Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 31: Fourth Episode: Chapter 4
Chapter 31: Fourth Episode: Chapter 4
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
"Thank you for the dinner, Your Royal Highness." Major General Reynold Hewitt Preston felt it was time to bid goodbye to his hosts.
"Hehehe, you need not be so courteous. I wish you’ll have a pleasant journey home." Oscar escorted the officer to the entrance of the mansion where a servant had prepared his horse at.
Reynold mounted the horse in one smooth motion. His grandfather had more than once reminded him to take the House Carriage, but as he is a major general, it was obviously more appropriate to ride a horse himself.
"I’ll be taking my leave now, please do inform me of all things related to the journey, I’ll be on my way at your order." Reynold posed a proper military salute to Oscar before making his horse trot along the road.
Oscar waved at the major general as he moved away. He lamented the fact that this Reynold seemed much more accomplished even though they’re both similar in age.
The teenage prince returned to the hall where servants already prepared desserts and drinks that help with digestion. Oscar chose a few he had never tried.
"Hey! What do you think, Mam?" Oscar asked with his mouth full, not caring about how rude he looked.
"What do you mean ‘what do I think?’" Lady Duchess Celia leaned against a chaise lounge in the parlor with her dress dangled to the floor, crossing her feet casually.
"I’m talking about that boy. If I had a daughter, I’d marry them without hesitation."
Lady Duchess shot the teenage a glare. "Give that a rest. You should think about the Marshal’s request and not agree to it so readily. The Narcissus Knights had never received orders from the army, oh, what would your father say when he hears about this!"
Oscar squeezed himself beside his stepmother, "Come on, dear Mam, he was just trying to get experience on a real battlefield, you don’t think we can find Persians in other places, do you?"
Lady Celia popped the strawberry her son offered her. "What if this precious Hewitt gemstone got endangered on the battlefield?"
Oscar shrugged. "That’s his luck then. It’s a battlefield, it brings honor, but also brings pain and suffering. I believe Marshal Alan would understand that of all the people, so I don’t think it’s that big a deal. If the major general was injured due to not having prepared enough, it’s not our responsibility to bear."
Lady Celia gave it some thought. There is a point to what Oscar had said, but Reynold Hewitt Preston is not the type who would want battle merits with his background as a noble member rooted in a military family. When this type of character appears in the Narcissus Knights, the whole situation would not be as simple as it seemed.
However, Lady Celia also knew, they can’t refuse a small request from House Hewitt like this. Perhaps her husband would be more proficient dealing with this, but they need to be very cautious about it. Like how Oscar bears the future of House Andrew, this major general would be House Hewitt’s hope for the future, so it was necessary to handle the relationship between them and this young major general.
Lady Duchess Andrew recalled suddenly her son’s words. If she did have a daughter, it’s not a bad idea to marry her to the Hewitt kid.
Lady Celia shook her head, she may have overthought it.
"So that settles it. You already agreed to him, so bring him to our territory before we discuss further."
Oscar grinned, he tried to feed Lady Celia with more strawberries, but she refused.
"Goodness! Do you know what you’re doing, you insolent boy? You’re tempting a Lady with a dietary regimen! If I notice an increase in weight tonight, even one gram, be prepared to face my wrath!"
Even though Baron Erbe appeared just in time, Lady Duchess Andrew wasn’t planning on releasing the rascal’s ear. He’s too exasperating.
"Milady, you should let His Royal Highness go, His Majesty’s Confidential Secretary is waiting outside, I don’t think we should let him see this."
The ancient Imperial Library sat at the end of the Morpheus Avenue, which is at the East of the Road of Kings. By habit, people called this old palace-like building the Dvoris Palace.
Technically speaking, Dvoris Palace was a private property of the Titan Royalty, but it was the only palace the Morisette royals have allowed access to others. As long as one has a rank of nobility, he would be allowed access to any materials he was interested in at any time.
