Act 11: At the Fief

It took about three and a half days to get to the fief from the Royal Capital.

Cordelia received a lecture about economics from Elvis as the carriage continued to sway.

The contents of the lecture mainly consisted of the economic situation in the Pameradia fief.

From what she’d heard from Elvis, the regional disparity that Isma had lightly touched upon before was bigger than she’d thought.

The main problem that prevented it from being solved was that the people living in the mountains and the people living in the famous wheat farms were satisfied with their current lifestyles.

“People don’t seek growth if they aren’t dissatisfied. If they are satisfied with their current living standards, then they won’t seek to improve their lives.”

“That is…… But, don’t they wish to improve their villages when they see the cities?”

“They have pride. The pride the people in the mountains, have is that they can grow trees and make forests that people in the city can’t. Moreover, the people living on farms take pride in the fact that they can grow more produce than people in cities. Therefore, they loathe studying, such as learning words, as it is a waste of time for them. They don’t wish to learn. They think that it’s fine as long as the village chief and the candidate can read. As a result, even if their agricultural research improves, no one can grasp academics or machinery. Therefore, ――― they can’t improve their harvest rates.”

Cordelia was at a loss for words.

(Indeed, it’s difficult… to find a means to make someone think something is necessary if they judge it not to be so.)

That wasn’t something that only happened now. Cordelia knew that well. It was the same for nobles who hated to stray away from tradition.

Of course, it was possible to forcibly change the way the people of the fiefs lived. But, that would cause them to be unsatisfied with their situation. Even more so for those with a lot of pride.

It would be fine if there were some advantage for them to be unsatisfied; but what did they want, ――― Cordelia couldn’t come up with that straight away.

“…… How do you deal with the problem, Otou-sama?”

“I’ll have to think about it sooner or later. However, I have no choice but to be confident in the results I can see now, instead of worrying over unwanted things. For example, maintaining the rivers and wells around the farms. This way also makes the people of the fief happy.”

Elvis continued while looking out the window, “Countess Weltoria knows more about that. Even now, I’m still asking her to help me with that.”

“Nirupama-oba-sama?”

Cordelia was surprised at the name that was suddenly spoken by Elvis.

Nirupama Weltoria was the current head of the Weltoria House, a house which had female heads for generations, and was her aunt from her mother’s side of the family. Cordelia also didn’t see her often because she only came to the Royal Capital when Congress was in session.

Cordelia was close enough to Weltoria for her to say, “How about becoming my adopted daughter in the future? I’ll convince Elvis,” while winking. Cordelia thought it was probably a joke, but if Nirupama wanted to adopt her, then that wouldn’t be bad either.

She wasn’t confident that she would be fit for that position, but if she were picked for that position, then she would like to live up to expectations. And…… it was also the path furthest away from the worse scenario, so she was killing two birds with one stone. However, neither Nirupama nor Elvis would agree if they judged that she didn’t have the qualifications for such a position.

Her thoughts strayed from the topic at hand. That doesn’t matter right now, the fief does.

“This is the first time that I’ve heard about Oba-sama helping you.”

“The Countess’ fief has advanced hydroponic technology. Therefore, she knows a lot about flood control. The citizens live their lives day by day, so they want results that they can see, rather than have expectations for the future. Other things can be thought about someday in the future, so it’s not easy to get them to understand.”

Cordelia suddenly realised something when she looked at Elvis’s side profile.

(Otou-sama also doesn’t plan on leaving things the way they are…… but, things aren’t going smoothly.)

He did his best with state politics while managing the fief. That was too much for one person to do.

(…… I have to become Otou-sama’s strength.)

She only had her own research to worry about, unlike her older brothers and sister who were already adults and had their own roles. She had more time than anyone else. There were things she couldn’t do because of her age, but there must be something she could do since she had free time.

Cordelia was extremely eager to find hints of what she could do for him during the inspection.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

The primary residence of the Pameradia House was a lot bigger than their mansion in the Royal Capital. It was a white mansion with a flower garden and a variety of large trees. Also, the number of people who came to greet their returning master, while bowing, was also different.

A man around the same age as Elvis stood at the end of the line, in front of the mansion.

He took a deep bow as soon as he saw Elvis.

“Welcome back, Elvis-sama. And it is nice to meet you, Cordelia-sama. My name is Zeke Gargotta, and I have been entrusted with the administration of the fief by Elvis-sama.”

“Stop with the formal greetings, Zeke.”

Cordelia guessed from the way that Elvis was speaking that he was as close to (?) Zeke as he was with Marquis Flantheim.

“I’m Cordelia Enna Pameradia.”

Cordelia took a deep bow next to her father.

“Zeke was my subordinate when I was a knight. He’s the acting lord when I’m not here.”

“Even if you say I’m the acting lord, it’s not like…… I’m the head. I only do what the Earl has ordered me to do. I wasn’t left out on the streets thanks to him, and my daughter also doesn’t worry me.”

Zeke, who seemed a little playful, stated his own title, “I am knighted.”

The title『Knight』only lasted for a lifetime.

In other words, he wasn’t originally a noble. However, he was given the honour of knighthood by the royal family because he’d made some kind of achievement. His achievements probably have something to do with that left leg of his. He had a cane in his left hand and was hiding his left leg. He probably had a 『honour-wound』just like Elvis.

Knights got pensions when they retired, but they didn’t receive fiefs. In other words, they had to find their next place of employment. Cordelia guessed that that was when Elvis asked Zeke to work for him.

“Lunch is ready. Will I also be having lunch with you as usual?”

“Yeah. I don’t mind…… Come to think of it, where’s Aisha?”

“She’s reading picture books to the children in town, like usual. I think she’ll be back soon.”

“I even told her to come back before the master returns,” he smiled wryly; he had probably guessed that she wouldn’t make it back in time.

At that moment…

“Oh, looks like she’s just returned.”

Cordelia turned around to look at where Zeke was staring.

A pretty girl with chestnut hair and amber eyes was standing at the gate.

“You’re late, Aisha.”

“I, I’m sorry……”

The girl looked down in shame as she trotted up to Zeke and immediately apologised to Elvis. However, Elvis didn’t seem to care.

“Let’s have lunch before it gets cold.”

Elvis spoke as he quickly entered the house. It didn’t look like he was angry; he was just saying it like he usually would.

Cordelia was late in following Elvis, so she looked up at Aisha and bowed.

“It’s nice to meet you, my name is Cordelia. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Cordelia said that and Aisha blabbed, “Woah…… How cute.”

Then, she quickly spoke as if she had been startled, “My name is Aisha Gargotta. I am in charge of showing you around during your stay here.”

Cordelia listened to her and observed her from the front.

Aisha had big, round eyes and white skin. Cordelia thought she looked like a doll, and a question popped into her head.

“Aisha-sama.”

“You can call me Aisha, Cordelia-sama.”

“Say…… Can I call you Aisha-oneesama?”

Cordelia had an older sister, but her sister had married early, so they didn’t talk much. Therefore, she couldn’t help but speak her wish aloud to Aisha, who was probably around 15.

Aisha’s eyes widened in surprise.

“I, I don’t mind but…… Cordelia-sama has a wonderful Onee-sama, don’t you?”

“But I want to call you Onee-sama while I’m here, Aisha-sama. I’m still inexperienced, so I want Onee-sama to teach me various things… or so I think.”

Aisha’s face turned red as Cordelia said that.

