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“Pheew, thanks for the meal.”
Chrono leaned back in his chair after finishing his lunch. He knew that it was bad manners, but no one was present to criticize him here inside the lord’s exclusive dining room. At least it was supposed to be like that, but――
“How about you mind your manners a bit more?” The landlady scolded him while placing his tableware on an ornamented tray.
“I’ll behave properly in front of others.”
“Manners and etiquette are things you ought to observe everyday.”
“Otherwise it’ll show when in public?”
“What, so you do understand, don’t you? Because that’s how it works, you gotta shape up. Shape up and watch your manners.”
The landlady tried to leave, but then she suddenly stopped and looked back at Chrono for some reason.
“Is something the matter?”
“I was just bothered because you’re making such a sad face.”
Chrono touched his own face, but of course he couldn’t tell.
The landlady put down the tray, and sat down opposite of him, “Is something gnawing at you? Or was there anything you disliked about the food?”
“Nothing is gnawing at me and all of your food tasted great.”
“Really?” The landlady raised an eyebrow in doubt, but Chrono really had no worries plaguing him, nor did he dislike any of the dishes.
“…Come to think of it…”
“What, so there’s something bothering you after all. So, what is it?” The landlady leaned forward.
Her voluptuous breasts changed their shape as they were pressed against the table, and her cleavage became even deeper.
“I was just thinking that you’re recently not wearing your miniskirt maid attire.”
“Ah, that’s somewhat for a reason,” she answered while faltering to be clear about it.
What kind of reason could that be? What I could think of――
“Did someone possibly point out your age?”
“If you understand as much, you don’t really need to spell it out, do you!?” The landlady shouted.
It was unclear whether she was pissed or simply embarrassed, but her face was bright red.
“Personally I find it totally suitable for you, though.”
“Oh, how kind of you!” The landlady averted her face, sulking.
After staying silent for a while, she cast a fleeting glance at Chrono.
“So you don’t dislike seeing me in that outfit, Lord Chrono?”
“Just as I told you moments ago, I think it suits you perfectly.”
“R-Really? But, I was told to think of my age, so…”
“I don’t think you need to mind such comments, you know?”
Probably Elena has told her that. Or maybe Arided and Deneb.
“Naturally it’ll cause me to reassess things if I’m told so by a young woman.”
“Okay, so how about you wear it only when we’re alone?”
The landlady sent a look at him as if watching a bug. Apparently she didn’t like his suggestion at all.
“Does that mean when I’m in your room, Lord Chrono?”
“Be it your room, the kitchen, or wherever. Any place where it’s possible for us to be alone would be fine with me.”
“Please give me a break.”
“I’m being serious here, just so you know.”
“That is…I just said it because you pulled a face like an abandoned puppy.”
“Aww, not being able to stay with you makes me really lonely,” Chrono fell prostrate on the table and clasped the landlady’s hand.
In response, she trembled with a start, “Even if you tell me something like that, it remains a no.”
Even though she was denying him, the landlady didn’t try to shake off his hand. Chrono assumed that not all hope was lost here.
“Would it be better if I attacked you more forcefully?”
“W-What are you b-blathering about!?” She turned away.
Her cheeks were flushed, apparently out of shame.
Once Chrono let go of her hand and stood up, the landlady whimpered quietly, “Ah…,” with a voice full of regret. Apparently becoming aware of that herself, her face became even redder and she hung her head in embarrassment. It was an awfully innocent reaction, making Chrono suspect that she hadn’t experienced this kind of treatment overly often. He had several ideas, but if she had someone to rely on in the first place, she shouldn’t have thought of turning Chrono into her patron. A part of him thought that it was unthinkable, but his curiosity as to how far he could push her if he used pushier methods won out.
Chrono went around behind the landlady. Her flushed nape looked charming. Once he touched her shoulder, her body quivered. But, that was all. He let his hands slip underneath her clothes, and touched her big tits. They were magnificent as they combined softness and heaviness. Once he put some strength into his hands, his fingers sank into her soft flesh. Wondering how much further they’d sink, he put some more strength into it.
“Ouch! W-Wait a sec! Stop it!” The landlady lifted a hand, probably planning to slap Chrono’s hands away.
As it couldn’t be helped, he pulled his hands out of her cleavage.
