SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 9
Chapter 9 – Because I Promised
Dvorg sighed again. How many times had she already sighed that day?
I can’t believe this. I just can’t find the words.
These and other feelings were all too evident as if they were written all over her face.
“You’re a prince of your kingdom, you can’t say ‘any conditions’ like that.”
Negotiations with no regard for shame or reputation, bowing to a commoner, it was like I was begging Dvorg to have the advantage.
If Feli was here, she would surely get angry…even while picturing her in my mind, I did not stop.
“Yes, I absolutely agree.”
Again, I agreed with Dvorg’s words.
Her words were completely correct.
“Unfortunately, I have never negotiated in my life before.”
In my previous life I lived by the sword and my sole preoccupation was to survive. In this life, I had done nothing but live as I pleased. I didn’t have much attachment to this world and spent my days fruitlessly, so even the knowledge called “common sense” was severely lacking in me.
I am positive I couldn’t even properly describe my very own country, Diestburg. The merchant in front of me, Dvorg, was surely much more knowledgeable
Negotiating was completely beyond me.
“So I have no idea about what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s simple, I just act as I think. Nothing more, nothing less.”
I clearly stated that telling me the dos and don’ts of negotiation was pointless.
Even if I bluffed, I would probably…no, I would definitely be found out.
Besides, I was always told that it was easy to tell what I was feeling. Dvorg, a merchant by trade, was not someone I could ever hope to deceive.
So I should cast away my shame and bow my head. I’m not smart enough to negotiate properly anyway. So my only option was to present my request in my own way.
I thought that instead of acting like I was hiding something, this way would be much better.
“There are all sorts of fools out there, but you are on a whole nother level.”
“They call me ‘Trash Prince’, after all. Even if they start calling me a fool too, it won’t sting at this point.”
I cared little for what names they gave me.
No matter how people insulted me, nothing could affect me. After all, I knew how foolish I was more than anyone else.
“…first of all, please raise your head. Then we can start talking.”
Dvorg parted her hair back and shrugged.
“Let me ask one thing.”
The conversation continued.
I was given a chance. I concluded that I had chosen the right course of action.
Dvorg, trying to peer inside my heart, never moved her gaze away from me.
I slowly raised my head and sat down on the armchair again.
“Why would you go so far?”
My actions were dictated by something outside other people’s comprehension. Dvorg also probably found them inexplicable.
Royalty that bowed their head to a merchant, forgave her for putting him to the test and even pointing weapons at him, walked alone in back alleys riddled with ruffians, made requests with no regard to shame or reputation.
To put it simply, it was all too absurd.
It was normally unthinkable. Something that should never happen. Someone particular about social standing would faint if they heard of this.
Even I was aware of how absurd my behavior was.
Because I was aware, I understood that Dvorg’s question was well founded.
“Basically, it’s all ego.”
Everything was motivated by my desire for self-satisfaction.
That was my selfishness.
Nothing more, nothing less.
“If I were to say it more nicely though…it’s because I made a promise.”
Before I realized it, I spoke with a firmer tone.
“You are a prince, yet you would deliberately go to a place of certain death, all for your ego?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
I nodded immediately.
I myself did not see the island as a place of certain death, but I chose not to impose my point of view and kept that opinion to myself.
I just didn’t know what to say anymore.
Dvorg’s expression was crystal clear.
“I made a promise.”
The word “promise” recalled a voice from my memories.
The voice then turned into a scene of happiness, mixed with reality. Voices from my memories resounded in my ears.
<<I’m going to protect you. Yeah, at least you.>>
The promise that couldn’t be kept resurfaced.
A memory I could never reach, no matter what— I lost myself in the illusions.
I remembered that unique drawl too.
How could I forget it? It was the voice of the girl who always followed me around. Tiara’s voice.
<<What? You’re calling me a liar?>>
<<No, that’s not it, but…hmm…>>
<<Quit mumbling and speak up!>>
<<Eh? Can I reallyyy? No more holding back then!>>
A bright, wide smile, like a blooming flower. The words that followed, however, were nothing but venomous.
The smile I had seen was not an angel’s, but a devil’s, as I would soon realize.
