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The scenery changed with the times. The whole journey was uneventful. Perhaps this caused O'Neil Andrew Morisette to find it a little strange. It was difficult to comprehend that he had arrived in Vielonna - no a.s.sa.s.sinations, no traps, no unexpected incidents. At the dawn of the 6th day of the 3rd month in the year 801, when the Imperial Prince saw the Don River, upon which he had not laid eyes in ages, rippling with a dense green and spreading out over the avenue before him that was scattered all over with fresh flowers, his gloom, misgivings, and loneliness vanished into thin air.
The United Government of the Five Southern Provinces issued an announcement for the arrival of His Highness the Prince. The citizens of Vielonna flocked to the streets and welcomed O'Neil Andrew Morisette like the way they welcomed heroes, great men, and even emperors. The Fifth Region of the Guards, which was responsible for guarding the city, deployed a large number of soldiers to maintain the order of the city. However, on some of the landmark road sections, following the arrival of the Prince of the Empire, the people who revered heroes created a lot of trouble. They used flowers to obscure the vision of the knights and used crazy ear-piercing cheers and shrieks to disrupt the audiovisual of the guard team.
Oscar loved scenes like these. He believed that no one in the world disliked them. When the world had thousands upon thousands of people cheering for you, even the devil would break into a slight smile.
The Imperial Prince rode his black, giant horse and made his way through the crowded streets as if he were taking a stroll. In accordance with the prior arrangements, Oscar and his hero forces would turn off at the suburbs toward the south of the city and, from there, enter into the urban area. However, the Military Intelligence Bureau's man in charge of the south ultimately still gave up on this arrangement in the morning. Janin Sherman was taking into consideration the security aspect, or perhaps it was His Highness the Prince who could not wait to see his wife's huge cavalry troop and directly used the National Highway to the north of the city to pa.s.s through the ancient city walls until they came to a halt at the public square in front of the Serevan Palace.
The welcoming group formed by the southern aristocracy waited on the steps in front of the palace. They were like the elder members of ancient Rome, lined up in a triangularly shaped formation, waiting for dictators such as Caesar and Nero to reprimand them. O'Neil Andrew Morisette only played his own role. He did not say anything additional, but instead only stuck to the script hurriedly produced by clerk Paul and Viscount Jawock. He properly bragged about the people of the South and the n.o.ble crowd of the land.
As a result - the audience went even wilder. Not knowing whether it was the person taking the lead (most likely to be arranged in advance), the southwest corner of the square broke into the national anthem, then it was the southeast corner that responded. Within half a minute, "To Celebrate Emperor Wu's Recapture of Emmonson and Dobb" became the chorus of thousands of people, accompanied by the sounds of the knights shaking their spears and pounding their shields. The whole Vielonna was caught up in this hysterical frenzy.
Oscar saluted to the fanatical people of the south six times, one after another. This made him a little impatient. After all… no matter how jubilant and heartwarming the scene was, one would get tired of it if they saw too much of it. In addition, the His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil did not return victorious but was backstabbed and driven out of the house by his Empress wife.
However... Oscar still had another wife. When the southern aristocrats and government officials at the scene crowded him toward the huge palace doors, all the people were smiling mischievously, and even the court attendant standing beside the palace doors acted the same. Two attendants with odd smiles opened the huge doors for the prince.
The hall was deserted, with only a lady in a full-length dress, her body swaying and her hands holding a ma.s.sive bundle of Narcissus, standing alone there. Oscar didn't utter a word, but in his heart, he gave a gentle Ola.
He ambled slowly toward Sasha, whom he yearned for night and day (hopefully he really did think about her), but... he hesitated a while. When he turned around, he swept an attentive gaze over the boisterous southern n.o.bles. The man whom he had met in the grotto did not seem to be among the crowd.
Facing the clueless southerners, the Prince of the Empire suddenly smiled and then he closed the huge doors of Serevan Palace from the inside!
The great n.o.bles who were hindered outside the door cried out, feeling that they did not deserve that. To deal with them, General Murat and a unit of fully-armed knights were already using their shields to block the palace doors. The n.o.bles asked in puzzlement, "what is Our Highness doing? Many important matters are waiting for him to deal with!"
Murat shot a look at them derisively. "However you did it with your wives, that is how His Highness does it!"
The crowd, suddenly coming to a realization cried, "oh," but there were still people who muttered, "but it's morning!" These words naturally got them endless pairs of rolled eyes.
O'Neil Andrew Morisette had never been a Taoist scholar. When the huge doors closed, he ran toward his wife who was as pure and beautiful as Narcissus. The next moment, Sasha and her husband ran into each other. They cupped each other's faces and the strength of their whole bodies was channeled into their closely intertwined lips.
