Prince Oswald had the responsibility of heading the nation’s forces against outside attack. Little did the commoners know, the forces in the Northern Dominion of Purnesia had recently ramped up its efforts to gather military might. There was word of certain belligerent factions that wished for war again.
Along the border wall, there were often small skirmishes as the northern forces tried to send spies over to figure out weak points in the Kingdom of Sistina’s rule. Try as he might, they would manage a way to sneak back information about the inner happenings within the kingdom.
Ever since the Duke’s passing, these efforts had only increased, seeing that a large hole in the power balance of the nobility had opened. The late Duke had been a significant player in the forces against the royal family, gathering a plethora of weapons and armor, as well as holding the support of a large portion of the kingdom’s lords. The people would naturally rally behind their territorial lords.
While having a large force opposing the royal family was far from a favorable option, at the very least, that meant the military’s actions remained strong and vigilant. With no one to lead this effort, the gathered powers had scattered in the wind. Unlikely that these same noblemen would be as motivated to protect the country without a favorable head, this situation had made the country, as a whole, more vulnerable to foreign powers. For that reason, there had been more attempts in the recent months up north.
That would be one less worry if he could quickly claim the throne. If his own supporters remained by his side, the crown upon his head would slowly convince the other nobility to follow suit. His father, the current king, would soon be passing it to him. It was only a matter of time. Once that had been established, the naysayers would settle on him as their king, despite their doubts.
However, the recent events had played against his favor. The ranks of nobility that were once scrambled had started shifting their support upon the remaining people. However, few had started rallying under him. Instead, a sign of new figures emerging in power drew quite a bit of concern for the young Prince, as he had little control over them.
Oswald looked out the window towards a distant territory. It was a land once ruled by the Madiswil family, but now, it was inhabited by a newly titled Viscountess. The rate of improvement in that territory was unnaturally high, fostered by a trading company exploding in wealth. People swarmed to that region for all of the newest products, flooding the area with money and labor.
If it was simply a region that flourished due to its wealth, then he could leave it be, but the Faulkner territory had become much more than that, thanks to a certain princess.
After his dear sister officially became the royal inventor, she quickly established her first invention for the public – a central lighting system fueled by mana. As some of the concepts were aided through the resident Electi’s otherworldly knowledge, the first testing ground for the invention was established there.
Though there had previously been mana lamps that the populace could activate by expending their mana, they had to purchase them with their personal funds; tools containing magic stones were not cheap. Furthermore, not everyone had an excess amount of mana. Frequent usage of tools would drain a normal person’s reserves, dividing their mental fortitude between tasks.
However, Katalina had discovered an alternative solution. Certain locations across the land were hotspots where mana veins approached close to the surface. By tapping into these sources, a network could be connected to one of them, thereby supplying the nearby area with free mana.
Now, the people there were able to enjoy lighting, freely provided by the governing body. With a simple touch of a slab, mana flowed to and was cut off from the buildings.
“Such ignorance! Being blinded by the prospects of amusement and convenience. Just who do those commoners think they are!” Oswald gritted his teeth.
Truly, he had not anticipated that the simple creations of an eccentric princess would catch on so well or so quickly. However, this simple gift had already steered the people’s minds towards support for her. A growing body of her backers was slowly becoming more than a mere minority. Though he acknowledged her efforts, they were quickly overshadowing the achievements that he felt were important in governing a kingdom.
Who was putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the country, so that these people could live in safety? If it weren’t for his efforts in protecting the northern border, Purnesia would be sending their armies to invade once again. Then what? How would their little toys help against a country aching to wipe them out?
A king’s role was to keep the country safe, just like his father had done. Due to his efforts, no country dared to intrude upon their lands, at the risk of war. His father had simply been that daunting of an opponent. Only due to old age did the northern army see an opportunity to rise up against them again.
If that was the case, then he would have to show them that he was every bit as formidable as his father was. Trained in military warfare and giving his troops the best conditioning possible, he would ensure that invaders would be crushed under his might and reconsider ever stepping foot on their land.
Oswald smacked his fist on top of his desk, where a map had been laid out. The wooden pieces that designated his army’s positions toppled and rolled onto the floor.
