“Is the arbitration finally starting?” (Wendelin)
“Even Browig’s camp must be at its limit already. Seeing that it was their side who suggested the arbitration, I won’t go easy on them.” (Breithilde)
The dispute between the Margrave Breithilde household and the Margrave Browig household, which has lasted close to 2 months also including the time I haven’t participated, moved to the next stage.
Losing all the concessions and territories they held from all the disputes before, many of their nobles, retainers and soldiers have been captured and we even captured their employed magicians in the battle of the main armies.
It’s obvious for anyone to see but the Margrave Browig household’s side is clearly at disadvantage.
Even if we continued the confrontation as is, that wouldn’t improve Browig’s camp’s standing either.
If you consider aspects such as expenses, it will become only more disadvantageous.
As they have lost anyway, they want to keep the expenses down by settling it ahead of time.
That might be their plan.
However, it’s also possible that they are still possessing some hidden ace. Thus it was decided that I will participate in the arbitration.
As expected, I’d like them to pardon me from something like a scheme to assassinate Margrave Breithilde.
“That’s right. Wilma-san and Elise-san participate as well, please.” (Breithilde)
The venue of the arbitration is located in the centre of the grassland where both military forces have their stand-off.
A large temporary tent will be set up there and both sides agreed on 20 attendants each.
Margrave Breithilde decided for several retainers and Burkhart-san, several nobles, which have participate with their feudal armies, and their aides and me accompanied by Wilma and Elise to participate.
To be frank, Wilma shouldn’t be of any use at such negotiations.
However, she is Minister Edgar’s adopted daughter. She was chosen because she is most suited for guarding.
Elise is probably natural since she is the granddaughter of that Cardinal Hohenheim.
There’s almost no place in this country where the influence of the church doesn’t reach.
“It will be alright even if you aren’t that nervous. Today will just be introductions.” (Breithilde)
As it’s my first experience to attend negotiations as noble, I had a serious expression which is unlike me.
Seeing that, Margrave Breithilde addresses me.
It looks like the arbitration will be carried out for several days.
First both parties will advocate their own arbitration drafts. As naturally neither will be accepted that easily, they will compare and adjust the conditions.
Once it becomes evening, both sides will finish for the day and retire. Further negotiations will be carried out from morning of the next day.
Once they agreed on the outline, the retainers in charge will reconcile the finer details and check the implementations of the conditions by holding a task-force conference.
“Having said that, the other side has an overwhelming disadvantage. How do they want to decrease the amount of money to be paid, I wonder?”
For example, something like a struggle over the sandbank of a river; even if they are forced to acknowledge that it’s ours, there are many cases where it ends up right back where it started once some time passes again.
However, both sides understand that completely.
Besides, if it is monopolized by one side, it might soon create a breeding ground for unnecessary future problems from the other side which will trigger a new dispute.
Once the generations change, a new family head, who rallies support from the entire household by declaring 『We will take back the concession which was stolen from us in the past!』 will appear and dispatch troops once again.
Since that will be endless, there are many situations where it’s better to roughly split the ownership in half.
“If they want to go back to the previous conditions, it will cost a large amount of reconciliation money and there is also the ransom for the people who were captured. The amount to be paid for that will increase if the imprisonment time is long.”
It’s necessary to treat the prisoners according to their social status.
Since catering a noble himself costs quite a bit money, those expenses will naturally be added to the ransom.
“In addition, the cause of the dispute is the other side.”
They commenced a surprise attack without announcing it ahead of time and thus broke the rules.
“The sum of the reconciliation money should jump up quite a bit”, Margrave Breithilde explained.
“Anyway, first it’s introductions.” (Breithilde)
In the middle of the grassland where both armies are confronting each other, the soldiers of Browig’s side, which proposed the arbitration first, are constructing the large tent in a hurry.
Once they finished that, one of the soldiers blew something like a high-pitched whistle and a short time later a similar whistle resounded from Breithilde’s camp.
“It means that the preparations are complete. Well then, let’s go?” (Breithilde)
Being urged on by Margrave Breithilde, the 20 members of the negotiation team walk up to the front of the tent.
Once we arrive, the tent’s entrance opens and we are apparently ushered inside.
When we entered with Margrave Breithilde at the lead, a long table and chairs were set up so that 20 people can sit down on each side while facing each other.
“You are Margrave Breithilde?”
“Indeed, that I am. The Margrave Browig over there seems to be different though.” (Breithilde)
“It’s the Supreme Commander Representative, Karla von Browig.”
Just as stated in the letter, the girl called Karla is serving as Supreme Commander of the Browig army.
She doesn’t look like her age is overly different from our’s.
Wearing a chain mail made out of mithril, which looks expensive and appears to be order-made, and having tied her black hair, which is roughly reaching her waist, she seems to be a beautiful girl that appears to have a bit of an Yamato Nadeshiko air.
With a height of around 165 cm, her style was great.
The size of her chest is probably between Ina and Katharina?
According to the information we heard from Elise previously, she apparently lived in the capital until just around a year ago.
With her mother being the daughter of a poor Knight and with her being hated by her other sisters, she never went to the East.
『She isn’t acquainted with me at all.』 (Wendelin)
『As she was apparently living in the capital by receiving an allowance from Margrave Browig-sama, she avoided contact with you, Wendelin-sama.』 (Elise)
Elise herself needed quite the long time to get acquainted with her.
However that doesn’t mean that they are close friends either.
Karla came to the church to take lessons in housework and studying while also carrying out her marriage training. Occasionally they did stuff like charity activities under the supervision of the church together.
After introducing themselves to each other, they drank tea together several times.
That seems to be the extent of their relationship.
『You study in the church after all.』 (Elise)
Although she had the allowance from Margrave Browig, it wasn’t such a large amount of money either.
Given that there was a freeloader at the home of mother and daughter, they had to get a suitable amount of money.
