BBYW Vol. 2 Chapter 21 (WN)
Chapter 21 – The Moron Drinks and Refuses to Dance
【POV: Cerros Baal】
On the easternmost regions of the Baal Empire was the town of Xinania, a fortress city on the border with the Huang Dynasty and my home base.
Xinania was originally part of the Huang territories, until the late emperor took it by force. Because of this, oriental culture and customs were still very much alive, and most of its citizens had skin color closer to the typical Huang “yellow” instead of the classic Imperial “white”.
In the center of Xinania stood a building much larger than the others: the Eastern Governor Palace, where I lived.
That day, a banquet was held at the palace. High functionaries and notable personalities from the city gathered to eat, drink and generally be merry.
In contrast with the banquet’s mood, however, I was sitting in a corner, frowning at a letter recently delivered to me.
“We require the Third Imperial Army’s assistance in the rescue of Princess Rossellia…huh. My brothers are stirring up another mess in the wrong place, again, I see…”
I scanned the letter sent from the imperial capital and whispered to myself, annoyed.
The letter was signed with the name Snowe Halphas — one of my brother Lars’ retainers. I’m supposed to be part of the imperial family too, but the letter was sent not by my brother — as custom dictated — but by a mere knight.
“They’re very comfortable looking down on me, that’s for sure. I’m not asking for respect from the bottom of your hearts, heaven forbid, but you could at least keep up appearances…”
“What will you do? Cerros? She is your little sister, yes?”
Xiao Mao, my personal aide, tilted her head as she inquired about my intentions. I folded the letter, gave it to her, then replied with a sarcastic grin.
“Oh yes, the little sister of little ol’ me, the court outcast! They barely ever let me even see Rossellia…to be honest, I don’t really think of her as a sister.”
I was part of the imperial family, on paper, but I was born from a servant that the emperor laid his hands on. At court I was a pariah, so they kept me as far away as possible from Rossellia, father’s most precious treasure.
I could count the times I met her on one hand. I didn’t hate her or anything, but I couldn’t see her as family either.
“Snowe Halphas…the younger brother of Eis Halphas, Lars’ “Wise General”. They already have the Imperial Knights and the Second Imperial Army on their side, but he petitions me for reinforcements too? What’s the point of amassing all this military, do they hate Maxwell that much?”
Snowe Halphas, the sender of the letter, had lost his brother in a battle against Maxwell. In my eyes, this request of assistance was fueled by a personal grudge, rather than loyalty or a sense of duty.
“Messing up my party with this downer of a story…I’m sick of these people, I tell you.”
I gulped the contents of my glass and lay down, using her lap as a pillow, rolling my head on her not very plump thighs.
“This called sexual harassment, yes? Don’t touch, pay first!”
“Yes, yes, I’ll pay, so humor me just a little more, will you? Aw, crap, they’re always snubbing over there, but when things like this happen, they come with their requests and stuff…woe is me, the unfortunate soul…”
“‘Unfortunate souls’ don’t drink and rub women’s thighs, Cerros.”
I let Xiao Mao’s snide remarks slide and reviewed the events developing in the west in my mind.
(Rossellia is being held prisoner by House Maxwell. In order to rescue her, an allied army has formed, with Lars at the center: the First Army, the Second, and the Imperial Knights. A war campaign to the west, larger than ever before…but are those two really going to cooperate in earnest?)
“Well, not my problem…anyway, the old man’s condition to become emperor will be fulfilled, I guess.”
The late emperor’s declaration, the spark that ignited the succession conflict — “Whoever conquers an enemy country will become the next emperor” — concealed a surefire method to win.
And that was “to join hands with the other heirs and conquer the enemy country”. But it seemed like I was the only one to notice, as Lars and Grett clearly didn’t.
(I bet the old man didn’t want it to happen like this, though.)
He probably expected Lars or Grett, the two heirs most likely to succeed the throne, to gain the support of the Third Imperial Army and me, thus forming the empire’s greatest military force and use it to inherit the throne.
That way, I’d have obtained a nice and stable position, as the new emperor’s ally, so I could finally ditch this outcast life…
(I bet the old man never thought we’d get on such bad terms. Lars and Grett never even considered cooperating with me, looks like they only see me as an obstacle on their path to the throne…)
Though the process was different than what the old man expected, in the end two of the heirs did form an alliance. The world works in mysterious ways, indeed.
“Anyway…tell the guys at court that we can’t send reinforcements. That we’re under attack by Huang and don’t have any troops to spare. Something like that.”
“Got it, my lord. I’ll sign for you too, yes?”
“Nooo problem. I’ll be too hungover to work tomorrow anyway.”
“Hey, Cerros, what’s this about being under attack? Since when did we invade again?”
Someone was apparently listening in on my conversation with Xiao: suddenly, a large, dark-skinned man butted in.
“C’mon Ragoh, old friend, you really need to ask?”
“Oh sure, when it fits you I’m an “old friend”, huh? Man, you’re too much…”
Ragoh laughed heartily and downed his drink.
He was a general invited from the neighboring country, Huang. One of the achievements in the 10 years since I was appointed governor was building a relationship amicable enough to invite Huang’s generals over to my banquets.
“Just pretend to invade, as usual. You can swindle more military expenses that way, so it works for you too, right?”
“Gahaha! You got me there!”
My Third Imperial Army and Ragou’s Western Force have been involved in repeated skirmishes the past few years — all fake. We’ve been able to suck up funds from our respective central governments this way.
Ragoh too was demoted to his current position: in a way, we were both rejects, so we had common ground.
I lifted my head from Xiao’s lap and sat up, to discuss the money-making scheme more in detail with Ragoh. Xiao Mao looked at us grinning as we plotted and rubbed our hands together…certainly not with admiration in her eyes.
(Come to think of it…what happens if the allied forces lose against Maxwell or Lamperouge?)
The First Imperial Army, the Second Imperial Army, the Imperial Knights…a force supposed to be the empire’s greatest, but on the off chance they fail…?
(The empire is going to turn upside down, that’s for sure…and in the resulting chaos, I might have the chance to sweep it all up.)
I pictured such a far-fetched vision of the future, chuckling to myself.