The defenses around the northern border were sufficient to secure it at the moment. There had been no activity in the Eastern country of Sanshiro, where there was a natural barrier. They had never been one to act belligerently outside of their territory. An alliance with the Southern Isles had also greatly eased the possibility of being pincered on both sides. Up until recently, the mystery of their intentions had him approach with caution. After learning about their advanced culture and powerful king, it was a wise decision to form a favorable relationship.
All that was left was the shore up support right in the middle. How could he do that, given the recent rise in popularity of his elder sister?
A knock on the door echoed through the room.
“I permit you to enter,” Oswald called out.
A hooded man opened the door and entered the room.
“Oh, it’s you.” Oswald recognized the man, despite not seeing his face. “What have you got for me?”
“Oh, just a plan that you may find interesting. I have noticed how stressed you seem lately. With the king’s retirement on the horizon and the kingdom in a constant state of flux, I’m sure there is a lot on your plate…”
“Out with it. I don’t care for such chicanery.”
“Well then, what would you say if there’s a way to eliminate your competition and ensure your coronation?”
“Why, we would simply have to stifle the ones siphoning your influence among the populace, namely the Princess and certain nobles that are on the rise.”
“And you have a way to do that discreetly?”
“Yes, I have our chess pieces in place. All that’s left is to set it into motion. It will be a simple matter to limit their actions once things are in place.”
“I see. How can you be so sure that this will work?”
“Haha, from my investigation, many of them hold the same weakness, the supporting pillar that keeps them afloat. If you knock it down, then things will grind to a halt.”
“Tch, that lowly chef that somehow became a knight. Granted that he’s got some troublesome powers, I find it infuriating that the people seem to gather around him. Still, wouldn’t it be unwise to openly antagonize someone that has gained the people’s favor?”
“That’s exactly why we must show him who’s really in control of the kingdom. Electi are summoned to serve, are they not? If his way of thinking infects the people, then it would be better to get rid of him now, while we have the means of doing so.”
The hooded man walked up to the Prince.
“Do not worry. Despite his accomplishments, that man is an unseasoned fighter. There are simple ways to seal his abilities. I can assure you that he poses no real challenge.”
The hooded man smiled, which was the only part of his face that Oswald could see. However, he didn’t need to see anything else to know how confident the man was. Oswald was a bit skeptical, but what merit would a man who had served his family for years have in downplaying this threat?
“Very well. You may proceed. I trust that you will continue to keep the interests of the country at hand, Chancellor. I do not care what you do to those against me as long as my standing is maintained.”
“Of course. That has always been my priority. For this country, for the world, that is the sole reason for my unrivaled magic and for my existence.” The hooded man, the one with the most battle potential in the kingdom, bowed before exiting the room.
For as long as Prince Oswald remembered, the man named David Willingham had been a prominent figure in the kingdom. Originally a foreigner, the man suddenly appeared in the kingdom and demonstrated his magical prowess. Impressed by his abilities, King Reginald gave him status and command of some magic knights.
As he continued to gain favor with the king, he eventually was offered a court position, one that enforced the well-being of the kingdom. Since then, decades have already passed.
Personally, Oswald didn’t know what to make of the man. He would often be seen playing to both sides of the nobility factions, never fully supporting one or the other. Perhaps, that was what his father saw in him – the ability to control the situation to suit his agenda, whatever that may be. However, it was worth noting that the Chancellor had a keen insight in planning, finding ways to move the kingdom based on his wishes. He could be depended on to choose whichever option that was most beneficial in the long run. That was one thing he undoubtedly believed in.
Since he had chosen to aid the Prince in such a manner, Oswald guessed that the crown would be safer under his hands, even if it took unconventional methods to take hold of it. He had gone out of his way to help him before. Perhaps, it was the same now.
All he could do was rely on that trust to propel him towards the start of his reign.
“With his help, every front will now be secure.” Oswald smiled, imagining himself sitting upon his father’s throne.
Together, the two of them would show everyone a legacy that would surpass his father’s. History would look back and note this as the beginning of an era that shook the world.