“I don’t know if it’s alright for you to say something like that to me, but I don’t think there would be any problems if Cordelia-sama were to call me so.”

“Then, please take care of me Onee-sama.”

“…… I’m nervous.”

Aisha laughed a little shyly and prompted, “Well, let’s go. The food’s going to get cold.” Cordelia felt that she was like an older sister.

The main dish for lunch was Hollow Bird, which could be said to be a speciality product of the fief. The vegetables were also fresh. She couldn’t tell if they were actually more delicious than the ones from the Royal Capital, or if they just tasted so because she was tired. But, I will know which is correct soon enough, I am staying here for a week after all. She thought that as she looked forward to the next meal.

Elvis confined himself in his office in the afternoon, and Cordelia and Aisha were in a room in the mansion…… the room that Cordelia would be staying in.

Cordelia asked Aisha various questions as they enjoyed their after-meal tea.

“Which areas of the fief can you go to, Onee-sama?”

“I spend most of my time in this town, but sometimes I visit Caina Village to the north, which is also known as 『Wheat Village』, as father’s envoy. The wheat produced there is the best in the kingdom and also gets presented to the royal family. Well, I’m actually the Earl’s envoy on paper and not father’s.”

Aisha easily answered and Cordelia continued to question her. She hadn’t heard of Caina Village, but she concluded that it was the name of one of the villages that Elvis had mentioned before.

“Do people from Caina Village also visit this town?”

“They do. They come here to deliver goods. There are those who also bring their children with them so I can read picture books to those children.”

“I was late today because of that,” Aisha who had said that a little funnily didn’t look like she regretted it one bit. She seemed to be really good at looking after people. Aisha continued.

“I love books. So it’s fun to read books to the children. I really wish they could read it by themselves though……”

“Is it hard for them to read?”

“They’re smart. They would be able to learn how to read pretty quickly if we had time, but time is a bit……”

Aisha cast her eyes down as she said that. This is probably the same thing that Otou-sama said inside the carriage.

“They think it’s fine as long as someone else can read it for them, isn’t that right?”

“Frankly, yes. It’s difficult and sad. But, if it is said that that is our value, then I have nothing further to say.”

The aura around them got heavy as Aisha said that.

Cordelia looked around to change the subject. Then she suddenly recalled something that she couldn’t do in the Royal Capital, ――― the important thing which she had come all the way here for.

“Onee-sama, would you show me around town?”

“Huh? Sure.”

“Yay. I rarely go outside in the Royal Capital, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Otou-sama did say that we were inspecting the fief and Onee-sama said she’ll show me around.

So, I could probably leave the mansion. Onee-sama accepted my request just like I thought she would.

“What would you like to see, Cordelia-sama?”

“I also want to buy a gift for my friends…… But above all, I want to see how the people live.”

“Then, let’s go to the market first. It’ll be fine; no one here would harm someone from the Pameradia House.”

As Aisha said that, she looked happy, completely different from her gloomy appearance before. Cordelia tilted her head and asked, “Why’s that?”

Aisha smiled and said.

“The Earl House is much more popular here than the royal family, so you wouldn’t be able to stay here if you hurt the Earl House. Elvis-sama was very popular when he was younger. The people of the fief are conflicted between wanting him to stay here more, and wanting him to be more active in the Royal Castle. It’s impossible to split him into two after all.”

Cordelia’s eyes widened in surprise at Aisha’s joke.

“I’m a bit surprised.”

“Now then, Cordelia-sama. Would you like to go into town now?”

“We can go now?”

“Yes. It should be fine.”

Cordelia could go out in what she was dressed in since she was wearing clothes for travelling.

Aisha had just come back from town, so she was ready to go. The two left the mansion at once.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Aisha walked around while talking as if she was used to it, and walked down a back alleyway as if it was a garden. “It’s a shortcut,” she said and walked as if she was a kitten.

“Do you have any food you don’t like, Cordelia-sama?”

“Food? Nope, not particularly.”

“Then, let’s eat first.”

However, Aisha concluded that it wouldn’t be good to walk and eat, and guided Cordelia to the eat-in corner of the shop closest to the market.

There was a queue for the shop, but the queue opened up as soon as they saw Cordelia and they reached the front in no time at all.

“It’s the Pameradia House’s Ojou-sama.”

“It’s the second Ojou-sama who stays at the Royal Capital. She’s absolutely beautiful.”

Cordelia heard things like that and felt a little embarrassed. She knew that she was beautiful, but that was the first time she’d heard it from other people. It was slightly embarrassing. However, she couldn’t show that she was.

(I will appear in much bigger stages in the future. This is only the beginning if I compare it to how balls are……)

She motivated herself and finally noticed.

The queue had opened up so naturally, and she was guided to a seat just like that. Was this really alright? Does it look like I’m abusing my power? She wasn’t opposed to queuing up.

She consulted with Aisha who replied while smiling, “It’s fine. This is everyone’s kindness. They probably can’t enjoy their meals if they make the Ojou-sama of their lord wait. So, the correct decision would be to eat first.”

Aisha was like a teacher teaching mannerism.

She had also used that time to order their food.

And what arrived at their table was a delicious, freshly baked and slightly burnt scone, jam and tea.

“Oh my, this looks delicious.”

Cordelia thought that she wouldn’t be able to eat much since she’d just had lunch, but those thoughts were blown away as soon as she inhaled the aroma. ‘I’m prepared!’ she felt as if her stomach was saying that.

“These scones are made with flour from Caina Village, which I talked about before.”

“It really does look delicious.”

“Then, let’s eat.”

Cordelia wasn’t good at eating scones, but she was surprised that the scone crumbled so easily when she put it into her mouth.

So this is the kingdom’s best wheat?

“It’s really…… delicious.”

“The wheat in Caina Village is purchased by the kingdom at a fixed amount. Also, the Pameradia House also purchases a considerable amount and uses it for foreign trade. I don’t want to think about it much, but we’d be in trouble in times of emergency if everything were purchased at once.”

Aisha said that as she spread jam onto the scone and Cordelia chimed in with a remark.

“But…… There’s also a problem with the wholesale method. If the wheat is purchased directly at a reasonable price like this shop does, then it wouldn’t be a problem. But, the villagers aren’t good with calculations, so there’s a bunch of people who purchase it at low prices because the villages can’t read.”

Aisha stopped moving her hands for a second.

“Some villagers can calculate, but they aren’t good with multiplication. Even if it looks as if they’ve sold a lot of wheat and got a lot of money for it, there are cases where they’re actually selling their wheat for cheaper than they should.”

“Is that…… true?”

“Yes, I noticed that while acting as an envoy. But, I can’t say anything once they’ve accepted a deal…… I can’t even convince them that it’s the incorrect price in the first place.”

Aisha said that a little sadly. She seemed really concerned about Caina Village.

“It’s hard to memorise letters and make calculations. But, I think that education is important so that the villages don’t get deceived by malicious people.”

Ah, so that’s why Aisha reads to the kids.

Cordelia concluded. Aisha was good at taking care of others, but she reads to the kids so that they would get interested in words. She probably wouldn’t make further process because she’d been impatient. It took a lot of power to get things done. It wasn’t her own power, but Cordelia had a powerful backer.

“…… These scones are really delicious, aren’t they?”

“Huh? Oh, yes they are.”

“Good produce needs to have a fixed price.”

