Volume 4 Chapter 10

Volume 4 Chapter 10, “My Name Shall be Henceforth Known as—”

 

——- The Kingdom of the Lake, the Capital, the Headquarters of the Merchant’s Union

Union Employee: “Yes, yes. That’s right.”

Female Union Employee: “There have been three occurrences of lack of capital in Free Cities on the West Bank.”

Branch Chief: “It has begun.”

Young Merchant: “Will we be able to destroy the lines?”

Branch Chief: “It seems that the rumour is spreading quickly to towards the West. The fire has spread to the Kingdom of Waves and the neighbouring three Free Cities.”

Young Merchant: “Understood. Then gather 65% of the letters of exchange owned by the Union in those three Cities. When you evaluate them to have the greatest impact, liquidate these letters at the same time.”

Union Employee: “Yes.”

Young Merchant: “With this one strike, the three churches in these three cities will run out of cash. Merchants will experience their worst nightmare of being unable to exchange their credit for cash. Once they realise that, they will speed away to neighbouring cities and exchange their credit for cash as soon as possible. That will spread the lack of money across neighbouring cities. —- The rumour will grow into a panic, and how will we kick our plan to acquire credit from the landlords into action?”

Union Employee: “Leave it to the Union agents. They have already been instructed to purchase credit at 70% face value.”

Branch Chief: “Landlords hoping to liquidate their assets as soon as possible will flock to sell it to us. And we will buy.”

Young Merchant: “The plan we are putting into motion has no backup plan. If anything were to happen, it may be out of control even for the Union. For that reason, once we begin, we have to pay close attention to the whole situation. It is not our wish for any further panic beyond what we require to achieve our aims.”

Branch Chief: “Understood.”

Young Merchant: “We will need to verify the precise timing for our plan in the three cities. Branch Chief, can you settle it?”

Branch Chief: “Me? I would have thought you would want to do it personally.”

Young Merchant: “I have duties I need to perform here.”

Union Employee: “Duties?”

Branch Chief: “…… Hmm.”

Young Merchant: “This entire plan rests on timing. For the Church, credit is a critical source of revenue. There is no way they would be willing to let this rest. However, the Church is a massive and widespread organisation. If trouble were to happen, they would have to pass on the information and formulate strategies, which would probably take a month. We expect the Church to see this as a natural occurrence that happens every few years, but if they manage to see through this disturbance as a deliberate act, it may ignite conflict. My duty and the issue of timing is to prevent this from being spread outside. That’s why I cannot be on site.”

Union Employee: “……?”

Branch Chief: “Understood. I will coordinate the plan on-site.”

Young Merchant: “Yes, thank you. If necessary, you may also use all the letters of credit and even all liquidatable assets held by the Union. What we need to achieve victory for the Union is a disciplined panic. In other words, this entire operation is a fraud. We will need to achieve that moment of illusion in order to attain our goals.”

Branch Chief: “Understood. Be at ease. We will destroy this Continent from within its reinforced doors.”

 

———- The Demon King, the South, the Old Lands of the Pale, the Crown Prince’s Army

Clip clop! Clip clop!

Crown Prince Marshal: “What is going on?”

Strategist: “An urgent message from the frontline.”

Holy Imperial General: “What does it say?”

Strategist: “I haven’t read it yet.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Well go on.”

Opens envelope

Crown Prince Marshal: “…… ……”

Strategist: “How is it going?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “The siege has been delayed. The Demon Army has retreated within the City of the Gate for a week. We are being pushed to our supply limits for gunpowder and food. We have managed to deliver some food from the our rear defence area, but the continuous use of our cannons is exhausting our gunpowder supply alarmingly.”

Strategist: “Yes. As I mentioned in the previous messenge, we have been bombarding the city night and day in order to destroy the morale of the citizens and reduce their will to fight, but……”

Holy Imperial General: “Since ancient times, launching an assault during a siege has been an inferior strategy, while surrounding them and relying on psychological warfare has been the superior strategy. The command decision of the Ash Green King is sound.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “It may be sound, but will soundness achieve victory?”

Holy Imperial General: “It is definitely…… a difficult fight.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “However, considering that the Ash Green King has been bombarding the city continuously for a week, it is unexpected that the Demon Army would be able to hold on for so long. Had we not witnessed it ourselves, it would be hard to believe…… I wonder what sort of fortification is able to withstand such a protracted assault.”

Strategist: “Indeed. With a hundred cannons, even the heaviest fortifications should crumble within a few hours.”

Holy Imperial General: “As to be expected from Demon technology.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “It’s fine. Above that, what is even more surprising is the high morale of the army and citizens under siege. They have endured a week long bombardment, been cut off from all communications and supplies and have already last half of their original army. I would expect the city to be overflowing with injured and half-dead people. As morale weakens, talk of surrender and capitulation should be running rife. The will to fight and resist gets sapped, despair and disappointment runs rampant, and at the moment where fighting spirit is at its very lowest, to launch an assault is the standard strategy of city sieges…… No matter how strong the fortifications are, once morale is drained, the fight becomes half-hearted.”

Strategist: “What else does the message say?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “In the name of the Holy Spirit, impose a levy on saltpetre and return at this very moment.”

Holy Imperial General: “How impertinent.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmph. This message comes from the nobles…… What is to be done about food? What is the situation regarding our rear supply areas?”

Holy Imperial General: “What shall we do?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “It also says —– Gathering all the food supplies and sending our troops back is the only way to save our lives. The good offices of the noblemen should ensure that the noble armies have a priority to supplies, that is the will of the Church…… Isn’t that too easy!”

Holy Imperial General: “How shameless.”

Strategist: “I fear the gunpowder we have on hand is too limited. It’s clear from their desperate tone that our own morale is dipping…… This is a battlefield. Not just saltpetre, but our stocks of sulphur and charcoal are also running low, yet only saltpetre can be said to be valuable. If we were to reduce the volume of fire, the Demons might realise that we are running low on supplies and that would boost their morale. —— If that happens, we won’t be able to achieve a speedy victory. The morale in that Demon City is already unnaturally high, we can’t afford to give them even another shard of hope.”

Holy Imperial General: “However, we haven’t managed to get our hands on any saltpetre, all we’ve been doing is hanging about the outskirts of the Old Territory of the Pale and wasting time. If only that girl wasn’t around.”

Strategist: “Surely saying that we are wasting time is too harsh. General, I think you know that against the Hero and the Scholar, we have to apply very delicate negotiations and diplomacy.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Perhaps stalling us in this manner is one of the aims of the Scholar……”

Strategist: “Indeed. However——“

Crown Prince Marshal: “Yes, this can be said to be a stalemate. We can’t use any of our military strength, and they have no choice but to give way to us. At present, we have received two hundred wagons of food as a tribute. And with our presence here, we can seal the movements of the army of the Scholar —- this secret Southern Alliance expeditionary army. Apart from the negotiating table, we can prevent the possibility of the Southern Alliance reinforcing the Demon Army. And above that, we can restrict the movements of the Hero and prevent him from leaving this place.”

