Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi Chapter 371
Capital: Goldonia – Royal Palace.
After cleaning up the matter with Claire, nothing really happened for a while.
Leopolt and Adolph worked diligently as usual on their regular work, and just when I was thinking of going on a vacation with Nonna while it was peaceful, I was summoned to the capital.
It was probably Kenneth who sent it even though the king’s name was used. Apparently they have finally decided on the schedule for discussions with South Yuguria and want me, as a related party, to participate as well.
In the letter of summons, it felt like Kenneth was implying “please do something about everyone since the king is not motivated” to me.
With that said, nothing will come of me being cautious, so I pulled the lazy Tristan along.
I’ll say I’m bringing a domestic official of my territory to give him practical experience.
The only other person who was supposed to be accompanying us is Nonna, who insisted on coming this time.
That Nonna is grumbling unhappily and staring at me.
Her breasts, which are pushed up by her formal dress, are also shaking about.
Tristan lets out a fed up tone and adjusts his tight collar.
「I am not suited for these kinds of settings or clothes…… can I take off my necktie and undo two buttons on my collar?」
「I’ll punch you.」
When Tristan complains and is met with Celia’s cold stares, he sighs heavily.
「I can’t remember how many centuries it has been since I last visited the capital. The palace has become quite shoddy.」
Half of the reason Nonna is in such a bad mood is because of her…… Brynhildr, who arrived in Goldonia first.
The other half is due to her vacation plans being crushed. She was whining about it during the ride, saying things like “you went with Claire though”.
If you say a few hundred years, people will find out you’re a vampire.
I won’t go unpunished if it is revealed that I brought a vampire to the palace.
Though, I don’t think that will happen, since she can walk normally under the sun.
Regular vampires, when exposed to the sun’s rays, would burn and turn into ash.
I wonder why she is fine. I asked whether there is a connection between her and Lucy, who is also fine in the sun, though she didn’t give me an answer.
「I know. I won’t do anything to drive you into a corner.」
Brynhildr rests her head on my arm.
Nonna becomes more displeased, though knowing she can’t make a fuss in the waiting room of the palace, she has to settle with kicking her feet and shaking her breasts.
As Celia tries to soothe Nonna, she notices the giant swinging masses and gets discouraged, resting her chin on her hand resignedly.
I examine Brynhildr’s appearance again.
She’s wearing a black dress which draws your eyes in. Her white skin peeks out in four places, the space between her gloves and short sleeves, ankles, her slightly opened chest area, and the fairly wide slit on her back.
Compared to Nonna, who protects her skin from being burned by the sun, Brynhildr’s skin is a completely different kind of white.
It almost looks abnormally pale, like she’s sick.
「Well, I died a long time ago after all.」
Brynhildr jokingly says.
The black dress itself isn’t fancy, yet it doesn’t fall short of Nonna’s expensive dress in terms of beauty.
The dress doesn’t have the glitter or shine like a brand-new custom-made item, rather it feels like someone took care of it devotedly for many decades and it possesses a charm similar to an antique piece of furniture.
More importantly, Brynhildr is wearing the dress like it’s integrated into her small body.
Honestly speaking, she just seems to be more familiar with palace culture than Nonna.
If she had a pair of decent boobs, she would unstoppable.
Brynhildr stomps on my foot.
Nonna cheers up a little and clings to me, meanwhile Celia also compares her chest with Brynhildr’s and smiles.
Tristan sighs when the atmosphere gets a bit more harmonious…… wait, he’s asleep.
「I’ll wake him up.」
Celia pinches Tristan’s thigh with a devilish expression.
She can’t be kicking him inside the palace, although this might actually hurt more.
Tristan springs up and screams, all within Celia’s expectations, as she covers his mouth with a towel.
It looked like she was kidnapping him.
「Geez…… we’re in the palace…… Aegir-sama? Are you feeling hot?」
Nonna, as she is smiling at the scene, tilts her head when she sees me sweating.
「No, it’s not that. Don’t worry about it.」
I assure her even though the sweating doesn’t stop.
My face stiffens when I force a smile.
Seeing that, Celia comes over as well.
