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Okami wa Nemuranai 41.14

14





"I was utterly outmatched."

"That cannot be true. Is he really that good?"

"He's also a man of mettle and reason. Considerate as well as merciful on others."

"A man worthy of such praises from you huh."

"There may be some eccentric and doubtful points about him, but he is a man with a well grounded foundation in personality and nobility."

"Oho."

"Lecan and Norma-sama have established a deep trust between each others."

"Is that right?"

"If Norma-sama is the one asking, that man is likely willing to listen. He is not someone who would try to sell favor or demand reward beyond his position."

"Uumu."

At this point of time, Findin had the worst impression on Lecan still. Far from this man Jinga spoke of. Thus he couldn't see where the talk was going.

"Manfrey-sama, I have a request."

Manfrey raised his face at Norma's word as he was deep in thought.

"Lecan should be exploring Dungeon Tsubolt right about now."

"Oho."

"Could you send a messenger there to check where and how he is doing now."

"Fumu. We could file a formal request to the marquis seeing it's Tsubolt, but I suppose it's best to keep this matter out of public eye. Very well. I shall send out several covert operatives."

Once the talk was over, Findin called out to Jinga in the hallway.

"Jinga-sama."

"What is it."

"It's about that adventurer Lecan you spoke of earlier."

"Fumu. What about it."

"Is this Lecan the same Lecan who raided Goncourt mansion during the night and murdered Zepus-sama?"

"Indeed."

"I cannot see how he is the person you praised so much."

"That might be true from your standpoint. But were you aware that Zepus-dono kidnapped Eda-dono by knocking her out in a surprise attack, and Lecan-dono came to the mansion to rescue her?"

"Eh? Kidnapped? I'm sure there is a better word for it."

"I wonder."

"Besides, even if there was a slight miscommunication, he could just wait until daytime to state his business and it would have been much less messy, yet he went and broke the gate at night and invaded the mansion, what was that if not a criminal. As for Eda-dono being invited to Goncourt, that would be for her good if she agreed to it, and she could always file a complaint to the townlord if not."

"Go check with Kanner to confirm the truth."

"I shall do so."

"Findin."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"Yes."

"I am Norma-sama's knight. Regardless of anything formally."

"Yes."

"I only wish for Norma-sama's safety and happiness. To that end, I shall abide by Norma-sama's commands. And that includes unspoken commands."

Jinga left after saying that much.

Findin repeated Jinga's words in his mind to digest them.

(I see.)

(To Jinga-sama, it doesn't matter what he personally thinks of Lecan in this context.)

(What's important is what Norma-sama thinks.)

(And Norma-sama wishes to make Lecan her proxy.)

(Thus why Jinga-dono said all that.)

(Then what about me?)

(I would like to be a retainer Norma-sama trusts.)

(Otherwise I won't be of use to Goncourt.)

(Therefore, I should think and act like Jinga-sama does.)

Nevertheless, Findin found it hard to believe that a knight of Jinga's caliber would say something that betrays his belief. He was bewildered by the praises Jinga gave Lecan.

Afterward, Findin started digging out what Norma thinks of Lecan little by little.

According to Norma, adventurer Lecan is not only the strongest and invincible, he's also a peerless user of <Recovery> magic, and even a transcendental master of apothecary. Even the Herb Saint and his pupils could only stare in awe at his craft. This Lecan also excels at distinguishing people's nature and their personality, which gently helped Norma dispel away the darkness in her heart.

After getting that much, it's obvious what Norma thinks of Lecan.

(This is no good.)

(When someone as capable as Norma-sama gets drunk in love.)

(She's blinded by it unable to make a sound judgment.)

(There's no way someone like that exists no matter how you slice it.)

(This Lecan guy is a fraud.)

At the end of the day, Findin's impression on Lecan, being a hooligan outlaw, didn't change. Womanizer and scoundrel even got added to the list.

Afterward, Wazrof's covert operatives found out that floors below 120 had been discovered at Dungeon Tsubolt, and Lecan was currently exploring those untrodden floors.

After finding that out, Manfrey changed his mind, and let Lecan be the proxy.

It may be a duel for Norma's courtship, but Wazrof's honor also hangs on the line. And since the Family Tree Record will eventually get revised either way, this matter is ultimately a courtship between pirate noble Fotos and Wazrof. In other word, it has a significant meaning in regards to future courtships for Wazrof.

Manfrey was going to summon Lecan, but Norma stopped him. He would be giving a bad impression if he got in the way of Lecan's dungeoneering.

Norma decided to go back to Vouka for the time being and waited for Lecan's return there.

If the time limit was nearing the deadline and Lecan had still not gone back, they would summon Lecan.

Even during her stay at Wazrof and back at Goncourt, Norma spent her whole time dealing with the manuscripts without rest. She would also occasionally give appropriate advice to deal with Goncourt's problems.

As he watched her, Findin came to greatly respect Norma. Additionally, he had asked Kanner regarding the details with Lecan's raid at Goncourt mansion, understanding that Lecan's side was on the right.

Findin was done with his reminiscence just as Norma finished writing the letter and called out to him.

"Findin. You must start your preparation to depart to the royal capital. I'm sorry for sending you when you must be busy, but It'd be a big help if you could depart as soon as you can once I'm done with the letter."

"Yes. I will get my luggage and wagon ready right away."

 

 

 

 

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Okami wa Nemuranai 41.13

13





Once Lecan went home, Norma called Findin to her office.

"Findin. You are to go to the capital ahead of time."

"Yes."

"Deliver my letter to Pentaros-dono as soon as you possibly can. I would prefer if you could arrive at the capital before Pentaros-dono and wait for his return there. The sooner we can start negotiating the better."

"Yes."

After saying that much, Norma started writing a letter on her desk.

Findin kept staring at Norma.

Not a word she said to Lecan was a lie. However, neither has she told everything.

After the Courtship Duel was decided, Jinga was called into the room to have a chat with Pentaros and Solusgia for a while. Pentaros's aide, Penvik Furoda, and Solusgia's aide, Pankota Mazo also joined in.

