“Huh? What are you talking about?”
Luke seemed confused, making Raul bewildered as well.
“I’ll just say, thank goodness you were here! I don’t know if we would have been able to drive away that Tree Dragon without you. It’s just a shame that it managed to knock you out with that last desperate attack.”
“…o-oy, what are you saying…?”
Raul was now even more bewildered by Luke’s fabricated tale.
“Huh? Didn’t you lead your army here to repel the Tree Dragon that came from the monster-infested forest? Did that blow you took mess your memories up?”
Raul finally realized what Luke’s intention was: to shift all the blame to that monster and make peace.
It left him quite dumbfounded.
“You…how much more do you want to make fun of me before you’re satisfied!?”
“I’m not making fun of you though. I’m just saying our interests overlap this time.”
“You want to keep being the heir of the Albert house, right? I, on the other hand, don’t want to be; I would much rather live my days in peace here in this village.”
Luke’s eyes were resolute when he said so, which made Raul acknowledge Luke’s sincerity.
“So, how about we move on like no battle happened between us? Of course, father would have to be kept in the dark on everything about me. Like that, we’ll both get what we want.”
For Raul who led 5,000 soldiers but still lost spectacularly, there might not be a better offer than this.
Nevertheless, his pride prevented him from accepting right away.
“You’ve successfully built a city in a barren wasteland within just a year. If you so wanted, you can take over the Albert territory, or even the country…hell, even the whole world might be up for the taking! Yet you expect me to believe that you’re perfectly content on being in this wasteland?”
“Tch…I can never understand what goes on in that head of yours…”
Raul clicked his tongue, expressed words of exasperation, and then sighed.
Despite being brothers, they valued things far too differently.
Raul sensed his hatred slowly fading away, and he even felt silly for being so agitated all this time.
As though understanding what Raul was feeling at the moment, Luke slid a portion of the iron bars aside and revealed an opening.
“What are you playing at now?”
“Huh? The negotiation’s over now, right?”
Despite his irritation, Raul exited out of the cell.
He was without a sword, but Raul figured he could still take down Luke. The only thing was, he no longer had a desire to.
Luke might have foreseen this, given how completely calm he was.
“Hmm, you look healthier than I expected. Good, good.”
“Oi, I just fainted for a bit.”
“For a bit? I wouldn’t exactly call three days ‘a bit’.”
“3 days!? I was out for 3 days!?”
“Yup. We treated your wounds right away, but you just weren’t waking up.”
Raul then understood why he was so hungry earlier.
But considering that three days have passed, his army—or what’s left of it—should have disbanded by now.
“Everyone’s still here though.”
◇ ◇ ◇
The city was bustling with activity.
Several shops stood side by side, and people were coming and going.
“A city like this was built within just a year…?”
Raul was astonished.
When he pushed to have Luke be exiled, he never imagined that the latter would be able to build such a magnificent city in an empty, barren wasteland within a year’s time.
“Grilled minotaur meat on a stick! Grilled minotaur meat on a stick! Fresh from the labyrinth!”
“Get your steamed bun filled with orc meat! Still piping hot!”
When savory scents drifted toward him, Raul noticed the unbelievable words that the barkers were shouting.
“Oi, don’t tell me it’s commonplace to sell minotaur and orc meat here…”
Raul—recalling the fantastic taste of the meat he had earlier—almost went toward the stalls, but somehow managed to endure.
Afterwards, Luke took him to a place with frighteningly large buildings.
“What, what are those…?”
“They’re called apartment buildings. Each one contains multiple dwellings called apartments. Anyway, your soldiers are staying there for the moment.”
“All 5,000 of them? You speak like accommodating them’s the easiest thing in the world…”