“Welcome your highness, Wayne.”
After passing through Solituk, Wayne was welcomed by dressed up Zenovia at the reconstructed Elislaw Palace.
“I’m sorry for all the trouble, Marquis Marden.”
As Wayne responded, Zenovia smiled.
“Your highness, you don’t have to be so formal with me, please do call me Zenovia.”
“Though you said that, you’re a marquis of Natra and the former princess of Marden Kingdom. I may be a prince, but I do believe I should not look down on you too much? Or the people might think I treated you cheaply…”
“There’s no such thing. Right now, I’m your subject. Not to mention, we’re both have stood on the battlefield together. I believe this is our proper distance in our relationship, and not overly familiar…”
Wayne laughed a little after brooding over a little bit…
“Then, let us go with your reasoning. Marquis Zenovia.”
“Yes. We’ve prepared a small banquet, so please come in…”
Led by Zenovia, Wayne walks down the court corridor with his companion.
“Nevertheless, this palace has been beautifully rebuilt.”
“Indeed. After all, we can’t leave the symbol of people’s inspiration remained burned down.”
“I also took a light look at the cityscape on the way, but I was surprised to see almost no trace of the war caused by the Cabarine. I thought Marden people would be more confused by the sudden changes, I’m impressed by your skill Marquis Zenovia.”
Although he still feels pricked by the fact that he was being done by her surprise attack.
“This is also your highness generosity, accepting us to be part of Natra. If not, I’m afraid, the flag that would fly in the town would be that of Cabarine.”
Zenovia naturally responded with a smile.
“Also, at this banquet, I would like to thank you for it and do my best to entertain you… Oh my?”
Zenovia’s eyes suddenly caught Wayne’s hair.
“What’s wrong, Marquis Zenovia?”
“No, it must be just my imagination. It looks like your highness hair is more sparkling than usual?”
“… Hahahaha, maybe my hair got burned down due to the booming economy!”
While saying that, Wayne glanced back. Ninim who was following him looked away.
“Fufufu, is that so? It seems quite mischievous eh?”
“Indeed, you’re completely right… … Oh…”
While the party was having a fun talk, they arrived at the party hall.
(Fuuh, I see…)
Wayne was convinced at a first glance when he saw the hall. There were many furnishing and dishes prepared there. All of them were Natra’s style, Natra’s Food.
(Meaning they are telling us that they have a willingness to join us, Natra.)
Marden has its own Marden culture. However, they showed their willingness to join and unify with Natra. Wayne had used to see all of the Natra dishes when he prepared a banquet, but seeing even the interior of this place had Natra’s style, showed how much they had will power to join Natra.
“I think your highness would be very tired due to the long journey, so I prepared something that your highness used to eat.”
Zenovia and Wayne were sitting at the head of the table, Marden vassals also come in contact with the other entourages. In the meantime, Ninim was still standing behind Wayne.
“Thank you for your consideration, Marquis. … Between you and me, like this, I’m relieved I won’t show any rudeness in front of Zenovia.”
“Thank you very much.”
It was not just about Marden’s compromise. Perhaps, during the planning of hospitality, the vassals also want to show Marden style, after all, their pride as former Kingdom won’t disappear just like that. But, the fact that that was not the case was proof that Zenovia had the ability and power to push back the opinion of her vassals, and put them together.
(How ironic that she actually has such great skills. After all, no matter which royal family, women were usually being looked down upon.)
On this continent, regardless of status, there was a strong sense where Men were responsible for politics. And in fact, many administration was carried by men.
Then, since it was usually only men’s workplace’ it has become a men-only secret base— Where only men’s rules work…
Therefore, when there was a woman trying to break into such a place, usually the reaction would be “Eh, that’s troublesome…”
For example, when Zenovia was being given a title by Natra, there was such frustration.
Zenovia was originally a royal family of another country, and her territory’s power was also comparable to the Natra royal family. In that case, it was natural for her to be given the high title of Marquis. However, it still took a while for the other aristocrats to be able to accept her.
“Many questioned the decision of giving a court rank toward a woman.”
They lined up all the plausible statements they could think of.
Although there was some difference when it comes to some countries, the title system was generally the extension of a game of make-believe which usually we found in men’s secret base.
If we trace Natra’s history, there were only a few precedents in which the title was given to women. However, the small number of precedents didn’t manage to bring down the tacit understanding that “the title is a man’s privilege.”
(Well, we manage to push through though…)
Despite the heated debate, and even some debates to lower the rank a little bit, Wayne had managed to eventually give her the rank of Marquis, just like originally he had planned.
