When the Crown Prince summoned Lucius for Seal Chivalric Order’s business, it was often the case that it’d be at the “Garden of Philosophy” almost every time, but today was unusual; there was an order saying to come to a private room inside the castle.
Thinking that the Crown Prince most likely wanted to exclude other people and talk with just the two of them, Lucius who had arrived at the Crown Prince’s room alone in the afternoon quickly learnt of the correctness of his prediction.
「—I want to divide it into the First Army and Second Army」
Piling up a large quantity of documents on the desk, Isaac said with a sigh mixed in. The maid who had carried tea here had left already, and there were only Lucius and the Crown Prince inside the spacious room.
「Ah, I believe you understand even without me saying this, but I’m talking about the Seal Chivalric Order, you know?」
「That is, hai」
Looking down on the two mountains of documents built in front of the Crown Prince, Lucius cleared his throat slightly.
「…May I hear about it in detail?」
「Like I said, isn’t it decided that our Chivalric Order has a fixed number of people?」
According to the old legend, the fixed number of people in the Seal Chivalric Order was decided to be 89. To be specific, it utilised all 89 members in the form of placing eight platoons, each with 11 people, under the leader who was the Crown Prince. Vice-Leader Lucius also served as the commanding officer of the first platoon, but substantially, it could be said that he assembled the entire Chivalric Order in the Crown Prince’s stead.
In cases where a vacancy arose in these 89 people due to some reasons, there was a structure where an excellent person from among the apprentices that always existed in the dozens would be elected as the new formal member, but that didn’t necessarily mean that it (vacancy) would be taken up by excellent people in number order. The deciding factor was, plainly speaking, the economic strength and influence of one’s home.
For the young nobles of Amaddo, becoming a Seal Chivalric Order’s member held a very big significance. If they could join the Chivalric Order, the impressions which the Crown Prince, who was the leader, had of them would improve, and that’d become a foothold in obtaining some sort of post within the royal court in the future.
Desperate nobles who gave large donations to the Chivalric Order and promoted their relatives, who were their sons, grandchildren and younger brothers, for the sake of that were by no means a minority. In contrast, even if they had the abilities, there were people who couldn’t become a formal member no matter how much time passed because they didn’t have a backer and economic strength.
「Like this, the standard can’t be maintained」
Shaking the quill pen, the Crown Prince pouted his lips.
As one would expect, not all members were chosen by whether their donations were large or small, but nevertheless, the amount of donations couldn’t be completely disregarded. In a state where the Chivalric Order was cut loose from the army’s budget, it was precisely such donations existed that they could live quietly and comfortably free from worldly cares.
「I want the donations, but I also want to improve the standard of the Chivalric Order—what a troubling situation this is, huh?」
「Even if we choose the members by quality only, I believe that will gather donations in its own way though?」
Not all of the young great nobles with large donations were poor-quality members only. In reality, members who fully met all three important conditions of a rich home and the person himself being diligent and talented weren’t few.
However, most of the sons and grandchildren of the nobles who gave large donations were in no way chosen based on abilities, and it was also a fact that many times, they were possessors of poor skills. If they disregarded that and tried to choose a member by ability only, nobles who’d start saying that they will stop their donations might appear.
Lucius personally felt that to be able to move at the critical moment without being influenced by the great nobles’ ties of obligation was really ideal instead, but Crown Prince Jeffren Isaac’s thought seemed to be slightly different.
「We shall gather donations as per up to now, or rather, more than up to now. Even if it’s a little, I’d like to weaken the power of the great nobles」
「I understand that thought but…」
「On top of that, we’ll raise the standard too. For that, I want to divide it into the First Army and Second Army」
Isaac held out the bundle of documents which was stacked in front and on his right to Lucius. They seemed to be the members’ personal information forms that were written at the time of their enrolment. Having just looked over briefly, assuming that he set aside their homes’ assets and current statuses, only young men whom Lucius thought were reliable with regard to ability were gathered.
「…This one is the First Army?」
「So that means, the thick solid bundle there is—」
「The Second Army. …Ma, they’re for exploitation uses」
Perhaps because the other party was Lucius, Isaac spoke his true thoughts without hesitating. Exploitation uses—namely, members whom he had no expectation of in terms of ability, but could anticipate funding support from their homes.
「Then, reorganise in the form of those people as the apprentices and these people as the formal members」
「That probably won’t work」
Before Lucius had even said everything, Isaac began to speak words of denial.
