Titan Beneath The Heavens - lightnovelgate.com
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Green. It was abundant on the Southern lands.
If anyone were to have a look at the territories of the n.o.bles, the residences, churches and the castles built of stones and clay with marbled roofs, one would know how much the diligent Southern people fancied the simple and energetic color.
The doork.n.o.bs and window sills were decorated with ivy and the morning glories had grown over the paddies in the field. The faraway gables reflected dim shades of light towards the horizon yet was shadowed by the bright daylight.
To be more precise, this was a confusing scene, as we saw neither dedicated farmers nor skilled gardeners. There were only the melodies of accordion from the abandoned vineyard and the depressing creaking sounds of the castle's windows. In a nutsh.e.l.l, there was not a single human being to be seen. Some hid in the fortress, waiting for rescue or mercy by the n.o.bles, while others left their home to pursue a better life like how they pictured in their imaginations.
There was no need to count the scars brought by the war as they were innumerable.
What good did the war do to the South? Was it fields habituated by guinea pigs or meadows teeming with sparrows? Was it the fire next to the sunset or the corpses hidden in the deep woods?
If there was no one who could answer the questions, I shall ask the suffering children! Children were the most honest! Even if a single miserable gaze, children would be able to express to you the pain brought by the war.
"Hey! What are you doing here?" in front of two banyan trees, a knight stopped a tanned blonde child.
"What's wrong? Can't he speak?" another knight went forward and sized up the church behind the banyan trees with caution. Although the church's roofs had been burnt off, it was possible to still have remnants of unwanted enemies. If not, where did the child come from in the middle of nowhere?
"Fine! Just take a look at him!" the first knight finally said in defeat.
A giant shadow towered over the weak child. The boy looked at the soldier before him in confusion and then spotted his healthy horse. It simply looked--- delicious!
The knight tore open the boy's shirt and found out that he was littered with countless tiny scars. When a small knife fell into his line of sight, the knight was nervous. They all had the experiences of fighting against Southern bandits and knew that even kids were capable of injecting poison into the water wells of the Guard's military camp.
"What do you use it for?" the knight gripped the knife and waved it in front of the boy. He was not sure if the kid was mute.
Sensing the towering soldier's threat, the boy finally spoke, "To… deal with wild dogs!"
"He's just defending himself against the wild dogs," the other knight was losing his patience, "just return the boy his knife, or are you seriously afraid that he'll ambush us with that pathetic thing?"
Ignoring his partner's remarks, the knight continued sizing up the little boy. To be honest, he was a pretty child, just too thin compared to other kids of his age.
"Rather than a knife, I think he needs food!" the knight turned towards his partner to ask for his opinion.
"Fine! Do as you like! Give him this, it's time for us to return!" the knight who was still riding on his horse threw him a pack of dry food. He may seem annoyed but the generous portion of the dry food had revealed his sympathy for the boy. There had been an ancient saying of t.i.tan that children who had not starved in their early ages were only of n.o.ble origins. Therefore, n.o.body would want to trouble a weak little kid.
The little boy received the bag of dry food skeptically and opened it with clean moves.
"Woah!" the boy seemed to forget to thank his donor and ran back to the church in a blink of an eye. The two knights' demeanor turned serious, there really were people hiding in the church.
The boy emerged from the church soon later with the empty bag. After a few steps, he froze. Since when did the scene change? How did two knights turn into so many more? Could it be that… these people knew magic?
The boy stared at the gathering of knights in fear and felt chills crawling up his spine. Even with their features covered by the black clothes, anyone could see the rage and fire in their eyes! The child only intended to return the grain bag to his donor, but now he could no longer differentiate them from the other armored men.
A giant black horse stopped in front of the child. He was not sure if the thing was consumable but he only saw its nostrils and eyes, emitting an aura he thought only capable by beasts. The boy instantly lowered his gaze, but at that moment he noticed its red hoofs!
