Chapter 158: Happiness (1)

Truthfully, after the fall of the Hildes Republic, Siegfried was without a country. While both the Kobrook Republic and the Hanovirtue Republic had given him great conditions, Siegfried had said he would not belong to either country and would just be a member of the Republic and caused his affiliation to be vague and obscure. Ironically, Siegfried, whose affiliation wasn’t clear, received the most support in the Republic. 

Perhaps it was because his affiliation wasn’t clear. If he was an enemy, he would be politically attacked and his image ruined, but as long as he wasn’t an enemy, they couldn’t be hostile towards him. Thanks to that, Siegfried had been able to protect himself while the Kobrook Republic and the Hanovirtue Republic attacked each other politically and did their best to ruin the others’ image.

Not to mention, he had a solid track record. Everyone knew that it was because of Siegfried that the Strabus Kingdom had been defeated. Because of that, the people’s support was absolute and Siegfried’s mere existence meant something to the leaders of the Republic. 

Holding that kind of presence, Siegfried stepped forward and began to mediate in the Republican alliance that was falling apart. While Fuhrer Painheim and Fuhrer Schheimer were very opposed to each other, they couldn’t ignore Siegfried when he proposed an arbitration. Siegfried reasoned that they hadn’t even fully spread Republicanism throughout the continent, so how could they be fighting each other made sense. In the end, the two countries decided to keep away from each other, while still maintaining an absolute alliance in terms of the military.

This was called the Treaty of Unification of the Republic forces and it strictly prohibited armed conflict between the Republics and even if the countries were different, the Republic’s armies were to be operated by one command system. Of course, at that time, it was only natural for Siegfried to be the General Commander of the Republican Army. In the end, Siegfried sneakily united the Republics while holding the most powerful military power in his hand at the same time. 

By this time, due to the political attacks, both images of Fuhrer Painheim and Schheimer were no different than dirty rags and amongst the citizens, Siegfried wasn’t just a hero but became someone strong enough to lead them all. This was what Milton had been most wary about. Starting with military control, Siegfried had slowly taken control of the Republics. He had used the fact that it took both money and people to maintain a military as an excuse and expanded his reach into even the smallest details of the Republic. 

By the time they realized it, more than 80% of the Republic was in Siegfried’s hands. Although both Fuhrers still existed, they couldn’t compare to Siegfried in terms of presence or actual power and authority. Siegfried had taken control of the Republic.

Milton sighed when he heard about the situation in the Republic.

[That psychopath finally grabbed the hilt. Damn it….]

He felt the inevitable war approaching. 

***

While the Republic was increasing its strength, the other countries weren’t just merely watching. In the past, the other countries had the Strabus Kingdom as a shield and had been able to deal with the Republic with the help of that shield, but now, they had to directly fight against the Republic and moved accordingly. In fact, disregarding everything else, the biggest news for all the kingdoms on the continent had been the fall of the Strabus Kingdom.

The Valence Kingdom, which had the longest stretch of border facing the Republic, and the other kingdoms devoted their efforts to strengthening their armaments. There was one central point that was helping to bring them together — the Andrews Empire. Until now, the Andrews Empire had taken a lukewarm attitude towards the Republic. 

That was because the Andrews Empire was quite far away from the Republic and also because the Empire was reluctant to personally do anything. The Andrews Empire was the most powerful country on the continent. In the past, if viewed in terms of military strength alone, the Strabus Kingdom was the second strongest after the Andrews Empire, but the Empire hadn’t cared one bit. That’s because the Empire believed that however strong the Strabus Kingdom was, there was still a big difference between the two countries. In the end, the reason the Empire remained indifferent was that they were half relaxed and half arrogant. They believed that as long as the Empire gave the command, their vassal countries would deal with the problem. 

However, things were different now. The Republic had overthrown the Strabus Kingdom and greatly expanded its power. The Valence Kingdom, a faithful vassal country to the Andrews Empire, was shaking with anxiety and constantly talking about the threat of the Republic. In the eyes of the Empire, the Republic was slowly becoming bothersome.

Not to mention, there was a problem within the Empire as well. When the previous emperor died of old age, he hadn’t declared which prince would become the next emperor. It was obvious what would happen next    the princes began to fight in order to become the emperor. While it didn’t turn into a civil war, there was still quite a lot of bloodshed within the Imperial Palace. 

In the end, one young man won the bitter family internecine feud. The man sitting on the throne soaked with family members’ blood was Gilbert Terre Andrews. At the young age of 30, he became the emperor of the Empire by blatantly dealing with his brothers. Some were poisoned or assassinated while he created justification and publicly dealt with others. 

Because he coldly and cruelly handled his competitors, Gilbert Terre Andrews had a lot of supporters, but he also had a lot of enemies. After all, even if some of the nobles supported his brothers, he couldn’t deal with all of them. In order to deal with internal dissatisfaction, creating external enemies was a pretty effective tool. For such an emperor, the Republic became the perfect enemy.

[We shall punish the Republic for disturbing the peace and order of the continent and creating another war.]

That was the emperor’s decree. The Empire that had been unmovable like a heavy stone statue, finally moved. They gathered the Imperial forces and began to prepare for war against the Republic.

Of course, the Republic couldn’t just sit there. 

[Even if it is the Empire, I am not afraid. Until the day we build an eternal paradise, every one of us will be the foundation for it and fight for that future.]

Siegfried’s memorandums were posted all over the Republic. For the past three years, Siegfried had been steadily preparing and he wasn’t planning on stepping back a single step from the war against the Empire.