“Sheesh, so early in the day and yet――gh!”
She gasped. Chrono had extended his hand from her sides and groped her tits. She reacted by grabbing his hands, but her grip was feeble.
“Hey! Seriously, give it a break.”
“Do you really want me to stop?”
Chrono moved his hands as if drawing circles, causing her hand to move together with his. He wanted to keep going as far as he could, but he’d decided to go on an inspection in the afternoon.
‘No choice. Let’s pull back after getting her to promise a visit for tonight. I want to become a respected boss for her.
“Are we going to do it in broad daylight?” The landlady asked shrilly.
“…Yeah, I don’t have anything planned for the afternoon.”
Chrono agreed after a short pause.
Sorry, I’m a weak man, Chrono apologized to his men from the bottom of his heart while caressing the landlady’s tits.
“So, it’s fine, isn’t it?”
“……As if it would be!!” She yelled and jumped up.
After distancing herself from Chrono, she fixed her clothes that got disheveled around her chest.
“I almost got swept along with your whims. Lord Chrono, you’re the lord, so you must do your job properly.”
“I wouldn’t have minded you getting swept along, though.”
“I-I’m going back to my own work, so you make sure to do your job as well!”
The landlady picked up the tray and stomped out of the room.
She just needed another push, Chrono sighed and also left the dining room.
Thereupon, he ran into Layla who was standing in the hallway. She was wearing plain clothes instead of her usual uniform. The same clothes Chrono had previously bought for her at the Picks Company.
“Is something the matter?”
“Err, umm, that is…do you have anything planned, Lord Chrono?”
“I thought about going on inspection next.”
“Okay, please allow me to accompany you then.”
“You sure? If you have anything else to do…”
“Nothing of urgency. But, if my presence causes trouble to――”
“No, not at all,” Chrono quickly interrupted, seeing Layla lowering her eyes sorrowfully.
He knew the state of the city fairly well, but it was important to receive new input by hearing opinions coming from a different angle. Besides, he was happy since it’d be kind of like going on a date.
“Me, as your boss, taking you around on your day off might be a bit awkward, but could I ask you anyway?”
“Yes, of course,” Layla cheerfully agreed, but Chrono thought that he had to make it up to her someday.
“Okay, let us be off then.”
“Sure, I am in your hands.”
Layla started to walk as soon as Chrono did, resulting in them advancing through the mansion’s hallways side-by-side.
“Come to think of it, how are things with Arided and Deneb?”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, sorry. I abbreviated it too much. Look, we got new soldiers as reinforcements, so Arided and Deneb have been promoted to centurions, right? So I was wondering whether they’re doing their new job properly.”
“Hmm,” Layla sank into silence.
When Chrono looked at her, she was furrowing her eyebrows, pulling a troubled expression. Seeing her like that, Chrono became worried whether the two elves were really carrying out their work as centurions properly.
“Ultimately it’s just my personal opinion, but I think they are doing their work as commanding officers efficiently.”
“Well yeah, they do seem like they’d know the ropes.”
For some reason, however, Chrono could only imagine them playing truant instead of working hard at their new duties――
“It is enviable. Since I lack efficiency…”
“Layla, I believe you’re doing fine.”
“Thank you,” Layla answered with a weak smile.
Chrono suspected that she had interpreted his words just now as polite lip service. But, those were his real impressions. He thought she was doing her work decently, and on top of that, she was studying diligently, too.
“I’m certain, you have a talent for working hard, Layla.”
“A talent for working hard?” Layla asked with confusion blurring her voice.
“Putting lots of effort into something is incredible, you know?”
“I think it is just normal though…”
“Sure. But, you have to understand that doing so while considering it as normal is quite hard.”
Chrono recalled his time at the military academy. Leaving aside his theoretical classes, the results of his practical classes were a disaster. He invested effort into it, but to no avail. That led to him being ridiculed by his classmates every day.
If he hadn’t been aware that he was only able to go to the academy because of the taxes paid by the population of his foster parents’ fief, he’d have lost all hope then and there.
Chrono and Layla’s original situations were completely different, but continuing to put in lots of work into something was tremendous.
“That’s why you have a talent for working hard.”
“Thanks a lot, Lord Chrono.”
As they proceeded through a hallway, they soon heard maids cheerfully calling out to them.
