Chapter 43. Trade and Alliance (2)

Kang Chul-In had no intention of meeting Lee Chae-Rin for free.

If she wanted to meet him this badly, there must be a reason, or she wanted to depend on him so badly.

If Lee Chae-Rin was a commoner, it wouldn’t be a problem, but she was a Lord, which made him act colder against her. That is why he had to set terms for this meeting, even if was a minor thing. And that term was… roasting meat.

Yes.

Kang Chul-In had no talent in cooking meat or in preparing a nice meal.

How was he supposed to respect his parents if he was not good at these things? He had to use whatever was available, and that was Lee Chae-Rin.

“Son.”

Park Sun-ja called Kang Chul-In in the most subtle way.

“Where did you meet her?”

“We used to work together.”

“Did you notice that she’s so bubbly and pretty? I guess she would be a perfect fit for my son’s bride, don’t you think? Oh my… I would like to have her as a daughter-in-law this instant.”

Park Sun-ja’s eyes were locked on Lee Chae-Rin, who was washing the vegetables at the sink.

“It’s not like that.”

Kang Chul-In shook his head.

“You may know her as a close friend. We are not involved romantically in any way.”

“But still. I hope you try, ok?”

“……”

He did not answer.

At least there won’t be any mention of blind dates anymore.

He felt relief.

Funny, how this tedious problem can be a burden.

Kang Chul-In could not believe the difference between the Lord Kang Chul-In and the Kang Chul-In in front of his mother.

He had no intention whatsoever of telling her about his status and position as Lord.

He was a bad son to her in the past.

He was so into money and power that he neglected his one and only blood family in this world. A son who could only send his mother thousands of dollars but never show up for 10 years. He had to feel guilty for his actions.

“Mother, it is ready. Please sit here.”

The dinner was set, and Lee Chae-Rin led Park Sun-ja to the table with an amiable attitude.

“I told you to just sit here. You shouldn’t have done anything!”

“No. Mr. Chul-In’s mother is my mother too, so how could I just simply sit at the dinner table? Don’t think about it and sit here.”

“Oh~ you adorable one.”

“Please, sit here~”

The two women were having such a nice time. Kang Chul-In was the only one who could not get used to this atmosphere. What would Lucia think if his merciless strong Lord was in this situation…?

But… It is not a bad deal.

Even if he could not be used to the scene, he was satisfied by the deal he made with Lee Chae-Rin as he looked at his smiling mother.

He set the term to be meeting his mother, setting a dinner table, and cooking the meat for her instead of him. Also, he asked her to hint that they were seeing each other.

It was a big lie to his mother, but it was a reasonable choice.

After losing her husband Kang-Han in the early stages of marriage, Park Sun-ja wanted nothing more than having Kang Chul-In start his own family.

Maybe it was an obvious thing.

For the Kang family, there weren’t many cousins, and the ones who were there were trouble. They caused stress and act worse than neighbors. That was why Park Sun-ja wanted to have a daughter-in-law and a grandchild.

The thing is, Kang Chul-In didn’t want to date someone or go on blind dates. That was why his mother was so keen on this subject.

So, the only option he could think of was to put Lee Chae-Rin before him, giving his mother false hope and escape the deadly marriage pressure. He had used Lee Chae-Rin as a shield against this deadly pressure.

At least she wouldn’t mention it for another few months afterward.

Who knew? He might actually have a girlfriend by then.

“What kind of meat is it?”

Tasking the well-cooked Peacock Dragon meat, Park Sun-ja was surprised.

“Son, where did you get this? Is it something I’ve never tasted before?”

Of course, it was the meat of a dragon, so she would never have tasted it before.

“It’s bear meat.”

He gave an excuse.

“I went to Japan, and the owner there gave me bear meat… It’s supposed to be a special type of meat, so I brought it for you.

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“This is delicious… but why aren’t you eating?”

“I don’t like it… There are some people who like it. If it’s ok, please have some more.”

“But still… you should try some.”

“I’m ok.”

It was meat for Park Sun-ja so, he wouldn’t eat a piece. Lee Chae-Rin also did not touch the meat.

“Phew!”

Park Sun-ja sighed after finishing the meal.

“Why is it so hot in here?

She was flapping her hands as if the meat was working.

“Ms. Chae-Rin, please stay with my son. I feel like I’m burning, so I want to go outside. I guess that bear meat really worked. Why do I feel so good?”

She should be.

Eating the Peacock Dragon’s meat that was like the neck chain of a cow, she wouldn’t be able to feel sick for a good 1-2 years.

“I’ll be back, my son. Spend a little time with this young lady, will you? Have a good time! Ok~??”

She hurried off after leaving some hints in her words. She must have liked Lee Chae-Rin so much.

I should get her a good artifact.

Kang Chul-In saw the back of his mother and thought of items that could protect her, items that were at least over the Unique level. If he got her something like a ring or an earring, 2-3 of them should be able to protect her from any harm.

Lee Chae-Rin was struggling to start a conversation.

“Let’s talk, shall we?”

Kang Chul-In started.

“No, let’s talk. Lord Lee Chae-Rin.”

She was startled a bit by the change of the tone of his voice, but she realized that he was addressing her as a Lord, so she accepted it.

