14-16. Muno Earldom
Satou's here. There were times when work mails didn't reach me due to spam filter. For the mail to not be able to reach the mailbox unless it's been checked to be completely safe, if it's real, it's quite a dystopian world enough isn't it.
When I select the mailbox in the Exchange Column on the menu, the sender's name is shown.
<TLN: Apparently the word ポスト (posuto) used in the raw means 'postbox' or 'mailbox' rather than just 'post' in this context. This applies to the previous chapter too.>
The sender's name is [UNKNOWN].
I don't think it refers to the mysterious little girl who appeared during my fight with the Dog-Head even though both their names are unknown.
In WW and FFW, you can't send and receive items from someone who isn't your friend, but even if that someone isn't in the name list, the sender will be shown as [UNKNOWN].
There's a [Reply] form in the mailbox, but it'd be problematic if I made the mysterious little girl an enemy had I carelessly sent it back.
--What should I do.
After hesitating for a bit, I choose to put a lid on this problem, postponing it.
Although I don't think it's one, it'll be scary if it's a trojan horse.
In addition, I couldn't send an item through the mailbox since I couldn't write an address.
Nevertheless, I didn't know that such a function exist.
"Oblation Strike? Ah, it's about the dwarves in Bolhart huh?"
Hikaru answered so when I asked her.
"I'm not really well-versed in it, but it's when they make a sword to offer to the God when the next Land Lord takes over right?"
"Can it be done in other City Cores?"
"I wonder? Probably not maybe?"
According to Hikaru, it seems making an offering during the change of Land Lord is an old custom that only the fairykin perform.
When I went further to Aze-san to ask about it, it seems during the era of founding kings, they offered items to the God as thanks for the help in every territory.
The receiver of the offering seemed to be the God who brought the City Cores to the founding kings, but Aze-san and the elves didn't know which God it was either.
There were eyewitness accounts saying that the offered items seemed to have been equipped by the elites of Dragon Valley, so perhaps it was the Dragon God.
However, even though I've killed the Dragon God, it seems that the others Gods are capable of interfering the Dragon's Vein, and it's possible for them to steal the offered items.
....Today I heard a lot of new things.
"Would you help me? I'd like to try something."
"Of course I would."
I brought Hikaru and Arisa along to the territory that I rule in the Holy State Parion.
It seems the City Core's barrier hasn't been broken yet even now.
"Ooh! So this is a City Core! This is the first time I see one, it's really pretty."
Arisa was astonished when she saw the City Core.
"And, what are we going to do here?"
"I'd like to check whether it's possible to do the Oblation Strike and making an offering during the changing of Land Lord."
I answer Hikaru while putting up the City Core's terminal.
"City Core, I'm changing the Land Lord. Is it possible to do the Oblation Strike?"
『It is not possible. The optional feature has not been installed.』
I-it's optional huh.
"What should I do to install the optional feature?"
I asked just to test it, looks like it's impossible.
"Then can I make an offering?"
『It is possible.』
Looks like this one is possible.
"Can I specify the receiver of the offering? If it's not possible, who's the default receiver of the offering."
『It is not possible to specify. It is Master.』
"Who is this 'Master'?"
『The meaning of the question is unknown. Master is Master.』
I wonder if this Master is not the God?
For now let's continue the experiment.
"Then please prepare the ceremony."
『Acknowledged. Please appoint the next Land Lord.』
"The Land Lord is Mito."
『Registration Complete, please appoint the next proxy.』
I asked Hikaru with eyes, and then she pointed at Arisa.
『Registration complete, please make an offering.』
I insert a diamond holy sword to the opening that appeared in front of the City Core.
It's something I've especially made for this experiment.
I've put a marker on this.
『Oblation complete. The ceremony is complete.』
I open the marker list on the menu, and check its current position.
If things went well I thought I'd know the receiver of the offering, but it seems the item itself has disappeared.
"How about it?"
"Not good. Looks like it disappeared."
It seems it won't go that well.
The diamond sword didn't reach the Exchange Column's mailbox.
The airship which industriously advanced through the course entered Muno Earldom during my experiment.
The airship is landing in the open space of Muno castle.
It seems the people of Muno castle are receiving us below.
The loli maids are waving their hands energetically, welcoming us.
"Wa, idiots! It's not Chevalier-sama anymore."
"Ah, that's right. Which title was it again?"
"The same as Consul Nina-sama?"
"That's right! Great isn't it!"
"Uwah, that's amazing."
"....Marrying into the wealth."
"If things go well, his mistress."
Attentive Ears skill picked up the loli maids gossiping.
Please be at least more than 20 year old if you aim to be my mistress.
Not like I'd take them even after they were.
"""Satou-sama, welcome back!"""
The airship landed on the wide open space of Muno castle, when I showed my face from the ramp, the employees of Muno castle unloaded their voices together in good coordination.
I thought I wouldn't hear it due to the driving sound of the airship, but they all waved their hands saying, "Welcome back" in loud voices.
