Chapter 44: Duke Palan (3)

Things moved fast once Milton became Duke Palan’s disciple.  With the letter of introduction, Milton privately contacted the First Prince’s faction. And once he revealed that he was the cherished disciple of Duke Palan and that he was willing to support the First Prince, it quickly went up the chain. Because the impact of Sean Palan was so great, it soon entered the ears of the First Prince. The First Prince gladly accepted Milton into his faction and wanted to privately meet with him. 

“Hahahaha… how amazing. You’re so young, yet you’re an Expert? You’re definitely worthy of becoming Duke Palan’s disciple. 

“Ah, it’s nothing, Your Highness. I don’t deserve such praise, but thank you.”

While Milton was humbling himself in front of the First Prince, he was also expressing his willingness to be loyal to him. 

“Although Master is still maintaining his political neutrality, recently, his heart seems to be leaning towards you, Your Highness.”

“Is that so?

Laughing, Milton responded to the pleased prince.

“Yes, Your Highness. But as you well know, he’s a very inflexible man and doesn’t show his emotions in front of other people.”

“Yes, he does have a tendency of doing that.”

Nodding his head at the convinced prince, Milton continued with overwhelming sincerity.

“It may take some time, but I will convince my Master to support you, the First Prince. Please trust me on this, Your Highness.”

“Hahahaha… thank you for helping me, Count Forrest. I should return the favor; tell me if you have anything you want.

‘What a dumbass. You’re aiming to become a king; you shouldn’t be offering an unconditional favor like this.’

Milton thought snidely to himself. 

“How could I dare to ask you for something, Your Highness? Just you recognizing my loyalty is enough for me.”

“Hahahaha… Count Forrest is truly a loyal knight. Alright, I understand your meaning.”

Seeing the laughing First Prince, Milton thought to himself.

You cheap bastard. You won’t even offer it twice?’

“Cough… I might not have anything I want, Your Highness, but there’s something I have to report.”

“Report? What is it?”

“Yes, Your Highness. That is, there’s a minor dispute between me and Count Librador. I’m afraid it’ll lead to a trial, and that it’ll ruin your mood.”

“Is that so? Count Librador… who is that?”

Even though Count LIbrador was a part of his faction, to the First Prince, the count wasn’t a memorable person. 

One of the retainers by the First Prince’s side whispered in his ear. 

“Ah… He’s a member of my faction? Good. Then I can mediate between you too.”

“Oh, you don’t need to personally mediate, Your Highness. It’d be more than enough if you sent someone in your stead…”

“No, this is my sincerity towards you, so don’t reject it.”

The First Prince thought Milton would be deeply touched with him personally handling such a trivial matter.

‘Why are you being so bothersome? Do you really have nothing to do?’

Milton wasn’t impressed or moved in the slightest. 

It was through this process that Milton received the support of the First Prince and solved the conflict with Count Librador. 

Leaving Count Librador’s mansion, the First Prince spoke to Milton. 

“I’ll leave the matter of persuading Duke Palan to you, Count Forrest.”

“I’ll try my best, Your Highness.”

“Should you succeed in persuading him, I promise to call you to the Capital when I ascend the throne.”

“Truly, Your Highness? Me? To the Capital?”

“I’m not one to speak empty words.”

“Thank you, Your Highness. I will definitely persuade my Master.”

Truthfully, Milton didn’t want to relocate to the Capital, but outwardly he showed his excitement at such an opportunity. As soon as the First Prince rode off in his carriage…

“Finally, he’s gone. What an exhausting man.”

Milton straightened his back and showed a relaxed expression. Milton was mentally exhausted from having to constantly flatter the First Prince when that wasn’t his personality. 

“This damn capital… I’d be better off on the battlefield.”

Even though he was complaining, Milton was calmly going over the complex situation in his head. Although the competition for the throne seemed to have only two contenders, there was actually a hidden dark horse — the third contender. And while Milton didn’t know who that third contender was, he was still carefully observing them. 

Milton had finally succeeded in creating a stable footing in both the First Prince’s faction and the mysterious third faction. 

