Unlike the glamorous and bustling reception hall, the school building was quiet at night.
Jihad guided Nozomu to his office in the school.
Jihad turned on the room's magic light and urged Nozomu to sit on the sofa. They took their seats facing each other.
"I think we're good here."
"So, what do you mean by not getting involved with Iris?"
In response to Nozomu's question, Jihad poured water from the jug in his hand into a gla.s.s and gulped it down in one gulp.
Jihad opened his mouth slowly as he looked down at the empty gla.s.s he had just drank.
“First of all, let me tell you what Victor-dono told me regarding this matter. According to him, a representative of the Waziart family will be visiting the academy at this party. Also, they would like to hold a meeting here in Arcazam to discuss the soon-to-be concluded agreement between Forsina and the Dizzard Empire."
Victor told Jihad that once the agreement had been concluded at the meeting, the agreement would become effective and diplomatic relations between the two countries would be established.
"Regarding this matter, Arcazam's council has given its approval. There is no doubt that Arcazam's position is ideal for the first agreement with the Dizzard Empire, which until now has not established diplomatic relations with any country."
At the same time, if things went well, it would be possible to bring information, human resources, and technology from the Dizard Empire to Arcazam.
Not only that, but Dizzard Empire's side could also establish a precedent of negotiations and consultations with other countries, which would facilitate the numerous inter-state negotiations that would take place in the future.
Nozomu also understood what Jihad meant and nodded quietly.
“We believe that the reason the head of the Waziart family, a prominent figure in the Dizzard Empire, attended this party was to make this agreement known. That was probably done in consideration of the national security of Forsina Kingdom, the benefits to Dizzard Empire, and the impact on the various countries. The party was originally intended to be a meeting place for the students of Solminati Academy and the dignitaries of various countries, but under certain circ.u.mstances, such as in this case, some consideration was given."
Originally, the main purpose of the party was to build bridges between partic.i.p.ating students and various countries, but as long as dignitaries from other countries gather, it was inevitable that situations such as negotiations and discussions between countries would occur there.
For this reason, Arcazam also took into consideration the tacit understanding to a certain extent, and did not condemn the event.
Although Vitora's partic.i.p.ation was quite unexpected even for the school, the partic.i.p.ation of Waziart family in the party itself was not a problem.
“But if there is a possibility of danger to the school's students, it would be a different story. Especially in the case of an important student like you, who is in potential danger from the vampire princess ..."
Originally, when Victor told the school that a representative of the Waziart household would be coming to Arcazam, the school had planned to have Jihad attend the meeting.
When it came to dealing with such a powerful person from a foreign country, there was no one but Jihad who was qualified for the job.
However, as it turned out, even Jihad was no match for them. This made it impossible for the school to keep the Waziart household in check by force, in case of emergency.
Furthermore, what the school did not expect was that the head of Waziart household had a peculiar interest in a certain person.
Moreover, the school had to be wary of this particular person, a student to whom the school had given a great deal of attention.
"Regarding this agreement, the academy is not aware of the backstory of the Francilt and Waziart households, but we do have some idea of Victor-dono's thoughts regarding the purpose of the agreement."
The purpose of the agreement was to ensure the national security of the Forsina Kingdom.
Jihad understood that it was a move to keep its powerful neighboring country, the Cremazzone Empire, in check.
And his thinking was almost the same as Victor's aim.
"The problem is that Victor-dono may have been using you from the beginning to bring the Waziart household into the public eye."
"…… What do you mean?"
"That vampire princess is not even showing interest in the person with whom she is making the agreement, Victor-dono. It is not difficult to imagine who would want to establish this agreement."
It was the Francilt family, not the Waziart family, that wanted to establish the agreement.
And Jihad believed that Victor himself also understood that Vitora was not interested in him.
"I don't know to what extent, but at least in my opinion, it is by no means unlikely that he used you to gain the interest of the Waziart family."
Whether Viktor might have used the enormous bait called Nozomu to draw the Waziart household into negotiations was a concern that came to the surface of Jihad's mind.
