Chapter 3 – Conferring of Peerage

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How did it come to this? Chrono asked himself while staring up to the ceiling.

Last night he slept with Layla after getting swept away by his instincts and the circumstances without even trying to make an effort to clear up the misunderstanding. Now he wondered whether it had really been such a good idea to have done something so insincere.

When he looked next to him while pondering about all that, he could see Layla gently snoring.

Right now I’m laying next to a beauty I’d never have been able to get close to in my previous world.

Considering it like that, he felt that his current situation wasn’t all that bad.

Now that we’ve done it, it can’t be helped anymore. It’s no use crying over spilt milk. I’m sure, tomorrow will take care of itself.

“…Ngh.”

Layla moaned lightly, and her eyelashes trembled slightly.

“…Lord Chrono?”

“You can sleep in a bit longer, you know?”

Layla nodded and nestled up to him like a puppy.

“Lift your head a bit.”

“Hmm? Okay.”

As soon as Layla raised her head despite being perplexed, Chrono slid his arm underneath it.

“Now, lower it just like that.”

“Umm, that’s…”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Layla lowered her head somewhat hesitatingly on Chrono’s arm.

“Umm, I wasn’t a bother for you, was I?”

“If I had to describe my feelings, I’d say I felt startled.”

When Chrono played around with her pointed ears, Layla squinted her eyes, looking comfortable.

“Excuse me. I felt like I would never be able to become happy if I were to miss this chance…so I lost my reasoning.”

Layla cast her eyes down in embarrassment, but the same could be also said about Chrono.

“Are you happy now?”

“Yes, I am. Besides, it was my first time to be treated so cherishingly…”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

 

 

“Why?”

“I think you can guess yourself, but it was my first time.”

Once he recalled the events of last night, his cheeks felt hot. Chrono was convinced that he had read up on sex quite a bit, but fictional stories were just that – fictional.

“…I’m sorry. Umm, it would have been great if I could have given you my first time as well, but…” Layla answered with what sounded a bit like groaning.

“No, if you apologize to me for something like that, I feel slightly stumped as to what to answer.” Chrono scratched his cheek.

Virginity wasn’t anything you were supposed to protect, but rather something to get rid of. No matter how you thought about it, it wasn’t anything that followed the principles of equal exchange.

Still, yesterday night Layla was super cute~ Chrono grinned to himself.

“……Lord Chrono.”

Layla stared in the direction of Chrono’s feet ― or precisely, his nether region where his dick had gotten lively again.

“…I’m sorry, but this is normal in the mornings.”

“N-No problem, please love me as much as you want.”

“Thank you.”

Chrono sat up, and just when he was about to get on top of Layla, a knocking could be heard from the door.

“What a shitty timing!”

“Lord Chrono, it’s time for work, so it can’t be helped.”

“Ugh, I really don’t wanna go, though.”

Chrono got off the bed, and put on his pants.

“Layla, hide under the blanket.”

“Okay,” she answered and pulled the blanket over herself.

Another knocking could be heard from the door.

“Juuust a second! I’ll open the door in a moment!”

Once Chrono opened the door, he found Tilia standing in the corridor.

“…”

Chrono silently closed the door. But, as soon as furious knocking assailed the door, he lightly opened the door again.

“Why did you close it?”

“I thought I saw an illusion. By the way, why are you here, Tilia?”

“Well, there’s something I want to tell you.”

“Wouldn’t you send a messenger at times like these?”

“Usually yes, but I entrusted Sitter with putting the documents in order. So I had no choice but to come here myself.” Tilia’s nostrils swelled in pride. “It looks like it’ll take a bit of time, so would it be okay for me to come in?”

“No!”

“Why not?” Tilia tilted her head in confusion.

There’s no way I can tell her that it’s because Layla is sleeping in my bed――

“Ah, t-that is, oh! It’s messy in here since I just got up!”

“I don’t really mind though, you know?”

“But I mind! Look, even if I might be a guy, it doesn’t mean that I want a girl to see my messy room!”

