035 The burning capital? (1) p.1


Translator: yAmi, Olcivv

The day began poorly for Marquis Lavallee.

“How pitiful that such a thing has happened, Your Excellency.”

“Indeed, indeed. Dissent amongst the people is growing. Now is the most opportune time to accuse the land-holding lords of misgovernance. Yet sadly, this...”

“Why would you intervene in the affairs of a newcomer of our faction?”

The guests inside the Marquis’ lounge were taking their turns reprimanding the Marquis for his failure. On the table, their cups of tea had long gone cold.

This was a meeting between the nobles which belonged to upper echelons of the centralist faction. Their conversation revolved around the judgement made the day before— that the alleged illegitimate child of Count Cartan was, in truth, only a slave.

Everything had begun when Lavallee helped Count Linus Oubeniel in coming up with a plan.

Tullius, Linus’ brother, was a social outcast whose unbecoming behaviours ranged from an irrational devotion to alchemy to the senseless murder of many slaves. In order to put his actions in check and censure him, the Marquis had concocted a plan to capture his closest female aide. In a stroke of luck, he had taken into custody Count Cartan’s ex-mistress, Anna Marie, as Lavallee thought then that she may one day be useful for a ploy. Through her, he came to learn that Tullius’ female slave was her daughter. Unfortunately, the trial had ended in a way beyond any of their expectations.

Count Cartan was found guilty of lusting over the female slave’s beauty and falsely claiming her as his child. As a result, he had been forced to give up his title.

Despite his high ranking, the Marquis was now faced with the risk of being overthrown by newer and lower ranked nobles.

All those gathered today were pressuring him to take full responsibility for the incident.

One of the nobles took a sip of tea and commented.

“Well, helping Count Oubeniel was not an issue by itself. The larger problem was the public failure.”


Another stood up and exclaimed, joining the conversation.

“Especially in that the Marquis’ scheming led to the Count’s humiliation!”


Lavallee broke his silence with a smile.

The flames of hatred seared his stomach, but the Marquis kept his calm. Any form of agitation he showed could be used against him, the leader of the faction.

“I do not remember in the slightest ever trying to smear Count Cartan’s name. Shouldn’t the court’s decision be the full responsibility of the Count himself?”

“Stop making excuses!”


It looked like he was trying to shift the blame away. In truth, his aim was to remove it entirely.

The person who replied with such vehemence was Count Mearbahn. He was a high ranking noble in his prime, and he surely coveted the position of the aging Marquis.

Still, the Marquis would not be as feared as he was if he allowed a small mistake to hold him back.

“In the first place, everybody in the faction should be taking responsibility for what has happened to Count Cartan. I told the Count that I had found somebody that might have been his long lost daughter. Little did I know that she would end up as the slave the Count had fallen in love with.”

“So you are saying, the full responsibility lies with the Count?”

Count Langoune spoke scornfully. He was a young and proud aristocrat in his mid-thirties. He and Count Mearbahn were similar in that they had risen in the ranks due to their incessant hard work. Because of this similarity, they had decided to actively work against the Marquis.

“Am I incorrect in saying so?”


Everybody could not help but be annoyed at Lavallee’s obvious attempt to shift responsibility. However, Lavallee continued.

“...Gentlemen, do you not find it shameful? That one of our respected comrades concealed such depravity.”


“Gentlemen, in order to not repeat Count Cartan’s mistake, we must work harder and pay closer attention. Agreed?”

Among the people present, there were some who stiffened at his words.

There were many members in the centralist faction that put in lots of effort to get to where they were at the moment. Among them, how many were truly honest and incorruptible? As the leader of the faction, his warning that he would no longer tolerate any further misbehaviour carried a great weight.

“Hahaha. Such harsh words.”

Count Langoune had completely reversed his position. He was one of the youngest present which meant that he had great ambition as well as great sexual desires. In fact, Lavallee was well aware of the lowborn mistresses he kept secret from his wife.

“...Your Excellency, surely, you must be joking. As the guardians of the royalty, there is no way —”

Count Mearbahn appeared as angry as before, but his previously sharp tongue seemed to have been dulled.

Unlike Count Langoune, he was over the age of fifty. He was not at an age where he could be surrounded by mistresses, but there were times when he would visit expensive prostitutes in the red-light district.

Lavallee himself was involved in sexual relationships that were unheard of for a person of his age, but nobody dared to call attention to them, as they feared retaliation for stirring up trouble.

Most importantly, everyone knew that this old fox was the only person who knew everybody’s secrets. Once they turned their backs or revealed an opening, he would immediately take action and trap them in his plots.

Especially since all the nobles were on heightened alert after Count Cartan’s trial. For a schemer of Lavallee’s caliber, it was entirely possible for him to take down a few well-known nobles.

“Ah, it is as the Marquis says. With this recent dishonour befalling our faction, we must take great care to not tarnish our image.”

Count Chambery, sitting by the side of Lavallee, chimed in with a smirk. He was a shrewd fellow who had switched sides from the decentralist faction and was quickly climbing the ranks in the centralist faction.

Either he believed that supporting Lavallee was advantageous at the moment, or he was trying to get the Marquis to owe him a favor. In any case, either option was always a tactically sound choice.

“Yes, but--”

“If you don’t want to join the peasants at the borders, then it is time to steel yourselves.”

Reading between the lines, Chambery was announcing his support for the Marquis.

(...I can’t relax yet.)

Lavallee resisted the urge to sigh from everybody looking at him.

They called themselves loyal subjects of the royalty, but they were nothing more than a group of opportunists maximising their own gains. Many of them only clung onto the authority of the royalty in order to compensate for their small territories. Chambery, the turncoat, was a good example.

If Lavallee, the person holding the mantle of leadership, showed weakness in any way, there would be people trying to steal this position of power.

And now, their faces all showed the same sentiment:

―It was too early.

It was not a bad idea to use this opening to further their advantages, but Lavallee still had sufficient capability and resources to keep everybody in check. Hence, being impatient here would be highly unfavorable

Lavallee could easily tell what they were thinking.

(...Hmph. It’s too easy to read these fools.)

For Lavallee, it was only at the level of a minor annoyance. The wound inflicted by this setback was hardly deep enough to be fatal, and optimistically, only a small scrape. Still, he had not expected that trying to draw Count Oubeniel into the faction immediately after his succession would be akin to playing with fire.

For now, he would have to suppress the nobles in his faction who were plotting against him.

The centralist faction was not monolithic in nature. There was a sub-faction of hardliners, led by Mearbahn and Langoune, who were quickly consolidating power. Chambery, on the other hand, was a boot-licking bat. In addition, he could not predict how Linus Oubuniel, uninvited to the conference for obvious reasons, would react in this situation. Moreover, there were radicals who were not adept in political scheming but had significant military might and would not hesitate to start an armed dispute. Lavallee had to repair these fractures as soon as possible to prevent those people from leaving his sphere of control.

(You fools might think it’s too early. However, the truth is that all you idiots are far too late.)

Castles were never built in a day. This also applied to the centralist faction that Lavallee had built over the years. Count Mearbahn was still wetting his bed when the Marquis first started consolidating his faction and deceiving the ignorant elites who gained power through inheritance. After nearly half a century, he had finally brought his country to its current prominence.

Yes, everything he had done was for the sake of this country’s future, he thought to himself…

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