Chapter 538: Storm or Lull?
「You have a guest. It is an urgent matter, so I apologize for interrupting.」
Sebastian the butler closes his eyes and bows with his waist bent 90 degrees.
「……urgent enough to come in knowing what I’m doing?」
I respond sullenly, rubbing Gretel’s butt as I penetrate her from behind.
「I am sorry to say that it is indeed the case.」
When I reluctantly separate from Gretel, she glares at Sebastian and then covers her reddend face in embarrassment while her toy ears and tail are still attached.
Sebastian entered despite my ongoing passionate affair, then it must be really urgent.
「I will dress in 30 seconds.」
I remove the toy ears, tail and fake teeth, and put on my clothes.
「I protest against your actions as they are detrimental not only to my territory, but to the interests of all neighboring lords and even the kingdom!」
Count something-or-other raises his hand, intending to swing it down and slam the desk, but thinks otherwise when he sees that I am not intimidated in the slightest, instead he slowly lowers it and taps the desk with his index finger.
「Are you talking about what happened in Richemott?」
I ask without looking at the written letter of protest.
「Indeed! Because you compromised with the insurgents, the riots within my territory are becoming increasingly violent! ……and because I reduced spending on knights due to economic difficulties, trying to suppress them with insufficient men will result in a loss……ahem! The people are taking advantage of my compassion, of not wanting to dye the post-war peace with blood, and demanding nonsensical things like elections!」
This time, Adolph offers a rebuttal from his seat beside me.
「If I may interject, you are not correct. The governor of that land was officially appointed by Lord Hardlett. The election and ticket system are unrelated, the person chosen is someone with deep ties to the land and whom the citizens happened to support……」
The count is able to slam the desk this time because he is up against Adolph.
「You can’t expect me to accept such an excuse! I’ve heard the whole story!」
So he knows. Adolph and I thought the excuse would be a hard sell too.
But then, the count took my expression as a threat and quickly wiped the part of the desk he slammed with a handkerchief before standing up.
「In any case, the circumstances in my region are deteriorating! Conversely, the spoiled citizens on your side are quiet and I hear that there is even an influx of residents from nearby……don’t tell me this is what you were aiming for.」
「Of course not. We are also experiencing economic difficulties. Citizens who move over without possession of money will only be a burden on us.」
The count stares blankly for a few seconds after Adolph’s counterargument…… or is he trying to glare at me? I can’t tell because of how weak his eyes look.
「Anyways, I have certainly delivered the formal complaint to you.」
The count takes his cloak from Marta and walks off before I could say goodbye.
『……s-so scary. Thank goodness somebody was beside him……I always draw the short straw in the most crucial stage.』
If he was ten steps further away, I wouldn’t have heard him.
I smile and look at the document.
「Former Libatis Region traditional nobles, feudal lords and a governor of the kingdom……what a list of members.」
It’s interesting how the size of the letters can tell you about a person’s status, rank and power in the hierarchy.
There are names which are tightly packed together and a name which is written three finger widths away.
「This name belongs to a new noble. It seems that I provoked more people than I thought.」
I chuckle as I toss away the protest letter.
「……please be aware of how bad of a situation we’re in.」
「I can’t do anything about things that are already done. That’s why I’m leaving the rest to you and Jim.」
Adolph slumps his shoulders at first, then shakes his head and composes himself.
「No, it’s proven that delegating the task is better than a half-hearted attempt.」
I know I’ve given you a hard time so I won’t say anything about the sarcastic remark.
Also, the top of your head is looking pretty bad again.
The Next Day.
「Pardon me for interrupting in the evening. It is an urgent matter……I ask that you get ready.」
Sebastian, with his eyes closed, bows deeply enough that I’m worried about his back.
「……you’re telling me to go after seeing this?」
I turn only my upper body while mounted on Melissa.
「I apologize for the rudeness, but indeed.」
When I separate from Melissa, she asks Sebastian if he heard anything as she stuffs a torn lace dress and toy crown under the bed.
