About a year after the Demon King’s resurrection’s commotion, I graduated from the Royal Academy and was able to focus on my work as a Lord.
I succeeded the title Countess when I was still studying at school, and the reforms that required lordship approval are already progressing. Most of it was left to Damon and he has began to work on the road maintenance and other projects that hadn’t been done before.
But that is a common practice in every territory. Right now, if we don’t develop Dolknes’ territory a distinctive feature, it will gradually decline.
「 Even now, they are growing wheat in most parts of the territory, right? How about switching to commodity crops like cotton? 」
「Cotton is a specialty from the neighbouring territory, Cottnes. Their other crops include tea leaves and fruits, but either of these will take time to stabilize. 」
「It doesn’t have to work right away, but… 」
I’m planning and discussing with Damon on how to improve the territory and move forward.
The Dolknes territory has no specialties and no other resources that could be put to good use. There is nothing but ordinary plains and mountains.
「You can’t always beat the existing suppliers by dabbling in that kind of thing either. 」
「That’s true. You can’t beat a traditional local specialty, especially when it comes to luxury products all because of the value added by the land. 」
What we’re talking about is the lack of brand power. I don’t have the know-how to grow crops and starting from scratch will be a tough road.
At first I thought I might be able to use my knowledge from my previous life, but it was difficult to do so. To begin with, this world is in a medieval European style, but the standard of living is quite high. There is a steady supply of sugar and spices and their food culture is advanced.
「I wish there was something that we could do that isn’t being done in every territory… 」
「I’m sure Lady Yumiela, who is capable of coming up with new ideas, will have a better one. 」
Damon looked at me expectantly but I can’t think of anything. It also feels like I’ve been called insane without saying the word. Am I being paranoid?
Hmmm. My skills, something only I can do… maybe something that is combat related.
「How about attracting people to the dungeon like Barias? 」
「Dungeons… I’m not an expert, but I have a feeling that dungeons with dark attribute have a high level of danger, don’t they? 」
「Oh, that’s correct. It’s a disadvantageous attribute for most people. 」
No dungeons, huh? My other skill… leveling up?
「Maybe raising the soldiers’ level to make them a mercenary army? Oh, I knew that was a bad idea. 」
「Really? I’m sure it would work if Lady Yumiela is in charge. 」
It’s no good because it seems like it will work too well. They’ve been wary about me even without armed force, even more so if I have an army.
「Hmmm, I’ll have to ask Patrick about that. 」
「 Mister Patrick came from a frontier Count house and might have an idea. Which brings me to a different question, I don’t know if I should call Mister Patrick “Master” or “Mister”— 」
I left the office in a hurry as the conversation was getting shady. Neither of them yet!
Patrick has never returned to his parents’ home since graduating from the academy. I told him to leave but he wouldn’t listen to me because he was concerned about the Dolknes territory. I thought it would be nice to exchange letters.
I roamed around the mansion to find Patrick. He’s usually in the office with me to help with the paperwork…
Wandering down the hallway, I found Patrick chatting with the servants.
「Patrick, I need to talk… 」
The servants, who noticed me as I called out to him, hurriedly bowed and went back to their work. You don’t have to run away so obviously… it hurts me too.
「Hey, they’ll need some time to get to know you. 」
I’m not that happy to be comforted by him who’s getting along with them.
「This is my house, right? I think Patrick is more familiar with it. 」
「Because eventually, it’s going to be my home too. It’s not a bad thing. 」
When I said a sarcastic half-word, he returned it unexpectedly. I don’t know whether he’s being natural or, come to think of it, if he’s expecting me to be more mature.
「So what did you want to talk with me about? Are we going to talk in the office? 」
「Umm… not in the office but in my room. 」
Damon must still be in the office. I can’t come back there or else he’s going to talk about it with Patrick.
「Okay, what’s up? It’s time to talk. 」
Oh, apparently Patrick had a viable plan for territorial reform.
We moved to my room and I quickly got right to the point.
「So, about the future… 」
「Yeah, we should talk about the future. I’ve been trying to talk to you about it for a while now, but you’ve been deflecting it. 」
Is that so? It was true that I entrusted Damon with the territory, but it was difficult to do many things while in school. And I’m sure he never told me about how to run the territory.
