The city of Muhle, which was newly built in the Grances territory.
At the mansion of the Earl of Grances, in the innermost office, a pitiful lamb stood before the all powerful Empress.
…….Rather, I stood there being glared at by Claire.
“Didn’t I tell you it would cause problems? I told you that you could absolutely not confront the Rodwell viscount head-on…..Did I not say that?”
“I…I think I remember hearing something like that.”
“Yet you blew him away with spirit magic…..”
“And what was your reason for this?”
“Well, that….I couldn’t forgive him for hitting Tina….”
“I understand that. I wouldn’t have been able to forgive him either.”
Claire’s face was a mixture of many emotions, but I could see a faint look of anger appear on her face. She agreed with me though, I need to take this chance while I have it.
“Claire, I knew you’d understand!”
“That’s true, but there was no need to fight him like that. Even if he hit Tina, if you attack a nobleman, you will be seen as the villain here.”
I lowered my head after being scolded by this girl.
It seems fitting because I am eleven and she is twelve, but in reality, my mind is that of a thirty-year-old. So, it’s actually quite pitiful. When I fell into a pit of self-loathing, Claire let out a small sigh.
“Hey, otouto-kun, I’m thankful for you and trust you. If you’re determined to charge recklessly ahead, I won’t stop you.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. However, this time is different. If we make an enemy of the Marquis of Gramp, the school may be destroyed. Isn’t that the last thing you’d want to happen?”
….Ah, that’s true. My goal was to protect Sophia and everyone, but my actions may lead to everyone losing this place they now call home.
……I should have remained calm and thought things through. What on earth was I thinking?
“I’m sorry, Claire. I was reckless.”
“Did you properly reflect on your actions?”
“Yes, I’ve reflected. I won’t lose sight of our goals again.”
“…..Okay. If that’s the case, then this talk is over.”
Claire showed a gentle smile. It was like she was never mad in the first place.
“….You forgive me?”
“Well, you told me your real feelings. So, I feel a little relieved.”
I don’t fully understand her meaning, but Claire just smiled at me.
“I’m relieved, but why?”
“As a lord, it is best to ignore the small, immediate problems in order to focus on the bigger problems of the future. However, it seems that otouto-kun doesn’t agree?”
“It doesn’t seem so…..”
Thinking about it, she’s definitely right.
When I was isolated at the mansion, I was always desperate to overcome the problems in front of me. The me from those days probably would have found a way to deal with Patrick peacefully.
— But, my actions are entirely different now that I’m the head of the Grances family.
“….I was…wrong from the beginning?”
“Well, if he tries to pick a fight with you later, it may have been better if you backed down this time.”
In hindsight…..I clearly underestimated Patrick. As I was feeling depressed, Claire started to smile and laugh.
“That may be true, but when you see someone in trouble, you have to do whatever you can to help them……And I like that about you.”
“Claire….I’m sorry. And, thank you.”
This time was an honest error in judgement on my part. And that’s why next time I’ll definitely do better.
“But back to what we were talking about….we need to prepare for whatever Patrick may do. First of all, we need to think of a way to oppose the Rodwell family.”
I was entirely expecting her to complain, but instead, she mentioned the Rodwell family. I looked a little confused.
We can’t ignore the Viscount of Rodwell. Their family even owns a tin mine.”
“A mine? Well, if they have a mine, then they probably have a respectable income. But does that mean they have power?”
Eh? Why do Claire’s eyes look disappointed!? She was just looking at me like she really cared for me, but now she looks so disappointed!
“D-Did I say something strange? Are the benefits of owning a mine significant?”
“That’s right. Even worse, because we’ve lowered taxes due to the poor harvest this year, I wouldn’t doubt the Rodwell family is bringing in more money than us.”
“In other words, that means they have a lot of power?”
Even though we should’ve discussed a plan, Claire just smiled and tilted her head to the side. Then, she let out a sigh and said,
“We’ve received the first report from one of the graduates that were sent out to the surrounding villages.”
“Ah, I wonder what it says — they’ve only been out for about two months, so there’s probably not much to report.”
“Umm, well, they’ve mostly just done a little bit of consultation here and there.”
