Note: This isn’t full chapter yet guys .
Chapter 108: Autocratic Fate
The huge, heavy, palace doors swung shut, separating the palace grounds from the outside environment. The palace ceiling stretched six meters high, topped with a dome covered in a ruggedly patterned mosaic. The walls were covered in frescoes of famous artists. The simple and unsophisticated design of the palace gave off a dignified feeling.
Black curtains hung over the entire area, giving the palace a mysterious aura. Twenty gold large lamps barely illuminated the palace. Despite the fact that each red candle was thicker than a child’s arm, one could hardly see that the walls had been inlaid with black marble from the candlelight. It was almost like the candle’s flames had been frozen in this dignified place, only the occasional movement of the flames and the dribbling of the wax proved these candles were infact alive.
Servants wearing proper grey palace robes stood quietly in the corner, hiding their faces like ghosts. Unless they were given instructions, they would remain motionless. A round seat of honor was placed in the most noticeable position inside the palace. Its surface was wrapped with layer upon layer of gem opal agate which contrasted with the tall jade white pillar and gold cornerite. It was as gorgeous as the god’s altar. In fact, the way that these assassins treated the seat of honor was as if they were paying homage to a shrine. That was because the man who sat upon this supreme seat was as noble as the gods of this world.
Beside the altar, two gold candles were halfway melted. The soft candlelight shone upon the man who sat on the man who sat upon that altar like seat. His robe was woven using pure gold thread and light green silk. It was extremely soft and luxurious, a blooming iris was sown onto the front, and ever petal was exquisite and delicate. This robe could only be called a work of art. But the man who wore this robe was so… so… dead!
His illuminated face was a disturbing shade of gold, one could see that his skin had faded to a shade of grey. His high cheekbones and sunken cheeks made his face very thin. His cheeks were faintly flushed and his chapped lips were as dry as a desert. His withered and curly hair showed that his vitality was running out. He wore a pure gold crown studded with red, blue and green gemstones, each shining brightly in the candlelight. Looking carefully it seemed as if this man was simply a corpse wearing clothes! His slightly closed eyes were the only sign of life, occasionally flashing like lightning in the night.
The Byzantine Emperor possessed two thirds of the territory, and ruled over tens of millions of people. He was the most holy presence in the empire and the supreme authority of the empire —- Kontos Doran Charos Dave Toronto. His reign of 46 years was the greatest the Byzantine empire had experienced yet. He was recognized as one of the three greatest characters in the history of the Imperial Toronto family. One could say that this emperor deserved his fame.
The emperor was known as the “Lance Lord” due to his name “Kontos” which meant a knight’s lance. Like his name, twenty years ago, his courage, strength and tenacity were just like that of a knight’s lance that refused to be held back.
The Lance Lord inherited the throne at the age of nine. But he was unable to rule the lands at that age so his mother acted as his regent. While he was lucky to rule a huge empire, his family was extremely greedy. His uncles monopolized the imperial powers while Kontos was a child, throwing the empire’s government into disarray. His cousin coveted the imperial throne and tried to assassinate Kontos six different times. One time he had bribed a footman to cut the saddle of his horse as he rode past, almost getting trampled in the process. Another time he had bribed Kontos’s most trusted courtesan to personally hand him a cup of poison wine after coupling. But in the end. Kontos managed to live through these various schemes and become an adult.
In the year after his adulthood, Kontos used his authority as the heir to the throne to preserve the senate. He gained the support of the military by secretly promising to improve their influence in the government. After he had gained the support he needed, he stabbed his jealous cousin to death over a fake drunken conflict at a feast. Immediately afterwards he carried out a purge of the administration with the support of the soldiers stationed in the city. In three days, the internal conflict had left the city awash with blood. All three of his uncles were scheduled for execution. His mother knelt and begged for mercy on the behalf of her youngest brother. Kantos finally agreed and his youngest uncle was banished from the realm, fleeing far to the east. But while travelling, he was robbed and murdered by bandits– Nobody believed that Kantos played no part in his uncle’s death. Since that day, his mother had vanished inside the internal palace, never leaving until she died five years later, never seeing him again.
