Volume 3, Chapter 1-1: Identity Crisis

Alice brand clothing. It is clothing made using a design from a different world, made with technology that doesn’t exist in this world and using this world’s finest thread.

The dress currently being worn by Sophia would be classified as a luxury item even in Japan. This world is probably over a hundred years away from being able to make a dress of this quality.

Sophia, while wearing this dress, is staring, with her eyes sparkling, at the clothing shop Wells…….Well, I wonder what will happen.

“Leon onii-chan, can I not go inside?”

“W-Well, that’s….”

“Is it not okay? Am I causing you trouble, Leon onii-chan?”

She lowers her head and looks upward at me. How can I possibly say no to her now?

“I-If that’s what you want Sophia, it’s fine.”

“Yay! Then, let’s go look at clothes with Leon onii-chan!”

“S-Sure.”

Eh, how did it become like this!? We entered the store together. By the way, Alice and Claire were waiting outside the store for us.

“Hello~”

Sophia enters the shop with a bright voice. The sight of her blonde hair shaking back and forth was cute, but to me, she looked like a little devil in this situation.

“Welcome to Wells’ Clothing Shop. Our clothing is the best in the country. We even provide clothing for the royal family –”

After the clerk saw us, he seemed to freeze. Sophia didn’t notice and ran up to the shopkeep with a bright smile.

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“Please, show me your clothes~”

“………”

“Clerk?”

“Eh, right, excuse me! So you wanted to see our clothing!?”

The clerk looks over Sophia’s dress. I have a feeling I know what he’s thinking.

“I want you to pick out some clothing that will suit Sophia.”

“Clothing that will suit……this ojou-sama?”

“Yes. I heard that the clothing available here is the best in the country!”

“We were in the past. Our shop took pride in our reputation, but……that’s no longer the case!”

Why is he speaking in past tense!?

I wonder if he’ll be okay……Maybe he thinks we came to pick a fight. It may be better to just take Sophia and leave.

Before I can say anything to the clerk, he ran to the back of the store.

“….What’s wrong with the clerk?”

“I wonder…….Maybe he’s having a bit of an identity crisis?’

“……Identity crisis?”

“You don’t need to worry about it, Sophia.”

It seemed better not to explain the words from another world to her. By the way, it means something like self-loss or feeling insecure about one’s identity.

But, Sophia should be able to read the clerk’s emotions. Well, she may be able to understand how he’s feeling, but not necessarily know the reason why he feels that way.

“Wells-sama! Please, come out Wells!”

“Quit being so noisy!”

From the back of the store, I could hear the conversation between the clerk and what sounded like a middle-aged man. The middle-aged man had the same name as the shop.

“—Can’t you look after the store on your own?”

“No, it’s not that—”

The shopkeeper’s voice was coming closer and closer as he was explaining what was going on to the old man.

“You’re saying that a customer entered my shop wearing clothing of a higher quality than my own? Don’t be stupid. Clothing of that quality doesn’t exist in this world.”

A large, middle-aged man appeared before us.

“I’m sorry for keeping you all waiting. I apologize for the incompetence of my clerk — Uwaaa!?…..Ojou-sama, you were the one that wanted clothing….!?”

The store owner, Wells, becomes stunned when he sees her clothing. However, unlike the clerk who became pale at the sight of her dress, the owner — looked up into the sky.

And there was a moment of silence.

“….I do apologize, dear customer. However, Wells’ Clothing Shop has decided to close after today.”

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After Wells said this, he turned to the clerk and said, “I’m sorry, but you have been a loyal employee until now.”

“Wait a minute! Don’t you think it’s a little sudden to just close your store!?”

I quickly tried to stop the owner. I definitely didn’t intend for this to happen. I’d feel terrible if we were to cause someone to close their shop.

“Dear customers, I’m sorry but we can’t give you the clothing you desire. The clothing we make here is nowhere near the quality of the dress you’re wearing.”

“Is that so….”

Sophia seems to understand now.

Okay, it seems like it will be impossible to deceive her any longer. I’ll need to teach her the actual value of her clothing later.

“My friend told me about this shop but I’ve never seen the clothing from here.”

“Is that so.”

Sophia hangs her head apologetically and this causes the shopkeeper to panic.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I heard that Wells’ clothing was amazing.”

“No, we are the ones at fault here. There’s no reason to apologize.”

“But……hey, Leon onii-chan.”

Sophia looks at me with eyes full of disappointment.

Of course, I never intended on getting this shop closed. Therefore, it’s only natural that I would try to say something to them.

Still….They have pride in the clothing they make, but they are able to admit when someone has made higher quality clothing than them. This place is the best clothing shop in this world and I need some way to start selling our clothing. I wonder if we’d be a good match.

“Wells-san, do you know of the Grances territory?”

“Of course…..The Earl of Grances is in charge there and I’ve heard rumours of them creating many new technologies. You don’t mean —”

“Yes, this clothing was made in the Grances territory.”

“Well, I had heard the rumours, but not quite believed them myself…..this is quite the opportunity.”

