Sitting down on the offered chair, Yoash shows a frivolous smile.
“Yaaay~. For me to be able to meet with the highly rumored『Divine Son of Destruction』, how very delightful.”
Since he named himself the son of a wealthy Jeboan merchant, I wondered how much of a capable person he might be, but contrary to my expectations, he’s quite the easy-going type, isn’t he? That was the impression Souma harbored.
To say it more precisely, he’s childish. Even as he sits on the chair, he can’t settle down and keeps restlessly looking around the room. And, once his eyes meet with one of the elven court ladies waiting alongside the wall, he smiles broadly and waves his hand a bit.
Once he’s quietly called out by Lazareph, who was unable to just watch without doing anything, Yoash shows an embarrassed grin.
“With this many beautiful women, I got totally distracted. As expected of the highly rumored『Divine Son of Destruction』; going by your court ladies, you are sure different from the rest.”
“Highly rumored, you say?”
Unaware of things having developed in such way, Souma asks. Thereupon, Yoash shouts “Yoohoo!” and acts overly surprised.
“Huh? You haven’t heard? Right now there doesn’t pass a single day where your name isn’t mentioned in this western area, you know?”
Yoash unveils the rumors of Souma whispered on the streets. It was an array of utter lies such as: Souma devotes himself to go to the limits of atrociousness, Souma has built an extravagant palace with the treasures he scraped together, and Souma drowns himself in lust as he’s waited upon by elven beauties in his palace.
As expected, even Souma – once directly faced with such unfounded rumors – couldn’t help but to grimace against his better judgment.
Even if it’s temporary, Souma is the ruler of this city. If one acts so rudely towards the ruler, who holds the authority over life-and-death, it wouldn’t be all that strange for them to be beheaded.
“Now, now, please don’t feel so offended. Most recently there are also good rumors.”
However, seemingly understanding that he’s protected by the power of his father, a member of Jeboa’s Committee of Ten, Yoash didn’t show any timidness.
“The divine messenger who appeared to save the zoan out of their predicament! Or, a prince from a ruined country, who was washed here from distant lands, trying to revive his kingdom on this soil! Just kidding! Weeell~, one has to dream, no?”
Even Souma had heard that his reign was in the process of being accepted most recently, but he certainly didn’t know about such rumors floating around. Due to Souma blushing involuntarily, Yoash reveals a teasing smile and bends himself forward.
“―So, what’s the truth? Please, just tell me a bit.”
Being asked with a friendliness as if having a light gossip at a street corner, Souma ends up smiling wryly.
“I’m not a human of such a splendid lineage.”
“If you say that, in the time of my great-great-grandpa my family were pirates. The southern sand kingdom ― do you know it? It seems we went on thorough loot n’ kill sprees with that place as base. And because of that we started a business with the treasures we amassed as capital. ―Ah, yeah, recently something like this happened…”
Souma wondered whether he intended to probe for his origin or so, but without any indication of sticking to that, Yoash continued to chatter on.
However, he doesn’t know when that chatter is going to come to a stop. As soon as he finishes talking about one thing, Yoash jumps into the next topic. No sooner than Souma thinks that must have been it, he switches to yet another topic. It’s truly an endless stream of words.
During that time Eladia quietly retreated to the wall and secretly called the elven court lady who was in charge of the anteroom.
“What was that person’s behavior in the anteroom?”
“He only chatted while hitting on several court ladies, beginning with me.”
While listening to the court lady’s report, she scowls at the back of Yoash who keeps fluently talking to Souma even now.
Is he really just a frivolous man?
However, she immediately denies her own thought. Since some time ago Eladia’s danger perception was standing on edge.
Trusting her own perception, Eladia quietly returns to stand behind Yoash and gives a sign to Souma by touching her right ear. It was the signal for being cautious she had decided together with Souma in advance.
Once Souma, who had become somewhat mechanical in his courteous replies to Yoash overwhelmed by his chattiness, came to his senses due to Eladia’s signal, he cleared his throat once, stopped Yoash’s talk and quickly began to speak about his business while Yoash still kept quiet.
“Mr. Yoash, there’s actually something I’d like to request from you.”
“Yoohoo! That’s true, isn’t it? Sorry, I just enjoyed chatting with you.”
Smiling innocently in a friendly manner, Yoash asked next,
“So, if you speak of a request to me and all that, is it fine to consider this to be business talk?”
Since we want him to work for us as intermediary with Holmea, I naturally intend to pay him a mediation fee. I guess you can call that a business negotiation, Souma judged and affirmed.
Thereupon Yoash keeps smiling and moreover narrows his eyes down like a thread.
“Then, may I ask you to clear out the people before we start with the business negotiations?”
“Clear out the people, you say?”
Due to that sudden request, Souma couldn’t do anything but to repeat Yoash’s words.
“Look, if it comes to business negotiations, there are various secret talks, right? Talking just among us two is also convenient in one way or another.”
At that point Yoash turns his face to Lazareph who had turned into a mock-up next to him.
“Mr. Lazareph, you too leave your seat for a little while, please.”
Yoash was still smiling, but he used a tone that didn’t allow any objection.
But then again, Lazareph, for whom talks about negotiations with a country are a far too heavy load, hurriedly excuses himself as if taking advantage of the situation.
Once Souma realized what was going on, the situation had already developed in a direction where he had to clear away the people.
Eladia, who stood behind Yoash, felt bitter regret due to this turn of events.
He was no simple chatterbox after all.
Yoash had observed Souma while continuing to chat.
