“I’d like to hear more of the story.”
He needed to know what situation Lee Chae-Rin was in. Only then would he decide either to make a deal or help.
“Shall we go somewhere else?”
“That would be good.”
“We could go to my hotel room. It is a good place to chat in private.”
The two moved to the Hotel Koryo in Bucheon where Lee Chae-Rin was staying. The rooftop wasn’t a suitable place to conduct a discussion between a Lord and a queen.
Lee Chae-Rin’s room was the presidential suite. She was said to have a lot of money, and certainly, the room was fit for a queen with wealth.
“Would you like a drink?”
Perhaps due to being emotionally tormented, as soon as Lee Chae-Rin entered the room, she took a bottle of Hennessy PARDIS.
“Not a fan of cognac.”
After replying that way, Kang Chul-In called room service.
“Single Malt, the most expensive one.”
Kang Chul-In preferred whiskey.
“First, let me share the mini-map. It will make our discussion easier.”
“Can the mini-map be shared, too?”
“Of course. Did your assistant not inform you that?”
“There are so many things that I don’t know…..”
“Use this time as a learning opportunity.”
Kang Chul-In turned on the [mini-map], which was the lower menu in the map menu.
“This is my mini-map. Centering my territory, it marks the miniaturized terrain features of all the places that I have surveyed. My location is at the west end of the Pandemonium region, which is a remote region of the frontier.”
Kang Chul-In explained.
Lee Chae-Rin turned on the mini-map.
As both recited the command, their mini-maps overlapped with each other, and the location information was shared.
“This thing also works….”
Kang Chul-In cut off Lee Chae-Rin’s exclaiming appreciation.
“I’ll take a look.”
While Lee Chae-Rin took a sip of the cognac, Kang Chul-In’s eyes swiftly scanned the shared map.
It’s close to me. The area is about 50km away from the southeastern end of the Dark Forest… This green dot is Lee Chae-Rin’s territory. On both sides… red dots, they are other Lords’ territories. It’s unfavorably sandwiched in between. Not good but… there is no need for a territorial war yet. Why is that, why?
Every conflict has a reason, there could be smoke from a chimney even if there wasn’t a fire, but there is no war without reason.
With Lee Chae-Rin’s economic might, there was no reason for her to be in such a dire state of mind just because a Lord was launching an attack. It’s more accurate to assume that she is being hit by both Lords from both sides… How did both sides come to attack her…? Wait.
While he was thinking, Kang Chul-In saw something significant.
“Is it because of this mine?”
Lee Chae-Rin was flabbergasted. Just by scanning a simple mini-map once, he had accurately analyzed the situation that she was in, so she was obviously surprised by that.
“H-How did you…?”
However, Lee Chae-Rin could not continue. It was because right at that time, Kang Chul-In moved away as the room service came to the door.
Who is he…? It is not strange for a person to change, but how did someone become like this…?
Fixing her eyes on Kang Chul-In’s back, Lee Chae-Rin was filled with odd, mixed emotions.
This was only appropriate.
If someone who didn’t talk much but was very kind to others became a cold-hearted emperor at a moment’s notice, anyone would consider it strange.
“As you were saying, do continue.”
Kang Chul-In poured whiskey into the glass filled with ice.
“After drinking a sip.”
Facing each other, the man and the woman held their respective whiskey and cognac in their glasses.
“My conclusion is this.”
Quickly emptying his glass and putting the mini-map on the table, Kang Chul-In pointed his finger at Lee Chae-Rin’s territory in the shared mini-map.
“Next to the territory, this mountain. Although I’m not sure what kind of mountain this is, I’m sure that this is a mine where precious resources are being mined.”
“And these two bastards.”
Kang Chul-In’s fingers touched the other two Lords’ territories at the northwest and east of Lee Chae-Rin’s territory.
“The two of them formed an alliance and are going after your mine.”
“Is that… all visible to you?”
Lee Chae-Rin was in awe.
Anyone could have simply guessed that she was under the attack of the two allied Lords. A random person would not be able to pinpoint the reason behind it as accurately as he had done.
“Your response and mini-map. With those two things, it isn’t that hard to demonstrate this level of insight.”
“Huuuu… it is a very difficult idea for me.”
“It’s an obvious situation.”
“It is easy to have a discerning perspective after having lived a tough life to just survive. You’re just not used to it yet. It’s not that you are foolish.”
Kang Chul-In stopped at that point to take another sip of whiskey before continuing.
“What I honestly feel is that… it doesn’t make any sense.”