“I don’t really get it, but forcing you would be bad as well. Okay, I’ll wait for you in my office then.”

“I’ll come there at once.”

“Okay, I’ll be waiting.” Tilia nodded, and turned on her heels.

After he had confirmed that Tilia went downstairs, Chrono closed the door.

“…Lord Chrono.”

“As you’ve heard, I’ll be going to her office now. Layla, you do the usual. Also, we’re in a relationship now, but you’re not allowed to act all high and mighty towards your colleagues, okay?”

“Of course.”

Chrono felt relieved in his mind. In the past his mother, who had been working part-time, had complained about a female coworker becoming arrogant immediately after she had started to date the manager.

 

———— End of Part 1 ————

 

When Chrono entered the office in the marquis’s mansion, Tilia was already sitting behind her desk, waiting for him. As something had apparently happened, she looked quite displeased, although he had seen her just a dozen of minutes ago.

“You’re slow.”

“I hurried as much as I could.”

“Hoh. I was certain you had been flirting with your half elf, though.”

Chrono felt a shock as if a nail had been driven into his heart, but he pretended to be calm as he asked Tilia, “What are you talking about?”

“I received a report from a subordinate…”

“Didn’t your subordinate just mishear?”

“I understand,” Tilia sighed lightly, “but, a half elf is a bad idea.”

“Why?”

“Because of the difference in social standing. Love crossing social status tends to be glorified, but reality isn’t as kind.”

“Tilia, do you have experience in romantic relationships?”

“Obviously I don’t. This is just the common opinion.”

“Okay, and?”

“In case of differences in statuses, your partner doesn’t see you, but the money behind you. The assets connected to you who’s going to inherit the Baron Chroford peerage in the future.”

“You’re really amazing, Tilia.”

“That’s only natural. Even though I may look like this, I’m still a proper imperial princess.”

Chrono had said this with the intention to make a sarcastic comment, but Tilia’s nostrils swelled up in pride.

“Did you now understand why I told you that a half elf would be a bad idea?”

“Hmm, well, I did understand the reason.”

But, he continued in his mind, although Layla might be calculative just like Tilia has said, she has desired me as someone who’s given up on many things because she’s a half elf. That should be a decision requiring quite a bit of courage.

Of course, this was all in Chrono’s head, but he wanted to trust Layla who had told him, 『My love will be yours alone』.

Well, if I explained all this to her, she’d likely become angry, Chrono sighed softly.

“So, what kind of business do you have with me?”

“You see, as a matter of fact…I have good and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”

“The bad news.”

“Okay,” Tilia nodded, “then, as for the bad news…Marquis Erakis is dead.”

“I see.”

“That’s a really weak reaction. I thought you’d be a lot more surprised.”

“I’d be surprised had you said he ran away, but him dying isn’t that much of a shock.”

Even if a person sentenced to death dies, anyone would simply shrug it off.

“What’s the cause of death?”

“Poison. It looks like he carried it on him.”

“Really?”

“Are you asking me whether I poisoned him?” Tilia responded huffily to Chrono’s question.

“That’s not what I think, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if someone else wanted to seal his mouth for good.”

“The possibility of that is low.”

“Why?”

“He was being guarded.”

“I see.”

“I wouldn’t be so careless as to leave him unattended.”

“Okay I got it, Marquis Erakis killed himself. But, I’m baffled that you can sit here like nothing happened.”

“Hmm? Ah, you mean this chair here?” Tilia leaned back. “It’s quite comfortable to sit on.”

“There was no opposition?”

“If they had said anything towards that end, I’d have been forced to tear down the marquis’s mansion.” Tilia said indifferently.

“So, what’s the good news then?”

“The successor of Marquis Erakis has been decided.”

Chrono felt a chill creep up his spine when he saw Tilia smiling broadly.

“Is it okay for me to go back now?”

“No. Or rather, why are you always trying to leave?”

“It’s not always. Only when I have a bad premonition.”

“So you always get a bad premonition whenever I try to talk with you?”

“Hmm, most of the time, yes.”