「If you have to relieve yourself, the bathroom is far so you should go――」
「I’m fine. I won’t wet myself.」
「You won’t? Wait, Celia-chan.」
「I-it’s not what you’re thinking! That was an accident! The floor was polished too much and then when I fell…… I-I told you not to say anything!」
Brynhildr turns away as Nonna and Celia make a fuss.
The reason for my cold sweat is the light ‘tap’ that she gave me.
You wouldn’t think the light sound her foot made had the same force as a hammer.
Not only that, she accurately directed the force to my pinky toe.
「That’s punishment for humiliating me. You would do well to remember this suffering.」
Brynhildr leans her weight against me and smirks.
「No matter what time and age, the palace is a nest of spectres. You’re unfamiliar with plots…… so leave it to me. When needed, I can massacre the lot of them in――」
「You better not. Don’t, you hear me?」
Brynhildr can actually do so if she tries so it’s not something to joke about.
「Then you’ll have to go through danger in the times to come.」
Brynhildr stands up like the conversation is over.
「Oh look, they’re coming to get you.」
A few seconds after she spoke, the thick doors opened and permission was given to enter.
Brynhildr boldly walks forward in spite of everyone’s doubtful gazes.
「What is it, woman?」
Underlying her size, Brynhildr has both a high noble attitude and majesty to match, which is making Nonna feel daunted.
I have to follow up with that later.
The seats of the conference were divided into the right and left sides of the table, one side for Goldonia and one side for South Yuguria. I, of course, sit on the Goldonia side, followed quickly by Celia and Tristan who take the seats next to me.
Nonna and Brynhildr were guided to another table for attendants not participating in the meeting.
Seated on the other side of me are Kenneth and his officials and right in the center, seated one level higher than everyone else, is the unenthused king.
Behind the king is a steel box resembling a mobile prison…… is he going to bring that everywhere he goes?
「Then let us begin.」
When Kenneth gets the meeting started, both sides line the table with documents of some sort.
The ones who didn’t make any moves were myself, the king, and a hooded individual seated at the end of the South Yuguria side.
Celia is right. Even I know not to wear a hood and I’m not the most polite guy.
Obviously the officials on the Goldonia side are disgusted by the behavior, however nobody on the South Yuguria side warns the individual.
Eventually Kenneth, who ran out of patience, spoke up.
「Pardon me, don’t you think what you are doing is rude in His Majesty’s presence?」
He maintains a mild and calming tone while making sure to be clear with his intentions.
The responding voice was also gentle and similarly clear.
「How unbelievably rude of me. This was because I did not want my face to be seen by those outside.」
Once the hood was removed, black hair long enough to reach the floor spills out.
Unfurling flowingly, the hair with a jewel-like blackness emits a sweet fragrance, which wafts through the air to my nose.
It was a scent different from fruits or perfume, and it’s simply an exquisite womanly smell if I had to describe it.
Gasps of shock come from the Goldonia side.
That was understandable.
The woman’s pretty face could not be mistaken.
It was the empress ruling over South Yuguria, Wilhelmina I.
The servants standing by were also baffled.
They knew the placement of seats were completely wrong now that the opposing side’s sovereign is here.
「I came here unannounced on my own, so no need for any concern.」
Wilhelmina stands up and moves to the chief seat closer to the king…… slowly walking to the seat reserved for the one with the highest authority, where the representative messenger had been sitting until now.
「All hail Her Majesty, the Empress.」
The representative vacates the chair, practically bouncing up, and pulls it out for Wilhelmina, waiting until she has sat down before standing behind her.
Those movements were not clouded with any doubt. It proves how much she is adored and how loyal her followers are.
「I am pleased to meet you. Your Majesty Alexandro, I ask that you forgive my sudden rudeness.」
The king could not hide his astonishment either when Wilhelmina bows to him with a smile.
「U-umu…… it is polite to send notice in advance, although the matter may be settled quicker this way.」
「Yes, very true. There is nothing better than ending a dispute as soon as possible.」
It didn’t take long for the king to regain his composure.
Kenneth and his followers, on the other hand, remained stunned by the unforeseen event.
「She nicely beat us to the punch. I would say the first battle is a loss for us.」
This guy isn’t fazed.
Well, I’m not particularly affected either.
