Volume 56 Chapter 1 – As The Emperor Wishes
They were in the administration conference of the Arpen Empire.
The lords listened attentively to Harold’s speech and criticism of Weed.
‘Weed has fame and is highly regarded by the public. Hence we cannot exercise force like with the Hermes Guild.’
‘Harold’s words may sound plausible, but it is really a load of rubbish. We were appointed as lords after Kaybern began his move. How did an idiot who knows nothing about the current circumstance become a lord?’ Then again, it is true that we are suffering because of the monsters… It is a justified point to bring up. Now, Weed took a blow so how is he going to respond?’
‘For Weed, he’s going to end up with more losses than gains no matter how he resolves this. He’ll be hit hard.’
The conference was being streamed live, it was a one-sided situation with Weed on the defensive.
If he were to get furious his popularity would be impacted, and if he were to stand down he would be looked down upon.
Expecting generosity from the lords or even convincing them were not possible solutions to begin with. Harold would endlessly bite his tail and chew at Weed’s mistakes.
‘Continuous instigated criticism could put an innocent man behind bars. This is what defines politics, ya punk.’
As the grandson of a rich family, Harold loved to use adroit speech even in the world of finance. He also liked being the leader in a crowd and had an ambition to take control of the atmosphere of this very conference, spreading his reputation across Versailles Continent.
Weed just stared blankly for a while.
New lords caught his expression and were disappointed yet found it peculiar.
‘Is he lost about how to react?’
‘He should just get furious, if anything.’
‘He’s a newbie, as expected. The assumption that he would be weak in politics was right after all.’
Roam’s chest trembled with anxiety. He participated in the lords conference held in the Earth Palace and watched the silent Weed who faced the opposing lords.
“Weed-nim must be more mindful of establishing public security.”
“Aren’t you spending too much time in the North? Are you not aware that monsters are rampant in the Central Continent?”
“Kaybern’s Lair. The treasures you stole from that place; how about you distribute them to us, too? At the most minimal level of compensation for damages!”
As Weed stood idle, several new lords stepped up after Harold.
The scene of these people pacing the atmosphere to their accord was too ominous and awkward.
‘These crazy idiots. Have you no sense poking up that man? You’d rather take on the Hermes Guild with bare fists. No. They’d have it better going up to Kaybern and call it a lizard.’
Nowadays, their faction was weakened and assassination orders just weren’t possible, and as for the dragon it would all end if it just died once.
Weed however, was truly the most powerful ruler of the Arpen Empire.
He took on the appearance of a just, benevolent adventurer but his true form a villain who had no boundaries in his devious and vicious tricks.
Roam met eyes with Carlise who was watching with his jaw dropped. They understood each other just by the stare.
‘They are all out of their minds.’
‘I know. Let’s stay put, aside from this atmosphere.’
‘We have to stay under the blanket at times like this.’
‘Mmm, that is indeed the best for us. This is a really dangerous situation.’
They never thought once of supporting these foolish rookie lords who can’t even access the situation.
‘Still, what if Weed blows up in such an official event? I mean, it’s good for me as I have to expand my influences… But, why am I feeling so uneasy?’
Those that felt the same as Loam exchanged whispers carefully with one another.
– Gunter: This is going to get ugly.
– Michel: These fools have no understanding of Weed. That man is not at all afraid of the public. He manipulates people like it’s nothing.
– Sherwood: I agree. They are all unaware of Weed’s personality and his abilities. They may believe he became the ruler of the continent out of sheer luck. The same kind of idiots who know nothing about anything and comment online anyway.
– Roam: He’s determined and ferocious. Does that man look like someone who will take a blow and walk away? Moreover, Royal Road is not subject to the politics of the real world.
Politicians could make promises about anything and take no responsibility in the real world. However, Royal Road was different.
– Roam: No matter what happens, we must stand by Weed.
– Carlise: Of course. I worked so hard to get my faction back on its feet. Weed isn’t a man who will endure these dull-toothed piranhas for long.
– Michel: Unless a whole lot of time passes and he loses motivation. They’re courting death by trying to intimidate a beast at its prime.
– Sherwood: The lord of Castle Sisley surely dug his own grave.
The leaders of the prestigious guilds believed that Weed was capable of anything. Their hearts raced as they watched, hoping to not get caught in the crossfire.
“We are not enough to defend against the monsters. Supply us with reinforcements, or give us the treasures you stole from the lair.”
“Kaybern is putting the entire world in danger. It is unfair that one person hogs all the treasures stolen from that very dragon. Do you not believe we all have a share in that?”
