Money/Gold. It was an all-around weapon in civilized societies that went beyond certain constant standard. <TLN: By context, it is Gold that falls into such category, because since ancient times and until today. we can still use it as a currency weapon… But I will use Money for the entire explanation>
Money can be turned into foods, clothing and shelter/residence. In times it can be turned into knowledge and depending on the situation it would even rule over life and death of a person.
It was the so-called ultimate power.
(Such things didn’t change even in a different world… Well in that sense, I can feel relieved that this world is not an open world with no currency.)
In extreme cases, no one knew whether or not there was another world with people primitive enough, that they didn’t know the term of currency .
Because being in this world itself can be said as absurd as a fairy tale.
Resting his cheek against one of his hand, Ryouma listened to the progress of the meeting while looking at the gold coins in his other hand.
(This does has a nice touch…)
A certain weight, characteristic feeling of gold.
Naturally, he lifted his lips after he felt such peculiar sensation on his hand.
Although Gold coins were heavier than bills, and they were inconvenient to carry, there was a sense of fulfillment in holding them that paper money didn’t have.
“I don’t understand really well… In other words, the aim of the both of you was gold from the start?”
A conference meeting room. It was a place where the ruler of Wortenia Peninsula and his aides surrounded a huge ebony roundtable.
The one who opened her mouth was Lione who had kept silent during the meeting, but the moment Simone ended her speech, she was the first one to open her mouth.
Ryouma smiled bitterly since he could notice dark anger hidden behind her pupil.
(Wah, her mood turned bad… I guess I’ve expected that reaction from Lione…)
The problem was the reason why she was angry.
As a mercenary Lione could understand that reason. And as a field commander, she could also understand that such aim was also right. But, the problem was she wished that Ryouma trusted her a little bit more.
And not only Lione held such thoughts.
(Though she herself seems to have calmed down considerably…)
Otherwise, Lione would’ve flared up seriously right now.
And if she was that short-tempered, she would’ve left a long time ago.
“Lione-san, your words, I think it was a bit wrong. It is true that Ryouma has given me the duty to gather funds and supplies. But for him, that was not everything.”
Lione frowned after she heard Simone calm argument.
Probably because she realized something from Simone’s words.
(Well, it’s not like what she said is a lie…)
At least, Ryouma never told Lione a lie.
Certainly, he didn’t say everything in details, but he cannot be blamed for deceiving either.
If there was a reason for Ryouma to be blamed, then there was only one. And the only reason was that he didn’t explain everything properly.
“I see, then what the young master told us at the beginning, that he wanted to demonstrate our prowess to the neighboring countries and nobles, while buying time for Zalda to find a breakthrough…”
Sitting next to Lione, Bolts who was silent all this time opened his mouth.
“Regarding that, Ryouma-sama didn’t lie. As a matter of fact, those objectives were essential for us.”
“It’s just that he didn’t say everything, is it ?”
“Briefly speaking, that is right…”
“I see… That means it was not important to tell us everything, eh ?”
Bolts then directed a meaningful line of sight to Ryouma.
“No no, I have no intention of keeping it secret.”
“I see… Which means just like Simone-san had said. It was because we didn’t ask about it in the first place, is it ?”
Bolts scuffled his hair while shaking his head sideways in an exaggerated manner.
“Well, fine then. I’m not convinced, but certainly, I didn’t inquire about it in the first place…”
Probably because she finally understood Ryouma’s intentions. Lione let it pass despite feeling distrusted.
“Well then, how about we talk about it from the start. That was the reason why the boy had gathered all of us here this early in the morning, no ? And besides, I also have something that I wanted to ask. About various things…”
Following Lione’s gaze, Ryouma shrugged his shoulders.
Certainly, there were many things she would want to ask.
Because she felt that Ryouma himself avoided proper explanation.
“The things you want to hear, is it about the matter with King Julianus?”
It was the problem that Lione had kept asking for an answer, and also the problem that Ryouma had kept avoiding to answer.
