Weekly chapters (2/2)
Quite long chapter. The prelude of nation-building.
It started getting good from here~
Chapter 83 – Award
At the Royal Capital, the returning soldiers were greeted with a warm welcome by the excited populace.
[Glory to Arcadia!]
[Glory to His Majesty Sephiros!]
The Generals and the Aristocrats put up radiant faces in response to those cheering, but many among them had complex feelings this time.
Everyone understood well. They’ve done literally nothing this time…
And there was nothing they could do about that.
A day after arriving back to the capital, Emperor Sephiros announced that the merits report and medal awarding ceremony will be held in three days.
Silvia heard about this while she was visiting Ares at the Schwarzer mansion.
[The battle went according to what you wanted it… I am curious…just what kind of gift His Majesty will award to you.]
[Perhaps the merger of Schwarzer Territory and the Grants territory… don’t you think that’s the most likely scenario to happen?]
Ares sipped the tea in his cup, then resumed.
[It’s a remote place, so they’ll set me to rule it… that’s how it will be.]
[But…is that not a bit too cheap for such a grand achievement?]
Silvia thought inwardly, there had never been a case where a man took over four countries with only his own meager private army. Not even in the west or east.
[Since it is His Majesty we are talking about… I think it will be something unexpected…]
[In any case we’ll find out after 3 days. Right now, we can only wait.]
[Speaking of which, I heard that many people are asking for a meeting?]
[…. honestly, it’s really troublesome. Can I not meet all of them at all? Keep delaying the meeting to the next day everytime can be tiring…]
Silvia then reprimanded Ares
[What is with that attitude? Nothing will change whether it is tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Just meet them already]
And he answered.
[Most likely it’ll be just them trying to sell off their daughter to me for a honey trap, no? As for me, before I can properly back Cornelia and Zerias, I’d prefer that there is no interference from the other aristocrats.]
Silvia laughed upon hearing that.
[Speaking of which, have you gone to meet Cornelia and Zerias after coming back?]
[As you might guess, I’ve no time to do that. It’s such a difficult situation.]
[Those two have been waiting for a while now. Zerias especially, wants to hear how the war went.]
Silvia’s face then turned serious.
[You are an important presence for them. Please refrain from acting inconspicuous.]
In response to Silvia’s warning, Ares merely laughed.
The ceremony was held in the main hall of the Imperial Palace. The punishment for the mistakes that were done in the previous campaign will also be decided at the same time.
It’s painfully obvious to everyone present of who the main figure of this ceremony will be. They were interested in finding out how many awards this main figure will receive. That’s one thing.
Looking at each of the aristocrat, they were talking about random things with each other, seemingly apprehensive… they were waiting for the emperor’s arrival with complicated feelings.
Ares stood there with Silvia and Earl Lloyd Roxietta at one corner of the hall.
There were many aristocrats wanting to create a connection with Ares, but they couldn’t do so with princess Silvia around. Ares was very grateful with this.
[Thanks to Your Highness, I won’t have to interact with those pesky aristocrats. Thank you very much.]
[Why of course. Give those aristocrats a little step then they’ll ask for a mile.]
In the midst of chatting with Silvia, a loud voice reverberated in the hall, announcing the emperor’s arrival.
The aristocrats hurriedly returned to their positions and bowed their heads.
Ares and Silvia weren’t exempt from this as well.
Once he sat on the throne, emperor Sephiros opened up with a heavy voice.
[Everyone, at ease.]
Everyone raised their faces at Sephiros’ command.
[This will be a ceremony to commemorate the campaign. We will hereby grant rewards to meritorious deeds during the war and lay punishment to the failure accordingly.]
Having said so, Sephiros gave a glance at the prime minister, Duke of Clark, Gilbert.
Gilbert unfolded the Emperor’s edict, coughed once, then read it out loud.
[Firstly, punishment for the failures in the previous battles]
At that moment, it’s as if the temperature of the main hall had dropped to zero. The aristocrats held their breath in anticipation.
[First of all….. Archduke Saxon and First Prince Carlos will have to return to their own territories.]
At the same time as that announcement were over, there were some sighed among the crowds.
This marked the end of Georg and Carlos’ faction as they had to step away from the political war for throne succession. Not only that, but they also had to pay a large fine as well.
