Chapter 164: Hope of the Future (1)

Tyler and the others who had been invited to Duke Palan’s meeting were ambushed and killed. Although it wasn’t known who had attacked them, it wasn’t necessary to find out. It was obvious who the most suspicious person in this situation was. No matter who looked at it, it was clear that Duke Palan had set a trap and attacked them. Naturally, the people were angry.

“How could they do something like this?”

“The monarchist bastards are showing their true colors.”

“If we endure this, then we’ll end up living as slaves in a class system for the rest of our generations.”

“Let’s rise up! Fight!”

“Revolution! Let’s revive the spirit of the great republicanism!”

“Long live the Republic!”

“Long live the Republic!”

“Long live the Republic!”

As repressed anger erupted, the people almost became crazy. The republicans, who had been moderate so far, turned aggressive in their earnestness. They attacked government offices in groups and some even attempted to attack military buildings in order to seize weapons. While they ultimately failed to take any weapons, in the process, there was a fight between the military and the protesters and a significant number of protesters died. When the Republicans heard about the deaths, an even greater number of them became angry.

“Don’t yield to the blade of our oppressors! Show them our convictions!”

“Long live the Republic!”

“Brothers, be martyred for the future!”

“Waaaah!!”

Ideology fanaticism — when a belief dominates a group, they turn mad. Whether that direction was right or wrong didn’t matter, as long as the people were convinced, they held incredible power. And if dealt with wrong, that power was strong enough to destroy a country.

***

“Duke Palan, we cannot hesitate any longer. They say that the protestors have already reached 100,000 people.”

“At this point, they can’t be considered a group of dissatisfied people within the country, they’re an enemy of the state, sir. Please make a decision.”

“Please make a decision, Duke Palan.”

Officials who assisted Duke Palan in governing were quick to tell him to suppress the rebellion, however, he rejected their request.

“All of this is because of a misunderstanding. We must clear the misunderstanding and convince them. We cannot force them.”

“There is no way to clear this misunderstanding, sir. They’re already full of hostility and are completely refusing to communicate with us.”

“If you think about it from their point of view, that’s only natural. We must clear up the misunderstanding, whatever it takes. That must come first.”

Duke Palan was insisting that they try to settle the situation without using any force, however…

“It’s an urgent message, sir.”

Gasping for breath, a messenger opened the door and ran into the conference room.

“What is it?”

Full of nervousness, Duke Palan questioned the messenger. With a trembling voice, he replied.

“The… the mob is heading towards the Eastern Road, sir.”

“The Eastern Road? Why are they… no.”

The Eastern Road had been built after the Hildes Republic had been integrated by the Lester Kingdom. Once the port city in the West was developed, that great Eastern Road was used to distribute the necessary goods. Because the Lester Kingdom had renovated a military road that had originally been used by the Hildes Republic, it had been built in a fairly short period of time. In other words, if you took that road all the way, you would reach…

“The mob… they’re planning on attacking the port city in the Western coast, sir.”

“What? Why are they doing that?!”

The messenger trembled at Duke Palan’s shouting. 

“According to what they’re saying…they plan to punish the traitors who betrayed the Republic and are sponging off the Kingdom.”

“Those sons of…”

Duke Palan began cursing. Honestly, he had been very patient till now. Everything that had happened recently had been hitting every vital spot that Duke Palan hadn’t thought about before. Public opinion had been swayed due to the slave trader incident and the Republican representatives that had agreed to the meeting had been assassinated by an unknown group. Despite all his best efforts to not suppress them by force, the Republicans were heading to attack the port city in the West. Nothing could be worse than this.

“Duke Palan, the port city in the west is…”

“I know, it’s a location that we must keep.”

Duke Palan bit his lips. They had to stop this. Now, they didn’t have the option of deciding whether they should or should not use force to suppress them. This was something that unquestionably had to be stopped. 

The Lester Kingdom had spent enormous amounts of money on the Western port city in order to develop the economy and turned the inhabitants’ hearts towards the Kingdom. If they lost that place, then that would mean that there would be no areas in the Northern region that were friendly to the Lester Kingdom. Although Duke Palan had been very opposed to subjugating them using force, the story changed if the Western port city was under threat. 

‘I have no choice.’

Duke Palan closed his eyes tightly.

“Ready the men. I will personally lead them.”

“Yes, sir!”

In the end, Duke Palan had no other choice but to move his army.

***

By quickly moving his army, Duke Palan was able to lead 10,000 men in order to block the mob. He blocked the Eastern Road with 10,000 men and prepared for the advancing mob.

“How many are there in the mob?”

“It’s estimated to be 200,000, sir.”

“They increased again.”

“……”

His assistant couldn’t say anything. He felt as dour as the Duke looked.

Duke Palan thought to himself. 

‘I vow to protect my liege with my sword and fight against the enemy for the rest of my life, and I’ve never violated that vow. But, at my age, I have to shed the blood of my people?’

He wasn’t an ambitious man. He wasn’t greedy for power and it wasn’t in his personality to manage such a catastrophic situation. He even wanted to give up the rank of Duke and become an average citizen. But he couldn’t do that, he had an oath to keep. He mumbled to himself as he looked up at the moon dimly lighting the night sky. 

