Chapter 41: To The Capital (4)

Milton had a small smile on his face as he saw Tommy’s Loyalty rise. Although not as capable as Jerome, Rick and Tommy were just as loyal. For these people...

'My face is nothing.'

Milton decided to apologize to Count Librador since he probably wanted something more than mere monetary compensation from the trial. Since the dispute arose out of pride, if Milton lowered his head first, then Count Librador might be satisfied. While his pride might be bruised, Milton was willing to do it if it would protect his men. The moment Milton made that decision... 

“My Lord, a guest has come.”

A guest had come to see him. 

“A guest? Who is it?”

Milton didn’t know anyone in the capital, so who could have come to see him? While puzzled, he went to greet them. And then...

“You?"

It was a completely unexpected guest. 

***

Count Librador was comfortably drinking in his library.

"Duel? How ridiculous. That’s the problem with country nobles, they’re all savages. They only know how to fight to solve their problems.”

Count Librador felt no shame refusing Milton's request to duel. Instead, he felt superior to Milton. Just as Milton had investigated Count Librador, Count Librador had also investigated Milton. However, unlike him, Count Librador was able to learn more details since his intelligence network was better than Milton’s.

After taking over the manor, Milton had entered a foreign war, and once he had returned, he had gone into battle with the surrounding territories, won, and expanded his own territory. Because of that, Count Librador simply labeled Milton as a barbarian - someone who only could only fight and had no intelligence. After all, Milton participated in a war to pay the family debt and only protected his territory by defeating the enemy.

Count Librardor simply didn’t understand how a problem could be solved by fighting. As a literary nobleman, he believed solving any problems with intelligence was the true noble way. So he made the decision to take Milton to court. 

First, formally sue and bring the enemy to the court. Next, grease some hands to make sure the judgment would be in his favor. Then, just like playing chess, block the enemy’s retreat one by one until checkmate. Now, all he had to do was wait while elegantly drinking his favorite Waterport Kingdom's wine from the year '56. All he had to do was just wait for the enemy to obey him. 

“This is the way nobles fight. Tsk tsk, how vulgar wanting to fight with swords…”

As Count Librador slowly waited for Milton to surrender…

“My Lord, a guest has come.” 

A guest came to see him.

"Who is it? Is it Count Forrest?”

Count Librador felt that as barbaric as Milton was, he should at least be able to grasp the situation and surrender. 

“Yes, My Lord. Count Forrest is here.”

Believing himself to be right, Count Librador smiled and tilted his wine glass. 

“Hmm... is that so? Ask him to wait in the parlor, no, at the lobby. And tell him I'm busy with work, so it'll take about an hour or so.”

Count Librador was feeling smug and leisurely swirled his wine glass, but the chamberlain was troubled. 

“That's...”

“Why? Is there a problem?”

“He didn't come alone. He came with...”

When the chamberlain told him who Milton came with, Count Librador jumped up.

“Why did he—? Quick... quickly, take me to the parlor. No, I will go directly.”

Count Librador ran out of his library in a cold sweat. While his usual belief was that nobles should be calm and dignified, this was not the time. With his heart in his mouth, Count Librador ran to greet the gentleman who had come to visit him. Sure, Milton was also next to him, but that wasn’t important now. This was because...

“I, Kevin Librador, greet Your Highness, the First Prince, the rightful successor of this kingdom.”

In front of him was a member of the royal family - the First Prince of the Lester Kingdom, Skyt von Lester.

***

To briefly explain the situation, the royal family of Lester Kingdom was currently fighting amongst themselves to become the next king. The current king was 64 years old and could abdicate at any moment in time. There were four princes struggling to become king, but the two main contenders for the throne were Skyt von Lester, the First Prince, and Byron von Lester, the Second Prince. In fact, at one point in time, there were eight princes, but due to accidents, there were now only four left. And of that four, two of them were still infants. 

What happened is obvious — the sweet temptation of the throne caused a tragedy between blood. The First Prince had originally been the Third Prince, but he had eliminated the two in front of him. This elimination wasn’t just from the line of succession; he had physically eliminated them. One died from being hit by a crossbow in an accident on the hunting ground, and the other died from food poisoning. Of course, people said the previous princes died from accidents, but everyone knew who was behind it.

However, the current king was turning a blind eye to his children’s bloody conflicts. In fact, he had also taken his brothers’ lives to ascend to the throne. He believed brothers shouldn’t be viewed as family if they wanted to become king, and so, he simply watched the competition amongst the princes. He had no intention of taking anyone's side until the final winner was decided. 

