Episode 27: Between Friends (2)
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It was no longer a secret that a new manastone mine was discovered in Irugo, and that Hamill was overseeing it. It was revealed once the development of the mine had progressed somewhat and international affairs had stabilized.
“Will His Highness Hamill give us manastones?”
At Ritlen’s words, Aristine chuckled and shook her head.
The queen’s faction, which supported Hamill, was behind this fiasco. This meant that Hamill must be involved in the plan to monopolize pig-iron.
But for that Hamill to help them with a plan that overcame that hurdle?
“Of course not.”
“Do not worry. The manastone business is a national project,” Aristine grinned, “Yes, Prince Hamill is in charge of it but in the end, that authority is given to him by His Majesty Nephther.”
“So you’re saying…”
“Mn, I just have to convince His Majesty.”
King Nephther was a seasoned politician.
He showed favor to Aristine and was in support of her scalpel business but there was no way he would give her manastones simply because of those reasons.
Any amount of manastones diverted to Aristine could not be used anywhere else.
Nephther would certainly calculate the opportunity cost.
‘And I have to tilt that calculation in my favor.’
Aristine readied herself.
* * *
Wanting to strike while the iron was hot, Aristine immediately requested an audience with Nephther.
She didn’t have much time so she had to move as fast as she could.
Fortunately, she received a positive reply, and after tidying up her attire a bit, she headed to the king’s palace.
The court ladies, who treated her like fragile glass, tried to stop her when she insisted on attending the audience today, but they couldn’t.
Once Aristine arrived at the King’s palace, she was escorted to the game room.
Maybe he was playing card games with the ministers?
‘I hope I am not disrupting anything.’
An amicable atmosphere was necessary to achieve optimal persuasion.
“Come in, Rineh.”
Nephther sat by the window, his chin resting lazily on his hand as the afternoon sun blazed through.
“Greetings to Your Majesty, Royal Father.”
Nephther stared at Aristine then he spat bluntly, “I heard you were sick.”
“It was nothing to be concerned about, Royal father.”
Aristine replied courteously and sat across from Nephther.
However, Nephther seemed dissatisfied and with his chin still propped on his hand, he spoke, “Well, I should be concerned, don’t you think?”
“Every parent gets worried even if it’s just a slight cough from their child.”
Aristine bit her lips.
Her chest felt warms and fluffy like a spring quilt, and she couldn’t help wringing her fingers.
Nephther watched as Aristine’s white cheeks flushed a little.
She looked like such a shy maiden that it was hard to think of her as a greatly skilled politician.
“As you said, you have made your scalpel business a huge success.”
At those words, Aristine came to her senses and lifted her head. This wasn’t the time to be spacing out.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“I thought you were only changing the scalpel’s design, but I never imagined the creation of rust-proof steel. I am glad I trusted you.”
“I am glad I was able to repay Your Majesty’s trust.”
“But it seems a problem has arose.”
Nephther said and his expression was the same as usual, but Aristine caught the slight change in his gaze.
He was testing her right now.
Aristine flashed a bright smile.
“I can resolve it so it’s not that big of an issue.”
“You can resolve it?”
Nephther’s eyes were lit with interest. He straightened in his chair, no longer leaning on his hand, and looked at Aristine.
Frankly, Nephther thought Aristine had come to ask him for help to deal with this abnormal monopolization.
He wanted to see how she would logically dissect this situation, and accurately pinpoint the problems that the monopoly would cause.
He was looking forward to how his clever daughter-in-law was going to persuade him…
‘I never thought she’d say it can be dealt with.’
Nephther slowly stroked his chin.
Aristine always went beyond his expectations. And every time, the results made Nephther happy.
‘I wonder what she’s going to say to surprise me this time.’
Nephther’s gaze fell on Aristine.
His eyes were marked with his intent to test her, but it also had interest, anticipation, and curiosity.
Aristine swallowed dryly at the obvious emotions in his eyes and nodded her head.
“Yes, I had resolve it.”
Her tone was unwavering and confident. Her clear eyes looked straight at Nephther.
But inside, she felt nervous, so she took a sip of the tea that the court ladies brought out.
As if to hide her trembling heart, she savored the tea in a relaxed manner and tasted it slowly.
As the warm tea glided down her throat, her stiff body relaxed slightly.
Now that Nephther had set the stage for her, it was the perfect time to speak.
At her serious tone, Nephther looked into Aristine’s eyes.
His clear blue eyes looked especially bright under the gaze of the sun.
“Please allow me to purchase manastones.”
Nephther’s pupils instantly narrowed then widened. His eyes lowered.
“You want me to sell you manastones?”
He slowly said and leaned back in his chair. He crossed his long legs laxly.
“I have left Hamill in charge of that,” Nephther stated.
Hamill was put in charge, so such decisions were under Hamill’s provision. However, Aristine could not go to Hamill.
She would be rejected before she even brought up why.
‘No, I’d be relieved if it was only rejection.’
Nephther should be well aware of that too. He was obviously testing Aristine right now.
“But regardless, that authority is bestowed by Your Majesty,” Aristine replied.
Nephther carefully studied Aristine, who easily countered his remark.
Manastone was a resource coveted by everyone.
Even among the aristocrat lords, there were many shedding blood and tears to obtain the trading rights for manastones.
The mined manastone was invested in more than one place, but its distribution was restricted by the state so there were a limited number of slots.
And right now, Aristine was asking to be put in one of those slots.
‘I doubt scalpels and manastones have anything to do with each other?’
Was she greedy for it because it was a treasure that everyone desired?
Or was she seeking to deal a blow to Prince Hamill who blindsided her with the monopoly of the iron-ores?
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