The first to react to Milton’s intrusion was none other than Archduke Lawrence.
“And who are you? How dare you barge into this national affair?”
Milton replied coolly to Archduke Lawrence’s shout of accusation.
“As aforementioned, I object to this marriage.”
“Do you truly believe that your mockery of this sacred union will pass? Speaking of which – what were the knights doing, allowing a louse like that to barge in here? Get him out of my sight at once!”
Milton smirked as he watched Archduke Lawrence bellow at him, the veins at his throat bulging.
‘Is that the king of Florence?’
[Lawrence Graham Florence]
Strength – 15 Command – 85
Intellect – 65 Politics – 77
Loyalty – 00
Special Traits – Coercion, Bribe, Bargain
Coercion LV.5: Able to force lower-ranked individuals to sacrifice for one’s own goals.
Bribe LV.6: Induce others to act according to one’s intentions by offering what they desire.
Bargain LV.4: Able to assert one’s own conditions more successfully when making deals or entering negotiations.
A quick glance at his abilities indicated he was a ne’er-do-well across the board. His numbers were substantially lower than that of King August’s. Milton would not so much as break a sweat with someone like this as his adversary.
Besides, Milton had received explicit permission from Queen Leila before coming to this nation…
[Feel free to do whatever your heart desires and cause as much of a scene as you please. In fact, you should very much endeavor to do so. Even if the method itself is ungraceful, what is important is that we take certain hold of the Florence Principality.]
…was what she said, in her own words.
In other words, Queen Leila’s order was to show the prowess of their kingdom’s might in its full glory, even if he needed to force the issue. And that was why Milton could do such an audacious thing as interrupting the wedding.
With a steady heart, Milton spoke towards Archduke Lawrence.
“I suppose I am beyond due in introducing myself. Milton Forrest, Grand Duke of the Lester Kingdom at your service.”
“It does not matter who you ar- what?”
Archduke Lawrence looked taken aback. Likewise, their surroundings burst into whispers.
“The one who’s being hailed as a war hero?”
“You mean the one who drove off 500,000 Republican soldiers with only 50,000 men, that Milton Forrest?”
“Why is he here of all places…?”
“Ah – come to think of it, did Princess Violet not enter the very same war as Duke Forrest?”
“Now that you mention it…”
The guests generated a dull roar as they shared their own conjectures on how this came to be. Though mixed into their conversations to a certain extent were some exaggerated rumors, one thing for certain was that the renown of Milton had already spread to the furthest corners of the Florence Principality.
After all, was he not one of the central figures that transformed the feeble Lester Kingdom of the past into a serious power, wrestling for supremacy in the North?
To those that answered to the flag of Florence – already considered the weakest nation in the continent as is – no other man became the subject of their envy quite like Milton. Some thought it was a great shame and misfortune that such an outstanding individual could not have been born as one of their own. Yet others began to voice their concerns regarding the exponential growth of the Lester Kingdom’s power – a nation that bordered with them.
In many different shapes and forms, the name of Milton had been on the lips of every one of the Florencian nobles; and now he had appeared on their soil in a completely unexpected manner.
The nobles thought about this development prudently, while Archduke Lawrence likewise erased any hint of surprise from his face and spoke prudently.
“’Tis a pleasure to meet you, Grand Duke Forrest. I was yet to be made aware that you would be visiting us like this without notice.”
“I did not have the leisure to as it is a rather pressing matter.”
“By a pressing matter, do you mean… your objection to the marriage of my inadequate daughter?”
“Indeed I do, as you can see by my grand entrance.”
At Milton’s words, Archduke Lawrence’s eyes hastily flickered towards Princess Violet.
‘Surely she didn’t…? Did something happen?’
Yet he could not see Princess Violet’s expression, as her face was covered by a thick veil.
All that was apparent was that she was fidgeting with her bouquet, as if she herself was taken aback. Judging from that, it seemed that this development was beyond even her own expectations.
