< — To the Capital — > (2)
TN: Gong is an official title.
“Wow, it’s been hard to see your face.”
Hugo ignored the man expressing his welcome in an exaggerated manner and sat down. Kwiz didn’t mind the rudeness at all and just laughed cheerfully.
“Is your territory filled with honey? I didn’t think you’d really stay there for over a year.”
“Isn’t a lord taking care of his territory a good thing for Your Highness? No, is it ‘Your Majesty’ now?”
“It will be anyways but I am yet to be crowned. People are being nit picky over customs for that one.”
Kwiz shrugged his shoulders. He was currently acting as king and had full confidence in getting the throne. It was not possible to overturn the justification of the Crown Prince ascending to the throne.
Even with his brothers eyeing his position and watching for an opportunity, Kwiz was confident.
Kwiz looked at the dark-haired man sipping tea in front of him with an indifferent expression, and recalled the long time advice of his loyal assistant and tactician, Count Benef.
[He is a wild beast, Your Highness.]
The Count passed away from a disease in the past year, dealing Kwiz a huge loss.
[He is an untamed wild beast and can never be tamed. Do not try to confine him to us. A satisfied beast does not covet the deer before it. He will gladly stand by Your Highness’s side to oppose those that wish to confine him to a cage.]
[Are you saying not to expect his loyalty?]
[A stable alliance is a hundred times better than an uncertain loyalty. Remember that no royal has ever obtained the loyalty of the Taran Duke. The Duke of Taran will not pounce unless provoked.]
[…So, you mean for me to show my back to a wild beast. Without fastening a leash.]
[He will tear those that come at Your Highness from behind to pieces. The House of Taran already has much to its name. Your Highness does not need to give more, it is enough to just acknowledge what it has in the first place.]
The late Hesse VIII was a King that entertained himself more than he dealt with official matters. Despite that, his reign was considerably long. What he did best was never touching the Duke of Taran and that alone said that Hesse the 8th was a wiser King than he was known for.
The Ducal House of Taran was a strange family. It wasn’t clear when they began to exist but there was already a Taran Family when the nation was founded.
At that time, the House of Taran distinguished themselves greatly in the founding of Xenon and received royal treatment with a status of Grand Duke and had autonomy over a Grand Duchy.
They almost had formal rights to the throne. But against all expectations, they did not enter into politics.
In the reign of the second King who sought absolute royal authority, all Grand Dukes were stripped of their authority and relegated to Dukes. Their Grand Duchies, downgraded to fiefdoms.
The Grand Dukes at the time rebelled and walked down the path of familial extermination but if anything, because the Taran House obediently accepted their relegation, they were guaranteed rights to the throne.
Even then, the House of Taran was still not interested in politics. Many years passed, numerous families rose and fell repeatedly, and Hesse, the third King of Xenon came into power.
The House of Taran was still doing well and was the only Ducal House with rights to the throne.
As long as the royal family did not perish, it was nigh impossible to formally rank it, but the Dukes of Taran were treated almost like royalty.
All this while, the Ducal House of Taran never interfered in politics but their presence was heavily revealed through war.
People began to say that Xenon exists because Taran exists. The Taran family was more strongly impressed in the minds of people than the Marquis family that produced the Queen or the Prime Minister. Yet, the Taran family never once challenged royal authority or expanded their territory.
Their territory was just as they got it when the nation was founded. The Taran territory was quite large but their borders faced one of the most troublesome tribal nations. Defending against the countless barbarian invasions was the Duke of Taran’s role. In addition, when war broke out, the Duke of Taran stood at the front lines and took care of everything.
Some kings were afraid of the untold power of such a Taran Duke and acted hostile but after doing so, their later years weren’t good. Hesse the 8th chose the path of acknowledging the Ducal House of Taran as it is and Kwiz was also of the same thought.
“How do you like the newly married life? Didn’t the Duchess feel stifled, stuck in the territory?”
Kwiz thought that when the new bride complained, the Duke would give in after a couple of pleas and come up to the capital.
He didn’t think the Duke would stay away for so long. With enough time, people began to wonder if the bond between the Crown Prince and the Duke of Taran was in peril.
Kwiz knew that the opposition was trying to approach the Duke of Taran and recruit him several times but he left it alone. The Duke of Taran was never someone that would dance in the direction of power.
It wasn’t because of some grand reason but because it was too annoying to do so. Even without that, the Taran House didn’t have any interest in politics.
“She likes quiet places so she did not.”
They were both his sisters but were so different. Perhaps because their mothers were different. Kwiz’s blood sister, Katherine, was a party animal. She couldn’t survive without dresses, jewelries and parties to show off at.
Since her standards were very high, she showed no intention of getting married and pretended not to hear when one said there would be no one to choose from when she got older.
In truth, no matter who she married, Kwiz was more worried about how the person that became her husband would be able to live together with such vanity.
“Gong, do you want to marry one more time?” (Kwiz)
His sister had set her mind on the Duke of Taran. Upon hearing that he had gotten married, the party animal, Katherine, had stayed indoors for a week. Monogamy was the law for all but the Royal family, but, the Taran Duke had a way to be exempt from that.
Since he was a Duke, even if he wanted to take a second wife, no one would argue about the law with him. To Kwiz, it didn’t really matter whether his sister was the main wife or the second wife. He had no complaint if she was marrying someone like the Duke of Taran.
“Did you call me here to say this nonsense?”
As a matter of fact, seeing Kwiz’ face reminded Hugo of his wife’s condition and made him upset. He could still remember her asking him if he would cheat when he got to the capital.
The rumors of the capital were a lot of smoke without fire so Hugo couldn’t help but worry that she might have heard a rumor that he didn’t know about and misunderstood.
Kwiz’s words were basically pouring water on boiling oil.
“Just consider it. Even if you are officially married, you will likely get a few suggestions like the one I just made.” (Kwiz)
Hugo fixed Kwiz an intense gaze and Kwiz quickly took a step back.
“I don’t do anything that is of no worth to me.” (Hugo)
“What? no worth? Three wives and three concubines is the dream of many men.” (Kwiz)
“Then, Your Highness can fulfill and live that dream. As king, you can realize the dream to the fullest.”
Kwiz’s expression turned awkward. The Duke of Taran was truly ambiguous in the sense that he seemed to like and dislike women. He was never free of women yet when it came to cutting them off, he was ruthless.
“About your successor. Do you really plan on it?” (Kwiz)
“I do.” (Hugo)
“No, you’re married now. A child is going to be born in the future. Even if he’s the eldest son, I mean.”
Isn’t he an illegitimate child anyways? Kwiz swallowed the rest of that sentence. To avoid any clamor by supporting the illegitimate son of the Duke when he took over the title. This was the condition Kwiz was given to be able to bring the Duke of Taran onto the political scene.
Having an illegitimate son take over the Duke’s title was simple but also difficult. This was because it went against implicit social customs. However, Kwiz thought it was a very easy condition for obtaining the Duke of Taran. Kwiz himself wasn’t legal per se either so he wasn’t that narrow-minded about the issue.
However, in reality, when the Duke got married, Kwiz felt a little reluctant. Even if she was his half-sister whose face he had never seen, she was still his sister. The thought that his sister’s child would be treated as a figurehead didn’t really make him feel good.
“…Since when have you been so interested in my personal life? If that is all you have to say, I will excuse myself.” (Hugo)
“Ah, alright, alright. Really. Even after marriage, you’re still so stiff.”
Kwiz was very interested in the Duke’s personal life but at this point, he had to give up for now. Afterwards, they began to discuss the direction of the state affairs in earnest.