Since its plaque outside listed the place as the Imperial Library, it was obvious its purpose is to exhibit books and literature of all sorts. Compared to other famous libraries in Westland, Dvoris Palace was no doubt the first in its long history and the number of books.
The sky dimmed as the Imperial Library passed its business hours, but right now, it’s still as brightly lit as daytime. The guards at the entrance of the palace had been changed to guard cavalry, several carriages parked in the space between the entrance and Morpheus Avenue. From the patrols of Ministry of Justice at the side of the road, to the number of citizens passing by the streets, it was apparent the guard cavalry was making sure there were no suspicious characters near the palace.
The rooms on the third floor of the library were seldom used, these intricately designed, well-equipped rooms were reserved for the prominent figures in the capital city of Dulin.
As the King of Titan, Oslo Alfa Morisette occupied the largest, most lavish room in Dvoris Palace. He stared blankly at the pile of records occupying the whole table in front of him detailing about the Cabinet system of the Engels Kingdom.
The palace itself did not change because of the King’s arrival. Even though a hefty sum of guards followed the King here, but these rowdy imperial guards didn’t dare make a noise at this point in time. Right before this, King Alfa III His Majesty who had always been kind roared like a beast. The guards communicated through their eyes, worried about their ruler.
The King stood. He stretched his limbs and turned around, as the ministers behind him faked their smiles.
Alfa III turned away, disgusted.
The Finance Minister moved with some difficulty in front of the King, "Yes, Your Majesty."
The King sized up the severely obese minister, "Oh fine, you may stay seated while reporting."
The Finance Minister thanked the King for his grace and moved onto the couch.
"Godzilla, if Faran were to ally with Italia, Hoilland and West Percy and launch an economic war at Titan…"
"Your Majesty, is it real? I mean did you receive some sort of information?" The Finance Minister of Titan Marquis Almodovar Godzilla leapt even before the King had finished talking and bounded in front of the King in just two steps.
"Your Majesty, please tell me if that is real!" Almodovar’s face was wild.
Alfa III got a shock from his own Finance Minister, but he already found his answer.
Indeed, the King’s nonchalant delivery scared Godzilla, leaving him reeling and dazed.
"Oh God, oh God! This means it’s real, oh my God! Why would this happen? O great God of Light! Can you believe this? I will be bankrupted! Oh God!"
The King pointed at the Finance Minister who was slumped on the ground, "Move Marquis Almodovar Godzilla to somewhere airy."
The captain of the guards glanced at the pile of meat on the ground and whispered to the other guard, "Hey, go get more people in here."
The army boots clomped on the ground accompanied with some groans from the Finance Minister. Alfa III had already loosened his collar, this was the second time he had done this disgracing move.
"Marshal Alan, if the Deiss were to launch an attack on Titan with the Farans, Italians, Olliers and Rielese from the west, northwest and southwest, then…"
"Your Majesty." The old Marshal with his hair of silver had already stepped forward. He had disrupted the King’s questioning knowing it was an example that he could get through with a simple explanation, but as the leader of the military of Titan Empire, it would be treacherous to lie.
"Your Majesty, if the Western Alliance attacked, I can utilize the National Wartime Mobilization Order in one week, and gather three hundred thousand reserve soldiers from the six eastern provinces in half a month."
"That’s all?" The King thought he heard it wrong.
"We can also reactivate the Dulin City Defense Act to hold the invaders off for half a year with our durable city wall."
"Is there no possibility that we can win without them breaching the border?" The King continued his questioning, unwilling to let it go.
Marshal Alan looked at the King, confused. ‘Win without border breach?’ Has the King gone senile? "Your Majesty, I have to say this, our military power had already lost its strength as far back as a century ago. What I can only do now is to strengthen the strongholds at the borders, and…"
"That’s enough! Out! Get out of my sight!" The King had tried very hard to curb his anger, but he couldn’t.
