(TL: 500th post, says WordPress)
The Grand Duchy of Galleria.
Before the acting duke proxy, Gracia-san, I formed a smile.
My insides were frozen over, but let that show, and negotiations wouldn’t be happening.
The Grand Duke’s mansion.
In its office, I faced Gracia-san alone. She was two years my senior, but the fact her atmosphere and presence were so different must have been because she was shouldering a country.
(But she feels different from Lorphys’ princess, and Aura-san the holy Maiden.)
Sitting in a pomp chair, looking over the papers lined on the table, a wrinkle came to her brow. They were the letters of introduction fom Zayin, Lorphys, and Beim.
Zayin and Lorphys easily wrote them up. Fidel-san, perhaps thinking I was going off to find work in Galleria, hummed a tune as he drafted it. From the way he said, ‘Thinking of how this will let me go without seeing your face, it looks like I’ll finally be able to sleep soundly at night,’ I grew worried over whether I had riled the man up too much.
I never said I was the one getting the position, and it seems he had gone and misunderstood something. Since it was interesting, the ancestors advised me to purposely keep silent on the matter henceforth, so we weren’t the most wholesome ourselves.
With her silver hair gathered behind, Gracia-san let out a sigh, glaring at me as she leaned her back against the chair’s.
“So what do you want? Money? Women? For an adventurer of your level, if you wish for status, then it shouldn’t have to be Galleria.”
The final letter on the table was the one from Elza-san, the queen of Rusworth. Stolen from the messenger adventurer, to use it as material, I had brought it up in negotiation.
It’s true that Galleria was a gathering of feudal lords.
If you wanted governmental service, you’d get a better reception in Rusworth. But in that case, it would take time to rise up the ranks. Without Galleria’s versatility, our plan wouldn’t proceed smoothly.
“I wish for governmental service. And I will personally take on the delivery of the letters. That adventurer was formerly a vassal of Galleria’s Grand Duke House, right… he was chased around town, and his wanted poster has been circulating. He won’t be able to work in these parts.”
She looked at me detestably, but it didn’t look as if she was thinking to kill me. Of all else, I had comrades. Even if I alone were to be killed, she likely determined my comrades’ movements would be dangerous.
“… ‘Tis a scheme of the enemy. Good grief, Rusworth’s witch sure turns to dirty means.”
She tried playing it off as an enemy scheme, but I made a smile.
“Is that so? Then you’re fine with going to war without any letters henceforth? While gazing at both exhausted countries, you don’t think Zayin and Lorphys may try and attack?”
Gracia-san’s eyes narrowed, and all at once, the room was filled with blood lust. It was suffocating. It felt as if the room’s temperature had suddenly jumped a few degrees.
She spoke, annoyed.
“Holy Knight of Zayin, for that name, you’re quite dirty yourself… state your wish.”
I didn’t let my smile fall apart.
“All of Galleria. Of course, even if I say everything, I don’t want Galleria itself. Just as with Zayin and Lorphys, I’ll have you form an alliance, and join a union.”
Hearing those words, Gracia-san seemed to be satisfied with something.
“So you’re the reason those countries suddenly closed in? You’ve done something unnecessary… if you lot hadn’t done such a thing, we would’ve only had to go to war with Rusworth alone.”
“You’re not considering the fact we might take Rusworth in as well, are you.”
“A former provincial noble. What’s more, I heard you were of the famed Walt House, but aren’t you overestimating yourself a bit too much? … Expanding one’s territory is important, but all things are accompanied by trouble. Territory division. Territory alteration, and the other various tasks… play it poorly, and you won’t be able to stop the civil wars. Rather than dealing with such trouble, wouldn’t it be safer to maintain your status quo?”
Recently, we’ve been making progress with gathering information at Galleria’s heart. And we came to notice the problem the country carried.
It was that its system of rule didn’t match up with the present situation.
A few decades ago. Or perhaps centuries ago, it may have worked out.
Because within its surroundings, Galleria’s Grand Duke was strong, and the others were far weaker. For that sake, in exchange for their assistance, the Grand Duke House could support them.
For the feudal lords whose territories had become battlefields, it had become custom for the Grand Duke to lend money unsecured, free of interest.
But in the past few decades, the surrounding lords gained power. In exchange, the Grand Duke House had lost a large portion of its own. It was natural. The money they were putting to internal affairs was stolen by other lords and war.
“I can’t call it safe. From my point of view, it looks as if you’re only exhausting yourselves. You’re stressing too much on war.”
“… I know that without you telling me. But even if it looks that way from the outside, there’s a different point of view from within. If you know our present state, that makes matters quick. Stop trying to lure Galleria to your side. It may be off, coming from the Grand Duke Proxy, but Galleria is a country united only by the existence of an enemy. Once that enemy disappears, it will start biting at you.”
