‘Leila does this kind of thing better than me.’
Milton fell into deep thought after looking at the conditions Siegfried laid out. While it was a pity Leila wasn’t here, Milton was the one in charge here and had to decide what to do about the situation.
‘What else could we gain by accepting these terms.’
Politics wasn’t Milton’s specialty. He wasn’t terrible at it, but he was by no means an expert at it.
‘Most of the politics I was involved in, and policies I introduced, were those that worked out on Earth that I just reworked. Oh, wait…’
A thought crossed his mind. After organizing his thoughts, Milton began to speak carefully.
“As a condition for peace, there’s something I’d like to suggest.”
“And what is that?”
“I want the separated families to be able to meet.”
“From what I understand, there are a lot of people in what was formerly the Hildes Republic who are separated from their families without being able to see them. I want to help them reconnect with their families.”
“Also, allow those who want it, to become naturalized.”
“...This is very random.”
“They’re people who’ve become separated from their families because of the war. They don’t even know whether their family members are alive or dead. Don’t you think it’d be too cruel to just ignore that?”
Siegfried’s expression closed up.
“You do realize that we gathered here to negotiate the post-war proceedings?”
“Your topic seems unrelated to our post-war negotiations.”
“Then are you rejecting it?”
When Milton responded to him calmly, Siegfried’s face hardened and he remained silent. It was rare for someone as eloquent as Siegfried to become speechless. While he was pushed into a corner, Milton was confident in his silence.
‘As I thought. I can get one over on him with this.’
Milton had a faint smile on his face as he looked at Siegfried.
“What’s wrong? Is there a problem?”
Looking at that smile, Siegfried could only curse Milton in his head.
‘That son of a b*tch.’
The act of arranging a reunion for the separated families and allowing those who wanted it to be naturalized; while this suggestion seemed irrelevant to the war, it was actually cutting into Siegfried’s flesh.
Even though both sides had separated family members who were from the Hildes Republic, the Republic and the Lester Kingdom weren’t in the same position. The separated family members in the Republic were mostly young men, ordinary soldiers who took part in the attack on the Strabus Kingdom. In comparison, those in the Lester Kingdom were mostly civilians. If both sides were to meet and they wanted to live together again, then they’ll have to be naturalized…
Which way would they lean towards? It was obvious. For the military veterans, the Northern part of the current Lester Kingdom was their hometown. In front of them were family members that they thought they would never see again. Could there be anything else more precious and important than their hometown and family for the soldiers who had fought on the battlefields? Would it be possible for them to give up their families and head back into the battlefields when their families were right in front of their eyes? Considering the mentality of the Republican soldiers, it wasn’t impossible for them to continue to stay in the military, but even so, it was obvious that there would be a considerable number of defectors.
Even if the ratio of people wanting to be naturalized was 5 to 5, it would still be a loss for Siegfried. Not to mention, this situation itself was extremely unfavorable to him. The Republican soldiers from the Hildes Republic were all elite soldiers who had been trained for a long time and gone through countless battles, not to mention, were absolutely loyal to Siegfried. What would happen if those soldiers were to leave in large numbers after they met with their separated family members?
Although he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Republican Army, he needed a military force that would absolutely obey his orders in order to keep his position. If the Ghosts were Siegfried’s bodyguards, then the soldiers from the Hildes Republic were his rank and file. If he had fewer soldiers, that meant that Siegfried’s military foothold would be weakened.
So why would Siegfried be thinking nicely of Milton right now? But more than anything else, the most infuriating thing was…
‘I can’t reject this easily.’
That’s right. Siegfried knew very well that he couldn’t reject this proposal. It was obvious what would happen if Siegfried was to reject it. Not only within the Lester Kingdom, but rumors would also spread throughout the Republic.
[I offered to hold a meeting to comfort the families who suffered the pain of separation, but Siegfried refused.]
[I apologize to those who are suffering from being separated from family members. I tried my best, but it wasn’t enough.]
[But please understand that this was all because of Siegfried.]
‘He’ll most likely go around saying things like that. F*cking bastard.’
It had been a while since Siegfried felt like he was in a political crisis. Milton’s proposal seemed harmless, but it was definitely poisonous. However, there was no way for him to avoid the poison. If he rejected this proposal, and Milton went around manipulating the people’s hearts, then would it be possible for him to persuade the soldiers?
‘It’ll be difficult. They’re not the Ghosts. It’ll be impossible to completely sway the hearts of the soldiers.’
Smart people are most irritated in situations like this — realizing that you have been checkmated, and realizing it too soon.
‘I wonder what’s wrong with my master.’
‘Looking at the atmosphere, it seems like My Lord’s proposal will cause fatal damage to the Republic?’
Those who didn’t know the details, like Jake and Jerome, were simply puzzled.
‘There’s no other choice, I can only put up with it…’
In the end, Siegfried could only sigh.
“A great opportunity has come for the separated family unexpectedly. I accept.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
Milton grinned broadly.
Then, he thought to himself as he clenched his fist.
‘Good. I gave this monstrous bastard a political hit.’
He felt a bit bad because he used the separated families, but he was now convinced it was a good idea. It was such an exquisite plan that even Queen Leila wouldn’t have thought of. Of course, the only reason Milton could come up with something like this was because of his previous life.
‘Who knew it’d be helpful to live in the only divided country in the world.’
