… Gina waited for her sister Vera, who had returned to the house from the harbor.
Calling her out, saying there was something important to discuss, she prepared a room to talk with Vera alone. That room that was usually used for negotiations with visitors was rarely ever made use of by the sisters.
And having called Vera to such a place, Gina touched her red hair and stared at her sister as she spoke.
With the start of the sun’s set, the room was growing a little dim.
“Vera, I’ll be blunt. Could you stop giving money to that person already? It isn’t just your problem alone.”
On her younger sister Gina’s words, Vera parted a cup from her mouth.
“… This isn’t by father’s orders, right? What’s gotten into you so late in the game? And I haven’t gone as far as to lay a hand on the Trēs House’s assets, you know.”
Gina cut down and discarded that opinion.
“As long as you back him, it makes it look like the Trēs House is backing him! What’s more, father is moving around a large sum… there are some of our own who are starting to feel anxious. Increasing the number of ships, and getting into port construction…”
Vera narrowed her eyes. The elder sister of Gina, Vera Trēs had always been called a goddess of fortune, contributing to the house by mobilizing ships and cargo. So she learned of business matters as she worked alongside her father Fidel.
It wasn’t as if Gina herself didn’t have knowledge, but in the practical sense, it wasn’t an understatement to say her experience was largely lacking.
But even in the Trēs House, there were some who questioned the support towards Lyle.
Vera spoke uninterestedly.
“We can monopolize commercial use of the port. What’s more, two of them. Thinking of the scale, even you should be able to understand that it’s a massive profit to the Trēs House, right?”
Vera’s tone made Gina feel like opposing. It was true the Trēs House would likely grow larger, but Vera was too often away from Beim, neglecting the thing called the city’s balance.
The crumbling of factions and power relations was something Gina was extremely wary of.
“… I know it will be a large profit. But by that, just what will the merchants of Beim think of us?”
“That field is father’s job. So that we aren’t the only ones making good memories of it, he’ll at least negotiate the matter out. While I’m at it, selling them favors is also a profit.”
Favor was a profit. Able to declare such a thing, it was that cold part of Vera that had kept Gina quiet up to now. But this time was different.
“Then is Lyle as well? Are you really just calculating profit and loss with that man?”
As Gina called Lyle’s name without honorifics, Vera’s gaze turned grim.
“… Don’t forget his title. I’m just aiding him to the extent that I can. Just because father is soft on his daughters, you should be aware he isn’t the sort of person who’d sponsor someone just because of that.”
“And that’s why I want you and father to stop already. Your eyes have been taken by desire. But Beim isn’t so forgiving.”
Her sister Vera was fixated on Lyle, while her father Fidel on the monopolization of ports.
So they couldn’t get a clear picture of what Beim was to do to Lyle. Such was Gina’s judgement on the matter.
And in a certain sense, she was correct.
“Let me do as I please.”
As she thought persuading Vera would be difficult, Gina gave her frank impressions.
“Vera, that man isn’t so naïve either. Once you lose your utility value, he’ll calmly toss you aside. You know what he did in Zayin and Fort Redant, Galleria and Rusworth, right? That man in dangerous. And you’re just a wallet to him.”
Ignoring Gina’s warning, Vera stood.
“… I understand that. But I won’t cause you any trouble. I never chastised you over Roland, did I? And now… no, that’s enough.”
As Vera left the room, Gina saw off her back. When her sister’s figure was no longer in view, she brought a cup to her mouth, and narrowed her eyes.
“When my poor sister, driven out of the house, is abandoned by that man, I’ll help her back up. We’re sisters after all… being aboard a ship suits her well. I’ll have her work hard for Roland’s sake. She’ll do her best for the man she once liked, so it’s not a bad fate.”
Gina acted with her sister’s abandonment as the premise, but she did have a reason to make her move. If the Trēs House was to grow any larger, then by those merits, the probability of Lyle and Vera’s marriage would rise.
And as that happened, managing the enlarged Trēs House would be too much for Roland. From the ground up, he was an earnest, and hard worker, but that alone wasn’t enough for him to govern a House of that scale.
In that case, the one taking over would be Lyle, who’d already demonstrated such prowess. And in essence, Vera.
To add even further to that, to maintain the house, Fidel might even pull her and Roland apart, and hasten a political marriage.
To Gina, she definitely didn’t want it to happen. So she took action…
South of Beim.
In that completely undeveloped backward region, I wiped the sweat off my brow.
Season-wise it was still hot, or rather, because it was south, I got the feeling it was hotter than Beim.
Novem and Clara, Eva and May were moving separately to complete a request from the Guild. There was monster subjugation, and village reconstruction, so I sent them along that way.
