Day 9th, 8th Months, the Year 2812, Western continent calendar: (Towards the peninsula 9)
“Hoooh… She was trying to test my Lord? Despite being a woman who leads a business firm, she seems to be a capable one, eh? But still… Being able to thoroughly investigate the matter regarding my Lord like that… I guess her intelligence network can’t be underestimated. It would also turn troublesome if we became her enemies.”
Genou’s eyes turned sharp after hearing Ryouma’s story during the meeting.
For Genou, being able to probe Ryouma’s background seemed to have elevated his impression of Simone.
He was not someone who was blind because of loyalty.
‘What?! To think someone is trying to test my Lord! Unforgivable!’ Although usually he was someone who might have said something like that, but as expected, he wouldn’t do it in this kind of place where many people were present.
“Well, for now, there’s little possibility for her to turn into our enemy. As long as she’s planning to stay in Epiroz, I’m an essential existence for her. And, I have the rights over the Wortenia peninsula… But well, if I have to say, we also don’t know when the situation will change. Just keep your eyes on her, Genou.”
“Understood… But her intelligence network is really remarkable… I think she uses the merchants to conduct information gathering, what do you think?”
“It appears to be so. It seems that since they are an old business firm, they have a lot of connections within the country and overseas. With that being the case, they might be using some kind of carrier pigeon at regular intervals to exchange information.”
“A firm with a long history, huh… Like that, they need to organize and send people to gather information.”
“Right, they seem to have dispatched merchants to trade while also telling them to gather information… In the future, Genou has to work in cooperation with them… Since if they were only capable of listening then I wouldn’t be able to put up a fight even if it was only for self-defense.” <TLN: What it means by self-defense here is counter-intelligence.>
“If that’s the case, then please let us support my Lord from the shadows.”
As far as acquiring a wide range of information using a large number of people, Simone was the better option. However, when it came to assassination, stealing, and other clandestine operations, Genou was far more suitable.
If one could successfully combine the advantages of both it would become a very powerful intelligence organization.
A calm and relaxed smile appeared on Genou’s face.
He seemed to be relieved that his value did not go down.
“Well, isn’t that good? Despite being unscheduled, for such an agreement to come from the first discussion with her, it was not bad. So boy, are you also going to leave the purchase of supplies to the Christoph firm as well?”
“No… I do not have any intention of trading with the Christoph firm this soon.”
“Eh? What does that mean? I thought the meeting a while ago was to start a deal? If not them, who are you going to buy our supplies from?!”
While feeling surprised Lione raised her voice.
They had looked specifically for a firm that had nothing to do with the Earl, and even made an agreement of cooperation with that Christoph firm.
Yet, Ryouma said that he would not make any trades with the Christoph firm so soon.
In Epiroz, there were nine other business firms.
However, all of them were under the Mistel firm’s umbrella which was siding with Earl Salzberg.
“Of course, we’re going to trade with the Mistel firm… Well, I’ve also discussed this with Simone… It would be bad for us if we immediately traded with her Christoph firm. That would only alert the Earl, see?”
Everyone was convinced when Ryouma said those words.
For Earl Salzberg, if Ryouma made any dealings with the Christoph firm he hated, it would only raise a feeling of danger inside him.
‘Why did he trade with a business firm that is my enemy? Does he intend to going up against me?’ Such thoughts might have surface within the Earl’s mind.
For the current Ryouma, such a situation would be undesirable.
That was why Ryouma and Simone decided it was best for them if he traded with the Mistel firm and the others first, until they had enough power to go up against the Earl’s might.
On the other hand, Ryouma would be leaking information to Simone while also preparing themselves for a future confrontation against the Earl.
Besides, for Ryouma, Earl Salzberg might have provided various conveniences if he were to ask for them earnestly.
The reason for this was that for the Earl, there was still the issue where he was embezzling the crown, by way of the rock salt vein operation.
“I see… Indeed, that would be a safe move.”
The two people who usually gave input to Ryouma with wisdom agreed. <TLN: I don’t know who and who, but one of them is Bolts> <PFN: in that case, i guess the other one is Genou>
“Well, I guess, it really sounds like you. Especially with how you’re trying to use the Earl as much as you can,” Lione laughed loudly while saying those words.