“You are ripping off taxes when you can’t even protect us lords. If this is to continue, we must have something in return!”
The new lords wandered way over the line.
The one thing Weed hated more than anything was free riding!
He knew such a day would come.
‘This world is too harsh for someone to live kindly. I took money in exchange for lord seats and that is why those men are here now.’
In the name of duty fees he sold lord seats. It was inevitable that these ungrateful wolves after a serving of good will, would pounce for more.
‘The lord appointment would have had its drawbacks no matter what route I took. But, if they want to come straight at me, I will do my honors to stomp them.’
The new lords by level were novices and had no influence on the public. They were appointed lords by Weed himself and they were truthfully insignificant.
Weed quietly heeded to the complaints of the lords and smirked.
His laugh was threatening, as he took out a sculpting knife and a wood block.
The sculpture that quickly took form resembled Harold, and the quick and precise knife movement stole the attention of the lords.
“It’s the same as what I saw online. It’s so fast when looking at it in person.”
It was something he did countlessly as a sculptor.
Easily he made a sculpture that looked identical to Harold.
Weed slowly looked around the space and made eye contact with the lords.
He was looking for a lord who had the nerve to try and stare him down.
‘I can tell from the faces that there are a few. A few that will not stop at free riding and steal from my pockets too…’
Weed’s voice spread gently through the room.
“I am aware that some inequalities have arisen in the Arpen Empire. I am doing the best of my abilities to prevent Kaybern and the monsters, but a solution is nowhere close. I understand that you all are disappointed.
Harold looked down on him even further now that Weed was apologizing.
‘Was this guy this stupid? In politics, you can’t take back a step or admit a mistake knew this guy was some raw country punk, but to think that I would completely roll him over…’
Even more, he thought that Weed made his sculpture for him as an apology.
‘K-haha. This kid was such a pawn.’
Even a beast was nothing more than a household pet if it didn’t know how to use its sharp claws and teeth.
Harold instead was thinking about changing his approach.
‘Actually, maybe I should be a bit more gentle. If I stand on his side and encourage the Arpen Empire… Maybe that would land me second seat to the throne. I could also ride on a better tide in future situations.’
It was when Harold was trying to calculate various scenarios.
Weed put forth his hand that was holding the sculpture.
“But, Lord Harold.”
“Speaking of yourself, just how much have you done as lord?”
“What do you mean by that?”
Harold shrivelled his eyebrows and responded.
Weed then took the sculpting knife and struck down on the sculpture in resemblance of Harold.
The detailed sculpture split in two and the air in the room froze cold.
It was quick and decisive.
Without a hint of hesitation, the way he slashed the sculpture was violent and had indomitable force.
Weed stood from his seat and stared at the lords one by one. Unlike before, they were afraid.
“It sure wasn’t easy to govern the Arpen Empire. Especially when the war had just ended and territories expanded all the while the dragon’s threat. This crisis is ongoing and I cannot afford the luxury of keeping lords that have nothing better to do than blame others.”
“Blaming? All I did was rightfully criticize you in my perspective as a lord.”
Harold expressed as if he was being victimized to turn the tides, but Weed continued without reserve.
“Rightful criticism? All of you in this room know what I have done until this point. Every day I roamed the continent and eradicated monsters and carried out quests to stop Kaybern.”
Of course he did pull off a robbery too, but Weed saw that as par the course; he was on a hunt to grind down the multiplying monsters.
‘I did all that for my own gains… But it’s not like I didn’t pull any effort to defend the continent.’
Weed smacked his lips wet.
“You ignore the quests and hunts that I have done until now. You ignore the many peoples who appreciated my heart and efforts from the frozen lands of the North and who helped me on this journey. Together we threaded one needle at a time and built the Arpen Empire from the ground up.
The reason I conquered the Central Continent and appointed lords was because it was a necessary measure to make the Arpen Empire a better place.
I sold lord seats for money. I get it. There are many of you that questioned if that was the way to go.”
The lords were silent like babies with suckers in their mouths.
It was the Arpen Empire that offered these seats for money, but the ones who bought them were also subject to criticism from the public.
Weed had achievements and progress under his belt that backed him up, but the lords had weak justification.
“Do you think that I sold those seats to you all because I was short on personal finances? That is not the case. Eh-hem. There were many abandoned cities in the Arpen Empire that were about to be invaded by monsters. There were many difficulties governing the continent, so I collected money from you all. The same money was all invested back into the Empire. Now I ask all you lords. Why should I be under the rain of criticism? Is there anyone here that has the right to criticize me?”
The room was still.
The lords realized what kind of situation they were in.
All they had to boast of was their status.
