The next day, Leguna and Annelotte attended a court session with the king together. These meetings usually took place in the morning and the emperor dealt with the various issues his nation faced with his advisors there.
As the bureau head's assistant, Annelotte shouldn't have qualified to attend a meeting of that level. However, her status as the youngest consultant for the court magi association was different. Magic was held in high regard anywhere, so Hocke also allowed court magi to participate in any such sessions and put their word in.
"Are you nervous to attend your first council?" Leguna asked.
"I'm only going there to express my thoughts. What's there to be nervous about?" Annelotte's expression was calm and relaxed.
Leguna nodded with admiration. Sometimes, he really marveled at her mental fortitude. Even though she was attending the most important meeting in the empire, she saw it as no different than a tea party. He really didn't know whether she was that proud or just didn't care.
Leguna could still recall the first time he attended the council. He had to inform Larwin about the important matters happening across the continent over the past few days and his body and legs shook along with his voice. Had Arikos not helped him out from the side, he might've embarrassed himself then.
Yet, Annelotte was completely unfazed even while facing the most senior officials of the empire. Even when she met Larwin, the emperor, she didn't look any different. The only one capable of causing her any emotional turmoil was no doubt Leguna.
The thought of that made him feel rather proud. Hah, look at me, I can get Annie mad and cause her to beat me! Can you? Nope, none of you can! Hahaha!
Larwin didn't say much at the sight of Annelotte. He swept his gaze across the rest and said, "Since everyone is here, let us begin! Alfreid, have you figured out a solution for the crisis in Locksin?"
"Your Imperial Majesty, the land of Locksin is barren, and..."
Leguna listened to them drone on without saying a single word. He was only an 18-year-old youth. It was quite amazing for him to do the least required of him as the bureau head after being rushed to hold that position by Wayerliss. As for discussing national policy, that was far beyond his means.
As the officials sputtered on, Leguna had to admit that it was no easy task being emperor. From the things brought up during the council, he knew that Larwin was no doubt swarmed by all the work on a daily basis. The emperor might have even less time to rest than Leguna. He really didn't know how the hardworking king managed to stay so chubby.
Gosh, I wonder how long I'll have to stay here for.. The thought of days like these awaiting him in the future made him feel rather melancholic.
"Leguna," Larwin said with a smile, "General Manhattan wrote me a letter and said you played a huge part in the success with Seatide's occupation."
"Thank you for the praise, Your Imperial Majesty. Serving the empire is my duty, after all," he replied with his head bowed.
Larwin gave him a good look and said, "Apart from that, the general also brought up someone else. He's called Kurdak, and if I remember correctly, you were in a mercenary band with him, right? He was the leader of the band too."
"That's correct. commander Kurdak served as a mercenary with me for a number of years. To be frank, our bonds run really deep."
"So is that the reason you left everything in the bureau to go to Seatide to help him?" asked the chief tax collector passive aggressively. He had always looked down on Leguna and talked down on him during such councils. It seemed he was going about it as habit dictated.
"Lord Toros, you might've been too hasty in your words," Alfreid said, "Even though Sir Leguna went to help out after receiving Mister Kurdak's letter, I believe he had considered the whole picture before accepting the mission. The results of the successful mission are also beneficial to us. Seatide is an important base for our empire in the south and Leguna played a crucial role in its occupation. So, I believe he wasn't acting only because of his personal feelings."
Yeah, I went there solely because boss wrote me the letter. So what? thought Leguna with an internal eye-roll. "Lord Alfreid, your words are too kind. Even though I helped out in the operation, most of the heavy-lifting was done by General Manhattan. He has contributed far more than I have."
"Alright, retaking Seatide is indeed a joyous matter for the empire, but there's no rush in issuing the rewards yet," Larwin said, "What I want to know is your thoughts on Kurdak. General Manhattan recommended him to be promoted as division commander. I wonder what all of you think about it."
"Since the general values Kurdak so highly, I believe he must have distinguished himself in many ways. I have no objections against it," Alfreid expressed.
Since the premier already made himself heard, most of the other officials chimed in their agreement. Those who didn't kept their thoughts to themselves.
"Usually, when it comes to the appointment of a division commander, the court doesn't need to weigh in on it," Larwin said as he adjusted his fat body on his chair, "But Kurdak only served in the military for half a year. Giving him such a huge promotion in that short a span of time might raise some questions in the military. Additionally, he's only around twenty years of age. While he's a good talent to be nurtured, letting him climb the ranks that quickly might not necessarily be a good thing. That's why, Leguna, I'd like to hear your words on what kind of person he is since you're rather close to him."
Leguna pondered in a moment of silence and said, "Your Imperial Majesty, my testimony will no doubt contain some personal bias. But as far as I can tell, bo-- Commander Kurdak has a rare talent for leading."
"Oh? How rare is it?" asked the emperor.
"If he is given a platform to realize his potential, I believe he'll be a famed general of the empire," he said assuredly. He wasn't just exaggerating it. Kurdak led their party for all sorts of missions during the past few years and he was able to complete them no matter how difficult.
Being able to make rational decisions in desperate situations was indeed a rare ability. As long as Kurdak was there, there was nothing Leguna couldn't get himself out of. It was almost a sense of blind trust, but Kurdak had done much to earn that kind of trust.
Everyone was quite surprised to see the extent of Kurdak and Leguna's relationship. A famed general? Are you talking about Kurdak like he's Manhattan or Alissanda? He's nothing but a mercenary who spills blood for money. Isn't that kind of evaluation too fake?
"My niece," Larwin addressed Annelotte affectionately. She was someone Marolyt cared the most about and showing her respect was helpful in gaining Marolyt's favor.
"Your Imperial Majesty." Annelotte returned the greeting. It wasn't the first time the emperor called her niece and she was long used to it.
"Do you share the same opinion?"
She nodded. "I believe Sir Leguna's description isn't a stretch. I'm sure Commander Kurdak will demonstrate his own worth though his actions. And with his years of experience in the field, I doubt that him growing arrogant would be a problem."
Larwin gave it more thought and nodded. "Since the two of you think so, I'll approve the general's recommendation. I look forward to his performance on the battlefield."
"I trust that he won't disappoint us," Leguna said.
Larwin merely smiled. "And you, my niece, is there a reason you're with us here today?"
Annelotte said, "I heard the court magi association mention that Your Imperial Majesty is planning to found a school of magic here, and that many of the magi are going to get really busy. Even though I've not yet proven myself, I'd like to be a part of the effort."
"It wasn't our intention to leave you out of it," Larwin said, "We just didn't want to disrupt your work at the bureau. Are you interested in it as well?"
"The school will be a great driving force got the prosperity of the empire for a long time up come, which is why I'm so eager about it," she said with a rare hint of passion, "If it's possible, I would like to play a part in the effort as well."