Arc 2, Crescent Moon
“In Meissen, there exist treasures.”
Ernst spoke facing Aldo, who sat beside Targes.
“…There’s something like treasure in Meissen…?”
“For example, consider this mansion. It was made from good-quality wood.”
“Is that so? I thought this sort of wood was something you could find anywhere, though…”
“Precisely. In Meissen, the kind of tree this wood comes from can be found anywhere. As proof of that, even houses in poor villages are made from it… However, this easily-obtained Ruifa tree wood is light and sturdy, burns well, and has a beautiful wood grain. In the houses of nobility, the more Ruifa wood that can be used for the flooring, the better, as it is a sign of the household’s affluence. As such, this wood is usually traded at a higher price than normal timber.”
“Even though it’s such a common tree…”
Aldo spun around in his seat, looking around the room. It was understandable for him to be so surprised. Even the barracks and stables were made out of this kind of wood.
However, the Ruifa trees, like the Kalia trees, had a narrow habitat.
“Also, the stone in the bathing room. That stone is linua stone. The linua stone is able to conduct and transfer heat, and is primarily used in the mansions of nobles and affluent merchants. Although the bathing chambers in the royal palace prioritized the aesthetic of tile for the floor, the highest quality flooring for a bathroom is said to be primarily linua stone.”
“…but, even if the Ruifa wood is supposed to be valuable, it’s impossible to transport it, right? If it’s supposed to be used as housing material, then its size will be important… Let’s say we want to sell it in Caprix fief, what are we supposed to do…? If we want to carry it on a boat…”
Aldo crossed his arms, tilting his head as he thought.
“Similar to the problem of selling Ruifa wood to Caprix fief, there’s the problem of what we would do with linua stone, no? Are we supposed to strip it off from the estate’s bathing room and go sell it? And besides, once we’ve finished selling everything we have, can we really call it Meissen’s treasure?”
Ernst’s lips rose in a bittersweet smile at Targes’ words.
“Although for the time being, the current plan is to sell the stone in the bathing chamber to raise money for our current financial difficulties… after some thought, I wondered, didn’t this linua stone come from Meissen?…The reason for linua stone’s high price isn’t only because of its characteristics, but because very little of it can be collected. In these past 250 years, no new source of linua has been found, meaning there is no supply to put on the market. As such, no matter how wealthy the noble, if they wish to have a bathing chamber made of linua stone, then it can only be half as big as the size of this office. The amount of money isn’t the problem; rather, that is simply the best that is possible with the amount of linua stone that can be collected.”
“Lord Ernst. The size of the bathing room in this estate is extremely large, I believe…?”
Ganche asked in a strange tone of voice. This was something that Targes and Aldo, who had never seen the bathing room in the estate, absolutely wouldn’t know.
“Correct, the bathing room in this estate is remarkably large. Not only the bathing room, but the attached dressing chamber is also covered in linua stone… However, as far as I can see from the documents, that bathing chamber was made in the era of the previous Lord; in other words, it was created 130 years ago. However, there are no traces of such a large amount of money being moved, and neither are there any records of purchases made from other territories.”
“…In other words, do you mean…?”
As if trying to put together what he was thinking, Targes lifted a hand to his forehead.
“In Rintz Kingdom, there has been no new discovery of a linua mine in approximately the past 250 years. There was nowhere to acquire linua stone for use in any estate, other than what was already available. And for that, a corresponding amount of money was necessary. However, without using any money, this estate was able to acquire a large quantity of linua stone to create the bathing room. That was 130 years ago…”
“What that means is that the linua stone was gathered in Meissen, and moreover, without spending any money, is what you’re getting at… So the question is, where did they dig up that linua stone to use…”
“Then if it’s really as Lord Ernst says, there’s actually a linua mine in Meissen? …Wait, but, there haven’t been any new sources found in the past 250 years, so…?”
Seeing how much Targes and Aldo were struggling, Ernst gave them a helping hand.
“Meissen found a mine and used it for the estate. However, for some reason, they did not announce the discovery of a new linua mine.”
Once Ernst said this, the two of them nodded several times in understanding.
Ernst was able understand, somewhat, why his predecessor hadn’t said anything.
He recalled the line of portraits of the previous lords, the image of the last one decorating the hall, the 16th Lord, appearing in his mind.
When he had been born, he had been expected to inherit the lineage of a marquis. He had taken on that position as a young man. After suffering a bitter defeat to his enemies, he had been sent off to become the Lord of a remote land, thus entering his old age. From what Ernst had read in the documents, he had felt sorry for himself and tossed the world aside, submerging himself in depravity and self-indulgence.
By some stroke of luck, he managed to discover the linua stone.
