Amandina nodded at Brendel, taking a stack of papers as she walked out. In a way, she was still the same person Brendel first met, stone-cold and highly disciplined. But from her cheeks, that seemed to gradually gain its redness, and her forehead that began to form wrinkles, she looked a lot more mature now.
She looked around and raised her eyebrows. She formed a fist and put it slightly to her lips, coughing, “Ever since our successful attempt in defeating Count Radner’s ridiculous attack..."
Several people chuckled, earning her death glare. Although she would not give a supercilious gaze, she radiated an air of displeasure throughout the entire place.
"Development in Firbur, Port Gris, and the Mirtai region are progressing smoothly. The projects held there are on time as well..." As the entire crowd began to settle down, she accordingly explained the entire situation that surrounded Aouine.
In summary, Firbur was steadily developing. The crisis of having a food shortage was resolved with the purchase of wheat and other produce from Ampere Seale. The amount of food they had was capable to last them until April next year. What was left was to pray for a bountiful harvest this year. But of course, they could still purchase some food. Amandina took this chance to propose the suggestion of purchasing goods as soon as possible. War seemed like it was about to break out soon in the North and the grain prices would inflate exponentially.
The few people who participated in the internal affairs of the region: Bosley, Romaine, Odum, and Ciel also agreed with her plan. Brendel, of course, could only naturally agree. He had originally planned to head for Ampere Seale, and could buy them in the meantime. Ampere Seale was decided to be the permanent central trading hub by the nobles and the Holy Cathedral. As the final talks for war were happening now, while most hoped that a civil war will not arise, the merchants were secretly wishing that it would, leading to the sudden inflation of grain prices. There were also a few people who were steadily stocking up produce.
But it's guaranteed for a war to break up and there's no way for both sides to reconcile. While the negotiations right now were made with the purpose to prolong the peace, it was actually the final verbal struggle to obtain the throne. The Princess will definitely let this be the chance for her to be wed to Duke Arreck, who in rumors, had arrived at Ampere Seale along with the Royal Faction’s messengers and was one step ahead of the king’s eldest son and his messengers.
To the others, the outcome may still look undecided, but Brendel, with his memories as a player, knew that the Princess and Duke Arreck had arrived. It was just kept undercover. This could not be helped, after all, Trentheim was faraway from Ampere Seale, and all the news was relayed by the merchant ships. Despite all that, Brendel had known the truth behind everything.
In any case, it was history repeating itself. That means I still have some time left….
Now, Amandina was talking about the agricultural problems in the region. Everyone could see that Brendel placed a huge focus on expanding the farmlands in Trentheim, but just tilting the lands would require a lot of manpower that they did not have. And it was hard for them to hire people as no one would want to take refuge in such a poor piece of rural land. But right before the War Of Black Roses, Master Bosley had messaged his students that were scattered across the land to migrate to Trentheim.
The problem laid in the losses incurred each time during migration. Every time Brendel read the report of the migration process, he could feel his heart sink. It was like he was a slave trader who had lost some goods along the way, and he hated the analogy. But in reality, if he let those people who were chased out of their homes to stay in Viero, Karsuk, and Grinoires and burn in battle flames, they would die a slow death. And among the small number of people who remained, there would definitely not be any elderly and youngsters.
Wars were unavoidable, and it was a fact that the world had to accept. He thought of the people back in his world. Most of them would only sulk or mourn over it, just like he would. Back when it was just a game, he did not have a chance to witness such a sight. It only praised the glorious battles of the heroes in Vaunte, but what of the despair of the other NPC? No one could sympathize with them.
"... So this is our current problem: As the nobles are taking in the refugees who could handle labor work or those who were strong enough to bear children, the rest that we had were kids and elderly...." Brendel stopped speaking. She looked at Brendel with irises so black that could seemingly speak. There was a hint of sadness in her eyes. She felt the pain within those homeless people. If not of her encounter with Brendel, she would have the same fate as the people she just mentioned. Though she could empathize with them, her logical deduction made her impossible to make the decision for taking them in.
"That’s no problem. The elderly possess wisdom that a teenager would never have. And for the children, we will take them in as well. After all, it’s them that will develop this land in the future. Only after they experiencing the hardships of war will they understand the value of being alive and the peace we have right now. Thus, we’ll take them in as well." Brendel sucked in a breath upon completing his sentence.
He was now the lord of Trentheim, with many subordinates right behind him. He had to make a mature judgment that befitted the title he had. But that did not imply that he had to use the methods like that of the nobles. He believed that, even if there is a day where all of humanity’s wisdom is turned to nothingness, the history that was carved will be a guide to an honorable culture that will not simply fade away. Oppositely, it should lead humanity to a better future, one filled with morals and compassion.