After a while, Pentaros said this.

"And here I wanted to see Jinga-dono's fight against our Shock Corps' commander, Viska, what a shame."

Norma looked at Pentaros with a smile on her face, yet she said nothing.

"Surely they are yet to finish revising lady Norma's status into the family tree. Which means that as the chief knight of Wazrof, Jinga-dono cannot be treated as lady Norma's retainer. Unfortunately, you can't be her proxy."

Findin found it weird.

Even if the Family Tree Record has not been revised yet, Norma is still a legitimate child of Sasfrey Wazrof. In other word, she's still Jinga's lord. Only the family head of Wazrof can decide whether Norma is a member of Wazrof. As such, saying Jinga cannot be Norma's proxy contains no logic behind it.

Yet, Norma didn't say a word to deny Pentaros.

"Perhaps so. We ourselves have been appealing to the prime minister to hurry with the revision."

"Would be nice if it went well."

That was when Penvik Furoda left the place.

(He must be heading to the PM Office.)

(To pressure them into withholding the Family Tree Record revision.)

Since even Findin noticed that, there's no way the clever Norma wouldn't. And yet, Norma kept inexplicably doing nothing and stayed around chatting with Pentaros.

Findin was getting flustered.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
(Should I not wait for my order?)

(Maybe I should move out on my own here?)

Findin nonchalantly tried to leave the place as well. He must run to the PM Office.

"Findin. Where are you going."

But Norma stopped him.

"Your job is to stay here and take in all the conversation without missing a word. You are then to give me advice when needs to."

"M-ma'am."

In the end, Norma did nothing to stop Pentaros's scheme.

Then they met again at this <Snow Flower Arbor> on the 30th to iron out all the particulars for the duel and made an oath.

Afterward, Norma stayed at Wazrof mansion in the capital for two days, yet she never made any move besides the one time she sent Fujisur to the PM Office.

Naturally the prime minister evaded Fujisur's demand and while he promised the revision would be done, he could not commit on the date.

More than that even, while the PM won't be involved in the Courtship Duel, he believes that House of Fotos's claim that Norma belongs to Goncourt as their heiress stands to reason.

Norma came back to Mashajain on the 37th.

Manfrey was enraged when he heard the details, but Norma remained calm.

"Manfrey-sama. The other party believes that everything is going as they have planned. We should let them be."

"Norma. Is there a strong knight at Goncourt?"

"There is none."

"Then Wazrof shall lend you one. We have several knights whose skill in sword won't lose to Jinga in his prime."

"I don't think they will agree to it."

"Like we could let that nonsense pass. And besides, were House of Fotos bow their head to Wazrof seeking for a wife, and you agree to it, we would have not interfered, but snatching a lady of Wazrof right under our nose through losing a duel would be humiliating. How are you so composed."

"It doesn't have to be a retainer, a relative will do as well."

"Relative? Your relatives--"

"To tell you the truth, I have a fiance."

"What. Who is it."

"An adventurer by the name Lecan."

"Eeeh?"

It was Eda who voiced her surprise here. Everybody turned to look at Eda.

"L-Lecan is Norma-san's fiance? S-since when?"

"Eda. That's just what I make them believe. So he can participate in the duel as my family."

"Ah, so it's like that."

"Wait, hold it. Lecan? Who is that? An acquaintance of Eda-dono?"

"Not just an acquaintance see, like, you know I conquered Dungeon Ninae with Heles-san, right?"

"Umu. Truly a surprise."

"Our party is called <Willard> see, and Lecan is the leader."

"What. Conquerer of Ninae eh. And he's responsible as the party leader. Fumu."

"I have actually told Pentaros-sama regarding adventurer Lecan being my fiance and gotten his permission to let him participate as my proxy if I am to belong to Goncourt."

"Is that true. You really work fast. Hold it. By Lecan, do you mean apothecary Lecan?"

"Lecan is an apothecary too, yes."

Manfrey seems to know about apothecary Lecan. Since the Herb Saint Entourage must have made a stop at this town, he must have heard it from either priest Amamir or a member of the entourage.

Jinga spoke to Manfrey as he put on a difficult look.

"Manfrey-sama."

"Hm? What's the matter, Jinga."

"I have had the opportunity to clash swords with Lecan-dono."

"What."

 

 

 

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Okami wa Nemuranai 41.12

 12





"Hold it. I don't really get the flow of events. Why'd you do that duel thing too?"

Lecan interrupted.

"I made use of the mood set at the time from lady Heles requesting the Courtship Duel to request for the same thing as well."

"Hmm? But even if you got Jinga as your proxy, there's no telling what kind of warrior they're gonna send out or their equipment. No guarantee the judge will be fair either. Looks to me you're taking unnecessary risk there."

"Lecan. You're worried about me. Thank you. That makes me happy."

"Seeing it's you, can't you think up other methods?"

"The other party would only get suspicious if I used roundabout ways. I owe great deal to Wazrof. I didn't want to put them in a difficult situation. And I knew this Courtship Duel would be desirable to those guys."

"So has that duel been done? What's the result?"

"Oh it's not yet held. Both Pentaros-dono and Solusgia-dono sailed away on a ship for some business at Dresta Kingdom."

"Hou."

"They would be coming back to Zaka Kingdom on the last third of month sixth, and we made a promise to meet again on the 30th of month seven. "

As today is the 7th of month seven, arriving at the capital on the 30th is doable. But she must depart within three days time.

"Nothing for me to do then."

"By the way, Lecan. Jinga cannot participate as my proxy."

"What?"

"The Family Tree record has not bee revised yet. So I'm not a Wazrof yet. No, I'm undoubtedly related to Wazrof, but my standing as a heiress of Goncourt is stronger. Thus, I'm formally seen as a member of Goncourt."

"That can't be. I don't really get it, but that Family Tree Records thing should get revised no problem so long you bring undeniable proof. Not even the PM Office can't ignore it if Wazrof presses on them, no?"