“”Thank you for your hard work, Lord Chrono.””
“Same to you girls.”
Chrono and Layla passed the elven and dwarven maids while exchanging a light greeting.
They’re probably grinning so broadly because I’m with Layla. Well, say what you want, even if they used to have served as soldiers before, they’re still women. And although it might be somewhat biased, I still think it’s a fact that women love to gossip about romantic relationships.
Looking next to him, he found Layla bashfully looking downwards.
“How is Ms. Shion’s study group going?”
“Goldi and I haven’t been participating, but I hear everyone is studying diligently.”
Layla looked apologetic, probably feeling bad about not participating herself. But, that couldn’t be avoided. The content taught at the study group was too different to her current level, and on top of that, it’d place too much work on her.
“Arided and Deneb too?”
“Yes, those two have seriously been doing their best.”
“Hoh, how unexpected. I was sure those two would skip on studying.”
“They probably have something on their mind with this as well.”
“Well, as long as we get them to study earnestly, all is fine, I guess,” Chrono muttered.
Yet, he couldn’t imagine anything but those two chatting during the lessons without paying much attention to studying.
Chrono and Layla passed the entrance hall, and opened the exit door. As soon as they stepped out of the room, the air was filled with clanking coming from Goldi’s workshop, and they could see white steam rising from the paper mill. Feeling relieved that the two workshops were operating normally, Chrono tried to continue with his inspection, but――
“You have to swing it with a pshaw!”
Heating Fay’s voice, Chrono’s feet stopped. Once he looked in the direction of her voice, he found Fay and an approximately ten-years-old boy ― Tony who was being sheltered at the almshouse ― doing practice-swings.
“Teacher, what’s that pshaw? I don’t get it, so please explain it properly.” Tony cried out miserably while stopping to swing his arms.
“Explain it properly, you say?” Fay also rested her hands, sinking into silence.
Her appearance of pushing out her lower lips while knitting her eyebrows had a certain charm to it.
“It is pshaw! Pshaw, I tell you!”
“That ain’t any different from before,” Tony replied with a fed-up voice.
Chrono guessed that this kind of exchange had been going on for a while now.
“Be more polite if you speak to others!”
“…” Tony sighed very deeply.
That caused Fay to lift an eyebrow.
As might be expected, she probably won’t rely on violence, but it looks very unlikely that things will get resolved at this rate.
“Fay, you’re working hard today as well, aren’t you?”
Once Chrono walked up to her with Layla in tow, Fay straightened her back and saluted – placing the right fist on her left chest which was the imperial salute of Cepheus. As you’d expected from a former imperial knight, it was a flawless salute.
“Come to think of it, where are Mash and Sophia?”
“Those two were…”
Fay’s face screwed up into an awkward grimace when Chrono mentioned the name of the other two children who used to be together with Tony. It gave him a bad premonition and he earnestly hoped that those two didn’t get injured――
“Those two were…,” Fay mumbled under her breath.
Her voice was so faint that Chrono wondered whether she’d said anything. He looked at Layla. As an elf, she should be able to tell whether Fay had said something, Chrono assumed.
“Those two were――”
“Do not talk about it!”
Being interrupted by Fay, Layla turned a questioning look at Chrono. He nodded at her, and she nodded back.
“Those two were won over by Lady Shion, she said.”
“Argh! Why did you tell him!?”
Probably out of embarrassment over having two pupils run on her, Fay covered her face with both hands and went down on her knees.
“Noo! It is all over!”
“Why would you talk as if the world’s going to end any moment now?”
“You will doubt my ability to lead others because of this! My path to success has been closed off! The revival of the Muhlifain family will remain no more than a dream within a dream!”
“…Those lines are so egoistic that it’s actually refreshing in a way.”
Is that maybe the reason? Chrono asked Tony with his eyes.
“Teacher might be egoistic, but――”
“Why do you not back me up!?” Fay jumped up and shouted, interrupting Tony.
“No, look, isn’t Lord Chrono someone who might become my boss? He’s also paying for the almshouse. So I can’t really lie to someone like that.”
“You are announcing your rivalry!? Already planning to kick your own teacher down as a pupil at such a young age is terrifying! Far too terrifying! I have accepted a demon’s child as a pupil!”
