Coming back to the Stokes mansion after about 3 weeks, there were no signs of any particular change. If there was a change, it was that Jake had started cultivating crops on his own using the LP farming method in his home garden. It seemed as though he was still dubious after only listening to it.
However, looking at it being effective, Jake, who had discovered hope in the LP farming method to break-out of the difficult economic situation, energetically started putting his efforts towards its practical implementation.
Since Norman was also skillfully moving under the surface, it still wasn’t perceived by his parents. It could be said that until here, everything was going according to the plan.
And then, on a certain day after about 10 days had passed after returning back from the Sumeragi territory, when the practical implementation of the LP farming method was imminent, Kazuki, who was performing his daily training, received a notification that a visitor had come for him.
「A visitor for me?」
「Yes, that’s true」
Even if such a thing was told all of a sudden, Kazuki had no idea about who it might be. As expected, even he didn’t know about the relationships Harold might have had in his childhood.
「The visitor’s name is?」
「It is Erika Sumeragi-sama」
Hearing the name Norman spoke of, Kazuki stopped swinging the sword.
(Why has Erika come.........)
Please pardon me from any troubling situations during this strangely busy time right before the practical implementation of the LP farming method- this was Kazuki’s mental state.
In the first place, for what had she come. There was no way she would come to meet the one who had been so abusive during their first meeting.
If he thought about it, it must be some kind of response concerning the letter. He couldn’t understand as to why Erika was selected as the messenger.
At any rate, even if he thought about it while holding the sword in the backyard, he wouldn’t be able to make any sense of it.
「Send her to the terrace」
Hayden wasn’t here since he was at work, but his mother, Jessica, was at home. Even today, since she was holding an elegant noble-styled friendly meet in the party room, and though the probability of an encounter would be low if they went to the indoor guest room, since it concerned the letter, he chose a place where it would be difficult for there to be any hindrances.
Truthfully, his room would be the optimal place, but for example, if all of a sudden he brought his fiancee into his room, it would give rise to unwanted misunderstandings, so he showed prudence. He knew that there was no way 10 year old children could cause any misunderstanding, but he took precautions just in case.
For the time being, Kazuki washed his sweat with water, and after changing his clothes, he went towards the terrace.
There, was the appearance of Erika enjoying the Black tea brewed by the waiter of the Stokes house.
Different from the other day’s Kimono, today’s outfit was that of a Hakama that students wore. It was a scene where it was considerably imbalanced for her, who was wearing pure Japanese-style clothes, to be sitting on a Western wooden chair.
「What did you come here for?」
While sitting down facing her, Harold asked in a really displeased voice.
If it was regarding the letter, there was no way he could let someone hear it, so for now, he made the waiter fall back by waving his hand.
「In this situation, normally shouldn’t the first sentence be “Sorry for making you wait” ?」
For Kazuki, it was his intention to tell something similar to that. It was just that the words and the nuance didn’t reflect it at all.
It might have leaked out that he considered it to be a pain to talk her.
「Unlike you, I’m not free. Be grateful that I actually showed up」
「Uh..........Certainly, it is my fault for visiting all of a sudden, but.........」
Erika was disheartened at being hit by sound reasoning.
Even though his point was correct, since the other person was a child, he felt as though he was bullying her.
「Fuh, well, fine. What is your business?」
Since his conscience was pricked, Kazuki quickly continued the conversation.
Sensing Harold’s mood, Erika put up a dignified atmosphere in an instant.
「First of all, on behalf of the Sumeragi family, I want to thank you. On this occasion, thank you for saving many people」
Erika deeply lowered her head. Saved, which meant that after creating the compounding item that Kazuki had written in the letter, they had actually used it and it was effective.
Tasuku had received the letter about 20 days ago. If he included the time lag, it meant that he had tested it as soon as Kazuki left.
Tasuku had taken action quicker than he had anticipated.
「To jump at a counterfeit like that, it seems as though even the Sumeragi are considerably cornered」
Towards Harold who was sneering, Erika’s expression didn’t break down.
「It is as Harold-sama says. At present, the Sumeragi don’t have any method」
「Then, I will sell that favor for a high price. But you are mistaken」
「What do you mean?」
「The thing I suggested to you bastards was just a makeshift solution. It doesn’t solve anything fundamentally, and there might be side-effects」
In the game, it was just choosing ingredients and compounding them, but in reality, the proper quantity should be found by running many trials and many tests should be conducted to find the correct ratio. With all that, Kazuki didn’t think that there would an effect so fast.
Adding onto that, he had absolutely no knowledge of things which weren’t depicted in the game like whether there would be side effects due to intake of large amounts or due to taking it for a long period of time, or the degree of side effects if they occured.
Naturally, he had informed Tasuku about these things in the letter.
The Sumeragi might have been cornered to the extent of testing it out, even though it had such huge risks.
「In other words, Harold-sama’s medicine won’t cure them completely, is it?」
「If the degree of the symptoms is less, complete recovery might be possible, but for patients whose symptoms are severe, it is impossible. And I don’t have any intention to care about them to such an extent」
Because, the ones who would solve that was Liner’s protagonist crew, and it would also be the event which would cause Erika to join the protagonist party.
It might seem to be cold, but Erika also understood.
Even if they were engaged, after all, it was a political marriage. As long as the Stokes house did their duty by the least amount, that is, by providing goods and assisting in funding the Sumeragi, the Stokes house would be able to maintain their reputation.
And yet, Harold expressly–
(Made it.........? The “medicine”?)
The question that passed through Erika’s mind.
That is, when had Harold created that medicine.
It was impossible that it was done after the engagement to Erika had been decided. Even she knew that it was impossible for her to develop a medicine in just a few days, when she had no expert knowledge in that field.
