Chapter 0287 Negotiations
Three days had passed since the Kingdom delegation arrived in Ayteke-Bo.
“Maratha, are you taking me for a fool?”
“Y-Your Majesty… I dare not.”
A room in the Ayteke-Bo Palace.
Maratha, the Knight Captain, was on his knees in front of Lord Zuransu, who was reprimanding him.
There was only one other person in the room besides the Lord’s chamberlain.
And that person was smiling wryly and looking at the reprimanded Knight Captain as if ridiculing him.
But he didn’t say a thing.
He knew that Lord Zuransu hated, more than anything else, to be interrupted.
“Maratha, it’s been two months. How are you still unable to determine what’s going on with the World Tree after a good two months?!”
“We have sent out knights and adventurers, but not a single one has returned…”
“Yes, I heard about that! And it is your duty as the Knight Captain to do something about it!”
“Yes sir. My apologies.”
Knight Captain Maratha bowed his head even more to display his apology.
“Good grief. If only you were a tenth as capable as Gujia, this wouldn’t pose much of a challenge…. Ain’t that right, Gujia?”
Lord Zuransu looked at Gujia, the captain of the guard standing beside him.
Gujia’s wry smile had already been wiped off, and he bowed his head with a serious expression on his face.
“I’m humbled by your praise my lord, but I’m sure that things just aren’t going according to the Knight Captain’s wishes is all. Speaking of the knights, I hear that discipline has been slack recently. With such subordinates alone, it’s not surprising that they’ve been unable to get a fix on the World Tree.”
Maratha shouted angrily at Gujia’s sarcasm.
Lord Zuransu rebuked him again.
“Ugh…. My apologies.”
Maratha, the Knight Commander, who had completely lost the trust of the lord of the land, could only apologize.
“At least Gujia cut branches of the World Tree and brought them back. He has something to show for his efforts!”
“With all due respect, those so-called efforts may be the very reason why the World Tree disappeared…”
“You still dare talk back to me in your predicament? What? Are you implying that I was wrong to order they cut some branches of the World Tree?”
“N-Not at all…”
When Lord Zuransu said so, Maratha couldn’t say anything else in response.
The cutting of the branches of the World Tree was indeed ordered by Lord Zuransu three months ago.
And Gujia, the captain of the guards standing beside him, brought the cut-off branches of the World Tree back to Ayteke-Bo.
Those were all facts.
At the same time, it was also a fact that since then, reports of strange things happening in the forest had begun to emerge.
Those reports should have reached Lord Zuransu from various sources….
Perhaps Lord Zuransu himself had yet to receive them.
They were being covered up by those around him.
Because such a report would surely offend Lord Zuransu.
Only such controversial reports that wouldn’t make anyone happy were covered up.
“If the Knights are unreliable… what other option is there…?”
Lord Zuransu pondered.
Even he would like to know what exactly was going on with the World Tree.
All this fuss over a tree….
Then an idea struck him.
“Hmm. Come to think of it, we do have some useful people staying here at the moment, right?”
“What is the meaning of this, Sir Dandan?”
The office of the Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Dandan, the Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, was the chief negotiator on Ayteke-Bo’s side.
The one who came in with a piece of paper and asked the question was the negotiator on the Kingdom side, Chief Negotiator Ignis.
That said, the person in question was Ignis.
He didn’t yell.
He was polite and tender.
“Oh, Sir Ignis, I am so sorry. But His Majesty…”
Deputy Minister Dandan said with a frown on his face, looking truly apologetic.
It’s only natural.
Negotiations between the two countries had reached a critical point.
They had reached the point where they could sign the treaty tomorrow or the day after.
However, when the lord of the country intervened, and the content of the request was something that would endanger the adventurers of the other country, they were in a quandary….
The request from the lord of Ayteke-Bo was that “All negotiations will be suspended until the Kingdom adventurers have observed the situation of the World Tree and reported it back to the Ayteke-Bo government”.
“I knew it…. But even for Lord Zuransu, this is too much.”
Ignis’ expression and language were gentle as usual, but the look on his face was not.
And those eyes were exerting an intangible pressure on Deputy Minister Dandan.
“I-I know. I am really sorry. The Prime Minister also tried speaking directly to His Majesty, but he was unable to meet with him…. Moreover, before that, Sir Maratha, the Knight Captain who failed to gather information on the World Tree, was also dismissed… I’m truly sorry about this…”
Deputy Minister Dandan was about to burst into tears.
For him, negotiating a trade deal with one of the Central Nations was a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking.
And just as he was about to seal it, he was interrupted.
And by the lord of his own country to boot.
It was enough to make him want to cry.
As an experienced negotiator, Ignis knew the feeling quite well.
So, in the end, he could only say one thing.
“…I’ll bring it back and discuss it with them.”
“In other words, unless we get information about the World Tree, negotiations are over?”
“Yeah…. I told you to leave everything to me only to have this mess on our hands… I am ashamed of myself.”
Hugh McGrath, head of the Kingdom Delegation, and Ignis, chief negotiator of the Kingdom Delegation, were discussing in the dining room of the ‘Spring Sun’ inn where they were staying.
In front of Hugh were the papers that Ignis had just taken to the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as the papers with the results of the negotiations written on them.
“The proposals are very good. This will shut up those obnoxious lot back in the country. And I especially like the last clause… that the Knights will give us directions to Schulz, the next country we are aiming for.”
“Yes…. The content was satisfactory, but…”
Hugh complimented the proposals, and Ignis frowned and shook his head at everything but the content.
“From what I’ve heard, none of the knights or adventurers have returned in the last two months.”
“Yeah. So, I think it’s safe to say that something disturbing is going on.”
“The best course of action would have been to send out some scouts to gather information in advance, but the lord of the country won’t stand for such a leisurely approach…. Because I’m sure by reporting, he meant… to go, have a look, and come back. Although we won’t need to do anything else… what do we do?”
The reason that leader Hugh McGrath came to the ‘Enticing Moonlit Night’ was, of course, because he had given it some thought.
But even so, he had yet to reach a decision.
The escort party in the ‘Enticing Moonlit Night’ was ‘Room 10’.
One of only two B-rank parties in the Kingdom delegation.
Of course, compared to the other B-rank party, ‘Coffee Maker’, it’s hard to say which is stronger in terms of strength, but there’s one big difference.
“Oh, Mr. Hugh, what’s up? I don’t remember any meeting being hosted here though.”
The water-attribute magician in front of him.
Without knowing what could happen.
Or knowing what to expect.
And no guarantee what the outcome would be….
If they were going to jump into such a situation, he’d rather their strongest force lead the way.
Hugh looked at Ryo and decided.
“Ryo, I need to talk to you and the three members of ‘Room 10’.”