Chapter 281: Luxurious and Gorgeous Inauguration Ceremony
The servants are moving around the mansion in a hurry.
Nonna is also taking her two attendants with her and walking all throughout the mansion.
「Actually, please put a chair here too. Then someone can open the window and enjoy looking out at the courtyard while drinking alcohol.」
「Very well, Madam.」
Sebastian bows politely, although the servants and maids behind him are making troubled faces.
「Shouldn’t we stop her? Sebastian’s already busy as it is, at this point she’s getting in the way.」
Carla and I are situated on the balcony of the second floor, overlooking the steadily progressing preparations in the hall. I’m sitting on the window sill looking at all the people running about, no, to be more accurate, looking at the shaking asses of the maids and the lively bouncing of Nonna’s large breasts.
「They’re jiggling so unpleasantly. The valley is thrown out in the open too…… she’s always harping about keeping one’s appearance proper, so put those things away.」
「But it’d feel tight if she tried to stuff those things in her clothes.」
「……it’s making me more and more pissed. Did you get sandwiched by those things last night?」
「I went in between them, grinded against them and splattered her face. It was great. I sprayed loads.」
What Sebastian and the maids are getting ready for with Nonna chiming in is the preparations for the inauguration ceremony for the new mansion.
It was supposed to be scheduled much earlier, but delayed for an extended period after I left.
I felt a ceremony was not necessary after living in the building for a while already, but apparently it’s to please the public.
In fact, the grand party is most likely one where the house will be evaluated.
Obviously the nearby feudal lords will come, and invitation letters will be sent to all related parties in the capital.
That’s why she’s so worked up to make the house worthy of the grand ceremony.
Adolph also said “it is necessary even though my head hurts” with dead eyes and agreed to compile a budget for the event.
「In other words, she just wants to boast about the place to people. That show-off part can’t be cured at all.」
「Nonna’s cute that way.」
Nonna returns to the hall again. Ah, she finally tripped on a chair and fell.
「Don’t put a chair in a place like this! It’s dangerous!」
The servants have a look of disbelief. I don’t blame them, that’s the same chair she demanded to be put there earlier.
「She’s being unreasonable again.」
「Yeah, I’ll got get her.」
「As I thought, it doesn’t look right. Rearrange all of it…… kyaa!」
I grab Nonna from behind and lift her up. When I carry her on my shoulder, it looks like a bandit kidnapping a village girl.
「Leave the preparations to Sebastian. He’ll do a good job.」
「W-wait, I get it so put me down! This is embarrassing!」
If I let you go, you’ll say something unnecessary again so I won’t.
「We’re going to make love now. Can I trust you to take care of things?」
「「Of course, master.」」
The two attendants answer and the surrounding servants all look relieved.
「Wanna come too, Carla? The two of you can service me together.」
「Sure~ It’s been so long since Nonna and I did it together.」
「Don’t say such things in front of the servants! Aahn, put me downー」
And thus, we had passionate sex.
Day of the Ceremony.
All the servants bow line up at the entrance and bow their heads altogether to greet the guests.
「……this is excellent.」
「To have such a magnificent building constructed in less than two years is to be expected from someone of Lord Hardlett’s power……」
Nonna and I extend our thanks to the visitors, while Sebastian guides them to the assembly hall.
「How many does that make? Are there more people to greet?」
「A third of the guests still haven’t arrived yet. The ceremony will start at night, so there’s still a long way to go.」
I get fed up when Nonna tells me it’s too soon to stop.
「What, it starts at night? I would have preferred starting in the daytime.」
I’ve seen the celebrations held for the completion of the people’s new houses, and they all finished during the day after some drinking and partying.
「That’s how social gatherings are! Besides…… I wanted to show you this.」
Nonna’s spellbound gaze was directed at the shining chandelier made by the dwarves and carried carefully by Celia.
That decoration enshrined in the entrance where everybody passes through is glowing divinely, making all other sources of light seem dark with the radiating rays of red, blue, and green.