While Kontos was known as tenacious, courageous, firm, and indomitable, there was one more trait which he was known for, his cruelty. During his reign, he led the Central Imperial Standing Army to fight with the Odin people twenty times. Even though he was the most important figure in the empire, Kontos was always prepared for a battle, leading huge armies, battling alongside his troops. In an expedition to the North of Odin, he was caught in a snowstorm with his army, where his big toe had become frostbitten. He was forced to amputate it on the spot. He was really like a pikestaff, a knight’s spear or lance, invincible, tenacious, courageous, and cruel!
However he had become old. And just like all other brave, and strong characters, they couldn’t overcome the limits of age. He was no longer strong and nimble, his tall body had suffered from countless illnesses these past two years. Leaving a skeletal frame where his once broad and strong body was. At that moment His Highness, who sat upon the seat of honour gave a weak gesture. He wrinkled his forehead before a deep and distant sigh broke the silence.
“Wise, intelligent, farsighted Calve Hill, I need your wisdom and advice.” The old emperor sighed, his hoarse voice seemed to contain a mix of anger and anxiety. Only a single person kneeled before the emperor at that time.
He too was an old man, his skin faded to the pale yellow of old wax. But his forehead and cheeks were still plump and full. He possessed a straight nose and soft lip lines; he may have been a handsome man when he was young. His cherish eyes were full of wisdom and alertness from his many experiences over the years.
Calve Hill was the Lance Lord’s most trusted partner, acknowledged by the imperial authorities as the “Lance’s Shield”. People couldn’t understand why Calve Hill was the only one to win the Lance Lord’s trust. Their relationship had stood strong for decades without any conflict, and their trust only became stronger as the time wore on. He was the only person who could freely enter and exit the emperor’s chambers and palace without permission. Any demand or request by Calve Hill would be allowed or agreed to by Kontos, but even after so many years, Calve Hill had never abused his privileges.
Every proposal or absurd argument would be seriously considered by King Kontos. It was hard to believe that the man most trusted by the emperor, had never thought of getting a honoured title or administrative title. His official title was only that of an informal royal advisor. However his word carried more weight with the emperor than those of the Empire’s Prime Minister!
Calve Hill was fifty six years old, one year older than the Lance Lord. However when they were young, Calve was known as the most outstanding talent of the Imperial Academy. Almost everyone at the academy, teachers, students, enemies, and friends had to admit that he possessed an extraordinary wisdom and talent when it came to general affairs. He had amazing achievements in each aspect of government, history, art, religion etc. Every policy prediction that he made would become reality. Every piece of advice that he gave King Kontos would reap the expected results.
But this one person couldn’t get any official position. This was not because of Calve Hill’s humble origins, he was born to a mid level noble family. While his family’s status wasn’t that of a high level noble, it didn’t mean that he couldn’t get an official position in the empire’s administration. Additionally, he had been the emperor’s most trusted friend for nearly thirty years.
It was said that when King Kontos was young, he would often go incognito to sneak into the Imperial Academy and attend classes. It was there where he met Calve Hill, the most talented star of the Imperial Academy. He was astounded by Calve HIll’s wisdom and mischievousness. It went so far that once, Kontos privately said to his friends that he would make Calve Hill his future Prime Minister. But unfortunately, Calve Hill, a genius-to-be of the imperial courts had to forsake his future positions.
Just because some of his public statements and opinion had angered some people. While he was still at college, Calve Hill was quite well-known and has repeatedly and publicly expressed his political views. To him, the Tekma military system which had been maintained for a hundred years in the Byzantine Empire was the root and weakness for causing the diminution!
Byzantine Empire’s population was ten times that of the Odin and the land was three times greater than that of the Odin. But in centuries the contest with Odin was in disadvantage, the greatest root cause would be the Tekma military system! The corrupted military system would split the empire into numerous subgroups. The empire would have difficulty in concentrating all of the military force and as a result they would be unable to compete with the strength of their enemies. In the meanwhile, the military division led to a repetitive consumptive waste to the enormous strength of the empire.
