Strangely, somehow time went by uneventfully without anything happening at all.
The commotion over choosing the crown prince gradually settled down as well after some time passed. The season for socializing has now ended, and all the nobles that were just so active in the royal capital have each returned to their own domains, since it’s difficult to keep a topic going forever no matter how controversial it is.
Although I say that, it hasn’t calmed down completely yet. That commotion definitely caused factions to form within the nobility supporting either prince, especially with regards to nobles in the royal palace.
Just like the other nobles, Earl Terejia and I also returned to Kaldia at the end of summer. There seemed to be no movements from the northern nobles that we remained on guard against, nor was there any contact from Faris about the activities of the sisters in the Nordsturm domain. With the usual high amount of work as well as dealing with the autumn harvest, autumn was almost over already before I realized it.
“The snow should be arriving soon……”
“Ahh, is it already this time of year? One year sure went by fast.”
It’s now the last month of August, and the air in Kaldia has a chilly bite to it, snow should be arriving at any moment. Regardless of the calendar date, when snow arrives, that means winter is here.
Ever since I’ve returned to the Mansion of Golden Hills from the royal capital, I’ve had virtually no time to even leave, every day has been hectic with sending out letters, compiling information and reports, writing documents, learn from Mrs. Marshan’s lectures, work with Earl Terejia, or practicing the bow and sword…… Well, that’s how I spent every day, so it’s no wonder that an entire season passed before I noticed.
I’ve been spending every day so habitually like this that I didn’t even realize how exhausted my body was until now, so I sighed lightly. It became a white mist that quickly dissipated in the chilly air.
I’m currently wrapped in a thick woolen cloak, and riding east together with Claudia by horse. Before a full-fledged winter gets here, I need to check on the state of the village for the new citizens.
“You don’t seem to have any ambition or aspirations at all right now, Alicia-dono. You’re probably feeling tired? You should take a rest and relax a bit at Teo’s.”
“It’s Eliza, Claudia-dono.”
“……I suppose you’re right. I am a little tired.”
I was so tired that I didn’t even have the energy to pretend I wasn’t as I nodded to Claudia. She also seemed to be slightly fatigued as she replied, of course you are.
Ever since Earl Terejia started feeling unwell earlier this summer, he hasn’t gotten much better. Of course, I can’t let the work he usually does be not done, so I’ve gotten a lot more familiar with his work.
No matter how hard I work, I can’t do everything by myself, so I’ve left all military work related to the domain up to Claudia, Gunther, and the oldest soldier in the army, Calvin. Unfortunately, Gunther and Calvin basically don’t know how to read or write, so all the documents are left up to Claudia.
Also unexpectedly, Claudia has gotten quite busy as well, she’s basically taken over the role of army instructor from Earl Terejia. Not only does she teach the army personal combat techniques, she’s also sharp in tactics and strategy. It seems that she’s extremely skilled at everything military.
It’s clear to see that both of us are overworked. It’s hard because I lack people I can use.
“It’s hurts that ‘Elise’ isn’t here right now……”
Even though I know there’s nothing I can do about it, I couldn’t help but let that comment slip out.
“Well, he was brainwashed before. It can’t be helped.”
Claudia seemed to make an attempt at consoling me. “Elise” – or Ratoka, I’ve been keeping him far away from the other Elise this autumn, as well as keeping him under surveillance. The Nordsturms seem to be connected to the group of sisters that planted anti-nobility sentiments in him in the past. They might find out about Ratoka’s existence and take advantage of him somehow to slip through a crack in our defenses. That’s why I’m on guard.
I know. I was the one who came up with, and carried out the idea to confine him. Even so, I can’t keep a hold on my emotions.
Is this, any different from what I did to Kamil?
I shook my head to try and clear it of these dark emotions.
“……Nothing. On our return tomorrow, I was thinking about staying at Nezu village.”
“Ahh, those girls. It’s good that the wounds in their hearts are healing.”
Claudia nodded, and our conversation ended there. We traveled the rest of the way in silence.
“My lord! You’ve finally arrived.”
At the entrance to the new village, Teomer was standing there and greeted us, waving his left hand. Claudia and I both waved our hands as well in greeting.
“Hey, Teo. It’s been a while. How are the preparations for winter going?”
“Long time no see. I see that you barely have any energy just like usual. As for winter preparations…… It’s going well, is what I would have liked to say.”
Looking at him, Teomer’s skin seems to be considerably tanner than before after spending an entire summer in Kaldia. He used to be a little reddish, but now he’s closer to the color of wheat.
“The irrigation work isn’t as far along as I expected.”
Teomer gave me a brief report as we entered the village gate. There’s no other villages close by to here, but we did have a wall built around the village for crime prevention.
When I entered the village, I saw several inelegant stone buildings, with only the foundations built. Similarly, there were also only a few paths that had been paved with stone, and their own self-made nomad tents as well as the simple tents donated from other domains were lined up all over the place.
This is the current situation in the village for the new citizens. I see six more buildings than when I was here last time and had to go to the royal capital. However, this isn’t enough for six hundred villagers to live in. Originally these buildings are meant for about five people to live in, and right now double that number is living in each building. Even so, there’s still about four hundred people still currently living in tents.
“Right now, we’re having the children and elderly live in the ‘buildings’ and our own tents, but……”
“It’s unreasonable to pass winter in Kaldia with only tents. Since you’ve taken all this trouble to become my citizens, I can’t have you all dying and going to visit Misorua in less than one year.”
When it’s spring in this area, melted snow from the Amon Nor mountains will cause the water levels of lakes and rivers to overflow and even flood. That’s why we have to elevate the level of buildings we construct here, and we’re doing flood control work at the Sera River and the surrounding lakes, but since there’s many people among the new citizens that aren’t suited for labor work like children and the elderly, in addition to the fact that they aren’t used to doing this type of work, it seems that things have been progressing slower than expected. On top of all this, this village is the farthest one from the Mansion of Golden Hills, as well as being located far away from other villages. It’s risky to have such an isolated and ramshackle village face the deep snow of winter in Kaldia by itself.
“……Alright. I’m sorry, but let’s have all the new citizens stay in the area under direct control for this winter.”