“I’m sorry to tell you, but your premonition is wrong.” Tilia revealed a triumphant smile.

But then Tilia remained silent when confronted with Chrono timidly asking her, “Then you’re saying that it’s not me who’s going to succeed as Marquis Erakis, right?”

“How did you know?” Tilia groaned.

“I had a bad premonition.” Chrono sighed deeply.

“Anyway, you’re the successor. Starting today, you’re Marquis Erakis.”

“Can I refuse?”

“Why would you?” Tilia asked in return with a serious look.

“It’s impossible for me. I’m a beginner when it comes to managing a territory, and I must succeed the Chroford Barony in the future.”

The Chroford Barony was at the Empire’s southern tip whereas the Erakis March lay close to the northwestern edge of the Empire. If both territories had been close, it might have worked out one way or another, but with them being so far apart, it’d be impossible to simultaneously rule both in any decent way.

“How many years will it take for you to succeed the Chroford Barony? Wouldn’t it be alright to come up with measures in the meantime?”

“I think you’ve got a point there, but is it okay for you to decide on a new lord at your own discretion?”

“It’s not ideal, but we’re in a state of emergency. Father will probably approve of it as well.” Tilia answered while furrowing her eyebrows into a difficult look.

“I’d like to ask one thing: Why me?”

“…Hmm.” Tilia folded her arms while pondering. “It’s hard to explain in a few words, but basically it’s because I’m expecting a lot from you.”

“That’s not hard to understand at all.”

Chrono’s whole body heated up by her unexpected evaluation of him, but he faked calmness.

“But, those are my honest feelings. You were a lost cause when it came to practical skill and school learning, but――”

“That’s an awful way to put it.”

“Really? I tried to keep in mind to not be too hard on you, though.”

“How’s that not too hard on me?”

“I said you were a lost cause, didn’t I? Doesn’t that sound somewhat cute?”

“No, not quite.”

“I see.” Tilia furrowed her eyebrows and cast her eyes down a bit. “So, what are you going to do?”

“I know, I know. I’ll do it.”

“That’s great to hear.” Tilia smiled in obvious satisfaction.

“By the way, what kind of budget do I have?”

“None.” Tilia replied instantly.

“I think my hearing might have failed me. Your Highness, how much funds for the necessary activities would you be willing to allot to your humble servant?”

“I told you already, none. After paying the severance pay for the dismissed servants, not a single brass coin was left in the mansion’s vault.”

“You even dismissed the servants?”

“It wouldn’t be a good idea to keep the servants, who had served Marquis Erakis. It was better to have them resign by paying a generous severance pay. Or do you think it’d have been better to kick them out without paying them anything?”

“That’s not it, but how am I going to rule the territory without money or people?”

“You can levy taxes if you manage to hold out until the tenth month.”

“The problem is how I’m supposed to pull through until then!”

It’d have been better for me to turn it down, if things were going to turn out like this, Chrono sighed.

“Tell me, how am I supposed to levy taxes if I don’t have any administrative officials?”

“I’ll leave my subordinates with you to cover that side.”

“Is it okay for you to do that?”

“I’ve brought them with me for this reason in the first place. So, as you can see, you don’t need to worry about administrative officials.”

 

 

“For now I need to get a read on the state of the territory.”

“In that case, I’ll provide you with the necessary information.” Tilia picked up a parchment. “I’m told the unpaid wages amount to 60,000 gold coins.”

“What!?” Chrono screamed in reflex.

“If you deduct the wages of those who died in battle, the amount seems to drop to 39,000 gold coins.”

“Even that is a terrifying sum of money. So what are you telling me to do, seeing how indebted this territory has become?”

“What, since a while ago, it’s all about money, money, and money.”

“If you hadn’t paid out the severance pay for all servants without thinking it over, it wouldn’t have turned out like this, Tilia.”

“No, well, I feel sorry about that, but…”

“Now it’s too late anyway. I’ll somehow handle the budget from my side.” Chrono left the office with a sigh.

 

————- End of Part 2 ————-

 

 

 


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