"Pochi has come back nodesu."
Tama and Pochi take the shutan poses before the maids.
"Oy, you guys! Tama-san and Pochi-san are mithril explorers y'know?"
"Right right! They're now honorary nobles after meeting His Majesty, if yer' adding chan on their names, ya'll be beheaded for lese majeste."
The ones who warned the maids are rabbitkin male soldiers who seem to be newcomers.
Their titles are [Former Explorers], they're probably people who came from the Labyrinth City Selbira.
"Even though they're this cute, amazing!"
"Soft and fluffy~"
The half doubting maids are hugging and touching Tama and Pochi even while being surprised.
Both Tama and Pochi are happily being affable.
"It's the Magic Spear Liza-sama!"
"Would she practice with us during her stay? Would she?"
"I want her to teach me the Magic Edge's knack."
"Liza-san is awesome. She's a noble even though she's a lizardfolk, even more it's baronet."
"Yeah, someday we too--"
The soldiers sent passionate eyes to Liza who appeared after Tama and Pochi.
It feels that there are more beastfolks and scalekin than humans among the new soldiers.
"It appears the cityscape has become quite lively."
"Yeah, thanks to your efforts."
Led to the drawing room of Muno castle, we're having a talk with Nina-san while waiting for Earl Muno to come.
Apparently Earl Muno is doing something in the City Core area under the city with Orion-kun.
"By efforts, do you mean the thing about food and human resources collection in the Duchy Capital?"
"Yeah, of course that helped too, but it's not just that."
Nina-san shook her head while smiling wryly.
"Thanks to your activities in the Labyrinth City and the Royal Capital, Muno Earldom has become more recognized. We had a rapid increase in the number of government service applicants and merchants who came here."
Looking at the map, the population in the city has risen by 50%, and the total population in the territory by 20%.
The soldiers who were only 120 now have become around 2000 just in the standing army.
Looking at the population ratio, I think the increase is a bit too much, but Ms. Nina probably has some plan about it.
"By the way, Satou. Do you know how many towns and cities are there in Muno Earldom?"
I hesitate how to answer to Ms. Nina's question.
There are two cities under Muno Earldom, Muno city and another along the main road.
Some of the places that I thought to be villages seem to be towns.
These towns specialize in Gabo fruit productions, they only have a few inhabitants.
The surplus crops from the agricultural villages around the towns are bought by the purveyors and then transported to Muno city.
The towns have no governors, apparently they dispatch civil officials from commoners as the magistrates.
"There are four cities and seven towns in this earldom. Among them, one city and two towns are under Earl Muno's rule, three towns are under the local clans' rule, and the rest are occupied by monsters and savage tribes."
Ms. Nina who got tired waiting for my answer answered ahead, I checked the map.
There's a blank area near the territory located on a different map from Muno territory I visited before, three cities and two towns are located there.
These are not under control of the lord, so it's in another map.
Among these, two cities are under control of fiendish upper level 50s undead type monsters, two towns have become the nests of level 40 hydras and chimeras.
The savage tribe that Ms. Nina mentioned is probably about the kobolds who occupy the abandoned mine city in the mountain district.
Just like Goblins and Orcs, Kobolds are not monsters but a fairykin.
"And so. Now that we have the military power, soon, I'm thinking of taking back the control of the three towns who are occupied by those clans as they please--"
I see, so she wants us to lend our power to take those back.
So I thought, but Ms. Nina was thinking something a bit different.
"--Before that, we have a problem. The kobolds from the abandoned mine city have begun to meddle with the silver mine located in Kuhanou Earldom to the northeast you see."
If worst comes to worst, Earl Kuhanou might destroy the kobolds and snatch the territory.
"In other words, you want me to prevent the kobolds from attacking the mine?"
"Yeah, that's right. I'd like Satou and the others to drive away the kobolds that are heading toward the mine."
"Is it alright to just drive them away?"
I thought she would tell me to drive them out of the abandoned mine city.
"Hauto will take care of the abandoned mine city. With 500 territorial army and 1500 mercenaries, we should be able to subdue the kobolds. The mercenaries have been provided by Echigoya Firm."
I haven't heard that one--or so I wanted to say, but I feel that I saw a report about mercenaries deployment.
Looking up the reports I got from Tifaliza, there were documents about some hectic things in Yowok Kingdom and Holy State Parion.
It seems they've gathered refugees in Lesseu Earldom and brought them to Oyugock Dukedom through ships.
The population growth and the soldiers must be of those families.
It might be just right for Muno Earldom that's lacking manpower.
"Heya, I've kept you waiting, Satou-kun."
Earl Muno appeared with his usual friendly manner.
"Baron, I'm back nanodesu!"
"Oh! I'm happy that Tama-kun and Pochi-kun look healthy."
Without correcting Pochi's mistake, Earl Muno lifts both of them while smiling his whole face.
As usual he's an animal lover.