Monsters! This was no doubt a monster! Terrified, the child scrambled back and tripped himself on the church's stairs, and fell to the ground on his b.u.t.t.
Noticing the child's fear, Oscar cursed internally, he absolutely did not ride a horse to scare people away!
"Little guy! I 've heard that you need help!" the young Marshal of the Guards leaped off his horse and blocked the intimidating Oslu from the child's line of sight.
By then, the Special Combat soldiers had already secured the perimeters of the church and positioned themselves for a strike.
"Here… here!" after confirming that the round-faced man was no doubt a human being, the little boy gathered his courage and handed over the grain bag to the weird man.
"Whose is this?" Oscar looked at the grain bag.
"It's mine, Marshal!"
Oscar hurled the bag back to the knight who stepped out, "You've done a good deed! When it's time for dinner, come to my tent and we'll have a drink."
"Marshal… actually… it's my partner's!" embarra.s.sed, the knight pushed his comrade forward. It had been all suggested by the comrade.
Oscar observed the wordless warrior and grinned, "Two drinks then!"
The boy seemed to be enlightened, he was not clear what a 'Marshal' truly meant, but he had heard stories of 'Marshals' from the adults, they were heroes!
"Umm… Marshal! Can I go now?"
"Tell me, are you here alone?"
The boy unconsciously glimpsed at the surrounding knights and shook his head.
Oscar chuckled and took out a packet of chocolate candy from his pocket. But to ensure that the sensitive leopard would leap out from nowhere, he surveyed his surroundings before opening the packet. If that were to happen, the child would be scared s.h.i.tless and all the fun would be ruined.
"Little guy! Tell me! Are those people inside your parents? What do they do?"
The boy did not know the contents of the Marshal's palm, but his sharp senses helped him identified the addicting smell… ugh… it seemed that he himself was not sure what was the smell either.
"You tell me and these will be yours!" Oscar proceeded to shake the bag of candies.
The boy's eyes steeled and appeared to have made up his mind. Under the antic.i.p.ating gaze of the 'Marshal', he shook his head.
"There's nothing inside!"
Oscar's demeanor changed instantly. He looked at his knights, they had begun to move! Within a split second, horse hoofs sounded on the church's floor. Three disheveled crying children scurried out of the door and toward the boy. At this moment, the boy was no longer the weak and timid kid he was previously. He pulled out the knife from his waist and pointed it at the approaching soldiers.
"Marshal, there's nothing left inside!" a knight reported accurately to the stunned Prince.
Oscar scrutinized the children. They were a boy and three girls, no! No! It should be two boys, two girls! Doesn't look like it either! Confirmation was impossible as the children were all in states of malnutrition and looked terrible! The only thing he could be sure of was the fact that the boy with the knife was the eldest.
"s.p.a.ce out! All of you, s.p.a.ce out! You've terrified the kids!" His Highness Prince suddenly shouted. His knights scrambled to move away except for the two knights who had the first contact with the kids, they could not risk leaving the Prince unguarded.
Oscar took his helmet off. He may not be handsome but he was not far from being friendly.
"Hey, kid, it's only us that's left! Now tell me, are you attempting to protect your sisters?" Oscar tested his waters by approaching the kid in small steps.
"Don't come near us!" the boy straightened his knife again, rage and desperation firing from his eyes.
"Look, over there!" said Oscar with a flick of his fingers. The boy fell into his trap and his knife had been s.n.a.t.c.hed away by the cunning man.
"Okay! Now we can talk nicely!" Oscar stuck the knife onto the door of the church with the knife end vibrating. His sudden action calmed the children.
"I swear to the G.o.d of Light! If O'Neil Andrew Morisette happens to hurt these kids, his soul shall be thrown into the depths of h.e.l.l, forever suffering and getting tortured by the demons."
The little boy glanced at the half-destroyed statue of the church and glanced back at the man who swore his oath. Slowly, he relaxed himself and his hostility reduced further when he saw the empty grain bag dangling at the knight's waist.
"Okay! Are they all your sisters?"