『Karla-san’s grandfather-sama and uncle-sama aren’t very excellent…』 (Elise)
There’s a difference in peerage and they have offered their daughter in pursuit of money albeit being nobles appointed by the same country.
Of course they wouldn’t be regarded favourably by other appointed nobles.
Moreover, although they apparently have done something like bribing to obtain an official position by using the allowance, it has been just a waste of money as they lack abilities and were judged poorly by the surroundings.
What made Karla come to the church to study for free was that kind of reason.
『That Karla-san has also been abused by by her deplorable family, eh?』 (Wendelin)
『Yes. That’s what has happened.』 (Elise)
I don’t know whether it’s because of that, but she has quite the interest in martial arts.
She appears to particularly excel in archery and knife throwing.
『Don’t overlap with me…』 (Wendelin)
『She apparently became the runner-up in the archery division of the last Martial Arts Tournament.』 (Elise)
『The level is too different…』 (Wendelin)
No, let me correct that.
Even if the Baumeister family, which is relatively strong at archery, grouped up, she is an outstanding talent beyond our powers.
Comparing it with my previous life, she is probably an existence called 『Female version of Nasu no Yoichi』.
However, as expected she hasn’t taken along her bow today.
“I’m the Supreme Commander Representative, Karla von Browig. I wish to express my gratitude in you taking part in the arbitration negotiations.” (Karla)
In the end that was the only statement made by her.
The main negotiations will be carried out by the retainers, who are attending with her, making her nothing more but a decoration.
Although either of the two sons, who are fighting over the inheritance, would likely have taken the lead if one of them had attended, Karla hasn’t any actual experience in this field since she’s a woman.
Margrave Browig is absent on account of illness, although they are concealing it, or rather, it was obvious that there are some troubles with him not being at this place in this moment.
“(What’s wrong?)” (Wendelin)
“(It looks like this will take a long time.)” (Breithilde)
One of the retainers had whispered something into the ear of Margrave Breithilde and he addressed me with a low voice while sighing.
His retainers, who are at the negotiation location, seem to be displeased with the other side being only military officers.
That reminds me, I felt like I previously heard that many in the feudal army’s top brass belong to the eldest son’s support base.
“(Maybe this time’s dispatch has been largely influenced by the eldest son, Philip-dono.)”
The two were competing over the inheritance, but currently they shouldn’t be able to separate from Margrave Browig who can die any time now.
The reason is that the remaining side might falsify the testament and selfishly obtain permission for the succession in the capital if Margrave Browig dies while one of them is acting as Supreme Commander here.
Accordingly, Philip, who has many supporters amongst the feudal army, dispatched the soldiers to get a decision in the inheritance matter by doing a meritorious deed for them.
No matter how threatening Margrave Breithilde might be, they shouldn’t carry it out, if Margrave Browig were to be in good health, since this time’s dispatch will cause big criticism by the royal palace.
The thoughts of Christoph, who’s the second son, are unknown, but he might be against the dispatch since the civil officials, who are his sympathisers, haven’t joined.
According to Elise, Karla, who was summoned to the territory by her father, Margrave Browig, around one year ago, had helped him until just recently.
However, she was suddenly made Supreme Commander Representative of the feudal army.
Of course she was a decoration, but since it will be troublesome even if he really left her in charge of leading, this way might be fine, too.
“(Something like someone else taking over immediately following a large-scale dispatch of troops linked to a dispute has often happened in the past.)” (Breithilde)
Since unrest would spread to the retainers for not knowing whether their current family head would be alive tomorrow, the heir would sent forth the soldiers to show his own power.
Or he would dispatch the soldiers to display his power directly after the succession of the peerage.
Either way, with it being a move to turn the internal anxiety towards outside, it resembles the enemy recognition of a certain renown rice country or the anti-Japanese policies of a certain peninsula.
“(However, if it turns out like this…)”
If they had won, this would have become Philip’s achievement since he would be able to obtain advantageous conditions in the arbitration and the future of the feudal army’s top brass, which is supporting him, should have become bright.
However, in reality they have lost the concessions they possessed before the war due to a complete and decisive defeat and they won’t be able to get those back unless they pay an enormous amount of reconciliation money. In addition many nobles and soldiers have been captured as well.
Even just the ransom should be quite the sum.
Although it’s just a guess, but what made them, who have been captured, dispatch their soldier even to the point of breaking the rules might be a secret agreement that they will be compensated for their losses even if they were to be defeated or defeated and caught.
However, in that case it will probably cause a big damage to the wallet of the Margrave Browig household.
“(What makes the situation even worse is that the civil officials, who are supporting Christoph-dono, aren’t here.)”
Given that the Browig household’s retainers consist of only military officers, it was quite possible that they didn’t prepare for paying money even if they lost.
At any rate, there are no civil officials who are managing the budget.
Even if there were, this utter defeat is a blow that might cause a stop to the financial affairs of the Browig household.
If that failure was pushed by civil officials, who are supporting Christoph, it would be very possible for it to trigger the drop-out from the succession struggle for Philip in worst case.
“(No matter how stupid the other side might be, the reality is…)”
I wondered whether they can see it, but the first day of the arbitration finished with nothing more but an exchange of both parties’ claims.
Although that seems to be normal to begin with, Browig’s camp didn’t want to compromise at all in this situation.
Declaring that they will pay the ransom for the prisoners but want the distribution of the disputed area to be unconditionally returned to its pre-war state, the participating nobles from our side, including Margrave Breithilde as well, were enraged and considered it to be out of the question.
“You came and broke the rules first. Why should that incur losses to us who counter-attacked?” (Breithilde)
Margrave Breithilde’s point was reasonable.
The other side probably thinks the same within their minds, but at the moment they accept an unconditionally disadvantageous arbitration draft, it will be the end of their future.
