Mob Villain In An Otome Game Volume 1 Chapter 16

Chapter 16 – The Emperor and the Border Count

“Phew, Reiner, I’m exhausted today,” Emperor Arwin declared upon entering the reception room and calling out to Reiner.

“Oh, indeed, the nobles in the capital, especially Count Roland’s ever-changing expressions, were quite entertaining,” Reiner responded.

“I never expected my wife Matilda to be so proactive. Nevertheless, considering the regulation of vested interests and the restraint on the nobles, this performance was a tremendous success,” Arwin remarked.

Arwin and Reiner had relocated to a separate reception room, away from Chris and Matilda. The reception rooms were tailored for different guests and purposes, with varying levels of security to prevent any sound leakage.

The two sat facing each other on the sofa, with a table between them. Steam rose from the teacups filled with tea on the table.

“But what about your affairs? It’s clearly more than just cosmetics or conditiioner that anyone could think of. There must be a secret,” Arwin inquired.

“Well, even if there were, I wouldn’t be able to disclose the secrets of my territory,” Reiner replied.

“Heh, I understand,” Arwin chuckled.

The two were childhood friends who knew each other well. Although they now held their own positions and had limited time to meet, they still found moments to confide in each other.

“Enough small talk. Is it another troublesome matter?” Arwin asked.

“Yes, it is. It’s one thing after another,” Reiner sighed and began to speak while sipping his tea.

“We’ve received a marriage proposal from a certain country for our imperial family or a noble of similar rank. But that’s not the issue,” 

“Arwin’s children are around the same age as Reed, right? And there’s also a younger brother,” 

“Yes, ordinarily that would be the case, but the nobles who aspire to have their child become part of royal family oppose it. Even the sons of the ducal family have rejected this marriage proposal,” 

“So, what about, the Grade, Count of Border?” 

“Even Grade, the Border Count, is deemed unacceptable,” 

“…What does that mean?” his voice tinged with anger. It was understandable that marrying into the imperial family would be challenging, considering ranks and the future queen. But rejecting a marriage proposal from the ducal family and even the Border Count of Grade—what did the nobles think?

Arwin’s expression and tone conveyed his anger. He spoke solemnly.

“Grade, the Border Count, is considered too old, and his son is also too advanced in age. The proposal was for the princess of Renalute, who is not yet of age,” 

“I see,” Reiner sighed, and Arwin placed his hand on his forehead, shaking his head.

“…That’s a difficult problem,” 

Renalute Kingdom was the neighboring country of Reiner’s ruled territory, the Valdia domain. It possessed a unique culture and was renowned for its advanced cultivation of medicinal herbs, plants, and agricultural techniques. Renalute shared borders with two countries, the Magnolia Empire and the Barst Kingdom. Arwin was troubled due to the Barst Incident that took place a few years ago. During that time, conflicts arose between Renalute and Barst. 

Renalute, a country surrounded by mountains and forests, had distinct cultural practices. In terms of military strength, its individuals possessed high combat capabilities, making them formidable opponents even against the military power of the empire. Moreover, their familiarity with the terrain, particularly the mountains and forests, made any potential battle on Renalute’s favored battlefield highly damaging. On the other hand, Barst, situated along the coast, boasted significant economic power and trade influence. In recent years, they had been rapidly strengthening their military capabilities, making them a formidable force.

Furthermore, Barst had a disturbing practice of buying and selling non-human races as “slaves,” resulting in a diverse population within their borders. This issue of “slavery” became a major source of conflict between Renalute and Barst. As a country governed by the “Dark Elves,” Renalute had experienced numerous instances of malicious slave hunting conducted by Barst, escalating tensions between the two nations. While Renalute naturally protested against Barst’s actions, the latter only intensified their practices and took no substantial measures to address the issue. Dark elves were highly sought-after as slaves, and while public slave trading ceased after Renalute’s protests, clandestine transactions persisted. Consequently, the relationship between the two nations rapidly deteriorated, leading to a volatile situation.

However, in terms of military confrontation, Renalute was at a disadvantage and unable to initiate an attack. If Barst were to launch an assault, they would have to face Renalute’s forces in their preferred battleground, which would result in incalculable damage. Therefore, Barst chose not to engage in direct conflict. Nonetheless, Barst continued its illicit slave hunting activities. Faced with this dire situation, Renalute sought assistance from Magnolia. This decision sparked intense debates within Magnolia about which side to support.

Ultimately, Magnolia sided with Renalute. The rationale behind this choice was that Renalute agreed to become a de facto vassal under Magnolia’s protection. This arrangement allowed Magnolia to gain control over Renalute’s territory, technology, and population. The geographical circumstances of Renalute played a significant role in its decision to become a vassal. 

Surrounded by mountains and forests with no access to the sea, Renalute depended heavily on salt imports from either Barst or Magnolia. However, Barst, citing the deteriorating relationship, ceased salt exports to Renalute and imposed economic sanctions. Consequently, the price of salt within Renalute skyrocketed. Furthermore, Renalute received a confidential letter from Magnolia revealing that Barst had approached them, requesting a halt to salt exports.

