Intermission: At Baron Muno Territory
◇Baron Castle - The Baron's Private Room◇
"Baron-sama, sir Zotor, and Hauto-dono have come."
"Okay, let them in."
The two people who have been invited into the baron room are bewildered. That's because, even though he's a sociable master, he seems to have no interest in military, and gives directives to them via consul Nina.
In addition to that, there are two swords on the work desk of the Baron. Zotor can feel unknown power from those swords that are covered in simple sheaths.
"Sir Zotor, will you pull that sword."
Zotor replies with short acceptance word, and pulls the sword. Hauto that's been summoned together with him waits behind him without saying a word. Even though the baron is the father of his lover, their public standings are like heaven and earth, so it's an extremely natural thing to do. Nevertheless, he can't hide the gleaming interest on his eyes.
"T, this is, is this a magic sword?"
Zotor commented like so on the sword he held on his hand. That is because it feels similar to the magic sword that his acquaintance's noble superior flaunts once. That superior's sword was made of mithril. Just like with this sword, they're not made of iron alloy.
He erases his hesitation, and seeps his magic power into it. It's something that's meaningless with the iron sword he normally uses, but it's an essential act with the old sword made from monster's parts that he once had.
From his standpoint, the magic power is flowing unbelievably smooth in the magic sword.
While it's like that, he does practice swings several time with the sword, and then puts it back on the desk. He pulls the second sword the same way. They seem to be the same model as they're made uniformly. This is also something that's impossible for his common sense. Normal magic swords are something that have loose performances among each of them.
"They're wonderful swords. This is probably worth more than 100 gold coins--are you going to sell them to the official merchant?"
He asks while feeling a bit reluctant. With the current economic condition of the baron territory, these kind of swords cannot be given to his forces. Zotor is thinking that the baron probably has summoned him to inquire the price of these swords.
"Do you like it?"
"Yes, the opportunity to wield swords as good as these are very rare, whence, I am extremely grateful for being given the chance."
"Is that so. It's splendid if you like it. Accept them, those swords are yours."
That unexpected words causes bewilderment to surface rather than delight. However, just when the baron stops speaking, that bewilderment is eliminated, and delight resurfaces.
"D, don't tell me, such excellent swords are going to be lent to us?"
He's headed back to discouragement with the quick reply of the baron.
"Those swords are given to you. Divert your gratitudes to chevalier Pendragon. He's asked us to give these swords to you two."
Chevalier Pendragon--he's one of the only three nobles in this baron territory. There is no shortage of anecdote surrounding him. If the baron says that they're gifts from him, then it's probably really true. Zotor receives the sword with both his hand. He dedicates his gratitude to the baron, and his retainer.
◇Baron Castle - Courtyard◇
"Hohou, is newbie-chan going for Hauto-san?"
"Kya, Erina-san! Since when have you arrived."
"Just a little while a~go. And, are you aiming for Hauto-san? Doing some social upheaval?"
There are the figures of the captain and the vice-captain of the territory army swinging the magic swords they've just received ahead of the girls. There is no light on the magic sword that the vice-captain is swinging, unlike with the captain's. There's the baron daughter, Soruna with her maid attendants on the shade of a tree further ahead.
"What I'm looking is the sword that Zotor-sama is swinging. I've never seen such beautiful sword before."
Erina's eyes keeps pushing on like she's saying that she's only having an excuse.
"Like I said, it's not like that. It's impossible to have an illicit relationship with someone who's being looked with such loving gaze like that. Moreover, I have someone else I love."
"Ah~, come to think of it, you've said it before. Was it the young merchant who generously gave you an expensive magic potion when you were dying from running into a carriage?"
"Ehehe~, I don't know his name, nor his face though."
The face of someone whom Erina knows well floats in her mind, but the girl prudently keeps that to herself since she doesn't want to add anymore rival than now.
◇The Pioneer Village◇
"Eh? Apprentice is it?"
"Yes, won't you become an apprentice maid at the baron castle?"
There are two maids, and a girl in a room of one of the only two house that the Pendragon village has.
This is a pioneer village that doesn't even have monster-warding barrier pillars. It'll be no wonder if someday monsters attack, erasing this village from the map. The people that reside here are elderly that have been abandoned by their hometown, and ran-away children who are formerly serfs.
Just how does this much reclaimed field exist inside the forest, no one, including the people that live here, knows. It seems the village name is taken from the person who has helped them.
"But, I've never done anything beside farmworks."
"You don't have to worry 'bout that y'know? It's something that even me who's a former soldier can do."
"Meda, you stop talking."
Meda draws her head back from Pina's roar. Pina puts some power on her voice since she can't let her first job as the team leader ruined by her subordinate's foolish words.
"If Totona-ane doesn't want to, then I will do it! I want to be useful to Satou-sama and Arisa-chan!"
"Wait Rorona, where did that come from."
"Satou-sama gave us warm meals. He also left food so we didn't starve. Even the fields here must be something that Satou-sama had prepared."