Even if they have to delay it indefinitely, they will apparently struggle to gain an arbitration draft that’s close to a draw.
However, if they draw out the arbitration too long, it will become severe for the wallet of the Browig household’s side.
Progressing leads into hell and stalling leads into hell, that’s how it is, I guess?
“Even if it’s advantageous for you now now, it will become disadvantageous if our side dispatches the soldiers again.”
“Really? If you recover the disputed areas by sending forth soldiers again, that’s fine as we will send out our soldiers at that time, too.” (Breithilde)
Originally the defending side has the bigger advantage than the attacking side. At that time Katharina, Burkhart-san and me will depart to the front again.
Paralysing them with Area Stun, we will demand ransom after capturing them.
Finishing it without killing anyone, it’s a very sweet business to earn money.
“By the way, how about your opinion on this matter, Earl Baumeister?” (Breithilde)
Margrave Breithilde signals me to state my opinion as well.
“As for me, it’s fine if my household and the Associate Baron Waigel household receive the ransom of the captured prisoners. The reconciliation money for returning the remaining concessions can simply be negotiated in good faith by each of the eastern nobles, who bet on a cowardly surprise attack. Of course, if something happens again, I will dispatch my soldiers according to the request of Margrave Breithilde-dono, who is my patron.” (Wendelin)
My opinion caused the expressions of the military officers of Browig’s camp, who are present at the negotiations, to become ghastly pale.
A large amount of prisoners being caught once it turns into a battle again will very likely lead into their bankruptcy due to the ransom.
Having said that, if it turned into a desperate war where people get killed, it could be expected for the royal palace to get involved.
What made them overlook the disputes between fellow nobles until now was the nobles controlling to their utmost abilities for no casualties to appear except those who run wild.
That means it has been treated as way to let off some steam and thus has been tolerated. If they violated that, the Margrave Browig household might at worst get crushed.
“Anything else, Earl Baumeister-dono?”
The military officer referred to as chief retainer of Browig’s camp asks me with a suggestive tone.
Probably the one who made Thomas’ group to cause a rebellion in the Knight Baumeister territory is this guy.
Suppressing the rebellion in little time, Thomas and his comrades, who were used as sacrificial pawns, have become my retainers and took a new family name in the end.
Thomas ended up capturing his real elder brother in an one-on-one battle. Just like Nikolaus he boldly introduced himself with another family name and went even as far as applying pressure on the other party who became a prisoner.
This retainer probably can’t endure his uneasiness when I will play that trump card.
“No, not really. Ah, I have employed some nice people in order to compensate for the lately lacking manpower. Well, I’m envious of a household like the Margrave Browig household which has plenty of personnel.” (Wendelin)
Although I’m not saying it deliberately, the meaning behind my words is 『After all you are able to throw away more than 20 young men for a rear disturbance operation』.
The expression of the elderly chief retainer, who noticed that, became even more pale.
It’s not like it’s particularly necessary for our side to finalize the negotiations quickly in a forced manner.
As for settling it hurriedly, it’s more disadvantageous to get on with the intentions of Browig’s camp.
“Which reminds me, I’m thirsty. Elise.” (Wendelin)
Upon my instruction, Elise begins to brew tea and to distribute it amongst our allies.
The tea-cake is after all a new chocolate pastry.
Taking a light meal, eating sweets and drinking something like tea in an elegant style is suitable to display our composure to the other side in this location.
However, those are only distributed to our allies.
If something like an unfortunate death happened after the opposing side ate and drank with us, they would suspect us of having poisoned them.
It’s a rule to prepare your own drinks and food at such occasions.
“This has a good flavour.”
“It seems to be sold at a shop in Breitburg now, too. It’s our purveyor though.”
“That’s enviable. I’d like you to sell it to our Viscount Krieger territory as well by all means.”
“Then let’s try visiting that merchant soon.”
“I would welcome that very much.”
“Earl Baumeister-dono, please treat my Kumeschu Barony favourably, too.”
Intentionally holding business talks over the sweets in a carefree manner, we induce the Browig household’s side to get angry and impatient. And then they snapped at last.
They dissolved the negotiations with the conclusion that they will present a new arbitration draft tomorrow and each side took the first conditions of the other with them.
“Can we compromise a bit more tomorrow?” (Wendelin)
“Who knows? I don’t at least. The other side wants to bring it down to a draw at least.” (Breithilde)
“Their conditions are impossible to begin with though…” (Wendelin)
“Accordingly, if they admit that, all of them will be ruined.” (Breithilde)
Even though they selfishly dispatched the soldiers by utilizing the sickness of the family head in order for the eldest son, whom they are backing, to succeed, they ended up having to pay an enormous amount of money after suffering an utter defeat in reverse.
Otherwise they will receive further economic damage while being excluded from the development rights.
From the point of view of the civil officials, who are supporting the second son, it can also be called a definite chance to go for the win.
After all their rivals destroyed themselves.
In the worst case they have to be resolved for a possible severe punishment, even if it’s the confiscation of everything they own by crushing their esteemed households, but that might be a nightmare for the second son as well.
“In the end it will take a bit time. But they won’t have any other choice but accepting our arbitration draft.” (Breithilde)
Our side has no reasons to compromise.
The first day of the negotiations was only an introduction.
But, the situation has completely changed on the second day.
“For the sake of keeping the fairness of the negotiations, we brought along Foreign Affairs official Mahler from the capital with us.”
Suddenly Browig’s camp brought along an appointed noble from the capital.
It’s a man, who had a corpulent belly and who seems to be around the first half of his fifties. No matter how you look at him, he seems to be dyed in corruption.
In the first place, though they are talking about something like maintaining fairness, they abruptly bring someone suspicious along without informing our side about it.
In the end, Foreign Affairs official Mahler or whatever began to one-sidedly support Browig’s camp once the negotiations started.