What she meant was that Ryouma always made his opponents become careless and then destroyed them with one blow, placing emphasis on efficiency. Some might call people like that cowards.
However, someone who could do something like that usually became a formidable adversary.
“But still, Ryouma-sama, to meet with the Christoph firm first and not Mistel’s… Won’t that make the Earl grow suspicious of us then?” Sara’s eyes who were looking at Ryouma looked uneasy.
“Well… According to Simone, they always dispatched someone to watch the Christoph building… Thus, no matter what I do, they would know that I’ve visited her.”
“Then, what are we going to do?”
“Well, I will just talk honestly: ‘I tried to purchase some supplies from her and she refused’… Because of that, I now run and ask the Earl for help, requesting him to introduce me to the Mistel firm.”
‘He refrained to ask the Earl for help immediately because he couldn’t afford to trouble the Earl without reason. And the reason why he visited the Christoph firm first was simply because the shop seemed to be empty.’
Using that, Ryouma would go to meet the Lord of Epiroz, seeking help purposefully after telling him that he was being rejected by the Christoph firm.
Ryouma would then tell the Earl that he aimed to make a deal not only with the Christoph firm, but with the others as well. This, in turn, would create the impression that he did not have the intention of antagonizing the Earl…
Based on Simone’s and Genou’s descriptions of the Earl, the nobleman was a completely different person compared the one he had seen at the castle.
The way he praised Ryouma and also his kindness… All of that was an act.
The truth was that he was an arrogant person who looked down on other people.
Considering his personality, if Ryouma were to come to him and beg him for aid in earnest, it would then fulfill the Earl’s sense of superiority.
Thus, the Earl would never suspect Ryouma’s maneuver.
“I see… You’ve thought about it that far ahead while also considering the Earl’s personality, huh?”
“As usual, young master is really a terrifying person…”
Such casual tones were voiced by some of his close subordinates.
“To mix the truth with a lie would make it a good lie. One that will not only make the Earl incautious and inadvertent towards us, but also give us some help while at it. After that, I just have to exploit him until I have no further use for him anymore.”
Saying that, Ryouma showed a cold smile.
He was planning to provoke the Earl’s carelessness, and then use it against him.
“I guess, that is good enough… But what are we going to do about the population?”
Genou voiced his question.
For the time being, they had solved the problems regarding hiring the mercenaries and the purchasing of supplies.
What was left was the problem regarding the people that would become the future citizens of Wortenia.
“That huh… Does anyone have an idea?”
Clearly, this problem was a very hard one, since in the first place, it was a difficult thing to settle inhabitants.
For example, if Ryouma set up a notice board in the neighboring cities and villages, advertising that he was gathering emigrants, was there anyone who would then be willing to apply? ’To go to an undeveloped territory such as Wortenia?’ such doubts were in Ryouma’s mind.
Powerful monsters wandered around, not to mention the pirates that had strongholds within the territory.
Not only that, but it was also a territory that had no resources. Normally, what he could provide was some form of tax incentives, but with just that, nobody would be willing to move in.
Besides, even if some of them did migrate, another problem would arise, and that was related to the nobles who would have previously been their lords.
People that lived in a territory paid taxes. What would happen if someone took those people? The number of the taxpayers would decrease, and in turn, the income of the nobles would also decrease.
Which would end up with either the nobles complaining to Lupis or using brute force.
And then, whichever was chosen, Ryouma’s fate would have been over.
Regardless, Ryouma’s current situation was that he was weaker than any other noble in the area.
When Ryouma asked the question to see if someone had any idea, everybody remained silent, thinking of some possible solutions.
After having acted together with Ryouma all this time, they also understood the importance of ideas.
The ideas that defied the common sense of this world! It was that kind of ideas that often led to a solution for their problems.
“How about this… It would cost money but we could gather some slaves who would then become permanent residents in the future… And it is also a good way to avoid the other nobles’ scrutiny.”
The surrounding people turned their gaze on Sara.
Her words were very convenient for the current situation that Ryouma was in. No, rather, it could be said that it was too good to be true.