It might be possible if they could ―― discern what was needed. Or so Cordelia thought.

“Aisha-oneesama. I also want to think about this problem. I’m sure this doesn’t just apply to Caina Village; other villages also face the same problem…… I also want to improve the literacy rate of the people living in the fief, so that everyone could communicate their intentions. To tell you the truth, I heard about this from Otou-sama as well. He told me that the harvest would probably increase if the villagers could read. I can’t say that his intentions are the same, but you both want the same thing.”

It’s not about being able to do it or not, I’ll do it.

Cordelia looked straight at Aisha with determined eyes.

Aisha took a deep breath.

“Please let me know if I can help you with anything. I might have little influence, but I really do want to help.”

“Yes. I’m so glad that you’re here, Onee-sama. If I were eating this by myself, then I would have just finished the meal with, 『This was a delicious scone』.”

Cordelia joked a little, and they both laughed at the same time.

They looked around the bazaar a little after leaving the shop.

Everyone at the bazaar instantly knew that she was a lady of the Pameradia House and would all call out to her. “We’ll make it cheap,” they would say as they recommended her some precious metals with jewels in them, but Aisha, as her guardian, shut them down by saying, “Ojou-sama has quite a lot of jewellery, and she’s currently too young to wear too much jewellery.”

Instead, Cordelia was interested in a nice textured paper knife. It was made from Talen, a speciality wood from the fief. The wood was used to produce high-quality furniture.

“Ojou-sama, are you interested in the paper knives?”

“Yes, I am.”

The shopkeeper talked to her, and she replied with a reserved smile.

Then the shopkeeper pitched happily.

“Ojou-sama, you have your eye on an excellent item. This paper knife doesn’t lose to metal in its sharpness, and it’s nice to the touch. Please hold it. It’s light, and it’s hard to chip. I recommend this gem.”

He said, and she stretched her hand out to hold the paper knife. She was surprised at how nice it felt.

“You can engrave things onto it, so it’s a nice souvenir.”

“Then…… Can I have two of these? And how many letters can you fit on here?”

“How many letters? I can write a short sentence on it if the sentence isn’t too long.”

“Then, please write 『Thank you for everything Gille-sama』on one of them. Is that too long?”

Cordelia felt that a paper knife was the best souvenir for someone who she always exchanged letters with. Unfortunately, the advice that her father had given her didn’t give her any hints straight away, but she didn’t feel like she was at a loss at what to get them when she saw the paper knife.

“Is this Gille-sama your Knight-sama, Ojou-sama?”

“Huh? W-we don’t have that kind of relationship……”

“Haha, how nice. I’ll engrave it for you. I’ll carve it very carefully.”

The shopkeeper’s words surprised Cordelia a little, but the precise words that he’d engraved on the knife didn’t suit the appearance of the cheerful shopkeeper who liked to crack jokes.

She held in her hand and couldn’t help but say, “Pretty.”

“What should I do with the other knife?”

“Let’s see…… Could you engrave 『Cordelia』onto the knife?”

“Understood. I’m more motivated to engrave Ojou-sama’s name!”

The shopkeeper began engraving once again.

(I can’t imagine Vernoux-sama writing a letter, so I’d better get him something else.)

I may be biased, but sweets would probably suit him better, ――― she’s thought, but she decided to purchase a wooden mug, which looked nice to drink from, for him.

When she thought over it carefully, it took 3 and a half days to go home, and it was dangerous to bring back food when she didn’t know when she’d see him again. She only brought dried candies to bring back home.

Cordelia carried three paper bags with her as her eyes wandered to different things:

A child pulling his parent’s hands while eating fried sweets from a stall; a housewife buying process meat for dinner and adults who were acting suspiciously.

Cordelia looked at the bustling bazaar and got restless. This was the first crowd of people she’d meet in this world.

“Cordelia-sama, let’s head home soon. The sun hasn’t set yet, but it’ll go down quickly once it starts.”

“Oh, yes. You’re right.”

“Fufu, it’s fine. We’ll come here again.”

Aisha understood that she still wanted to be here.

Cordelia began heading towards the mansion while feeling a little embarrassed. At that time, she heard children speaking.

“Hey, I’m so excited to see if there’s wheat here like Caina Village.”

“But, the village’s wheat can make delicious bread. Wheat is great after all. And the Otou-sans who make the wheat are even more amazing.”

Yes, she heard the voices of boys and girls thought to be from Caina Village. Cordelia cast her eyes down.

(This might be my first victory or defeat.)

She thought and looked straight ahead.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Cordelia visited Elvis’s study after dinner that day. She wanted to talk to him about something.

She wanted to ask him about the state of the fief.

Even though he had taught her a little about the problems of the fief, she wasn’t able to grasp the current situation. Couldn’t we create an environment in which they could learn how to read and write? If that’s possible, then couldn’t they build a school?3

She thought that she would be able to find a hint for those questions by talking to Elvis.

“Otou-sama, it’s Cordelia.”

Cordelia knocked on the door and informed. The door opened from the inside.

It was Zeke who had opened the door.

Zeke seemed a little surprised to see Cordelia, but he soon smiled.

“Elvis-sama. I will take my leave. Please call me at any time.”

“Ok.”

Zeke being here meant that they were still working. She had thought that they had already finished working since they weren’t in the office…… Cordelia felt a little bad.

“Is something wrong?”

“No…… I wanted to talk to Otou-sama for a little bit……”

It was probably natural to think that Elvis would still be working even at a time like this. Elvis spent most of his time at the Royal Capital and would have a pile of work waiting for him every time he returned to the fief, even if Zeke was acting as the fief lord.

Elvis, however, didn’t stop writing and said, “You can sit on the chair over there,” as he pointed to a chair by the window.

“I heard that you went into town with Aisha.”

“Yes. She showed me around. Ertiga is a very lively and good town. Everyone seemed cheerful and proud.”

“It’s not just Ertiga. Go to the nearby towns and villages with Aisha. She’s probably very familiar with these places. I will arrange your escort and carriage.”

Cordelia was surprised by Elvis’s words. She was given permission so easily here, unlike when they were at the Royal Capital. Of course, visiting the fief was the purpose of the inspection, so receiving permission to go around might be obvious. However, in the end, she was only going as 『Father’s Attendant』. Although Aisha was coming with her as a fellow attendant, she couldn’t just wander off.

Also…… She had doubted her ears for a second when she heard the word 『escort』.

Isma was a knight and also a regular of the national armed forces, but when she went out with him, it was more like 『an outing with Onii-sama』instead of『being escorted by a soldier』. Therefore, she was a little perplexed at having an escort purposely allocated to her. But it was the Pameradia fief so it wouldn’t be strange for them to have a private army. No, it wasn’t possible to defend the fief if they didn’t have one. And, she once again realised that she was in a position where it was possible for her to be escorted by soldiers.

I’m just like a princess. No, I might actually be one here.

“Do you have any plans to travel around the fief, Otou-sama?”

“I do. It’s a bit far from here, but I’m going to inspect the construction site at Mir’s River tomorrow. I also plan to head to the nearby village.”

“Could I come along with you? I want to go to the village near Ertiga but…… I also want to see Otou-sama work.”

It was impossible for her to watch Elvis work in the Royal Capital. She felt that the existence of the Pameradia House was a little special just from her little outing today.