“The royal palace doesn’t wish for further disturbances in the East and South. It probably can’t be helped even if you are stubborn here. The ransom for the captured nobles will be paid according to the market price and the situation will be returned to before the war.” (Mahler)
Foreign Affairs official Mahler stated the conditions, Browig’s camp presented yesterday, completely like a parrot.
Moreover, he politely attaches the just cause of the royal palace not wishing for a further continuation of the dispute.
Naturally, it isn’t even worth to discuss it.
Margrave Breithilde points out the mistakes of the Browig household’s side in a logical manner like yesterday and leaves his seat after stating that those are completely the same conditions as before.
“That Foreign Affairs official Mahler, who’s this?” (Wendelin)
“He is a henchman of Marquis Schultrich, who’s the current Minister of Foreign Affairs.” (Breithilde)
That reminds me, I had seen his face and name during my stay in the capital.
However, the clout of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is small in the Helmut Kingdom.
The reason is that the sole negotiation partner is Holy Empire Urquhart.
If there were plenty of other countries, the Minister of Foreign Affairs should be a star minister.
However, the reality is that the ministry’s budget and scale of office is small since there’s only one other country.
Since there hasn’t been a war for more than 200 years either, they guide the friendship group, which is sent regularly, or gather information in the embassy in the capital of the other country.
Moreover, the guidance and composition of the friendship group is overlapping with the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Engineering and the Ministry of Commerce which is handling the trade. Given that military officers have also been dispatched to the embassy by the army for gathering intelligence, those also steal half of their job.
If one asks 『What about something like the arbitration between fellow nobles like in this case?』, then it enters the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs as this is a dispute between fellow nobles of the same country. The minister ended up being referred to as 『The most unimportant one of all the cabinet ministers』 or 『Compared with the organs of the body, he is the appendix』.
“Even if he is called Foreign Affairs official, he doesn’t have any particular job either. The post exists for the sake of handing it to nobles.” (Breithilde)
Because it’s such honorary position, no one minds his attitude.
If he was able to wield large influence on the arbitration, there should have been a warning by Finance Minister Rückner beforehand.
“Do you know about him, Margrave Breithilde?” (Wendelin)
As appointed Viscount, his ability is mediocre.
However, with Margrave Browig’s younger sister being his wife, he seems to be a person who was able to be inaugurated as Foreign Affairs official due to that connection.
“He is a man of Browig’s camp with all his heart.” (Wendelin)
“Well, he has no role either though.” (Breithilde)
It’s not like Mahler participated in this negotiation by particularly following the orders of the royal palace.
Moreover, he is throwing out the name of the royal palace to threaten our side at the negotiation location.
It was easy to crush him.
“That means it’s fine to take this as Minister Schultrich siding with the Browig household, right?” (Wendelin)
『That’s a big misunderstanding. Although his duties are focussed on the capital usually, a certain official has joined the arbitration of the dispute selfishly and done something like siding with one party while using the name of the royal palace. That’s something absolutely unforgivable.』 (Schultrich)
All of the ministers possess a magic hand-held communication device. I’m able to call Minister Schultrich at any time.
Which reminds me, that was the first time I talked with him, but apparently he had the generosity to receive a complaint from our side.
Also, he has declared that Viscount Mahler’s actions are on his own judgement.
『Even though he appears on personal matters, he uses the name of his official post. He shouldn’t even show his face there as it will invite a misunderstanding since he holds an official position. He isn’t fit for the job of being an official.』 (Schultrich)
“Since that judgements lies in your discretion, Your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs, I don’t have any intention to meddle in that from my side. However, Viscount Mahler’s actions are lacking common sense.” (Wendelin)
『It’s enough of a reason to dismiss him. It’s also fine for you to disregard the pretentious statements of that fellow.』 (Schultrich)
He introduces himself with his official position for personal affairs, uses the name of the kingdom and makes even moves on the duties of other public offices.
Moreover he is one-sidedly supporting the side, he has blood-relations with, in a dispute between fellow nobles.
If you consider how dangerous that is, you could even say that his dismissal is natural.
The pathetic him has already lost his post as official of Foreign Affairs.
It seems that Viscount Mahler wasn’t a particularly valuable personnel for Minister Schultrich either.
For the person himself to know about his dismissal might be a bit more in the future though.
“With that I’m much obliged to you, Minister Schultrich. Please tell Artur-san to send you your own suitable choice of chocolates and fruits.” (Wendelin)
Once I finished the talk with Minister Schultrich, I contacted Roderich right away and asked him to send my gratitude to the minister.
It’s not a bribe, but such things are necessary since he helped me.
Although I’m repeating myself; it’s definitely not a bribe.
“Your personal connections are magnificent, aren’t they?” (Breithilde)
“However, even if that Viscount becomes unemployed, there’s no compensation connected to the progress of the arbitration either.” (Wendelin)
Although it seemed that Viscount Mahler was the trump card of the Browig household’s side, his figure had disappeared on the third day.
It looks like there’s no point in him showing up at the arbitration after being fired from his job as Foreign Affairs official.
If you ask why I knew that, that’s because I received a message from the royal palace beforehand that a special envoy will be sent to join as mediator of the arbitration.
The special envoy was Viscount Knappstein who is managing the noble’s family register under Minister of Domestic Affairs Becker.
With an age of around 30 years, his hair is rather short and and cleanly divided in two half in the middle. His looks were those of a diligent governmental official.
For some reason there are many people who are clad in an appearance and atmosphere which resembled the previous generations because nobles inherit official positions.
The people of the Earl Armstrong household, which has a family lineage of being a military household for many generations, are a prime example for that.
“I’m the special envoy Malte Oskar von Knappstein. I’m just saying it in case first, but I won’t support either side. To the bitter end I will stay neutral.” (Knappstein)
Once he greeted with just that short introduction at the beginning, he ended up sticking to his role of a silent listener.