"This event is held for the future of the students, and although there may be some political bargaining, the way Victor used you as a pretext and gave you away as a prize is unacceptable. In fact, there is still a great deal of commotion in the venue."
Regardless of Victor's true intentions, Jihad could not tolerate any behavior that would cause harm to the students.
From the school's point of view, it would be a natural decision.
Especially in the case of a particularly sensitive student like Nozomu, who could be both peculiar and dangerous.
Therefore, Jihad clearly stated to Nozomu:
"You are a student of Solminati."
Behind those words, he clearly meant, "You are not to be involved in this agreement at all."
And once again, the academy had made it clear that they would not be involved in any way with the Francilt family, even if they did not say so.
"... Iris, too-."
"But before that, she is the next head of the Francilt family. The premise is different."
Nozomu stated that Irisdina was also a student like him, but his words were easily denied by Jihad.
Irisdina Francilt is the next head of the Francylt household of Forsina, one of the biggest contributors to the current turmoil.
Hence, Irisdina's duties as a head of the family come with her obligations as a landlord.
On the other hand, Nozomu's position is that of a commoner student, regardless of his ability.
Even if he possessed some kind of extraordinary power, he would have no political influence or responsibility at this point.
"Your true ident.i.ty has not been made public, but if it were known, who knows where it would affect you? Moreover, you have no control over that power yet."
Moreover, Nozomu's control of his power was still unstable.
Rather, the very fact that he is "hiding" such power could lead not only to a political bomb, but also to a real disaster.
"It is too dangerous for you to be involved with the Waziart household right now. Both for you and for your friends."
He wanted to be of help. No matter how much he thought and wished so, the reality was like a chain, entangling Nozomu's legs.
Understanding the problems he now faced and Irisdina's current situation, Nozomu clenched his fists and bit his lip in frustration.
"I don't want you to misunderstand me, I am not abandoning them. The fact that Victor invited the Waziart family to this city and made it known to the public means that the terms of the agreement have almost been agreed upon. I can only a.s.sume that they are at least talking about making it public."
Seeing Nozomu's condition, Jihad continued his words slowly, perhaps with the intention of comforting him
"Until the agreement is made official, it's better for her and for you to maintain some distance. Do you understand?"
Nozomu clenched his fists as if to stifle the sense of frustration and helplessness spreading deep in his chest.
As if to show his frustration, blood dripped from his palm, carving red spots on the white marble floor.
While Nozomu was in the midst of meeting with Jihad, Irisdina was silently questioning her own father in the carriage on the way home.
In the rattling carriage, Irisdina's stern gaze was fixed on Victor.
Viktor, on the other hand, was looking out the window as if he didn't give a d.a.m.n about such a look from his daughter.
"Father, what does this mean?"
In response to Irisdina's question, which could be called impolite, Victor glanced at her, exhaled deeply once, and opened his mouth.
"First of all, the secret agreement that our ancestors had made with the Waziart family has been annulled due to the loss of the written contract between the two families. However, the fact that the Francilt family had a secret agreement in the past does not disappear, and above all, if we unilaterally break the contract, there will still be friction between us and the Waziart family."
"Is this some kind of an agreement to dissolve that, and then hide it from the public? What are the details?"
"I will not go into the details, but I will say that it is a restricted trade agreement. We will pay all the necessary costs for the implementation of the agreement. That is the terms of the agreement."
Irisdina nodded in understanding upon hearing Victor's words.
From the point of view of the Waziart family, the Francilt family is a family of wrongdoers who had reneged on a past agreement.
Regardless of the fact that Irisdina and Victor were unaware of the existence of the secret agreement, it was a family matter and had nothing to do with the Waziart family.
That was why, in order to wash away that stigma, they had to present and hand over something more than what corresponded to it.
For this reason, Victor had promised the Waziart family that he would provide them with a great deal of financial resources.
"The purpose of this agreement is not only to hide the secret agreement, but also to bring the Waziart family and the Dizzard Empire into the public eye and to strengthen the national security of our country and, by extension, of the continent. I have already spoken to the king about this agreement."
