It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (31/65), enjoy~
Meanwhile, in Euro.
On the first day of the meeting, Tigre and the others who had unexpectedly come in contact with Ain had not been able to get close to him since the second day due to the thorough formation by the royal knights of Ishtalika.
By the way, there were no holidays set aside for the representatives, but nevertheless, they had enough time to take a break. Ain took Chris and went to Euro’s castle town.
Unlike Ishtalika and Heim, it was a town where one could see a lot of grays. The roofs were also made of bricks with no gaps between them, and one could see at a glance that it was a sturdy structure. This is probably because wood deteriorates when exposed to strong sea winds.
After enjoying the exotic cityscape, Ain suddenly stopped and crossed his arms.
“In the end, the sea breeze probably hinders farming.”
“Um… Ain-sama? What happened all of a sudden?”
“I thought a visit to the castle town would give me an idea of what this country is lacking.”
“What is lacking?”
“Yes. Euro has some farmland away from the coast, but it’s not as big as the other countries.”
Chris looked at Ain with a puzzled expression as she nodded her head in agreement.
“That’s why they depend on imports for crops, right?”
“Sorry, sorry. I thought it would be okay to return the favor in this way.”
Then Ain suddenly crouched down. He beckoned Chris to crouch down as well and pointed his finger at the sandy ground, which was as smooth as a beach.
“This is a subject I studied when I was in Roundheart’s mansion.”
He prefaces it and slides his finger.
“Heim is a large country with a vast amount of farmland, and a lot of its crops are exported all over the continent. It depends on the situation of the country, but recently the situation has calmed down. And most of the exports go through the commerce city of Birdland…”
Ain drew a map on the ground. The map, drawn with his fingers, stretches from Heim in the south of the continent and stops at Birdland in the center of the continent.
“The Republic of Rockdam in the northeast is also imported, as well as the Duchy of Euro here.”
“By the way, the most productive crop in Heim is wheat, and when I asked Warren-san this morning, he told me that the largest import from Euro is also wheat. So, Heim is exporting it at a high price to take advantage of Euro.”
Ain smirked. It’s a fearless smile that suggests he’s planning something.
“I told you the other day. I want you to be patient for now.”
“That’s what you meant when I was angry with the Heim people, right?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“Are you planning to sell the wheat to Euro?”
But Ain shook his head.
“In fact, Warren-san made the same prediction to me this morning. But instead of just selling it, I thought we could sell three times what we need for a year in Euro. Fortunately, the surplus in Ishtalika just keeps growing every year.”
Chris’s eyes were black and white as she wondered why it had tripled.
“So, we can sell the surplus in Euro. We can sell it cheaper than the wheat Heim is selling. That way, the Rockdam will eventually stop buying wheat from Heim. I think it would be good for both of us if we, Ishtalika, got the proceeds minus the commission.”
As he put it, it was not just a skirmish, but it would be a vicious move. After all, it would take away two of Heim’s trading partners.
“──I tried to think of a way to do it, but I thought it would be too cruel. Warren-san’s face twitched as well.”
Chris responded to Ain’s sentiment by saying, “I think so, too.”
“I think most of the wheat farmers in Heim would have hanged themselves if we had done it.”
“Right? As for me, I’m not going to let unrelated people suffer just because they’re Heim people. That’s why I stopped this plan.”
“I think that’s better. …What did you end up settling on in the end?”
“In the end, I decided to export only as much as necessary.”
“…When I asked you that, you shook your head, didn’t you?”
“That’s true. That’s because I wanted to tell Chris-san that I was actually thinking about this.”
Ain smiled like a child who had successfully played a prank. Chris, on the other hand, let out a small sigh.
“Leaving the prank aside, I think your idea is a good one in terms of deepening diplomatic relations with Euro. I’m sure the people of Euro will be pleased.”
“That’s right. I’d be happy if wheat became cheaper in Euro.”
Ain seemed to have a compassionate nature. Chris lowered the corners of her eyes and smiled.
──It was a few days after Ain had left for the castle town, on the last day of his act as a representative. The voices of the workers echoed in the port of Euro.
“All right, hold on! Pull it up carefully!”
The crane attached to Ishtalika’s ship was about to pull something out of the sea. It was a huge chunk of sea crystal. The whole thing was tied up with chains and carefully raised from the bottom of the sea. This sea crystal is what Duke Amur had told Warren about on the first day.
