「Then, I’m off!」
And so, after receiving Harold’s command, Zen rushed out of the room in high spirits. Since he didn’t know why Zen had so much enthusiasm, the only thing he did was to tilt his head in puzzlement.
It would be good if he doesn’t mess up due to being too enthusiastic – thinking that, he felt a tinge of anxiety.
Well, if he trusted in Norman’s judgement, nothing bad will happen – convincing himself with that, as a change of pace, he decided to start his sword training, which was about to become a daily routine.
This was the world of an RPG. Outside the range of humans’ livelihood, normally, monsters were strutting about. To survive in this extremely dangerous world, it went without saying that a certain level of strength was required. Much less, when Kazuki needed to jump in and live within a vortex of violent battles as Harold Stokes.
He wanted to avoid fighting as much as possible but that wasn’t possible in accordance to the original game event.
Therefore, in order to be prepared for emergencies, he started imitating swordsmanship.
When he went to the backyard, holding the sword purchased by Zen in Lietze, after confirming that nobody was present in the surroundings, he started implementing the training menu that he himself had thought up.
Grasping the hilt in both hands, he raised it overhead and brought it down in one swing. From that state, switching his grip to the left, he moved his right hand by 1 unit to the upper-right side. From there, making the right foot on which he had stepped forward as the axis, he rotated in clockwise direction, and using centrifugal force, he cut in a straight line from the left.
This was the basic combination which Harold used in the game. This was of the type of serial barrage which appeared when the attack button of the controlled character was spammed thrice.
Kazuki, who didn’t even have experience in Kendo, couldn’t judge whether or not this attack would really be effective in actual combat, but for now, he thought of making this as his base.
At first, like the practice-swings in Kendo, he practised by stepping forward and cutting down from the overhead position, but imagining actual combat, he felt that the benefits of practising moves similar to the ones in the game was larger.
When close to a month passed after starting a training like this, his body grew accustomed to the movements themselves. The sense to grasp that, wasn’t Kazuki’s, but was probably Harold’s.
Come to think of it, even though Harold was the lowest of bastards, traversing solo through a dungeon and clashing with the hero party, in battle, he was quite an outstanding character. If I keep training like this seriously, I might be able to obtain strength which isn’t inferior to that.
(If I thought of it like that, my tension rises up a little!)
Even encountering an irrational situation, thinking in a manner like that, as expected, Kazuki was a fan of 『Brave Hearts』 through and through.
Although he had possessed the most loathed person in the original work, when it became that he might be able to use the same skills as the ones inside the game, he couldn’t suppress his heart from dancing.
With determination and excitement as the source of encouragement, Kazuki silently continued swinging his sword. A small boy lightly brandishing an adult-sized sword – if seen from an outsider’s perspective, it was quite a bizarre scene.
Originally, he wouldn’t even be able to decently swing it, but Harold’s high-spec body compensated for that. But even Kazuki didn’t notice that fact.
Somehow, the boy known as Harold appeared to be excellent.
Thus, providing assistance in the cultivation of crops, sword training, and humoring his parents – after these became his routine, about a month and a half passed by. Around the time when all the potted plants in the balcony grew lush and thick, at last, the preparations for the next move were completed.
That day, the one whom Kazuki summoned to his room was a slender man, who wore glasses. With an age in the first-half of his thirties, maybe due to the sharp look in his eyes, he gave of an impression of being cold and unfeeling.
The man’s name was Jake. One of the people who managed the finances of the Stokes family. Even the usually unamiable, taciturn Jake was considerably perplexed by the situation he was in.
There were totally 3 people in the room. The owner of the room, Harold, the veteran servant, Norman, and Zen.
To him who had come to the room, the first thing Kazuki said after opening his mouth, was that.
Norman, who was diagonally behind Harold, handed over a draft containing a few pages to Jake, who had quietly sat down on the chair.
What on earth is this about – Jake’s bewilderment kept growing.
However, after he opened the draft and started reading its contents, the look in his eyes changed.
What was written down was the detailed financial situation of the Stokes house. It was filled with a headache inducing amount of numbers, but sadly, they were numbers which Jake had become used to seeing.