Marshal Alan respectfully performed a military salute before leaving with his head high. None of this was his fault, the old Marshal felt he had did the best he could with the given circumstances. Even though he had never won even an inch of land for Titan Empire, Titan’s rivals were not able to take anything parts from Titan as well. The King’s concern was a dangerous hypothesis, but if they were met with such a situation, the old Marshal concluded he would still be able to manage.
A pale-faced Marquis Roment Huga Andeses decided to do something himself. As a Minister of Justice, he could almost guess what the King may hypothesize.
"Yo… Your Majesty! The Ministry of Justice…"
"Silence!" The King’s roar echoed throughout the palace.
"Don’t you know I didn’t even plan to talk about your Ministry of Justice?" Alfa III really needed to work off his fury, and the trembling Roment is undoubtedly the best choice for him right now.
"Your Ministry of Justice went ahead and make deals with criminals? Do you think I’m completely oblivious to what was happening in my nest?"
The King shot a glare at the head of Secret Service Count Rudolf Hoss.
"One of you can’t differentiate right and wrong, the other can’t differentiate truth and false, such a perfect pair, both of you!"
Roment and Rudolf looked at each other, feeling sorry for themselves.
The King’s outburst seemed to have calmed quickly. The King knew he was being unreasonable to his ministers, but he just couldn’t let go of the conundrum old Kachev had set up for him. Even though he understood the country more than anyone else, he still found it hard to accept when it’s been laid out so clearly in front of him. After all, Titan used to be the favorite of God of Light, it was the only holy place that was named after the holiness in Westland.
"Take a seat."
The Minister of Justice and the head of Secret Service released their held breath. It seemed the King’s anger had already subsided.
"Do you know why I chased the other two away?" The King was organizing the papers full of information on the table.
Minister of Justice cleared his throat. He’s not an idiot, he knew the King had decided to rearrange the whole order of noble ranks.
"I believe you have just heard some really bad news from the two other ministers. Yes, the Empire is currently at our weakest period, the wellness of the capital for the past decade had led most of us into a false sense of security against the enemies, just like Robinson, the betrayal of our former Secretary of State is definitely a signal of danger. I hope you could sort out whoever else is making the same mistakes, which of the nobles are using the Royal Treasury for their own gains, and who are involved in business deals that violate the Titan Law. I hope you two can investigate thoroughly, don’t doubt my determination in this. No matter who was involved in the case, no matter whose extended family it was, no matter their position. As long as they had violated the law, investigate them assiduously!"
Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette followed the Imperial Confidential Secretary to the Dvoris Palace. He had planned to tour around the Imperial Palace that was famous throughout the whole West World while he waited for the King, however the two ministers that appeared back to back dampened his spirited visit.
"Ola! Is no one gonna tell me what happened?" The teenager asked one of the nearest guards.
"Your Royal Highness, His Majesty is throwing a fit, both Marshal Alan and Marquis Godzilla were thrown out by His Majesty."
Oscar slipped a Golden Ti into the officer’s palm.
The boy turned toward a white-faced ‘Sea Monster’.
"Hey, old friend, looking good?" The teenager hooked his arm around the back of Almodovar’s barrel-thick neck impudently.
"Looking good? I thought I’m going to die! Uh, What are you doing here?" The Finance Minister had obviously recovered from his nausea-induced breakdown. He was regretting his behavior in front of His Majesty, but there’s nothing he could do now, his investments were basically focused on the nations on their west, if an economic war broke out, he wouldn’t even have the energy to fall unconscious.
"His Majesty summoned me, what did you do?"
Marshal Alan smiled at the teenager courteously, he was staring at the boy who appeared very close with the Finance Minister.
"Oh nothing, His Majesty gave us a few imaginary scenarios and, well, he wasn’t happy with our answers."
Oscar sat opposite of the old Marshal, the three of them started chatting in the rest area at the corridor.
After a little while, Marquis Roment Huga Andeses and Count Rudolf Hoss came outside and joined the crowd, but Oscar could feel the air seize up immediately, maybe they weren’t willing to share anything in front of him, or maybe, these power holders don’t see him as one of them.