The countless palace doors that led to the Serevan Palace's circular hall closed one after another, leaving only the married couple to engage in a pa.s.sionate kiss in the vast s.p.a.ce. It was not known who ripped off the other's clothes first, in short, once l.u.s.t was ignited, there was no going back. The fierce momentum was like the Don River during the rainy season. Following the man's heavy breathing and the woman's gentle moan, the lovers, who were set ablaze by the flames of pa.s.sion, intertwined and rolled around among the magnificent clothes scattered all over the ground.
When the intense foreplay and craving for each other's saliva had reached a certain degree, the fierce entry took place! Oscar encircled his wife's waist tightly. Sasha arched her back and wrapped her thighs securely around her husband. At the very first moment of the entry, Oscar did not move. He stroked Sasha's hair and face with his palm. The wife said to her husband, "you're back... that's great!" Oscar did not answer. He buried his head in his wife's chest, and then with his heart set, he entered and entered and entered...
Entering the winding corridor of the Hall of Mirrors at the back of the palace meant that one had arrived at the Serevan Palace's inner hall. This was not the workplace of the master, but the main place of daily living. Being able to pa.s.s through the winding corridor to enter the inner hall of the Serevan Palace which had a more than hundreds of rooms indicated that the master treated one as a family guest, not an outsider who could easily be sent off with bureaucratese and false pleasantries.
Pa.s.sing through the Hall of Mirrors, cutting through the showroom full of oil paintings, it's unfortunate that... what greeted the guests was another Hall of Mirrors. However, the function of this Hall of Mirrors was not as simple as for decorative beauty. The knight who was responsible for guarding the inner hall had to determine here whether the guests were a threat to the host family. The people with ident.i.ty and status hated to be groped by the callused hands of the soldiers. However, considering what O'Neil Andrew Morisette experienced in the city of Dulin, those who were willing to come here to see the Prince of the Empire had yet to complain about the routine body searches.
Ultimately, this Hall of Mirrors was connected with fifteen double-doored rooms, four of which had no other exits, in other words, a dead end. There were six rooms with only one exit. In other words, it was to leave the uninvited guests with very uncertain prospects for a way out. There are three more rooms that were accessible from all directions. It connected to the stairs, the garden, the maid's house, the living room and the bas.e.m.e.nt. The last two rooms... one was where the King of a.s.sa.s.sins lived while the other one was where the Black Devil was staying. In other words, they were options that would lead to certain death! If O'Neil Andrew Morisette were interested in the guest, he usually would not let the attendants lead the guests into the last two rooms.
The gardens underwent a fierce compet.i.tion under the spring sun. The scent of the Hoilland-breed orchids filled the place. The roses that did not emit much scent used its colorful flower buds to compete with them. The labyrinth tree walls in the Faran garden were growing wildly. The flowers and plants outside the labyrinth were distributed into neat and symmetrical geometrical concepts. The center of the concepts was embellished with marble pavilions, sculptures, fountains and a rippling pond with bluish green waves.
Within one of the pavilions, the Governmental Affairs Chancellor of the Southern Government, and Philip, who had yet to lose his young spirit in his middle age, could be found. Count Goolean amusedly eyed His Highness the Prince who was yawning incessantly. Oscar noticed the smile on his old friend's face and he could only gesture with his hands helplessly.
"I'm old... useless... I tire after moving about a little and fatigue after deliberating over matters…"
"Seriously, forget it you..." Philip gave a furious "hmph". "If you are old and useless... then should those who are my age just go to h.e.l.l?"
Oscar laughed. This joke was just too cold, "Let's talk about this!" His Imperial Highness the Prince spread his hands toward the brains of the Southern Government, "I'd like to apologize to you, Philip! I didn't know that letting you serve in this position would cause your two elder brothers and one younger brother to be removed from the government. Their shrewdness and capability in handling local affairs speak for themselves. This is a loss for both South Government and me."
Philip forced a smile and shook his head, "Your Highness, as a friend, I can accept your apologies, but this is really none of your business! Take Tadross, my elder brother for example. Previously he was responsible for the Finance Department in the Burton Province. If you think about it, if a family has a child in governance and another child managing finance, it'll be weird if the Southern Government was not in a mess."
"I believe in the Gru Goolean Family's reputation and the lofty devotion to their work!" Oscar gave the other an indulgent look. "Have Tadros, your elder brother, come and find me for a chat. I have an official post to hand over to him."
Philip nodded with excitement, and at least his brother would no longer complain to him about not having anything to do in life. The official post that O'Neil Andrew Morisette personally arranged would definitely be of utmost importance...
"Ola... the guests are here!" Oscar stood up from his seat and the spring breeze brushed against the hem of his clothes and the young man's braids fluttered slightly.
