Brendel took a prolonged, deep breath.
“Besides leaving the crown prince in Trentheim, what other arrangements do you guys have in mind?”
Noticing the change in attitude and tone from Brendel, Veronica gently placed down her teacup, let out a faint sigh as she replied, “Along with the crown prince, Shido and the Folded Sword Squad will remain here. We’d like to keep our returning party to the bare minimum, for secrecy’s sake.
They might all be my trustworthy students, but this is a crucial issue, and I would prefer to exclude the youngins from bearing the brunt.”
“You plan on returning to the kingdom?” Brendel noted the direction the conversation was heading.
Veronica nodded, “If Shido and the rest won’t be returning, I’ll have to. Due to my negligence leading to the destruction of the Folded Sword Squad and the death of the crown prince, first in the line of succession, I will have to return to face my trial.
But I believe this wouldn’t be too big of an issue. After all, from the moment the crown prince left the kingdom for training, all accidents and fatalities were considered, and it was not the first time it happened. My crime will be the mishandling of my legion, and will only be tried as that.
It is expected that no further punishment would be added to the sentence, for if so, no one else would be willing to take responsibility of this sort. I’m sure Her Majesty and the courts would understand that with great power comes great responsibility.”
She then glanced over to Mangrove, “The Northern Houses were pre-informed of my crime, the military would defend my innocence in court, but I will likely be demoted, nonetheless keeping my title I assume. Her Highness will need a closely acquainted Military Squad leader as part of our deal with her. If Lenarette survives, our options are open. The future is still within our grasp.”
Brendel was noticeably disappointed as he gazed towards Veronica, a much-celebrated Legion commander and Squad leader of the kingdom’s history, now caught in the crossfires of the line of succession to the throne and will likely see her career come to a premature end.
But that all spells good news for Aouine, for that was a small aspiration he had within him, not to mention the obvious complexity between this Squad leader and his mentor, Mephisto, and their relationship that desperately needed more context.
If maybe, just maybe, that the Silver Queen were to abuse her power in the near future, and Veronica is sidelined, who knows, Aouine might just have a prolific new countess!
If Veronica would opt not to fight against Kirrluzian forces, there are always more fronts that she could be handling instead. Besides, there’s also the Madara problem!
Historically, Veronica and Freya once had a mentor-mentee relationship, when both nations were the closest of allies. With the current circumstances at play, if the two of them were given the opportunity to rebuild this relationship, the young and the experienced can emerge as partners once again on the battlefields of Madara!
Brendel began connecting the dots.
Nevertheless, he continued asking, “But did either of you consider the outcome if things didn’t go as you’ve expected, and the crown prince never returned to the kingdom, would Her Highness have selected a different successor?”
Sitting on the couch, shrouded behind clouds of smoke as he uttered those words, mysterious and intriguing. Veronica and Mangrove shared a glance, but from their expression, one could tell that the two great Squad Leaders of the empire have not considered this outcome, but their answers were nonetheless right there for all to see.
It was a risk they were determined to take.
“Is the crown prince himself on board?”
Veronica hesitatingly nodded. Brendel could piece out the flow of events now. It seems like the Lizardman Sword Saint, Shang did boost their confidence. After all, the Grey Fins Nagas have nothing to do with the Kirrlutzians, their boundaries don’t even overlap with one another, there was no reason for him to berate a foreign kingdom’s Queen.
Brendel hung his eyes low as let out a dispirited sigh. After a prolonged moment of thought lifted his head once again, and decisively he remarked, “Let’s talk details.”
The female Squad leader’s face instantly brightened, naturally welcoming the favorable decision from Brendel, especially given how it was not even his problem, to begin with.
She presumed that the younger leader must have made the decision in large part due to their relationship, which left her rather embarrassed and appreciative. Ever since the Loop of Trade Winds, the younger of them both had been successively offering help to her, which left her feeling much indebted to him, especially being his senior.
Veronica glanced at Brendel, who appeared much softer and loving at this point, like a true senior expressing gratitude to a junior of her own kin.
