Emperor of Steel

Chapter 658 - Internal Cut 3

For the next 3 months, Luke had to deal with the documents that had piled up for a while and wanted to proceed to the Holy Empire.

However, the situation around him didn’t seem that simple.

First, there was a sign that the battle between the Volga Republic and the Baroque Empire would go on for an all-out-war.

The Baroque Empire, which seemed to breathe for a while because of the Libiya’s retreat, was moving.

However, due to the unexpected betrayal of Viscount Rajat, many more northern estates were taken away.

As a response, Emperor Rudolf, who was angry, cleared up the civil war to some extent, and he then went out to stop the Republican army on his own.

If the Volga Republic were allowed to run wild, it seemed that the entire northern part of the Baroque would be taken away.

‘The problem was that this can’t be simply regarded as a crippled man’s work.’

Part of the peasant rebels requested shelter in the Symphonia Kingdom as the emperor turned his sword to the entirety of the north.

It wouldn’t have been a huge problem, but the problem was that a bunch of imperial nobles, who were involved with the rebels or harsh taxing nobles, were also crossing the border.

The Baroque guards, who were on the border with the Symphonia Kingdom, were all turning into virtual bystanders.

It was because they knew that the emperor wouldn’t bring his troops and check the border during the current times.

The most flustering thing for Symphonia was the number of migrants coming over, the number was so huge that they couldn’t be handled.

Food and clothes were something they tried to manage.

However, it wasn’t so easy to provide shelter or jobs for them.

Moreover, as some migrants committed crimes such as thefts and assaults, the public sentiment in the region was deteriorating.

“Even the parliament, the royalists, and the nobles are arguing loudly over the issue of refugee assistance…”

It was an annoying problem, and the rebels that entered Symphonia were some military, insisting on marching to the North.

To attack Emperor Rudolf while he was in the midst of a battle with the Volga Republic.

In a way, it didn’t seem like a good opportunity.

But currently, Luke’s enemy wasn’t Emperor Rudolf.

It was Arsene, who was growing up in the Libiya Kingdom.

‘The more delayed it gets dealing with him, the more damage will the nation have to face.’

Second, there had been changes in internal affairs over the past three months.

Before the Southern expedition, after the dark magic related bill had been passed by the parliament, the Black Tower was built in the capital of Brandon, and wandering warlocks and Dark Moon were gathered.

They all told about the information they held regarding dark magic and actively participated in the production of Gigants.

As a result, the production, efficiency, and quality had improved.

Until then, the wizards of Katarina Magic Tower had been the center of the Gigant production such as Stiletto, Gaius, and Orion, and the Symphonia’s magical engineering skills had increased by a lot.

However, its production capacity was lacking compared to the top 10 magic towers.

Dark Moon had great knowledge of technology and the making of Gigants. They were good enough to supply flagship Gigants to the Volga Republic for a long time.

Thanks to the exchange of information and cooperation, the shortcomings in the Gigant were covered.

However, with every good thing came bad things.

“Is a manufactured stone unfavorable compared to a man-made stone? On top of that, there is a conflict between the white and dark wizards…”

There was no way there wouldn’t have been any differences when the wizards of entirely different properties made to work together.

The white wizards would look closely at the skills of the dark wizards. The warlocks were ready to face some discrimination, in the beginning. However, as it got worse, the emotions of warlocks worsened.

There was a need to arrange new rules to some extent. However, no one seemed to have an opinion on it.

If any noble decided to take a side, they would end up getting caught in the Magic World.

“In the end, I have to go and organize it.”

It was annoying, but as king, it was his job.

And the third and last thing, the dynamics of the Grenada Kingdom had changed.

The conflict between the two nations ended when the Symphonia Kingdom was founded during Luke’s crowning.

Recently, however, they demanded Hyredin or Auster to be returned, and the invasion of the territorial waters by the Grenada navy had increased.

‘It may be related to the last undead attack in the Southern Continent. They might have thought that we turned weak after it.’

According to the report from the intelligence, the Grenada military’s men were unhappy.

And in the center of everything was Count Fernando de Salizar, who had been taken as Luke’s prisoner during the last war, and released through the negotiations between the two nations.

Fernando, the son-in-law of Drake, the current King of Grenada, and the next successor of the throne, was extremely dissatisfied due to the defeat and the humiliation he suffered because of getting captured.

Fortunately, it was a simple political comment, but it would have turned into a war if taken seriously.

“Things are getting really annoying!”

Luke clicked his tongue and went out of the office.

The building of the temporary parliament in the Symphonia Kingdom, located downtown of Brendon, the capital.

Heated voices rang since morning. Maybe it was because of the debate between the members.