Of course, this was just a thought he had. However, there was respect in everyone’s eyes who were locked onto him. There was an unexplainable, complicated look on Amandina’s face. She was hoping that Brendel would calmly reject her proposal, but if that indeed happened, she was sure she would be really disappointed. His decision to accept them was immature and illogical, but it was one that motivated and inspired the masses.
Right at the moment, she felt like she was peering into a gloaming abyss. And in it, she saw a young knight holding a banner up high, striving forward against the currents. She wanted to help him push forward, allowing his gentle warmth to bathe all of Aouine before it headed into the age of darkness.
"It’s not like all of them were experienced, and is there even a need for that many of them?" Amandina grumbled. However, unbeknownst to her, her lip curled into a gentle smile.
"Never before in my life had I seen a bigger fool than him. Fine, I’ll help you to the end.” Amongst the massed, Master Bosly was shaking his head, but in his mind, it was filled with empathy and compassion. His passion to back the Royal family had long died off. Who could resolve the situation now? No one knows. And his decision to support the Princess was merely out of habit.
It was until he witnessed Brendel making that decision that he felt like Brendel had something the other nobles of Aouine did not have. That led him to make a decision, I will write some letters to my brightest students and old friends to request them to visit this place.
After that, Amandina moved onto the next agenda: the condition of Trenteheim. There was nothing much to say besides the lack of supplies for the White Lion Squad. Even if the entire forgery were to work overtime, it was impossible for them to supply an entire squad with armors.
Odum's "Garguatuan City of Magnificence" was still a blueprint at that point. As he said, he did not have the time to complete it as he was busy fixing channels and other castles and was overworked like a maniac.
Schafflund's silver mine operations were stable and was the primary source of income for the region. But it would soon shift to the Dark Forest. With the help of the Druids, he could easily mine in the outer rims of the Dark Forest. And the main target eas the mountain full of crystals that he just found recently. Albeit low in production, the income generated there was slowly catching up to the silver mine.
Comparatively, the sale of other materials like alchemic resources, wood, leather, fur, and other regional specialties were lower. The only person who valued them, was Tharma. He even raised a single level from helping Brendel create the Dragonblood potions.
The remaining report was about the expansion of Port Gris. What was once a small fishing harbor was now a dock where two large supply ships would moor. There was even a new bridge and the once peaceful place was gone. The primary function of the port was now to increase commercial activity. Rebuilding the entire port had used large manpower. But Romaine did not force them to build it for free, but used a hiring procedure to request them to build it. This act of generosity had led the citizens in the region to praise their lord.
Now that his fame is soaring in the skies, the only problem that remained was the possibility of a war breaking out. After all, if that were to happen, it would disrupt their lives. The majority had acknowledged him as a wise, caring lord. Well, at least, he was more caring than Graudin by at least several times.
On another side, Romaine had given a discount for the people who bought food stock from them. According to her: Small change left in the hands of hardworking people will grow exponentially. And in time, the money will circulate back into her pocket.
Brendel did not care about her methods. After all, if the region was rich, so will he.
"....Thus concludes Trentheim's current situation. Due to the emergency in the North, Count Radner will be involved in the war with Duke Viero. In the meantime, he will not have the time to bother us. Aouine may not be in a favorable state now, but ironically it is now that we can have a breather.”
Amandina paused as her voice fell. She raised an eyebrow at Brendel. Today, it was all thanks to him that Trentheim could finally return to the path of prosperity. It was the hopes of everyone in the field as they walked down this thorny road with him. Thinking back, how did he manage to form an alliance with the Druids, Tree Elves, and Centaurs?
To them, everything that transpired in the past few months felt like a miracle from a dream.
And the dreamt actually bore fruit before them.
And the most important fact that became a reality for them was his becoming into the lord of the region. It was due to that they could finally abandon their status as a wandering mercenary, adventurer, ranger or anything else.
"It was due to the blood, sweat, toils, and tears you all sacrificed for half a month that led this region out of the shadows. Maybe you guys thought that we could finally have a chance to live a stable life finally." Everyone nodded at his words.
"But what I’m suggesting is that reality will be the opposite of that.” Brendel shook his head. “I will now head to Ampere Seale next to investigate some matters. I’m unable to predict what is going to happen in the future, but I can assure you that, by the time I return here, it Trentheim will be rolled into a sea of battle flames.”
“The battles about to come will dwarf all the other ones that you have seen before. It would involve the two most influential parties in the Kingdom and many other nobles. And amidst all the killings, you will see some of the most talented knights you know perish like dust. And all the enemies you shall meet will be someone capable of crushing your past selves like an ant.”
