Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
I reached home at dawn.
「You really did as you said you would. Welcome back」, said Lyla, welcoming me on the porch.
We went to the living room, where Rodje and Dee had been waiting all this time. They asked me what had happened.
「One of those preying on Rina is now dead. Another is awaiting sentencing from the king himself. I think I’ve done enough.」
The three ladies looked at each other, and seemed satisfied.
「For some reason, the underground arena was blown up. Do you know anything about it…?」
「Ara-ara, it’s a little hard to say out loud…」, giggled Dee.
Lyla refused to look me in the eye.
「Well… you probably heard something really loud… hmm, is that so…」
「W-We didn’t do it, okay! Don’t get the wrong idea! It’s not like Lylael-sama’s magic got depleted or anything!」
Dee’s a terrible liar, if you haven’t noticed already.
「Okay, I don’t know what happened to that arena, but at any rate, it was a big help. That’s all I have to say.」
Looking at each other again, the ladies relaxed a little. Rina had been woken up by our conversation. Rubbing her eyes, she came over to us.
「Looks like we woke you up. Sorry.」
「I thought you disappeared somewhere again…」, she said, waddling over for a hug, which I gave.
「Everything’s okay now. You don’t have to work hard anymore.」
「No, it’s not okay if Roland’s not around! It’ll never be okay…」
Looks like she had woken up and panicked, realising that I was no longer beside her. I carried her over to a proper bed and stayed with her until she drifted off to sleep again. Just as she fell asleep, the aroma of wheat and oil wafted through the air.
I went to the kitchen to have a look and found the three ladies making food.
「Milia taught me how to do this!」
She looked cheerful, and for good reason too — thanks to Milia, her cooking had become much better.
「Cooking is essentially no different from magic!」, she continued smugly.
「As expected of you, Lylael-sama!」
「If all goes well, then cooking will be child’s play for me too! Uhahaha! There’s really nothing I can’t do!」
「Lylael-sama’s cooking is excellent! I want seconds –」
「Control yourself. Rina has to eat too.」
「Of course –!」
When I reached the guild, I thanked Milia for her guidance on their behalf.
「Oh, that’s good to hear! It feels like I’m being nice to my rival, though… it’s a little complicated…」, she replied, furrowing her eyebrows.
「What happened, Roland…?」
Iris inquired of last night’s events, and I gave her some brief details.
「The arena was blown up and the noble behind its operation will be charged soon, so I don’t think they’ll be able to resume business any time soon, if ever.」
「Are you the one who blew it up, Roland…?」
「No, I don’t have that kind of raw power.」
Iris didn’t believe me, but what can I say? There are things that even I can’t do.
A few days later, King Randolph gathered all the lords and announced what had happened in Imir as of late. I wasn’t there to hear it, but Almeria was, and she gave me some of the details.
「Most of them said that it’ll be most appropriate to confiscate some of his land. However, one of his advisers mentioned later that the Moisander family has been using their ties with the royal family and their track record as an excuse to do whatever they want.」
I don’t know when Lukas Moisander became head of the family, but it seems like King Randolph couldn’t do a thing even if he had wanted to.
「…Father said that capital punishment would be the best course of action.」
「But it’s all for show. If he had really wanted to execute him, he wouldn’t have needed to gather all the lords and make a statement.」
「I see. He can be quite fierce if the need arises, huh? When it comes to quelling injustice, I guess.」
Many of the lords would probably ignore verbal warnings without a show of sorts.
「Mhm. He’s telling them that even a distant relative or the overseer of a large city isn’t exempt from the rule of law. In the end, it’s because he’s a distant relative that he soiled the name of the royal family. He’ll be stripped of both his title and his land.」
「It’s definitely extremely harsh if you’re a noble yourself.」
Given what he had done, I didn’t actually think that the punishment was too harsh. However, it had drawn out what the other lords really felt. It’s a good manipulation tactic, honestly. The actual punishment had no doubt been decided from the very beginning.
「The Moisander family’s example will be a warning to the other lords. It also serves to prevent them from going astray.」
There’s probably many other considerations that I’m unaware of.
「It’s hard to be a king, you know? You have to find a way to balance the power between yourself and the nobles…」
Almeria spoke as if she was only a bystander. She also told me why she came to my house in the first place.
