168 Impartial Arbitration 3
Anan's lips became purple as he heard Draco's explanation and his subsequent question. He had no idea such laws even existed, but everyone understood the underlying rules of conquest.
However, he wasn't discouraged yet.
"We were conquered, that much is true. But the reason for the war that was launched against us was unjust! We never had any conflicts with those powers prior to their invasion, they just came to encroach upon our land! We were given an ultimatum back then - either leave the land to them or stay and swear undying fealty and become their eternal serfs."
Ana's voice became heated and the members of the Nshaw Tribe around him displayed a mixture of pain and disgrace.
"Of course, we chose not to bend the knee! Who in their right minds would agree for their children and children's children to be forced to become someone else's slaves?! And because of that, they resorted to force... How is that fair?!"
Anan knew nothing about whatever laws of war and territory Draco intended to use to trick them this time.
He was very much aware that he could not retort with the same medium Draco used, yet he couldn't just stay silent and watch as their land would officially be recognized as not even belonging to them anymore. He argued back to vent his Tribe's pain over the generations.
This emotional outburst wouldn't change anything, but he had to struggle at least this much. Calm and composed Assassin Emperor or not, Anan was foremost a loyal member of his Tribe and loved it with his entire being. The Tribe had its flaws, but they had never performed any overt evil.
Why did they always have to suffer like this?
So, he was naturally shocked when he heard Fei's response: "Your argument has merit. According to the laws of war and territory, a just cause is needed to start a war. Wanting to pilfer the land is not a just cause."
The fairy turned to Draco. "Does His Majesty have anything to add?"
Draco sighed and scratched the back of his head lightly. Anan had no idea of the laws of war and territory, but for the fellow to luck out and highlight a key aspect of the laws through his rant was quite the surprise.
One did indeed need a just cause to start a war, and this held true for nations. For example, Draco could not mobilize Vita City State's army (should he create one) to attack Sturgehaven Kingdom under the theme of conquest without a just cause.
Of course, as a player - or even with the whole of Umbra as an Immortal Adventurer Guild - Draco could rampage across the continent and conquer whatever he liked.
The odds were skewed in the favor of players from the get-go, but the AI made this journey authentic - and painful if you're not quick - by forcing them to discover everything on their own.
For example, it was mentioned earlier that there was no automatic protection from rape, torture or any other vice. Many players were already aware of this and at least 5% of the current playerbase had suffered in one way or another because of this.
But if anyone was allowed to rape and kill as they pleased, how could the world of Boundless be so peaceful?
The Great Rape of Update 5 was largely caused by players forcing themselves onto other players. Very few players dared to harm NPCs because they were indigenous to the world.
A few fools had overstepped their bounds and tried it on notable female NPCs which lead to the reveal of the system's official hearing method, in other words, the Impartial Arbitration.
For example, those two girls - the cleric and the rogue - who had been assaulted by Local Lord could have him punished horribly as long as they called up the Impartial Arbitration and presented the necessary evidence.
Why was the Great Rape of Update 5 prevalent during that time, but suddenly died out at one point? Was it because of external stimuli?
That was impossible. Even the World Council could not control Boundless, so they simply tried to enforce laws externally.
However, it had died out after the Impartial Arbitration became well known, as the punishment for rape was horrendous.
Three in-game years of continual torture!
The system had even incorporated a timer function, so one could not just keep out of the game for 9 months and return. Whoever still wanted to play afterward would have to stay logged in, and endure the punishment.
After that, who would dare to touch a woman without consent? Rape was even rarer in Boundless than it was in the real world, which was a baffling but great thing.
Draco could debunk this issue, even with Anan's sudden second-wind. However, it was true that the Nshaw tribe had been through much abuse over the centuries without it being their fault by oppressors who wanted to take the land away which should have been rightfully theirs.
Heck, Draco was the most recent offender of this and he knew it. He was amoral and a villain, but he was also a leader and soon to be a father.
He could let them win this argument and continue debunking the rest, allowing the Nshaw tribe to gain the official title of the Paradise Lands. Or he could debunk it and give them favorable terms when negotiating afterward.
This was a turning point for Draco, where he could finally shed away his dark and immoral shell, revealing the fair and conscientious person underneath who had learned from his horrible past.
It would show his growth over his previous life and this one, culminating his total process of development.
"I admit that the cause of the war was unjust according to the laws of war and territory, but we must not forget something important. At the time of that war, these laws had not been drafted yet, so they do not affect that matter. Laws do not work retroactively."
Draco pointed out seriously as he narrowed his eyes.
Become a fair and just person? Draco?
Hahaha, truly funny.
Anan's face became like dead ashes. If laws did not work retroactively, then it was up to whatever laws existed at the time to govern this engagement.
However, neither he nor Draco knew anything about those laws and the Arbitrator was not going to bring them up as that burden fell on the parties.
Its only job was to decide whose side was in the right.
Fei had only brought up the laws of war concerning a just cause because Anan had literally stated that the attempt back then was an unjust cause, and the system of law being used currently by both parties was the Laws of the Cario Continental Council.
"The issue concerning the legitimacy of the Nshaw Tribe's claim to the Paradise Lands has been debunked. Move onto the next issue."