"Of course they can't. The revision will definitely take place. But apparently it won't make it in time before the duel. The prime minister was weirdly confident about that point. House of Fotos was probably behind it. House of Indole might also have hands."

"Then that Family Tree Records thing won't be revised?"

"It might be if I lower my head to either the PM or Pentaros-dono. But that would mean owing them debts. Not a good idea."

"Hold it. Thinking again, not like you need to be a Wazrof anyway. Jinga is your knight."

"That's not true, Lecan. Remember, Jinga is the chief knight of Wazrof now."

"Ah, yeah right. Then Wazrof can just dismiss him for the time being."

"That would be the same as borrowing a knight from another house."

"What a pain. Hm? But that means I can't be your proxy either."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"I'm sorry but I had you pegged as my fiance."

"What?"

"I'm not sure how detailed they have investigated Vouka and the surroundings. So I can't just lie outright. However, the fact that you are close to me is public knowledge. No one can prove that we are not engaged. The moment you give your okay, it becomes the truth, and no one would be troubled if we tamper with the engagement date a bit."

Lecan looked at Eda.

"Eda. What do you think?"

"You should get engaged, I think."

"Hou?"

"You're the only one who could save Norma-san, Lecan. I'm also asking here. And besides. The marriage proposals to Norma-san are getting really annoying."

"Was that Pentaros guy that annoying?"

"Not him, I'm talking about Vouka nobles you see. And we've even been getting proposals from neighboring town nobles lately. To the point that Norma-san is losing precious time to write back to them."

"Hmph. Guess it's fine if you're fine with it."

"And you get to be a noble if you marry Norma-san, and nobles can have a lot of wives, so it's all right."

"What's all right?"

"Ehehe."

"Hmph. Well whatever, it's the site that's the problem. Must it be held at the capital."

"Yes well, it's a courtship between two marquis houses after all. It's scheduled to be held at the arena in the royal palace. What makes you loathe the capital so much, Lecan?"

Lecan told them his actual situation. Jinga and Findin were also present, but he didn't mind them being people Norma trust, he divulged how he is a Descender, and that Yacklubend likely has a strong interest in his equipment and possibly ability and how he had a presentiment meeting Yacklubend would end up ugly to him. He didn't specify what kind of equipment he had or Yacklubend had interest in however.

"Hmmm."

Norma got lost in thought. At this point, Norma did not fully understand Lecan's reasoning yet. However, she still got how Lecan is unwilling to go to the capital.

"I will have them change the duel location."

"Can you do that."

"There is no mistake that the prime minister has employed some dirty tricks in this matter. One cannot expect a fair duel held in an arena under that prime minister's control. At the very least, I will be distrustful. I won't be able to accept getting married off even if my proxy lost. Thus how I will write to Pentaros-dono."

"Hou, I see."

"Besides, it's not like the prime minister is an ally to Fotos or Indole either. There is simply no telling what kind of tricks he will utilize for the sake of the royal family. That's one thing you cannot trust the prime minister with. There's also a chance of him putting me at an advantage at the eleventh hour to make Wazrof owe him a debt. They likely will agree to changing the duel location if I tell them that."

"That would be good."

"Lecan."

"Hm?"

"So you will go in this duel as long as it's not at the capital."

"Yea, of course."

"As my fiance."

"I don't care either way, but will that guy agree to having your fiance as the proxy?"

"I have acquired his understanding on that. Adventurer Lecan which is also my fiance is to be my proxy for as long as I am a member of Goncourt. Their proxy will be a commander of Shock Corps, Viska Kouen."

"You sure work quick."

"They will have the right to choose the duel location. It can't be towns where Wazrof or Rainzats's influences are strong. They likely won't choose a town under their control as well for the sake of their prestige, but who knows in the end."

"I don't care where so long as it's not the capital."

"Hmm. I got it, Lecan. I'll give it my all."

"Please do."

They left Vouka for Mashajain two days later. Vouka is simply too far to advance the negotiation.

 

 

 

 

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Okami wa Nemuranai 41.11

11





Pentaros burst out laughing.

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That's damn good. You're amazing. I like how you shut down that slimy raccoon PM."

Then Pentaros suddenly put on a serious look.

"Lady Norma."

"Yes?"

"<Crimson Blade Lady Nicola> was a master of swords, but it was her resourcefulness that was truly tremendous. As a matter of fact, <Pirate King> could only able to amass power in one generation thanks to Nicola. Now is exactly the time for our Nicola."

Pentaros swiftly left his chair, moved next to Norma and knelt down.

"Pentaros-sama?"

"I've fallen for you!"

"What?"

"I'm completely taken by Your beauty, character and wisdom!"

"What?"

"Please become my Nicola."

"Whaa?"

Is this really a marriage proposal.

Perhaps it's some kind of idiomatic ways to propose.

He's pretty much telling her to take his head here.

But this is likely the highest form of courting in their sense.

Even Norma froze up unable to react to this, and this time Solusgia knelt down before Heles.

"My <Crimson Blade Lady> can only be you. Lady Heles, be my legal wife."

Solusgia also proposed to Heles.

Perhaps these two had made an arrangement beforehand. Discussing which to marry whom.

No, that's not it. Probably not it.

But thinking again, Pentaros is 30, Norma is 27. Solusgia is 26 and Heles is 22. This matching is only natural.

Thus how Pentaros sat in front of Norma while Solusgia took the seat before Heles.

But these men probably didn't decide anything further than that. Everything after that would be up to their own sensibilities. Meaning, Pentaros came to take fancy on Norma, while Solusgia on Heles during their conversation. Goodness gracious. Who'd think it'd come to this.

Norma is confident in her lack of charm. Thus she never thought this whole thing would go in this direction.

Pentaros moved his knees to get closer to Norma and took her right hand.

Norma gently, but resolutely brushed that hand aside.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
Norma felt a shiver the moment Pentaros took her hand.

