The day after Nanda treated him.
As always, Rudolf was receiving the reports on general affairs of the empire.
“Your Majesty, there was a small fire in a small denomination shrine in the capital yesterday.”
At the report from Voltas, Rudolf asked with a calm look, “Fire? How so?”
“According to the magistrate’s office, it seemed to be because of some faulty wiring. Anyway, around a dozen private residences in that area were damaged because of that.”
“Tch, such things happening around.”
Rudolf was the one who did it, but he hadn’t told Voltas about it.
Voltas wasn’t even aware because the emperor was good at hiding his work and private life.
“And there is another problem, one after the other, the presence of low-rank commanders and expert knights stationed in the Central Army and the capital are decreasing.”
“And the problem is?”
“They are… dying in the red light district without wearing any clothes, dying from a heart attack during training, committing suicide, leaving a note saying that the work is too difficult for them to handle…”
And the low ranking commanders and expert knights, who passed away, weren’t just one or two.
In addition, there were those who were injured by simple items and those who got sick just by eating something wrong.
Rudolf was frustrated with the report.
“How are the subordinates being managed!”
“I am sorry, Your Majesty. Since our last battle with the demons, the atmosphere in the Central Army has been in the dumps…”
“Been in the dumps? Why?” Asked Rudolf.
At the question of Rudolf, Voltas spoke his real thoughts, “It is like the incidents are happening very quickly and the mental stability of the lower-ranked ones or the knights has worsened after seeing the demons walk around during that time.”
They were just rumors… No, they were all myths or legends that kids were told at night.
It surely was a terrible thing and a strange feeling for the knights and commanders who were in the battle, fighting in the front lines.
“How could that be?! Fire the commander of the Central Army right away!”
At Rudolf’s orders, Voltas seemed hesitant.
“Your Majesty, Count Lotion is a man who comes in with great loyalty and power. So, please give it another thought…”
“Are you saying that a man with power and loyalty is acting like this in the Central Army? There is no need to think anymore! I am going to change him right away!”
Honestly, it wasn’t the demons’ appearance that had caused trouble in the Central Army.
It was Henry, who was ordered by Luke.
Without knowing that he was using all types of sneaky methods, the current commander was being fired.
“Phew, then who will be appointed in that position?”
Knowing that the Emperor’s heart couldn’t be changed, Voltas asked a question, “Let’s entrust the Central Army of the Capital to Count Ferrero, the vice-captain of the Knights of Guard. Even though he is a bit sloppy, there is no other person who can correct and discipline the men in a short period of time.”
Voltas nodded silently, knowing that it was all he could do.
“That is all good, but what about the hearing?”
A few days ago, they heard that the noblemen had filed for a hearing.
So, Rudolf was eager to know how that matter was going.
“The chairman of the Imperial Parliament is reviewing it. He is a politically neutral and relaxed character, so it will take some time before the hearing gets opened,” answered Voltas
“Uh? Did you know who was that definite witness that the noblemen have?”
“Yes, through a visitor from Marquis Mayers, Lazlie came to know that it was the Prince of Konrad Kingdom, Aslan.”
Voltas’ forehead wrinkled while he answered.
When he got the information from Lazlie, he was very flustered.
Aslan, who was said to have been fed to the sharks, was still alive.
That was why Voltas, who couldn’t believe that report, kept nagging his son to tell him that the report was false.
“Tch, he didn’t get everyone after all. Anyway, whether it be Aslan or someone else, tell him to get rid of him, immediately.”
“Right now? How about putting it off for now?”
At Voltas’ question, the Emperor frowned.
“You are asking me to delay it? Is there any reason for us to do that?”
“The noblemen will see this hearing as a great opportunity to diminish Your Majesty’s powers, and what if a problem with the witness’ identity arises even before the hearing? This will put us in a wrong place.”
The emperor would lose the opportunity to counterattack.
So, Voltas thought that it would be better to not act impatiently but to take advantage of the opportunity to condemn the noblemen and take away their power.
“Take the crisis as an opportunity? I haven’t thought of that till now, but are you not aware of what kind of men Butler and Mayers are like?” Asked Rudolf
They were the kind of person who could even create a witness if the real one was dead.
No, not just that, they might even ask for an assassination and use that for some kind of political exploitation.
“They are going ahead with all they got. I think that it is better to act in advance than to take a risk in a later time.”
“Understood, Your Majesty, if that is what you desire, I will follow your words.”
Though unfortunate, Voltas couldn’t stop his emperor anymore.
Right when Voltas was done with his reports and was about to go out of the room, a servant entered.
“What is with that?” Asked the emperor.
“That, the thing is…”
Rudolf, who listened to the words of the servant, was shocked.
“What did you say? Martel is under pain? Is that true?”
“It can’t be wrong. The doctor has recognized the symptoms right away… Y-your Majesty!”