Wells took a deep breath in.

“Do you think so? We currently are only able to produce a small amount of clothing and the price is outrageous, but if you were to make this clothing, do you think you’d be able to produce them faster?”

“No, I can tell just by seeing the quality of that clothing. It would take us five years to reach that level of craftsmanship….No, it would probably be ten years.”

“Even if we were to provide you with the technology?”

“You mean……You mean to just give us the technology to make these dresses?”

“The technology to make the clothing, the technology to make the fabric, and the materials needed. All kinds of technology.”

“What are you….”

Wells begins to look cautious.

“I’m Leon Grances, a human that has developed these technologies.”

“…..You’re saying you are the Earl of Grances?”

“I have no way of proving that, but I’d still like you to listen to what I have to say. You really have nothing to lose by just listening.”

“What you have to say?”

“Yes. Actually —”

I gave him a quick overview of what I have planned. I opened a school, taught various technologies to the students there, and, after this year, I plan to accept students from all over the country.

“…..You teach the students these techniques at this school?”

“Yes. I could have them work as apprentices while they’re in the Grances territory, but I would also like them to become students at the school.”

“I’m sorry, but……that story is just too impossible to believe.”

“I understand. So, please come to the Grances territory yourself. That way you can see it with your own eyes.”

“……I will. Now, assuming everything you said is a fact, how much would it cost to enroll in this school?”

Enrollment costs? Because I planned on employing the students at a later date, I never even thought of charging money. I don’t even know what a reasonable cost would be…..

I’ll need to talk with Claire to decide on a cost later.

“When you enroll in the school there will be a certain price required at that time,”

I then held up three fingers.

“…..Thirty gold pieces?”

Wells tentatively responded to my gesture. I shook my head in response.

“…..Of course, it must be three hundred gold coins. That makes sense. To be able to learn about such advanced technologies that much is expected…..”

A pretty somber answer. Still, it seems like he hasn’t given up on the idea even at the price of three hundred gold. Of course, I’m not actually going to charge that much. I shook my head once more.

“Just three gold coins.”

“………………ha?”

“That will cover their food expenses, rent, and tuition for the year. In addition to that, there are ways to reduce the costs by having the students work during the year or after their graduation.”

I also plan on creating a scholarship program of some kind. With that in place, students would hopefully be able to completely pay off the enrollment costs in under two years. Of course, these scholarships wouldn’t be for rich merchants or nobles.; they’d be exclusively for farmers.

“…..You’re saying everything would be covered with just three gold coins?”

“If the student stays in school for longer than two years there will be additional costs. However, there won’t be any more charges in the first year.”

“…..To be honest, I don’t understand how this would be profitable for you.”

“Well, I can understand that.”

We’ve started producing more of the uniforms, but the price has only dropped a little.

If we include the costs of the uniforms in that three gold, we’re already losing a good amount of money. Even if we don’t include that, the costs of the food, rent for the dormitory, school equipment, and administrative expenses will cost almost three gold. We’d just barely stand to make a profit.

“If you don’t expect to make a profit, then what do you get out of this?”

“…..Well, I’d rather not say.”

“To be honest, this all seems too good to be true. As of right now I just can’t believe you so why not tell me in order to convince me?”

He thinks I’m suspicious because it sounds too good? I didn’t expect that…..Well, I don’t want to tell this to too many people, but I’m the one that started this conversation. It can’t be helped.

“I’m offering these technologies to people because I want certain people to be happy.”

“Certain people? Why?”

“No, that reason is for me.”

To live a happy life with all of my friends I’ll need a good environment. However, if I were just to improve our territory, we’d quickly make enemies of the surrounding people.

Even if we have so much money we can’t spend it all, or the technologies we have are the best in the world, we can’t be happy if we are surrounded by enemies.

That’s why all of the money we earn is going to creating support systems throughout our territory. After securing enough money to improve our territory, the rest will go to improving the surrounding areas.

It may be unfortunate, but we can’t have one without the other.

“I don’t expect you to be able to understand.”

“….No, I’ve done this work for as long as I have because the people that wear my clothing are always so happy with the clothing I provide them. I think I can understand your feelings quite well.”

….Well, that’s not exactly the same reason, but there’s no reason for me to tell him it’s different.

“Anyway, is this enough for you to be convinced?”

“Yes. Please, allow my daughter to enroll in your school.”

“I’m glad to hear it……You’ll just need to pay the enrollment fee on that day. In the meantime, please send any necessary documents to Claire Ridill in the Grances territory.”

Well, with this, I’ve secured one new student. Even though I said that I only know her family name. All of the formalities can be taken care of on the day of enrollment.

“Oh, right. Our school intends on teaching various skills in addition to crafting clothing. So if you know of anyone that would be interested in joining, will you tell them about us?”

“If that’s what you want. I will make sure to tell everyone I know about your school.”

“Thank you.”

— I casually asked for him to promote our school. At the time, I only really expected an additional five or so students. I never expected what would actually happen…..

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