With the King turning a blind eye, the battle for the throne became fiercer until there were only two princes left to compete for the throne. The First Prince and the Second Prince began to recruit nobles into their factions to enlarge their power base. It came to the point where the nobles in the Capital had to choose a side — the First Prince or the Second Prince. 

***

Count Librador was none other than a nobleman of the First Prince's faction. Even though he supported the First Prince, Count Librador's position within the faction wasn’t high — somewhere in the middle at best. So it was understandable for Count Librador to be so flustered when the leader of his faction, the First Prince, appeared directly in front of him. 

Count Librador personally led the First Prince and Milton to the parlor and served them a wine he had been saving. 

“Your Highness, this is a wine from the year '32 from the Waterport Kingdom.”

“Oh? You have something so good, Count Librado.”

"Thank you, Your Highness. This was something my father had left behind and since such an important guest has come, I'll be happy to open it.”

“Thank you. Ah! But we seem to be missing a glass. You don’t have one for Count Forrest?”

Although taken aback by the Prince’s words, Count Librador calmly responded. 

“I will prepare another right away.”

Count Librador dismissed all the servants once they had brought in another wineglass. 

Holding out his glass, the Prince made a toast.

“Let’s drink to the future of the kingdom.”

Milton and Librador held up their glasses to the toast. 

'Oh? This tastes pretty good?’

Milton knew nothing of fine wines in his past life. The wine of the Waterport Kingdom was said to be a valuable and luxurious item among the nobles. And a wine from the year '32 would be even more valuable and expensive. At an auction, it would probably go over 2300 gold. But the main reason this particular wine was so sweet for Milton was that it was an expensive wine belonging to Count Librador

“It's a very good wine. How amazing, Count Librador.”

“Thank you.”

“Can I ask for another glass?”

 “...Gladly."

Although hidden from the First Prince’s eyesight, Count Librador’s expression was as though he had bitten something bitter. Looking at that expression, Milton’s smile brightened. 

“This is the best wine I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

This wasn't a lie, it truly was an excellent wine. With a sip, there was a refreshing feeling and aroma as if walking in a lush forest; it enchanted both mind and body. But mostly, Milton enjoyed the fact that drinking this expensive wine could raise Count Librado's blood pressure. Milton was so happy he wanted to use the bottle as a trumpet. But unlike Milton, Count Librador felt as though he was being bled dry. 

'Why did this kid come with his highness?'

Watching Milton sipping wine, Count Librador tried his best to analyze the situation. It was so unexpected that he couldn't understand it. Fortunately, he didn't have to be like Holmes and analyze and reason through countless situations. This is because the First Prince opened his mouth.

“So, should we say this is your first time meeting each other? Or should we say you are acquaintances? Either way, this is your first time meeting each other in person, right?

Count Librador nodded, ”Yes, Your Highness. You’re correct”

"Okay. But I heard that there is a slight friction between the two of you right now. Is it true?”

“That… that’s…”

Count Librador debated how to explain the situation. Since he didn’t understand what the First Prince meant, he couldn’t rashly speak. Seeing the anxious Count Librador, the Prince spoke with a relaxed attitude. 

“I heard that the conflict between the two of you was over something trivial. Is that right?”

“Yes, Your Highness. That's right.”

Instead of Count Librador, it was Milton who responded to the Prince. Putting down the wine glass, Milton spoke, “It was just a small dispute between the knights and seeing the state of mine, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, Your Highness.”

'That damn bastard...'

Count Librador’s careful plans were destroyed. Milton's knights weren’t injured much, no, they weren’t injured at all. However, Count Librador's knights were seriously injured and needed at least six months to recover. There was a big difference between the attacker and the defender’s injuries, but Count Librador couldn’t say anything.  If he were to say, ‘my knights were seriously injured,’ then his face would be ruined in front of the First Prince. Even though he came from a distinguished noble family, he couldn’t have the First Prince think his knights were weak. 

“I see, so it was a trivial thing.”

When Count Librador didn’t say anything, the First Prince nodded at Milton's words.

Then, he looked at Count Librador and said, “It’s not good to fight over something so trivial when we’re all one family. How about making concessions with a generous heart?”

Count Librador felt as though he had been struck by lightning. 

'Same family? Can’t be... Oh, I see… So that’s why…’

Now he understood the situation. When he looked at Milton, he saw that Milton was smirking at him.

'That cunning bastard...'

At that moment, Count Librador changed his opinion of Milton — from a barbarian to a cunning and sly fox. Count Librador thought he had planned it perfectly. He thought it would be impossible for a country noble, someone who had poor political power, to fight legally against him in front of the judge, or to be capable of political manipulations. But Milton had responded in a way he hadn’t thought of. Instead of having a fellow noble to help him out, he had come with the leader of their faction as his support, the First Prince. 

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