Such a proposition did irate the strong forces of the military when it was suggested. The Tekma military system was a special military administrative system of the Byzantine Empire a hundred years ago. Then, the Empire was unfortunately caught in the midst of an internal and rebellious civil war. Taking the advantage of the weakness of the Byzantine Empire, the surrounding enemies Odin and Oriental nomads took the opportunity to invade the empire. The empire was faced with the disintegration of the impasse.
At that time the emperor, in response to this crisis, set up a new set of quasi-military administrative system. In this system, the Byzantine Empire territory mostly ceased to be under the empire, except for the central empire which included Osgiliath that continued to be emperor territory. The other areas were set up to be dozens of military administrative system. Tekma meant the establishment of the highest administrative official of a military governor in each of the sections, and the highest officials were in turn appointed by this military governor.
In principle, every military system carried a militia system, which was part of the government policy to provide land for the crop cultivation and the recruitment of some farmers.The farmers could use parts of the land for harvesting, but also needed to join the military service once they were enlisted for war.
The prevailing view was that as long as the personal lives of the militia were taken care of, the mobilization of the army would be very easy during the wartime. The morale of the common soldiers to defend the homeland against foreign invaders would be high, and the burden of wage of the country could be reduced to a minimum. The Facts had proved that the idea itself was not wrong. However, there were also inevitably a lot of critical defects!
Such farming military system were destined only for temporary use in times of crisis, but could be not maintained as a long-term national statehood policy. Calve Hill had once expressed these views when he was young: that the system would run itself down mercilessly. However, the wise man of the empire believed, first of all, that such a system could be used as an excellent contingency strategy in the face of the crisis.
Although the morale would be raised to protect their homes in the face of foreign invaders, the nature of militia could not be diminished with the essential characteristics of farmers, love toward the homeland! They could not leave their homes to carry out the local operations! Although they were motivated when their homes were surrounded by enemies, once the need for such troops to set off, then they often lost their morale. In a nutshell, these agricultural soldiers simply could not bear the responsibility as a National Defense Force!
The second weakness was such a waste! Such farming military system could only play a role in resistance to foreign invasion. When the enemy attacked, only then would the troops have a high combative power. However, war was impossible with only defensive warfare! Because of this, the empire must in addition establish a truly professional army as a combat maneuver for the empire. A lot of resources, such as military construction, had repeatedly caused wastage!
The third contradiction was the irreconcilable land! The Byzantine Empire was a feudal constitution. In essence, it was the largest royal nobility with the royal family as the center of aristocracy. Each new generation of the aristocrat would need new land. Only when a family tree was completely cut off would the Empire would have the right to nationalize their land…
The speed to produce new aristocracy was much faster than the extinction of the old aristocracy! Although the land of the empire was vast, the total amount of land was still limited. Limited land needed to be distributed to keep the nascent aristocracy, as well as for a large number of militia for the arable farmland. The increasing demand for land had formed an irreconcilable contradiction.
The fourth conflict was… the power!
The introduction of the Tekma system was the direct result of the unprecedented power in the military forces. By the standard of a national constitution, such a powerful force was a uncommon.
The highest administrative position, the Military Governor, was a paramilitary official. The Governor position was traditionally held by the army generals who were responsible for leading the militias and were regarded as quasi-military leader. The central government was distributed such that the empire was fragmented into dozens of small military groups which would hardly receive central jurisdiction! Because there were independent arable agricultural soldiers, these small paramilitary groups were almost entirely self-sufficient!
In the revenue and expenditure, they could be independent! This was a direct result of the military generals being aristocratic! Imagine that every military governor had free jurisdiction, free and independent control of revenue and expenditure, land, horses and did not need to get supply from the central to be completely sufficient. And even some particularly powerful paramilitary groups, the Governor could operate entirely within its own territory and form the elite army troops! After a long time, they could even build up a separate military clique! These military cliques could be cancerous to the large body of the growing empire!
