The interior of the Knight Training Camp resembled a circular arena somewhere in Europe.
The training field, shaped like a circle, was surrounded by stairs that doubled as seats.
“Where is the Knight Commander?”
Carinne grabbed any knight she could find and asked.
“Do you have any business with the Commander?”
“I have something to say… Can you tell me where she is?”
“She must have gone somewhere.
Please wait over there, I’ll let her know when she arrives.”
The knight pointed to a tent located on one side of the training camp.
“By the way, who are you?”
“I’m Carinne from the Second Duchy.”
“I’m Archenas, the aide to Duke Lucas.”
“Oh… Wait here, she will arrive soon.”
The knight scratched the back of his head and guided Carinne and Archen into the tent.
Archen silently went to a corner of the tent.
“I will observe from the side.”
Being on Duke Lucas’ side, Carinne didn’t want to needlessly interfere with him, so she readily agreed.
Shortly after, a woman with long, disheveled gray bangs and a stern expression entered the tent.
“What do you want?”
It wasn’t ‘Who are you?’ or ‘What’s the matter?’ but a blunt ‘What do you want?’ Carinne chuckled, expecting that the conversation ahead wouldn’t be smooth.
“I am Carinne, the lady from the Second Duchy, and this is…”
“What’s the matter?”
Marta cut her off abruptly.
It was rather impolite considering her lower status compared to Carinne, but she chose not to say anything.
She was well aware of Marta’s consistently brusque demeanor.
Marta had a reputation for interrupting or disregarding others, even in the presence of nobles.
The nobility saw her as a thorn in their side, yet she had played a significant role in the last war fought by Esmeril, earning immense support from the people due to her actions, so they couldn’t easily confront her.
“I’ve come to offer a deal.”
Carinne answered concisely.
Marta replied, pulling out her scabbard from her hip and putting it on the table.
Then, she pointed towards the exit.
“We don’t do that kind of thing here.”
Carinne exclaimed urgently, but Marta didn’t even pretend to listen.
“If someone comes here, it’s either because they need the Knights’ strength or they want to use someone skilled in combat.”
Marta glanced at Carinne once and briefly at Archen standing beside her before finishing her sentence.
“Seems like you two fall into the second category.”
Even though she felt a little stung, she couldn’t just back down here.
Carinne shouted defiantly.
“At least hear what we can offer!”
Marta was an uncompromising woman.
She didn’t even make an effort to listen to her explanation.
“It’s better for you to leave on your own before I count to three.
Instead, she started counting.
Carinne’s mouth went dry.
She had come this far; she couldn’t allow herself to be driven away.
Not only for Iris’ sake but also to humiliate Duke Lucas, she needed to overcome this crisis.
What should she say first?
Yes, that was it.
Without leaving the tent, Carinne casually inquired, “You’ve been facing difficulties lately, haven’t you? The maintenance budget for the Knight Order has been significantly slashed.”
This was information she had obtained during a recent meeting.
The nobles had decided to reduce the Knight Order’s personnel instead of cutting their maintenance budget.
Even just hearing about the reduced budget, it amounted to a substantial sum.
It must be a difficult situation for everyone with such a diminished maintenance budget.
Marta held her palm as if she was about to draw her sword.
“The sword and armor are rusting, and you want to replace them, but all they talk about up there is a shortage of budget.”
This was an information she knew from the novel.
At those words, Marta now took back her hand.
“That’s not all, right? You’ve been waiting for imports from Radian for years, but there’s been no news for Isril.
A splendid metal.
It’s sharp and tough, easily piercing through steel…”
The hand holding the hilt stopped abruptly.
What was just said was information based on a conversation Marta and other knights had in the novel.
“…Although it’s a bit expensive.”
That was the key point.
Carinne crossed her legs and leaned back, displaying a relaxed smile.
“You seem to know a lot about the Order’s situation.”
Marta finally paid attention to her words.
“Are you a spy for Saraha?”
When Marta suspected Carinne as a spy for the enemy, Carinne snapped and shouted.
“If I were a spy, would I be here doing this? I would have obtained the information and returned to my own country.
Anyway, if you trade with us, you can restore the Order’s maintenance costs to their original level and maybe even increase them.
Not to mention obtaining Isril.”
Then, Marta’s rigid expression appeared to soften slightly.
Carinne felt a surge of confidence upon witnessing this change.
Marta had no choice but to seriously consider the proposal at hand.
Equipping knights with Isril swords and armor had always been Marta’s cherished desire.
Why didn’t she directly participate in the meeting and advocate for importing Isril? Well, that was because Marta… found it incredibly challenging to express herself in front of someone she held feelings for, the King.
They were trapped in a futile cycle of believing that the other person wouldn’t reciprocate their affections, a classic case of unrequited love.
Their relationship didn’t progress in the original story either, making them an unlucky secondary couple.
Nonetheless, they deeply cared for each other, with Marta always willing to fulfill the King’s requests and the King reciprocating in kind.
However, they seldom asked each other for favors, fearing it would burden the other person.
That’s why Marta hesitated to directly communicate her desires to the King.