Therefore, she wanted to see Elvis doing that kind of work up close. If he said that she would be a hindrance, then she would have no choice but to give up. If she was asked, “What would you understand if you see me work?” then she might not have an answer. However, she thought that she might find an answer to Elvis’s 『What is a noble? 』in this place.

Elvis looked up from his documents and stared at Cordelia in silence.

“There is a condition.”

“Yes?”

“Understand this before we depart. If you don’t, then it would be meaningless for you to come along. I will change the departure date to the day after tomorrow.”

Then, Elvis held out a document related to riparian works. The top document had an outline of the current condition, aim and state of progress. Then, she discovered the Caina Village was in the vicinity of the riparian area. The document had about 30 pages, and Cordelia concluded that the details were written in those pages.

“You can ask Zeke about things you don’t understand. He knows a lot about this.”

“Okay.”

The documents looked extremely difficult to understand with its small letters, but she was glad that she was given them.

It was a document that a child wouldn’t understand, but Elvis had only said, “Understand this,” to her. Therefore, she could only respond to his expectations, because that was something she could do now.

“…… Is that all?”

“Huh?”

“Was that all you wanted?”

Cordelia was a little surprised by Elvis’s words.

Because she felt like he was asking if this was the only thing she could do now.

Cordelia couldn’t answer immediately.

She did have something she wanted to say.

She wanted to do something about the villages.

However, she hadn’t found a way to help them. She couldn’t consult him about this matter with such vague words like wanting to do something.

Elvis didn’t urge her to answer.

However, he waited for an answer and didn’t return his eyes to his documents.

Cordelia thought desperately for an answer and finally opened her mouth.

“There is something, I want to accomplish. But, I still haven’t found a way to accomplish it. Will you listen to what I have to say once I’ve found the answer?”

“Are you planning to talk about something foolish that I would refuse to listen to you before you even start?”

It was a roundabout way of speaking, but he had certainly acknowledged her.

After a while, Zeke said he wanted to serve tea and pushed the cart. Then, they talked about how he would often brew tea when he was a knight.

Elvis would occasionally reply without changing his expression, unlike the time when he was with Marquis Flantheim.

…. Otou-sama, even half is fine, so please use the same kind of attitude on Marquis Flantheim. Cordelia couldn’t help but think that. But, that was probably how much he trusted Zeke, so much so that he entrusted Zeke with the role of acting lord. So it might be a matter of fact to say that it was natural.

After they’d finished their tea and Zeke had finished talking about the fads and popular items in Ertiga, Elvis ordered Cordelia to return to her room. At the same time, Zeke also left the room to take away the tea utensils.

Then, Zeke laughed a little in the corridor.

“The Cap…… Master was in an excellent mood, wasn’t he?”

“Was he?”

“Yes. He’s probably tired, and he’ll probably overwork himself at this rate, so I’ll have to keep an eye on him.”

Cordelia smiled wryly at Zeke who was making fun of Elvis.

Elvis didn’t seem any different to her, but she was glad if he was in a good mood.

Zeke continued happily.

“Master has instructed me to act as the lord. But if I was to put it in another way, then I can’t do anything without Master’s orders. In short, Master is always tired because he orders me around.”

Zeke said that, but it wasn’t easy to carry out the orders he’d been given. Responsibility is heavy and unexpected events occur. Because he has such a heavy duty, he shouldn’t say something like that so easily, even if he is humble, Cordelia thought.

She thought so…… but she didn’t say it out loud. It would sound too brazen.

Zeke wasn’t saying meaningless things after all. He definitely knew Elvis a lot better than Cordelia did.

But she once again realised how much work Elvis did because of Zeke’s words.

Elvis rarely used time for himself. He spends little time at home, but he would use most of that time for work. It was a little worrying, even if that was the image of a noble he was seeking. He worked so much that it wouldn’t be a surprise if his body collapsed.

“…… I wonder why Otou-sama works so hard.”

Those words weren’t a question, they were words that had just slipped out of her mouth.

However, Zeke replied to those words.

“Probably because of his beliefs. I heard he had a lot of hardships when he was younger because he had no power. Captain’s favourite saying is, 『Your dreams won’t come true if you don’t have power』.”

Oh, so Otou-sama wanted power. She recalled the 『I love Otou-sama incident』from when she was younger.

She didn’t think too much about him wanting status or prestige when she was discourteous at that time, but she wondered if he was implying something like that, back then. Even so, she was glad that she had evaded it. She was able to listen to such talks calmly now because she had.

“Well, he has already accumulated a lot of power, so I don’t think he needs to go that far to pursue it. Instead, the status he has gained has taken away his time. He becomes completely exhausted from his duties without realising his dream. Regretfully, he’s been this clumsy since long ago.”

Zeke said that as he smiled wryly.

Cordelia parted ways with Zeke afterwards and returned to her room. She headed towards her desk and composed her plan. If she knew how she to deal with it, then she could negotiate with Elvis. Therefore, she had to figure something out.

(Even if I borrow his influence, I need the blueprints for the rental fee.)

For the time being, her objective was to establish a school.

A learning place where children would be taught how to calculate and read and write. She wanted to make something like that.

She was hoping that Elvis would make investments to the various expenses that would incur. Therefore, she had to make draw up a plan for the investments.

“I can vision earning income from it in the future. But, I can’t charge money for it right now.”

She needed a plan that would convince Elvis and the people of the fief…… If she didn’t have a winning percentage, then it would be difficult for her plan to bear fruit.

“Making education free…… That’s definitely not enough. I doubt the men who have confidence in their wives would send their children to school. They’re also thought of as part of the labour force…… Ah, so difficult.”

Cordelia racked her brains over it.

The sound of the door being knocked resounded throughout the room while the clock was chiming.

“Come in,” Cordelia replied, and Aisha appeared.

“I came because I saw the light. It’s already late, Cordelia-sama.”

“Oh my, is it that late already?”

“Yes, it is. ――― So, I bought you a late-night snack.”

Aisha said as she happily held out the bread she was hiding before her and presented it to Cordelia.

Aren’t you going to tell me to go to bed? Cordelia thought but didn’t retort. It was impossible. The bread had a pleasant aroma.

“It’s normal white bread, but it’s very delicious.”

“It’s been lightly toasted, so it’s warm.” The bread that was presented to her was delicious and soft.

“It’s made from a rare type of wheat, so we hardly eat it here. But, I did receive some from the children I read to.”

Aisha laughed.

Cordelia observed the bread for a while and then slowly carried a piece to her mouth.

“Delicious……”

“Isn’t it?”

“But, it’s a little different from the bread at the Royal Capital.”

“Eh?”

“It’s soft and delicious, but something’s different. Could it be that it just tastes soft……? It’s a bit too dry and also different from the bread we eat for lunch.”

Cordelia couldn’t explain it very well.

If it’s just the taste, then I feel like this one’s more delicious. But, I also feel like the dryness obscures the taste. Of course, this might just be a matter of preference……

“But…… I see, if you use this wheat then ―――….”

Then, Cordelia had an epiphany.

“Thank you, Aisha-oneesama. I think I see it!!”

“Huh? Yes, I’m glad?”

Cordelia decided to talk to Elvis again tomorrow.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Next morning.

Cordelia immediately stopped Elvis as he was heading to his office after breakfast.

Elvis had said that they would be visiting the river construction tomorrow. Therefore, that was the only time she could talk to him.

“Otou-sama. There’s something I want you to take a chance on.”

