Minasan oideyasu. This is Yukkuri demasu!
DISCLAIMER: There is no guarantee that my translation is 100% correct. Please correct me if I was wrong.
The Man in Black Robed and the Sister General
On a certain day on the Second Month of 1547 CE (Continent Era)
On this day, The Famous 『Black Robed Prime Minister』, Hakuya Kwonmin and the Sister Princess and General of the Gran Chaos Empire, Jeanne Euphoria, held a negotiation through the quasi-receiver of the Royal Voice Broadcast Orb. The negotiations between the Kingdom and the Empire were mostly performed by these two, unless it was a case that needed King Souma and Empress Maria personally to discuss it.
『Hakuya-dono. First of all, please let me apologize for the Empire’s delay in appointing an Ambassador to the Friedonia Kingdom.』
The meeting of the day began with an apology from Jeanne.
『There were no people suitable for this post. A person who is trustworthy enough to be confided of our secret agreement and could see the kingdom as an equal ally is rather…….』
「…… Our country is not worthy as an equal?」
『I am sorry if this displeases you. However, there are many people who think like that. Of course, neither I nor Aneue have such thoughts. We have faith in the kingdom, Souma-dono, and also Hakuya-dono.』
Jeanne smiled at him and so Hakuya showed a wry smile.
「I believe …… You are overestimating us.」
『Is that so? …… Well, this is the side effect of a country that has expanded too much. There are too many people who misunderstand that the size of the land is the strength of the state and prestige.』
「…… They are not necessarily mistaken.」
The larger the country, the greater population. The increase in land and population itself would lead to the increase in productivity, which was directly related to military strength. But Jeanne shook her head.
『That is far from the correct answer. Do you think that Souma-dono would say such a remark?』
「…… Yes, he wouldn’t. His Majesty would seek for "people" at the foremost.」
After thinking for a while, Hakuya said his answer.
「He had said before that 【The people are your castles, your ramparts, your moat】.」
「【The people are your castles, your ramparts, your moat】 …… I see, what a good saying.】
Jeanne hummed as if she was admiring it. Hakuya said, 「Well, this is not an idiom that His Majesty had thought up himself. These seem to be the words of a military commander from the world His Majesty came from」. While he was spoilering it to Jeanne, he understood why Jeanne was impressed. Souma had also said that:
『These are the words of a Daimyo…… A strategist who once lived in the country where I come from, but the outline is also nearly the same as to what a political thinkers from a far western country had said. 「In the times of peace, the fortress in the inner region should be destroyed」. The time when a fortress is useful in peacetime would be when the people rebelled. 「If you depend on the fortress to perform tyranny, the people will disobey you and invite in foreign powers. Hence, you shouldn’t construct a fortress, but instead win over the people as your allies, so that you can be secure as a Ruler.」 It’s amusing that in the same era, there were similar sayings from the far east and far west.』
Souma was laughing, but Hakuya was deeply impressed by that saying. It was a saying that was so Souma-ish, someone who performs politics by learning from history. Perhaps it was because Souma studied the words of his predecessors and put them into a practice, that he gathered variously "talented" allies and even invited Hakuya. Jeanne nodded.
『My Aneue had also said something similar, that people are the foundation of the country.』
「……It seems that each of us are able to serve under a good ruler.」
『In my case, she is my blood relative…… But I believe that she is a good ruler. Though there are also a few unreliable points.』
When she mentioned this, Hakuya remembered the sight of the ruler, who usually would put importance in the usefulness of things, but he wouldn’t discard his affections towards his friends (more particularly his family). Sometimes this felt inefficient and there were times where this felt irritating, but strangely, he didn’t want that affection to be discarded.
「I am of the same opinion, but…… Isn’t that why we are supporting them?」
『That's true. Well then, let's start the negotiations. 』
Thus, the negotiations between the two began.
◇ ◇ ◇
『About your request to trade wheat from the Gran Chaos Empire pr the Friedonia Kingdom’s seasonings (soy sauce, miso etc.), I don’t have any objections towards this. Aneue is also really fond of that "soy sauce" seasoning. It really goes well with fish.』
「It also goes well with meat, shall I tell you a simple recipe?」
『It will be my pleasure…… However, hasn’t the food shortage in your country already been resolved?』
「It is just like you have said, but we still have anxiety about the reserves, so we would like to import to prepare for a crop failure this year.」
『I see…… By the way, we would like to produce those seasonings in our country too, so is it possible to arrange for the craftsmen?』
「In our country, the monopoly is still being held by the Faewolf Tribe…… but, it depends on the compensation.」
『I understand. How about a formula for a special production-boosting fertilizer?』
「I think that will suffice.」
――― A few minutes later.