“No matter what the two’s special abilities and their troop combinations are like, it isn’t too difficult for someone with the ability of “abundance” like you to defend against three Lords at once.”
“Uh, how could you say something that makes no sense at all…?!”
“Why doesn’t it make sense? Just by purchasing some military and having them placed at the enemy camp would have prevented the situation from getting this difficult. Even by simply leading the battles to a war of attrition, the winner in the end will be you with your wealth, not those two bastards.”
In the past, Kang Chul-In had a teeth-gnashing experience against the Gulveig Alliance’s great economic power and the enormous output of that economic power. He knew the ridiculous power of wealth better than anyone else.
“Then there can be two conclusions in the end. First, the condition is not ripe for a war of attrition, or the enemy Lords have some special powers… if not that…”
Kang Chul-In fiercely stared at Lee Chae-Rin.
“The mine has been lost and in order to reclaim it, siege warfare is being carried out. It is being carried out against a foe with a far superior position. Thus, reclaiming the mine is impossible, no matter however many military units are sacrificed.”
“To think that you’ve even guessed that…”
Lee Chae-Rin acknowledged immediately.
“If you have already lost the mine, you could cut it off cleanly, give it up, and by focusing on protecting your palace, you can sustain for a while. Why are you obsessed with the mine? Is the mine more important than your own life?”
“At this rate, your life is at their mercy. Either lose your head or lose the title of a queen. There is no doubt you’ll be ruined. Lee Chae-Rin, give up the mine.”
Kang Chul-In declared the predetermined outcome.
If he did not interfere, Lee Chae-Rin’s life would pass just as he predicted.
Perhaps… the Lee Chae-Rin of the previous life did not give up that mine. Therefore, she couldn’t attend the first Lords’ meeting.
“It is wise to give up at this juncture. With abundance, even without that mine, there would be no issue with running a territory.”
Kang Chul-In advised.
“I… I… too… want to do that.”
Unexpectedly, a strange response came from Lee Chae-Rin.
“That mine, I don’t need it either. If they want it, I can always hand it over to them.”
It was hard to understand why she was struggling so much for such a mine, an unnecessary mine, a mine that could be given away.
“Your words and actions do not synch up. Why do you obsessively wasting military for something that can just be given up?”
“It’s not my will.”
At that moment, an expression of astonishment appeared in Kang Chul-In’s eyes.
What is this ridiculous…?
Not by her will?
It did not make any sense. It wasn’t even laughable.
The full authority over a territory certainly belongs to the Lord. It is a sacred and inviolable domain that no one else can intrude upon. Who would dare meddle with the Lord’s authority?
It was not comprehensible.
It was more so to Kang Chul-In, who had a strong pride in belonging to the class of Lord.
Who would dare?
Kang Chul-In was certain that he would either behead or even to take it a step further, hand down a punishment of physical dismemberment (by tying the guilty to horses for drawing and quartering or breaking the guilty on a wheel) to those who would dare to intrude on his authority.
“I need an explanation.”
Kang Chul-In urged Lee Chae-Rin.
“It does not make sense at all.”
Then, Lee Chae-Rin poured another glass of cognac and drank it roughly before speaking.
“It is the will of my subordinates and the citizens of the territory.”
“The name of the mountain is Nidavellir. Besides being the tombs of the dwarves that make up 60% of the territory’s population, it is also a gold mine that one can mine precious stones from. If I were to live as the queen… I must reclaim that area.”
The significances of the mine with respect to its monetary and symbolic value were enormous beyond his expectations.
“…Is that so?”
Kang Chul-In could finally understand the situation that Lee Chae-Rin was in.
It was a mutiny in which the Lord was being forced by the dwarven residents of the territory.
The details of the story were too long to hear. Furthermore, a more accurate assessment could be made after a personal visit, rather than getting the story from Lee Chae-Rin. Thus, putting off the discussion of the whole story to a later time in Pangaea, for now, a decision was made to informally negotiate the terms of the deal.
“It is not a problem that can be resolved with simple assistance. It is an issue to be dealt with from one Lord to another Lord.”
Any issues that must be discussed must be dealt with first before proceeding.
“I understand. It’s not an easy problem.”
Lee Chae-Rin nodded.
“I, too, consider this deal to be with Kang Chul-In, the Lord, rather than the Kang Chul-In that I know.”
“The discussion should be easier since you understand that.”
“There will follow a formal contract, but the basic outline is this. I help you to overcome the difficulty that you are in, and in return, you will make payments to me. That is the terms of the contract.”
Kang Chul-In shook his head.
“Making deals with me is costly.”