The members of the Nshaw Tribe looked like they had watched their parents die as they heard Fei's verdict. Just like that, a tribe who had lived on this land for centuries had lost their rights to the very same land for eternity due to circumstances…
(Author's Note: Some might be confused as to why this happened and what is going on with this issue, so let me explain. In law, there are legal systems that are created by each country/society that is binding on themselves, and thanks to globalization, we now also have International Law.
In the world of Boundless' Western Fantasy, things work differently from the typical Eastern Fantasy where the strength of one's fist or the height of one's cultivation decides everything.
Strength plays a big role in any society - naturally - but in the West (especially in Western Fantasy) the worlds tend to mimic the real world in the sense that laws are the supreme decider of everything, even above strength.
In Boundless time, there was an early era - let's call it EE - and then the War of the Gods happened and shifted the whole world. Old powers disappeared and new ones replaced them in the current era - let's call it CE - with their own laws and whatnot.
In the EE there might have been a law that stated something like 'no one is allowed to pilfer land, period' and that would be relevant in that era, but not in this one. In the CE, the laws have already been explained. and they are binding on the current era, not the old one.
If Anan knew the old laws, he could argue Draco's point - assuming they were in his favor - but he didn't and neither did Draco.
Fei would know, but as stated, that burden didn't lie on her, she was impartial. A more empathetic person might've helped Anan out by bringing such a law up, but not this one.
Draco shook his head. "As for the issue concerning the kidnapping of one of your own… I think this is nonsensical. Please bring in Zaine."
Vitae nodded and Zaine was admitted into the Throne room. Vitae had already identified her problem and had adapted, opting to lower the purity of Aether surrounding her so that she could remain sane.
Zaine looked absolutely delectable in her usual attire that showed off the outline of her nipples and camel toe, and her eyes were locked onto Draco from the moment she entered.
Luckily for her, Draco was currently keeping his aura in check, otherwise, she would receive the greatest fright of her life. Zaine noticed that Hikari and Riveting Night sat in thrones beside Draco and felt a burning jealously.
She swore to drown Draco in so much pleasure that he would give her his own throne. She stood before him and bowed deeply, showing him her cleavage and her respectful expression.
"Zaine greets His Majesty Draco."
Draco nodded and smiled. "Zaine, do you know these people?"
Zaine turned to the members of the Nshaw Tribe, especially Anan, and gazed at them coldly. "Unfortunately, I do."
The members of the Nshaw tribe frowned, but Anan only smiled bitterly. It was likely that this issue would be debunked as well, judging from how Zaine responded to their presence.
After all, they had really given her a hard time for being part devil…
"Oh? Then tell me Zaine, what is your relation with them? Are you one of their people?" Draco asked with a smile.
Zaine's heart skipped a beat. She was loosely aware of the matter going on and had planned to use a different means to get Draco to win, but he went down the direct route.
How could he be so confident? How could he be so sure that she wasn't a true member of the Nshaw tribe? If he lost this point based on speculation, that would be it.
For him to be so confident that she wasn't a member of the Nshaw Tribe…
At this moment, Zaine displayed her charisma and a sharp mind which Mephisto had prized. She immediately transformed into her full devil form, right in front of the shocked members of the Nshaw Tribe.
She then turned to Draco with a light smile and spoke gently. "Does this answer His Majesty's question?"
Both Draco and Riveting Night were impressed with Zaine. In fact, Riveting Night was so impressed that she couldn't help but gloat.
"I told you she would be useful. - Eva"
"I agree, your insight is splendid as always Eva. - Draco"
Draco then turned to Fei and asked her: "Is this good enough, Arbitrator Fei?"
Fei nodded unconcernedly. "By displaying the full form a devilkin, Zaine has proven to be a pure-blooded member of the Devil Race. Such a person cannot be a member of the Nshaw tribe, so the point concerning the kidnapping of a member of the Nshaw Tribe has been debunked. Move onto the last issue."
Zaine knew she was done, so she moved to leave the Throne Room. However, she was surprised to hear Draco call her back.
"Come and stand behind me until this matter is concluded."
How could Zaine not understand? Her quick admittance of the truth based on her wisdom and ability to discern the situation had earned Draco's approval.
It was a bit bizarre for her as a succubus with a killer body to be favored for her brains over her tits. Then again, that sounded like what Draco would do, based on what she knew and heard of him.
Zaine bowed demurely and stood behind Draco with a slight smirk. If Draco treasured intelligence and competence more than sexual attraction, then she would work along that angle and display her prowess to him.
Draco turned to the members of the Nshaw Tribe who looked like they would do anything to get this over and done with.
They didn't care about the final point, as they had lost the rights to the Paradise land. So what if Draco would take the rights to it, or anyone else for that matter? They weren't getting it back.
Even Anan thought as much, as did Hikari. Zaine and Riveting Night though, knew that there was a lot more than just getting the title to the land.
"As for the issue concerning the legitimacy of Vita City State's claim to the Paradise lands, it is really simple. As I've already stated, up until two days ago, the entirety of the Neutral Zone had been regarded as ownerless. However, many of the kingdoms, empires and world powers - including the Cario Continental Council - have since recognized the Paradise Lands as an area belonging to the Vita City State."
