Volume 5 Prologue-1: The Day Before Departure

The wedding was over, and I was now officially wedded to Lucy and Kuu.

A day had passed, and my spirits were high. I felt like I could do anything now.

「Yesterday was so much fun.」

At the banquet after the ceremony, Yukino, Kemin, and Kurone performed songs and dances for us.

The three’s “Yokkora fox” performance was so cute that I couldn’t help but smile.

During their dance, there were some incidents where some unruly individuals lost their minds and tried to intrude on the stage, but we were able to apprehend them, and their dance ended without any further trouble.

Kuu blushed deeply and muttered as she watched the “Yokkora fox” performance.

「Those kids sang such an embarrassing song for me… I’m happy, but It’s opening old wounds!!」

Next to her, Lucy and I enjoyed watching the swaying tails of our three little sisters.

There were also musical performances by Konna and other elves, acrobatic shooting by some of the hunters, and for some reason, Jii performed an impromptu magic show, keeping the festivities going until dawn.

「Cyril-niisama, is this okay?」

Yukino, the silver fox, asked me as I thought about yesterday’s events. We were now in a furnace on the opposite side of the one we showed to Azul and Jii. This was a different furnace, a coke furnace.

We hadn’t shown this one to them, and we had no intention of doing so in the future. Tomorrow, we would depart for Erin, so I planned to teach the group who would remain in Erucy how to handle this coke furnace before leaving.

「Yes, this level of heat is just right. Any other issues… Neel, increase the wind a bit more.」

「Alright, Cyril-sama.」

Neel, the elven girl, was startled by my request but increased the strength of the wind. As expected of sisters, her character was quite similar to Konna’s.

「Cyril-niisama, you’ve only put coal in, what are you making?」

Yukino asked while keeping the fire going.

「This furnace here, it’s for refining coal into coke. You see, when we make iron, using raw coal as it is, gives us less heat and a bunch of impurities, which isn’t great for the quality of the iron. So, we’ve got to purify the coal first, and what comes out of that is what we call coke. That’s what we’re making right now.」

Coal contains sulfur, coal tar, pitch, and more, with sulfur being particularly detrimental to iron, making purification necessary.

To achieve this, you need to heat the coal to over 1300°C for several minutes, which separates impurities from the coal. This process also enables combustion at higher temperatures than regular coal.

Normally, using coal as fuel to process coal would be wasteful, but we have the power of the fire foxes in Erucy. With their help, the fuel problem is solved.

Additionally, by using the power of the elves to provide airflow, we can evenly heat the inside of the furnace and obtain good-quality coke.

「Cyril-niisama, why are you making this? Yukino and the others can make iron without it.」

「That’s true., but we’re not making this coke for our own use. We’re going to sell it to Erin; as a specialty of Erucy.」

You can indeed make iron from raw coal, but using coke is more efficient and produces higher-quality iron. Without a doubt, Erin would want this product.

Furthermore, it takes time for them to figure out how to turn coal into coke on their own, and facilities for purifying it efficiently won’t appear for decades. During that time, it will become an important source of income for Erucy.

「Also, take a look at this.」

I took out the sulfur that had accumulated in a depression in the coke furnace. This furnace was designed to collect impurities generated when making coke.

「Cyril-niisama, what’s this?」

「Sulfur, it’s used to make gunpowder.」

「Gunpowder, the one Cyril-niisama used before that went ‘boom’?」

「Yes, while making coke, we can also collect a lot of this. It’s a way to make money and replenish our weapons at the same time. Pretty nice, right?」

「Yes, Yukino thinks it’s great that nothing goes to waste.」

Until now, we had been making gunpowder from animal carcasses and sulfur sold in Erin. But from now on, we can secure sulfur quickly using this coke furnace.

As for coal procurement, when I consulted with the five leaders of Bell Erucy, one said that near his old village, a rock that burned could be mined. So, I had the residents of Bell Erucy start mining it.

Since we plan to sell the coke in Erin as high-quality coal rather than a processed product, it was fortunate that we could obtain coal without buying it in Erin. Buying a large amount of coal in Erin might attract unwanted attention and suspicion.