“What is it?”

“I would like to teach the children of Caina Village to do calculations and read and write. I would like you to invest in the development of this project.”

Cordelia declared as Elvis looked straight at her.

Elvis’s eyes were sharp; his eyes were always sterner than usual whenever negotiations took place, and Cordelia had never seen him look like that before.

However, she didn’t pull back and looked straight ahead.

“You said invest, didn’t you? So that means you hope to make a profit from it.”

“I intend to make revenue from medicinal herbs in the future. During which, I would not only gain money but information as well. This information would surely be useful to Otou-sama.”

“From medicinal herbs, was it? Ronnie has reported this to me before. It seems like you’re thinking about opening up a business. Then, did you think of a concrete way to do this?”

“I would like to open a school in which all the children of the farmers will attend. It doesn’t have to be every day, once every few days is enough.”

“Do you think you can convince them since farming is their livelihood?”

“I would like to offer them bread made from the best baker in the Royal Capital in exchange for taking the children from the workforce of the village.”

“…… Bread?”

Yes, she noticed this yesterday while eating bread.

“Bread made by the best baker in the Royal Capital using the best wheat. I will offer it to the families. If I do that, then they would probably agree to the terms. I heard that everyone in Caina Village bakes their own bread. I don’t think there is much difference between baking bread and sending the children to study for a short time, ――― in that case, I don’t think it would make much of a difference.”

Also, if she could convince them to eat the bread and cooperate with her to make the best bread, ――― if she aimed to do this, then she thought that they would probably work with her.

“Why do you want to teach them such things?”

“For letters…… First, they could read contracts and books. They need contracts when trading wheat, don’t they? And if they read books, they could adopt farming methods from other regions. There’s no need to actually adopt those methods, but knowledge is important. They might find what they’re looking for by reading books.”

“You also want them to be able to adjust the price in case someone tries to cheat them, isn’t that right?”

“Yes.”

Elvis, who had his eyes cast down, looked straight back at her.

“I can see how there will be some opposition, but the details can probably be settled through negotiations. However, there is one problem.”

“Which is?”

“You are still a child.”

Cordelia gasped at those words.

“The concept isn’t bad. But, you’re not old enough to step onto the negotiation table.”

She was vaguely aware that people might think she was just messing around because she looked young.

“How about this proposal? If I negotiate directly with the head chief, then we can implement this much faster. But then, it won’t be your achievement anymore.”

Cordelia met Elvis’s eyes.

And she couldn’t ask for better than his proposal.

“I don’t need the credit.”

“Is that so? However, I also don’t want the achievements of a child. Don’t throw away your achievements so easily…… I will invest in it. However, I will tell the villagers the truth after you’ve paid me back in full. How does that sound?”

“Eh, mm, I….. Good.”

“Then, it’s decided. I’ll think about the construction of the school, and it’s probably better to open it after harvest season is over. You have until then to find a teacher amongst the villagers. But, what will you do about the baker?”

“That’s……”

Things were moving too abruptly, and Cordelia was doing her best to keep up with the conversation.

Everything was still just an idea, and she was going to think more about it after it’d been accepted.

“…… There’s an apprentice who works in the kitchen at our mansion in the Royal Capital who’s aiming to be a baker.”

“Huh?”

“He’s a contest winner, even though the contest wasn’t that big. He’ll probably become the best baker in the Royal Capital someday.”

“Otou-sama, that’s…… A scam, isn’t it?”

“It’s not a lie, now is it? The person himself said that he’ll become the best baker in the Royal Capital.”

Elvis spoke without being perturbed, and she shrugged her shoulders.

(…… Otou-sama, I thought you were getting rounder than you used to be.)

She didn’t know if that was just her imagination or something else.

But, she was glad that one of her proposals got accepted and her next goal, ――― she was looking forward to finding a teacher.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Her new mission was to『Find a Teacher』.

It wasn’t a difficult task since she had someone she could ask.

Yes, it was Aisha, the person who read to the children and wanted to teach them how to read and write.

The day after she’d accompanied them on Elvis’s inspection of the river, Cordelia and Aisha went to an art museum.

They were supposed to go inspect another village, but Aisha had said, “You’re finally here, so please look at something that you can only see here.”

Cordelia had never been to an art museum in the Royal Capital. However, she was familiar with paintings to an extent and was taught about them.

The history of the Pameradia House was also exhibited in the corner of the museum. There was also an explanation about how they were an equestrian tribe, and how history had changed since then. Of course, they were displayed in paintings and sculptures, and the image of their magnificence was strong.

“There are a lot of pieces here with an emphasis on strength, unlike the art museums of the Royal Capital.”

“Have you been to an art museum in the Royal Capital, Onee-sama?”

“Yes, I used to live in the Royal Capital. Father started working for the Earl straight after his retirement from the military. But, I didn’t want to leave my friends, so I said some wilful words to him. I was staying with my grandparents until about two years ago.

“I’m made my father sad because of that,” Aisha laughed impishly. “But, I don’t think I’ll move back there. This lifestyle suits me more.”

“…… Then, there is something I would like to ask you, Onee-sama.”

“Oh my? I wonder what is it ―――.”

Aisha replied softly while laughing next to her, but she suddenly paused and looked very grim. Cordelia was curious and followed her gaze.

Then, she saw a young man.

He looked around frantically and then froze on the spot when he found Aisha.

On the other hand, Aisha frowned and said, “Cordelia-sama, shall we leave?” before walking away.

Thereupon, the man unfroze and yelled, despite being in an art museum, “Wa-wait Aisha!” Then, he continued.

“You’re the only one I love, please, marry me!”

Aisha and Cordelia weren’t the only ones who froze at those words; everyone in the museum froze.

It was a gaudy, ardent and inappropriate confession.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

After that, Cordelia wasn’t sure how they left the art museum.

But she vaguely remembered stopping a red-faced Aisha from slapping the young man and dragging the both of them away.

(I didn’t think I would see a scene of carnage at the age of 8……)

She thought that while sitting on the edge of a bench by the canal and peeking at the two.

She actually wanted to go home and leave the two to their discussion, but Aisha wouldn’t let go of her hand. Aisha properly felt like she was backed into a corner.

Cordelia slowly observed the young man.

He had dark-brown eyes, short hair and his mouth was set in a hard line. His face was so red that you wouldn’t think he was the same person as the one who had made a bold confession just moments ago. His eyes flickered up and down, and he looked very restless.

What the earth is going on? What should I do?

Cordelia didn’t have the skills to clear the dispute. She didn’t even know what their relationship was in the first place. But, one of them did propose to the other.

Even so, it would go nowhere if both of them didn’t speak. I really want both of you to hurry up and talk already.

She wished that, and the young man finally spoke.

“I took the knight’s appointment test. That’s why I came here to ask for your hand in marriage. You said this a long time ago, didn’t you? That you want to marry a knight. You said you wanted to marry someone strong like your father. You said it like it was your most favourite phrase.”

“Those are just silly words of a child. What are you saying!? I’m sure you’ll get hurt right away, Warren. I want you to quit before you get hurt!”

“But, if I don’t do this then you won’t take me seriously.”

“Even so, you shouldn’t be so rash! Even though you’re so weak! How can you do something like that for me……!”

Cordelia listened to their quarrel and really wanted to get away from there.

What’s with this conversation? Did these two forget that there’s a child here?

