TL: I’ll see you next weekend.
Chapter 200 – Dividing the loot and the plan to revive the dukedom
Veronica looked at Brendel with a perplexed expression. The youth’s perception of the Empire was exceptionally bad. It was true that the Kirrlutz Empire and Aouine regarded each other poorly because of the past feuds, but she could not understand why an astute person like Brendel would act so blatantly hostile towards them without even conceding a little ground.
But she was mistaken about Brendel’s reasons for being hostile. It was because the Empire had a hand in Aouine’s destruction in the future, not the past. Still, it did not prevent Veronica from admiring the youth’s insight, and she had a faint smile on her face which unfortunately made the latter feel unsettled.
“You know this point better than I do, Lady Veronica, most of the Empire’s Imperial Council would never agree to restore Mephisto’s territory. Even if your Emperor supports this idea, it wouldn’t pass because of the objections…… No, in the first place, why would the Emperor even support it? Mephisto attempted to assassinate him and killed countless young elite officers who were supposed the Empire’s future pillars. Millions of Tor coins are offered as bounty for his head.”
“Hmmm. You seem to know the Empire’s events very well?”
“Certainly not, definitely no more than the gossipers amongst the noble circle.” Brendel hurriedly changed his tune. There was no telling what this woman was planning if he continued to talk badly about the Empire.
“Hmph! This idiot keeps on criticizing our Empire. It’s as if there’s some kind of secret feud with us and he’s trying to study our history to find a weakness.” Faena interrupted them and rolled her eyes.
[Huh. Even though the snotty princess sounds like she’s mocking me, she’s actually trying to get me off the hook by stating a ridiculous notion. But I feel like there’s a chill on my back…… Why is this girl trying to be nice out of a sudden? There must be some kind of scheming involved!]
Brendel’s hair was standing up.
Veronica, however, nodded at Brendel’s thoughts: “You are right. The Empire will never agree to it.”
Brendel’s mouth opened and he could not help but feel impressed at Veronica admitting it so easily, especially when Mephisto was in listening range. This woman was a politician, no, she was even more thick-skinned and villainous than the average politician!
“Is your head filled with nothing but cynicism? Why is the younger generation nowadays full of scheming thoughts? As a commander of the Empire, my promise isn’t made lightly and I will definitely restore Mephisto’s territory.”
“…… Didn’t you just agree with me?”
“Yes, the Empire will never give back his land. But you can.”
“Me? Huh?” Brendel suddenly realized what Veronica was trying to do: “Why would I help him restore his territory? Even restoring his House is an onerous task. Also, why are you getting me involved in the transaction that both of you made with each other!”
“Boy, what do you mean by you’re not involved?” Veronica’s words were slow and pronounced with a pointed stare. “Mephisto and I risked our lives to aid you with Andesha. We could have walked away instead. Don’t you think you owe us this favor?”
Brendel shook his head like a dog’s wagging tail: “The Empire owes Aouine a lot for what they did several centuries ago. Didn’t I help out in protecting your little princess as well? So we don’t owe each other anything.”
Veronica’s smile cracked. The brat was not acknowledging their efforts to stop Andesha? He did not owe them anything?
She poked repeatedly at his forehead with a finger: “How can things be settled so easily? Besides, taking part in this deal isn’t something that’s completely bad. I’m sure you know this point very well, so why are you trying to plead with that big innocent eyes of yours!”
“I apologize, my lady, I do not understand what you’re trying to say,” Brendel’s mouth and eyes were slightly widened, trying to show that he was surprised and puzzled.
Veronica’s lips could not help but turn up at the corners:
“Is that so? Then let me spell out everything for you. Earlier when I asked you for your aid to find Faena, you refused me and said that you’re helping out the Druids? The Fire Seed in Valhalla, hmmm? It sounds like you’re after this legendary land. I assume you already have the qualifications of a Pioneer Knight, and you have the authority to own it the moment you light up the Fire Seed, yes? It’s a wonderfully calculated move, but is it truly realistic?”
Brendel did not respond, so she continued to speak.
“Nobody has made it past the Loop of Trade Winds for centuries and no one even knows that a primeval Fire Seed exists here. Once it’s lit up, the Dark Forest will be converted into stable land. Valhalla would not be just limited in the Loop of Trade Winds but the area around it as well. In fact, the size of this territory could almost compete with the entire Aouine kingdom. This temptation is surely too much for your kingdom’s nobles. None of these people would care whether you acquired this land legitimately, and you ought to know that the word ‘legitimately’ is merely just a word. A primeval Fire Seed? It’s enough to cause a civil war.”
“What about you?” Brendel regarded her a little warily.
If she suddenly wanted to stab him with her pointy blade and try to take this land for the Empire, he probably could not stop her.
