That proposal took Tasuku completely by surprise. There was no need to even talk about the reason.
Since Tasuku had no part in the development of LP farming at all.
「What do you mean? I haven’t been involved in the development at all though………」
「Only until now. But from here on out, for spreading out LP farming we’ll use the Sumeragi’s name」
From his words, Tasuku remembered something. Within Juno’s report, there was information that “his behavior in front of his parents is different”.
He had thought of it as just the difference between his behavior in front of his relatives and others, but a single possibility went across his mind.
It was that Harold might be hiding his own ability from his parents. If they had known about his capability, they would have tried to show his appeal much more when they had first come to decide on the engagement.
Adding onto that, Harold himself had hinted at the fall of the Stokes house in the letter. That meant………
「Harold-kun doesn’t think of it as a good plan for your parents to know about LP farming?」
「As expected, I well understand my parents’ personality」
If they knew about LP farming, in all probability it would advance towards the development that Tasuku feared. Harold was convinced of it.
That was why, he had come here like this to ask for the Sumeragi’s cooperation.
「Moreover, I don’t have enough pawns. If I increase the trial farmhouses any more than this, I won’t be able to monitor them」
He understood what Harold was trying to say here.
He wanted to enlarge this operation without letting his parents become aware of it. For that sake, there were limits if he continued as it was.
Since it was such a ground-breaking method, there was a need to control its management completely so as to prevent any information leaks. And to do so, since the human resources he could gather wasn’t enough he had brought this proposal to the Sumeragi.
「But why to my side? If there were this much profits, I think that anybody would jump at it」
「It was just that with the conditions I wanted fulfilled, you were the easiest one to cooperate with」
This was a bluff. If Tasuku shook his head horizontally, Harold would be in a predicament since he had no other intermediaries.
But since he understood Tasuku’s personality and knew about his weakpoint, he would use his a certain thing as leverage.
「If you refuse, I just need to reach out to the 2nd or the 3rd candidate. Well, that won’t be necessary though」
「You think that I would absolutely accept this proposal?」
「Right, you have no choice but to do that」
Absolute confidence no matter what. What was it that made him think like that. Tasuku didn’t think he would just come here with a strong stance without any basis. Rather, he seemed as though he would use logic to cut off the opponent’s path of retreat beforehand.
(Wait, block the path of retreat? No way……..!)
An unpleasant bead of sweat rolled down Tasuku’s cheek.
Due to a sudden flash of insight, he connected together the scattered pieces and formed an answer. As soon as he reached that answer, chills to the extent of freezing his spine ran through Tasuku.
That voice which carried an ominous sharpness as though it were the scythe of the Death God, struck Tasuku’s ears.
「……….Were you anticipating this situation from the beginning?」
「So what? Would it change your answer?」
Tasuku closed his eyes. Like Harold said, his answer wouldn’t change.
In any case, since Erika had been put on the scales, he could do nothing other than agree.
「So, this was what 『Offering industrial techniques』 informed in the letter meant, huh………」
Tasuku dropped his shoulders and muttered. The reason was Erika’s engagement annulment.
His daughter had accepted a restrained future out of responsibility, and they weren’t her true feelings. Harold himself had suggested in the letter that he didn’t mind even if it was annulled.
The conditions to accept it were- to compound the the resistance drug and to improve the condition of infected patients by using it, to quarantine the estimated maximum pollution area of the miasma, and also to restore their economic power by implementing the offered industrial techniques.
At that time, he had thought of it as just some nonsense or coercion of a 3rd party.
But if it became that all the contents of that letter were written by this boy, then the situation would be different. Not as a head of the family, but as a father, those terms were extremely attractive.
That there were no disadvantageous parts in Harold’s proposal also backed his decision.
He might have intentionally written the letter in a manner which didn’t suit his age, like an adult. By doing so Harold had insinuated that there was a mastermind, and since Tasuku had entertained that suspicion, he hadn’t even reached the possibility that Harold himself might have written the letter. Even though he had received the report from Juno.
In other words, from the time Tasuku had received that letter, he had done nothing more than move around on Harold’s palm. To bring out this situation, from how long had he been acting.
In front of the preparations which seemed as though Harold had predicted the future, he was in utter shock.
「Certainly, it’s attractive enough to jump at it spontaneously……….But what is the reason for you to care about the Sumeragi to such an extent?」
If he had just wanted to increase his intimacy with the Sumeragi, then the things he had already offered were more than enough. And moreover, there was no way he would want to annul the engagement which was the firmest connection.