“Baron Jordi, if we won’t travel to the north right now, when will we move? We need to speak with His Majesty right away and attack the Baroque Empire.”

The royalist, Baron Jordi, who was sitting across Count Joon, the head of nobles, who dressed very fancily, replied, “Our Symphonia Kingdom has indeed agreed to overthrow our enemy, the Baroque Empire. But that doesn’t mean that it needs to be done right away. Now is the time to strengthen our national defense and power by stabilizing internal affairs.”

“Well, can’t you even hear the suffering and screams of the people who are suffering because of the tyranny created by Rudolf?”

“Who said that I couldn’t? However, the damage and side-effects of going into a war in our current state will not be small, and we are not in a state to go to all-out-war with the Baroque.”

The Symphonia Kingdom had made remarkable progress over the past few years.

Its territory, population, and industrial production had increased by several times compared to the Rakan estate in the past.

However, every good side had its bad side.

The war with the Milton Kingdom followed by the declaration of independence, the attack on the coastal cities by Grenada, the conquest of the Southern Baroque Empire, the raid of Arsene on the southern city, etc…

Indeed, the damages they suffered from those wars and raids were restored quickly with the help of resources of the newly expanded estates and the Holy Empire.

However, due to those wars, the mental exhaustion of the general public and the army couldn’t be ignored.

“Mental exhaustion? Is there any evidence that the people are struggling?”

Baron Jordi replied confidently to Joon’s question.

“Yes, there is. Over the past year, the offerings to the sanctuaries and El Kassel denominations have doubled. The growth of the new denominations including Arahan is also remarkable, and the construction of temples and statues has increased.”

Religion was one thing that would stand out in cases of economic recession. It was because people searched for mental stability by relying on faith.

“In addition, many people joined large and small guilds in case of disaster. ‘Insurance Guild’ is a new system that regularly collects money from guild members and provides them insurance payments if they end up becoming the victims of a disaster.”

When the insurance story came out, some of the nobles nodded their heads.

It was because it wasn’t just the common people, but even the nobles joined the insurance guilds, all in preparation for disasters or accidents.

“Even if we set it aside, the military power of our nation isn’t superior to the Baroque Empire.”

“I know that you are from the military, but aren’t you underestimating our army?”

At Count Joon’s sarcastic words, Baron Jordi answered, “I am not underestimating anything. I am simply stating the facts. Of course, I have no doubts that our kingdom will win the battle against the Imperial, but in order to win a war, we need supplies, and supplies are as important as the combat abilities of soldiers in the military.”

Soldiers had to eat to fight, and Gigants had to be regularly inspected and repaired before the battle.

The reason Baron Jordi was skeptical of the advance was because he wasn’t sure if the Symphonia Kingdom could supply necessities all throughout the war.

“The count insists on providing relief to the helpless people suffering under Rudolf’s tyranny, but our advance and the occupation wouldn’t enrich our lives right away. Also, we will run out of food for everyone.”

“That…”

“Don’t you realize how much resources we will need to feed the hungry people in Baroque? Moreover, our people will end up having to bear the burden of it!”

“So, what do you plan to do then?”

Count Joon, who had been constantly pushing, asked with a low voice, “Anyway, as time goes by, the economic and military power of the Symphonia Kingdom will dominate, and after a little more time, it won’t be too late to conquer the Baroque Empire.”

“Huh! What if the Baroque Empire is revived in the meantime? Don’t you realize that you need to push away things when we have the opportunity, or we will hit the ground!”

Honestly, Count Joon knew that Baron Jordi’s words were right.

Nevertheless, there were two reasons he was insisting on the war.

First, unlike the royalists, who were many were made of Luke’s men who established a strong name for themselves, the war-like situation was an opportunity for him to attain a stable position in the nobles.

And to his advantage, the Baroque Empire, which was raging with rebellion and invasion, stood out.

If the people of the empire were freed from a tyrant such as Rudolf, the nobles who insisted on war would gain public sentiment from the people in the occupied territories, and those nobles’ political position in the Kingdom would be strengthened.

Secondly, the war would mean a great mobilization of the nation’s services.

So, if they weren’t defeated, the nobles that ran large scale farms in the estates and the domestic merchants would benefit greatly.

But, when the persuasion didn’t seem to work on the royalists, Count Joon turned toward the neutralists.

“Representative Aiden, what do you think?”

“You are asking me?”

“Yes, do you also agree with us? From your standpoint, you won’t be able to ignore the people suffering under the tyrant, right?”

“…”

There were many republicans among the neutrals, and Aiden was one of the republicans.

Count Joon was aware of the thoughts of the energetic youths.

So he believed that they would be on his side if he considered their ideological cause.

