Chapter 179 Definite Change
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
”What should I do…”
As I absentmindedly watched the people passing by in front of the main gate of Water Star’s third wind week, two people approached me and started talking.
”Perhaps Master Neil should take a look around the settlement.”
”No, how about he and I have a match after a long time?”
”Lord Kaltz, Master Neil is tired from his daily duties. It would be appreciated if you could consider that.”
”Hmm? That’s why we should have a match, right? It’s a good opportunity to relieve the lack of exercise.”
”Master Neil is not someone who thinks everything is fine as long as he can move his body. He also needs time to rest his mind.”
”If that’s the case, then there’s no problem. Exercising and clearing one’s mind can be a good distraction.”
”Hey, both of you, can you stop arguing in such a conspicuous place?”
Because of the commotion, people passing by are looking at us, but when I look back at them, they quickly avert their gaze.
Not only are we a strange group arguing on the roadside, but it’s unlikely that anyone would want to get involved with nobles. Since we would only be a nuisance to pedestrians here, I start walking aimlessly with the arguing pair.
Until yesterday, I was busy with paperwork, so I wonder how I ended up like this. It all started around noon.
As usual, I was diligently working on paperwork in the morning when I received news that my father and the others had arrived at the settlement. I stopped working and went to greet them.
After waiting at the entrance for a while, three carriages entered the estate, and four people got off the leading carriage.
The first person was Lucena-san, who serves as my father and mother’s attendant and is in charge of the household staff.
Lucena-san is Diana’s mother and has a long-standing relationship with my parents.
The second person is Kaltz-san, the captain of the army owned by the Earl Atmiras family.
Kaltz-san is the other teacher who taught me how to handle a sword.
After that, two more people got off the carriage, one being my father, Dilac Atmiras, and the other being my mother, Nisha Atmiras.
From the last position, familiar faces that seemed to be support personnel brought by my father came out of the carriage. Up to this point, everything was as expected, but the problem was the couple who got off the second carriage.
With a height of only about a hundred centimeters, they had a childish face, but their bearded and wrinkled faces also exuded the dignity of adults.
I thought they were Zora’s real parents, but since I left the matter to my father regarding Viscount Hedmar, I didn’t dare to touch it and welcomed my father and the others as the rulers of the settlement.
First, I guided each of them to the rooms where they would stay, but some of the household staff were asked to stay in the inn instead of the mansion.
This was because there were few vacant rooms in the mansion, and originally, the plan was to have the household staff stay in two rooms that were previously used by the former slaves.
However, due to the sudden news of Viscount Hedmar’s visit to the settlement, we hastily prepared one room for VIPs, resulting in a shortage of rooms.
Although it was possible to accommodate everyone in one room in terms of numbers, we decided to have them stay in the newly built inn because it was better than cramming them in forcefully, considering the recent increase in the number of people.
Now that the room guidance is over, normally, I would guide the visitors as the ruler of the settlement, but both my father and the others were well aware that there was no time for that.
So this time, we decided to first finish the accumulated paperwork…
”I’ll take care of the paperwork. You can rest today.”
Just as I was about to divide the paperwork and start organizing it, my father said that, and I was genuinely surprised.
After all, my father is the type of person who says to endure hardships even if you have to buy them, and in fact, he threw the operation of the settlement at his newly adult son without any proper preparation, so it goes without saying how strict he is with his son.
Originally, it was supposed to be a practice before inheriting the family, and even if it failed, it shouldn’t have been a big blow to the entire Count Atmiras family. However, things have escalated to this point, so he can’t just leave it all to me, and I can understand if he want to lend a hand.
But it was unthinkable for my father to completely leave his work and tell me to rest. Normally, he would definitely say something like “this is also an experience” and actively make me do it, so I asked him several times if he had eaten something bad.
In the end, I was ordered to “stop complaining and rest today” and I was thrown out of the mansion. At that time, it was considered careless for a noble to walk alone in the bustling settlement, so Diana and Kaltz joined me, and that’s how we ended up here.
”But is it okay? Kaltz was here as a guard for my father, right?”
”If you ask whether a guard is needed inside the fenced mansion or outside where it’s crowded with people, the answer is clear. I also have permission from my master, so don’t worry.”
”…Master Neil’s guard is enough for me alone.”
”Is that so? I thought it would be too much for Diana alone.”
The atmosphere is heavy…! What’s with these two? They’ve been like this all the time, but could it be that they don’t get along?
It was surprising that they had any connection given their positions, but I feel like things would get worse if I touch on that, so I tried my best not to mention their relationship and steered the conversation away from it.
While doing that, we arrived at the bustling section of the settlement, where shops and others were lined up.
”Oh, it’s quite lively here. Just looking at this place, it feels like a city, and it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t been a year since the settlement.”
”Oh? What’s wrong? You seem to have a gloomy expression.”
”Oh, no, it just looked like you had that kind of face.”
I unintentionally made a vague remark in response to Kaltz’s comment. As the ruler of the settlement, it should be a very joyful thing that the settlement has prospered, but when I saw how much it had changed in just a little over two weeks, I couldn’t help but feel lonely.
It is unbecoming of a ruler to feel lonely about the prosperity of the land they govern, so I pretended not to notice and turned my gaze away from the changed settlement as we left the place.