Fay trembled all over as she stared at Tonya. Meanwhile, the boy looked totally flabbergasted.
“Both of them seem to like studying, so it’s inevitable, no?”
“Ugh, has the era of swords come to an end?”
“But, I like swordsmanship. Making a living with the sword is so damn awesome, isn’t it?”
“Indeed, it is! It is cool, isn’t it!? Coolness is justice!”
Fay had groaned full of regret, but Tonya’s words allowed her to recover her spirit.
“But, I think studying is important, too.”
“I-I have heard that Lord Chrono became the lord of this place after achieving glory on the battlefield.”
“That was…,” Chrono faltered to explain.
If he had to be honest, he wasn’t all that eager to talk about his battle against Argo. He didn’t think that his strategy was wrong, but emotionally he couldn’t come to terms with it.
“That was thanks to everyone. Me being able to become the lord was owed to me having been acquainted with Tilia.”
“Tilia? Ah, you mean Her Highness the Princess. But, how did you get to know her anyway?”
“We were in the same class at the academy. When I beat her during a military exercise, she got interested in me, or so it seems.”
“Was swordsmanship useful back then?”
“We won mostly through strategy. Swordsmanship didn’t play much of a role in it.”
That strategy wouldn’t have worked if Tilia had been slightly more careful.
“I’ll also do my best at studying.”
“Teacher, don’t pull such a teary face. I’ll also work hard at swordsmanship.”
“I-I see,” Fay breathed out in relief.
“Teacher, what about you?”
“I-I will make my career based on the sword! I will obtain achievements on the battlefields and succeed in reviving the Muhlifain family! Anyway, time to continue with the practice-swings! One-two, one-two――” Fay resumed her practice-swings, but suddenly her wooden sword slipped out of her fingers after the nth swing.
The sword drew a magnificent parabola as it flew, and then it fell on the stone paving with a clattering.
“Oh no, it slipped out of my hands. Showing something so unsightly in front of Lord Chrono, I am finished. My life is over.”
“Teacher, I think it’d be better for you to first train your mind and spirit,” Tony sighed very deeply while watching Fay who had become ashen pale.
“Are you fine with Fay as your teacher?”
“I mean, if I also quit, she’ll become all alone. So I can’t really leave her alone,” Tonya answered Chrono with a sigh.
Quite the level-headed boy, isn’t he? Even though he grew up as a boy without parents, it now looks like he’ll grow up as a pupil, even if his teacher is somewhat of a lost case.
“Okay, we’re off then. Let’s go, Layla.”
“Of course, Lord Chrono.”
Once Chrono started to walk towards the main gate, Layla followed him with a slight delay. He looked at the workshop. Not the paper mill, but Goldi’s smithy. The dwarves were working over there, but――
“Is something the matter, Lord Chrono?”
“I just wondered about Goldi not being present.”
“Is he not simply working at another place?”
“Maybe,” Chrono smiled wryly.
It looked as though Layla also didn’t expect Goldi to take a break. He wanted to know how the workshop was running, but with Goldi absent, Chrono gave up on the idea.
As they passed in front of the smithy, Layla spoke up, “Lord Chrono, would it be alright for us to link arms?”
“Thank you kindly.”
Layla breathed out in relief and gently wrapped her arm around his. Her soft chest got pressed against his arm.
Chrono’s face immediately became slovenly due to that touch of happiness.
When they had passed the main gate, Layla spoke up once more, “I think that strategy was correct.”
“――gh!” Chrono gasped.
No, it’s nothing to be surprised about. Layla is a clever girl.
Seeing him falter to speak, she should be able to imagine what he was thinking.
“There is no need for you to worry, Lord Chrono.”
“…That’s not how it works,” Chrono somehow managed to squeeze out, and decided that he wouldn’t dump all responsibility.
However if there was one thing bothering him, it’d be――
“Sorry. I’m fine,” answered Chrono with a smile.
It had clearly reminded him once again that he was an insincere guy while Layla was devoted to him. That’s why he didn’t want her to know that he almost tried to push away responsibility.
As he was thinking all that――
Chrono stopped upon the lovely voice calling out to him, just to see a girl running over as he looked in the direction of the voice. It was Alyssa’s daughter, Allison.
Allison came to a halt in front of Chrono. Unlike when he met her for the first time, she was now wearing a clean attire. Of course, her hair was properly groomed as well.
