Chapter 49: Sophia Philinover (4)

Baron Philinover misunderstood and thought Milton liked his daughter.

'But why?'

It didn’t make any sense. If Milton really liked his daughter, then he could just make an official marriage proposal. So why was he lying and saying he would like to hire her as an architect? After thinking things through, Baron Philinover, once again, came to his own conclusion.

‘The Count likes my daughter, but she doesn’t like him. Makes sense, she’s been refusing all marriage proposals until now.’

In fact, there had been many who had asked to marry Sophia. While her family only had the rank of a Baron, because her beauty was remarkable even amongst the other noble ladies. Sophia had received over ten marriage proposals in the Capital. But she had been fascinated by architecture and hated the idea of marrying and refused all proposals. Baron Philinover, who had been frustrated to death by his daughter, felt like he finally understood the situation.

‘So he’s decided to keep my daughter at his side and slowly melt her heart and ease her into a relationship. Since she loves architecture to distraction, she won’t be able to refuse. Huh, that’s pretty impressive.’

Seeing Milton create an elaborate strategy to seduce his daughter, Baron looked at his son-in-law, which he had already decided Milton was going to be, with pride. 

“Alright. Then, I will entrust my daughter to you, Count Forrest.”

“You truly mean that, Baron?”

“Yes. Although she (as a wife) is a bit lacking, take care of her and give her some time.”

“Please don’t worry. I don’t think she (as an architect) has any shortcomings at all. Rather, I think I don't deserve her.”

“Oh… I am happy that you appreciate and think of her (as a wife) so highly.

“Then, thank you. Since you’ve given your permission, I’ll take responsibility of her life (as an architect) in the future. 

“Surely… she’ll be happy that she can serve someone as responsible as you (as her husband).  

Although the conversation seemed a bit off, the atmosphere itself was warm. And so, Milton took Sophia Philinover under his command. Once Milton accepted her as his vassal, Sophia spread her wings as if she was a bird freed from the cage and showed off her abilities as much as she wanted. 

“It doesn’t make sense to build a port next to a commercial district. Trade can only be achieved if it’s concentrated in one place. So let’s concentrate the commercial district inside Forrest Territory. And at the port, let’s build warehouses for loading and storing logistics. And before the city gets any bigger, we need to build infrastructure for water and sewage. Please include in the budget a buffer for other things and allocate it accordingly. And also…”

‘Are you a rapper? It’s not like you’re rapping Show Me the XX…

Watching her read off of her report, Milton worried about her breathing. Either way, she always said the same thing after the end of her long report. 

“…so, we’ll need about this much for the budget.”

Please give me the money for construction. This was always the main point.

“That’s a lot.”

As Milton muttered over the budget, Sophia replied, slightly embarrassed.

“That’s because a civil engineering project always requires a lot of money. Especially, if there's a lot of work that needs to be done, like now.”

The amount Sophia presented was a lot. But…

“Fine. I’ll pay for it.”

Coolly, Milton approved the budget. Right now, Forrest Territory was financially comfortable. The territory’s economy would not thrive if money was only stored and not circulated. In that sense, it wasn’t bad to spend money on civil engineering when it would also create jobs. Since the development of the territory and the circulation of money can be achieved at the same time, the amount could be coolly approved.

“Thank you, My Lord.”

Having been granted her budget, Sophia brightly smiled as though she was a child who had received what she had wanted as a present. Seeing her like that, Milton’s facial expression froze.

“……”

“Um… is something wrong, My Lord?”

“No, nothing…”

Milton mumbled and Sophia let it go. To her, work was more important and she went out excitedly. Only after she had gone outside did Milton let out a small sigh.

“She’s pretty when she laughs.”

It wasn’t like there was no possibility between the two of them. 

* * *

Even as the Forrest Territory was developing, the situation in the world was changing day by day. First, Strabus Kingdom that had been in danger pushed back the Republican army. It was the central army of Strabus Kingdom that started the counterattack. Because Strabus Kingdom was a military powerhouse, their fighting strength was nothing to laugh at. Even with the collapse of the Northern Front, the kingdom had been able to gather 100,000 troops at the Capital to fight against Hildes Republic. 

However, the most surprising part of it was the process in which the kingdom gathered the 100,000 troops. In order to overcome the crisis, the royal family temporarily transferred the Royal Knights and the palace guards as well as the kingdom’s soldiers. The nobles had also generously sent in their private troops and knights. But just that alone wasn’t enough to create 100,000 troops. It was the people of Strabus Kingdom that played a decisive role. 

The Strabus Kingdom is a powerful country with a long history. While the rest of the continent considered Andrews Kingdom to be more powerful than Strabus Kingdom, the people of Strabus Kingdom proudly thought that just based on military power, they were stronger than Andrews Kingdom. When such a country fell into crisis, the people on their own volition took up their weapons and began applying to the military. 