Anyway, what one wants to say about all of this was, it was hard to live as a woman in the political area. However, Zenovia, as the lord of Marden was fully aware of such custom. In that regard, she deserves some praise.
“I heard the Marden territory is fairly stable. Above all, it seems the trade has been doing very well.”
“As expected, when distribution becomes active, everything is very different.”
Zenovia nodded and continue.
“I honestly never thought the Empire’s product would sell this much though…”
“The harder it is to obtain the goods, the more attractive the goods are in the human’s eyes…”
“I guess that’s right. However, with only that alone, it won’t be this much… Levetianism people are a group of barbaric people who don’t understand the teaching of the eastern part of the continent.”
For the devout, the imperial items were nothing more than a pagan. No matter how fascinating it was, there were many who refused it.
So, how did they manage to sell the imperial goods to them?
“I was surprised too. I was only trying to disguise it as a Natra’s product and not an imperial product, but for it to go this well…”
Wayne was happily talking…
“No need to worry, after all, we’re doing it for the sake of those pious people’s mind and also our people happiness. I believe deep down, they know that the goods are from the Empire.”
“No matter how I heard it, that is definitely the line from the devil that invites people to fall…”
“No way… No one could make a good deal against someone who’s soul is satisfied.”
And so on, the two have a friendly conversation.
However, no matter how friendly their talk was, Wayne never let down his guard toward Zenovia.
(Now, the intentions of the other side are easy to understand…)
Marden indicates a cooperative route with Natra. That was certain.
However, that can’t be the end of all of it. If Wayne’s expectation was correct, somewhere down the line, the marriage talk would pop up…
(But still, for me to end up where I could only wait is a bit…)
Wayne then cuts in when the conversation was being interrupted…
“By the way Marquis Zenovia, Marden might have been running well, but it is easy to get strained due to the rapid growth you know? If you have any concerns, please do consult with us.”
As he was provoking, agitation ran between the Marden vassals around him.
“Come to think of it…”
However, Zenovia was unmoving… At least on the surface. As Wayne glanced at her, she was in deep thought before replied…
“Actually, I received a letter of protest from the Kingdom of Delnio.”
“From Delnio? …I see, they come to Marden too huh?”
“I see, your side too huh?”
“By the way, in Marquis Zenovia’s eyes, how are they as a country? Delnio has very little contact with Natra prior to this, so we only have a little information on them.”
Zenovia continues her replies after having a little thought…
“It is a country that has been known for its conservatives attitude since ancient times, with many devout Levetianism live in the country, and they also heavily respect their culture. The King was being replaced a little while ago, but the current King is a young man, and most of the politics were carried by the prime minister named Siridis.”
“Just like the other devout believer of Levetianism, Siridis is also a devout believer. Ever since he gained power, he had focusing on protecting their own culture and the teaching of the Levetianism.”
“That sounds like a country where if I lived there, I would feel suffocated.”
“Indeed. Since at the same time as protecting them, they also exclude other cultures. Thanks to that, Delnio’s youth was prone to revolting and I believe even the conservatives are overdoing it. Though their recent policy seems to have stemmed from their recent disagreement with the Solgest Kingdom.”
I see, Wayne had thought… The Solgest Kingdom that trades with other countries and spreads its goods and culture to neighboring countries. For Siridis, who wants to cherish their own culture, this was a horrible opponent.
“In that case, I can nod to the letter of protest. If Solgest would spread their own culture as well as the imperial culture via Marden, I can understand their dissatisfaction…”
“Indeed. It is in the form of a letter for now, but if this continues, they might use diplomats or even force in the future. In fact, in the letter, they also requested a place to set up a meeting. Well, this time I refused them due to your highness visiting…”
So, what should we do?— Zenovia ended with that question.
Where Wayne replied with a smile…
“Continue to sell the goods.”
“Is it fine?”
“If they only write a letter, there is still a lot of room to maneuver. We can start thinking about it seriously after the diplomats come and lined up…”
“I understand. Then I shall do just that.”
Wayne satisfied and nodded his head as he heard Zenovia’s replies…
After nodding, he suddenly noticed…
(… Huh? We’re done?)
When he had shown a concern toward her, he had expected Zenovia would mention the disparity in the country and she would then talk about marriage between Wayne and Zenovia— But that expectation was betrayed.
(Maybe she didn’t like riding on my expectation? If so, will she move after this?)
Wayne continues to talk with Zenovia while remained on high alert.
However, the topic of marriage does not come out from Zenovia or the vassals.
He was wondering what was going on, he continues the talk, continue, continue—…
Even until the party end.
There was no talk of marriage come out of Zenovia’s mouth.