“Please don’t worry. As long as I live, I will keep the oath I pledged to you.”

There was one thing people were forgetting, Duke Palan was a loyal servant of Queen Leila. Milton also knew as well, but he was technically wrong. Duke Palan would never go against an order of Queen Leila and if necessary, he would even give up his life. However, Sean Palan hadn’t offered his loyalty and devotion to Queen Leila. It was her mother, Queen Irene, who had stolen his heart. 

***

To speak of the past…

Duke Palan wasn’t from a great family to begin with. He had been the heir to a fallen Baron and was living a much poorer life than any commoner.

It had been Count Shuayla’s family who had saved him. Count Shuayla had recognized Sean Palan’s talent and had accepted him as a knight trainee and had given him formal training to become a Knight. Of course it wasn’t a gratuitous favor. In return for education and the support to become a knight, Sean Palan was promising to become a knight loyal to the Count Shuayla Family. It was an investment that the Count Shuayla Family was making to raise a vassal. Even knowing that was the Count’s intention, Sean Palan felt he was lucky to have the opportunity to receive the education of a Knight and he pledged his allegiance to Count Shuayla and devoted himself to training. 

As time passed and he became an adult, Sean Palan became a great knight. Even to Count Shuayla, Sean Palan had grown up to become someone who had a solid future awaiting him. 

Sean Palan felt that he had received Count Shuayla’s grace and kindness and pledged his allegiance in turn. However, he also felt anxiety. 

Irene Shuayla — born when the Count was old, she was his only daughter and was loved by everyone in her family since her childhood for her lively personality and cute looks. Even for Sean Palan, Irene was like an adorable younger sister, at least that’s what he thought of her when she was younger. 

But as time passed, the adorable little girl turned into a beautiful young lady. By the age of fifteen, she had become a lady exuding grace and beauty and marriage proposals poured in. She wasn’t in full bloom yet, only just budding, and yet, Irene was beautiful enough to enchant those around her. She was so beautiful that it even shook the heart of Sean Palan who had been educated and grown up to become an upright knight. He had fallen in love with the daughter of the family he served.

When he realized his own heart, he became very anxious. Sean Palan knew that it wasn’t right, he knew he was rejecting the grace that he had been given, but above all, he knew that his love could never be returned. He desperately tried to calm his heart and deliberately acted gruffly in front of Lady Irene. 

Time passed and she made her debut into the social world at the age of sixteen. Several men fervently pursued her, but they never thought the king, the monarch of the country, would pursue her as well. The age difference between them was big and he was already in a relationship, but he had fallen in love with Irene when he got a glimpse of her in a banquet hall and officially proposed to her. That was that. It was impossible to reject an official proposal from the King. It didn’t matter what she wanted, the marriage proceeded and Irene was chosen by the king of her country to become the queen.

On the last night she was spending at the Count Shuayla’s house, Sean Palan was violently swinging his sword. It wasn’t for training, he was abusing himself to get rid of the lingering regrets and agony inside him. He finally collapsed when he lost his grip on the sword and the world blurred in front of his eyes. 

“Huff…huff…huff…”

He fell to the ground and was breathing roughly when he heard an unexpected voice.

“Sir Palan.”

It was Irene speaking to him. He jumped up from the ground in shock.

“Miss, why are you here?”

He knelt in front of her and looked up at Irene. She had become even more beautiful that it was difficult to look at her straight on.

In the soft moonlight and the cool night air, she looked down at Sean Palan.

“Were you training?”

“Yes, Miss.”

“I see.”

With that short question and answer, the two fell silent. They had run out of words. Feeling awkward at the silence, Sean opened his mouth to say something.

“Congratulations on your marriage.”

Irene twitched at those words.

“Do you really think that?”

“Miss?”

“I’m asking, do you really believe that?”

Sean Palan became confused when Irene pressed him and said whatever came to his mind. 

“Yes, I think that it’s an honor to become a part of the royal family and I am happy that you grew up so magnificently…”

Sean Palan shut his mouth. Irene had burrowed into his arms and was hugging him. There was a nice scent coming from her, it was so nice that it made him apologetic that she was touching him. 

“M… miss.”

Flustered, he looked down at her. She looked up at him with wet eyes. He knew very well what kind of emotions she was looking at him with. For a moment, he couldn’t help thinking, ‘should I run away? Take her in my arms and run away to where there was no one?’ He didn’t need his knighthood or noble patronage, he just needed her… There would be nothing more that he could wish for.

Sean Palan lifted both of his arms. Irene was trembling and he wanted to hug her but his arms betrayed him. He grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her away. He couldn’t look her in the eye and could only turn around. 

Irene spoke then.

“Is this your answer?”

“……”

“What a heartless person…”

With that one sentence, Irene left him, after all, Sean Palan hadn’t said anything. He looked at her back walking away from him. Miserably, he tried to suppress his want to grab her.

‘Get it together. I…cannot make her happy.’

And so, he stared as his beloved disappeared from his sight. 

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