Chapter 67: End of the Civil War (3)

As the king and the nobles were trembling in fear of the Southern Army, the common people of the capital were also trembling. But they weren’t trembling from fear; it was from anger.

“How could he do this?”

“Exactly! How could he treat the hero like this?”

“If I was Count Forrest or Her Highness Princess Leila, it wouldn’t be an armed demonstration. I’d lead the army and…”

“Hey… watch your mouth.”

They were all angry because of a rumor that had been spreading amongst the commoners of the capital. That rumor said the reason the Southern Army was camping outside the capital was because King August planned to behead Milton Forrest and detain Princess Leila once they entered. It’s unknown how that rumor spread, but it spread so quickly in such a short period of time, that unless they were deaf and blind, everyone in the capital had heard it.

The rumors were varied…

The current king wanted to eliminate the hero, Milton Forrest, because he was insane with jealousy.

An assassin sent by the king had already attacked Count Forrest and Princess Leila once.

The reason Princess Leila had to hide her own identity for seven years was to hide from the king’s influence.

King August himself was behind the deaths of Princess Leila’s mother, Queen Irene, and her brother, Prince Gravion. 

Similar rumors were spread quickly.

The most important thing when making up a rumor was truthfulness, but, it didn’t have to be true. ‘There’s a chance that it’s possible.’ All a rumor needs to spread quickly is to have a level of credibility. And that’s exactly what Princess Leila was aiming for.

While the Southern Army was protesting, Princess Leila had used the people she had previously planted in the capital to spread rumors that King August was jealous and was trying to kill Count Forrest and Princess Leila. In a situation where the king had already lost the people’s heart due to the civil war, those rumors spread instantly. People believed it was indeed possible that an incompetent king who had ruined the country like this was capable of such things and the rumors were fleshed out and spread naturally. In the end, the king was pressured from the inside by the commoners who were on Princess Leila’s side, and from the armed demonstration on the outside. 

Unable to withstand the pressure, some of the more courageous nobles began to make their move. They decided to risk their lives and leave the capital to try and persuade Count Milton Forrest. They were determined to persuade him in order to save their country, whatever the cost may be. But they weren’t able to meet him.

“I’m sorry, but the wounds from the war have reopened, so Count Forrest must rest.”

The one who greeted the nobles was Princess Leila. Of course, Milton hadn’t actually been injured. But, if Milton’s role was to defeat the enemy on the battlefield, then her role was to handle the political side. Seeing the terrified nobles, Princess Leila thought to herself.

‘Their courage to come out here is admirable, but they’re simple. They’ll be easy to deal with.’

She gave them a gentle smile.

“I’ll deliver your message to the Count, so could you tell me what you came here for?”

With her beautiful smile and gentle voice, Princess Leila looked benevolent in the nobles’ eyes. 

Seeing her looking at them expectantly, the nobles told her their reason.

“Your Highness, please disband the Southern Army.”

“Yes, Your Highness. The war is over but the Southern Army is stationed outside the capital. The people are greatly anxious.”

“That’s right, Your Highness.” 

“If he isn’t careful, he might be seen as having rebellious designs, Your Highness.”

Princess Leila’s face saddened.

“As I guess…”

Slyly, she faked a regretful expression.  

“Are the people very anxious?”

The nobles wholeheartedly nodded their heads.

“Yes, Your Highness. They’re worried that this may lead to a revolt.”

“Please disband the Southern Army, Your Highness.”

Princess Leila let out a deep sigh. 

“I see. But…”

As though troubled, she paused before continuing to speak.

“I’ve tried to ask the Count multiple times to disband the army, but it was useless.”

Princess Leila had never asked him.

“Your Highness?”

“Do you mean to say that the Count never pledged his loyalty to you, Your Highness?”

“Are you saying that the Count is going against your will, Your Highness?”

But there’s no way the nobles would know the true story.

Princess Leila looked at them calmly yet desolate.

“In order to solve the country’s problems, I asked Count Forrest for help, but he wasn’t easily persuaded. So I put aside my authority to pay the price in order to turn him into a friend.”

“Paid the price? What do you mean, Your Highness?”

“That is…”

Princess Leila trailed off and looked away as if it was difficult to say.  She gently wrapped her arms around herself.

‘Ah?’

‘No way… Count Forrest?’

‘Is that even possible? But if it’s a barbaric count of the South…’

‘And with Princess Leila’s beauty, there’s no way a man wouldn’t want her.’

Grimly looking at the nobles whose faces clearly showed what they were thinking, Princess Leila spoke. 

“I have no regrets. If I could save my country when it’s in crisis, how could I regret it?”

“Princess…”

“How could you…”

Princess Leila had created for herself an image of someone dedicated and willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her country.

‘How could there be such a person…’

‘If you compare her to the First Prince or the Second Prince… no, even the current King can’t compare to her.’