Afterwards was the punishment for those who escaped during Darius’ surprise attack.
Anything can be confiscated here. Mostly material possessions… but some actually had to lose their very own life here. Thus the aristocrats waited in fear for Sephiros’ decision.
After the punishment came the rewards for the achievement.
Unlike the previous one, the attitude of the aristocrats this time was way different.
They didn’t hesitate to show their interest….
[First of all… to the royal guards who had protected His Majesty…]
Several names were called upon and rewarded for their achievements. Along with that were the applause from the aristocrats. Some of the royal guards were granted the status of nobility. So the aristocrats were watching which one got that reward…and on which side these new aristocrats would be.
And the last name that was called upon… is the name that the aristocrats anticipated the most.
[Lastly, we’d like to praise the one with the greatest achievements…the little lord of the Schwarzer, Ares Schwarzer, please stand forward.]
When Ares headed out to meet Sephiros, the other aristocrats watched on.
Their face was a mixture of jealousy and curiosity… On their mind were various speculations about Ares.
Gilbert first reconfirmed what was written in the edict, then looked at Emperor Sephiros in disbelief… Sephiros moved his chin, motioning Gilbert to continue reading.
[Ares Schwarzer. Your feats of taking down four countries and repelling the large horde of monsters, is unmatched even in the east or the west. These kind of feats must also be rewarded greatly.]
Gilbert resumed after taking a short breather.
[The four countries you’ve taken down will be under your name now…thus you must govern them well. Grants will be the main territory, with the other three being auxiliary territories. Aristocrats ruling these lands will have to consult with you for instructions. Ares Schwarzer will be granted the title of『Lord of the Frontier』.]
This decision invoked various discussions.
[Really now…a Lord of the Frontier…]
[Of course, he originally hailed from the Archduke clan…giving him any lower title than that would be…]
[But that land reeks with barbarians and monsters. Not exactly a good place to start…]
『Lord of the Frontier』….it’s actually at the same rank as the Marquis and right below the rank of Duke. However, the owner of this title has more degree of autonomy compared to a Marquis.
They could draft any number of soldiers and they are allowed to make territorial laws freely. Within their own territory, it’s no exaggeration to say that they are like a King of an independent country.
In Arcadia Empire, there had been only one other person to receive Lord of the Frontier title in history, but his clan had long been perished.
In addition to that, Grants combined with the three other countries makes for a fairly vast territory.
Ares is already the heir of an Archduke. Combined with the territory he obtained just now, his clan will now become the clan with the largest territory in the empire.
But Ares’ reward did not stop there. The next part made the aristocrats even more surprised.
Gilbert continued on.
[We acknowledge that there are many things in Grants that will not bring benefit to Arcadia, such as the barbarians and the monsters. In this regard, suppressing them will be the greatest task for the region. Therefore, We appointed Ares Schwarzer as the『General of Conquest』. We leave this task to you.]
[General of Conquest] ….. This title is given temporarily to those under military service to subjugate a different ethnic group. A commander who leads the army against another race… is pretty much the highest position a military officer could hope for…. The highest command so to speak.
In the past, there was only one other person in Arcadia who received such title, but it was nothing but a false title back then.
Ares indeed belonged to an Archduke clan, but as a military officer he’s still on the equal rank as a second officer. This promotion had moved his rank up by a lot, skipping some in the process. The Aristocrats present started to make noises.
[P-pardon me, but please reconsider! The General of Conquest is originally a very high position in the military body. Such a title shouldn’t be easily given after only one campaign!]
[I think so too. This kind of thing is unheard of before.]
[Certainly, Ares-dono has amassed great achievements. But, awarding the position of『General of Conquest』to him is a bit….]
[I have never heard a mere second officer be rewarded with such a high ranking position before!]
The aristocrats belonging to the military position showed their discontent. Randolph who himself the imperial army Marshall had a bitter face. In contrast, the other Marshall, Duke McDohl showed an interested face.
Listening to these negative reactions, the Emperor tapped his hand on the throne handle loudly, effectively calming the scene.
[We have deemed him worthy of such title. If you lot dare to speak against Our decision, then should We consider you lot trying to revolt against the Empire?]
The noise died down instantly. Sephiros then turned to Ares and resumed.