Noticing me, Wilhelmina smiles and also lowers her head slightly.
I knew a clash with her was inevitable, yet I can’t help thinking how beautiful she is.
In no way can I direct any hostile will towards her.
When I smile back, Tristan lets out a strange voice.
Wilhelmina doesn’t acknowledge my smile and immediately turns to face the king.
「Now then, Your Majesty Alexandro let’s get straight to business. I think we should omit unnecessary argument as long as we are here.」
「……umu, you’re right. I also don’t feel like dragging out the discussion.」
Kenneth makes a bitter face.
That’s to be expected, since he probably decided on what to say in his head beforehand.
「No, the one who you should be most concerned about is the Margrave, right?」
Oh yeah, that’s right.
「That accidental collision was a reckless act by my foolish subordinate…… and it was something against my will. I offer my condolences to the soldiers of your country who lost their lives in the unfortunate battle.」
Wilhelmina closes her eyes and lowers her head in mourning.
It should just be a courteous gesture by her, although it seems genuine to me.
「I know words will not be enough. Thus I have a suitable amount of compensation for the bereaved families and the feudal lord. Please understand that we ultimately desire for our nations to coexist peacefully.」
She bows once to the king, then once at me.
「Most people who come out modestly at first usually are bad-natured.」
Tristan mumbles softly enough so that only I could hear him.
Information Officer Rebecca swiftly steps forward and approaches the king.
The king gives her a glance, one that doesn’t seem very favorable for her.
I’m guessing Rebecca’s standing isn’t completely safe.
Even so, the king turns his ear to Rebecca’s words.
He smiles at Wilhelmina once he finishes listening.
It was by no means a friendly smile filled with affection.
In fact, it was closer to an offensive, mocking smile.
「Yes, what is it?」
Wilhelmina doesn’t let her cheerful exterior crumble.
「I received a report telling me there are close to 100 000 soldiers gathered on the borders between Libatis, which your nation has devoured, and my nation. Isn’t this a little contradictory to what you said earlier about a peaceful coexistence?」
The meeting place stirs. No, to be more accurate, only the Goldonia side stirs.
Not a word was said by anybody on the South Yuguria side. They were all statues.
「Nothing I said was contradictory. Peace results from the struggles of both sides.」
Wilhelmina’s smile stays the same while the glint in her eye gets sharper.
「If coexistence was not necessary, it would be peaceful if everyone around gets killed off and the only person left is you.」
Tristan says something again.
「Hooh, so are you saying that you are on equal standing with me?」
The king glares at Wilhelmina.
「Of course not. There’s no way we’re on the same level as the great nation of Goldonia…… we only want to rule over the southern part of the Central plains undisturbed. That’s it.」
「I don’t know about that.」
Wilhelmina averts her eyes from the king.
「So only the South Yuguria empire is enough, right? The south is not needed, right?」
Dammit Tristan, there’s no point telling me.
「Despite coming short of Goldonia, our nation is still capable of preparing 100 000 soldiers.」
Wilhelmina smiles again at the king, who is not smiling anymore.
「If a war breaks out, it will be a long one. It’s evident that we have no intention to fight.」
It’s exactly as Tristan says.
Kenneth appears calm on the surface whereas his officials are making unhappy faces.
That was when Erich scrambles to his seat.
Such a situation was not expected on the first day of negotiations so that’s why he wasn’t called upon.
If I knew, I would have brought Leopolt with me.
No, that would put the territory in danger.
A surprise attack would really cause havoc.
And Wilhelmina seems to love surprise attacks.
「I see…… but if I do something to you here, it won’t result in war?」
The meeting place stirs once again.
Wilhelmina doesn’t get flustered.
「I wonder, will it? I assume you are aware of the loyalty of my army. If harm befalls me……peace would be out of the question and a long extended fight that you can’t escape from would last for countless years.」
Wilhelmina glances over at Erich who just sat down.
It’s impressive how she knew he was the person in charge of military affairs.
「We are not Your Majesty’s ‘real’ enemy.」
There were visible changes to the king’s expression.
「Uwah, she knows. Scary.」
So much tension is in the air that Tristan’s lazy voice sounds meaningful.
When the tension reaches the limit, Wilhelmina giggles out of nowhere.
