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Chapter 154 – Audience (Part 2)
I told Cha Ji-hye the news that I might become a baron.
But as always, she her response was very flat and it deflated my sense of excitement.
“Is that so? That is good.”
“Now with a foothold, it will be of great benefit going forward in the exa……what is it?”
“…are you asking because you don’t know?”
“Yes, I’m asking because I don’t know. Why do you look so sullen?”
“I am so happy right now, wouldn’t it be nice if you could be this happy with me?”
At my words, Cha Ji-hye was speechless.
Hehe, she’s flustered.
She didn’t show it but I could tell. We have spent a lot of time with each other.
“I am not familiar with things like that. I’m sorry.”
“If you aren’t familiar, you can practice, k?”
“…… what do you mean by that?”
“Exactly what I said. Now, be happy for me.”
On Cha Ji-hye’s expressionless face, her confusion became more evident.
“Clap your hands and say you’re happy that I’m about to be a baron, congratulate me, put your soul into it and shout.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to be happy for me?”
“Psh, never mind.”
I turned my head and pretended to sulk. Cha Ji-hye was squirming uncomfortably when she finally opened her mouth.
I began to stroke Cha Ji-hye’s hair. Cha Ji-hye sat there with an expression of discomfort.
I decided to go to the Arend kingdom where Odin was.
I didn’t say farewell to Regiment Commander Ajen on purpose and just left.
It was because I felt there was nothing good that would come by staying in the Aman kingdom.
If word about me had spread far and wide, it would have surely have been delivered to the Aman royal court. Then the sultan might call on me. No, the chances of that were quite high.
But I didn’t like that idea.
Not only would it be annoying, but there could be tons of people allied with the pirates and black magicians in the Aman Kingdom.
Why would I willingly get into bed with this nest of demons?
We rode the MSM-2 and quickly headed towards the Arend kingdom.
While driving over there, I talked to Cha Ji-hye about the territory I would be given.
“It’s a job governing people, I’m sure it’s hard?”
“Because it is a class system it is not as hard as you would think. Despite living in generally poor conditions, the class below the commoners are rather compliant.”
“I guess that makes sense.”
I couldn’t help but remember the people in the village that was murdered by the lycanthrope Silver clan.
Living as livestock ruled under monsters.
As a modern earth human with the concept of freedom and human rights, that kind of compliance was hard for me to imagine.
But wouldn’t there be a lot of hard work in collecting taxes and other such matters? Not to mention controlling and regulating the population……
In terms of living within an organization, my only experience was school and the army so it made me nervous to think I would have to handle such things.
I just stared at Cha Ji-hye.
“If I become a baron, you’ll help me right?”
Hahaha, then that’s fine. Cha Ji-hye would be great with this stuff.
“What do you think of being my wife then?”
“In Arena. I am the baron, and you the baron’s wife. Then you will have the proper authority to manage my territory.”
“Is there really a need to……”
“Currently in Arena you have the identity of knight pledged to Odin. But if you get involved in my affairs, it may look weird to someone else.”
It was a quick excuse but the words came out with no hesitation.
“On top of that, in reality, marriage isn’t so easily decided but it doesn’t matter in Arena. What do you say?”
Then something surprising happened.
It was the first time Cha Ji-hye was mumbling like this. Additionally her face had turned red.
‘Did I mess up?’
It wasn’t just some other girl, but Cha Ji-hye that was reacting this way. It occured to me that marriage might have an incredible meaning to Cha Ji-hye.
“I’m sorry. I suggested something thoughtless, didn’t I.”
“No, that isn’t it.”
“This isn’t real but I feel weird to becoming part of a family.”
I hadn’t thought about Cha Ji-hye’s position. She had different views and values when it came to family.
I was sorry and didn’t say anything for a while.
But then Cha Ji-hye who was driving says something a bit later.
“I will become the baron’s wife.”
Cha Ji-hye took out the wood carved ring from her item bag.
A present made from the Tree of Life. The wedding ring the elves had gifted us.
I was so happy I almost jumped out of the car.
I took out the wood carved ring from my virtual space and put it on my finger too.
I had a huge smile on my face and for the first time in a long time she smiled too. This was the greatest prize in this mission.
The count of Wolfenbrooke.
On the way over, we had spoken many times on the radio so by the time we arrived, Odin and Marie were already out to greet us.
I didn’t know where she came from but Marie shot into my arms like lightning.
I hugged her as I always did but I couldn’t help but be wary of Cha Ji-hye’s expression. I had to quickly draw the line with this woman. This was a big problem.
Thankfully, Cha Ji-hye exchanged greetings without taking any notice and stretched out her hand to towards Maries head. It looked like she wanted to pet her.
Marie harrumphed and quickly turned her head. Because of that, Cha Ji-hye pulled her hand back while looking disappointed that she failed in her attempts to pet Marie’s head.
It must be the truth when she said she likes Marie and found her cute.
We headed into the Count of Wolfenbrooke’s home and had a meal in the living room.
When I took out two hot pizzas from the virtual space, Odin and Marie rejoiced.
