Listening to Harold’s report, his parents believed that Clara and her daughter Colette, were dead. It was unlikely that they would even think of doubting their son.
Even though their son had killed a woman and her child, seeing them only praising him extravagantly by telling – 「You have talent in magic」, Kazuki felt that the gap between him and his parents would never be covered in his whole lifetime. As long as they didn’t rid themselves of this kind of sense of values, there was no way he could see eye-to-eye with them.
Well, because of them blindly believing in him, they didn’t doubt anything he told. So for now, that was more than enough-was what he thought.
For now, it could be said that the plan to rescue Clara and Colette was a success.
Truthfully, this was when he should’ve been happy, but confronted by a new problem, for Kazuki, time was precious. The most he could do was to pray that Colette would get close to Liner.
Leaving that aside, the thing that was troubling Kazuki was how to deal with the growing displeasure of the populace, due to the political pressure of the Stokes family. In short, it could be summed up as severe taxation.
Since the Stokes territory, with the exception of the towering mountain range to the northeast, was facing the plains, and the highway was laid out as though running beside the city, it was considerably blessed in the field of transportation. There were no seas in the surroundings, but there was a river formed by a stream from the mountain range, which passed nearby, and a forest stretched out from the northwest to the eastern side so, it was a land suitable for forestry too.
The circulation of people and money was good, and nature was abundant. Naturally, both primary and secondary industries were prosperous.
However, since the Stokes territory wasn’t very vast, they couldn’t make use of those benefits. Advanced despite being a small town – was the scope of it.
On a self governing area with that scope of economy, the Stokes family was imposing quite a heavy tax.
For the residents living in the vicinity of the town center, who had considerably high income, it wasn’t as though they couldn’t pay the tax, but for the agricultural community living in the suburbs, it was quite a burden.
Particularly, in the recent years, being assaulted by natural disasters as though it was an annual occurrence, the volume of crops harvested was unfavorable, and due to that, profit went down and the farmers running under deficit weren’t less.
For that reason, voices rose up from the farms, appealing to reduce the tax temporarily, but there was no way that couple would lend their ears for something like that. On the contrary, the pressure was tightened by telling -「If you make any more noise, I will raise the tax rates even more」- It was dealt by threatening them like that.
There were talks about how the populace suffered from the political pressure in the game, but there were no detailed descriptions about that portion. It was likely that, without Norman’s documents, even Kazuki wouldn’t have noticed this.
If the present condition lasted for a long while, the displeasure accumulated due to the pressuring of the Stokes family would without a doubt, explode at some point of time. That would be the first sign of indication to the fall of the Stokes family.
Well, for Kazuki, no matter what happened to this family, it didn’t have anything to do with him, but the chances of him getting involved and undergoing a disastrous experience was extraordinarily high and so, there was no way he couldn’t take some measures.
「Excuse me~………Tte, what are you doing?」
Showing his face from the opened door, without even waiting for a reply from knocking the door, was the accomplice who helped in rescuing Clara, Zen – the coachman of the horse-drawn cart.
Somehow, as of late, even though there was no work for him, it became as though he was involved with whatever Harold was doing. No matter how harsh his speech was, other than laughing dryly, it was as though he wasn’t enduring at all.
Zen was 19 years old, a youth in the same generation as Kazuki. Also, among the males who were working in the mansion, his age was the closest to Harold, and in Kazuki’s mind, he was an existence that Kazuki could easily associate with.
He was somewhat like a dog, or rather, it could be said that Zen’s personality played a big role in making people feel friendly towards him.
He tilted his head when he saw Kazuki’s eccentric behavior.
Even though it was called eccentric, he was just recording the growth of plants which were there on the balcony of about 50 cm, furnished on the window.
「It is unrelated to you. Quickly, close the door」
「O~tto, It somewhat has the scent of a secret」
Closing the door behind him, as expected, Zen spouted out some dog-like remarks and peeked at the balcony. As for his attitude, it could be said that it was disrespectful at best.
About 20 potted plants were lined up on the balcony, which were divided into 3 segments and 3 types of plants were being grown. For some reason, there were some specimens among them whose growth was preeminent.
「Bell tubers and Bluna, and also red Groot………Are you going to eat them after they grow up?」
(Tl – What are those? (ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻ I suck at translating katakana. HELP
The original – スズイモにブルーナ、それに赤グルト(suzu imo ni buruna, soreni aka guruto))
「Do you want me to cut out your guts and, including the pot, shove it inside your stomach?(※Should I make Zen eat it?) 」
If it is like this, we might never have a relaxed conversation- while being depressed by that thought, his hand kept moving while recording.
As Zen stated, all of these were edible vegetables. Frankly, only leaves couldn’t be seen under the earth for bell tubers and it’s name fit it correctly.