Without being able to read Harold’s intentions, Tasuku’s confusion only intensified.
But that was natural. Harold was only moving for the sake of thoroughly evading his death flags which would fall in the future, and from the people who didn’t know about this, reading his intentions was almost impossible.
Even if he were to explain, there was no way Tasuku would understand, and he also didn’t have any intention of explaining.
「Even if I tell it to you, it’s not like you would……….No, it’s something that nobody other than me could understand」
That tone seemed like self-depreciation. Looking at Harold, who was fearless until now, taking that kind of attitude, Tasuku was at a loss for words.
As though waiting for that unguarded moment, Harold pressed for an answer.
「So, what will you do? If you say that you can’t trust me, then this negotiation is over」
Certainly, if asked whether Harold was trustworthy, he still wouldn’t be able agree.
But it wasn’t definite that his goal would harm the Sumeragi, and if Tasuku were to accept this proposal, the Sumeragi house, their populace and even Erika’s future could be saved.
If said in other words, Harold was going so far to do this. Even this matter, if Tasuku was made to forcibly accept it, it would be almost impossible for him to raise an objection.
Even though Harold was in a position that was overwhelmingly advantageous for him, to the end he just brought the discussion over in the form of a proposal.
Although it looked like Tasuku had no choice to refuse, that was wrong. If he closed his eyes off thinking of Erika’s engagement as a sacrifice, refusing would be possible. If that happened, the connection between the Stokes house and the Sumeragi house would become unshakeable, and even without LP farming they could just receive financial aid from the Stokes as agreed upon before.
Or rather, with this proposal Harold was the one who had to take a risk. And that too, normally thinking it was a risk he didn’t need to take.
It was easily imaginable that he had invested a considerable amount of time and money on developing the resistance drug. Even though he had done that much, with there being the danger of the situation coming to nothing, he had left the decision to Tasuku in the end.
(It’s not easy to do this………..)
He honestly thought that. Was made to think like that.
If he thought about it carefully, Harold was moving so that there weren’t any losses to the Sumeragi.
Normally, if one was brought such a convenient proposal, nobody would easily accept. They would doubt the other party, investigate for suspicious points, and if their doubt wasn’t cleared, they would refuse. Even Harold’s proposal was like that.
That decision as a result would link to the possibility of simply letting go of the profit which they could have obtained.
But Harold had expressly prepared a rationalization like “Erika’s engagement could be annulled”. So that it would be easy for Tasuku to accept the proposal. Although it seemed that it was thought of as being over interpreted as good will, nothing else could explain why Harold hadn’t broken down the appearances of a discussion to the extent of bearing unnecessary risks.
(Even though it could be that he is using this train of thought, in that case, opposing wouldn’t help. No matter what, it’s my complete defeat)
Tasuku slowly exhaled the large breath he had taken in. He raised his head which was bent downwards, and gazed firmly at Harold’s eyes.
「I accept this time’s proposal」
That was Tasuku’s answer.
「Although it was predetermined, well I’ll praise you for your prompt decision. In a few days, prepare some of the people who work under you and the fields owned by the Sumeragi. To start with, I’ll drive into them the know how of LP farming」
「Will only that much be fine?」
「After that, according to my estimation in a few years a large scale company will be necessary. One which keeps information confidential and which can be trusted. I’ll leave that judgement to you」
「I see. After solidifying the foundation, we’ll co-operate with the company and increase the number of fields which can be managed and later on, sell the technique through the company, right?」
「It seems like you have a better head than my pawns」
Though he was condescending, inwardly Harold was astonished at how good Tasuku’s conjecture was. Since he had obtained a very reliable colleague, Harold was completely satisfied. Even if he wanted to sell the technique, he wanted to borrow the Sumeragi’s name to hide it from his parents- he was sure that Tasuku would read this intention of his even without telling him.
「Anything else that is required?」
When he was about to say it, Harold closed his mouth. He hesitated thinking whether it would be right to say it at this timing.
Sensing that, Tasuku extended a hand in complete good will.
「If there is something, I want you to request without holding back. If Harold-kun wants it, as much as possible I’ll try to help you」
「………Then prepare for a strong fellow. While I’m staying here I’ll accumulate one-on-one combat experience as much as possible」
To survive in this world, inter-personal combat strength was absolutely necessary. To obtain that which couldn’t be obtained in the Stokes’ mansion, Harold resolved himself and took a step forward.