“I’m already at the edge of a cliff. If I can overcome my situation, I am prepared to offer you anything that you want.”
Having determined to live as a Lord, Lee Chae-Rin strongly stated her own volition to overcome this difficulty at any cost.
Downing the whiskey, Kang Chul-In spoke.
“The work will begin after 1 week. Within a month, I will eliminate the two bastards, reclaim Nidavellir, and return stability of the territory back to you. In return, my condition is 30% share of all the goods mined from the mine for the next 5 years.”
It was certainly expensive.
Nidavellir Mountain was not only a gold mine but also the place where the warp stones, which was the substance needed to use the warp gate from Pangaea to Earth, were mined.
A 30% share for the next 5 years from an enormously valuable mine would come to billions.
That would be the required minimum.
However, Kang Chul-In certainly did not think this requirement was excessive.
It went beyond just assisting Lee Chae-Rin to overcome her difficulties; it would save her life as well.
Furthermore, by helping her, as the loss of his time would be massive as well, he needed to be compensated for it.
Kang Chul-In’s one month was on a different scale than the other Lords. Since he had reincarnated, one month of time would allow him to reap unimaginable profits. As he was using such precious time to help Lee Chae-Rin, he needed to be paid at least that much.
As a matter of fact, 30% was very fair. Even if 80% was requested, Lee Chae-Rin would have accepted it under these circumstances.
Kang Chul-In was very considerate for not stabbing her in her back based on the intel. The debt he had in the past, he was determined to pay it back in this way.
Lee Chae-Rin readily accepted Kang Chul-In’s proposal. In addition, she took a step further.
“I have one more condition to add.”
“Be my ally for the next 10 years. Although I have money, I do not have the ability to utilize it. Perhaps my capability is specialized in domestic management.”
That was true.
As Kang Chul-In was weak in domestic management although he was a peerless general, for her who demonstrated strong domestic management abilities, it was unavoidable for Lee Chae-Rin to have shortcomings in military skills.
“If you agree to become my ally, I will add 10% and give you 40% for the next 10 years, not 5 years. Such terms, aren’t they something that would benefit the both of us?”
It was a rather forthcoming proposal but also a very logical and shrewd one as well.
“It’s not bad.”
A small subtle smile came to Kang Chul-In’s lips.
“At least, you know how to deal like a Lord.”
Lee Chae-Rin said and suddenly thought that Kang Chul-In’s cold-hearted posture may not be 100% sincere.
Perhaps… is he attempting to teach me?
It appeared that was so after a careful examination. All the words that Kang Chul-In spoke would become her food and nutrition.
The words that were spoken before the subject of the mine came up.
Do not thoughtlessly request reinforcements. Do not readily trust other Lords. Reinforcements are not the only solution, etc… Looking back, they were the words that led her to open her immature eyes and make prudent decisions.
It was a lesson in the harsh form of “hear and learn according to your own ability”, but Lee Chae-Rin came to understand the meaning behind those words.
Further, when she demonstrated audacity, a subtle smile appeared around Kang Chul-In’s mouth as well?
I see… Chul-In… you have not forgotten me. Thank you, Chul-In.
Her hardened heart has melted like snow.
Lee Chae-Rin felt appreciative of Kang Chul-In but did not show it. It was because she knew that Kang Chul-In’s lesson had not ended. At least until this deal was completed.
Lee Chae-Rin extended her hand.
“From now on, we are allies. I am glad to form an alliance with you, Kang Chul-In the Lord.”
Kang Chul-In grabbed Lee Chae-Rin’s hand.
“I’d like to show a sign of gratitude.”
Lee Chae-Rin recited a command.
“Gold coin, give, 2000 gold, Kang Chul-In the Lord.”
Then, 2000 gold coins were transferred from Lee Chae-Rin’s inventory to Kang Chul-In’s inventory. Nearly 800 million won worth of gold coins were transferred without anything in return. Although she looked a bit immature, Lee Chae-Rin also held the capacity for decisive action, worthy of a Lord.
“Consider it a down payment. For the strength of our alliance.”
Lee Chae-Rin smiled widely.
“I will accept in gratitude. I shall use it well.”
Kang Chul-In also smiled. No one would dislike when someone gives you money, especially when showing such a level of appreciation at that.
Lee Chae-Rin spoke as if she was curious about something.
“What is your plan? How you will help me, Chul-In?”
“I am going straight for the roots.”
How was he going to help?
Kang Chul-In was not interested in disclosing how he would help her at this time. He wanted to show it to her in person.Previous Chapter Next Chapter