Flame Kingdom – 24.2

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“May I ask a question, Kota-sama?” 

When Maria left the mansion, Sonia raised her hand. 

“Sure, what is it?” 

“About that… Is it alright?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“Just like Maria said, I think what Kota did was no different than bribery…” 

“I guess so. I’m not going to argue…” 

“A nation that demand bribes, would decay and eventually collapse. I think Kota-sama should’ve understood that but…” 

Sonia gaze mixed with the color of criticism. 

“It is a good argument, and I have no answer for that…” 

“Then!” 

“I’m embarrassed to say this to you Sonia, but this is a measure to fight against Sorbania. At least, I want to put a group of people with power as my allies. Sorbania is indeed a big country, and no one can guarantee that they won’t have influence toward the business in Terra, see?” 

As explained previously, most of the business company that comes to Terra were mainly big business… Of course, some opened a new business, but many of them were also a branch office of a firm headquartered at Sorbania. 

“I would like the company that comes to Terra to have shares in the port company. Terra is a port city, and the port facilities would become the center of the city… And maintenance of that port would be carried by the port company.” 

Merchants were intelligent people, and in fact, they were also sensitive when it comes to their interest. If they invested a small amount of money, they would do anything within their power to at least protect the business until they get their return of investment. 

“… I won’t deny that. But still…” 

“In addition, I added tax collection privileges. To be honest, even with the current personnel, we lack personnel for the tax collection. In the end, we will one day increase the number of people for it, in other words, another expenditure increase. Whether or not 10% is huge or small, I think the opinion would be divided, but… Rather than increasing the number of people, for now, it would be better for us to outsource and give them tax cut as a reward. And, we can sell the favor too…” 

“…” 

“… Of course, that was not the best method. This time, I’ve made the port as common property. There may be conflict over the management policies. In addition, we outsourced work for tax collection. I won’t say that there won’t be injustice… Rather, it would be laughable if that didn’t happen. On the contrary, I can imagine they interrupt government affairs if we did it poorly…” 

Kota judgment right now was something not praiseworthy… It was not about raising funds or setting up the company… He had given a lot of interest and right in the company, which would provide great power to the shareholders that could shake the basis of politics. 

“…But then again, let see in comparison… Sorbania, a country, or a merchant group who come to Terra, which one do you think easier to control?” 

Sooner or later, Terra would be swallowed by Sorbania economy. Then, if they were going to eat us, why not swallow poison and poisoned our self… 

“I’m not sure if this is correct as a government official. However, I think it is a better choice than just standing and be taken by them… That is what we’re doing right now…” 

In response to Kota words, Sonia turned her gaze at Erika. Notice her gaze, Erika tilted her head. 

“What’s wrong?” 

“… Erika-sama, is this alright?” 

“There’s neither good or bad… If there’s no other way, then we have to choose it…” 

“But… There should be a better way…” 

“There’s none…” 

“That is not true!” 

“Then, tell me? What is a good way? Sorbania is unbeatable, we cannot intervene, yet we want to continue Terra’s development… I guess that would be magic? Or is there any other way?” 

“T-That is… If we think more about it, I’m sure—…” 

“We don’t have much time. Sonia let me tell you one thing, to refuse without a counterplan is what a ‘kid’ would do…” 

“T-That! Erika-sama, as a member of a royal family, as Terra lord, don’t you feel ashamed?!” 

In response to Sonia’s words, she sighed… 

“Money does not have color, Sonia.” 

“But still!” 

“As a royal, as an aristocrat, I’ll be happy to paint myself with mud as long I can protect my territory. If you talk about pride, then it is my pride to be able to do that…” 

“…” 

“I won’t force the people to understand me, and I won’t force people to respect me. Contempt? Let them do whatever they wanted. Since I won’t chase only ideals…” 

Saying that she drinks her black tea, which had turned lukewarm. 

“You might not be convinced, but I’ve decided that I would protect Terra no matter what the cost. If you don’t agree, then you may leave, and go back to Sorbania…” 

If you don’t like it, go home, was what Erika implied… 

“… I won’t go back!” 

“Is that so? Then this is the end of our discussion about this. Emily, the tea— What? What’s wrong with that expression of yours?” 

“No, I was wondering, that Erika-sama has changed a lot…” 

“is that so?” 

“Yes… Compared to the other day, you seem like another person… Erika-sama, does Kota-sama’s hug have any kind of special power?” 

“What do you mean special power… Hear me, Emily… Being Hu—” 

Erika hardened herself at that moment… 

“–Emily…” 

“Yes?” 

“D-Don’t just yes me, it can’t be… You…” 

“‘E-Ei’… As Erika-sama jumps into Kota-sama’s chest… I inadvertently smiled when I saw you act like a girl, though this might sound disrespect…” 

“…” 

“…” 

“…” 

“… K—…” 

“K?” 

“….Kyaaaa————– W-W-What, why?! E-Emily! Did you peep? I can’t believe you did that… How rude, how shameless!” 

“… I would like to return those words toward yourself, Erika-sama… If you don’t want to be seen, then please lock the door…” 

“The D-Dor! I-I didn’t close it?! I’m an idiot~!” 

“Please understand my position that has to see something that I don’t want to see…” 

“I-I’m sorry… Wait, if you don’t want to see, then don’t look!” 

“I’m a maid, I have an obligation to watch the growth of my master.” 

“Liar! That is absolutely a lie! I bet you just having fun!” 

“No. In fact, I feel like my inside is burning…” 

“–Eh? … Ah…E-Emmm… S-Sorry. For stealing a march—…” 

“Well, it is indeed interesting to watch… ‘Ah, pat my head more,’ right? Next time, please let me use those words…” 

“Give me back my apology—-!” 

With a smile on his face, he looked at Erika who continues being teased by expressionless Emily… Suddenly, his gaze turns to another person… 

“…” 

There he saw Sonia trembling while biting her lips. 

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