Chapter 14 – Erich-nii-san

This chapter is the edited version of another translation. You can find the original chapter post here.

Please notice that this chapter has NOT been re-translated but only edited in order to improve the readability.

Please be sure to thank the translator in the link provided above, if you wish to express your gratitude.

This chapter was merely moved to this blog as the original blog has been inactive for quite a while.

By no rights Infinite Novel Translations claims ownership of the translation.

ED: Garit, Loxy, Stephen


 

“So… from here each of our lives will change…” (Wendelin)

Yesterday, Father informed the family that Kurt, who had turned 26 this year, is finally getting married. The wedding will be held in a few days when the bride arrives, so preparations must be made. To that end, Erich and I head into the forest in hopes of hunting and gathering.

Although a bit gauche and lacking some of the more ornate trappings one would expect, this wedding will still be fit for a noble couple. In a remote, countryside village with nothing in it, the wedding of a noble family allows the local population, that is generally starved for entertainment, to celebrate.

What it all boils down to is that there will be hundreds of people who will come to the wedding reception to eat and drink. That means a huge amount of food and liquor is needed. In the end, the Baumeister House will be expected to bear that cost.

But it can’t be helped. It would be troublesome if Father were to fail to put together a sufficiently grand wedding reception, as he would be viewed as stingy. A stingy noble is prone to many pitfalls.

Although we are usually forced to endure tasteless brown bread and bland vegetable soup, custom dictates that we not eat them at the reception. We must prepare a proper feast and provide enough liquor to convince the wedding guests that the supply is endless.

In addition to the food and booze, the groom must have new formal clothes made. That’s because, in addition to the dowry, the bride’s family will prepare new clothes and accessories for her to wear and the groom can’t show up looking shabby by comparison.

We are just poor nobles and, in light of the money and material losses that we sustained by recklessly sending troops to the Demon Forest, we can barely afford to rebuild the basic societal structures of the territory, let alone finding a wife for Kurt. I bet the family has been saving for a long time to ensure that it can afford to hold this ceremony.

Normally, noble families ensure their sons are married before the age of 20. Our tragic recent past is the only reason that Kurt is still single at the age of 26.

“It’s good that Kurt is getting married.” (Wendelin)

Honestly, I have no desire to inherit a frontier territory with nothing but a few poor villages in it. Of course, as the eighth son I had no shot at inheriting from the start. Since my time with Master, my only dream has been to become independent as quickly as possible and begin my new life as an adventurer.

“But isn’t it too soon to lose my other brothers?” (Wendelin)

After the wedding ceremony, my brothers will have to leave the territory to seek their independence. When a non-inheriting noble son leaves the house, it is customary for the family head to provide him with a sum of money, which serves as an implied apology from a father to a son that cannot succeed his title.

Although not a particularly sizable sum, in a poor territory like our own it takes time to prepare for the concurrent departure of so many unlanded sons.

What this means for the Baumeister House is that, aside from me (who, at seven, is too young to depart) and the second son, Hermann, all of the other sons (meaning sons three through five) will shortly depart to make a life for themselves elsewhere. Hermann is yet to marry, and will stay behind as a backup for Kurt (in the unlikely event that he suddenly dies). In a few weeks Hermann will be married to the eldest daughter of our retainer house, which is related to the Baumeister House by blood.

When a retainer family breaks off from a noble household it is known as a “branch family”. In this case, the branch family was established a few generations ago when my great grandfather was the family head. My great uncle, as previous head of the branch family, had been the commander assigned to lead the Baumeister troops into the Demon Forest in support of Margrave Bethilde. He was killed in battle and along with his heir. In fact, none of his sons returned home after that campaign.

My great uncle’s granddaughter now has priority to inherit, and the household is being managed, albeit barely, by one of her relatives. Hermann is engaged to that granddaughter and, upon their marriage, he will succeed as the head of that house.

I mean, if the setting weren’t so pitifully small this story could make for a decent soap opera.

Anyway, with all of these seminal changes at hand, our Baumeister family was hurriedly preparing for the wedding. Which leads back to me and Erich going to the forest today.

With a grand feast a few days away and a shoestring budget to prepare with, Father ordered me to gather the ingredients necessary to prepare the many dishes we will be serving.

He also decided to send Erich with me for some reason. I don’t want anyone to know that I can use magic, but I need to somehow show my brother my hunting prowess, which supplies food to my family every day, without letting him see me use magic.

Of everyone in this world, Erich is the one with whom I am the closest, so it would pain me greatly to have to deceive him, but it is impossible for a seven-year-old like me to hunt effectively without using magic.

“You don’t have to hold back, you can use magic.” (Erich)

Erich interrupts my internal monologue. He must have noticed that I’ve been agonizing over how to get out of this jam.

“Oh?” (Wendelin)

I’m surprised, but not exactly speechless. Although I made efforts to conceal my abilities from the others, I never imagined that they were clueless.

Thinking about it logically, it seems pretty obvious. How else could a family get comfortable sending their seven year old child into a dangerous forest full of wolves and bears? The fact that they let me come here every day was proof that they had their suspicions. Suspicion presumably turned to supposition and eventually certainty when I obtained unnaturally favorable hunting results day after day.

Magic that improves strength and speed can make the otherwise powerless appear capable, though the degree of that capability is proportionate to the strength of the user’s magic. Still, many magicians are able to use this sort of magic in some form. One of the reasons that my family was not worried about me entering the forest alone was because they had always assumed that I could use this sort of magic. The fact that they allowed me to continue to enter the forest stands as tacit consent to the continued use of this sort of magic.

