Claire usually comes to play once every few days. I thought that if I waited she would come visit after awhile—but I didn’t have to wait long.
The next day after eating breakfast, when I was relaxing in my room, Claire suddenly burst into the room.
……Didn’t something like this happen before?
“Claire, what’s happened now?”
“What’s happened!? Is it true that otouto-kun fought with Blake nii-san!?”
“Eh, where did you hear that?”
“Blake nii-san was talking about it at breakfast.”
……Are you serious. I thought he might say something, but I didn’t expect him to just be talking about it so openly. I’m glad that I talked with Father yesterday.
No, it’s still too early for me to feel relieved.
“How did Caroline react to it?”
“At first she was angry, but Father stopped her, afterwards we were kicked out so they could talk alone.”
“Well, it seems like he’s keeping his promise. Everything else is up to Caroline now.”
“Your expression…did you say something to Father yesterday? Actually what happened between you and Blake nii-san? I’ve never seen him so mad before.”
“Was he really that angry?”
“Blake nii-san said that you attacked him for no reason, but he was still able to beat you up. Is this really what happened?”
“……well, the end result is true. It’s true that I was beaten up.”
“You were really beaten up? Are you okay?”
Claire approaches me while shaking her head, her platinum blonde hair moving side to side. She starts looking over my body for signs of any injuries.
“Claire, that’s ticklish, I’m okay because I was able to avoid most of his attacks.”
It is true that I avoided most of his attacks to my face. Though, the place where I was kicked is covered in bruises, but I don’t want to worry Claire, so I keep acting tough.
“That’s good, but…what really happened?”
Actually — and I told Claire what happened. I talked about how yesterday Alice was about to be taken away by Blake. I told her about what I had talked about with Father and how I had negotiated for Alice’s guaranteed safety.
“I see. There was such a thing that happened.”
“Yep, I know it depends on Caroline’s decision, but do you think it will work?”
“I don’t think there is any problem. Mother is pretty cautious of otouto-kun.”
“Is her caution due to what happened with the influenza outbreak?”
“Yes. The number of people calling for you to become the next heir have increased since then. So if you declare that you will not become the next heir, Mother is sure to accept.”
“Is that so? I feel relieved after hearing that.”
“I think so…but… Alice seems to have become very important to you.”
“Well, she has been teaching me so much.”
When I answer with a meaning towards thanking Claire, for some reason she has a mischievous smile.
“She’s taught you so much…….Hey, does that also include sexual knowledge?”
“Wha-. What are you saying!?”
“What…aren’t you learning so that you can lead me?”
Lead? What is she talking about….Now I remember. When Claire was trying to get me to take her first time, I said something like that in order to get out of it.
“You were serious…”
“Do you think I would joke about something like that?”
“……..It would be better if you were joking.”
Seriously Claire, does she like me as more than a brother?……No, I don’t want to hear her answer as it is likely to shock me.
“But, I see. Alice knows quite a lot and has taught otouto-kun about various things that you wanted to know.”
“And that’s thanks to you. Didn’t I tell you?”
“I thought it was somewhat like that, but since Mary is always around, this is the first time we’ve been able to talk openly.”
“Ah is that so, it’s been a long time since it’s been just the two of us together.”
“……Just the two of us?”
Claire’s cheeks turned red when she realized, we were sitting together with only a small amount of space separating us.
……what is this, that girly reaction. Don’t think of your brother as a man. Paired with the previous conversation, it will be troubling for me!
– I want to say something, but I feel like I will lose any self-respect I have if I say it. I pretend not to notice her reaction and continue the conversation normally.
“Alice really knows a lot, she has knowledge of magic, she’s taught me a lot about plants and I’m learning about the neighboring countries as well.”
“……Magic? That girl, she can use magic?”
“It seems that her magic is currently sealed by the slave contract, though the knowledge is there —“
I place my right arm in front of my chest and convert mana that I pull from my body into magical power.
By the way, mana seems to be an invisible matter that exists in the atmosphere. I think that I am able to create the most basic matter currently. It is this matter that becomes the source of magical power.
It is taken into the body and converted into magical power.
“There’s a pale glow emitting from your arm, is that magic?”
“This is only the magical power necessary to use magic. I’ll actually use this power to cast spells….magic cannot be cast without the proper incantation.
–Although, there is a method to learn without the support of a magician. Though, the degree of difficulty is quite high, so I abandoned it because it was impossible to try it.
“That…is it important for you to learn that?”
“It is. When I learn magic someday, it will be important to have mastered the basics. It is the same reason to train your body before practicing swordsmanship.”
“…Well, as long as otouto-kun is happy.”
“Of course I’m very happy. Actually, I wanted to learn more about Alice, but she has only told me a little.”
“It makes sense that you’d want to learn more about the legendary high elves.”
“A tribe that is said to be the dominant species of elves. I know the basics about them because knowledge is generally passed from generation to generation by the parents of noble families.”
“Well……Indeed, there is a possibility that Alice is a high elf.”
“…Just checking, but are you joking?”
“Eh, what do you mean?”
“It’s truly impossible, high elves are a legendary race with only a few people, and if Alice were a high elf, the color of her left and right eyes should be different.”
