Chapter 11, Palace Guard

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio


Franz, standing under the spotlight, was even busier, with ceaseless social obligations that left him utterly exhausted. There was no escaping it; this was the life of Vienna's nobility.

His younger brother Maximilian, frequenting the same social circles, seemed to handle it with ease. Rather than feeling tired, he reveled in it, much to Franz's envy.

Socializing had never been Franz's forte, especially amid a throng of obsequious nobles that demanded his constant vigilance.

"Grand Duke, you need to attend Archduke Louis's banquet tonight; we can leave now!" Maid Jennie reminded him.

"Understood, have Maximilian join us as we depart!" Franz instructed.

"Yes, Grand Duke!" Jennie responded.

If it weren't for his mother's forceful intervention, Franz wouldn't mind bringing his other two brothers along. At least they could take most of the heat off him when dealing with the young noble ladies.

Alas, the other two brothers were far too young, and Madam Sophie wouldn't allow them to attend such occasions. Franz also didn't want to lower the age range of the gathering.

Little did everyone know, their appeal to the noble ladies was far greater than Franz's. His status as Crown Prince granted him a loftier position but also dictated that his marriage would be a matter of political alliance.

In contrast, his brothers had far more freedom in their marital choices, with alliances with the great houses of Austria posing no problem.

Watching Maximilian happily chatting with a group of noble ladies, Franz jokingly pulled him aside and asked, "So, brother, have you found your better half yet?"

Maximilian nonchalantly shot back, "Dear brother, if I said I had, do you think Madam Sophie would..."

Franz chuckled, "Really? My dear brother, for the sake of your lifetime of happiness, I don't mind getting scolded. But can you handle the pressure?

After all, the noble ladies here are much older than you. Do you have an Oedipus complex?

Goodness, Maximilian, you are truly shocking, to think that..."

"Stop, my dear brother, if you keep this up, my reputation will be utterly destroyed!" Maximilian quickly interjected.

Such playfulness wasn't new to them.

"Later on, cover for me from a bunch of flies; I need to discuss matters with Archduke Louis!" Franz said seriously.

"Fine, I knew you didn't summon me for anything pleasant!"

Maximilian put on a look of utter dejection, while Franz rolled his eyes disdainfully.

The noble banquets Franz attended could hardly be considered mere social events. If it weren't for the sake of appearances, he would rather not bother with such engagements!

"Your Grace, Archduke Louis, I wish to have your support in taking control of the Palace Guard!" Franz stated bluntly.


"God! My Little Franz, how could you have such thoughts? You're only 16, not even 17 yet!" Archduke Louis exclaimed in surprise.

As the Crown Prince, it wasn't difficult to dabble in the military, but to truly take command of an army was another matter entirely, especially since Franz wasn't yet 17.

Therefore, he had to settle for second best and take command of the Palace Guard. Although this unit was not large and its combat effectiveness was questionable, it was the only one Franz could possibly get his hands on.

"Uncle Louis, you know I've loved military matters since I was young. My dream is to become a true general!

But my status does not allow for a long-term career in the army; now, my only option is to indulge myself with the Palace Guard," Franz explained.

Archduke Louis shook his head and said, "That's impossible. You must understand the significance of the Palace Guard, and you have yet to prove your abilities. If you really want to experience the life of a general, you can join the City Defense Army!"

What sort of material made up the Austrian City Defense Army, was Franz not aware? It was said to be a 'general's camp,' purportedly the only unit in Austria where officers outnumbered soldiers.

According to the traditions of the Germany Region, nobles had to serve in the military once they came of age, or else they would face public censure.

The nobility of the Austrian Empire mostly originated from the Germany Region, and this tradition had been preserved. However, the Austrian Empire was in decay, and people had to turn a blind eye toward these noble lords.

Apart from those who were truly ambitious about a military career, most joined the army merely for show. For Archduke Louis to assign Franz to this troop was definitely not well-intentioned.

Franz frowned and said, "Uncle Louis, are you sure this isn't a setup? You know what the City Defense Army is like. Even Archduke Carl himself couldn't handle them; do you think I can?"

The pretense was pierced, yet the cunning Archduke Louis's face remained unchanged.

"Franz, don't be upset. Isn't this a test for you young people? If you can handle the City Defense Army, then what is there that you can't do?"

Such words might fool a naive young lad, but, unfortunately, Franz was no longer one. He wouldn't be carried away by flattery, no matter how sweet.

"Uncle Louis, it's not that I can't do it. Just order all the nobles there for show to retire, and I will join the City Defense Army," Franz said, feigning annoyance.

"Franz, that's impossible. Even His Majesty the Emperor couldn't make them leave!" said Archduke Louis helplessly.

"So, I can't join the City Defense Army after all. The Palace Guard suits me better. You wouldn't begrudge that, would you, Uncle Louis?" Franz said, pretending to be upset.

"How could that be possible!"

"Alright then, Franz, you may join the Palace Guard, but you can't be the Commander. You're still too young and need a few more years of experience," Archduke Louis said, settling for a compromise.

"This damned age! Well, I suppose I'll just have to wait a few more years!" Franz said, feigning resignation.

His intention had been achieved. The Palace Guard, or the Imperial Guard, was unlike other armies; it was loyal only to the royal family.

For Franz, taking control of this unit didn't necessarily mean he had to be its commander; typically, the Emperor himself or a royal family member would assume that role.

Currently, the unit was under the control of the Regency Council, with Archduke Louis as the Commander. With Franz entering as the Crown Prince, naturally, people would flock to his banner.

He had made his stance clear: he was determined to join the Palace Guard. Even if Archduke Louis was inwardly displeased, he couldn't truly prevent Franz from joining.