Ryoma and the Red Dress
I had hired mercenaries in order to defeat Rosnay. However, the pirate captain had died before I could even organize them.
It was a waste of money. Eve said with a great sigh. ‘Unfortunately, that’s not the case,’ I told her.
“What do you mean?”
Eve asked for an explanation.
“It’s what it sounds like. While Rosnay has been defeated, the danger to this city is still present. Demon King Dagon lives close by. He may have lost a representative in Rosnay, but I doubt it’s affected his ambitions towards this city.”
“In other words, Demon King Dagon will be the next to attack?”
“If my calculations are correct.”
I said. And then one of Marco Polo’s servants entered the guest room. It seemed to be an emergency.
Eve made sure that I was presentable, and then I headed to Marco’s office.
Marco was sitting there with his hands held tightly together in front of his forehead. His expression was of strong distaste.
Upon seeing me, he asked,
“There is good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”
It was always best to hear the good news first, and so that’s what I chose.
“The good news is that we’ve gathered together all of the city’s escort ships that were scattered. They have already started to attack what remains of the ghost fleet, and have sunken many ships.”
“It’s mostly because of you. Defeating a fleet with no captain is just as easy as breaking the shells of an egg.”
“Now Demon King Dagon will not be able to attack from the sea.”
“Indeed. Dagon’s power at sea is all but gone. We now have ships staying in our harbour, and will be able to stop any invasions if they do come. We are very grateful for that.”
“And what is the bad news?”
“The bad news is that the reformists are losing patience and are now breaking away from the Council. They’ve now taken their private army and gone to a fortress in the south part of Berneze.”
“Aye, it is. And I have heard that Dagon’s soldiers are also gathered there. They mean to attack the city within a few weeks.”
“That is indeed bad news. And how many soldiers do they have?”
“I think it is close to three hundred.”
“We have fifty guards and one hundred and fifty mercenaries.”
“Will you be able to deal with them?”
“It will be difficult, but we have no choice but to do it.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Then I will leave the soldiers of Berneze in your hands.”
“Are you sure? I am just an outsider here.”
“We are not so rotten as to call our saviour an outsider. The reformists have fled, and everyone here is in agreement that you are to be trusted.”
“Well, I will do everything I can to live up to your expectations.”
I said. And then I stood up in order to organize the soldiers. However, he stopped me then.
“Where are you going?”
“I was thinking about seeing the mercenaries.”
“Ah, training? Well, that is important too, but a neighboring city has promised to send us about fifty mercenaries.”
“That’s very good of them.”
“However, it will take at least a week for them to arrive.”
“I hope they make it in time before the enemy’s attack.”
“They will. They must. Still, you will not have much to do for a week.”
“It’s true that one cannot train for twenty-four hours a day.”
“Then you should have some time to spare to learn how to dance. In fact, there is a very beautiful lady who wants to invite you to dance.”
“A beautiful lady?”
I wondered who he was talking about. And then Marco clapped his hands.
The door to his study opened slowly.
And from behind it appeared a beautiful woman in a red dress.
Her black hair looked pretty against the red fabric. And though it was not the most conservative dress, this woman had the right figure for it.
She was toned and athletic, but still had an ample chest, which was quite the cheat.
It was as I was thinking these things that the woman, who was Ryoma, said in a small voice,
“What do you think…?”
Her cheeks flushed as if she had just been drinking. Well, she apparently had been drinking. She said that she would not have dressed like this otherwise.
That was how much she disliked such garments. But it did suit her. And her face became even more red when I told her so.
“I-I’m a merchant. A merchant does not need to wear frilly clothing like this.”
I told her that I didn’t really agree with that, and so did Marco.
“Indeed. Ryoma is aware of her own talents as a merchant, but she is not aware of her own beauty. And so I think a dance with a Demon King might rectify that.”
Marco even suggested she could become my mistress, but I refused.
“That is unfortunate. But this is not a match-matching party that I’m planning, in any case. It is to show our gratitude for defeating Rosnay. We want you and the captain of the guards to attend.”
The soldiers would be given as much food and wine as they wanted.
I could not exactly refuse to go now. However, I was not very fond of dancing. And it showed on my face.
“I heard that you were a nobleman in your past life, Master.”
“A poor noble who was never invited to the castle. And I have never danced…if my memory serves…”
I couldn’t be too confident, as things were hazy. However, I could not recollect any dance steps.
“Master. Forgive my impertinence, but I can instruct you if you wish to learn how to dance.”
There was a hint of mischief in her expression. However, I felt very reassured by her at the same time.