The emptied teacups were taken away and replaced with new cups with the tea refill. Piles of cake put on a huge plate was placed in front of Lecan. Lecan moved that plate before Eda. Eda swiftly took a piece, but then it looked as if she was brooding over something.
(This girl. She must be thinking about taking this cake back.)
"What is it, Lecan."
"Can we take this cake home."
"Hou? No, we'll prepare the share for you to take with. Don't worry and eat that."
"Sorry for the trouble."
Zack sipped the hot tea, leaned his body on the sofa and shut his eyes.
Eda made a revering stance toward Lecan before gleefully reached her hands toward the cake.
"Zaikaz House of old was the lord of Kogurus."
"Were you not aware then. You must hail from a distant land. Somewhere awfully far and away."
"But a certain man betrayed the lord, deceived him, killed all members of his family and snatched the lord's position. The king gave his approval since the man went about it cleverly."
"The lord had several concubines. One of them was sent back to her parental mercantile home, she secretly gave birth to a boy."
"That was my grandfather."
"My grandfather had a talent in the art of dealings. He opened his own shop, grew it, and built his powers."
"Grandfather reached the point of exerting complete control over Kogurus Town's economy. He eventually succeeded making that usurper's household fall into a trap, slaughtered them all and regained his rightful property and authority."
Perhaps that usurper also had a reason to exact revenge on Zaikaz household himself, thought Lecan, but he kept that to himself.
"However, it proved difficult for the king to change the lord once again. Further, grandfather had too many restrictions in all sort of ways imposed on him to seize the lordship."
"Those things happen."
"Hence, grandfather revived Zaikaz house and made my father the family head, then he voluntarily put his company under Zaikaz House patronage. He instated someone from a house related to the usurper as the lord and sent his trusted retainers to be the lord's aides."
"That's quite an undertaking."
"It was. It was a gigantic undertaking. Grandfather managed to accomplish that in one generation."
"Glad for you."
"House of Zaikaz do business like it's no business."
"To Zaikaz House, business is war."
"I think there's many companies with the same idea though."
"Zaikaz House do business without getting caught up in classic business ethics and practices."
"You're saying you don't mind dipping in crimes?"
"Long before Zaka Kingdom was founded, town rulers would go to war with each others, competing for domains to take over."
"Now that we are under one country, one cannot make their enemy yield, rule over them and seize lands through sheer force. This is an age where you fight with material and money."
Lecan understood what Zack was trying to say.
<Business> to Zack is not a contest between stores. It's a struggle between individuals over power and fortune. Where they bite into each other's territories, where the loser has to yield to the rules of the winner. They use force in the unseen parts. It's exactly what makes war war.
Since it's a war that decides on one's survival, naturally spies and assassins would be involved. He would lie and break promises. He'll go on the offense when his enemy shows any sign of weakness and deploy strong individuals. Zack does not think of any of that as a bad thing, not in the slightest.
"Fumu. I get your thinking. But I don't see why you would go out of your way and use your time to tell me your story."
"My enemy employed an unknown mighty adventurer whose capability exceeded that of which I prepared. I wish to employ that adventurer in the next fight. For that reason, I wanted to make it known to him, the fact that I bear no grudge nor hatred whatsoever."
Lecan was completely taken by surprise by his word. But he couldn't detect a lie.
Suppose it costs one coin to employ one force, 100 forces will mean 100 coins.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
In contrast to his enemy who has gone with five forces, he's spent extra to employ 100 forces.
Yet, despite having prepared many tens times the enemy's forces, he came out as the loser.
All because of a foreign element who had slipped in.
As such, he intends to employ that foreign element this time.
That's what Zack is telling him.
"Good to hear that. I had been wanting to talk to you face to face. However, I could not come up with a way to summon you here. Having you taking on Dovor's escort job was truly a windfall for me. I had a hunch already, but you really are a staunch adventurer. A man who weighs his loss and gain."
Lecan understood Zack's line of thinking. But there's an obstacle to Zack hiring Lecan. It's Dovor. Dovor most definitely doesn't think well of Lecan. Lecan himself can't possibly work in peace at a place where Dovor is. Zack must have perceived that. Thus the reason he make Dovor participate here. This is absolutely not a coincidence.
Lecan decided to go for a push.
"Does a man by name of Marakis, have a son."
Marakis was the real name of Eifun, a former coachman of Chaney Company. He's a criminal with the nickname <Coldblooded>, and even though he supposedly had been executed, he somehow survived and snuck in Chaney's Company to leak information.
Dovor's and the butler's faces tightened up. Zack's eyes opened wide ever so slightly, but that was the extent of emotion he showed on the surface.
"That's a name that takes me back. Why would you, someone who came from a faraway country, know that name."
"That's what the person in question called himself."
"Is that so. However, I can assure you that you must have misheard it. Or perhaps, he had the same name by coincidence. The Marakis I know was a faithful right hand of mine. His loyalty was of such zeal that he carelessly laid a finger on those who attempted to harm me. I had no mean to cover for him as there were too many witnesses. These eyes of mine personally saw to that man's execution."
Of course, it's a lie. Not sure what trick he used, but Zack had made sure Marakis escape alive, and sent him to Chaney as Eifun.
"He even got the alias <Coldblooded>. His carelessness must have known no bound."
Zack did not reply to what Lecan said this time.
A weird sense of strain is adrift in the room. In the meanwhile, Eda flipped over the emptied plate and gathered the cake scraps in her hand.
"You haven't answered my question. Does Marakis have a son."
"...He might have."
So Dovor truly is Marakis's son then. Perhaps he agreed to look after Marakis's son to reciprocate Marakis's loyalty, or perhaps Dovor was a hostage to Marakis who had snuck into an enemy's lair. Considering the disposition of this man called Zack, both are most likely mutual shackles. It doesn't really matter.
What can't be taken lightly is the glances Dovor is pouring at Lecan.
This is no trivial matter.
Zack talked to Nike.
"I would have never imagined that <Nike the Comet Cutter> was this young."
"Is that so."
"I heard you're Apothecary Shira's granddaughter, is that true."
"I guess so."
"I have offered Apothecary Shira business opportunity many times over, but I could never get a positive reply from her."
"There may come times when we will need your assistance with work. I hope for your cooperation then."
"We'll see about it when that time comes."
Afterward, the talk died down.
"Thanks for treating us with tea and cake. We're leaving."
Lecan stood up, so did Zack.
"Surely we'd meet again."