To be honest, the mansion of Ricardo Siegenthaler, the lord of the 41st district, was a delicate structure.
I felt that it was made to compete with the mansions of the lords of the forty districts, but the technology hadn't caught up, so it failed in many places. ......
'Has he been a vain lord since his predecessors?'
I whispered to Natalia standing next to me.
'This one was remodeled after you took over,' she said.
'What?...... No, because it's kind of old-fashioned, isn't it?
'I think the designer's head and the wood used were old.
Wow, that's harsh.
It seems that Natalia doesn't think too well of the Lord of this place.
Neither the parents nor the children have a good relationship with each other.
It's a good thing that you're not the only one who can't afford to lose.
...... You can't help but dislike them if they treat you like that.
'...... with bare hands'.
Natalia muttered, clenching her fists.
'Do you want me to take it apart?
'I have a feeling you could do it, but ...... please don't.'
I didn't come here to declare war.
'You're late. How long are they going to keep us waiting?'
Estella said with an annoyed expression.
We've been standing in front of the gate for at least 20 minutes since we arrived at the lord's mansion and asked the gate guards for help.
If it were any other lord, he would have already left, saying, 'You are rude.
...... It's this kind of harassment that makes people hate you. The lord here.
But since this is not a courtesy visit, Estella's attire is simple. It's just a little better quality than her usual clothes.
'This harassment in anticipation of our being too angry to leave: ......'
'It's like you're loudly advertising your small capacity. In the first place, what would the people think if they saw you making the lord of another district wait in front of the pavilion? ......'
The two women are killing me.
I'll stay away for a bit.
While being harassed by the little lord, I look around the city.
'...... It's quiet.
The roads are not well maintained. But the streets are wide, and they look neat because they are not crowded.
It is a base for hunting guilds, so they must have taken care to make it easy to transport animals.
However, it lacks liveliness.
It was deserted, or rather, there were not many people walking along this wide road.
There were hardly any horse-drawn carriages passing by.
Only two carriages passed by during the twenty minutes I was standing here.
'Sorry to keep you waiting.
Because he had his back to the gate, he did not notice that the messenger had come that far.
Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me, which startled me a little.
That's how quiet this town is. It wasn't quiet, but it was ...... a bit tinnitus, as if I was hiding my breath.
'The lord is very busy and had a very hard time making time for me today.
The old man leading us to the lord said this in a condescending tone.
Then, stopping in front of a large door, he bent at the waist and added, 'So, please, let's go.
'So, please don't take too long.
As Natalia reached into her pocket, I gave her a poke in the hip.
...... Don't stab me.
It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're doing.
'Welcome, acting lord of the 42nd district'.
The room I was shown into was an opulent office with a large window behind it. The floor was covered with the fur of a large magical beast, creating a luxurious atmosphere.
'It's been a while, Lord Siegenthaler.
Ricardo Siegenthaler, Lord of the Forty-first District, snorted at Estella's greeting.
'Don't do that. You're making my neck itch. This is between you and me. Let's cut the formalities.'
'Well, ...... I didn't know there was such a deep connection between you and me.'
'Hmm. You're still not a pretty girl.
'Because I'm currently here in the position of acting lord.
Ricardo frowned, but lifted the corners of his mouth.
Ricardo sits in a large leather chair behind his desk, leans back and crosses his legs arrogantly.
He lifts his chin and looks down at you.
'I read your letter,' he said.
' (Suggest a chair!)'
Natalia's temper flared as Ricardo began to speak.
The three of us are still standing in front of the office desk.
Behind us is a sofa with short legs. Normally, Ricardo should move over to the couch and sit us down on the one across from it. ...... We look like employees who have been summoned to the president's office.
Estella's gaze turns to me as well.
'(No provocation allowed.)'
Estella's eyes seemed to be telling me that.
Even I wouldn't go on a rampage against an enemy general on their home turf.
Even at the hunting guild branch, you were quiet at first.I'm quite a pacifist.
'So, what do you want today?I've got a lot of work to do. Please keep it short.
' (If you're busy, why waste twenty minutes harassing me?)'
'(...... Natalia, calm down.)'
Who would have thought that Natalia would hate him so much?
Well, it's not so much because she can't accept Ricardo's nosy personality, but because of his many rudenesses towards Estella.
'Then I'll skip the extra greetings and conventions.
'Huh!I don't expect such manners from a country bumpkin like you.
' (Yashiro-sama. Thank you very much for everything.
'Wait, wait!What have you decided to do?(Just stay calm!)''
What's the point of resigning to take on Ricardo?
There will be a war, seriously!
'I'd like to request a meeting with the head of the hunting guild. I'd like to ask him to do some large-scale work, so it might affect our district a bit. I wanted to let you know about that in advance.
'...... in advance'.
Ricardo stepped up to the desk and kicked up the quill that was standing on the pen holder.
It's a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your time and money. ...... You're a handy guy. I'll practice next time.
'So you want me to write a letter to Medora at the hunting guild?