“…..Eh? Is there some kind of problem?”
“Because of you, otouto-kun.”
But all I did was send them out to the Grances territory. I wouldn’t feel safe sending a child out on their own, so they also have guards, but they’re paid a salary. And everything they’ve been taught can be shown to the villagers immediately. I seriously can’t think of anything that would be a problem….
“Did I do something?”
“Otouto-kun, didn’t you give the graduates a uniform?”
“Ah….that’s just proof that they’re graduates from the school. What’s wrong with that?”
“It seems there are many people trying to buy these uniforms from the graduates.”
….The first thing that came to my mind, was a special type of person that wants to buy girls’ used clothing. But that’s not it. It’s because the clothing they wear is made from materials they’ve never seen before. So, the people want to buy the uniforms.”
“Supposedly, the largest company in the country would like to sell the uniforms for 200 gold coins.”
“Even if you say 200 gold coins….I don’t know the value of that.”
Ah, I felt helpless, but it can’t be helped. Since being reborn in this world, I’ve never had to go shopping on my own.
“By the way, how much do we earn from taxes?”
“Approximately 1,200 gold.”
“What is it?”
“If we used all of our tax revenue, we’d only be able to buy six uniforms…..isn’t that too little?”
“The uniform is too expensive!”
……Right, that does make more sense.
“—-Hmm? Doesn’t that mean it’s risky for the graduates to be wearing the uniforms?”
“It could be dangerous if they are careless.”
“We can’t wait, we need to increase the number of guards immediately!”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve already taken care of that.”
I start to panic, but Claire just responds to me calmly. Then, she started to gracefully drink tea at her desk.
…….I’m at a disadvantage here. Maybe she doesn’t want to get angry?
“That company wants us to start selling the uniforms soon. They’d like us to sell to them first, before selling to any merchants or towns. For now, I’ve just postponed any talks with them.”
“So, everyone is well protected?”
“Yes, I prepared an excellent escort for them. Of course, I paid them well for the protection.”
Things can’t stay like this. This will become a serious issue if we don’t start selling the clothing soon. However, we should only sell it in a limited quantity at first.
“By the way, how much does an average person make yearly?”
“A farmer’s annual income is 1 – 4 gold coins.”
…….1 – 4 coins. So a farmer’s average salary over 80 years would be able to buy one uniform…..That’s ridiculous. With that price, would the king even be able to afford them?
Alright. I’ve been relying too much on Claire recently. I need to study the basics a little. If I don’t even know the incomes of the people of the country, I can’t possibly know how to help them properly.
“….I was just thinking, but the Rodwell family’s income is a little more than us, right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Then…..couldn’t we make more than them by selling uniforms?”
The price right now is 200 gold coins per uniform, but if we sell some the price will begin to drop. They would still sell for a lot considering they’re a unique luxury item.
If we mass-produce them and sell them, we will make more money than the Rodwell family.
“Did you finally realize it? If we monopolize any of your amazing creations, we can easily make more money than the Rodwell family. Well, otouto-kun wants to give everything out to the public for free….”
I finally understood why Claire has been so calm. We could easily generate more money than the Rodwell family.
“To be honest, the main concern is the Marquis of Gramp. Would the power we get from the excess money be enough?”
“Yes….in about a year or so, but we can start laying the groundwork now.”
“Send ten of the uniforms to the Marquis.”
“If the Marquis were a merchant that may be work. However, even though the Marquis was not directly involved in the incident with Patrick, attacking the Rodwell family like that reflects badly on the Marquis. In other words, the Marquis of Gramp feels insulted…”
“And we can’t make amends with money?”
I guess that would depend on the other party. Claire is at least somewhat acquainted with him. I asked her what kind of person he is.
“To be honest, I don’t know him that well, but he didn’t seem like a bad person….”
“So he seemed like a good person?”
“I’d say he seemed like he was usually a good-natured person. It’s possible he may be willing to take the money as reparations, but…..we don’t know him well enough to know how he’ll act. So, we need to prepare accordingly.”
“In the worst case scenario, we’d have to fight the Marquis……”
“Well, we’ll just need to come up with various strategies.”
After that, Claire had a meeting with someone else, we set out a basic strategy and ended our meeting.