The Marquis Glenn Alpré cautiously bowed, cautiously introduced himself, and cautiously took his seat in the high-backed chair beside the prince under the invitation of the Southern Government Affairs Chancellor.
Oscar was immensely disappointed. This was not the person whom he had seen in that extremely weird dreamland.
That person was intelligent and alert, had a gentle face, his eyes had a kind of familiarity to them and the rays of light was enough to cause one to lose themselves in them. But this… this old man before him? How could Marquis Glenn Alpré be an old man with graying hair at the sides? This was just too odd!
"Your Highness... is there something on my face?" Marquis Alpré gauged the young t.i.tan Prince in astonishment.
Oscar averted his head in disappointment. This was also not "Alpré" voice. The Marquis Alpré in his dreams was fluent in speech and had a deep, full and pleasant voice.
"Sir, are you sure… we have never met before?"
"I'm sure!" The old man nodded his head and he looked over at the Government Affair Chancellor next to him. "My Lord, presumably Count Goolean has already mentioned to you about the suggestions I announced at the House of Lords." Oscar turned towards the Southern Chancellor dubiously, "Philip, what motion? Have you mentioned it to me before?"
Philip Goolean rubbed his chin awkwardly. "My Lord, that motion... it was a motion that was overruled unanimously because its contents exceeded the ability of the Southern Government to make decisions, and... if the matter were judged as it stood, the Marquis Alpré's motion is indeed a far-sighted development plan, but the Marquis' vision was a little ahead!"
Oscar frowned, "A far-sighted development plan… overruled unanimously?"
The Southern Government Affairs Chancellor just shrugged. It could be seen that his saw personal a.s.sessment of the plan was not as high as he had just described,"I think… it's best if I let the Marquis explain his ambitious vision!"
Marquis Glenn Alpré waved his hands in an unconcerned manner. He fished out a scroll and spread it out on the table before the prince.
Oscar a.s.sessed the most distinct handwriting on the scroll, "The Direction of the Empire's Southern Central regions and the Southeast Border's five years Development Process Description and Initial Evaluation Report".
The southern central region of the t.i.tan Empire was the habitat of affluent farm owners and great aristocrats who pa.s.sed on the crop industry for generations. This region was situated deep into the mainland, at the heart of the Empire, right next to the southern economic zone where the commodity economy flourished. Historically, Narcissus County, which was plagued with misfortunes, relied long term on the crop industry foundation of the area and most of the southern workshops also depended on the supply of raw materials in the area, especially the meat, fur provided by the animal husbandry industry and the paddy and grains that the crop industry supplied.
A large-scale investment in such a populous and affluent area in the south-central region was considered completely unnecessary by many t.i.tan aristocrats, especially in the eyes of some of the great merchants. The production base of agricultural land in the south-central part of t.i.tan was the fruit of a lifetime's acc.u.mulation. It was so perfect that the segregation system of each household was handed over to the n.o.bility in charge of the land to divide them up into detailed interest zones, and it also provided adequate clothing and food to the self-cultivating farmers and the free citizens within the city. Actually, to put it frankly, the people could not find any areas that needed to be developed because the economy of the self-sufficient rich farmers was the main socio-economic relations in the region. Even locals do not wish to change anything and the southern men who thought themselves to be very smart admittedly appeared a little extra.
We seemed to have never understood the organizational form and interest structure of the t.i.tan Empire farmland system. This was because… every single administrative province's farmland systems in t.i.tan and subsequently the resulting taxation mechanisms were not completely the same. In accordance with the original simple of human production principle - the different arrangements of the land system depended on the level of transaction costs in different regions.
When we discuss the issue of the land system, it would inevitably involve the method by which the system can only be formed and who would benefit from this system being formed. On the one hand, we should pay attention to the rationality of the system. As long as the majority of the groups benefited from this system framework, then this system was stable. And if this system could also coordinate and balance the relationship between different interest groups, then this system was lasting, effective, and sustainable.
On the other hand, transaction costs should be considered. This should be the most pressing issue of the southern aristocrats, and huge merchants, and even the small and medium-sized merchants. This was because - the provider of the land system was the government, and specific to the region was the n.o.ble cla.s.s that owned lands regardless of how the land system changed. To a large degree, it was under the interests demands of the government and n.o.ble cla.s.s to improve and revise this system.