The awkward silence broke up quickly, the King sent for Oscar through his secretary. Oscar stood up, not planning to say farewell to the others.
"I say, boy, be careful!"
Oscar was slightly surprised, he didn’t expect the person to give him the advice to be the Minister of Justice. Oscar smiled at the minister, he knew the advice came from a place of goodwill, but the teen felt weird at it. He didn’t even hold an office, what would the King’s fury be related to him?
Shelves lined the hallway before a hall with a plethora of statues and collections, Oscar stopped in front of a huge door made of fir wood.
"Ola! I haven’t asked your name." Oscar directed his question to the Imperial Confidential Secretary.
"Oh, yes, Your Highness, this was my oversight. My name is Philip Goolean with a Count rank. I’m from the family of Gru Goolean of Vielonna."
"Family of Gru Goolean?" The teenage Prince was interested in the secretary’s background, "Who’s the Godfather of the Music City to you?"
"Hoho, that would be my father." The Confidential Secretary smiled sheepishly. Indeed, the family of Gru Goolean is a famous musical household, no one would have expected a Goolean to be the Imperial Secretary of a Titan King.
"Oh my stars! You’re kidding!" Oscar wanted to say something else, but the heavy door opened without warning.
"Your Majesty!" Philip switched to a serious expression.
"Philip, my tea is cold! How long more do you want me to wait?" Alfa III had an unfriendly tone.
"Forgive me, Your Majesty, I’ll change it for you right away." Count Philip Goolean bowed at the King and the Prince before hastily went out of sight.
"Come in, kid." The King indicated toward the guest room in the back with a nod of his head.
Oscar walked into the room, he was sure the King wasn’t looking for trouble with him.
Alfa III motioned for the guard to close the door, leaving only him and the young Prince.
"Take a seat, make yourself at home. You should know by now, I am not going to find fault with you." The King sat on his own chair and pointed at the couch opposite of him."
Oscar didn’t fake politeness, he already knew about the King’s temperament, he didn’t like people with a lot of pretenses and lack self-control.
"Your Majesty, excuse my ignorance, are you always this straightforward?"
"No, but I think it’s better to be straightforward to troublemakers like you. Look at this." The King flung a leather bag in front of Oscar.
Oscar took out the contents and scanned through it, he knew his actions were not the noblest, but he still didn’t like being so transparent in front of other people.
In the leather bag, there were documents of other nobles’ accusation of him and the Secret Service’s initial investigation.
The young Prince felt an imaginary sweat roll down his forehead. After all, if his use of drugs and licentious lifestyle in the capital city was reported to the Ministry of Senior Nobility, his political life would have ended before it started.
"Your Majesty! How do I say this… Your agents even specified on the type of hashish* I used, I… I have no words to defend myself." Oscar indeed couldn’t deny that, he also didn’t think the King wanted to convict him by showing him accusations of him.
"Kid, let me ask you, what exactly are you trying to achieve? I know some nobles in the capital can sometimes be even wilder than your club, but if you ask around, did anyone come to me complaining about them?"
Oscar rubbed his nose, "Cuz I’m an outsider? Your Majesty, you even said once that the people here don’t welcome me."
"Then what do you think Alanis would think when she sees these?"
The young Prince couldn’t answer. He had heard the Princess talk about this, the biggest threat to Titan Empire was not the enemies from other countries, but the cultures that are eating away the citizens of Titans. If the Princess found out about this, the ambiguous relationship between the Princess and him would soon die off, he reckoned.
"This is not what a youth with a bright future should do, I also heard you had had very close connections with the supposed ‘underworld’. I wouldn’t fuss over it, but child, if my daughter was hurt because of you, let’s make one thing clear, I am scary when I get angry."
"Don’t worry, Your Majesty, I will never touch those things again. In regard to the Princess, believe me, I will never do something that would hurt the honor of my family and my stats as a Prince."