After our meeting had ended and I left Claire’s office, I could feel multiple eyes watching me. As I looked around the hallway, I could see Sophia standing there.
“Sophia? What are you doing here?”
Sophia suddenly started crying. I panicked and quickly rushed over to her.
“Hiccup, sor….I’m sorry!……hiccup……Because of Sophia…..Because of Sophia, Tina onee-chan was hit. And I’ve caused Leon onii-chan so many problems.”
Ah, I see. She feels responsible for Patrick.
“You don’t have to worry about Patrick. It was my fault for not being able to protect everyone properly. So, there’s no need for you to cry, Sophia.”
“But….bu~ut………You said that the school could be destroyed. If the school were to end because of Sophia……uuu~”
“…..Were you listening to Claire and me?”
“I’m sorry. I overheard when I was outside.”
That makes sense. We never took any measures to soundproof the rooms. If Sophia were outside the door to the office, she would be able to hear us clearly. I gently stroked Sophia’s head to comfort her.
“You don’t need to be worried. The school will be fine. Claire just said that earlier to show me why I was wrong to do what I did. So, you don’t need to worry.”
—- This is a lie. Honestly, it is possible the school may be destroyed. However, I don’t want to worry Sophia, so I need to tell her this lie.
Even if that is a possibility, I’ll do whatever I can to prevent it.
“Really? It will really be fine?”
“It will absolutely be okay. It’s the responsibility of the onii-chan to take care of his imouto. So, you don’t need to feel responsible anymore.”
Sophia mutters to herself.
“You don’t like being called ‘imouto’?”
“No, I’m happy that you’ll protect me. But, Sophia doesn’t want to just be protected. If Patrick tries to harm onii-chan, Sophia will…….”
I grab both of Sophia’s hands and stop her from going any further. I looked into her red eyes and tried to keep her from going into the darkness.
“I’m happy that you want to protect me, but you can’t say stuff like that…..No, I don’t want you to say stuff like that. So, promise me you will never say stuff like that again.”
“But, Sophia can’t do anything else. I can’t use spirit magic like Alice onee-chan and I can’t handle important work like Claire onee-chan.”
“….I think you’re just comparing yourself to the wrong people.”
One person has the cheat of being a reincarnator and the other is a genius who was able to absorb most of the reincarnator’s knowledge in about a year.
“Sophia is like everyone else; I just want to help Leon onii-chan.”
“Well, you’re still a kid, there’s no need for you to rush.”
“But Leon onii-chan was already doing many things when you were around my age.”
Sorry, I’m a reincarnator, I’m definitely not normal. Seriously speaking, I think Sophia is a very gifted child…..I just think the people she compares herself to, are just too amazing.
“I understand your feelings, but, like I said, you don’t need to rush it—”
I suddenly cut my words there and turn my eyes to the end of the corridor.
“Tina, do you have a bad habit of eavesdropping?”
I could see the hem of her skirt disappearing and reappearing around the corner of the corridor. However, it suddenly became silent. Then, Tina seemed to give up on hiding and appeared from around the corner.
“…..When did you notice?”
“When I left the office I could tell more than one person was watching me. Is your cheek okay?”
“Umm…..Yes, Alice took care of it and the swelling has stopped.”
…..Was she hit hard enough that the swelling wouldn’t stop without Alice’s care? Seriously, that Patrick. She’s only twelve, yet he didn’t hold back at all.
“So, why are you here, Tina?”
“Eh, well…..Sophia-chan was acting strangely earlier. I also felt like I should apologize for before.”
“I see. It’s fine though, I made sure Sophia understood she isn’t responsible.”
“But, if I had kept my calm earlier, you wouldn’t have had to intervene.”
“If you say that, I’m the one that should’ve remained calm. You really don’t need to be worried about it. Besides that, you’ve been more worried about Sophia, right?”
I cut my words there and turned toward Sophia.
“I don’t know why you’re so worried Sophia, but everything will be fine. Okay?”
“….Yes, I understand.”
“Alright, then let’s have tea with Tina in the dining room.”
Like this, the disturbance caused by Patrick was over. One month later, we received a letter from the Marquis of Gramp.