"What are their names? How old are they?" Oscar attempted to tease the youngest girl but to no avail as the young boy, not even as tall as the stairs, swatted his hand away.
"Isa is seven years old, Bay is six, while little Helen is only three."
The little boy clenched his teeth, "They were kidnapped by you people!"
"Us?" Oscar's eyes widened in disbelief.
"The men bearing insignias said that they were bandits!"
Oscar felt that he could no longer continue the conversation, he had to change the topic.
"There's no one else here. Why do you still reject people's a.s.sistance?"
At this point, the boy clenched his teeth even harder.
"Big sister took a pack of dry food from a stranger and never came back!"
Oscar was puzzled while the knight next to him growled,
"Those d.a.m.ned human traffickers! Kidnapping girls in the South, we've seen much of those in the past! Our Brigade Commander once ended the lives of several traffickers himself!"
The boy nodded and painfully agreed, "That's why I hide my sisters in the church, anyone who bullies them will be sent to h.e.l.l by the G.o.ds, if not by me!"
Oscar's spirits deflated and thought that his Southern strategies required some adjustments. Nevertheless, it was time to show him the candies. The Guard's Marshal moved the candy to the center of his palm, "Come, my brave boy! You deserve this!"
The kids were hesitating, they were struggling internally! That much was obvious to Oscar, but still, he lost his patience and stuffed the candy into the boy's hand.
The boy opened his fist delightfully. He had no idea what the thing was but it looked simply delicious!
The little kid finally gathered his guts and swallowed the chocolate candy, he even had his eyes shut!
"Woah!" the boy's joyful exclamation pleased Oscar and his knights.
"Helen! Helen! Have a taste!" the boy quickly spit out the candy and gave it to his youngest sister, "Hurry up Helen! Hurry!" he felt that the candy was melting fast.
"Wow!" little Helen expressed her happiness in the same manner as her brother. The two other girls could only swallow their saliva. They looked at their sister and fixed their gaze on the weird man's hand.
"These are yours!" Oscar distributed the candies to the children so each now had a bulging mouth.
"What's this taste?" little Helen asked her brother while blinking her eyes innocently.
"I don't know, Helen!"
Oscar was once again overwhelmed by disbelief. What did he mean by 'don't know'?
"Is it sweet? This is a candy, a chocolate candy!" Oscar tried his best to call upon the kids' memories.
"Sweet?" little Helen's face was blank. "Brother! Do you know what is sweet?"
The boy shook his head, "I'm sorry little sister, it's my first time hearing the word as well!"
Oscar was stunned until the chewing sounds of candy brought him back to reality. He had understood, these kids who were born in times of war had no knowledge of the existence of candies, more so the alluring flavor of sweetness!
The sweetness had the children giggling together. Looking at their untainted smiles, the young Marshal felt something cold on his face.
Oscar extended his hand and came into contact with a drop of tear!
His Imperial Highness Prince lost his cool and started shouting, "Oh my G.o.d of Light! What's this?"
Tears! Too far! Too foreign! Since when had O'Neil Andrew Morisette shed tears? He had long forgotten the sensations of crying!
"Tears! Those are tears!" shocked, the young boy swatted away the weird man's hand, "I used to cry a lot when I was small too, so did my sisters, but we've stopped crying after we grew up! Mister, you won't be having this after you grow up too! Daddy told me that a true man doesn't have any tears!"
Oscar clenched his fists, "That's right! Your father is right! What's his name?"
"Smith! The best blacksmith we have here! So will I be in the future!"
Oscar nodded in acknowledgment, as his tears soon evaporated from his palm.
The Special Combat troops made their way to the church one after another. Having heard the Marshal's encounter at the small church, the warriors all gave sc.r.a.ps of food to the children while some a few Ti and the others several pieces of clothes. Soon enough, the resources of the Guards in front of the children were piling into a small hill!
Just as the knight who had first discovered the boy was about to leave, he gave the boy a flying knife with no hand guard.