For the current Francilt family, the past secret agreements are a deadly poison, but that poison can also be a medicine when used in the right way.
If it was about compensation for unilaterally breaking the past secret agreements, money might seem to be an easier option, but once a great deal of money was involved, it would be impossible to deceive the eyes of the public.
If this were to happen, the secret agreements that the Francilt family had made would also come to light.
To prevent such a reeking mess from spreading uncontrolled, a suitable cover story could be put together by involving those with whom one shared an interest and shared a common secret.
And the fewer and more powerful the parties to be involved, the better.
In this sense, Victor's persuasion of his country's king to bring him in was undoubtedly the best move he could have made.
The problem was that the Waziart family is a vampire and has had conflicting relations with the human race in the past, but this too could be minimized by limiting the places, people, and goods with which they trade.
Furthermore, if the Francilts were to provide all of their a.s.sets, it would make them look good, and to a certain extent, it would keep the pursuit of those from other families who were unaware of the situation to a minimum.
Of course, Irisdina understood this as well. She would also make the same choice if she could.
"I understand your reasons for fulfilling the agreement. But I don't think that's the only reason ......"
What Irisdina was concerned about was whether Nozomu would be included in their "offer" to the Waziart family.
At the moment, Nozomu is a student at the Solminati Academy and has no direct relationship with the Francilt family or the Forsina Kingdom externally.
However, such things were irrelevant in the world of politics.
There were plenty of excuses to be made, and plenty of ways to get things done.
And Irisdina knew that her father, too, would use devious means if he had to.
In fact, Victor responded to the great invasion ten years ago by using such means.
"Whichever path we take, we have no choice but to press our way through. We have to rinse out the wrongdoings caused by our ancestors..."
"So you would even use your benefactors for that purpose?"
Irisdina let out a groan as she bit her lip tightly...
A burning rage welled up and burned deep in her chest.
What Victor was doing was a very natural thing for a politician to do.
If the agreement with the Dizzard Empire further strengthened the national security of Forsina, and if many other countries followed suit and established relations with the Empire, it would be a trump card against the demon beasts' invasion that might occur again, and it would contribute to the stability of the continent.
In the long run, it would be a good thing, an agreement that would benefit the Francilt family, Forsina, and the Dizzard Empire. To put it bluntly, it seemed almost perfect.
But there was no such thing as perfect politics. Behind the pleasant words and results, there would always be someone else's invisible sweat and blood.
And this "someone" is likely to be a figure that Irisdina will not be able to ignore.
For Irisdina, this was something unacceptable.
"Irisdina, protecting something also means not protecting the other thing at the same time. You know that, don't you?"
Perhaps reading his daughter's fury, Victor's gaze and words were directed at Irisdina, not as a father, but as a politician.
His sharp, piercing, rock-like eyes and heavy voice rapidly pulled the spirit of the next head of the Francilt family out of Irisdina and rapidly cooled her agitated emotions.
And Irisdina, whose raging emotions were rapidly cooled, was forced to understand even more deeply the situation in which they were now placed.
Now that things had grown so serious, the Francilt family had to make this agreement at any cost if they wanted to survive.
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If they failed, the Francilt family would face retribution from the Waziart family and lose the king's trust.
“Irisdina will be attending the school as usual, because we need her to get in touch with that brat."
Victor believed that the school had already warned Nozomu to stay away from the Francilt family.
And, in fact, as Victor thought, Jihad had advised Nozomu to do so.
Contrary to Jihad's concerns, however, Victor did not use Nozomu for political purposes.
It would be too risky, politically and technically.
However, the situation was already imminent.
Considering all the circ.u.mstances, the Francilt family had to take all possible measures.
Perhaps a little less irritated after gulping down a large amount of liquor all at once, Victor began to drink the other half by taking small sips of the remaining contents.
For a moment, a silence pa.s.sed between Victor and Mena.
"Was that so unexpected?"
It was Mena who broke the silence.
In her tone of voice, which sounded like she was confirming something, one could sense a certain conviction in it.
