Chapter 289 – The Enemy of the Enemy
The discussion among the Duchy of Dihart, like that of the Kingdom of Tigris, seemed to have taken about an hour, and the delegation members returned to the meeting place. We were not just sitting around drinking tea while the delegation returned to the meeting place. We discussed what kind of negotiation cards they were going to use, what we had found out from their words and actions, and so on.
“So, have you decided how you’re going to meet our demands?”
“Well, yes, we have. I understand that you have a lot of circumstances. How about it? How about we have a frank talk?”
I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrows at the expression of Antonius-dono. These were the words I had said to Nelson-dono. Apparently, the Duchy of Dihart and the Kingdom of Tigris were sharing information more closely than I had thought.
“Frankly, you mean. Does that mean we can be direct with each other and not lie to each other?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“You know we have the saint of truth here, right?”
In other words, you’re saying this because you know that if you tell a lie, you’ll be exposed instantly, right? That’s what I’m saying.
“Yes, of course.”
“Fumu, interesting. Let’s hear it, shall we?”
After urging him to speak, Antonius-dono looked at the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Home Affairs Officer, who nodded at each other.
“The aim of the kingdom of Merinard is to break the lingering fear of the future, isn’t it? At worst, you want to take in the Kingdom of Tigris at least to keep us in check and focus on countermeasures against the Holy Kingdom to the east. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?”
“Even children can understand this if they think about it a little. So what’s the deal?”
“I propose a ten-year non-aggression pact and the gradual handover of the subhuman slaves. In exchange, we would like the payment of reparations to be made in 10-year installments.
“Gradual handover? And what about a trade treaty?”
“Well, don’t be hasty. Let’s take care of one thing at a time. First, regarding the phased handover, there is a strong possibility that our agricultural and mining production will suffer a major blow if we hand over all of the reparations at once. In some cases, it could even break up the country. That would not be your intention either, would it?”
I look at Ellen, but she shakes her head. In other words, it may be that Antonius-dono is right, and there really is a possibility that the Duchy of Dihart may be broken up.
“As a matter of fact, we have to come to terms with the Adol religion. If we decide right now to hand over all the subhuman slaves to you and try to carry it out, there is a possibility that interference from the Holy Kingdom will intensify. We would like to avoid that. The Holy Kingdom’s influence within the Duchy of Dihart has been considerably weakened by the recent defeat. We will not be hasty here, but we will hand over the subhuman slaves in stages and slowly and gradually reduce the power of the Holy Kingdom’s sympathizers like strangling them with floss silk.”
“…This is turning out to be an interesting story. Please continue.”
“To tell you the truth, the Archduke, or rather the Dihart royal family, are anti-Holy Kingdom.”
“That’s ridiculous. The archduke family has the blood of the Holy Kingdom in it, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, but it’s complicated. I am sure Saint-sama would know if what I am saying is a lie or not, wouldn’t she?”
All eyes, not only mine and Antonius-dono’s, were focused on Ellen.
“I can see that you think so, at least.”
“I see. Is it true what he says?”
“It is true.”
“Of course, it’s true.”
The Foreign Minister and the Home Affairs Officer nodded in agreement with my question. Ellen nodded.
“If the general in charge of diplomatic negotiations, the minister of foreign affairs, and the home affairs official all say so, then the information must be highly reliable.”
I crossed my arms and pondered. This is an unexpected development. Since we had thought in advance that the Duchy of Dihart would not break its stance in support of the Holy Kingdom, it was really hard to know how to deal with the situation.
“I won’t ask why the Archdukes, or rather the Dihart royal family, are anti-Holy Kingdom and how they are maintaining their position. Those things don’t really matter to us.”
“What is important is the fact that the anti-Holy Kingdom faction is gaining strength, and the Holy Kingdom faction is losing strength in the Duchy of Dihart. It is said that the enemy of the enemy is your friend. In reality, it is not that simple, but if both sides are not friendly to the Holy Kingdom, we may have a chance to work together in parts.”
There can be no such thing as true friendship between countries. But if there is a common enemy, it is possible to join hands.
“I understand the gradual handover of slaves. What about the trade treaty?”
“That’s the thing. I want to use it to reduce the power of the Holy Kingdom’s faction.”
“I see. You want to make it look as if we are using our power to impose unfavorable conditions on you.”
And the Holy Kingdom faction’s loss will be our gain.
“We have agreed to the ten-year installment, and the trade treaty is also good. However, we can still accept a phased approach to the delivery of subhuman slaves, but we will not allow them to be transported or sold outside of the Kingdom of Merinard. I will demand an early improvement in their treatment. And as for studying abroad…”
“We are willing to accept your conditions in full. I have no objection.”
“How straightforward is that?”
“We have our own reasons.”
After saying so, Antonius-dono shrugged his shoulders. Hmm? Is it because they want to keep the children of royalty and nobility away from the Holy Kingdom faction?
After this, we finished discussing other detailed conditions, reached a general agreement, and ended the meeting. With this, most of the mess related to the northern invasion was finally settled.
No, it was a long time. Really long time. Now I can finally go back to Merinesburg.