32. The Republic of Ninorsk
Why would warships from the United Kingdom come to Arkhangelsk at this point of time?
I immediately understood the answer.
When we rushed to welcome them into the drawing room of the mansion, three Sterling merchants entered.
All three wore well-tailored cloaks, indicating they were wealthy merchants.
“Good day to you, Your Highness Alexander.”
The one who spoke was the skinny merchant in the middle. His name, if I recalled properly, was Robert Clive.
He was a board member of the state-owned trading company of the United Kingdom of Sterling. He also commanded the army. His warships must had been what entered Arkhangelsk’s port.
In the drawing room, Alex-sama and I sat side-by-side while the merchants sat on the opposite side of the table.
“For what purpose did you come?”
Alex-sama asked Clive with a nervous expression. By the way, both the other party and us spoke in the Orleans language.
The language of the Orleans empire, which was a developed nation, was a diplomatic language common to all continents.
Clive smiled gently.
“The issue with the iron mines is quite regretful. I heard that mining will be impossible due to it clashing against the will of the royal capital.”
“Indeed, and we’re in the process of finding an alternative.”
“Then, is there any possibility of resuming the iron mining?”
“Although that isn’t the case, I believe we’ll be able to do something about it by exporting our forestry resources, instead.”
Alex spoke with confidence, but his voice was quivering a little.
We certainly borrowed money on the premise of developing iron mines, but the export of our forestry resources should help the Arkhangelsk industry.
By all means, it wasn’t a bad proposition for Sterling merchants.
Regardless, if the money didn’t come back, those merchants would be in trouble.
Having considered that, Alex-sama proposed a plan to export coniferous trees as ship materials.
However, Clive dismissed it.
“There’s no guarantee of success.”
“I’ll have to admit that I don’t have a track record, but if you give me time, it’ll soon prove successful. Shouldn’t it be no problem to wait a little bit more?”
“Your Highness seems to be misunderstanding. We loaned money to the Margrave of Arkhangelsk because we expected its iron exports to develop the territory. However, the situation is different, now.”
“But if you don’t get the money back, you’ll be troubled as well.”
“That isn’t the case, Your Highness. Please read the contract carefully. We have the port of Arkhangelsk as a collateral.”
I was shocked.
That was their intention all along.
The port was designated as collateral—as in, something to offer if the debt couldn’t be repaid.
In our current state, if we couldn’t return the money…
“Instead of letting us pay off our debt, you want to claim the port?”
“That’s right. In fact, I think that the focusing on your forestry resources is indeed in good sense. However, we want to do that ourselves.”
That’d be more profitable as a merchant. If they were to have a port and territory, they’d be able to directly operate their business and trade consistently.
However, that was akin to foul play. If they were to assume control of the land, they wouldn’t be developing or managing it. They’d just forcibly seize its resources.
Certainly, the port of Arkhangelsk was independent. However, it was still an important piece of territory to the country.
Would the Kingdom of Rushie hand said territory to foreign merchants?
When I asked that question, Clive turned the pen in his hand.
“A good question, but I already settled it with the high-ranking government officials.”
“…It seems that you did your homework.”
Clive went silent as he smiled.
In such a short period of time, the story grew deeper.
Indeed, this was too fast for the merchants to learn our mining rights had been rescinded.
Judging from how solid their setup was, there could only be one conclusion—
“—You colluded with the second prince faction.”
“That’s such a strong phrase to use. We merely shared information and cooperated effectively.”
So, they ARE colluding…
In other words, Clive purposefully lent us money on the condition that the mine excavation progressed. The purpose was to enable them to claim the port once we were unable to repay our debt.
The second prince faction deliberately took away our mining rights. By doing so, Clive and the other merchants would be able to claim the harbor. In return, they’d offer a share of their profits to the second prince faction.
When I voice of my series of guesswork, Alex-sama’s complexion turned deep blue.
Clive thus smiled deeply.
My assumptions seemed to be correct.
Clive hit the table steadily.
“In the end, the strong will win. The ones who can’t protect themselves will be destroyed. Your Highness Alexander—you’re but an incompetent loser.”
Alex-sama stood up and slammed his fist against the desk. Then, without saying anything, he sat down.
At this rate, we’ll lose our territory.
I’ll lose my home with Alex-sama.
Not to mention, that merchant insulted Alex-sama.
Therefore, the conflict must be resolved without fail.
I began to think—for Alex-sama, for Arkhangelsk, and for myself.
I hit the table and pointed at a section of the contract.
“Even if the mining has stopped, there should be a grace period until repayment is due. If I recall correctly, it is two months.”
“While that may be true, from where will you raise those funds during that time?”
Clive mocked me.
Alex-sama stared at me anxiously.
I smiled back at Alex-sama.
“Please rest assured. I believe that there’s still another way.”
We borrowed investment funds from the United Kingdom of Sterling.
Then, we could just refinance from another foreign country.
The Republic of Ninorks.
The neighboring country to the North was my last straw.
***T/N: Uh… is borrowing money to solve a debt a wise decision to make?
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