“Me?” Veronica looked like she had heard something funny: “Why does the Empire want a land that requires at least a month of traveling to reach it? However, I might be tempted if the owner of this land is next to the Empire.”
Brendel pondered for a moment and nodded. He understood what Veronica was trying to say.
[She wants me to share the land with Mephisto. He gets to restore his land while I gain an ally because our interests are tied together. He won’t let the nobles from Aouine target this plot of land. Since I’m the one lighting up the Fire Seed, I can get more of the land, but I would at least have to give up at least a third of the territory to acquire this ‘bodyguard’.]
There was indeed an oversight in his plans. He had considered the dangers of Count Randner attacking his territory, but what was going to happen if the nobles formed some kind of alliance to gain a slice of this pie? In the game, the owner of a territory could only belong to one guild at a time as it was enforced by the game’s system. However, this was a different place where ‘NPCs’ outnumbered the single gamer in this world.
[It’s also not possible for me to form an alliance with the Royal Faction. We’re practically strangers and we did not part happily in the previous encounter. Even though Princess Gryphine gave me that trinket, would she really feel at ease over a mysterious stranger who had a territory that’s as big as the entire Aouine kingdom? I am willing to bet that she trusts me, but if I lose this bet, it wouldn’t end with me losing the territory but the entire future of this kingdom.]
The most annoying thing was how Veronica took advantage of this situation. She was using him to solve a sworn enemy of the Empire without any effort at all. All his loot was now being divided up because of this woman, and that smile of hers was annoying him to no end.
[A bloody general resorting to such trickery. What a scheming fox. I should try and resist the conversation’s flow.]
“This is still a proposal that’s completely unfavorable to me. Instead of me tying up Mephisto to my cause, he might swallow me up instead and usurp everything.”
“Mephisto isn’t such a person.”
“Hahahaha, I’m also not a greedy person, do you believe that, commander?” Brendel spoke through clenched teeth.
Veronica laughed: “You’re really quite sly, boy. Very well, I promise you as the commander of the Azure Skies, we will support you in the shadows to build this land. With the Empire as your shield, Mephisto will not have any other thoughts.”
Brendel nodded. Even though he was certain the Empire would never provide any true aid to him, this promise was enough to give the nobles from Aouine pause, and probably Mephisto as well. The princess would even rein in the Royal Faction tightly to preserve her relationship with Brendel.
“The revival of the Sutherlands will not be a simple thing. I’m sure Mephisto doesn’t merely want to be a lord of some random people?” Brendel asked.
He was certain that Veronica would want to make her plot to work.
“Naturally. There are some former subordinates and citizens living in the Sutherlands’ former territory. As long as they are willing to move, I will send them over through various means.”
Valhalla’s Fire Seed merely weakened monsters in the Dark Forest. It obviously did not convert it into a city or a land fit for living. The first thing to drive out the weakened monsters, then cut down the trees and build a place that was fit for living. Tilling the soil and mining the quarries were next. It was going to be a great effort to convert the place into a thriving city.
Sending over Mephisto’s retainers and citizens meant that he had free labor.
As for the native Druids, the youth expected their population to dwindle down to a mere twenty percent of what it used to be, and these members were also comprised of mostly the elderly and young. It was going to be hard for them to participate in building Valhalla. He was going to have to move Trentheim’s citizens to this place to aid the conversion.
“Lady Veronica, I understand that you’re removing a sworn enemy of the Empire, but your political opponents might see this as an opportunity to attack you. Instead of hunting down Mephisto, you allowed his retainers to escape along with him and build another kingdom. Are you certain that you’re willing to sacrifice so much for the Empire?”
Brendel suddenly asked. Veronica snorted and fluttered her long eyelashes:
“Are you trying to sow discord between the Empire and me? You’re too green, little boy. The Empire’s growth is my best reward. And even if you managed to cause the imperial nobles in the Empire to go against me, what kind of advantages do you hope to gain? Even if I want to swear my allegiance to another, you’re not qualified to let me do so.”
She found the notion funny and laughed: “Instead, you should swear allegiance to me.”
“Haha.” Brendel did not mind her mocking tone and smiled as well: “It is my pleasure to work with you, my lady. Since we are done dividing the ownership of this land, let us inspect the area as quickly as possible. The Druids are still waiting for us to light the Fire Seed.”
“You are certainly cheeky.” Veronica gave a final prod to the youth’s forehead, but she found that the youth’s confidence to be charming: “And I assume that you want Amman’s things for yourself?”
“Of course,” Brendel did not mince his words at all, “I was the one who defeated Amman and broke his spell. It’s my loot!”
He answered with a tone that could only belong to a gamer.