Editors: Arekusu & Tan.
Day 130 after being summoned to another world.
“I look forward to your future loyal service.”
During the audience, when Princess Lupis made such a statement, all five nobles in front of her lowered their heads in silent consent.
“It’s going well, huh…”
Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev nodded their heads at Ryouma, agreeing with what he had said.
After the meeting with Princess Lupis ended they gathered in another of the castle’s many rooms
“This is the result of Mikoshiba-dono’s work.”
Earl Bergston lowered his head toward Ryouma.
Almost a month had passed since the Earl had joined the princess’ faction.
During that time, a bond of trust had begun to form between Ryouma, Earl Bergston, and Earl Zerev.
“No, no, this is all thanks to the Earls’ assistance. After all, I’m nothing more than an outsider.”
This was not modesty.
No matter how good of an argument you could come up with, it is not an easy thing for people to disregard each other’s social statuses in this world.
One could say it was very fortunate for Ryouma that Earl Bergston was willing to hear him out and even became his friend afterward.
Understanding all of this, Ryouma had put his trust in Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev, enabling the two brothers-in-law to persuade other neutral faction members, that they judged would have a high probability of joining the Princess’ faction.
Initially, Meltina opposed him by asking: “Did you promise them some important positions to turn them over to our side?!”. However, Ryouma managed to persuade her in the end.
As a consequence of all of this, Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev were showing more results than he had expected of them.
In just half a month, both men had successfully turned some of the neutral faction members throughout the kingdom to the princess’ faction.
Of course, that was due to the ability and the influence of the Earls, but it was Ryouma’s explanation and his assessment of the current situation which played the biggest role in making both the invitation and negotiation successful.
That’s why Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev had never shown any disrespect despite the fact that Ryouma is a commoner.
On the other hand, Ryouma also never grew arrogant just because of his achievements.
“As a matter of fact, there will be even more nobles who will probably swear their allegiance to the princess.”
“Indeed. Just like Earl Zerev said, there are many members of the neutral faction who hold their own grudges against the noble faction!”
The grudges that the neutral faction members held against the noble faction were very strong, because they were centered around the fact that they had been alienated from the central politics by that very faction.
After being told that they will be entrusted with policy-making after the war is over, many nobles came forward to pledge their allegiance to the princess with utmost devotion.
“Well it’s good that our numbers are increasing, but…”
Ryouma was smiling bitterly, the exact opposite of the two Earls, who were grinning happily.
From the start Ryouma held the opinion that their current situation means that they should not allow themselves to grow too optimistic.
“Is there something that’s bothering you, Mikoshiba-dono?”
Earl Zerev asked Ryouma after seeing Ryouma’s expression.
“No…, it’s just, although I know that it is unavoidable that we will have to confront the noble faction in a decisive battle, I am still worried as to how we should deal with it, when the time comes.”
After pondering the problem for a while, Earl Bergston responded to the issue Ryouma had pointed out.
“Hou…, is it the decisive battle against the noble faction itself, or rather its aftermath that Mikoshiba-dono is worried about?”
(Fuu~…, as expected of him, he understood so much from the few words I said… )
“Earl Bergston, as expected, are you talking about a different fight than the one against the noble faction?” – Earl Zerev suddenly asked.
Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev are great politicians, but of the two of them Bergston is definitely the superior in terms of having a mind for strategy.
Earl Bergson, as if chiding the simple Earl Zerev for only being able to solve problems that are right in front of his eyes, spoke his mind.
“No, that’s not it. Originally the Princess, who has the Knight faction on her side, was lacking as far as the number of soldiers she could muster, but if you take into account her soldiers’ superior fighting ability, then you could say that both sides were nearly equal…, but now that we have recruited a large part of the neutral faction, even if we were to fight against the noble faction we should have a significant advantage over them…, if that is the case, then, as expected…”
Struggling to finish his response, Earl Bergston turned his gaze towards Ryouma.
Saying so little, the Earl had not given a definitive answer.
Ryouma wanted him to say more than he had managed to.
However, looking at Earl Bergston’s face, he gave up on the idea.