「The light is further enhanced by the gold plating and reflecting off the jewels…… I’ve never seen a more beautiful chandelier than this.」
Nonna wasn’t the only one enthralled by the sight, most of the visitors stop and stare, gulping at the breathtaking work of art.
An older couple in a more extravagant attire than the other participants let out a simple comment of praise.
「I’ve never seen something so beautiful. I didn’t know there was a workshop in the country that could create such a masterpiece……」
「Was it imported from the Federation? ……Can you even do that now?」
As the older couple appreciate the great work, Nonna puffs out her ever so large breasts.
I want to grab them, but I think she’ll actually get angry, so I hold back.
「I guess what’s truly frightening is Lord Hardlett’s assets. I thought Rafen was just wasteland, but there is presently no greater city in the east than this.」
Give credit to Adolph.
He didn’t have work today with all the preparations for the ceremony going on, so he’s resting, rather he fell asleep at his desk.
With good intentions, I stuck a piece of paper with “don’t wake me up” on his head.
I realized then but the top of Adolph’s head is a little…… no, I won’t say it.
「Is that some kind of rare decoration?」
「I wonder. It’s round, soft, and warm. Maybe it’s an unusual home heater? It’s a little wet.」
That’s Claudia. She’s gotten a little fatter since the last time I saw her.
The guest greeting which started a little before the ceremony began continued for a while, then finally I move to the hall.
She finally made her way to the hall after all this time I’ve been greeting the guests at the entrance.
I force a smile at the lip service and words of praise thrown at me while Nonna replies with her own beautifully created smile.
「O-oh my, if it isn’t Madam Hardlett. Thank you for inviting me today――」
Here’s a lady who’s acting rather stiffly.
She appears to be in her late thirties, and her makeup is gaudy, opposite from my tastes. Although I’d gladly fuck her if I get the chance.
「Madam Pilis. Glad you could make it――」
Nonna replies with a grin.
I remember hearing about her. If I’m correct, it’s the underhanded hag Nonna keeps bad mouthing.
It’s true there’s a characteristic wickedness showing on her face.
「This kind of luxurious party is wonderful, but are you doing well financially?」
「Yes, the mansion and the interior decorating were all done modestly, so we have to issues with money.」
I can sense a battle of sorts starting between the two women. I summon a maid to pour me some alcohol so I can enjoy the show.
「Oh my, I’m sure you worked hard to support your husband. The citizens must really respect you.」
She is probably implying that the luxuries she enjoys is from sucking money out of the citizens.
「The respect is all due my husband. Even this evening, they are holding festivals in the city to celebrate the completion of my husband’s mansion――」
I do hear some commotion in the city.
Although I’m sure the drunks just found a reason to drink more alcohol.
In any case, there shouldn’t be anyone starving of food in Rafen.
I didn’t do anything, it was Adolph who solved the problem.
「That reminds me, I don’t see any turkey meat. Aah, please pardon me, we always serve that back home.」
The madam snickers. However Nonna grins as if she lured the other woman into saying that.
「I apologize. All the meat we’re serving today is black beast meat. We’ll cook turkey if we exhaust our supply of black beast. If you really want to eat turkey, I guess we could prepare it.」
The meat from black beasts is extremely delicious and is the only kind of meat we get in my territory, whereas it only circulates in the market of other territories during the winter with an unbelievable price tag.
I also enjoy eating turkey, but black beast meat is worth way more.
And right now, a mountain of that expensive ingredient is being served on the table.
「……if you have such a high quality of meat, you must also have the appropriate quality of wine to match――」
「For today, we have prepared a now limited product from the Federation.」
Nonna brags further, but the one who actually worked hard to procure that was Claire.
「Fine wine and cuisine requires suitable tableware――」
「The unique coloring of the tableware designed by the famous artisan Funis is beautiful, don’t you think?」
Sebastian was the one who picked out the tableware and Adolph haggled thoroughly before purchasing it.
Nonna was lured by fakes.
「……if you would please excuse me now.」
When the Madam left, Nonna turns to me with a beaming smile.
If you’re happy, that makes me happy.
It’s about time for some real entertainment.