“Yo, Allison. How are you doing?”
“Great, thanks to you, Master,” replied Allison cheerfully.
As always, she acted humble and polite.
“You’re currently attending a private school, right?”
Allison’s expression clouded over, causing Chrono to wonder whether something happened.
Is she possibly being bullied?
He felt a shock as if an iron claw was gripping his heart, but he knew he ought to deal with it calmly here.
“D-Did something happen at school?”
“No, umm, it just looks like I am not overly suited for studying…please forgive me. Even though you went out of your way to make it possible for me to attend that school…”
Allison looked like she was about to cry any moment, but Chrono felt relieved.
“You don’t really need to worry about it so much.”
After giving her an eye signal, Layla nodded lightly and released her arm from Chrono’s. He walked up to Allison and went down on one knee to level their line of sight.
“Master, your clothes are going to become dirty!”
“Don’t mind that, and look in my eyes.”
Allison lifted her eyes. Chrono suspected that it might be fear which was dwelling in them. Of course he knew that him being the lord played a role as well, but her feeling of indebtedness towards her mother, Alyssa, should also be a part of it.
“Why do you believe that you aren’t really suited for studying?”
“It is because I cannot do it as well as the other children.”
“But that’s only natural. I mean, didn’t you start going to school just a little while ago?”
“B-But, I believe that I should produce results.”
“Why do you believe so?”
“That’s…I want to be of use to you, Master,” mumbled Allison under her breath, and became bright red, probably out of embarrassment.
“Thanks, I’m happy to hear that.”
“N-No! It is only reasonable because you kindly saved us, Master!”
Allison blushed even stronger when faced with Chrono’s smile. Even her ears had now turned crimson.
To be brutally honest, I feel like I don’t really know whether it’s good to decide on your goals while so small a child. But, if Allison has decided it for herself, I should respect her wishes. Just――
“You don’t have to hurry with this so much. Simply focus on solving one immediate problem after the other.”
“I-I want to become useful to you as quickly as possible.”
“It’ll be alright even without you being so impatient.”
“Ah, Master,” Allison yelped lightly when Chrono stroked her head.
“I’ll wait for you without fail.”
“Of course, you have my word.”
“Thank you. But, I wonder how many years it is going to take at the current rate.”
Although her face had visibly relaxed somewhat, he apparently couldn’t rid her of all worries.
“Allison, do you hate to study?”
“No, I do not.”
“Then everything’s fine. After all it’s said, one will do well with what one likes. Since one can get very zealous about one’s likes, they improve quickly. That’s why you’ll be okay, too.”
“Is…that so? Okay, I understand.” Allison smiled faintly.
It was a lovely smile, and if she’d been five years older, it might have become dangerous for Chrono.
“By the way…”
“What might be the matter?”
“White and Gray are looking this way from beneath the wall?”
“White? Gray?” Allison muttered and looked back.
At the end of her line of sight, she found White and Gray. They were looking this way. Since they wore their uniforms, Chrono didn’t think that they were off-duty, but――
While wondering about that description as both were wolfmen, Chrono stood back up and looked at the two. Meeting Chrono’s eyes, the two approached while appearing somewhat awkward.
“Umm, you’re acquainted?”
“Yes, we have been friends ever since I was selling flowers.”
Although it was a small town, Chrono found it to be a rather unexpected connection.
“You two, why were you watching us from over there?”
“We worried, so followed.”
Chrono fixed his eyes on the two. The two appeared to think of Allison as a friend, too.
“Doggies, I’m alright.”
“Wonderful. If something wrong, consult, involve.”
Allison silently walked up to them and pulled them into a hug.
Chrono walked through the business district while linking arms with Layla. As might be expected from an area where the most prominent company in the Empire had set up its branch store, the townscape over here looked more high-class.
“This place seems to be fin――”
“”Kinda found Lord Chrono!””
Two familiar voices interrupted Chrono. Once he looked back over his shoulder, Airded and Deneb were just rushing his way.
“Lord Chrono, you sure are a smooth operator to go on a date with Layla!”
“But, we kinda want you to pay attention to us as well, even if only a bit!”
The two girls circled around Chrono and Layla, moving in front of them, and adopted poses as kabuki players would use on stage.