「I thought about it a lot, but I couldn’t come up with a good idea, so what do you think, Patrick? 」
「Since we came from a noble house, you have to visit my parents’ house first. 」
「Do I have to go? 」
「That’s the way it is. Since you’re not only the one who brought it up but also you are the head of family. 」
Will we be working together with the Ashbaton house? There shouldn’t be much that they can do though, since we are so far away from their territory.
「And then what? 」
「Then we need to pick a date for the ceremony and make the guest list… 」
「Ceremony? Guests? 」
「I know you won’t be too thrilled about it, but the ceremony has to happen. Oh, we need to work on the dress too. Do you have any designs in mind? 」
The dress? I don’t really want to wear a dress because it restricts my movement. Since I can no longer wear the school’s uniform, I’m still wearing something that resembles a uniform.
It would seem like a mix between the school uniform and a knight’s uniform. It was custom made and it was cheaper than the dresses out there.
「Do we need a dress? I was considering cotton and mercenaries. 」
「Damon and I were talking about how commodity crops might not be a profitable idea. And I’m not going to touch any mercenary business. 」
Patrick gives me a look of confusion. I’m unclear on his territorial reform plan too, so I’d like to see him elaborate on it.
「…What are you talking about? 」
「I was talking about the future territory management from the start? 」
「The territory’s future, huh? 」
Patrick said, emphasizing the ”future” part.
「So, what are we going to do once we get to Ashbaton territory? 」
「Before that, why did you bring me into your room instead of the office? 」
That’s because… Damon has been asking me whether he’s going to refer Patrick as the master of the house or my husband. It’s been over a year since we shared our feelings with each other, but our relationship has not progressed at all.
I mean, have I ever verbally expressed my love for him?
「I mean, you know, we are a thing, aren’t we? So it’s normal to invite you to my private quarters. 」
Once again, I’m embarrassed to say it and I’m slurring my words. What is it? What thing?
It’s strange to say that we are… a couple. Is it because we are both nobles? What’s that aristocratic way of saying it… fiancé? Lover? Which would be less embarrassing to say?
「Lovers… fiancé? 」
My voice became much quieter. But it seems that he understood the message.
「Fiancé？ We’re not engaged yet. 」
What does that mean? Does that mean I was rejected? Are you saying you don’t want to get married with me?
「Because the engagement happens between houses. The heads of the houses need to talk to each other. 」
「Oh… well, I’ll have to go meet him soon. 」
I was totally blindsided. Patrick should have told me sooner.
「…I’ve been talking about it for a while. 」
「What am I going to do, what if Patrick’s father is upset with me for greeting him late? 」
What should I say when we meet each other? Father-in-law, please give me your son… no, maybe not like this.
「I’m sure it’s okay. I’ve written to him and told him that you’ve just taken over the estate and it’s a mess. 」
It’s a relief, but I said fiancé on the spur of the moment.
「Hey, fiancé means we’re going to get married in the future, right?」
Why am I asking the obvious?
「Why are you asking for the obvious? 」
「I was wondering if Patrick was really okay with that. 」
I haven’t said or been asked to marry him. I’m sorry I keep fumbling around in embarrassment.
「Wow, you’re really… just close your eyes. 」
「Wh-what are you doing? 」
「I don’t want to get pushed away like before. 」
I closed my eyes as Patrick’s hand landed on my shoulders and pulls me towards him.
Like before? As I recall, it was on our second date that I pushed him away. At that moment, I was about to kiss Patrick but the closeness of our faces caused me to freeze. When I couldn’t comprehend it, I pushed him away.
Here’s what I figured out, I was fine with it as long as he couldn’t see my face. In hindsight, the first time we kissed was in a dark place.
「L-let me just go check t-the garden for a minute! 」
My face must have turned bright red as I jumped out of the window and into the garden. Nope, I still wasn’t okay with it. What kind of nerves do the lovers in this world have?
「Don’t jump from upstairs! And get used to it! 」
I made up my mind as I heard his voice in the background. For now, let’s go to Patrick’s parents’ house.
The territorial reform stuff will have to wait. If we can’t do anything else, we’ll build the most powerful army in the world or whatever it is.