‘The nerve of him?!’
Honestly, Milton couldn’t understand. It was obvious that out of the two of them at this negotiation table, he held the upper hand. Now that the Empire’s reinforcement troops had been defeated and had withdrawn, the only thing protecting the Valence Kingdom was the Lester Kingdom’s army that he commanded. In that case, if King Nicholas was smart and had good judgement, then he would be trying to coax and hold onto him (Milton). But wasn’t this high-handed attitude of King Nicholas telling him that the king thought he didn’t need the Lester Kingdom?
‘What is it? Just what does he have that he’s acting like this?’
When you encounter an incomprehensible situation, question it first. He had learned this from his vixen of a wife as well. For example, if his wife suddenly asked to sleep in separate rooms, then she was upset with something. So he would have to think all day about what he’d done wrong and comfort her with a nice gift and sweet talk her the next day…
‘No, now’s not the time to think about it.’
Milton had gotten sidetracked a bit once he realized that there was something in common between marital life and national affairs. Either way, the important thing was to figure out what was making King Nicholas act so proudly.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be in charge of the supply.”
Milton decided to first break the ice by disagreeing with his opponent’s opinion.
“Why do you think that?”
“From what I understand, one of the reasons that the Imperial Army lost so decisively was that their supply line was destroyed. How could I make the same mistake as the Empire?”
Seeing King Nicholas trying to deny it, Milton raised his hand and stopped him.
“I’m not finished. There’s another problem besides the supply line.”
Milton took a sip of the tea in front of him before continuing with a smile.
“The number of troops I brought with me is only 30,000. It’s too small of a number to attack so boldly.”
“That’s why I’m giving you the authority to draft the citizens of my country.”
“Didn’t you also do that with the Empire? Apparently, as long as they could fight, from children who haven't had their coming of age ceremony to elderly, they’ve all been conscripted.”
King Nicholas’s face crimsoned as he shouted at Milton.
‘Ha, slander …’
Mocking him on the inside, Milton continued to speak.
“Putting the truth of it aside, how many soldiers do you think we can gather if we issued another conscription?”
King Nicholas was at a loss for words. Of course, he had a lot to say, but nothing he could actually speak out loud. Something like, ‘The commoners are like wet towels. Even if it seems like they’ve been squeezed dry, if you twist them some more, you’ll still get something out of them.’ But that wasn’t something he could say, not without ruining his face. The only thing he could say was…
“I think you’re underestimating the power of my country.”
That was all.
‘Power my ass.’
Milton mocked him. If the Valence Kingdom was similar to the former Strabus Kingdom in terms of power, then Milton might have believed him, but this was the Valence Kingdom. Based on the information that Milton had gathered, this wasn’t even a country anymore. If he only thought about the citizens, Milton even wondered whether it might be better to just let Siegfried conquer the country.
‘Well, since I don’t want that ambitious bastard to get any more powerful, I guess I’ll just have to stop him.’
And so, Milton spoke to King Nicholas.
“It may sound cold, but don’t believe your country has that kind of power or strength.”
“What are you…”
“Stop. I don’t want to argue about it. Even if there’s a difference in opinion, it’ll only be a meaningless argument since you won’t be able to convince me.”
King Nicholas glared at Milton as he bit his lower lip hard. In terms of diplomacy, this kind of look wasn’t very good. What’s more, the only thing he said was…
“Don’t you think that’s too much?”
That was it.
King Nicholas began to openly express his dissatisfaction.
“The Republicans are the common enemies of our continent. And as long as you’ve been ordered by the Empire to fight in this war, your participation is required. But to think you’d be so high-handed. Do you think it’ll be beneficial for you if the Empire found out about this later on?
Milton couldn’t keep his poker face.
‘Does he think… So, he thinks his support is the Empire?’
Milton finally figured out the reason for King Nicholas’s attitude. Currently, King Nicholas thought Milton had been “ordered” by the Empire to participate in the war. And since Milton couldn’t back out of the war because of the Empire, there was no need for the Valence Kingdom to provide more assistance than necessary. That was what King Nicholas believed.
‘What kind of a shitty king is this? No wonder his country is doing soooo well.’
It wasn’t even his country, but Milton couldn’t help but sigh. Come to think of it, Milton realized that King Nicholas had a special trait called Toadyism. It had been the first time he had ever seen it, so Milton had figured that King Nicholas was just a pathetic human being, but now, it occurred to him that it could be King Nicholas’s weakness.
‘Fine then. I’ll show you how useless and futile your faith in the Empire is.’
Having organized his thoughts in a short period of time, Milton composed his face again and spoke to King Nicholas.
“You seem to have seriously misunderstood something.”
Milton took out a letter from his breast pocket and held it out to King Nicholas.
“This is a personal letter sent to me from Duke Sebastian of the Andrews Empire.”
“Would you like to read it?”
King Nicholas took the letter and read it with a puzzled look on his face.
- Dear Grand Duke Forrest,
I am Hector Sebastian of the Andres Empire. I apologize for so rudely sending you a letter when we have never met face to face before.
Even from far away, your reputation has been talked about in the Empire. Your achievements and accomplishments are truly magnificent that I am not ashamed to call you a god of war.
I am writing to you today because I have a favor to ask. I am leading the Imperial Army into war against the Republic, but things aren’t going as easily as I thought. Of course, I’m determined to fight for victory and I don’t think I’ll be defeated, but, just in case, I’d like to ask a favor from you.
