Chapter 18: Turbulent International Affairs

(POV change)

One day after the Hades Scorpion won the “Rookie Battle” tournament, the palace was bustling with senior officials who had gathered for a meeting.
Currently, the Harlasia Kingdom was at peace, and its relations with neighboring countries were also good.
The weather was stable, and there were no disasters such as famine or river flooding.
The economy was prosperous, and the industries were steadily growing.
Many of the citizens were enjoying the peace and prosperity.

However, just because there was peace, it did not mean that politics could be neglected.
On the contrary, maintaining peace required effort in both domestic and foreign affairs.

“Well then, let’s start the meeting.
If there is no objection, I, the Prime Minister, Duke Ernest Lutz, will serve as the chairman.
Does anyone have any objections?” The Prime Minister, Duke Ernest Lutz, opened the meeting in the conference room.
He was a calm man with black hair tinged with blue and black eyes mixed with white hair.
His political skills were outstanding and he was undoubtedly the strongest pillar currently supporting the kingdom.

There was no foolish person who would try to take over as the chairman of the meeting, disregarding him.
The meeting proceeded smoothly, and the senior officials reported on problems and petitions that had occurred in their respective departments.
Although there were some minor troubles, there were no major issues within the country that would shake the kingdom.

However, there were two concerns outside the country.

“The problem lies in the west and the north…the rise of the Justice Church and the invasion from other continents.
Both are troublesome issues,” said Joshua Mueller, the eldest son of the duke of Seuwell , who held vast territory in the southern part of the kingdom.
Despite his small stature and youthful and feminine appearance, he was a full fledged adult.

Although there was a slight age difference, he was the queen’s brother, the uncle of the two princes, and was like an older brother to them.
He was currently learning about politics under the respected guidance of the prime minister.
The latter was a strict teacher, but he secretly admired this disciple of his and believed that he would make a good lord after inheriting the title and territory of his father, the duke.

The situation outside the kingdom had become so suspicious that even Joshua’s expression turned sour.
Of the two issues, the one that was closer to the kingdom was the religious problem in the west.

“It was a group of people who worshiped the ‘God of Justice.’ To be honest, it’s hard to believe that a country that enshrines that church as its state religion has emerged…,” he said.

The Justice Church was a religion that worshiped the “God of Justice,” Andrew Marius.
They valued justice above all else, and their believers considered performing good deeds as a virtue.
Therefore, their believers were all people of integrity and righteousness.

However, the followers of the Justice Church often went overboard in the name of justice and had a negative view of other religions.
Therefore, their religion was often avoided by politicians as it constantly caused conflicts with other religions and created problems.

“It seems that the new king was an ardent believer in the Justice Church.
Although his death was announced as being due to illness, I’d never heard of the king being ill.
I wonder what the truth really is…”

“I have heard that they are forcing conversions through religious reforms.
As a result, thousands of citizens are fleeing to other countries.
Soon they will come to our country too.
The Justice Church must be quite shocked.”

Despite such negative sentiments towards the Justice Church, it had gradually gained power over the past few decades.
Finally, in the western countries, it has been recognized as the state religion.
Although the senior officials openly expressed their disgust towards the Justice Church, behind their mocking lay an inexplicable fear of their incomprehensible opponent.

“If they take advantage of this momentum to actively proselytize, they will eventually come to our country.
What should we do then?”

“Before that happens, there may be a war between the churches! I don’t even want to think about the consequences of angering the churches that worship the God of War.”

“Wasn’t it the ‘Order of Marius Knights’? I hear that the fighting force of the Justice Church is made up of elite soldiers.
It’s probably because the ‘God of Justice’ also has a side as a God of War.
In any case, we must never get involved.”

At the same time, what they were concerned about was the possibility of churches colliding and plunging into a state of war.
Most churches, except for a few, had their own military forces to protect their believers and uphold the teachings of God from unjust violence.
Especially in the case of the church that governs battles, both believers and clergy were often trained in combat.
If they were to grow serious, they could easily gather a military force that exceeds that of a small country.

If these forces were to clash, it would be equivalent to nations going to war with all their might.
There would be nothing to gain from being involved, and yet the country would be devastated.
In some cases, there is even a possibility that the nation could be destroyed.
It was no wonder that they were forced to handle the situation with caution.

“The Justice church… are they really such problematic people? After all, they claim to be apostles of justice, in their own way,” Prince Ludwig, the first prince, asked the senior officials.
He and his younger brother, Prince Carl, were also attending this meeting.
Prince Ludwig sat in the chair for the king, serving as the representative of the bedridden king, while Prince Carl sat in a chair to his left as an assistant.

Prince Carl demonstrated his stance that he was a subject despite being a member of the royal family, while Prince Ludwig was set to be the next king.
He didn’t intend to attend this meeting originally, but he reluctantly accepted the invitation because he was personally asked by the bedridden king.

“Your Highness, indeed, justice is a noble concept.
However, there is no universal justice in this world.
Each person’s idea of justice differs, and that’s why conflicts arise.”  

“I see…”

“You should keep an eye on the movements of the fanatics.
But as Minister of War, I believe that the invaders from the north are more dangerous than the Justice Church.”

Although Prince Ludwig did not seem convinced, it was August Schneider, the Duke of Dalbaren and Minister of War, who argued that they should focus on the north instead of the Justice Church.