“That’s right, I was wondering, just what is it that that old man told you, right before we returned back?”
“What’s with that question ?”
Bolts who cannot follow the conversation stared at Lione’s face questioningly. Or rather, everyone in the room did the same.
Their line of sight focused on her all at once. However, Lione applied silent pressure while kept starring at Ryouma without averting her gaze.
“You can’t go and say there’s nothing to say, alright ? After all, your behavior that night was unusual…”
Her tone of voice demanded a proper explanation. It came out after enduring Ryouma’s attitude all this time.
(Well, fine then…)
It was a long story. And also pretty complicated too.
Speaking frankly, Ryouma was troubled as to where he should start talking.
“Let’s see… I guess I should talk starting from that…”
Ryouma opened his mouth after sighing deeply.
“King Julianus, rather than just the previous war, he told me that every wars happening on this western continent was the work and intentions of a certain group of people….”
The things that came out from Ryouma’s mouth was as shocking as a bomb explosion.
Because of the unexpected words, Lione was looking stunned.
“Wha-? What do you mean by that?”
Not only Lione, almost everyone else also stared at Ryouma with a surprised expression
Only two people didn’t show any surprises, and that were the Marfisto sisters.
“Well, at first, I could not believe it either…”
It was a very natural reaction. Ryouma himself would doubt the sanity and wonder how he should interact with people who believe in it immediately, if he told them.
A heavy silence dominated the room.
Everyone gazed at Ryouma without saying any words.
From the others’ point of view, Ryouma’s words could only be regarded as delusion or words that came out from someone insane.
“Well, let us hear young master explain everything until the end first.”
Finally, Bolts opened his mouth.
Although he himself felt the same as the other, he seems to have decided that he should listen to everything first.
Doubt and suspicion clearly floating in his eyes.
“My bad, Bolts… Now then, let’s us continue the story…”
After confirming that everyone had regained their calmness, Ryouma opened his mouth once again.
“Let me say this first… I never had the intention of swallowing the story King Julianus told me about. After all, it was a fairly crazy story to begin with…”
Everyone surrounding the roundtable nodded deeply in silence without saying anything.
It was also the same for Sara and Laura who had heard about it first from Ryouma before anyone else.
“That was why, even after I heard this story from King Julianus, I didn’t tell anyone… To be honest, I doubted that old man’s sanity when I heard it. However, as soon as I got back, and had the time to think about it myself, I thought that there might be some truth in this story. At least on the Ortomea side, the people who wanted to prolong the war are not just a few…”
“What does that meant?”
“First, Joshua Belharres…”
It might be because he had the geographical advantages going for him but, it was the truth that Joshua Belharres had defended against the Ortomea Empire for a year.
But thinking about it calmly, such thing was unnatural.
He used the basic strategy of disturbing the enemy’s supplies transport. However, Ortomea should’ve been able to anticipate that well enough.
Why didn’t they put any countermeasures? No, naturally they should’ve put many measures against Joshua tactics.
Yet under such circumstances, Joshua had managed to attain a lot of success.
Of course, it didn’t mean that everything he did was a success. But still, he managed to slow down the Ortomean invasion.
Ryouma himself thinks that Joshua’s ability was excellent.
However, when he thought about it more calmly, that alone won’t be enough to attain such success.
“In other words, there was an information provider on the Ortomea side?”
“Making friends from amongst the enemy ranks is a basic strategy. In this regard, Genou and Ryuusai would’ve been more familiar with it, no?”
Towards Lione’s words, Ryouma turned his gaze to Genou and co.
“I see… That might be true but… As far as Sakuya’s report go, no one in Zalda should’ve possessed such ability, though?”
Although they nodded their head, Genou and his clan members still could not understand fully.
If the Zalda Kingdom had an excellent intelligence network, they wouldn’t have ended up being cornered in the first place.