I would like you to raise an army and attack the rear of the Republican Army or to send reinforcement troops to the Valence Kingdom. If you participate in this war, I declare on behalf of the Emperor of the Empire that you will be recognized as my equal, Grand Duke Forrest. This will give you the authority to move the military of the Valence Kingdom as you wish and its facilities as well as the authority to conscript supplies and troops, etc.
The Republic has dangerous ideas and is an enemy to the entire continent so please, make the right decision.
Duke Hector Sebastian of the Andrews Empire.
That was the content of the letter.
After reading it, King Nicholas’s face began to turn white. Before he ascended the throne, he had studied abroad in the Andrews Empire as a prince, and after he became the king, Nicholas had often considered relations with the Andrews Empire as his top priority. But never in his life had he received such a courteous letter from the Empire. He knew better than anyone else how arrogant and proud the nobles of the Empire were. So how could Duke Hector Sebastian, someone so much more than a mere aristocrat, send a letter like this?
‘How could this happen?’
He trembled from betrayal and disappointment.
‘He looks absolutely shocked.’
Milton looked at King Nicholas as if Milton thought he was pathetic. Apparently, King Nicholas thought that beyond their countries’ benefits and losses, there was a connection and loyalty between him and the Empire, but…
International relations weren’t interpersonal. There wasn’t any eternal enemy or eternal ally. There was only the right choice made at the right time based on the circumstances. From the Empire’s point of view, what value was there in the collapsing Valence Kingdom? At best, it was a country that existed as a buffer between them and the Republic. In comparison, Milton’s Lester Kingdom’s Army had strong national power and could be a powerful card in keeping the Republic in check. Even a child could see which was more important.
Realizing the reality, King Nicholas spoke to Milton in a trembling voice.
“So, Grand Duke Forrest wasn’t ordered by the Empire?”
“Of course not. My country has never considered any one country to be more superior than us.”
“But… what about the Empire? Are you not afraid of the Empire’s status?”
King Nicholas’s face flushed when Milton answered him in a very composed manner. He continued to speak as if he was reluctant.
“That’s because you are a country far away from the Empire. If you were a country that bordered the Empire like us, you wouldn’t be that confident.”
“That is a nonsensical conclusion.”
“If it was like this, then this would’ve happened. If it was like that, then that would’ve happened. That’s something history scholars like to discuss often around the table. But what’s the point of us talking about that here?”
Milton’s every word was like a blade that sharply pierced King Nicholas’s heart.
“There’s no ifs and buts in the reality that we’re in. The Republic has invaded your country, and the Empire was defeated and withdrawn. Factually, the only army in the Valence Kingdom is the Lester Kingdom’s army that I led. This is our reality right now.”
King Nicholas exhaled as he closed his eyes.
Seeing him like that, Milton continued to speak with confidence.
“The Republicans are our enemy and there was a request from the Empire. So, my country at least has justification for participating in this war. However!”
Milton interrupted himself and looked King Nicholas in the eye.
“We cannot make the sacrifices of our soldiers bleeding in a faraway land worthless. If you don’t pay us a fair price, my troops will withdraw.”
For the first time, Milton spoke of the possibility of his army withdrawing from the war. When that happened, King Nicholas begged desperately, looking like he had instantly aged ten years.
“You can’t do that. Please, save my country. If you withdraw, then my country will no longer be able to endure.”
King Nicholas’s attitude had completely changed. Previously, he had shown an overbearing attitude while seeming to negotiate on equal footing. However, once he realized the current situation, he saw how badly he had judged the situation. And once he realized that Milton was above him, his special trait, Toadyism, emerged.
“I’ll do whatever you want. As long as you want it, I’ll spare nothing in this country and give it all to you. So please, be merciful, Grand Duke Forrest.”
King Nicholas went from a desperate appearance to a servile one.
Milton was disappointed by him. Just what the hell was this?
‘This is a king? He’s really a monarch ruling a country?’
Forget conviction, he didn’t even have any pride. If such a person was at the top and ruling the country, then it was no wonder that the Valence Kingdom was in the situation it was in today.
Well, it didn’t matter since Milton was able to perfectly wrap up negotiating with King Nicholas. He took out a single document from his breast pocket and held it out. It had been personally written by Queen Leila before he had left.
“This is the minimum amount of cooperation and consideration our military needs to receive in order for us to participate in the war in your country.”
When King Nicholas checked the document, he trembled.
That document stated that in addition to the huge compensation for the war, all authority that had to do with this war was to be transferred to the Lester Kingdom. The amount wanted as compensation for the war was enormous, it was comparable to the national budget of the Valence Kingdom for three years, but more importantly, he had to hand over all the authority regarding the war, including authority over operations and wartime mobilization. Everything up to here had also been promised to the Empire.
However, the terms offered by Queen Leila stated that not only did they have the authority to proceed during the war, but the postwar process would also be left to the Lester Kingdom. In other words, the Lester Kingdom would decide when and where the war would end, basically, the Valence Kingdom could never interfere. Those were the conditions laid out on the document.
“If we accepted these conditions… Then what could we gain from it?”
“That’s none of our business.”
Milton responded curtly, then looked at King Nicholas with cold eyes.
His eyes were asking, ‘What more do you dare to want?’