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Capitalizing on its strength, Magnolia promised unwavering support if Renalute agreed to become a vassal. If Renalute refused, Magnolia would comply with Barst’s request by halting salt exports. Renalute reluctantly accepted all of Magnolia’s conditions. Consequently, Magnolia and Renalute publicly declared themselves as allied nations. However, due to the secret agreement, Renalute became a covert vassal under Magnolia’s rule.

Only the imperial family, dukes, or higher-ranking nobles within Magnolia were privy to this clandestine arrangement. If the secret were to be exposed, even the nobles would face severe consequences, including the possibility of capital punishment. That’s how significant the secret was.

Magnolia publicly announced its alliance with Renalute, putting pressure on Barst to address the issue of slave hunting. Faced with the combined force of Magnolia and Renalute, Barst had no choice but to comply. They completely prohibited the slave trading of dark elves and freed those who were unlawfully enslaved.

This led to a significant improvement in the relationship between Magnolia and Renalute. By publicly declaring their alliance, Magnolia prevented criticism from other nations about interfering in the conflict and gained an advantage. As Renalute’s vassal, Magnolia allowed them to maintain their autonomy, but Renalute was required to seek confirmation and report major political decisions to Magnolia.

Externally, Renalute appeared unchanged, but in reality, the royal family became puppets of Magnolia. As part of strengthening the alliance, Renalute proposed a marriage between the king’s daughter and the emperor. However, Renalute’s side intended to offer the king’s daughter as a hostage, as stated in the secret agreement. This marriage would allow Magnolia to potentially intervene in the future succession to the Renalute throne through the bloodline connection. Arwin, considering marrying his second son, faced opposition from the dukes who were aware of the secret agreement.

The dukes argued that making the royal family of Renalute, now a vassal state, the legitimate spouse of the prince would hold no merit. While the dukes desired to have their own daughters join the imperial family, they made a valid point that couldn’t be easily dismissed. Additionally, none of the dukes wanted their sons to marry the princess of Renalute.

The emperor could have forcibly arranged a marriage between the king’s daughter and a noble’s son, but it would have incurred the resentment of the nobles. Moreover, if a child from the Renalute royal bloodline became involved in the future succession to the throne among the central nobles, it could create dangerous complications and factions within the government.

“In other words, Reiner, there is no suitable marriage partner other than your son,” 

Arwin explained intentionally, filling in the gaps regarding the relationship between Renalute and the Empire. Closing off any possible escape, he finally revealed the main point to Reiner. As Reiner listened to the Emperor’s story, his brow furrowed deeper and deeper. When the conversation concluded, he let out a sigh and looked up at the ceiling.

Observing Reiner’s reaction, Arwin sipped his tea with a satisfied expression. He felt relieved, knowing that he could entrust this problem to his friend Reiner, confident that it would be resolved safely.

“……You should make her your concubine,” Reiner unexpectedly suggested.

“Cough! Why would you propose that based on our conversation’s flow?” Arwin choked and coughed.

Taken aback by Reiner’s unexpected words, Arwin coughed uncontrollably. Reiner continued speaking, his frustration evident in his words.

“You, who are already married to Matilda as your legitimate wife, should take Renalute’s princess as a concubine. You can watch over her until the time comes. Yes, that would be a good solution.”

“Do you realize what you’re suggesting? Besides, it’s impossible for me to have a concubine who is the same age as my children. And if I were to consider such an arrangement, Matilda might take drastic action.”

“Hehe, so you’re still interested in having a young wife?”

“Reiner, choose your words carefully. I could charge you with disrespect.”

Arwin furrowed his brow in response to Reiner’s words.

“I see. In that case, go ahead and charge me. You claim to understand the relationship between Renalute and the central nobles. However, I am not only your friend but also the frontier count responsible for protecting the country’s borders. How could you make all the decisions without consulting such an important noble with a crucial role and only bring it up afterward? There is a saying that even in close relationships, etiquette should be maintained. In this matter, we should have discussed it in advance, not just as ‘friends’ but also as the Emperor and the frontier count. Don’t you think so?”

Reiner grasped the Emperor’s words from a noble’s perspective. However, as a parent, he felt indignant at the notion of deciding on a marriage that would lead his child down a difficult path without prior discussion. That’s why he expressed his dissatisfaction as a parent, a friend, and a noble to the Emperor.

“…Yes, you’re right. I should have consulted with you, the frontier count, in advance. I apologize for neglecting that.”

Indeed, Reiner’s words held truth. Although the Duke and the frontier count held different names and roles, they were treated equally as imperial titles. It was only natural to expect the Emperor to consult not only the Duke but also the directly involved frontier count when making decisions.

“…From now on, please consult with me in advance. Conveying my dissatisfaction to His Majesty the Emperor is a matter of life and death, you know?”

“Hehehe. Understood. Let’s do that.”

After their conversation, Reiner let out a heavy sigh, appearing weary.

Witnessing this, Arwin burst into laughter.


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