This was weird. As a matter of fact, Norma did not come to hate Pentaros in this dine together. In fact, she even had a good impression on his character.

Yet, she felt abhorred when he touched her. This was Norma's thought then.

(I'd rather die than let other men besides Lecan touch me.)

Even Norma found it surprising she could hold such an intense emotion. However, Norma has a perfect grasp of her own feeling due to this. No one but Lecan should be her husband. She won't marry anyone else if that does not come true.

Just realizing that alone made this marriage interview worth it.

She looked at Heles.

Wonder how her cousin would react. Marrying into a powerful marquis house and having control over rowdy men of the sea might surprisingly fit this lady knight.

Heles stared at Solusgia and spoke.

"I have heard about this tradition called Courtship Duel that exist in harbor towns."

"Y-yeah. That tradition exists. <Crimson Blade Lady Nicola> told Daros he could marry her only if he won against her in a duel. Daros would then keep on challenging her over and over again before finally snatching a miraculous victory, making Nicola into his wife. And that became a custom."

"I don't want to marry a man weaker than me."

"Ooh!"

Solusgia's eyes opened wide. Shining with joy. His gaze has gotten dangerously close to worship even.

"Solusgia Indole."

"Yes."

"I grant you a chance to challenge me in a duel to take me as your wife."

"I humbly accept!"

Solusgia made an exaggerated bow.

"I shall be yours if you prevail against me. But in the event that you lose, you are to never bring this matter up anymore!"

"Ma'am! Oh what honor. What joy. My lady, I shall surely make the blooming flower of Transhe become mine by way of my sword."

Weird.

Everything about this is weird.

Is what's occurring before Norma's eyes truly how a courtship between nobles performed?

There was some part in Norma's heart that yearned for courtship rituals. She was aware that would never apply to her, but she imagined how there must be some truly romantic courtships out there in the world.

But what's going on before her looks like the very picture of a duel challenge instead.

How'd it come to this.

Reis is face palming behind lady Heles. Did he predict this flow of event. Probably not.

"Lady Norma! Will you answer my proposal!"

(Ah, right I'm getting proposed too over here.)

Norma turned to look at Pentaros.

Something flashed in her mind.

Norma smiled joyfully and asked Pentaros.

"Pentaros-sama. Can this courtship duel be done by proxies?"

"Ou! 'Course it can. So long as the other party agreed to it. However, the proxy must be either a retainer or a relative. In other word, you cannot borrow some strong knight from another house or hire a strong adventurer with money. And if one side sends a proxy, the other side will also send a proxy."

"Either a retainer or a relative."

"Yeah."

"Then I would also like to do this courtship duel. If your proxy can win against my proxy, I shall be your wife. If my proxy wins, please think of it as the end of the line for our relationship. We will never see each other again."

"What a wonderful proposal."

Pentaros laughed.

Norma too.

Norma has predicted how Pentaros would act after this. She's also made a sound prediction on the prime minister's moves.

And with this, Norma will get her hands on her wish.

 

 

 

 

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Okami wa Nemuranai 41.10

 10





Solusgia and Heles had been listening to Pentaros and Norma's conversation in silence, but then Solusgia spoke as if he was following up Pentaros's words.

"Lady Heles. Forgive us for speaking badly of your uncle. But to be frank with you, us men of the sea just cannot agree with that type."

"Solusgia-dono. You need not apologize. Even I was getting angry as I listened to Norma just now."

"Hahaha. Your character is like that of a female pirate. Right, if I'm not mistaken, prime minister-dono was against you becoming a knight of the royal princess."

"Yes, that's true. Uncle visited me urging me to get married, then when he found out I wouldn't give up on my dream to become a knight, he told me he'd support my aspiration if I could conquer a fitting dungeon. Despite of that, he schemed around behind my back to make sure that no strong adventurers in the capital's Adventurer Association would take my quest."

"Yeah that. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard that you conquered Dungeon Ninae. I've also heard about how the proof, Queen Spider's head and legs have been put at the entrance to the inner palace as a way to intimidate those with wicked thoughts."

Afterward, everyone listened to Heles narrating her story of exploring the dungeon. Heles did mention how she met three powerful adventurers who joined her to conquer the dungeon, but she wouldn't specify their names.

(Wonder why won't she say Lecan's and Eda's names.)

(And that Arios man too.)

(No, wait. I see.)

It's probably because she loathes to talk about their names so lightly. That's how much Heles treasures her experience at Ninae.

"Well damn. Oy, Solus. Doesn't this remind you of <Crimson Blade Lady Nicola>."

"I had the same thought, Taros. Never saw a landlubber woman like this."

<Crimson Blade Lady Nicola> must refer to the wife of the <Pirate King Daros> which had his heydays long before the founding of Zaka Kingdom. Daros fell for Nicola and kept proposing to her, but Nicola would always reject him every time. But then Daros's persistence finally bore fruit, and he miraculously managed to marry Nicola. Afterward, Daros would go on to reign supreme over vast seas and coasts to the point of becoming known as <Pirate King> but he was an extremely capricious man who fooled around with women everywhere, in the end he was beheaded by an angry Nicola.

This <Crimson Blade Lady Nicola> must be what Gido and Smarc consider the best kind of woman. Incidentally, both Marquis of Gido and Marquis of Smarc asserted that they were descendants of Daros and Nicola. Fujisur told Norma that knowing this story is the traditional way to understand the characters of Gido and Smarc.

The two are looking longingly at Heles.

"I wonder if <White Snow Flower Princess> was a dignified lady like her."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"She must be. Gotta watch out for our heads else they came off."

Pentaros and Solusgia happily laughed together.

These two have a weird sense of humor.

Heles probably came dressed in full armor to make a point that she's not your usual lady, to make them think they shouldn't make her their wife. But that plan backfired on her instead.

You'd normally think those who would fall for such a graceful lady like princess Lorecia can't possible harbor any interest in someone who attends a marriage interview in armor. Yet these men somehow see vestiges of <Crimson Blade Lady Nicola> on that painting of her.

