Freche’s youngest son, Corneille Freche said this:
He and Feyria’s fiancé, Gosta Agren, were childhood friends who spent most of their childhood together in their capital townhouse.
After entering the Academy, the three of them, including Feyria, began to spend their school days together.
However, their relationship began to change somewhat when Gosta entered third year and Corneille and Feyria entered second year.
The reason for this was because Gosta had taken a liking to a different girl. As Gosta began spending more and more time with that girl, Feyria and Corneille naturally started spending more time together. After that, their relationship became what I had expected.
The three of them began to talk about their futures as Gosta, who was a year older than them, was about to graduate from the Academy. Gosta said his engagement with Feyria was over and that pledged to persuade his father, Viscount Argen, to let him marry the woman he loves, so he left for Argen fief after his graduation.
“Then, he sent us a few letters, but it seemed that wasn’t able to persuade his father. But this time, Viscount Agren summoned us because he was moved by Gosta’s persuasion and wanted to hear the story from the three of us before thinking it over.”
I listened silently as Freche’s youngest son tried his best to explain the situation in an unfamiliar way.
… What can I say?
Am I dumbfounded or unamused? I just looked at him, and the serious Feyria next to him, while feeling like this.
“Feyria and Gosta are good friends and everyone at the Academy know that they’re engaged. Therefore, we couldn’t do anything that would damage the reputation of both families such as ask permission to go out of the Academy to discuss breaking off the engagement…”
Perhaps he had finished what he wanted to say. Freche’s youngest son hung his head down again as if he had ended his speech. He had done this purposely, perhaps because he wanted my sympathy.
――― I had no room to sympathise with his story, so I pretended I hadn’t seen him do that.
I was unsure of what to say, so I glanced at Oscar.
He blatantly looked like he had a headache. I also want to show that feeling on my face too.
“… I see. I understand your circumstances. I have a few things I want to add.”
I said while feeling gloomy and Corneille and Feyria looked at me dubiously. I have to say this even if you look at me like that…
“I have done some research on Lady Feyria’s engagement. There are a few things I haven’t investigated yet, but this is the conclusion I have reached with the information I have. It is almost impossible to annul the engagement between the Agren and Roguesia Houses.”
“… Excuse me?”
Corneille looked displeased. It instantly became annoying to talk, so I looked at Oscar. He nodded sternly, like the Earl, and began to explain on my behalf.
“The engagement between the Agren and Roguesia Houses involves a debt owed by the Roguesia House. About 15 years ago, the Agrens and Roguesias got along well because of the relationship between their wives, so they decided to start a new company in Viscount Roguesia’s fief. At that time, it was the Agrens who provided the capital for this company. The capital amount was so massive, that both families were legally required to be related, so they engaged their son and daughter together.”
This was around the time that Feyria was born. Viscount Agren’s wife was from the Ryunfeld region and was childhood friends with Feyria’s mother.
“I won’t go into details, but the business failed. Both families increased their debt in order to make up for the failure, and the business has finally become profitable in the last five years or so. However, the Roguesia House borrowed money from the Agren House and the Agren House borrowed money from their guardian, the Nordsterms. Simply put, they were subleasing.”
“No way… Are you saying that father is in debt?”
“Yes, he is. Because of this, the Roguesias and Agrens must reduce their debt to less than a tenth, or three million alcs, before they can break off the engagement. If they do, then they will go bankrupt, have their titles revoked, forfeit their rights to rule and their lands will be subject to acquisition.”
Feyria’s face grew pale as Oscar continued to speak in an indifferent tone. I could see that despair was slowly seeping into her eyes. The relationship between in-laws would have been included in the Academy lectures, so if she had kept that possibility in mind, then she wouldn’t be so shocked, but that’s none of my business. This is all due to her own lack of foresight.
On the contrary, Corneille, who was sitting next to Feyria, seemed to be seriously thinking about something. Well, if it’s Margrave Freche, then he could easily pay 5 million alcs as an engagement gift for his son’s bride. He seemed to be thinking about how much he could intervene with his family’s power.
“… This is the only thing I know about the situation. I’m not directly involved with that business, so I have no way to find out more information.”
Corneille raised his face which had been hidden by thoughts at my words and looked straight at me.
His expression isn’t bad. It didn’t look like he didn’t care, but he was looking at the reality of the situation and was trying to deal with it. He is the son of a Margrave, after all. Ideally, it would be better for him if he was always suspicious of his surroundings.
“How much does the Roguesia House owe?”
“I don’t know. I believe they have reached their limit once, and have been profitable for the last five years, so I’d say between 10 and 15 million alcs.”
It might be more or less than that. However, only the debtor, lender and the person who issued the promissory note in the Ministry of Finance may view the debt records. The Roguesias may have other debts and donations that have nothing to do with the Ministry of Finance, but that’s not the point right now.
Corneille wrinkled his brow. One could buy a small fief with 15 million alcs. This amount isn’t something a student can easily obtain.
“That’s 10 years of my pay. That’s quite a lot of money!”