What on earth are they quarrelling about? Should I mediate between them? Or should I just stand here and act like a stone statue? Aisha stood up while Cordelia was puzzled.

“At any rate, I’m not going back to the Royal Capital ―――!!”

She covered her face and ran away after saying that.

Cordelia was frozen on the spot and couldn’t chase after her, but she was more worried about being left behind.

“…… Not going back to the Royal Capital?”

He said questioningly.

Aisha-oneesama had said that she couldn’t leave her friends, ――― so why had she come here in the first place?

And, more importantly.

“Erm…… Are you alright?”

“Ah, Aisha…… Ran away……”

The young man shedding lots of tears is quite different from the knights I know…… He’s completely different from my brothers. She couldn’t help but think that. What should I do? And there is the possibility that a child comforting him would dig at his wounds.

Cordelia decided to watch quietly over him until he snapped out of it because there was nothing else she could do.

It would be bad if I don’t go home for dinner. It would be great if he stops crying by then, she’d thought, but luckily, the man recovered faster than she thought he would.

“Sorry, I was distracted. I’m Warren McGregor. I’m Viscount McGregor’s heir. 16 years old. As you can see, I’m the guy who proposed to Aisha, but she ran away……”

The last bit was completely masochistic, but Cordelia decided to pretend that she didn’t hear it and interact with him like an adult. “My name is Cordelia Enna Pameradia,” she introduced herself.

Warren slipped off the bench when he heard that.

“Ah, Pa, huh? Pame?”

“It’s Pameradia.”

“Huuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhh? Come to think of it, that hair and those eyes…… I’m sorry!”

“No, please don’t worry about it. I am a child, and you stand out too much if you speak too loudly, so please act as you normally would.”

“Please sit,” she told him, and Warren made himself smaller as he sat down on the seat.

He seemed to be embarrassed, but it was already too late for that since she had already seen the whole commotion.

“It’s about what you two were talking about before, but did something happen to Aisha-oneesama in the Royal Capital?”

“I don’t know…… She seemed a little down 3 years ago in spring, and then she suddenly left the Royal Capital two years ago.”

His eyes began to tear up again as he said that.

“I’ve always loved her, but she suddenly became distant…… I thought about whether or not I did something dodgy…… But the only times I went out with a girl was to pick out a present for Aisha and when I consulted another girl because she was worried about love. I never even paid attention to other women……”

“In short, as far as you’re concerned, you’ve never done anything that could have caused a misunderstanding.”

“I thought it might have been about something different, so I tried my best to become a knight.”

The air around them became really heavy. Warren had already hit rock bottom.

However, Cordelia thought, it might be something else, as she was listening to his story.

“I won’t go back to the Royal Capital.” Aisha had said, so Cordelia didn’t think that it was something to do with her being unable to stomach Warren going shopping with other girls. And,

“From how I see things, it’s not like Aisha-oneesama thinks of you in a bad light.”

Cordelia spoke, and Warren suddenly raised his face, “Huh?”

Cordelia regretted it a little. She didn’t want to get too deeply involved, but she couldn’t just leave it as it was. She was worried about Aisha.

“I’ll ask Aisha-oneesama about it indirectly. How long would you be staying here Warren-sama?”

“Erm, the morning of the day after tomorrow……”

“Please tell me where you’re staying. I’ll tell you about Onee-sama.”

Warren was moved to tears by what Cordelia was saying. Cordelia was panicking a little inside, I think it’s okay, but what should I do if it’s not? Of course, she didn’t let that show on her face.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Warren took her home.

Even though the town was safe, it wasn’t a good idea to let a noble child walk by herself in an unfamiliar street.

Cordelia returned to her room and changed her clothes while thinking; now then, what should I do?

When she finished getting dressed and sat down on her bed, she heard a knock at the door.

“Come in. It’s Aisha-oneesama, right?”

As she’d guessed from the aura, Aisha was standing on the other side of the door.

Aisha’s eyes were still red and puffy. She had probably been crying.

“I’m really sorry for being upset.”

“It’s fine. Warren-sama sent me home.”

She was probably so worried about her own things and got even more apologetic at those words.

Cordelia moved to the sofa and urged Aisha to sit down with a “Please sit.” Aisha sat down timidly.

“……”

“……”

It was good that she’d sat down, but Cordelia was at a loss over where to start. However, they would get nowhere if they just remained like that. Cordelia made up her mind and cut to the chase.

“Onee-sama, do you hate the Royal Capital?”

Aisha froze for a second and then shook her head and hands.

“No, that’s out of the question. I just felt a little overwhelmed at the Royal Capital. But I love both it and this place!!”

“Then, why don’t you want to be there?”

Aisha began tearing up.

Cordelia was startled and was about to ask her what was wrong……

“My nose just keeps dripping.”

Cordelia heard Aisha say those words.

“…… Excuse me?”

“I was fine until about 3 years ago. I lived without any incidents until then. But then, my nose suddenly started running at the beginning of spring. My eyes got itchy and would water, so it got really red…… It would stay that way until summer.”

Tears started flowing down Aisha’s face.

“There are no ladies who have runny noses. Warren also, he probably doesn’t…… I’m the one who feels ashamed about this so I understand this best. So I couldn’t stay at the Royal Capital where Warren is anymore……!”

Cordelia was dumbfounded because Aisha was talking as if the world was ending. Then, she said just one sentence.

“…… That’s hay fever, isn’t it? That.”

Those words resounded throughout the whole room.

“……”

“……”

“Huh?”

She decided to ask Aisha, who didn’t seem to understand very well if it rang any bells.

If she got hay fever at the Royal Capital, then it was probably triggered in certain areas. Plants in this world were like herbs and only grew in places that were suitable for them if humans didn’t cultivate them. She had the impression that the pollen and seeds of this world were drawn in by the magic of the land, rather than be swept away by the wind. Seeds and pollen didn’t fly around in areas where the magic didn’t suit them. There were exceptions, but little pollen flew around in places where the magic didn’t suit them.

Other people would show symptoms for hay fever as well if pollen flew around the whole Royal Capital. However, she had never heard anything like that before.

“Just for reference, but do you have any places that cause your symptoms to appear?”

“At my home and Warren’s house…… My symptoms don’t really appear in other places.”

“Are there any prominent trees that are more than three decades old there? For example, cedar or cypress.”

“There are cedar trees. It sounds like the ones you’re describing.”

“That’s probably it.”

Cedar trees were rare at the Royal Capital.

“Hay fever…… I’ve read about it in books. If you inhale too much pollen, then you’ll keep sneezing, and your nose gets runny.”

“That is correct.”

“Then, either way, it’s impossible…… He’s the eldest son, so he’ll continue living in that house. I can’t tell him to cut such a fine tree for me……!”

Cordelia continued since Aisha looked like she was going to burst into tears again.

“Onee-sama, I have a solution for that. But, it’s still in the experimental stage, and I can’t guarantee that it would be ready by spring……”

“What is it?”

Ah, Onee-sama loves Warren-sama after all.

Cordelia thought once again, and she felt her cheeks going red; she cleared her throat to cover that up.

“Can you keep this confidential?”

“I will!”

“I am researching medicinal herbs. My research consists of condensing the plant’s energy and using it in ways that are good for the human body. This part of my research isn’t hidden from my family.”

“You’re researching something complicated.”

