It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (92/115), enjoy~
Chapter 9 – Conference
The following day.
In the cloudy and dull weather, the two countries worked hard in the morning to prepare for the meeting.
At a time when they would normally be enjoying lunch, Heim’s group stepped into a building in the center of the island.
It seemed that Ishtalika’s group had not yet arrived.
“I don’t like that we’re the first to arrive…”
The man who just said this is Garland von Heim, the current king of Heim. He is not too tall or too short. But Ain is slightly taller than him.
He wore a thick cloak made of gold thread and a gorgeous crown, and at a glance, one could see that he lived a glorious life. He rubbed his beard, which was the same color as his proud blond hair, and sat down haughtily.
“Don’t you think so, Tigre?”
“As you say, father.”
When the two sat down, the three people who had accompanied them took their seats as well. They were Logas, Elena and Grint. After the five of them sat in a row, the knights who were counted among the elite of Heim lined up in a row.
Everyone’s orderly standing gave off the strength of a knight.
──But it soon faded away.
From the same entrance that Garland and the others came in, there appeared a group of knights who were more in line and more robust.
Garland said, and Logas turned his attention to the people who had just appeared.
“The royal knights of Ishtalika, huh?”
“You’ve seen them before, father?”
“No, I’ve never seen them before. But their movements are so refined. They are definitely not just ordinary knights. I believe Grint has seen one before.”
“I have seen them at… Euro.”
How brilliant of the enemy. Logas knew that Tigre and the others would disapprove of this, so he didn’t say anything even if he had thought about it.
Garland’s eyes widened when he saw who had followed the knight.
“That woman is good. Not bad.”
He looked at Chris and raised the corner of his mouth. He gazed from her feet to her waist and then to her breasts and neck as if he were examining her, admiring her femininity.
“I apologize for keeping you waiting.”
Warren appeared in his usual tone.
Garland asked Tigre.
“Who is that man?”
“That man is Warren, the Prime Minister of Ishtalika.”
“Oh, that old man?”
His father looked strangely confident, but Tigre’s inner thoughts were different.
He remembered the bitter memory of the time he had met Warren in Euro. Not only had he been treated like a child, but he had also been humiliated by the resulting rage.
It was an unpleasant memory for him to recall.
“Your Majesty. This way, please.”
Following Warren’s words, Sylvird appeared.
Lloyd stood next to him, ready to draw his sword at any moment. Lloyd, unlike Logas, stayed behind Sylvird.
“…So that’s the king of Ishtalika.”
Tigre gulped, muttering quietly.
Then they looked at each other unexpectedly.
Tigre quickly averted his gaze, not being able to withstand the air of dominance. Needless to say, this was humiliating for him.
Garland, who was sitting next to him, showed no sign of noticing the situation and opened his mouth when he saw Warren.
“The crown prince is coming too, isn’t he?”
“Yes. I believe he will arrive soon, so please wait a moment.”
You’re making me wait a long time. Although he was dissatisfied, he didn’t say anything and waited quietly with a shrug of his shoulders.
Of all the Heim people who were waiting, Elena had a particularly difficult feeling. The crown prince of Ishtalika was the man that Krone loved. Half of her heart wanted to see the person her daughter was in love with, and half of her mind couldn’t bear the thought of arguing with that person.
“Elena-dono, what’s wrong?”
Logas, sitting next to her, asked with concern.
“No… it’s nothing. But you seem to be very calm, Logas-dono.”
“I wonder. Maybe I’m not as calm as everyone thought.”
It’s been a long time since he’s seen his son. So it’s not surprising that he feels this way.
Elena had a slight smile on her face as she caught a glimpse of a side of General Logas that she had never seen before.
──The sound of walking in leather shoes could be heard.
It was by no means for one person, and Elena immediately guessed why.
“It seems that the crown prince and his assistant are here.”
“Oh… it seems.”
Many of Heim’s group complained about being kept waiting. However, rather than acting apologetic about it, some of the Ishtalikas smirked as if they were looking forward to what was to come.
Somehow, Lily was standing in front of the room behind Ishtalika’s seat. She looked at Elena and moved her lips to convey her words.
“It’s a reunion with the person you were looking for,” she said.
Warren’s voice reached Elena’s ears as she puzzled over the situation.
“They have arrived. They are──.”