Even Warren was impressed by the sea crystal that was lifted out of the sea with white foam.
Duke Amur approached Warren.
“Warren-dono. I hear you will be returning to Ishtalika this evening.”
“Oh, yes, Duke Amur. I apologize for the rush.”
“No, it’s nothing of the sort. We were delighted with the fruitful meeting.”
The two men exchanged a few words in satisfaction.
Then Warren took out a letter from his pocket.
“This is a letter from His Majesty. His Majesty has replied that he approves of the proposal made by Ain-sama. He will allow the export of wheat from Ishtalika to the Euro. The price will be discussed later, but we will be able to wholesale it at a lower price than the Heim, the so-called fair price.”
“…Are you sure about this? It would be perfect for us.”
“No problem. We have a surplus of wheat, and originally, a few years ago, we discussed exporting other crops to Heim. Of course, we were going to wholesale it at a friendly price…”
However, there is already no friendship between Ishtalika and Heim.
“Ain-sama’s first proposal took this Warren by surprise as well.”
“Yes, I was quite surprised to find that he was looking at things quietly, but inside he has bared his fangs.”
“It might be a good idea if things were to come to a head between Heim and us.”
Warren laughed in a good-natured manner, but Duke Amur felt a twinge of fear in his chest. He was afraid that this man, who was speaking in a joking tone, would certainly do it.
“But I’m worried that Heim will do something to Ishtalika.”
“Fumu… What do you mean?”
“They believe that as long as they do not launch an armed first strike against Ishtalika, there will be no problems.”
Then Warren’s eyes changed.
“──Let me tell you one thing.”
The hint that he wore also transformed sharply, like a sword struck by a master craftsman.
“There are different criteria for judging a preemptive strike. The behavior of the Roundhart family was perceived by many of the nobles as an aggressive act. If the Roundhart family behaves in a manner that is even more annoying when questioned, His Majesty’s decision may change.”
“…I see, that’s exactly right.”
Nodding with an air of mystery, Duke Amur replied, overwhelmed by Warren’s presence.
Duke Amur reconfirmed that Ishtalika is not only a country with great military strength but also a country with excellent human resources, thinking that this man is the top civil servant in Ishtalika.
“By the way, Duke Amur. Edward-dono is not with you today, is he?”
“Yes. He is a devout believer like no one else. He believes in a certain being and needs time to pray every morning. I try not to interfere with his prayer time.”
“That’s good to know.”
The conversation was a little heavy, but after that, the two of them talked about their work and the future friendship between them. It was a really meaningful meeting, Warren thought with a sense of deep satisfaction.
◇ ◇ ◇
The sun was setting, and the celestial sphere was gradually covered in jet black. Edward hurriedly made his way to the Ishtalika fleet, which was preparing to sail as scheduled.
He came to the bottom of the ramp and was met by one of the royal knights.
“These are the gifts of our people. We have packed a wooden box with some of the Euro’s specialties.”
“I understand. I will inform His Highness and the Prime Minister of this.”
A large wooden box was placed at the feet of a royal knight. Unable to avoid checking the box, the knight said, “Excuse me,” and took off the lid.
“This seems to be a stunning collection of items.”
What’s inside are handicrafts and jewelry.
“By the way, where are the Heim people?”
“They are sitting quietly in our castle. I don’t know, maybe they got scared in front of Ishtalika’s royal knights, or maybe they got quiet after the defeat of the Holy Knight…”
“I see. That’s a good thing.”
As the royal knight nodded, Edward also smiled ─ and soon after, the knight picked up the thing in the wooden box and said.
“Excuse me, is this a model of something? It seems to be carved out of wood.”
“It is a model of a certain race of beings that I believe in and that are considered guardian deity throughout the continent. I hope that His Highness Ain will also be blessed with this…”
“Fumu… I’m not familiar with it; what kind of race is it?”
“I’ll tell you. This is the Red Fox, and the details are…”
The expression on Edward’s face as he replied was a very carefree smile.
There were gifts from Euro brought on board. Among them, the Red Fox figurine that Edward gave to Ain was brought by a royal knight to Ain’s room with great care.
“Heh, a guardian deity.”
Soon after the knight left, Ain looked at it on the table and muttered. The people in the room were Ain, Warren, and Chris, but Warren squinted at the figurine and distorted his face grimly.
At about the same time, Ain wrinkled his brow and opened his mouth, looking terribly uncomfortable.
