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975 Wheres the Pressure...

 The retired soldiers in Freedom Square garnered the attention of the parliament pretty soon. The Light Parliament thought that this was just an ordinary protest which would be over in no time. But they discovered that the situation wasn't as simple as they thought because the number of protesters increased. In just a few days, almost 20,000 retired soldiers gathered in the plaza, with some setting up camp, waiting patiently for the parliament to give them a clear answer.

The parliament couldn't remain indifferent any longer. 20,000 was a huge number. Moreover, Freedom Square was right in the city center of Casabianca. If they allowed the protest to continue, the entire city would fall into a crisis. Not only that, but the horrendous criticism of the parliament would also worsen. The parliament had no choice but to call forth a meeting and discuss if they should pay the retired soldiers right away. But...

"We don't have extra budget to spare!"

Smacking hard on the table, one of the parliament members stood to his feet, losing his elegant demeanor.

"Just how much do you think the amount will be? A few grand? Not only are there soldiers in Freedom Square, but we also received reports that soldiers from other territories are heading over there too. We're extremely tight on finance now and are unable to hand over that much money now. You should be aware of that!"

"But what about the soldiers out there?"

Another parliament member asked anxiously. Even though he wasn't growling like the previous parliament member who was as though a gambler who lost all his money, his face was full of uncertainty.

"They aren't ordinary civilians. They're retired veterans! If they don't hear our answer and stir up trouble, who will be able to stop them? Don't tell me you want to rely on our city guards? Not only that, but the retired veterans have also brought a lot of problems to Casabianca. The roads around Freedom Square have been sealed off for safety, and this still isn't enough."

"What's the response from the military?"

"What sort of response can they have? Those bast*rds fell out with us over the budget cuts and are watching the show in relish. According to the messengers, they said that they can't afford to help us with that huge amount of money..."

One of the parliament members in military uniform puckered his brows. He lifted his head and glared at the complainer.

"Help? How do you want us to help? Before the parliament announced the budget cuts, our military didn't raise a single question to you. But what did you say back then, hmm?-'Civilians are the most important. During the armistice, the military's expenditure will be cut down by a little.'-yes, a little. God dang it! Is cutting off 30 percent called 'a little'? You bast*rds. We fought for you in the front line during war and you throw us aside when we're no longer needed. Do you think we're some pushovers?"

"Please calm down, Parliament Member Ryder. We have our reasons for cutting the military budget. As for the war, your performance against the Country of Darkness wasn't too..."

"If it weren't for you people dragging us down, how would we lose so terribly? Didn't the intelligence department report that the Munn Kingdom was strengthening their defenses against the Country of Darkness? But what did you bast*rds do? You ignored the intelligence, didn't you? And you focused your attention on the meaningless fight for power..."

"What do you mean by meaningless? Do you think that it is a good thing for the country after the Light Dragon reclaims her power?"

"Who cares if it is a good thing or a bad one; there will be nothing left if we're dead. Do you know many soldiers we lost due to your incompetence?! And now you're trying to push the blame to the military? Do you even have a conscience? The soldiers out there are the ones who have always protected you. Without them, do you think you can still hold a proper meeting here? I hope you give it some serious considerations. Other than the 20,000 soldiers on Freedom Square right now, there are more than 100,000 of them joining them from the other territories! Those veterans are armed with weapons and if the parliament doesn't come up with a solution, I suppose you know what they will do."

"Is there a problem? It was due to the military commanders' incompetence and yet you pushed the blame to the parliament? Why did you only come and accuse us when a problem arises? Can't the military do anything about the retired soldiers out there? If it weren't for your instigation, will the group of trash have the strength to start a protest? Moreover, so what if they dare to attack? They are nothing more than a group of rioters who want financial support from the country, that's all. At this point in time, the Country of Light is tight on finance. If the rioters are truly militants who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the nation, they shouldn't be out there causing a ruckus! There are only 100,000 of them-not even worthy of a mention. As long as we capture their leader, the remaining guys will scatter like a pack of dogs-argh!"

The agitated parliament member was punched to the ground by another parliament member. Then, the man in a military uniform leapt across the table and gave a huge beating to that pitiful man.

"What did you say?! Without that 'group of trash', you would've been killed by the undead creatures! I will send you to your deathbed, you freakin' bast*rd! If you've got the guts, head to the front line and fight the undead creatures yourself! Since you know how to talk, I will make sure you walk the walk...!"

The parliament members were stunned. Shortly after, they returned to their senses and hurried to separate them.

"Stop fighting! This is for the sake of the country, so why must you fight each other? Parliament Member Ryder, please calm down!"

"Calm down! Now isn't the time to discuss past issues. Right now, the most crucial problem is the compensation for the retired soldiers. Stop fighting, Parliament Member Collin will be out of breath soon! Hurry up, stop them... Guards! Where are the guards?!"

"Quiet, quiet! Behave yourself before the parliament chairman!"

"Damn it, must you land such a heavy punch, Parliament Member Ryder? Somebody help me! He is killing me!!"

"Stop at this instance!"

After a thunderous rage, the clamoring hall quietened instantly. The guards also arrived at the scene and separated the brawling men. Parliament Member Ryder and the unfortunate bugger who was beaten to a pulp were 'respectfully' asked to leave the hall. Meanwhile, everyone returned to their seats and stared at Nakvard, who stood to his feet.