A pair of a man and woman stepped into the building.
The man carried a long sword at his waist and was dressed in the formal attire of the royal family of Ishtalika, which was based on white and silver. The women, on the other hand, were dressed in similar uniforms.
“Our Royal Highness the Crown Prince and the Crown Prince’s assistant.”
Warren grinned and introduced the two who had arrived.
“…I am Ain von Ishtalika. The crown prince.”
Before anyone else, it was Elena who was surprised.
It was not the first time she had met the man who called himself the crown prince. He was the one who had introduced her to the inn when she had gone to Magna, hiding his true identity.
Now she understood why her answer had been strangely unclear when she had asked Lily about him.
At the same time, she understood the meaning of the word “reunion.” But that’s not all.
When she saw Krone next to Ain, she couldn’t help but feel like she was about to burst into tears. It’s not only the fact that she has grown up to be beautiful and splendid but also the fact that she has become an assistant to the crown prince that makes her tremble with strong emotion.
The next person to let his words out was Logas.
This is because Ain’s appearance does not match the age of the Ain he knows. His face is still very youthful, but his body is inappropriate for his age.
“Lies… why are you…?”
Tigre stood up involuntarily and reached out his hand helplessly.
Although not in response to him, Krone followed Ain and opened her mouth.
“I am Krone August, a personal assistant to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince.”
“Krone! W-why are you here…?”
It may be commendable that he recognized her at a glance, even though it had been a long time since they had met.
However, the reunion did not produce any emotion in Krone. She looked at Tigre calmly and said without any particular emotion.
“I am His Highness the Crown Prince’s assistant. I see no inconvenience in me being here.”
“What are you talking about…? You’ve been taken to Ishtalika──.”
“I wasn’t kidnapped, so don’t worry about it.”
After saying that, Krone urged Ain to take a seat.
“Why are you here? You didn’t even contact me…!”
“…Because I am the crown prince’s assistant. And if you want a letter, I have given you one.”
Tigre felt better when he saw Krone smiling at him.
However, he did not understand what she meant when she said she had sent him a letter, and the fact that she was sitting next to Ain had not changed one bit.
“Yes. As you probably know, the letter you received from Ishtalika was written on my behalf.”
When Tigre heard this, he was surprised. Krone indeed claimed to be the crown prince’s assistant. That means that the person who wrote the letter to Heim was the one who is here now.
…And then he remembered what he had said.
“That beautiful handwriting──.”
After all this time, he would send his praise… for the beautiful handwriting.
“You don’t have to worry about it. I overheard your conversation with the guards last night, and I know it made you uncomfortable. It was my fault for this.”
After saying that much, Krone quickly averted his gaze from Tigre.
It seems that Krone has no intention of answering anything that involves his personal feelings anymore.
“I’m not lying, but I think you’re being overly aggressive.”
“It’s just resentment for being interrupted.”
Tigre, too, sat back in her seat and watched the two whispering to each other with powerless eyes.
“…They’re watching us.”
“It’s fine. I’ll get some cold medicine for it later.”
“Yeah, I’m feeling really cold today.”
“…So that’s it.”
In response to Krone’s dark joke, Ain turned his attention to Heim’s seat for a moment.
He looked at Logas and Grint, who was sitting quietly and then gently put his hand on his chest. Fortunately, he was mentally calm.
He could sort out his emotions better than he thought he could.
“Ain-sama, Krone-san. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, too. I’m more at peace than I thought.”
“Good. Take it easy, okay?”
With that, both sides were now fully prepared. All that was left was to begin the meeting quietly.
“Hahaha! There was no need to have this stupid meeting, was there?”
Garland said with a high-pitched laugh.
“What do you mean there was no need?”
“It’s obvious. If that’s the woman my son is looking for, we no longer need to have a troublesome meeting. I had a few things I wanted to say to you, but as long as the trouble is over, we can just drop it for now.”
“Don’t just nod your head. Return that woman to us. Return the daughter of the Auguste family.”
“Who is the Auguste family?”
There was no signal for the meeting to begin. But Garland’s comments triggered a bleak meeting, just as Ain had predicted.
“What a boring way to play dumb.”
“Don’t say something different as playing dumb.”
“Then what shall I say? As my son Tigre has noticed, the crown prince’s assistant is likely to be a member of the Auguste family.”
