Chapter 40: Shadows of Nejia
“You truly do not mind even the slightest of details? Though, it may not be appropriate to refer to summoning His Highness as a minor matter.”
During dinner, I informed His Highness Auglia about my chance encounter with a young man from Nejia who works at the castle.
He expressed interest in speaking with His Highness and I informed Auglia-sama of this during my return home.
While Prince Auglia was mildly displeased that I had formed a friendship with the man in secret, it is not uncommon for me to interact and spend time with men in my work.
Everyone is aware that I am the prince’s fiancé but I am unconscious of this.
I understand that Gauche does not wish to create any conflicts.
In my homeland, I was seen as a desirable target for marriage by high-ranking nobles who sought to marry into the royal family, but my sisters were deemed too valuable.
I was considered the most accessible option.
However, this led to my current situation, where I am engaged to Prince Auglia as part of a peace treaty.
Despite this, I lead a content and fulfilling life.
I do not view the defeat of my education as a negative outcome.
With these thoughts in mind, Melissa and Gwenna, as promised, joined us in my room and the four of us were now waiting.
Through the window, we could see the presence of many individuals in the tree grove, including Gauche.
He had kept his word and was stationed by the window.
The only difference from his usual appearance was his attire.
He was dressed in long sleeves and pants that were close to black and blended seamlessly into the darkness.
He wore cloth shoes and a cloth covering his mouth and head, exposing only his eyes.
Gauche skillfully lowered the cloth from his mouth and called out to the window from his crouched position on the tree branch.
“Gauche? That outfit…and everyone on the tree?”
“This? It’s my work clothes.
I wear it for my job.
Nejia is a silkworm-rearing country, which means it specializes in spinning silk.
Do you know why it wasn’t attacked by the Faithnum Empire?”
I briefly considered that it might be due to its difficult geography and lack of resources, but kept that thought to myself.
Living in a narrow space between mountains, it would be difficult to colonize and send out scouts or orders.
“Yes, that’s probably what you’re thinking.
But relying solely on protection from the land isn’t enough.
Both exports and imports are challenging for us.”
That must be inconvenient.
But you’ve sold the technology and technicians of silkworm cultivation to the Baratonia Kingdom, so it should be easier from now on…”
Now, a road has been built between Nejia and Baratonia kingdoms.
When it was a vassal state of the Faithnum Empire, it could not form an alliance with the Baratonia Kingdom, but now it is supplied with abundant food and is learning the technology of silkworm cultivation and trying to incorporate it into the country.
In the future, silk is expected to spread throughout the world.
“Life should be easier from now on.
We have been surviving thus far… or rather, making a living here.
Espionage and assassination have always been a part of Nejia’s specialty.
Previously, it was all about the money, but I’ve had enough.
I was pleased with Claire-sama’s response, so I spoke with the elder.
The lute was a test to see if she would come and purchase it herself.
I apologize for testing you in such a manner.”
I couldn’t keep up with the conversation.
I was aware of the existence of such underground societies in the world.
The leader of the underground society, also known as the “don,” or the person who gathers like those hoodlums like today.
Melissa and Gwenna, who are maids, are capable of using weapons, but they have only learned them for self-defense purposes.
It does not mean that their household is involved in such activities.
But, has their country been relying on such practices all this time?
“However, it’s not common to find silk in the Faithnum Empire, correct? We take great care of our silk production, as it is a valuable product that fetches a high price and is in high demand.
We have even been wholesaling it to various countries for a long time now.
But I’ll touch upon that later.
So, Your Highness Auglia, do you have any plans to allow the true face of Nejia, the ‘Shadows of Nejia’ to operate in your country?”
Just like me, His Highness Auglia appeared confused as he listened to Gauche.
Despite his smooth talk, his abilities seemed genuine.
“Our specialty is espionage and assassination, or to put it more accurately, information warfare.
However, due to our limited numbers, we cannot be relied upon as the primary fighting force.”
That… I have no reason to trust you more than Claire does.
And, I don’t see the need to do so either.”
This is a service.Baratonia has achieved independence.
And you have entered into a peace treaty, and resolving this matter with the Faithnum Empire is also in our own interest.
Your nation now possesses abundant grain stores and has established a mass production system for silk, which was once a scarce luxury.
The utilization of paper is proliferating and consistently advancing.
Who could deny that other countries yearn for such prosperity?”
This country is a great power located in the center of the continent, facing the sea.
People do not come from the countries on the opposite side of the continent as it is too far away, but there are still several countries on the other side of the Faithnum Empire that surround Baratonia.
The significance of this shield has been lost.
Although there is currently no reason to attack Baratonia, the fact that it is no longer a part of the Faithnum Empire increases the likelihood of it being targeted by other countries.
“Are you occupied with wedding preparations at the moment? Having someone like us by your side can provide protection against potential threats.”
“What would you like in return for this benefit to us?”
This has always been a worry for us, ever since we agreed to export our unique goods to Baratonia.
Managing both aspects of our business and interactions with other nations is reaching its limits.
If things become dangerous in the future, there could even be internal conflicts among us.
The aftermath of the independence war between the Faithnum Empire and the Baratonia Kingdom is still fresh. And now, the Baratonia Kingdom has acquired the silk industry and become a bastion for us Nejians.
Claire-sama played a crucial role in this, and I was hoping that eventually… well, what do you think? If you respect Nejia and trust us, then in the future, the true face of Nejia, the ‘Shadows of Nejia’, will pledge eternal loyalty to the Baratonia Kingdom.”
Although Gauche’s tone may sound casual, this is a serious matter.
I had not considered this possibility until it was brought to my attention.
After years of being a vassal, now that Baratonia has gained independence, we must take into account the potential for being targeted in the future.
“…I would like to discuss this with my father and give you a response in three days.”
However, what we value most is Claire-sama, so remember that her commands take precedence.
Alright, today was just a brief meeting, let’s leave it at that.”
Before I could even respond, Gauche put back his handkerchief and a rustling sound could be heard.
The presence outside the window had vanished and all was quiet.
Despite the fires burning in the castle’s garden, no one was in sight.
“Claire, how much longer will you keep surprising us?”
“Your Highness, let me clarify something.”
I turned to His Highness with a stunned expression and met his gaze with a serious demeanor.
“I too am deeply shocked and surprised.”
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