The other two people in the room were startled by Ain’s abrupt address.
“…Y-yes. What is it?”
“Do you remember what the knight said earlier?”
“Of course. The Red Fox brings good luck and protects people from evil. This is why on this continent, those with red hair are said to be born with a blessing.”
They were supposed to be leaving. As proof of this, the sound of a sailing whistle echoed from outside, and the ship sailed off with a slight lurch.
“Ain-sama… and Chris-dono. I would like your opinion.”
“Ha. As for me, this figurine is…”
“This figurine is definitely a Red Fox. That’s for sure.”
“Yes. This Warren has also come to the same conclusion.”
The two of them felt uncomfortable with Ain’s biting and strong attitude. But they didn’t point it out; they just watched.
But Chris, wondering why the Red Fox was in Euro, let out a word.
“…The Demon King was somehow driven out of control by the Red Fox. If we believe this, how did the Red Fox get across the ocean?”
“Fumu… seeking for pleasures, I believe that’s what it says.”
Then Ain lowered his voice and said.
“What are you trying to say, Warren?”
“Yes. I mean that the Red Foxes may be up to something again on this continent.”
Warren closed his mouth as he answered. He crossed his arms, rubbed his beard, and pondered further. The Demon King’s rampage was a catastrophe unlike any other in the history of Ishtalika. He did not necessarily believe the information in the book, but now that he knew, he did not want to ignore it.
Ain suddenly started laughing.
“That’s right. I’ve been fooling around with her for years. That’s why I was wrong. Believing in her and accepting her was all a mistake.”
Suddenly, goosebumps appeared on Chris’s whole body. She felt that Ain, who was just sitting down next to her, was so powerful that if she took her eyes off him, he would chop her head off.
Warren’s eyes widened when he heard his random words.
“Ain-sama… What are you doing all of a sudden…?”
“T-that’s right! What are you doing all of a sudden?”
What did he believe? What did he accept? Without saying the meaning of the words, Ain held his head with his hands.
“I thought she was just lonely, that’s what I thought! But no! It was always meant to be a plaything from the beginning! Yes, from that moment on!”
Ain finally stood up and went to the window, holding the Red Fox figurine in his hand. Chris reached out to stop Ain, even though she didn’t know what was going on. But her legs refused to move. Chris looked at her feet.
It wasn’t like she had been subjected to any kind of restraining magic. There was no sign of any other magic being cast on her. Instead, she saw her legs trembling like a fawn and realized that she was terrified of Ain.
“To destroy the bond between us, that woman came close to do so from the beginning!”
Ain held his right hand in an upper position. Chris wondered what he was doing as he moved his arm as if he was wielding a large sword, but something strange happened soon after.
A jet-black hand armor reflected in her eyes.
Her eyes were caught by the shiny black armor covering Ain’s entire right arm and the large jet-black sword that appeared simultaneously. Where did it come from? Needless to say, it was none other than the thing that Ain had summoned.
His shout was filled with murderous intent and shook the very air of the room. At the same time, Ain threw the Red Fox figurine into the air and then swung down the great sword.
There was a thunderous sound.
The sound reminiscent of the earth-shaking, the sound of iron tearing, and the impact sound of furniture blowing away echoed through the air.
“Hah… hah… a…”
After the sword was swung down, the devastation that spread across Chris and Warren’s vision was like the scars of battle. The walls of the White King, the only one of its kind in terms of solidity, were blown down, and outside, the deck and some of the weapons had crumbled.
All of this had been caused by a single swing of Ain’s sword.
“Ain-sama! What was that ─ Ain-sama? Ain-sama!?”
Seeing that Ain had collapsed forward suddenly, Chris hurriedly approached his side. The fear she had felt earlier had faded away, and now she was only worried about the collapsed Ain.
The White King is the best battleship inherited by the kings of Ishtalika.
Its defense is as solid as a dragon’s, and it has an endurance that is hard to overcome ─ or that’s what it should have had. And yet, with just one swing, Ain had destroyed so many of these.
Warren swallowed his saliva.
“That big sword is actually that person… N-no… more importantly right now…”
He had to do something about this mess. Warren let out a breath as the royal knights rushed into the room.
“…Apparently, the story doesn’t seem to end here either.”
Afterward, when the White King arrived in Ishtalika, Ain still did not wake up. He was hurriedly taken to the castle for treatment, but time passed without him waking up.