Day 9th, 8th Months, the Year 2812, Western continent calendar: (Towards the peninsula 7)
1km east of Epiroz city, one can see a rampart nearly 10 meters high. Seeing the height of the wall being almost taller than the royal capital’s walls signifies the importance of this location.
Trade within this city is also flourishing. The width of the main street is around 20m, which makes it easy for people to move around.
One can see a lot of wagons come and go on the road.
All the shops lined up facing the street also look magnificent, many people can be seen going in and out.
The time right now is 15:00(EN: 3:00 pm). One can say it is the perfect time to do some business, which explains the crowded and vibrant street.
Meanwhile, the building Ryouma was looking at is nestled quietly as if it were a building from a different neighborhood.
The size of the building is much larger compared the surrounding shops. The store itself was built with stone.
The signboard of the shop also uses fine oak. It is a perfect example of a store that combines tradition and formality. However, the shop was empty, there were no customers.
While looking at the fine detail, the building has something like dirt marks here and there.
“Here huh… I see, they really are being treated like an enemy huh?”
Ryouma compares the shops around him to the one in front of him.
While the surrounding ones have a lot of people coming and going, only the Christoph firm has no patrons entering or leaving. It’s as if there’s an invisible wall between them.
The shop itself faces the main street, and is also close the eastern wall, which should make it normal for it to have a lot of customers.
However, the reality is different.
Judging from where the shop is located, one can say this is a considerably unnatural phenomenon. People are ignoring the existence of this store as if someone’s malice was covering this shop.
“Yes, due to the Mistel firm’s constant harassment, this shop’s customers have dropped severely.. They are unable to endure the pressure from the Mistel firm, and are pulling away from this one, the Christoph firm.”
“As a result of our investigation, there are hardly any large clients left… Even with that, the chairman was able to keep the company standing, which can be attributed to the chairman’s only daughter, Simone Christoph.”
Hearing the Marfisto sisters’ words, it was clear that they had a firm grasp on the Christoph firm’s situation..
“Hoo… Despite being a woman, she’s a tough one, huh?”
After nodding in response to Ryouma’s words, Laura continues her explanation…
“Indeed… She has been dealing with all the business administration matters since her father was bedridden.”
“Bedridden eh? Is it because of illness?”
“From Sara’s investigation of the neighborhood, she heard that the father has grown senile rapidly after having his post as the chairman of the business alliance taken away by his rival.”
One can say such a story is common for people who usually work on the front line of business.
Perhaps, the heavy pressure from when he worked as the business alliance chairman suddenly disappearing caused him to break down.
But, that is only a rumor. To confirm that, one has to ask the person in question himself.
However, whether the father is sick or not, it is actually true that his daughter, Simone, has taken over the business.
“I see… She needs to break away from the Mistel firm, and her father is currently not able to be relied upon… Uhuh, there’s a lot of room for negotiation.”
Ryouma muttered those words to himself while showing a cold smile.
What he wants is a handy piece to use in his hand. Right now Ryouma’s situation is overwhelmingly disadvantageous, and he would not care about Simone’s current circumstance either.
Although by doing what he is about to do is like taking advantage of Simone’s weakness.
“Well then Ryouma-sama. It’s almost time.”
Sara said those words, then she opened the shop’s door.
Together with the sisters, Ryouma stepped into the building.
The entrance hall spreads before Ryouma’s eyes.
The bright red carpet that Ryouma stepped onto was really soft. Although people call this place a “shop”, it seems like the building itself was only used for business negotiations.
The furniture inside the premises stood comparison with ones in the Earl’s house.
If there’s a difference then it may be the sense of unity between the furniture.
It’s not about cheap or expensive, but one can feel the rich feeling it gives just by seeing how they arranged the furniture.
Although the Earl’s luxurious house feels right, compared to this place, the latter has a more refined feeling.
“Welcome… Your Excellency, Mikoshiba Ryouma. Excuse me but please enter and rest in the waiting room, I will immediately notify the chairperson that Mikoshiba-sama has arrived,” saying that the old man that welcomed Ryouma bowed his head.