Archduke Lawrence turned his attention back to Milton.
“Today is a rather joyous occasion. So if I may ask, Grand Duke, for what reason have you broken into my daughter’s wedding?”
It was a rather sharp accusation, but there was not a hint of persuasive power.
“Some sad news reached as far as the Lester Kingdom, that a poor princess was being wed off against her will to a ruffian of a man. And so I’ve come to make a ruckus.”
Archduke Lawrence cleared his throat uncomfortably, but Milton did not pay him any heed.
“In particular, Princess Violet is a comrade who shed blood by my side on the battlefields – no, perhaps more than that. Her brilliant actions were what, in fact, saved my life. Then, is it not a given that I come to her aid when I hear that hardship has befallen her?”
The audience stirred into action at Milton’s words.
“Princess Violet saved Grand Duke Forrest?”
“Did such a ludicrous thing happen? Surely not.”
“But the Grand Duke himself just acknowledged it…”
Milton quietly clicked his tongue, for the reaction of the audience was likewise completely outside of his expectations.
‘I see peace has taken its toll on this country too. They’ve got no idea about her true worth.’
As he said, Princess Violet was being severely underestimated in the Florence Principality. But truth be told, even if her identity as a royal was disregarded, her pure capability as a knight was already enough to make her a treasured talent of any other country.
And yet, how could such an individual be sold off to some good-for-nothing of a foreign land?
Idiotic was the only word that came to mind.
In this discordant atmosphere, Milton approached Princess Violet.
“Princess Violet, I have something I must-”
“How dare you be so rude to the princess!”
The one who cut off Milton and intervened was none other than Ward Tol, who had been a bystander until now with an expression full of discontent. He did not like the air Milton exuded from the moment he made his entrance, and was even more displeased with every development since then.
When Milton approached his future wife, Ward blocked his path and scowled at him, as if trying to portray his discontent as much as possible.
‘Who’s this chump?’
Milton had a quick glance at this greenhorn’s stats.
Strength – 17 Command – 55
Intellect – 61 Politics – 35
Loyalty – 00
Special Traits – Conspire, Bribe, Obsess
Conspire LV.5: Increases the proficiency of creating schemes to endanger hostile individuals and other entities.
Bribe LV.7: Induce others to act according to one’s intentions by offering what they desire.
Obsess LV.8: Acts with tenacity and devotion to achieve the goals and desires one has. Can have a positive or negative effect depending on one’s objective.
All his numeric stats were incomparably low, and his Special Traits were the same story.
Conspire, Bribe, and Obsess – these were traits with which one could conject as to what kind of life this man named Ward Tol had led until now.
‘So he’s literally human trash, huh.’
Milton made his own assessment and spoke to Ward.
“Move, you shrimp.”
“A shrimp? I will let you know that I am the successor of House Tol, a family with a deep and long history. A Grand Duke you may be, but manners must be-”
“I’m counting to three. Move or die – it’s your choice.”
“Wh… what are you…”
“No matter the circumstances, this is…”
Ultimately, Ward moved to the side with a face red with humiliation. To him this was a first, having solved the large majority of problems until now through the power and money he was born with as the successor of a Marquis family. This was how it was to try and make conversation with another on whom neither money nor power could bend their will.
In truth, Ward was not all that but simply a snobbish upstart. He was not even a Marquis, but the son of such a household – and to someone with the likes of his status, Milton had no reason to so much as blink an eye.
Sweeping him aside with ease, Milton finally appeared before Princess Violet.
“Violet, I shall ask one thing only. I only request that you answer with honesty.”
The princess replied in a small voice; but while it was small, the whole crowd could hear her words as she had gathered their attention.
“Do you truly wish to proceed with this marriage? If you do, I shall return home right at this moment.”
Princess Violet silently surveyed her surroundings.
Did she want this marriage?