What topics spark his interest? What topic touches on something he knows? Reversely, what does he not know? And, what kind of reactions does he show?
And very likely Yoash noticed how Souma unconsciously ended up looking in Eladia’s direction when he was hard-pressed to answer.
Eladia was convinced that this clearing of people had the goal to remove her, who supported Souma from the shadows, from the further talks.
Eladia doesn’t consider Souma to be an imbecile. Not just that, she highly evaluated the occasional times when he displays a way of thinking that makes even her widen her eyes.
However, Souma’s disadvantage coming from his lacking experience is undeniable.
If they are allowed to be alone, Yoash will surely apply pressure on Souma’s mind by various means such as his words, behavior and offered conditions.
If he makes use of such tricks, the inexperienced Souma will have his head flooded, unable to deal with it. Once that happens, Yoash can deal with the rest as he likes.
Furthermore, as for negotiations, Souma had a fatal flaw.
That’s why Eladia tried to let him gain experience little-by-little, starting with small negotiations. As expected, even Eladia didn’t expect for a highly skilled person like Yoash to slip in at such a point.
This is an extremely bad situation.
I want to create a reason for me to stay here by any means necessary, but Yoash has already shooed away Lazareph. It’s a bad situation to state now of all times that we can’t clear away the people despite this fact.
If the other party was a mere merchant, it would be possible to persist on the feudal lord’s authority while being willing to accept having bad rumors go around.
However, if it comes to a Jeboan merchant, it’s complicated.
I hear that wealthy merchants are granted honorary peerage in Jeboa, where the merchant guild’s influence is powerful.
A honorary peerage is a court rank limited to a lifetime, which is awarded to commoners who performed big meritorious deeds. It’s regarded as being one rank below inherited peerage, but a person possessing a honorary peerage has to be still treated corresponding to a noble. If you push through with territorial authority against such party, it will result in it being discourteous. And, it’s very likely that it can be taken as rudeness towards the other party’s country ― or in worst case, even as declaration of war.
Eladia felt the imploring look of Souma, who was troubled how he should act in this situation, but Eladia couldn’t come up with a snap judgment either.
However, in this place there was someone who couldn’t read the mood.
“Staying with Soma alone; what absurdity!”
It was Shyemul.
“Soma is my 『Navel Master』. Something like leaving him alone in front of an enemy, there’s no way that I can allow that!”
Not only Eladia, but even Souma was terrified. She declared the other party, whom they are going to ask to mediate from now on, as enemy in their face. It’s inevitable for that to be even called rude.
However, Yoash, the person meant here, laughed foolishly.
“No waaay. I just want to have a friendly chat with Lord Soma, you know?”
Shyemul snorts at that.
“Liar. Your eyes are those of a wolf targeting its prey.”
Due to that Yoash became wary while still smiling.
Eladia nearly fainted due to Shyemul’s speech and conduct which can be taken as repeated impoliteness.
If Yoash stormed out while shouting “What rudeness” at this point, they would have to offer some kind of condition from their side to make him return to his seat.
And yet Yoash showed an unexpected reaction.
Even though Eladia wondered whether he would leave while pretending to be angry, Yoash shouted in admiration.
“Indeed. Now that you mention it, it’s just as you say. For a merchant their words are their sword. A negotiation is nothing but a duel. To perceive that, as expected ― very well. It’s fine for having you stay here as observer of this duel.”
Shyemul nodded to that as if saying that it’s the most natural. Surprised by the unexpected development, Eladia tried to say “In that case me too” in a hurry, but Youash precedes that, saying,
“Let’s take this much as compromise as it’s been me who requested to clear out the people.”
In other words, it means he won’t make any further compromises.
The eyes of Yoash, who threw a fleeting, sidelong glance at Eladia, said “You are not allowed.”
It’s one of the negotiation techniques to remove any further demands by accepting a part of the other party’s demand.
With Yoash approving for Shyemul to stand witness, he eliminated any room for Eladia to intervene. And, now that she’s been told that she’s witness to a duel, even Shyemul, who was allowed to stay, won’t make a move ― considering her character ― no matter how much Souma might get pushed into a predicament in front of her.
Eladia, who ended up being completely beaten to the punch, didn’t have a choice but to lock up the regret in her chest and retire to the adjoining room while putting up a smile.
However, if one possesses the hearing ability of elves, it’s possible to understand the conversation between Souma and Yoash while being in the adjoining room. She resolves herself to leap into the room to abort the conversation in the worst case, even if it will thwart any possible relationship with Jeboa.
“Elder sister, I came after hearing about that person.”
One of the court ladies under Eladia whispered into her ear. Seeing the signal sent by Eladia, she had started to question Lazareph about Yoash once he left the room.
However, having only been used, Lazareph didn’t know that much about Yoash, disabling her from obtaining any information that could overturn the current situation. What she could discover at most is a single rumor.
Different from his elder brother, who manages the business as his father’s right hand, he arbitrarily boarded a ship of the company and traveled around foreign countries. And even when he returned to Jeboa, he was a profligate son who daily did nothing but horsing around with his incomprehensible friends. That earned him the nickname:
“The big simpleton of the Shapiro Company. ―It seems he’s called like that.”
Unusually for Eladia, who doesn’t lose her calm smile at all times, she spit out with a tone as if to click her tongue,
“You really think that person is a simpleton?”
Eladia’s guess wasn’t wrong.
Certainly, Yoash is known as Simpleton of the Shapiro Company.
However, by those, who know him much better, he was called:
Cherished Child of Menahem