On the issue of transaction costs, the real problem the South was facing was that the land controlled by the merchant cla.s.s was not lesser than that representing the n.o.ble cla.s.s' government. However, the merchants did not possess the legitimacy of occupying these lands, and their ident.i.ties could only appear on the land in the form of investment. This was because the forming of t.i.tan's farmland organization had only three ways. One was possession by the country, namely, possession by the Emperor secondly was possession by the n.o.bles, based on the conferring system's n.o.ble head and hereditary areas and the third was possession by the families of self-cultivating farmers. According to the rules set in the t.i.tan Codex, the land owned by the cultivators could not exceed one percent of the maximum amount of land possessed by the local aristocrats.
Thus, in other words, we could say that aside from the three types of landowners, the prerequisite for the merchant cla.s.s to possess a huge amount of lands was to exchange it for the benefits that came from the land in the form of investment and an enormous transaction cost. This method had already created a serious realistic threat to the economy of the self-sufficient rich farmers and farmland policies that the n.o.bles monopolized. Some areas had emerged one after another including excessive surplus productivity causing fertile lands to be left unused, the severe flooding of open production causing the monotonous structure of products, the intense differentiation of the income of the cultivators causing the small-scale family economy to experience a huge bankruptcy and other situations.
Therefore, after the above exposition, we could find that the current agricultural land system had affected the economic stability of the region! As the number one consumer group of t.i.tan's south, the merchant cla.s.s must increase product prices while paying high transaction costs. As prices of products increased, it would inevitably cause the entire market to repeat production on high-valued products. The continuous emergence of repeated production ultimately caused a portion of the self-cultivating farmers to get rich quickly. As for the other group of self-cultivating farmers… unfortunately, the repeated production created a ma.s.sive excess of products. This eventually led to the substantial decline in the price of the products during the harvest period, causing those small household economies that made those products for a living suffer a huge bankruptcy.
At this time, the merchant cla.s.s would pour out even greater capital into the bankrupt families of self-cultivating farmers and occupy the lands in the form of investments and change the small-scale family economy with weaker power into a centralized, standard-scaled, more productive large workshop farm economy. The former self-cultivating farmers would then be reduced to "workers". The emergence of the new term "workers" meant that the initial split of the t.i.tan Empire's feudal farmland system that had lasted for nearly a thousand years had occurred and was heading towards disintegration with a speed of a thousand miles daily.
Of course, as the highest-ranking landowners, at the same time the n.o.ble cla.s.s exercised their rights to possess and utilize the lands on the basis of traditional production, they also created immense wealth accordingly in the lands of the merchant cla.s.s that harbored envy in their hearts. Therefore, the people with insight among the n.o.bles began carrying out large-scale workshops and engaged in huge farm economies that were more conveniently than the merchants. The convenience here referred to the right of distributing the lands and all other rights and the possession of the convenience of manpower.
Compared to the convenience of the n.o.bility, the merchant cla.s.s still had to pay high transaction costs for occupying land at the same time the compet.i.tion appeared. In order to meet the changes of the ever-increasing production and supply-demand relationship, and more so to ensure that they continued to receive benefits in their compet.i.tion against the n.o.ble cla.s.s, the merchants could only further plunder the lands and destroy the self-sufficient traditional family economy. At the same time when they plundered land from the hands of the bankrupt self-cultivating farmers, they gathered as far as possible the cheap labor necessary to expand production.
Perhaps... after hundreds of years, a certain human thinker would explain from "the primitive acc.u.mulation of capital" about the merchant cla.s.s and how the n.o.ble cla.s.s, which had a slow transformation in commodity transaction, used the land and pressured the working people. However, in the Church's Harvest Year, at t.i.tan's south-central region, the economy of the affluent little farmers were facing the crisis of disintegration mainly due to the unreasonable production relations and all transactions under the control of this production relationship built on the foundation of an unreasonable agricultural land system.
"Wake up... Your Highness!"
Oscar was startled abruptly! He shot a look of grat.i.tude toward the southern Government Affairs Chancellor who was nice enough to wake him. "Oh gosh... what are the people talking about? What economy? What relationship? What farmland?" the Imperial Prince grumbled in his heart. In the end, he turned toward Marquis Glenn Alpré, whose face was filled with embarra.s.sment. The old looked very shrewd and wise, but this was in comparison to O'Neil Andrew Morisette who knew nothing at all.
From how a majority of the southern n.o.bles saw it, "The Direction of the Empire's Southern Central regions and the Southeast Border's five years Development Process Description" was a type of provocation toward the Empire's farmland system that had been abided to for close to a thousand years , it could even be described as a kind of satire.
The supreme ruler of the Empire recorded the n.o.bles' possession and control over the lands in the sacred creed of the file in the form of written legislation. It was this community that formed the basic conditions for a united Empire. The existing agricultural land system was no longer able to coordinate the interests of some people under this system. However, believing in traditions, the people of the system were not happy to see such a change. They were afraid of the land planning in "The Development Process Description" and the immigration measures shaking the foundations of their own hereditary fiefdoms and self-governance.