「――fufu, besides, even if something were to happen to the incompetent and foolish me, someone more capable would appear. That kind of joke is quite funny.」
I feel things becoming more relaxed.
「……well, I don’t plan on doing anything to your nation. Although I won’t go as far as peaceful coexistence, as long as you don’t step in my territory, I won’t go to war against you.」
The king clears his throat and then leans back into his chair.
However, the potential carnage which everyone thought was avoided lasted briefly.
「I also have the same thoughts. But there is a thorn which jeopardizes the relationship between our countries.」
Wilhelmina points to a map with her beautiful finger.
It was directed at my territory――no, it was at the stage where the clash happened, the occupied area centered around Kisatto.
「This region is former Vandolea land, which you have taken temporarily…… then there was the incident with the Dard mountain and you left it alone without making a decision.」
Certainly, the mountain erupted right after we occupied the land so we didn’t have time for that.
After that, we had an outbreak of disease and couldn’t spare any effort to negotiate with Vandolea, so that’s why the land wasn’t officially recognized as our territory.
And now, Vandolea is gone.
「This land has belonged to Vandolea for a long time. That country is now a part of our nation, though the people have not changed. Some have attachment to the land or perhaps relatives living there.」
Wilhelmina and everyone else’s eyes concentrate on me.
Tristan drinks his tea with a troubled expression. This is the time he should be saying something.
「The commander who went rogue was also born on this land. I’m not trying to diminish his sin, however leaving things they way they are would leave seeds for problems in the future.」
Wilhelmina’s eyes open wide.
It feels like I’m being sucked into her vibrant green eyes.
「To your nation, it is a remote region with nothing ……for us, however, it is a precious land. Could you please return it to us? Could you please…… return our land and people?」
Her plea sounds weak, yet I feel an incredible pressure from her.
I unconsciously move my head up and down as I am faced head-on with Wilhelmina’s beauty. Of course I know nodding is not a good thing.
The staring match between me and Wilhelmina continued for awhile, and right up until the moment I was about to surrender, she turns to the king.
「That said, I’m not going to demand you to give back the land you shed blood to occupy. I intend to multiply the compensation for the clash by several times…… no, several dozens of times and buy back the land from feudal lord Hardlett and the king of Goldonia.」
「Aah…… this is definitely not an opponent the Margrave can win against in a verbal battle.」
In an instant, she changes her negotiation target from me to the king and switches methods from coercion and petitioning to bribery.
Tristan’s right in saying she isn’t someone I can match in negotiation tactics.
According to what I heard from Claire, South Yuguria has received a sizable investment from the merchants of Stura.
Nevertheless, I don’t think that sum could rival Goldonia’s funds.
It won’t be enough to win over the king.
「The occupied territory was won over by Lord Hardlett. It would prefer not to interfere.」
Sure enough, the king’s response is weak.
But once again, I feel like I’ll fall by staring into those eyes of hers.
Should I touch Tristan’s ass to neutralize the effect?
……wait, why did he leave his chair? Did he read my thoughts?
When Wilhelmina confirms my reaction and the king’s reaction are not favorable, she stands up.
「Shall we take a little break? This is a good chance. Bring in the present.」
Wilhelmina orders her subordinates who brings out a strange object.
At first glance, it appears to be an ordinary rotten tree branch, though I’m sure that’s not the case if she is offering it to me.
It is about the size of my arm. What on earth is it?
「What is that?」
The king also knits his eyebrows dubiously.
「This is incense. I heard it is a rare item found only in the marsh region on the north coast of Teries, and that something of this size appears maybe once every few decades.」
After discovering the identity of the item, the king’s interest wanes.
I also lose interest.
No matter how rare it is, like jewels, if I don’t have any interest in it, the item is merely a rotten branch.
The king and Kenneth have faces like they don’t care. It makes Tristan’s reaction seem dramatic.
Wilhelmina’s subordinate first lights the incense as a test.
The guards were scared of poison smoke, then realized Wilhelmina can’t escape from this place and ruled out that possibility.
I see, for how rare it is, it’s emitting a nice fragrance.
It would work well in the bathroom after dropping a deuce.