"For the head of the Waziart household visited us in person. That has never happened before."
Vitora's sudden visit was unexpected, even for Victor.
The head of the Waziart family didn't even show up at the previous negotiations, let alone at the apology meeting Victor went to in person.
Of course, Victor had heard from Irisdina that Rugato had told her that Vitora was not interested in the secret agreement, but this was not sufficient to make a conclusion.
At first, Victor thought that Rugato's words were a message that he was not interested in listening to what they had to say, but after persistent negotiations, he realized that Vitora was not at all interested in the Francilt family or the past secret agreements.
If Vitora had been so determined to fulfill the past secret agreements, she would have come to Arcazam long ago to reap Somia's soul, without regard to the eyes of those around her.
She is a monster with that kind of audacity and the power to push through her arrogance.
"d.a.m.n, I didn't expect the consequences of cleaning up after the foolish people of the past to be so messy ......."
Victor's prediction was decisively off the mark because of the sudden change of heart of the head of the Waziart family.
The name of Nozomu had never been mentioned in the negotiation process up to this point, nor had it ever been mentioned by the Waziart family.
Negotiations were going well, and for Victor, it was more difficult to negotiate with his own family's relatives and with the various parties involved.
This was partly because Rugato was trying to smooth things over for his own master and people, who were not interested in the Francilt family or the secret agreement.
In other words, Victor did not even need to use Nozomu politically in the first place.
"Sir, who in the world leaked Nozomu-sama's ident.i.ty to the Waziart family?"
"Given the timing, the most suspicious person is Egrod. If he doesn't know about the existence of the beings keeping an eye on Nozomu Bountis or the fact that he is currently unable to control his powers, then it is quite possible."
Although it was possible that it was the chairman of Arcazam who had heard about his true ident.i.ty with him, in the first place, Egrod's underlings were also residing in this city.
As for Jihad, he believed that it was almost certainly Egrod who leaked Nozomu's ident.i.ty to the Waziart family, and that Mekria, his close aide, was involved in the matter.
"Sir, is there any chance that Zonne-dono will make a move on this matter?…”
"I doubt it. That old man is a dragon, and this is only a matter between human races."
Zonne is currently teaching Nozomu as a Dragon Slayer, but his position is that of a mentor, but at the same time, he is a guardian of Tiamat.
His position is both delicate and peculiar. He is monitoring Tiamat, while at the same time teaching Nozomu.
However, he is only cooperating with them as a dragon race.
Naturally, there is no reason for him to cooperate with the human race, and he would not try to interfere.
"Besides, Zonne-dono is testing that brat. He won't intervene unless it's really the worst-case scenario."
And for Zonne, the crisis of the Francilt family was not a matter for him to meddle in.
He only intervened in Azel's case because Tiamat was about to be resurrected by the intervention of the Dragon Race.
More importantly for Viktor, the current situation put the Francilt family in a state of isolation.
With just a single prediction gone awry, the situation was quickly being driven into a dead-end situation.
(It's lucky that we are not being removed from Arcazam, but we can no longer get the school to cooperate with us...)
Jihad told Victor, "I can't help you any more", but he did not say, "Get out of Arcazam."
He kept the school neutral, but left the Francilt and Waziart families open to negotiation.
Victor understood that this was the best compromise Jihad could make.
(So the rest is up to me…)
Once again, Victor made up his mind and took out an envelope from the drawer of his office desk in a firm, steady manner, despite his heartbeat and intense heat caused by the rapid consumption of alcohol.
White, lavishly decorated, and bearing the seal of the Francilt family, it was used by the head of the Francilt family to personally announce his intentions.
"...... Mena, I have something to entrust you with."
"Are you sure? If I were to hand over this letter, I'm afraid the ladies would resent you for it..."
Victor handed an envelope to Mena, who, perhaps sensing the contents of the envelope, asked her master with a slight furrow of her brow.
"Of course, I'm prepared for that. I will not change what I will do. I will definitely protect them."
As Victor made his declaration seriously yet forcefully, Mena sensed her master's determination and bowed her head deeply.
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