Alfa III stared at the Prince for a while, not understanding what he meant. When he talked about his relationship with the Princess, he didn’t seem to have a definite attitude to it. However, the King also could understand why, the children were too young, after all, the young Prince would have handled relationship more logically than his daughter.
"Are you going to return to your hometown?" The King changed the subject.
"Yes, Mam and I were planning to explain to Your Majesty in a few days."
"No need, Alanis told me everything. It’s been ten years, isn’t it?" The King sighed. Everything started with him, he wouldn’t think to actually sit down and talk to this kid.
"Yes, Your Majesty. It’s far too long for me to even remember how it looked like."
"Ah… Fine then!" The King wanted to end this sombering conversation. "Bring this letter and hand it directly to your father. At the same time, instruct your father to destroy it after he’s read it."
Oscar looked serious. He understood that the letter held a heavy weight. When the teen was going to take the envelope from the King, the King retracted his hand.
"Kid, do you know why I’m handing this to you and not Lady Duchess Andrew?"
Oscar shook his head with utter honesty.
You are a Prince of Titan Empire, this is the first mission your nation, as well as your King entrusted you." The King handed over the envelope, which Oscar took and held onto tightly.
It was already night time when the Prince left the Dvoris Palace, leaving only the guest room lit in the whole palace. The Prince refused the Finance Minister’s offer to escort him, he needed to have a moment alone. As he’s about to leave Dulin, it’s time to calculate everything he had gained and lost.
As one of the famous buildings in the 4th Century of Divine Calendar, Dvoris Palace was built with tall towers and round roofs. On the balcony of the tower, one would be able to see almost half of Dulin city.
Dulin is beautiful, its warmth drying the air, evaporating the misty droplets in the night. Flames of different sizes decorated the buildings, matching the starlights in the sky. Summer night, bugs and nightingales formed a noisy orchestra, accompanied by the occasional clopping of horses on the empty streets. The sirens from the Ministry of Justice’s patrol rang sharp and piercing, adding to the evening ensemble a touch of mystery and passion with its rapid, monotonous sounds.
It’s been awhile since Alfa III visited, he was never really sure whether he had been here. The tower was still a distance away from piercing the cloud, but it’s enough for the King to see his empire and its capital city.
Osli Alfa Morisette turned around abruptly, surprised. Behind him was his pride and joy, his wise, beautiful little princess.
"Alanis! Goodness! Who’s guarding the palace, how did you get out so late at night?"
"Father, you should be happy. In Dulin city, tens of thousand men wanted to gaze the stars together with your princess, and you cared about something like that?"
The King was flattered. His little daughter rarely tells him jokes. Usually, her more expressive expressions consisted only of an eye-roll.
"What is it, my princess? Have you found a treasure, why else would you be so elated?"
Initially, the King wanted to ask his daughter if she was going to ask for something, or else with the Princess’ personality, it’s impossible to get her to spend time with him. But of course, the King dared not say it out loud. If there was someone the ruler of Titan was afraid of, it’s his daughter, the King had always felt slightly ashamed in front of her.
"Tell me! What is making you so happy? You know, I was so moved when I saw you, I thought I was going to cry."
Alanis charged toward the edge of the balcony and shouted toward the sky. "Aaaaaah!"
"Hey hey! Be careful!" The King, shocked, ran toward her and held her from behind.
"Hahaha! Papa, I’m so happy! I can finally go for a trip! Goodness! You can tell, can’t you? I’m really really excited!"
"Trip?" Alfa III frowned, he didn’t remember the Royal Secretariat to have arranged for an activity like this.
"The Andrew’s, Papa! The Narcissus county of the East! House Andrew! Hahah!"
It hit the King suddenly, "No! I will not allow it!"
"Haha! But papa, I am not asking for permission."
Alfa III’s face was as long as a fiddle. "Call me father, Alanis. You’ve forgotten yourself, I will never allow you to go with the dangerous boy."
"Okay, father!" Alanis has not stopped laughing, she’s certain she could convince the King.