I, on the other hand, had come to subjugate the Labyrinth that had been discovered.
Its entrance was the gate of an old fortress, and the Labyrinth itself was as if the fort’s passages continued to extend on from there.
Torches lined the wall, illuminating the paths with an eerie purple flame. It was better than having nothing at all, so I was thankful.
In man-made buildings like this, there were times Labyrinths would manifest as well. In most cases, they become Labyrinths with undead loitering around, fated to be subjugated in no time.
Most undead would disappear upon defeat, leaving only magic stones behind. They had no materials, and yet when it came to fighting them, they were troublesome, and exceedingly a pain.
There were even rumors that the grudges of those destroyed on the battlefield were what birthed such Labyrinths.
We were dispatched to such a place, but given such circumstances, it was determined it wouldn’t amount to much money, so we were to suppress the place by force.
While the entrance to the fort had turned Labyrinth, the surroundings were in tatters. Numerous trees spread out randomly, and the earth was in a horrid state.
I looked upon the Labyrinth with Miranda.
“What do you want to do? Challenging it with us alone would be possible, but we won’t get much out of it. On top of that, the Guild didn’t even send anyone to survey the area… hey, aren’t they treating us worse and worse?”
The reason for Miranda’s irritation was natural. With barely any support or information, we were told to go off Labyrinth subjugating.
More than the East Branch, it was headquarters that had made such movements.
From the Jewel, the Fifth looked at the current situation.
『… In that case, is it about time? That was faster than I thought. Well, it beats being captured by them, I guess.』
The ancestors who had anticipated it weren’t panicked at all. The Third spoke without a care in the world.
『More importantly, you know, if they left this place to us, then do you want to buy some time as you probe into their movements? They’ll likely make their move once Lyle’s returned to Beim, after all.』
Using these circumstances, he wanted to look into Beim’s movements. As always, they were reliable, but folks I didn’t want to make an enemy of. I held some pity for Beim.
I addressed Miranda.
“… A request’s a request. We’ve got to do our job properly. Taking all the time we need to be thorough. How about we set up a steady base before Novem and the others get here?”
Fed-up, Miranda looked at me, and pressed a hand to her forehead.
“Even if you say, take all the time we need, it’s just a pain, and there aren’t many floors, right? Treasure chests are a little on the higher side, but the monsters are nothing but undeads, so ending it at once would be…”
As Miranda was giving her opinion. Monica hurriedly ran up to me. She was panicked, of rather, it felt as if she was competing in something.
She slid in front of me, assumed a pose, and reported.
“Chicken dickhead! I, Monica, have discovered another Labyrinth nearby! Please praise me. Praise Monica! Now, now!!”
There, three fists flew into her. The impact sent her flying, as wires wound to bring the arms back to their owners.
Valkyrie Units One, Two and Three were holding up their weapons, stanced towards Monica.
“We’re the ones who found it!”
“Now take your baptism by fist!”
From the three expressionlessly posed automatons, I turned my gaze to Monica. I saw her stand, take out a large drill in hand, and set it into a high-speed rotation.
I ended up impressed her twin-tails didn’t get wrapped into it.
“You degraded piles of scrap metal… reporting to the chicken dickwad, being praised by him, and receiving his anger is all my role! I’ll scrap you on the spot!!”
They had begun to fight. I let out a tired sigh, while Miranda shrugged her shoulders. There, the Valkyries… one of the mass-produced models reported the situation to us. While the four automatons were fighting, it seems they drafted up the papers.
“Master, here is the data about the Labyrinth. For you as well, Miranda-sama.”
Accepting the papers, Miranda gave her thanks.
“Thank you. You’re more considerate than Monica. That girl’s treatment of everyone besides Lyle is rough.”
Saying that, she turned through the pages.
I also put my eyes through my copy, confirming there was a Labyrinth nearby. Not far at all, it was cave-type relatively bountiful as far as Labyrinths go.
“… This one’s quite nice.”
Recon had only gone as far as the first and second floor, but there wasn’t anything to complain about when it came to passage width. It was a make you could call the standard of Labyrinths, and personally, I thought it right to report it to Beim… when the Seventh stopped me.
『Lyle, as I thought, you’re a man who’s got it. Good, now use this info to shut Beim up.』
I sent a glance to Miranda. She saw how I was gripping the Jewel, and quietly nodded, turning her eyes back to the documents.
She knew the circumstances, so I was able to converse with the Jewel in front of Miranda.
“You’ll shut them up? I’ve no idea what they’ll have to say about it.”
