Ardis who moved separately from Riana and Sharu walked towards the downtown where the commoners live.
After contacting the target with the predetermined code and procedure, he waited at the empty dining hall for about an hour.
Eventually, Chezare, the information broker showed up in the quiet place. Approaching Ardis who hid himself in a hood, he started with a complaint.
「Since you’re calling me when I’m so busy, won’t you at least treat me to something cold? 」
「Is there even any cold things here? 」
「You can just make it cold anyways. 」
Saying so as a matter of fact, Chezare ordered fruit juice from the shop owner, and sat at the same table with Ardis.
Chezare then pushed the glass of fruit juice towards Ardis, smiling mischievously while saying 「Magic sure is convenient」.
Ardis clicked his tongue lightly, then held the glass, creating three small ice cubes in there.
「Thank you. It’ll be your treat okay? 」
Chezare took the glass back from Ardis. The ice slowly melting made a clang sound.
「Ah, of course it’s just a procedural fee for calling me out here, information will still be charged separately. 」
「Even I wouldn’t demand information for a glass of juice. 」
A glass of cold drink might be able to get Ardis something but, there’s no doubt what he will get is only a smidgen.
Most likely, Chezare would probably only disclose about what Riana and Sharu can easily get from the streets.
「Fufufu. Iyaa, Ardis-san is really a good customer. I have to face so many idiots normally. 」
「Leave the chatter, you said you’re busy right? 」
「Oh my. 」
Smiling bitterly, the gentleman changed the topic with an 「Anyways」.
「The information you’re looking for at this time, it’s surely about the war right? 」
「Yeah. Has the war started already? 」
The answer to Ardis’s question was unexpected.
「They still haven’t. Seems like the two armies are still glaring at each other at the border. 」
「……It’s unexpected. 」
「Right, it’s certainly unexpected. Last time they crossed the border before the Kingdom was ready, but seems like they’re not doing that this time. Either they have some kind of plot, or they were too slow……」
After saying that much, Chezare flung his glossy front bangs unsuited for the poor looking dining hall.
「And that’s the end of free service for my dear customer. It’s charged from hereon, what do you want to know? 」
The slight brownish eyes were looking straight at Ardis.
「The thoughts of the two armies’ upper echelons, what happened thus far after they started glaring at each other, information from the Empire, and also the reinforcement that caused the defeat of the Kingdom four years ago――, their presence this time around. 」
「So it’s a full course I see. Then I will be taking four gold for that. 」
Not complaining Chezare’s price tag, Ardis quietly took out four gold coins and put it on the table.
After verifying each of the coin’s weight, wetting his throat with the cold fruit juice, he started talking.
「Let’s see. First, about the war potential, there’re about six thousand soldiers on the Empire side. 」
「Six thousand? That’s less. Didn’t they have more than ten thousand last time around? 」
Ardis had a question at the unexpected fewer number.
「Yes, they had twelve thousand four years ago. The reinforcement they got was two thousand men, so in reality there’re ten thousand imperial soldiers. 」
「That reinforcement……, it was from San Rojuel Monarchy, right. Are they around this time? 」
It is the army that had chivalries riding on horses known as flying horses, hailing from the northern continent as reinforcement to the Empire.
Taking down the third prince of the Kingdom who was the commanding general, they were the ultimate factor that made the Empire won the last war.
Contrarily, they’re the most feared foe for the Kingdom.
「There’s no signs of them at the border where the two army are having a standoff. However, there weren’t any news that they had cut off ties with the Empire, so there’s still a chance that they will be interfering in one way or another. 」
「Possibility of them moving in another unit? 」
Since there’re unexpectedly less imperial soldiers at the border, and not a presence of the San Rojuel people, it’s natural to wonder about that.
The first thing to suspect is whether they will be flanking the Kingdom army or not, or attacking with another route.
「I can’t deny that. The Kingdom’s brains have people that think so too, so the Kingdom hasn’t put out everyone to the border. Probably thanks to fewer Imperial soldiers at the border too, only about seventy percent of the army, five thousand five hundred soldiers were deployed to the border, there’re still a thousand two hundred in reserve here in the capital. Since the army from Thoria or other further territories hasn’t arrived yet, totalling all of them would probably reach two thousand five hundred or so. 」
Two thousand five hundred is not a number that can be considered enough. However, since there’s still a need to guard the border, it can’t be helped if there’s a shortage.