Real authority, power, fame, cause and the right to rule were all in Weed’s grasp.
There are some that possess many weapons but do not wield them effectively, but Weed wasn’t anything of the kind.
He took control of the moment instantly, a vicious presence that could trampede mercilessly over any who challenged it.
Weed’s wet lips sparkled.
“As you may all know, I have spent all my fortune that I have accumulated since my days of Morata. I have never kept away a single penny while I ruled the Arpen empite.”
He choked in sorrow when he spoke about not keeping anything for himself.
‘I haven’t abused anything until now, so why should I be in this pathetic stance?’
If he pulled off a big success, he would have gladly acted more amenably but the situation was different.
“Everyone here has a noble duty to make the Versailles Continent a happier place. Millions of users are observing our words and actions. But compared to myself, what has Harold-nim done for Versailles? What exactly have you done after buying your way into your seat?”
Regardless of how big a mistake or how dark a misconduct one may have committed, the man seemed to have no shame in pointing fingers at the opponent’s mistakes!
It may have worked in the real world somehow, but it wasn’t a method that could work on someone who had both fame and power.
“Don’t just stand there. Speak in greater detail. Let us compare the things we have done, one by one. To see who did better. It isn’t just lords gathered for this conference. There are millions of viewers watching. Won’t they have their opinions about me?”
Harold was speechless.
After he became a lord, it was true that all he did was boast around and remained half-hearted with his errands. He did order castle wall reinforcements to be built, but spent only a fraction of the city’s income.
If it was Weed on the other side of the scale, the difference was as obvious as heaven and earth.
Weed spoke confidently.
“I make a proposal to everyone here including Harold-nim of Castle Sisley. If you don’t like your seats, you can turn it down. I will refund the duty fees that you have spent already.”
The lord seats rose in worth after the auction was over. The seats of Arpen lords were rare positions to come across.
Harold’s face turned bright red in shame.
At that moment, he couldn’t retaliate at all.
He was secretly attempting to play politics but Weed quickly turned the tides against him and pushed him into a corner. Harold’s cause was overwhelmed and he was defeated verbally.
If he were to stand up to him any longer, he was about to me stripped of his status and kicked out.
‘Give up the position voluntarily? Then I can’t become a lord again… For me to be driven to a corner like this. Is there anyone who can help me?’
Harold looked to his surroundings but the new lords that complained together were now sitting and looking away.
‘He drew his sword too early. He should have known better of who he was up against.’
‘Weed hasn’t committed that crucial mistake, so it was a mistake to dig his teeth like that.’
‘Chatting upfront like that is plain stupid. Considering the popularity, people will be more enthusiastic towards Weed. Not to us rich people.’
‘It was wrong to assume that he would stand down because of the live streaming. Weed is someone who can line up people behind him and take us to the guillotine whenever he wants.’
The lords decided quickly. They also learned of their own weaknesses.
Paying money didn’t put them in power. As far as it went, they were only respected in their own cities as lords. If they stood against Weed, they could be struck down at any moment.
Harold too realized this disadvantage and backed down for now.
“No. It seems I was in the wrong all this time. I have realized my mistakes. I will reflect on myself and make Castle Sisley a better place.”
Retreating at this moment at least spared him some dignity and interests.
His mind was full of thoughts about revenge in the future, but for the time being he acted strategically.
“Let us continue with the conference.”
Monster eradication and the road construction to bridge the North and the Central Continent came up as topics.
Weed started out with a bold stance and the major lords with massive lands followed his will, leading to a smooth conference.
The vital bills for the growth of the Arpen Empire were passed and the conference was near its end. Weed looked to Harold and spoke.
“Something came up in my mind after listening to Harold-nim. I am going to organize an inspection team to overlook the governing practices in several cities including Castle Sisley.”
“I know that many cities weren’t being managed properly. That is why I wish to assess the concerns of the city and offer assistance.”
It was masked as help but promised outright interference!
“Just what are you planning to do with my city?!”
Harold fumed in protest.
Weed pulled out his Loa Sword and placed it on the table.
“If you don’t like that, step down from your position as lord.”
“This is to assist lords who aren’t yet knowledgeable enough to run a city. The good lords won’t have any problems. This isn’t a time of peace but rather the entire continent is in danger because of Kaybern, so we all have to chip in.”
It was clearly a grudge.
Harold thought about giving up his seat, but it was too sweet.
Power was something you could not give up once you’ve tasted it, and he already boasted so much about becoming a lord. The duty fees refund wasn’t the slightest of his concerns.
Weed skimmed each lord with his eyes and spoke.
