15-Intermission 5. At Muno Earldom (2)
"Has it come into view?"
I received a report as the airship was about to arrive at Muno Castle and went to the airship from the Solitary Island Palace.
This airship isn't the property of the Tourism Ministry, but my personal one, it has been disguised to look shabby outwardly.
I've also reduced the maximum speed, it can only move as fast as a scooter.
The brownies who are in control of the airship said, "It has a taste that can't be found in the light ship and the newest model, nice", to me about the ship.
"Been a while since we were here hasn't it."
Mia nodded at Arisa who went out of the Solitary Island Palace after me.
"I wonder if the earl would be pleased with the souvenir?"
"That's right nanodesu! There's no one--not many people who don't like meat nodesu!"
Tama and Pochi assured the worried Lulu that it'd be alright.
Pochi probably changed her words midway since Mia was in her view.
"Let's dismantle it immediately once we arrive there."
Lulu replied Liza's suggestion with a nice smile.
Liza had a serious expression on her face, but since her tail is swinging rhythmically, there's no doubt that she's looking forward to the meat dish that follows after the dismantling.
"So this is Karina-sama's home town."
"I've been wondering, is that an orchard?"
Zena-san is looking at the surroundings, Sera spoke while gazing at an orchard in the distant.
"Yes, we've opened a Lulu orchard with the cooperation of Viscount Emlin."
Sera put a serious look on her face when she heard my reply.
My Attentive Ears skill picked up her mumbling, "To think they'd use that tactic to send their daughter in...." for some reason.
Viscount Emlin's seccond daughter, Lady Lina came to the earldom to work as Earl Muno's eldest daughter, Soruna's lady-in-waiting. She's currently working as a representative of viceroy in Brighton city, the city I'm in charge with.
She got to somehow become the representative due to the course of events, I don't think her father had that schemed.
Sera is probably just worrying too much.
"By Lulu fruit, do you mean that high class fruit?"
"Yes, that's right."
"I never knew that there was another Lulu orchard than the ones in Oyugock Dukedom."
"That's because it won't bore fruits yet for another two years."
The princess tilted her head with her hand on her cheek.
Since she loves Lulu cakes, she's probably aware of the producing area and such.
"Master, we have a report from the brownie so I inform."
"They want us to go to the passenger cabin since the ship will be descending soon desuwa."
Nana whose report was stolen by Lady Karina wore an aura of disappointment while still being expressionless.
We'd be fine here with my [Magic Hand] but we still went back inside.
"Satou-san, the brownie at the observation deck reported that they saw a row of carriages."
I thanked Zena-san who reported with a cheerful look and opened the map.
Apparently, the row of carriages belongs to Orion-kun the eldest son of the earl, and Lady Karina's little brother.
Since it's about time for him to graduate his school at the Duchy Capital, he probably comes back to start the study to become the next head of the family, not as a temporary vacation.
In addition to his, there are more than 10 carriages reflected on the radar, and every one of them has a young noble of Oyugock Dukedom inside.
--I guess even Orion-kun has friends whom he can bring home with.
Such a rude thought flashed in my mind, but I lightly shook my head to dispel my prejudice away.
"He's waving at us nodesu!"
Tama and Pochi who found Earl Muno waving from the castle window looked up at me while pointing at him.
I assented and praised them, "Good work finding him", but the two of them misunderstood that, they rushed to the deck and jumped to the castle's window.
Their sounds of landing differed, 'Shutat' with Tama, and 'Bitaan' with Pochi but they arrived at the window where the Earl Muno was without any injury.
"You cannot Karina-sama."
I grabbed the nape of Lady Karina who was going to rush to deck, stopping her.
Good grief, she really doesn't think like a blooming noble daughter she is.
"Ooh, I'm glad to see Pochi-kun and Tama-kun looking as lively as always."
"Nihehe~? Wer back~?"
"We're back nanodesu."
I heard the conversation between Earl Muno, Tama and Pochi.
"Welcome back, what is the hydra that's hanging on the airship?"
Earl Muno asked Pochi and Tama when he saw the meat souvenir.
"That's right nanodesu. It's the tastiest of hydra, the three-headed hydra nanodesu."
Just as Pochi's said, among the kind of hydra that are all delicious, the three-headed one is the tastiest.
The two headed one has this strange bloodiness to it, the four headed one's meat is too hard, there's only a few way to cook it.
