Chapter 220: The Unexpected Guest (2)

Thinking he heard enough of the bullshit, Milton placed a hand on the sword at his waist. But before he could unsheathe his sword, Siegfried began to talk.

“If you accept my terms, I’ll agree to a permanent peace treaty between the Republic and the Lester Kingdom.”

“......”

Milton’s hand stopped pulling out his sword from its sheath as he looked at Siegfried in disbelief.

“Wasn’t your goal to conquer the entire continent?”

“I don’t think I ever said that?”

“It’s obvious even if you didn’t say it. Just look at what you’ve been doing.”

Siegfried had started out as an officer in the Hildes Republic, and now, he had risen to the position of an absolute leader as the first Fuhrer of the unified Republic. That process consisted of war and conquest and that had bothered the Empire; that was why all this was currently happening.

“You’re no different, are you?”

Siegfried spoke to Milton as if he thought they were the same. In fact, Milton was the same; they were both war heroes. 

“I’m different.”

“How?”

“I’m not as greedy or ambitious as you. I would have been satisfied if I could’ve lived peacefully as a lord in the countryside.”

“Ha… what a joke.”

“......”

Siegfried wrote it off as a joke, but Milton just continued to stare at him in silence. For the first time, Siegfried looked at Milton in confusion when he saw the look on Milton’s face.

“Are you serious?”

“Of course.”

Siegfried looked incredulous.

If he thought about it… They had never spoken to each other with no one else around them before, but Siegfried had always considered Milton as his arch-rival. He had thought Milton was the same as himself, as someone who was ambitious and wanted to leave behind his name in history. But Milton was saying Siegfried was wrong; he was saying that he just wanted a peaceful life.

And from what Siegfried could see, it was the truth. 

‘A life without big troubles or inconveniences in life, moderate happiness, and just enough stress. Most people would be satisfied with just that, but…’

“But Milton Forrest, you’re not a regular guy.”

“No, I’m a regular guy.”

“But… you’re… then why?”

It wasn’t just unusual, it was rare for Siegfried to be this confused. He couldn’t believe that he had fought against someone like this for victory on the battlefield, over and over, again and again, only to fail each time... How was this possible? Siegfried couldn’t understand this at all.

But Milton seemed relieved to be sharing who he really was.

“What? I’m just this kind of a guy. I just somehow got successful and somehow ended up tangled with you and suffering now.”

“So you’re just being harassed by fate?”

“Sure, if you like to make things complicated. If you think about it simply, I’m just unlucky.”

“......”

Siegfried was confused, no, he couldn’t understand it at all. He had struggled every day to get where he was today. He had thought about every word and action; every day when the day started and right before he fell asleep, he had meditated on his ambition. That was how he became the person he was today.

But Milton Forrest hadn’t wanted it, and yet, he had risen to his current position by going with the flow and responding appropriately. 

“How unfair.”

“So, what am I supposed to do about it?”

Milton curtly asked.

Siegfried decided to stop thinking about Milton. After all, Siegfried was Siegfried and others were others.

Not to mention, he hadn’t come here to figure Milton out. 

“Well, first, I won’t deny it. My goal was to reign at the top of the world.”

“You’re talking in the past tense. So it’s not your goal anymore?”

“Things have changed a lot.”

Siegfried sighed out his words.

“The Empire is strong; they’re a lot stronger than I expected.”

“I know. I’ve been watching you get kicked around by them.”

Milton tried to provoke him, but Siegfried didn’t care and continued with what he had to say.

“If it was simply the fact that the Empire has a large army and that their Masters are powerful, then we can do something about it. But… I never thought there’d be a ridiculous monster sleeping in the Empire.”

“......”

“Look at this.”

Siegfried took out an envelope from his breast pocket and passed it over to Milton. Milton opened it to see it full of personal information on one person.

“Antras Lee, the Silver Sage?”

“That’s all we managed to find out by utilizing all the intelligence networks that we infiltrated the Empire with. I don’t know a lot, but I heard that he has Imperial command in this war.”

“......”

Milton looked through the documents with a serious expression.

‘Antras… I think Bianca talked about it before, that there were other countries in the Southern Continent?’

Milton had only heard a bit of the explanation, but it seemed like the countries resembled the Eastern countries and customs that Milton knew.

“Truthfully, that man’s cleverness seems to be on par with mine.”

“On par? Aren’t you losing too unilaterally for you to be on par?”

Siegfried laughed bitterly at that. “

“It’s because we’re both similarly leveled strategists that I wasn’t able to get past the strength they held.”

In other words, the Imperial Army was too powerful for him to have been able to do anything.

“But, the only reason we’ve been able to hold out against that monstrously wise Silver Sage is because of me.”

“You’re certainly overconfident.”

“I’m not wrong. Objectively, there’s no one else on this continent that is better at tactics and strategy than me.”

“Hm…”

Milton was looking at him like he wanted to say, ‘Yeah, yeah, you’re great,’ but on the inside, he agreed with Siegfried.

[Siegfried]

Social Climber LV. 8

Strength - 93                 Command - 100

Intellect - 99                Politics - 100

Loyalty - 00

Special Traits - Villain’s Ambition, Sovereign’s Absolute Obedience, Strategy, Bargain, Level-Headed, Silver Tongued, See Through, Valiant, Indomitable Fighting Spirit

Villain’s Ambition LV. 7: Able to use whatever means necessary for his goal and is persistent beyond belief. Has a strong driving force beyond everything and makes every effort to achieve the goal without taking a break.