Holy Imperial General: “But all of this is pointless unless the Green Ash King’s army is able to achieve victory in the attack on the City of the Gate.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “We have no choice. We’re depending on them and they are depending on us too.”

Strategist: “The army requires the saltpetre and food rations which we are holding. We are depending on them to successfully take the City of the Gate, to change the military balance of power and give us an advantage in negotiations, otherwise we do not have a strong strategy to counteract the Hero.”

Holy Imperial General: “A thousand day hand*.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “…… At this rate, we will make no progress. We have no choice. Call the Hero. Let’s try to discern the true identity of this woman they call the Scholar.”

 

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Explanation

Thousand Day Hand: In certain chess or shogi games, the positions of the pieces may be such that the optimum move for both players results in the board returning to the same position every time. In the case of a thousand day hand in chess, the player who initiates the play must break the hand. In the case of shogi, it is the reverse.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

 

———- The Demon King, the South, the Old Lands of the Pale, the Crown Prince’s Army

Tent flap opens

Strategist: “The Hero has arrived.”

Holy Imperial General: “Send him in.”

Tent flap opens

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hero.”

The Hero: “Hello.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “It has been a long time…… I’ve almost forgotten what you look like. Are you having a pleasant time?”

The Hero: “Of course. The Head Chef has been treating me very well. Yeah, even though the meat is mostly Demon Beasts, he’s come up with good ways to prepare it. It’s still very different from meat though.”

Holy Imperial General: “I apologise.”

The Hero: “I’m a freeloader, so I’m not complaining. Thank you for your hospitality.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Then, Hero. Putting those words aside, I have something to inquire of you.”

The Hero: “What is it? Go ahead.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hearing you say that puts me very much at ease. Allow me to ask, are you well-acquainted with that girl?”

The Hero: “Yeah, you could say that.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Exactly who is she?”

The Hero: “Mmm, she’s one of the disciples of that person the Holy Empire and the Church call the Crimson Scholar…… She’s the one who started the whole liberation of the serfs.”

Strategist: “That girl?”

Holy Imperial General: “Don’t tell me she’s that girl?”

The Hero: “It surprised me as well.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmm. —– I see. She made that speech. Hahaha.”

Strategist: “Your Imperial Highness……”

The Hero: “You could say it was a speech, or you could also say it was just an outburst.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “That woman…… the Crimson Scholar. The writer of ‘The Genius’ Manuscript’, the reformer of agriculture in the South, an all-round genius. The Crimson Scholar they call ‘the Light of the South’. Hehehehe. Hahahahaha.”

The Hero: “…… I haven’t heard all those rumours before.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Do you believe she has the ability to change the world?”

The Hero: “I don’t know.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “……”

The Hero: “I am just following my instructions.”

Holy Imperial General: “—– How do you feel?”

The Hero: “What about?”

Holy Imperial General: “About this war. We are deeply grateful that you have accompanied us thus far. But, are we to believe that you are merely accompanying us? Hero, it is time you told us what your true intentions are.”

The Hero: “I have only ever had one true intention. To protect the world.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Our Human world? In that case, why would you impede the progress of your Human comrades? The Southern Alliance are now pointing their blades at us Holy Crusaders. So which side are you on?”

The Hero: “Stop saying such things, Your Imperial Highness. I am the world’s greatest hero, am I not? I have walked this world for years. The world is the world. In this world, there are Humans and there Demons. It’s common for Humans wage their petty wars with their own ideas of justice, using whatever names they can, whether its heroes or the Spirit. What’s the difference now?”

Strategist: “! What!?”

Holy Imperial General: “That is heresy!”

The Hero: “Heresy is decided by the people of the Church, but I don’t worship the Spirit of Light. I have an individual relationship with her and I help her carry out some tasks is all. I am just a Hero of justice. I am not an adherent.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hehehehehe. Hahahahaha!”

The Hero: “Did I say something strange?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Well…… It’s nothing. If you think about it carefully, it’s actually nothing strange for the Hero to say. It’s perfectly normal. Finally, you’re saying what you’ve kept hidden in your heart…… Well no, you’ve never actually tried to hide it.”

Strategist: “Strategist: “Your Imperial Highness.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “In that case, Hero, in the fight between me and the Crimson Scholar, between the Demon Army and the Holy Crusaders, you should be neutral and impartial. Is that correct?”

The Hero: “That’s right.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “No matter what happens?”

The Hero: “No matter what happens.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “So what will you do about the events unfolding in front of you?”

The Hero: “Will you not stop?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “I will not. —– Hero. Have you not heard? We are fighting for the peace and order of the people. What have you gained from this liberation of the serfs? In the end, all you have achieved is chaos. All you have done is to bait the serfs to the poor, hungry and infertile South, where they merely become new slaves under new masters, nothing more than a change of name. No matter how one thinks about it, creating this sort of false hope is far less advantageous than maintaining the present institutions and organisation which has kept the land at peace. History has shown us that this is the only way to continue. Talk of revolution and change is merely the stuff of dreams. Am I wrong, Hero?”

The Hero: “It seems to me that all of this is protecting the interests of the Holy Empire.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “That is correct. And why is that wrong? Accusing a king of pursuing selfish pursuits for his own country is only the biased view of a person with no power. Kings pursue wealth for their country. When the country is wealthy, the people are at peace, and they will not tread on the path of chaos. In pursuing advantage for the Holy Empire, I fight for peace and order for the people, is that something which should be opposed? No matter what, all I am doing is attempting to maximise the benefit for the people.”

The Hero: “……”

Crown Prince Marshal: “We in the Central Continent have a long history of stability and progress. This was something created from the serf system and the community of nobles. Denying that these results were attained is as foolish as denying the very ground we stand on. Nobody can. Of course, this structure has some weaknesses and flaws, but we have never attempted to imply that the system is infallible. Nonetheless, for hundreds of years, Human society has prospered from it. This progress and history is the path of the Holy Empire. Because I believe this is the right path, I am willing to preserve it.”

The Hero: “Well, that’s true. It would be wrong to say that all new things are good things. When new things begin, they have no experience, no results, no tried and proven methods, so someone getting hurt or difficulties being faced are completely natural.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “……”

The Hero: “But according to her, even if Humans are defeated, they still retain their freedom.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “So I should allow us to preserve our current freedoms, and maintain the present systems and institutions?”

The Hero: “It’s a good reasoning, isn’t it?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Try to understand, Hero. This is the reasoning of a person who holds freedom at her highest interest trying to push her intentions onto you. —– I hope her meddling has not been successful.”

Holy Imperial General: “……”

The Hero: “……”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmph. I hope you can concede that I also have a point.”