If Sebastian is coming in, then this must be something that can’t be settled without me.
「I’ll prepare in 90 seconds.」
I drop the club in my hand, remove the straw skirt, and wipe off the green face paint as I put on my clothes.
「I am advising you in the capacity of my duties that your judgement crossed the bounds of your authority……no, I am warning you.」
The one before me who stated that in a calm tone is a bureaucrat of the kingdom as thin as a piece of thread.
「Is allowing Celes……the queen of Malt passage a problem?」
I ask before opening up the written warning.
「The attitude of the Malt queen was full of respect and I’ve received plenty of positive responses from lords along the way like “I have no problems with a trading party passing through”, “I want to provide supplies for you along the way as an ally country”, or “Do you have a fiance? I am forty years old”.」
I need to ask for the name of that last guy.
「The problem is with you Lord Hardlett, or more precisely the letter of recommendation you issued. At first it appears to be a normal letter but it is actually closer to a threat.」
Tristan speaks up beside me.
「There was a mistake and the document directed towards our governor and guards was delivered. Of course it is ineptitude on our end, so an amended letter and a gift of apology was sent out immediately.」
Naturally, the letter was sent after Celestina came back with approval from the feudal lord.
By the way, the apology was a portion of high-grade black beast meat stuffed personally by the cute Celia.
Consider yourself lucky.
「……protests have not come to the kingdom directly from each feudal lord yet.」
「What’s most important is that things worked out without a fuss.」
Alright, it’s over then.
「But normally the ones to issue letters of recommendation to trade parties of other nations…… are ministers of the kingdom and us bureaucrats after receiving approval from His Majesty. If the Military Commissioner says there is no problem with public order, for the sake of argument, then I can see this making sense.」
Tristan nudges me with his elbow.
As I retaliate with my own elbow, I realize what he’s getting at.
「Gu! W-we received consent informally. Acting impertinently before an official document was issued is our fault.」
「……you won’t mind if I check with Lord Radhalde then?」
I quietly nod my head.
Tristan already instructed for an express messenger to be sent to Erich.
It should arrive faster than the bureaucrat can return.
「That about wraps it up? O-ow my ribs……」
The bureaucrat tries one more time to stop Tristan from ending the conversation.
「……there are rumors that Malt is essentially a protectorate and under the influence of Lord Hardlett. And that it was Your Excellency that opposed and crushed the idea of surrounding and annexing Malt right after the war.」
「Those are just rumors. It’s tough dealing with faction conflicts, you know. You always have baseless slander flying around.」
Tristan shrugs incredulously and spreads his hands.
Those mannerisms really suit him.
The bureaucrat once again comes to a stand still as Marta politely helps put on his coat.
「I am backed by the kingdom, you are a noble and feudal lord. Please do not forget that.」
And so, he proceeds to walk away quietly after leaving those last words.
That guy was non-violent and the silent type, but clearly a competent and creepy man.
『Fuuu. W-wow that assistant girl was pretty. I’m so glad a depressing man was sitting beside me. If it was her instead, I wouldn’t have been able to speak properly! Aaah, her scent is lingering on my coat……where’s the toilet?』
You should have remained keen for 20 more steps.
「Getting a warning letter from a bureaucrat of the government is basically one step away from punishment. This is seriously bad. Especially so, since that guy just now was neutral in the faction conflict. He’ll know we tricked him if he examines things from an unbiased view.」
「I don’t see a problem. Well, the next time someone similar comes, I’ll wave at you.」
Tristan mutters “spare me”, before taking a sip of the tea which the bureaucrat didn’t touch.
「Guh…… Hey, can I go see a doctor? I think I heard my ribs crack earlier.」
「I just nudged you bit, your bones won’t break from that.」
The Following Day. Before Dawn.
「You have a guest. Celia-sama has requested you to come immediately……please excuse me.」
Sebastian is here again.
「You want me to go even after seeing this intense scene?」
I ask as I rub Mireille, who is shaking near my shoulder level.
