Chapter 163: The Touch of the Wicked (3)

“We can’t just sit here losing.”

“You’re right, we have to immediately join forces with our allies and face the oppression of the monarchy.”

Those who argued that Republicanism should be revived began to take action, one by one. Although they were civilians who weren’t properly armed or trained, if enough of them gathered, they would become formidable. But most importantly, this was a civil war taking place inside the country. 

If 100,000 elite troops came attacking from outside the country, then you could fight against them. However, if civil war consisting of 100,000 civilians broke out inside the country, that wasn’t something that could be solved by fighting recklessly. It could be suppressed with force, but if the dissatisfaction itself isn’t resolved, it would only bring greater discord. 

Currently, most of the people crying for a revival of the Republic were those feeling anger and a sense of danger from Milton Forrest’s evil deeds. Solving that misunderstanding was top priority, but the problem was that it was impossible to do so.

“Duke, this is the limit.”

“I agree, sir. We can’t just let them continue to riot, sir.”

“If we don’t show our strength now, we can’t continue to maintain order, sir. Please make a decision, Duke.”

The officials who assisted Duke Palan all gathered to say they should use force to suppress the mob. 

“No, that can’t be done. We cannot strike our own people with our spears and swords.”

However, Duke Palan continued to show an unmoved and steadfast attitude. He instructed his soldiers to protect the important facilities and fortresses and commanded that forceful suppression was absolutely prohibited.

‘This is difficult. This is truly something difficult.’

Duke Palan had started out as a member of the Central Knights of the Royal Palace and had become a center of power once he had become a Master but… He had never done anything remotely similar to governing. King August had been wary of Duke Palan seizing power and so, the King had never given Duke Palan an estate to govern or any military authority. Duke Palan had simply existed as the guardian of the kingdom. Once Queen Leila had ascended the throne, he had taken on the role of defending the kingdom’s borders. In fact, the only reason Milton had been able to go abroad and fight with his men was that Duke Palan was steadfastly defending the country. However, he had been a part of the military, not in the role of a leader. 

After the First Ideological Conflict had ended, Duke Palan had been given territory — the entire Northern region, which had originally been the territory of the Hildes Republic. In terms of area, it could be said that Duke Palan’s territory was the largest in the Lester Kingdom. Truthfully, this was out of necessity. Queen Leila had given Duke Palan, a Master, this territory in order to appease, even if it was just a little bit, the resentment from the people of the Republic. Regardless of whether it was the Republic or the Kingdom, a Master was someone to be respected. And so, Duke Palan became a figurehead while competent officials were dispatched by Queen Leila to deal with the practicalities of governing. 

Ultimately, Duke Palan lacked the ability to control the chaos that happened on his territory. However, he had also received instructions from Queen Leila not to suppress the people with force. If Duke Palan used force even once, then everything Queen Leila’s done so far would be lost. And so, Duke Palan was deeply troubled.

“We cannot suppress the people by force.”

“But the situation is already bad, sir, we cannot communicate with them, Duke.”

“Even if they won’t listen to us… Ah! Yes, that’s it.”

An idea flashed through Duke Palan’s head. Why won’t the citizens listen? Because they weren’t communicating with them. It wasn’t communication but a one-sided order to disband, of course, the citizens wouldn’t listen. 

‘Conversation… let’s have a conversation first.’

Having come to a decision, Duke Palan immediately spoke.

“Call their representative to the estate…no, invite them.”

“Sir?”

“If there’s a problem, then we need to communicate. Tell them that I will personally hold the meeting.”

The officials expressed anxiety at his words.

“The riots are happening simultaneously in many places, sir. Even if you said representatives, we don’t know who we should even call.”

“He’s right, Sir. And even if we called them, we don’t know if they’d even come.”

The officials expressed disapproval, but Duke Palan continued to push his decision onto them.

“I don’t care if it’s one, or two. I don’t even care if it’s ten. It doesn’t matter how many people come, tell them anyone who is dissatisfied can come tell me.”

“All of them, sir?”

“That’s right. I will greet them not with my sword, but with words. I believe that is the path that wouldn’t go against the will of Her Majesty the Queen.”

After thinking that he had to do something, this was the decision Duke Palan came to — to meet with them first. If he met with them, then he could try and somehow persuade them. This was the conclusion reached by Duke Palan who had a weak political sense. Considering the current situation, this wasn’t a bad decision at all. First of all, whether the talks turned out to be successful or not, he would have bought some time. And once he bought some time, the people’s anger might calm down a bit and it would give the Capital some more time to decide how to respond to them. That alone would be worth the talks.

“I know it’ll be difficult, but please quickly proceed with it.”

“Yes, Duke Palan.”

At his request, the officials hurried to move. They sent messengers to the riots requesting the citizens meet for a conversation and expressed the Duke’s willingness to listen as much as possible to their demands. In case the citizens were suspicious, the messengers showed them the papers with the Duke Palan’s family seal stamped on them. It was a pledge that promised to ensure the safety of those attending the meeting and to not detain any of the citizens who had rioted. As a result, thirty-three representatives agreed to meet and have a conversation with Duke Palan. In order to show that they were justified, the citizens couldn’t refuse to talk with him. Duke Palan let out a sigh of relief when he heard the news. 

‘I bought some time with this. Her Majesty will figure out the rest.’