The Hero: “Your Imperial Highness. In that case, in reverse perhaps you might concede that the new initiatives of that woman…… for example, the agricultural reforms and the liberation of serfs, have a point as well?”

Holy Imperial General: “What do you mean?”

The Hero: “It is not correct to say that new things are correct. But following the same line of reasoning, it is not correct say that things which used to be correct will remain correct forever.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “The logic is sound. And there is also the matter of freedom.”

The Hero: “So as it stands both sides are equal, right?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Indeed.”

The Hero: “Both sides are Humans, both sides are equal, so as the Hero, I should not interfere?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Correct.”

The Hero: “Then, if I do not interfere, with both sides fighting for freedom, will righteousness—“

Crown Prince Marshal: “I cannot say that I am completely benevolent or completely just. However, in order to champion the cause you think is right, sometimes strength is necessary. Accumulating that strength is a severe test, a battlefield in its own right; and by standing on that battlefield, she too is a warrior. There is no question of age or gender in this.”

The Hero: “That statement is true.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “In that case.”

The Hero: “Before you say ‘in that case’. —— Crown Prince Marshal. The world’s greatest hero. With a single phrase of ‘in that case’, in order to impose your personal views on others, you display your military might on the battlefield…… In other words, as the Hero, I have the free will and a duty to uphold to crush violence where I see it.”

Strategist: “That’s—“

Holy Imperial General: “Hero……”

The Hero: “As you say, Humans all have differing opinions, but don’t we have the right to have differing opinions? On this point, I respect your opinion over that of the Church. If you were to ask me if the Church or the Crown Prince is better, I would definitely vote for you. In a world where it is impossible to differentiate justice, in order to solve issues and fight for one’s ideals, is violence the solution? If that is not what you want, then I will be willing to take a backseat. But, if violence is your way of achieving justice, then I will have to act accordingly.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “……”

The Hero: “I am not being patronising. No matter how, having treated me to so much great food, I still bear gratitude towards you…… However.”

Holy Imperial General bangs the table

The Hero: “I don’t think I have to say the rest, your Imperial Highness? You understand, right? Half of the Holy Crusaders are here. I hope that we can avoid violence. In other words, you can probably take it that the Church and I are at conflict.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Is that a threat, Hero?”

The Hero: “Well—“

Crown Prince Marshal: “In that case, allow me to say something as well. I have tens of thousands of muskets. No matter how powerful you are, if you think about it, there’s no way you can single-handedly defeat them all, and I know you’re hardly that conceited. I will take severe losses, but I will win. I have confidence in this.”

The Hero: “Of course. I’m not that conceited. However, Your Imperial Highness. I am not a Hero who will solve issues with violence and destruction. But, you people think that that is all that I can do. Being a guy who can only do that, who can only meaninglessly mumble aphorisms, do you know what that is like?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hero……”

The Hero: “If violence could solve things, don’t you think I would have solved everything from the start? If I could avoid this troublesome state of affairs, I definitely would…… I really want to fly into this battle and try to put a stop to this meaningless bloodbath…… Your Imperial Highness. The greatest hero in the land. If we want to do something right, consider that you have the same objective as she does, to pursue what is ‘beyond that hill’.”

 

———– The Demon World, the South, the Old Lands of the Pale, the Encampment

Mercenary Archer: “I’m getting irritated…… It’s been five days.”

Small Mercenary: “Yeah.”

Elder Sister Maid: “We have to persevere.”

Mercenary Archer: “Even if you say that…… Our minds are slowly draining. I mean, we don’t even a hundred people here!?”

Small Mercenary: “Moreover, we’re checking the movement of fifty thousand Holy Crusaders, protecting this territory against them is insanity. If they discover that this Secret Southern Alliance Expeditionary Force doesn’t even actually exist, they’re going to massacre everybody.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Well, if you think about it, whether or not we have a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand men, if they massacre us, everyone is going to die together.” Smile

Small Mercenary: “How can you say something so hopeless with a smile!”

Young Mercenary: “Come now.”

Mercenary Survivor: “Well, it seems we’ve won though.”

Elder Sister Maid: “That’s right.”

Mercenary Archer: “Really!? But at the negotiations we had no choice but to agree to their demands for us to give them food.”

Disciple Nobleman: “That’s not really related.”

Mercenary Survivor: “Think about it. Hypothetically, imagine if we were the legitimate army of a large country. At the very best we would only be able to hold off an army of such size for five days. Considering that we’ve managed to delay them for the last week, I would call that a victory, wouldn’t you?”

Disciple Nobleman: “That’s right.”

Elder Sister Maid: “The retreat of the Automatons was well-executed too, right?”

Mercenary Survivor: “Holding them off for five days would already be impressive. We’ve provided them with some food, but we’ve managed to conceal the rest of it, and the mines remain closed.”

Resourceful Young Man: “What a splendid bluff.”

Disciple Nobleman: “That’s what diplomacy is about.”

Elder Sister Maid: “It’s not just about bluffing isn’t it? You have to believe in what you’re saying. If you’re unwilling to put your life on the line, you won’t be able to convince them.”

Resourceful Young Man: “That’s very cool, I suppose that’s what they mean when they say if you do not fight you will never have enemies.”

Disciple Nobleman: “My teacher had a similar idea as well.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Well, I can’t say it’s entirely true in practice.”

Mercenary Archer: (small voice) “If it’s not true in practice, then that would be troublesome, wouldn’t it?”

Elder Sister Maid: “But I really don’t want to fight those people.”

Disciple Nobleman: “With the Crown Prince Marshal?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.”

Disciple Nobleman: “That being said, you’re quite a formidable opponent yourself. I was very much impressed by your intimidation and steadfastness.”

Resourceful Young Man: “Oh, and what about me? Hehe. I impressed, you didn’t I? You love me now don’t you? You want to kiss me right!?”

Elder Sister Maid: “What! No!”

Resourceful Young Man whistles

Disciple Nobleman: “Alright now, really stop with that whistling sound. It is extremely uncool.”

Mercenary Survivor: “And here I thought you were afraid of confronting that Prince.”

Elder Sister Maid: “No, it is scary, but…… It’s no reason for me to hesitate. That is something I just have to do. In the face of an enemy, carrying such naivete would be impermissible. It’s just……”

Mercenary Survivor: “?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I think that person has his own sense of justice. Even though, my convictions and my route are different from his. However, because of this, I do not have the right to say that his sense of justice is wrong.  It might be possible that his sense of justice is better for the world……”

Disciple Nobleman: “……”

Elder Sister Maid: “Elder Sister Maid: “I don’t really have the intention to destroy or harm the Holy Crusaders. If possible, I hope that all of the Crusaders can stay alive. If we were able to fight in a different way, that would be best. A different way. When a war is fought, the fight cannot continue. Because one sides is dead. Even if we are enemies, that is not my intention. Don’t you think it’s very lonely? —- Why can’t we become friends with the opponent?”