"Protect your sisters with the flying knife! Be a true man!" the knight caressed the boy's head lovingly.
The boy was intrigued and started playing with the Special Combat warrior's flying knife. He thanked the G.o.d of Light in his heart, all his prayers had not been in vain! Today, he met a …no! He met many kind people! In the end, the boy deeply bowed to mister knight.
"Thank you, mister, and thank you too, mister Marshal for giving me one Golden Ti!"
The little boy giggled while proudly showing off the sparkling coin. It seemed that he really was illiterate because that was no normal coin. To be more precise, that was not even a Golden Ti, but a commemoratory coin of the one-year-old birthday of the Andrew family's fourth son which Marshal O'Neil had been treasuring.
"Keep it nicely!" the knight got onto his horse, "But don't let it be seen by anyone else, what you've gotten is an honorary gift from a mighty Commander!"
As the knights were leaving, the boy raised his flying knife on impulse and shouted at the heavens,
"Tell mister Marshal that I'll fulfill my promise and that I'll find him with the golden coin once my height reaches the doork.n.o.b… and! Don't forget to tell him! My name is Liszt."
The knight vanished! Liszt opened up his palms and kissed the golden coin which sparkled under the sun.
Until his height reaches the doork.n.o.b? Liszt stared at the wooden door of the church blankly, "Woah! So tall!" Once he had a better grasp of the height, the young boy mumbled, "And when will that be?" The boy now had his gaze fixed on the knife stuck on the doork.n.o.b, he recalled mister Marshal's action and the flying knife he received from another mister.
The boy smiled confidently, it did not matter even if he would not grow as tall as the doork.n.o.b, he had already found his way to protect his sisters!
Years later, though n.o.body knew exactly how much time had pa.s.sed, little Liszt was still shorter than the doork.n.o.b! Neither did he become a skilled blacksmith like his father! But then, rumors of a legend had been spreading in t.i.tan Empire.
That a young man with exceptional skills of a flying knife had helped lots of the poor! Rumors had it that during his travels, the World's Number 1 Ranger had lifted many people out of their adversities. He would give each a bag of candies and one Golden Ti to imply that a happy future awaits the kind and the poor. This ranger had even rescued an Emperor and married his daughter, the most beautiful Andrew princess among the royalties!
But the real legend was never the ranger's travels, but his knife! His flying knife! Against sticky conspiracies, ambushes by a.s.sa.s.sins, pursuits by the Judicial Police and the never-ending challenges! Until the end of the legend, no one had witnessed how he actually flung his knife! In the eras trampled by gunfire, his flying knife was the only weapon which was faster than bullets. But it was said that his knife had never been used to kill, it was only to help the people in trouble.
The Southern people even built a church for the poor to keep his stories alive. Among the touching stories, people would call him Liszt of the Flying Knife!
But of course… this was a story for a different time!
When night fell, the future t.i.tan's Number 1 Ranger had fallen asleep on the gra.s.s mats with his lips curling upwards, his hand never leaving the flying knife and the gold coin on his chest. It seemed… that he was dreaming of world domination!
"Sorry! I can't sleep!" O'Neil Andrew Morisette stepped inside the temporary tent, his high-ranked colleagues and fellow men had been waiting for him.
Although they were all sleepy-eyed, there were no complaints at all when they faced the frowning Prince. The men picked themselves up and straightened their bodies.
"You never know until you've seen it! I've just discovered how absurd the Southern strategies we've developed in Dulin were!" Oscar hurled the thick files onto the round wooden table. The table was foldable it shook under the Prince's strength.
The soldiers exchanged glances, but n.o.body said a word.
As the Chief of Staff of the Southern army group, it was time for General Dario Gonzalez to speak his mind. Although it was the Marshal sitting atop the main seat, the Southern strategies were fixed plans that if changed, would put the army group in an awkward position.
"Your Imperial Highness…"
"It's 'Marshal'!" Oscar interrupted the old General, he could guess what he was trying to say.