「Everyone, I apologize for interrupting your pleasant conversations, but please have a look outside.」
The servants open the windows.
What became visible to the guests were the flickering flames of countless torches.
「What is that? Such neat lines of torches……」
「Don’t tell me, soldiers!? How orderly!」
The torch-holding soldiers are marching in the city of Rafen.
Leopolt is leading the entire army of close to 5000 soldiers. He’s making sure everyone is maintaining perfect order.
Their torches in the night were as beautiful as the stars of this world.
When I asked Leopolt whether there was any meaning in having the army march for an inauguration ceremony, he answered “yes”.
I didn’t want him to leave it at that, so I also asked the reason……
「The first reason is to settle any problems with the neighboring nobles. There are currently no standout enemies in Goldonia. With prolonged peace, feudal lords start getting frantic about securing borders and water supplies. If we show off our strength here, we can solve many issues just through intimidation.」
The personal army of normal nobles, excluding a portion of protege knights, is usually composed of mercenaries and peasant soldiers.
Of course their training and morale are low, plus their command is sketchy.
On the other hand, most of my army is on standby and frequently keeping up with training.
Meaning this time is a perfect opportunity to show off that difference.
Right now, the civil officials and those unrelated to the territory are admiring the beautiful scene, while the nearby feudal lords watch with stiff faces.
「The other reason is our position. Because of that certain incident, we have recently showed ourselves to be close to the Government Affairs Commissioner. This is not the time to lean to one side. We must also make others aware of our proximity to the Military Commissioner.」
I always intended to stay on Erich’s side, but I guess I’ve been doing several things that make me seem closer to Kenneth lately. I did another thing today for him too.
「There was supposed to be one more thing to pump up the performance.」
「Don’t be unreasonable.」
Celia is beside me before I knew it.
She held back seeing me with Nonna but couldn’t help herself when the discussion moved to military topics.
「Still, having a row of cannons fire all at once would surely get people fired up.」
I suggested for the cannons to fire in timing with the army’s march.
「Wives would all fall over in surprise! Plus it would cause panic in the city.」
Leopolt also said “unlike the unconcealable number of soldiers, it is unwise to reveal the exact number of cannons we possess”, and sadly turned down my proposal.
「Anyways, all that’s left is to eat and chat. My job here is done.」
But it wasn’t done.
I turn around when I hear a familiar voice and see a smiling girl.
That girl’s name is…… I forgot, but she’s Count Monashi’s daughter, whose virginity was taken by me.
「It’s been so long! I want to hear the stories about the capital and the Magrado General Government!」
I can’t refuse if she asks so cheerfully.
After all, she’s a girl who I turned into a woman. There’s no way I wouldn’t feel some sort of attachment to her.
I feel a sudden jolt of pain on my ass. When I look, I see Nonna nonchalantly pinch my butt cheek.
I’m still powerless to a pinch even though my muscles were trained. It still hurts.
「I don’t know what you’re talking about.」
Uurm, but talking with the girl takes priority over the pain.
I endure the pain, only to face the next trial when the girl smiles at me.
「Lord Hardlett, congratulations on your new home. I have come today on behalf of the Government Affairs Commissioner.」
「Well, if it isn’t Count Beltz…… glad you could come today.」
The one who appeared in front of me was Count Beltz…… so Gretel’s father.
He contacted us beforehand, and Gretel also has a dress prepared for her.
Of course, no dog ears or tail was attached to it. If that happened, he would swing his sword at me.
「About ‘that’, will you be announcing it to everybody here?」
Now that I’ve already proclaimed it in the capital, there’s no reason to hide it.
I have a bad feeling.
「Come here, Gretel.」
「Yes, master…… I mean, Margrave Hardlett.」
Don’t make a mistake like that. That made Count Beltz raise his eyebrow.
「We are engaged. A date hasn’t been determined yet, but she will eventually become my wife.」
「Aah, finally…… I’ll be master’s wife-dog……」
The crowd lets out oohs and ahhs, though they don’t seem surprised.
Rumors circulate quickly amongst the nobles. What was said one month ago in the capital has already become common knowledge.