Disciple Nobleman: “……”

Elder Sister Maid: “What a naïve way of thinking.”

Disciple Nobleman: “No, I can understand.”

Mercenary Survivor: “That’s right.”

Resourceful Young Man: “Really? Because I didn’t understand shit.”

Disciple Nobleman: “You’re probably still young.”

Mercenary Survivor: “Well, we’re mercenaries, so if the battlefield disappeared, we wouldn’t have any food to eat and we would be out of a job. It sure would be difficult without a job and nothing to eat. —- But, above that, if we didn’t have this job, we would be undesirable people. That’s why I understand. Undesirable people are born in undesirable places, this is where we belong, but by being here, we keep the rest from it.”

Resourceful Young Man: “Undesirable people?”

Disciple Nobleman: “That guy…… Can be said to be the very framework of the Holy Empire. At present, the Central Kingdoms have had a history too long and unbroken, and severely lack in talented young men. He’s a man who has been called a hero of the people. That way of living is something not easily attainable. That guy also has things he has to defend. Defend the place where you belong, is that really so undesirable?”

 

———- The Holy Imperial Palace, a Gloomy Boulevard

Horse steps……

Footman: “Sir, we will arrive at the Octagonal Palace after we pass this boulevard.”

Young Merchant: “Alright, let’s go.”

Footman: “Yes, sir.”

Horse steps……

Young Merchant: “How few people.”

Young Merchant: (…… This is the pride of the Continent, the grand boulevards of the Holy Imperial City. Well, the streets are pretty and wide. The buildings are splendid, but the gravitas of the people is completely absent……”

Young Merchant: “I suppose it’s the smallpox.”

Young Merchant: (It appears rumours of the vaccine are spreading. Especially with the economic hardship imposed by the war, the income disparity is becoming evident as well. The serfs are heading to the cities, it seems that the farms are being left untended then.”

Horse steps……

Footman: “Sir, this is the Rose Gate.”

Young Merchant: “Yeah.”

Young Merchant: (The Church and the guilds which are linked to the Church are monopolising the profit, and this is the result. They have hollowed out an economic bubble and left the landlords to wilt away, but that’s the style of the Church…… Well, that’s fine too. This too is agreeable to us…… I have very much to do, in the name of the Union.”

 

———- The Holy Imperial City, the Octagonal Palace, the Garden of Winter Roses

“What business would a merchant have in this ancient and honourable palace.”

“How unpleasant.”

Servant: “This way.”

Young Merchant: “Yes.”

Footsteps…… Footsteps……

“That guy is from the Union.”

“He can’t be a nice guy.”

Young Merchant: (What an opulent and luxurious place. Even the corridors are all completely decked out.”

Servant: “Please enter. His Holy Imperial Majesty will be with you shortly.”

Young Merchant: “Got it. You got any candy?”

Servant: “Huh?”

Young Merchant: “Just a joke.”

Servant: “In that case, please excuse me.”

Door opens

Attendant: “Of the Merchant’s Union, of the Chambers of Commerce of the Kingdom of the Lake, the Young Merchant.”

Young Merchant: “It is my pleasure to meet you. I am the Young Merchant, the leader of the Merchant’s Union based in the Kingdom of the Lake. I beg for your grace.”

Chief Minister: “Hmm, I am the Chief Minister.”

Imperial Bishop: “I am the personal Bishop to the Throne.”

Chief Minister: “By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, before you stands his Holy Imperial Majesty the Sixteenth Emperor of the Holy Empire.”

Holy Emperor: “Mmm.”

Chief Minister: “His Imperial Majesty has agreed to an audience with you.”

Young Merchant: (So this is the guy…… He seems troublesome, I suppose we’ll need to take drastic measures. But this Emperor……)

Holy Emperor: “Welcome. I suppose you have come to the Holy Empire for economic and business reasons? It has been a period of austerity which I have been following for a long time. I look forward to today’s talk.”

Chief Minister: “……”

Young Merchant: “Thank you very much. I have a few things I wish to say today, but…… But first of all, I have a request……”

Holy Emperor: “Go ahead.”

Young Merchant: “The Merchant’s Union is a coalition of independent merchants. The tradition of the solitary merchant has been transmitted through many generations, and we have constructed Chambers of Commerce in various cities throughout the Continent.”

Holy Emperor: “Mmmm.”

Young Merchant: “We have also begun a system of issuing letters of credit for ease of currency conveyance. By your grace, this has been well received.”

Holy Emperor: “Letters of credit? Hmm, I understand.”

Young Merchant: “We would be very grateful if we could be designated with an Imperial purveyor license to provide credit.”

Imperial Bishop: “Your Holy Imperial Majesty I must object.”

Holy Emperor: “Why?”

Imperial Bishop: “The management of the institutions of credit has long been the duty of the Holy Church. It is a noble industry powered by the faith and fervour of the masses of adherents throughout the country. To begin with, anything involving money requires immense levels of trust. In particular, depositing currency requires both trust and capital. Letters of credit, letters of loan, no matter what the financial instrument, are completely valueless unless backed by trust in an institutions will and ability to fulfil it. For a new enterprise to enter this industry, that would be nearly impossible.”

Young Merchant: “I beg your pardon, Chief Minister. According to Imperial Law, is it necessary for me to have a license in order to provide letters of credit?”

Chief Minister: “…… Well…… No, not technically.”

Imperial Bishop: “……”

Young Merchant: “Requesting for an Imperial license is hence purely out of respect.”

Imperial Bishop: “In that case, as the representative of the Holy Church of Light, I impeach your Holy Imperial Majesty. I believe you know that there is no regulation only because it would be ridiculous to challenge the authority of the Church in this industry. In light of this, please adjust the law, no please issue an Imperial edict to ban all financial instruments issued outside of the Church. This is an impassioned plea from the Holy Church of Light.”

Holy Emperor: “……”

Young Merchant: “In that case, Most Revered.”

Imperial Bishop: “What is it, Merchant. I am speaking to His Imperial Majesty.”

Young Merchant: “Actually, the Merchant’s Union also uses the Church’s letters of credit.”

Imperial Bishop: “Hmph, as expected.”

Young Merchant: “I was intending to exchange my letters for some cash, but when I headed to the Free City of the West Shore, I was told that there is no more cash to be had.”

Imperial Bishop: “That’s.”

Holy Emperor: “Is that the truth?”

Young Merchant: “I was a bit troubled, so I went to the other Free Cities in the vicinity, but they had run out of cash too.”

Imperial Bishop: “……”

Young Merchant: “Actually, I was rejected by five different places. Isn’t a letter of credit a binding document*? Denying withdrawals without regard for the original contract, is that the way the Church operates? The merchants of the West Shore are in a huge uproar now, it’s a massive scare.”