After that, the meeting went well. Siegfried took over the northern region of the Valence Kingdom that he wanted and Milton received the western region in return for participating in the Valence Kingdom’s war. As a result, the territories of both the Republic and the Lester Kingdom grew a bit bigger, while the Valence Kingdom was reduced to less than half of what it was before the war.
King Nicholas wanted to die, but he couldn’t argue against Milton and Siegfried’s decision.
While the war had taken place in his country, in a turbulent era like now, the actual power of a country was more important than whether their decisions were right or wrong. Milton and Siegfried had decided everything and all King Nicholas had to do was simply sign them. Thankfully, both of them had allowed the Valence Kingdom to continue to exist.
Of course, they had a reason for that.
‘It isn’t time to destroy the Valence Kingdom just yet.’
‘If the Valence Kingdom disappears, then we’ll be sharing a border with the Empire. There’s no guarantee that the Empire will only be hostile towards the Republic.’
They were keeping the Valence Kingdom as a buffer between their borders and the Empire because it would be too troublesome. Although the Empire had done poorly and been defeated in this war, neither Milton nor Siegfried were going to underestimate them. One of the reasons they had finished this war before the Empire really joined in was for the same reason.
“Then let’s finish up and leave. I hope you’ll faithfully follow the peace treaty.”
“That’s what I should be saying. If you break it, you’ll have to face us on the battlefield again.”
“Hmph, you think that won’t happen just because we keep it?”
At Siegfried’s words, Milton could only smile bitterly and didn’t say anything in return.
He felt that in the end, he’ll eventually have to face Siegfried on the battlefield.
“Jake, we’re returning.”
Once Siegfried left with Jake, King Nicholas walked up to Milton.
“Ahem… Grand Duke Forrest.”
“Do you need something?”
“Now that the war has ended, I plan to hold a celebratory party. Will you do me the honor of coming and brightening up the event?”
Milton was stunned by his words.
‘A celebratory party? Is he being serious right now?’
More than two-thirds of his country had been devoured by the war. And yet, he was going to hold a celebratory party?
‘He’s still out of his mind. No, he’s never had common sense to begin with.’
At this point, Milton could only feel sorry for the citizens of the Valence Kingdom.
Milton’s face turned cold as he responded.
“A party isn’t necessary. We’ll be returning immediately.”
“I can’t be absent from my country for too long. Rather than that, give me the promised territory.”
“Yes, of course…”
“Have the nobility leave the area within a month. And I hope you won’t try to forcefully evict the citizens in the process.”
“Of course. I’ll make sure to pay close attention to it.”
“Simply paying attention isn’t enough.”
“If the nobles forcibly try to relocate the citizens or try to leave with their property, then it’ll be regarded as an act of hostility towards my country.”
“Act of hostility? That… Don’t you think you’re exaggerating it a bit?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I’ve made myself very clear. I hope you will take it seriously while carrying out your part of the deal. At least for the sake of your country…”
With that chilling response, Milton stood up from his seat.
“Let’s go back, Jerome.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
After Milton left, King Nicholas was left alone in the meeting location. He took a deep breath and spoke out loud.
“Alright. We’re still alive. For now… that’s the most important thing.”
It was just as Milton expected.
Even if he was to come back alive, King Nicholas would continue to be out of his mind.
The triumphant return. It was both praising the victors while glorifying war. Usually, countries would forcibly mobilize the citizens to hold a triumphant return, but it was different for Milton.
“Waah!! He’s here!”
“His Highness Grand Duke Forrest!”
“The war god of the Lester Kingdom!”
“Eternal glory and honor to the kingdom!”
None of the people who came out to throw flowers and cheer Milton on were forced to be here. Instead, their enthusiasm was so great that soldiers had to work hard to maintain order on the road and stop them from crossing the line. All this was because of Milton’s skyrocketing popularity.
All the boys fantasized of a day when Grand Duke Forrest would happen to meet him and recognized his outstanding talent, and like it was destiny, he would become a knight and play a significant part on the battlefield. The girls dreamt of suddenly meeting Grand Duke Forrest one day and he would fall in love with them at first sight and a beautiful love would blossom between them. Of course, the Milton of their dreams was much more handsome than he really was.
The point was, Milton was rapidly gaining popularity in the Lester Kingdom. How could he not? Originally, the Lester Kingdom was a small country in the northwestern region of the continent. Now, it had become strong enough to have done well in a war for supremacy of the continent. Even a four-year-old knew who was to thank for this.
All of this was thanks to Milton. Because Milton had gone to war and expanded the country and brought in wealth through maritime trade, the Lester Kingdom had emerged as a great power. Of course, Queen Leila’s role in the country’s state of affairs also played a part in this. As a result, the country’s status had risen and the quality of life for the people had improved remarkably.
So how could he not be popular? It had gotten to the point where if a person spoke ill of Milton, they might be stoned to death.
Milton had entered his country to such a warm welcome from the people, and what awaited him was…
“Welcome back, dear.”
“You’ve worked hard.”
“Congratulations on your victory.”
His beloved wives and daughter, Elizabeth.
His wives greeted him full of elegance and grace, but Elizabeth seemed shy to see her dad after he’d been gone for a while; she peeked out from behind Queen Leila’s skirt where she was hiding.
His mouth curved in a smile when he saw what was waiting for him.
He realized that seeing his family was the real homecoming, not the crowds cheering his triumphant return.