「No matter the situation……is what I was told.」
When I separate from Mireille, she shouts out “don’t look!” and “at least lower me!” without bothering to cover her face.
I wonder how urgent the matter must be to require me to come despite my circumstances.
「I’ll prepare. Sorry I don’t have time to let you down. Does it hurt? If not, then wait a little.」
I set down the candle and brush and change clothes before exiting the room, leaving Mireille hanging by a rope from the ceiling.
I am not guided to the parlor, but to a room not belonging to anyone……a room treated as a storage room so to speak.
At a time before dawn when the servants are asleep and in an unoccupied room one could avoid being seen, plus the absence of an introduction and greeting, this could only mean……
「I have come to confirm my authority as an information officer.」
A female around 25 years old spoke matter-of-factly.
She has a medium build and average height, and is neither beautiful or ugly.
Her attire and makeup are devoid of any individuality and serve to minimize her features.
I suppose the purpose is so she doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
「What is your opinion of the Altair religion?」
Celia tenses up nervously.
「I don’t really know how to describe it. I haven’t had many opportunities to pray.」
The information officer peers into my eyes, then shifts her gaze briefly to Celia and then back to me.
「Currently, the base for the Altair religion is in your territory. And it is the largest in all of Goldonia.」
「It appears so. Perhaps they moved in after the collapse of the Divine Nation of Altair. I think it’s unreasonable to forbid only the worship of Altair out of the multitude of Gods so they have been left alone, but they will be crushed if they make any suspicious moves.」
Celia replies calmly, but she’s speaking a bit faster than normal.
「The church of Altair is extremely exclusionary and tends to be radical compared to the believers of other Gods. Therefore, I recommend that they be eliminated if possible……」
The officer stares at me and Celia again.
「Why do you deliberately keep this religious organization in your territory?」
「Like I said, they were established before I knew it. Besides, they pay taxes, follow the law, and don’t hurt anyone.」
The information officer looks at Celia twice, then fixates her eyes on me.
Of course, I’m pleased to have a woman stare at me so it doesn’t faze me at all.
「The same Altair religion follows different doctrines in Rafen compared to the other cities. The distinction is an adoration of you, Lord Hardlett. You are being worshipped as a saint in Rafen.」
「I’ve never heard of that! What is that about!?」
Celia shouts in surprise, but she most likely knows the truth.
Being with her for so long, I can tell when her emotions are real, and more importantly I can see the cue card in her sleeve.
「……you don’t know anything?」
I nod and clear my throat while looking at the cue card Celia hands me.
「Come to think of it, there was one thing.」
The information officer’s face gets closer to mine.
I wonder if I’m allowed to kiss her.
「Those guys argued with the residents once. I scolded the central figure for it though……she was quite the pretty girl. I couldn’t help myself and slept with her.」
This cue card is weird.
The officer is looking at me like a ground beetle.
But I don’t have the skill to improvise.
「Call it teaching or whatever, she is merely a woman. Once I penetrated her, she was no more than a simple female.」
Damn Celia, I’m going to line you up beside Mireille and tease your armpits with a brush.
「She must have learned how foolish it was to defy the kingdom and Aegir-sama. Since then, her faith was twisted.」
「Are you saying that the worshipping of you as a saint is not a sign of disobeying, but rather just a form of flattery and pandering?」
Celia and I nod.
The information looks at me, and I return the gaze without hesitation.
I’m really not guilty after all. I myself have no idea why things turned out this way.
After confirming no wavering in my eyes, the information officer peeks once more at Celia and then stands up.
「――if you’ll excuse me now.」
Marta is asleep so she puts on her own coat and heads toward the door, stopping just short of it.
「A small group within the palace believe in the following rumor: “Lord Hardlett is protecting Altair in order to utilize their God to convince the people he is an existence that stands above kings.”」
「Hm? Hm? So they’re saying that the people believe the church of Altair is above the monarchy and I am going to take advantage of that?」
When I tilt my head dubiously, the officer reassures me that it is only a rumor and the only thing that matters is that I’ve heard about it, then leaves.