"I’m a grown lady, you know that? I have just celebrated my eighteenth birthday, I plan to view this trip as my coming of age ceremony. Father, think about it, you had just revised a strategy to behave toward the Andrew’s, which would mean everything would start anew. I reckoned a visit from the Royal Princess of the Morisette dynasty would be a grand opening to that plan. Compared to the letter, I’m sure you know which one serves a bigger impact."
"You little rascal! That letter was confidential!"
"Ah! I’m sorry father, I accidentally saw the letter in your study!" Princess Alanis placed her hands in front of her chest. Even though she looked like she’s asking for forgiveness, her shimmering blue eyes only showed skittishness.
"Ah, forget about it!" The King decided to give up, he had never won when it comes to contesting with his daughter.
"Heeheehee!" Princess Alanis had won, even though she doesn’t think this tug-o-war is fun, her mood was too exhilarated to care. She lifted her father’s arm and squeezed her way into his embrace.
"Still… in short, you are not to go on the journey so far away to the East. There were rough portions of the road, what if you got hurt?" Alfa III was still adamant in his opinion, he had completely let go of his status as a king, to his daughter, this father was reluctant to let her take any risk at all.
"Address me as father! This is an order from your King, no room for negotiations."
"You are such…" Princess Alanis was visibly upset by this point, she let go of her father’s arm with disdain. "I hope you would reconsider the gains and losses in your decision. We can start from Dulin, you know the situation more than I do, the internal and external issues plaguing the Empire seemed to have surfaced all at once, the betrayal of the Secretary of State, father, I don’t know how to comment on the issue, but I think there must be some intrigue involved. He wouldn’t have left so many proofs even if he did commit treason."
"Also, the old Duke you once dismissed, I think he and your ‘friend’... Papa!" Alanis turned her father’s face toward her aggressively. "Listen! The old Duke and his daughter must have some sort of ulterior motive to make contact with you!"
"Yes, I know, but how do these relate to you being on a trip? Stay in Dulin and you’ll find out how things will go." The King had utterly lost his power over his daughter. Alfa III felt a little depressed, as a fifty-year-old man, he was being played by his daughter like a doll.
"The old Duke was your teacher, was he not? How many people was he a teacher to? Do you know how many people he had been a teacher to? Do you know what positions these people are taking in the government? Do you know what would happen if things go out of your control?"
"No! It won’t, it won’t!" Alfa III was a little faint being bombarded with the series of questions.
"I don’t know what you think, but I have some opinion on the hypothetical questions you posed to Marquis Godzilla and Marshal Alan."
The King shook his head, trying to clear it. He had had enough stimulants for one day. "Tell me."
"An economic war now could bankrupt more than half of the nobles in the capital, the military power of the supposed alliance could exterminate our army, who do you think would bear the cost?"
Alfa III started panicking. He had thought it was only a hypothetical situation, furthermore, there were no reports showing this possibility.
"It wouldn’t be possible, at least… at least my ministers have the ability to refine the policies."
"Looking at the current situation, Duke Kachev Drakas Ferdinand seemed to be set for his ascension, even if you don’t agree to it, he’d be appointed by the Ministry of Senior Nobility. Papa, don’t forget the Munich Invasion. The old man had succeeded in uniting the enemies from the West, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to cause another crisis after his appointment."
"But, but why would he do that?"
"Huh, did you forget? Our ancestor, the Morisette-born founding father of this Empire, his ruling was born from the old empire when it was stuck between their own issues."
"Let’s talk about your journey, we’ve digressed too much." Alfa III looked at his daughter, she looks a little blurred in his eyes. He had to admit, he had underestimated Alanis’ wisdom.
"Father, my journey is the key to the issues. No matter internal or external, House Andrew is a decisive power."
The wind started blowing. Moonlight scattered on the Princess’ torso. Alfa III touched the edge of her hair, rubbing it between his fingers.
"Wouldn’t it be nice if this kid was a boy?"
The King sighed soundlessly.