who had been watching from the side, let out a deep sigh.

‘This isn’t going to work. They’re too weak-willed.’

Siegfried had a good head for negotiations since one of his special traits was a LV.8 Bargain trait. But that’s why he was able to know that there was nothing that the Republicans could gain from this diplomatic negotiation. If there was a possibility that something would work, then he would’ve done it, however, nothing would really work in this situation. That’s why he had the two Fuhrers at the front while Siegfried was in the back, keeping silent.

‘In the first place, this situation is too unfavorable towards us. This is as far as we go with the war.’

As Siegfried predicted, the Lester Kingdom and the two Republican nations formally signed an armistice agreement. On the condition that neither side would invade each other’s territories for the next three years and wouldn’t engage in military provocation, the Lester Kingdom acquired the Western region of the Strabus Kingdom. From now on, the Eastern part of the Lester Kingdom would be under Queen Leila’s rule. In addition, most of the Hildes Republic’s territory was recognized as part of the Lester Kingdom. Of course, the Republic hadn’t freely and easily agreed to this, but Queen Leila knew she had the advantage and pushed until they agreed to it. 

In conclusion, the war ended with the defeat of the Allied Forces of the kingdoms and the victory of the Republican forces. The Republic overthrew the Strabus Kingdom, a powerful enemy, and the Strabus Kingdom disappeared into history. The Republic was able to push their influence into the central part of the continent. Nevertheless, it was the Lester Kingdom that had benefited the most from this war. Their territory grew more than three times larger, not to mention the vast amounts of iron ore deposit from the Northern part of the Hildes Republic that they had taken over. However, it would take time and effort to completely merge the Northern parts of what was once the Republic and would be necessary to pause for a while. 

It was the same situation for the Republic who had devoured a large part of the Strabus Kingdom. The Republic hurried to deploy troops to the border shared with the Valence Kingdom in order to secure their border and did their best to stabilize their occupied territory. 

Although temporary, the horrors of war had settled and it was peaceful. No, rather than peace, it was more like the calm before the storm.

For the Valence Kingdom, which faced the border in the South, this was something unfortunate. While they had been reluctant to send reinforcements, they had never thought the Strabus Kingdom would fall. Gums without lips would naturally feel cold. Now, the Valence Kingdom was directly sharing a border with the Republic. The Andrews Empire, who were below the Valence Kingdom, now felt that they couldn’t continue to ignore the Republic. With the disappearance of the shield that was the Strabus Kingdom, it instilled an awareness of the Republic in all the countries in the South-Central region of the continent. 

While they were all just watching the situation for now, the people with some knowledge all knew the same thing — this war, dubbed the War of Ideological Conflict, wasn’t over yet. 

***

“We’ve done all that we could, but it seems like things just got worse.”

Milton sighed from inside the carriage as they were heading back to his estate.

Queen Leila smiled from across him. 

“Like you said, dear, we’ve done all that we could. Don’t be too disappointed. It’s not like anything would change just because you’re disappointed.”

“You’re right.”

Still, Milton thought it was a pity. To be honest, Milton had been planning to completely eradicate the Republic during this war. 

He knew that state relations between monarchism and republicanism couldn’t exist when there was so much conflict between the two ideologies; until one ideology was eradicated, relations would be nonexistent. That’s why he had tried his best even though it was another country’s war, but the result was defeat. Of course, the Lester Kingdom had gained a tremendous amount from his war, but it didn’t change the fact that they had lost.

Quite honestly, Milton’s steps were heavy as he returned back home. Queen Leila knew what Milton was feeling and tried to console him from the side. 

“Don’t worry. As a result, didn’t this war make our country stronger?”

Now, the Lester Kingdom had a large territory encompassing the Northwest. 

While they couldn’t become a shield blocking the Republic like the former Strabus Kingdom, they had ultimately become the only country in the Northern part of the continent that could control the Republic.

“You’re right, Your Majesty, the future is what’s important. There’s a lot of things that need to be done. Particularly, it won’t be easy to integrate the residents of the Northern region…”

“I have plans for that. But rather than that, I want you to focus on other things, my dear.”

“Other things?”

“Isn’t there something you delayed because of the war?”

“…Ah!”

Milton realized instantly.

He had forgotten about it because more important things kept coming up, but since the war was now over, there was something he had to do first.

‘That’s right. I’m getting married.’

Not to mention, to two people. 

***

“Marriage…?”

“Yes, you didn’t know? It’s said that once the Marquis marries Queen Leila, he’ll become the Grand Duke.”

“Ah… I didn’t know that.”

Princess Violet of the Florence Principality was floored when she heard about Milton’s marriage. The Florence Principality’s army was returning back to their country, but Princess Violet had been determined to accompany the Lester Kingdom’s army. On the way back, she constantly looked anxious as she hovered around Milton. She had an important business proposal for Milton but hadn’t been able to find a good time to ask. Why? Because Queen Leila was always around Milton. Princess Violet had been thinking that there was something odd between the two, but hadn’t known that their marriage was officially scheduled. It wasn’t exactly something that had to be hidden but because they had deliberately spread the news, Princess Violet hadn't known that Milton had a fiancee, let alone two of them.  

At least, she hadn’t known until now. 

‘What should I do now?’

She had firmed her determination, but this situation made things very difficult for her.

‘What should I do? I don’t know what I should do.’

A person had some things they were good at and some things they were bad at. In Princess Violet’s case, her specialty was on the battlefield. Or something like defeating bandits? Or leading her knights and charging.  Or beheading enemies. Basically, this was what she was good at. But her skills weren’t helpful for what she was trying to do right now.

‘What should I do to seduce a man?’

That’s right. What she was aiming for wasn’t the head of an enemy, but the heart of a man. Of course, that man was Milton. 

‘I need him.’

She was quite desperate. She had fallen in love with Milton at first sight and that love grew so big that she was burning passionately enough to lose all reason… not. Her reason was completely different. While she had a good impression of Milton while they were on the battlefield together, it wasn’t to the point of falling desperately in love with him. But she needed him for a different reason.

During this war, she had made many contributions and Milton had honestly reported it all to Queen Leila. Naturally, Queen Leila had promised her a big reward. However, what was important was that this war officially ended with their defeat.

No matter how big of a reward she returned with to the Florence Principality, her siblings would surely find fault with her. Her siblings were constantly keeping her in check and the stain of the defeat would be enough to bring her down. If it was just her, it wouldn’t have been a problem. However, if she were to be punished, then her subordinates who participated in this war would also receive the same punishment, and even worse, her birth mother would not be able to avoid it either. When a royal family member falls, they fall deeper into Hell than the average person. She was by no means politically savvy, but she knew that much.

After all, she had been constantly receiving her siblings’ jealousy, envy, and putdowns her entire life. 

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