I want to stop this war.
This was the first time I had such a clear vision of what I wanted.
The red-haired lady knocked on my head with a gun barrel, and with a small wooden stick in her mouth said: “Don’t disparage Elizabeth in my workshop… If somebody finds out, both you and I may lose our heads.”
While she did say that, I didn’t feel like she was worried. She probably just said that because Nier was present. I originally intended to explain what happened to her majesty last night, but I ended up getting frightened by her instead. That was the first time I felt afraid of power. I also came to the realisation that perhaps I can’t change Nier.
The young girls were willing to die with just a word from her majesty. They didn’t die for their own ideals or dreams, or some sort of lofty goal. The young girls were willing to pierce their heart with their sword simply because they were told to. I’ve never witnessed such an era and therefore have no way of comprehending the way they think.
I really don’t get it. Can such an empire last long? When I posed the question to the red-haired lady cleverly, she knocked on my head.
“If you ask me whether Elizabeth is a good ruler, I’d honestly say ‘yes’. You can tell by looking at the citizens. As long as they stay in line, they get to go on with their lives. Their income isn’t low either. They don’t even get taxed one-twelfth of their earnings, and neither do they have to deal with mandatory military service. Merchants aren’t restricted by what goods they decide to sell. There are no restrictions on scholars, poets or mathematicians etcetera either. Government decrees are also very reasonable, which is why the people whole-heartedly and voluntarily obey Elizabeth.”
“Killing people is Elizabeth’s personal hobby. Elizabeth may kill but she never kills indiscriminately. It’s just that she’s extremely sensitive about imperial power. She interprets disobedience and indecorous behaviour as mutiny and will kill those that do so.”
The red-haired lady looked at the rifling, and then looked at me and said: “Elizabeth does kill a fair bit, but she is a wise and able ruler. She commands people very intelligently. She kills and conquers because of her past. Prince, do you know how she raised an army? Back then, the imperial capital was just a mere city. Your grandfather, Elizabeth’s father was very fervent. He was very kind to the barbarians around. When a famine struck, he welcomed the barbarians with open arms. Those barbarians repaid him by storming the royal palace, decapitating him, and throwing his head down before Elizabeth. They then filled it up with wine and forced her to drink it. If she disobeyed, they were going to have her bare their children. Elizabeth was therefore forced to drink that wine mixed with her father’s blood out of his head.”
Seeing my shocked face, she laughed out loud and said: “Do you know what happened after? The barbarians vanished and nobody saw them again, because Elizabeth killed anybody that was blood-related to them. At that time, Elizabeth sold her palace, and her clothes for funds to train an army. After she slaughtered all the barbarians, she used the head of their leader, filled it with wine – so it was a drink mixed with brain-parts and blood, and Elizabeth drank two skulls of blood-wine. Do you think she’s a benevolent ruler?”
“Still, she can’t…”
“You didn’t witness Elizabeth’s past. She was much more extreme in the past. She drank blood in the past, you know? She could only drink wine if there was blood mixed in there. During that time, the blood of young girls was prepared specifically for her. She also brought her sword with her to the conference chamber during that time. And if somebody did so much as sneeze, their head would be flying the next moment.”
The red-haired lady shrugged as though it was “whatever”, and then attached the barrel and firing device together. She then looked at me and continued: “It was only after she had you that she became less violent. Although you can’t say she’s benevolent right now, she at least doesn’t kill indiscriminately anymore. Elizabeth’s heart became distorted long ago. If a war truly breaks out, I don’t think Castor will have many survivors.”
“Didn’t you say she doesn’t kill indiscriminately?”
“Yeah, she doesn’t. But you can’t put up a resistance. If you put up a resistance against her forces, then you’re an enemy. If that’s the case, Elizabeth will definitely kill you. Her father was killed because of his benevolence and because he was an approachable individual. Do you think she’d go and develop a close relationship with somebody? Elizabeth is a wise ruler, but she’s also destined to be a tyrant. Prince, what sort of emperor do you aim to become? Forgive me for being blunt, but if you intend to become a benevolent emperor, then I don’t think you should return here to humanity.”
