BBYW Vol. 2 Chapter 18 (WN)
Chapter 18 – Fools Dance on Others’ Palms
【POV: Lars Baal】
Baal Empire, imperial court.
Unable to contain my anger, I slammed my fists on the table.
“What the hell is going on!? This is nothing like you told me!!”
“I have no words to apologize, Milord. It was an inexplicable, unforeseeable event, apparently.”
I shouted at the subordinate kneeling before me, Snowe Halphas, whose head just sank lower.
Looking at him, however, did not calm my raging spirits at all. I continued hurling abuse at Snowe, whose head was so low that I couldn’t see his face anymore.
“Unforeseeable!? Are you taking me for a fool!? You failed to coax Maxwell and Rossellia has been captured to boot!! Thanks to your brilliant plan, they’re accusing me of selling my sister to the enemy, here in this court!! What are you going to do about it!?”
“…my deepest apologies, Milord, who would ever think Maxwell would resort to such a…”
A missive from House Maxwell was laid on the table at my side.
It contained details about a murder attempt on Rossellia, perpetrated by assassins from the empire. It continued by stating that, as Rossellia could not be sent back to the clearly dangerous empire in good conscience, House Maxwell would keep her safe in their province.
(Who do you think I am, you bastards!? What brother would send assassins against his own sister!?)
House Maxwell likely meant to secure Rossellia and use her as a hostage.
(So they made up “assassins” as an excuse!? You countryside nobles dare make a fool out of the first imperial prince!?)
I gripped and crushed the letter in my fist, then threw it on the floor.
The plan of marrying Rossellia to Dyngir Maxwell, to use House Maxwell as a step to conquer the kingdom, was now just a fantasy. Rossellia was even taken hostage by Maxwell.
Our very plan was turned against us, forcing us in an even worse situation…this cannot be allowed!!
“We have to do something…my position is getting worse and worse!!”
“Indeed, Lord Lars, but…do you not think that this might be a chance?”
As I cursed the present state of affairs, Snowe raised his head and spoke.
“A chance!? Where do you see such a…”
“The fact that Princess Rossellia has been taken hostage could be used to move the Imperial Knights. If we can gain their cooperation, our military strength will effectively double.”
I reflected upon Snowe’s words.
The Imperial Knights — especially their captain, Rajang Salazar — were charged with Rossellia’s protection by father and were concerned about her more than anyone else.
(Rajang has not spared his criticism of me since then…)
I recalled Rajang’s stern glare when he learned of the hostage situation and sighed.
“I see, that might be a good move. If we were to attack House Maxwell at this point, however, would we not put Rossellia in danger?”
If we sent troops while Rossellia was still taken hostage, Maxwell might use her as a shield. After my sister ended up taken hostage because of my plan, how could I abandon her?
“Do not fret, Milord. Dyngir Maxwell might be a despicable man, but I have been told that he rarely, if ever, resorts to killing women. The Princess’….chastity might be in danger, but certainly not her life.”
“Prince Lars, you are Baal’s future emperor. You know as well as I do that you cannot let emotion sway your judgement. The late emperor, peace be upon his noble soul, had to take cruel measures in his path to conquest. He fought against his brothers and even invaded the families his sisters had married into. Did he not?”
“That…that is true, but…”
Reminded of my father’s bloody history, I grumbled in agreement.
In order to become emperor, father had thrown away all human emotion. We children too — Rossellia excluded — were nothing but pawns for the sake of the empire, in his eyes.
(Rossellia…you’re the only one he loved…)
I did feel affection for my younger sister, but at the same time, I also harbored jealousy towards her.
Rossellia, the only recipient of father’s love. Rossellia, who lived all her life in court, safe and pampered, far away from war. I could not deny that I envied her.
(Yes…Rossellia has been living in luxury all this time, without ever working for the empire’s sake! As the future emperor, I should be justified in having her work for me, just this one time!)
As the future emperor, I was forced to make a harsh decision. Pretending not to acknowledge how the envy and inferiority I felt, born from the fatherly love I missed, pushed me to move.
“Yes, yes, Snowe, it is exactly as you say. Contact the Imperial Knights! This will be our final battle with House Maxwell!!”
“Right away, Milord. A brilliant decision, well fitting the conqueror’s heir.”
Snowe nodded, looking satisfied, and bowed reverently.
“This time, I shall deliver results that will surely bring you satisfaction.”
Snowe endeavored earnestly in the negotiations with Captain Rajang and eventually succeeded in gaining the cooperation of the Imperial Knights.
Rajang Salazar had his share of stinging remarks for me, but we could form a truce, in order to rescue Rossellia.
The only unexpected development was that Grett, my younger brother and rival for the throne, offered his cooperation in the Lamperouge invasion.
Thus, the First Imperial Army, Second Imperial Army and the Baal Imperial Knights formed an allied battalion, which set out to invade the Kingdom of Lamperouge, in order to rescue Princess Rossellia.
What would this war, of unprecedented scope, bring to the future of Baal and Lamperouge? At that time, I had not realized it yet…