“At first they approached me to buy grain and cloth, but now they want to do business with me or tell me where they get their grain from. Some nobles even threatened me, saying it was illegal.”
“I thought there might be some, but they’re more brazen than I thought, demanding the order.”
“I’m sticking to my guns for now, but I’m worried that if I keep doing this like this, they’ll bring in privateers.”
It’s getting increasingly difficult and more difficult to find grain, and even nobles’ favorite food has dried up. There’s also a shortage of tobacco right now, and nobles who can’t quit smoking are crazy.
Eisel tapped her fan and remained silent for a moment before turning her head.
“How much grain do we have left in the denomination?”
“There is still plenty. It’s about two warehouses full.”
“Is that so?” Consider opening one of your warehouses for other denominations. They’re struggling to buy bread with the offerings coming in, so I’m sure they’ll be glad to have some grain to give away.”
“You mean to tell me that …… nobles have deep ties to denominations, so I should attract them?”
“Dealing with one greedy nobleman at a time is endless, but if I can win the Order’s favor, I can keep the nobles in check. They have deep ties to the high nobility, so the other Order will be a shield. Since I was going to give the grain to the other Order anyway, I’ll consider it a pull.”
Eisel frowned, unable to organize her thoughts. Pressing a hand on her cracked forehead, Eisel sighed and glanced back at the young girl. She walked away with her hat in her hand, a happy smile on her face.
“I wonder if the people here will live until the world ends.”
“Probably we’ll all die.”
In the original, most survivors were noble or wealthy. Ordinary people couldn’t run away or hire mercenaries to protect them they could only flee and die of cold and hunger.
“Oh, and that person you asked me to find before, Elias Julgert Wesanitzel.”
A heroine? Eisel turned her head to look at Bethmere.
“Did you find her?”
“No, I just meant to say that it’s hard to find, so it’ll take some time.”
Even with Nine Tails’ intelligence, is he challenging to find? Today, Nine Tails could tell you what the emperor ate for breakfast. It’s hard enough to find a person, but Nine Tails is hard to find.
“I’m searching based on the information you gave me, but nothing comes up. It’s like looking for a ghost.”
“I know it’s a challenge to find her, but keep up the good work.”
All Eisel wanted was for this world to go on without destroying itself, not die. She didn’t want a sudden confession from Carl, and that’s where Elias came in.
“Because she’s the only one who can accept my obsession.”
The only person who could claim Carl’s love was Elias, the heroine.
* * *
The carriage stopped slowly in front of an ancient and massive mansion. The door opened, and the young butler, who had come out earlier, approached the carriage and extended his hand. Eisel stepped out of the carriage, took the butler’s hand, and removed his hat immediately. Her bright silver hair spilled out into the world, which had been whitened by the night’s snow. Eisel gasped and handed the hat to the maid who followed her out of the carriage.
“He wait you in his office.”
“Always in the Oval Office.”
A man who had done nothing but work all his life rested in his office, even when he rested. Eisel pressed her lips together in a pout, remembering the Bahidman she’d seen for fifteen years. “Let’s go.” He paused, then walked away.
The Basquiella mansion doesn’t look much different fifteen years ago. It was still old-fashioned and the largest and most ornate mansion in the capital. Eisel walked slowly through the familiar grounds of the mansion and knocked on the door to the office. The door was opened without waiting.
She was the only one in the mansion who could enter Bahidman’s office unanswered. Inside, the gray-haired old man, Bahidman, looked up like he recognized her.
Leaning back in his chair, his upper body slumped. He glanced at her and his mouth corners twitched.
“Looks like you’re almost done.”
“I think we’re done, but I’m busier than before.”
“Finishing last is always the hardest.”
Bahidman smiled thinly and rose from his seat. He was nearly seventy years old, but his back was still stiff and his eyes were alive. After more than forty years as empire treasurer, Bahidman’s stature was such that not even the emperor could touch him.
The most rigid, perfectionist of men, with iron, not blood, running through his veins. A man who never smiled.
“Still, you’ve worked hard to get here, Eisel.”
He knew how to smile gently and speak warmly in front of Eisel. It’s a look and tone that would scare anyone, but Eisel is used to it.
“I’ll save that for later, when we have more to deal with… than that.”