The little girl emphasizes it with all the might on her small body. She's clearly too young to become a maid. However, Pina seems to have judged that there's no problem with it.
"Fine then. Let's heed your spirit. Rorona, we will employ you as an apprentice maid. Totona, what are you going to do?"
"Uu, please take care of me."
Totona who can't let her little sister go alone to an unfamiliar place reports that she's agreed to become an apprentice maid.
◇Muno City - In front of the Gate◇
"What is this?"
"That's, when we open the gate in the morning, it's become like this."
There are more than 100 men who look like thieves tied on several stone pillars before the eyes of Zotor who has come to the gate as he's called for. There is a writing on the stone pillar that politely says they've been captured since they're thieves.
"Hmm? Aren't you Gouhan?"
"Eh? Zotor-sama? Didn't you escape?"
"That one is Orto huh?"
There are some familiar faces among the thieves. They're former knights and soldiers of the territory army who had left the army due to the clash with the consul at the time. There are also former craftsmen and priests. Zotor has decided to ask the opinion of consul Nina in expectation of securing human resources for the lacking baron territory. After confirming their Reward and Punishment with the Yamato stone, the shortage of human resources in the baron territory has improved for a tiny bit.
◇Baron Castle - The Consul Office◇
"Nina-sama, it's terrible."
"What is it, Yuyurina?"
"That's, um, it's about Chevalier-sama again..."
"Him again! What has he done now!"
Yuyurina who's bearing the crest of the government service--despite her childish body, she's the second brain after Nina in the castle--rushes into consul Nina's office while her braid is swinging.
"We've received written letters asking for us to intermediate marriage proposals from nobles in the duchy capital."
The truth is the letters have originally come for the baron, but since he's troubled as to how to handle them, he pushes it to consul Nina by way of Yuyurina. The reason why the baron didn't directly give it to consul Nina can be easily guessed.
"He went together with Karina-sama right, when did he gain that kind of philanderer reputation."
Consul Nina's expression looks disgusted, but that's understandable. For her, for the sake of the baron territory's stability, it's her wish for lady Karina, the baron daughter, and him to be tied together. That plan doesn't seem to have any hope for success since, even though lady Karina doesn't seem to be wholly to it, she's putting her effort on the wrong way, on top of the aforementioned man having only interest in little girls. Although, the story that the chevalier likes little girls is consul Nina's assumption, however, the person that can deny that is not present here.
Yuyurina opens a box with beautiful ornaments among the ones that are pilled up on top of the desk. There is a picture of the other party drawn, surrounded by the golden picture frame that seems to be made by a master craftsman. The drawings are all of young maidens. When they scan at other letters, the other parties are all of 12-14 years old girls. They're a bit too young for marriage, but it's normal for noble engagements to be that way.
The problem is the other parties pedigrees.
"Earl's daughter? Just what and how did such marriage proposal come to be?!"
Normally, the one that proposes to a honorary noble is the daughter of a wealthy merchant, or of an influential townspeople, or of the same honorary noble, that's the normal. Starting with the proposal from someone that greatly surpasses the honorary chevalier himself, proposals from the daughter of higher-ranked nobles, and baronet turn up. There is no proposals that come from the daughters of high-ranking nobles that are higher than earl particularly.
Moreover, letters of marriage proposals for the chevalier arrive one after another after this day.
Eventually, there are three daughters of earls, around 30 daughters of nobles that are higher than baronet, and more than 100 daughters of chevalier, honorary noble, and wealthy merchants.
And then, the extreme one--
Furthermore, there's even the handwriting of the marquis that says he doesn't mind if the person himself declines. It's not normal for a marriage proposal in itself, but it's really not like that marquis with his high pride. The marquis that she knows should be someone who is more high-handed. It's as if he has his weakness grasped.
"Good grief, even if we want to refuse or forward the marriage proposals, the talk can't continue if we can't contact the person himself. As for the letters of excuse that Yuyurina has written, let's offset it from our debt to that man."
She was probably not serious, but the sourness on her stomach seemed like it subsided when she muttered so.
The letters that have arrived afterwards are not about marriage proposals, but applications for learning etiquette through apprenticeship. It's not rare for noble daughters to become lady attendants for their training, but it's unthinkable for noble daughters of the duchy capital to come to such backwater noble place like this.
"They intend to bury the moat from outside huh. Quite the tactic."
Moreover, there is also a request to have a joint development for making orchards in the suburb of Muno city that's hard to refuse. Apparently it seems to be an unique fruit that's immune to harmful insects and animals, and has become popular in the duchy capital. It looks somewhat suspicious, but since the other party will cover the specialists and seedlings costs for it, it's a bit wasteful to decline it.
"Kuh, Karina-sama. You have a lot of powerful rivals."
Consul Nina unintentionally muttered so. However, even she couldn't imagine that the next head miko who's also the former grand daughter of the duke had fallen in love with the chevalier in question.
The story about how consul Nina snaps from the yells of lady Karina's battle training, and goes to thoroughly lectures her is for a bit later.