「If you’ve understood, begin immediately. Norman, consolidate all the things I’ve explained just now into a document in order to convince the people. If there are any obscure points or parts that worry you, without omitting anything, ask me」
「Jake, divide adjacent farmhouses as uniformly as possible, based on their operation scale. I will specify the area of the field required for cultivating crops, so you don’t need to consider it」
Since he had told them this much, then it seemed as though the rest would be taken care of by the 2 who seemed to be capable. For now, only this much can be done – thinking that, as he was leaning back on the chair, his eyes met with Zen, who was still in the room.
「What should I do, Harold-sama」
Zen asked, his eyes shining brightly.
But sadly, he had no work until they headed towards the site.
「Don’t do anything. Or rather, go back to your own work」
In the first place, Kazuki hadn’t called for Zen. Since he was hanging around in the room like always, Kazuki was just pushing him around.
「I have a holiday today!」
「What the hell did you come here for?」
Kicking Zen, who was giving a thumbs-up, in the back, he drove him out of the room.
In the room which was empty, he sighed deeply.
With this, the first stage was completed. All that was left was to wait for Norman and Jake to complete their preparations.
He didn’t know how much time it would take, but for now, he could be at ease for about a week.
However, just when had thought like that, a new problem came unexpectedly.
That happened during dinner. Harold’s father suddenly dropped a bomb on the dining table.
「Harold, your marriage partner has been decided」
The reason why he didn’t spurt out the fruit juice which was in his mouth was because Kazuki already knew that Harold had a fiancee.
Even so, he couldn’t hide his surprise since he was spending all his time on the pile of problems which were in front of him, and he had forgotten about the existence of Harold’s fiance.
「Marriage partner? Who is it?」
Even while feeling the shamelessness inside, he asked back with a seemingly similar response.
「The daughter of the Sumeragi family. Accurately speaking, it’s only engagement, but with this, the Stokes family’s lineage will become stronger」
「Oh, That’s wonderful!」
His parents were chuckling in high spirits. Certainly, for these 2 who were for the pure-blood principle, it would be quite the good news.
The Sumeragi house was one among the noble houses who had helped in the founding of this country, and from their organization, even now, their ties to the kingdom was deep. If they were connected by blood with such a house, then the prestige of the Stokes house, who supported the pure-blood principle, would rise.
「And so, the other party is telling that, by all means, they want to meet you. We’ll head towards the Sumeragi territory soon」
Absolute lies – somehow, he stopped himself before he could tell that. But Kazuki, who had knowledge about the original work, knew that the Sumeragi side weren’t enthusiastic about this engagement.
Originally, there was an overwhelming difference in status between the Stokes house and the Sumeragi house. Even then, the reason why this engagement was being held was because of the original work’s scenario.
(Huh, Wait a sec? Perhaps, this phase is……….)
By the time the information in his head came together, an ingenious idea was formed.
Since talks about the engagement were already out, there were no mistakes that there was already some damage to the Sumeragi side. However, the damage should still be to the minimum since it was before the start of the original work, and if Kazuki interfered, the possibility of stopping the damage from expanding should be plenty. There would be some effects on the story so he wouldn’t be too enthusiastic, but since it concerned human life, he decided that he couldn’t go without sacrificing something.
「When do you mean by soon?」
「In another 2 to 3 days」
In that interval, he wouldn’t be able to gather necessary items. Particularly, the items which could only be obtained as item drops from defeating monsters, were a problem.
Well, different from the game world where items could be bought only in limited shops, since there was economic activity in this world, there was a possibility that the items might be circulated, and if he thought about it carefully, even if he collected the necessary items, he couldn’t show their effect only in the Sumeragi territory.
In that case, the best thing he could do was to write it in a letter beforehand, and send it to the Sumeragi family without his parents’ knowledge.
As soon as Kazuki finished eating, he withdrew into his room, and based on his memory, he started recalling the recipe for creating a certain powder.
(Anise hisopp and fang of Gadun, Reel grass……. And what else? If I’m not mistaken, there was something that seemed like traditional Chinese medicine………)
Compounding in 『Brave Hearts』 was not only for creating recovery items, but also for weapons and armor and sometimes, even machines, using a vast amount of combinations.
Even for Kazuki, who had crammed nearly all of those into his head, it was a pain to recall the details.
In the end, by the time he recalled the details of a total of 5 compounding items and wrote a letter to the Sumeragi house before he forgot, it was already dawn, and sunlight was entering through the window.
As a result, holding the letter which was written satisfyingly, as planned before, 3 days after that dinner, Kazuki, who rode in a carriage for the first time in his life, headed towards the Sumeragi territory.
The complete journey took 9 days. If they hadn’t made camp, it would’ve been shortened by a few days, but there was the high class Stokes family’s current head.
Due to something like – There are things other than camping, it was inevitable that they stayed in the best inn in the town, every single day. But it was fortunate that they didn’t run into strong monsters, since they didn’t travel during the night when monsters were highly active.
Kazuki didn’t bother asking whether it was all right with his work, since the round-trip would take about 3 weeks.
And so, with there being no problems, other than the time spent alone with his father being great, they arrived at the Sumeragi’s mansion at the end of their journey.
It’s appearance was that of wooden architecture, which made one think that they were in the Japan of the olden days. Red light baskets were dangling from the eaves’ edges, the sound of a bamboo fountain was ringing out from the yard and a vibrant tree with cherry blossoms was towering up. It was a place which was overflowing with Japanese-style taste.
The setting was that the Sumeragi house was succeeding the flow from the east, and so not only the mansion, but even the townscape was pure Japanese-style.