Holy Emperor: “Is that the truth, Bishop?”

Imperial Bishop: “That, that is…… a temporary……”

Young Merchant: “That is another reason why I have come to see Your Imperial Majesty. I bring with me a petition signed by five thousands merchants from the West Shore. They demand the immediate return of the money that they have deposited in the Church.”

Imperial Bishop: “We will definitely be able to return the money.”

Young Merchant: “You mean eventually? Please stop joking. We merchants live on a bloody economic battlefield everyday. If we cannot ship our wheat, places literally starve to death. Do you know that there are merchants who cannot buy wheat because their letters of credit are useless? Yet, because of contracts, there are still ships who dock in their docks expecting to be loaded with wheat. Ships are carrying out voyages without cargo, have you thought about the economic damage of that? Trust in the Church? If there was ever such a thing, then perhaps the Church is simply ignoring the trust that we merchants have in the Church.”

Imperial Bishop: “All damages will be reimbursed.”

Young Merchant: “Do you think trust can be bought back? In that case, we will use money to buy it too. So this is the holy trust in the Church which you were speaking of earlier?”

Imperial Bishop: “Such a thing cannot possibly be bought! How audacious! Heretic!”

Holy Emperor: “Stop now.”

Young Merchant: “I apologise for the rudeness.”

Imperial Bishop: “Hmph. Rogue.”

Holy Emperor: “What should we do?”

Chief Minister: “Your Imperial Majesty, you are the chief of law. Whatever you say is bound directly to law.”

Holy Emperor: “I see. Hmm…… Bishop, first make compensation to everybody involved.”

Imperial Bishop: “Yes.”

Holy Emperor: “Moreover, do you agree that the trust of the merchants of the West Shore has been hurt?”

Imperial Bishop: “If organisms like merchants even have the concept of human trust, then yes.”

Holy Emperor: “Beyond the basic compensation, it would be appropriate to provide a higher recompensation in order to rebuild some of that trust. How much do you think is enough?”

Imperial Bishop: “I believe that 100,000 gold pieces would be enough. Maybe even too much.”

Holy Emperor: “Hmm, what do you think, Young Merchant?”

Young Merchant: “Personally, I feel the amount is more than enough. As expected, the wisdom of the Holy Church is truly infinite. I am at ease.”

Imperial Bishop: “How greedy. Shameless man.”

Young Merchant: “However, as I said earlier, the petition has the names of five thousand merchants on its roster. As such, my personal view is not sufficient. I have a responsibility to inquire, may I suggest that the merchants be provided with an additional recompense of 50% of their reported losses?”

Imperial Bishop: “Very good.”

Young Merchant: “Then, when will they be paid?”

Imperial Bishop: “This is the Holy Imperial City. Tomorrow I will bear a message to the Holy Church and begin the proceedings.”

Young Merchant: “Excellent. I look forward to it.”

Imperial Bishop: “Then our conversation is over.”

Young Merchant: “In that case, the combined compensation amounts to 84 million gold pieces.”

Imperial Bishop: “What?”

Chief Minister: “!?”

Young Merchant: “The face value of the letters of credit on its own is 7 million gold pieces. However, the declared opportunity loss of revenue is eight times that.”

Imperial Bishop: “Where do these numbers come from!?”

Young Merchant: “Are you aware of the price of charcoal now? Charcoal is produced in the Kingdom of Elm and is shipped through the infrastructure in the Kingdom of the Lake, it is now worth sixteen times the original price. The tax regime instituted between the two countries is a business nightmare. All of these losses have been incurred because of a lack of liquid capital, at present this is just half of the story, if we factored in the other business and economic opportunities, the losses may increase to ten times. Will the Church accept it?”

Imperial Bishop: “…… Do as you wish!”

Young Merchant: “In that case, at ten times the declared opportunity loss……”

Imperial Bishop: “I thought we agreed on eight!”

Young Merchant: “Sure. Then 7 million gold pieces at eight times the opportunity cost results in 56 million gold pieces. With the trust repair compensation of 50%, that amounts to 84 million gold pieces.”

Imperial Bishop: “Damn you……”

Young Merchant: “Of course, this is just the losses from today. If the compensation cannot be made by the end of the day, then we can expect another round of losses similar to today. In that case…… the amount would be 180 million gold pieces. And after that, it gets difficult. Let me calculate. The next round would be 12.9 billion gold pieces.”

Imperial Bishop: “……!”

Holy Emperor: “Ahahahahahahaha!”

Imperial Bishop: “Your Imperial Majesty!”

Holy Emperor: “What of it? Would the Holy Church be able to round up all the money in the Holy Imperial City within the next two to three days?”

Imperial Bishop: “This is preposterous! Your Excellency!”

Chief Minister: “…… Hmm?”

Imperial Bishop: “I need to talk to you about the money. Let us talk in private.”

Chief Minister: “Uhh, yes. Your Imperial Majesty. I must take my leave.”

Door slams

Holy Emperor: “Hahahaha! Look! It’s like he took an arrow to his butt!”

Young Merchant: “Hahahaha. Indeed.”

Holy Emperor: “Hahahaha. This is hilarious. I haven’t laughed like this since I was a young man.”

Young Merchant: “In that case I am glad I could bring some joy to your life.”

Holy Emperor: “I know what you did.”

Young Merchant: “Yes.”

Holy Emperor: “You intend to pursue them for the payment?”

Young Merchant: “No, no. They were very impertinent though. I wonder what they were thinking.”

Holy Emperor: “These people are only loyal to their own interests.”

Young Merchant: “Mmm.”

Holy Emperor: “I am but a normal and uninformed monarch. Merchant, your intelligence is astounding.”

Young Merchant: “But you are very important to me.”

Holy Emperor: “Me? Oh, the Imperial license. Even if I don’t say anything, you would still have forced them to borrow.”

Young Merchant: “Borrow?”

Holy Emperor: “Hahaha. Didn’t you see the Chief Minister? The Bishop will definitely have to do his best to wrangle up 84 million gold pieces by today. 84 million is no small number, but when you talked about 10 billion that really set his mind racing, the annual value of all the wheat traded in the Continent doesn’t even come up to that much. It is truly a stupendous number. For 84 million gold pieces, if we emptied the Church’s vaults and my own Imperial Treasury, we might just be able to fulfil it.”

Young Merchant: “Imperial Treasury? Is that alright?”

Holy Emperor: “What is?”

Young Merchant: “To order the money to be paid in such a fashion.”

Holy Emperor: “Well. This would be good medicine for the two of them. If the medicine is too strong, it might result in the death of those two. But that is a way of cleansing the rust. I would rather it not be divulged, but from the beginning, meddling with the treasury without my express instructions is a capital punishment. As death row criminals, I suppose they will just have to follow what I say.”

Young Merchant: “……”

Holy Emperor: “Your methods are certainly very dazzling aren’t they?”