It had been less than 10 years since the First Ideological Conflict had ended, but war was looming over the continent once again. The only reason the two forces, the Empire and the Republic, couldn’t immediately clash was that there was a third force — the Lester Kingdom.

The Lester Kingdom had destroyed the Hildes Republic in the previous war and devoured the western region of the former Strabus Kingdom; it was now a northern force that couldn’t be ignored. When Grand Duke Forrest married the Princess of Florence Principality and united the two countries, he had even formed a military alliance with the country. Even if the Florence Principality could only give 30,000 troops at most, that was still a lot. After all, the mere fact that they were working together instead of moving individually was very influential on the international community; shouting alone was very different from shouting together with someone else. 

Not to mention, the Lester Kingdom’s troops were impressive. For the past three years, the Eastern region, formerly part of the Strabus Kingdom, had been renovating its fortress walls, reinforcing the military, and preparing to completely close off its borders. Reminiscent of the Kobrook Republic’s past defense line, Duke Sean Palan was in charge of the current defense line. The existence of Duke Palan, who had once pushed the Hildes Republic to ruin, couldn’t be ignored by the Republic.

The public opinion within the Lester Kingdom had been completely dominated as well. Originally, Siegfried had planned to rile up the territory of the former Hildes Republic, the current Northern region of the Lester Kingdom, as much as he could. Since the Northern citizens were originally citizens of the Republic and wouldn’t easily accept the Royalty, he believed they would rebel if he fanned the flames just a little bit. But before he could do anything, the Lester Kingdom had fully absorbed the North. 

First, a port was created in the western coastal area and gradually developed, then the Lester Kingdom used the port city as a base to take over the hearts of the entire Northern region. Honestly, the most important thing for the common people wasn't republicanism or monarchism; it was to eat well and live well. In that sense, the quality of life in the Northern region was much better when compared to that of the Hildes Republic in the past. Since domestic food was enough, they didn’t have to import food from foreign countries at a high price and as a result, the food prices fell. And with the development of commerce, the price of daily necessities fell and prices stabilized. Previously when they lived under the flag of the Hildes Republic, their commodities would be taken away under the guise of requisition, so now, the people were feeling the improvements down to their very bones.

Of course, there were still some who were influenced by Republicanism, but they were the minority. Now, if someone was to say, ‘Let’s spread Republicanism on this continent and build a paradise,’ that person will most likely be treated old-fashioned and obsolete. Thanks to that, it was impossible for Siegfried to shake the North and the Lester Kingdom grew rapidly.

Currently, the Lester Kingdom had 200,000 elite troops. In the confrontation between the Republic and the Empire, the Lester Kingdom had enough strength to exist as a third force. Naturally, both the Republic and the Empire sent messengers to the Lester Kingdom to try and convince them. The Republic demanded that the Lester Kingdom not intervene since their peace treaty was still in effect while the Empire demanded that the Lester Kingdom join forces with the Empire. Although the Empire was confident they'd beat the Republic if they fought one against one, they knew that war wasn’t a game. If there was an easier way to win, it was only natural to try their best.

However, the Lester Kingdom didn’t give an answer to either one of the countries. Queen Leila and Milton both knew that the moment they responded, the war would begin immediately and so they tried to drag things out to put the war off a bit longer. But it was just procrastinating the inevitable; the war would soon begin.

***

“At the very least, I hoped that the military projects that are being developed finished before it starts.”

Milton sighed in his office as he looked at the report delivered by a spy. In it was news that small and large conflicts were starting between the Imperial-led Allies and the Republican forces. Although they were only small-scale local battles, with the smallest of opportunities, it could turn into a big war at any moment. 

Queen Leila was in front of Milton, looking through the documents as well.

“Too many of your military projects are absurd.”

“Isn’t it harsh to call them absurd?”

Milton’s way of talking with Queen Leila was completely different from the way he treated her three years ago. In the past, he had used a mix of honorifics and informal words, but now, he was speaking to her comfortably. Of course, in an official setting, he spoke to her respectfully with honorifics, but he usually talked to his wife casually. In fact, this was something Queen Leila had asked him to do. She said that it was unfair he would speak to her with a mixture of honorifics and informal words when he didn’t do that with his other two wives. Since then, he had been speaking candidly to her as long as it wasn’t an official setting.

“You really don’t think so? A fighter weapon that soldiers could carry that could do both close and long range attacks? You really think that’s possible, Milton?”

Milton chuckled bitterly at Queen Leila’s scolding.

“It’s called a gun, but well, I failed.”

For the past couple of years, Milton had been trying to create modern weapons. It was something he had been thinking about it from the time he was the lord of the Forrest Estate. Milton believed that if he could make modern weapons, it would most certainly be a powerful weapon in this world. However, the only reason he hadn’t tried to create it then was because he thought it would go beyond violent and become a massacre.  If possible, he had believed it would be better not to use a civilization’s cheat key and so had refrained.

However, he had realized something during the First Ideological Conflict — this world was bound to shed blood. With or without modern weapons, it was obvious that a war would begin, a war in which more than half of the population would die. That’s why he had closed his eyes and started attempting to develop a modern weapon. Even if the rank of Knights would disappear, he still continued to try.

Whether it was fortunate or not, the result was a failure. He had a rough knowledge of firearms, but what he knew wasn’t enough to create a firearm; after all, guns weren’t simple things. The problem stemmed from the gunpowder used to fire the bullets. When he had asked Bianca, the smartest woman he knew, even she had been stumped. In the end, the conclusion he came to was that it was impossible. However, that didn’t mean Milton had completely given up on strengthening his military strength. 

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