I was out shopping with Aria, looking at the list and making sure we had everything we needed together.
A majority of what was written was groceries.
Of the equipment we were currently using, we sold off everything that couldn’t be used anymore. We brought our clothing to a second-hand store, and were able to trade in old armors or find buyers.
The reason we were able to put in some break days in our information gathering as because of how good of a harvest we got from that last job.
I won’t go as far as to say we have no need to work, but we’ve created some time to sit back and relax.
“Um~ next is camping goods, right… I do believe much of what we have is in shambles.”
Aria looked at her memo, and I helped carry her bags.
I didn’t think them really necessary, but establishing communication on days like these was important.
And more than anything, I’ve been able to confirm as of late that communication was my weak point.
That’s why I’ve arranged my time like this.
“Ah, come to think of it… Monica asked me to get her some lumber and tools. She also said to put in an order for nails.”
Aria was amazed.
“She can make all of that herself, can’t she!? I mean, she started saving up and… to put it bluntly, she’s already richer than me.”
Monica managed and saved up all the living expenses I gave her. She also got rewards for jobs, and she was much firmer on managing money than Aria.
Because of that, unlike the girl who used money on a regular basis, she was quite a rich one.
“No, you have your equipment to maintain and replace, so… look, that automaton generally doesn’t use money in the first place.”
All she needed to function… no, even more than that could easily be produced by Monica, and as long as she had the right materials, I’m sure she could accomplish most anything.
But perhaps she didn’t have the time, as she put in a request to a smithy.
“Yes, I know that, but I somehow feel that I’ve lost…”
“Don’t go picking fights with automata in the first place. And wait, how about stopping with those quarrels of yours? I’ll just put this out there, but you’re not going to win.”
Aria was usually quite full of openings, and Monica had a lot of information in her grasp.
From the rotation of her undergarments, to the precise quantity of her secret snackings.
She put a needless effort into her investigations.
(If you think of it like that, Novem and Miranda keep their guards up quite high. Clara has some apathetic parts to her lifestyle, and Shannon’s around the same level as Aria.)
And by that logic…
“… So Aria’s on Shannon’s level.”
“What’s that!? Revise it this instant!”
Being put on such a level, even Aria was sure to refute.
I promptly went on.
“Y-you both have strangely lovable parts, is what I meant!”
When I gave an excuse, Aria’s face turned a little red, and she walked off.(So did I succeed? Or did I fail?)
While I thought that, the Fourth spoke in a tone that implied he was grinning widely.
『Well you’ve sure grown, haven’t you my boy. If you want my honest opinion, you’re still absolutely no good, but much better than how you started out.』
『More decent than the start. Look, in the past, you wouldn’t even try to talk about it.』
The chiding voices of the ancestors was something I alone was forced to hear.
I shook my head, and caught up with Aria.
(Was I really that bad?)
While chasing after her, a rumor floated into my ear.
“Hmm, so the high crown prince finally made his choice.”
“And that’s how the cookie crumbles. I feel sorry for the Faunbeux princess, but from my point of view, it was the natural result…”
Some crown prince and princess came up in discussion.
It was irrelevant to me, so I followed Aria’s back.
When we returned to the inn, Aria took her bags in hand, and went back to her room.
On the first floor, Novem and Miranda were conversing.
What to do for lunch? No, it wasn’t a mild topic like that. They were making serious faces.
I called out.
“What’s the matter, the both of you?”
“Ah, Lyle-sama. Good work. No, the truth is…”
What Novem informed me of was the rumor going around Centralle.
Miranda was the one distraught.
“I tried to buy a ticket, but it looks like they’ll be sold out for a while. Of all things, I heard an important announcement was about to be made in Centralle.”
The reason for Miranda’s bewilderment was the the rumor proved to be true.
I recalled the conversation I heard when out shopping.
It was the rumors of prince 【Rufus Bahnseim】, and the foreign princess 【Lianne Faunbeux】.
Novem gave an explanation.
“Accompanied by the breaking of their engagement was his proclamation of announcing a new fiancé shortly. While I do find it plenty odd, that is the direction the capital seems to be headed.”
I guess confusion is only natural.
I mean, I mean, his former fiancé had always been in the Imperial Court.