She sighed, slightly remorseful despite the entire situation turning out completely different from her expectations. In her mind, for a brilliant individual like Brendel, no matter how drastic the changes in the political landscape, he would still retain a Nobleman status one way or another.
Even if he eventually pledged his allegiance to the empire, his position would likely be even higher than he was now. In the eyes of traditional Nobles like herself, the authority of royalty and local powers were separate and distinct. In Brendel’s case, Aouine’s fate lies only upon the fate of Aouine’s royal family, and the kingdom’s rise and fall should not be much of a concern to local lordships like Brendel.
Which was not far from the truth.
But what Veronica wouldn’t comprehend in a million years, is that the Kingdom of Aouine was structured bottom-up, the decision that Count Brendel made was a decision made from the perspective of the entire kingdom, despite the fact that his decision would still ultimately be beneficial towards Trentheim.
Regardless, from the scope of the entire kingdom, it serves a far significant function long term. In the eyes of others, Brendel might have agreed upon a proposal at a losing position, but to him, it was a clear win-win.
Brendel instantly noticed the change in attitude from Veronica, which he found confounding that she would ever be this influenced by her emotions, but it sure was a good opportunity for negotiation from his end.
Even if he did agree to a deal for the political exile of Prince Lenarette, there were many imbued details that were still up for debate, and he was confident that he could get a good trade-off to shift the balance to his favor.
“I have one request,” He added, “The Folded Sword Squad, I wouldn’t mind if you leave them in Trentheim, even the entire Squad. The concern I have is that these young and able-bodied soldiers in a foreign land with no clear purpose might be a controversy in the making.
Not to mention that Trentheim isn’t their homeland, requiring them to live in exile with aliases in a foreign nation would be a tough call, especially when no personal benefit is of concern.”
Looking at Veronica, he continued before she could reply, “I am aware, Madam squad leader, that they are military men, and their roles first and foremost are to abide by the mandate of heaven.
But soldiers or not they are humans too. After the armors are removed and hung aside, it is only a matter of time before they forget order and glory, and without glory at stake, they’re nothing.”
Veronica could only keep her silence. He was right after all, and she was aware that she took it too literally before.
Mangrove nodded, his military journey was far longer, and could thoroughly understand the reasoning of the young foreign count. Lowering his cigarette, agreeing, “The count is right, so what is your solution then?”
“I need them to remove their Kirrlutzian armor and uniform and join my legion. As long as they remain in the boundaries of the Kingdom of Aouine, they will swear loyalty to myself and Crown Prince Lenarette,” Brendel replied, steadfast.
“Aouine is going through a turning point, and here it offers a path for the youngins to show their strength. Besides, the army is a huge organization, even for a group of such caliber to blend in, few from the outside world would notice. That way, the chance of news breaking through the embargo would be slim. Counterwise, if a few hundred people like this appear in any other environment it would draw the attention of basically anyone.”
“The key thing is that young people get opportunities to train in this land, and when they return to Kirrlutz, they can become experienced, capable leaders, and no longer a bunch of whiny brats, filled with hatred.
One day, when Lenarette returned to the kingdom, these young people who’ve sworn loyalty to him will be his trusted servants for decades to come,” Brendel stopped his speech short, awaiting the responses from the two Squad leaders before him.
Mangrove nodded, but Brendel suspected he was only moved by his last line.
Veronica seemed to have hesitated a little, before stoically she replied, “But I want you to swear to me that you will keep them safe here. They’re my most significant students after all.”
“I’ll defend them like I defended Freya,” Brendel said, “They’re Freya’s compatriots, and now they are my allies.”
Veronica nodded satisfyingly from that answer.
“You are good with your words, maybe consider venturing into politics. Being with soldiers all the time must have been tough on you,” Mangrove concluded with a half sarcastic remark, unsurprisingly with a cigarette between his teeth.
Brendel was exhilarated. Hahaha! Great, now I have my own Gold stage army squad, the best amongst the Kirrlutzian, the celebrity squad! Doesn’t matter if the civil war erupts in the near future, just this gift alone is more than worth the trip down here!