Chapter 03: Declining Empire
I turned two.
I can move around and talk to people now.
To be precise, I’m old enough to talk without having people be suspicious of me. I’ve been trying to avoid conversations with more than two words, so that I don’t get found out.
Now then, a lot of things have changed lately.
Firstly, a middle-aged man and an old man started to come to my room where there were only women.
The middle-aged man is the Chancellor and the old man is the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies.
Both of them came in saying they wanted to greet His Majesty, while talking themselves up as the other one put them down.
I believe it’s normally useless to tell things like this to a child of this age.
I guess they’re trying to ‘imprint’ on me.
Well, anyway, these two are the powers that are keeping me alive, and their two factions are always fighting against each other.
The maids are no exception to this.
I have a total of twenty maids.
Too many? I think so too.
But I only see about ten of them a day.
In other words, the two factions are taking care of me on different days.
And lately, they’ve started chatting without a care when I play with blocks by myself.
That’s rude in front of the Emperor.
You’re my valuable source of information!
As a result of listening to all these conversations they had while standing, I was able to hear a lot of information, so I thought I’d summarise what I’ve gathered so far.
Let’s start with the large man who isn’t old enough to be called an old man.
He is said to hold the most power in this nation right now and stands at the top of the empire’s politics as the chancellor.
Huh? The Emperor should be at the top? … It’s just for show.
This man known as Lord Raul, Karl de van Raul, actually controls most of the nation’s politics.
From the perspective of the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies, it seems that he is ‘abusing his position, lining his own pockets and controlling the empire’.
He is the eldest son of my great-grandfather’s younger brother, and he is also my late grandmother’s brother.
… This means that my grandfather, who was the emperor before me, and my grandmother, who was his wife, were cousins.
Incidentally, marriage between cousins was considered incestuous and was prohibited in this nation until my grandparents got married.
The reason why it became legal? I think it’s because the Chancellor Karl’s younger brother has a top position in this nation’s religion.
I told you, didn’t I? That he controls the empire.
From what I heard, they’re pretty much doing whatever they want.
Next is Phillipe de Garde-Aquicurl, the ‘old man’ or who I just assumed is an ‘old man’.
He is called Lord Aquicurl, or Archduke, and holds the position of Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies.
He’s also a relative of mine.
I believe he is the half-brother of my great-grandfather.
Most importantly, he is my mother’s father… that would make him my maternal grandfather.
The Chancellor’s faction says that he ‘manipulated the empress, increased the number of government positions, and stagnated politics’.
That’s what I’ve been told, and this man has been bringing over only newly created positions to his faction.
Of course, those positions are paid for by the government.
In other words, this guy is also preying on this nation and doing whatever he wants.
But it seems that the Chancellor’s faction has the upper hand.
The regent faction is considerably lower in numbers, since the ‘regent’, who is supposed to be the representative of this faction, doesn’t show up at all.
Incidentally, the regent is an official position given to the person who will assist the emperor when he is young until he comes of age and, right now, the person who holds the position of regent is my mother, Alexia.
The Chancellor is the most powerful person in this empire right now, but the regent is the second most important person after the emperor.
If one of them were to confine themselves indoors, then it’s only logical that the other would have all the power.
The reason why she doesn’t come out in public? Ah, that’s easy.
It’s because she’s grieving the recent death of the child she birthed a few days ago.
Oh, I forgot to mention that my father died before I was born.
What do I mean? That bitch of a mother left me, her own child, and had a new child with her lover, an aristocrat.
By the way, he has been her lover from when my father was still alive.
Oh yes, that child was killed because they were ill.
She was so shocked by the loss of her child that she fainted.
I’m sure your father, Lord Aquicurl, killed your baby.
Anyone could see that that child was in the way.
You may have noticed that I don’t feel any love or affection towards my bitch mother.
I remember my mother from my previous life even though I don’t know her name.
Compared to her, there’s a big difference.
I don’t really want to call her my mother.
I mean, it’s pretty bad that even the maids know about this.
I think it would normally be an ‘embarrassment’ for the nation.
I’m sure other nations have heard about this too.
… This nation is already ruined.
One more thing.
The nannies, who were looking after me, are gone, since I don’t need breastmilk from them anymore.
I heard that many of my nannies were wives of neutral aristocrats, so it was honestly tough to see them go.
The neutral faction consists of those who neither side with the chancellor’s faction nor the regent faction.
There aren’t many of them but most of the people who actually run the government tend to be neutral.
They’re so-called bureaucrats.
Many of them don’t have fiefs in the first place.
In contrast, Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl are aristocrats, who as their names suggest, have fiefs.
Many of the aristocrats under them also have fiefs in the surrounding areas.
The only force that might be on my side if I were to become involved in politics is the neutral faction.
For those who don’t have fiefs, the collapse of the empire is directly linked to the loss of their authority.
Their livelihood is at stake.
On the other hand, the aristocrats who have fiefs can change sides or even become independent.
… It’s probably best not to get involved in politics if I can’t get the help of the neutral faction.
The risk is too high.
Oh, and the reason why the nannies were from the neutral faction is because this world has a high infant mortality rate.
… The chancellor and regent factions would both be held accountable by the opposing factions if the emperor were to die because someone from their faction had messed up.
They’ll have to choose the next emperor if I die, and it’s unlikely that the puppet of the side that is held responsible will be enthroned.
Anyway, my nannies are gone from now on, and only the maids from the chancellor and regent factions will take care of my personal needs.
It’s as if I’m constantly surrounded by enemies.
But I don’t think they will take the initiative to monitor or educate me.
Ultimately, the people in power do as they please and most people have no choice but to obey them.
So, I do sympathise with them a little.
Therefore, I haven’t felt anything that I can’t forgive them for right now.
The Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies? How can I ever forgive them? Using a baby emperor, or whatever they’re thinking of, is just not decent.
Also, I don’t like people in power as a low-middle class person in my previous life.
And yet, I was in a position to be obeyed.
Honestly, it doesn’t suit me.
I would have preferred to rise to power or be a free adventurer or something like that.
I should just get out of here and live as an ordinary citizen when I get to a certain age.
If I’m going to have to live in fear of being assassinated anyway, then I think it’s better to live freely.
I need to work a little harder at learning magic for that reason.
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