He has apparently investigated the current situation and the particulars of this time’s dispute before coming here.
And he has his own special arbitration draft after referencing the information with past arbitration drafts.
But he will apparently only speak of that at the time when the negotiations between both parties aren’t readily settling.
If possible, he wanted a solution between the related parties themselves without forcing the arbitration draft from the royal place onto us. That will be a peaceful solution then.
“Then, since its the continuation from yesterday…” (Breithilde)
Saying that, Margrave Breithilde’s expression is dark.
That’s because in these four days we weren’t able to grasp a beginning of an agreement as there are too many differences in each side’s conditions.
“The ransom will have a separate negotiation. The reconciliation money to return the disputed concessions and territories to their pre-war state is 1 million cent.”
“Why are you repeatedly saying the same thing? This time’s dispute’s food expenses aren’t even included in the reconciliation money.” (Breithilde)
“1.01 million cents then.”
“Are you screwing around with us? There’s no problem for me with the condition of taking all the captured concessions without you having to pay reconciliation money.” (Breithilde)
“Don’t mess with us!”
It couldn’t be described as anything but “Just as before.”
Both side’s claims are just following each other in parallel lines. (T/N: In other words, they will never reach a meeting point.)
Browig’s camp has the selfish idea of not wanting any economical losses as much as possible while sustaining their own pride in this time’s disgrace.
On the other hand, Margrave Breithilde doesn’t seem to be that greedy.
From his point of view, he seems to be expecting the other side to get obstinate if he demands a too excessive amount of money although it’s an one-sided overwhelming victory.
He doesn’t let the opinions of our allied nobles to influence his considerations overly much, but he has likely judged that they will profit if we settle this quickly and return to the cooperation in the development.
“The reconciliation is 500 million cents. I won’t go any lower than that.” (Breithilde)
Returning the shares of concessions back to the pre-war state has the consent of the nobles who bore an extra burden in this time’s dispute.
For that reason it’s necessary for him to give them a certain extent of money. There’s no obligation for the Margrave Breithilde household to be burdened with that either.
If you can’t pay the money, recognise the current state of affairs.
For Margrave Breithilde, who has to keep his face too, even this is just barely a compromise.
“We aren’t able to pay such large amount of money!”
The chief retainer, who is single-handedly responsible for the negotiations on Browig’s side, raised his voice and rejected that proposal.
Also, for men from the provinces it’s a questionable matter whether they can pay that reconciliation money in one go.
This time the war expenditures have been considerably high. It’s no good if they don’t take responsibility for the ransom of the nobles, who have been captured, either.
Moreover, even if they pay that money, they won’t be added to the concessions of the Savage Lands development.
Economically one could expect them to have an even more distressing future.
“What do you think, Earl Baumeister?” (Breithilde)
“Haa. Since both side’s claims are too far apart, it doesn’t look like there will be a solution no matter how many days we sit here. Well, the amount of ransom will be rising accordingly though.” (Wendelin)
It’s normal to add the money for treating the prisoners to the ransom.
Therefore you could call it natural for the burden to increase in proportion to the length of the dispute if it gets dragged out.
“Since I’m a novice, I’m not very knowledgeable about the rough estimation of the reconciliation money. Therefore, how about having the special envoy-dono, who has a neutral stance, present an idea that can become an indicator?” (Wendelin)
“Yes. I believe you have made the calculations already just in case.” (Wendelin)
“That’s true. For caution’s sake I have calculated it already.” (Knappstein)
Viscount Knappstein, who is the type of a serious bureaucrat, has created his own special arbitration draft after all.
“However, such arbitration drafts from the royal palace’s side aren’t accepted often.” (Knappstein)
“It doesn’t matter. Even if it’s not adopted, it can become an indicator, I think.” (Wendelin)
“True. I have used references as well.” (Knappstein)
“… Just in case, let us hear it.” (Breithilde)
Margrave Breithilde and the chief retainer of the Browig household accepted my suggestion.
Or rather, Margrave Breithilde will accept that proposal without doubt.
That’s because the royal palace has created the arbitration after looking at the current state of affairs objectively without any favouritism.
As there won’t be any disadvantages for the royal palace’s side, there will be benefits in accepting it even if the reconciliation money is reduced somewhat.
Margrave Breithilde thinks that he can compensate a slight reduction in reconciliation money right away with the development rights. If he obediently abides to the arbitration draft of the royal palace, it will also create some favours with the kingdom.
He should be thinking that he can settle things by increasing the concessions a bit, even if dissatisfactions appear among the nobles who were involved in the dispute.
Furthermore, even in the case that Browig’s camp doesn’t accept that arbitration draft, it will deepen the degree of them being isolated and disliked by the royal palace.
No matter which way it goes, Margrave Breithilde won’t incur any losses.
“Understood. I will present the preliminary calculated arbitration draft.” (Knappstein)
Be that as it may, the conditions are no different from the one Margrave Breithilde presented in the beginning.
The only difference is that the reconciliation money had been reduced to 400 million cents.
“The reconciliation money is too much!”
“Is that so?” (Knappstein)
Viscount Knappstein tilted his head to the side without changing his expression due to the protest by Browig’s camp.
“What’s the basis for that amount of reconciliation money?”
Viscount Knappstein begins to give a breakdown of the reconciliation money with a calm face.
“I have heard that this time’s dispute began from a surprise attack by the nobles of the Browig household’s side although the common law has no such provisions. Although it’s not stated in the law to announce it beforehand, it has become a custom to do so for a long time. Therefore, the Browig household’s side should bear the responsibility for breaking that custom. Also…” (Knappstein)
Viscount Knappstein sent an unnatural look my way.
The custom-breaking surprise attack and the manoeuvring of disturbing the rear for the sake of me being unable to dispatch my troops.
Naturally that has been exposed to the royal palace and in addition to that it has apparently become a reason for the arbitration draft to be disadvantageous for Browig’s camp.
