Intermission: Muno's Past
This is a saloon on the corner of the royal palace. It's dim even in midday due to the numerous thick curtains covering the light from outside, magic tools illuminate from below. Curtains are hanging from the roof and decorative plants are set to divide sofa sets as if to obstruct the views.
For that reason, the identity of the people in this place aren't known--That's how it is.
Furthermore, the gaps between each sofas are large, magic tools for changing voices are used and they talk in whisper to the point that the other person sitting on the next seat can barely hear it.
This is the place where gossips from all over Shiga kingdom are gathered.
It's an important place for the nobles to not only talk about scandals, but also to exchange informations revolving national defense that have been transmitted using magic.
"Have you heard about it?"
One gentlemen sits down while greeting someone in secret.
Publicly, the person shouldn't be known, but everyone knows who's the one who can sit on that sofa set. They only pretend to not know.
"Is it about marquis Muno?"
"Oh, you're quick."
"Right now, everyone is talking about that story. Like how undeads are attacking Muno city."
"Half a day after the initial report from the royal palace emergency room, there's no more additional information, it's worrying."
"I can't imagine the elites of the marquis fall to something like undeads. They've probably been repulsed already, but it'd be a good opportunity to get the right of the marquis' territory depending on the damage."
"Well, everyone, please calm down. Why don't we let him tell us the latest information."
The high class people who have been talking turn toward an old man with good build.
Everyone are seemingly hungry of new informations, the buzz suddenly stops at once.
"Territory of marquis Muno has been defeated by the undeads army."
From that words, the bustling is revived from the silent.
"That can't be."
"They should have golem corps and even magician corps there."
"Moreover, they should had just bought a lot of tigerkin slaves from the weaselkin and made large battalions."
"They should have been one of the strongest five forces in this country."
"What actually happened?"
Their surprises are natural. Marquis Muno holds a very vast territory that produces many gold, silver, and even mithril and magic ores from their leading mines. Backed by that assets and various luxuries that even the king lack, the marquis had amassed armed forces that could even fight against the king's armies.
"We have to wait for more reports to understand what actually happens, we've only received the report that 『The marquis capital has fallen』 from the the birdkin of duke Oyugock's intelligence unit."
Silence dominates the room, but then the oldest gentleman who holds a cane starts to talk.
"I'm sorry but I have to go see my physician soon. Excuse me for leaving."
"Is that so, it's also the time for me to play with my grandchildren."
"My chronic pain is aching..."
The older gentlemen are leaving their seats one by one, the only ones who remain in that place is the young gentleman who has brought the news and a middle-aged gentleman. Of course, the two understand that the words of the people who are leaving are just mere excuses.
"Everyone is shrewd for profit huh."
"The kingdom army is most likely going to depart for the extermination of the undeads. Since there are many way to profit from it if the campaign is large-scale, it can't be helped."
"Is it fine for you?"
"Yes, I've already arranged something in the house."
"As expected of the right-hand man of the majesty."
"Your excellency, prying for identity here is"
"Ah right, sorry. I'd like to get my hand on the list of nobles with no legitimate child from you, no, from a certain bureaucrat-dono, would he be willing to help?"
"That's wonderful. Other people's happiness are my happiness. I'd be glad to be the deliveryman."
And then, two months after he brought the informations, the largest gathering of kingdom army ever recorded in history departed to marquis Muno's territory.
"Then, all relatives of marquis Muno have died of unnatural causes?"
"It doesn't end only in that. Earl Bobi that had married with the marquis' little sister and all their children, every one of them die from a drowning accident."
"Is that true? I've also heard that misfortunes have befallen earl Muzuki?"
After the triumphal return of the kingdom army who has gone on campaign to the marquis Muno's territory, the whole family of marquis Muno have died unnaturally, no one remains from either direct or collateral family.
Thereupon, for the sake of succeeding the marquis, it seems that the nobles have sent out the one who have married into the marquis family, but they all die of accidents or mysterious illness, such reports are coming in succession to the royal capital.
Such stories also appears many times among their talks.
"If it's like this, the one who will inherit the territory might be marquis Ashinen or earl Fudai who don't have territory of their own."
"No, the territory of marquis Muno is too wide. It's possible to divide it into 4 or 5 territories."
"Oh dear, right about this time, there should be a lot of nobles who are raising money for the bribes."
"No wonder there are a lot of applicant for loan this month."
And then, half a year after this day, blood relations of marquis Muno up until the seventh degree of kinship have all died out. The rumor among the people is that it's the curse of the undead king.
"Fuh, after marquis Ashinen, even earl Fudai died of unnatural death huh."
"Putting aside earl Fudai who has died of drowning in his house's pond, isn't the marquis Ashinen who has been killed by a spear in the downtown area not an unnatural death?"
"However, the guards who were with him didn't even notice when he was kidnapped in an instant, wasn't he fallen to the hand of the undead king?"
"Oy oy, nobles, of all people, shouldn't believe the irresponsible rumor of the street people."
"Well, even if we put aside the rumor, with this, there have been five influential nobles who would have succeeded Muno's family that dies of unnatural death consecutively."
"How many candidates remain now?"
"There is none. Every one of them has withdrawn."
Everyone, including the one who asked that question, already knew. The atmosphere is full of sarcastic smiles of people with obstructed faces.