The aristocratic military generals and warlords had become the main reason for the Byzantine Empire being large but not powerful. In one hundred years, there were dozens of rebellions throughout the region around the Imperial Government, of which six occurred within just nearly three decades!
The military had become the most direct beneficiary of this regime and therefore extremely supported on the mechanism. The emperor was aware of the situation and tried to cancel such a system. But the military, after a hundred years of nourishment, had become such a huge monster that even the imperial emperor could not completely neutralize it.
The military would make any attempt to protect their own vested interests and to remove any threat to the Tekma system. A decade ago, the emperor tried to change the term of this situation and the prime minister issued a text for restricting the Tekma system. In order to safeguard their own interests, the military had launched a small-scale coup and the prime minister was killed by the “rebels” who broke into his home. Afterwards, under the military pressure, the emperor had to withdraw his command.
The compromise of the former emperors had resulted in a deep-rooted Tekma system, and the military strength of groups had since greatly expanded in one hundred years. When the Tekma system had been just established, there were just a total of thirty Tekma military groups. While in the reign of the Kontos, the emperor of lance, the Tekma military had reached forty-six in the entire Byzantine Empire! Forty-six Tekma military had comprising nearly half of the empire’s land!
The rest of the lands were a considerable part of the territory belonging to the aristocracy. The actual land which fell under the central administrative jurisdiction of the Empire had been less than a fifth of the total area! The emergence of a new military dignitaries had often become a lifelong position. Once they had become a military governors in Tekma, they could be appointed at the position until death. For some of the forces which were exceptionally strong, the position would be passed down the family under a hereditary system.
The Tekma system was like a monster. The military had firmly united for the great benefits. They were originally for national defense, but they had become the burden that leaked the imperial resources. The military empire almost became another central core independent of the royal family. The forty-six national Military Tekma were directly deployed by the central military of the empire. The royal family could only seize the support from the normal empire army as much as possible in order to counter the increasingly large Tekma system. Only these people were the true soldiers, rather than those of the aristocratic warlords!
And the military was also divided into two different factions, with one led by the military faction occupied by the majority which had been transformed from real soldiers into the warlords that only safeguarded their own interests. Unfortunately, the power of the warlord’s factions was much greater. The governor from the forty-six Tekma Military regions of the country were mostly included in this faction. The real military factions was only made up by a dozen of them while Adelaide was no doubt one of those forming the backbone of the thirteenth Corps.
Calve Hill once brought great ideas to the young Emperor of Lance and expressed his political stance, but his hostility toward the Tekma system was disturbing the military. If others were holding such hostile political views, these leaders and chiefs from the military would just scoff at most and even smiled in disdain. But Calve Hill was so famous because he was a young and rare genius from the imperial institution with a high reputation and also had the admiration of the young emperor. That someone who had such a close relationship with the emperor could have so much hostility toward the Tekma. How could the people from the military feel at ease?
The young Emperor of Lance needed the support from the military to seize power. He had to make a certain degree of compromise, one of which was a compromise of never appointing Calve Hill as a formal officer! And Calve Hill’s strategy not only brought notice by the military for his hostility, even other Empire veterans expressed dissatisfaction toward his political views.
The Senate was the oldest system of government of the Byzantine Empire. A thousand years ago, during the establishment of the Byzantine Empire, the political ideas were encouraged on the consensus of the ruler and its people. It could be a form of democracy in the foundation of the Senate. In general, the Senate was formed from the elite representatives of the aristocracy, a number of outstanding generals of the army and some ordinary people from the industries or some people with a high fame such as scholars, respected artists and other.
In the beginning of statehood, the Senate was still quite powerful. In the early stage of the founding of the Byzantine Empire, the Senate had the power to elect and dismiss even the emperor. But gradually as the imperial power rose, the power of the state institution had gradually spiraled downwards. The senate which embodied the spirit of the founding of the Byzantine Empire had become an embarrassed presence. The important national policy could not be decided by the Senate. And for some trivial little things, they were not bothered to manage.
Up to now, the Senate’s existence was just to give an extra title to the noble.