For Ryouma, being able to solve the current problem with gold was so convenient that it was hard to believe.
‘If you want citizens, then buy them’. Such a convenient way, did it even exist?
“There are a lot of slave merchants in the backstreets of this town. How about buying some labor slaves at that place? With this, we can get the people we want by using gold. Magic arts can be mastered by anyone anyways, which means we’d have to educate them. This way, it would be a lot safer for us to buy slaves rather than taking residents from other territories and angering the nobles by doing so.”
Hearing Sara’s explanation, everyone immediately thought about the merits and demerits of her idea.
The first one who broke the silence was Genou.
“It is not bad… But what worries me is that the slaves might turn against my Lord.”
“Genou-dono’s doubts are reasonable. In the first place, our finances are already tight, no?”
“How about we buy them in bulk? Since slave labor is cheap, we can ask for a discount if we buy them in large amounts… If we go with this, we shouldn’t have to worry about the money.”
If Ryouma purchased the slaves at once, he could negotiate the price of the individual slaves and ask for a discount.
And if they bought them on a regular basis, the slave merchants wouldn’t be able to refuse their offer.
“But, what are we going to do if they rebelled? Even if we managed to get the gold, will these slaves really become Ryouma’s people?”
“Then how about we offered them their freedom?”
Towards Sara’s suggestion, Lione shows an expression as if she doubted what she had just heard.
“Ha? What are you saying? After we buy them with our own money, we release them?”
“Yes. Both my sister and I were originally war slaves, but Ryouma-sama released us. Because of that, we hold the utmost loyalty towards Ryouma-sama. If back then we had still been slaves then the story would have been different…”
If they had been still slaves, they wouldn’t have held such loyalty for him like this.
Everyone understood what Sara’s words implied.
They suspected that most humans would hold no loyalty towards a master as a slave.
They would only serve their master out of fear of being hurt, while deep inside their hearts a smoldering murderous intent would be lodged.
In their minds would for ever remain the intention to murder their master the moment they found a chance to act on it.
“I see…You guys… So that’s how it is…”
Lione murmured some words as if having just realized something.
Both she and Bolts always wondered why did the Marfisto sisters displayed such a strong devotion and trust towards Mikoshiba Ryouma.
(I see… Slaves are also living beings. Meaning, they also have the sense of gratitude…)
Lione at least could understand what kind of life a slave had. It was full of humiliation and suffering.
Lione herself came from a commoner family. And as a commoner, both her status and life were not that far apart compared to a slave’s.
When commoners couldn’t pay taxes, or the country lost a war, they would usually end up being sold as slaves.
What would follow was a thorny road where they lost all of their human dignity with little hope to regain it until the end of their lives.
“I see, that is not bad, letting them feel loyalty towards my Lord by setting them free, while also making their hatred towards nobility disappear… I say, it is not a bad idea at all…”
Their fealty to Ryouma as a feudal lord would be the most important thing. Or one could also say, their devoted love, support, and defense of what they would consider their home, Wortenia.
Ryouma himself was only an upstart, but he would give them the one thing that they usually wouldn’t be able to obtain.
As long as Ryouma did not make any foolish policies, they wouldn’t disobey him.
“Very good indeed… We can give them some salvation from slavery as well… I will immediately begin to look around the slave traders starting tomorrow. Sara, Laura, you both come with me. Genou, continue to keep an eye on Earl Salzberg! Lione-san should continue hiring mercenaries, and as for Bolts, continue looking for information regarding the peninsula.” <TLN: It is weird that sometimes Ryouma called Lione without using honorific and sometimes he use it.>
Everyone nodded their heads.
Ryouma hated the slavery system which treated humans as if they were mere commodities.
He thought it was important for a human being to have their own free will.
This could also be said to be why he hated Lupis.
That was because she ignored Ryouma’s identity as a person and his intentions.
The oppressed Ryouma would in consequence borrow the power of the oppressed slaves to retaliate.
Will the story end up as exciting as it sounds?
(Class system? All of that can just go to hell! I’m going to crush all of you bastards to oblivion!)
This day would later be known as the day the oppressed people first saw the light.
The will of the people inside this room was one that would eventually swallow the entire continent.