(Hold on.)

(Who said that princess Lorecia was a graceful lady.)

(I came to that conclusion just from seeing her portrait.)

(I merely imagined that's how she was from the name <White Snow Flower Princess>.)

(What proof do I have to say that what these men believe is the false one here?)

"Oh yeah, lady Norma."

"Yes?"

"Did that raccoon PM try to worm his way into planting his subordinates for today with you?"

"Yeah. He did make an attempt."

"What? What did that old coot say to you?"

"Just as we were done talking and heading for the door, he called us and said this. 'Ah, also, since the dinner tomorrow will be held at a garden owned by the royal family, some PM Office personnel will be present incognito, I hope you understand. Naturally, we have sent messengers to Marquis of Gido and Marquis of Smarc about this matter.'"

"That damn old goat. And? How did you reply."

"I spoke thus to the house aide of Wazrof. 'Send messengers to the two marquises and tell them that the prime minister has offered the presence of PM Office's personnel during the dinner, ask them if we should approve this. Ah and also, ask them if Prime Minister-Dono had sent them a messenger and what that messenger said. I shall wait here.'"

"What? I see. Well, damn. Hahahahaha. And how did that old raccoon respond?"

"He said, 'No need for those messengers. It's my bad. I take back what I said.'"

 

 

 

 

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Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku 18-20

18-20. Echigoya Firm's Struggle

 

"Tifaliza, Nell, here it is."

Kuro-sama brought us to a luxurious mansion located in the noble district of the royal capital.

"H-h-here fer'real?! It's practically a palace tho'?"

Nell voiced her surprise while roughing up her red disheveled hair.

I don't blame her surprise.
It looks far more luxurious than the castle of Earl Leseu where we worked at. That one was bigger size-wise though.

"Don't worry about it. This is but a mansion the king forced on my master."
"F-from the king! That's nuts!"

There are armored men guarding the gate.

"Tifa-san, it's knights-sama ssuyo! Knights-sama're guarding the gate ssu!"
"Those are living armor."
"Living armor ssuka! Never seen one before ssu!"

Getting Living Armor to guard a gate sounds just like tales of mages I read in my childhood.

"Let's go Nell. You can stare at them all you want later."
"Y-yaissu!"

Kuro-sama reproved Nell who was going to peek inside a Living Armor's visor.

We entered the mansion with Kuro-sama leading the way.

"The garden's nuts too!"

The front garden seems to be well maintained by skilled gardeners, the hedges have been nicely pruned into passages.
Vibrant flowers are blooming above the hedges. Since all of them are blooming, flowers that were about to bloom must be carefully placed there to make them stand out more. That must be a lot of work.
It's pretty, but am I a boring woman for thinking that it's a bit ridiculous?

--Gazes.

I could feel multiple gazes pouring at me as I admired the front garden.
I turned my eyes while being careful not to move my face and found out many young women looking down here from a floor above.
They must be assessing us, the new people Kuro-sama brought over.

"Tifa-san, look over there ssu."

As I turned at the direction Nell pointed, a heavy looking door with an elaborate carving was let open as someone came out of it.

--What a beautiful woman.

Her well cared wavy golden hair would glister every time she took a step.
The dress she's wearing must be tailored by a first-rate dressmaker too. Judging from the delicate lathes on her dress, she must be of a much higher standing than us civil officials.

A daughter of high ranking noble.

No, from her calm demeanor and confident look, she must be the proprietress of this mansion. We're going to serve under her from now on.

I do think I'm being shameless for wanting to work under Kuro-sama despite being a slave.
Wonder if having that wish is a sin?

"Kuro-sama! Welcome back."
"Umu. Thanks for fetching us."

The woman is beaming as she looks at Kuro-sama.
Only Kuro-sama is reflected in her eyes, not even a glance for us. Surely slaves aren't worth one to her. I've heard Earl Lesseu referring to slaves as nothing more than tools to nobles.

"""Kuro-sama! Welcome back."""

As the woman led the way inside the mansion, the other women that were by the window earlier had all lined up in a huge hall with a huge hanging chandelier, all welcoming Kuro-sama. A great number of maids are standing by behind them.

"Have you not got the uniforms yet?"
"Yes, the dressmaker is hurrying it up, but it will only be ready the day after tomorrow at the latest."
"I see."

--Uniforms?

I was puzzled inwardly as I listened to their conversation.
I made a gesture to Nell who was about to speak out next to me, to keep quiet. There is no telling the punishment you'd get from interrupting a conversation between nobles.

"Allow me to introduce these two. They are Tifaliza and Nell, they will be working with you from now on."

Kuro-sama introaduced us.

"Nice to meet you. I am in charge of managing of Echigoya Firm, Elterina. I have heard about the matter from Kuro-sama. Tifaliza-san is to be in charge of paperwork and accounting, while Nell-san will work as a subordinate of workshop manager Porina we will introduce to you later."

--San?

Wonder if Kuro-sama never told her our status.

"Elterina-sama, we're both Kuro-sama's slaves. Please don't worry about using honorifics."
"Kuro-sama's--."

Elterina was at a loss for word once she heard me.
Her noble pride must wounded for having interacted equally with a noble.

But it seems Elterina-sama is quite a master.

She only showed her true nature for an instant.
Afterward, she was all smiles at us without looking angered in the least.

She might just be faking that in front of Kuro-sama, but my experience tells me that she's not the type who'd do that. I'm confident in that assessment after watching countless people with that exact type keeping up appearance only to senior positions and opposite sex at Earl Lesseu's castle.

"Tifaliza-san, I am aware that you two are slaves. However, I have been told that it was done out of necessity to protect Kuro-sama's secret."

Kuro-sama's secret?
Is she talking about the false names I put with my Naming skill?
No, she must mean the teleport magic and chantless casting.

"I have also been instructed to treat you like my equal coworkers. I do recommend the use of decorum in a professional setting, but I do not mind if you act like yourself outside that."
"I gotcha ssu!"