The man’s age is around mid 40’s. Tanned skin can be seen in contrast to his white shirt.
His smile gives off the feeling of a gentle person. However, the light from his eyes gives the feeling that he’s different from your ordinary gentleman. And his body somehow exudes the feeling of a man of the sea.
“I understand. I will wait… Can you guide me to the room then?”
Following Ryouma’s request, the man guided Ryouma to the room.
“Excuse me, Your Excellency. May I hold custody of the sword that you are holding right now? The two people over there as well please.”
“I have to leave my sword?!”
Together with Laura’s rising voice, Sara put her hand on the hilt of her sword.
The way the man request them is indeed somewhat rude.
There’s no reason for a merchant to disarm a nobleman who is about to become their customer.
“I am sorry for troubling you, but this is one of our company’s rules since everyone here is about to meet with the chairperson…”
His words are kind of polite, but his body indicates that he’s not going to negotiate… That is the impression Ryouma and the others felt.
But Ryouma also felt that it was not just because this is the rule of their company, he felt there’s something more to it…
(I wonder if there’s a reason for this… Is it because they are wary of possible assassins? I guess there’s no choice if it was something like that. After all, in their point of view, a friend of the Earl is coming to visit them…)
For the people of the firm, Ryouma and Earl Salzberg are from the same stratum, they both belong to the aristocracy.
They don’t care for the truth… Since for Simone and the others, Ryouma is someone from the Earl’s faction.
“Very well… Laura, Sara leave it at that!”
Following Ryouma’s words, the sisters removed their swords and handed them over to the man.
For the sisters, they felt anxious to be within someone’s territory without a means to protect themselves. However, since it was an order from their master, they have no choice.
“I see… I will also hand this over, please take care of it.”
Ryouma handed over his sword and a bag that was hanging on his waist.
“Hou… This is…”
The man narrowed his eyes when he inspected the content of the bag.
Inside, there was Ryouma’s chakram. A throwing weapon with considerable power. However, it was not a weapon a nobleman would usually carry.
Then, the man’s gaze was directed toward Ryouma for a moment, and only after a few seconds had passed, he averted his eyes. The man immediately continued to guide them.
“Well then… This way, please. I will guide everyone to the second floor.”
Apparently, Ryouma earned a favorable impression by taking the initiative of handing the chakram by himself.
Ryouma nodded his head lightly and followed the man, as he went up the stairs.
“Well then… Please wait here. Shortly, Simone Cristoph will come.”
After guiding Ryouma and the others to their room, the man left.
“Sara, what do you think?”
Ryouma asked the sisters in whispers so that only they would hear.
Since he does not know what kind of secrets are hidden inside this room, he thought of the possibility that someone might eavesdrop.
“He seems to be quite a master… Also, there’s something that bothered me about his tanned skin…”
Laura lightly nodded her head agreeing with Sara’s words.
The man caught everyone’s attention. They did not believe that the man was actually a merchant due to his behavior and the gaze of his eyes.
It was obvious that the man was a martial arts master.
“No matter how I see it, I can feel that he’s someone who is familiar with the sea… But, there’s no sea within the Earl’s territory…”
“Laura’s right. I also felt the same… Maybe he was someone from the neighboring town? Or possibly…”
There are several possibilities. However…
“Well, it is no use for us to think about this right now… First of all, we need to finish the talk with Simone.”
The door was being knocked, waiting for Ryouma’s response.
“Is it alright for me to enter?”
A young woman’s voice. A calm and gentle voice, yet also giving off a strong feeling from it.
After Ryouma said those words, the door was opened, and a single woman was standing at the entrance.
Her chestnut colored hair is carefully tied using a silver hair ornament, The silk dress dyed with blue color giving her a cool image.
“Please excuse me, and thank you for waiting for me. You are Baron Mikoshiba, am I right? I am happy for being graced with this occasion. My name is Simone Christoph, the chairperson, and representative of the Christoph firm.”
