In the end, I expected the greatest challenge to turn into finding this money in this enormous mansion but be it our luck, or just Elia's family overconfidence, just by looking through a small number of hideouts that my fake fiance knew about, we managed to find enough gold to finance a small army of mercenaries, strong enough to wage war against one of the smaller princedoms in the Holy Roman Empire! (For those who don't know, it was federation-like gathering on an insane number of small princedoms(at times, even reaching 400!) with huge autonomy, theoretically governed by the Emperor elected by a selected Electors, meaning, a princess with the right to vote. Modern-day, Germany and Austria)
But while I was happy to enjoy the spoils and plan the next immediate moves, it was Elia who brought a change both to the mood and my pace.
"This time seriously…"
Grabbing my attention as I continued to delve into the complicated mess of connections and information from the handbook, Elia ignored the fact that her plain, manly to some point, the outfit didn't fit the situation, before gracing me with a deep and gracious curtsey. While I wasn't from this age and couldn't really tell whether the way she moved was filled with mistakes or was a perfectly executed, noble bow, there was no denying that with how intricate her movements were, even if I wanted to repeat this deed myself, without days of prior training, I wouldn't be unable to do so.
"... thank you for your help with recovering my heirloom."
Bowing herself deep enough for her rather tight dress to still reveal just enough of her modest cleavage to ignite some sparks in my blood, she suddenly raised her body and rushed forward, throwing her hands around my neck as she pressed her entire self against me in a deep embrace.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Continuously rubbing her face against the angle between my neck and my shoulder, Elia's entire body was trembling in joy, as if the weight that her shoulders had to carry for all this time ever since she fled her own house was finally lifted.
But I still couldn't get over the way she reacted back in front of the magistrate. While I internally knew that my behaviour wasn't really mature, with how hurt I was by this relatively small thing, I wasn't a damn perfect guy!
While on the outside, I had to keep the facade of being a charismatic and wise noble, unshakable by the events surrounding me, on the inside, no matter how much I enjoyed myself in this world, I was still the same person, the kid of my age.
Years of sexualisation through all the media possible, relaxation of moral code and culture changing from the one that forced everyone to respect intimacy to one that promoted openness, while glorious in some of its aspects, quickly went out of hand.
Instead of increased awareness of the health problems related to one's sex, people were turned into animals, as if in an attempt to control them through their basic needs like food, shelter and sexual fulfilment. While some might enjoy the fact that scoring a girl was never easier than in the times of my college, with the basic moral spine, I never could enjoy such a thing.
I was born both too early and too late. Too early to explore the space and be forced into the strict rule of respecting everyone and myself foremost, and too late to understand the intricacies of relationships before the sexual revolution!
"Okay, noted. But it's not really a time and place now. Getting rid of the scum doesn't mean our hands are free now!"
Pushing Elia's body away, I couldn't help but wonder what her real intentions were. Maybe I was overreacting? Maybe I was right about her treating it as nothing more than a business relationship, with our intimate moments caused solely by extensive use of alcohol? While those questions had to be answered at some point, for now, I preferred to focus on the tasks at hand.
"Why? I don't think there is anything that requires us to hurry!"
Compared to Elia, who just recovered her wealth and finished the dire chapter of her life, this was the moment of greatest elation. On the other hand, I was painfully aware of how little time did I have to create foundations strong enough to sustain the storm that was about to come.
"And what if they knew that we were coming? Considering the fact that your suitor caught the news that we did our best to spread, how could they not be aware of the fact?"
Even if this matter was already done, I couldn't help but feel that it all went far too easy than it should go. I was even prepared to use the cement to seal off the gates and call it a God's retribution on the city for the sins of its former guardians, yet everything went smoother than I expected, saving me from wasting this precious material and risking population's outrage if they were to learn about it.
"Didn't you threaten them to send your people after them? If not, what was the point in making them travel to the other city on foot?"
While tilting her head to the side in puzzlement, Elia still kept hold of my hands, as if unwilling to let go in order to enjoy this moment alone. With how I was unsure how our relationship would end, this slight gesture of her was causing me quite a bit of anxiety.
"I just wanted them to focus on watching their back instead of looking for ways to meddle with our business. And as for why we need to hurry, while it's impossible to leave today, I aim to depart first thing in the morning. That's why we need to settle everything that requires my presence as soon as possible."
With her grip on my hands suddenly tensing up, I could tell how surprised she was by this revelation. It was almost unnatural for me to leave so soon, but with the need to monitor the development of all the early investments I made in Tarnow, not to speak about all the other things I had in mind, there was no way for me to enjoy my leisure time here!
After getting rid of the nuisance of the day, we could finally get to split the spoils. While not literally, as taking over the city meant that along with all its riches, Elia took all the burdens that came with governing it on herself as well, there was still a big enough field to enjoy ourselves with the newly found wealth. Just a few minutes with the notebook that I found were enough to calculate the estimated amount of funds that her family embezzled from the city cashflow!