So as not to let that happen, we were taking some troublesome means.
If we absorbed both countries, establishing rule again would take time. In the worst case, we’d have to devote all our effort to internal enemies. If the knights of the overthrown countries started running reckless across the new lands we’d obtained, it would be a nightmare.
The enemy would be more knowledgeable on the terrain, and it’s likely the natives would take their side.
“Well, I’ve a few countermeasure thought up for that area. And it’s not as if winning a war is my objective.”
“What means you?”
“The ones to take office will be 【Miranda Circry】, 【Shannon Circry】, 【Clara Bulmer】, and 【Monica】. Those four.”
“… And you won’t?”
“I won’t. I mean, I have a job as the letter delivery guy. Ah, I’ll still help out, mind you. I’ll be on Lorphys territory, so if something happens, just send a notice over there. Though if you use Monica, you’ll be able to get in contact with me in no time.”
“Just what are you trying to do?”
“I’ll have the Galleria Grand Duke House regain the power it once held. And if everything goes well, could you build up a port? Having the sea so close, and not using it is a waste, I’m sure.”
Gracia-san looked as if she wanted to hold a hand to her head.
“The rights to the sea among lords is a complicated matter. And there are even some places where the feudal lords themselves commit acts of piracy.”
“Then let’s persuade them. Well, it’s fine if we can’t do it immediately, so that can be for a later date.”
Gracia-san looked at me, making a reluctant expression.
“I’ve yet to say I’ll hire them.”
“If you don’t, there’ll be quite a bit of trouble, you know? And it’s not as if I’m seeking profit for no one but myself. If all goes well, you may be able to make up to Rusworth without war.”
Hearing that, she looked down with a conflicted expression. After a while, she raised her head with a face as if she had given up.
“… For Elza and I, we are foes we cannot bring ourselves to hate. For us both, we are in positions where if we didn’t have an opponent, it wouldn’t be strange we be killed. I’ve taken a liking to how you won’t say one side must be crushed. I’ll approve of the government service. But if you are to show any traitorous actions, your comrades’ lives are forfeit.”
That was my intent. My comrades to come under her service would become both her vassals, and her hostages.
With that, even if Gracia-san didn’t trust me, if she had hostages in her hands, she would be able to have some peace of mind.
Not that I’m betraying anyone, though.
“I’ll send the four at once. Miranda can easily handle anything. Monica is the same, but she’s omnipotent in housework, so I ask you please treat her as a maid. Clara’s level of knowledge is amazing. Shannon is… Miranda’s helper.”
Hearing my explanation, Gracia-san started to look anxious.
“Oy, they’ll truly be of use, right?”
“I guarantee they’re competent.”
Right, those girls were competent. Even if one was a spider-like woman, and one was useless in all fields but her Demon Eyes, and one was an existence fundamentally wrong as a maid, and one was a booklover a little problematic in other fields… those girls were capable.
“… They’re capable. Those girls are capable.”
“Why did you say it twice?”
Gracia-san looked a little worried.
Leaving Miranda’s party in Galleria, I returned to the village we were taking a stay in.
Seeing Novem do housework for the first time in a while, ‘this isn’t bad!’ I thought to myself, but I’ll keep that my secret.
In the rebuilt house, I looked at the maid-uniform wearing Valkyrie Units One, Two and Three.
“Why are you holding up buckets of water?”
Inside the room, Unit One held up her bucket as she expressionlessly explained it to me.
“We were training in housework to surpass that Monica.”
Following on, Unit Two.
“We broke the plates you purchased.”
Ending at Unit Three.
“So we are holding them as punishment.”
Hearing that, I thought it was a little much, so I turned to Novem.
“Isn’t that a little harsh.”
But while Novem was smiling, I felt a will from her as if never to forgive them. It doesn’t seem she had such intentions.
“That’s no good. If it was just breaking all the plates, that wouldn’t be a problem, but in the end, these three were tossing plates at each other. They got into a fight over who would do the work. Because of that, they even needlessly increased the amount of cleaning that had to be done.”
When I looked at the three of them, they averted their eyes.
(… So Monica’s siblings are broken as well.)
As I had returned, Novem asked about the matter with Galleria.
“So how did things go on your side?”
“As expected, I guess. But it seems there were more circumstance you couldn’t see unless from inside than I had thought, or how should I put it… no, looking from within Galleria, it really is serious, I’m sure.”
Looking from the outside, I wanted to tell them to get their shit together. But from the inside, perhaps there was a different viewpoint to be found. I decided to leave the decisions on that area to Miranda.
“You approached Galleria first, and next is Rusworth, right. I hope it goes well.”
On Novem’s words, I lowered my shoulders.
“If it doesn’t go well, Rusworth will have no path left but destruction. I want to avoid that by all means.”
Overthrowing a country was really a pain.
