To The South Road
Like that, I solved the food problem in the Ashtaroth lands. However, Tyron’s support was just a temporary measure, and its effects would not last for long.
If I wanted to feed the increasing number of people on my lands, I had to import food from the south.
When I told Kongming about this, he agreed with a nod.
“The city of Berneze. It is there that all of the grain from the south is gathered. I should be able to import a lot of food.”
“Also, you have to solve this problem that their statesmen suffer from, and gain their trust.”
Then I remembered something. According to Ryoma, who was a Berneze merchant, this city was troubled over a ghost ship that appeared on their trading routes.
If I got rid of this blight for them, I could negotiate from an advantageous position.
And so I wanted to deal with this ghost ship as quickly as possible. However, the problem was how to do it.
I had had many experiences these past few months as a Demon King, but defeating a ghost ship was not one of them. And so I asked Kongming for some advice.
“There were no ghost ships in the age that I lived in. However, there were pirates. The country of Wu brought them together and used them. We don’t have to imitate them, but I don’t think using soldiers would be a good idea either.”
“Indeed. It’s not as if we have some friendly agreement with Berneze. If I took my soldiers with me, they would become very suspicious.”
“Exactly. You should just take your elite with you. And if you must battle the ship, do it with local men.”
“I’d very much like to take you, as you are a strategist. But I wouldn’t separate you newly weds so soon.”
I joked, and Kongming smiled. In fact, I really could not take him with me.
He had the job of ruling the Decarbia territories.
“While the people are happy to have food again, some of Decarbia’s old men still remain. It would be a bad idea for the leader to be absent at this time.”
“You are right.”
Kongming agreed. He then suggested I take my military officers.
“I suppose that means I will be going with Jeanne and Toshizou again. It gets rather boring being with the same people all of the time.”
“At sea, individual bravery and prowess are most important. Those two should be very reliable escorts.”
“There is no doubt about it. And I won’t take any chances here. I will call Jeanne, Toshizou and Fuma Kotaro.”
“Isn’t Jeanne in Berneze already?”
“I only asked that she take Ryoma to Berneze. She should be returning soon. As for Fuma Kotaro, he is the type of man who appears when you need him. I think they should all be at Ashtaroth castle.”
And so I wrote them a letter and had it sent to the castle by hawk.
It would take them two days to arrive, and in the meantime, Kongming and Flora returned to Decarbia castle. He had a mountain of work to tend to there.
Kongming wanted to introduce his wife to the others, but that would have to be another time. I was sure that there would be many such chances in the future.
I watched them leave in the same carriage, rocking within and looking blissful. And then I walked back to Tyron’s mansion and waited for the others to arrive.
When they did arrive, Jeanne was quick to open her mouth.
“Is it true that Kongming got married?”
“It is true.”
“And is it true that she is a beautiful demon with golden hair?”
“It is. …And where did you hear this information?”
“From Fuma Kotaro.”
Kotaro was currently wearing a maid outfit and a mischievous expression. Well, ninjas really did have good ears.
“So it’s true then. I feel rather bad for Kongming now.”
Jeanne said sadly. I asked her what she meant by that.
“If he preferred blondes, then he must have been madly in love with me. But I could never have given him the answer that he wanted.”
I couldn’t help but fall silent after hearing this naive interpretation.
Kongming liked intelligent, dark skinned beauties with blonde hair. Jeanne had only two of those traits. In fact, she was terribly lacking in the most important part, which was ‘intelligence.’
However, there was no need to say such things to her face.
“If you are attracted to Kongming, then you might become his mistress.”
I suggested instead.
She pouted in annoyance at this.
“Who do you take me for? I love only the Demon King, and will be no one’s mistress but his.”
She said rather angrily. However, continuing this conversation any further would likely end with Eve joining the fray.
It was best to just make a strategic retreat. And so I turned to the others.
“We will now head to the city of Berneze in the south. And there, we will deal with this ghost ship that is troubling them so much.”
“Just us four?”
“For now, yes. It will be this group that goes and inspects the situation. If it turns out that we need an army, we will have to hire soldiers there or call our own.”
“Understood. Well, I suppose we won’t know until we go.”
He said with a laugh.
The demon vice-captain became more and more bold the closer he came to an unknown threat. I didn’t know a more reliable man.
“So, I plan to set out as soon as we get horses and food from Tyron. Why don’t you all get some rest until then?”
I had called them out suddenly, and it must have been a tiring journey.
And so I had assumed they would want to rest, but it turned out that I was underestimating these seasoned warriors.
All of them replied, ‘that won’t be necessary.’ And then they got into the carriage.
Yes, a reliable bunch. It was with such thoughts that I led them.
The city of Berneze was quite far from here, but there was a paved road, which meant it wouldn’t take us too long.
We had to hurry, but not too much.
And so we disguised the carriage so that we looked like ordinary travelers, and then used the south road to head towards the city.