I thought that with all of her knowledge it would be possible that Alice was a high elf. But both of Alice’s eyes are deep blue……After all, maybe it was just my imagination.
Suddenly Claire came close to me
“I just thought of something! The way you acted to save Alice from Blake, couldn’t you do something similar to save me from my marriage candidate!?”
“……Let me think about it….I would be killed by Caroline, so it sounds rather unpleasant.”
Asking me to say that I do stuff like that to her at her marriage interview!? I wanted to cry thinking of saying that Claire was my plaything every night.
Well if I did do that there would be no doubt that the marriage would end. Along with my life.
“Yeah, I guess that wouldn’t work…..and I thought it was such a good idea.”
“That’s ridiculous. So, is the marriage so bad?”
“My partner this time is a marquis. Mother is very enthusiastic about that, I think it will be impossible to run away this time.”
“In that case, the only option I see is to find a bargaining chip.”
“…What’s a bargaining chip? What are you planning now?”
“Caroline is forcing this marriage because marrying a marquis would be very beneficial to the Grances house. So, if I can find something more valuable to her or the family, I think I can earn your freedom.”
“Otouto-kun, maybe, have you been trying to find a way to break off my marriage?”
“I’m thinking about it a lot.”
“I see. Otouto-kun, you’ve been worrying about me…..”
Claire’s reaction is a bit unexpected. She mumbled something, clearly happy. The way she pushed her index fingers together in front of her chest was quite cute.
“Why are you so surprised? Did you think I wouldn’t be worried about you?”
“Fuu~~, I see, of course you were. Alright, it’s decided.”
“Cl-Claire? Hey, what are you doing?”
Timidly I called out to Claire. This could be bad, maybe she’s expecting too much of me? If she expects too much, she’ll be disappointed if I’m not successful.
“U-Umm, Claire, I am working on a plan, but nothing is certain yet. So, it’s nice that you’re so happy, but don’t get too excited yet.”
Ah, she finally settled down.
“Yeah, my plan, I’m trying to figure out a way to start earning money. But, currently I don’t have any funds to start the business or any way of distributing the product I produce. Starting from the ground up would be too time consuming.”
At first I was planning on making sweets, such as the pudding I’ve made before. I’d be able to make them cheaply and then sell them at various places at an increased price, but…..honestly this isn’t necessary. There would be no need to make sweets if I can find a way to mass-produce sugar. If I am able to start up some sugarcane fields, I should be able to make a considerable income.
The problem is my lack of funds and a workforce able to produce the needed sugar.
“Do you need someone to help?”
“Yeah, but is there anybody that can?”
“Yeah, Gramp is always looking for new business opportunities. I think that if otouto-kun were to talk with him, he’d be interested.” (TN: Translated: グランプ as Gramp for this character’s name. If anyone has a better suggestion let me know. I think it’s accurate, but just a weird name.)
It was a name I didn’t recognize, so when I asked Claire about it, she told me it was the name of the marquis. That would be meaningless.
“If we were to receive aid from him, you wouldn’t be able to refuse the marriage.”
“I know……but then, is there no other way to go through with your plan?”
“Well, the only people I know outside of this place is the Sfir family. Wait. Is there anyway to contact them?”
“…What are you talking about? If we get help from the Sfir family you wouldn’t be able to refuse the marriage either, right?”
“No, unlike Claire and your partner, the second son and second daughter of a noble family are different, so I think that it may be possible depending on the negotiations.”
Sophia’s older brother is supposed to succeed the Sfir family and, in an extreme case, Sophia and I wouldn’t be such a bad match.
“I think it may be possible…What if you can’t do it without agreeing to the marriage?”
“Well, then…..Sophia wouldn’t be such a bad partner.”
“Did you really like Sophia that much? You only met with her recently, right?”
“She is a good girl and her appearance is quite cute. I think she would be as good of a partner I could ask for in a political marriage. But, she is still just a little girl, so I think of her more like a little sister.”
“A sister could still be a love interest, right?”
Et tu, Brute – Claire has been saying something like this for a while now.
To be honest, my true feelings cause me to waver a little. When I returned from my meeting with Sophia, I was considering marrying her.
However, I am worried about the story I heard from Father.
Father married someone that was like a sister to him, but he could not love her as a woman. As a result, he has been attracted to other women and now……
In other words, I am anxious that I might follow the same path as my father.
If I were to become the head of the Grances family, depending on my partner, following the path of my father may not be so terrible.
But in my case I will join the Sfir family, so I can’t have something like a mistress.
Not like I want something like a mistress anyway, but I wish I could always think of Sophia as a little sister.
“Otouto-kun? What’s wrong?”
“Oh, sorry, I’ll be fine. I’ll need to think about it more. I think that I will go visit Sophia again soon, so we can speak at that time.”
“…Sfir family and Sophia, huh… Well, it’s not bad if you think about it.”
Claire muttered quietly to herself. Looking at Claire, I had a bad feeling. It’s the same feeling that I had when Claire first thought of getting me a slave as a present.
“Claire……What are you planning now?”
“Rude, I’m not plotting anything.”
A straight up lie….Well, it should be okay? I was surprised when she brought Alice to me, but that ended up being a good thing. It will be okay this time too…probably.