Shrugging, Eisel approached the desk slowly and braced her arms on the desk to steady herself. Eisel narrowed her eyes to Bahidman, who was looking up at her with lazy eyes.
“Are you okay?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know I’m not willing to let you get away with this.”
Bahidman stared at Eisel wordlessly with his fingers laced together, then laughed and stood up. As she stared at him, Aizel suddenly noticed a cup on the desk next to her.
Eisel immediately picked it up and sniffed it. Her brow furrowed.
“Is that alcohol?”
“Sometimes you just want a drink.”
Eisel found herself speechless as she listened to the man’s leisurely pace, who never smoked or drank during work hours. He reached for alcohol, which she knew was highly intoxicating from the aroma wafting through her nose.
As Eisel rolled his eyes, Bahidman scratched his wrinkled forehead and sighed slowly.
“I suppose a drink would be an excellent thing to erase those useless feelings, wouldn’t it?”
Losing a child is not useless. Taking the glass from Eisel’s hand, Vahidman took a sip without a care in the world. Aizel bit her lip as she watched him down the strong drink as if it were water and return to his papers.
“Are you feeling responsible?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re the one who sent Gerald Confucius away from here, so I’m asking if you feel responsible.”
“Either that, or you’re regretting what happened?”
“I have no regrets. Do you know that?”
“I’m asking because I do.”
Snatching the glass from Bahidman’s hand again, Eisel slammed it down roughly on the desk.
It came down with a thud, and Bahidman’s gaze met his red eyes again.
“You’re not the one doing this.”
Bahidman’s lips closed at the slow word fall. When Eisel pushed the glass all the way back, Bahidman, who had sunk into his chair, slowly raised the corner of his mouth.
“You’ve grown up, and you dare take my glass.”
“Your Excellency must be getting old.”
Old. Only Bahidma muttering slowly, laughed fitfully.
“Yes, you must be old, and that’s why you’re drinking yourself into a stupor, which was unthinkable in the old days.”
Wiping away his laughter, Bahidman stood up and straightened his hunched back, then slowly turned to face Eisel.
“I already knew. When I sent Gerald there, I suspected I might never see him again. I figured he wouldn’t even see my face, since I’d officially thrown the proud, greedy bastard out, so it’s not really that sad to have him dead.”
The slow pace of Bahidman’s voice struck a chord with Eisel. Eisel opened her mouth at the unexpected approach, but Bahidman’s voice didn’t stop.
“But it is very sad that my child is dead. You asked me if I regretted it, and yes, I do. I regret not sending Raven along with me. I should have left him here and cared for him myself.”
Bahidman turned on his heels and looked at Eisel.
“I should have realized that a man who hated my father more than anyone else was capable of anything.”
“We still don’t know whether Gerald was killed by Raven.”
Bahidman pushed the letter onto his desk. Shabby paper and grimy envelope. Inside the envelope, which Eisel opened with a frown, was a letter written in blood.
“Raven killed his father and headed for the Keliagor Highlands.”
After killing his father with his own hands and seeking revenge on Basquiella, Raven traveled to a holy place for demons. The Keliagor Plateau, a place where demons run rampant and demons descend. To go there was to die.
“I don’t know what he was thinking when he travelled to the Keliagor Plateau, but there’s no way he’d travel that far to kill himself.”
“Are you saying someone on the Keliagor Plateau helped Raven?”
Bahidman frowned at Eisel, his stomach harder than usual.
“We have a mole on the inside.”
“I’ll find out.”
“No, even if you do, you won’t be able to take out all the moles, and the longer it takes, the more likely this thing will fail.”
“I’ve got an idea: ……So, should we start now?”
Bahidman nodded at the words’ gravity. Bahidman unlocked the lock of a locked drawer, pulled out the seal, and tossed it in.
“An Emperor’s seal. The Emperor has consented to the movement of hundreds of thousands of mercenaries. The Duke of Byron, whom you approached, is preparing to leave with 800,000 allied troops.”
“There is only one thing left to do.”
Bahidman held out the paper he’d been scribbling on a moment ago. It was filled with many things, but it meant only one thing.
“Stamp it and give the order. With a wave of your hand, over a million soldiers will move.”
Shoving the papers in front of Eisel, Bahidman turned to face him with a piercing stare.
“Now it’s time to save the world, Eisel.”