Ryouma could see that the Earl could not understand the cause for his concern.
He decided to give the two brothers-in-law an explanation of the main problem they were all facing.
“Yes, just like you said. I’m worried about the things that come after the crucial battle…, well, I hope we can settle everything before we even have that decisive battle…”
Being prepared ahead of time is an important part of warfare.
It can be said that whether you are victorious or suffer defeat is determined based on how well you have prepared in advance.
Ryouma clearly understood this principle.
And he was not the first person who had thought in such a way.
If he were to read famous 20th century Japanese books, he would have seen many references from ancient military books, both Eastern and Western.
And nowadays there are even people who study Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and apply it to the field of business.
Apart from being used for warfare, it is also being used in politics.
A present day Japanese person should have knowledge comparable to that of medieval Japan’s politicians.
Compared to Earth’s wartime era, this world’s current era was a lot less chaotic.
And not to mention a situation where one nation concentrates too much on building up its military power and forsakes obtaining knowledge. That country would find itself lagging behind in terms of education, culture, and technology.
<TLN: A good example would be North Korea and its Military-First policy.>
If you think about it, there is a very extreme difference in the standard of living and upbringing of the different social classes.
It is not uncommon for farmers, living in rural areas far away from the capital, to be unable to even write their own names.
And most of the soldiers that the noble families have assembled are mostly made up of such farmers, albeit former ones.
None of them have gone through military training of any sort.
While the soldiers that Earl Bergston brings with him number a thousand, the truth is that they are just an amateur group of “soldiers”.
Of course, the ones who led this militia were people hired by Earl Bergston’s family.
They are individuals who have studied the military arts, or former mercenaries, which separates them from the rest of Bergston’s amateur army.
However, one cannot expect much as far as fighting ability from all of them, soldiers and leaders combined, since the soldiers are mostly amateurs.
But then, the noble faction has exactly the same problem.
They have gathered the same type of inexperienced people for soldiers from within their own territories.
Having said all of that, there is one exception – the Knight faction.
They are genuine soldiers and even the lower ranked ones are capable of using the magic arts.
They are people hired by the country and their wages are paid by the king.
If somebody wants to join the army, they have to pass a test of skill. Hence not everyone can join and become a proper soldier.
Originally their existence was to act as a last line of defence that protects the royal family.
But now, they have fallen almost completely under General Hodram’s influence and he would not think twice about using them to further his own agenda.
Thus, the army that everyone was supposed to trust had instead turned into their enemy.
Because he had had to prepare for the fight against the Knight faction, Ryouma had left the task of recruiting nobles from the neutral faction to Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev.
Although gathering information from the Knight faction was problematic, there is a much bigger problem troubling Ryouma.
Speaking of soldiers, he wanted to minimise the number of casualties as much as possible.
Since it is a profession, the number of skilled people is very limited.
This is one of the main reasons why most monarchs are not strangers to hiring mercenaries.
However, enlisting the services of mercenaries can also be viewed as a last-ditch measure.
In addition to the fact that their ability varies, their loyalty is far worse than a Knight’s.
Plus, acquiring capable mercenaries costs a lot of money.
On average, one has to pay five times the annual salary of a knight per mercenary.
On the other hand, unlike the knights that one has to maintain at all times, one can just fire these hired soldiers as soon as they are no longer needed.
To put it simply, one can say the knights are the regular soldiers, while the mercenaries are the irregulars you use when you have no other choice.
Taking all of this into account, the problem that is pestering Ryouma is how they are going to preserve the kingdom after they have replaced General Hodram.
After they win against the noble faction, there will definitely be a struggle for power between the princess’ faction against the Knight faction.
This information is common knowledge for the people who both belong to the Princess’ faction and have her unwavering trust.
Princess Lupis can take control of the national government if she defeats the noble faction.
This is why they have been courting nobles from the neutral faction.
However, no matter how well the nobles controlled the kingdom’s internal affairs, they would not be able to overcome the military power of the knights.
If you take into account the number and types of soldiers each side has, then the Knight faction would be ten times stronger than the Princess and her supporters.