"Father, you're terrible desuwa."
Lady Karina whose reunion hug got put off puffed her cheeks a bit.
"Karina, welcome back. Did you get along well with Satou-sama?"
The eldest daughter of Earl Muno who appeared later, Lady Soruna hugs Lady Karina.
The objects that had lost their places to go between the two deformed with enough force to lift the continent.
"Satou-san, you're staring too much you know?"
Sera who circled around to block my lets out a sweet smile.
The impregnable guard pair whose appearance was stolen muttered, "Sera, what a frightening girl" vexingly.
"Sir Pendragon, looks like you're in good health."
Appearing behind Lady Soruna is the little brother of Lady Soruna and Lady Karina, the eldest son of Earl Muno and the next Earl, Orion-kun.
There's a subdued beautiful girl that I'm not familiar with next to him.
She's 15 year old just like him.
"Let me introduce her, she's my fiancee, Muse the daughter of Baron Ragock."
Orion-kun introduced the girl.
When I was in the Duchy Capital, there was a talk about his marriage with Sera's seven year old little sister of different mother, so she's probably a candidate for the second wife.
"Nice to meet you, Muse-sama. I am Viscount Satou Pendragon."
"N-nice to meet you Viscount-sama. I-I'm honored to be able to see you."
She seemed to be a reserved person, she greeted while looking very nervous.
"Muse-sama, you don't need to be that tense."
"Eh? Se-Sera-sama?! Why are you here?"
When miss Muse looked at Sera who talked to her to loosen her tension, she hardened more than when she greeted me.
"Sir Pendragon, why is the next saintess-sama here?"
Orion-kun whispered to me.
By next saintess-sama, he's probably referring to Sera.
"Did you not hear from Earl Muno? I've been appointed to be the vice minister of Shiga Kingdom's Tourism Ministry, so Sera accompanies me as an attendant."
Apparently, he only heard about me becoming a viscount.
Someone who coughs, seemingly purposely, behind me is the other attendant, Princess Shistina.
"Sir Pendragon, is the lady also your acquaintance?"
The fussy Orion-kun asked while looking annoyed.
He probably feels that I'm imprudent to take many women of blooming age along.
"This lady is another attendant of vice minister the same as Sera-sama--"
"Ara, it's not the same."
Princess Shistina gets up from the sofa and stands beside me.
"Nice to meet you Orion-dono. I'm the sixth princess of Shiga Kingdom, Shistina. I'm Satou's fiancee."
Orion-kun and miss Muse were surprised at the same time.
Best of all, the princess's impact was too strong it seemed they ignored the fiancee part.
Before their shock settled down, I introduced the reserved Zena-san to Orion-kun and the others.
"Now then, let's continue the talk from earlier."
Leaving the women in the drawing room, I, Arisa, Ms. Nina, and Orion-kun went together to Earl Muno's office. Of course with the Earl too.
"Please wait, Nina-dono."
"What is it? Next lord-dono."
"Please stop with the next lord-dono. More importantly! Why did you bring along a child to this political meeting, Sir Pendragon!"
Orion-kun pointed out Arisa of course.
Arisa herself watched the situation in delight.
"I called for Arisa-dono."
The one who answered him was not me, it was Ms. Nina.
"Many of the earldom's revival policies came from her suggestions. If you're deceived by her childish appearance, your caliber as a viceroy would be doubted you know?"
Orion-kun who was talked down by Ms. Nina kept silent while groaning, "Gununu".
I think it's impossible to see through Arisa's inner capability in your first meeting.
I protected Orion-kun in my mind.
The meeting advanced smoothly even though there was one such trouble.
"Then, Satou and the others would arrest or repulse the kobolds who went to the silver mine, is that okay with you?"
I agree with Ms. Nina.
"Wait, why should it be arrest or repulse? Your retainers are strong enough to beat down those riff-raff right? Why wouldn't you just dispose the insurgents who damaged the territory right then and there?"
Orion-kun asked me in an angry tone.
Looks like he'll get angry If I honestly tell him that I don't want to kill them.
"In the short-term, what Orion-sama's said is the most efficient one."
Arisa looks at Orion-kun while smiling.
"That is right! Your retainer also said so--"
"However, if we so easily slaughter them, in the long term it'll leave a deep after-effect on the populace and become the seed that will obstruct the territory's development."
It's a case that happens often in the middle east in our former world.
"But, with weak attitude--"
Arisa affirmed without listening to Orion-kun's rebuttal to the end.
"Therefore, I'd like to suggest another plan before doing the plan to repulse them."
After smiling at Orion-kun, Arisa tells her plan to Ms. Nina and Earl Muno.
"In order to keep the naughty kids from ever thinking of rebelling again, let's engrave the fear deep into their bones."
"Please don't be too hard (on them) okay."
While smiling wryly, Ms. Nina reminded Arisa who finished with a scary smile.
For some reason, Ms. Nina's line of sight was turned toward Orion-kun.