Botsuraku 134 – Part 2
His domains were unremarkable, his estate was unremarkable, and the building that stood before our eyes looked like an old castle that had not been renovated for hundreds of years.
There were several servants at his mansion’s entrance who gave the three of us the warmest welcome.
Their recklessly serviceable attitude only made us feel a bit uncomfortable. Even after we had reached the reception room, they were still trying to be of service to us.
If I think about it, we didn’t even have to talk about the swords we brought with us for our protection. I thought they would confiscate them, but they must have chosen not to take those precautions so as to not hurt the mood.
We didn’t have to wait for too long in the reception room.
Shortly afterward, a thin man who I then presumed to be the Lord of Karasas entered the room with a smile.
The man, whose hair was short and tidy but sported an abundant beard, approaches us and gives each of us a hearty handshake.
“Welcome, Kururi Helan.”
He lowered his head at Mr. Lotson as he said that.
“My name is Lotson. Lord Kururi is this man next to me.”
Mr. Lotson pointed at me, who was at that moment sitting in the middle of the sofa.
“Oh, so you are Lord Kururi? I’m sorry. I heard you were young, but I wasn’t expecting you to be this young. Oh, please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not complaining.”
He apologized and took a seat across from us.
I had a hard time hiding my astonishment at this man’s humble demeanor.
We had already spoken regarding the main point of our meeting in our letter. I had thought that if anything, it would have been us the ones to bow our heads to him, but our positions were actually the exact opposite.
In this case, we could expect the negotiations to go without a hitch. Or could it be that he was being this polite because he wanted to refuse our offer? In any case, I wouldn’t know without actually talking with him first.
“I am the Lord of Karasas. My name is Twist Karasas. I’m sorry for not introducing myself earlier, even though we’re from neighboring countries.”
“I could say the same. I could have made the opportunity to introduce each other earlier, but haven’t until now. So there’s no need to apologize to each other.”
I spoke with a gentle tone of voice to Twist, whose head was still humbly lowered.
“I am grateful for your kind words. What a compassionate heart!”
What was this odd feeling? Two lords have certainly met today in equal terms in order to do business, but why were they treating me like royalty?
I was incredibly confused, but there was nothing I could do. So I decided to go straight to the point despite feeling uncomfortable.
“Well then, I think that I have already mentioned the general idea behind today’s meeting, but I wanted to speak with you regarding the plans for the magic train.”
“Yes, I accept them completely. So we have decided to talk about it even if this discussion would take us late into the evening.”
What I had told him in the letter was a vague idea of what we would talk about, there weren’t any specific details or anything like that.
So what was that thing that Twist and his people had already decided? I thought we were going to have a conversation together, but he kept on talking.
“We’ve heard about the construction of the Dragon’s Spine, and of the current situation in Helan. To be quite frank, we are on a completely different level to you. We shall relinquish the section of the Dragon’s Spine over which the magic train runs, plus an area of 10 meters wide of the road that crosses over the Kalaras territory, to Helan.”
Huh? What did he just say?
“Uh… Lord Twist, please calm down. First, let us explain…”
“Do you mean to say that’s not enough!?”
Twist’s smile was now wrapped in a threatening attitude.
“What do you mean ‘not enough’? We’re not saying anything like that.”
“Perhaps you want to take all of our territories for yourself?”
“Please, calm down!”
“GWOOOH! To think it would come to this! At least… at least please find it in your heart to not raise your hand against my people when you take my life!!”
Twist suddenly took out a dagger that was hidden in his breast pocket, and desperately tried to stab himself in the chest, turning the situation into a state of panic.
The three of us were able to restrain the clearly upset Twist, but it was still not enough to completely thwarting his attempted suicide. Since it looked like he really was a danger to himself, I had no choice but to try to choke him unconscious by putting my arm around his neck from behind and applying enough pressure.
Twist quickly lost consciousness and fell onto the floor.
I couldn’t believe I would be judo choking the lord of a neighboring country on the day of our first meeting… This was definitely beyond my expectations for today.
There was quite an uproar, and the room was quickly filled with servants, most of which had been waiting just outside.
They were all whispering as they saw the Lord of Karasas lying motionless on the floor, saying such things as “I knew it…”
What was that “I knew it”? Were they expecting me to judo choke their master? Just what kind of expectations did they have of us?
Chaos soon reigned in the lord’s residence, but it eventually calmed down as people started to realize that Twist was indeed not dead.
We let him rest on the sofa for a while. When he woke up, there were no signs of his previous violent anxiety and seemed to be ready to talk.
“What!? So you were not planning to take the Karasas territory for yourself?”
“That’s right. What made you think that? There was no mention of such intentions written in my letter!”
“That may be the case, but I have heard many scary stories about Kururi Helan here and there. That you’re kind to the commoners, but on the other hand, you show no mercy to us nobles…”
“That’s not true.”
“Even that noble from the royal capital, Alegraden Fonteyne, returned to the capital with his head stuck in a jar after visiting the Helan territory!”
…did happen, yes. But those were special circumstances!
“Moreover, I have heard that Lord Kururi Helan has a group of hired assassins and the strongest private army!”
…do have such an army. Yeah.
“Even today, you have brought your brawny soldiers along on your magic train as if you were planning to use them to threaten me! And that dragon flying in the sky, too! After I read your letter I knew today was going to be the last day of my life.”
“Please rest assured, I’m not planning to invade your territory or anything like that. First of all, that would be treason against the royal family.”
“I’ve also heard that you have a deal with the royal family…”
I don’t have a deal with them! I’m just friends with Rahsa, that’s all!
“Haha… let’s pretend that none of us have heard such rumors about me. We have come to do business, that’s all.”
After that, we finally started to discuss our main topic: the Dragon’s Spine construction project.
We agreed that the Helan territory will be providing the technology and most of the workforce for the construction, while the Karasas territory will be providing the remaining necessary personnel. Grash will continue to be the train’s engineer and driver just as he was in Helan. He might have to move over to this country in the end. We then agreed that the funding will be a responsibility of Lord of Karasas, who shall pay with the treasure his family has accumulated over the generations. I had been under the impression that his vaults were quite full.
But this had been possible only since the Lord of Karasas understood that this investment did not suppose a loss for him. We also have no obligation to help them in the construction of the train station here in Karasas. Whether or not it becomes a trending spot will be entirely up to them.
And so, we settled on the main conditions that each party had in mind.
Even though I had been confident about being able to settle this quickly, having finished our negotiations in just one day was far beyond my expectations.
So that’s that.
Even Twist, who at first thought he would lose everything to our invading forces, was able to keep an open mind and disregard what he had heard about me as the baseless rumors they were. It’s just like when bad people seem to be good people just because they do good things from time to time. Just because he had feared me, I was treated like a god and was able to gracefully settle matters with the Karasas territory.
In the end, I was even able to take an important experience with me as a souvenir after our business discussion was over.
“Maybe I shouldn’t bring the Iron Heat Corps along the next time I meet someone for business?”