Then, since he only had the knowledge, it wasn’t created by Harold? Previously, when Erika told-「Harold-sama’s medicine」, he neither denied nor affirmed it.
Harold, till the end, only took the stance of “suggested a makeshift solution”.
But still, it was hard to think that Harold would know about an effective method when, even all of the Sumeragi put together had not been able to find it.
Even assuming that that was the case, if he had enough clinical knowledge to verify the effects even to a small extent, there would have been a considerable amount of materials or books remaining. It was also ridiculous that he had no idea about what the side-effects would be.
(In that case, how in the world........?)
「Is that all?」
The thing that interrupted Erika, who was deep in thought, was Harold’s voice, where he didn’t even try to conceal his annoyance.
The mood that he really wanted to send her away was transmitted.
「There’s more. I have been entrusted with a letter from father to Harold-sama」
「Hand it over」
As expected, it seemed that Erika was selected as a messenger.
Tasuku might have decided that just a written letter would lack in showing gratitude, and so he had thought of personally showing his gratitude.
While sympathizing with Erika for a bit, thinking that she must have been unwilling to come here, Kazuki looked over the letter from Tasuku.
The contents were as he had expected.
The effects of the medicine, regarding the cases where there were side-effects, there were no great problems, but they would continue to carefully observe the transition, and words of gratitude towards Harold – this was what was written in the letter.
Well, at present, that was the extent to which they could report.
Looking at the letter, if he conveyed his thoughts of watching the rest carefully to Tasuku, then there would be no need for him to interfere any longer.
Casually thinking that there were only 2 sheets of paper, he noticed that there was 1 more sheet. It had a P.S. at the beginning.
As you know, since there is a strange situation going on now in the Sumeragi territory, I’m extremely busy trying to find a solution.
Since this is an incident with no precedents, we don’t when an unforeseen situation may rise up.
And so, though it pains me to ask any more from you, I have a request. I’m truly sorry, but could you please take care of Erika in the Stokes house for a short while. I may be disqualified as the head of a house to interpose with my personal feelings, but as a father who is concerned about his only daughter–』
Kazuki, who had read until that part, moved his eyes away from the letter. Thinking that he might have strained his eyes, after rubbing the inner corner of his eyes, he looked at the letter and read it again from the beginning.
But even though he did that, there were no changes to the words asking for his assistance to keep Erika safe.
He endured from holding his head with his hands and falling flatly on the table, but still, the voice that was squeezed out from him contained deep resentment.
「What is the meaning of this.........」
「What is the matter?」
In silence, Kazuki put the sheet on which the P.S. was written, in front of Erika.
After reading it, Erika spoke as though she was extremely surprised, in an indifferent tone.
「Oh, this is troubling. Even though I am the fiancee, I would be troubling many people by living under the same roof」
「But the carriage which brought me here has already left. There is no way other than being saved by Harold-sama’s compassion」
「Yes, what is it?」
A grinning Erika. This was the first time she had shown a full-faced smile.
「You have quite the guts」
「I am honored to receive your praise」
To Harold’s sarcastic remark, Erika, with a refreshing face, too replied with a sarcastic remark. This matter wasn’t only Tasuku’s judgement, but it seems as though she also knew about it.
That is to say, Erika was trying to stay here with some kind of goal.
It wasn’t simply because they were engaged. He had informed Tasuku of a method where Erika wouldn’t have to marry into the Stokes house.
Well, that was only if Tasuku believed in the contents of the letter, but he couldn’t guess as to why there would be a need to send Erika over even if he didn’t believe in the letter.
Adding onto that, Kazuki was baffled at Erika’s behavior.
Certainly, in the game it was shown that she was playful and would play small pranks, but she didn’t have the personality to reply back with spite, even if it was just in words.
It would be fine if it was just because she still didn’t have a mature mental state, but that gap was more than enough to perplex Kazuki.
「I don’t have any duty to accept such a one-sided proposal」
Even though all the requests from higher rank nobles were almost like orders, Kazuki rejected it without any hesitation.
Considering Tasuku’s personality and the Sumeragi’s current condition, he judged that it wasn’t a problem.
If due to this, even if the relationship between the Sumeragi and the Stokes grew worse, that by itself would be the development Kazuki was hoping for.
Eventually, on the occasion when the engagement was cancelled, it would be fine if it came as a boost.
「You’re cold, aren’t you. Even though you have saved the people of another territory, you would treat your fiancee in such a blunt manner」
Erika made a sad expression, as though to show it off.
This was exactly a “made up” expression, and unlike the time when she was dejected, Kazuki’s heart wasn’t moved by the slightest.
「That was estimated as selling a costly favor. But for this matter, the compensation for me is too less」
「Is that so. If you are saying that much, I can’t keep requesting Harold-sama any more than this」
Erika, who stood up quickly, once again bowed deeply towards Harold.
「Once again, I express my gratitude towards Harold-sama. For saving the people of the Sumeragi, really, thank you very much」
Her bow was polite ,to the extent of making him think that if they were sitting on tatami, she would have bowed while pressing 3 fingers of each hand on the floor. He felt as though he seen the true Erika, and also felt that she truly thought about the people. But just because of that, he wasn’t the least bit willing to let her freeload.
「I will collect this loan in grand proportions at a later time. While you have the time, increase the number of cards you can break out as much as possible」
「Much obliged to the degree of your consideration. Well then, excuse me」
Leaving those words behind, Erika left the Stokes mansion in an unfaltering stride.
He felt suspicious at how awfully easily she withdrew. And come to think of it, how is she planning to go home without the carriage- he thought of that question only after some time had passed.
He would come to know the answer to that question a few hours later, from Hayden’s mouth.
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