“How rare for you two to be in the business district. Did you have some sort of business over here?”
“Well done to ask this, kinda!”
“Why are you asking, kinda?”
Their opinions diverted, causing a painful silence to descend.
Both had sunk silent and were just moving their eyes, checking each other’s state.
“I was kinda shopping at Picks!”
“I was kinda dragged along!”
“Ohh, so what did you buy?”
“This here, kinda!”
She took out a book – a thick book with a leather binding. It didn’t have a title.
Apparently having her interest piqued, Layla asked, “What kind of book is it?”
“Right now it’s no kind of book.”
“It’ll kinda be decided from now on.”
The two said in a form of riddles, resulting in Layla quizzically lifting an eyebrow.
“In other words, it’s a book with nothing written in it?”
Arided and Deneb clapped their hands.
“You just started studying――”
“It’s our future goal,” the one holding the book said while throwing out her chest.
“Layla, it’s kinda like an unspoken promise,” the one with empty hands commented with a sigh.
Chrono guessed Arided to be the one with the book, making Deneb the other.
“”What do you want, kinda?””
When Chrono beckoned them over, they approached without any vigilance whatsoever.
“I’ll caress your ears.”
“Please go ahead, kinda,” the one with the book pointed an ear in his direction.
Once he stroked it, she giggled.
“Next is me, kinda!”
As soon as he stroked her ear, her eyes became teary. With this Chrono knew: Arided was the one holding the book and Deneb was the other one. He recalled their exchange when he met them in the business district before. Apparently they had a rule that Arided would speak first before Deneb would follow her lead.
“Oki, we’ll kinda laze around a bit until the study meeting starts.”
“The third wheels are kinda dispersing.”
With those words, the two left. Chrono supposed they did so out of consideration after reading the mood.
“Let’s go, huh?”
“…Okay,” Layla answered after a short pause.
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After passing through the business district, they came out on a square. Chrono suspected that it had been added as a buffer zone between business and residential districts. Various stalls crowded the open space, resulting in fragrant aromas hanging over the area. The sources were the dishes sold at the stalls.
Chrono’s nose twitched.
It doesn’t stink rotten or anything. It might also have to do with the current season, but I think our policies in regards to garbage disposal are showing an effect, too. No, I guess that’s too optimistic.
He headed for the residential area, Layla hanging at his arm.
“Layla, are the garbage disposal policies working as intended?”
“It seems like the new rules have seeped into the minds of the people. Nowadays they are taking care of it without us having to caution them about it as much as before.”
“So there’s still people around who don’t observe the rules.”
“You have to keep in mind that those rules didn’t exist until you became the lord of this land, Lord Chrono.”
“I have to keep relying on you and the other demi-humans until the rules have become fully accepted, so I’m counting on you.”
“Please leave it to us,” Layla answered proudly.
Chrono regretted his own conceit. It wasn’t that the foul odor had thinned out because of the rules he had put in order, but rather because Layla and the others had steadily patrolled the city to make sure that people observed the new rules.
Crossing the square, they stepped into the residential area. Houses made out of bricks and wood rowed up over there. The whole district felt so chaotic that it couldn’t even begin to hold a candle to the business district, but Chrono preferred this kind of urban atmosphere. Watching kids playing around and women chatting calmed his heart.
“What are you going to do about the inspection of the almshouse?”
“For the time being, I’ll take a――”
“We got new jobs!”
Chrono’s words were interrupted by a highly-spirited voice. It came from the direction of the almshouse. Once he turned his eyes in that direction, he spotted a woman standing in front of the almshouse. She was one of the employees working over there.
Burly men, who were looking for work, stood in front of the employee while Shion was sitting at a desk behind her.
“This time you’ll be working for His Lordship! The task is to build new barracks! You’ll be paid three silver per day! It’s a tough job, but it’s a great chance for all those confident in their own strength and stamina! If that doesn’t apply to you, we also got garbage collection jobs! Those pay two silver per day!”
“I want to work at the construction site!”
“O-Okay! Construction work, was it? Please come over here!”
A man planted himself in front of the desk while Shion moved her quill.
“I’ll collect garbage!”
“Alright! Garbage collection, right!? Please wait a moment.”
The men swarmed towards Shion, all wanting to accept one or the other job. Chrono wanted to go greet her, but――
“What are you going to do?”