But if it were done indirectly and with the assistance of others, it would be a different story.
“What do you want?”
Finally, she took the bait.
Carinne replied as if she had been waiting for this moment.
“Please oppose the construction of the separate building at the cabinet meeting.
You don’t need to oppose it vehemently, just say it’s wasteful in a few words.”
“That was a good attempt, but please leave now.
I don’t attend the meetings.”
Marta was resolute.
Indeed, unless it was a matter of vital importance to the Order, such as war or troop support, she didn’t participate in the meetings.
She wasn’t suited for the political arena that required strategic thinking, and she knew it well herself.
That was the second reason why Marta wanted to avoid going to the meeting.
Still, she couldn’t avoid it forever.
Since she had brought the conversation this far, she was in the same situation as Carinne, who had fallen into her trap.
Now it was time to say the prepared words.
Carinne took a deep breath and parted her lips.
“I’ll tell you how the construction of the separate building will affect you starting now.”
“The building will be built in a place with a white oak forest.
The reason why nobles want to build it in a place with a forest is that if they cut down the white oak trees, they can make quite a bit of money.
The bark of white oak is used as a valuable medicinal herb, and the timber is durable and fetches a high price.”
Suddenly, a thought occurred to her.
This Kingdom was truly rotten to the core.
It felt remarkable that it had managed to survive and maintain its lineage until now.
“By selling the timber, even after building it, there will still be a considerable amount of money left, and that money will quietly find its way into the pockets of the nobles.”
At that moment, Archen, who was supposed to listen without a reaction, flinched.
‘Did he think I didn’t know?’
Perhaps that was why the Duke had been so self-assured.
Carinne, who didn’t attend the meetings and didn’t know the ‘politics’ in detail, must have thought that she wouldn’t be aware of the situation.
But what should he do about it?
She wasn’t the Carinne from the original story.
Based on the information from reading the original story two or three times, she was a newly armed Carinne who came from another world.
“Then, His Majesty’s position will be weakened.”
“…It’s unrelated to me.”
Was that really the case? She noticed Marta’s eyes flicker ever so slightly.
Now, the next part.
“Oh, by the way.
The Knights will also be mobilized to cut down the trees.”
Carinne spoke in passing.
To be honest, this time, a bit of luck was needed to go her way.
Marta’s cold response was piercing.
We are people who handle swords, not axes.”
“Of course, I fully agree.
However, there are quite a few nobles who are pushing for it within the Knight Order.”
It was specifically about Marta, but there was no need to scratch that sore spot.
“They wanted to could shrink the Knight Order and swallow its budget, but His Majesty always opposes it…”
The phrase ‘Your Majesty always opposes it’ subtly changed Marta’s expression.
She was almost there.
“So, they are planning to give trouble the Knight Order this time.
It can almost be considered a fact.”
“I can go and oppose it.”
“So, you’re going to the meeting?”
“No, I’ll go and oppose only that matter and come back.”
Carinne smoothly continued the conversation.
“Are you going to attend every meeting? The nobles will keep bringing up the same issue.
It would be easier to just cancel the construction of the building altogether.”
“It would benefit you in various ways.”
“…Even if I can’t cancel the construction of the building, how do you plan to increase the Knight Order’s budget?”
It was a sharp question.
However, the answer to this question was already prepared.
“I can’t increase the Knight Order’s budget on my own.
Similarly, you can’t cancel the construction of the building on your own.
We need to work together.”
In fact, it wasn’t so much about working together, but as long as Marta attended the meeting, if Duke Lucas proposed to increase the Knight Order’s budget, the King would accept the proposal for Marta’s sake.
Still, let’s assume they needed to work together for now.
“There’s actually no need for a deal.
I’m saying we should work together.”
Finally, Marta began to seriously consider Carinne’s proposal.
The sword was now quietly sheathed and resting at her side.
It was as good as done.
Just as Carinne was about to relax her tension and savor the sense of relief, she asked.
”Should we use the money from selling the wood for the Knight Order?”
“If the nobles are going to divide it among themselves anyway, it should be okay to use some of it for the Knight Order, right?”
She hadn’t thought of that! It was a reasonable argument.
Even if she didn’t oppose the construction of the building, Marta could achieve her goal by diverting some of the money from selling the wood towards the Knight Order.
At that moment, Archen, who had been standing in the corner, suddenly interjected.
“The nobles have already divided the forest into sections and allocated logging and mining rights.
Unless we completely cancel the building plan, they won’t let the Knight Order take it away.”
She blinked in surprise, at a loss for words.
Carinne never expected Archen to step forward under any circumstances.
Knowing that it would strike a blow to the First Duchy, where he works as well if she successfully persuaded Marta.
Even knowing that, he still chose to help… did that make them close friends?
Carinne silently applauded with joy a hundred times over.
Now that they had become close friends, all she had to do was stretch her legs and wait for the festival.
A bright future loomed before her.
When Archen finished speaking, Marta nodded in understanding.
“Please let me know the date of the meeting.”
Thus, Carinne successfully concluded her mission of persuading Marta.
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