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Volume 4: Intermission – Silent Beauty (2/2)
The way Lili brushed away the snow on her knees was agreeable.
Yes, she was a gentleman. A real one. There was a world of difference between her and the goblins, who only knew how to fight. Not to mention people like Felbi, who would make blood rain whenever they’re unhappy. They were as different as the moon and the turtle, as different as the evening primrose and the sun.
Helen still hadn’t shaken off her astonishment when Lili took her hand and led her into the manor and was greeted by the warmth of furniture that have been used for a long time. The light from the fireplace warmed the room.
The windows were made bigger for lighting, and the snow-buried city could be seen through them. The candle lights illuminating through the windows of the houses nearby painted a dreamlike scene like that of a candle lit amidst a snow field.
This was the country of dreams!
The utopia she’d dreamed of ever since she was but a child. Moreover, there was even a gentlemanly and beautiful prince to go along with it. It was perfect!
Helen Meer danced wildly internally. She was doing everything she could just to keep herself from running around.
Unfortunately, her face was completely void of expression, and none of what she felt could be seen from outside. As she stared blankly at the sight outside the window, Lili tactfully offered her a seat.
“Are you surprised to see there’s nothing here?”
‘No, this is a dreamlike land! And it even comes with a prince—‘ Helen was about to write before stopping herself and instead writing, ‘It’s a beautiful place’.
Lili took that as flattery and made a wry-like smile as she sadly shook off her gaze.
The beautiful prince’s tendency to look down spoke volumes of her worries.
But this too was fairly dangerous. She looked like she’d fit perfectly in a picture. Helen Meer didn’t hear half of what she said, but when she remembered why she’d been sent here in the first place, just that half was more than enough to understand.
A cold climate and an economy that refused to budge.
Lili must’ve felt incompetent after seeing how quickly the Western Capital had developed.
As Helen Meer listened to her story, she grew more and more sympathetic of Lili and even became hostile toward Yoshu.
Poor Yoshu was innocent, however, and this hostility was nothing more than an unjustified outburst of anger on her part.
Regardless, in her head, Yoshu was already the devil that had come up with schemes to torment the prince.
“I’m sorry I spoke for so long. It’s embarrassing for the feudal lord to complain so much, but I don’t have anyone else to talk to…”
Lili shrugged her shoulders, and Helen Meer nodded and quickly wrote.
—It’s alright. That’s why I’m here.
“Thank you. I wonder how I can thank Yoshu-dono for sending you here.”
Wait, that’s wrong! Yoshu the devil has nothing to do with this!
Because she wanted to scream that for a moment, she almost fell off the sofa. Fortunately, she managed to catch herself.
Behold, Helen Meer’s strenuous efforts!
She declared internally with much enthusiasm despite it still being midnight.
“It can’t be compared to the meal of the Western Capital, but…”
As Lili said that, she clapped her hands, and the maids brought in a piping hot meal. Despite the warmth from the fireplace, the food lined up before her was hot enough to produce steam.
She took a portion from the big pot and poured it into a smaller dish. It was a yellow-colored soup. Inside were vegetables and potatoes cut big and ruggedly.
Meer took a warm spoon made out of wood and took a spoonful of the soup for herself. ‘Fuu, fuu,’ sounded her mouth as she blew on the spoonful of soup before bringing it into her mouth, whereupon the sweetness and warmth exploded in her mouth and very core of her body was warmed.
“Even the northern people struggle with the winter. I figured someone from the south, such as yourself, would find it especially difficult, so I’ve gone out of my way to have a dish prepared to warm your body.”
Meer was deeply touched by how considerate Lili was.
A huge pot of soup and a heap of bread decorated the table. The bread was about as big as one’s fist. Lili cut it and ate it after soaking it into the soup. When Meer imitated the way she ate, the cold hardened bread absorbed the hot soup to become soft and easy to eat once more.
It was a common combination, but Meer found it refreshing.
Fresh vegetables in cut bread, and then sandwiched with well-grilled meat. That was the dish called Wessen and it stimulated Meer’s appetite. She didn’t know if it was because of the soft bread or because of the easily chewable vegetable and spices, but it had a refreshing taste.