I wanted to avoid that as much as I could, preserving their war potential, while drawing them to our side. The difficulty level was too high and rigid, but it wasn’t something impossible.
I looked at Novem.
“When infiltrating Rusworth, I’ll be having you and the others working hard. I really want to do something about that straying high minister, though.”
We had gradually begun collecting info on Rusworth’s internal affairs as well. But the more I heard, the more I understood that the high minister was only respected at the center, and the area around that. That’s exactly why he was troubling. The fact that his popularity was so high at the center. Even if I was to drag him down, his popularity was troubling.
Perhaps happy I was relying on her, Novem spoke with a smile.
“Leave it to me, Lyle-sama.”
… Three mass-produced Valkyrie units were surveying the Grand Duke’s territory in Galleria.
They wore robes sewn with the insignia of the duke’s, so no one tried to stop them.
What those three stopped at was a river that would overflow at the slightest drop of rain.
“If we revise this point, wouldn’t the national power instantly begin to recover?”
When one unit said that, another pointed her finger. She wore a visor, so her expression couldn’t be made out, but she didn’t seem too amused.
“It is on the border between the Grand Duke’s territory, and the next. It will be difficult to deal with it, with this point alone.”
The remaining unit looked around.
“People tend to gather around water, but… in that case, there should be a few feudal lords bordering it.”
At the very least, the Grand Duke House bordered two other houses along the river. With the disputed rights to it, taking measures with it was difficult, so it was a point that had been left aside for several decades.
“… I shall send the information to master. While I hate that the detestable Monica is the relay point to send information to him, thinking of the burden on our master, there is no helping it.”
An annoyed mass-produced unit used a series of lines to send information to Lyle…
… In Galleria’s Grand Duke House’s mansion.
Reluctantly carrying out the cleaning of a room, Monica spat out a sigh.
“Those degraded defects… they’re sending flirtatious glances at my chicken dickwad. I told them time and again that video data was heavy, so they shouldn’t send it.”
She quietly complained, as she let her blond twin tails sway as she cleaned on. For her standards, it was sloppier than usual, but those around were quite satisfied at the way she worked.
She received good evaluations of how through she was.
However, from Miranda and the others who knew her circumstance, it was more than clear that the individual was lacking in motivation.
A fed up Miranda sat in the sofa, and folded over her legs as she spoke to Monica.
“Monica, you’ve been left an important job from Lyle, so properly do your work. And wait, even if they’re called the Grand Duke House, all they have going for them is having the largest territory in the area.”
Sorting through the paperwork, she confirmed the information she looked into on the territory with Monica as she put together her future objectives.
“… If they get flood control in order, then it looks like they would be able to recover their national power relatively quickly.”
Peeking at the papers from the side, Clara put such an opinion to mouth. But if it were possible, Gracea would’ve likely done that from the start.
Miranda held a hand to her forehead.
“The territory’s in a questionable location. What’s more, everything’s a dispute of territorial rights and the like, it seems. I can see why she’d want to leave it aside. Even if they’re going to go to flood control, who’s going to put out what level of funds, and how much would the profit be. That alone could lead to decades of debates… how idiotic.”
Clara looked at Miranda.
“Then is it impossible? With this terrain, there are a number of flood control methods I’ve read of that would be applicable.”
Miranda spoke while putting her eyes through more documents.
“While they’re abiding by the Grand Duke House, if it’s for the sake of their own profit, I’m sure they’ll take up weapons to fight. Taking all of the water management on, and letting other territories maintain the profit they had before has already been rejected, it seems. A guarantee for damages upon failure, and agreements on the area, etc, etc… Uwah~ this’d kill anyone’s motivation.”
Hearing Miranda’s words, Clara also experienced the horror first-hand.
Lyle had chosen and dispatched them, but Miranda didn’t think they could make something of the situation. She addressed Monica.
“So has there been any sort of message from Lyle?”
There, Monica unpleasantly turned around.
“… Just start with whatever’s possible, it seems. For now, have Leold-kun pile up some achievements on the domestic front, or something. An order has come to prepare from two to three pioneer villages.”
After saying that much, Monica sighed, and returned to word.
“… My instincts are telling me that chicken is yearning for my cooking.”
Or so she complained, but Miranda ignored her.
“Well, I get we can only do what we can, but will setting up two to three small villages really change the present state?”
As per Lyle’s orders, Miranda began putting up a plan to cultivate new villages under Leold…
『The world sure is cold. Especially cold to youngsters who don’t know its workings. But it’s also true that youngsters who don’t know the workings of the world have no influence in their words!』
Within the Jewel.
I listened to the Fourth’s lecture on how to overcome the present state of Galleria.
I raised a hand.
“Um, how is this connected to cultivating villages?”
The round table room.