She is the daughter of the man who fell from grace.
Her manners and gesture are perfect.
There’s dignity and also elegance displayed from how she acted.
(Fuuh… I guess in terms of how she acted, she’s equal to the Earl’s wife.)
Ryouma compared Simone with the Earl’s wife.
Both of them are beautiful. But, the two of them boast a different kind of beauty.
To speak of it, the Earl’s wife is a gorgeous woman.
Gorgeous jewels matching her beautiful appearance.
The Earl’s wife shows strong self-assertion.
In contrast to her, Simone gives off the feeling of a pure and innocent woman.
Glossy hair and healthy white skin.
She gives off a somewhat discreet and quiet aura.
One might imagine them as a rose and a lily.
However, even with her calm expression, Ryouma could feel that a ferocious beast is hidden underneath.
Especially after she came to this room by herself. Ryouma originally thought that the man from before was going to escort her.
(I guess, this won’t end easy huh…)
“Emm… Excuse me?”
Towards Ryouma who was standing silently without saying anything, Simone uttered some words while refraining herself.
“Oh… Please forgive me. My name is Mikoshiba Ryouma. I apologize for suddenly coming like this…”
“My… Please do not mind it… Since Your Excellency is an important customer after all.”
Ryouma made his request to meet just this morning.
Although his visit can be said to be sudden, Simone did not show any unpleasant expression.
She smiles gently.
“I’m thankful for your kind words, despite my sudden visit.”
Ryouma waited for Simone to sit down facing him to begin the talk.
“Oh my, you are being too humble… But to be honest, right now I am not sure if I can satisfy Your Excellency’s expectations… You might not know but, my father the chairman of this firm has fallen ill and became unconscious. Therefore, despite being young, I am currently acting as his substitute.”
“Hou… Unconscious huh? I heard that due to the Mistel firm taking the position of the business alliance leadership from him, he has fallen ill, is the rumor true?”
Ryouma provoked her in a sarcastic way, to anger her, and to see his opponent’s reactions.
After all, one can guess someone’s thoughts just by seeing their attitude.
“Is that so? It seems like Your Excellency knew about that as well, despite having just arrived in the city seven days ago. It seems like Your Excellency has a lot of excellent subordinates. But then I guess that was natural. Thinking about Your Excellency’s activities at Irachion, I can see that Your Excellency values information highly. Even for an amateur like me, I was in awe of your strategy back then… For you to be able to perform such a stratagem, I can only see Your Excellency as someone fearsome indeed.”
Simply smiling, Simone said those words while looking at Ryouma with gentle eyes.
She does not show any sign of repressing anger either.
Conversely, she manages to lightly bite Ryouma back.
“Hohou… Knowing about what had happened at Irachion… I guess I can expect that you also know why I have come here?”
Ryouma gazes at Simone with a questioning gaze.
With this world’s low infrastructure, it was hard to get information from somewhere far away.
It is a world without TV, Radio or the Internet. They can only spread information using letters, or rumors that are being spread from one person to another.
Given that, it was important to have the means for spreading information.
And here, Simone knew about how Ryouma manipulated the information before the battle at Irachion.
That indicated she also understood that he did not just simply lead Queen Lupis to her victory.
Such knowledge is not something someone should know unless they had gone to the site and investigated it in detail.
With all this, it was obvious that Simone is not just a mere daughter from a rich family.
“Well now, I wonder about that… I am not completely sure but I guess I understand around half of it. Although I expected, with how resourceful Your Excellency is, you would be able to immediately see through Earl Salzberg intention, but I never expected you to come to my place within a few days after having arrived here. At most, I thought that you would start to seek influence from now on.”
“I see… Then I take it that you understand the situation I’m in?”
Simone does not change her facial expression when she heard Ryouma’s question.
“Of course. The matters regarding Her Majesty the Queen, and the matter with Earl Salzberg as well… Oh my, how rude of me! For me to not be serving tea to the customers, someone!”
Saying that she called the maid to serve the tea, as if she were about to have a tea party with her friends.