However, whatever the case, he didn’t tell a single one of those nobles who had driven him off to Meissen about how he possessed this stone that everyone desperately desired, instead using it to luxuriously cover his own bathroom and immerse himself in a feeling of superiority over them.
Ernst chuckled with a heheh.
The person who would later become lord after him would be shocked when they visited the bathroom and found it covered in linua stone.
Then, after considering where this stone could have come from, the only surprising conclusion they could arrive at would be that this had been a result of the previous Lord’s ability.
By leaving behind such slight hints, it felt as if he had decided that whether he lived or died, he would be able to watch and enjoy from the world of the afterlife.
Targes’ voice pulled Ernst back to reality after he had once again fallen into his thoughts. Even when there were people around him, he had the terrible habit of falling too deeply into contemplation.
“The Ruifa trees and linua stone alone are enough to beget enormous wealth upon Meissen. Yet Meissen has yet another, significant treasure… Or rather, it should be called the potential for treasure. What I speak of is the Weiss Forest around Eitt Village.”
“That is the forest affected by the Grude Continent’s influence?”
“Precisely. That forest hides an enormous potential within.”
Targes and Ganche had accompanied Ernst when he had gone to visit that forest.
The two turned to each other, trying to share thoughts back and forth, but neither of them could come up with what that potential could be.
“Because of the Grude influence on that forest, all of its vegetation grows to an enormous size. Also, its greenery flourishes all year round, with no snow falling over it. In other words, the Weiss forest is able to grow certain plants all year round… And, when I went to go see it, I noticed a great number of medicinal herbs growing in that forest.”
“Yes, medicinal herbs. Let’s say that you wish to pick enough herbs to create a full dose of medicine. No matter what kind of medicine, it would require some labor to pick the herbs necessary to create a full dose. Above all, if the ingredients were something which one could only gather a little of, then it wouldn’t be possible to gather enough to create a full dose. But in the Grude-influenced Weiss Forest, the medicinal plants which can be gathered there are larger than what is normally harvested in Schell continent – the herbs there grow from two and up to ten times bigger.”
“Though, are medicinal herbs something that can be sold…?”
“We can sell them. Medicinal herbs are something which doctors gather themselves away from the public eye, so as to not reveal their secrets. That is why there is very little quantity, and the cost is high. However, if Meissen were able to process a large quantity of medicinal herbs, what would happen if we sold them for a low price? Meissen itself would become an enormous doctor. Of course, it would be better if we sold them to actual doctors.”
“…However, what sort of effect do they have? What if it’s only their size which is affected by the Grude influence?”
“Humm. A good question, Targes. I had also considered their efficacy as the primary problem. Just because they were the same medicinal herbs did not mean they would have the same benefit. The reason for that is because of the difference in environment of Schell Continent and Grude Continent… That’s why, I performed an experiment with them.”
“An experiment, you say?”
“Yes. I took some medicinal herbs back with me from Weiss Forest, then tested them for their efficacy.”
“…and how, exactly, did you do that…?”
Without hiding his uneasiness, Ganche asked that question.
Ernst, as if knowing that he was about to be scolded, averted his gaze from Ganche and quickly blurted out the words.
“I tested them out on myself…”
“Lord Ernst! How could you do something so dangerous!”
Sure enough, Ganche rocketed out of his chair, grasping both of Ernst’s shoulders in a powerful grip.
“Calm down, Ganche. As you can see, nothing happened to me… Besides, if I didn’t test it out, I wouldn’t know its effects, right? I just tested it out on some barely-mentionable cuts, stomachaches, and headaches, those kinds of simple things.”
“But… but even so… If you had just said the word, then I would have offered my own body to you…”
Ganche’s large body gently hugged him.
“I’m sorry, Ganche.”
A Dunbertian’s body was far too robust and sturdy to use as a test.
Even if Ganche were injured with a sword, the cut would heal in a day. It would be completely impossible to tell whether it was the herbs or his constitution which had healed him.
“Er… ahem. In any case…there are no problems with the medicinal herbs themselves, then?”
After Targes forced a cough, the two of them separated.
“There are no problems with them; rather, what I observed was that their efficacy is higher than that of normal medicinal plants. I anticipate that the medicinal plants in Weiss Forest were influenced by the Grude Continent in not only their size, but in their high effectiveness as well… Of course, before we can market these results, they must undergo much more verification by doctors…The only territories in Rintz Kingdom which border Grude Continent are our fief of Meissen, Siepp fief, and Pacas fief. However, unlike Meissen, the other two fiefs are near to the royal capital, and the King’s army are stationed along their borders to serve as security. In preparation for any invaders, the ground there was flattened, and not even forests remain. Lux Kingdom and Silus Kingdom both do the same, so the only forest which borders against Grude Continent exists solely in Meissen… The potential of the Weiss Forest is something which, without a doubt, can become a treasure which supports Meissen.”
