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Chapter 24 – Killing Intent
After Linde-san and Cornelia safely became friends… I mean, acquainted and had their hierarchical relationship established, I decided to put the matter aside for the time being and tell Linde-san about my current situation. Since we only interacted through letters before, it couldn’t be helped that the information took time to reach her. In the first place, Linde-san stopped by the imperial capital before coming to Fentz county, and she had departed from her family house for a while, so she hadn’t received the latest information yet.
“I became a lord of multiple counties, and the size of our army also grew to some extent… but the surrounding people are still stronger than us, so it‘s hard for me to attack first.”
“In the first place, fighting among vassals isn’t a good thing to do. If you stand out too much, the emperor will take notice and forbid you from declaring war on fellow vassals.”
“I know that. That’s the biggest reason why the Schult family couldn’t expand its territory after all.”
The Schult family that had inherited the Schult duchy for generations was prohibited from declaring war on fellow vassals of the empire two generations ago.
In exchange for that, they were practically forced to become members of the emperor’s council, allowing them to do things as they wanted to some extent. The current duke —Fontana-san— was able to develop his territory as he pleased since he was the emperor’s steward. It seemed that he also received preferential treatment regarding taxation, which allowed his territory to become even richer.
They were allowed to declare war on other nations, but the reason they only looted instead of progressing an all-out war was that it was difficult for a single duke to deal with a kingdom or empire. If the duke declares war and attacks other nations, it would be a war for the duke to deal with alone. If the duke just looted and the other nation declared war on the duke afterward, the emperor was obligated to protect the Schult family, who was a powerful aristocrat within the empire. It was quite complicated.
The participant lord was expected during the war to defend his vassals. Or rather, that was the biggest reason vassals made a contract to serve a lord. What about Wagner, you ask? He was an asshole who broke the contract a night before the enemy declared war, shamelessly saying he didn’t need to fulfill the contract that way. Then he kept his eyes peeled while blatantly aiming for my territory after that. Screw him.
Currently, I have 2 counties in Deal duchy while Joachim has 3. The important thing was that Joachim had justification to attack my Fentz county. Justification being that I was a child ruler and that it would become void once I became an adult.
Well, it was strange to hold onto a justification forever, and ambiguous justifications obtained from the pope or the emperor would usually be void after a few years. Rather, people wouldn’t normally exercise their justification long after they had it. If their justifications expired, they would tend to seek another justification using “the same reason” as the previous one.
I had my 13th birthday today, so I had two more years until I became an adult. Should I see it as there were just two years left or there were still two years left? Anyway, if Joachim doesn’t declare war on me before then, the justification he spent so much on would be voided.1
Joachim could almost be considered a duke since he controlled 3 counties. If he had a few more to almost reach the six counties that made up a duchy, he could pay for the emperor to officially recognize him as a duke… He was a careful person who didn’t immediately declare war because he was scared of how I had decimated David’s army, but he would definitely declare war within two years… probably at least. Securing justification wasn’t cheap after all.
Besides, if he could acquire Fentz county and become a duke, he could declare “customary territories of a duchy” as justification to take over Triore county since it was a part of Deal duchy. If I lost against Joachim even once, it was almost certain that not even Triore county would be left for me.
Well, since I was still a child, it would be like losing against Wagner. Just like how I did it for Fentz county, I worked out a defense strategy for Triore county so that I could survive even in the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario… I guess it would be if Fentz county was attacked by Wagner and Alfred, while Triore county was attacked by Jeremias and Joachim, at the same time.
It was the worst-case scenario that really just made me want to flip the table over, but the fact that there was a slight possibility of it actually occurring showed how scary the middle ages were. For the time being, I can only think of attacking once the defense forces are ready. Just as I thought that, I received a declaration of war from Wagner. The justification was the “right of Wagner Klaus over Fentz county”. Seriously?
[“My useless little brother, since you couldn’t prove that you wouldn’t invade my territory, it’s inevitable that I would have to resort to hard measures for the peace and safety of the people in my territory. Preemptive strikes against potential threats are within the scope of self-defense, and it’s not a weird thing to do as a saint lord. I expect you to surrender quickly. That’s all.”]2
I almost ripped apart the declaration of war out of impulse, but I would like to show it off to Wagner after I captured him, making it hard proof of his black history, so I will hang it near the entrance of the mansion. Even so, receiving a declaration of war at this time was painful. Besides, even if I won, I couldn’t seize Wagner’s territory. It’s painful.
The invading scale of soldiers would probably be around 3,000 to 5,000. If His Majesty Paulus lends his men to the other side, I just might be dead but… even if I lose this war, the only thing I would lose would be Fentz county. I had no intention of losing at all, and if possible, I’d like to kill Wagner too.
…The thought of wanting to “kill my brother” would be unthinkable if I was still in modern Japan. Well, my brother is also seriously thinking of “killing his brother” after all.
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