Chapter 18 – Two pieces of news
As I was about to open the door, I could hear coughing from the other side. Cough, cough, it was dry coughing caused by asthma, it was a subdued female voice. I didn’t enter this room rudely without announcing myself like I did with the earlier innermost room of the mansion, but knocked twice on the door first, and heard her say “please come in.”
“Excuse me for coming in. How are you feeling today, ‘Elise’-dono?”
The other “Elise’s” room was much different, with a bright and airy interior, but the sound of coughing continued. On the bed was a girl who was sitting up. There was a rather tall maid who was running her hand up and down the girl’s back, and she was looking this way.
“Good afternoon, Maya. How is Elise-dono feeling today?”
“After coming to this mansion, she’s gotten a little better.”
In the meantime, the girl’s coughing reduced a little, and her breathing got slower as her asthma attacks stopped. Although a bit messy, the girl’s brown hair remained lustrous as her maid Maya brushed it for her, and the girl finally raised her head after the maid was done. It was completely unlike the bitter expression at seeing me that the other Elise had, she had a gentle smile.
“My apologies, Eliza-sama.”
“No, it’s fine.”
Her name is Elise Sherstok, and she’s the Stadel domain lord’s niece from bordering north of the Kaldia domain. Although Viscount Stadel and I only greeted each other at my birthday celebration, he took a liking to the warmer climate in the Kaldia domain, and asked later if his sickly niece could come stay here to help her body recover. Elise’s father, Baron Sherstok had land usage rights into my territory along part of the Kaldia domain, and he agreed to sell those back to us in exchange for taking in his daughter.
By the way, in Arxia, only nobles have land ownership rights. Even so, only nobles with peerage have their own lands, for example a viscount with his own domain, would have the authority to govern and tax the people that live there. A baron would only be allowed to use the land, so other than areas under direct control, he would have to rent out land to use.
The Stadel domain is a small territory at the feet of the Amon Nor Mountains, it’s only known as a good place to avoid the heat during the summer, other than that it was just like the Kaldia domain in that it had no special products or noticeable features about it, the main difference being that there was a large difference in temperature.
Viscount Stadel and Baron Sherstok had been looking for a warm location for Elise to recover in for many years, and since Earl Terejia is now in charge of governing the Kaldia domain, after consulting with him, we were the first to come to an agreement with them.
Even diplomatically, because of my father, we had been isolated in all directions. There was no reason to refuse, and so we agreed to take in the other “Elise” and had her brought over here by ship.
“If you ever have trouble with anything, please don’t hesitate to let me know immediately.”
“Since everyone here treats me so well, I’m having so much fun every day, so I think there’ll be no need.”
“That’s great to hear.”
Her voice was thin due to the asthma, but Elise was very mild-mannered and ladylike as she made conversation with a smile. We talked about the flowers that Maya and the gardener Boriswaf had picked for Elise this morning, and made other such idle chatter until I left the room, by the time I finally left, Kamil who had waited outside all this time seemed to have a strained expression. I beckoned him silently with my hand, and we headed for the domain lord’s office.
After making sure we were far enough away from Elise’s room, without having to ask him, he began his report to me as we continued walking without changing his pace.
“It seems that quite a number of refugees have reached Fort Jugfena.”
“The farmers with the Shiru tribe?”
“There’s an emergency summons from the House of Lords for a meeting. Not just the earl, Charlie as well.”
……Me as well? Since Earl Terejia has all the rights to govern as a domain lord currently, to even be summoning me, I wonder if it’s finally time to gather troops at Fort Jugfena. An uneasy feeling started swelling over me, and I quickened my pace reflexively.
In the domain lord’s office, Earl Terejia was busy putting away some documents, and his secretary Bellway was doing the same task with a serious expression on his face. There were several scrolls of blank parchment paper out, perhaps for emergency communications as several red homing pigeons were perched on the window.
Red homing pigeons have innate homing abilities and are known for their vivid red color, as well as being the best species of messenger pigeon. Normally white pigeons are used for everyday communications, but red ones are used during emergencies to be able to tell the importance of the message at a glance. By the way, these birds, although they’re called pigeons, they’re actually about double the size of the pigeons from my previous world, since the window frame didn’t have enough room on it, several birds were perched on the floor as well.
“Yes. I’ve heard that due to the mass influx of refugees, the House of Lords has summoned us.”
“It seems that the Shiru tribe themselves aren’t that close to our borders just yet. That’s a relief for the time being. The House of Lords meeting is in four days. It means that there’s no need for haste just yet.”
Even as he said that, Earl Terejia hurriedly tied a piece of parchment to a pigeon’s legs, and sent it off. By reflex, Kamil and I both looked at each other in response to the contradiction between his words and actions.
“Then, what’s with this situation?”
“At this bad timing, Viscount Galbaito has passed away. He was unmarried and left no children behind.”
Ehh, a sound of surprise escaped from my throat. Viscount Galbaito’s domain borders Kaldia to the south, his territory had been between mine and Margrave Genas’s domain, he had been someone quite young who’d just graduated school recently. Although I had heard that he was sickly, he had just come to my birthday celebration recently and greeted me.
Without minding that I was lost for words at this sudden turn of events, Earl Terejia continued the conversation.
“The only person with inheritance rights to the Galbaito domain is Margrave Genas. Both his son and his nephew are currently in high-ranking positions at the royal palace. Now then, Eliza, what do you think will happen to the Galbaito and Kaldia domains?”
I blinked at the sudden question. I get that Margrave Genas is going to inherit the Galbaito domain. That’s because the Galbaito family was originally a branch family of the Genas family, and Margrave Genas had been Viscount Galbaito’s father.
Eleanor Galbaito had been Margrave Genas’s second wife, and so their child had been adopted into the Galbaito family and taken their name, but Eleanor and both her parents, the previous Viscount were already deceased.
“It means that the Galbaito domain will be incorporated into the Genas domain. If that happens, then Kaldia will now border both the Jugfena royal domain and the Genas domain.”
Earl Terejia nodded, and his eyes indicated that I should continue.
“……We’ll become the critical link in the supply chain against Rindarl.”
“That’s not all. This emergency meeting will probably decide if the refugees flowing in will be officially accepted by our country. If that happens, it’s almost certain that Kaldia will become the place to accept them.”
“If we take in the refugees, if that also leads to us extending protection to the Shiru tribe, it’ll mean our domain will become directly involved in war, is that correct?”
Earl Terejia silently confirmed my assumption.
“……Is there something that even I can do?”
“Of course. If we’re to be taking in refugees, preparations will be necessary. Because after the refugees, the Shiru tribe and Densel soldiers will be coming next. It’ll be impossible for Kaldia to remain uninvolved.”
I nodded at the earl’s words, while Bellway brought a large pile of documents out onto the desk. There were so many documents that it was scary to look at, but Bellway managed all of them just like usual with a smile.
“Alright, Eliza-sama, please go over these documents here. They’re contracts on cooperation with the neighboring domains. From these, please find and jot down everything related to defense cooperation with each domain on the parchment sheets here, it’ll be a great help.”
Right as I sat in my chair, I saw Kamil working on yet another large pile of documents. To have both me and Kamil working on this, as expected it must be quite the imminent situation. Thinking that conflict with the neighboring country would likely become reality soon, my throat became dry.
End of Act 1, Part 1