“…Lord Ernst. For me, there’s just one thing I don’t quite understand…”
After gathering up his courage, Aldo spoke.
“I think that it’s good news for Meissen to have treasures in it, so I wonder why Lord Ernst doesn’t want to tell anyone? The only people who know about what you’ve said are the three of us here, right? And just earlier, Lord Ernst didn’t correct the head butler’s misunderstanding and let him leave so that he wouldn’t find out, either.”
Targes nodded along with Aldo.
“Lord Ernst had deliberately lead the head butler to leave the room… And, he had also said that he didn’t know what kind of actions someone who is prone to worry like him would take. But is there something he would worry over in what was talked about just now?”
“No… There is something. If I remember correctly, Lord Ernst had said that what protected Meissen was its poverty. What that means is that if Meissen digs out its hidden treasures and becomes wealthy, there would no longer be anything protecting Meissen…”
Ganche abruptly turned to Targes and Aldo, saying this.
“Aah, that’s right. He had definitely said that… By the way, Lord Ernst, what prices would we able to sell Ruifa wood and linua stone for…?”
When Targes asked this, Ernst made a few calculations in his head.
“Humm… let’s see. Although the areas where Ruifa trees can be produced are limited, in Rintz Kingdom alone are 12 fiefs which produce them primarily. Lux Kingdom maintains twice as many areas of production as Rintz Kingdom. In other words, the Ruifa tree is not something which would afford that much wealth. Even if Meissen paid a high transportation fee, it would be impossible to carry Ruifa wood across the Linz Valley. As such, if we do business with Caprix fief in Lux Kingdom, then estimating generously, it would be about 5,000 sitts per year.”
“But that still easily exceeds the amount of yearly tax Meissen has to pay to the Kingdom, doesn’t it…”
“That would be the case. However, the linua stone is an altogether different matter. If we say that all of the linua stone had been used for the estate, then this discussion will be over…However, if even after lavishly using this much of the stone, there still remained a sizeable amount left to be mined, then the wealth to be gained would be immeasurable. At the very least, the amount of linua stone this estate carries is enough to sell for… one, no, ten ritters or so.”
At Ernst’s words, Targes sharply inhaled and Aldo trembled minutely.
One ritter was over a thousand sitts.
To Aldo, who had been born and raised in a remote land like Meissen, a ritter was an amount so enormous that he couldn’t even fathom it. Ten ritters was enough money to support all 1.5 million members of the Rintz army for an entire month.
“I…if we have something so amazing like that… that’s, of course… If they knew that Meissen had something like that, then of course Lux Kingdom would want to come steal it.”
“At present, the royal family of Lux Kingdom faces a critical situation where the heir is as of yet undecided. However, this issue should be resolved within a few years. Once they have settled the issues around their own feet, the next thing they will turn their eyes on are other countries. Perhaps they can expand our territory, is what they will think.”
Ernst looked at the map of Meissen which hung on the wall. On that map, the Bastelis River looked insignificantly small.
“If Meissen continues to be as impoverished as it is now, then Lux Kingdom will not come to attack. However inferior Rintz Kingdom’s strength is compared to Lux Kingdom’s, the Kingdom of Silus also resides on the Schell continent. For many years, Rintz Kingdom and Silus Kingdom have built up an amicable relationship. Lux Kingdom does not have enough military strength to fight both of these kingdoms together… However, that statement will no longer apply should Lux Kingdom’s military grow more powerful than it is now. It is also possible for Lux Kingdom to hire the races of Grude continent, and it can also hire mercenaries from Sistica continent. Furthermore, it is also possible for them to win over Silus Kingdom.”
Ernst turned his gaze from the map to the soldiers. The faces of the two Kleber were stiff.
“If we unearth Meissen’s hidden treasures, or if we turn Meissen’s potential into reality, then becoming a wealthy territory will be an easy matter. Its people will no longer starve… However, if this were to happen, then we must be aware with certainty that Lux Kingdom will launch an assault. In some cases, Lux Kingdom and Silus Kingdom might come to attack together. At that time, Meissen will have to fight on its own. The reason for this is that the Linz Valley which is supposed to protect Meissen, also separates it from Rintz Kingdom, leaving it helpless.”
Ganche’s eyes began to shine. The copper color of his eyes changed to gold.
It was said that when a Dunbertian experienced the thrill of the battlefield, their eyes changed color.
“Now then, I wish to hear everyone’s opinion.”
Once Ernst had judged that Targes and Aldo had settled, Ernst asked them a question.
“Should we prepare to confront Lux Kingdom so that we can bring wealth to Meissen, or should we continue to live in poverty?”
A heavy silence fell over the room.