‘It’s better to go back to the estate and observe the situation than to start something new.’

Milton concluded that the best thing to do right now was to leave the Capital as soon as possible. Since the political situation was currently chaotic, the best thing was to remove himself from it. Milton decided to finish his remaining business in the Capital and quickly leave. 

‘Let’s not return to the Capital for a few years.’

* * *

“So you accepted a disciple and then allowed him to join the First Prince’s faction?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

After making the deal with Milton, Duke Palan reported everything back to his master. The one that he called Master was a woman with a lithe body. She sighed and muttered at Duke Palan after hearing the report. 

“You’ve been completely beaten.”

“My Lady?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

She had a rough understanding of Milton. Milton was straddling between herself and the First Prince, and if any one side seemed to crumble, then he would side with the winning side. 

'Is he cocky or is he being confident? Either way, I lost.'

From Milton’s point of view, it was an cunning trick where he dodged the responsibility yet cleverly profiting from it. But it was a pity for the woman who had tried to use this opportunity to bring Milton to her side. 

There was only one reason for her failure. Her opponent had attacked Duke Palan’s weakness; after only wielding a sword his entire life, he had no political intelligence. 

‘If I had known, I would have sent someone along with him…’

Could she even have anticipated such a situation? Duke Palan was the one and only Master and Duke in Lester Kingdom. She couldn’t have known that the young Count, who wasn’t even thirty yet, would be able to politically bargain with Duke Palan. Usually, most people would immediately accept any request from Duke Palan. Duke Palan’s fame and position, as well as his sheer power, had at least that much weight. 

‘If you think about it, Count Forrest’s got guts to play Duke Palan on the palm of his hands.”

If you look at it differently, it wasn’t that Duke Palan made a mistake, but that Count Forrest was gutsy. Rather than focusing on her own person’s weaknesses, it was better to say her opponent was remarkable. 

“Thank you for your work, Duke Palan. You can rest until further instructions.”

“Yes, My Lady.”

After dismissing him, she sat back and muttered to herself.

“Count Milton Forrest… You’re toeing the line between being annoying and adorable.”

Narrowing her eyes, she continued, “I hope you don’t cross that line…”

***

While Milton received his new title and conducted his business in the Capital, the world continued to revolve. The Strabus Kingdom had gone on the offensive on the Western Front. Taking advantage of the Hildes Republic’s worsening supply situation, the Western Front had finally mounted a full-scale attack against them after waiting all winter. Time-wise, the Western Front had attacked the Hildes Republic while Milton and Count Rosscaiz had been engaged in their territorial battle. As many as 70,000 troops crossed the Grey Mountains and attacked the Hildes Republic. With their lack of supplies, this was a true crisis for the Hildes Republic. But surprisingly, Hildes Republic survived. 

They had retreated not only from the Grey Mountain range, but also all the areas beyond it, and set up a final defense line. Acknowledging that they could not defend a large area, they had instead retreated to a smaller area. While retreating, they had destroyed most of the military facilities, including the walls, to make it difficult for their enemies. They had destroyed half the country in their retreat. Even if it was the best thing to do, it couldn’t have been an easy decision. 

However, the results were clear. Unlike their original plans, Strabus Kingdom’s supply train was longer than originally expected and their 70,000 weren’t able to fully utilize their destructive force. And because the Hildes Republic mobilized their forces, it was difficult to break through their defensive lines and the war showed signs of being prolonged. It was then that the Hanovirtue Republic and the Kobrook Republic took the opportunity to make their move. 

There were only three republican countries on the continent: Hildes, Hanovirture, and Kobrook. 

These three countries originally held strong military alliances and joined together to fight against the Strabus Kingdom. However, when the Hildes Republic was attacked and in trouble, the Hanovirture Republic and the Kobrook Republic remained silent. 

All the military experts in the continent believed that there was either a crack in the alliance between the three republics or that the situation in the Hildes Republic was so bad, that the other two Republics had retreated. But this was inaccurate. The two Republic countries were looking for a chance to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Although the Strabus Kingdom might be a military powerhouse, if they were concentrating on the Hildes Republic, an opportunity for the other two would surely occur. 