However, it was only natural that the new land planning and immigration measures were simply part of the slightly more significant content in this plan.
The even more important moves in the plan were the requirements for the government roles and regulations for government investment.
According to Marquis Glenn Alpré's initial evaluation of the budget, the plan to open 12 new provincial roads in the south-central region, build six national highways on the southeast border facing Narcissus County's inland, the port city of Italia, and the western coastal area of Slovenia would cost approximately 15.9 billion golden Tis — with a quarter of the project and 39.7% of the investment completing in the duration of five years.
"Am I dreaming again?" O'Neil Andrew Morisette stared at Marquis Glenn Alpré, who was speaking frankly with a.s.surance. He had no idea how old man's mind was calculating these things, he only knew that even the Emperor of the Empire could not fish out that many Golden Tis to repair roads and occupy arable lands... to do the things that Oscar could not understand at all...
"Your Highness..." the old man grudgingly yet stubbornly lifted his head. "This is through scientific calculations..."
"No, no!" Oscar shook his head again and again. "It's not science! It's not science at all! The science I know is all truths that have undergone numerous tests. However, the series of development plans that you suggested is absolutely not practical. Do you know that how much the Empire's annual income is? Do you know how much is the annual fiscal deficit of the Empire? Even if you don't plan to get help from Dulin, according to the situation of the United Government of the Five Southern Provinces actual income and expenditure, let us not discuss the merits and drawbacks of this plan. I only ask one question - who can afford it?"
"Your Highness..." Marquis Alpré smiled as if he had gotten away with his evil schemes. Even his age spots and wrinkles on his face that resembled scars flashed with brightness under his smile.
"I know someone who can absolutely afford it!"
"Who?" Oscar frowned as he opened his eyes wide. Ola, 15 billion Golden Tis! If there were such a rich man in the world, then the young prince would definitely like to see him.
"You must have heard of the Kingdom of Slovenia in the Balgan Peninsula..."
Without regard to the fact that the Prince of the Empire and the Southern Government Affairs Chancellor were exchanging looks of dismay, the only remaining great poet of the t.i.tan Empire, with a smile of exultation that resembled a profiteer, blurted out.
"Slovenia… became world-famous for its barren land and its chaotic religious policies and national policies. However, the Balgan Peninsula produces an abundance of gold. The gold mines are the source of the mutual attack and struggle between the royal family, the n.o.bles, and the pagan tribal alliances!"
"I've heard of this!" Oscar nodded with certainty. He knew more about the imaginary enemy in his mind.
"So... is it as I said?" Marquis Alpré's smile disappeared. He put on a melancholy temperament that only a poet or philosophers would have. "You invariably seek for great success, but you never think about how you can use the things you obtain after achieving success!"
Oscar blinked. His thoughts were in an extremely chaotic state. The things that the old man just said indicated that he indeed had something to do with his dream. Could it be that he should really believe that there was such a thing as a spirit medium in the world? Oscar shook his head subconsciously. During the period of his studies in Sparjoxin, that great astronomer taught him how to question theology and all the mysteries of this world.
"My Lord, since Count Philip Goolean did not bring up my development plan to you, I believe he also did not mention to you about my wife…"
Being confronted with Oscar's doubtful gaze, Philip Goolean's face became even more disdainful. It was as if he was ashamed of bringing up Marquise Alpré.
"My wife's original family name is Tribiani!" the old man looked at His Imperial Highness the Prince's face and broke into a smile. "I know I know! You must think that this surname is comparatively odd, but if you know that the Tribiani Family has always been the King of Slovenia's court diviner, then you wouldn't think that way anymore! Furthermore… the Tribiani Family's successive court diviners are all women. You can understand this divination profession as a craft… one that pa.s.ses on to women and not to men. As males of the Tribiani Family, one would usually manage the financial affairs of the Royal Household of Slovenia. Just like the father of my wife, he was the royal accountant for a term."
Oscar sized up the old man, somewhat stunned. After the relatively perfect intelligence preparations at the previous stage, he knew the influential Royal Family of Slovenia inside out. The Tribiani Family, which Marquis Alpré brought up, was one of the influential, renowned powerhouses. Not only did this family control a large amount of government funds, but also... as the great poet said, the profession of a court diviner sounded quite ridiculous when he heard it, but when placed in Slovenia, based on reliable historical records, the family's most famous diviner could even determine the the king's dismissal! So... one could only imagine the influences the Tribiani Family had in Slovenia…
"But I don't understand... your wife is born into the Tribiani Family. How did I not know this?" Oscar sized up the old man suspiciously. He felt that his suspicions were absolutely justified. He believed that the Military Intelligence secret agents' understanding of the Tribiani Family was not much lesser than that of the great poet before him. However, no one ever told Oscar that the daughter of this family had married a t.i.tan Marquis.