“Let’s leave them alone since they appear to be busy.”
“Okay,” Layla agreed.
Both of them quickly passed the almshouse. And as they went on, the landlady’s inn came into sight. No, now it’d be correct to call it the former inn of the landlady. Currently, one of Chrono’s former subordinates was running it after having turned it into a place for Chrono’s men to rest and relax.
They passed that place as well. As he had no business over there, it’d only be a nuisance if he dropped by. He had learned as much when he was unwelcome as a visitor during his sick visits.
Just when they finally reached the outer district of the city, Layla separated from Chrono and spontaneously came to a halt.
“Please forgive me. The outer district still has bad public order, so I will concentrate on my guard duty,” Layla explained with a tight expression.
Chrono touched the hilt of the sword hanging at his waist. He wanted to tell he a cool line like “I’ll protect you,” but he fully understood just how weak he was.
“I guess public order becomes bad, if the state of the area is bad.”
“I cannot tell. But, I think a certain amount of criminals will appear even in decent places.”
“You got a point there.”
Chrono remembered his time in Japan. Japan was a prosperous country, but crimes still existed. Completely eradicating crime was impossible. But, that didn’t mean one ought to give up on it. Even if he couldn’t save everyone, Chrono was the lord. He had an obligation to enrich his fief.
Layla started to walk, Chrono following behind. Fortunately, they didn’t run into any muggers.
Soon they arrived at the city gate. Leo and his men were checking a covered wagon over there. They were searching for dangerous, magic items and similar.
A well-built man ― Chrono suspected him to very likely be a peddler ― held out a small leather bag ― a bribe.
Leo shook his head, the man insisted on passing him the bag. Apparently getting irritated by the man’s persistence, Leo bared his fangs to intimidate the guy.
At that point, the man apparently understood that he wouldn’t get anywhere with a bribe and put the bag into his pocket. A short while later, the covered wagon started to move.
After making sure that no further wagons waited for inspection, Chrono called out to Leo, “Good work.”
“Yes, Sir!” Leo straightened his back and saluted, his subordinates following suit.
“Stand at ease.”
Leo stopped his salute.
“I saw it. Does it often happen that merchants try to bribe you?”
“We have been turning them down all the time, so the number of merchants trying to do so has decreased significantly.”
“Okay, keep up the good work then,” Chrono praised their work once more.
My fief is improving because my men are doing their best. I must become a boss who doesn’t make them feel ashamed.
“Lord Chrono, are you on inspection?”
“Yep. I thought I should check out the state of progress for the reclamation and the construction of the new barracks.”
“I see. If possible, could you also inspect the parade ground?”
“The parade ground, you say?”
“Adjutant Mino is working the new recruits hard over there.”
“Won’t I be in the way then? I mean, it’s not like I can do anything.”
“It will be plenty for you to just watch them, Lord Chrono. That alone will encourage the men.”
“Well, it’d be nice if you’re right about that.”
When Chrono smiled bitterly, Leo bared his fangs. Chrono guessed that he was laughing.
Still, I didn’t expect that Leo would worry about the new recruits. He might be an unexpectedly caring guy.
“Okay, we’ll continue with the inspection then.”
Layla started to walk again, and Chrono followed after her. Once they passed through the gate, a vast plain sprawled ahead of them. They stopped at that point. If they advanced north along the city wall, they would arrive at the parade ground and the construction site of the new barracks. If they went south, they’d arrive at the newly reclaimed land.
“Which are you going to inspect first?”
“I’d say, we go with the barracks and parade ground first?”
“As you wish.”
Chrono and Layla followed the wall north. Soon the saw holes dug into the ground. Burly men were busy working while smeared with mud and sweat. Silver was among them, too. He was working here as field overseer. It was planned to entrust him with bigger work if he accomplished this job without problems.
As Chrono pondered what kind of work would do, Layla spoke up, “It looks like the city has started to overflow.”
“…Yeah, it seems so.”
In Chrono’s eyes, they only looked like big holes, but Layla could apparently envision the finished barracks. And in reality, they were certainly planned to be quite big.
“What are they going to do after this?”
“Once they finish digging the holes, they’re going to pour concrete into them and cover the surface with gravel.”
“Oh, so it is going to be concrete. I see.”