The Hanovirtue Republic and the Kobrook Republic had been secretly combining their forces. And those forces were placed on the fiercest battleground — the Northern Front. Once the 100,000 allied forces attacked all at once, the Northern Front, thought to be the strongest, began to crumble. Strabus Kingdom’s leader immediately made a decision regarding this unexpected outcome — to remove the 70,000 troops invading the Hildes Republic and save his own country from invaders. As though they had been expecting this, the Hildes Republic, who had been holding their breath until now, immediately began to counterattack. 

[Attack the invaders who violated our country!] 

At the command of their Fuhrer Bahasten, Hiles Republic’s terrifying counterattack started. 

The retreat of the 70,000 troops was greatly hampered by the much longer than originally planned supply train and the enemy’s fierce counterattack. 

The leader of Strabus Kingdom was shell shocked. The Northern Front could collapse at any moment, and the army that had left to conquer the Hildes Republic had a hard time retreating. There didn’t seem to be a way out of this crisis and time continued to pass. In the end, the worst possible scenario happened — the Northern Front collapsed. When the Master of the North, the Marquis Katrash fell, the Northern Front had also fallen. 

[Brothers of the Republic! Advance in the name of the persecuted people!]

With a loud cry, the allied forces of the Republic advanced to the Strabus Kingdom. 

Strabus Kingdom’s shield, which had secured the central part of the continent and blocked the Northern Republics, had begun to crack.

***

The Fuhrers of the three Republics secretly met in the midst of their successive victories on the front. 

Fuhrer Bahasten of Hildes Republic. Fuhrer Painheim of Haovirtue Republic. Fuhrer Schheimer of Kobrook Republic. 

These three happily gathered and raised their wine glasses.

“This is great. I didn't know everything would happen as we planned.

“I agree. I don't know how to say thank you to Fuhrer Bahasten.”

“Hahaha... It's because both of you were a tremendous help. If not, how could our country have escaped this crisis?”

Inferring from this conversation, it’s possible that the overall strategy for the battle that was now troubling the Strabus Kingdom came from the Hildes Republic. 

Amidst the friendly atmosphere, Fuhrer Bahasten[1] subtly questioned. 

“Would you really be alright?”

“What are you talking about?

“I’m asking if you’re really sure about not getting a piece of the Strabus Kingdom territory and just splitting it between the two of us.”

Although it seemed as though Fuhrer Painheim was just casually asking, there was a hint of him questioning the motive behind that move. 

And next to him, Fuhrer Schheimer also focused his attention on Bahasten. 

‘These sly bastards…’

Fuhrer Bahasten knew why these two brought this up. This had already been something that had been agreed to. Because Hanovirtue and Kobrook Republic had spearheaded the attack, any territory gained when Strabus Kingdom collapsed would belong to the two of them. But since Strabus Kingdom had such a vast territory, it was also possible that Hildes Republic might have a change of heart and break their promise, demanding their share of the conquered territory. In other words, Fuhrer Painheim’s remarks just now weren’t an offer but actually testing out Bahasten’s resolution. They were testing whether Bahasten was willing to keep his promises. Fuhrer Bahasten gave them the answers they wanted.

“Of course I’m sure. How could I break a promise I’ve made with my fellow Republic brothers?”

“Ho… you’re really sure?”

“Really, I won’t repeat it again, I’m sure. If you’re worried, I’m fine with signing a document and making this a formal treaty. 

Seeing Bahasten willing to make it official, Fuhrer Painheim’s face brightened.

“In that case, I’ll have an official treaty written up.”

“Of course. After all, deals between countries aren’t something that can just be done verbally.”

“Hahahaha… Indeed, Fuhrer Bahasten. I’m thankful you’re so understanding.”

“Agreed. A toast to an eternal alliance.”

“And for Republicanism to prevail.”

“Cheers!”

The wine glasses of the three Fuhrers met with a clear sound.


1. I believe it should be Painheim talking here, but as per the raws, left it as Bahasten

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