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Chapter 36 – Duke
Even though I successfully became Duke Deal, Emperor Paulus IV stripped me of my authority to declare war on fellow vassals of the Carling Empire. Well, I already expected that. Since I had expanded with tremendous momentum and became a duke in such a short period of time, there would be a lot of opinions against me.
If not for the prohibition, I would have set out to attack the neighboring Estoa duchy next. Honestly, I was already prepared for this the moment I became a duke. Duke Schult was also prohibited from declaring war on fellow vassals… in the first place, it was crazy to allow such a thing anyway.
However, the amount of taxes I had to pay to the emperor decreased at once because the emperor’s council was full. I also preferred the tax decrease over a role of responsibility in the council, but wasn’t the drop from 25%→10% too big? I was happy with it though, so I had no complaints.
Ah, I see. The Schult ducal family — where Linde-san hailed from — had served as the emperor’s stewards and had held control over their coffers for generations. The current duke, Fontana-san, was also a steward of the emperor, so perhaps he got more favorable treatment than I did. But even so, I would prefer it if the tax was lowered to 0% instead. I would be happier that way.
Similarly, Wagner, who controlled 3 duchies, was also prohibited from declaring war on fellow vassals of the empire. Rather, why was the prohibition only put in place now? He already had 3 duchies under his control, which meant he had enough power to deal with foreign nations on his own, so I’m guessing he would either attack the Borghardt Kingdom or the southern Estoani Kingdom next. From now on the difference between us would grow even faster.
Well then, I may be prohibited from declaring war but there was no problem in answering my allies’ call to war. And so the parent house of my concubine Carla, the Enure family’s head — Countess Jeremias declared war on the fourth prince’s territory that was adjacent to hers within Poitiers duchy. A declaration of war on an imperial prince rarely happened within the Carling Empire.
Obviously, His Majesty Paulus, the Emperor of the Carling Empire, also participated as the father of the fourth prince to help him. But the only helper on the enemy’s side was the emperor, so I guess that would mean a total of 4,000 men in the standing army and 4,000 conscripts at most. Meanwhile, Countess Jeremias had 1,500 in her standing army and 1,500 conscripts. And considering that when I became Duke Deal, I had 1,000 slave soldiers, 600 men in my standing army, and 2,000 conscripts…
It meant that it was the emperor’s army of 8,000 men + the fourth prince’s army of 1,500 men VS Countess Jeremias’ Army of 3,000 + my army of 3,600. It seemed that the fourth prince’s army of 9,500 men VS Countess Jeremias’ army of 6,600 men put us at a disadvantage, and it was actually disadvantageous, so there was nothing we could do about it.
Well, vassals had been picking a fight against the royal family using war ever since the death of the first prince all across the Carling Empire at the moment, so I doubted that the emperor could send all 8,000 men in the imperial army to help the fourth prince. Even in the unlikely case they did come, it was still to a manageable degree where the difference in our army’s quality and geographical advantage could be used to achieve victory.
As I led my soldiers to visit Enure county where Countess Jeremias’ army gathered, I noticed that there were more military men than my army. Aah, so it was like that after all.
“…I think you’ve hired too many after all.”
“No, it’s fine. As the one who started the war, having a bigger force is desirable.”
Countess Jeremias hired many mercenaries as if to show off that the difference in the number of soldiers was a decisive indicator of their strength. Carla was weirded out by the number, but in war, the more forces the invading side had the better.
The number of mercenary groups contracted by Countess Jeremias this time was 17, so 9,000 people in total. As expected of Countess Jeremias the rich countess. Just with the number of mercenaries alone, it was good enough to hold out against the imperial army on her own. Looking at how Countess Jeremias used her money to do the talking by hiring tons of mercenaries made me really glad that I didn’t choose to fight Countess Jeremias instead. I didn’t want to think about how I would’ve had to fight against this number of people.
Countess Jeremias’ army of 12,000 and my army of 3,600, so a total of 15,600 men, invaded the fourth prince’s territory, only to meet the army of the fourth prince, His Majesty Paulus’ army, and Wagner’s army, which totaled about 15,000 men.
Well, since he was the marshal of the emperor, I guess it was natural for Wagner to participate on the emperor’s side. Since Wagner was also prohibited from declaring war on fellow vassals, he must have received some sort of compensation as well… somehow, I felt like I’ve been warring with my siblings a lot these days.
To be frank, a war on a scale of 10,000 men on each side rarely happened in the empire. It wasn’t like a war against the imperial family usually happened often, so it was originally something where all the nobles in the emperor’s faction teamed up to crush us together. The reason it wasn’t happening now was because the influence of the empire was declining, so there were many aristocrats preserving their forces instead.
The emperor’s army was approaching, but I didn’t see the emperor. Well, having the emperor personally join the army was rare, so I doubted that he would perish in this battle. The fourth prince felt angry about it, but being the fourth child was nothing to be celebrated about, which was a sad fact of the world.
Even so, it was still a battle on a scale of 10,000 over a single county because he was the fourth prince. The right-most army of Countess Jeremias and Wagner’s left-most army confronted each other. I had 3,600 men with me, while he had 5,500 men… I wanted to destroy Wagner’s army here, but it would seem difficult since we were in enemy territory.
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