Young Merchant: “I do not think so. Your Imperial Majesty has completely seen through my plans. You acted in a prompt and decisive manner to ensure the survival of your country above all else.”

Holy Emperor: “Is that so?”

Young Merchant: “Yes.”

Holy Emperor: “In that case, I suppose we should go and save those two heartless people.”

Young Merchant: “How?”

Holy Emperor: “Merchant, Merchant. You have just managed to land 84 million gold pieces. If you don’t give it back in order to fill up the treasury, those two would have committed a capital offence.”

Young Merchant: “Yes.”

Holy Emperor: “As their lord, I bear the responsibility for the failure of my subordinates. And I would like to request for the 84 million from you.”

Young Merchant: “Hoho, a good proposition.”

Holy Emperor: “Your aim was probably to get lots of money out of this.”

Young Merchant: “Probably.”

Holy Emperor: “In that case, perhaps we could come to an arrangement.”

Young Merchant: “Hoho.”

Holy Emperor: “And, you want some kind of license.”

Young Merchant: “Yes.”

Holy Emperor: “I’ll see what I can do.”

Young Merchant: “I understand.”

Holy Emperor: “Then, what is it that you want, Merchant?”

Young Merchant: “I want a permit to construct Orders of the Lake in the Imperial City.”

Holy Emperor: “……”

Young Merchant: “In addition, all transactions taking place within the Order are to be tax-exempt, and all transactions of the Order are to enjoy the same tax-exempt status as the Holy Church of Light.”

Holy Emperor: “That is……”

Young Merchant: “I’m not asking for a differentiation from the Holy Church of Light. It would be fine if they were on the same footing, don’t you think? The monarchy and nobility can continue to visit their traditional Holy Church if they so wish to.”

Holy Emperor: “…… So this is your aim, Merchant?”

Young Merchant: “Of course, I wouldn’t dare to suggest a scenario with no gain to your Imperial Majesty. It’s clear that the Church and the Empire share a close relationship, but within that gap the Holy Order of the Lake could probably fit in. To begin with, we are two different sects with identical beliefs. Think of it as two separate wings, to stabilise the land. That is no small feat.”

Holy Emperor: “That may be so……”

Young Merchant: “Well that’s just one thing. Now there’s the matter with the letters of credit.”

Holy Emperor: “What else is there!?”

Young Merchant: “The matter I bring before you today is a matter from the Union and friends of the Union. Of course, letters of credit are by no means rare, aren’t they? The Imperial compensation is 8 times with a 50 percent extra, in other words 12 times more than the original sum. If this information were to be leaked out, I fear that all the merchants in the Continent will panic against the Empire and the church. In that case, you can expect ten, no fifty times more complaints than the ones I delivered.”

Holy Emperor nods

Young Merchant: “I believe you understand, but the way to save the Church would be to acquiesce to my demands.” Smiles

 

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Explanation

Binding Document: Parties to a binding document are obligated by law to fulfil the terms of the document. The Holy Church issues letters of credit as binding documents in order to oblige merchants to pay them back for loans, but the reverse is also true. In other words, the Church must pay those merchants in possession of binding documents within the terms stated.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

 

———- The Demon World, the South, the Old Lands of the Pale, a Breezy Hill

Wind blows

Crown Prince Marshal: “Milady.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Once this fight has been won, I will give way to you.”

Elder Sister Maid: “You will retreat?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Well, I will move backwards. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to engage in fine diplomacy with you. This is your victory.”

Mercenary Survivor: (She did it!)

Strategist: “However, the 850 wagons of food and medicine…”

Elder Sister Maid: “Of course, I swear on my honour.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “……”

Elder Sister Maid: “……”

Wind blows

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmm. You should thank the Hero. This was not purely by your effort.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes. From the beginning it has never been.”

The Hero: “Hahaha! The Elder Sister Maid has always ordered me around since a long time ago. And she’s got excellent acting skills to boot!”

Elder Sister Maid: “Didn’t I apologise for that?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “So do you think this is the end?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I suppose you won’t allow me to run now that I’ve won.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Out of the question. Of course, what other choice would you have anyway.”

Elder Sister Maid: “No, your Imperial Highness. If we no longer belong here, we will also go to the City of the Gate.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “I definitely won’t say I don’t welcome that. The Hero and yourself will be the guests of the Crusades.”

Elder Sister Maid: “No, that will not be necessary.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “?”

Elder Sister Maid: “There is no more need to trouble the Hero. Next, will be…… a battle between your Imperial Highness and myself.”

Strategist: “!?”

Mercenary Survivor: “What! What is she saying!?”

The Hero: “Hahahaha! Hahahahaha! Amazing!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “You have a big mouth.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I try.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hahahahahahaa!”

Elder Sister Maid: “Let me tell you the truth.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “What?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I am known as the Travelling Scholar. —– Of course, that is not just a rumour. I have pursued scholarly pursuits and I have travelled extensively. Actually, I have even been to the Imperial City.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hoho.”

Elder Sister Maid: “But, the Travelling Scholar suggest some sort of esotericism. I don’t have this courage, it is a difficult burden to bear……”

Crown Prince Marshal: “So?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I suppose at the end of the day this title is far too heavy for my shoulders. And so, I believe I should go with an identity more fitting to those who know me like the Hero, even to those who face me, like your Imperial Highness.”

Mercenary Survivor: “——?”

Elder Sister Maid: “My name shall be henceforth known as an impoverished serf girl in the Kingdom of Winter.”

Holy Imperial General: “A serf!?”

Strategist: “Fool!”

Elder Sister Maid: “On top of that, I am just a pathetic, powerless Human girl. However, today, right now, from this moment, I have a greater calling. I am now, a hero. I have decided to save the world. I tread alone on this narrow path.”

 

———— The Kingdom of the Lake, the Capital, the Headquarters of the Union, Midnight

Young Merchant: “What a strong rain……”

Young Merchant: (What an unbelievable gale……)

Young Merchant: (The Holy Order of the Lake has been accepted in the Holy Empire. If possible, I want to construct branches in all the major cities. It would be best to accomplish this before the Primarch returns from the Crusades…… We can then build up Chambers of Commerce in these branches, and even banks as well. In this way, we can use letters of credit to cover the cost of construction. The leader of the Holy Order of the Lake is quite a trustworthy person after all.)

Young Merchant: (But the pressing matter is the conclusion of the war…… That will require capital. Saving up will have to come over that. But, war……)

Young Merchant: “Hmm.”

Young Merchant: (Victory and defeat…… Victory and defeat. To begin with, what defines victory? I suppose it would be the complete subjugation of the Demon Race…… It seems that no matter what, the world revolves around attaining complete power. —— Subjugation. It seems to be just sleep talk. To begin with, exactly whose goal is it to subjugate the Demon World? What a stupid idea.)