Being unable to grasp the Empire’s movement in itself was a proof that the Zalda Kingdom didn’t have such resources and even if they did, it would’ve been a very small organization.
“Right, that was why I thought everything was because of Joshua’s skills…”
Skill was something very important in a war, but that was about it.
To win a war, one needs to build a precise and huge information network, and one needs a lot of excellent people working as assistant staff.
And above all else, it was very important for them to have high loyalty and a sense of duty.
Such things should not be available in the Zalda Kingdom who had exhausted its strength.
The only people who had such quality might be only the two people, General Belharres and Joshua who succeeded him, who waged an unconventional warfare after looking at the difference in power between two countries.
“However, that thought seemed to be a mistake…”
When the war was over, Ryouma had asked Joshua about it directly, but he said the spy he had only told him about general various information and didn’t indicate that there was a betrayer within the Ortomea Empire.
Of course, Ryouma could not take Joshua words for granted either, after all he should not be able to create an excellent spy network under such dire situations.
If that was the case then…
“Someone in the Ortomea side, who is close to the high command leaked the information intentionally?”
“If you think about it more calmly, the way the Ortomea’s army moved certainly was unnatural…”
Towards Lione’s words, Ryouma nodded his head.
Compared to the strategy during the time they killed General Belharres, the Empire movement afterwards lacked precision.
“At the beginning, I thought there is someone who wants to pull down Sardina’s standing on the Empire side… After all, internal conflicts for a leadership is very possible…”
Sardina Eizenheit is the eldest daughter of the Emperor, and also Emperor Lionel’s favorite child.
His confidence in Sardina’s ability might be even above the crown prince who was her elder brother.
Thus the likelihood that someone was trying to pull Sardina’s legs was very likely.
Ryouma’s words were only based on guesses, but because it had enough logic, people felt such scenario was possible after listening to it.
“Wait a moment. Even if it was just a guess of the young master, this story is about if there was someone betraying the Ortomea Empire during the war, right ? Does it has anything to do with what King Julianus had said ?”
Bolts butted in with a question when he heard the arranged story.
And the question was something right to ask…
“Well, Bolts’ doubt is natural. Certainly, the current story is only possible if there is a conflict within the Ortomea Empire itself. However, you will be convinced if you listen to me until the end…”
“Is this regarding the amount of money Simone managed to get?”
“Yes, I ordered Simone to earn at least a billion baht. By making use of this war, that is…”
“A billion… Such amount…”
Ryouma talked about the amount as if it was nothing, but Lione who didn’t hear about it in advance felt surprised.
It was close to 10 billions in term of Japanese Yen.
It was the amount of money normally someone wouldn’t be able to attain in their lifetime.
However, Ryouma talked about it as if it was nothing.
“Well, it’s not that surprising really… After all, such an amount won’t be enough to fund my final goal…”
As a matter of fact, the more money Ryouma have right now, the better.
One billion baht was only enough for the maintenance and development of the Wortenia Peninsula. However, he could not perform any expansion with that amount alone.
“But still, is it really possible for you guys to be able to get that money ? Seriously ?”
Lione’s skeptical gaze was directed at the surroundings.
It was good to have a goal, but it would be meaningless if it was an impossible goal.
And, thinking about it with common sense, it was quite difficult for the current Ryouma to earn that amount of money.
However, Simone opened her mouth as if waiting for such question.
“Yes, if everything had gone according to the plan, it was possible for us to get that amount of money…”
“According to the plan?”
“Yes, Zalda and Ortomea. It would be possible if we made use of the war between those two countries.”
Lione tilted her head in confusion after listening to Lione’s explanation.
(Well, it was natural for her to not understand… In this world, it was not common for someone to understand war emergency economic demands… But if that is the case, then…)
Ryouma realized that his guess was highly possible. And such thoughts suggests the possibility that someone had the same knowledge as him.
“As expected… I have no choice but to start to move on, huh…”
Ryouma muttered those words with low voice while Simone explained the method she used in the conference room.