In the senate, some of them were still tenacious of their own faith, and this group of people was called the Conservative. They still did not give up the traditional idea of the senate that the imperial power needed to be limited. The existence of the senate was to prevent the unlimited expansion of imperial power and to avoid damage to the public! Even in the group of real military factions, there were a lot of soldiers, but these were also being impacted by this kind of thinking and became a part of the senate. The royal family sometimes, in order to counter the growing military, drew in the support from the Senate. This action helped allow the old political group to continue to exist.
However, the senate hated Calve Hill!
They hate the most outstanding genius from the Imperial College!
Because in the wisdom mind of Calve Hill was actually a hidden heart of fanatical dictatorship! With his rational and intelligence, he was actually thoroughly an imperial dictatorship supporter!
In his eyes, the military was not the only cancer for the empire, and the action of the Senate to frequently find fault with the royal family was also a thorn in the side. In his opinion, if they could eradicate these malignant tumors, and they could re-establish a strong, intelligent and wise monarch dictatorship in order to truly make this ancient empire renewed.
And so… In the eyes of the Senate, Calve Hill had become an unwelcomed person.
He was blacklisted by the two imperial regime. Calve Hill was condemned to a life of being unable to set his foot in the political circles. Although he was an intimate friend of the emperor as his private advisor, even the Great Emperor of Lance was on his toes. But he could not personally cast his ambition in the official circles. It certainly was a misery for Calve Hill.
At the moment, the old Emperor of Lance looked at the trustable wise man and sighed in a weak tone, “Calve Hill, I need your wisdom. I need a candidate. The damn warlords had finally let out a military position! This is a good chance for me to send in my man. ”
Calve Hill hid his hands up his sleeves, gently roll up the sleeves and slightly bowed. His voice was soft and shrill, “Your Majesty, I had thought for a long time, perhaps… we need to make some change.”
Kontos, the Emperor of Lance tightly screwed his brows together.
“The results we get for this time won’t be too much, though we could diminish a little arrogance of those warlords… However, a military deputy minister position cannot really cause them any harm. “Calve Hill’s voice was calm. But even under such a peaceful tone, he hid a sense of indifference, “I need to know your will. Your Majesty… What are the results you want in the end?”
The Emperor of Lance stretched his brows abruptly. In such a moment, an awesome light flashed from his face. In the outbreak, he seemed to be twenty years younger. He had become The Great North Emperor of Lance!
But the radiant glow was just maintained in his face for but a fleeting moment, the old emperor then whispered in sneer, “A result, you mention a result! Calve Hill, could we talk on any result now in such a situation! ”
His nails were deeply inserted into his palms and his joints were whitened to endure the anxiety and anger, “Thirty years, Calve Hill! I have always been patient, and you have consoled me for that. What are the result of my patience? The warlords have drilled my empire full of holes! These guys had an increasingly insatiable greed! Calve Hill, I have always believe in your wisdom, even to this day, I have not doubted this. But I really cannot wait anymore!”
He stared at his most trusted friend, and whispered, “I am old, although I refuse to admit it, but my heart is very clear. I am old. I have had the experience of have assassination attempts at my young age, as well as in my later military career. I cannot destine to become a long-lived emperor. Calve Hill, you know? I am worried year after year… No, it should be said that I am getting worried day by day! ”
The emperor’s eyes looked like that of an anxious lion, “My father left me a riddled empire, and I mended it in these years. But I am not willing to leave an equally disastrous empire to my children and grandchildren! But I suspect that it is difficult… No, not very difficult, but something I almost certainly cannot do! I cannot die before I eradicate these cancers out one by one! ”
The old emperor looked at Calve Hill, “Your body has always been much better than mine. I believe, even if I die, you can live much longer than me by at least twenty years but… If I have a smart son, then I would be assured to pass the undone things to him, and you will be his assistant to complete our task! But Calve Hill… ”
The old emperor grunted, “You look at the results of what I have! I waited for a son who grew up to be cowardly and stupid man. He even joined up with the man of the military and those cancer! Do not think that I do not know, the little white face man, Bonfret, my dear son’s toy. Wounded Hastings? Are you kidding! In order to allow him to get his promotion, he actually cooperated with those warlords in military! It drives me down to the extreme! Calve Hill, my son, my despair, he has become your students for ten years, but he has not learned even one-tenth of wisdom from you here! And he is disappointing me. He has been married for almost a year. He married the most beautiful noblewoman in Osgiliath but I receive the message that he has not actually sleep with his new wife even once! I even doubt that his dirty habits with men would eventually cause the Crome family to be unprecedented.