"Yes, Marshal!" the old General looked defeated, he never imagined for the young man to be so blunt. "I… I think that our Southern strategies are definitely in the right direction if we…"
Oscar waved. His att.i.tude was proving to be difficult for Dario to continue speaking.
"I admit that the overall direction of the Southern strategies is perfect, they are a combination of wisdom from each and every one of you here. However, there's one point we've overlooked. Our current plans are just like the previous operations of the Guards which were restricted to a limited place and time to cease the bandits' expansion. The bandits will run when they can't beat us, but after we've retreated, they'll return again!"
"Marshal's concerns are justifiable!" General Tantalus nodded in agreement. "This is how the bandits work, and as they've been fighting guerrilla wars for six to seven years, no one can surpa.s.s them in the art of escaping! Our operations may kill a great number of enemies, but it can't annihilate the armed bandits once and for all."
This time, even the old General Dario was speechless. The truth was that the Southern army had surrounded the hills for two years, cleared the area for three, and killed for one! All possible measures had been employed, but once again the bandits came and went.
"Well then … what is the root cause of the failure to annihilate the armed bandits?" Oscar knocked his knuckles against the table. He swept his eyes across his men with a stern gaze only possible for a Marshal.
"Hadn't everyone witnessed it?" voiced Baron Messier as he understood the Prince's thoughts, "All this while, we've been focusing on the idea of a strong military force for the Southern attack. But the truth is, we are wrong! What the Five Provinces of the South need right now is not the blades and arrows of the Guards, but the reestablishment of a sustainable societal system!"
The soldier nodded in unison as their thoughts went to the pitiable children. How could they not know the flavor of sweetness? They would not believe it had they not witness the heart-breaking scene themselves.
"Which is why I think... that our plans should be put on hold!" all the soldiers frowned upon Oscar's words. They all opined that the Marshal was making his decision out of rashness, or rather… emotional conflicts.
Oscar surveyed his men's expressions. Although he knew what his men were thinking, he did not bother reconsidering as he believed that he'd made the right decision. The young Marshal started reflecting from the time he was first put in charge of the Southern attack, he had been so confident of his capabilities and had believed that he would be greatly adored by the Five Provinces as long as he expanded his troops in the South to annihilate the bandits. From there, he would pressure the Empire into granting him direct control of the South. In reality, things were never the case!
Any method of ruling would have its own foundation. In Morisette's case, where did its foundations lie? They were the unwavering support of the n.o.bles from all over the Empire, and the loyalty of the people strengthened by the backbones of religion since 400 hundred years! What about me? Oscar tried to organize his thoughts. How can I get my hands on the power I desire?
Even if the armed bandits ceased to expand their influence, would there be any changes to the lives of the Southern n.o.bles? No! They have been living within the solid walls of castles under the heavy protection of the military. The eras of forceful offenses have long pa.s.sed, there was nothing which could harm the Southern n.o.bles anymore! Which is why… to put any hopes on the good-for-nothing n.o.bles simply wouldn't work!
If that's the case … what else was there in the South to be used to my advantage? Businessmen? The recent uprising of the lower n.o.bles? Their living conditions must be terrible! Was it possible to obtain their support by influencing the government? Oscar could say for sure that it was absolutely possible. But the businessmen and new n.o.bles were experts in the art of discretion, they were lower than the nothing-for-good n.o.bles and would not state their stand before seeing practical benefits.
What else… what else was there?
Oscar was trapped in his thoughts. He seemed to have encountered an impossible question, but this question would only fall on the top n.o.bles like him. Top n.o.bles' ways of thinking were all the same, they would only think from the perspective of their personal interests. In some occasions where some of them had happened to expand their line of thoughts out of the framework, they had been isolated.
In fact, the question had been complicated by the young Marshal! Regardless of the ranking changes of the n.o.bles and businessmen, there was only one aspect to focus on--- how to get the most support!