Sovereign’s Absolute Obedience LV. 8: Able to strongly restrain talents who are under their command. The chances of being betrayed are greatly reduced and the loyalty of vassals strengthens as time passes. Able to obtain absolute faith in the end. 

Strategy LV.9 (MAX): Excellent ability to discern the overall flow of war. The possibility to quickly and accurately analyze the impact of how each small battle has on the entire game of war. 

Bargain LV.8: Able to assert one’s own conditions more successfully when making deals or entering negotiations.

Level-Headed LV.9 (MAX): Increases the perspective of seeing the entire battle situation during a war. Even in a crisis, has the ability to turn things around if the enemy makes a single mistake.  

Silver Tongued LV.9: Persuade or subdue others through dialogue. Maybe counterproductive when utilized on an individual with strong pride.

See-through LV.8: Able to grasp the truth of the conversation partner's words through innate observational power. 

Valiant LV. 9 (MAX): Increases combat power in battle and increases the morale of subordinates. The effect increases if you give a speech in person or intervene in a battle earlier.

Indomitable Fighting Spirit LV.5: Invoked at the moment of crisis and increases the ability of both himself and his people when used by a person with a monarch’s spirit. No matter how desperate the situation is, he does not surrender and does not give up. In order to break down the current situation, he is constantly seeking the best decision.

‘That monstrous son of a…’

Everything but Strength had risen compared to before. On top of that, how could his Command and Politics both be 100?

It was the first time Milton saw a stat of 100. He had thought 99 would be the limit.

Usually, if a person’s capability exceeded 90, that person’s growth would significantly slow and even a difference in a single point would be significant. The higher the number, the harder it would get.  Even Leila’s Political stat had just recently reached 99.

But Siegfried had gone beyond 99 and was 100.  What kind of monster was he?

‘Even his Special Traits are annoying.’

The best strategist on the continent. If someone else said it, they might be arrogant or bluffing, but it wasn’t a lie with Siegfried. 

Milton could feel the terror of the Imperial Army that even a monster like Siegfried was struggling with.

“I can assure you that if the Empire destroys the Republic, then with a doubt, the Lester Kingdom will be next.”

“I wonder if that’ll really be the case. My country doesn’t really have a reason to deal with the Empire.”

If the Empire wanted the Lester Kingdom to become a vassal state of the Empire, then Milton was willing to accept it as long as they met his conditions. Fighting against an unbeatable opponent was a foolish mistake. Milton wasn’t ashamed to put aside his pride when he could profit.

However…

“It’s impossible for the Lester Kingdom to have a good relationship with the Andrews Empire. The Lester Kingdom has become too strong for that.”

“......”

What Siegfried just said stabbed right into the point of what Milton had been trying to deny.

Siegfried continued to speak as he saw Milton’s expression hardening. 

“So you know it as well. Am I wrong?”

“Whoo…”

Milton let out a sigh.

Siegfried continued to describe the worst-case scenario.

“Antras Lee is said to be quite old. The only reason he’s out of the shadows when he’s been hiding this entire time is because he wants to destroy the Republic and get rid of a threat to the Empire. You think they’ll just leave you be?”

Probably not. Given the Imperial Army’s power this time, it would be difficult for the Lester Kingdom to fight the Empire alone.

But what would happen after Antras died? The Empire had suffered a humiliating defeat in the Second Ideological Conflict. With just his mere existence, Antras had changed the quality of the Imperial Army so much.

Compared to the old Antras, Queen Leila and Milton were very young. It was perfectly reasonable for Antras to think that If he didn’t stomp on them now, then they’d pose a threat to the Empire after his death.

“If I was the Empire…”

Siegfried paused to think before continuing. 

“I’d take the children I saw a while ago as hostages.”

SMACK!

“Watch your mouth, Siegfried.”

Milton exuded pure murderous intent. But instead of raising his spirit in response, Siegfried just continued calmly.

“It’d be the most effective strategy, don’t you think so?”

“......”

“First, I’d propose a marriage of convenience and have them stay in the Empire while asking for tribute. I’d turn the kingdom into a vassal state and slowly limit your national power.”

“......”

“And by the time it’s your grandchildren’s generation, it’ll be the Empire’s bloodline that’ll be placed on the Lester Kingdom’s throne. It’s already happened to the Stravin Kingdom and the Gloucester Kingdom.”

“......”

It was too realistic to ignore as an assumption.

In the end, Milton could only sigh.

“It makes sense to say that for the sake of balancing power, we have to stop the Empire right now.”

In fact, even within the Lester Kingdom, Queen Leila and Count Sabian had been continuously pushing for this. However, Milton knew how dangerous Siegfried could be and had been rejecting their advice. But now that Siegfried had personally come forward to persuade him and showed reality in his face, Milton couldn’t continue to be stubborn.

A military alliance with the Republic. There was nothing else but this to stop the Empire.

But...

“I can’t trust you.”

This was the problem.

Milton had said it abruptly, but Siegfried understood it.

“No matter what I say, you probably won’t be able to trust me.”

“......”

That was true.

Siegfried looked at him seriously as Milton stayed silent.

“So don’t trust me. Trust the situation.”

“You mean this damned situation?”

“Yeah. Just like you said, this damned situation. If we don’t work together, the Empire will unify all the countries on the continent. If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t have offered you an alliance either.”

“......”

“We have no other choice but to work together. Whether you trust me or not, acknowledge the reality.”

“......”

Milton didn’t respond. However, the troubled look on his face was enough for Siegfried to see that Milton had no choice but to accept the alliance. 

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