One might ask “If Ryouma doesn’t think that’s the problem, then what does he think it is?”.
The problem is that after they defeat the Knight faction, there won’t be anybody left to defend Princess Lupis and preserve the kingdom.
If that was to happen, only chaos would ensue.
The neighboring countries, the ones that were already eyeing the Rozeria Kingdom, would surely unite.
If the Knight faction disappears, the starving wolves would not hesitate to turn their hungry gazes towards the kingdom – unless there’s an alternative army ready to take the place of the knights.
And one should not forget that knights are professional soldiers.
You can’t just simply hire a farmer, not to mention it takes a lot of time to train them.
Hiring mercenaries is not an option either, as it would cost too much.
And not only that, in term of loyalty, they also cannot be trusted.
Yet, if they do not eliminate the Knight faction then the princess will become their puppet. However, if they eliminate the Knight faction without being able to replace them, then the kingdom’s military power would be diminished, and seeing this the neighboring countries would take advantage and invade… This present situation could be thought of as someone being put in a maze that has no exit.
<TLN: A problem without any solutions in sight.>
“I see…, as expected of Ryouma, your foresight is amazing.”
Earl Bergston and Earl Zerev raised voices filled with admiration for Ryouma.
However, seeing both of them act like that, he felt nothing but cold-heartedness.
(To think that even they can’t understand something as simple as this… if the cunning Earls cannot…, then it would only be natural for neither Princess Lupis nor Meltina to notice this problem,since even the people who are supposed to be capable couldn’t get a grasp of the problem)
With that, it can’t be helped if Ryouma feels worried.
They are not just ordinary commoners.
It made him wonder whether the people who are supposed to carry the nation’s fate on their shoulders were unable to see all of these problems.
But having said all of that, this problem is a minor one for Ryouma.
After all, Ryouma’s goal is to get Princess Lupis’ backing, so that he can win his future fight against the guildmaster.
This means he does not need to concern himself with the fate of the Rozeria Kingdom if he doesn’t plan on living in this country in the future.
For Ryouma, if it’s just to take out the knight faction then, he has many ways to accomplish that.
Ultimately, knights in this world are people who hate trickery and scheming.
This might be due to their ability to use magic, since they can just fight with brute force, thus they don’t think much about using strategy in warfare.
Ryouma is sure about that because he already asked the Princess, Meltina, and the other knights who had sworn loyalty to the princess, as to how they usually conducted warfare.
Justice, Loyalty, and Pride.
Their logic is that as long they have these three things, they would win any wars.
He had also been shown some knight tactical books, but the content was appalling.
The content of these books was unrelated to battle. Etiquette was the first such example he could remember.
They didn’t even have the concept of a formation, let alone a more complex ideas like logistics and chain of supply.
Although this is not something he should say, but he thinks the knowledge in this world is too low.
This was the reason why it is so easy for Ryouma to manipulate people so well.
Well, as a knight, having strong muscles instead of a keen mind is fine.
Above all else, bravery is their greatest virtue.
But for nobles, it cannot be just that.
Although bravery is valuable, the ability to see ahead is much more important for them.
Since they are the ones who will be governing the country, they must be able to anticipate what would happen after they depose the Knight faction and take countermeasures in advance.
Of course, that does not mean all of them should be able to notice that a hole would be left in the kingdom’s defense , and it’s not like they would be called incompetent if they could not see it.
But if all of the people at the top of the government fail to see such a thing, then that is simply not good.
(Were they just going to ignore the kingdom’s defense after they eliminated the Knight faction?)
Ryouma desperately shook off these simplistic and naive thoughts, banishing them from the depths of his mind.
(No…, no, I’m overthinking this too much…, as one would expect, this is all just too absurd.)
If something like that really happen, then that would be the end of the Rozeria Kingdom.
Ryouma is a selfish and shrewd man, yet at the same time he considered love, hate, and debt of gratitude as important things.
Although only temporarily, they had become his allies. Thus it was impossible for him to just abandon them without helping them with all of his power.