“It’s a secret from here on out. Although it’s still in the pre-experimental stage, I am trying to find a way to relieve hay fever symptoms with herbal tea, in other words, medicinal tea. I am also trying to make an ointment to prevent nasal troubles. There’s also a method to cleanse the air in the room by burning aromas.”

Cordelia wrote notes down on a piece of paper that was close to her.

“But it might be a bit harsh for Onee-sama since you don’t like the taste of elderflower nor the smell of peppermint……”

Peppermint would serve this purpose, according to Aisha’s magic power. It could be mixed with elderflower to make herbal tea, and the fragrance itself is effective for relieving blocked noses. Eucalyptus was also good to use as a bath salt, but she still hadn’t found any.

There were other ways to relieve her symptoms as well, but Aisha grabbed Cordelia’s hands before she could mention them.

Then, she said without hesitation while gripping Cordelia’s hands.

“It’s fine, I’ll definitely grow to like it. It’s the smell that’s going to help me!”

Cordelia was overwhelmed by how much force Aisha was using, but she thought it was lovely that Aisha was acting so desperate.

I could be of assistance, she thought and was happy.

“Then, Onee-sama. I have a request…… I would like you to do something in exchange.”

“What is it?”

“Warren-sama will be entering the dormitory as a knight apprentice. I think he would have little time off. During that time, I would like you to stay at the fief. And I want you to teach the children of Caina Village how to make calculations as well as read and write. Of course, if Warren-sama has a long break, then I would get the teacher to take a break as well. Of course, I will pay you a salary.”

Aisha’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Huh……. Mm, that is?”

“I am looking for a teacher who can teach calculations and letters to that village.”

“Gl-gladly!! Will the people of the village really accept this proposal?!”

“Otou-sama negotiated with them, but I heard that they responded positively to the idea. I don’t think negotiations would break down if we have a reliable teacher. I’m sure the villagers trust you greatly.”

Aisha broke into a smile at Cordelia’s reply.

“If that’s the case, then I’ll gladly accept!”

“…… Onee-sama, aren’t you happier than about the countermeasures for hay fever?”

“Because everyone, everyone…… They weren’t interested at all……”

Aisha was honestly happy, and Cordelia wasn’t sure if she were glad she’d asked.

(Because Warren-sama seems like he’ll get lonely seeing how zealous she is at being a teacher……)

No, that’s not it. She looked just as happy at both pieces of information, Cordelia adjusted her thoughts and told Aisha what she had to say.

“Onee-sama, Warren-sama is staying on the second floor of the tavern on Second Street. How about visiting him tomorrow morning?”

“Cordelia-sama…… Thank you very much!”

“No, I didn’t do anything.”

“I’ll visit him right away!”

Cordelia was surprised at how energetic Aisha was.

“Mm, erm, Onee-sama! It’s already dark outside!”

“But, I want to tell Warren about these things right away…… And, I have to apologise to him. I’ll have him send me home, so I’ll be fine!”

Cordelia was surprised at how assertive Aisha was as she vanished with a, “I’ll be back!”

She didn’t even have the time to say, “But the way there is also dangerous……”

(But, I’m sure Warren-sama would love her even if her nose were constantly dripping…… But as a girl, of course, she would hate it.)

She also thought that there would probably be a demand for countermeasures against allergic ailments such as hay fever from now on. She’d never thought that elderflower would become useful.

“But, love between childhood friends, huh…… How nice. It’s like a tale.”

If it were a childhood friend, then that would apply to Vernoux, but she didn’t see him in that way. He probably didn’t see Cordelia in that light either. In fact, he had told her that she was like a boy.

The other boy she knew that was around the same age as her was Gille ―――.

“Woah, what am I thinking! Right, I’m going to become a beauty in the future and find a lovely man at the evening parties!”

Cordelia rolled on her bed as she made that resolution.

I will definitely get married in the future.

Before that, I’ll complete the medicine for hay fever.

When I get back to the Royal Capital, I’ll ask Ronnie to make eye drops with the same consistency as tears.

“Come to think of it, I forgot to give the presents to the servants here.”

Cordelia took deep breaths to calm herself down as she remembered the calendula cream that laid in her bag.

She continued doing so until Aisha came back home with Warren.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Cordelia found out that Aisha had returned when she was heading to the dining room for dinner. She heard the sound of the front door opening and saw that Aisha had returned.

Aisha looked very lively.

“Welcome home, Onee-sama.”

Cordelia said, but Aisha didn’t hear her. Could it be because I’m far away? She thought, but Aisha was looking around restlessly and was looking in the opposite direction. She didn’t seem to have noticed that Cordelia had spoken to her.

(I wonder what she’s looking for.)

Cordelia looked in the direction that Aisha was looking in and finally realised. Warren’s shadow could be seen behind Aisha. He probably walked her home. He noticed that Cordelia was there before Aisha had. He met Cordelia’s eyes and laughed bashfully. In short, it was like that. Cordelia returned his smile, and Aisha said in surprised, “Oh!”

The two looked in the same direction as Aisha in surprise and saw Zeke.

Zeke was surprised at Aisha’s tone and the fact that she was running towards him. But the thing that made his eyes google in surprise was what Aisha blurred out.

“Otou-sama! I am getting engaged!”

It was a wonderful and grand proclamation.

Zeke, who had heard that proclamation, froze and looked as if he was staggering.

Cordelia panicked for a second.

However, Zeke didn’t fall to the ground, since he had struck the floor with his cane, with a loud thump, to keep his balance. But, he was facing the ground so they couldn’t see his expression.

Cordelia concluded that it wouldn’t be odd for Zeke to faint in that situation. After all, Aisha was talking about getting engaged. It was something that even Cordelia, who had lit the flame, couldn’t have predicted. Warren was also frozen on the spot, so Aisha’s words had come as a surprise to him too.

(…… This is awkward for the future father-in-law.)

She was sure that Warren would be yelled at considerably in this situation.

Cordelia pitied Warren a little, but relaxed when she saw how happy Aisha was. In the first place, they couldn’t say anything because Aisha’s mood was influencing the aura of the room.

But, a single sentence from Elvis progressed the situation.

“…… What are you doing?”

Elvis was probably heading to the dining room and raised his eyebrow when he saw the people gathered in the entrance. It wasn’t like he was finding fault in them for doing so, he just didn’t understand the situation.

However, Warren had probably never met Elvis before, and his attitude changed completely. He began panicking and turned red. Warren had never thought that the remarks of his engagement would come out in front of Earl Pameradia.

(I should do something about this.)

But a low voice sounded before Cordelia could say anything.

It was Zeke.

“Elvis-sama, I am sorry the disturbance.”

“I don’t mind. This isn’t the place for you to talk in.”

“You are correct. Then, Elvis-sama, I have a request. Would you mind if I invite that person over there, Warren McGregor, for dinner? The fact that he is here indicates that he hasn’t thought about what to do for dinner at all.”

“…… It’s fine. Is he your acquaintance?”

“Yes. But right now he is a good for nothing, detestable person in my eyes. I would like to beat him up with all I have but…… Apparently, he’s going to be my daughter’s husband.”

Elvis blinked several times. However, he didn’t show any other reaction.

“If it were up to you, then Aisha would remain single forever.”

Elvis said something very joke-like and turned his back to Zeke. He was heading towards the dining room. Zeke, who was left behind, shrugged his shoulders.

