Minos was eliminated, and the Maho Empire had united all the nations, but peace did not follow as expected. Despite the religions' leaders working together closely, the conflict between the Church of Light and the followers of the Goddess of Nature had worsened.
However, the leaders of the religions did not let the petty conflict between the followers bother them, and still maintained a close friendship. Stan, who had recently became a cardinal, walked into a small bar in Sacred City. Inside, Mauso was already waiting for him.
"You're late," Mauso remarked.
Stan grunted. "Wester dropped by my place to give me the invitation to his wedding. I couldn't just send him away."
"I got it too," Mauso said. "Are you going?"
"Are you?" Stan asked, lifting a brow.
The two glanced at each other and chuckled. After Anfey defeated Minos, he had disappeared without waiting to claim his glory. However, disappearing didn't mean he stopped existing. No one can promise whether he would reappear or not, which was why, when it came to Yolanthe's heir, both the Church of Light and the druids were hesitant to interfere and publicly support anyone. Even Baery and Miorich did not declare an allegiance. Even if they didn't support Christian, they wouldn't support Grandon or Wester.
Christian was clearly the best candidate. After several years of ruling, Alice was widely acknowledged as the ruler of the Shansa provinces. Even an order from Yolanthe himself had to go through Alice first, or else it wouldn't mean anything.
She was a very effective ruler, and almost single-handedly put an end to the corruption of the noble class. Because of this, she was well-loved by the people. The nobles did not dare to do anything with her in office.
The people were very easy to please. Whoever made their lives easier would win their support. Alice had made their lives a hundred times better, and people who wanted to take Alice out of office became a threat.
Some people felt threatened by Alice's growing power and presence, and tried to create rumors about her. However, Yolanthe knew that Alice had achieved everything he wanted to achieve, and he admired her for it. Therefore, he did not believe in any of the rumors he heard.
Not only did Christian have Alice backing him, he also had a more loyal army. The army on the northern front would follow Yolanthe's order, but Kumaraghosha's army would more likely follow Christian's order.
Christian also had support from the Country of Mercenaries, now called the Free Autonomous Province. After the war, Anthony and Hui Wei became the leaders of the Country of Mercenaries. They were able to create a magic crystal monopoly, making them some of the wealthiest people in the world. After everything they'd been through, the League of Mercenaries was now very loyal to Anthony. One time, the merchants teamed up and tried to block all sources of grain supplies. However, Anthony soon made a deal with Alice and bought all the grain he needed from her province at a low price. It was apparent that, unless the merchants teamed up with Yolanthe, it would be very hard to take Alice and Anthony out of office.
Other than these advantages, Christian also had Anfey in his corner, and that, perhaps, was the most effective endorsement. No one knew where Anfey was, or what he was doing. It was clear that Anfey was very powerful, and there was no use being his enemy.
In the palace, Yolanthe was sitting on the throne and looking at Christian lovingly. Christian was frowning, deep in thought.
"Tell me what you think," Yolanthe said softly.
"We've only united the world for a short time," Christian said, slightly hesitant. "We need stability. If you pick me, I will send my brothers away to live out their lives in peace."
"You will imprison them," Yolanthe said.
"I know you won't be happy with my answer," Christian said with a grimace. "But they are my brothers. They won't be happy that I got the throne, and that, sooner or later, would create instability. I have to control them for the good of the nation. But I don't think I can…"
Yolanthe pursed his lips but did not say anything.
"Father," Christian said, looking up at the throne. "May I go now?" No matter what happens, he did not regret his decision.
Yolanthe looked at him for a few seconds then nodded. Christian stood and bowed. Yolanthe leaned back into his throne, looking at his son as he walked out of the throne room with light steps. The old man that had always accompanied him appeared next to him.
"Do you remember how Grandon answered?"
"He said he would work with his brothers and work for the prosperity of the nation," the old man said.
"Christian's right, you know. This nation only needs one ruler."
"I think perhaps His Royal Highness was only trying to please you, Your Majesty."
"I'm his father," Yolanthe said. "I raised him. If he can lie to me, how can he be true to anyone else? If he lied to me, I cannot make him my heir. If he didn't lie, I cannot make him my heir, either."
"It was a white lie," the old man said. "He did not want to disappoint you."
"Disappoint," Yolanthe said with a sigh. "How old was he when he started courting Niya?"
"What do fourteen year olds know of love?"
"I can't say for sure," the old man said.
"That is why I say Christian is stupid," Yolanthe said with a sigh. "He doesn't understand how marrying Niya would give him a significant advantage."
"Surely he knows that," the old man said.
"But he didn't do anything," Yolanthe said. "He lives with Saul. He is constantly around her. He has a much better shot with her than Grandon. Not only did he not try to court her, he didn't even try to sabotage Grandon's relationship with her. He just doesn't care. He doesn't want to use anyone.
"Did you see the way he looked when he left? He's relieved," Yolanthe said. "He told me exactly what he was thinking, and left the decision up to me. I must say, out of my three sons, I like him the best."
The old man sighed. He knew what Yolanthe was thinking. Compared to Wester and Grandon, Christian was the most experienced and the most qualified. If Yolanthe picked someone else, it may cause a huge conflict. It would be impossible for Yolanthe to eliminate opposition if he picked someone other than Christian. He can't get rid of Alice or Anthony, and Anfey was a constant threat in the back of everyone's minds. If he picked Grandon or Wester, what kind of life would they lead?