But she didn’t hear it. Or perhaps they intentionally avoided talking about it.
Nonna’s expression turns blank.
「You didn’t tell her!?」
Celia also gets flustered. Sorry, I forgot.
Nonna grins creepily―― then seemingly leaps two meters before headbutting me.
After I made all sorts of promises to the furious Nonna in order to restore peace, a commotion occurred at the entrance.
A lot of the participants did not notice, but if there’s a problem, I have to resolve the issue as the head of the house.
「What’s wrong? What is-……」
「That’s enough! Those without an invitation are absolutely forbidden from entering. If you don’t stop, you’ll be thrown in prison!」
「Oh please, anything but that! We have nowhere to go!」
When I checked the situation, I see a fat middle-aged man and a similarly fat middle-aged woman disputing with the security guards.
I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think I need to step in.
「Please! Please!」「Please, I beg of you to at least let us see the Margrave!」
Behind them are two girls in their late twenties. They’re not the most beautiful but they have plump asses and thighs.
Alright, I’m going.
「What’s going on, making such a commotion?」
The soldiers frantically salute when they see me.
「Feudal lord-sama! These people want to meet the feudal lord even though they didn’t receive invitations!」
「Hmm…… as you can see, this is an inauguration ceremony. I’m quite busy, but what do you want?」
「A-apologies for interrupting you while you’re busy, not to mention granting us your precious time――」
「I told you, I’m a busy man. If you’re just going to say meaningless things, I’ll be leaving. State your identity and business, and keep it brief.」
The middle-aged couple who fall prostrate and the two daughters with sensual asses hastily piece their story together.
「I am the head of the Geissler household, the family who has so graciously inconvenienced the Margrave!」
Geissler? Never heard of him, did I forget something?
I’ve never seen this man’s face before either.
「Aegir-sama, please stand back.」
Without delay, Celia leads five security guards and steps in between me and that man.
No, Christoph is there too, so I guess it’s four guards plus an average man.
「Please…… I beg you, listen to what I have to say! I beg you……!」
Hmm. I have absolutely no clue what’s going on.
–Third Person POV–
Near White City: North Teries River – Flagship Leviathan.
「The Second Corps General has died! The formation is collapsing!」
「The Sixth Army Corps has been dispersed by the enemy in the center. Order can’t be maintained! They are withdrawing!」
「The Ninth Army Corps is completely surrounded by the enemy! Smoke signals requesting for help are being released in two minute intervals――」
Sekrit glares at the scene in front of her intensely.
Anchored on the riverside where cannonfire or arrows couldn’t reach them, aside from the Leviathan, is the fleet under her command, and the air was filled with a strange tension.
Intense battles are occurring before their eyes, but all of them are not tilting in favor of the Empire.
Armies who are focusing on retreating after being attacked, armies beginning to collapse, armies already collapsed – this was all they could see.
「Your Excellency Sekrit, the land army is falling apart.」
One of the staff officers comments in a bitter tone.
「I can tell by looking. Report to me the things I don’t know.」
Another person appears together with a messenger.
「The western forces who should have pushed far up north and even the eastern forces who should have had an overwhelming advantage are getting completely countered. The resistance isn’t limited to White City. The enemy has switched to the offensive on all fronts!」
At that moment, there was a change in one corner of the battlefield.
One surrounded army corps of the Empire raised the white flag.
「Surrender!? For shame!」「Traitors! Put their families to death!」
The staff officers curse out loud.
「We aren’t really in a position to say that, being on the ship where it’s safe. ――Besides, it doesn’t look like it’ll be necessary.」
The reason is clear, the Federation army doesn’t stop attacking. Although the white flag was raised and weapons thrown down by the army, they were still wiped out instantly.
「The enemy won’t accept surrendering at this point in time. It’s either victory or death, no two ways about it.」
An even heavier atmosphere surrounds the Leviathan.
（If only they retreated one week prior.）
Sekrit curses at Zaphnes, the Supreme Commander of the land army, in her heart.
The attack performed in the blizzard was able to break the encirclement.
By the time the weather calmed, the enemy had retreated, however at that point the Empire had already failed to conquer White City.
