At my words, Ace makes a determined expression.
“The Serenity family relies on the Lanegake Mine as a pillar of their industry. Now that the mine has been transferred, it has seemingly lost a lot of its value.”
“I don’t think so.”
My reply seemed to have caught Ace off guard again. It is true that those who only have a short-term perspective will not find the Serenity family appealing.
However, the Serenity have a long track record of ruling their current territory. The people who serve them are also indispensable to the management of the territory. Especially those who are involved in mining and related industries, it is difficult to find new talent and it takes several years to train them.
“The wealth of the Serenity is its people. I believe that people in mining-related industries are very valuable.”
“Ace-Dono, a mine is nothing more than a mountain without the engineers to make use of it. There are no mines in our Zafing territory. It takes a long time for an amateur to acquire the same level of skill as an expert. As far as I’m concerned, those in the service of House of Serenity are the most valuable assets at the moment.”
I saw Ace gulp at my words. It was probably the advantage of the Serenity family that Ace had prepared for, and the fact that I had said it first had left him speechless.
“As far as I’m concerned, if you sell the minerals from the mines, that’s all there is to it, but the people who produce them are much more valuable.”
“Ace-dono, may I guess the true purpose of your visit to me?”
My words were met with a scowl from Ace-dono. It was only for a moment, but I didn’t miss it.
“Yeah, your true purpose is to protect the future of the servants of Serenity, isn’t it?
“I’ll take silence as an affirmation.”
Ace opens his mouth at my words.
“As the Marquis of Zafing said, my goal is the safety of those who serve the Serenity.”
“No way …….”
The butler behind him looked aghast at Ace’s answer, and when he caught my gaze, he bowed as if he were afraid.
“Ace-dono, for your purposes, I take it you and your family are not included?”
“Of course it’s in there, but it’s a matter of priorities.”
“I see. …… So it’s retainers first?”
I close my eyes at Ace’s immediate response. To be honest, I have no intention of destroying the Serenity family at this stage. The reason why I insist Fiona and Leon marry is not to destroy the Serenity family, but rather to prevent them from underestimating me as someone who is lenient.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that matters, as long as I’m not underestimated. I’m not in love with Fiona in the first place, so it doesn’t really matter if she’s in love with Leon.
“I see. I don’t want the people who serve the Serenity to be unhappy either.”
Ace was clearly relieved by my words. Lugard’s expression was dark in contrast to Ace’s relief.
Looking at him, I was convinced that it was unwise to cut off Ace. If I decide to cut off Ace at this point, it will be infinitely more difficult to control the vassals of Serenity.
I decided to get Ace even if it cost me a little more. Rather, the terms I’m about to offer to ensure that I won’t lose anything.
“I have already told you that I do not want the Serenity’s vassals to be unhappy. In order to do so, as the Marquis of Zafing …… No, I need you to come under my umbrella.”
“I hope you are not so confused. As for me, I can take control of the vassals of the Count of Serenity simply by bringing them in. It’s far less work for us than cutting them off.”
“There are conditions for that, aren’t there?”
“Are you indeed aware of the situation? Ace-dono, the conditions you have proposed are not the will of the head of the family, but are driven by your own ideas, are they not?”
“There is no way that the current Count would come up with such an idea as transferring the Lanegake Mine. I’m sorry, but the Count is a man who is drowning but can’t throw away his treasure and sinks with it. I can easily imagine that it is the sole decision of Ace-dono”
“I’m afraid the Count of Serenity doesn’t seem to understand his position. It is impossible to be like-minded with such a man.”
Ace gave a small nod to my words. The intention of my words was to get rid of Count of Serenity, and Ace seems to have understood my intention.
“Which of these artisans do you think is needed?”
Ace’s words contain tension. I answer his question immediately.
“I think a basket will do just fine.”
“Thank you for your kindness.”
Ace stood up and bowed. The word “basket” here means “confinement“. If it was a hearse, it would have been death. He was relieved to hear that, because he knew that if Ace was me, there was a good chance that he would be offered death as a condition.