『By the way, we had tried to produce a program using the Kingdom’s Royal Voice Broadcast as a reference ……』
「Hmm…… How was the response?」
『Although song programs and the others were largely popular, we never imagined that the most popular one would be a program that follows Aneue’s day-to-day movements. But, I don’t really understand what is interesting about it……』
「As expected from someone who is called the Holy Maiden. Maria-dono is really loved by the people, just like the 『 Number One Song Princess』 in our country.」
『My Aneue is unexpectedly absentminded in her private life, only her face is nice.』
「Well, I don’t know about that…… but indeed, her sister, Jeanne-donno is also beautiful.」
『Uu…… I never imagine to hear such flattery came directly from Hakuya-dono’s mouth.』
「But, I wouldn’t say a mere flattery at a negotiating table, you know?」
―――After tens of minutes
『About Souma-dono. Did he already develop an interesting technology that is unthinkable to us?』
「…… Hmm, did he?」
『Fufu, I will give a suitable equivalent compensation, so can you disclose even just a part of it?』
「Let’s see…… What about first disclosing the breeding and training method for the Griffons and perhaps you could lend us some breeding pairs?」
『Ah, that is impossible (*smile*).』
「In that case, please give up (*smile*).」
◇ ◇ ◇
Afterwards, the negotiations progressed smoothly in a friendly(?) mood. Actually, a negotiation was a tenacious venture, where both sides tried to bring it as many advantages as possible to their home country. However, since both Hakuya and Jeanne were sharp minded people, they understood the negotiations’ common ground from the very beginning, so they would just push each other ideas towards that common ground. Therefore, in just half an hour after the negotiations began, most of the negotiated points were finished. Jeanne then sighed.
『*sigh* Just like I thought, negotiating with Hakuya-dono progressed smoothly. I would like those hard-headed people back home to follow your example.』
「I agree…… But this will depend on the partner. It must be someone who you can rely to be honest and have the ability to properly find a common ground.」
『What you have said is correct…… Then, shall we have tea?』
Both of them stood up, and began to prepare their own share of tea. Since both of them were busy people, they allocated about one hour for the negotiations. However, since the negotiations between both of them proceeded so smoothly, it didn’t take that much time at all. Then at some point in time, it became part of their routine to chat or to complain about their rulers while having a cup of tea with the remaining unused allocated time. Although it was just through a simple receiver, both of them really enjoyed this time.
『Fuu…… Regarding the ambassador to Friedonia. I wish I could go, but』
When drinking the tea, Jeanne sighed and made this remark.
『Then, it will not be through the images, not a cup of tea, instead we can have a cup of liquor together……』
「…… As a non-drinker, liquor is kinda……」
Hakuya replied with a strained smile.
『Oh my, this is surprising.』
「I get drunk easily. And then I will fall sleep.」
『If it comes to that, then I will look after you.』
「That will be miserable for me as a man, so I'd like you not to do that.」
Jeanne’s smile gradually became smaller.
『Well, even if I had said that, I can’t leave the Empire. There are my duties, and also…… If I am gone, then Aneue will really become alone.』
「…… Become alone? Shouldn’t the Empire’s human resources number as many as the stars?」
『It’s not that kind of meaning. It’s about how vassals and family are different.』
Jeanne looked down with sad-looking eyes.
『Aneue desperately shoulders the Empire that she inherited. There are many vassals who have sworn their allegiance to Aneue. However, there is no one that can grant Anueu any peace of mind. Originally, that role should be the responsibility of our family, but since I am busy with my duties and the young third daughter is an eccentric…… So well, I can’t expect much from her. Although, I believe that it will be better if she accepted a husband, but the existence of the throne is enormous, and those who try to approach her were only ambitious people. Well …… Even if a non-ambitious person tried to approach Aneue, he would be blocked by the ambitious ones……』
The solitude of an Empress. After hearing about this, the ruler he served came into Hakuya’s mind. It was the scene of Souma, nonchalantly being surrounded by his four fiancés and his step-sister, as they gathered around a single table outside of the political affairs’ schedule. His face completely lacked the dignity of a King, and since this was unbecoming of his stature, Hakuya had offered his honest opinion that 「Since the vassals are watching, even if it’s in private, please be more dignified.」, but…… Perhaps this was something that Souma needed.
So that he wouldn’t sink into solitude. When he thought of this, Hakuya curved the tips of his mouth.
『? What is it, Hakuya-dono?』
Hakuya shook his head while replying to Jeanne’s inquiry.
「No…… I just thought that something that can stop that solitude, surprisingly, might be a certain emotion.」
I think Hakuya will give you confidential information if you ramp up the honey trap Jeanne.
Anyway, Hakuya is a such smooth operator.
Also, just make Maria join Souma’s harem, then she won’t feel solitude anymore. LoL.
 黒衣の宰相 is a term to refer to numerous Buddhist priests or abbots that had held important government position at various points in Japanese history. The black clothes refer to the color of the robes that these monks wore. But this also refers to the idiom: 黒衣 as someone who pulls the string from behind as these are also the clothes for the stagehands in Japanese old live stage plays (the black clothes represent that they are invisible). Some words just lost its cultural significance when translated.
 This is the sayings of Shingen Takeda. The full quote is: The people are your castle, your ramparts, your moat. Protect them, and they shall protect you.
By the way, the Machiavelli quotes if from Chapter 20 of Il Principe.