Chapter 166: Hope of the Future (3)

Milton had suddenly appeared without a single soldier. Neither the mob nor Duke Palan had expected Milton to come.

‘I barely made it on time.’

Milton let out a sigh of relief as he stroked Leonard’s mane. His horse was out of breath. No matter how much of an amazing horse Leonard was, Milton had pushed him too hard.

Milton had been rushing forward with the bare minimum of troops. But on his way over, he had heard that the mob and Duke Palan’s forces might be clashing soon and so, had decided to charge ahead of his men. They had tried to stop him as they told him it was too reckless, but Milton ignored all of them.

[Even if an armed conflict happens once, we’d lose everything we’ve gained in the past ten years. Do you not understand this?]

Once he had gotten rid of his vassals that tried to hold him back, he rushed over and had personally blocked the mob’s way and revealed his identity.

“The Grand Duke Forrest?”

“No way… really?”

“I think, based on impressions, that’s him?

The Republican mob had been filled with anger and nothing had gotten through to them, but now, they were unsettled. In fact, they had been determined not to stop even if Duke Palan’s army blocked their way. Even if they were all killed due to their reckless challenge, they had been determined to martyr themselves so that their deaths would become the cornerstones to reconstructing republicanism. However, when Milton had appeared in front of them, they were shocked back to their senses. Milton Forrest had the gravitas to make them hold off their anger; even though it only lasted for a short moment.

“What are we hesitating for? The ringleader of the enemy is right in front of us.”

“Kill him! Kill the oppressor!”

“Long live the Republic!”

After their surprise passed, the crowd became angry again and started shouting. As a group, their anger became close to madness and Milton was the first to experience it. 

‘This is no joke.’

He finally understood why the will of the people was the will of heaven. For a moment, he felt overwhelmed by the sense of pressure when the mob shouted. However…

‘I already expected this.’

Milton hadn’t come without any countermeasures. Even if he didn’t have a solid solution, he had a plan that he felt was worth a chance.

“If things go wrong, I believe in you Leonard.”

He muttered to his horse as he dismounted. If things went wrong, screw his image, Milton planned on getting back on top of Leonard and running back towards Duke Palan’s army. Having decided on his retreat, Milton walked towards the angry crowd with an aloof look on his face. Although his heart was beating fast, he decided that in the end, the only thing that would be ruined was his image and continued to walk towards them.

His facial expression caused the people in the front of the crowd to tense up. After all, Milton was a hero who had an outstanding performance on the battlefield and walked away with many achievements. It would be unreasonable to expect them to stay calm when they were face to face with Milton.

When the distance between him and the mob lessened, Milton drew his sword.

Shing.

“Ugh..”

“Gah…”

When Milton drew his sword, the people in the front bit their lips, hard. They were all thinking, ‘is this it?’ They were prepared to die as they gritted their teeth and glared at Milton. But immediately afterward, something no one had expected happened — Milton threw aside his sword. His shocking behavior didn’t end there. He knelt and placed his hands on the ground. Then, he bowed and clearly shouted so that he would be heard by the crowd.

“I’m sorry. As the head of the state, I am responsible for everything.”

It was a straightforward apology without any excuses. On Earth, was something that would be considered as showmanship, something politicians would do on camera whenever they had gotten into a mishap. But, in this world, the effect of that simple apology was beyond the imagination.

“Um… uhhh…”

“Wh… what…”

“This is unbelievable… am I dreaming?”

The angry crowd was dumbfounded. 

Some of them were so surprised they didn’t know what to say while others collapsed because their legs grew weak. Even those in the back who couldn’t understand what was going on were astonished by the words they heard spoken in the front. 

“He knelt down and apologized? Nonsense. He’s not a regular noble, he’s the Grand Duke Forrest, so why would he?”

Milton’s action was truly unconventional; it was unconventional enough to stop 100,000 men in their tracks. Although he held the title of the Grand Duke, Milton Forrest was basically the king. He was someone who reigned at the head of the country. In this world, such people weren't just ordinary humans. They were born to rule humans and grew up, lived, and existed to rule humans until their death.

Of course, Republicans criticized the ruling class such as kings and nobles, but they still accepted the existence of such people. Because the Republicans considered such people as enemies, the Republicans were well aware of their authority and status. Absolute ruler. The pinnacle of reigning authority. 

If you looked at the existence of the past King August or Emperor Lawrence, even though they were incompetent, the existence as a monarch wasn’t light. But now, such a king had knelt in front of a crowd and apologized. For the people of this world, this was a shocking sight that they only never even dreamed of seeing. 

Milton read the mood of the current situation.

‘I got them.’

