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Chapter 20 – Two Alternatives
I decided to make Terrier, the captain of the slave soldiers who led the battering ram unit, a baron. Since he was formerly a slave, he had a cute-sounding name, but he was still a middle-aged man. He had hairy arms and legs but had a good build for a middle-aged man.1
Somehow, he understood the information manipulation I did the most, so I gave him the position of chief spy. I hired all the orphans who gave me excellent information as spies and left them to Terrier. For the time being, their task was to stop spies from other territories, but I was planning to have them infiltrate the Imperial Capital sooner or later.
Well then, the one who ended up catching Artaud, the commander-in-chief of the enemy army, was the Persimo mercenary group. So I called up the chief of the mercenary group, Hans Schmieder, and his little sister, Cornelia Schmieder, and gave them a chance to serve me from now on.
“You were being noisy and kept muttering about your onii-sama over and over. No matter what excuse you give, it doesn’t change the fact that the Persimo mercenary group fled from Alfred’s battlefield. That’s why your credibility was at its bottom and you couldn’t get any work. You even needed to hand over your little sister as a hostage before you could even be considered as credible as the other mercenary groups.”2
When I talked with Cornelia in the main camp, she kept saying how amazing the chief was, but it didn’t change the fact that they fled the battlefield.
“It couldn’t be helped. The late chief of the Persimo mercenary group was killed by Wagner after all…”
“Aah, I see. So Wagner dealt with them personally. So Hans, who was the vice chief at the time, judged that the mercenary group would be wiped out and decided to withdraw. But regardless of how you put it, didn’t you all still flee the battlefield?”
“…Wagner destroyed half of the mercenary group alone. Onii-sama’s judgment was not wrong.”
“Oh really… Those people’s revealed characteristics were way less than I expected.”
Cornelia kept insisting her brother wasn’t mistaken and that his judgment was correct with her fists clenched so hard, her body trembled. But it seems Hans was the only close relative she has, so how would Cornelia feel if she was sold by her sole relative, the onii-sama that she so respected? I was quite curious.
And so, I left the choice to Hans. Would he choose to receive the title of baron, become my vassal, and have his mercenary group become my knights’ brigade—or leave my side when their reputation has not yet recovered, staying as a mere mercenary leader?
Given these two choices, one would normally choose to serve me. In the first place, most people became mercenaries because they failed to become knights serving under aristocrats, so they no longer needed to continue being mercenaries if they were offered a spot. The thing that made Hans hesitate the most was the condition of handing over his little sister Cornelia to me.
Well, anyone would hesitate if they were told to have their little sister become a concubine. Moreover in Hans’ case, they were twins, so they’ve overcome many hardships together since they were children. Then he was asked to offer said little sister to a man younger than he was, even if said man was an aristocrat. More damningly, the reason was to carve a path for his own success.
“…Um, can I have some time to think?”
“No, decide right now. I wouldn’t mind if you refused and left my territory. In that case, my evaluation toward the Persimo mercenary group would just become ‘disappointing’.”
These two should have sensed that I was manipulating information somehow. If a person like me were to evaluate their mercenary group as “disappointing,” there was a chance that they wouldn’t be hired by other aristocrats ever again. Even this time, I was able to afford them at a very cheap price. That was the reason I hired them to begin with.
The elder brother Hans requested some time to be considerate to his little sister, but the moment he couldn’t refuse on the spot, the little sister’s eyes lost their light. And even though I asked him to decide on the spot—with Hans most likely wanting to accept—since he couldn’t agree immediately, it showed that while he might be a warrior, he didn’t have the capacity to be chief.
I looked at Cornelia again, and well, she was a beauty. She was the slender type with short blonde hair, coupled with a cute face that could be rated highly. And since she was trained in the sword, she’s got good proportions. Should she look for a marriage partner, her appearance would get her one in no time.
Aside from her looks, she also had the sturdiness characteristic like her elder brother, and she even had a rare characteristic of night vision. Night vision wasn’t that amazing a characteristic on its own, but with that, I wanted to team her up with Linde-san. That said, she was already halfway through a mental breakdown at the moment. Ah, in the end, Hans accepted my terms and offered Cornelia to be my concubine.3
…If I left her as is, she really might commit suicide so I needed to take care of her after this. After Hans accepted, I looked behind and saw Cornelia stiffen in place. She neither congratulated her elder brother for becoming a baron nor was angry at his decision. She was just blankly standing in place as if her soul might escape at any moment, so it couldn’t be helped.
I left the explanations about being baron to Senior Baron Wright, and carried Cornelia to my room. She was still like a corpse, sinkingly heavy but still bearable… Could she really recover? 80% of this was my fault, but I never thought it would be this bad.
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