As we moved, avoiding the crowd, we somehow ended up on the outskirts of the settlement, so I decided to stop by the square that we use as a training ground.
I thought that there would be fewer people there and it would still look the same as before, but my expectations were quickly betrayed.
”What’s going on here…”
What caught my eye was the sight of a large number of people. The earthen spectator seats I had created with magic had been replaced by sturdy wooden ones, and many people were sitting on them.
It’s strange, I don’t remember giving permission for this place to be built, and as I was scratching my head, a man with paper and a feather pen in both hands approached us.
When Kaltz stepped forward and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword, the man quickly raised both hands to show that he was unarmed.
”Hey, calm down. I’m not a suspicious person or anything.”
”We’ll judge that after hearing what you have to say. What do you want from us?”
”Well, I heard the rumors and came here to play. Since I’m in charge of organizing, I thought I’d explain it to you.”
”It’s a combat gambling. Some people fight on the stage over there, and we bet on who will win.”
”…I don’t remember giving permission for such a thing.”
The man had a puzzled look on his face at my words, but he quickly understood the meaning and his face turned pale as he tried to step back.
However, Diana, who had quickly moved behind him, grabbed his shoulder, leaving him with no escape.
”Mei I see that paper?”
I took the paper from the man and glanced at its contents, and as expected, it listed who bet how much on whom.
Just to clarify, gambling is not illegal in the Empire. However, if the total amount of the bet exceeds five gold coins at once, you must apply to the lord.
But for now, the total amount of the bet was only three gold coins, so it did not reach the amount that requires an application.
”Why did you open a gambling den? Can you explain?”
According to the man’s story, the gambling started about a week ago when they saw people fighting in the training ground and bet on who would win.
At first, it was just a playful addition to the training, but as more people joined, it gradually became about gambling, and that’s how it ended up like this.
After hearing the story so far, I was troubled about how to handle this. From a legal perspective, there is no problem, but what about opening a gambling den in a place that is temporarily used as a training ground?
If it had nothing to do with the training ground, like card gambling, I would definitely have given a black judgment, but it was somewhat complicated because it was not completely unrelated to the use of the training ground, even though the purpose of use had changed to combat gambling.
”Um… as for the stage, it can be used for regular training, so that’s fine. But what about the spectator seats?”
”Huh? I heard that Master Neil built them.”
”Indeed, I built them myself, but what I built was a instant structure made with magic. I don’t have any memory of building such a splendid thing, nor do I have any memory of having it built.”
”Well, sorry, but I don’t know anything about that either. Originally, it was something that Master Neil built, and some firm was seen working on rebuilding it into something more magnificent.”
Ah, my head is starting to hurt. This is a problem that arose because there are only a few people overseeing the settlement and regulating things, and both Diana and I were busy.
The people from the Shouhyou spears also patrol the settlement to maintain security, but they are responsible for visible and obvious issues like violence, so there is no way to deal with problems like this one without any apparent criminality.
Moreover, neither I nor Diana can clearly recognize the permission or the presence of a problem, so it was unreasonable to expect that much.
I think we need to increase the number of people involved in the operation of the settlement and regularly patrol it. While considering this, I think about how to handle this issue.
There are quite a few people in the spectator seats, which shows that this combat gambling is quite popular. It can be expected that this many people gathered in such a short period of time due to the lack of entertainment in the settlement.
If I prohibit it, there will undoubtedly be some dissatisfaction, and if it leads to the release of desires, a little leniency should not be a problem.
”By the way, you didn’t push away people who came to train and opened the gambling den, did you?”
”N-No, of course not! We only use a small part of the place!”
Looking around, there were indeed people silently training a little away from the stage specifically for combat gambling, and there didn’t seem to be any shortage of space due to combat gambling.
”Understood, let’s allow the opening of the gambling den here. However, this is still primarily a training ground, so when the number of people who want to train increases and the space becomes insufficient, you should willingly give it up.
As for the problems that arise from combat gambling, you should handle them yourself. And as a fee for using the space, a portion of the gambling proceeds should be contributed to the settlement. Is that okay?”
”Y-Yes! I understand!”
Saying that, when I handed him the paper, the man quickly left the place. When I saw his back, I heard clapping sounds from the side, and when I turned my gaze there, I saw Kaltz-san clapping his hands with tears streaming down his face.
”Uh… Um, why are you crying?”
”Ah, I-I’m sorry. Even when dealing with servants, Master Neil used to be cautious and try to read their expressions. But now, he can confidently interact with others… sniff, I’ve been watching over him since he was young, but I’ve never felt his growth like this before.”
I wonder what kind of situation it is where the sword teacher is more pleased with the growth of the spirit rather than the improvement of sword skills.
”That’s an exaggeration.”
”No, it’s not an exaggeration. Although there are still many aspects that Master Neil lacks to inherit the family, I have clearly felt his growth since coming to the settlement. If the past me had seen the current Master Neil, I would have surely shed tears too.”
Even though I thought we didn’t get along, is he trying to say that it was shocking for me to speak like a ruler in such a place? But now that I think about it, it would have been impossible for the previous me to speak so confidently, and I seem to have changed without even realizing it.
I remember the oath I made in front of Niya-san before. How much have I changed compared to back then? Honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve changed at all, but I hope that if there has been any change, it’s in a positive direction from the bottom of my heart.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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