“I beg your pardon. Was the person you were referring to the August family?”
“…..I have no intention of engaging in this silly farce.”
“I just wanted to get your exact words. Now.”
Then Warren rubbed his beard and pretended to think.
It irritated Garland immensely, even if it was only for a short time.
“I have the utmost confidence in Krone-dono as a citizen and as a servant to the Crown Prince.”
“I want to make it very clear that I have no intention of letting her go.”
“You mean my citizens?”
“Yes, my citizens.”
This man, Warren, does not seem to be willing to compromise.
Garland understood this very well, but he had no intention of backing down.
So what to do? He concluded that he would have to make some concessions in order to bring Krone back to Heim.
The problem was Garland’s reluctance and whether Warren would agree.
“I’ll pay you for what it has cost you.”
“Well, it looks like you’re playing dumb, too.”
The unwanted words came back to him.
“If you are going to pay her, then it is only logical that you compensate us for the damage we will suffer by giving her up.”
“What do you mean, you only want money too?”
“I am the Prime Minister. My heart is the balance of Ishtalika itself, and I have no objection to making a few sacrifices if it means wealth for our country.”
“Hahaha! Okay, let’s hear it!
I’ll give you enough money. The pragmatic words reveal a personality that ruthlessly emphasizes the importance of profit.
Elena was angry with everyone who was trying to exchange her daughter for money. But at the same time, she looked at the group of Ishtalika, who was not the least bit upset, and carefully searched for their true intentions.
“I calculated the influence of Krone until her death from old age and the influence that will remain after her death. After estimating all of this, we would like you to pay for thirty years of our national budget.”
“…Are you kidding me?”
As for the national budget of Ishtalika, even Elena had never heard of it.
However, it can be predicted.
It was undoubtedly a fact that the national budget is certainly ten times more than that of Heim, or even several dozen times more than that of Heim.
“Are you trying to trick me?”
In all honesty, Warren’s request was unrealistic.
“Incidentally, we know that Heim’s wealth will not cover it.”
“If we raise the tax revenue──”
“It would be impossible. Even if you gathered all the money in Heim, you still wouldn’t be able to pay for it.”
Elena’s frustration subsided when she heard this.
Warren had not lied when he had said that. After all, he had clearly stated just a moment ago that he had no intention of giving up Krone.
The question of whether or not he could make the current payment was simply a story that Heim had played with.
“I have no intention of accepting that deal in the first place, so I think we can let this conversation go.”
“What do you mean you have no intention? What the hell are you talking about?”
“King Garland asked me about the value of Krone-dono. That’s why I answered your question. I never said anything about agreeing to a deal.”
“Don’t be a fool. Your heart is the balance of Ishtalika, isn’t it?”
“Therefore, I have no intention of letting go of Krone-dono. Our country’s national budget of thirty years would be enough to buy your entire continent. But she’s worth more than your continent, that’s what I’m saying.”
Warren’s opinion was consistent from the beginning.
“And there is no way we would accept a deal with Heim.”
Warren let out a big sigh and said.
“Deals can only be made with trustworthy partners.”
“What are you trying to say…? And what’s with that attitude of yours?”
Tigre, who has been keeping his mouth shut until now, opened his mouth vigorously.
“You don’t seem to have any interest in having a serious conversation after having set up this meeting. It looks as if you have no intention of reconciling.”
“…Well, well, well, I’m surprised.”
Warren turned to Tigre and chuckled, looking truly surprised.
“You can’t trust someone who has broken a serious secret agreement.”
“H-however, Ishtalika wants the sea crystals, do you not?”
“Yes, indeed. But that problem has been resolved.”
When they had diplomatic relations with Heim, they wanted it so badly that they could barely get their hands on it.
But now, there is no need to compromise with Heim. That’s how well the deal with Euro is going, and the results are exceeding expectations.
That being said, there is no possibility of depletion in the future.
However, this is also a problem that time can solve.
“The development of magic tools that do not rely on sea crystals is also progressing. There is no need to make a deal with Heim now that we have no worries about depletion for the next few decades.”
Tigre, who is persistent, gets up from his seat and walks over to the Ishtalika side.
It was only a few steps, but he stood right between the two countries.
But his foot didn’t stop, and he almost stepped in, and a moment later.