「Are there any large mistakes in the entry?」
「………No, there aren’t」
Let alone mistakes, this was a complete copy of the contents of the financial management report that Jake had compiled. He properly checked whether there were any defects or not in the documents he had prepared.
Perhaps, was he called to enter at least 1 false charge into the contents of this? – That sort of thought crossed his mind.
But, contrary to his predictions, Harold sighed gravely. There was no appearance of wanting to rebuke Jake.
If he had to say, then Harold’s voice was as though he was fed up from the bottom of his heart.
「From the past few years, the finances of the Stokes house has been in the red. The prime cause is the pointless extravagance due to my parents wanting to put on airs. The reserves from up until the previous generation and the heavy taxation is compensating for it but even that won’t last long, and the burden on the populace only keeps increasing. Any objections to this opinion?」
「I have awareness that it is heading towards that direction」
Jake’s emotional subtleties never easily surfaced, but inside, he was on the verge of panicking.
He was astonished that a young boy had perfectly comprehended the contents of the financial management report, but more than anything, he wasn’t able to grasp the intentions of the question at all.
Harold himself, being the eldest son of the head, was criticising his parents, the current head. He didn’t know what kind of behavior was right.
Being at a loss, Jake looked at Norman. But he was only standing behind Harold with a calm expression and it didn’t seem as though he would respond to Jake’s glance.
「Even though the situation isn’t urgent, as it is, someday, both the Stokes house and the populace won’t be able to maintain their livelihood. Well, for you bastards, it would be better if the Stokes house collapses」
「Please don’t say things like that. If anybody heard it, they would misunderstand and think that you are rebelling」
For the time being, Jake takes the safe route.
However, from Kazuki’s point of view, it wasn’t necessarily a misunderstanding. He hadn’t thought of outrageous things like causing internal problems to steal the inheritance and he hadn’t even thought of doing whatever it takes for the continued existence of the Stokes house and for becoming the next head.
Frankly speaking, he wouldn’t care even if it got crushed like in the original work.
Together with the ending of the original work, if he faded out and safely became commoner A, it would be fine.
Of course, the best solution would be for him to return back to his original world as fast as possible, but to do that, he hadn’t even found a single clue and so, for now, he put it aside.
「Hn. At any rate, the populace, particularly, if the agricultural district’s proceeds aren’t increased, it’s very clear that in the near future, we’ll go bankrupt」
Jake couldn’t respond. This was because it was true that the agriculture in the Stokes territory had already started declining.
Due to imposing a heavy tax rate, since management became strained, people who quit and people who left from the Stokes territory increased. This trend was remarkable with small farmhouses in particular.
If this flow didn’t stop, revenue from the agricultural district would drop considerably. When that happened, it wasn’t known whether the current head would resolve to loosen the tax rates due to the disadvantage.
Jake didn’t believe that that man would take such measures. Conversely, he would probably increase the rates even more and pluck money from wherever it could be plucked.
(Has Harold-sama comprehended that………?)
No matter what, it wasn’t a problem which a boy of 10 years old, would rack his brain’s for. Normally, it would be difficult to even read the contents of the financial management report correctly.
But, for the boy in front of him, it seemed as though something of that level wasn’t even a wall. Jake immediately realized that.
「That is why I called you. I’ll leave the inspection of the agricultural district to you」
「What do you mean」
Responding to Harold’s call, Zen opened the window connected to the balcony, picked up a basket in which red groot were bunched up, and with a thud, placed it in front of Jake.
Again, being unable to catch up to the situation, his eyes became dots.
「Um, This is……?」
「Now, now, without saying anything here, relish in Harold-sama’s handmade red groot」
「You are the one who’s talking too much. Do you want to become fertilizer?」
If he frankly expressed his thoughts, it would be 「Why?」.
He didn’t know why Harold was cultivating vegetables in his room and, he also didn’t know why Harold was trying to make him eat it.
That said, since it was taken out like this, he couldn’t not try it, so timidly he bit into a red groot.
