The Master of the Brave - Chapter 144
The Master of the Brave
Chapter 144. Wynn and Jade
Dressed in armor and carrying a sword, Jade walked with a dashing stride. His destination was the courtroom. In front of the great doors of the audience chamber, several steps up, was a throne glittering with gold and jewels. It was a throne on which only the emperor who ruled the Lemmrousell Empire could sit. At the back of this throne, there was a corridor leading to the emperor’s chamber. When the emperor attended a royal meeting, this large audience chamber would be filled with court officials, military officers and high-ranking nobles, but right now, there was no one there. No…
“Oh, there you are.”
Noisy footsteps were heard and Neumann appeared. He was sleeping in his bedroom and noticed the commotion, so he appeared dressed in his nightgown.
“Well, if it isn’t His Highness Neumann.”
“There’s a lot of noise… what’s going on?”
“It seems that some rats have sneaked in.”
“Rats? In the palace? Burglars or something?”
“I suspect they’re Prince Alfred’s men.”
“My brother’s men!?” As soon as he heard Alfred’s name, the blood drained from Neumann’s face. “My brother’s… My brother’s men are in the imperial palace… Is it an attempt on my life?”
“No, perhaps their main purpose is to secure the Emperor’s custody…”
Neumann immediately began to tremble and shake.
“B-but I’ll be all right, won’t I, Jade? My father’s safety and my own are your top priorities.”
Neumann believed that when faced with a problem, it was natural for those around him to solve it. Turning a cold gaze on Neumann, Jade silently approached the foot of the stairs leading to the throne and looked up at it. And then, as if grasping something, he reached out his hand and brought it back into his view.
“Jade? …What the hell is wrong with you?”
Without answering that question, Jade was lost in thought. To Jade, Neumann was only there to take the blame for Alfred’s murder. Although his assassination attempt failed, he ceased to be useful once he got him to declare that the Alfred who had appeared in Erz was a fake. He was going to let this poor prince disappear when he saw an opportunity. And after he had finished off both princes, he would appeal to the legitimacy of the throne with First Princess Cornelia as his consort. Having ousted Marquis Reinhardt, a potential rival of House Cliffdorf, and having secured the help to study the Conrad Heisenberg’s legacy, he should have been able to complete his research and eliminate the influence of the Kingdom of Petersia in the future. That is, if all of Jade’s plans had succeeded. There had been a miscalculation. All his plans had gone down the drain because of one man.
The sound of footsteps came from the lobby door. The first to enter was a knight in a dirty but white uniform. A commoner, standing in front of a girl with graceful black hair, with a girl with beautiful golden hair fluttering beside him.
Yes, that’s right. There was always this guy at the end of the path I walked down.
Wynn Bird. They were a knight from a noble family and a commoner knight. The two met at the entrance ceremony of the Simurgh Knight School and faced each other in the audience hall of the Lemmrousell Empire.
When they entered the Simurgh Knight School and had their first mock battle, Jade ridiculed Wynn because he had less magic and was behind the other students in academic ability, and challenged him to combat, which Jade lost. When Jade learned that Wynn, who had humiliated him, was a childhood friend of Brave Mavis, he schemed to be able to take revenge on him, but instead was humiliated and forced to kneel before the emperor and the nobles. Since then, he even defeated the Petersian knights who intruded into Imperial territory, and his research into Conrad Heisenberg’s legacy, which he had invested in to be his bargaining chip to take over the Empire, was also thwarted by him. And even now, in front of Brave Mavis and Princess Cornelia, he was on their side. He was a commoner who enjoyed what Jade, the son of Marquis Cliffdorf, one of the most powerful families in the Empire, and who had never been denied anything by anyone, could not have until the end. To Jade, Wynn was the man who had everything he could never have. He had crushed all of Jade’s plans, and now he was staring him down and coming at him. A commoner boy Jade had thought insignificant. It was the first such unbearable humiliation Jade had ever experienced.
When Wynn and the others entered the audience chamber, they were probably headed for the emperor’s quarters facing the back of the hall. But when they saw Jade and Neumann in the audience chamber, they stopped dead in their tracks. Neumann also spoke in a muffled tone and looked fearfully at Wynn and the others when he saw Cornelia.
“Oh… Cornelia, I have been worried about you ever since you disappeared from the imperial palace some time ago. Who are those rude people?”
“They’re people who are working with me at the behest of our brother Alfred.”
“Brother Neumann, and Jade, son of the Marquis Cliffdorf. Surrender, please.”
“Surrender to my brother? How dare you speak to me like that, even though you are only my sister!”
“The knights on our side have already subdued the important bases of the Imperial Capital. They will soon be heading for this place. Who wins or loses is about to be decided. Any further fighting will only lead to unnecessary casualties… Please surrender and accept our Brother Alfred’s judgment.”
