Continentals have been stirred. The continent’s nations simultaneously revealed secrets they’d hidden. The Empire was no different. Emperor Glediol addressed tens of thousands of people in the Great Square, announcing the coming threat simultaneously with his departure.
The world would end. The people were agitated, but they still believed that the millions of troops gathered from across the continent would save them.
After Emperor Glediol’s speech, Archduke Byron led 800,000 Allied soldiers. A staggering number of soldiers left their families and homes to travel far and wide to save the world.
At sea, Archmage Belen rallied pirates to the cause. The merchant alliance, led by the Aspencers, poured vast sums of money into recruiting mercenaries from across the continent, numbering nearly half a million.
Soldiers and self-proclaimed heroes from all corners of the continent rushed to the Keliagor Plateau to face the onslaught and save the world from the Demon King.
However, unlike what she thought would be a short war, it turned out to be quite long.
This meant supplies were scarce. The Empire made a few deliveries, but they were quickly exhausted, and the war was lost.
“What else could we do?”
“Are you willing to lose the war and watch us crumble?”
The nobles in the council shook their heads, their faces grim. This was the fourth conscription. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t gather what they didn’t have. People died of hunger and cold. Even the nobles realized they had lost in this war, and they quickly hidden their money and grain.
If they lost the war, they would have to survive on their own. Who would give up grain and money in such a situation?
Knowing this, even the emperor, Gladio, who attended the council, could not placate the nobles. It was a war in which the council, which had never been united, came together for the first time and gave everything they had.
The palace was emptied and the money dried up. The money raised from the sale of countless assets had long since been exhausted by the protracted war.
Gladiol bit his lip as he studied the report in front of him.
‘I guess that is it.’
It had been a curious start to the war, one she won. Even with Aspencer and Basquiella’s support, he thought he would win. But it turned out differently.
“Your Majesty, the frequent roundups are taking a toll. No matter how much you beg me to, I’m not willing to give you supplies so easily.”
“Then why don’t we just issue government bonds to buy them?”
“The Treasury is already stretched to the limit. We’re also walking around to each top and guild to see if they have supplies left, but they have very limited supplies. Even if they had the money, I doubt they’d be willing to sell their supplies…….”
“And you intend to stand by and let millions of soldiers in distant lands starve to death?”
The nobles remained silent in Glediol’s anger. They knew their lives were at stake in this war, but they had no choice. There was nothing left for them, except the bare minimum to maintain their families.
As Gladiol cursed lowly, he pressed his sternum against the top of his chest.
“What about recalling them from the order?”
“There’s been a lot of talk lately about a cult that believes in Kellem handing out food. Wouldn’t it fit in if we collected food from them?”
“That would be wrong, Your Majesty. The Order helps people with relief efforts. It’s a very significant factor in keeping riots from escalating. If we interfere with that, there’s no telling what might happen.”
“Do riots matter now? If we lose the war right now, we’ll lose the capital. Don’t you know what’s more critical?!”
“A capital without soldiers is just as much of a shambles if there is a riot! Do you want to see your head blown off before the war is even won? You pick the stupidest things to say.”
“What did you just say? Stupid? Are you done talking now? I want my……!!!”
Once the voices rose, the once quiet council chamber was filled with harsh noises. Accusations were hurled at each other until you wondered if they were the same people who had kept their mouths shut just moments before. Glediol frowned and watched wordlessly as the nobles craned their necks and shouted insults and curses.
He pushed his chair back, ready to pound his fist on the floor.
A small voice stopped him from getting up. Gladiol turned his head, only to find Bahid sitting next to him, his face relaxed.
“If there is a way to solve your Majesty’s problem, would you accept whatever it is?”
“Is there a way, Chancellor?”
“I don’t know.”
Bahidman leaned back in his chair, his expression relaxed.
“I suppose it is your Majesty’s choice.”
“We have an investor. Someone who can give you a huge supply run.”
“You mean you have such a person? I don’t care what the amount is, buy it now……!”
“It’s not money he wants, I told you, it’s an investment.”
Glediol tilted his head, and Bahidman raised his mouth corner.
“Yes. I’m not asking for a political position or a knighthood. However, I have three demands. One of which is that you recognize and accept the emerging religion, the Order of Keleum, as the state religion. The other two are similar demands. What do you think?”
Glediol’s brow narrowed at the unexpected situation.
The Empire’s state religion remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The state religion’s head, the High Priest, participated in imperial ceremonies and placed the crown on the emperor’s head. To ask for such a position was ridiculous. But…….
What purpose was the state religion for if the country failed? Moreover, the current state religion was corrupt, tied to the political aristocracy, and Gladiol wanted to solve that problem.
Also, the state religion was unpopular and lacked the ability to persuade people, so it didn’t seem like an ideal idea to appoint a church that saved the world as the state religion.
“That’s not too difficult, what are the other two?”
“They’re all similar. None of them pose a major threat to the Empire’s security, and all of them require a decision from His Majesty. What do you think?”
“……I’ll hear them out and decide.”
Bahidman snapped his fingers and the loud-mouthed nobles shut up, as they always did. Bahidman raised his mouth a little. With that, the council chamber door opened.
A lone figure stood there, facing the light. As the door opened, the man walked slowly inside.
long hair swaying gently. As the door closed, the light faded, revealing a face.
“You’ll have to hear it from the man himself.”
Gladiol’s lips parted as his pristine breath dispersed. The woman stepped closer to Gladiole, smiling softly and bowing to her, before walking back.
Blue eyes flickered red in the darkness, catching the torch glow.
It was Lancia.
* * *
Shuffling through her papers, Eisel narrowed her eyes. The sunlight streaming through the window at her back was now tinged with orange. Glancing back, she realized it was late.
Flicking her pen, she bit her lip in thought.
He’d left early in the morning, so he should have been back by afternoon at the latest. It shouldn’t have taken that long. Bahidman had laid the groundwork, so all he had to do was tell them the terms and get the contract. But being this late means…….
“Did I send Lancia for nothing?”
Having already made one investment through Carl, Eisel wanted to keep her identity secret; it would all come out later, but at least for now.
He didn’t want to get caught with two investments and become a vending machine to be used whenever he wanted, so she sent Lancia to temporarily hide her identity.
It was supposed to be a meeting with the Emperor, but with only Bahidman there, she figured it wouldn’t be a problem.
Eisel bit her lip, glanced at her watch and then at the sky, and jumped to her feet.
With a thud, her chair slid back, and a commotion erupted outside the mansion. Eisel hurried to the window and peered down.
Eisel breathed a sigh of relief and pulled up a chair that had been pushed over and sat down. As she organized her disheveled papers and picked up her pen, the door opened with heavy footsteps as if she’d been waiting.
Eisel jumped to her feet to greet Lancia, who barged in without knocking. Once inside, Lancia ran to Eisel and hugged her without looking back. Surprised by the instantaneous embrace, Eisel narrowed his eyes and glanced down.
Eisel pushed Lancia away with a worried look on her face.
“Lancia, is something wrong?”
Eisel asked Lancia, who shook her head in tears. Why are you crying if nothing has happened?
Lancia stared at Eisel’s face, and a single tear fell down her cheek.
“You, I was so scared!”