The King of Strategy’s Ability
Eve was curious about one thing. How would a merchant as wealthy as Marco Polo have his tea?
It was no surprise. She commanded the kitchens at the castle. And so she was interested to see how things were done at other houses.
The tea that we were served seemed like common black tea to me, but Eve took note of how it was poured.
A pretty maid poured the tea into enough cups for everyone with smooth movements and said, ‘the tea is ready.’
Personally, I didn’t see any difference with what I was used to seeing, but Eve claimed that the maid’s technique was first-rate.
“The selection of tea leaves, the way she steamed them. It is all impressive.”
And so I tried drinking the tea, and it was definitely good. There was almost no bitterness and the scent spread delightfully through your nose.
“I’m glad that you like it.”
Marco Polo said as he dumped milk and sugar into his tea. Adding that much would erase the smell and everything else. But everyone had their way of drinking. It was best to stick to what you liked.
And so as we all drank our tea, I asked him to explain what had happened.
“I met a half elf who is the daughter of Sakamoto Ryoma, and she asked for my help.”
“Yes, I know.”
“That simplifies things. We came to Berneze in answer to her request. However, it seems like we’ll need to save her before we can save the city. But we do not know what to do.”
“I am in the same position. Ryoma is the daughter of my apprentice. And so she is like a granddaughter to me. I would very much like to save her.”
“So you will help us then?”
“Then please give us information. Why was Ryoma thrown into prison?”
“To explain that, I will have to tell you about the origins of this city.”
Marco said as he began to explain.
“The city of Berneze has no king to rule it. The place is run by merchants. But only the richest merchants, who are part of the Council.”
“And you are a member, are you not?”
“Mmm. Yes, my name is listed with the others.”
“I’ve heard that there is a power struggle occurring within the Council right now.”
“Exactly. I and many other conservatives were the majority. But recently, reformists have been expanding through their forceful methods.”
“Reformists… Of course, it may sound good on paper, but they merely want authority to make profits for themselves.”
“It might sound harsh, but they framed Ryoma for embezzlement and put her in prison. So I’m sure you are right.”
“Indeed. It is true. However, they used forbidden methods in order to expand their power.”
“Aye. Berneze is meant to be a neutral city. We are on friendly terms with all of our neighbors, and we do not meddle with military might. That’s how we grew so rich. However, they are trying to break this tradition by forming an alliance with a certain Demon King.”
“A Demon King.”
“Aye. The ruler of the island city Dagon.”
“You mean Demon King Dagon?”
I had seen the name on a list of Demon Kings that Eve had brought to me.
The Demon Kings in this world were generally the same as the seventy-two pillars of Solomon. The strong ones were usually the most famous, and so I could assume that Dagon was quite far up.
“Well, that’s not someone you want to be enemies with.”
“Exactly. However, with Demon King Ashtaroth on our side, perhaps we are equal now.”
“One can hope.”
I answered modestly. I was more concerned about helping Ryoma.
“The other problem is the ghost ship. We need to defeat it and earn the trust of the other merchants. It’s only then that we can turn our eyes to the reformists and Dagon. We must not get that order mixed up.”
“Very good, Demon King. You understand the issue perfectly.”
Marco nodded his wrinkled head.
“If we try to fight Dagon without earning the trust of the people, we are no better than the opposition. It’s not about which Demon King’s power is relied on. Show them that you are brave merchants, not brutes. You must show them the difference.”
I said. And then Marco’s maid poured us more tea.
The room was filled with the wonderful scent.
“Now, we must think about how we can free Ryoma.”
I put a hand to my chin and thought about it.
It would be simple enough to break in and free her by force, but that would make me a wanted man.
And it wouldn’t help Ryoma or Marco’s position at all. We would definitely not do that.
The best option would be to find the real culprit and turn them in…
However, this would also be difficult. After all, the reformists were sure to create false evidence of Ryoma’s guilt.
And they would have hidden their tracks.
Marco agreed with all of this when I told him.
Still, we had to do something. I had to think harder.
And so I slowly sipped my tea and then decided to combine all of my ideas.
Marco narrowed his eyebrows. He didn’t understand.
However, my subordinates seemed to have guessed. Well, except for Jeanne, who was the only one who wasn’t chuckling.
But Marco still looked confused, and so I told him.
“This is the plan that I have thought of. We’re going to head to the true culprit and threaten them so that they confess.”
“Is such a thing really possible?”
“Oh, I will use force.”
“You truly are a Demon King…”
While Marco was a Hero from another world, he was human. And he had a distaste for the way that Demon Kings did things.
It was Eve who put his fears to rest.
“Don’t worry, Mister Marco. While my master is a Demon King, he is merciful. He will not resort to torture.”
Then how will you do it?
Marco asked. Eve replied plainly.
“You will see it happen before your very eyes. He is the king of strategy, so I doubt you shall be bored.”
And then she turned to me with a smile.
The others looked confident as well.
Damn it. I did not like to be held to such standards. Still, this was one time where I felt that I could deliver on their expectations.
That’s how confident I was in my plan. However, it required the cooperation of a certain ninja.
And so I had Fuma Kotaro investigate the members of the Council who framed Ryoma. That was the beginning of the plan to free her.