When her footsteps are sufficiently far away, Celia pounces on me.
「That was perfect! I wasn’t sure how well the plan would play out when she declared no other parties may be present, but we somehow pulled through! The best part was at the end where you acted dumb! She truly thought you were an idiot and didn’t doubt you!」
「Yeah, that was my acting. It’s not like I actually didn’t understand.」
I lift Celia up.
「Shall we go to my room? There is enough rope for Celia, since you’re small. I also have a brand new brush.」
Then I hear a faint voice from outside the window.
『T-that Celia girl was so cute! I want to lick her adorable slit! I want her to lick me too! I want her to address me as her big sister~! That vulgar orc beside her can go die for all I care.』
For an information officer, you are full of openings.
I’m so shocked that I memorized your plain face.
Anyways, that takes care of everything.
Or so I thought. The unusual events don’t stop as I tickle Celia’s precious place and armpits with my brush.
「It seems slander toward the royalty is rapidly increasing. Some people are even crazy enough to petition for its demolition!」
The one who is speaking in a raised voice is Mistry, the daughter of the Schmidt family, the core of the traditional nobles, and the sister of Reval, who has been messing with me repeatedly.
She flew into the mansion this morning demanding for me to have sex with her, and in return provided the minutes of a meeting that took place in the Schmidt house.
I lie on the bed, basking in the afterglow of our lovemaking, and look over the document.
「You’ve got some prominent members here.」
A count, an aide, they are expected to be there…oh, there is a minister too.
「So far the only ones who have mentioned anything about demolishing the royalty are those who want attention simply for saying extreme statements, but this guy in particular is incompetent. However, when I eavesdropped on him, he said the royal palace is seriously considering moves to take back a portion of territory and annex Malt.」
I can’t throw this away.
This needs to be copied.
Tristan……has a cracked rib for some reason, so I’ll have to count on Celia.
After Mistry left, Martory, the sister of Erich’s aide Cedric, took her place.
She also wanted my affection, so I tested out a new technique until she was out of breath, and in exchange she whispered to me during pillow talk.
「I heard this when I was cleaning my brother’s ears. There is a group within the new nobles planning to protest against you. The difference in power is too great so they also informed the royal palace. Naturally, there are plenty who support you and the Military Commissioner is holding them back so nothing has really taken shape yet.」
Martory pleads for more love and continues.
「As I pretended to be drunk around my brother, I heard that there are many hot-blooded and violent people in the new nobles……and there was also a discussion of someone losing a duel in Richemott. There might be people who will want to mess with you.」
I thank Martory and bury my face in her body.
My head is clear.
The strange occurrences continued after that.
「There is a weird atmosphere in society.」
「You are receiving fewer visits……」
Nonna, sensing the unsettling mood, trembles in my room.
To add the final touch, a top secret letter from Rebecca arrived.
It can be summarized like this:
『You made poor choices at all the wrong times and caused a huge problem. It surprises me how much you have done.』
『For some reason, things are not calming down. I am currently investigating the possibility of someone fanning the flames.』
『I will do something about it, so go to sleep and don’t do anything for about half a year. I will send the annoying subordinate threatening my seat as a meat toilet replacement.』
Pictures were included in the postscript, which said this in a cheerful tone:
『His Majesty’s response, you still have a chance. But it’s not something that you can laugh about either. You are somewhere in the middle.』
「I guess I have to do as advised and go to sleep.」
I contact Claire, trying to improve the shaky Nonna’s mood.
The misunderstanding between Adolph and Claire was really a trivial affair.
Claire assumed for some reason after finding out about the secret of the gold mine that Adolph and I would cut ties with her merchant company. Apparently, she had several pieces of evidence for that. The carriage accident was a screaming conspiracy by Claire.
On the other hand, Adolph believed that the carriage accident was a high-handed tactic by Claire to demand a one-sided transaction. And he also had a few pieces of evidence to support it.
In the end, I talked to both parties and easily resolved the confusion.