'I'd like him to give me a letter of introduction. I couldn't get any help from the branch manager.
'Hahaha!What the hell are you doing?You were refused cooperation by someone who lives in your territory?Hahaha!This is a masterpiece.''
Fiddling with his quill with his fingers, Ricardo laughs with his mouth wide open.
'Kuh~............, I guess they'll lick me because I'm a woman.'
I managed to hold off Natalia, who tried to move silently - without even breathing. I'm glad my ...... arm reached her. Natalia's grip was a little thinner ...... than I had expected, but her muscles were tight and hard.
It wasn't because she was working out. This guy really wanted to kill her now.
I rubbed his arm lightly to relax it.
'...... I'm sorry.'
'That's okay. It's just a miracle I was able to move faster than you.'
If it's a miracle, it's probably because of God.
Pray to your favorite spirit gods and such when you get back.
'Maybe so. ......'
Estella spits out the words slowly, as if she were swallowing them.
She swallows the words she wants to say and spits out the words she has to say. ...... That's a dexterous trick.
'That's why I need you to write me a referral. I'm sure they'd be more than happy to work with you if you went through proper channels.
You're really trying to say.
'It's because you've been pressuring them and interfering! But there's no proof.
But there is no evidence. Since there is no proof, you can't say anything you don't want to say.
It's not a good idea to antagonize them here.
How did you hold back?
'Hmmm ......,hehe,what should I do?
And yet ......
'I can write it for you, but ...... it won't benefit me, will it?
Ricardo's attitude is still provocative. No, he's getting stronger.
'You know, exchange conditions?You know, something like that.
'You want me to do something for you in exchange for a letter of introduction?
'Yeah, yeah. So what are you going to do for me?'
Ricardo tilts his head as if he's peering down.
The way he peeps at me, I can tell when he does it, but it makes me want to ...... punch him.
'I want to ask you the opposite. What do you want me to do?I'll help you if I can.
Estella, who must be very irritated, is trying to hold back her anger, even though she's been put through so much.
The smile on her face is twitching slightly, but I would rather praise her for keeping her smile intact.
'Ha-ha-ha, no. Nothing.
............ He's an idiot.
'What you can do, I can do!
............ Do I have to make any comments about this guy?You don't have to.
'Does that mean I can't ...... write a referral ............?
'Hmm, no, I can write one for you. I'm sorry for you.
'Poor,' says Ricardo, with condescending emphasis.
The color of his eyes becomes cloudy in his smirk.
'If you get down on your knees and ask me, I'll think about ...... you, okay?
'Let's go home, Estella.'
'Let's go home, sweetheart.'
'What?Wait, you two!
Natalia and I turned and walked away almost simultaneously.
What a waste of time.
If anything, I'd rather give up the city gate than owe this guy a favor.
He's the lowest of the low.
...... If I ever get in a situation where this guy wants Estella herself, ............ I might kill someone for the first time.
'Negotiations have broken down?
What part of this is negotiation?
'I'm afraid we don't have much time, so I'll have to come back.
'Right. The Lord of District Forty-One seems to be busy.
'Hey, you two!
She reversed in front of the large door of the office and turned to face Ricardo.
Natalia, with her good posture and dignified face, glared at the scum lord.
I'm leaning my weight on the door with my arm.
'Thank you for your time.
Natalia says, folding her back.
I respect you for bowing to a guy like this, I do.
'I see. Then do as you please.
It seems that Ricardo has no intention of stopping us.
He has no intention of following up on his diplomatic rudeness, even as relations deteriorate. He probably thinks that there is no need to do so.
'He's the kind of person who forgets the favor we've done for him. There's no point in asking him to be polite, is there?
Ricardo says, as if he is guessing.
What do you mean by preferential treatment?A favor?I don't recall that at all.
He looked at Natalia, but she shook her head with a cool face.
Estella, on the other hand, has a ...... puzzled look on her face. After all, she doesn't seem to remember.
'Well, never mind. If you're done, there's nothing to talk about.
While sitting in his chair, Ricardo turns his body around.
Wow, there are swivel chairs in this world too.
Ricardo's hand reaches out from the top of the long backrest and waves it from side to side.
'Get the hell out of here,' he says.
We look at each other and see if anyone has any objections. ...... Yeah, no one.
We made a unanimous choice to leave this unpleasant place.
As we stepped out of the room, Ricardo turned to face us again. Of course, he sat down on a chair and turned his body upside down in a pompous manner.
'From the end of next month, there will be a toll on people and things passing through the 41st district.
It was Estella who raised her voice.
She stepped back into the office she had just left.
'What do you mean?
'I'm saying that there will be a toll tax on goods and people brought into the 42nd district through our district, and also on goods and people taken out.
'I didn't hear anything about that!
'What, you haven't received it yet?
'Has it arrived ......?
Then Ricardo smiled his wickedest smile yet.
'I sent you a letter, didn't I?
The word 'letter' had a rather nasty ring to it. '...... What is it?
I looked at Estella and she had a scowl on her face.