“Your Highness! You cannot go any further!”
Logas shouted in restraint.
His eyes were not on Tigre at all but on Lloyd, who was standing behind Sylvird.
“Oh, you noticed?”
Lloyd said in surprise.
“This is just an intuition.”
Logas responded and immediately moved to stand next to Tigre. He pulled Tigre’s hand back to his seat on Heim’s side, albeit somewhat forcefully.
“Why did you stop me?”
“Because I couldn’t help you if I didn’t stop you.”
“W-what are you talking about…?”
“…It is the distance between the marshal of Ishtalika. Even at that distance, I felt like I was just a foot away from him.”
The moment he heard that goosebumps broke out all over his body.
“I thought Ishtalika did not engage in acts of war?”
Tigre bravely roused his trembling legs and appealed.
“Your Highness, there is no point in throwing those words at Ishtalika now.”
“Elena? Why is that?”
“As you said to the Prime Minister earlier. If there is no way to reconcile, then the relationship between our two countries is far from friendly. In fact, it is──”
“Close to the enemy, is it?”
Warren said, narrowing his eyes.
“Yes, I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking.”
As the two exchanged glances, Tigre returned to his seat with a grimace on his face. His steps were heavy, and he looked uncomfortable as if he had taken a gulp rather than a bite.
“But it seems that Ishtalika has a taste for nonsense.”
“Stop it, Elena.”
Garland laughed, not paying attention to the interruption.
“If you want to cut off all ties with us, just keep your mouth shut and break off diplomatic relations with us. Is that what you’ve been thinking about all the times you’ve prepared this place and gathered people together to talk?”
“With all due respect, I thought we had already severed ties.”
“But what about my son Tigre and about Euro?”
“Not because of what happened, but because we want to be assured. We would be more than happy to use this meeting as an opportunity to resolve all grudges.”
“You are contradicting yourself. You just said that you don’t believe in doing business with us.”
“──No, there is no contradiction.”
It was only Elena who noticed the deadliness in Warren’s words. Her eyes widened at the hidden fangs that even General Logas could not notice.
“What is it that you say as Ishtalika? Or is it your personal──?”
No reply came to Elena’s words as she asked.
From this point on, the meeting fell into a stalemate, with neither side opening their mouths.
In contrast to the royal family of Heim, who can’t hide their irritation, Sylvird and Ain are calm and don’t seem to be in any hurry.
Elena, who let out a sigh, and Ain looked at each other.
Then Ain, with a bitter smile, opened his mouth.
“We’ll carry this over to tomorrow. I think we’ve had enough for today.”
There are only two days of talks left.
Although there are still a few things that need to be said, the first day’s meeting should be just like this. Warren, who was sitting right beside him, nodded and agreed with Ain’s words.
On the other hand, so did Heim’s group.
Garland, who stood up before anyone else, walked out and took the knight with him.
He called out to Tigre at the doorway, “Come quickly,” and took out his son, who seemed to want to have a word with Krone.
After that, Logas and the knight also went out, and Elena, who was left alone, slowly stood up.
She looked at Krone for a moment and then headed for the doorway.
“That’s just like my mother.”
“Are you happy?”
“Yes, it’s fine.”
There was a little melancholy between them.
Then Lloyd spoke up from behind them.
“I don’t know, though. What does Warren-dono think about Krone-dono’s mother?”
“What do you mean?”
“She is supposed to be Heim’s trump card in the civil service. If that is the case, why did she not open her mouth herself and let the royals take over?”
“If you ask me why, it’s probably because she was observing my words and actions.”
“Oh, observing you, Warren-dono?”
“I had mentioned Elena-dono as my only concern during this meeting. I don’t need to tell you why now, but we must not let our guard down with Elena-dono.”
Warren laughed as he said this.
“She seems to be up to something.”
“…Good. Let’s leave everything to Warren.”
“Yes. So tomorrow’s meeting, I’ll take care of everything.”
“Are you sure we shouldn’t attend?”
As if in response to Sylvird’s words, Warren stood up.
In front of everyone lined up in a horizontal row, he spread his arms wide and said in a high-pitched voice.
“Please leave tomorrow’s meeting to me.”
No one doubted his words, and Sylvird uttered “I leave it to you” on behalf of everyone.