"Oh...you don't know that it's normal! My wife was the youngest member of Tribiani Family at the time... an illegitimate daughter!" The old man finished his speech with hesitation as if he was ashamed. In the end, he even spread his arms towards the Prince. "Although saying this will discredit my wife, this is her past history. She does not appear in the genealogy records of the Tribiani Family and any other written records. Even her divination techniques are personally pa.s.sed down by the Elders of the Family…"
"Your wife... knows divination?" It seemed as though Oscar had heard about something out of this world, and in the end, his eyes widened. He unconsciously related the illegitimate daughter of the Tribiani Family with his fortuitous encounter in his dream. However, of course… O'Neil Andrew Morisette's strong psychological sense of security was already reminding him - things were not so simple and more so not this odd! An answer to a riddle was always hidden behind every circ.u.mstance.
"Oh! Seriously, her skills are only of the second-rate standards!" the old man waved his hands indifferently, but Count Philip Goolean, who was beside simply rolled his eyes and turned his head away. It was not because the Government Affairs Chancellor really hated the members of Alpré's family, but because of the fact that the orthodox Disciples of Light extremely despised diviners, spirit mediums, and similar dissenting religious sect's non-mainstream mystical beliefs. Count Golean not directly criticizing him for being heretical was already considered a courtesy to Marquis Alpré. After all, this old Marquis was a lyrical poet respected by many.
"But your Highness, the story about my wife is not the point," the old man carefully shifted the topic. "We talked about your success and also about what your success can bring!"
"Yes! What do you wish to say?" Oscar was already on alert. Before he could determine the other's hidden agenda, he would not easily make a decision.
"My wife's father once served as a royal accountant! I still remember that the scene where the old man used his authority to lead me for a visit to the Slovenian national treasury!"
"The Slovenian national treasury?" Oscar subconsciously edged his body closer. This was the focus of the Military affairs target on the fourth page of the Lighthouse Strategy.
"Yes, Your Highness!" Marquis Alpré smiled and nodded. "But you wouldn't believe it! Those who haven't seen it for themselves wouldn't believe it! You would never know the kind of radiance 121 tons of gold can emit when heaped together. That kind of light can devour you, it can..."
"I see!" Oscar suddenly whispered. "Do you mean to say that… this gold can be used for your development plan?"
"Ahem, ahem..." Count Philip Goolean suddenly coughed. "My Lord, please watch your words when answering the questions of His Imperial Highness the Prince. The Kingdom of Slovenia is the ally of our country for generations!"
The great poet shot a mischievous glance toward the nervous Government Affairs Chancellor, "My Lord, I did not tell His Highness to go rob other people's gold."
Philip shot the old man back with a supercilious look. He then turned his head away. It seemed that his views were not agreeable with Alpré's.
Oscar knocked on the marble table, "Can you be sure that it is 121 tons of gold? My Military Intelligence Department has spent a lot of manpower, physical, and financial resources, but they are still unable to find out this figure!"
Alpré shrugged, "Who knows? I even suspect that that national treasury is just one of the larger ones that the Slovenian Royal Family is secretly hiding! Moreover, it's been a few decades ago since we learned of this figure! However, please believe me that the gold there can only be more and not less. You can get an even bigger surprise there than from Vielonna Trading Hall's underground national treasury…"
"Seriously, enough!" the Southern Government Affairs Chancellor, who had lost his patience since a long time ago, stood up abruptly. "My Lord, it's really enough! If it was for my old father treating you with the respect you if a brother, just based on the things you just said, I can suggest that General Janin Sherman lock you up in the new prison that specially caters for dangerous activists!"
Oscar waved his hands, smiling, and sat the emotionally-agitated Philip down to his chair. After that, he turned back to face the unpleasant-looking poet… the politician! Glenn Alpré was definitely an outstanding politician. He could maintain the elegance of a gentleman perfectly when talking about things such as encroachment and robbing and then used those as a kind of important measure to consolidate his own position.
"Sir... I think our meeting will end here!"
Upon receiving His Imperial Highness the Prince's order to leave, the old man immediately put on his initial expression. He stood up cautiously and carefully and saluted with extreme respect and care and finally, after uttering a few words of conventional greetings, he bent his back and retreated out from the line of sight of the prominent figures.
"What do you think?" the Imperial Prince turned towards the man proficient in government affairs.
Philip gazed at the direction in which the old Marquis had disappeared, then he said loudly, "An opportunistic activist who puts on the pretense of a poet! Despite how foolproof he sets up the development plan, it will not change the fact that he is an old scoundrel!"