“Oh… Cornelia, my dear sister Cornelia. You have been deceived by that scum out there. Alfred is dead. That man in Erz is a fake. Jade has assured me that what I say is true. He has also promised that he will do everything in his power to support my eventual ascension to the throne. Come on, Cornelia. We may be half-siblings, but you’re still my little sister. Don’t embarrass me anymore, be a good girl, okay?”
“Brother Neumann… Do you think I would accept such a declaration? Alfred and I have the same blood. There’s no way I could be fooled by something like that.” Cornelia shook her head sadly and made a gesture. Then, worried, she lashed out at Neumann, who was looking around agitated. “Who told you such nonsense? You had been on good terms with our brother Alfred until now, hadn’t you?”
In Cornelia’s memory, there should have been no particular conflict between Alfred and Neumann before this disturbance occurred. Alfred, the crown prince, had been working hard on political affairs on behalf of Emperor Alexei, who was not interested in politics, while letting the other members of the royal family do as they pleased, as long as they did not go too far. Neumann for his part regarded his maternal relatives as people he would be happy to do favors for and receive thanks for.
“Th-That’s because… I-I’m sure Alfred will impose vassalage on me if he becomes Emperor. And if he does, he will surely kill me.”
“You think our brother Alfred would kill you? How did you come up with such an idea?”
“I-It’s obvious that it will happen! Because I’m his younger brother. To him, I’m just another man with the blood of the royal family, an enemy who wants to take his place! Isn’t that right!? Then I had no choice but to act first!”
“What nonsense… If there was a rivalry between you two, your relationship wouldn’t have been as good as it was, would it? And yet you started causing this kind of trouble!”
“What would he gain from relegating the royal family, who are not his political enemies, to vassalage? Although the Gaunaherz family was originally a family of viscounts, they are still a prestigious noble family with an ancient lineage. And now they are a family of counts. Do you think our brother would be foolish enough to break the blood ties between the royal family and the nobility?”
When Cornelia said that, Neumann finally realized he had made a terrible mistake.
“So… our Alfred… are you saying that our brother wasn’t thinking of getting rid of me? Jade, were you lying when you said you feared he would gain power as a standard-bearer for the nobility, and I would be stripped of my imperial title?”
“No, I wasn’t lying.” Jade gave Neumann a cold look as he said that. “It’s just that there are many ways of looking at things. It’s not that there isn’t a possibility that we could find ourselves in the same situation I described to Your Highness. If you were to show interest in political affairs and the throne, it is possible that the future I spoke of could become a reality. Only, at present, the future Her Highness Cornelia speaks of is much more realistic than the one I predict.”
“Brother Neumann. Our brother Alfred was certainly concerned about the growing power of some nobles. But if that is the case, wouldn’t it be natural for us, the imperial family, to want to unite more and strengthen our blood ties to unite the empire?”
“No… it may be… then, I…” Neumann realized what he had done and collapsed on the spot, shocked.
“Your Highness Neumann. Thank you very much. I am truly indebted to you. Thanks to your name, I was able to gather the nobles and greatly disturb the interior of the empire.”
“Whichever side is victorious in this, there will be a blood purge in the empire. The army will be depleted by civil war, and our national strength will be greatly diminished.”
The Kingdom of Petersia, which was watching for an opening, would not let this go unnoticed. And Jade laughed at Neumann’s devastation.
The Lemmrousell Empire and the Kingdom of Petersia were supposed to go to war sooner or later. The Kingdom of Petersia, which did not come into contact with the demonic territory, had accumulated its wealth by selling goods to the forces of the Anti-Demon Continental Alliance and the warring nations. However, after the war, the Anti-Demon Continental Alliance disbanded, and the nations began to reduce their armaments, leaving the Kingdom of Petersia with a surplus of goods. These, no longer able to sell goods as in the past, poured the wealth they had accumulated from the war into strengthening their own military power and began to invade neighboring countries. The idea was to turn the economy around through war, but they also wanted a port. As a landlocked nation, the Kingdom of Petersia had no access to sea. Once the war with the demons was over, the powerful nations along the coast began to gain their wealth through trade by sea. This created an undeniable sense of crisis for the Kingdom of Petersia, which was beginning to feel a sense of economic restraint. It needed to wage war on the Empire to gain access to the sea before the national power differential became decisive through trade. The recent civil war had severely weakened the Empire’s power. And now, the post-war purges would further weaken its power. The Empire would be depleted by the invasion of the powerful Kingdom of Petersia, and the people would suffer tremendous harm.
This was Jade’s revenge against the empire that had used and discarded his mother’s life.
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