No matter what, this situation had exceeded everyone's expectations. If it were only a protest by civilians, they would be easier to manage. But the problem was that they didn't expect to see so many soldiers gathered in protest. The parliament members trembled with fear and were at their wits' end.

"Sonia, talk about the current situation."

"Yes, Parliament Chairman."

Sonia, who was rolling in laughter in her mind, stood up and said.

"According to the city guards, the 20,000 soldiers gathered in Freedom Square were led by Defoe and General Bred. At present, the requests made by their representatives include the redemption of promised benefits, as well as pensions..." Sonia paused, before continuing her explanation "... In fact, the payment of pensions was stopped two months ago due to insufficient funds. What should have been part of the military's budget was cut and the military temporarily stopped paying pensions."

"..."

Everyone fell into silence. In fact, the soldiers' requests were rather simple and reasonable. They just needed the money. On the other hand, the problem for the parliament now was also simple. They had no money.

Of course, it was impossible to say that they had no money at all. But it would be harder for them to fork out the money than to ascend to heaven.

It was about time for the final blow.

Sonia let out an inward chuckle, gazing at the calm expressions of the parliament members. However, it was just the calm before the storm as they blanched at her next statement.

"Other than that... Her Majesty Lilian is also asking about it and it seems like the soldiers are intending to submit to her."

As expected, the parliament members instantly turned ashen.

Lilian's palace resided on a mountain near Freedom Square. Anyone who strolled in the palace garden would be curious of the crowd gathered there, not to mention Lilian.

If Lilian was purely curious, the parliament could still hide the truth from her, since they were experienced after so many years. Apart from the parliament members, no one had ever seen Lilian. So even if the soldiers tried to submit to her, they wouldn't know who to look for. But this wasn't a problem of whether they could do it or not. Instead, it was about the political meaning behind it. In other words, the parliament's reputation was plummeting which could lead to more people seeking assistance from the Light Dragon directly!

That would be the worst nightmare!

The parliament's reputation had been falling greatly outside the Country of Light, especially at the influence of anti-parliament overlords who basically treated them as a joke. On the other hand, people in the Country of Light also had their fair share of complaints. Although they ridiculed the parliament helplessly, they had never thought of replacing them with Lilian. This wasn't due to the desire of freedom and dictatorship. Instead, it was that most of them felt that the Light Dragon was no different from a mascot. The only thing related was the word 'light' in their names. If it weren't for the Light Dragon, the parliament would have changed the name from the 'Country of Light' to 'Freedom Paradise'... Which sounded like a certain female occupational workplace.

But now, the biggest problem was that this mascot was no longer treated solely as one. The people wholeheartedly wished that she would possess the power to solve their problems.

And in fact, Lilian indeed had the ability to do that!

The Munn Kingdom's 'offerings' in gold coins were all in her possession. If she was willing to, she could use a portion of that to make up the compensations and pensions. Besides, she definitely wouldn't consider financial crises because the parliament was aware of her kind and innocent personality, which was mainly why they brazenly manipulated her. But now... They were trapped in desperation due to that personality of hers.

The parliament members couldn't sit idly by any longer as neither of the two choices would be smooth-sailing for them.

They could fork out the money themselves to appease the soldiers, but the problem was that they couldn't afford the high amount of money now. And if they couldn't solve the issue soon, the operations in Casabianca would fall apart and soldiers would stir up trouble. They weren't ordinary civilians, so it would be harder to manage them.

On the other hand, if they couldn't fork out the money, they could possibly look for Lilian. One could never be too careful. If Lilian knew about this and handed money over, it would be more terrifying than a riot because it would affect the parliament's foundation in ruling the country! The soldiers who received the financial support would surely be deeply grateful and loyal to Lilian. On the contrary, as the parliament failed to fulfill their promises, they might face hostilities from the people. When that happened, the little girl who resided in the palace would possess her own forces! Even though the soldiers were retired, they still paid close attention to the military. If Lilian helped them solve this problem, the military would perhaps have a favorable impression on her. When that happened...

The thought of the military becoming Lilian's backing forces sent chills up their spines. If Lilian intervened and the military felt like she was an easily manipulatable puppet (which in fact was the truth), they might overthrow the parliament in the name of Lilian and take the opportunity to form a new military government...

"The situation isn't as terrible as we think it is."

Nakvard's voice pulled the parliament members back to their senses. They wiped the large beads of sweat on their foreheads and gazed at him, hoping that he had some solutions.

"Even though the voices are loud out there, we can't ignore the hidden dangers. Indeed, it is reasonable for the retired soldiers to request their compensation, but I suspect that a group of men is manipulating them to reach their goal. According to my investigations, a huge part of that group are high-ranking supporters of the royal family. We have sufficient reasons to doubt that someone is attempting to achieve an ulterior motive! "

Nakvard's eyes glinted with determined radiance.

"Under such a circumstance, we have sufficient reasons to suspect the possible issues. I suggest adopting measures to prevent the situation from worsening. As for the financial issue, we will hold another meeting again. What we need to do now is to appease the protesters and capture the people suspected of incitement. Only through this way that we can truly resolve the problem!"

Nakvard paused. Then, he continued.

"So I have a suggestion. Dispatch the guards and seal off Freedom Square immediately!"