“What is going on?”
Earl Zerev had started looking at Ryouma’s face anxiously.
Ryouma wondered if his expression had changed that much.
“Fumu…, Mikoshiba-dono thought that winning against the knights is not our main problem…, the problem you’ve been worried about is how the kingdom will protect itself after we depose General Hodram, am I right?”
After saying that Earl Bergston turned his eyes toward Ryouma.
“Indeed. That is the problem which I was worried about…”
“Then why not just make Meltina-dono take command afterwards?”
“Ooh! As expected of Earl Bergston. What a splendid idea!”
Their idea was to replace General Hodram with someone who’s completely loyal to the princess.
Certainly, this proposal meant that they would only need to eliminate Hodram; thus no significant reduction in the kingdom’s military power would occur.
However, Ryouma shook his head.
Because he thought that something like that was impossible.
“That is impossible…, Meltina is too reckless of a person for such a position.”
Meltina was indeed brave and has a strong sense of justice. More importantly, she’s very loyal to the princess.
One could see her as suitable for the job.
However, it was not just pure strength that was needed.
Although Meltina does not like factional disputes and her loyalty to the princess and the kingdom is unquestionable.
The problem is how she thinks that her sense of values is absolute and that other people should have the same values as she does.
In particular, she believes that everyone has to pledge their unconditional loyalty to the royal family.
Of course, that is not completely wrong.
Since she works for the Rozeria Kingdom, it is natural for her to think in such a way.
However, human beings are not simple creatures, they possess a lot of other senses as well.
Such as desire.
Different ways of thinking.
And other various senses and values.
If she has absolute power, then she wouldn’t have to consider other people’s wills.
She would just crush them with brute force.
However, the situation that Princess Lupis faces now is not one that can be dealt with mere strength.
In term of a simple power relation, Princess Lupis is the weakest.
Thus she needs someone who can lead the knights and at the same time swear their loyalty to her.
It is crucial for such a person to be able to understand the other knights’ dissatisfaction.
With such requirements, it was impossible for someone like Meltina to handle this kind of a job.
The Earls, having heard Ryouma’s explanation, had remained silent.
Although their eyes didn’t shine with confidence like they had before, at least now they knew the importance of the problem as he saw it.
That is why the two of them were unable to say anything.
In their minds, they could even imagine that the knights might run away due to Meltina’s immense sense of pride.
“I see…, indeed, she would be unfit for the job…, but if that is the case, what are you going to do? Are you going to recommend someone from within the Knight faction itself?”
“No…, I don’t want to do that if possible…, since there would always be the possibility that we would end up creating another Hodram.”
Ryouma shook his head, dismissing Bergston’s suggestion.
If he suddenly chose a new leader of the knights from within the Knight faction itself, he would surely be thought of as someone that is no longer in the Princess’ confidence.
Of course, something like choosing a new leader is not unusual, however, Ryouma cannot risk promoting a knight, as he fears there is a chance of him failing to bring the Knight faction to the Princess’ side after General Hodram has been deposed.
And one must not forget that the person who replaces General Hodram would be in a position of great power..
That’s why he needs someone trustworthy, someone who would pledge allegiance to Princess Lupis.
All of this for the sake of preventing a second Hodram from appearing.
“Ah, right! There is someone like that!”
Ryouma doubted his ears for a moment since it was none other than Earl Zerev, the man who had stayed silent for so long, that had suddenly raised his voice.
“Is that true? Earl Zerev!?”
Earl Bergston’s expression was also beaming with surprise.
“Yes. She’s got not just experience, but also a good personality! I would stake my life on this person’s suitability with confidence!”
“She? Is it a woman?”
“Oh? You’re still puzzled, Earl Bergston? It’s her…, Rozeria Kingdom’s White Goddess of War.”
“That’s right! How could I forget that person!”
「Rozeria’s White Goddess of War」.
After hearing such a grand title, a look of astonishment appeared on Earl Bergston’s face.
“Just who on earth is she?”
Ryouma asked, and Earl Bergston started answering, feeling anxious all the while.