Adding onto that, it was in the top three most cultivated principal crops of the agricultural community in the Stokes territory.
「Even so, the way they’ve been grown is different, isn’t it」
Without being cowed by Kazuki’s statement, Zen asked that with a look filled with interest. A heart made of steel or tough nerves, either way, he was resilient.
While admiring Zen, who seemed to have the endurance level of a sandbag, Kazuki held out a glass bottle.
「There are those which were watered with water mixed with this, and those which weren’t」
The thing held in Kazuki’s hand, which was familiar to all fans of 『Brave Hearts』, was a semi-transparent bluish bottle. The thing which was extremely handy only at the start of the game, an item which doubled the stamina recovery rate.
It’s name is 『Life Potion』.
「Life Potion for crops……..?」
He had never heard of a technique like that to cultivate crops. But, the ones which were given the Life Potion were obviously bigger and juicier.
Zen’s eyes showed shock at Kazuki’s thinking which wasn’t bound by any common sense, but for Kazuki, it was just another simple thought.
In the system of 『Brave Hearts』, “Compounding” existed. By mixing many different ingredients, items were created, but for some of the ingredients, if one didn’t cultivate them on their own, they wouldn’t be able to get their hand on them.
Furthermore, even if one nurtured ingredients according to the manual, since the probability of cultivating the wanted ingredients was extremely low, the players plowed the fields with the intentions of getting some hits.
(Tl – The players follow the Japanese saying – Even a poor marksman will hit the target with enough shots)
Eventually, the fact that the harvest rate goes up when Life Potion or the upper ranked 『Ether』 is used, became known, and then, players who changed to Hero-cum-Farmer started scattering recovery items on the fields.
Similarly, Kazuki was also one of those players.
To test whether that could be applied even here, Kazuki obtained the pots, soil for the crops, the crop seeds and also the Life Potion approaching its expiration date, which was sleeping in the warehouse of the Stokes house, through Norman.
But, when the crops were grown using only Life Potion, even though their growth was fast, they withered before bearing fruits. So, while using it with water, many trials were repeated, and finally, a suitable ratio of water and Life Potion was found.
Kazuki tore off a few of the red groot and tossed it towards Zen.
Zen, who nimbly caught all of them, didn’t even hide the unpleasant expression on his face, listening to Harold’s orders.
He understood those feelings. Among the vegetables Kazuki knew, the taste of red groot was closest to onions.
Even though it could be eaten without sticking it in fire, fundamentally, it seemed to be a vegetable which was cooked by heating.
「Curse your own thoughtless actions for willingly sticking your head into others’ affairs」
Maybe giving up, without resisting anymore, Zen bit into the red groot.
Shaku- A satisfying sound rang out.
Zen, who had swallowed the red groot, raised an excited voice.
「What is this! It is sweeter than normal and absurdly delicious!?」
It felt good to see such a reaction. That the Life Potion farming method would have such an effect, this exceeded even Kazuki’s expectations.
Even though it was a happy miscalculation, as expected, having only Zen as feedback was too less.
「Take that to the kitchen and come back after making the cooks eat it. Their thoughts on the taste, the difference between the ordinary ones, whether it is worth putting it on the market, and other such information, ask them about it」
Zen bowed with a snap. Since he was holding the red groot in his left hand, it didn’t look appropriate.
「The matters of where you obtained it or under whose orders you are moving–」
「Is a secret, isn’t it? I understand, Harold-sama!」
Zen answered like that with a full-faced smile.
For him, his assessment of the boy known as Harold had completely changed due to the previously executed plan.
Until now, he had only thought of him as an extremely conceited, self-centered, dumb brat, but it seemed as though he was only pretending like that with some sort of aim. Harold’s true nature was rather, the exact opposite of that.
Kind, racking his brains for people with a lower social status than his, he had both emotional maturity and wisdom.
After coming to know about that, he could only see Haorld’s foul-mouthed nature as nothing but hypocrisy. In a sense, it could be said that the only way Harold could seem to be childish was by this.
Like this, for entering the room and talking about this and that, other than spouting out abusive words, he didn’t seem to be displeased.
Considering Harold’s age, he should be aware about things like the difference in social status. It would have been fine if the other party was a person who had a close relationship from childhood, but the first time Zen talked with him was just the other day.
When a person like that showed disrespectful behavior, it was as though he didn’t mind it at all.
Behavior as though to show that he had no interest in keeping up a facade.
For Zen, such a Harold Stokes was highly likeable.
It was clear that again, he was trying to do something with this red groot. Surely, it was something which he, who had no knowledge, could never even think of.
Zen was happy to help in whatever form it might be.