It was after Raul’s army left.
I walked up to the now-vacant and now-quiet apartment building his soldiers used.
“Ahm…there’s someone hiding here, right?”
“It’s alright. I’m not here to reprimand you, so please come out now.”
A young man then emerged from the closet of an apartment unit.
Yes, he was one of the soldiers in Raul’s army.
“You do know that everyone has left, right?”
“But this village’s too great! I don’t want to returnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!”
Oh, that’s why.
I initially thought he just didn’t want to put up with the strictness of being in the army anymore.
He wasn’t the only one hiding in this apartment building.
There were about 30 of them.
Normally, finding all of them would have been quite the task, but thanks to my Intruder Detection village skill, I was able to do it easily.
Even so, is it normal for there to be so many deserters? Well, they did leave in a hurry, so I guess it’s understandable that they didn’t do a thorough headcount.
“Please, let us stay in your village!”
The deserters desperately bowed their heads and asked me so.
When I asked for more details, I found out that everyone here had other jobs and were conscripted only because of the urgency.
In that case, I thought there wouldn’t be a problem in letting them stay. Whether they left with the army or not, they would soon return to being civilians anyways.
“Ok, but only after you’ve notified your family and maybe folks in your home town, yeah? If they decide they want to live here as well, that’s fine as well.”
Like that, they temporarily returned.
Speaking of people wanting to migrate, they weren’t the only ones.
“Huh? You don’t want to go back to Riesen, Dant-san?”
“Yes. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to stay here in the village.”
“I obviously don’t mind it…but are you sure that’s wise?”
“Even if I go back now, there’s no reason to hope that I’ll remain as governor of the North. I dare say it’s only a matter of time before my replacement arrives.”
Which I guess was to be expected, given that he did oppose Raul.
“I see. Then, it’s a pleasure to have you.”
“T-thank you, Luke-sama! (Oh, thank goodness…my wife ended up liking the life here so much, I was afraid what would happen if I told her we had to go back…)”
For some reason, Dant-san quickly became teary-eyed.
…I guess deep down, he really wanted to keep being the governor.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Edel-sama, a report! The town of Meneir has capitulated! The rebel leader, Rinel Schneger, has taken their own life!”
“I see. So, all of Schneger’s assets are fully mine now.”
Even after hearing the report from his subordinate, the expression on Marquis Edel Albert’s—Luke and Raul’s father’s—face didn’t change a bit.
The war against the Schneger house was over and won, yet remnants of that noble house still kept fighting. But now that the last town used as a base has fallen, there was no one left to oppose Marquis Albert.
Originally, there were five so-called superpowers in the country.
Up and coming noble houses of Marquis Albert in the northeast and of Marquis Schneger in the southeast;
The old and established noble houses of Duke Kaion in the northwest and of Duke Talister in the southwest;
And, of course, the royal family in the heart of the country.
However, things have changed since the Albert house has defeated the Schneger house and absorbed the latter’s assets.
Duke Kaion and Duke Talister were no longer enemies to be feared. And as for the royal family, the Albert house has become too big, too powerful for the royal to be able to control.
A few days after Marquis Albert received the report, a messenger bearing a royal decree arrived.
“Lord Edel Albert, His Royal Majesty intends to award to you the title of Duke. In accordance to this, you are to journey to the royal palace at once.”
Perhaps because of his position as royal messenger, the said messenger spoke rather haughtily.
“I’m not interested.”
The messenger—who expected the Marquis to be thrilled—was stunned by the actual reply. After recovering, he shouted his thoughts.
“W-what are you saying? This is the highest possible honor you can have, and yet you’re refusing it!?”
At present, the only ones to hold the title of Duke were Duke Kaion and Duke Talister.
So, for a relatively young noble house to attain such a title, it was one for the history books of this kingdom. Like the messenger said, it was indeed one of highest possible honors.
“What kind of peerage can be given by a royal family who not only is being manipulated by corrupt court nobles but also has lost their sovereignty over their country?”
Granting a promotion to the Albert house was nothing more than a way for the royal family to announce to everyone that they still had the Albert house as their vassal.
Lord Albert did not like that one bit.
“Y-you! How dare you mock the royal family!?”
“Hmp, do you think there’s any reason left for me to fear the royal family? Just how long will you people delude yourselves into thinking you’re still the ones at the top?”
“…Enough with your slights!”
The messenger was bright red in his fury. However, when Edel Albert stood up, just his intimidating presence was enough to overwhelm the messenger into falling down while letting slip an “eep!”.
“Go back, and tell your incompetent king and his swine nobles this: I do not want to be Duke; Rather, I want to be king.”
“Either they hand me the crown, or––”
Edel grabbed the messenger’s hair and pulled it up to declare war.
“–––I’ll attack the royal capital and get them acquainted with the underworld.”