Now, what did 'the most support' mean? Think of how the Rebel Army persisted their resistance! They were all sons of civilians, brothers of hunters, members of the handicraft industry, businessmen's offspring advocating for freedom, and the new n.o.bles who saw through the ugly natures of the ruling cla.s.s! It was exactly because they had secured the most extensive support from all ranks of the South's Five Provinces that they were capable of dealing with the Guards for years without their manpower being depleted.
Now, think of the innocent looks of children, soon to be destroyed by the harshness of reality! That young boy had picked up a knife at his age! How would his future turn out to be? Without his parents' care and a teacher's nurturing, he would eventually walk a twisted path just like all the other suffering children! Maybe he would grow into a warrior of the Rebel Army, or develop into an inhumane bandit and murderer! Regardless of the outcome, his life had been destined to be destroyed before it had even begun!
"I got it! I got it!" Oscar suddenly jumped from his seat, his thoughts had ventured into a whole new world! He hopped around in joy! At that moment, he felt as if he was standing atop the peaks of Alps, readying himself for the new day upon sunrise!
The Prince stopped his movements, picked up the lonely doc.u.ment of Southern strategies and tore it into pieces.
"This is just as I've said! Full of bulls.h.i.t!"
The soldiers were glancing back and forth between one another, what was wrong with the Marshal? Was he crazy?
Standing by the door, the Confidential Secretary of the Military Intelligence Bureau responded.
"Remember my orders."
"From the next day onward, the Southern Branch of the Military Intelligence Bureau shall readjust its focus! First of all, have the troops retreat from the hills and a.s.sign only part of our elite operatives to the key and sensitive locations. Meanwhile, carry on with the investigative processes regarding the underground activities of the armed bandits. Next, with the basic groups as units, a.s.sign them to every single prison and labor camp which are under the jurisdiction of the military and the Ministry of Justice of Five Provinces, sort out any false cases and open a file for each prisoner for the convenience of supervision and pursuit, if any. Last but not least, complete the first wave of amnesty deployment by my birthday, which is 9th November…"
"Your Highness!" the Southern army's Chief of Staff was losing his cool. Was the guy even aware of what he's doing? What rights did he have to defy the battle strategies authorized by the King and the Imperial army?
"Are you kidding me? I'm not here to play some child games with you…"
"Call me Marshal!" without warning, Oscar scolded the old General sternly, "Before a Marshal finishes, you have no rights to make any noise! But of course, as you've seen…"
Oscar pointed at the torn paper pieces, "The Southern strategies are no more! Your responsibilities in this tent have come to an end! Any more questions?"
General Dario Gonzalez straightened his uniform. Oscar may be the Marshal but the General had not aged to the point where he could simply tolerate rude behaviors from a young man.
"If that's the case… I shall excuse myself!" the General saluted the Marshal and walked away. It did not seem that he will be forgetting the events that had just occurred anytime soon.
The tent fell into absolute silence, as the departure of the Chief of Staff had signified the dissolution of the fixed plans. However, no other soldier dared to object the Marshal's new orders.
"Have I done anything wrong?" Oscar turned to his subordinates. "You are all my most trusted men, speak your minds!"
Major General Tantalus coughed. As the Marshal's Chief of Staff, he would have to take up some blame.
"I thought you still have some things to say?"
Oscar looked at his old friend and smiled, "I still have things left to say, but as you can see, that old man Dario was rushing to retire, I think he's balding soon!"
The soldiers laughed aloud. The old General definitely had his dignity to preserve but it was inappropriate to argue with the Marshal upfront, although they had to admit there were times that the Marshal was being absurd.
"From what I can see, the investigation of the Southern prisons and labor camps mustn't be delayed," Oscar pointed at the door, "The n.o.bles' territories are guarded by the Guards and mercenaries and they have no need to worry about their lives, but it's different with the civilians! Along our way, how many abandoned homelands have we come across? How many refugee camps have we encountered? All we've seen was nothing more than just a tiny portion of what used to be the Nation of Fields!"