Currently, the crowd was greatly perplexed by Milton’s unconventional behavior. Milton didn’t miss the opportunity and raised his head to speak to them.

“I heard that recently, there’s been a tragedy in this country and that the cause of that tragedy was me. However!”

Milton paused before he continued forcefully. 

“In the name of God, and putting my name and family at stake, I vow that everything is a misunderstanding. I have never attacked my own people nor have I colluded with slave traders.”

Milton tried to sound as truthful as possible. Of course, it WAS the truth. But even so, it was impossible to ask them to just believe this.

“That’s a lie, there’s been a survivor’s testimony.”

“That’s right. It’s a self-evident truth that Grand Duke Forrest was behind the slave traders.”

“Lie, that’s a lie!”

Some of the crowd rebelled against Milton’s words. Although they were flustered by Milton’s unconventional move, it was impossible for them to just believe his words. But then again, those who were loudly shouting that Milton’s words were a lie, could also be a decoy. Before the decoys’ opinions could spread, Milton spoke.

“Let me ask you, what would I gain by handing over my own people to the slave traders?”

Someone responded to his question.

“Isn’t it because you wanted more money?”

‘I caught you.’

Milton stared straight at the man who had immediately answered his question. 

“You said it was for money?”

“That… that’s right… sir.”

The man was flustered to have been directly pointed out. It was a pity, but the moment he decided to show such a confrontational attitude, Milton made him a sacrifice. In order to prove his own legitimacy, Milton had to point out a decent opponent and debate each point with him. Doing this wouldn’t reveal the truth, but he could appeal to them to look closer at the truth. That nameless man became Milton’s opponent.

“Do you know how much money has been invested into the port city on the West Coast?”

“How would I know that…sir?”

The opponent, already caught up in Milton’s momentum, mumbled his answer.

Then, Milton loudly and clearly responded so that everyone could hear his answer. 

“In order to absorb and revitalize the Northern region, we needed to invest at least…”

Milton paused as if he was waiting to make sure everyone was listening. 

“12 million gold into the port city.”

The people became dazed by that number. They had already expected him to say a large number, but wasn’t this exceeding it way too much? 12 million gold was comparable to the national budget of a country. 

Nowadays, it was greatly profitable to transport iron ore from the Northern region to the South, but originally, constructing a port city on the west coast was an investment meant to gain the hearts of the republicans. That’s why they hadn’t calculated whether it would be profitable or not and had indefinitely poured in funds. That amount was 12 million gold.

Milton gazed around him as he continued to speak.

“We invested that much to build a port city and lay the foundations for commerce in the Northern region. And recently, we’ve also opened a market for exporting ore resources from this region to the southernmost part of the continent, the Waterport Kingdom.”

Milton spoke of his achievements first, then…

“But to sell slaves? Do you think the royal family’s finances are that bad that we have to earn money while we’re getting blamed?”

Milton’s words were very persuasive. Without a doubt, the port city on the west coast had gone through tremendous development. Unless a large investment had gone in, it would have been impossible for it to have developed that quickly.

 Some of the people within the crowd were those who did business with the port city on the west coast. Although they weren’t directly earning money, they were still personally experiencing indirect advantages. Thanks to the diversification in the market, the prices of iron and copper ore from the mines had risen considerably. And in contrast, the price of grain had fallen drastically. Recently, even the ordinary households had been able to start putting white wheat bread on the table rather than barley or rye bread.

The mob hadn’t been able to abandon their republican ideology and had taken part in the protests, but they knew that the kingdom was doing something right. After all, their standard of living had drastically improved, so how could they deny it? But they had still participated in the protests. Why might they have done that? Why were they choosing to confront the kingdom even though their life had improved? They only had one reason. That reason came out of someone’s mouth.

“We are… Republicans.”

Someone squeezed out those words. The words that seemed like it had been forcibly dragged out created ripples in the crowd.

“That’s right. We will not accept the oppressor’s persecution.”

“That’s right! We will not stop fighting for an equal world!”

“Let’s become the cornerstones of paradise!”

“Long live the Republic!!”

“Waaahh!!”

Milton had almost persuaded them, but the dying embers came back alive. 

‘As I thought, it’s not easy.’

Once again, Milton had goosebumps from the tremendous energy the mob was giving off. This was why ideology was so scary. When people become intoxicated with one ideology, they prioritize only that ideology above anything else. Religion, belief, justice, etc… Although they were all different things, when people become united, the power they hold cannot be ignored. It was a power that could shake the era and change history itself. It wouldn’t take much for it to erase a country or two from a map. That was the power that people could exert if they were united as one. 

Having learned the history of mankind on Earth, Milton knew very well the power of the people. And because he knew it well, he had discussed something with Queen Leila before coming and had even gotten permission. 

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