Ryoma had been framed for embezzlement and imprisoned. And so we would have to free her.
I had decided that the best way to prove her innocence was to expose the Councilor and for him to confess to his crimes. But in order to do that, we had to act in secret.
First, we had to gather information on this Councilor. This was not difficult, thanks to Marco’s willingness to help us.
The Councilor who framed Ryoma was called Amond. A young merchant who had recently gained prominence in the city.
He was about the same age as Ryoma. In other words, he was likely jealous of her success. Besides, she was the daughter of Marco’s apprentice, meaning she had ties to the conservatives. So there was plenty of reason for him to target her.
“The envy of men is an ugly thing.”
Said Toshizou. And since he was quite right, it was time for judgement.
“That being said, you have to make him confess on his own, yes? How do you intend on doing that?”
“According to information from Fuma Kotaro, this Amond is very superstitious and easily agitated. We will take advantage of that.”
And then I turned to Marco.
“In order to do that, we will need your help as a member of the Council. Are you willing?”
“I will do anything.”
“Thank you. Then I’ll need you to condemn Ryomo to death.”
Perhaps I had said it a little too nonchalantly. Marco’s mouth fell open and he looked at me in disbelief.
He must have been doubting his ears. That’s how bold the request was.
“I meant what I said. You will sentence her to death. But we will not allow her to be killed.”
I then joked that it wouldn’t be very fun if we had to bring her back as a zombie.
“I am just a merchant, and so I do not understand such things.”
“It’s not very difficult at all. We will make people think that Ryoma is dead, and take away her body. Of course, she will really be alive. But the rest of society will not know.”
“But I see great potential in Ryoma as a merchant. She will likely be very important to this city one day. It will not do for her to be seen as dead.”
“Indeed. And that’s where I will come in. After Ryoma is dead, I am going to shake Amond. Think of this. What if the innocent Ryoma were to appear at his bed every night? What if she were to let out a terrible wail? What if his sheets were to be drenched in blood when he awoke? The easily agitated man will be greatly frightened.”
“I see. That is an idea! No, someone like Amond would not be able to stand it. …However, is such a plan possible?”
“It is possible. After all, I have one of the most powerful of ninjas with me.”
I said as I looked towards Fuma Kotaro. He replied, ‘as you wish.’
“That is reassuring. Very well. I will go and meet the Council and have Ryoma executed.”
Marco changed his clothes and headed out.
The next day, Ryoma’s execution was carried out. The reformists had not intended on going this far, so there was some confusion. But her own guardian who was a conservative said,
“The embezzlement of public funds is a terrible crime. It is deserving of death. And it’s because she was like a daughter to me that I must take responsibility.”
And there was no one who argued against it.
Ryoma was allowed to take her own life, which was considered the more honorable way to end things. However, there was of course, a trick to the poison that she drank.
It was the same poison that appeared in Romeo and Juliet. In other words, it only put the person in a state that resembled death.
Ryoma drank it and then fell asleep as if she had died. A doctor then inspected her before the corpse was sent to Marco’s house.
And like that, it was known throughout the city that the half-elf merchant, Ryoma, had died. It would be some time before we woke her up.
So while Ryoma played Sleeping Beauty in a guest room, we started working on Amond.
First, Fuma Kotaro would sneak into his room and write on his walls with blood.
“You won’t get away with this.”
There was no way that he would mistake it for anyone else.
After that, whenever Amond went to his bathroom, a half elf with dark hair would walk by him. But whenever he chased her, she would disappear into the wall.
Of course, this was Fuma Kotaro in disguise. He was using an art that allowed him to dissolve into the wall. This was incredibly effective on a man who felt guilt over his actions.
He had trouble sleeping after the first night. And by the third night, he started to go mad as he buried his head in his pillow and begged Ryoma for forgiveness.
Well, there was just one more thing to do now.
Send him a letter.
‘I will not forgive you. My hate will live on until you confess your sins.’
It was clearly written by Ryoma. After all, she had now awakened and wrote it herself. Amond would have been very surprised.
Ultimately, that was the last straw for him. He visited the Council and confessed his crimes.
Of course, the reformists tried to convince him, but his resolve was firm. He confessed and resigned from his post.
And so the misdeeds of the reformists were exposed, and Ryoma’s name was cleared.
While this created a major commotion, no one could take issue with the fact that Ryoma was actually alive. ‘It was necessary to deceive you in order to find the villain.’ Said Marco. And that was that.
And so Ryoma was saved, and I succeeded in having Marco owe me a debt.
Ryoma had already trusted me, but her respect was deepened. Marco also trusted me, in spite of the fact I was a Demon King.
And like that, my footing in Berneze became firm. I now had the two best merchant allies that I could hope for in the city.
Now I just wanted to increase that trust, so I could get the other conservative merchants on my side.
And the easiest way to do that was likely to get rid of the trouble that afflicted the city.
In other words, the ghost ship.
However, this was not very simple, as I had not brought my army with me.
Once again, I would have to use my mind in order to succeed.
“Damn it. I want to be able to fight one day with an overwhelmingly powerful army so that I don’t have to think about strategy.”
I muttered. Eve laughed pleasantly and shook her head.
“That won’t be easy. You are a realist, after all. I think it is your fate to think through everything very carefully.”
Upon hearing this, Toshizou said,
Jeanne laughed and said,
And she seemed oddly proud.
Ryoma and Marco smiled and agreed.
“After all, you didn’t gain our confidence by doing nothing.”