Chapter 229 - Elsid's Gifts (1)
Regardless of the era, wars were never a good thing. They consumed resources, and the process was always harsh on the loser's shoulders.
The victorious leaders had to justify the benefits they'd gotten from the armed conflict and why the people had to bleed. The anger and grudges of the people wouldn't go away just because it was over.
They would consume everything...
Kill as many as those who had died...
And destroy as much as what had been broken.
This was the equal revenge policy, and this line would be crossed the moment they allowed emotions to take over their decisions. They were in pain from the loss they suffered and wanted to use violence as a response. Even so, they couldn't regain what had been lost in the war. No, even if it couldn't be regained, they had to do it.
All of them knew it was the chain of revenge, but no one could escape. However, that didn't really apply to this war.
"...It is complicated, this civil war."
"I think so as well, Your Majesty."
The winning side of the civil war, Elsid and his close adviser Marquis Piris, sighed. It would be more comfortable if this had been a normal war. The winner would have the right to acquire all of the loser's territories and replenish the resources consumed in the war.
However, that wasn't possible in a civil war. The nobles were also part of the Soldun kingdom, while the soldiers were its blood and flesh. Elsid might have been able to cut off the head of the nobles faction's leader but exploiting their estates would just be eating at his own flesh.
He looked at the documents in his hand with a complex expression. "The ones who arbitrarily added to the duke's army will be punished, but it is difficult to dispose of those who only supported with a few troops or supplies."
"They probably didn't want to join the rebels either."
"However, they lacked the strength to declare neutrality and didn't have the courage to refuse the duke's demands. They aren't innocent, but... it is too much to put them to death."
This was the sorrow of the weak. Those within the sphere of influence of Duke Cornwall hadn't been able to receive Prince Elsid's protection and had no choice but to supply troops. If the duke had won and they hadn't cooperated with him, they could've been trampled on by the duke's overwhelming force.
If these people were executed, it would clearly make the kingdom's affairs more turbulent.
"Confiscate 80% of their assets and prohibit them from crossing the borders of their estates for the next three years. If there is an official request, I will grant permission to leave according to the circumstances."
It wasn't much different from unofficially acquitting those minor rebels. The advisers around Elsid looked surprised, but they sullenly accepted that there were no alternatives. There was something more important than those sinners, and they weren't talking about Duke Cornwall, whose execution had already been decided. It was something else.
"Marquis Fergana. The problem is how to handle him."
As one of the only two masters in the Soldun Kingdom, losing a 7th Circle magician was painful in many ways. In the first place, he wouldn't have been involved in the rebel forces if Duke Cornwall hadn't been his son-in-law. Maybe the duke had foreseen this far and planned the marriage for this reason.
However, it was like this now.
"It is too much to kill him, but we can't let him live."
His punishment had to be different from the minor nobles who had participated in the war. After all, Marquis Fergana had the power to resist Duke Cornwall, regardless of their family relations. It was impossible for them to excuse his actions.
No, not just them. Even Elsid couldn't easily forgive Marquis Fergana. So, Elsid asked for advice from the Meltor magicians, "Is there a magic to bind the life and will of a person in the 7th Circle, making them submit completely?"
It sounded ridiculous, but the magician in the white mask nodded easily. Despite being a foreigner, nobody challenged his right to participate in this meeting. He was the main commander of the Meltor army, White Tower Master Orta.
"As long as you give consent, it isn't an impossible task."
"Please explain in detail."
"It is a spell called the Oath of Obedience."
This was magic which rulers had used in the distant past when they didn't believe in the loyalty of their followers.
Regardless of whether the person's origin was in aura or magic, the stigma of complete obedience would be carved into their heart. The magic agreement made it impossible for outsiders to interfere. Once installed, it wouldn't be resolved until death.
It was a technique which had been used in several countries until three centuries ago, and now it was almost untouched. However, this wasn't due to a humanitarian reason. It was just that the number of senior magicians who could use the Oath of Obedience had been reduced.
Elsid listened to Orta before speaking in a subdued voice, "That process... Can I request your aid for it?"
He understood the dreadfulness of the technique, even without hearing the explanation. Nevertheless, Elsid had no other choice.
At this point, he couldn't lose Marquis Fergana. He was sitting on the throne thanks to Meltor's help, but the threat of the Lairon Kingdom still remained. There was no reason for Elsid to hesitate when he had willingly made an exchange with the East. As the king, he had to prioritize the future of the Soldun Kingdom, even if it deprived a person of their dignity.
