The stunningly golden wheat, and all the rye as well has been harvested, a silent winter was about to take over from late autumn here in the Kaldia domain. My three month soldier in training course was almost over, and I’m also throwing up much less often than before. Every day, I would walk around with a hoe for plowing that was taller than I was, but for now, it was too big for me to even swing. It’s some sort of strange training that’s supposed to improve my physical strength and endurance.
It happened one day right before I would return to my life in the mansion from the barracks. In the office of the domain’s lord in the Mansion of Golden Hills that I wasn’t allowed to step into until I completed my training course, right now I was receiving a personal lesson from Earl Terejia in front of four maps on the national situation.
Earl Terejia has reformed the domain’s laws quite a bit, and in particular he wrote all of the laws pertaining to the domain’s troops himself. Before he came, it was like we almost didn’t even have a standing army. It’s because in my father’s entourage, as long as about ten people had weapons, that was enough for him to swagger about.
After all, it’s stipulated that all the nobles in Arxia are supposed to have their own forces. Of course, basically no countries would want to invade us, the largest country on the continent, and inside the country it’s been peaceful as well ever since the kingdom was founded, many lords’ armies were there in name only. It’s no exaggeration to say that the only ones with decent armies are the earls stationed on the remote borders.
In the time of the Arxia Kingdom’s previous incarnation, the Ar Xia Holy Kingdom, we had already abandoned all policies of military aggression towards other countries. Currently, the borders with other countries were closed, and only those with a passport issued by the king were allowed to enter or leave.
We have non-interference peace treaties with other countries, and there are friendly trade agreements to allow merchants with permission from the state to do business and international trade. Our country basically practices isolationism.
As for the overall situation in the continent, the rise and fall of nations occurs very often with high intensity. The countries apart from the Arxia Kingdom are basically always on alert and vigilant for war.
Arxia Kingdom is able to remain at peace largely in part because the other countries haven’t been able to develop beyond anything more than small countries. The power struggles between countries of similar strengths is keeping them busy, so none of them have the time to even do anything about the major power Arxia.
Among all this, as for why Earl Terejia has been gathering an army in the Kaldia domain, of course there’s a reason for it. It’s to guard against the countries in the east.
“The Rindarl Union Dukedom, is it?”
“They might be changing their name to Rindarl Empire soon.”
To the east of the Arxia Kingdom, four countries have been expanding their territory for the past hundred years. It’s an alliance between the countries of Densel, Planates, Giograd, and Parmigran.
Originally, there had been a country called the Rindarl Kingdom that ruled over the northeastern part of this continent, but it split into north, south, east, and west, each ruled over by a duke, and each dukedom ended up attracting many people similar to the duke of each country, thus becoming their own separate countries with individualistic traits.
At some point recently, there had been a movement to reunify the four dukedoms and to nominate an archduke as the leader of the four dukedoms. With that many people under their rule combined, it wouldn’t be strange if they changed their name to the Rindarl Empire.
Right now, the four dukedoms are small countries compared with Arxia, but if they combine and become one country then they will become a great power comparable to Arxia. If another country with similar power is born, then the predominant position that Arxia has held onto for so long might be no more. Depending on the actions from the Rindarl side, a war between the two countries may be an actual, alarming possibility.
“Between the Kaldia domain and the country of Densel, there’s only the Jugfena royal domain. If a battle with Rindarl begins, not only would you be ordered to the front lines, it wouldn’t matter even if you had no combat skills.”
Earl Terejia explained everything clearly and in extreme detail to me, while he marked places for me on the maps showing the northern part of the continent and the Arxia Kingdom.
With Rindarl uniting together, that would completely change the power balance in the north. Arxia would be affected the most directly, which is why secretly, the Kaldia domain would have to take heed and be on guard as we were located in the east of Arxia and close to the border.
Because I still hadn’t learned much yet from Mrs. Marshan on Arxia’s politics, Earl Terejia had to explain everything to me meticulously. Even though I had arrived at the office during the morning, it was already time to have a light lunch after the earl finally arrived at the main topic.