Young Merchant: (The number of royalty and heads of state involved in the Crusades amounts to forty. In order to just get one city each, they would have to conquer 40 cities, and how exactly would they defend their new holdings? There are 300,000 soldiers in the Holy Crusade. Even if all of them were soldiers, that would mean one city can only be garrisoned with 7500 soldiers. How foolish! Can you subjugate an entire city with 7500 soldiers? Dividing those 7500 soldiers to separate borders where victory and defeat is still uncertain, and then split them up further to pursue fleeing Demon soldiers and citizens is just a recipe for them to be annihilated group by group. I can hardly believe the Holy Church and the Crown Prince Marshal wouldn’t know that.

They definitely have a separate objective. I fear their ultimate aim is to unify the Central Continent. It’s a legend that has been told since the time of the First Crusade. The country which is able to destroy the Demon enemy would make a massive step towards holding power in the Central Continent. However, this flow was halted halfway by a massive change. The Southern Kingdoms, long held to be a loyal bulwark revolted. This revolt was not expected to be within their abilities. It was expected that the South was just a wooden doll without self-consciousness, just a pathetic slave bound to the bidding of their masters in the Central Continent. However, for some reason, that expectation failed.

The South, with its own ideas and determination, formed itself into the Tripartite Economic Union. Wielding independent economic and military ability, they existed outside of the Central Continent. The flow was hence stemmed, and the kingdoms in the Central Continent who sympathised with the South grew in number…… Actually, that last trend was something even we did not expect.)

Young Merchant: “Someone bring some tea…… Well, I guess it’s not the time of day where there would be anyone around.”

Young Merchant: (To the Central Continent, any idea of continental unity is merely based on a common enemy. This enemy took the form of the Southern Kingdoms based on a flawed information system, without seeing their real form. Such a pivot resulted in two strategies. The first is to use overwhelming strength and conspiracy to smash the Southern Alliance, especially the three countries which formed the original Tripartite Union. However, that strategy was frozen in its tracks. —— Because of smallpox. It would have been expedient to obliterate the Southern Alliance, but that technology was important. That’s probably how it is. The schemes against the Holy Order of the Lake must have been exceptionally fierce. But attempting to use schemes and deception against the Holy Order of the Lake is the wrong idea, they are honest to a fault.)

Young Merchant: “I suppose I’m now one of the comrades of the Hero.”

Young Merchant: (Of course, they tried to use military might. However, the Holy Order of the Lake and the Southern Alliance have a completely peaceful attitude. They did not even attempt to contest the Church when they were labelled heretics. The Holy Church then pulled down all Order-related buildings in the countries they still had influence in. Whatever they could not snatch and pillage, they burned and destroyed.

However, on the other hand, in the Southern Alliance, the activities of the Church were left unimpeded. In this manner, by picking a fight with the Southern Alliance, they could not claim to be great and moral. To begin with, by making a proclamation that the South were heretics, they still could take some moral high ground and point their blade at the Southern Kingdoms. In this way, they hoped to break the moral legitimacy of the Southern Kingdoms. However, this strategy underestimated the Southern Alliance, and especially miscalculated the political balance and charisma of the Lone Winter King.)

Young Merchant: (Eventually, the Central Continent had no choice but to directly attack the Southern Alliance. A double danger came from the King of White Night and the Demon invasion, which left the South exhausted and at its weakest. At this point, the Central Continent could carry out their other option, an invasion of the Demon World. Up to this point, I understand their aims. The aim of unifying the Central Continent relies on maintaining a common enemy. But times changed and the enemy was no longer menacing enough. In order to solidify their status, they needed a new incentive, in other words a stronger drive. A bait for the rest to invade the Demon World. That bait was ‘new land and unlimited riches in the Demon World’.

However, that was a spectacularly successful bait. By developments in agricultural technology and the defeat of the Demons at the Isle of Light, the production capacity of the Continent indeed increased. Dukes and Kings watched their treasuries grow and their armies expand. With greed in their hearts, the various kingdoms became susceptible to sweet words of greed. No matter how many times they failed, or rather, the more they failed, the more they lusted for new lands and riches with anxiety in their hearts and a ravenous hunger……)

Young Merchant: “War……”

Young Merchant: (With 300,000 Holy Crusaders, even with splendid weaponry like muskets, consolidating control over the Demon World is absolutely unthinkable. One possibility is for the 300,000 soldiers to seize supplies from the areas they travel through, slaughtering every Demon they come across without reprieve. Moreover, rather than subjugating or conquering cities, they could simply raze them and massacre the population before moving on to the next city. In other words, genocide. However, doing so would only return desolate lands and would require large amounts of time and expenditure with comparatively little return.

Or, they could capture the cities and suppress the Demons with garrisons. With their strength, they might be able to hold on to five or six cities. That would be preferable to spreading out their strength. In such a wide area, whether two or three hundred thousand, it would be like adding hot water to the sea, the heat would just spread out and dissipate…… In that case, the real goal of the Central Continent is to capture just a few cities, to leave a strong impression on the other kingdoms and entice them as a sort of bait. In this way, the next Crusades can be directed to seize more lands and riches, even in the Southern Alliance…… In that case, the best course of action would be to make the Crusades appear ineffectual, and the Merchant Union’s course of action is not wrong. But, even so, there’s still that feeling……)

Young Merchant: “……”

Footsteps

Young Merchant: “?”

Young Merchant: “Who’s there?”

Young Merchant: “I don’t have any appointments today. At this time of the night, my mind is playing tricks on me, I should just drink some wine and sleep.”

Scratching sounds

Fire Dragon Lady: “……”

Young Merchant: “Lady……?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “……”

Young Merchant: “Teleportation!? Otherwise, how far have you walked…… You’re completely soaked! Such heavy rain, and in winter as well? Are you trying to die?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “……”

Young Merchant: “I didn’t think you were that kind of person.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “…… Save us.”

Young Merchant: “Eh?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Bowing my head to you is not something I enjoy. My chest feels like it is being shredded by broken glass. However, I have something I need to rely on you for…… The City of the Gate is about to fall. You have to help us. Somehow……”

Young Merchant: “……”

Fire Dragon Lady: “The City of the Gate is surrounded by 200,000 Crusaders, enduring ceaseless cannon fire day and night. The Crusaders are pushing the defences with crazed fervour, attacking without regard for their own lives. Under these circumstances, the City of the Gate has endured well under the command of the Demon King.”

Young Merchant: “The Demon King? The Demon King is in the City?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Yes. The City cannot fall.”

Young Merchant: (Why? Even if it does get captured, taking it back again is not that difficult. I don’t know what it’s like on the field, but I imagine that their supply lines must be very stretched. If they baited the attackers deep into Demon territory, they could just cut off their supplies behind them, right? Or am I misunderstanding this new musket technology?)