「Cyril-niisama is naughty. Didn’t you promise to teach the people of Erin about iron?」

「I’m keeping my promise. It’s just that we found a better way to process it.」

Even with raw coal, they can make something better than the Empire’s. That’s not a lie. I’m just leaving room for us to profit from it.

「Cyril-niisama, it’s ready.」

「Let me see… Yes, it’s done well.」

Thanks to Yukino and the others’ efforts, the coal had turned into pure coke. After it cooled down a bit, I touched it; there were no impurities, and it was well-made.

「Yukino, while I’m away, I’ll leave the management of this coke furnace to you. From now on, more coal will be brought from Bell Erucy, so work with the elves to turn it into coke and stockpile sulfur as much as possible. Can you handle it?」

「Yes, leave it to Yukino, Cyril-niisama.」

「Thank you, Yukino. I feel bad for asking you to do so many things, like training as a member of Nettle, taking care of the house and the village chief’s house, looking after the goats, and now this coke furnace.」

It was quite a workload for a twelve-year-old girl. But as a silver fox with special abilities even among fire foxes, we had no choice but to rely on her power.

「It’s okay. Yukino is happy to be relied on by Cyril-niisama. Yukino will do her best, so when you come back, please praise Yukino a lot. Also, Yukino would be happy if you could grant Yukino’s request.」

「Of course, I’ll do anything I can for you.」

「In that case, Cyril-niisama, make a child with Yukino.」

「… Anything other than that.」

「Cyril-niisama is a liar.」

Someday, I will have to give Yukino proper sex education. Kuu and Lucy would probably run away, so I might ask Rera, Kuu’s master, for help; she seemed to have a lot of experience.

「Forget about that for now. Before I depart, I want to give you this. It’s a little gift for you, Yukino. I never got around to thank you properly for all your hard work during the war with the Empire, so I hope you’ll like it.」

Yukino had worked so hard that she got sick with a high fever, so I wanted to reward her with something.

I had asked Yukino what she wanted, but she hadn’t given me an answer, so I decided to choose a gift on my own.

It was an elegant choker made of leather with a chic color scheme. It had a ruby-like red gem in the center. I wrapped it around Yukino’s white, slender neck. The chic choker looked quite nice against her silver hair and fox ears.

「Cyril-niisama, thank you! Can I go outside for a moment?」

「Why do you want to go outside?」

「Because I can’t see it since it’s around my neck. I want to look at the reflection on the water.」

「Why don’t you just take it off?」

「Even though Cyril-niisama put it on me, Yukino doesn’t want to take it off before seeing it. It’s absolutely not allowed.」

Yukino was stubborn in strange ways.

「I have a handheld mirror; you can use that.」

I took out a folding mirror from my pocket.

Since Azul and Jii liked the mirror that was in their rooms, I planned to give this one to Azul as a return gift for the wedding present.

Yukino eagerly looked at her neck in the mirror. When she saw the red gem, her silver ears stood up, and her tail wagged.

「Beautiful. Cyril-niisama, Yukino will treasure it forever.」

「I’m glad that you like it.」

After affectionately stroking the choker, Yukino placed the mirror on the desk and then hugged me tightly. I was happy that my sister was pleased.

「This choker has magic on it. Only one time, even if we’re far apart, Your voice can reach me if you use it. When you’re really, really in trouble and can’t do anything else, hold onto the gem on the choker and call my name.」

「Only once?」

「Yeah, it’ll shatter after one use, so you can only use it once.」

「Yukino won’t use it, ever.」

Yukino took some space and held the choker in her hands protectively, scared something invisible would snatch it, her fox ears were twitching cautiously.

It was so cute that I smiled unconsciously.

「You have to use it when it is really necessary, if you’re ever in danger use it.」

「… No matter what?」

「Yes, definitely. No matter how far away I am, I’ll come to help you.」

「… Understood. When Yukino really, really, really has no other way, Yukino will call for Cyril-niisama. Yukino will have to become much, much stronger so Yukino doesn’t have to call for Cyril-niisama.」

Yukino burned with determination, thinking that if she became stronger, she wouldn’t need to call me and risk breaking the choker.

「… You’re just too much, Yukino. I worry when you push yourself too hard.」

I muttered with a wry smile.

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