“Ok, Lord Kang Chul-In.”

She nodded.

#

The two talked on the roof of Kang Chul-In’s house. This was to guard against Park Sun-ja coming in without warning.

“Help me.”

She spoke bluntly.

“Help with what?”

He answered in short.

“Anything.”

“Anything?”

“I am under attack.”

“Already… Well, that could happen.”

He realized that her territory was located in the same Pandemonium region. Kang Chul-In held his face with great stress.

Crazy Bastards.

While the Lords of the mainland were all concentrating on the interior of their nations, the Lords of the outskirts of the Pandemonium region were starting wars already. This could only be explained by the sanity of their leaders.

As I thought. The reason why I don’t know Lee Chae-Rin.

Now, he knew why she did not show up during the Lord Union meeting.

She had already lost.

The longest she could survive was probably until right before the first Lord Union meeting on December 25th, 2022. She would be stripped of her title before then… Or worse, be killed by the other Lords.

“So.”

He continued.

“How am I supposed to help you?”

“That is…”

She hesitated.

After listening to him over the phone, it was clear that she was trying to express herself as a Lord.

“If you are trying to act like a Lord at this point, it is too late. Just tell me. This will not be done in a day.”

Kang Chul-In smirked. She already begged him. There was no dignity left to be protected.

“Send… Send me a supporting army. You are a Lord too. If you send me the troops…”

“I decline.”

He cut the conversation sharply, declining Lee Chae-Rin’s request.

“If what you want are supporting troops, then there is nothing to be discussed further. It is a waste of time.”

“Why? You said you’ll help!”

“I can give you personal advice to help. But sending troops is a different matter.”

It was.

Simple help and sending an army were completely different in scale.

War was not a joke.

Asking for troops could not be said even as a joke. Even if Kang Chul-In wanted to help her, he had to put things straight.

“Lord Lee Chae-Rin.”

He looked at her straight into her eyes. Clear to the point.

“Think about it. The meaning of asking for troops.”

“……”

“Is there a reason why my people have to spill their blood to protect you and your territory? Of course, they will die for you if I give the right orders. But where is the meaning in that? Have you ever thought about the blood my people will have to spill because of your request?”

“……”

His cold answer made her freeze. She didn’t expect him to decline the request like this.

“Mr. Chul-In.”

But she didn’t give up.

“I’m not asking without a price.”

This showed how desperate she was.

“Let’s make a deal.”

She finally showed her side of the card.

“Deal?”

“I will pay for the troops you send me.”

“What kind of payment?”

“I have a lot of money. A lot.”

“Then why don’t you buy troops with your own money?”

“That… is not that easy. To be honest, even if I have the money, I can’t win this war.”

There must be a reason for this.

Otherwise, the equation of [Money = troops] should have worked. Like the politician and father of the Latin language, Cicero, said, “A war’s never-ending engine is infinite funds.”

“So, you will give me money if I send the troops?”

“Yes, please.”

“Fearless, you are.”

“……?”

“There is almost no interaction between the Lords, and you are here asking to welcome my troops into your territory. I don’t know why you would say that in this kind of situation.”

“What… do you mean?”

“A bloodless victory and betrayal.”

“…!”

“It’s only going to take about 30 minutes to get to the headquarters. Then, your head will be paraded on top of the castle wall, and I will take your territory as a whole. No aftermath. Nobody is watching over you and me, so there is no need to make a valid reason for it, don’t you think?”

“How can you be so cruel…?!”

“Don’t act naïve. A Lord’s enemy is a Lord. You can always be betrayed by the one that you believed in the most. That is a Lord.”

His words were harsh but right. What would you do about it? That was the life of a Lord.

“Are… you going to do so? Will you pretend to help me and march in with your soldiers to cut my head off? Taking everything that I have?”

Her voice trembled. The way she sobbed while saying these words was so pitiful that most men would become soft.

“If necessary, yes.”

But Kang Chul-In was not one of those men.

“……!”

“But… I would overlook this if that person is the one who helped a clueless newbie.”

He thought of the old days with Lee Chae-Rin.

There was one woman who looked after Kang Chul-In when he was working for a human garbage, psychotic bastard boss. It was over 10 years ago, but thinking about it, he at least had some good impression of Lee Chae-Rin.

“So… will you send the troops?”

She asked as if she were hanging from a cliff.

“Of course not.”

He still had no intention of sending the troops. He had his own problems.

Laputa’s army was only about 100 men. He had no treasury to back him up to buy units or expand the land.

What if he landed the troops and other Lords attacked?

Thanks to the dragon-safe buff, there might not be another dragon, but what if another kind of monster attacked?

“Then… that will not happen. I understand now. How you feel.”

“Understand what?”

“Aren’t you saying that you will not send me troops? I need those troops. If you can’t send me them, then I have no business with you anymore. Huh… it is my fault. I tried to lean on you. I’m sorry, to show such a disappointing side of me…”

Her tears dropped as she spoke those words. The tears looked frozen after being swept by the cold winter night’s breeze.

“Too fast. It is too soon.”

He spoke.

“What… do you mean?”

“Don’t you think that there is a way, even if I did not send you those troops?”

“……!”

Lee Chae-Rin’s eyes lit up as a ray of hope shone within.

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