For over ten years, as a catalyst to build friendly relations with the bordering nation of Faunbeux.
A political marriage to serve as a testament to that.
“… Isn’t it bad to break that up all of a sudden?”
The Fifth spoke.
『In my time, it’d be war within the hour.』
The Seventh too.
『Don’t worry too much. It was exactly the same in my time. It isn’t a sane decision at all.』
『Did he find a girl he liked, or something? Just mistress her and wife the other.』
The Fourth addressed the Sixth.
『Uwah, simply terrible~.』
Miranda spoke in amazements.
“Of course it’s bad. That’s the stuff wars are made of. But back when I was still in Centralle, I heard they were getting along perfectly. In truth, I was sure the future of both countries was to be stable… at the very least, I can say it was more than just politics going on there.”
It wasn’t a loveless political marriage, it seems.
And while he already had an engagement, he broke it off to announce a new one to the state.
I can only think the poor man’s lost it.
Novem was curious about another matter.
“… His next partner is the lone child of an influential provincial noble family, apparently. But that alone is quite strange”
A provincial noble’s only child.
If they’re marrying the crown prince, then they have to be Count Class or above, right?
Was a connection with this house important enough to throw foreign affairs out the window?
The heads of history, Third and up.
『Uwah~ totally not. That one has to be a lie.』
『It’s not remotely possible. An only child you say… that means the House dies out right there. Do they plan on having whatever child is born succeed?』
『Perhaps they’ll take in a heir from a branch family. But I’ve little to praise about such a decision.』
『The clouds look quite menacing. Even if both parties were looking for an excuse for war, I get the feeling the playing field is a little too cramped…』
『It does feel like the precursor to a typhoon, and after so long… the First did say it. That the era would be a stormy one.』
That times go into disarray when a monster steps on the stage. Or perhaps the storm is what wakes the monsters up…
Putting that aside, the situation really is dangerous.
“If things go on like this, it will become difficult to cross borders.”
When I said that, the two of them nodded.
Finishing lunch, I went out to gather information with Miranda.
Lead along by the girl familiar with the city of Centralle, I wanted to confirm the truth of the matter behind the rumor.
Did the prince really annul his engagement so readily?
If it’s a fabrication, it truly is in bad taste.
Our destination was a stylish café, but in the seat my journey ended, I was forced to pay the fee for the information and expensive tea and sweets of the one before me.
A middle aged woman in service to the palace, and one with long years of service at that.
“Well you’ve brought quite a fine man with you now haven’t you, Lady Miranda. What’s more, your relationship doesn’t seem nearly as artificial as the last. Fine. As you are right now, I’m sure you two will get along fine.”
The woman said that to Miranda as she signaled for her to get on with it.
I thought Miranda would be on the higher standing here, but it seems this woman was her information dealer for all palace-related matters.
“And you’re the same as always. So how about you spill the beans… the truth behind the rumor.”
The woman raised her cautiousness of her surroundings.
I did the same, but my Skills showed no response.
(No, there are times when the Skill won’t be tripped.)
The Sixth did say something along those lines. I remained vigilant as I listened in.
“… It’s true. The breaking of the engagement has been set in stone. Lianne-sama has borrowed a mansion in Centralle, and she regularly commutes to the Palace to request a reconsideration, but Rufus-sama’s no good. He fell head over a heels for one much younger. What’s more, the one on his mind is…”
The woman looked at me and laughed.
The Third spoke.
『… Oh, looks like she knows who you are, Lyle. Quite a competent information dealer you’ve got there.』
『Yeah, you sometimes find them. Servants that excel in such matters. I’m sure they’re using that knowledge to earn like so.』
“Your boyfriend over there… Lyle Walt’s younger sister.”
My eyes opened wide, and the sixth let his voice from the Jewel.
『Lyle, don’t let it spread to your expression. You’re giving that woman a spot of fun. Based on how it goes, she might raise her price because of it.』
I immediately corrected my face, and listened to the woman’s story.
“I only saw her from afar, but that’s a sort of monster, that one. I’ve worked in the palace for quite some time, and you included, my dear lady, I’ve seen enough of those types to distinguish them.”
It seems this woman put Miranda into the monster category.
