While Kazuki was reading the report written by Jake at dusk, he was called by Hayden, who had come back to the mansion.
Thinking -No way , and listening to the servant who had come to call Harold, he carried his legs towards Hayden’s study.
Looking at Hayden’s face, who had been waiting there, the bad premonition changed into conviction. This was because Hayden, who normally had a stern expression most of the times, seemed to be in a good mood.
He started talking as soon as Harold went inside the room.
「Rejoice, Harold. I have good news」「」
Although Kazuki knew what Hayden would tell, with an attitude as though he was listening to it for the first time, he asked.
Though it was sad, he couldn’t help it.
「A notification from Tasuku-dono reached today. For a short while, Erika-jou will be staying in the Stokes house」
As expected- thought Kazuki.
For Hayden, it seemed as though Erika freeloading was already a decided fact. Even for the Sumeragi, from the start this must have been their true motive.
But still, Kazuki tried to resist.
「I’m not enthusiastic, living together with that girl」
「No need to be shy. Because, the relationship between you and Erika-jou has officially been recognized by both families」
But Hayden misunderstood that he was feeling shy. Maybe because he was cheerful, there was no sign of him paying attention to Harold’s words properly. Even though he tenaciously tried after that, without being able to overturn the desicion, eventually Kazuki unwillingly went to welcome Erika.
The next day, Kazuki went towards the East entrance which connected the Stokes territory to the highway, to welcome Erika. It seemed that the plan was that they would arrive early in the morning, but since she had shown herself yesterday, probably they had lodged in a nearby inn.
Kazuki, in a gloomy mood, was being rocked inside the carriage.
(Rather, isn’t the schedule too tight?)
Even though the time it would take for a one-way trip should have been around 6 to 7 days even if they had hurried, since they had arrived the very next day, either they had no intention to listen to the reply or they knew that Hayden would accept. Well, it was probably the latter.
Either way, the possibility of this being a development not present in the original work, was high. The origin of this was without a doubt, the letter written by Kazuki.
In other words, you reap what you sow- while getting depressed, before he knew it they had arrived at the East entrance.
When he got down from the carriage with heavy steps, which seemed though he had shackles around his legs, Erika and an unknown woman diagonally behind her, were standing there.
「To be welcomed by Harold-sama personally, it is an honor」
「Ha, even though you don’t mean it」
Even today, starting to destroy human relations, Harold-mouth.
About 3 months had passed with him being together with this mouth, and Kazuki was getting to the point of being in admiration at the number of variations in sneering.
While feeling his useless growth, Kazuki turned his gaze towards the woman behind Erika.
Her age must have been in the later half of her tens to the mid-twenties. With a large white ribbon, her chestnut-colored hair was tied up in a bundle and reached until her waist, which left an impression.
「Who is that?」
「Juno, my attendant. She will look after my daily necessities during the stay」
「I am Juno ～」
Stretching out the words, Juno bowed with sluggish movements. Coupled with a limp smile, she was a woman with a calm atmosphere.
And Kazuki didn’t know her. That is, she was a character who hadn’t appeared in the original work.
「I’m warning you again, I don’t have the time to look after you bastards. Staying here is your decision, but just don’t get in my way」
Since he didn’t know the other party’s objective or Juno’s identity, for now, he nailed that down.
Visitors coming at the time when the practical implementation of the LP farming method was just about to begin, as much as possible, Kazuki wanted to eliminate uncertain factors.
The 2 people accepted Harold’s sharp words without getting perturbed.
「I’ll keep it in mind」
(If you have seriously understood it, can’t you just go back………)
Even if he complained about it, since Erika had also come here because she couldn’t go against her house’s circumstances, there were no methods by which he could turn them back.
In that case, it would be prudent to thoroughly avoid them.
However, there was no way that his wish would come true so easily.
Kazuki, who had returned to the mansion with them, in silence the whole way, was attacked by ruthless words.