“And these forces might band together to wipe us out. By then, the road ahead of Aouine is one riddled with thorns. One where we will be surrounded by enemies we cannot fathom no matter what option we take."
Dead silence permeated the area. It was as pin-drop silence. Everyone stared at Brendel, stunned and confused as to what to say.
"My Lord… Why?" Someone finally asked.
Brendel took a while before replying, "That’s because I plan to stop the first to the throne, the rightful successor of the nation, and also the one true Princess from falling into a plot.
And because of that, I may lead all of you into trouble. Whatever they could not get, the dukes will band together, fanning the warring flames across the Aouine. There will be no true alliance, and one can only save himself with his own strength.” Everyone was stunned. But only Amandina who knew the truth simplified it to him crashing the wedding of Princess Gryphine. She could not help but twitch her lips when she thought of something. She looked down at the pendant on her chest, the memento of her father.
"What do the nobles got to do with us?! They had never cared for us, so why do we have to fight for their sakes?!" Someone from the Grey Wolves Mercenaries asked. This group of people who were betrayed by Count Makarov was the one who would never believe the words of the nobility.
"That’s easy to answer. The reason we’re allowed to be here, was due to the permission of the Princess. Although I claimed this land from the Madara, do you think the nobles would not bother us once they won the battle against her? NO! We would be their next target! There is no other choice."
The courtyard fell into silence once more.
A voice roared out suddenly, "Dear Marsha, my Lord! If we were to help Princess Gryphine defeat her brother and secure the throne, won’t that make us her largest benefactors? By then, it would be natural for you to be appointed as a duke!”
Brendel looked back to see Carglise with a serious expression hung on his face, " My Lord, if you are a duke, that would make us, your retainers, a baron, wouldn’t it? Ha! I will see how my dad punishes me by then! After all, I will be his superior!”
As he was shouting in a face full of vulgarity, an embarrassed Merial was tugging at his sleeves. She was so ashamed that she did not know where to hide. I have never seen such a rude noble in my life. How did Lord Mirtai educate his son?
But Brendel was smiling inwardly. He could see that Carglise was trying to support him.
However, his words did cause some commotion. The people only saw the rewards they could gain, and not the risk that came along as well. Since there was such a great reward promised, the risk seemed to be not worth bothering them.
Indeed, if they helped the Princess claim the throne, Carglise words might actually come true. Everyone knew that the Princess did not have a supporter as of now and his support would be like sending embers during the winter. [T/L: Chinese saying to mean sending aid in times of need.] Those who followed King Eric to become king, how are their families now?
House Arreck, House Seifer, House Viero. Which one did not hold a large influence?
At such a thought, the entire crowd became really enthusiastic.
Brendel saw their expression and deemed that the problem was no more. His closest aide would definitely follow him, and the Red Bronze Dragon Mercenaries, who were secretly the supporters of the Princess, would definitely do so as well. All that was left was to convince the other mercenaries. They did not have any beliefs and were, at best, a neutral party. They needed to have some gains in it, or else it would have lead to some problems.
He nodded, replying, “It is as he said. If we prepare well, the rewards ahead of us will definitely be plenty. And it would only be left for those who remained to the end… I believe I did not need to say that.”
"Of course, my Lord!"
"No need to worry, my Lord! It is the Princess’s luck to gain your support! "
It was obvious from their words that they were really confident. They may be bootlicking, but at least it showed their motivation.
People’s hearts would waver because they could not predict the worst possible situation. But if they saw that the outcome was not too bad, the people would be in their best forms when marching into battle. Brendel scratched his jaw. Facing the upcoming battle, he did not have much confidence in winning.
It was not because he was not confident, but because the enemies were too powerful.
If he failed, he would have to foil the wedding. But no matter what the outcome was, it would lead to having Duke Arreck’s ire pointing at him. The best outcome was being neutral, And if the worst comes down to the worst, he would have to take on the full force of the entire Aouine’s might.
Aouine’s forces were not really powerful, but that was against Madara and the Kirrlutz. The power of six or seven dukes against a single Trentheim. Put it simply, it would be like a 60-pound adult beating up a young kid. By then, the pitiful support he would get would be only from the princess.
I may not have the best way to defeat the opponent, but there is no more time to strategize. In any case, I will not let history repeat itself. To that end, I will have to go to Ampere Seale.
He saw Ciel walking slowly towards him to notify that the ship to Ampere Seale was ready to depart.
From Trentheim to Ampere Seale, the journey will only last for one week.