『Don’t mind it. Just make it look as if you’re taking time.Swiftly crush the fort Labyrinth, and take your time surveying the more promising one. And you see… don’t you think this area is truly wonderful? Right, it’s truly worthy of building a second Beim.』
I could somewhat understand what the Seventh was getting at, so I nodded in agreement. Climbing up a little higher, I could see the ocean.
Milleia-san spoke delightedly.
『Oh my, there’s a point you could construct a harbor.』
The Third, assented.
『It’s good enough to have a fort, so perhaps this used to be an important point back in the day. Hmm, thinking of what’s to come isn’t it fine? Making this place like Beim, if it were those merchants, I’m sure they’d regain their former glory within the century… well, we’ll be regulating them, thought!』
Thinking they were considering something terrible again, my expression turned sour, and Miranda looked over at me.
“Do you always talk with them like that when we’re around?”
She asked. I nodded, took my hand off the Jewel, and issued orders to the Valkyries.
“Return to Beim and deliver a letter to Damien. And continue surveying the cave. If we’re to use our main force to crush the fort all at once… now then, how about we do some construction to make the area more livable.”
I looked around, ignoring Monica and co.’s overly prolonged strife as I continued giving orders.
Throwing her large, two handed drill, Monica cried out.
“Double Drill Knuckle!”
“Something so obvious shant… what!?”
“Y-you had such a thing up your sleeve..!?”
It seems they were heating up or something or another, but I turned to them.
“Hey, you all have work too. Get over here already.”
There, Monica, who had two large metal fists equipped to her hands, came to a sudden stop, and tucked her weapons away. She brushed off some dust, and raced over to me.
“Yes~, because rather than these scraps, my dear chicken dickwad is more important. And continuing on with that important announcement…”
“… Oh, I already heard that one, so it doesn’t matter.”
After refusing Monica’s report, I accompanied Miranda to our tent. Monica was frozen up with her delighted expression, while the Valkyries were poking her, and making ridiculing gestures.
Thinking it was inconvenient how they couldn’t make expressions, I decided to consult with Damien on the matter.
… In Lyle’s mansion in Beim, Adele read a letter.
Maksim watched her state with worry.
“How fares it, milady?”
What Maksim worried over was the state of their homeland, the territory from which they hailed. Like this, Adele was periodically receiving information on it.
“I was nervous because we couldn’t get in contact for a while through that defensive war, but it seems alright. Perhaps her interest wanes as long as you don’t put up a resistance. It seems she’s currently fighting with other rebelling lords.”
Hearing that, Maksim dropped his shoulders.
“Can’t we do something to stop the resistance? They need only hold out for now. And at soonest, a few years later and…”
A few years, and Lyle would make his move. As Maksim was about to say that, Adele shook her head to the side.
“The greatest number of troops the four-country alliance can mobilize, omitting logistic support, is forty thousand, give or take. In a few years, even if their internal affairs are put on track, I can’t say for sure that it will even reach fifty. That isn’t enough. If it comes to fighting Bahnseim, by the smallest estimate, a hundred thousand would be necessary. Even so, if Lyle-san continues winning with the minimum casualties, he’ll have to get together some of the lords within Bahnseim… but if we wait that long, the lords of Bahnseim will have exhausted themselves out.”
Feeling the national power of the superpower that was Bahnsim made Maksim scratch his head. He hadn’t felt it when he was inside that nation, but the difference in power was too harsh.
Maintained at the center of the continent, the country of Bahnseim that had continued growing could probably amass a hundred thousand soldiers at its center district alone. If pushed, two or even three hundred.
Adding on the armies of its powerful feudal lords, they could easily prepare ten times Lyle’s current force
“So the assistance of other nations is indispensable after all. But we cannot drag anymore nations into Bahnseim’s internal problems.”
That was Adele’s seed of worry.
“I understand, but it is a time of crisis. We’ll at least have to give its surrounding nations that land that was taken from them. Invade, and work up their lingering hatred…”
The two were frantically worrying over it, but where Lyle had his sights on was unification of the continent. Ignoring small countries, there were few who would get involved with Bahnseim.
Cartaffs was the greatest threat to the nation. To speak of others, there was Faunbeax, and a handful that would follow their lead.
Maksim sounded worried.
“Milady… Lyle plans to build an empire, but is it possible? We don’t even have our own force to speak of. Automatons, was it? Proficient as they may be, we only have the ability to prepare a few hundred of them.”
Adele held her head as well.
“… That’s… right. The forces in Lyle-san’s possession, even if they’re of high quality, they’re of much to low numbers. We have to do something about it.”
Both Adele and Maksim frantically thought over something to break the deadlock…