13-12. Luncheon with Earl Seryuu
Satou's here. The first time I knew the word harem was from a certain story in the Arabian Nights when I was in elementary school. I remember asking the young female teacher, "What's a harem?", and taught, "It's when there are a lot of wives."
If I did that now, I'd be sued of doing a sexual harassment for sure.
It seems the half-hour nap is quite good for me as now I'm able to tackle the luncheon with Earl Seryuu with a clear head.
Thanks to that I remember that I've completely forgotten to talk with Arisa and Liza about the Dragon God slaying.
Piled up fatigue is not good after all.
The preparation for the last day of the auction is very quite enough anyway, I'll take it easy until the day.
While thinking like so, I'm guided by the chamberlain of Earl Seryuu's house to the dining room for guest in the royal castle.
It seems I'm the last of the guests, inside the room are Earl Seryuu couple, his retainers Viscount Belton couple, knights couple of Kigori house whom I don't recognize, and for some reason, Parion Temple's Miko Auna-san and Zena-san who looks nervous too.
Kigori couple probably serve as the Earl's guards.
The husband is a level 40 knight, and the wife is a level 37 magic knight who can use earth magic, they're the strongest-class of warriors in the territory.
I understand that Miko Auna-san is the Earl's daughter from checking the details in the menu.
I thought I had seen her before, turned out she was the Miko-san who healed Zena-san when we first met. Incidentally, she also got me to learn the holy magic skill.
I thank the Earl for inviting me as a lip service, and then greet and introduce myself to the other members in annoying noble-like manner.
I'm guided to the seat of honor in front of the Earl.
Judging from this placement, it doesn't seem to be that bad of a talk.
I talk to Zena-san who's taken the seat beside me in low voice.
"Your dress today looks quite gorgeous. It really suits you."
"T-thank you very much. They're something lent to me by the madam's lady's maid."
I see, I thought it seems bolder than the usual Zena-san who usually wears neat clothes.
"You don't have to be that tense. Leave it to me and enjoy the delicious food."
I haven't eased Zena-san's tension enough, but since Earl Seryuu is looking here like he's evaluating me, I cut the talk.
Unlike the one with the prime minister, the luncheon is centered on very normal royal court dishes with the specialty of Earl Seryuu's chef, croquette dish, as the main course.
The conversation during the meal was also quite normal the whole time, with me talking about the detail when I met Zena-san, and them thanking me for cooperating with the Seryuu Earldom's selected corps in the labyrinth city.
I thought the luncheon would end just like that, but then when the strawberries with sugar and honey sauce were distributed as the dessert, the earl instructed the waiters to leave and the main topic began--.
"--I'll get straight to the point. Marry Auna. Don't you want to be a member of our Earl house and be the one in charge of the labyrinth management?"
Oh, he's quite straight.
Still, I think that's a bit too excessive for an upstart 16 year old noble.
I don't know where the Earl got the idea of letting a noble from another house to be in charge of the labyrinth management with its enormous right, but the opposition from the nobles in his territory should be quite fierce.
Let's decline it quickly.
"It is quite an honor, but someone weak like me is not fit for it. Pardon me of being presumptuous, but such an important task may be more suited to someone more experienced."
"--Hmph, he declined without even showing any worry huh. I heard he was unselfish, but to think it's to this degree."
The earl seemed to have expected my refusal, I picked up the earl's faint muttering with Attentive Ears and Lip Reading skills.
The earl gives an eye signal to Viscount Belton, making him stop trying to get the sweet strawberry and talk.
Looks like there are a lot more sweet tooths than I thought.
"Sir Pendragon. You might be misunderstanding, a member of the earl house isn't simply marrying to another earl house. It means that the earl is also giving you the right to succeed the house."
--Uwah, I'd like to refrain from that even more.
"That is such an honor. I do not understand the reason as to why Earl-sama regards someone like me that high, but the lineage of a long-standing noble blood should not be polluted by an upstart like me."
For now, I'll be using the lovely word of "upstart" to flatter the pride of nobles to refuse him.
I'm not really interested in managing labyrinth, and I'm even more uninterested in succeeding the earl.
I might have been tempted by a cool beauty type woman like Lady Auna when I was still in the former world, but now that I've gotten used to beauties like Lulu and Aze-san, I don't feel bewildered.
"Lineage huh--. The aristocratic nobles may prize their lineage, but our Earl house puts more important in valor. Besides, it's useless even if you feign ignorance. I have already understood all of your strength."
Don't tell me, there were witnesses who saw me using the Meteor Shower?
For the time being, I use [Poker Face] skill to hide my surprise and ask him.
"What is this about?"
"--Since you seem to have no idea about it, I'll speak of it."
The earl raises a corner of his mouth and talks in firm voice.
- The capability to escape from a labyrinth unhurt without equipment.
- Saved the Muno Territory which was on the verge of being ruled by demons.
- The ability to mediate the discord in the duchy capital, and obstruct the secret maneuver of the demon lord sympathizers.
- Distinguished himself as an explorer in the labyrinth city, and having the foresight to establish an educational facility for rearing future explorers.
- Mingling with an elf, and also having an amicable relationship with the fairykins who are known to avert humans.
--He really has it thoroughly investigated.
Nevertheless, even though they shouldn't have been something that amazing, when it's listed by the earl like this, 'it's nothing great' feels like an illusion.