Calve Hill quietly listened to the anger of His Majesty. Then the wise old man just had a faint smile, with his characteristically calm and somewhat indifferent voice he softly and slowly said, “Your Majesty, you are unable to control the angry in your heart… Please do not forget that sentence: Being trapped in sadness or anger when powerless is the coward’s move. ”
The Emperor of Lance suddenly closed his mouth.
“Anger does not help, I need to know what the result that you want?” Calve Hill’s eyelids slowly blinked for a moment and casually said, “I said we need a change, but it seems that fate does not favor to you, that the opportunity that you waited for has not arrived. But that does not mean it will never come, if you still want to avoid the instability and the risk, then we can continue to wait. If you need other results …”
“My son sinking love towards that man has made me desperate.” The Emperor of Lance growled: “I cannot wait much time any longer, Calve Hill! I have no doubt that once I die, my stupid son will double the number of Tekma in the military in less than a year! And then in less than a year, the military headquarter will be moved to this palace! I feel despair on this fool so I have to risk and to continue my task before I die. I will do everything!”
Faced with the emperor’s excitement and anxiety, Calve Hill’s eyes were still clear and calm, slowly he said. “You should understand that there is no such hope and possibility.”
“I understand!” the emperor’s mouth emerged with a grinning, “Then I will fight to the death together with them! If this empire really needs to undergo a turbulence to be rejuvenated, then I hope this instability would be undergone by me. At least compared to my stupid son, I have a better chance! While this is still extremely limited but… ”
The old emperor suddenly held the seat and barely stood up. Under his gorgeous robe, he was thin and skinny. It seem to be deserted blowing by the wind.
The old emperor said in determination, “If I really could not overcome this. Then I would end the honor of Crome Family in my own hands! This is my empire, if they really want to put an end to it, then it should also be ended by me personally! ”
His eyes gazed rapidly at Calve Hill’s face and he said with persistence, “It is either I die or they die, this is the result which I want, Calve Hill!”
Calve Hill eventually sighed. He still held on the long sleeves, bowed slightly and said with a light voice, “Well, I have understood your wish.”
Then the wise man talked with a clear and brisk tone, “Initially, the most suitable candidate to take the position as the deputy minister was the Duke Minas. Duke Minas always had a profound influence. Those assholes have to give him a bit of face. It’s just that Duke Minas is having some physical health problems in these years. And I worry now that Duke Minas seems to have lost some of his vigor. It would be difficult to entrust him with the task of confronting these parasites. ”
“So, what do you suggest?”
“You need a hard man.” Calve Hill finally showed a glimmer of decisive tone, “If you are not afraid to start a chaos, then the candidate must have a strong heart and be absolutely loyal to you, and… There is such a candidate who fulfils the courage to be our vanguard. ”
“Do you mean…”
“General Adelaide is the leader of the thirteenth Corps. As a true soldier of our faction, General Adelaide is certainly loyal to the Empire. We had been observing him in the thirteenth Corps position for nine years. The military has had numerous attempts to corrupt him, he even received an offer for a military post by the Governor. General Adelaide have no apostasy. He deserves the trust of Your Majesty. With regards to courage, the despotic general would not let you down.”
The Emperor of Lance had a serious thought on the advice, “I believe your advice… But thirteenth Corps is the most important combat power in our hands. Without Adelaide, then who is going to be the new leader for the regiment of cavalry?”
Translated by: Fahmi
Edited by: M2t5, patrick_father_of_dragons