"Ola!" Oscar groaned. "You hold deep prejudice against him. Why is this? This isn't the Philip that I know!"
The Southern Chancellor raised his eyebrows as if he had seen a something strange, "My Lord, he has married Slovenian Diviner of unknown origin! If this isn't enough, then let us talk about the current matter! He's taking the most sensitive of farmland matters and making a fuss over it. Everyone who knows this old guy will know that he does not have any good intentions! What's more, the local bishops' group in the Burton Province has been keeping their eye on him; a few extremely devastating blasphemy incidents are related to him!"
Oscar's interest was again stirred, "Could it be that… there really are spirit mediums, diviners…"
Philip Goolean did not wait for His Highness the Prince to finish his sentence before gesturing prayers to the G.o.ds in front of his chest, "My Lord, if you believe in what you heard from these heretics, not only will G.o.d abandon you, your family and friends in the real world will abandon you as well!"
"Ola..." Oscar could only force a smile. "This is indeed a severe warning!"
Philip had already gotten up, "My Lord, I must take my leave! The old man will definitely spread false news like the politician by his side. I must meet up with the old man in my house. I need my father to personally step forward in this matter. Otherwise… I can only say that Marquis Alpré still has some influence in the south. "
"Please send regards to Gru on my behalf. I will visit him tomorrow!"
The Southern Chancellor then took the hand of His Imperial Highness the Prince and gave it a kiss, saying that he had graced the Gru Goolean Family with his arrival.
After Philip left, Oscar seemed to be the only one left in the huge garden. After looking around for a period of time, he finally heard a familiar singing coming from the depths of the gardens.
The soprano seldom sang. It was like the voice of Lady Elizabeth Kate, which was unsuitable for singing quietly. However, her mood was dark and the mellow, gloomy ballad best-suited her current mood.
Although... Elizabeth could unearth the excitement of reuniting with one after a long separation, this could not prevent her from missing another man as she threw herself into the arms of a man.
As a woman, such things happened from time to time. The soprano singer thought that O'Neil Andrew Morisette was merely a man she had experienced, a man who had granted her with a new life. She liked him; she loved him and most of the time she looked upon him the way she regarded a stepfather. However, when it came to being a mistress… being addressed in this manner was something that Elizabeth had once accepted, but was now incapable of accepting. She was aware that she had met a partner who she could spend the rest of her life with.
"What are you thinking of?" Oscar's hand sent shivers down the gorgeous female body, just like twitched gently on the attractive female body, like the ripples that suddenly generated over the surface of the water.
Elizabeth gazed into the man's eyes, and the sheer ecstasy of the impa.s.sioned engagement had already transformed into a temporary calmness in her troubled mind and s.p.a.ce.
"You know what? A Prince of Engels came to Vielonna!"
"I know..." Oscar could not help but laugh when he thought about it. He was having an increased admiration for the university student, Lukas Diyabaker's insight. Just when the thought of opening up the coastal border region in collaboration with the Engelish just matured, and just when the whole world was shaken up by the attack of t.i.tan's Commander of the Guards by a.s.sa.s.sins, the bigshot of the Engels sent a young member of the Royal Family to southern base of operations of the t.i.tan Prince under the better-sounding coverup reason of "furthering his studies in the mainland". Actually… at least from Oscar and a few limited people's perspectives, this was the initial negotiating team of the Royal Family of Engels! What remained was the issue of both sides getting in touch.
"What happened to that boy?" Oscar rested his hands over her head and eyed the beautiful singer with intense interest. If the Southern bureau's report was right… the lad was crazily infatuated and head over heels over Elizabeth's charm. He had already stayed in Vielonna for more than a month, during which he had not even entered the doorsteps of several famous universities, but merely idled his time away chasing after Elizabeth's shadow in every theater and salons, as if he had never heard of the singer's relationship with a t.i.tan prince.
"It's difficult to imagine that there is still such a stupid boy in the world!" Elizabeth said with contempt. She knew that these things could not be hidden from the Military Intelligence secret agents who would offer their lives for O'Neil Andrew Morisette, "I think... I have already conveyed the intention of refusing much clearly! However, his bouquet and love letter are still..."
"That's enough!" Oscar suddenly interjected. "Don't tell me you were not tempted!"
Elizabeth shook her head violently. She was unsure what was hidden in the dancing eyes of the man. All the rumors surrounding O'Neil Andrew Morisette had shown that… this man's response to violations was not as simple as jealousy. If Elizabeth were to use her own understanding to try to figure out the thoughts of this man… she feared she might incapable of it! From the beginning to the end, she did not understand O'Neil Andrew Morisette at all. Perhaps... the person who had never tried walking into the other's heart was her.