「……! S, sweet?」
「Why the hell are you proud……..」
Watching Zen show no sign of respect to Harold, Jake’s innards went cold, but without even rebuking him, Harold just held his temples as though he was amazed by Zen.
「Anyways, the thing you ate just now was something I raised with my own method. Lend me your power to spread that method」
「To implement this farming method, naturally, there will be some costs, and depending on the situation, exclusive equipment might be necessary. Since you have thorough knowledge of Stokes’ finances and as an inspection official, since you also know the situation well, I judged that you would be suitable」
Certainly, calculating the necessary expenses if the required materials and their rough quantity were decided, and depending on the equipment, deciding whether installing them would be acceptable or not or making proposals to satisfy some conditions, all these could be done if it were Jake.
Harold’s point was logical.
The problem was whether spreading the new farming method was implementable or not.
Compared to the normal ones, it was remarkably easy to eat this red groot. It could be guessed that if this went out on the market, the demand would be great.
But if the manufacturing cost was equal to or more than the market price, then there would be no meaning in doing it. There might also be farmhouses which might not be able to endure until the deficit, increased due to the initial expenses, changes over to net profit.
It was a huge problem for implementation.
「It seems like you can think」
Towards Jake, who remained silent even when asked for cooperation, rather than feeling hurt, Harold was in admiration of him.
For Kazuki, rather than people who would agree for everything due to pressure from their superiors, he needed people who would think about things with their own head like this. Kazuki only knew about the parts which were depicted in the game, and people like Jake and Norman, who were likely to notice problems other than the ones he knew, would be dependable hereafter.
「If it could improve the present condition, I would help as much as possible. But……..」
「You can’t readily agree since you just heard the talk, right? If it were father, he would have angrily told you to not talk back or in the worst case, thrown you into the dungeon」
Listening to those words, Jake’s body stiffened and thought – As expected, after all, he is the son of that man.
But for some reason, Norman and Zen smiled wryly.
「……..Well, that is the natural reaction. If it was readily consented for without even asking for detailed explanation, there would be another Zen and so, my anxiety would only increase」
「What does that mean?」
「It means that you should also use your head a bit more」
Ignoring the easily depressed Zen, Kazuki continues the conversation.
From here, the real issue began.
「Well then, as you wished, let me inform you. This will become the key」
While showing the bottle of Life Potion, he began explaining to Jake.
Kazuki’s plan was like this.
The farming method of giving Life Potion to the crops, temporarily named as LP farming method.
At present, of the 3 kinds of vegetables tested upon, it was confirmed that all of them had fast growth and additionally, their sweetness had increased.
This wouldn’t be tested in all the fields abruptly, but to start with, a portion, that too, by having some of the farmhouses do a joint trial run. The biggest reason was to disperse the financial risks if it failed.
Additionally, this also had implications of rescuing farmhouses with a small operation scope where even a single mistake would be fatal, those who had a painful monetary situation, and those who couldn’t spare farmland for the LP farming method.
Even if the LP farming method went well, the growth of disparity between farmhouses which have some financial leeway and those that don’t, must be held back as much as possible, and after bunching up a few of the farmhouses, it would be ideal if the Life Potions about to be discarded, among the ones stored in the Stokes house, would be enough to deal with the situation. If this was done, even the initial costs wouldn’t be much.
During this 1 month, Harold had repeated cultivating crops many times, and the greatest feature was that the growth rate of crops grown using the LP farming method was considerably fast.
It was at the level of calling it bizarre. In the case of red groot, normally, it would take a little under 2 months for it to be harvested after its seeds were planted, but the ones given Life Potion could be harvested in 5 days to a week. In the game, if one planted the seeds and stayed overnight in an inn, they could harvest it the next day, but as expected, there wouldn’t be such a growth rate over here.
Anyway, with this rotation like speed, Kazuki estimated that even small fields would create profits.
「Harvesting is possible in just 5 days!?」
Due to the shocking fact, even the usually calm Jake involuntarily raised his voice.
Ground-breaking, it was a discovery that could be called revolutionary.