“Regarding the ransom for the prisoners, the royal palace isn’t concerned. Please negotiate to accordingly settle it on your side. Also, although the reconciliation money is for the sake to return the disputed matters to their pre-war state, I believe you will lose everything if you don’t give up and pay since you have been defeated up to this point, but…” (Knappstein)
If it was only a stand-off, it would finish by withdrawing the soldiers of both sides, but the state is that Browig’s camp has already fought in fact and lost everything.
The royal palace won’t say anything but “Pay the reconciliation money”, Viscount Knappstein explained.
“In any case, it’s too high!”
“I believe the related parties will get angry if they hear that after having lost their concessions once by a sudden attack.” (Knappstein)
In the first place it’s possible for dissatisfactions to appear because it will be only returned to the pre-war state.
If they don’t pay a suitable amount of reconciliation money, it’s unthinkable for them to agree.
“And, I have a single question from my side.” (Knappstein)
It seems there’s something Viscount Knappstein wants to ask Browig’s camp.
“What is it?”
“Who will sign the unitary arbitration draft?” (Knappstein)
“Naturally that will be Karla-sama!”
Due to the question of Viscount Knappstein, who doesn’t change his voice at all, the chief retainer of the Browig household replied in a tone of “Why are you asking something that obvious?”
“Is it possible that the arbitration draft won’t be implemented if Karla-dono signs it?” (Knappstein)
“However, Karla-sama is Margrave Browig-sama’s representative…”
“That’s weird. Just what is Margrave Browig, who is responsible for one side of this time’s dispute, doing now?” (Knappstein)
It seems Viscount Knappstein felt the same doubt as us.
“If Margrave Browig-done himself doesn’t sign this, something like an arbitration draft is meaningless, no matter whether we come to an agreement on it.” (Knappstein)
“No… But, that…”
“If it’s a serious illness to the degree that Margrave Browig isn’t able to sign himself, it will be fine for his heir to sign as his representative.” (Knappstein)
Karla as Supreme Commander representative was barely legal as decoration, but even if she signs the documents where the arbitration draft is written, it won’t become valid officially.
Viscount Knappstein began to explain the laws of nobles completely like a staff member of a public office.
“The esteemed eldest son Philip or the esteemed second son Christoph, I’d like either of them to come here. I believe they should participate in the negotiations.” (Knappstein)
“That is, umm…”
As it’s completely unknown whether the Margrave will see tomorrow, they exposed a flustered state while chewing their words as they can’t even claim to have been outwitted by the remaining faction if they aren’t at his side at the time of his death.
“Then, Margrave Browig-dono will come?” (Knappstein)
“That is also…”
“In that case there’s nothing to talk about in these negotiations. Even if we receive your signature after working out the conditions, it won’t have any effect.” (Knappstein)
While Viscount Knappstein shows a fed-up expression, he changes his target to Margrave Breithilde next.
“I understand that you want to settle on an arbitration draft quickly, but even if we reach that, won’t it mean spending time on something meaningless?” (Knappstein)
“As for me, I recognize that Margrave Browig, who is unable to go outside his mansion, entrusted full authority over this time’s dispatch of troops to Karla-dono and the retainers here by giving orders from the rear, even in regards to these arbitration negotiations. If we settle on an arbitration draft, someone will show up to sign them. I’m aware that this meeting is a preliminary conference for that.” (Breithilde)
“Haa… That’s your take after all, huh?” (Knappstein)
According to the information gathered by our side, Margrave Browig’s condition is very likely quite bad.
We considered the possibility of a camouflage as well, but once the war situation has deteriorated up to this point, it would be strange for him to not appear at the front.
Soldiers have been gathered by many of the supporting feudal army’s leaders for the sake of the eldest son, Philip, to get an upper hand as successor. We assessed this to be the consistent outline in the prediction of who caused this time’s dispute.
Probably using the illness of his father, Margrave Browig, he should have sent out the soldiers in quite the pushy manner.
If it was a success, he would get the upper hand, but if it was a failure, the pressure by the second son, Christoph, and the civil officials would get quite harsh.
That’s why they likely tried to make us shrink back by presenting impossible conditions in the arbitration draft.
“It’s splendid even if we accept the reconciled conditions as is, but I believe it’s soon necessary for the Browig household’s side to announce who will sign the agreement.” (Knappstein)
The people from Browig’s camp end up depressed due to Viscount Knappstein’s advice. That day’s negotiations were closed while being unable to reconcile the conditions decently either.
“I don’t comprehend how it turned into a war when they were told to decide on a person to sign the agreement. Did Viscount Knappstein imply something that provoked them?”
“I’d say they simply got cornered by the circumstances going haywire…?”
“Did Margrave Breithilde corner them too much?”
“If they were cornered too much by that, there wouldn’t be any meaning in doing something like an arbitration.”
At night of that day I was suddenly woken up by Moritz.
It looks like Margrave Browig’s main army has started to move. Thus there were orders for an emergency state handed out to our entire army.
After giving orders to Moritz and Thomas to prepare our troops, I hurried to Margrave Breithilde’s location. There the commanders of our forces were advancing the preparations of the army by giving instructions to messengers with grave expressions.
“A repetition of the nightmare from several decades before, huh?” (Wendelin)
Once I examined the state of Margrave Browig’s main army with a telescope I took out of my magic bag, they had put the files and ranks of their army in order while lighting a large quantity of torches.
They will probably start the attack with the whole army once they finish that.
“It’s great that it’s no surprise attack.” (Wendelin)
“Neither our nor their side is that skilled.” (Breithilde)
You have to prepare the files and ranks of an army during night while making no sounds and having almost no light, carry out the attack without being noticed by the enemy and make sure to avoid friendly-fire.
In these last 200 years troops, which were that proficient, vanished from this continent.
Maintaining elites costs a tremendous amount of money and time.
