༺ Roverium Kingdom (2) ༻
The atmosphere in the room was tense and chaotic.
The ongoing bickering served as a stark reminder that, at this moment, the primary objective was to maintain distance rather than reach an agreement.
The biting exchange of words only intensified the atmosphere, and the King of the Roverium Kingdom, sitting in the honored seat, appeared detached from the proceedings.
The reason he still occupied the honored seat without uttering a word likely stemmed from the Ernes Empire and the Elmark Empire’s unwillingness to concede it to each other.
In this standoff, Ferzen’s gaze shifted to Roer, seated quietly across from him, before he closed his eyes.
His audacity in doing so was driven by the apparent fact that the assembled parties had no intention of resolving their disputes through dialogue alone.
Thus, expending more energy in this meeting, which resembled a mere skirmish preceding an imminent war, seemed futile.
‘In order to successfully place the Prince, they supported on the throne, there’s only one path……’
It would involve a remarkably straightforward chicken game, a contest in which the side that couldn’t afford the loss would withdraw first.
However, as he had heard, the Elmark Empire’s objective wasn’t limited to installing the Second Prince, Inas del Prussian Roverium, on the throne.
They also sought the justification for initiating war.
Ferzen struggled to fully grasp the gravity of that word.
After all, the wars within both Ferzen and Lee Seo-jin’s memories were historical events.
Nonetheless, he recognized that war was a temptation no nation should covet.
Just as humans paid with their lifespan for seeking pleasure from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, a nation paid the price in the form of hastening its own downfall when pursuing the benefits of war.
‘Does anyone not know that?’
Throughout the past, present, and future, those who detest coexistence often choose co-destruction.
Humans used war as a means to an end.
In times of peace, children buried their parents.
But in times of war, parents buried their children.
Do you have parents who will bury you?
Ferzen couldn’t help but inwardly laugh as he briefly met Marquis Phrygia’s gaze after reopening his eyes.
* * * * *
“Thank you for your hard work, Your Highness.”
“……I wouldn’t call it hard work. We’re just arguing over meaningless matters. Let’s move on for now.”
“As you wish, Your Highness.”
Once Ferzen left the palace alongside the Second Prince, Raymond, he couldn’t help but glance at the expressions of the Roverium Kingdom’s residents who roamed the streets.
Even in the bustling marketplace, the liveliest part of the city, everyone seemed to be holding their breath and lowering their heads.
It was evident that they were all aware of the turmoil that was unfolding, as the two nations vied for control of their country’s seat of power.
“Does this make you uncomfortable?”
“That’s not the case, Your Highness.”
Considering the Roverium Kingdom’s long history as a vassal of the Ernes Empire, their reaction was hardly surprising.
Many might be pondering the significance of someone from the Brutein lineage being present in their midst.
As a general rule, the higher one’s reputation was within their own country, the greater their notoriety abroad.
Furthermore, it was the Brutein who had established the financial networks within the Roverium Kingdom.
The kingdom’s capital city held a unique role—it symbolized the convergence of all the financial streams within the kingdom, as well as the center for weakening and squeezing dry the territories governed by each noble.
Without a well, nobles would have no choice but to fetch water from the river themselves.
This process, however, inevitably took a toll on the residents of the Roverium Kingdom. Many suffered greatly, unable to survive outside the capital.
In a different sense, it could be said that an eternal winter had fallen upon them.
Yet, even taking all of this into account……
“Their hostility is beyond imagination.”
As Ferzen passed by the people bowing their heads, he could feel the daggers in their gazes, filled with hatred, piercing his back.
“Do you know what the most convenient tactic would be to use right now from the Elmark Empire’s perspective?”
Princess Elizabeth, walking beside him with a parasol, spoke quietly.
Ferzen shook his head briefly before responding.
“It must be incitement.”
“That’s correct. During the time you were absent, we had to quell numerous residents who came to us desperate for their lives.”
“……Children, pregnant women, the infirm……We had to suppress them, and it only fueled more hostility towards us.”
Was the current enmity they faced the result of such manipulation?
In truth, the residents should be directing their anger toward Prince Inas. After all, he was the one who had provoked this conflict by involving the Elmark Empire.
However, Marquis Phrygia skillfully deflected the blame and turned it around.
“For what? We were expecting something like this, after all.”
“Don’t you know that’s not what I mean?”
This situation itself would never have unfolded if it hadn’t been for his scheme to kill Ciel Midford that day at the banquet.
At Ferzen’s words, Elizabeth, who had been walking beside him, raised the parasol she had been holding and looked up at him.
Her distinctive platinum hair blended harmoniously with the sunlight.
Her sensual red lips held a small smile, as if she found it a waste to smile fully.
“Don’t say things you don’t mean.”
They had been too far away that day.
They couldn’t even close their eyes to stop seeing his face.
Once Princess Elizabeth had said all she wanted to, her steps quickened, leaving Ferzen staring blankly at her back.
He followed with a silly smile on his face.
“I understand… I made a mistake.”
“It’s fine. As long as you understand.”
Her platinum hair billowed beautifully in the wind.
The fragrance carried to him by the breeze was even more alluring than he had thought.
* * * * *
What Ferzen had heard at the Ernes Empire’s base within the Roverium Kingdom was the overall progress of recent events.
Naturally, the Second Prince, Raymond, would have preferred to discuss more today. But given that Ferzen must have accumulated fatigue from his journey, that wasn’t an option.
‘Even though he said he was late himself……’
Ferzen had arrived faster than anyone expected, which meant he must have crossed the northern mountains to get here.
Raymond wasn’t the kind of monarch to ignore the needs of his subjects, especially when they required rest.
“Let’s conclude our meeting for today. Take a break, and let’s reconvene tomorrow to establish a concrete plan.”
Raymond smiled wryly at Ferzen’s response. He wasn’t the type to engage in superficial conversations, so he recognized that his prediction had been correct.
While he didn’t show it outwardly, Raymond always felt a sense of urgency when he wasn’t focused on his duties. It was as if something was chasing him, making him anxious.
However, this was a burden he couldn’t share with the vassals who followed him.
Just as his father had never wanted to reveal his weaknesses to his family, a Monarch couldn’t show weakness to the vassals who followed him.
Perhaps that’s why…
“Would you care to join us for dinner, Your Highness?”
Raymond was genuinely grateful for Ferzen’s invitation. He wondered what kind of conversation they might have over their meal.
Ferzen didn’t decline Raymond’s offer but, at the same time, provided a way to alleviate the King’s anxiety.
“Ah, let’s do that.”
Of course, this put the nobles in a difficult position.
The Prince had instructed them to rest, but Ferzen, the second most influential figure after the Prince himself, had refused and invited the Prince to dine with him.
They could see Ferzen’s eyes inviting them to join as well. However, to decline would mean they wouldn’t know what discussions the Prince and Ferzen would have during dinner.
They stood at a delicate crossroads, feeling immense discomfort.
“If you have the time, would you care to join us?”
“Yes… Yes, of course!”
So, except for Ferzen, the nobles who followed Raymond were swayed by that single sentence.
After all, it was better for the Prince to show them the path rather than leaving them at a crossroads.
A vassal was someone the ruler should take care of. If the ruler addressed the issues that the vassals had with the ruler, there could be no better ruler-vassal relationship than that.
In this regard, the Second Prince, Raymond, possessed exemplary virtues as a ruler.
TL note: 12/20
I gotta say, candlelight concerts are awesome.
And the Cold Play concert was a legit dreamy thing.
Legit one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen,
The date was a success lads and lasses.
Imma take this nice lady to em second date soon!
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