Although the nobles who had come out had zero talent for political battles and were far away from the center of power, they were still nobles who worked for the country. That’s why in this current dangerous situation, they had risked their lives and came out to see the Southern Army instead of running away. And Princess Leila made those nobles her followers with a little trickery and acting. 

“While I am absolutely his liege, but in a sense, I’m also part of… um, how should I say it… a part of him as well.”

Listening to Princess Leila’s words, it seemed as though the two had committed themselves to each other. 

“So that’s why I can’t unconditionally order him.”

The nobles sighed deeply.

‘So… that’s why.’

‘By raising the Princess to power, is he planning to simultaneously grasp the country’s power as the husband?’

‘Milton Forrest. He’s a man with tremendous ambition.’

Milton was increasingly misunderstood by the nobles. The ambitious Count Forrest and the dedicated Princess Leila who had been forced to give herself to the count. That was basically the image created. If Milton knew this, he would spit up blood from the unfairness and the ridiculousness.

Princess Leila deeply bowed her head at the nobles. 

“Although I have little influence, I’ll try my best to convince Count Forrest. So, please… do your best to console the people’s unrest.”

Seeing the princess bowing her head and begging them, the nobles were rather embarrassed.

“Your Highness, please don’t do that.”

“You have the blood of the royal family, please don’t bow your head so easily, Your Highness.”

“He’s right, Your Highness.”

The nobles were deeply embarrassed.

Princess Leila, who had saved this country by giving up her body, bowing her head at them?

This shouldn’t happen. They decided they should somehow help this devoted and wonderful princess. One of them spoke up.

“What can we do to help you, Your Highness?”

“Tell…no, please command us, Your Highness.”

“We’ll do everything we can to help, Your Highness.”

They became Princess Leila’s loyalists after meeting her for less than ten minutes…

Rather, it might be better to call them followers at this point, although they may not realize it themselves.

“Thank you. It will be very beneficial to me if you could all help.”

Princess Leila’s words were calm, but the meaning behind those words was that she was accepting their help. She continued her speech smoothly.

“In order to persuade the Count, I need a reason. For example, it would be nice to tell him how much the capital appreciates his achievements.”

The nobles immediately understood what the Princess was getting at.

“You mean the Ceremony of Triumphant Return. I’ve heard there were a few nobles who were insisting on it, Your Highness.”

She nodded her head.

“I think the Count heard that His Majesty, the King, refused to hold the Ceremony. Perhaps that’s why he’s engaging in this psychological warfare…”

“Understood. We’ll try our best once we return to the Capital.”

“I’ll be waiting for good news.”

The nobles who had come to ask for the Southern Army to be disbanded, instead, went back to do as Princess Leila had requested. 

And once they returned…

“You’ve certainly made me into a villain.”

Milton, who had been hiding his presence, appeared behind Princess Leila.

“Oh my, you were here, Count Forrest?”

Princess Leila pretended not to have known he was there, but Milton wasn’t convinced.

‘There’s no way this scheming person didn’t know I was here.’

As though chewing on a thought, Milton spoke to the princess.

“Is it okay to let them misunderstand like this?”

“Huh? About what?”

“Doesn’t it seem like you and I are getting married?”

“So, what’s the problem?”

Milton could only sigh at her question.

“Is there anyone who would stop our marriage?”

“You might as well marry me for real. Wouldn’t we be good political partners?”

Milton flinched but then started to laugh.

“Marry the princess? Please, have some mercy on me.”

This time, it was Princess Leila who flinched.

“I’m not boasting, but with my qualifications, wouldn’t most men want to be with me?”

Milton shook his head. 

“Princess. Men look for beauty in their lovers, but personality in a wife.”

“Ohh…? Is that so?”

“Yes. All men want a wife who’s as gentle as a lamb and with a kind and warm personality. But Princess, you…”

After looking up and down at her, Milton just shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

“Hooo.”

For a moment, something snapped in Princess Leila’s head.

‘This jerk…’

With just one ‘hooo,’ he made her so angry…

Leila von Lester was a woman who could only be satisfied after returning at least ten times the amount of whatever she had received. In the first place, she had only spoken of marrying Milton half jokingly and half with the thought, ‘maybe it was possible.’ She had to eventually get married and the most important thing about marriage wasn’t emotions but political qualifications. And at this point, Milton Forrest was a good match for a political marriage. 

But when he laughed at her and her personality, a strange desire to win arose. But she wasn’t determined to win as a liege. No, she was determined to win as a woman. With that odd feeling inside her, Princess Leila approached Milton with a roguish smile and a seductive gaze.

“If that’s so…”

She smoothly placed her arms on Milton’s shoulders and licked her red lips.

Then whispered into Milton’s ear.

“Since personality is so important, Count Forrest, then no matter how much I tempt you, you’ll be fine.”

“That’s… not exactly…”

Milton was embarrassed to see Princess Leila approach him without hesitation. 

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