"I understand. Please let me leave so that I can prepare the tools."
"I will allow it. More than anything else... I'm very grateful."
Orta nodded to Elsid before turning around. The White Tower Master might bow to another king, but he wouldn't be submissive. Soon after that, the meeting was concluded. The commanders of the rebel army, including Duke Cornwall, were sentenced to death, while Marquis Fergana received a special punishment. The minor nobles who had unwittingly joined the rebels received a light punishment, while the ones who had captured Duke Cornwall received their rewards.
Elsid saw this and couldn't help muttering, "There is a long way to go, really."
The revolution of the Soldun Kingdom had just begun.
* * *
This day was officially recorded as the date when 'Elsid's Civil War' ended.
Duke Cornwall and the 32 nobles who had caused a rebellion as soon as the king died were brought in one by one to be executed. Some were crying while others breathed quietly like they were already resigned to their fates.
Duke Cornwall was the only one who had a different reaction. He had chains on both of his wrists and ankles, and he glared at Elsid while kneeling down.
Then he looked up at the throne and ranted, "...Do you think you are sitting on that throne with your own strength? Without the Cornwall family, there would be no Soldun! I am the true descendant of the king!"
"This rude guy!" The executioner punched the duke.
However, the duke didn't stop talking despite his bleeding wound. "Call me a traitor! But you aren't qualified to punish me! You also borrowed the power of another kingdom!"
"...Well, your words aren't entirely wrong." Elsid didn't even twitch an eyebrow as he faced the duke with a signified attitude. He looked down with cold eyes at the person who still didn't realize his folly until the end.
Duke Cornwall didn't understand why he hadn't been able to win.
"Nevertheless, you lost. In a situation where you have no bloodline or legitimacy, you didn't even know you were being used like a puppet and eventually ran away."
"You have no luck, wisdom, or the courage to take responsibility for your mistakes. Such a person doesn't deserve the throne."
So, the duke would die here. Elsid raised his left hand. It was the signal to enforce the punishment.
Duke Cornwall's mouth opened as the executioner's axe descended. The duke's attempt to refute the insult to his pride was cut off. The sharp blade of the axe performed its mission as perfectly as always.
The dignity Duke Cornwall had lived with came to an end, and his head fell down with an ugly expression.
Elsid looked down at it with an unknown expression in his eyes.
"Congratulations on your crown, Your Majesty."
Hearing a voice from behind, Elsid turned his head. The white-masked and white-robed person was White Tower Master Orta. However, it wasn't just him. Vince, Viscount Carter, and Theodore were also gathered together with him.
Eldis received the words and shrugged with a slight laugh. "...Congratulating me after the duke dies? You sure are very thorough."
"There is no guarantee before the embers are put out."
"That's right. There is nothing wrong with being careful. Now, the Cornwall estate will revert to the crown."
The atmosphere lightened as they switched to talking about the land, and Elsid descended from the throne. The execution of Duke Cornwall had been the last one, so Elsid didn't have to sit there any longer.
Today's executions completely ended the civil war. The coronation ceremony might not have taken place yet, but Elsid had already become the king. He walked two steps ahead and told the guests, "That reminds me, you said you were leaving in the near future?"
"Yes, we aren't free enough to stay here for long."
"Indeed... Is it okay for you leave after this evening?"
"Was there something else you needed?" It was a question which sounded rude, but Orta asked it without any hesitation. Elsid might've won the civil war, but the Soldun Kingdom was far from being able to gain its proper capacity.
Orta had requested not to make too much of their presence if possible, so he would be very displeased if Elsid were to say there was a banquet.
Elsid understood and hurriedly denied it, "No, it isn't that. It isn't what you think. There are too many things to do right now."
They had to restore the buildings destroyed by the sieges as well as compensate the families of the dead soldiers. Elsid had risen to the throne, so he had a responsibility to bear all of this burden and stabilize public sentiments. There was no chance for him to hold a banquet.
Orta read the truth on Elsid's face and looked at him curiously. Although Orta thought there was nothing else to talk about with Elsid, he would still carry out his duties seriously. "...I understand. I'll meet you here."
A bright smile appeared on Elsid's face. "Thank you for listening to me. I won't let you down."
Won't let them down? A subtle expression appeared on the magicians' faces. Based on the context, Elsid had prepared a gift for them. Theodore also had a similar thought and soon met Elsid's gaze. It wasn't a passing moment. Elsid's eyes were clearly staring at him.
Simultaneously, the tongue in the palm of his left hand stirred. It was due to the smell of treasure.