“What I just told you about Rindarl, you should think on it a bit yourself as well. At least, right after your upcoming sixth birthday celebrations are over. It’s good to be prepared early.”
Earl Terejia moved onto the main issue. First, he picked up a detailed map of the north, pointing out the borders of the Jugfena royal domain and the Densel Dukedom.
“Do you know about Fort Jugfena that’s been built along our national border?”
It’s the fort where Rashiok’s siblings are being raised. To the east, there’s a forest known as the Monster Forest, and it’s also a major export location for the grain produced by the Kaldia domain. Since it’s not open ground and we have to go around the Monster Forest to get there, I’ve heard it would take about four days to get there on horseback.
The earl pointed his finger at the northeastern part of the royal domain. He drew a circle close to the southern tip of the Bandishia Plateau, and kept tapping it.
“Do you know about the nomads?”
“They’re tribes of people that raise livestock and periodically roam. Is that correct?”
“That’s mostly correct. South of the Bandishia Plateau, is a nomad tribe called the Shiru tribe. They should technically belong to the kingdom of Artolas, but because Densel has conquered Artolas, they’re resisting against Densel together with some of the farmers from the border.”
The earl pulled out the oldest map out of the four maps he had prepared, and showed me the area that used to be the former empire of Artolas. It’s a country that used to contain the eastern half of the Amon Nor Mountains, as well as the Bandishia Plateau. Its capital Remeshu had been located in the northern plateaus, but after it fell to Densel, now it’s become part of Densel’s territory.
Artolas had originally been founded as a country for the Artolas people, and this included the Shiru tribe, and the farmers around the region had been accepted into the former country of Artolas as well, is what the earl explained to me.
“Since Densel now controls the farmland to the east, the Shiru tribe has been gradually moving westward. Right underneath the plateau, in the royal domain is where battle between the Shiru tribe and Densel will most likely begin. It’s because that entire area is wide open plains. Actually, it’s been reported to the House of Lords that the Shiru tribe and the farmers together with them would like to be accepted as refugees by Fort Jugfena.”
Given that the Shiru tribe has less than one in ten thousand odds of winning, if Rindarl unites together successfully then it’s extremely unlikely that Densel will stand for leaving them alone. It’s been five years since the name Artolas has been erased from the maps. Because the Shiru tribe has resisted Densel unsuccessfully for all this time, it’s very unlikely that they’ll now be accepted as citizens of Densel.
“Densel intends to wipe out the Shiru tribe, and the Shiru tribe knows that they can’t resist them… is that what’s going on?”
“That’s right. At this late hour, surrender is no longer an option open to them. However, although the Shiru tribe aren’t numerous, they are excellent equestrians. It’s difficult to imagine that they will be completely wiped out before they reach Arxia.”
With the fort so close to them, the Shiru tribe would definitely fight their very hardest – if that’s the case, Arxia might not be able to say it’s unrelated. The leaders in the Jugfena royal domain should think really hard about whether to intervene.
“The leader of a domain’s armies is the lord of a domain. That means you, Eliza.”
Because I’ve inherited the title of Viscountess as a member of the Kaldia family, that also means taking on the responsibilities that come with it. The Arxian royalty and nobility that had gotten complacent in an era of peace, didn’t treat the talk of Rindarl uniting together seriously four years ago, when I had just inherited my title.
“It’s fine to leave command decisions on the battlefield to General Calvin, but at a very minimum you will have to be present in the fort. If defense of the fort becomes necessary for whatever reason, know that you yourself may also be required to take up arms for self-defense. After you end your time in the barracks tomorrow, I will begin teaching you how to ride a horse.”
There was no room for me to agree or disagree with anything. I’ve always thought that the concept known as war was very far from me, but in actuality it was so close already. I looked silently into Earl Terejia’s eyes, and could only respond by nodding.