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Duke Palan deciding to hold a talk was an idea that should have been beyond his political capabilities, but it was a good idea. However, the problem was that there were people who couldn’t let this happen.

***

“Considering how he’s only held a sword his entire life, that’s pretty impressive. His thinking is flexible and he’s determined as well.”

David was quite surprised by the news that Duke Palan was trying to create a meeting place. 

“What will you do, sir? Are you planning on leaving it alone?”

“Of course not.”

A Ghost squad leader, who had followed David to be his assistant, nodded at David’s words.

“In that case, I’ll have some of our men be involved in the meeting, sir.”

“What do you plan by doing that?”

“Wouldn’t it be possible to disrupt Duke Palan’s intention if we ruined the mood of the meeting, sir?”

David sneered at him.

“How frustrating.”

“Sir?”

“Why do it in such a roundabout way? There’s a much easier way.”

David smiled as he talked to the Ghost squad leader.

“Sir, do you really plan on doing it?”

The Ghost member was shocked, but David replied simply.

“Of course. Why? Are you against it?”

“Um…”

David continued to speak when he saw his subordinate hesitate.

“What was the order you received from our Lord?”

At that, any hesitation disappeared from the Ghost member’s eyes.

“My Lord ordered me to serve as your assistant, sir.”

“In that case, your answer should be…?”

“I will carry out your orders, sir.”

“Good, get moving.”

“Yes, sir!”

David smiled as he watched the Ghost quickly leave after answering.

“As I thought, using My Lord’s name is the most effective.”

Even against questions of morality, the Ghosts had been indoctrinated to consider any order given by Siegfried as the top priority. That thorough training was the reason behind the special forces called the Ghost hadn’t been revealed to the rest of the world. Thanks to that, David had been able to use them as he wanted.

“I’ll create complete mayhem for you.”

***

In order to hold the meeting, Duke Palan created a location for them to talk and the leaders of the dissatisfied forces were currently heading towards his estate. Tyler was one of those people. He headed towards Duke Palan’s estate with his companions.

“How much longer until we reach the Duke’s estate?”

“If we continue like this, we’ll be arriving within three days.”

“Three days… let’s not rush. Besides us, there will be a lot more people who will have to gather.”

“Yes, I understand.”

Tyler looked up at the sky as he smiled. 

‘We’ll finally be gathering together; it’s been a long time. Maybe I’ll even be able to see my comrades.’

Originally, Tyler had been a soldier of the Hildes Republic who had risen to the rank of Warrant Officer. In the end, he had been pushed off the ladder of success and had retired from the military, but he was still considered to be a highly educated person in the Republic. Even after getting absorbed into the Lester Kingdom, he had continued to support republicanism. However, while he supported and argued for republicanism, he had never strayed toward illegal means. As long as sovereignty had been handed over to another country through a treaty, if they tried to use force, they would only be considered as a mob. He was confident in his righteousness of the republic and so, Tyler only supported it through legitimate means. He continued to talk about republicanism to others and preached about the harm of the kingdom’s feudal system.

From the perspective of the Lester Kingdom, he was someone trying to destroy the foundation of their country, but the Kingdom deliberately didn’t stop him. It wasn’t like there were only one or two such people, and if the Kingdom tried to stop them with force, then people like him would only hide and continue to do so in secret. It was easier for the kingdom to keep abreast of the situation if it was out in the open, that was why they had left him alone. As a result, while the Lester Kingdom did not accept his behavior, by turning a blind eye to it, they had acquiesced to it. 

Thanks to the Lester Kingdom’s approach, Tyler had been able to express his opinions freely and gained some supporters. However, when he saw the economic situation slowly getting better and better after the Northern region had been incorporated into the Lester Kingdom, Tyler began to think differently. In particular, after seeing the development of the Northwest port city, he was slowly losing his belief in republicanism. Perhaps it could be said that the sun was better than the North wind? When the Lester Kingdom had shown them the results of economic development instead of crushing them down with force, Tyler and people similar to him who were republicans down to their bones slowly got persuaded. 

But, the recent incident with the slave trader had once again ignited the embers of republicanism in Tyler’s heart. This was the evils of a feudal system. Even though they were all human, different statuses allowed exploitation and crimes against humanity towards the lower classes. Tyler had been angry and ready to gather people to rebel when Duke Palan had sent out messages that he wanted to talk peacefully Tyler agreed.

‘Justice is on my side.’

Convinced of his righteousness, Tyler planned to meet with Duke Palan and formally declare himself as a Republican. He intended to insist on independence and if that wasn’t possible, then at least a special district in which the Republicans could live. He thought it wasn’t an unreasonable demand given the attitude of the Lester Kingdom so far and the evil deed Grand Duke Forrest had committed this time.

‘Since they’re opponents, we can at least talk with them.’

Maybe it was because the Lester Kingdom had taken a policy of appeasement? 

But even Tyler, a Republican down to his bones, had a fairly high degree of faith towards the Lester Kingdom. But…

“Tyler, there’s someone in front of us.”

“What do you mean someone’s in front of us? Who is?”

“I’m not sur… guh!”

The person who had been guiding the group in front suddenly died when an arrow pierced him.

And with that, enemies appeared from all sides and attacked Tyler and his group.

“Attack!”

“Don’t leave any Republicans alive!”

Tyler was surprised to see masked enemies attacking them.

“Shit… was it a trap?”

Tyler, who had had a fairly high degree of trust in the Lester Kingdom, was devastated. 

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