「To show gratitude for the other day, show Erika-chan around the town tomorrow. Because, escorting a lady is also an ability required by a noble. You won’t lose anything by starting to practice from now itself」
Needless to say, it was a suggestion from Hayden.
That in itself was troublesome enough, but with Erika being Erika, answering with -「Thank you for your consideration」 as though showing good will and accepting it, Kazuki couldn’t help but be at a loss for words.
Moving around due to the incident related to Erika in this long day, Kazuki was tired.
But it seemed as though when it passed through the filter called Harold, it changed into anger.
「The face you’re making is more scary than usual. If you’re like that, won’t your fiancee will become afraid of you?」
Coming inside the room, as soon as Zen saw Harold’s face, he talked bluntly. It was amazing that he could talk without any hesitation to a noble making such a face.
「That fiancee is the reason. Really, so annoying……..」
「What are you so dissatisfied about? Even though she is quite a cute girl」
「Is that so? I came to know about your tastes」
「You don’t understand anything! It’s a terrible misunderstanding, all right!? I prefer Juno-san more!」
Being falsely accused, Zen was frantically trying to deny it. As far as Kazuki was concerned, as long as Zen wasn’t a Shotacon, he didn’t care about what Zen’s tastes were.
And the reason why Zen knew about this topic was because, as soon as Erika had arrived, Hayden had gathered all the people in the mansion, and in a grand manner, he had introduced them as Harold’s fiancee and her attendant. Maybe he had wanted to make it an established fact, but for Kazuki, it was simply a public execution.
Incidentally, 90% of the gazes which fell onto Erika, who was introduced as the fiancee, were filled with pity.
And there, was the faithful representation of their evaluation of the Stokes family including Harold.
「Gyaa gyaa – Stop clamoring and go call Norman and Jake. I need to adjust the plans for tomorrow onwards」
「Really, I like a grown woman, all right!?」
Zen left Harold’s room, denying until the end, and while he was searching all around the mansion, Erika and Juno were also racking their brains.
The cause was none other than Harold.
「I had heard about it, but he seems to be quite a naughty kid ～」
Looking at it from Juno’s age, it wouldn’t be wrong to think about him as being somewhat impudent, but still settling it with only “naughty” was the extent of Juno’s tolerance.
However, the main problem wasn’t Harold’s obnoxious behavior.
「Father told that Harold-sama is either connected to or is possibly being used by the hidden person, but……..」
「From his personality, you can’t think of him listening to someone obediently ～」
Then, the possibility that Harold had become a puppet before he realized it, became higher. Making him submissive would be a considerably difficult task.
Conversely, if that behavior was acting and he was supporting the hidden person, Tasuku had suspected that by yesterday’s stage, there would have been contact with this side by some method. To make it easy, they had contacted Harold when the head had been absent, at a timing when it would be hard for any interferences, fully knowing that it was rude, provocating as though to flaunt.
But the result was a miss. This made the situation even more complex.
Tasuku thought that if Harold was a puppet or even if he was moving by his own will, his objective was to either damage the Stokes or to help the Sumeragi. Therefore, proposing for an alliance to join their hands together or warning them to not get in the way, whatever it was, he had wanted some kind of action from the other side.
But the other party was still silent, even now.
Since the other party’s objective wasn’t clear yet, even the Sumeragi couldn’t just simply sit and twiddle their thumbs. It could also turn out to be bad to simply be under the impression that they were allies and then undergo a painful experience.
For that reason, Tasuku sent Juno to investigate it.
Erika freeloading was a smoke screen for the sake of Juno being able to infiltrate naturally, in other words, nothing more than a decoy. Erika also knew about this. The objective this time and her own role, Erika understood them perfectly.
There was only 1 thing that was unknown to her. That was, the despicable possibility that Harold, without the slightest relation to his own will, was being brainwashed.
If that was the truth–
「This might perhaps require quite some effort ～」
With a sigh not audible to Erika, Juno took out a dark device from inside her sleeve, and rang it out with a ‘Kashan’.