「Oh yeah, Roland. I’m going to be the new principal of Rina’s orphanage!」
「Oh. Then I no longer need to worry about her.」
Rina had unintentionally invited the hot-blooded princess to take care of her. In other words, she will be subject to Almeria…
Imir would soon be handed over to one of King Randolph’s trusted noble families. With the new family in charge, I doubt any of the king’s funds will disappear without a trace anymore.
「Aru-chan worries me…」, said Rina, her legs trembling as she sat on a chair beside me.
「You get angry easily…」
「Rina’s looking at you intently, Almeria.」
「I want Roland… I want Roland to live together with Rina…」
Almeria grinned smugly in response.
「No, Roland can’t do that. He’s a busy guild employee!」
「But… Aru-chan bullies me… I don’t like you…」
「So you want Roland because I’m here…?」, pouted the princess. 「We can make it something like a… shared residence, is that what you call it? If we do that, I can live together with you guys!」
「You literally live in the most luxurious house in the entire kingdom, Almeria.」
「But you have that partner… Lyla, was it…?」
Lyla was out shopping at the moment. Having brought Rina along with her, she had somehow bumped into Almeria along the way and asked her to bring Rina home.
「Even though Roland and I kissed… he just won’t let me be his partner…」, muttered Almeria.
Hearing that, Rina looked at me curiously.
「You kissed? With Aru-chan?」
「Half of it was an accident.」
「Accident? What accident!? You know how gently you kissed me, despite how cold you usually are? You acted like a prince, even though you’re an assassin!」
「I am no longer an assassin.」
「What are you now, then? A prince?」
「A guild employee. You said so yourself earlier.」
「Wow, Aru-chan really flares up fast…」
「She’s not wrong, Almeria.」
「Fine, I see how it is!」
Laughter belonging to Almeria’s attendants could be heard from outside. She rolled her eyes and stared at them.
「I’ve already discussed the matter of the orphanage with Lord Bardell. He appears to like the idea of keeping it going.」
No noble wants to run an orphanage. For Lord Bardell, I’m certain that he’s doing it to improve his public image instead of out of the goodness of his heart. A high-flying leopard like him never changes his spots.
Apparently there had been talk about rebuilding the orphanage somewhere nearby, but the discussion had ended without it coming to fruition. In addition, the slaves I released yesterday had all decided to stay in Rina’s orphanage.
「It’s pretty rare to see a noble voluntarily running an orphanage.」
「It hasn’t been that long since we won the war, so there are still a lot of affected children. How about we house them in that orphanage and provide them with an education?」
「So they can become functional adults?」
「Exactly. If we just leave them be, they’ll almost certainly end up being sold as slaves. If they’re educated, they can contribute to society more than any slave can. Lahati’s population will go up and our productivity along with it.」
Of course, nothing’s stopping them from moving away after they grow up. When I explained the above to Lord Bardell, however, he was sold on the idea of a ten to twenty year investment. In fact, he wanted to start immediately.
「If this investment pays off, other nobles will follow in your footsteps. We’re experiencing a population reduction as of present and capable males are rather scarce.」
「I see. It’s not like I can easily expand my territory either…」
With fewer slaves around, the blatant wastage of their lives (like in the underground arena) would eventually come to a stop. If nobles begin taking the initiative to reduce the number of slaves, there’ll eventually be a shift in attitude and the world will change for the better.
King Randolph might even give us a generous grant if we ask nicely.
Confused, Rina looked at Almeria, then at me, then back at her again.
「What are you… talking about?」
「We want to spread your innocence to the world, Rina. Using it as a driving force, we can make the world a better place.」
She nodded, although she didn’t really understand.
「…Aren’t you behind all that, Roland? That huge explosion and, uh… the Moisander family’s downfall?」, asked Almeria.
「Nope. Not at all.」
「Really…?」, she replied. After a while, she stood up abruptly. 「Well, whatever. We have time, don’t we, Rina? I won’t be staying at the orphanage, but shall we go and have a look?」
The young mage nodded, then looked at me longingly.
「You can visit me anytime. I won’t be disappearing again.」
I accompanied them outside. As they were about to leave, Rina shook off Almeria’s hand and ran back as if she had forgotten something.
She waved her hands, making me look down at her. Seeing her chance, she stood on tiptoe and pecked me on the cheek.
Almeria’s voice made her snap out of it. Embarrassed, she ran back to her.
「Come on, let’s get going!」
Having prepared the carriage, Almeria’s attendants beckoned the two ladies.
They climbed inside, and off they went. Rina stuck her torso out of the door and waved at me, so I did the same and only turned around when they were out of sight.