「Judging from the side that gave money, I’m certain that they will come pestering us to make them into formal members because they’ve contributed economically. It was like that until now. Originally, “donations” weren’t that sort of thing, but maa, I understand their feelings」
「Then, how about we try changing the names of “Apprentices” and “Second Army”? To put it nicely, it’s called an image strategy」
「…What’s it specifically?」
「The high-standard Chivalric Order which Your Highness wishes for, is a combat force that is also capable of going out to attack in case of emergency, right?」
「Maa, I did say that, but it’s such a thing」
「But on the contrary, the current Chivalric Order’s duties aren’t combat, but mostly things such as attending ceremonies and the like, and being the bodyguards of important people for form’s sake」
And then, perhaps he had guessed what Lucius was trying to say, Isaac narrowed his eyes satisfactorily and laughed.
「In other words, dividing it into external and internal sections?」
「Hai. We’ll have the external section’s combat force manage both sides, but mobilise the internal section during ceremonies only. Objections will surely ensue if you name these people the “Second Army”, but if you name both parties like that under the guise of reorganisation, I think the members who are sent to the Second Army and their relatives will preserve their honour…」
「I see…the bonbons who pushed through by the amount of their donations didn’t consider going out to places of combat from the start; what they wanted is just the title of the Seal Chivalric Order’s member」
「If we fixed the number of people of either section to be 88 each, I believe we can send all the skilled people who are living in obscurity in the apprentices to operating forces now. There may be a need to newly recruit some people though」
「That’s good. Since there are about 120 people now, including the apprentices, simply put, the number of members has increased five tenths, and the total amount of donations will also naturally increase」
Isaac clapped his hands and bent forward. Although he was saying things just like a miser, there must be even more separate thoughts collected inside this young schemer’s mind.
「—Well then, until the next mission」
This time, Lucius spoke to cover the Crown Prince’s words.
「For the reorganisation of the organisation, it’s necessary to spend time carefully and choose the members; more practically speaking, we must also add a difference that is noticeably understood. …For example, unless the Second Army makes brand new uniforms」
「How troublesome…on top of that, doesn’t this require money again?」
「That may be done one way or the other with donations」
Returning the members’ personal information forms to the top of the desk, Lucius added on.
「—For the next mission, let’s take along carefully-selected members only for the time being. The official reorganisation will be after that」
「…Ma, it’s meaningless even if just the number is big. However, is selecting a few still better?」
Scratching his head with a “pori pori”, Isaac breathed out an exaggerated sigh.
「In fact, shouldn’t such a thing be done somehow in Chichi-ue’s generation? He has a personality that can’t tolerate a weak Chivalric Order more than me, you see」
「I heard that His Majesty…didn’t have much enthusiasm in the activities of the Seal Chivalric Order in the first place」
Jeffren Isaac’s father, Jeffren Francesc, was known to love battles since the time when he was the crown prince. Summoning scholars and soldiers and studying strategies, he personally picked up swordsmanship and was even called the best user of the present age.
Maybe it was because of such a rough disposition, Crown Prince Jeffren Francesc didn’t perform his job well as the leader of the Seal Chivalric Order that was useless in combat, and accompanied the army which the late king led, running around the battlefield. If Jeffren Francesc had something that’d approve the existence value of the Seal Chivalric Order, then it might only be the fact that he met Barjor Garido who was an unrivalled comrade in arms that was slightly older than him and subsequently one of Amaddo Four Elder Statesmen.
「…Apparently, it was around the time when my Ojii-sama was the crown prince that the Chivalric Order became a system that operates on donations like now」
Causing the chair to creak, Isaac smiled in somewhat self-derision.
「For the sake of the son, grandchild, and consequently our family, I think the money collection system that cleverly stimulates the nobles’ vanity and intensely sucks up donations is certainly implemented well. It was an ingenious plan typical of the 10th generation Jeffren who was called a rare strategist」
Most likely, the 10th generation Jeffren didn’t count the Seal Chivalric Order as a war potential from the beginning, and devised it as a method to gradually chip off power from the great nobles to strengthen the royalty. Lucius heard that the previous king, who was already deceased when he started to understand things, was definitely that sort of person.
Pouring the black tea which was slightly over-steamed into a cup and presenting it to the Crown Prince, Lucius switched the topic.
「—By the way, among the personal information forms of the First Army members there, I didn’t find Lindegoa-kyou’s one…」
Derek Lindegoa had impeccable parentage, character and moreover, ability; in a sense, he was a rare young noble. At the age of 25 this year, he was older than Lucius, but being Lucius’s adjutant, he acted as the first platoon’s mediator. Hence, even in the Crown Prince’s Chivalric Order reorganisation plan, he was a talented person who absolutely must be in the First Army and that it’d be strange if he wasn’t.
「Ah, I’ve to discuss that matter with you」
Placing paperweights made of crystal on both the usable pile and the unusable pile, the Crown Prince stood up. He approached close to the window, next to Lucius, with the cup of black tea in hand.