(TL – The bamboo fountain in Japanese is shika odoshi or shishi odoshi which literally translates to deer scarer, and I assume that you’ve all seen it in a lot of anime. Here)
「Welcome. Master and Madam have been waiting, so please, this way」
A white-haired elderly man was lying in wait for them at the main entrance. From his attire and bearing, Kazuki felt that he was no ordinary servant.
Under his guidance, they entered the mansion.
「I somehow can’t settle down due to removing footwear inside the house. Even these things called inner-footwear」
「Since this is the culture of the Sumeragi house, please show consideration」
Next to his complaining father, Kazuki lined up the boots he had taken off, in a practiced manner.
After doing it, 「Ah, This isn’t like Harold」- he noticed.
However, since it seemed as though they didn’t notice it, he felt relieved.
After that, the elderly man finally stopped after walking through the open corridor wandering through about half the mansion.
「Master, I have brought Hayden Stokes-sama and his son, Harold-sama」
「Please, come inside」
A sombre, yet calm voice rang out from the other side of the sliding door. The old man sat on his knees, and slid the door open using both his hands.
It was a spacious Japanese-style room, with a size of about 20 tatami mats. 3 people were sitting next to each other at a wooden desk, which was placed at the center of the room.
(TL – sliding door is the traditional paper one -shoji
1 tatami/ jō = 1.653m²(17.79ft²), so 20 jō = 33.06m²(355.8ft²))
At the center was the current head of the Sumeragi house, Tasuku Sumeragi. To his right was his wife, Koyomi Sumeragi.
They were a couple, to whom the words gentle and quiet was perfectly applicable, and they overflowed with kindness. However, at present, it looked as though their expressions were dark.
And then, the issue was the presence of the expressionless girl towards Tasuku’s left.
Black hair extending towards her shoulders, a hairpin with a pink undertone, which went well with her hair, and wearing a light-green colored long-sleeved kimono, was the Sumeragi house’s eldest daughter, Erika Sumeragi.
(TL – Long-sleeved kimono -Furisode)
(The light in her eyes are disappearing, Oi. I can’t sense any vigor……..)
With regards to her dressed up like that, it seemed as though she was a doll.
She wasn’t young enough to innocently be delighted for this engagement, nor was she mature enough to hide her feelings and simply smile on the outside. But still, it seemed as though this was the result after she somehow came to terms with this situation.
But the real her was different. Erika, like her name implied, was a graceful girl who smiled like a flower.
Because Kazuki knew that, his heart tightened. It was because of him that a 10 year old girl was making such a face.
(TL – Erica is a flower – Erica Carnea)
However, again, there was nobody other than Harold who could make her stop making such a face. It would be too pitiful for her to spend 8 years like this, until she met the protagonist.
「This is the first time we are meeting, aren’t we? I am the current head of the Sumeragi house, Tasuku Sumeragi」
「……..I am Harold Stokes. Nice to meet you」
After Kazuki exchanged greetings with Tasuku, he sat on the cushion that was laid down. Unexpectedly, it seemed as though this mouth could speak in polite language.
The discussion started while he had discovered something new.
「Thank you very much for taking the trouble to come here」
「What are you talking about. It is natural」
The heads of both the houses, no matter how they really were, started conversing calmly. It didn’t seem as though, for example, due to engaged parties meeting face to face, a dangerous mood would set in which would develop into a situation where they would glare at each other.
While feeling relieved, Kazuki examines the situation. Basically, while Tausku and Hayden were rambling on, providing what seemed like lip service to each other, occasionally Koyomi would smile elegantly, which didn’t look as though it was forced at all.
As it was an engagement that was decided by their parents due some political reason, Harold’s and Erika’s turn was almost non-existent. Since there was no room for them to intervene, it couldn’t be helped.
「Well? Erika-chan. Harold is quite handsome, isn’t he?」
Casually, Hayden asked Erika, as a joke. The reply came back in a flash, in an extremely flat voice.
「Sorry, Stokes-sama. It seems as though this girl is nervous………」
Tasuku smoothed over it, but rather than calling it nervous, it was a tone which had almost no feelings put into. Well, it was harsh to ask a child of that age to deal with the situation maturely.
Hayden, who received such a response, didn’t seem to mind it. Even if Erika had clearly refused, he wouldn’t have minded it.
「Well, it is natural to bewildered if one’s marriage partner were to be decided at this age. Even Harold is the same」
「Yes. Since I am meeting someone as cute as Erika-san for the first time, even I am feeling nervous」
Since more than half of it was the truth, it wasn’t as though he was using flattery, but differing from Erika, due to his manner of speech which seemed to have ample composure, it could be heard as flattery.
Even though his tone had changed, the similarity didn’t disappear. It was as though the boy known as Harold had no relations to an attitude which was meek or modest.
「Well dear, since they have especially come here, how about leaving Harold and Erika together so that they can talk unreservedly?」
「Oo, that would be good!」
Hayden jumps at Koyomi’s suggestion.
From here on, serious talks about the engagement would start. For Koyomi, it was unbearable to make her daughter, who actually hated this, listen to the talk. This was concern, which came from her parental affection for her daughter.
「Right. Erika, show Harold-kun around for a little while. So that you would come back by around dinner time」
「………Alright. Well then, Harold-sama, this way please」
However, for Kazuki, this was a godsend*. There was no need for Kazuki himself to broach the subject to create a situation like this.
(TL – It is actually watari ni fune, which translates to a boat coming at a crossing, which is a Japanese proverb for help arriving at the correct time)
「It is an honor to be escorted by Erika-san」
Standing up, he followed Erika and left the Japanese-style room.
From here, it was a crucial moment for Kazuki.