“Well thanks for your kind evaluation… is that what I should say?”
“Hi hi hi! How scary. You’re like a spider who’ll never let the prey in their eyes wriggle free. You take care, boy.”
And after turning to me, she continued her report on Celes.
But her expression was quite earnest.
“Monsters aren’t anything rare in the palace. Among the sides that win the wars, are some blessed with enough luck you’d think them blessed by some goddess out there. It’s like they possess something beyond the scope of ability. But she stood out even among that monstrous lineup. Everyone to set eyes on that Lady walked into her cage. Those who won’t stray may be but yourself and those other beasts up there. Even so, there surely are many stuck her prisoner.”
Miranda pried further.
“You mean to say the prince is one of them?”
“The crown prince is a competent one. Well, perhaps I won’t go that far, but I doubt there would be a problem with him ruling over the land. But you see… the moment that girl approached, he immediately took to calling the Walt House over. The ministers were the same.”
And it doesn’t look like the prince was put into the same monster category as Miranda.
I kept quiet, and listened on.
“It’s happening bit by bit, but it feels as if Centralle’s being cast into a nightmare. Right… it feels as if a war is close.”
Recalling the last major war, the woman muttered.
“Come to think of it…”
Miranda urged her on, and the woman took a sip of tea as she looked at me.
“… The Walt House was caught up in the last war as well. Truly a troublesome family you have there.”
The Sixth and Seventh within the Jewel, heads at the time, started giving excuses.
『Don’t screw with me! Back then, it was the palace that got us caught into it!』
『Exactly! I wanted to return home as much as the next guy, but the court was corrupt and unreliable, or so the current King… when I think back, the Bahnseim Royal Line really have been nothing but a troublesome family for us Walts.』
The Third spoke.
The Fifth spoke.
『You all, if you’re saying that much, you did make sure to put them to good use, right?』
And listening to such words, the words, ‘Well, to each his own,’ came to mind.
I didn’t fully latch onto the woman’s words, but decided to take the ancestors as not right all of the time.
As of late, I’ve come to understand the lifeform known as a Feudal Lord a little better.
They put their own Houses and the maintenance of the territory before all else.
Loyalty and obligation were only abided because they were under the protection of the royal line’s authority.
I let out a light sigh.
“Well thanks for that. But I’ve already been kicked out over here, so I’m largely irrelevant.”
Eyes fixed on me, she took another sip of tea.
After draining the cup, she placed it on the counter.
“Now then, I’ll be taking my leave here. You’ve got all the information you wanted, have you not? Also, It’s about time for me to retire. If you want information, I’ll sell it, but don’t think you’ll be able to get anything new out of me.”
“You’re much too young for a retirement, aren’t you?”
“The young ones are pouring in one after another. We too much personnel on our hands… just like the scene before a war. Before I get dragged in, I’ll have to distance myself from Centralle. That’s what my intuition’s telling me.”
Perhaps she thought it was a joke, as Miranda smiled.
“Hmm… intuition I see.”
“Yeah, if I don’t run from here, my life’s on the line. That sort of hunch. I get it right most of the time.”
Saying that, the woman walked away.
I took a swig of my own tea.
“So it looks like the rumor was true. And so, what do you plan to do, Lyle?”
I thought for a moment.
“… That Faunbeux princess is still somewhere in the capital, right?”
Miranda was mildly amazed.
She reached a hand to a sweet, and put it in her mouth.
“You think you’ll actually be able to meet her?”
“I highly doubt it. But I want to know her impression on the matter…”
The Sixth’s voice came from the Jewel.
『If you think to meet her, it’s not like it’s impossible.』
The Seventh too.
『Well, you’re not wrong.』
The Fourth asked their reasons.
『What? Did you build some relation with Faunbeux? Back in my time, it was a far off land with numerous countries in between us.』
The Seventh spoke.
『… As long as you use the Walt house’s name, I’m sure you can meet her.』
『Because the girl likely resents us all at the moment. And if it’s something Celes and the current Walt House perpetuated…』
If we met, I get the feeling I’d be the one in danger.
(The Sixth and Seventh… just what did they do to poor Faunbeux?)
For some reason, a shiver raced down my spine.