Nell-san spoke out loud before I could stop her.
Or perhaps she simply has no concept of lip service.

"Is that all right with you Tifaliza-san?"
"Yes, Elterina-sama. I am truly grateful for your kindness."

Elterina-sama who looked completely unaffected by Nell's rudeness frowned a bit by my word.
Did I make a mistake somewhere?

"Well then, I'll leave the rest to you."

Even after Kuro-sama teleported away, the girls' attitude didn't change one bit.

--No, it did.

"So so, were you two saved by Kuro-sama too?"
"Why were you working separately until now?"
"Did Kuro-sama ask for your companion?"
"Have you ever met the hero-sama Kuro-sama works under?"

These noble ladies flooded us with questions.

"Stop pushing ssu. I'll answer you one by one ssuyo."

I froze up due to shock but Nell took up the role of satisfying the girls' curiosities.
I reproved her when she got carried away and started speaking some unfounded stuff, yet the girls only laughed at her, no one got angry.

"Tifaliza, I will be expecting good work from you."
"Yes, Elterina-sama. I shall give my everything to fulfill my duty."
"That's the spirit. Let's make Echigoya Firm the best in the kingdom to repay this great debt we owe Kuro-sama."

The chief executive's words warmed me up.

I was bewildered by how different the atmosphere here compared to my civil official training school and my duty at Earl Lesseu's castle, but I realized just how nice it was once I got used to it.
Because no one would find fault with my looks, no one pushed their workload on me, no one badmouthed me in whisper behind my back, and no one would get violence here.







"No..."

I was despairing alone in the personal room given to me.

Once I was done with sorting out the cluttered receipts into the ledger--it was clear that Echigoya Firm was on the brink of bankruptcy, no, more like we're certainly going bankrupts with all the debts.

Maybe I miscalculated somewhere.

With that in mind, I checked and rechecked many times.
After confirming that it was correct, I looked through sales and purchases slips and found more instead, pushing me deeper into despair.

I could report as is, but that would only expand the despair.

I must pick up where the problem lies and prepare a reorganization plan for Elterina-sama.
I sort out all the issues found in the ledger and compare it with the business plan on the shelf to look for any divergence.

First of all, there are two main points that created a lot of expense.

The first point is the philanthropic work of emergency food distribution. The plan was for 300 servings a day, yet it's swelled up to 900 servings a day now. Three times the original plan.
I went to the food distribution site suspecting an embezzlement, but there really were close to 1000 people present. There might be more even.

The second point is the cost of running the workshop. The business plan only had 50 employees, yet my calculation of personnel expenses revealed there are 200 employees. Inspecting on site there were 300 employees. I'm afraid to check the next labor cost.

The non-profit venture aside, our revenue would have looked different had the goods produced in the workshop sell. There should be more goods produced with six time the number of personnel available.

However, the workshop's income has been written off.

It's not selling.

Small articles created in the workshop have been piling up in the warehouse adjacent to the workshop.
Normally, the workshop would have ceased its operation but since it was apparently a social venture to help widows and the poor who were on the verge of selling themselves, the scale could not be reduced.

There's still enough funds from the initial funding, but it's shrinking fast from the personnel expenses that at the rate this is going, there is just no way to pay the accounts payable like raw materials for the workshop and food distribution by the end of this month.

We may make it if only our entire inventory can be sold, but unless it sells 100 times the current rate, it just won't make the deadline.
Checking the goods, they're not especially appealing nor cheap, they're just your ordinary everyday stuff.

There is no way they could be sold en masse.

"...It's impossible."
"Impossible, about what?"

I sprung up to look at the sudden voice.

The chief executive, Elterina-sama is there.
She heard me grumbling without thinking.

"Oh pardon me, I did not mean to surprise you. I knocked on the door but you never replied back, then I was worried if you were feeling unwell when I heard groans from inside."

Groans... I control myself to not show my embarrassment outwardly.

"Please forgive me, Elterina-sama."
"Oh there's nothing to forgive about. --Oh wait, are you done with the ledger?"
"...Yes."

She saw the open account book.

I have no choice.
I still haven't come up with any plan or idea but I am going to report our current situation.


<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >





"Elterina-sama, I am done sorting out the ledger. As you can see for yourself here, we are greatly in the red."
"My, that's bad."

The Chief Executive Elterina could only tilt her head at the huge crisis Echigoya Firm is facing.
I suppose financial crisis just doesn't feel real to a noble born lady like her.

"We will not be able to settle the debt we owe to our partners."

The accounts payable from last month will be billed at the end of this month.
It will be a certain non-payment at the rate this is going.

"Oh that won't do. Let's go consult Kuro-sama."

Elterina-sama walked to the comm room while looking cheerful.
The room houses several carrier pigeons Kuro-sama gave us.

A day after a pigeon was released, Kuro-sama came by.

"I see that you are lacking capital."

As he said that, Kuro-sama took several heavy looking bags from his (Item Box).
Glittering gold coins could be seen inside the bags. There should be around 1000 gold coins in total.

"Fumu, it appears we have a dearth of customer visits."

After showing the account book to Kuro-sama, he quickly figured out the problematic points without anyone explaining him.

I brought up this issue whenever I participated in the board meeting as a record keeper, and we all came to an agreement that it was because we didn't have eye catching goods.

Echigoya Firm mainly sells daily necessities produced in the workshop, with a bit of magic potions and magic medicine made by alchemists and apothecaries.
The latter is selling well, but for the former, since the goods aren't of exceptionally high quality nor novel, they're just doing okay.

"We need some sort of eye catcher products."
"As expected of Kuro-sama! I thought the same."

Elterina-sama agreed with Kuro-sama.
As I'm in agreement as well, I waited for Kuro-sama to continue.

"Can't this be one?"
"A sword?"