Meer nodded as Lili explained while enjoying her own plate of Wessen. Even digging up vegetable must be difficult in such a snowy place. It was curious too if vegetables could even grow under snow, but she put that aside for the time being.
Meer was far from a glutton, so the food served was more than enough for her.
She much preferred this than the Western Capital, where gluttony was justice, or Elrain Kingdom, which always served sheep, beef, or pork.
The green herbal tea after the meal was also effective at warming the body.
“I’m glad you enjoyed your meal.”
Meer was rubbing her belly after eating so much, but stopped after nodding with a blush.
As she sipped her green herbal tea, she started writing on her parchment so they could get to business.
—I have two concrete proposals to restore the economy here. The simple method would be to get support from the Western Capital, but this wasn’t advisable.
Lili nodded upon reading the contents of the parchment.
The Western Capital had already become a massive economic bloc, and places for people to spend their money, such as permanent markets and bath houses, were already being built. The Western Capital already had a steady source of income, so there was no reason for them to support the north.
But then in order to bring life to the economy, they need to rely on money from outside.
There was no constant source for that presently. They needed a source of constant income.
—Which brings us to the second method. Tourism and trade.
The story would be different if this were the former Shushunu region that shared a border with the minor countries, but this was a land far from the front lines, where the public order was rapidly improving and the traffic was gradually growing.
In the past, the merchants only came once a month, but now they would come once every 10 days. That’s not unrelated to the prosperity of the Western Capital.
—If you go the Western Capital, you’ll never die from hunger.
The Western Capital has grown so much much under the hands of the Governor-General of the Western Capital, Yoshu, that a rumor like that has been going around. The roads were wide, maintained, and connected to the other cities, and the economic promotion plan, that could be said to be spearheaded by Alrodena Kingdom, invested a lot of human and financial resources into the construction and maintenance of the roads.
The adventurers guild is always hiring people, so merchants gather to provide lodging, food, as well as sell other things to the adventurers. Countless merchants, from peddlers to traders to slave traders, supply these adventurers with goods, and then they rely on the roads to replenish their supplies and make their way back.
At the core of this giant system was the Western Capital.
Naturally, when so much money was circulating, rich people would be born.
And a portion of these nouveau rich would purchase luxury goods, such as going out on a trip. In fact, not just them, even normal people might want to go on a trip once their budget allows it. Seeing sights that one normally can’t see, eating food that one normally can’t eat, talking with people that one normally can’t meet.
That’s where the snow-buried north comes in.
It looked mediocre on the onset, but Meer was able to pinpoint exactly where the advantage of the Autonomous Cities lay.
As she walked by the window, she quietly picked up the Furo flower pot meant for decoration and brought it before Lili. Meer charmingly smiled and offered that pot to the prince before her.
In the future, it would be said that it was around the winter of the third year of the King’s Calendar that the ancestor of the travel agencies, the Aureya Store, was founded. Sightseeing in the northern autonomous city, said to be particularly popular among wealthy young girls, was a luxury so grand it was said that the governor-general Lili Aureya herself would personally escort the tourists unless it was too busy.
Because of that the price was aptly high, but they succeeded in acquiring many patrons.
Hot meals – that were often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the cities – were served, and during the snowy season, the local hero and renowned swordsman, Lily, would personally take care of their patrons while they listened to the sound of snow. It was a big hit among young children who yearned for her, rich people driven by their desire for prestige, and the ladies who wanted to be pampered by a young knight.
Four years later she would put an end to the project, but by that time, the tourism in the north had already turned into a craze among the upper class.
In the summer, tourists would come to find reprieve from the heat and enjoy the cold, and in the winter, tourists would come to see the snow that was alien to the south. Under Lili’s reign, the economy of the northern city did not decline but steadily advanced.
On the other hand, few knew of the actions of the Silent Beauty in the north.
After seeing her own proposals come to fruition, she quietly left the north and returned to the Western Capital. Or perhaps she herself was dumbfounded by how well that plan went, but she herself never said anything about it, so no one really knows.
One thing for sure was that her friendship with Lili Aureya continued.
Their relationship continued for many years, and they always gave each other gifts every season. Later on, when Mia was in conflict with a political enemy, Lili Aureya rushed to her side with her magic sword and repaid her friendship.
In the flower language, the Flower of Furo means…