"I... I was just amazed by his persistence!"
"You weren't tempted... so prove it to me!" Oscar looked at his adopted daughter who kept evading his gaze.
Elizabeth sighed in her heart, but her body had moved against her will, luring the man's desires, completely opening her body. She was already very familiar with things such as these and doing it was as easy as breathing. However... very few people had ever shown interest in her heart. The same could be said about O'Neil Andrew Morisette; if a man did not care about a woman's heart, then why should she cater to this heartless man?
What women really wanted was to command over their own destiny - this was the truth!
Mustering his strength to lift his body from the bed, old Count Gru Goolean, with his cloudy visions, looked across the prominent figures who had gathered in his bedroom. These people were old friends of the count for many years! Just like Marquis Kingston, who was in charge of the Southern Government's Personnel Office with whom he had an in-law relationship, and also the person in charge of the Southern Government's Financial Office, Count Calloway as well as the person in charge of the routine work of the House of Lords, Marquis Minaise, who were all in the same batch back in university.
When he spoke of Marquis Alpré, who was sitting in the corner... Vielonna's G.o.dfather of music broke into a smile. During his young and wild days, countless girls went crazy over them for the love songs he composed; the lyrics of the songs were written by Marquis Alpré. However, that era had been gone and would never return. Now, they were all old men, burdened by worldly affairs and disputes of interests. Even if they were already approaching their deaths, they could not rest in peace.
The Southern Government Affairs Chancellor stood before his father in fear and trepidation. When he saw his father's Adam's apple jiggle, he immediately brought a spittoon. The old man coughed violently for a while, and then spat out a thick phlegm. Philip carefully examined his father's thick phlegm. Once he had ascertained that there were no traces of blood in them, then he placed them aside with relief.
"You have a good son..." a prominent man on the scene voiced out with heartfelt emotion. Philip was indeed a great dutiful son.
Old Count Gru Goolean smiled with gratification. He loved hearing this, "But... still young!"
The old man turned to his third son who was frowning. Among all his four sons, the other three had taken shape; only Philip could still be molded. "You and Alpré's performance before His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette… I score my old friend full marks whereas you can only get zero!"
"Did it go too far?"
The old man grinned coldly, "At least you still have a little self-awareness, young lad! O'Neil Andrew Morisette will be able to see through your pretense! The more you contradict Alpré, the more he would seek for deeper reasons! Moreover, we are not lacking in capable people around His Highness. Underestimating him will only be inviting trouble for yourself!"
Philip wiped away his old sweat, but there were things that he must say. "Father, we… we are luring His Highness the Prince into an extremely dangerous situation! In addition…" the Southern Chancellor shot a glance at the great poet who had shrunk into a corner without uttering a word. "Using a blasphemous tactic such as a spirit medium… doesn't it lack persuasiveness? It would be a wonder if Prince O'Neil doesn't suspect it!"
Gru Goolean chuckled and swept his gaze over the prominent figures again. "Don't tell me that… conspiring an interregnum isn't dangerous? If Her Majesty Empress Alanis I understands the dream that her husband had before, can you guess what the Imperial Household will do?"
Philip shook his head. His hands and feet were cold. Let's not mention Alanis I, just imagining how Alfa III would handle such a chaotic incident…
"I don't know how she will deal with her husband. I only know she will take all the southern n.o.bles involved in this matter... meaning us, and send everyone to h.e.l.l!"
After a protracted silence in the room, a voice suddenly voiced out, "Now, is there any huge difference between us and those in h.e.l.l?" Marquis Havink, whose face was as cold and gloomy as a cliff carving, cursed under her breath. As the top dog in the southern n.o.bles' business domain, the fate of the Havink Family was the portrayal of everyone else's.
"Fortunately, we are still in the privileged cla.s.s, otherwise, Dulin's ruler will not even leave a single thing for me!" Marquis Havink ranted on hatefully. She had already lost her final patience regarding the endless taxes, levies, and the shady expenses under various t.i.tles.
"That is why Marquise Alpré created such a dream for His Highness the Prince…" the old count took a glimpse at the girl who had been hiding behind the curtain of the bedroom all the while. Through the Persian draperies, the people could make out a girl's pale and slender fingers fiddling with an enormous crystal ball.
"Don't bring up this matter again…" Marquis Alpré suddenly interjected his old friend. "This will cost us our lives."
Gru Goolean nodded. "But… gentlemen! Be it the Andrews or O'Neil Andrew Morisette, to us, they are all just the means to achieve our wish. Don't believe the stupid statement of history bringing up monarchs, the emperors of ancient times were molded out from people like us, and through this Emperor, history was created…"
"But of course… it's a history created to our desire!" the old Count added at the end.