Release that Witch Chapter 948
"Your Majesty, I..."
To Roland's surprise, the latter did not immediately divulge his reply as he would normally do, and seemed somewhat hesitant. It was rare to see the First Army's commander-in-chief behaving like this.
Roland had simply asked the question casually, but he now grew in interest. He had expected Iron Axe to get worked up over this - after all, the punishment for complete responsibility in the matter could include death by burning or hanging. He was, however, curious because the latter had not violated his orders in any reasonable sense, and thus there was surely another explanation for the latter's uncertainty.
However, he did not press on with his charge, and instead leaned back in his chair awaiting the Mojin's reply.
After much contemplation, Iron Axe suddenly knelt down and replied, "No, Your Majesty... though it was Miss Edith who planned the elimination of the enemy's nobles, it was I who carried out the plan, and thus I'm wholly responsible."
"Edith?" Roland was taken aback. "Could this have been planned by the Adviser Department?" Having not seen anything related to this in the submitted proposal, he wondered if this was arranged in secret.
On second thought, he realized why the latter was being hesitant.
In the present era of mercenaries, any military-related affair was considered to be the exclusive concern of the lord, and was extremely sensitive to intervention from outsiders. If the matter took place in another noble's territory, the clandestine agitator would certainly be punished. Iron Axe appeared diffident because he did not want to implicate Edith, yet had no intention to lie.
"From my understanding, you handled the affairs on the Eastern Front very well. The city hall will soon determine your reward amount based on the battle results. You may go for now."
Iron Axe was stunned. "Your Majesty, you won't punish me?"
Roland could not help laughing. "Why? What have you done wrong?"
"My orders were to purge the rebels in the Eastern Region and bring those cities under my rule. You were entitled to act according to circumstances," Roland explained. "If you listened in on two of your soldiers having a strategy discussion in the barracks and decided to adopt their ideas, do I have to punish you and these two soldiers? Edith is a member of the Adviser Department after all, and it's normal for her to have thoughts on strategy."
"So... Your Majesty, you don't think either of us did any wrong in this matter?" Iron Axe lifted his head.
"I didn't say so." Roland shrugged his shoulders. "Just because you're fine doesn't mean that Edith won't have anything to answer for, but that has nothing to do with you. Go back and have a good rest."
Iron Axe opened his mouth as if he was about to say something, but instead he just stared on and decided to obey orders. "Yes, Your Majesty."
After the commander-in-chief of the First Army left, Roland immediately got on the hotline to the city hall. "Inform Edith to come to the castle."
Less than 10 minutes later, the Pearl of the Northern Region arrived at the doorstep of his office.
"Your Majesty, I'm responsible for this matter," Edith spoke without prompt. "I'll accept whatever punishment you impose."
Roland looked at her amusedly. "I haven't opened my mouth and you already know what I'm going to say?"
"When the Eastern Front Army returned to Neverwinter, the first person you would summon was certain to be Iron Axe. If he hadn't reported to you the burning of the nobles, I doubt you would summon me this soon."
"It's always easy to talk to smart people." Roland thought. Her frank manner even made him feel that she was a loyal subordinate who was being wronged.
However, at times, the smarter the person, the more prone they are to getting trapped in a self-created cul-de-sac.
"From the start, it was I who asked him to do this. It simply isn't his style to dupe the nobles together and pass it off as a fire scene. That aside, since you feel that you're responsible, where do you think the problem lies in?"
"I arranged to meet the First Army commander in an unofficial setting without asking for your permission..."
"Wrong." Roland swiftly interrupted her. "Your problem's that you violated the Adviser Department's rules, which state that any battle plan must be recorded on paper and submitted to me for review."
Edith had clearly not expected him to say this, and her eyes widened involuntarily. "Your Majesty?"
"Is that not so?"
"But...," she said with a puzzled look, "this operation was carried out in Your Majesty's name. Won't the other officials see it as something you did?"
"You're not wrong." Roland smiled slightly. "Is there an issue with that?"
"Actually..." Like Iron Axe earlier, Edith displayed a rarely-seen look of confusion. "They may be rebels, but... they're also nobles. To other nobles, your actions could..."
"I know what you're saying." Roland shrugged. "But if I'm not able to handle the backlash, do you think you can?"
"Relax, it's fine. Let me ask you, do you think it's right for me to scapegoat my subordinates when an issue arises?"
"Ahem, that means to shirk my responsibilities," Roland explained. "This matter was clearly done on behalf of the Kingdom of Graycastle, yet you face death instead of glory. If I feel justified to approve of that, do you think those officials will remain wholly loyal to me?"
Edith kept quiet.
"As the king, I'm the most suitable person to take responsibility. Only this way will the subordinates be able to work without burden. This is also why I have to review the Adviser Department's final plans, in case it's something I'm not well-versed in, understand?"
After quite a while, the Pearl of the Northern Region finally nodded and replied, "I was too self-important."
"For violating the rules, your contributions towards this double offensive shan't be recognized, which would otherwise have got you a promotion." Roland took a sip of his tea. "This matter shall now be closed. You may go now."
"Yes, Your Majesty. Please allow me to take my leave." Edith bowed respectfully.
"So... what you did was all for nothing?" Cole Kant carefully placed a plate of honey-glazed mushrooms in front of Edith and watched as she viciously stuck her fork into the mushroom slices. "Your colleagues were all able to obtain promotion, but not you?"
"Yes, only me." She munched loudly on the brownish Bird Beak Mushrooms as if to vent her discontent upon the dinner. "Listen to what His Majesty had to say, 'If I'm not able to handle the backlash, do you think you can?' It was so unbearable that I need an outlet right now. Of course, I wouldn't have done what I did if His Majesty was more like my father. But knowing that he wouldn't ignore this, I felt that it wouldn't be a bad investment and that the risks were manageable. Yet, he dismissed everything I did in a few sentences, and even griped that I think too much. Is it really so naive to be an idealist?"
"Uh... Elder Sister, are you angry?" Cole wiped the sweat off his forehead.
"What, you can't tell?" Edith glowered at him.
The latter shrunk his neck hastily. This was the first time he saw his elder sister display such an expression during a non-ceremonial occasion. Having lived together for more than 10 years, Cole was familiar with her great love for power. If, as she put it, she had just lost an opportunity for promotion, it would be normal for her to be annoyed or disappointed. But... her expression informed him otherwise. It seemed more like a... strange smile mixed with anger.
Unless he misunderstood, this sort of grumble was usually called pouting.
"Gosh... ", as he thought about this, Cole could not help letting out a shudder. Who knew that the Pearl of the Northern Region, who's usually a face of indifference or cunning affection, could smile displeasedly? And, unlike during the banquet when it was deliberate, she seemed to be completely unaware of her present expression. Was this really the Edith Kant he knew?
"Uh?" Having not received a reply for some time, Edith sharply squinted her eyes.
Cole suddenly felt the hair on his back raise. "No, there's no doubt she's my sister." "I just think... maybe His Majesty has his own considerations?"
"As he wishes." Edith placed the last mushroom in her mouth. "I just wonder how far an idealist can go. But..."
"What?" Cole faintly sensed a bad premonition.
"But my unhappiness is real." Edith perked her thin lips. "You shall be my punching bag in the meantime."