“You all have a responsibility to make the Versailles Continent a better place. You all pledged to this oath when you signed up as lords. Please put in all your effort. If you can’t, simply step down.”
Not one lord expressed intentions to give up their position by the end of the conference.
The leaders of the prestigious guilds nodded as if they had expected it.
“He got his pants pulled. He got what he deserved, standing up like that.”
“He underestimated Weed.”
“Weed turned Harold’s complaints into a petty act of blaming others, and he established his credit with all his achievements and rolled him over with status. All of this happened simultaneously.”
“He just isn’t someone you can go up against without power andnor influence.”
Roam, Carlise, Michel, Gunter and Sherwood. They assumed that these lords would not be able to cross Weed for a very long time.
This event showed everyone that Weed wasn’t a weak man that would take insults lying down.
“That’s the scary part of it all. Murder would be less traumatizing.”
“Let us not drop our guards, ever. A man’s revenge can wait a decade.”
Michel laughed in response to Carlise.
“Yup. Until the day when we get to compete against one another, that is.”
Gunter rested his hand on his sword and spoke.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
A moment after the leaders disassembled.
– Michel: Weed-nim. Carlise and Gunter are suspicious. Currently they seem obedient under your power, but I am certain that they have ulterior motives. I will keep a watch on them and report to you any strange words and behavior.
– Carlise: Please do not trust any other lords. Only us at Black Lion Guild wish to prosper with the Arpen Empire, but the other lords don’t think as faithfully as I do.
– Gunter: You must keep eyes on these lords. There is traitorous scum among them. That being said, we at the Lion Guild support Weed-nim no matter what happens.
– Sherwood: I was deeply impressed with Weed-nim and your generous rules from this event. I am embarrassed to see that a man like Harold is a lord. Could I do the honors to take him out? I will take care of him quietly and secretly.
– Roam: I can only imagine the struggles you are going through with ruling this empire. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for you. I have recorded the names of all those who complained earlier. If you give me a slight signal, I will get the deeds done.
They were competing to sweet talk Weed once they were alone.
Bard Ray at last was able to go out on the hunt with the barbarians.
He cleared all the small errands perfectly and a barbarian named Vals invited him on a hunt.
“You’ve finally done it. Vals hunting squad. They are renowned among the village citizens.”
“If I get the chance in combat… The rest is easy.”
Bard Ray was confident in any kind of combat.
Barbarians were quite skilled for NPCs but they were far too weak compared to himself.
‘They are warriors, so I just need to show them my strength.’
Bard Ray thought, and he fought valiantly with the Vals hunting squad.
He urged to hunt one more monster and actively sought for battle.
Though he crumbled under Weed, he concentrated on the battles as if he was proving his name as the God Warrior.
‘So he succeeded in robbing the dragon’s lair? Things are going well for him.’
He didn’t watch any video feeds of Weed, but just heard stories.
When he led at the front of the continent he had felt uneasy about all those that followed behind him, but now he could only feel excitement.
CTS Media and various other broadcasting networks secretly contacted him. Even after his defeat, many were curious about Bard Ray and his activities.
‘I will not appear on broadcast for the time being… Until I defeat Weed and slay the dragon.’
He threw away fame, even glory.
All that remained was his deepest desire to become more powerful!
He thought that even if he were to fight Weed again this very moment, he would have a chance of winning if he sealed away a couple of Weed’s skills but that wasn’t enough.
It was not about determining who was stronger through an exchange of swords.
It was the path to displaying absolute power that all will acknowledge!
‘Weed transitioned into a warrior, so the comparison will be more simple. Power. It doesn’t matter who rules the continent. You can keep it. It is all about showing who is more powerful now.’
Vals hunting squad roamed until late at night. They scavenged countless numbers of monsters and other prey, stocking large quantities of meat and leather.
Vals approached with a water buffalo on his shoulder.
“This is your portion.”
“I don’t need it.”
“You’re not going to take this?”
“Yes. Split it amongst yourselves.”
“… So it shall be.”
Bard Ray did not bother picking up items unless it was a notably advanced equipment.
He already was supplied with an enormous funding and equipment from the Hermes Guild, so he couldn’t care less about picking up miscellaneous items.
Vals must have thought positively about Bard Ray who fought well, as he approached him again at dinner.
“Cooking the meat well after the hunt is more important than anything. This is delicious piece of meat. Do you want to learn how to cook meat?”
“I am not interested.”
“You don’t want me to teach you?”
“I have a bit of interest in learning how to wield spears and axes. Defense skills are good too. I don’t want to concern myself with anything other than getting stronger.”
“… I see. Alright.”