Kuro-sama fetched a very utilitarian looking long sword.
Only fashionable swords for nobles and good swords for caravan escorts and knights sell in the royal capital. Since the former needs the looks to sell, utilitarian looking swords like this won't do good. As for the latter, if the swords aren't made by famous smiths, even getting it picked by a client is almost impossible.

"Yeah, a magic sword."
"""Magic sword!"""

They are weapons that can rarely be found in treasure chests inside dungeons any warrior would compete to get one.
I've even heard of one selling for hundreds of gold coins.

"Ku-Kuro-sama! Can I draw it for a bit?"
"Yeah sure."
"Me next! Me."
"No, that's me."

The executives scrambled to get their hands on the magic sword.
Come to think of it, apparently about half of the executives were former explorers at Labyrinth City Selbira together with Elterina-sama.

...Ore more like, you're one of them, Elterina-sama.

As Elterina-sama took up the magic sword with a smile on her face, a red light smoothly flowed through the blade.
This is a magic sword. This is my first time seeing one, I had no idea it was this beautiful.

"No way, the mana flows so smoothly."
"I feel like I could generate magic edge now."

The executives were getting excited.

"So all magic swords are this amazing."
"Of course not. My family heirloom magic sword would take 20-30 times this much mana to fill its blade to the tip compared to this one. This magic sword is of exceedingly high quality."

Elterina-sama corrected one of the executives.

"Kuro-sama, shouldn't a magic sword this excellent be presented to his majesty the king than being sold?"
"Worry not. My master has presented 100 magic swords to this country already. This is a catalogue. All payment is due for Echigoya Firm, use them as funds. You will be responsible for their usage and processing."

Kuro-sama handed me a document.

--100 magic swords?

Don't dungeons only drop a few of them a year?

"--Th-this is!"

As I skimmed over the document, I found something truly eye popping.

"What's wrong? Tifaliza."
"Elterina-sama, please have a look at this."
"Airships?!"

Elterina-sama yelped.
Yes. The catalogue not only has 100 magic swords but also 200 magic spears and large airships as well as air force engines for airship use.

--And all of them have been delivered.

The kingdom adopts deferred payment to Echigoya Firm, 1500 gold coins every month for more than a year.

There is no worry of Echigoya Firm getting in the red for the time being.
It's a bit brute force-ish, but that's so like Kuro-sama.

"And I also have this. Put them on sales."
"--This is?"

It's a board with a pole and some wheels.
It might be usable as a cart if the board is a bit wider, but not like this.

"It's called a kickboard."
"""Cakeboard?"""

All the executives spoke in unison.
Looks like I'm not the only one unfamiliar with a kickboard.
Apparently you grab on the [Handle] connected to the board, put one of your foot on the board and the other foot to kick the ground to accelerate.

Kuro-sama showed a demonstration.
It's faster than I thought.

"This will sell! I'm very sure of it."

Elterina-sama boldly proclaimed after she tried it on following Kuro-sama.

...Will it really? I don't personally think so though.

"Tifaliza, you go give it a try too."

Elterina-sama encouraged me to try, but as someone with zero athletic ability I tumbled over right away.
It looks like child's play to these executives, them being former adventurers, but the thing demands some motor nerves.

"It's gonna sell!"
"""OOOO!"""

The executives pumped their fist in fervor after a test ride.
Apparently it's been decided that we are going to push this item hard.

The me at the time was unaware that this would be a start of a new nightmare.







"We're sold out!"

Nell who was working as a temp sales girl came reporting in all smile.

Sold out, is it...

"Oh and they told me to ask when's the next delivery for the stock."
"The day after tomorrow at the latest."
"Numbering in--."
"30 at most."
"That's way too few Tifa-san! It's gonna sold out the moment we open door ssu!"
"Yes, I know."

Who would have known kickboards would be this popular.

At first it wasn't selling at all, but then Elterina-sama suggested we donated a few to the Childhood School of the Royal Academy.
Then the day after, we got our first order, which continually increased day by day afterward, to the point that production can't keep up anymore now.

New orders won't stop even after we switched to made to order model.
Along with an increase of forceful inquiries.

"Report from workshop chief Porina! We're running out of raw materials for the wheels and bearing faster than anticipated."
"No way! The waiting list is two months full you know? There'll be a riot if we postpone further!"
"Oh no."

Executive Merina shouted with a pale face to hear the report. Executive Rouna looked unconcerned.
Chief executive Elterina told Merina, "It will be okay", before turning to me.

"Tifaliza, what about the production increase request?"
"I have already filed for one. They replied back saying they are already at the limit of manufacturing speed."
"When is the next delivery date?"
"It's due in 90 days."
"They said they do inspection all the time, didn't they?"
"Yes, that's what we were told."
"Then tell them to deliver right after every inspection."
"Transport personnel at the workshop--"
"We don't have extra manpower at the workshop."
"Then the executives will go. Rouna, you go."
"Yes, I'll be off!"

The youthful-looking executive Rouna left while holding her own kickboard under her armpit.
She's usually unwilling when asked to run an errand, but not when it involves going out. Must be because she's having fun with her kickboard.

"That still won't help the production rate. Merina, go build a new workshop for bearing production! Kostona, you're in charge of wheels. Try finding workshops for the handles and boards as well if you can. Get Sumina-san and the others at Guard Division to help with the store and workshops."

After receiving the report, Elterina-sama split the work among the executives without even thinking.

--I've been had.

This girl who looked like a calm noble lady in ordinary times would show her true talent in times of crisis.
She would read ahead and boldly expand the business.

And she doesn't mind at all working on the site herself.

All the executives including Elterina-sama would work on the kickboard production along with other hired labor in the workshop until we had all the personnel sorted out. They kept at it without complaining despite hurting their skin and nails with a labor they were unfamiliar with.
It's nothing more than a good memory now that we have the personnel, but even that wasn't the end of it.

"Tifaliza, the documents for Woodowork Guild and Trade Guild are--"
"I have them prepared here."
"Nicely done. I'm so glad you are here."

Elterina-sama said that as she scanned the documents.