「Something is moving in the shadows……?」
It’s not Rebecca.
If it was, she wouldn’t have given me advice.
It’s probably not Adolph or Claire.
They’re the type of people to shoulder responsibility.
Head-helmina is the most likely candidate to hatch a plan, but she claims she is not interested in everyday life at the moment, going so far as to say “strip me if you want, monitor me if you want, it’s not me”.
I chose not to pursue that line further, since there really isn’t much to strip considering she is just a head, plus being with a severed head will only make me feel depressed.
「Celia is out of the question. If Celia is entrapping me, then I’m the villain. I will also cooperate to take myself down.」
I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.
「But with Leopolt, Tristan and a bunch of strong-looking guys dressed in black, can they be beaten? The enemy can’t even be seen.」
I put a newly acquired white panther coat over Nonna’s shoulders.
She instantly cheers up and skips into the city to do some shopping in high spirits.
Oops, I didn’t look at Leopolt’s document yet.
Expansion of the cavalry? Sounds fine to me.
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 26 years old. Spring. (beginning of year)
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend.
Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Elf Mediator. Sex King of White City. Mad Demon God. Poison Resistance (strong). Scandal.
Appears in the present story:
Leopolt (expansion of arms), Adolph (household investigation), Tristan (rib fracture), Celia (bondage play, brush-torture)
Martory (seducing brother), Mistory (household spy), Rebecca (bewildered), Sebastian (butler)
Mireille (bondage play), Gretel (fellow dog play), Melissa (princess-and-orc play)
Family – the women:
Nonna (fearful), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Kuu (daughter-in-law), Ruu (daughter-in-law)
Pipi (at peace), Maria (concubine), Miti (concubine), Catherine (next time for sure, returns!), Sofia (lover)
Leah (lover), Casie (household investigation), Rita (maid lover), Yoguri (lover), Alice (magic user)
Mother: Marceline (lover), Daughters: Eldest – Stephanie (lover), Second – Bridget (lover), Youngest – Felicie (lover), Claudia (serious), Clara (hot), Adela (pro lover), Annette (lover), Dorothea (capital orphanage), Sally (lady’s maid), Maruru (lady’s maid), Benel (slight reaction)
Myla (baron), Irijina (knight), Sekrit (delight), Natia (southern adventure), Polte (sleepless new year’s)
T-99 (maintenance), Marta (secretary), Yularen (forest elf boss), Ijaris (black elf boss)
Baroness Rukino Escaote (governor), Rukue (her daughter), Seika (her son?)
Luna (knight) ← Rafaella (place of rest), Christoph (eating mandarins in front of a fireplace), Zillia (eating mandarins in front of a fireplace)
Guigue (new year drinking), Kroll (new year woman), Yakov (knight, laughing), Mack (knight escort)
Claire (??), Laurie (???), Jim (Former Libatis Regional Representative), Eileen (remarriage), Solana (busy)
Ivanna (naval construction), Cedric (infatuated with sister), Piris (stable period), Busco (low-life), Gildress (manly long-distance relay race)
Andrei (lolicon), Altair (complete), Remia (speechless)
Head-helmina (knows), Schwartz (free), Lammy (nap), Mirumi (caring for eggs), Alraune (luxuriant growth), Brynhildr (worried)
Smoothie (parenting), Pochi (giant lizard), Child lizard (mental concentration), Felteris (exposed)
Total: 369 000
Rafen: 47 000, Lintbloom: 7 000
Richemott (former Libatis): 37 000 (+1000) influx to neighborhood, Zwei Elfie: 3700 (+200)
Personnel: Infantry: 800, Archers: 200, Cavalry: 800 (+300), Escort: 30
Armaments: Cannons: 30, Large Cannons: 15, Dwarven Cannons: 15, Field Artillery: 10, Chariots: 30
Assets: -238 000 gold (gold mine +5000), (apology gift manufacturing fee -500), (addition to cavalry -2000)
Sexual Partners: 830
Children who have been born: 71 + 567 (++)
Current Location: Rafen