On that day, modest knockings resounded throughout Earl Salzberg’s mansion located in the middle of fortress-city Epiroz.
“Dear. I’m sorry for disturbing you but, may I have a little bit of your time ?”
Yuria Salzberg called out the lord of the room while listening to a girl moan in broad daylight.
Hearing her voice. The woman’s moans and the sound of squeaking stopped for a moment, then the voice of a frustrated man could be heard from the inside.
“What is it, Yuria? Currently, I’m in a good part. If it’s not important, can we talk later ?”
His voice was filled with arrogance and confidence as if he was talking to his servants, not his wife.
Despite being called by his wife while in the middle of his affairs with a young maid, Thomas Salzberg didn’t sound guilty at all.
If those who knew the Earl heard what he said, they might doubt their ears. Because between the Earl and his wife, many people thought that she was the one leading the two.
Besides, even among noblemen, Earl Salzberg’s behavior right now can be regarded as abnormal. They might question whether or not the Earl see Yuria as his wife.
In the modern world, this kind of treatment would be regarded as emotional abuse.
If one were to have a decent mind, it was natural for the woman to think about divorce or at least live in a separate house.
However, Yuria had no options to choose from.
(I only work for this man like a slave. Divorce aside, there’s even no way for us to live separately… That is something I could not hope for… But…)
Yuria herself personally didn’t care about the details.
If her husband wanted a concubine, she herself had the generosity to grant such wish. If asked more, she was even fine to hand over the seat of the legal wife.
In the first place, Yuria was only the daughter of an influential merchant in Epiroz city. Judging from the class system, even though economically wealthy, the merchants were only commoners.
Certainly, there was those who were called business magnates. People who could influence the movements of a certain country.
Even if they were commoners, if one could become such merchant, then even a king would pay some respect accordingly. However, nobody even know how many such merchants exist in the entire world.
Yet, despite not being one, Yuria had become an Earl’s wife.
But looking at his manners, one could see what kind of existence Yuria was for the Earl. Even though formally she was his wife, in his eyes, she was essentially the same as servants.
Even though she was prepared for this kind of situation from the beginning, her heart still screams every time she see her husband’s mindless attitude.
Disgust, anger, and deep sorrow mixed into one. While suppressing the feelings of wanting to cry out, Yuria continues speaking…
“A letter has come from Baron Mikoshiba.”
She heard that he was clicking his tongue inside the room.
Although he was in the middle of having fun, it seems he still managed to judge the situation properly.
“I see… Wait a bit, let me wear my clothes.”
Hearing his words, Yuria sighed.
The current Earl Salzberg’s debauchery just started recently.
It was the result of being tired by the strict frugal lifestyle. He ousted his father and didn’t hesitate to release his suppressed desires from the day he sat down as the head of the Salzberg household. Lavish foods and women occupy most of his mind. While it was his wife, Yuria, who was the one who did the job as a lord.
In the Earl’s eyes, Yuria, who was not from a noble family, was like a gardener who took care of his garden. His garden named Epiroz. If her value disappeared, he would just hand her over to someone else…
Yuria herself understands that as well.
Although it was an unwanted marriage akin to human sacrifice, Yuria herself had made an effort to love her husband, in fact, she had been doing her best for the past decade.
The result of her hard work, Earl Salzberg’s fame and popularity had increased thanks to stable governance for many years.
And he became the most influential aristocrat who leads Rozeria northern nobles.
In order to support those, Yuria had taken over the economy of the city. Her achievements are by no means light.
However, the reality was heartless.
(I’m just a tool in the eyes of this person…)
From the surrounding people, they saw her as the strong woman who controls the Earl’s household from behind the scene, but in reality, she only amounts to this much.
The moment the door was opened, Yuria turned her head to the side, away from the fishy smell that entered her nose.
“What are you doing? If you have a business then get in…”
It was a cold voice. His voice sounded displeased because his fun was being disturbed.
Yuria who stood at the entrance was ordered by Earl Salzberg to enter.
The moment she heard him, Yuria’s heart was set.
“You should leave. Also, nobody should approach this room until I call.”
After giving such order to the maid who opened the door, Yuria set her foot inside the room.
“A letter from that youngster? What happened ?”
Earl Salzberg extended his hand towards Yuria while looking suspicious.
“It’s firmly sealed with wax… He’s really stiff…”
The design of a double-headed snake entwining a sword on the sealing wax indicated that the sender was Baron Mikoshiba.
Earl Salzberg took a knife and opened the letter.
“Let’s see… Just what is that youngster going to say exactly ?”
The Earl’s eyes slowly traced over the letter.
Earl Salzberg who eventually finished reading the letter slowly folded the paper.
After a brief silence, his laughter echoed inside the room.
“Khukhu…HAHAHAHAHA ! Magnificent. This is going to be fun.”
His figure who laughed while covering his face with his right hand was an evidence that he was making light of his opponent.
“What is written inside ?”
In response to Yuria asking such question, the Earl handed the letter to her.
Yuria herself actually knew the content from her father and grasped the situation, but she could not show it here. She took the letter silently.