"Let's go, Tifaliza."

Elterina-sama had a look of a knight heading for the battlefield on her face as she brushed aside her luxurious shoulder-length blond hair.

"Yes, Elterina-sama."

We would finally get a bit of break from these hectic days if only we could gain cooperation from both guilds.
It's an undoubtedly tall order, but Elterina-sama will surely make it happen. She possesses the natural disposition of fascinating other after all.

And just as expected, both guilds offered their cooperation, and Echigoya Firm made another huge leap.
Though it's gonna take a while before the amount of sales could match Kuro-sama's goods.

The abnormally effective hair restorer and energy drink Kuro-sama brought are selling above even the kickboards to noble and the wealthy.
To the point that they have become ones of the most famous products of Echigoya Firm along with [Sword of Heroes]'s magic swords.

I should ask the extent of Kuro-sama's knowledge next time--no, there's this saying by Ancestor King-sama, [Curiosity killed the cat]. Extraneous curiosity would only bring about the same [Death March] we had with the kickboard debacle.

"Tifa, let's think up our next venture."
"Yes, Elterina-sama."

I call her by her name since she would pout if I called her 'manager'.

"We will definitely surprise Kuro-sama this time around. It's no fun always being on the receiving end."

I can't imagine Kuro-sama getting surprised, but I do want to see that.

"That does sound fun, Elterina-sama."
"Doesn't it?"

I exchanged henchman-like smiles with Elterina-sama before heading to the meeting room with a bundle of documents in tow.
Today is looking to be another fulfilling day.

 

 

 

 

Previous Chapter

Okami wa Nemuranai 41.8_9

8





Solusgia superficially straightened himself on his chair, and bowed at Norma and Heles while still sitting.

"You have our greatest gratitude for coming out of your way to meet us here, ladies. You may understandably hold suspicion on this sudden invitation, but this is all for the sake of fulfilling our dream. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive our House of Fotos and House of Indole's insolence."

Norma was puzzled to this sudden incomprehensible greeting. However, it seems the other party bears no ill will.

"Norma."

Heles called to Norma and glanced at her like saying, 'I'll leave this to you'. Norma lightly nodded at Heles, and talked to the bowing Solusgia sitting diagonally in front of her.

"Solusgia-sama. Please raise your head. And could you tell us what you mean by that in detail?"

"Nice voice."

The one interrupting was Pentaros sitting in front of Norma. Pentaros kept staring at Norma unperturbed. After lightly smiling at Pentaros, Norma turned her sight back at Solusgia.

"Lady Norma. To me, Solusgia, and to this Pentaros sitting next to me, having a chance to meet <White Snow Flower Princess> and hearing her voice was but a dream that could never come true."

Norma slightly tilted her head to indicate she didn't get what he meant.

"Are you aware how our houses hold the painting of <White Snow Flower Princess>?"

"Yes. I'm told it was a copy of the painting in the royal palace."

"Indeed. That painting became a possession and treasure of my grandfather. He would keep staring at that painting as he sighed in vain. <White Snow Flower Princess> had found her way inside my brusque grandfather's heart. That yearning was succeeded by my father and me. House of Fotos had a similar circumstance as mine. The longing three generation of men of hour house held toward <White Snow Flower Princess> could only stay as yearning. But that was no more. You were there. We could meet you as descendants of <White Snow Flower Princess> and hear your voices. Neither me nor my father could keep our passion down once we found out. The same thing went down at House of Fotos."

Norma was trying to figure out what kind of ulterior motive or plot they were cooking up.

She was getting ready to deal with any kind of negotiations or conditions had it been a sham of a marriage interview.

But that was not the case.

This was a bout of pure passion, the meeting itself was their goal all along.

Norma felt a sense of relief as she warmly stared at Solusgia passionately narrating his three generation yearning.

She was resolved to overcome this meeting while fearing that any slight mistake could led into war. But that was never a problem.

If they want to watch Norma, they're free to do so. They can listen to her voice all they want as well. By doing thus, they should come to their sense and realize that the person before them is nothing more than a nearly thirty year old plain looking peasant.

That might not be the case with Heles, but any talk of marriage would be a matter between two marquis houses. Beyond that is not Norma's place to worry about.

(Looks like I could go back to Vouka in peace.)

You can't say Norma did not let her guard down there.

Because she didn't notice what meaning the fixated gaze Pentaros directed at her held.



<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >

9





Once Solusgia was done with his long speech, they had a toast and started the dine together.

"Oh right. I must refuse due to my standing."

"Oho, lady Norma. What do you mean by that."

Pentaros's tone has completely switched to non-formal. That must be how he usually talks. But that makes it easier to Norma.

"After I gave the agreement to attend this dine together, my cousin made an effort to solidify my standing. First I was appointed the highest ranking lady of Wazrof, and my guardian knight, Jinga was welcomed back to Wazrof as the chief knight."

"Jinga you say! You mean Jinga Tauer?"

"Yes that's right, do you know about Jinga, Pentaros-sama?"

"I have heard of tales about Jinga Tauer of Wazrof. A knight staunchly loyal to his master, a man fit to have the title a knight among knights. I had no idea he's still alive."

"He's standing by right now, feel free to greet him in the waiting room later."

"Ooh! I would love to meet the legendary knight. Man, it's really thrilling when I'm with you lady Norma."

"Haha. I'm a boring woman really. Afterward, my cousin went to the PM Office to apply for a revision of our Family Tree Records. Of course we had all the necessary documents prepared. That application should be filed the day before yesterday."

"Oho! The family head of Wazrof sounds like quite a resolute man."

"But then, I was called by the prime minister yesterday, and he told me that our Family Tree Records have not been revised yet as it needs a lot of preparations."

Pentaros put on a really sour look.

"That damn Sea Monk PM. He's trying to delay the revision eh. Unforgivable. No, lady Norma. There is no doubt that you are a descendant of <White Snow Flower Princess>. Not a single atom in my body has any doubt on that."

 

 

 

 

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