「Mm, what a nice smell. I’ll gladly take it.」
The king sighs in resignation and expresses his thanks before accepting the gift.
That was when it happened.
「What a wonderful…… scent, isn’t it?」
A voice comes from the mobile prison behind the king.
It transforms the king’s complexion.
He runs at her like a child calling for his mother.
「I apologize for speaking out like that. I can’t see what is going on right now…… if I am a hindrance……」
「I don’t mind. There is no need to hold back. Speak freely.」
I can’t see clearly because of the cage, but it looks like the king is talking with Rosario.
The faces of Kenneth and Erich turn paler as it happens.
Wilhelmina is unfazed.
It was as if her face was covered with a steel mask.
The king and Rosario converse, although Roasrio’s voice is soft enough that I can’t make out what is being said.
Nevertheless, I can somewhat guess what’s being said, like “my sense of smell has become more sensitive after losing my sight” and “I’ve never smelled such a splendid fragrance before, it calms me down”.
「I see, so you are fond of this smell. No, it’s good. Being unreserved is good.」
A short moment of silence later, the king turns back to face Wilhelmina.
His face did not have the same intensity from when he was glaring at her before.
「How long will these incenses last?」
「Depending on how you use them, I believe they will last three weeks.」
The king mutters ‘three weeks’ bitterly……
「How many more of these do you have?」
「They are rare, so not many.」
「I don’t mind paying a high price. I will purchase it.」
「They come from the depths of an unexplored region and cannot simply be……」
As Wilhelmina forces a smile, the king frowns.
「A brief recess!」
The king declares that and still continues talking with Wilhelmina.
Even after the meeting stopped, it’s impressive how South Yuguria did not twitch in the slightest, whereas those on the Goldonia side couldn’t hide their unrest.
During the break, I was called by the king into the garden.
I can guess what he wants to talk about. Surely Tristan also knows since he’s making a dubious face.
「About South Yuguria’s request to return the occupied land…… no, to sell the land, I want you to accept it.」
I knew he would say this.
Entangled with Rosario, the king cannot think about anything else.
「Wilhelmina promised to prepare sufficient compensation. It isn’t a bad deal for Goldonia or for you. Holding such a remote land will not bring you as much profit anyways.」
Keeping the occupied territory will produce little benefit for me and the kingdom.
The region was where we made a base for treating the disease, though it has lost its meaning now.
That’s why returning the land isn’t painful.
「First, we must fortify the interior of the nation. Besides, setting up against South Yuguria for a potential problem isn’t a good plan.」
I have no problem with him wanting to part with the land because he wants money.
In fact, being able to sell the land for such a high price would make anyone chuckle to themselves in joy.
「There won’t be any obstacle to the defense. Using the money gained to gather weapons, all that’s left would be to attract soldiers.」
If I leave the defense to Leopolt, everything will be fine.
Having more funds also means the number of cannons and chariots will increase.
「Hardlett, this is my wish. I ask that you see it come true.」
There is one problem, which is the king of Goldonia yielding to Wilhelmina.
It would be fine if, as a result of negotiations, he was satisfied after weighing the benefits.
However, this is different. He was taken by their ploy and swallowed conditions he would normally not agree to.
I’m unfamiliar with diplomacy and plots and I could see that.
The Goldonian king is admitting his defeat in this negotiation.
Yet, I don’t know if I can make up an excuse to the king.
「Very well, Your Majesty.」
The king patted my shoulder and thanked me over and over after I said that.
I respond with a strained smile.
Relinquishing the occupied territory is not fatal to me and it would be impossible to keep opposing the king’s will.
As I am letting the king’s words in one ear and out the other, I mutter this in my heart:
“King, is this all you amount to?”
The meeting ended like that.
South Yuguria will pay Goldonia for the damages done and a settlement was reached.
I will return the occupied land to South Yuguria in exchange for not a small amount of gold to me and the kingdom. Wilhelmina would continue to send the king personal gifts.
Everything wrapped up with negotiations coming to an end.
I wonder what kind of face I had when I returned to the mansion.
「Nonna, I want to fuck you hard today. Sorry, be prepared.」
「I am your wife. I am there for whatever you want.」
My heart did not clear up during my intense session with Nonna.