It would have been a psychological hurdle to kill his father. I can do it, but most people can’t, and I’m not going to look down on them at all for not being able to.
“Marquis of Zafing, about my sister ……?”
“Expulse…… Thank you for your generous treatment.”
The term “Expulse” refers to the complete erasure of a person from the family register of the Serenity family. To put it another way, the Serenity never had a daughter named Fiona in the first place, so even if she married Leon after the execution of Ghazel and Armada, she would have nothing to do with the Serenity family.
In other words, it is an indication that I will not use Fiona to interfere with the Serenity any more, and it also means that I do not intend to harm Fiona.
“But of course, Ace-dono, I took this as a generous gesture, but there may be those who do not. If anyone takes that attitude, I will take a firm stand. I trust you will understand what I mean by this.”
“Of course I do. But in that case I will prepare the hearse for you.”
Ace replied emphatically. It shows that he is prepared to get his hands dirty.
“I see…… I’m sorry I misjudged your resolve.”
“Ace-dono, if you’re so determined, I’ll cancel the transfer of the Lanegake Mine.”
“……I couldn’t ask for more. Thank you once again for your kindness.”
“It’s a small price to pay for your loyalty.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Well, let me see what you can do. You have one month.”
“I don’t need a month. One week will suffice.”
There was a firm determination in Ace’s voice. I’m sure it’s because he thinks that if he takes a month to neutralize that mediocre count and his sister, it will lower his value.
“Well, then, I promise you that this contract will take effect when you become the Count of Serenity. Then this matter is closed.”
“I can’t thank you enough for your generosity.”
Ace bowed to me one last time and left.
Aisha, who was standing by to see them off, looked as if she wanted to say something.
“What’s the matter? Do you have any doubts about my decision?”
Aisha was a little puzzled, but affirmed.
“I don’t care, just tell me.”
“Y-Yes. Why did you return the Lanegake Mine to the Serenity family? It is such a large mine. I think it would be of great benefit to Giorg-sama…..”
“It’s simple. By returning the Lanegake mine, I can bind Ace-dono.”
“Haa. …… Bind him?”
“Yes, the Lanegake Mine is returned, but the village of Erde remains the property of House Zafing. I am sure Ace-dono is well aware of the implications.”
“If he disobeys, you’ll show no mercy?”
“Well, that’s what it means. He knows exactly what I’m trying to do, so he’s not going to get into any kind of trouble with me. I observed that he would not do anything that would put the entire family of the Serenity on the street. That’s what I mean.”
“I see. ……”
Aisha nodded her head in agreement. In fact, I can assure you that Ace will never go against the Marquis of Zafing. Because of its location, the Count of Serenity’s territory cannot distribute unless it goes through the Zafing territory.
Rather, the current Count, Countess and Fiona, are the exception to the rule of stupidity.
“The best thing about this engagement breakup is that it resulted in the Serenity …… keeping Ace under my umbrella.”
I said and gave a small laugh. Originally, I had a high opinion of Ace, but these negotiations have convinced me that I was right.
“Now that that’s out of the way, let’s …… do a little meddling.”
“I’m going to write to the Countess of Crethemais.”
“Ace-dono and their daughter, Miss Muses, were engaged, are they not?”
“Yes, they were, indeed.”
“The conflict with the Zafing family has been resolved. They have nothing to worry about.”
“Did Ace-dono break off the engagement?”
“Probably, yes. Until today’s negotiations, he was planning to end the Serenity’s family, so Ace-dono wouldn’t have wanted to involve his fiancée.”
Aisha bowed in response to my words and began preparing the letter.
I let out a small chuckle as I watched her. The more important people you have to bind to someone like Ace, the better. If Ace and Muses get married and have children, the chains that bind them will be even stronger.
The chances of him turning against me are slim to none, but you never know. I should take the proper steps to prepare for that.
(I’m still a monster afterfall…… Or maybe I’m just naive.)
I muttered to myself in my heart.