With his imposing presence, muscular build, and a Kaiser mustache, he claimed that battles in faraway lands were more important than those of the Kingdom.
Everyone attending the conference was surprised by his statement.

“Could you share the basis for this statement, Duke Schneider?”

“Very well.
As the Minister of War, I have received the latest information that a fleet of invaders has taken control of the sea and one of the port cities in the northern region.
Everyone in the city, including innocent women and children, were brutally massacred regardless of their involvement in the battle.”

The conference room fell silent.
While it was not uncommon for atrocities to occur during war, the fact that every inhabitant of the port town was killed made the situation different.
The invaders were merciless and brutal, yet they possessed a formidable military force.

“Apparently, the town itself suffered little damage during the massacre.
It seems that the invaders have an efficient way of killing their enemies.
Though the exact details are unknown, there are also rumors that they possess superior weapons.
Their motives are unclear, but it’s possible that they may come southward, killing everyone on this continent.”  

Prince Carl shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s scary.
They might wipe out everyone on this continent while marching southward.
But it’s not like we can do anything about it, can we?”

His lighthearted comment brought a momentary relief to the heavy atmosphere, and the ministers regained their composure.
The prime minister then asked the Duke of Dalbaren, the Minister of War, with a tightened expression, “So what measures do you have in mind?”

“The atrocities of the invaders will soon reverberate throughout the continent.
The northern countries will seek assistance, and each nation will have to decide how to respond,” replied Duke August.

“I see.
We’ll have to decide whether to sit back and watch, send supplies without getting involved, or send reinforcements to fight.
What do you think, Minister of War? What’s the best course of action?” Joshua asked

“We should send reinforcements,” said Duke August.

The statement made by the Duke of Dalbaren in response to Joshua’s question caused a stir in the conference room.
Of the three options presented, sending reinforcements would be the most burdensome, which was particularly evident in the reaction of the Minister of Finance, who turned pale.

Perhaps considering his excellency and the cost of war, Prince Carl struggled to suppress a wry smile that threatened to appear on his face.

“And what benefit would our country gain from this?” he asked.

“Firstly, we could earn gratitude from the northern countries.
These countries are all very closed off, with little to no exchange of goods or people.
By earning their gratitude here, we could potentially begin to increase trade with them.”

“I mean, it’s one thing to think about what will happen if we lose before the battle even begins, but isn’t that a defeatist attitude? Still, I understand that as a reason, it’s somewhat weak, right?”

The northern countries were mostly closed off, with little exchange between them.
By earning their gratitude on the battlefield, they might be more inclined to open their doors to trade.

However, merely securing trade routes with the northern countries was not a sufficient reason to mobilize the army.
Prince Carl urged the Duke of Dalbaren to speak up if he had another reason.

“As you say, my lord.
Secondly, by moving our troops before other countries, we can take the lead in providing assistance and gain even greater favor.
If we have the upper hand, the survival rate of our troops will also increase.
And our country’s international reputation will rise,” said the minister of war.

“I see,” replied Prince Carl.

“Thirdly, and this is the most important, I believe we must repel the cruel invaders before they reach our country.
We must prevent them from ravaging our land at all costs,” the Duke continued.

Upon hearing the third reason, the Prime Minister squinted his eyes, and Prince Carl closed his eyes and began to ponder with his arms crossed.
The Duke of Dalbaren’s plan was to send aid to the northern countries while also repelling the invaders before they could do any harm, killing two birds with one stone.
The other senior officials in the conference room seemed to be swayed by his proposal.

However, the Prime Minister, Joshua, and Prince Carl were all sensing that something was amiss.
Though the Duke of Dalbaren appeared rough and tough, he was, in fact, a politician as well as the Minister of War.
Could he have one or two undisclosed reasons for his proposal? They had no solid evidence, but the three of them felt that they needed to be cautious.

“If our assistance can help them win, then that’s great.
And even if the northern countries are defeated, the experience gained from fighting once will still be valuable.
Please consider this,” said the Duke of Dalbaren.

“I see…what do you think, Prince Ludwig?” At this time, one of the senior officials asked Prince Ludwig for judgment.

“Me? Well…” Prince Ludwig paused for a moment before muttering in a low but audible voice, “It sounds like sending aid would benefit the country.
We should start organizing our forces now, so that we can send them at a moment’s notice.”

“Please wait, Your Highness.
It may be premature to start organizing aid at this point.
And there is also the possibility that the northern countries can handle the situation on their own…” said the Prime Minister.

“Prime Minsiter.
The Minister of War has already stated that sending aid as soon as possible would be advantageous.
Therefore, it is necessary to organize our forces as soon as possible.
This is a decision as a representative of the king,” replied Prince Ludwig firmly.

We will start immediately,” said the Prime Minister, acknowledging the prince’s decision.

In reality, Prince Carl wanted to express the same opinion as the Prime Minister and his colleagues-that sending reinforcements at the current stage was premature.
However, he was not the king nor the prince regent, and his older brother Prince Ludwig was the one in charge.
Being aware of his position, he refrained from interfering with his brother’s decision as the prince regent.

After discussing the details of sending reinforcements for a while, the meeting was adjourned.
The three of them left the room, hoping that everything would go smoothly from now on.

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