“You’re a smart boy… So much so that if I didn’t know better I wouldn’t think that you were only seven.” (Erich)

The day I was transported into this world and became Wendelin I had been shown a dream that contained his memories from before I arrived. So I know that before I became Wendelin he had never shown any talent for magic. However, he ‘was’ a bookworm that often recused himself to Father’s study, which is distinctly abnormal behavior for a child of his age.

So maybe we actually had more in common than I thought.

“Right. Father, Mother, and our brothers—the whole family knew about your magical talent except for you.” (Erich)

It makes sense, but I had never been sure because I always assumed that if my family knew they would have asked me to use my magic to develop the territory.

I was about to ask as much, but Erich preempted my question.

“If you were to demonstrate your magic to the people of the territory it would almost certainly result in a succession crisis.” (Erich)

In this world the eldest son is given priority when it comes time to inherit titles and land. However, this priority is not absolute, and the noble himself often has much discretion when choosing his heir. This is true from the royal family all the way down to lowly country knights.

However, the noble’s discretion is limited by the legal status of the children. This means that children born to a legal wife will always receive priority over children born to a mistress.

The Baumeister House is a reasonable case study. Mother was born to a noble house of similar status to our own and wed Father as his legal wife. Leila, on the other hand, is the daughter of the village headman. The village headman and his wife are common, which social status was passed on to Leila. As a commoner, Leila cannot wed Father, so she became his mistress.

All of the sons born from the union of Father and Mother have the legal status necessary to inherit. Among those sons, Father has absolute discretion to decide his heir. However, so long as there exists a living legal son, it would be extremely difficult for Father to choose a bastard son as his heir. This means that, while Father has discretion to pass on his title and lands to Leila’s sons, to do so while any of Mother’s sons are still alive would invite extreme criticism, severely damaging the house’s reputation and social relations. Because of this, it is unheard of for a noble to exercise his discretion in this way.

However, if there exists no living legal son, Father would have discretion to either name one of his bastard sons as his heir or marry his eldest legal daughter to a suitable suitor and then name that suitor as his heir. (Ed. obviously, women can’t inherit.)

In summation, a child’s legal status is based on the legal status of the relationship of the parents. There exists a presumption that the eldest legal son will be the heir, which presumption can be overridden by the father, in his sole discretion. By contrast, there is an irrebuttable presumption that a legal son will inherit over a bastard son or the husband of a legal daughter. Finally, as between a legal son-in-law and a bastard son, the discretion again vests to the father.

It’s a fairly complex system, but it is designed to minimize the number of succession crises that break out in the kingdom. Still, any time that there is discretion there is the possibility of a succession crisis, so these decisions have the potential to lead to bloodshed. If a succession crisis becomes bloody or protracted enough to be noticed by the royal family, the house in question may have its territory reduced as punishment if order cannot be quickly restored. In severe cases the noble house may have its peerage demoted, resulting in a lower noble rank for whichever party prevails in the dispute.

“I’m sure that you want to leave this territory just as much as the rest of us, right?” (Erich)

“Yes, I want to become an adventurer.” (Wendelin)

“If that’s your goal you shouldn’t use your magic to develop this territory. Father is aware of how dangerous it could be if you do, so he understands.” (Erich)

“Really?” (Wendelin)

“He can’t read kanji, but he’s still the head of a noble family. He knows full well how wrong things can go when it comes to matters of succession.” (Erich)

Erich explains that, if I were to use my magic to develop the territory, Father predicts that some of the villagers and retainers will begin to whisper things like “since Wendelin is able to use magic, he is more suitable as the future Baumeister family head.” If that is allowed to happen, the population would split into factions and chaos would ensue.

“Our problems will only be compounded by the failed expedition to the Demon Forest, as there are those in the territory that are looking for any excuse to stand in opposition to Father and the Baumeister House.” (Erich)

Forget about the development of agricultural land, if a bloody conflict between factions were to break out in this territory there wouldn’t be enough manpower leftover to sustain our current operations. Even if they raise taxes afterward in the name of repairing the damage wrought by the incident, that would also sow the seeds of dissent among the people.

The people of the territory are extremely critical of the fact that the Baumeister head family did not sustain even a single victim in the expedition to the Demon Forest. To them, it seems like Father ordered their friends and family to certain doom while protecting the members of his own family.

“The fact that we had no casualties in the head family seems only more egregious when juxtaposed to the sacrifice made by the branch family, which lost our great uncle and his three sons in the campaign.” (Erich)

Due to those losses, only women remain in the branch family. That’s why Hermann will take over the house once his marriage is consummated. As a result, the branch family bears us great malice.

“So, it’s best if you don’t openly advertise your magic.” (Erich)

Erich is probably right. I would imagine that there are plenty of people who would cause a stir if my magic became common knowledge.

“Though there might be people who have their suspicions already, that is a very different state of play than if you put your magic on display.” (Erich)

“Got it, I’ll stick to the forest.” (Wendelin)

“When you turn 15 you can leave the house without a second thought.” (Erich)

“Personally, I’d prefer to leave sooner.” (Wendelin)

Knowing that I might get dragged into the politics of the territory only makes me want to get out of here all the more.

 


<– Previous Chapter | Glossary | Next Chapter –>

3 Comments

  1. He knew?!
    OH MY GOD. WHAT. A SURPRISE *mock gasp*

  2. Thank ya very much for the translation, translator! Many thanks towards the Author!!

Leave a Reply to abyssdarkfire Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.