Tyranny Of Steel -
Chapter 1139 A Difficult Decision
Berengar sat down in the dining hall of the Joseon Royal Palace. At his side was none other than Min-Ah, who stared angrily at her stepmother. The woman was quite beautiful despite her age and appeared to be the mother of at least five of Yi Sung-Jin's children. Despite this, she was still nothing more than a concubine, with the primary wife being seated next to the Joseon King himself.
Several of Min-Ah's sisters were equal to if not superior to her in regards to beauty, but Berengar took no notice of these young women, no matter how they might try to gain his attention. He already had enough women by his side, and had pledged to himself that Itami would be the last.
While one of Min-Ah's many sisters poured Berengar a glass of wine, the man himself was in the middle of a conversation with the Joseon King. For whatever reason, Yi Sung-Jin wanted to conduct this diplomatic meeting over dinner, rather than in a more quiet space.
The Joseon King had become rather rotund over the years, the girth of his belly increasing as the days passed by thanks to the traffic of German goods which entered his lands. To Berengar, this was a sign that the man would not so easily give up on the luxurious lifestyle he now lived, especially not to curry favor with the Ming Dynasty.
Thus, Berengar's tone was filled with confidence as he spoke about the ongoing situation just a few hundred kilometers north of the city of Pyongyang.
"Zhu Wudi has decided, for the good of his nation, they he is cutting off all maritime trade with foreign powers, and is instead only conducting commerce over land, with his remaining tributaries. In part, I believe this is because of my annexation of the islands which I currently refer to as the Philippines.
It appears this policy of isolation isn't just being practiced by the Ming Dynasty itself, but all within their sphere of influence. The Northern Yuan, the Jurchens, the Tibetans, as well as Indo-China are all now withdrawing themselves from the outer world.
If this is their decision, then I shall respect it. However, the last time I checked, you still pay tribute to the Ming, and as an important ally of mine within the Far East, I wanted to personally visit you and see just what you had planned in store for the future."
The young woman who was pouring Berengar's wine finished just as the man concluded his introductory statement, and withdrew back to her seat after realizing that Berengar had no interest in her.
Yi Sung-Jin paid close attention to Berengar's actions, and entirely ignored his own daughter Min-Ah, who was exchanging a vicious glare with the woman who responsible for her own biological mother's death. It was clear by the look in the mature beauty's eyes that she had never expected Min-Ah to return to the palace, and was quite displeased to see her again.
After several moments of thought, the Joseon King voiced his opinion on the subject that Berengar had brought up, only after drinking an entire cup of wine. The red liquid spilled all over his mustache and goatee combo as he did so.
"I must admit, I have considered following the Ming Dynasty into isolation. Especially after the shit you just pulled with the young Japanese Empress. I mean honestly, you and I both know that this blame that is being shifted onto the late General Shiba Kiyohiko is nothing more than German propaganda. 𝘪𝓃n𝐫e𝗮d. co𝗺
If memory serves correctly, the woman personally led an army into my territory, and nearly got herself killed doing so. Now, why should I continue to maintain military and economic ties with your Empire, when you have decided to spare that albino whore and even marry her?"
Berengar did not immediately respond to this quip, and instead took a sip of the wine, which he did not at all find to his taste. After controlling his expression so that he did not grimace, he gently placed the chalice on the table and folded his fingers before calmly answering the Joseon King's question.
"Careful Sung-Jin, Riyo is my fiancee, and by speaking such slander towards her character, you are in fact defaming me as well. The Japanese Empress is many things, but a whore? That is not one of them. I suggest you think about your words before you speak them, or you and I might have some serious problems. It would be a pity if all the investment I have made into your Kingdom suddenly came to a stop..."
The threat of pulling back funding from the Joseon Dynasty's reconstruction efforts immediately caused Sung-Jin to flush with anger. However, he bit his tongue in fear of provoking a more violent response from the Kaiser.
However, one woman in the room could not keep her mouth shut. It was, in fact, none other than Sung-Jin's favorite concubine, the woman who had killed Min-Ah's mother.
"You dare speak to my esteemed husband in such a way? Who do you think you are!?!"
Before Sung-Jin could calm his concubine's fury, Berengar leaned back in his chair and scoffed. With a confident smirk on his handsome face, he tore into the woman.
"Husband? That is a bold claim. According to my intel, you are nothing more than a common concubine. You should hold your tongue when the men are speaking sweetheart, if you do not, you will just make your 'spouse' look bad in the eyes of far more powerful men..."
Upon hearing Berengar's verbal lashing, Sung-Jin scowled at his concubine, which immediately caused the woman to shut her trap. Before the Joseon King could properly apologize, Berengar began to speak again, this time with a bit more venom on his tongue.
"You speak ill of my fiancee so casually, a woman who must I remind you would have conquered and enslaved your entire nation. If I had not given you my support; meanwhile, your whore here speaks out of turn as if she is my equal. Just what kind of backwards court are you running here, Sung-Jin?
If I didn't know any better, I would say that you and your family have the manners of barbarians. Luckily for you, I owe your daughter Min-Ah here a debt of gratitude, so I will not hold you accountable for your previous remarks..."
Though Sung-jin and his family felt outraged at Berengar's words, they remained completely silent. After all, who was the monster who was sitting peacefully across from them? He was none other than the Kaiser of the German Reich, a man so powerful that even the Empress of Japan had failed to do anything other than piss him off with her repeated acts of aggression. Thus, the Joseon King forced a smile and bowed his head with respect before responding to Berengar's words.
"I apologize for if my family and I offended you in any way. We are not ungrateful for all the assistance you have given our kingdom. We are just a bit unsettled about the fact that you have gone out of your way to marry the Japanese Empress and absolve her of her crimes in the eyes of the world."
Berengar's gaze shifted to that, as if here were gazing upon a dullard. His voice was cold as he responded to the Joseon King's last statement.
"My reasons are my own, but since you asked so 'politely', I will inform you of my thoughts. The fact of the matter is, leaving Japan in a state of civil warfare between a few power hungry warlords is a threat to this entire region of the world.
To stabilize the situation in northeast Asia, I needed to place a unifying figure, one with some semblance of a claim, on the vacant throne. This figure needed to be willing to listen and obey my commands. After being thoroughly trounced in what I can only really refer to as our little skirmish, Riyo has become quite the obedient puppet.
I made that woman see the damage that her ego had caused to the world, and what kind of ruler she could have been if she did not have her own head up her ass. This had quite the humbling effect.
After whitewashing her image with a bit of propaganda, and blaming her past mistakes on an easy scapegoat, Itami became the perfect puppet to reclaim her throne, and unify the Japanese people beneath her banner, and by her banner, I really mean my own.
Japan is no longer a threat to you, or anyone else in this world. I have ensured they will remain as such for the coming centuries. So, now the question remains... Will you follow the Ming dynasty into an era of isolation, where you will inevitably fall behind the rest of the world? Or will you follow me into a new golden age of peace and prosperity? The choice is yours..."
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