However, when Elvis’s back was out of sight, the aura around Zeke changed, and he threw a sharp look at Warren.3

“McGregor’s brat. As you know, Elvis-sama is a famous swordsman. I’m sure you know his reputation as a knight well.”

“I, I do.”

“I know you’re going to be a knight. If you become a knight like Elvis-sama, then you could probably defeat me…… You better prepare yourself if you want to become Aisha’s husband.”

Zeke spoke in a harsh tone, but he was laughing.

He seemed to have understood.

(…… He is the one who knows Onee-sama best. I’m sure he knows.)

He did seem a little lonely but also relieved at the same time. Cordelia was relieved to see that.

“Everyone, the food will get cold soon. So shall we head to dinner?”

And each of the three smiled differently in response.

The dining room was calm.

Of course, Warren was extremely nervous from start to finish because his big sempais as knights, his father-in-law and Earl Pameradia, were seated there. However, Cordelia thought it was charming how Aisha was desperately trying to dispel his nervousness. Also, Zeke would preach some of his knowledge as a knight and would occasionally make fun of Warren. The aura in the dining room wasn’t stiff at all.

Even though Elvis remained silent most of the time, it wasn’t an uncomfortable silence. Although, his silence seemed intimidating and Warren cowered a little.

All conversation seized for a while as they ate their dessert. Cordelia used the opportunity to ask Aisha something that she was secretly anxious about and, although it wasn’t something that would make things awkward, it did make everyone pause for a bit.

“Onee-sama. You said you got engaged a while ago…… But how did he propose to you?”

She could imagine that Aisha had conveyed her affections to Warren. But, at any rate, he did get dumped once before. However, she couldn’t believe that Warren would propose to her just because Aisha had told him she loved him. Warren had made a passionate proposal in public. Since they both love each other, it wouldn’t be odd for him to make another passionate proposal. Of course, it was possible that he’d proposal to her as soon as he found out she loved him…… At any rate, Cordelia was genuinely interested in how it happened.

Cordelia intended to say that quietly, but her voice resounded throughout the dining room louder than she’d imagined.

All the men stared at Aisha.

Aisha’s eyes widened in surprise and then she smiled.

“That’s, you know……”

“Ah, Aisha! That’s……”

“It’s a secret.”

Aisha interrupted Warren as he panicked.

“So it’s a secret?”

“Yes. Because they’re words that Warren said just for me, you know?”

Aisha seemed very happy, and Cordelia felt as if she looked a little glowing.

At the same time she thought, would I be able to meet that person one day?

But, it was only a flickering thought.

“What did you say to Aisha, Brat?”

Zeke sounded as if he was crawling on the ground and Cordelia and Aisha looked at each other and laughed.

 

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 

Cordelia finally handed out the Calendula cream that she’d forgotten about to the servants after dinner.

She had asked the maids, who were taking care of her, to give it out and didn’t do it herself. She actually wanted to distribute them herself, but there were just too many people. However, she was satisfied with seeing the surprised faces of the maids whom she did give them to.

She wanted to hear about the results of the cream face-to-face similar to now when she came here again.

(Or I could just write a letter to Aisha-oneesama and ask her about it. I also want to ask her about the classes too.)

She thought as she headed to where Elvis was.

His workload had decreased dramatically since it was nearly time for us to leave the fief. Zeke did say that he had more spare time during this period. So Otou-sama should have the same free time, ――― she thought that as she visited Elvis’s room.

However, Elvis was still working.

(…… Otou-sama might be bad at taking breaks.)

Of course, I understand that he’s busy. But this isn’t good. It really isn’t.

In this situation, I want him to know the joys of taking breaks as soon as possible.

Therefore, she recomposed herself and asked him.

“Otou-sama, may I have a moment of your time?”

“…… I don’t mind.”

“Then, it’ll be ready soon, so won’t you accompany me?”

“What are you trying to do,” Elvis’s eyes seem to say.

Cordelia answered with a grin.

“I have kept you waiting, but I would like you to try this fatigue recovery method.”

She showed Elvis a small bottle of essential oil.

Elvis concluded that the bottle was something Cordelia was researching. He sat down on the sofa without saying anything and waited for Cordelia to finish her preparations.

Although, Cordelia was pretty much finished. All she needed was a towel, hot water and the essential oils; just those three things. The pail was being brought by the maid standing outside the door.

First, Cordelia dropped a drop of lavender oil into the pail. A gentle scent drifted about the room. Then, she dipped the towel into the pail and lightly squeezed the water out. The warm water felt pleasant to the touch.

This was probably Elvis’s first time smelling this aroma.

“Did you make this fragrance?”

His short sentence was filled with surprise.

Cordelia smiled in response.

“Otou-sama, please put your back to the sofa. Then close your eyes, face the ceiling and take it slowly.”

Elvis’s didn’t say a word as he closed his eyes and put his back to the sofa.

Cordelia put the towel over Elvis’s closed eyes.

“Warm towels can help with eye strain. It is important to take good care of your eyes.”

“……”

Cordelia concluded that it must have felt good because Elvis didn’t reply. She could see the tension in his face going away at the parts that weren’t covered by the towel. This was the combined effects of the warmth around the eyes and the lavender aroma.

Cordelia felt that he was able to relax.

“…… Aisha……”

“Yes?”

“Aisha said that it was thanks to you that she could return to the Royal Capital.”

Elvis said abruptly.

He didn’t talk about the treatment he was receiving, and Cordelia smiled wryly at the subject.

“I’m happy that I could be of help to Aisha-sama’s problems. However, I wouldn’t have been able to get the truth out of her had Warren-sama not come. I think that it’s thanks to him that this could happen.”

In fact, Aisha’s feelings wouldn’t have been drawn out that much if it wasn’t Warren who had gone that far to show her his own feelings.

But, Elvis continued without mentioning Warren.

“Herbal tea and essential oils, was it? I’m still not sure if it would be effective for Aisha, but you come up with terrific ideas one after the other, don’t you?”

“It is thanks to Otou-sama for giving me the environment. Thank you very much, Otou-sama.”

“…… Be a little more confident.”

“Excuse me?”

“Being too humble isn’t a virtue. Success rates decrease if you don’t have confidence. This isn’t just about Aisha. The servants at the Royal Capital are probably happy as well. There are some servants in this mansion that thanked me because they were under the conception that I’d given them the present.”

With that, Cordelia knew that the other servants, the ones whom she hadn’t passed the presents onto herself, were also happy. Otherwise, Elvis wouldn’t have known about it.

But, Cordelia was hesitant to proclaim this. She couldn’t express it very well, but this wasn’t her being humble.

“Or…… Are you saying that because you think you can still do more?”

“I think that’s, the case……”

Cordelia understood from Elvis’s words.

Is that so? I’ve just started. Everything begins now.

She finally realised what her true feelings were.

I’m a greedy girl.

Elvis’s voice had almost faded in the room.

But, his words had certainly reached her ears.

Before long, the sounds of Elvis’s sleeping breath reached her ears.

Elvis worked non-stop and had accumulated a lot of fatigue.

Was I able to cure him a little?

She thought and whispered in a small, small voice as not to wake Elvis up.

“Thank you very much, Otou-sama.”

She prayed that her words would reach into his dreams.

Translator: Blushy
Editor: SenjiQ

Woah, massive chapter… All released at once. I really regret trying not to break them up now QwQ

*crawls into hole*

Hope you enjoyed the chapter!