Liza herself thinks that it doesn't have the chewiness of a five-headed hydra, but I don't think that viewpoint is shared by many people.
"Satou-sama, we will be dropping the hydra over there."
"Yeah, I'll leave it to you."
I left it to Brownie without meddling.
After dropping the hydra at the backyard, the airship landed in the courtyard of Muno castle.
"Welcome back, Satou-kun, Karina."
"We have returned Earl Muno."
"Father, onee-sama, I'm back--!"
"My my, oh Karina."
I bowed like a noble to Earl Muno who met us in the courtyard himself.
Lady Karina ran up to her family and hugged her older sister and father.
After the princess and the other girls went down and greeted them lightly, we're changing place to Earl Muno's private room.
Liza and Lulu went to the backyard to dismantle the hydra.
Along the way--.
"So that's Pendragon--Damn treacherous fiend and his usurpation plot."
--There was a young man muttering that misguided accusation.
He's not a citizen of Muno, but of Dalgan city that's located at the northern end of Oyugock Dukedom.
I'm not sure why a citizen from another fief is inside the Muno castle, but since the guards inside are only looking at him with troubled looks without asking his identity, it doesn't look like he's a suspicious person who lost his way here.
Since he said it in a volume that wouldn't get heard without the Attentive Ears skill and he was a commoner without an official position, I ignored him.
I memo'ed his name at least since it'd be troublesome if he spread some strange rumor about me.
"Ceremony for ennoblement of honorary chevalier?"
"Umu, Hauto-kun has passed his etiquette test. I think it's about time to appoint him as a honorary chevalier and get him to marry Soruna."
The first topic we had when we got to the private room was about the former fake hero Hauto turning a honorary noble.
Of course, many things, like how Lady Soruna was surprised with her eyes wide open when she met the princess for the first time and how the castle employees were peeking at the princess and Sera while hiding also happened, but let's omit that.
"Earl, we should get Zotor to be a honorary chevalier too while we're at it."
"Would they allow it?"
Earl Muno replied anxiously at Ms Nina's suggestion.
"His atonement period is about to end soon, it should be fine."
Is the [Atonement] she mentioned is in regard to how he left the army due to his dissatisfaction toward the lesser demon posing as consul and acted as a chivalrous thief?
I don't think it's a big enough sin that he ought to make up for, but I still don't really understand the value system in this world even now, so I accept it as is.
"When will the wedding ceremony be held?"
The only wedding ceremony I had attended in this world was of Tisrad, the eldest son of Duke Oyugock and Sera's elder brother.
Lady Soruna tilted her head quizzically.
Maybe it's something that only family attend?
"Only the pedigreed noble at the Royal Capital hold a reception for their children other than the heir. Other nobles aren't going to come unless it's for the heir even if you invite them."
Ms. Nina said that like she couldn't believe me.
Come to think of it, traveling in this world was dangerous wasn't it.
The one inviting and the one coming would need to mobilize the army to clean up the highway, it'd cost them quite a bit.
Moreover, this world adopts polygamy so people have a lot of children, no wonder they won't hold a ceremony for every one of them.
"But isn't it too sad if we don't do anything?"
"That's true. It might be a good idea to hold something like a festival that also serves as an announcement to the populace."
At Arisa's appeal, Ms. Nina spoke while stroking her chin.
"And we've got more than enough hydra meat here, how about using it for Soruna-sama's wedding ceremony?"
"Are you sure? That much meat would net you quite a sum y'know?"
"Yes, it's always been a souvenir for the earl."
Besides, turning hydra meat into jerky makes it too hard, it's not well suited for long-time preservation.
In the first place, we hunted the hydra to hold a meat festival and also strengthen Muno Earldom's army anyway.
"Then, since Orion-kun will also come home within half a month, let's hold a wedding for both."
"Soruna is a bride-san nanodesu!"
Lured by the excited Earl Muno, Tama and Pochi who were single-mindedly nibbling baked sweets beside him took up happy poses too.
Looks like they heard us talking even though they seemingly didn't.
"Ufufu, oh father, you're too hasty."
"Really. Let's say the bridal dress, that won't be ready in just half a month."
"We also need to decorate things."
Lady Soruna chided Earl Muno while looking like she wasn't at all dissatisfied with it, Ms. Nina and Yuyurina the civil official with braided hair told him the reasons.
