"He is most likely my brother or a friend of his, a haughty noble owning the town of Ropian. (IRL Ropczyce) While my brother is the main reason for my troubles, he is rather a calm man, even if he likes to revel in his schemes, but if it's Peter… Then the situation will take the turn for worse."
As if her previous mishap still clouded her mind, the girl spoke in riddles, instead of giving me concrete information that I could base my approach on. While learning about the names of my potential discussion adversaries, I actually wanted to get some clues about their character and aims!
Even after checking out my system, I only learned that this guy was the owner of the city of Ropian, a major trading hub despite being a relatively small city. With its location even better than that of a Tarnow or Pilzno, it was the next stop on the main tract that connected the capital city of Krakow with the rich and big city of Resovia.
Speaking of that famous route, either by chance or by the ruling of the previous kings, the entire road connecting the capital of Crown with the major city of Lwow, serving as the secondary capital of red Ruthenia was separated into five parts, with Tarnow, Resovia and Premysl serving as the major checkpoints, each separated by two other big towns that lacked this last push that could allow them to rival with those important places.
And just like Brzesko was the last real stop on the route from Krakow to Tarnow, so did Ropian stood as the last station before one could cover the route from Tarnow to Resovia.
There was something really wrong with this setup. While I understood that the law that made all the nobles equal in its face was one thing and the real way of socialising and doing politics was another thing, how come all the people I was meeting just so happened to own one city after another?
At this rate, before long, I would be introduced to the mayor of Sandomir, who also served the role of the governor of the entire province of Sandomir, encompassing all the three cities within its borders!
"Can you tell me something more about that Peter guy? It's not like I know personally are the nobles from the province!"
What one would consider a really small distance in the future, equated to a few days worth of travel by horse in the current times. While there were people that loved to live their lives freely and travel all along the country and visiting their own lands only when their budgets dried off and forced them to restock at the family treasure, if I took the information the system was providing about other people as the knowledge possessed by the body I owned before I actually started owning it, then I certainly didn't belong to this sort of people!
As such, even though the name of this other guy was familiar to the system, the only information I had on him was what Matsu told me already back at the lower castle and the fact he owned this city!
"If it's Peter… I think I have all the reasons to think that he likes me. Even before I escaped, he already made his advances clear, even going as far as asking for my hand. Back then, when I refused to promise myself to him, he took it rather nicely, but with the passing of the years, if his passion didn't change, I'm worried he might still want to kidnap me to the wild steppes of rus (common name for Ruthenia), get some priest to marry me to him and seal the marriage with force!"
Oh fuck. Now I understand why just the mention of the envoy appearance pushed her off balance! A fight with the Pilzno alone would be rather easy, as Tarnow was still way more influential than it, putting me on a higher spot if I were to vie for Elia's hand, but if both her family and the noble from another important, trading city were to be placed on the other arm of the scale, even with governor's mediation, I couldn't be certain about the outcome!
In this world, I was the only one who knew about the fact, that our newly appointed King would escape to France in just a few months. Everyone else was on their toes, doing their very best to make the best impression on the new monarch in order to potentially rack some favours. Sandomir's governor was bound to be the same!
I could already tell how would he react to a conflict brewing in the south of his province, the part closest to the capital, right after the coronation ceremony!
"That really is bad news, but it's not something we can change just by standing here and debating. Do you wish to accompany me during my talk with him?"
Turning around on the spot, I approached the big closet in the corner of the room and started looking through the robes stored inside. From the expensive zupans made from all sorts of the materials, through the coats with the fur on the inside for the colder days all the way to the light tunics… I really had the clothes to choose from!
(Zupan - kind of male, long, tight skirt, with long sleeves, worn by all classes, with the material and colour of the cloth changing between them. Red, violet and blue were reserved for the nobles, yellow worn mostly by the citizens, black by the jews while grey and white by the commoners)
After taking out a few pieces in the prevailing tone of crimson that betrayed the aspiration of my household to reach the highest level of nobility, albeit unformal, in the commonwealth, I placed them on the bed before looking back at Elia.