"Even though they had bribed, no, spent entertainment expense to the brink of bankruptcy, they withdrew because they got cold feet from the rumor huh."
"No, two people among the five were active labyrinth explorers during their youth. It might be wise for them to withdraw."
Afterwards, a lot of lower honorary nobles full of ambition instigated by their guardian for their own profit also appeared, but the ones who bore the full brunt weren't only the lower nobles, even the guardian nobles died of unnatural death, so the candidates completely dried out.
And then, as the reward for the subjugation of the undead city, the mines of marquis Muno are given to the adjacent lords, starting with duke Oyugock.
Since there are a lot of dissatisfied voices from the knights who have participated in the battle, it's decided that the for the next 10 years, from the yields produced by mines that the feudal lords have obtained, 20% of it are to be given to the king, and the remaining half are to be shared among the knights.
Due to this, the value of marquis Muno's territory has fallen sharply.
With the profit gone and only risk remain, years where Muno's territory is without a feudal lord keeps piling.
"Everyone, do you know that the feudal lord for the undead city has been decided?"
"Oy oy, you, don't call it undead city."
"That's right, there should be around 20-30 thousands people who live there."
"Oh, I apologize."
The young noble receives a cup of wine from a maid and wets his mouth with it.
"So it should be either the fifth prince or the honorary Earl Toldora, which one is it?"
"Since it'd be bad if a member of royal family death, it would be honorary earl Toldora right?"
The young noble who has started the matter only listens to the talks of the nobles around amusingly without opening his mouth.
Seemingly impatient, a middle-aged noble representing other nobles urges him to continue the story. However, the name that the young noble lets out is unexpected by anyone.
"Do everyone know baronet Donan?"
"Now then, that's an unfamiliar name."
"No, wait, I've heard it somewhere."
"Wasn't he from the branch family of duke Oyugock."
"Ah, that good-natured small man huh. He gave a self-compiled hero's book for the celebration of our seven year olds daughter's birthday."
"Ah, that man who's famous for liking hero huh."
"However, I don't remember him being a brave person who would risk his life by becoming a feudal lord like that?"
Yes, from what they remember, the incompetent man is fit to be called 'forgettable'. He didn't look like a man who had ambition to raise himself at all.
He was a straight harmless man--that's the common view among them.
"That would mean that he was likely recommended by duke Oyugock."
"But, the guardian nobles were dying too. Do you think that cautious duke Oyugock would do such thing?"
"That's right, since the mines have been distributed to the neighboring lords, marquis Muno's territory is only large without any specialized industry from its people, it has been reduced to poverty. There shouldn't be any profit for the excellency duke to be involved now."
It can't be helped that they're puzzled. Excluding the area directly under the king, the duke holds the largest territory. And it's not just vast, it's also the leading territory that produces things like rice, salt, silk and glasswork. Moreover, he even got himself the mines from marquis Muno territory and the right to deal with the set mines that the dwarves have occupied. No one can think why he would want a territory that's only wide now.
"Actually, about that baronet Donan, he has been living in the city of the marquis Muno territory for the past five years."
"What? Weren't even honorary nobles and lower nobles killed in Muno city?"
"That's right, the only nobles in Muno city now is the associate baron and his family."
"He's bringing his family to such place huh."
"It looks like they're people ignorant of the world."
"Fumu, rather than incompetent, his insensitivity can't be saved."
"Since his wife is a commoner, their noble blood is thin, that might be the reason."
Thus, in the following year, baronet Donan succeeds the Muno title, and becomes a baron inaugurated as the feudal lord.
Let's change the place, to the baron main building inside the castle. 10 years after the inauguration as the baron, it's the mansion that has finally been completed with the assistance of duke Oyugock.
"Then, the marriage for the princess is indeed...
"Yeah, since the ceremony was postponed for many times, I had anticipated it, but a messenger with official refusal notice had come."
"Good grief, how deplorable. If they wanted to refuse, then the fiance-dono should had come himself."
The baron soothes the consul Jii who gets mad for his sake. He lost his anger after the surprising outlet of the anger earlier.
"It can't be helped, Soruna doesn't look to be interested anyway, and even their ages are 10 years apart."
"However, if this keeps up, her marriageable age would pass."
The words is unreserved since they've been together for many years, the baron smiles wryly.
"I don't mind even if it's a person from the street if Soruna has chosen."
"We can't let that happen. As he would inherit this territory, he should not be lower than vassals that have served master for generations. Moreover, it's also important to marry the neighboring lords. You can't be negligent in this matter."
Even while nodding to Jii's words, the baron has halfway given up about the engagements of his daughters. Until the time when he was inaugurated as the feudal lord, there were more than 100 nobles who died while aiming to become this territory's lord. Furthermore, it didn't only befall to the person himself, sometimes even the parents until the grandchildren terribly fell victims.
Even if they are escaping from their own difficulty, there is no guarantee that they would not fall into calamity if they marry the daughter of the cursed territory's lord. There are many nobles who think so.
Even the partner who had declined this time had only become the fiancee because he was promised to become the lord at the beginning. In fact, lady Karina is going to be an adult next year, but she still doesn't have a fiancee even now.
It's five years later that lady Soruna meet her new fiancee, and a year before the worst calamity visit baron Muno's territory.