In the following combined war council, Sekrit proposed a retreat to the region south of the relatively cold and gentle North Teries river. The retreat would be temporary, focusing on defense while enduring the longer than expected winter.
The thought was that once spring arrived, they would get reinforcements and if they headed north again…… they would have a chance to win, despite the enemy also getting backup.
「We can’t do that. If we retreat now, the enemy will instantly strengthen their forces, as well as repair their broken walls. The attack during the blizzard took us by surprise but there won’t be a snow storm everyday. We can still put up a fight if we wait for favorable weather conditions.」
「You’re saying the soldiers who have frozen to death can still fight? Impossible.」
「……Sekrit. His Majesty entrusted you with the fleet and me with the land army. We should each stay within the borders set for us」
Seeing Zaphnes’ seemingly frightened eyes, Sekrit did not offer anymore proposals.
He was not thinking about any strategy or tactic, rather he was acting, albeit unknowingly, on his fear of the Emperor’s wrath if he were to retreat.
The defeat suffered from the blizzard-oriented attack was one-sided, but looking at the losses as a whole, it wasn’t exactly a fatal blow.
Zaphnes, not knowing when to give up, took that as a sign that they could still fight.
That happened a few weeks ago. Three days from the present time, the fatal resistance started.
The army garrisoned in White City steadily accumulated supplies and reinforcements and demolished the already nonfunctioning encirclement of the city. From there, they would mount an all-out attack.
「This is the result of that lingering attachment to fight.」
With rock-bottom morale and extremely weakened bodies, the soldiers instantly folded from the Federation’s counterattack.
By the time Zaphnes ordered the retreat to the south coast of the river, it was too late.
While the army was being routed, the Federation set up cannons in the harbor and shot at the approaching ships in the winter so soldiers could cross the river.
There were no capable squads to take back the camp.
Furthermore, the cold became more severe, causing the area near the riverside to freeze and making it difficult for the transport ships to dock and unload.
Ships would run over the ice and become sitting ducks.
Consequently, the transport ships would be sunk one after the other, throwing the soldiers into the ice cold water, only to sink after a few minutes at most. Crowds of soldiers would flock to the ships which escaped the cannonfire, but faced the hellish competition to fit inside the vessel.
At that point, the amount of losses could not be counted.
「But I’ll do whatever I can. Target the enemy cavalry on starboard side, all ships in range begin firing!」
The Federation cavalry close in to finish off the fleeing Imperial soldiers. However they carelessly came too close to the river and entered the range of Sekrit’s fleet.
「All cannons, fire!」
A fierce barrage of cannonfire accompanied by the thunderous booms and explosion clouds covered the area with a blanket of white smoke.
Not long later, continuous heavy sounds could be heard.
That was the sound of numerous cannonballs launched from the Leviathan raining down on the heads of the foolish cavalry squad.
The giant vessel Leviathan is basically a large floating base packed with cannons – 150 regular sized and ten large sized.
When the smoke cleared, the Federation lost over half of the cavalry squad, with the surviving soldiers scattering.
「We did it! The enemy was routed with a single volley!」
「Let’s get closer to land and crush the enemy!」
However Sekrit silently shakes her head.
「Fool. If we get too close to land, we’ll lose more ships.」
Quite a few ships were lost during the shootout between the cannoneers during the siege of White City.
Also, there are many areas near the shallower and calmer waters that are frozen.
It’s highly possible for large ships to be locked in place in those parts.
「Even if we beat a few enemies here, we won’t be able to overturn our situation. The reason our forces were able to retreat to the south coast was because our fleet was stationed here. If we suffer major losses, the Federation will immediately cross the river. When that happens――」
Sekrit doesn’t complete her sentence, but everybody knew what she was implying.
The sound which broke the silence was a cry signalling the enemy’s attack.
「The enemy fleet is attacking! They are believed to be the river fleet! Total of 50 ships!」
Sekrit was the only one who smiled amongst the shaken crew on the deck.
「They are finally displaying their full power. Beginning with this, they will eventually come at us with wave-like attacks.」
The corner of her lips curled up.