「—Lindegoa-kyou’s Ochichi-ue told me to remove his son from site」
「It looks like he found out the pregnancy of Derek-kun’s wife. It’s said that his Ochichi-ue intends to transfer the family headship to Derek-kun at the same time as the birth of their child」
「…Was it like that?」
One couldn’t join the Seal Chivalric Order unless he was less than 30 years of age and a noble born in Amaddo. There was a regulation that one must leave the group before he welcomed his 30-year-old birthday, be it a formal member or an apprentice. It might be because 20-year-old young nobles gathered and repeatedly went on nothing but pleasure jaunts in the name of manoeuvres which were weakly related to combat that there were voices ridiculing the Chivalric Order as a “noble bonbons (young sons from affluent families) close friends club”.
When thinking from that aspect, Derek Lindegoa had a deferment of another 5 years, but not just him, most of the members left the group without waiting to be 30. Using the title of the Seal Chivalric Order’s member to the maximum, they’d obtain reasonable posts in the royal court or become soldiers, otherwise, they’d succeed family headships—in any case, the young men who had left the group finally lived as real “adults” from then.
And now, it might mean that the time when Lindegoa-kyou whom Lucius had been relying on became an adult had arrived.
「In that case」
After thinking for a little while, Lucius made a suggestion to the Crown Prince.
「—Let’s have Lindegoa-kyou take on the coordination of the Second Army. Even though they won’t go out to site, it’s impossible for someone who has no self-consciousness and sense of responsibility to unify a group that is close to 100 people」
「Shall we get him to delay his resignation a bit longer until the new system gets on track? …Since it’s mostly office work, his Ochichi-ue will probably consent to it」
Staring at the scenery outside the window, the Crown Prince, who had taken a deep breath quietly, put the cup on the desk and opened a drawer.
「—And one more thing」
「As Lindegoa-kyou is gone, I’ve prepared a candidate to be your adjutant」
「You’re not promoting someone within the group to take his place?」
「At the very least, I’d like to show that the First Army is chosen by prioritising ability to the internal and external sides. …Though I said that, he’s a child whom an acquaintance requested if I could look after him, you see」
Lucius, who had received the envelope that was applied with a stately sealing wax, quickly looked over its contents. It seemed that one letter was a personal information form and the other was a letter of introduction.
The name that was written on the personal information form was Anhel Safrukada, a 16-year-old who was born in Gruma; his personal history had nothing in particular. Although it was natural that there was no personal history for this age, this was similar to not knowing anything. However, the matter of being born in Gruma bothered Lucius. If one were to speak of Gruma, then it was also the birthplace of Queen Arumdena—the Crown Prince’s mother.
「Your Highness, is this perhaps—」
「If you’ve seen the letter of introduction, then surely you’d understand. …This is a request from a source that is hard to refuse no matter what」
What was written at the end of the excellent composition which strung together all sorts of flowery words and recommended this youth who was called Anhel, was the signature of Arumdena’s biological father, Berumdes-kou, father-in-law to the current king, Jeffren Francesc, and equivalently the grandfather to Crown Prince Jeffren Isaac. Although there were many members who had huge backing in the Chivalric Order, this youth’s backer was extraordinarily great.
Putting the letter back into the envelope and placing it on the desk, Lucius asked.
「My information is limited and I’ve never heard of the Safrukada House…but what kind of relation does this youth has with Berumdes-kou?」
「I don’t know it well either」
「Anyway, it has already been decided to allow this child to enrol. —Of course, if you don’t agree to it, then I won’t let him be the vice-leader and will let him gain experience from being a novice though」
「If…Your Highness has made your decision, then I’ve no objection」
「If it’s the honours student Lucius-kun, he’d say it like way. —However, I can’t put people who have no ability beside you. After all, that’d run counter to this very reformation」
「Thank you very much」
It was written in the letter of introduction from Berumdes-kou that as this youth was a possessor of a magic talent which was regrettable to let it be hidden in the countryside, Berumdes-kou hoped that he could be allowed to join the Chivalric Order by all means and be of use to His Highness. Before and after his daughter became the king’s legal wife, Berumdes-kou understood his role and was known by his modesty that was unconnected to arrogant behaviour, thus he shouldn’t have let people with insufficient ability into the Chivalric Order by nepotism only, so this youth might certainly have talent.
However, that was precisely why Lucius didn’t understand Berumdes-kou’s real intention. To begin with, Berumdes-kou was a person who never once recommended even his relatives, much less acquaintances, to the king until now. Why would that old wise man write up a letter of introduction like this for the son of a small noble who completely wasn’t talked about in the capital? Exactly what kind of relation was there between Berumdes-kou and the Safrukada House; it was a matter that one would care about even if it wasn’t Lucius.
Picking up the cup again, Isaac sipped his tea.
「—Maa, why don’t we try to see him first? The person himself said that he’ll come here shortly; you can give your judgement after ascertaining how useful he is」
Bowing his head slightly, Lucius secretly sighed.
End of Chapter 1