"We must free our people of the locks we've imposed on them!" Oscar knocked on the table with greater force. "The usual habits of the Ministry of Justice and the Southern army's complete annihilation must be changed! The barren lands have caused the quality of lives to fall, leading to the cultivation of crimes, and from there on bandits will be roaming about, destabilizing the political scenes, causing us, the Imperial army which craves for stability, to blindly launch our attacks, leading again to destroying the already barren lands! The land is our foundation, and without plantations and produces, it all leads to the birth of crimes!"
Oscar calmed himself and sat down, "I've just thought of this, do you understand? We've fallen into a never-ending cycle! Why is it that the Southern army still fails to annihilate the armed bandits even after seven years? It's because our military operations are part of the ugly cycle as well."
"Do you mean that we have to destroy the roots of the hideous cycle?" asked Major General Tantalus while seriously considering the prospect.
"Yes! Absolutely correct!" never had Oscar been this elated. "What do the Southern people hope to get? In other words… what do they wish for after the seven-years war? A piece of land for domestic productions and a simple house for shelter! Therefore, we must first break the prison walls and release some of the human resources! At the same time, there's another task of higher importance! Although the Southern n.o.bles have lost some of their lands in the war, I'm aware that they've actually gotten more lands due to compensation from the Empire and the land left by the bandits after their move into the valleys! So, we'll need the Imperial Tax Bureau to inspect the current level of land resources of the South's Five Provinces and to define the attribution of each land! Only then we can ensure that the newly released labors start anew, and not resume their old messy ways!"
"This… This will be a long-term process!" Baron Messier De Quixote sized up the Prince who was in high spirits, "Furthermore, the lands are the most valued a.s.sets are the Southern n.o.bles and they won't tolerate the redistribution of their lands. You will have tons of trouble!"
"The t.i.tan Codex!" Oscar abruptly pointed toward to sky. "Don't ever forget, my Military Intelligence Bureau Chief, we have solid legal references. Is the clause forbidding the concurrent ownership of a large number of lands fake? Kings, Lords, Dukes, Barons, Counts, Discounts! Each status has their supposed land attribution, and each land must have its boundaries! The hard part doesn't lie in the investigation, but in the process of having the n.o.bles willingly surrender their illegal lands!"
All of a sudden, Oscar chuckled coldly, "If His Majesty The Emperor commands to regain all lands and then redistribute them according to the Codex, do you really think there's any excuse for the n.o.bles to object?"
Enlightened by the Marshal's words, Messier nodded in agreement, "You are right! There's no one better suited to this role other than Alfa III His Majesty, there's nothing the Southern n.o.bles can do! But will the Emperor move this boulder? Will he risk infuriating the n.o.bles?"
Oscar nodded affirmingly, "He will consider, but you can never satisfy every party! In the South, there are landlords nearing bankruptcy while the other milking profits, we are bound to satisfy one and offend another! Since when had the land redistributions not been like this? Furthermore, three out of the five provinces in the south were the warzones in the year 791, while the other two had recovered faster after the elimination of the Rebel Army, which means, we have at least three provinces on our side, it's already the majority!"
"Don't worry!" said Oscar while patting the Military Intelligence Bureau Chief on his shoulder. "I will definitely persuade His Majesty The Emperor! Even if it means another trip to Dulin!"
"What … what about us?" Oscar's Chief of Staff inquired innocently. He exchanged glances with the Special Combat Brigade Commander. "There're no more plans for attack, is there? What are we going to do?"
Oscar surveyed the men, the majority being Imperial soldiers.
"As long as I'm the Marshal, you guys won't be free either! Which location is most affected by the armed bandits?"
Lieutenant General Luke Citel flipped open the map, thank G.o.d! He still had value for the Marshal! The special combat officer seemed to be scared of the Marshal's random tempers and swiftly pinpointed the location.
"Beya Valley and the Northern sections of Donsur Hill of the Weslevia Province, under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Guards' Eighth Region."
"We shall head there!" Oscar marked down the spot.