A shiver went down the spines of all the subordinates who saw the grin and wide open violet eyes of their commander.
The Leviathan slowly changes course and heads toward the flank of the advancing Federation fleet.
Without delay, countless bursts of light flashed. Together with the other ships in the fleet, cannonfire erupted, engulfing the area with smoke.
「We did it! They’re panicking!!」「They’re flustered after the huge defeat on land!」
The moment projectiles were launched, the crew of the Federation fleet cheered.
The Empire’s fleet was clearly too far away for their cannons to hit, plus the smoke from all the cannons firing at once impedes their vision, preventing them from launching a second volley.
If this opportunity is taken and the distance is closed, a short range gunfight is possible.
The size of the ships and mounted cannons of the Federation’s river fleet is inferior to the Empire, however getting into close range makes their ships’ maneuverability a weapon.
The Federation’s fleet, frightened by the Empire’s large cannons firing outside their own range, did not miss this chance to drive their boats into the smoke as fast as possible.
Sekrit swings her arm up.
The Federation fleet searches for the target which should have been in front of them.
The Imperial fleet changed course immediately after firing, used the smoke as cover and moved to an optimal firing position.
「There is no easier target than an enemy whose position is fully in our grasp.」
The Federation fleet which grouped up in one spot instantly get bombarded by a rain of projectiles. The Imperial fleet circle around the smoke as they launch their barrage, constantly keeping their vision clear.
The outcome was decided in just a short time, with the flagship of the hole-filled Federation fleet exploding and sinking, the rest of the ships dispersing.
「You see―― I won’t lose to the Federation.」
Piercing cries could be heard.
Another ship – a transport ship fully loaded with the Imperial soldiers escaping to the south coast – took another hit from a cannonball.
Sekrit closes her eyes in silence, then gives out orders to reorganize the formation of her fleet.
Federation VS. Empire – Comparison of Military Forces (Current + Losses = Max Mobilization. In the case where numbers don’t match, it means there are spare forces.)
Olga Federation 「Winter Offensive Begins, Battle Reversal」
Military Strength – Current: 1 300 000, Max Mobilization: 2 550 000, Losses: 1 250 000, Civilian Victims: 940 000
Military Strength – Current: 1 400 000, Max Mobilization: 3 100 000, Losses: 1 700 000 (Military slaves not included)
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Winter.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Citizens: 176,000. Refugees: 3000
Major Cities – Rafen: 27,000. Lintbloom: 5000. Vandolea Special Town: 9000.
Army: 7500 men
Infantry: 4500, Cavalry: 1000, Archers: 600, Bow Cavalry: 900, Temporary Refugee Guards: 500
Reserve Army: 2500
Cannons: 20, Large Cannons: 15, Dwarven Cannons: 16
Nonna (rage), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Miti (concubine, expecting), Maria (concubine, expecting), Catherine (concubine, expecting)
Melissa (lover), Kuu (lover), Ruu (lover), Mireille (lover), Leah (lover)
Casie (ghost), Rita (busy), Yoguri (playwright), Pipi (caretaker), Alice (sensitive magical girl)
Marceline (pregnant lover), Daughters – Stephanie (lover), Bridget (lover), Felicie (lover)
Sebastian (extremely busy), Dorothea (capital mansion supervisor), Claudia (meatball), Clara (female attendant)
Lammy (plant caretaker), Mirumi (mermaid), Alraune (growing), Petit Roper (Alice’s concealment)
Messerschmitt (dog), Pochi (strange lizard)
Celia (adjutant), Marta (aide), Irijina (commander), Luna (commander), Ruby, Myla (security officer), Gido (escort unit), Polte (refugee case worker), Gretel (wife-dog-to-be)
Leopolt (training exercise), Adolph (resting), Tristan (wasting away)
Claire & Laurie (official merchant), Schwartz (horse), Lilian (actress), Kroll (man), Alma (Kroll’s woman)
Assets: 14,000 gold (grand inauguration ceremony -4300)
Sexual Partners: 433, children who have been born: 55 + 555 fish