The jewels that will be used as adornment seem to come from the tribute that the kobolds from the abandoned mine town gave.
"Doing an ennoblement ceremony during Orion-sama's absence! What's your objective, Pendragon!"
The young man I saw earlier snarled at me while I was heading to the ennoblement ceremony room together with Sir Zotor and Hauto-kun.
"Oy, watch your mouth."
Sir Zotor rebuked him with a scowl.
Not sure if the timing is good or bad, it's just right as Earl Muno and Ms. Nina have gone to the ceremony room.
"What'd you say you Pendragon's dog! Are you going up against this Gira-sama whom Orion-sama has entrusted to be the territory's inspector!"
I see, a fox that borrows the authority of a tiger huh--no, a rat that borrows the authority of a cat I guess?
"What is this about?"
"Our apologies, Sir Pendragon."
It seems Sir Zotor and Hauto-kun can't rebuke the young man strongly, in honor of Orion-kun the next family head.
"Hmph, if you know your place--"
"What if I do?"
I release a concentrated [Coercion] that would even bind a lesser demon up at the unpleasant young man.
It was only for an instant, but the effect was tremendous, he forgot to breathe and passed out.
"Did I overdo it?"
"No, he, a commoner, did verbally abuse a noble. Normally, he'd have been enslaved into a crime slave or executed."
Ms. Nina who came out of the corridor denied the question I asked at Sir Zotor.
"Geez, I wish Orion-dono sent someone better than this guy to inspect things."
"It seems he's a childhood friend of Orion-dono, he probably appealed to him using that?"
Hauto-dono who had been silent for a while replied Ms. Nina's grumble.
I see, he can't use his friend as a spy in the Duchy Capital after all, I can understand the situation.
Though I agree with Ms. Nina, he should have first thought it through when choosing personnels.
While we were talking, she ordered the guards who was watching us at a distance to imprison the unconscious young man in the jail.
I have no interest in his fate, so I'm going to leave the punishment to Earl Muno and Ms. Nina.
Regardless of that trivial matter, Sir Zotor and Hauto-kun ennoblement proceeded smoothly, and Muno Earldom got new nobles.
It seems Sir Zotor will be elevated into Honorary Baron and Hauto-kun into Honorary Baronet at the next Kingdom Conference, though they haven't told the two yet.
It seems their ennoblement is urgently needed since Muno Earldom is lacking viceroy and governors.
"Father, I'm back!"
"Welcome back, Orion."
"Have you grown again?"
"Soruna-neesama, it hasn't been that long since we last met."
"You're getting cheeky for Orion."
"Karina-neesama, please stop with your hugging habit. My retainers are watching."
After the ennoblement ceremony, we greeted Orion-kun's party that had just arrived.
Muno family sure has a lot of skinship.
Orion-kun's eyes that were softened from meeting his family turned grave when he saw me.
He seemed normal despite his bursting sister complex when he went with us to Brighton City and during the liberation of the abandoned mine town, I wonder what happened?
The young man Gira who should have been detained earlier rushed here together with some men with unpleasant looks who seemed to be his friends.
Orion-kun looked nostalgic somewhat, but it seemed he couldn't remember their names as he didn't speak of it at all.
Gira and his cohorts didn't seem to notice that as they stood in front of him with their hands pointing at me to condemn me.
"Really now, they look like underlings who'd be crushed doing domestic administrations."
I agreed to Arisa's muttering.
It'd be annoying if this guy left a bad taste on our reunion at Muno Earldom.
I look for the highly stealth mind magic [Stun Hand] in the Magic Column.
"Lots and lots of noble person nanodesu."
Tama and Pochi who saw the young nobles getting down from their carriages reported.
It seems these two have completely forgotten about it, but you girls are also nobles with peerage now you know?
"There's a lot of pretty ones."
"You're right. You can make an otome or a girl game with this line up."
There's a lot of women among Orion-kun's friends.
I'm thinking that they might be candidates to be Orion-kun's mistress.
"Hahhahha! The heaven is on our side!"
The young man Gira triumphantly said that.
A young nobleman stepped forward beside him.
It's a refreshing handsome young man who'd be high in the class caste somehow.
The young man Gira grinned at the entry of his comrade.
"Hey, you're in the way."