A piece of un-comprehendible news made Rudolf rush out of the office and run into Martel’s residence.
He didn’t even stay a single second to listen to Count Voltas or the servant’s words.
Martel, the 5th prince in line, usually liked to read books and lived in a separate mansion close to the Imperial Palace’s library.
At Martel’s residence, where normally scholars from the empire came and went, only doctors and priests were busy moving around.
The knights in charge of the place were anxious when Emperor Rudolf appeared on the premises.
“You don’t have to go in just yet, it could be contagious for…”
Rudolf pushed the knights who were asking him to stop and entered the room where Martel was lying.
“Kug Kug Kug! M-majesty…”
“Martel! What the hell is happening to you?!”
Rudolf saw Martel and couldn’t hide his sadness.
Just the day before, he saw his kid with a mild cough who seemed to be fine, but now, that same kid had rashes all over his body along with blood here and there.
It wasn’t just that. Every time he coughed badly, he ended up vomiting and getting a seizure.
“Majesty… Am I… dying?”, asked Martel.
“That won’t happen. Now that I see it, it isn’t a serious disease. You will be able to get up and run rather quickly.”
When Martel asked with fear, Rudolf tried to look as comforting as he could for his son.
After a while, Martel managed to calm himself down and fell asleep after taking the medicine given by the doctors.
“What in the world happened?”
“I-I don’t know either. His symptoms look similar to smallpox, but there are signs of tuberculosis…”
“All this, pathetic! What were you all doing before his body reached this point?”
“It was because the illness progressed suddenly… Hik!”
When Rudolf pulled out his sword, the doctor’s face became pale.
“I am going to ask you once more. Can you cure Martel?”
“T-that… Your Majesty, please let us be!”
The doctor who was hesitant about giving out a definite answer fell on his knees and asked for forgiveness.
It was because he wasn’t confident about curing an illness that he had seen for the first time.
If the doctor made a false statement about fixing the child, and if Martel died, then three generations of his family would be killed for deceiving the emperor.
“You are the Imperial doctor of the Imperial palace?”
The furious Rudolf wielded his sword.
Even in the presence of the Queen. Moreover, the kid was the youngest and cutest of them all, who was like candy to one’s eyes.
The emperor couldn’t forgive an incompetent man who couldn’t help his precious youngest child before reaching to that point.
“Get rid of this trash right away!”
The knights dragged out the body of the doctor who got killed. The other doctors and the priests who saw that scene could only tremble.
Rudolf pointed his bloody sword toward them.
“All of you, don’t even think about hesitating. Think about how to treat the prince. Otherwise, you will be punished!”
“Move quickly if you understand!”
At the scream from Rudolf, the doctors and priests rushed over to search for a kind of treatment.
Rudolf could only sigh with anxiety and a shuddering heart.
He slowly approached the elderly servant.
“Are you the prince’s servant? What happened? Did Lian ask to check on Martel?”
“T-that isn’t it…”
Seeing the dark expression of the servant, Rudolf could feel his heart break.
He had an ominous feeling rushing over him, but he wasn’t ready to believe it.
No matter how unfortunate or serious the issues could be, it couldn’t be any worse than Martel’s.
However, his faith was entirely betrayed.
“The prince is in pain from an unknown disease, Your Majesty.”
“Right now, are you all trying to mess with me?!”
“H-how could we even try to do that? After having breakfast this morning, he said that his stomach hurt and was feeling nauseous, and then his head started to hurt and suddenly…”
The words of the old servant were interrupted
It was because another knight ran in to give another report.
“Your Majesty, Prince Barto fell!”
“W-what do you mean?” Asked Rudolf.
“During his swordsmanship practice, the prince lost consciousness, and he has a high fever along with rashes all over his body.”
“This! This makes no bloody sense!”
The news didn’t end there.
Soon there was another shocking news that the rest of the princes and the princesses were suffering.
When things reached that point, everyone’s eyes turned over to the emperor.
All the princes and his daughters passed out just a few days after spending some time with the emperor.
If it was an epidemic, the empress and the emperor were at risk.
“Your Majesty, even now, you need to be checked…”
“Shut up! There is no need for a checkup!”
Rudolf’s entire body was in pain.
Although he wasn’t suffering from any illness, the reality that his children were suffering in front of his eyes was ripping his heart to pieces.
He had never experienced such pain.
This was much more painful than the time when his bones were breaking on his path to become a great knight or the time when he was fatally wounded while fighting Kauren, the general from Devildom.
This was unbearable pain, and he didn’t know how to suppress it.
“Save them! Whatever the means you need to use! Lian, Barto and the other kids too! Otherwise, all of you will never be able to escape death!”
The proud emperor, who was proud of being stronger than anyone else, could do nothing. The entire Imperial Palace was rushing with people because of it.