Fire Dragon Lady: “The Crusaders are stubbornly pressing the siege, and the City of the Gate has already become the greatest battle in the Demon World. The dead number more than 30,000 already, and the ground has become inundated in blood……”

Young Merchant: “The Crown Prince Marshal……”

Fire Dragon Lady: “It seems that the enemy general known as the Crown Prince Marshal departed for another location with an army of 50,000 before the battle began. We do not know where he is……”

Young Merchant: (The Crown Prince is not with the 150,000 strong Imperial Army?)

Fire Dragon Lady: “……”

Young Merchant: “Where is the Shrewd Accountant?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “He retreated.”

Young Merchant: “I see. That makes sense since I did issue instructions to retreat. Then why did you stay?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Because I am a Lady of the Tribe of Dragons.”

Young Merchant: “……”

Fire Dragon Lady: “I cannot possibly leave my comrades behind.”

Young Merchant: “I…… see. I apologise. I issued instructions to retreat without considering your situation.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “…… The Shrewd Accountant, the Middle Aged Merchant and the other employees retreated to my father’s domain when the battle began.”

Young Merchant: “……”

Fire Dragon Lady: “You have to help us.”

Young Merchant: “I’m a merchant. I have no army.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Even so.”

Young Merchant: “I can’t.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “You need a reward? If you need a reward, anything will do. As long as I have it, you may have it.”

Young Merchant: “If you intend to walk the path of the Merchant, saying ‘anything’ is definitely not the way to go.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Then I suppose I cannot walk the path of the Merchant.”

Young Merchant: “……”

Fire Dragon Lady: “I am happy to have seen the world together with you. Buying iron here, selling salt there. Travelling to places I have never seen, meeting people I have never met, negotiating, attempting to find compromise. Seeking mutual benefit, considering unknown bargains. That has all been very, very fun. You opened my eyes to the narrow world I had been born in.

But, I am a Lady of the Tribe of Dragons. I cannot betray my ancestors. And…… I love the City of the Gate. It’s a grungy city which is so charming, where Humans and Demons live together. It’s not a playground, it’s a place where trickery and scams are commonplace. But it’s an everchanging City, where all the people are free and control their own futures.

What you said was painful. A sad song is playing in the recesses of my heart. I thought you would at least treat me as a business partner. If you would allow me…… At least let me understand how you feel. Perhaps you scorn such a naïve, weak-hearted and fickle person as myself.  If that is the case, allow me to beg you, on my knees if I have to. I hate to beg, but I really, really need you to help us. That is what hurts me. Even so, I don’t have a lot I can give you, and if you find me disdainful……”

Young Merchant: “I don’t want to hear it.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Is that…… so……”

Young Merchant: “The Demon World is not going to be subjugated by the Holy Crusaders. Even if five or ten Demon cities are conquered, the market is not going to be tremendously shaken by it. This is just the beginning of a threeway economic relationship between the Holy Empire with the Holy Church at its core, the Southern Alliance and now, the Demon World; a brand new world.”

Fire Dragon Lady: “……”

Young Merchant: “That is something that the Merchant Union and myself aims to achieve. In that world, merchants like us would be able to move freely within this economic and cultural relationship, our financial influence would expand tenfold. Why is it that the Demon King is unwilling to let go of the City of the Gate?”

Fire Dragon Lady: “I do not know…… She just says it’s for the future. That it’s for the pride of the Demons and for the sake of the Humans.”

Young Merchant: “The Demon King said that?”

Fire Dragon Lady nods

Young Merchant: (Did we misappraise the value of that city? Does it have some kind of military or economic value I am unfamiliar with? …… No, that would be hard to imagine. In that case, maybe cultural or religious…… Or perhaps it has some kind of symbolic value? —— What’s the likelihood of that? Why would losing the City be such a big deal…… What do you lose if you lose the City? Why would the Demon King go to the City at such a time and defend it to the death?)

Fire Dragon Lady: “……”

Young Merchant: (For the sake of the Humans, she said?)

Young Merchant: “!”

Fire Dragon Lady: “Merchant?”

Young Merchant: “The Demon King! Her eyes are red, right!? Like freshly pressed wine!?”

 

——– Epilogue

With two feelings, the Hero made his way to you.

From her green casket, she watched over the material world in her eternal slumber, gazing down onto the altar. That was a promise. A vow. The place where the contract would be fulfilled.

This time she continued to hope, this time more so, she hoped.

Years and months passed, comparable to infinity, but even so, like a glowing ember, a shadow stayed in her heart, with black hair and black eyes. Calling her name with a soft voice. She loved only once, she loved only one youth.

With a despair that could not possibly happen a second time, she longed crazily to love again. It was a dilemma, and her fragile feelings wavered like a pane of glass in the wind.

The determinations of that youth was another thing which she loved.

The desire to save the world, to embrace the earth.

Save me please. Hero.

As the words left her lips, they dissipated like flower petals in the breeze. They left a sweet touch on her lips as they softly escaped into the light.

Into this world filled with hurt.

She could no longer distinguish whether the steadily burning pulses of pain were borne by the world, or by herself.

In these impure surroundings.

But, because of this, she prayed and wished. She hoped for the salvation of the world, and for that chance meeting that would penetrate eternity.

(Heat……?)

She began to feel, like the prickling of several needles, the heat of a flame.

Like shimmering fallen stars shining against the black floor, she held both déjà vu and jamais vu. That flame, was herself. A small flame which flickered and wavered on the ground…… She too sometimes shone, sometimes wavered, and sometimes she danced as she thought of that black-haired Hero saving the world, and his distinct features.

She continued to watch these movements, entranced.

She longed to meet him again, in her own identity, and longed for another chance encounter. She did not know exactly what she meant by that, but like a girl possessed, she concentrated hard as she stared at the ground.

 

 < Chapter 9                                                                                                                                                                                         Maps and Explanations >

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5 thoughts on “Volume 4 Chapter 10

  1. Thank you for this translation! Maoyuu doesn’t fail to entertain.

    The Fire Dragon Lady’s scene was really a surprise for me. It was quite interesting.

    I’m not really getting this stuff about the Spirit of Light and the Hero (and the Magician, and what the Elder Maid Sister intends to achieve), but hopefully the next volume will explain everything. I’m really looking forward to it!

    • I don’t expect any hard pressed explanations(if anything this novel has had more than enough encyclopedia dumps to last me for the next 5 generations!!) i just want to see the pope get slaughtered, or, at the very least imprisoned for SOMETHING, OMG! He’s. like, obviously the big bad and yet no one’s doing anything to stop him….

  2. damn, just how dire the situation in the Gate city anyway ? but then again there isn’t much that the young merchant can do. Really can’t wait for the last volume.

  3. Why is the epilogue always so esoteric? As far as I can tell it’s from the POV of the Spirit of Light, but more than that, a speculation… : Demon King = Spirit of light?

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