The young noble man lightly pushed the young man Gira away, came before me and lightly bowed.
"Nice to meet you, Viscount Pendragon-sama. I'm the grandson of Marquis Lloyd, Izo Llyod. I have come to visit the earldom as a candidate for Orion-sama's retainer. I would love to hear about Muno Earldom from Viscount."
He's acting all friendly for some reason.
"Hold on, Izo! Stop stealing the march. Viscount Pendragon-sama, I'm Marimo from Baronet Fukke house that's related to Earl Houen--"
"Too long! My name is Myumir, daughter of Baron Jitbelt. By all means, would viscount please teach me as a senior retainer, if possible at night in a private room--"
"I'm Batts of Baronet Henz--"
Starting with the young man, the young nobles introduced themselves to me one after another.
Some carnivorous women also mixed among them, but I pretended to not notice them as I ignored them.
"They thought that they would be able to get acquainted with Sir Pendragon if they became my retainers."
Orion-kun replied the young Gira's question.
I can see that they're really childhood friends looking at them.
One of the maids whispered to Orion's ear.
She looked familiar, turned out she was Pina, the head maid who served Lady Karina back then.
According to Attentive Ears skill, it seems the content is about the quarrel that led to the young man Gira's imprisonment earlier.
"I do cherish the memories of us playing together when we were little."
The young man Gira looked puzzled at Orion-kun who suddenly spoke like he was "bidding farewell."
One of his friends that helped him escape the jail realized the situation and ran away into the crowd.
It's good that he's perceptive, but it wouldn't do me any good to leave someone who might hold an unjustified resentment alone, so I pulled his legs with [Magic Hands], letting him fall before the guards.
"I will ensure that you keep your life at the very least."
"Orion-sama.... B-but! Ori--"
The young man Gira's mouth was blocked and he got taken back to the dungeon.
"Viscount Pendragon-sama, I'm sorry for the trouble my childhood friend caused you. I will be sure to make up for it."
Whoa, he would have snarled at me together with his friend if it was the same Orion from before, but for him to apologize for his friend's impoliteness like this, looks like he's grown up in this short period of time.
"And you guys! I understand that you admire Sir Pendragon and all, but have some modesty and restraint. Don't forget that outwardly, you're candidates to become my retainers."
In a sense, what he said was servile, but there wasn't a shred of envy in Orion-kun's eyes even if it seemed like he found them unbelievable.
Even though it's of a different type than Earl Muno, it appears he's establishing his own style as a territory lord.
Wonder what changed him?
"Pregnant woman-san nanodesu!"
The answer was at the end of the eagle eyed Tama and Pochi's line of sight.
The stomach of Muse, Orion-kun's fiancee is swelling.
According to AR, it seems she has a boy and a girl twin.
The thing that has changed him must be his readiness to be a husband and a father, I'm sure.
That reminds me, the president who offered a marriage meeting to Mr. Metabo said this, "It's an environment that will promote a man to be responsible."
I still don't really understand, but that might be it.
"I think she's already in her fourth month?"
Arisa followed up with 'I know, I've got a lot of parent friends'.
Is it just my imagination or did she seemed like she ridiculed herself.
"Ara ara, my my."
"Nice job, young master."
Earl Muno was surprised, Lady Soruna's face was overjoyed, Ms. Nina muttered in admiration.
Lady Karina is like a broken record.
Shotgun marriages are nothing news for me, but perhaps premarital sexual relationship is unusual in this world.
"I've prepared myself to get passed over by Karina, but I never thought that Muse-dono would too."
"No worries, we're gonna catch up to them real quick."
Hauto-kun leisurely smiled at Lady Soruna.
"Now then, let us celebrate the birth of the next successive Earl of Muno this night. Lulu and I will show our skills."
"Hee, looking forward to that."
I brought along the young nobles who offered their helps and started the preparation for the barbecue festival.
Of course, I did not only prepare meat, but also salad and jelly made from sour citrus for the mother.
I was all smile before I knew it, probably because the unexpected auspicious occasion and the growth of the family of my friend were happening right before my eyes.
While watching over Mia who was singing a tune for the meat festival and Tama and Pochi who were dancing to that tune, I continued to cook in front of the wire mesh with an unusually pleasant feeling in my heart.
Celebration really is nice!
※ The next update is undecided.
Lately, the company I work at has been at its busiest yet....