Fei nodded. "This is true according to the checks made by the Impartial Arbitration."
(Authors note: Just an in-game and non-lore breaking way of saying 'the system knows, so get on with it'.)
Draco smiled. "As such, the former Neutral Zone called the Paradise Lands now belongs to Vita City State officially and legally. Can I say this is true, Arbitrator Fei?"
Fei nodded. "The issue concerning the legitimacy of the Vita City State's claim to the Paradise Lands has been upheld. The Paradise Lands are recognized as belonging to the Vita City State."
The members of the Nshaw Tribe stood up. They prepared to leave, as there was no point hanging around, else Draco might decide to decimate their numbers.
It would be enough for one person to live and tell the tale. How could they come and ask for Draco to leave the Paradise Lands if he was recognized as the owner of the land?
However, who said that this was the end of the matter?
"My friends from the Nshaw Tribe, could you please stay for just a moment longer? There is still one more issue arising from this matter as a result of the arbitration." Draco said in a genial tone.
The Nshaw Tribe fellows suddenly stopped and stared at Draco with incomprehension.
He said that there was one more issue arising from the arbitration? Just what could that issue be?
The only thing they immediately understood was since that fellow brought it up, it couldn't be anything good for them.
Fei turned to Draco. "So His Majesty has one more issue he wishes to resolve?"
Draco nodded. "Yes. Since the Paradise Lands belong to Vita City State, I would like to discuss the terms of occupation by the Nshaw Tribe."
When the Nshaw Tribe members heard this, they froze for a good few seconds. They couldn't believe their ears, as they had never thought it possible to find someone this shameless.
After abandoning morals to steal their land, he also wanted them to discuss whether they could stay in their own home? Was this a joke?
Judging from Draco's slight smile, it was clear that he wasn't joking in the least.
There was a limit to how many insults one could swallow before it became too much. The members of the Nshaw Tribe exploded as they roared out in anger and indignation.
"Immoral bastard! How dare you lust for more after taking everything?"
"You want us to give up our ancestral home? Over my dead body!"
"I will never allow this! So what if you're a King? I am also a human being!"
Anan walked forward and spoke with a dark tone. "You can take our land, but you cannot take our right to reside in it. Impartial Arbitration or not, we will fight you until there is nothing left of Vita City State."
Draco simply laughed and waved away their anger. "Who said anything about kicking you out? I have no such intentions. On the contrary, I wish for you to stay. Come, sit down and let's discuss more."
Anan clenched his fists and sat down unwillingly. The other member of the Nshaw Tribe remained standing as they looked ready to risk their lives to kill Draco should he speak one more 'wrong' word.
Draco ignored them and focused on Anan. "According to the laws of war and territory, territory is defined as an imaginary line that marks the territorial limit of a territorial master. These 'boundaries' are of three dimensions. They include the surface land, the maritime domain of its internal waters and territorial sea, the airspace... but also its subsoil."
"That means you are currently residing in the subsoil of my territory."
Anan spoke caustically. "And? What do you plan to do about it?"
He had stopped with the honorifics, rather speaking his mind. The way he saw it, the only option was to fight Draco to the death, so there was no need to be respectful.
Draco raised a finger. "You will be given a lot on the Vita City State land to enjoy some of the benefits. The Nshaw Tribe will become the first ethnic group to be officially recognized as citizens of Vita Capital City. Some of your best people might also be given basic nobility."
Everyone aside from Riveting Night and Fei froze as they processed Draco's words. Wasn't he going to use this chance to either kick out the Nshaw Tribe or extort them wickedly?
So why was he suddenly giving them boons he had denied even the Rank 7 powers? For what reason?
Draco satisfied their curiosity. "However, there is no free lunch. As citizens of Vita City State, the Nshaw Tribe will naturally have to share its technology and labor. You will also submit some of your best youths to be trained into knights each year. You will also send a quota of able-bodied youths to be trained as soldiers for the City State."
"In exchange, you pay no taxes and will have your occupation in Vita City State subsidized by the government.
Anan took a deep breath and mulled it over. He was one of the three Rank 4 Upper Echelons of the Nshaw Tribe, while the other two were the Chief and the Advisor.
He could be said to possess a heavy say in the matters concerning the Nshaw Tribe, but this was too big an issue to decide on his own.
Draco realized his plight and smiled. "Brother Anan may return to discuss it with your people. Please give me your answer within 90 days."
Anan nodded with a complex look in his eyes as he filed out of the Aether Hall with his people, their shoulders slumped and their faces full of remorse. It would have been better if they had continued to ignore the existence of Vita City State…
Draco nodded to Hikari and Zaine. "You two go and stay with Roma for a while. Afterward, you can spend your time however you decide. Eva and I need to return to our original world."
Hikari nodded and smiled lovingly towards Draco. "I'll be in the anomaly realm."
Zaine smiled mystically. "I'll always be wherever you need me."
Draco chuckled and logged out at the same time as Eva.
After all, he needed to replenish his Bloodline Source.