On top of the table, a three dimensional map of Galleria was displayed. Using a long, cylindrical pointing tool, the Fourth indicated a certain area.
『At present, it’s well known that if you reform this area, you could largely recover national power. There are a few more points you could reform, but this is the main one.』
An area that became complicated with claims from other Houses, and a spot where flood control couldn’t be implemented because of them.
“It seems they’ve stuck a few reasons on denying flood control. If it were me, I’d set about it at once regardless, though.”
When I said such a thing, the Fourth firmly slapped his rod against the table.
『Naïve! Too naïve, Lyle!』
“Eh? Is that so?”
The Fourth refuted my naïve thoughts.
『How much time and money do you think riparian work will take? Manpower is the same. If you put it in practice… I failed, teehee… won’t be the end of it. If failure for a feudal lord can bring about a terrible situation, then the best option is not to lay hands on it.』
To be honest, I couldn’t understand his point of view. From what I could see on the map, there were numerous flood-control options that would work. If it would somehow put the reigns on an overflowing river, then putting it to practice would definitely be better.
『More than that… are there any flood control specialist in Galleria at the moment? You can look at their internal affairs as well. Even if they can maintain the status quo, do they look like they’re wishing for any further developments?』
I thought a little.
“They aren’t. I looked into the retainers to an extent, but a large majority of them are specialized to warfare…”
『Right! Sitting themselves down on such an abundant plot of land, and never doing anything with it, Galleria is the worst! In my time, it was hell because we had jack squat! Our land was mostly wastelands, what’s more, we had no industry or specialty products. I’m a baron who was suddenly handed a barren landscape, a Barren Baron you know. Thinking back on it, his majesty really was a bastard.』
When he said such a thing, the Third burst into laughter.
『Too late! You’re way too late to the party, Max!』
The Fourth corrected the position of his glasses.
『All that alone was busy enough, and I didn’t have time to turn my attention to anything else. Now then, here’s the problem. To the Galleria Grand Duke House, a boy named Lyle suddenly says, ‘I’ll take care of flood control, so please assist me.’ Will little Lyle be trusted?』
It’s true I felt there were too many uncertainties. Rather, I could contrarily understand the feelings of the feudal lords who didn’t want to touch the issue.
『So you show some results. In this area, there’s a perfectly suitable piece of land. Flood control will be necessary, and if you do it, I’m sure a few more villages could be built.』
The area he pointed to was where a small river flowed, and would easily overflow. And there were many monsters there. Reclaiming it would be too much trouble, so it hadn’t been touched.
“We’ll reclaim that point?”
『Right. It needs some flood measures, and it has a considerable degree of difficulty… if this succeeds, it will become Leold-kun’s achievement. And while it’ll take a few years before it will stabilize, as long as you can get the form together, it won’t be a problem.』
Piling up merits for Leold-kun was vital, it seems.
By doing that, Leold-kun would be recognized as one suited to internal affairs. The feudal lords who didn’t want war, and wanted to better the domestic situation would gather around him, or perhaps give him instruction.
“But will it succeed?”
『You’ll make it succeed. Lyle, you… can use magic, right? What’s more, you have the Valkyrie Series or something with you.』
“Eh? But it’s the principal of magic not to use it too much in this sort of thing!”
『As long as no one’s watching, it won’t be a problem! Build the foundation to an extent, and leave the rest to them! And wait, the precept of magic is not to do everything with it, you hear! Build the foundations, have humans do the work, and you’ll have a village up in no time! … Well, the biggest problem is actually maintaining it, though.』
In the world, the thing called maintaining was considerably difficult. There were changes of situation, but something like a village could often be destroyed upon the appearance of a monster.
“If we show results, will they let us start on the real thing?”
『The probability will rise. Small as it may be, having or not having results completely changes your persuasive power. Also, how about you have the elves spread songs of your plights in internal affairs?I mean, you left Eva-chan behind for something like that, right?』
I nodded, and decided to move by his orders. And the Fourth…
『Now then, it’s getting fun around here!』
… Cried out for joy. The surrounding reactions were dubious.
『Hah, it’s no good… I want to set traps around the point Rusworth’s attacking, and wipe them out all at once.』
Milleia-san spoke uninterestedly.
『It’ll resolve itself at once if Lyle pushes Gracia-chan down. That child’s definitely troubled with the lack of romantic encounters in her position.』
The Seventh even…
『… Galleria’s Grand Duke, huh… having them overthrow their surroundings would definitely be easier. And what, with their questionable territory, wouldn’t it be better to put out an obey or fight proclamation, and have them attack? Put up a reason, tack on a just cause, win enough, and the surroundings will quiet down.』
Having learned of Galleria’s troublesome domestic affairs, he wanted to say that as long as we got them to obey, it would be fine.
Guys, how about a little more solidarity?
I don’t think my thoughts on the matter were mistaken.