“No buts. An emperor who doesn’t kill will be killed. No benevolent emperor ever met a good end. There’s always somebody eyeing the power of royalty, and the only thing that can make them give up is dominance. Your majesty, a throne soaked in blood may feel uncomfortable to sit on, but it’ll allow you to sit on your throne for a litte longer.”
I silently took my long rifle she handed me. This is basically the beta version of the rifle I was making for Lucia. I can create guns here at this workshop without worry as this red-haired lady doesn’t sell these things or have any thoughts of producing them. She’s just purely interested in these things. I can tell. She doesn’t serve any customers and doesn’t create any weapons… But what I’m curious about is why nobody messes with her.
“Come to your senses, prince. You’re the future emperor.”
She reached her hand out and scrubbed my head roughly. She smiled and said: “Your kindness is a great gift the gods gifted you, but you require the strength to protect your kindness. Elizabeth is called the Empress of Conquest. So what about you, prince? What do you want to be called in future? The Benevolent Emperor? Or The Last Emperor?”
I looked at her, paused for a bit, took out two Castor silver coins and said: “I don’t want a war, nor do I want to slaughter lots of people. I don’t believe that there is someone who’d kill me. Conquest can get people to surrender to you, but only benevolence can get people to sincerely submit and respect you. If it were me… I wouldn’t send people off to die on a whim.”
“You’re not fit to be an emperor then. You should go and be the king of elves.”
The red-haired lady struck me with her blunt words and then walked up to the door. She took a smoke, slowly blew out the smoke and said: “Did you say Elizabeth was wrong? She’s not wrong. It was fate that caused her to turn out this way. If it weren’t for that incident, Elizabeth would still be a bright girl, so don’t go thinking that Elizabeth is wrong. She turned out the way she is now because she did the right thing. Now, what did you want me to do by giving me these two coins?”
“I want to examine what the difference between these two coins is. Please let me use your workshop.”
“What exactly are you trying to do, prince?”
I took in a deep breath and said: “I don’t want a war to break out. I didn’t want to bother with it before, but I do now. I won’t let the empress go and attack Castor. Yes, I don’t know the people there. Yes, the people there aren’t related to me in any capacity, but the people that are dying are right before me. I’m weak. I don’t have to guts to kill people and I don’t want to witness war. But… But because of that, I’m going to give it my best to prevent people from killing each other and a world of bloodshed…”
What Castell said reminded me that an envoy dresses extravagantly as he is the billboard of his country, and yet the envoy from Castor I met had different buttons on the sleeves of his shirt. You can’t seriously tell me that an envoy from another country has to fix his clothes by sewing and handiwork. That suggests that Castor’s financial power isn’t as great as imagined. That means that the likelihood of them retrieving their coins and re-moulding them to raise the value of their coins is very low.
It also means that there should be something different in the mould of the new coins.
I know what I’m going to do might cause Castor to go bankrupt like this, but if they do go bankrupt, that’ll prevent her majesty from slaughtering them.
I’ve already lost what exactly I’m trying to do… I’ve never been an emperor and I’ve never received the royal family’s education. I’m just a normal person. I have no idea what attitude I should face this world I’m living in right now with. I naively thought I became accustomed to this world only to find out I haven’t. I just can’t understand it.
Ever since coming here, I’ve truly come to the realisation that my courage and kindness doesn’t work here.
I can’t approach people here using my previous ways of thinking.
Author’s Note: I believe that a lot of readers will feel the main protagonist is a very contradictory character and weak. But can you imagine what it’s like for him? He’s just a normal person. He wasn’t even a qualified soldier. He was just a technician. He’s innately kind, so he managed to live happily among the elves who were just as kind. But his kindness is incompatible with the humans who want to conquer and rule. How could he suddenly turn bloodthirsty and violent when he hasn’t lived in this sort of world before? And as such, how would he have the guts to butt heads with the empress upfront? The humans here are shady while he is the only kind existence there. The main protagonist’s growth happens step-by-step. He’s not weak. He didn’t retreat a single step as he watched the Earth Dragons charge towards him, so it’s clear that he’s not weak. However, there needs to be a reason for him to stand up. He grows one step at a time. He’s definitely not a tyrant like Elizabeth, but neither is he a wussy.
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