BBYW Vol. 3 Chapter 20 (WN)
Chapter 20 – The Conference Dances, Yet Advances Not
For the moment, we decided to borrow one of the governor palace’s meeting rooms and discuss the next course of action.
The defense of the city was too important a topic for us to decide on our own: other leading names of the city were summoned as well.
As the wall clock showed, the time was already past six in the afternoon.
The pirates would come again at noon the next day: in other words, 18 hours later.
“It’s almost evening…”
Buried deep in his seat, Randy spoke gravely.
The 30 year old captain of the guard had visible marks of exhaustion on his face: it looked like he had aged 10 years in one day.
The governor had disappeared, alongside his whole entourage, so the highest authority on the defense of the city had become Randy himself.
It was a heavy burden that he never asked to carry on his shoulders: his face was twisted in a terrible frown.
“At present, our city of Brutos is on the brink of annihilation. If someone — anyone knows a way we can overcome this crisis, please speak up.”
Randy looked at the seats around the table, as if pleading.
There were 4 people other than Randy in the meeting room at the time.
One was me, Dyngir Maxwell.
I had no duty to fight to protect the town, but I couldn’t sail unless the invading Lion King pirates were defeated, so I had no choice but to cooperate.
The second participant was the leader of the town’s mercenary guild, Glen Boyle.
He was a rugged, muscular man in his 40s, a classic leader of roughnecks. His tanned body was carved with scars all over.
Glen was sitting with his arms crossed and eyes closed, silently listening to Randy.
The third person was the head of the merchant guild, as well as the person in charge of the market, Sephonne.
The old man sporting an impressive, well-groomed beard and mustache, with cold sweats on his forehead, frequently casted glances at the strangers in the room – us.
The last one was the fortune teller. He had just introduced himself: apparently, his name was Roh.
The self-proclaimed looter had joined us for some reason: he was the only one in the room with a relaxed expression on his face, his hands clasped behind his head.
Needless to say, this overtly laid-back attitude earned him stern looks from Randy, Glen and Sephonne.
It was clear that they were wondering why he was even there, but, because of the desperate situation and lack of manpower, they couldn’t bring themselves to say it out loud.
“Nothing? Doesn’t anyone have any…”
Randy sounded completely exhausted.
Seeing that no one was going to say anything, I sighed.
“…let’s confirm the current situation first. How much fighting power do we have left?”
“Right…one-third of the security guards was wounded during the attack on the port and is unable to fight. Another third fled the town, so we have about 300 left.”
Sighs could be heard from around the room.
Considering that a single large ship could house up to 100 men, with 10 ships the number would reach three digits. The enemy forces numbered at least one thousand, which could double in the worst case scenario.
“No, with the mercenary guild’s support we should be able to gather more…”
“Unfortunately, that’s not possible.”
Glen, a pained expression on his face, spoke for the first time.
“The mercenary guild will not take part in this battle.”
“W-What!? But why!?”
“We are mercenaries: we only work if there is a reward to be received. With the governor gone, there’s no one left to pay us, is there?”
Glen shook his head apologetically as he stated his cold decision.
“But…! The town is going to fall at this rate! The whole Sapphire Kingdom might…”
“Yes, such is war. More than half of the mercenaries in my guild are not from this country in the first place, they only came here for work. They have no reason to show loyalty to Sapphire.”
Glen committed to a realist point of view. After considering what the guild would win and lose from the battle, he decided to abandon Brutos to its fate.
(When you work in warfare, you’ve got to be cut and dry like that, after all)
I mentally agreed with Glen. The guild mercenaries fought for money, the security guards to protect their homeland: their motivations couldn’t be more different.
It wasn’t a matter of who was right or wrong: their positions were just different.
“Hmm, so what you’re saying is that you’ll fight as long as someone foots the bill?”
Despite his frustration, Randy couldn’t retort: yet an unexpected helping hand came from the fortune teller Roh.
“In that case, why doesn’t that merchant over there take care of it?”
Sephonne, suddenly the center of attention, shrieked in surprise.
His pudgy face streamed with copious sweat, which he desperately wiped with a handkerchief from his breast pocket.
“I-I most certainly would like to protect our city, but in these circumstances…”
Merchants, by nature, are very keen on finding out where their best interests lie. Investing in a battle with little chance of victory was like throwing precious gold coins down the drain.
“If this trading center of a town ends up ravaged, won’t you merchants take the most damage, though?”
“Indeed, indeed, however…we would need at least some kind of security…”
Sephonne answered my question while forcefully wiping his brow.
“Do you realize there’s no time for things like that…!?”
Sephonne’s excuses fueled Randy’s impatience and rage. I found them unpleasant as well, and glared at the merchant sitting opposite from me.
“We are a business too, you’ll understand…if Sapphire falls, our next trade partner will be the Lion Kingdom…t-though it pains me to say this!!”
Even while sitting on pins and needles, Sephonne did not discard his position: the priority was their interests, first and foremost.
From his standpoint, instead of investing in a losing battle it would be better to cooperate with the Sapphire Kingdom and avoid a conflict with the Lion Kingdom at the same time.
“Ooh, so you’re saying you’ll invest as long as you have some security! Good to hear!!”
The fortune teller smiled mischievously and licked his lips.