"What … what do you mean?" Luke Citel was confused.
Oscar laughed softly, "Hehe! We can't leave the bandits there, these people have the Guards' blood on them and wouldn't be pardoned even by G.o.d of Light!"
Mad Tatan nodded in agreement, "Of course! They will pay for it! Also, as His Highness has said, as long as the roots of the cycle are eliminated and the Five Provinces recover their productivity and economic levels, I believe that the bandits will break down internally!"
Oscar's thoughts went to the faraway Damorga and gave a shy smile.
Overwhelmed with nostalgia, the Marshal sighed, "You wouldn't have forgotten, have you? I've been imprisoned for ten years! n.o.body would dare to mess with the t.i.tan Codex except for those greedy n.o.bles, and most of the poor civilians that started committing crimes were forced by their situations."
Messier nodded. He had served as the Special Operations Officer in Rylie Province, and thus had a certain level of understanding regarding the Southern people.
"The people in the South are actually not bad, they love music, are pa.s.sionate and patriotic! If it wasn't for someone's intentional provocation, the 791 Riot wouldn't have been that aggressive either!"
Oscar's demeanor turned cold, he had not forgotten the b.a.s.t.a.r.d who plotted against him with Alan! If he had guessed correctly, the conspiracy in 791 invoked by Alan against Italia had been plotted together with the mastermind of the riot. It was just that Alan had been stabbed by his partner at the end.
"Go!" the Marshal commanded softly, "Before we enter the terrains, we must figure out the bandits' true ident.i.ties, their gathering spots, their military and weaponry a.s.sembly and the sponsors of their Faran and Italia bases. I must know every single one of these details, if not, we'll still be tackling blindly. We can only emerge victorious after we've sniffed out the mastermind!"
"Eh? It's day?" the Brigadier General of the artillery soldiers commented.
Puzzled, Oscar turned his head. The rays of dawn had colored the curtains gold.
Discount Tove Van Sukhoi wiped off the saliva from the corners of his mouth and stretched his body. He noticed the Marshal walking toward him and swiftly put his arms back down.
"You slept well, I see!" Oscar stared at the Brigadier General who had never spoken a word throughout the entire emergency meeting.
Torry exclaimed, "Sorry! Did I snore?"
Oscar rolled his eyes, "I'm so lucky that you've slept soundlessly!"
Torry patted his chest in relief, "Oh … that's good! That's good!"
"You!" Oscar grabbed Discount Sukhoi's collar violently and pulled him from his seat, "Let's go out to the sun! We all need to stay focused!"
The troop of officers followed the Prince out the tent. The Prince's hair was showered with golden sunlight, looking just like the chosen one blessed by the G.o.ds! They might still have doubts regarding the Marshal's plans or confused by his sudden changes in behavior, but all these could do nothing to alter one fact. As the sun rose from the East, O'Neil Andrew Morisette had become a perfect politician! When he proposed to implement his citizen-friendly policies, he had already equipped himself with strong leadership spirits! The road ahead would surely lead him to the highest pinnacle of the world!
Liszt woke up early in the morning. Once he sounded the church's clock, the children nearby rushed toward him, excited by the smoke rising from the church.
The future t.i.tan's Number One Ranger cooked the grains in a simple manner and shared it with the poor kids.
Liszt required the children who have gotten their breakfast to chant a person's name like how they would praise G.o.d. However, the kids had already been distracted by the smell of potato cakes and porridge. Nevertheless, the name had long been ingrained in the young hearts of the children.
"Come! After me!" Liszt lifted up a kid who still could not speak clearly, "Thank you … O"Neil … Andrew … Morisette!"
"Thank you …O … Andrew … Shet!"
"Not Shet! That means p.o.o.p! Oh my G.o.d! Do you even know what you're saying?" Liszt growled in annoyance at the innocent child.
And that was how the "O'Neil's Breakfast", which meant being kind without asking for a return, had become a proverb spread among the daily lives in t.i.tan.