"I want to be there as well. I hope you didn't want me to drop the meeting that might decide my fate!"
Slightly pouting as if I insulted her just by asking the question, she approached the doors, taking the hint of me taking the clothes out. With a slight nod of her head, she went out of the room and closed the doors behind her.
With my privacy now restored, I took of simple pants and a long shirt that accompanied me on the journey and washed my face in the bail of water beside the closet. As soon as I reached the point where I couldn't get any cleaner without taking an actual bath, I pulled the crimson zupan through my head on my body and added my trusty belt to the combination.
The next part consisted of covering my back with blue contus, before gathering the cloth around my waist and taking my time while binding the contus belt, the most recognisable and annoying part of the outfit. With this damned piece of cloth being over three meters long, I had to wrap it a few times around my waist before finally being able to settle it properly!
(contus - loose, long skirt without sleeves, only worn by the nobility)
With my real belt hidden under the contus one, I had to lose the strings that kept my sabre to it, so that it hung freely around my side, instead of being tightly bound to it and allowing a fast and sure draw. If not for the fact that I was indoors and for what I knew, I wasn't going outside any time soon, I decided against wearing my fancy cap.
After my change of look from an average traveller to a proper, high noble, I went outside the room only to met with Elia, waiting patiently for me while resting her back against the wall. While I would love to offer her a spare change of clothes, contrary to modern times, if a woman dared to wear male clothes, not only would she end up being mocked to no end, in some cases her reputation could be ruined for life, with various pesky rumours going around the entire country and creating some sort of legendary figure to laugh at the parties!
"That's one impressive look. Is your clan wearing crimson from your dad to your granddad?"
Referring to an old saying, based on the fact that using crimson clothes not only indicated one's status, but also was a privilege given and revoked by the king, meaning that not only one's household had its roots firmly set in the history, but also never dared to betray the monarch! Even in modern times, there were still the legends about one household whose ancestor betrayed the King and actually attempted to assassinate him, only for the next seven whole generations be subjected to harsh life and only after amassing valorous deeds would they recover the right to wear this beautiful colour!
"Thanks. Let's hope it will make as big of an impression on the envoy as it did on you. Maybe it would make the talks easier…"
There was no denying that the incoming meeting could very well decide the future of not only Elia but mine as well. If it came to a clash, this originally small conflict that I didn't really consider as a serious hindrance to my plans, would lead to the clash encompassing entire south of the Sandomir Province, giving me the chance to potentially become an officially recognised magnate just in time to sit at the table with other princes as an equal!
As I was changing my clothes, I made sure to scan the various options of the system and learned about the only thing other than beer that I could produce right away in order to give my land a proper, developmental boost.
With the new king rising to power after signing various articles that nobility forced on him, I would have no troubles coaxing the crown into financing a project focused on improving the state of the roads in the province. While commonwealth was a great country, its lack of proper infrastructure was already widely known, only to turn legendary in the history books of modern times!
As long as I would be able to settle the production site properly, get the founding and infuse it into developing this branch of primary industry… My lands would utter in the era of welfare while putting the entire market of the enormous commonwealth at my feet!
Just as I was about to dive deep into the world of dreams and ambitions while pushing the thought that I had yet to test the system in any way to the back of my mind, Elia moved away from the wall, looking at me with a pondering expression on her face.
It seemed I took too long enjoying my own thoughts!
"Let's go! The time isn't waiting for anyone. The sooner we will start this meeting, the sooner we will get over with it!"
With Elia face-covering in a blush, she swiftly pulled her skirt up on her shoulders and covered her cleavage with her hands. Being the good gentleman - or rather noble - I was, I tactfully turned my eyes away, giving her the chance to fix the buttons of her shirt.