“Instead it looks like they brought out a reserve we hadn’t seen until now.” (Wendelin)
As it appears that they had still military forces hidden in the rear, the total amount of Browig’s main army has apparently increased to around 10.000 soldiers.
Given that their numbers are almost twice ours, I guess they believe in the possibility of winning if they take the initiative.
“A terrible amount of victims will emerge though.” (Wendelin)
“There will more people die than in the past dispute I participated in.” (Klaus)
Even Klaus, who accompanied me, has a bitter expression due to them starting a reckless war.
Even if Margrave Browig’s side won here, it should definitely come back and bite them in the ass.
If it really turns into a war, the royal palace likely won’t hesitate anymore to intervene.
“What’s that Browig lot thinking?” (Wendelin)
“To falsify the situation?” (Breithilde)
Margrave Breithilde predicted that it was a scheme by the leader of the feudal armies who acted as delegation representative at the negotiations.
“It’s a war between fellow nobles, thus they will be able to gain a certain amount of evaluation if they win?” (Breithilde)
“Before that, the damage will be too high and they will be hated by everyone. Their side still hasn’t achieved anything, but…” (Wendelin)
“That’s why. If they don’t achieve anything, it will be their ruin.” (Breithilde)
I don’t know to what degree they are following the eldest son’s, Philip’s, intentions by dispatching the soldiers, but they probably want to avoid the future of accepting a disadvantageous arbitration draft because of a decisive defeat.
If that happened, all of them, who have led the army, would lose their standings.
That’s because this would be the decisive factor for the second son, Christoph, to become the successor.
If they are to get ruined by achieving nothing as is, they will bet on an unlikely possibility no matter how many victims appear from that.
The ones dying are other people anyway.
It was a very irresponsible way of thinking, but humans are beings who don’t want to lose their privileges.
If it’s high-ranking nobles at the level of the Margrave Browig household and their retainers, they possess a lot more authority than some poor appointed Baron.
Because now is the crucial moment where it will be decided whether they will lose that or keep it, it was very likely for them to do something excessive.
“Are there this many hot-blooded fellows among military personnel?” (Wendelin)
“Rather than hot-bloodedness, I guess they are taking reckless and drastic measures because they are cornered?” (Breithilde)
Although they caused a war by selfishly dispatching their soldiers to stage a surprise attack at the beginning, they plan to plunge into a real war while even disregarding the rules once they lost.
They were a self-centred bunch at a terrifying level.
“A war is out of the question, but I’m staying here today as well. Do they think it doesn’t matter even if I die after getting involved in it?” (Knappstein)
Even Viscount Knappstein’s expression changed into one of bewilderment.
Since he is a neutral special envoy, he lodges at the camps of both sides while alternating every day.
“Maybe they are expecting a special envoy, which is a bit more partial for their side, to replace you, once you are killed in line of your duty, Viscount Knappstein?” (Wendelin)
“That’s an amusing joke.” (Knappstein)
Viscount Knappstein reacted to my joke without laughing even a bit.
If the special envoy sent by the royal palace dies in action after getting involved, they will make even the royal palace their enemies.
“So, what will we do?” (Wendelin)
“While defending against the attack, we will wait for reinforcements. I have sent a request for reinforcements already.” (Breithilde)
Even if we ordered a withdrawal from now on, that will be difficult in regards to the soldiers’ skills.
If they are attacked due to showing their backs, a crushing defeat will be inevitable.
Given that it was impossible to retreat without throwing the ranks in chaos, there was no other choice but to wait for reinforcements while persisting in a defensive fight.
“However, my ability to command is, you know…” (Breithilde)
Although it’s difficult for him to say so, but Margrave Breithilde isn’t skilled at military arts.
His strong point is the aspect of military administration like logistical support, but he is quite bad at commanding troops.
Of course he can rely on his retainers, but he replied that it’s questionable whether they can support him in relation to the numbers.
“In that case, there’s nothing left but to do it.” (Wendelin)
If it turns into a war, it might change into a tragedy for our feudal army with less than 100 soldiers.
There’s also several women. There’s no way for us to get overrun just like that.
“Will you blow them away with magic?” (Breithilde)
“No, I will make them unable to fight with Area Stun.” (Wendelin)
“Isn’t that difficult?” (Breithilde)
Something like crippling the combat ability of the enemy army, which will close in as one vast group of 10.000 people over an extensive range, with Area Stun is probably impossible to begin with, even if I use all of my mana.
“Accordingly I have a plan.” (Wendelin)
Time is too precious to stand here and explain it.
Thus I started to prepare while explaining the plan.
First off, advancing around 20 meters from the front line of Margrave Breithilde’s main army, I plump down in the grasslands sitting in a cross-legged Zen meditation posture.
From my magic bag I take out all magic gems, I prepared in advance learning from last time, grab only the magic gems I’m able to grasp in both hands and place all of the remaining gems on top of my crossed legs.
“Full throttle mana usage, huh?” (Burkhart)
“Please help out as well, Burkhart-san.” (Wendelin)
“Okay. Guess I have no other choice.” (Burkhart)
Burkhart-san also sat down right next to me in a Zen meditation posture, held in both hands the magic gems which he prepared in large quantities and placed the rest on top of his crossed legs.
“Using such amount of magic gems, will it be a wide range Area Stun?” (Katharina)
Katharina, who came to see Burkhart-san’s and my state, had a cramp on her face after hearing about this reckless strategy.
“Since it became like this, there’s no other choice but to bet on Earl-sama’s amount of mana. I’m only in charge of the range I’m able to cover by myself. What will you do, Honorary Associate Baron-dono?” (Burkhart)
“I wonder what you are asking here. Of course I will participate.” (Katharina)
It looked like she was slightly uneasy, but she probably thought about the chances of success by predicting it in her own way.