"These much should be known by the prime minister and the viceroys. However, the one thing I'm looking in wonder is about the beastkin girls who are with you."
Our beastkin girls, what about them?
--It can't be.
"His complexion doesn't change huh.... Looks like he's not merely an unselfish good-natured person."
Without knowing the unrest in my mind, I picked up the earl's muttering with Attentive Ears Skill.
"I wonder how the lords would think if they knew that the lizardkin girl who defeated the strongest in Shiga Kingdom, Sir Julberg, had one digit level one year ago."
I see, he's grasped the growth the beastkin girls huh.
Come to think of it, their levels and skills were examined with the original Yamato Stone when we got out of Seryuu Labyrinth.
If it's known that warriors equaling Shiga Eight Swords can be mass produced in a year, it's true that people who think of doing bad thing would appear.
Let's hide it and probe the earl's intention.
"In consideration of the upper class nobles' hearts, I'm really...."
"I've said that feigning ignorance is useless. You probably collected magic potions by investing vast amount of capital, and fought continuously in the labyrinth. However, that too depends on the person who does the instructing."
The earl pauses and stares at me to gauge my reaction.
Far from investing, I got positive gain instead.
"I highly value your ability. With your cooperation, the labyrinth management should be able to be in operation in five years. It should be able to be put in motion in 10 years even without your help, but then there would be unpleasant meddling from the kingdom and the lineage nobles."
It seems the Negotiation skill is in effect, the Earl spoke something that didn't need to be said too. You shouldn't have talked about that before getting agreement from the other party you know.
"Come to our house, and I'll make you to be in charge of the labyrinth management, furthermore for 10 years, I'll give you 10 percents of the magic core yield excluding the king's shares."
"That is quite an extraordinary reward."
I'm not attracted to it, but it's quite lavish.
It seems my feeling was transmitted, the earl twitches one of his brows as if he's slightly offended.
"Is it insufficient?"
"No, as I've said before, the reward and the position are too excessive for me."
When I was going to decline like that, the earl covers my words.
"That reminds me, you're in good term with Zena of Marientail house right."
--Like I thought, that one came huh.
I've slightly expected it when Zena-san was here attending the luncheon, looks like she'll be rolled up in some annoying politic.
I must prevent that by any means.
"I'll give the permission if you want to make her your mistress. If you want to make her your wife, then you can marry her after she's been adopted by Belton. I don't mind as long as she's after Auna. If you feel dutiful toward Earl Muno, then I guess the first wife is Soruna-dono or Karina-dono, the second wife is Sera-dono of Duke Oyugock, Aune is the third wife, and Zena is the fourth wife?"
What's with that harem.
I might have been fascinated with the harem route with all those beauties if I don't have someone I hold dear, but let's decline it firmly.
In the first place, I don't understand why Sera is mixed in there.
For the Oracle Miko to return to secular life and become a wife, there's no meaning--huh?
"Even if the first wife has to be Earl Muno's daughter, I'd like for Auna to be the second wife instead of Sera-dono--"
There's something that's bugging me a bit, so I interrupt the earl who's having a fervent speech when he's taking a breath.
"Earl-sama, I do not intend to have multiple wives. Moreover, if my memory serves me correct, Auna-sama should be an Oracle Miko. I thought she couldn't marry unless she returned to secular life?"
In addition, the only one that has Oracle skill in Seryuu city should be only her.
"Hmph, then that means she can just return to secular life. We can just have Parion Temple and Garleon Temple in the Royal Capital to send their miko. There is nothing to fret."
The earl splendidly ignored my remark about monogamy, and informed me about the reason why Lady Auna could marry.
"If the reward isn't enough, then I'll set another one."
Even though I've been saying that it's already too excessive since awhile ago, it doesn't seem to reach him somehow.
No wait, rather it's because I'm refusing that he pretends not to notice it huh?
"I'll put up the decree that prohibits discrimination against demi-humans in my territory. If you wish, I can also add 2000 demi-human slaves from the territory in the reward."
The discrimination won't be gone even with the decree, but legal abolition of demi-human discrimination is attractive.
I can also release the slaves to restore the abandoned cities and districts in Muno territory.
However, in exchange for that, I'll have to marry someone whom I'm not sufficiently familiar with, please leave me out that.
I don't know how the earl perceived my momentary silence, he opens his mouth after nodding with serious face.
"You cannot decide immediately huh. Then I'll give you half a year time."
I feel the sense of foreboding crisis from the earl if half a year has passed.
There should be no need for him to be that persistent with me....
"I will let you be in charge of the labyrinth selected corps during this half a year. Zena of Marientail house--"
"Go aid Viscount Pendragon as his attendant in commanding them."
"Yes, I respectfully receive the order."
Zena-san salutes the earl like a soldier while wearing dress.
Thus, Zena-san has become like my attendant for a period of time.
It's vexing to be forced like this by Earl Seryuu, but it's not bad to have the authority to accompany Zena-san in the labyrinth.
Furthermore, I have half a year, that should be enough time to nurture someone who's more capable in managing the labyrinth than me.
If I'm not mistaken there should be several Seryuu City's officials who have pushed their way into Explorer's guild staff training with my mediation.
The female officials were sharp and able, but I'd better train the male official who seems to have deep thinking and good at negotiation and push him to Earl Seryuu.
Looks like I can do something about that one.
Rather, I'm scared that I might have ridden the harem route little by little....