<<I mean, ***, you’re super weak, aren’t you?>>
<<Yeah, like I should be the one protecting you, right?>>
<<Wait, didn’t I save you like a little while ago…?>>
A three-hit combo of poison strikes in word form.
Struck by such verbal violence, I dropped to the ground.
<<Hey, Tiara, that’s enough. Look at ***, he’s barely breathing.>>
My mentor had been looking at us and finally interjected.
Tiara was trying to remember the episode she mentioned, as if to deliver the coup de grace, paying little attention to my state.
<<Eh? What? Aah, you’re right!>>
You finally noticed me now?
With an “awright then”, she crouched next to me.
<<I told you I wasn’t sure if I could say it~~>>
After shrugging at my instantaneous defeat before her verbal violence, Tiara looked at me with sympathy.
<<…I’m weak now, but one day I’ll be stronger than anyone else, so it’s okay! Talk smack while you can!!>>
I tried to salvage what was left of my pride, but Tiara responded by laughing merrily.
<<Right, right, of course! So now you’re going through special training!>>
The special training Tiara talked about involved survival on the brink of death. That’s why, despite a bit of hesitation and lots of internal screaming, I nodded as powerfully as I could.
<<In that case, here.>>
A hand, much smaller than mine, stretched out towards me.
Delicate arms that looked like they could break easily if they were squeezed a little hard.
<<You should stand up first, I guess? If you’re going to do special training?>>
I firmly grabbed Tiara’s hand and was pulled up energetically as she laughed.
<<Just you wait…>>
Tiara looked at me, puzzled.
I was probably the most unreliable person in that world, but…
<<One day I…!! I will definitely save you, Tiara…!!>>
<<You will save me? You sure learned to talk big, ***…okay then. I’m going to look forward to it.>>
How many times did I dream of this?
I couldn’t even feel sadness anymore.
Only regrets continued to pile up inside me.
No matter how much I wished to be able to re-do things from that point, my wish would never be granted. What slipped from my fingers would never come back.
—I will never let you die. No matter what.
The words I said to Feli resounded in my head.
“Yes, I promised.”
I said it again, as if to confirm it.
“I know how absurd this must sound. But I promised.”
“…I think I can see why Warrick introduced you to me.”
Dvorg motioned towards the bodyguard who had prepared us tea, still holding the tray with cups on it. He was probably waiting for the right timing to serve us. She then gestured for him to bring something.
It was the signal to serve us the tea.
Dvorg probably honestly wanted to change the mood: as soon as the tea was served, she put the teacup to her lips immediately.
Without the slightest hint of appreciating the aromatic drink spreading in her mouth, Dvorg talked again, a blank expression on her face.
“…shall I prepare another cup?”
The black tea had been brewed minutes ago, so its temperature had long dropped.
“No, that’s fine. Please put them away.”
The man, carrying the tray at his side, was deftly moving my teacup in front of me, when Dvorg pushed her empty cup towards him, without even making an attempt to hide her irritation.
Dvorg looked down, mentally searching for the best way to solve her current conundrum.
Several minutes of complete silence passed.
The tense mood in the room grew as time passed.
Dvorg’s words broke the silence.
“We shall prepare a ship for you.”
The decision was surely a surprising one.
The exclamation of surprise came from the boy in charge of looking after the store.
“Quiet. This is what I decided.”
At present there was no way to verify my identity, so more than a transaction, it was more like a one-sided plea. The conversation, the negotiations, could all be a delusion of mine, but Dvorg accepted them. The boy probably found it unbelievable.
“Just in case, let me confirm one thing…”
Dvorg carefully studied my expression, a fiercer glow in her eyes.
Any lies or half truths wouldn’t be tolerated. So her gaze clearly stated.
“Any request is acceptable in return, is that right?”
“You have my word.”
“That is enough.”
Dvorg stood up from the armchair, then walked towards the door in the back.
“Five days from now, at dawn. Come to the southeastern harbor. Your ship will be waiting.”
Dvorg grabbed the doorknob and turned it, opening the door.
“I will contact you afterwards about our requests. Any questions?”
“I will excuse myself, then.”
Then, one instant before she disappeared beyond the door…
A faint whisper and the sound of the door closing echoed in the room and in my ears, strangely loud.