“What do you think ?”
Earl Salzberg asked Yuria who was currently reading the letter.
“This is… A declaration of war, no ?”
The letter gives no impression of a lie. Reading the letter, one can only interpret it as that.
However, Earl Salzberg only continues to laugh even after reading the letter…
“Stupid… There’s no way for me to not notice his movements. That must be also why he declared war openly like this…”
In the letter, it was written first a demand of apology and compensation for all the spies the Earl had sent to sabotage the Wortenia peninsula. Second, demanding to delegate the soldiers stationed near Epiroz city to Baron Mikoshiba for restoring security and order due to the rebellion of commoners.
However, Earl Salzberg knows that both reasons were just a mere excuse.
First of all, it was true that he had sent spies to the peninsula but, it was not only him, most of the nobles near the peninsula had done the same.
Also, it was true that he had ordered the spies for sabotage, but there was no reason for Earl Salzberg to acknowledge it.
Although it was written as demand for an apology and compensation, it was reasonable enough to look at the letter as a declaration of war from the sender in case the sender had anticipated denial from the beginning.
Also, it was unreasonable to demand to hand over military command with the reason of restoring order.
In what world would one hand over command of their army to other people to protect one’s own territory… the answer was none.
Not to mention that the one demanding that was the person who accused you of espionage and sabotage.
In other words, it sounded like, handing over command of the army to the person who hated you. Only in comedy did such things happen.
No matter what kind of justifiable matter it was, in this kind of situation, no one in their right mind would hand over command of their armed forces.
There were two possibilities. Whether the person who wrote the letter was someone who could not understand authority, or that the person wrote it possessed a full understanding that the request would be denied from the beginning.
But, Yuria and Earl Salzberg never thought of Mikoshiba Ryouma as a stupid person.
“I think he is going to make use of the commoners’ rebellion to expand his power.”
“I see… In this situation, the royal capital won’t be able to intervene after all…”
Hearing Yuria’s remark, Earl Salzberg responded with a dark smile.
The position of Mikoshiba Ryouma within the Rozeria kingdom could be said as a sensitive issue.
The Wortenia peninsula he was ruling was a remote place where tax revenues can hardly be expected.
However, with the alliance of the eastern countries and ErnestGora everything changed. As a relay point of trade for the continent northern route.
Also, from the monsters inhabiting the peninsula, many things could be traded for high value.
Now he holds such riches.
Of course, for the neighboring nobles, such a situation was not fun.
Fortunately, it was known that Mikoshiba Ryouma who had been exiled in the remote region by Queen Lupis bore hatred towards her.
And that feeling of frustration surely would cause a war between them.
And while the Queen planned a change of territory, the nobles would seek a share of the pie.
As a matter of course, there was no way Mikoshiba Ryouma wouldn’t realize his own unstable position.
This letter showed what his countermeasure would be…
“It is hard to feed soldiers by creating farmland from scratch. If that is the case, there’s no choice for him but to storm the neighboring territories.”
“If that man is to survive, he only has one choice. And that is to strike south.”
An upstart noble, aristocrats who were ready to cooperate with Baron Mikoshiba who was seen as a heretical existence, were few in numbers.
In other words, the pressure from the nearby aristocrats and the potential intervention by the Royal family caused overwhelming disadvantages.
Even if Baron Mikoshiba had legitimacy over the land, it won’t show any effects.
Justice would always be decided by the majority vote. <TLN: If by the majority, the royal, and nobles want Ryouma to be placed in another territory, then welp… That is what this meant.>
However, with the present conditions where the domestic situation of the Rozeria Kingdom is in chaos, the story would be different.
Even if Mikoshiba Ryouma moves his army and took other territories by force, the Royal family doesn’t have the capacity to intervene and blame him for it.
“Fumu… I guess that is his aim then…”
Earl Salzberg deeply nodded while crossing his arms considering Yuria’s words.
(This provocation seems to be a reckless choice at first glance, but for that man, won’t there be another way around ?… Is this his do-or-die gambling ? Or is there something else ?)
Various thoughts crosses the Earl’s mind.
“So then, what are we going to do ?”
“Since I don’t know the state of the peninsula, I don’t want to jump in, but we have no choice but to talk to the surrounding nobles, just in case…”
In response to Yuria who broke the long silence, the Earl finally gave his orders.
Despite sending a lot of spies, he was unable to grasp the situation within the peninsula. He thinks it was improbable, but Earl Salzberg thought it might be possible for Ryouma to exceed his military power by using financial power.
Although he was making fun of Ryouma all the time for being an upstart, Earl Salzberg’s experience as a military commander was still reliable.
“Gather soldiers and crush him in a single swooping battle. Certainly, it is of low taste, but I guess there’s no other choice. I understand. I will immediately prepare the letter…”
After saying that gracefully, Yuria quickly leaves the room.
At that time, Earl Salzberg felt a bit of a sense of incongruity.
The Earl keeps staring silently at Yuria’s back. As if trying to probe the depths of her heart.