...... It's probably some kind of harassment or innuendo.
'Aside from the misunderstanding with the letter,......, isn't it a bit violent to put a toll tax on all of the logistics?
'A maid shouldn't be talking to the lord of another district. ...... What kind of education do you have, your place?Oh!
'I apologize for my behavior.
Natalia bows her head deeply.
But it's not to Ricardo. It was to Estella.
'Well, I'll forgive you if you're sorry. I have a big heart.
I wonder what would happen if I used the Judgment of the Spirits now. If you can't turn that bastard into a frog, you're incompetent.
But using the Judgment of Spirits on a lord is like a declaration of war. If you're not sure what to do, you can always ask for help. ...... I guess we have no choice but to stop.
'O lord of the forty-first district with a big heart.
'...... What the hell are you?
'I'm just a handsome guy passing through.'
'At ............?What the hell?
Ugh, I'm through, I'm through. You can't read the air.
'Would you mind answering this maid's question while you're at it?'Open-minded lord.
'...... Are you fighting with me?
The open-minded lord has a terrible temper.
I'm going to respect you. '...... Keh.
'Well, okay. It's what I wrote in the letter anyway. I'll tell you.'
I can tell you were actually going to say that all along.
I see. So that's how he is.
You're the type of person who withholds, procrastinates, and then when the other person loses interest or is in the mood to say no more, you tell them. ...... In the end, you can't help but tell them.
I'll listen to you, so tell me.
'I heard you're building a city gate in your district?
'Yes, that's right, but ......, that's something you should ............ know in advance!
'I bet a lot of adventurers, hunters and lumberjacks will use it when it's finished.'
'............ Yeah, yeah, maybe.'
You will find a lot of things that you can do to make your life easier.
I'm not sure if it's ...... anger that's in those eyes.
You can find a lot of people who are looking for the best way to get the most out of their life.
'That's because, as I explained before, the direction the city gate is facing is different. ......!
'Huh?What's the explanation?
This guy ...... might not just be harassing me ............ what makes this guy this way... ...what the hell is that?
I'm sure you've got ...... enough to explain .............
'Enough ......, I see.'
He threw his arms up in the air and let them fall lazily.
It's the kind of pose you strike when you're losing motivation.
'Well, anyway. We'll have to make up for the loss of tax revenue somewhere. Since we'll be disadvantaged because of the 42nd district, it's only logical to ask the 42nd district to make up for it, isn't it?
'Forty-two wards are the cause, that's not true ......'.
'The details are in the letter.
'There should be a full explanation in the letter. You'd better read it carefully.
Finally, Estella stopped answering.
You can't see her expression from here, but ...... Estella's back was angry.
The 42nd district, surrounded by cliffs to the north and west and an outer wall to the south, cannot be accessed from other districts without passing through the 41st district. In other words, if District Forty-One is blocked, neither people nor goods will be able to enter District Forty-Two.
Even if they did, they would have to pay a higher price due to the additional taxes.
Ricardo's policy is to sabotage the city gates of District 42 in order to prevent them from functioning.
We can't just sit back and accept this.
If the demand is too unreasonable, I'm sure the General Court will deal with it.
At any rate, if this is left unchecked, there is a danger that the 42nd district will not receive any supplies.
'...... Are you trying to start a conflict with District Forty-two?
'Which one is it?I heard you.I heard your place is expanding its military?
'Huh?That's a false accusation!
'Don't you dare lie to me!
Ricardo stands up, knocking over his chair and making a racket.
It's a big one,......1, about 80 centimeters,......, and there's too much of a height difference with Estella. I'm not sure what to do, but I'm going to try.
Ricardo's intimidating attitude caused Estella to take a half step back.
Estella reacted to Ricardo's words.
I didn't know what he was talking about until about halfway through. ...... Is he talking about the march of fake soldiers that was set up to get rid of those ruffians? Expanding the military...... does it look that way from the outside?
'I'm sure you thought you had it well covered up in your territory, ...... but unfortunately, you didn't. I've heard that the honest to goodness kids are happily chanting 'lord lord lord' in chorus.They're waving flags with the lord's emblem on them.
'No, that's ......'.
It's a complete misunderstanding.
But that didn't stop Ricardo from assuming it.
'You were planning to expand your army, open the city gates for profit, and invade the 41st ...... district, weren't you!
''We have no such intention!If you want, you can have the 'Spirit Judgment' applied here and now!
''Hmph!That's not going to happen!I heard that you got a very smart advisor.
A smart advisor?
I had a bad feeling and looked next to me to see Natalia staring at me.
I turned around and saw Estella staring at me.
...... Stop it. Don't look at me.
If you do that, it's like declaring war. It's a perfect opportunity for you guys. To take over this 41st district!
'That's not our intention at all!
'Then show me the proof!
'Yes. Let's see if you can show us that you have no intention of invading.
'What do you want me to do?
Ricardo grinned wickedly, perhaps because Estella showed a willingness to concede.
'Cancel the installation of the city gate.
What the hell is ...... that?