I had a spacious virtual space so I was able to save this food from earth.
“I would sometimes pack instant foods but to take out a whole pizza to eat, this is really special.”
We enjoyed our delicious pizza.
These two, like us, are probably sick and tired of the Arena food which was severely lacking in seasoning.
When I took out the cola, Marie’s eyes flipped.
Like that we had our meal and Odin began to get to the main discussion.
“The king has said he wants to meet with you.”
“What kind of person is the king?”
“The current king of the Arend kingdom is Alsefon the Third, 74 years old. This is his 40th year as a ruler.
He’s been king for a long time. It’s probably a troubling position.
While I appreciated this fact, Odin continued his explanation.
“Mediating all of the noble families, he is a skilled and experienced sovereign that knows how to maintain the royal families influence. But his ability to make everyone follow him with a strong decision is weak. Whatever it is, he always makes his decisions based on compromises so everyone will be happy.”
I get it.
To sum it up, he is the master of noonchi* and compromise?
(TN: As mentioned in a prior chapter, noonchi is the concept of reading the room/being socially sensitive.)
In order to not divulge his weakness and hiding his innermost thoughts, what I pictured in my head was a sly old man.
Because there was not that much mission time left, we left the very next day to meet this old king.
On the way to the capital of the Arend kingdom in the carriage, I asked Odin for advice about ruling a territory.
“Ruling, in a large sense, can be divided into foreign policy and internal affairs.”
Odin, with the experience he gained as the Count of Wolfenbrooke, gave the gist of it.
“Foreign policy is basically diplomacy. In order to not be threatened by hostile neighbors, you have to make and maintain friendly relations, and in your case, you will receive a territory close to the Brown Mountain and Wolfenbrooke County so there is no problem there.”
“And internal affairs?”
“Arena, more so than on Earth, is lacking in data processing and operations so getting work done is a mess and everything has to be done manually by hand. You will have to focus on systematically changing that into a sensible system.”
At those words, I scratched my head and pondered and then looked to Cha Ji-hye.
Cha Ji-hye, someone I could trust and have confidence in.
After traveling for a long time we arrived at the capital, Jikapulit. It was a capital named after that Arend kingdom’s first king who established it.
Looking out the window, I couldn’t hide my wonder.
Here and there high rise buildings were standing close together in a row so the carriage travel smoothly. The roads were even set up in an orderly manner.
The building materials were special too, something that was hard to see on Earth, and every now and then were various ornaments and decorations created with magic. All of these things left me in awe.
The capital of a nation is certainly different.
Continuing on, the road came to the palace in the center of the city.
Intimidating soldiers were guarding the gates but the knights immediately allowed our carriage to pass through. They must have recognized this as Odin’s carriage.
It was my first time ever in a palace and I minded my manners carefully.
I just tagged along behind Odin as he stepped out the carriage.
“The king is currently in a state affairs meeting, you will have to wait if you wish to have his audience.”
Came out a girl who looked like a maid and said.
“I am in awe.”
“I will escort you to the reception hall.”
The maid led us to an extravagant room.
A luxuriously embroidered rug was spread on the floor, a leather sofa and armoire, table, chairs, each one extraordinary.
I imagined this is what the room of a billionaire who loves antiques would look like.
We chatted to pass the time while waiting for the king.
Suddenly, several heavily armed knights entered the room.
They positioned themselves on every side.
Then, a tall old man with beautiful clothes walked in with a willowy build and clothes similar to a sleek suit. He was pulling it off well.
Based on his age, I had anticipated someone with lots of wrinkles on his face but his large eyes sparkled and the liveliness in his expression made him feel younger than he was.
I got the feeling he must have swayed many girls in his youth.
“You’ve come, Count of Wolfenbrooke.”
“Yes, my king.”
He is the king of this kingdom, Alsefon the Third.
We stood from our seats.
Odin put his right hand to his chest and bowed his head to pay his respects.
I caught on and did exactly as Odin did. Then, Alsefon the Third turn his gaze to me. His eyes showed interest.
“Are you that baronet Kim?”
“Yes, my king.”
“I have heard. You are younger than I thought. Your accomplishments for your age are impressive.”
“Huhu, you don’t have a noble demeanor. Untainted by society, a clean impression It makes me like you more.”
Alsefon the Third gestured to us to sit.
“You will grow tired trying to work with those bred deep in society doing this and that for them. They scrutinize every detail of what you say as well. It’s rather funny but that’s what my job is so it’s all the more exhausting.”
And the one that has lived doing that for the past 40 years was is this person.
“I have heard lots about you. You helped the elves on Brown Mountain and got rid of the dark magician, then in the Aman kingdom you eliminated the pirates.”
“Active in the southernmost tip of the continent, Brown Mountain, a big role at the sea at the edge of the continents west. You have been constantly on the move while fighting in a short amount of time. You look more like someone moving with a clear goal rather than a wandering knight.”
“I’m very intrigued. Baronet Kim, what kind of person are you?”
Alsefon suddenly jabbed me at the core.