「In total eight thousand huh……. It’s unknown how much the Empire is hiding behind its back but, it’s still lesser than expected. 」
The Kingdom that suffered devastating defeat in the last war is still recovering.
Although it’s much better now than when the war just ended, even so, four years is still too limited of a time.
It’s far to call it fully recovered, is the situation that the Kingdom army is now in. On the other hand, the Empire didn’t suffer much in comparison.
「The Empire suffered lesser damage than the Kingdom, isn’t it strange that they can’t even move soldiers at least on the par with four years ago? 」
「Regarding that, it’s another country’s matter, so I don’t have clear information……. But……」
Chezare brought up an explanation that differed to Ardis’s thoughts.
「After the war four years ago, although it wasn’t severe enough for a full out civil war, there’re many powerful nobles stripped of their title. It might be they are lacking people now. 」
That was entirely Ardis’s fault. The previous war, because of Ardis’s action, there’re a lot of nobles’ relative that died in the end of the war.
Especially when the head of the largest faction in the Empire, Duke Tangram’s son died in the war, the Duke no longer trusted the Emperor, and banded with other nobles, causing the Empire to almost spiral into a civil war.
However, it seems like the Emperor had passed down his judgement a hairline before that could happen.
As a result, they were able to avoid a civil war, but naturally, many nobles were cut off.
In either the Kingdom or the Empire, more than half of their forces are from territorial army of nobles.
The lesser the nobles they have, the lesser the soldiers they have.
「Is six thousand the most that the Empire can move? 」
「It’s only a minority that are thinking positively like that. Even though not that optimistic, there’re opinions such as 『Could this just be a demonstration from the Empire? 』. After all, the imperial army hasn’t crossed the border, so technically, it’s not like a war had started yet. 」
The ice melting in Chezare’s glass made a sound again.
「And it seems like the Imperial army is behaving very well at the border. They didn’t even build a base, nor did they provoke the Kingdom, it’s not really very tense. Because of that, there’re some officers on the Kingdom side thinking that they’re not going to attack for real. 」
After taking a sip of the fruit juice to rehydrate, the gentleman continued.
「It’s logical to think that there’re fewer soldiers because it’s just a demonstration. Most seem to think they’re just testing the Kingdom’s response to an approaching invasion. Of course, that’s also a minority, After all, they even called the army from faraway territories in case a war really broke out. 」
「The territorial army have their hardships too. If it’s really just a demonstration, the Kingdom would really have been played by the Empire well. 」
Shrugging at Ardis, Chezare seemed to ridicule, 「Though it’s not just the Kingdom that’s being played. 」
After all, regarding the event this time, it’s not just the Kingdom that is in confusion.
For Chezare, it might be a golden time to earn but, for people like Ardis and Michelle, the demerits outweighed the merits.
「Well, it’s still better than having a war break out. Even though better than four years ago right after the defeat, the Kingdom hasn’t recovered its army enough yet. For the Kingdom, it’s better to save the clashes for later. Of course, I can’t say the same for the Empire.」
In the end, it depends on the decision of the Empire.
「Honestly, there’re still a lot I don’t know about the Empire now. Rather, I would buy beneficial information for a high price. 」
Saying so, Chezare leaned out a little and asked Ardis.
「How about it, would you consider going for a trip to the Empire? 」
「Sorry but I’m quite busy despite looking like this. I can’t be away from my home for a long time. 」
On the other hand, Ardis’s answer was rude.
「Well, it’s just an idea. In any case, even if going to the Empire now, thinking about the round trip, the war might’ve even ended at that point. 」
For Ardis, if he wanted it, he could easily return within two days. Of course, Chezare who didn’t know about it only gave his idea as a joke.
「If you’re going to stay in the capital for a while, I can tell you more when the news come. Of course, it’s on another bill. 」
「No, I intend to leave after this. I’m quite famous here after all. 」
「Looks like it. It still happens occasionally but, there’re still people wanting to know where did you go showing up. Of course, it’s not like I know where you’re staying at now. 」
「Right. That’s the smart choice. Today, I only shared a table in this dining hall coincidentally, and coincidentally treated you with some fruit juice. And, you just blabbered whatever while you’re drinking your fruit juice. 」
「I guess so. And for some reason, there’re more gold coins in my pouch after I blabbered, though it’s probably my imagination. 」
「Yeah, it is. 」
After grinning at each other, Ardis left the shop, and walked towards another direction.