She sits down, opposite of Burkhart-san with me in-between, while crossing her legs in a Zen meditation stance.
Furthermore, she took out a large quantity of magic gems from her own magic bag.
“It will be difficult to control the mana.” (Katharina)
“It’s fine to pull out, if it looks impossible.” (Burkhart)
Since I expressly received special training, I want to confirm the results.” (Katharina)
We are now able to cast a wide-range Area Stun, but it’s necessary to appoint the range divisions to not overlap with each other.
Since we had such nice amount of magic gems, our biggest objective was to use them all up.
Given that one will faint if they use up all of their own mana, you have to consciously absorb mana from the magic gems one after the other before that.
If one fails to support the mana supply for even 0,1 seconds, they will faint before the mana is absorbed from the magic gems.
If that happened, we wouldn’t be able to cast such a vast ranged Area Stun.
We, who have gone out in front, would likely be squashed by the charging enemy army. There would also be an enormous number of victims in a real battle.
“It’s not using the internal mana by squeezing it out as much as possible but losing mana from the body at once. You have to absorb mana from one magic gem to another as fast as possible.” (Burkhart)
The total amount of magic gems possessed by us three is 60 gems.
According to Burkhart-san’s calculation; if we use all of them up before fainting from using all of our mana, we will somehow be able to make the majority unable to fight.
“The one in charge is…” (Wendelin)
It was a rough explanation because there isn’t much time, but it’s around a tenth of the edge for Burkhart-san and around a fifth of the same edge for Katharina to deal with.
In the end I became responsible for the majority of the central part of the army.
“Unfortunately this amount of mana are mine and Katharina-jou-chan‘s limits.” (Burkhart)
“That’s so. My mana capacity has reached its limit in the previous capacity unification.” (Katharina)
If I failed, that would lead to the failure of the strategy.
Even if the two of them made a mistake, we would be able to sufficiently withstand them until the reinforcements came since we would surpass their numbers.
“I want to decrease the victims by us three succeeding, if possible.” (Katharina)
“If we fail, I will escape and let Wend’s group bear the complaints from the others.” (Katharina)
Once we finished preparing the wide-range Area Stun, Erw, Ina, Elise, Wilma and Klaus showed up.
“That’s true. If that happens, it will become something beyond expectations.” (Ina)
Even Ina declared that she will escape in a small magic airship in a hurry while letting me bear responsibility.
“Katharina, you look a bit too heavy…” (Wilma)
“I gained a bit of weight since I started living with Wendelin-san, but I’m not that heavy!” (Katharina)
Wilma abused Katharina verbally that she seemed to be too heavy. Katharina rebutted that.
“Umm, since I have the ring I was given by you, Wendelin-sama, I will cast 『Light of Miracles』 twice.” (Elise)
“If that’s the case, I leave the replenishment of Earl-sama and Honorary Associate Baron-sama to you. If it’s only me, the burden might be a bit too high, I guess?” (Burkhart)
Elise has 『Light of Miracles』 which is capable of recovering mana, albeit only half of it.
If she uses this, it might be possible to attack twice.
If that’s no good, it’s also possible to pick the choice of running away.
“Carrying Burkhart-sama, old man stench…” (Wilma)
“That’s a lie! I still don’t stink like an elderly man!” (Burkhart)
Unfortunately Wilma’s statement was no lie.
With Burkhart-san’s age being over 50 years already, he couldn’t avoid something like that no matter what he did.
No matter how much he glossed it over with perfume, he couldn’t deceive Wilma’s keen nose.
“Jou-chan‘s! I still don’t have such smell, okay?” (Burkhart)
“What should I say…?” (Elise)
“The level of the chief retainer of the Browig household, who came to the negotiations, is…” (Wilma)
“Noooooo! Don’t lump me together with such pig~~~!” (Burkhart)
Burkhart-san, who had his distinctive body odour of an elderly man acknowledged by the entire female camp, screamed on the spot completely as if to say that it was for the sake of raising the morale before the fight.
“They will be here soon.” (Klaus)
“Alright! I will capture that pig!” (Burkhart)
It totally feels like he is venting his anger, but just as pointed out by Klaus, an earth tremor reverberated from several hundred meters ahead of us.
The mounted knights and the dashing infantrymen charged to overrun us.
“What will they do if it becomes a real battle?”
“I guess they believe that they can manage somehow or other if they win.”
Although they are pretty much chief retainers of a high-ranking noble, there didn’t seem to be much of a difference to Walter and Karl in their cornered thinking.
“The invocation of the wide-range Area Stun will be once the distance becomes 100 m.”
Within the steadily increasing trembling at a terrifying level, we sounded out the tinning for the magic.
After several seconds, a large amount of arrows came flying our way from the enemy army, but those are skilfully repelled by Erw’s sword and Ina’s spear.
“Hey! Those ain’t arrows used for training!” (Erwin)
“They are really planning to annihilate us…”
Ignoring yet another rule, that lot was using real weapons.
Since it has already become like this, it can’t be described as anything but them completely losing their self-control.
Of course, our ally’s camp have released a large amount of arrows as well. There are knights who have fallen off the horse.
“Boy! Jou-chan!” (Burkhart)
We cast the Area Stun spell towards the areas assigned to each of us.
Since a huge range has been assigned, mana is consumed at a rate even I can grasp.
I consciously absorb mana from the magic gems I’m holding in a hurry.
One, two, three magic gems become empty in an instant. At the moment the last one was empty, the entire enemy army, which had approached up to 50 m, fell to the ground simultaneously.
Knights collapse together with their horses on the spot. Same for those like infantrymen.
“Did it go smoothly?” (Wendelin)
However, for the current me it was impossible to confirm it.
As it was the same for Burkhart-san and Katharina, they had already used up all of their mana and lost consciousness right there.
“(The rest is…)” (Wendelin)
Before being able to say 『up to you』, I completely lost my consciousness.