“How dare those Republican bastards…”

“I’ll kill them all!”

“Let’s join the military right now!”

The blood of the vigorous youths boiled at the thought of their country’s crisis. The young men raised their weapons while the women and the elder raised funds for the military. [We are Strabus.] United through patriotism, they gathered together and in a blink of an eye, became a large army. Truthfully, even the leading members of the Strabus government were surprised. 

There were two reasons the people were this energetic. The first reason was the patriotism and pride that was mentioned earlier. The second reason was that Strabus Kingdom had never been tyrannical to its people. Strictly speaking, this was impossible. One of the methods Republicans had been implementing against Strabus Kingdom was to incite the people of the enemy state into uprising and causing a civil war by saying things like [People who are persecuted, resist the oppressors’ oppression]. In order to prevent a civil war, Strabus Kingdom placated the people as much as possible. As a result of doing so, the people naturally became patriotic. It was an unexpected result for the Strabus Kingdom. 

Impressed by the people’s passionate patriotism, the king made a big decision. He mobilized the three best forces the royal family had been cherishing - Duke Ryan Catel, Duke Derek Brans, and Duke McCarthy O’Brian. They were the three Masters that the Strabus Kingdom was proud of and they had been mobilized for war. 

In fact, Masters were usually not mobilized for war. While they held absolute power, war was a place where anything could happen. The death of a Master wasn’t just the death of a strong individual, it was a direct damage to a nation’s power.  So even if a lot of countries had a Master, they usually weren’t mobilized for war. 

Yet, these three Masters were simultaneously mobilized for war. It was a decision made by the king of Strabus who had been moved by the people’s passionate patriotism. And they showed what the Masters were like in a war firsthand. One month. Since starting the counterattack, it only took one month for Strabus Kingdom to restore the territory to its original state. When a Master decided to enter the battlefield, soldiers were merely scarecrows and knights were just a tin can to kick out of the way. And it wasn’t just one such monster, but three that had united to show their strength. 

While the Republics had Masters, they ultimately decided not to outright mobilize them. This was because if the Masters collided on the battlefield, and they were defeated, the damages would be unspeakable. In the end, the Republic decided to quickly retreat while plundering as much supplies as possible from the Strabus Kingdom’s territory they had occupied. And so, Strabus Kingdom was able to regain their invaded territory. Although the damage to the country itself was enormous, the kingdom was able to overcome the national crisis by itself. 

Other kingdoms in the South had worried that if Strabus Kingdom fell, it would soon be their turn, but that was just baseless fears. However, this war dealt considerable damage to the Strabus Kingdom. Not only had the country been invaded and trampled upon, but the fatalities were numerous. Before, other countries had thought of the Republic as a remote threat, but now, they were beginning to take notice. With this incident, the other southern nations realized they would only be safe if their shield, Strabus Kingdom, was stronger and unsparingly sent in supplies to help rebuild the kingdom. 

But there was something those nations were overlooking. While they weren’t a military powerhouse like Strabus Kingdom, there was one more central country that was bordering the Republic. Although lacking in military strength, Lester Kingdom was also a nation bordering the Hildes Republic. 

While the international situation was tumultuous, Lester Kingdom’s political situation was just as chaotic. The power struggle between the First Prince and the Second Prince reached its peak. Political schemes were a foregone conclusion and now assassinations were happening within the Capital manors. Now that the power struggle was nearing the end, they were trying to end the other side by any means. Both princes knew this very well. Since they’ve come this far, it was impossible to expect tolerance and forgiveness from the other now. Either succeed and sit on the throne, or lose and lie inside the coffin. Those were the only two choices. Whatever the international situation was like, for the two princes, it was more important to survive and take the throne. 

Bang!

“Count Riggs is dead? God damnit!”

The First Prince Skyt shouted in anger.

With assassins being used against each other nowadays, there was a lot of damage to their own forces. Count Riggs had been a useful vassal who’d been a great help to him as a nobleman in a key position influencing the government. Thinking about the damage his death brought, the First Prince felt his blood pressure rise. 

“I can’t just take this lying down. Immediately…”

“Please be patient, Your Highness.”

A beautiful woman in a gorgeous dress spoke to the furious First Prince.

“Claudia.”

As furious as he had been, the moment he saw her, the anger on his face faded. Her name was Claudia Vamos. She was Marquis Vamos’s daughter as well as the First Prince’s wife and most reliable support. Not only did she help the First Prince by using her family’s strength, but every plan that she thought up was of great help to him. The only reason he had gone from the Third Prince to the First Prince was because she had schemed and maneuvered in the background. She was smart and ambitious, but also so aggressively bold that it was hard to believe she was a woman and to cause Marquis Vamos to regret she hadn’t been born a son. She was willing to do whatever it took in order to rise to a higher position. And so, in order to rise to the most honorable position in the country, she actively made her move to make Prince Skyt the king.

She abruptly spoke to the First Prince. 

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