[We will still bestow upon you the title of『General of Conquest』. As the title suggests, your task is to subjugate the barbarians dwelling in that 『Cursed Place』. Failure is not an option. In turn, you can choose to decline this position. Also, We must remind you that you may not take the imperial army for this task. You must rely on your own soldiers.]
『You must rely on your own soldiers.』
The aristocrats were aware of what those words imply. It’s like as if the Emperor himself had inflicted a [curse] upon Ares.
Despite being considered as the highest rank in the military command, he still could not move the imperial army without the Emperor’s consent. It’s pretty much a decorative title now.
However, Ares will be stationed in Grants, where many barbarians and demonkin lives. Therefore he’ll have to keep fighting them due to his position as [General of Conquest].
Not to mention that he’ll be unable to dispatch the imperial army, and has to rely on his own troops.
Sephiros had given Ares the greatest of honor and at the same time the toughest of challenges.
The aristocrats who previously thought that Sephiros was favoring Ares too much became puzzled. What is Sephiros’ real intention…?
Sephiros stared sharply at Ares. And Ares responded in kind. His decision had been made.
[This Ares receives the honor.]
Sephiros remained placid to that reply.
After confirming the situation, Gilbert continued reading the edict.
[Also, We will be asking Ares Schwarzer for marriage.]
The atmosphere froze over once more.
Ares also unintentionally let out a puzzled voice.
In particular, it was like putting a stop to the aristocrats trying to marry their daughter off to Ares.
It was Sephiros who broke the awkward silence.
[We hereby order you to take Our fourth daughter Cornelia as your companion in marriage. Cornelia is 18 years old this year. Both of you are young, which will make you two a fitting couple. A year from now, she’ll be joining you in Grants as your wife. You may not refuse this matter as this is not an offer, but an order.]
It was well known to everyone present that the four princesses of Arcadia are weak without any backing. Originally, a marriage would be determined and planned properly by first asking the consent of both parties involved. The same still applies even to the Royal clan. Especially when the other party is the Archduke.
Therefore the compulsory nature of this particular marriage was unprecedented.
Is it his kindness as a father to keep Cornelia away from the power struggle or conversely, a plot to involve Ares into joining the power struggle…
After the decision had been made, a lot of aristocrats raised their voices in protest. Some even raised their hands to voice out their concern.
[Your Majesty, permission to speak?]
Second Princess Silvia who had been silent all this time spoke up.
[What will happen to Zerias now that Cornelia will leave the capital?]
Zerias was also one of Silvia’s concerns after all.
[It’s about time for Zerias to gain experience as a military officer…]
[In that case, I have an idea.]
Silvia then resumed.
[Zerias and Cornelia are close to each other. It’ll be a pity to separate them. So it’s best to send away Zerias to Grants as well.]
Sephiros gave Silvia a look. But Silvia continued speaking.
[Ares-dono, who will be governing Grants, is the hero who took down four countries in a very short time. I’m sure Zerias will have a lot to learn from him.]
After hearing Silvia’s reasoning, Sephiros spoke quietly.
[Very well. We’ll discuss this matter about Zerias. But only if Ares Schwarzer himself is willing to take him in.]
Sephiros then stood up from his throne.
[With Grants and Redgear conquered, We have obtained the key to the east. If everything goes well this year, We will be able to flatten the east in no time. Therefore, make proper preparations.]
[ [ [ [ [ [ Yes! ] ] ] ] ] ]
And thus, the ceremony that went beyond Ares’ expectations came to an end.
Ares was awarded with four territories: Trevoir, Brittany, Redgear, and Grants as the main territory.
When Ares inherited the title of the Archduke, it’s been decided that both territories will be merged.
[Honestly, I didn’t expect that it will go that far… problems will certainly pile up from this. However it’s still a rewarding job.]
Ares said that with a laugh as he walked back to the mansion along with Sigurd.
[For now, I will return to Schwarzer territory and consult with my Esteemed Father. I’m going to manage my own territory…. I need to secure human resources.]
Starting from that point, Grants which was known as the [Cursed Land] would reach a major turning point.
It will later be recorded in history.
That this very [Cursed Land] would soon become the [Land of Beginning] from which the Hero Sovereign took the first step in conquering the continent.