And the temptation given by Count Joon made Aiden, who was considered to be the most influential in the neutral group, frown. It was because the opinion of both royalists and the nobles seemed valid.

With a little thought, Aiden opened his mouth.

“I agree that this is a great opportunity to strike the Baroque Empire.”

“Right?”

Count Joon said with glee.

It was because if the neutrals agreed, he would able to go ahead with his argument with around 175 votes to 125.

But that wasn’t the end.

“But I don’t think that it would be fine to move our army like Baron Jordi said. Moreover, Your Majesty must have a plan of his own, so isn’t it our duty to at least understand what his intentions are?”

‘What the hell is he saying?! This rotted republican! When did they ever pay any attention to the king’s will?’

Was he siding with the king because the king seemed to tolerate republicans?

Count Joon, who went stiff with Aiden’s answer, began to persuade them.

“Of course, Your Majesty’s will is important. However, if we hesitate and miss the opportunity of hitting…”

It was when he said that…

Beep!

The door to the room opened, and the attendant cried out.

“The sun will illuminate the nation, the Ruler of Symphonia, His Majesty, the king, enters! Lawmakers, please stand up and greet!”

At the announcement of the man, everyone in the room got up at once and bowed their heads toward the entrance.

Step! Step! Step!

The highest authoritative person.

Although not flashy, Luke entered in a dignified uniform and sat in the king’s seat, which was in the middle, and told everyone, “Please take your seats.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty.”

Immediately, the 300 lawmakers sat down, Count Joon raised his hand and said, “Your Majesty, this on…”

“Stop! I have already heard of this from the lords outside. There is no need to say it all over again.”

Luke, who stopped Count Joon, continued.

“I have no intention of carrying out troops to punish Baroque any time soon.”

“Your Majesty, the people in the Imperial are suffering from the man, who is ruling over them…”

When Count Joon tried to speak, Luke stuck his palm to the table.

Thud!

The table didn’t smash, but the energy that left his palm sent shockwaves to everyone in the room.

Count Joon, who was standing up, staggered back.

“Joon, aren’t you mistaking something? This parliament is a place created to support the internal affairs of the kingdom, resolve the disputes between nobles, and communicate. But you dare to intervene in my authority over diplomacy and military affairs?”

His cold voice… It was almost as if everyone froze inside the room.

Count Joon, who went still for a moment because of Luke, shed sweat.

“Moreover, you are only the head of the nobles, you aren’t a legislator. So, why is your voice raised here?”

“W-well, it is because of my loyalty toward Your Majesty…”

“Shut up!”

Joon, who tried to come up with an excuse, went stiff when Luke hit the table again.

“Regardless of whether the Imperial family is punished or not, it is up to me to decide what the military does. The parliament needs to hurry up and find a concrete way to help the refugees of the Baroque Empire.”

At Luke’s words, the lawmakers cleared the issues they had been discussing so far and began to discuss support and security for the refugees.

‘Huh, I left him alone for a while because I was too concerned with the expedition to the Southern Continent, but he dares to intervene in places where my authority is?’

Luke created the council to share the internal affairs of the kingdom.

Instead of giving legislative and executionary powers, he planned to solve noble disputes and internal affairs and also intended to give some sense of pride to the crushed nobles.

That way the nobles would stand against one another and take little initiative in certain tasks.

However, over the past 3 months, when Sebastian and Duke Hans had taken over in Luke’s absence, it seemed like some of the lawmakers had lost their minds and forgotten what their duties were.

‘And there was one more reason besides Arsene why I want to postpone the war.’

The existence of the Blood Band Warriors, which Hwang Bo-sung had brought.

Luke was planning to select a few skilled martial arts warriors and strong loyalists to form a Gigant unit.

There were 6 Gigant units in the Symphonia Kingdom. The 6th one was the Guard Knight.

That meant 600 Gigants.

He planned to add 2 more units of Gigants that would be made up of Blood Band Warriors.

It would take a minimum of a year for them to be trained and organized into Gigant riders.

This was why Luke was thinking about pushing the war to the end of the year.

However, the men inside the parliament were continuously insisting on the march to the north to punish Rudolf.

‘I need to make my stand clear to those nobles.’

Luke was already aware of how stubborn the nobles could be.

Moreover, before coming to the parliament, he received a report from the intelligence department about the corruption inside the nobles.

The nobles, who illegally mobilized people in their estates to clear the wasteland, and how much bribes were being taken behind the backs of the merchants.

‘It isn’t a big problem yet. But if I don’t stop this now, it will end up rotting into Veritas Magic Tower and fall.’

Luke didn’t forget the reason why the self-destruct magic circle of Veritas Magic Tower didn’t work.

After an hour or so, Luke left his seat and let the parliament continue.