「But, due to that speed, care should be taken to not overdo it」
「If cheap and high-quality goods appeared in large quantities, the market might crash. As a result, there are chances of farmhouses outside the Stokes territory getting crushed」
Even though the LP farming method was a little costlier than the traditional ones, due to the growth being fast, a large quantity could be produced in a short amount of time. If the production went on the right track, with price equal to the common ones, if production in large quantities became possible, even if trade took place with even cheaper prices, there would be profits.
Using that to not provoke resentment – that was Kazuki’s true motive. More than anything, the thing that was important was protecting oneself.
If the fact that the one who invented the LP farming method and spread it out was Harold, was exposed, there were possibilities of getting resented unjustly.
But if his parents, who were attached to money came to know about it, they would monopolize the LP farming method. To avoid that, Kazuki thought that going small scale and detailed, and limiting the quantity of harvested crops would be a good way to start.
And then, after it had gradually progressed, when there was some financial leeway, it would be possible to test the LP farming method on other crops too.
At present, it was known that with a ratio of 1:1 of water to Life Potion for red groot and bell tubers and also, a ratio of 7:3 with water as 7 for bluna, it would be easy to grow them, and they would also taste good.
When bluna was given 100% Life Potion, it was at a level where, if it was planted at morning, then it could be harvested at dusk. This was discarded because, when Zen took it to the kitchen, they told that it didn’t taste good.
In other words, depending on the ratio of Life Potion given to the crops, there would be differences in the growth speed as well as the taste. If matters like that were tested on common crops, then the revenue from the agricultural district would also become stable at a high level.
This time’s work could also be called as laying the groundwork to obtain that source of capital.
「Normally, it would start out by assembling a team of experts, but…….」
To do that, he would need to talk to his father. But an image of his parents, whose eyes were blinded by money, came into Kazuki’s mind.
He didn’t want to birth discord among farmhouses and he also didn’t want unnecessary resentment from other nobles. Even if it wasn’t possible to hide it until the end, he wanted to reconstruct the financial conditions to the extent of improving the financial situation of farmhouses, until they were able to procure the required amount of Life Potions by themselves.
No matter how much of a headache it was, to avoid the death flag, he had no choice but for it to become popular.
Suddenly becoming aware of it, Jake, who was listening to the explanation, was staring open-mouthed. Even Norman had a similar expression, and Zen was half-asleep, unable to keep up with the conversation.
Giving up on Zen, Kazuki wondered what was going on with the expressions of the remaining 2.
「Do you bastards have a hobby of exposing such idiotic looking faces?」
「F, forgive me. It was just that I was astonished by the contents of the talks………」
「Though I had heard about it to some extent before, I am in admiration that you have given it so much thought」
(Admiring the idea of an amateur to such an extent, inversely this makes me uneasy………)
Kazuki had no expert knowledge in economics or management.
For now, this was the material for presenting only the general framework.
From here on, it would be setting a limit and polishing out the finer details, but he was wondering whether the 2 reliable people were fine or not.
「I’ll tell this first. I don’t need a yes-man. If you find any odd points, without exceptions, give proposals. Alright?」
Or else, it would be dangerous for Kazuki’s heart due to the pressure.
Those feelings went through to Norman and Jake in a different manner.
(Discovering a ground-breaking cultivation method which could overturn history at that age and yet, having the intellect to come out with a realistic political plan. Besides, not being proud and being strict on oneself, and has an insatiable desire to improve oneself)
(Not even looking at the easily obtainable money or honor, having strong feelings and deep affection to earnestly try to save the people)
–Harold is a person born with the caliber to stand above people.
Intuition close to conviction.
He was emitting the kind of charisma, where one would think of wanting to follow him.
「Well then, the final confirmation. Jake, will you act as my hands and feet?」
To that question, the intent to shake his head horizontally didn’t even remain.
「I will use all the power that I possess for the sake of Harold-sama」
「If you want to be useful for me, work for the populace instead of working for me. They are the weak, who wouldn’t even survive if something like that isn’t done」
Arrogant until the end but always working for the weak.
That way of living was prouder than anyone else’s.