Claudia, who had been listening to the conversation in silence, commented with a mixture of admiration and light-heartedness. She had been ordained as a knight. Her salary and that of Oscar’s comes from the person who had established the Knight Order. In other words, their salary came from my private funds and Kaldia’s tax revenue. Their annual salary was around 1.5 million alcs.
Their salary would be higher if they belonged to a Knight Order directly managed by the Kingdom. The highest-ranking knights in the kingdom, the Imperial Knights, have an annual salary of around 3.5 million alcs. Border knights get around 3 million alcs per annum and their salary is higher if they are officers.
By the way, knights are paid rather well among nobles. They earn more per annum than the average baron.
Silence fell in the parlour. Oscar whispered something to Claudia and left the room.
I noticed that it had already gotten dark outside of the window. I wonder if I should prepare some refreshments for the two guests. There was no way I could return them to the Academy now anyway.
“… There’s something I would like to ask you.”
Corneille spoke up after a few moments of hesitation. Feyria pulled his sleeve anxiously, but he didn’t turn his gaze away from me.
“What is it?” I asked, and Corneille replied firmly, even though he was frightened.
“Earl Einsbark, what do you wish will happen to the engagement between the Rogeusia and Agren Houses? I would like to know your true intentions.”
His question was tactlessly frank.
… Claudia laughed in satisfaction next to me. Is it a chivalrous question?
“I don’t think asking another noble about their true intentions would work.”
When I said that while holding back my sigh, Claudia laughed with a low, cat-like purr. Noisy. If I evaded this question, then Claudia might poke my side, so I answered his question.
“… Honestly, I don’t care if this marriage happens or not. This marriage doesn’t benefit my fief. However, I will also be affected if this engagement is annulled, and the houses fall to ruin because of debt. I have no choice but to act.”
“… I’m willing to overlook the actions of a certain noble’s son, as long as they can arrange for an amicable annulment.”
I was annoyed at being pressed, so I blurted those words out.
I’m going to send out a few messengers and make some major changes to my schedule from tomorrow.
There were a lot of circumstances that I couldn’t fully explain when I was talking to Corneille, so I ended up talking in a curt manner, but backing up his plan would also be good for my circumstances. If things have gone this far, then it would be quicker and less troublesome to get the parties involved to end the engagement amicably. As for me, someone who got caught up in all this, I don’t care what happens as long as the trouble is quickly cleared up.
It was strange for Viscount Agren, who couldn’t annul the engagement nor have any intentions of doing so, to summon Feyria. According to Corneille, the house of the lady who Gosta Agren loves earns most of their money from agriculture. Oscar managed to gather some simple data on her house, but there was no indication that her family owned any assets that would allow them to manage Viscount Agren’s debts. Therefore, Viscount Agren didn’t summon Feyria to discuss the annulment of her engagement. Then, what the heck is the Viscount thinking? … If anything happens to Feyria’s engagement at this time, then the ones who will suffer the most will be me and the Rogeusia House.
Agren House has a powerful backer named Nordstem. Even if something happens to Feyria and they lost their engagement with the Roguesia House, they weren’t in danger of falling to ruin, as long as their financial backer provided them with money.
Roguesia House would receive the most damage since they would actually be ruined, and then I would suffer from the aftermath of that for not being able to prevent their ruin.
Arxian nobles disliked the ruin of noble families. Nobles are stable because they are bound by the law, they might not earn a lot of money, but they have a lot of responsibilities. They wanted to eliminate the possibility of having to find a replacement for the ruined noble. If the Roguesia House is ruined, then I will certainly be held responsible until a replacement for their house is appointed. I will also receive unfavourable criticism…
That being said, he had probably summoned Feyria because Marquis Nordsterm had ordered him to.
He probably acted in order to banish Earl Thelesia and I from high society.
… Did the Marquis have Feyria sneak out of the Academy so that he could speak to her without permission?
The Academy is isolated from the outside world. Students can’t get information about the outside world and can only hear about the noble world through rumours, unless they heard about it from their parents. On the other hand, it was easy for people to know what happens inside of the Academy. A lot of people worked at the Academy, and they can be used as a source of information.
I have also privately funded two noble-born commoner women to work on preparing the lecture classes and Earl Thelesia is connected to many people who work at the Academy.
The Academy doesn’t directly have anything to do with politics, but for nobles who are trying to manipulate the power of the capital, it is meaningful for them to know about information inside of the Academy. In my case, as someone who governs her own fief, I only hire people to gather information when I’m not in the Academy.
… I’m going off topic.
In other words, it’s not possible to predict how Feyria’s engagement is known within the Academy, nor what she would do when she is summoned to discuss her engagement annulment.
This is especially true if there are people around Feyria who are working for Agren. It wouldn’t seem suspicious since they’re engaged.
I don’t know what they are planning to do once they summon her. But it’s safe to think that the Agrens have some kind of plan to break off the engagement with Feyria.
――― I was just lucky to have caught Feyria and Corneille before they went to the Agren House.
But I couldn’t let this opportunity pass.