Did she want to spend the rest of her life as the seventh concubine of a piece of human garbage, to the worst of husbands who delighted in her misfortune – served up by none other than her own flesh and blood kin?
There was not much to mull over.
“No. I do not consent to this marriage.”
Though Princess Violet’s answer was quiet, it was imbued with her firm will.
Milton nodded and turned to the celebrant.
“Is a marriage something that can proceed when one party does not consent?”
“That… cannot happen.”
The celebrant surveyed the people around them before speaking the right answer. His words were not spoken out of fear, despite standing before the mighty pressure that Milton exuded. Rather, it was truly based on his belief that a marriage could ultimately only be established from the mutual love – and will – of a man and woman, no matter state or status.
‘… and that’s why I’m clear of any wrong here. I should be in the clear… yeah.’
The celebrant reassured himself that he made the right decision, while Milton turned to Archduke Lawrence.
“As you can see, it appears that this marriage does not align with Princess Violet’s will. Then what shall you do? Will you force this marriage like a tyrant, knowing full well that your daughter does not wish for it?”
Archduke Lawrence replied with a flushed face.
“Do you not feel that you are overstepping into another’s familial, and might I add, personal matters?”
In other words, this is family business so buzz off.
“And what precisely is the problem with that in this instance, if I may so ask?”
In other words, and what’re you gonna do about it?
Though the two’s social status and position meant they upheld the most basic of formalities, hidden in their words were the sharpest of knives.
In the end, however, Milton had the upper hand in these circumstances.
Was it because logically speaking, Milton was in the right?
No, that was not the reason.
There was but one reason that Milton was in an advantageous position.
“If you are discontent with my actions to such an extent, then you are free to lodge an official accusation. My country will respond in kind, and with full sincerity.”
That reason was that Milton was stronger.
Milton’s individual strength was a given, but the crystal clear gap in their power was that between their nations.
Milton Forrest was the Grand Duke of the Lester Kingdom, a newly emerging Northern power.
Meanwhile, Archduke Lawrence was the leader of the Florence Principality, a nation that was known as the weakest power on the continent. There was an undeniably large valley between the two’s power.
At the end of the day, there was no need to debate righteousness or whatnot, for the strong became the righteous and their words became the truth.
Indeed, Archduke Lawrence could not find an apt answer to Milton’s provocation.
An official remonstrance regarding the Lester Kingdom’s behavior?
Such a thing was impossible.
The Lester Kingdom was a state with a military more than ten times their size and shared borders with them. Who would have the guts to lodge a complaint in this position?
But it seemed Archduke Lawrence did not want things to end here, and he began attacking Milton from another angle.
“I thank you, Grand Duke, for the solicitude with which you treat my daughter. At this rate, however, my daughter will need to live the rest of her life with the mark of a woman who changed her mind on the day of the wedding.”
She had technically refused long before this day, but Archduke Lawrence pressed on with this argument.
“Being branded as such will not bode well for my daughter’s future. How will you make amends for this sullying?”
Archduke Lawrence spoke as if his daughter had just suffered a great injustice.
A normal parent would try to accept and embrace their child’s faults, but Lawrence was the opposite – he instead deliberately uncovered his own daughter’s cracks, and used them to attack Milton.
But Milton did not waver at all and replied coolly.
“May I take it that you are asking me to take responsibility for the stain I have left on Princess Violet’s repute?”
“I am. If you do not-”
“Very well. As you wish, then.”
Before Archduke Lawrence finished, Milton answered and moved into action.
He reached his hand into Princess Violet’s bouquet – now half torn to shreds by her restless fidgeting – and took out a single flower.
Then he reverently kneeled on one knee before her, holding out the flower.
“Violet ron Florence.”
“Yes? Y-… yes.”
Princess Violet looked astonished by Milton’s abruptness.
Then Milton spoke with as much sincerity as he could show in his words.
“Will you marry me?”
And at that moment, the entire wedding hall erupted into chaos.Previous Chapter Next Chapter