Deep down Chrono felt relieved while casting a sidelong glance at Layla who had nodded with a humble expression. He wouldn’t have been able to answer if he hadn’t asked Silver about it beforehand.
Still, I hadn’t expected this world to know about concrete, Chrono assessed while looking up the wall. Up until now he had never thought about it, but this world appeared to use concrete. He was surprised since he heard that concrete had been used as foundation for castles and bridges for a very long time now.
“Once the new barracks are completed, it’ll become possible to rest more comfortably.”
“Yes, I believe so as well,” Layla nodded lightly.
In the current barracks, Mino as adjutant of the commander had a single room, Layla and the other centurions shared double rooms, and common soldiers without rank lived in one room with six men. Even if it couldn’t be changed that their salary differed depending on their rank, Chrono wanted to make it possible for the common soldiers to relax. He thought that it might be a good idea to rebuild the current barracks once the new barracks were finished.
“I suppose we’ll check out the parade ground next.”
“Okay,” nodded Layla.
Chrono and her advanced northwards along the wall. Before long, the parade ground came into sight.
“Oh,” Chrono’s eyes shot wide open.
The parade ground had turned into something akin to an adventure playground. The new recruits were running across it while mud-caked.
“Just when did this happen?”
“We built it for the sake of training the new recruits,” Layla reported, looking somewhat proud about it.
Guessing from her attitude, Chrono assumed they created it by hand.
Certainly, looking closely, the wooden joint parts give you a homemade feel. The height of the obstacles is weird too. Is that really safe?
Probably having sensed Chrono’s doubts, Layla looked his way, “Is something the matter?”
“Are those really safe?”
“No, they are dangerous.”
Her answer was simple enough, but it immediately caused an awkward silence to reign. A wind blew past – cold and dry.
“Is that going to be okay?”
“If they fall in a bad way, they will die.”
“Did someone already die then?”
“No, I’m just saying that it will be a matter of life and death if they fall badly. But, there have not been any casualties, so far.”
“T-That’s good to hear,” Chrono felt relieved.
He thought he’d heard some disturbing words there, but disregarded it as being his imagination.
Layla hasn’t mentioned anything about 『so far』. She’s a compassionate, kind woman after all. Yep.
“L-Let’s go meet M-Mino.”
“Adjutant Mino is supervising in the middle of the grounds.”
Mino was shouting in the center of the parade ground. Chrono was sure that he was encouraging the new recruits. Chrono and Layla headed in his direction. As they got closer, they started to understand what Mino was yelling.
“Don’t run around like pussies! You think anyone will give a flyin’ shit about yer feelings!? Sorry to tell ye, but I ain’t such a nice guy! My job is to cull the useless, hopeless scum among ye guys! If ye don’t wanna be thrown out, run as if yer life depends on it!” Mino insulted the recruits.
It was a truly nice display of fluent abuse.
“Captain, what’s wrong?”
When Chrono called out to him with a somewhat high-strung voice, Mino answered with his tone being as always.
“What was that just now?”
“Sorry, I allowed ye to see somethin’ embarrassin’. The reservists…are new recruits for the most part. So I’ve been re-educatin’ them to get rid of their indulgence and laziness.”
Chrono let his eyes wander. The reservists――new recruits were reeling.
“It looks to me like they’re about to collapse any moment, though?”
“Well, it’s because I’ve made them run continuously. Hey! Stop dawdlin’ ye lazy fucks!”
Chrono got startled when Mino suddenly raised his voice.
“Sorry ’bout dat.”
“Is it alright to not let them rest for a bit?”
“I keep moderation in mind, so it’s okay.”
Suddenly a thud could be heard, and once Chrono turned around, he saw a recruit lying on the ground.
“One has just fallen down!”
“That guy’s actin’ spoiled ’cause yer visiting Lord Chrono. Lizad, splash water on him!”
Upon Mino’s shout, Lizad ran up to the recruit, carrying a bucket.
Is it just my imagination? His movements are somewhat sluggish. Is he weak to the cold because he’s a reptile?
Once Lizad dumped water on the recruit, the man jumped up and started to run. No sooner than that, another thud could be heard, and once Chrono looked in the direction of the noise, a minotaur had collapsed.
“Ah, I’m at my limit. Look, I can’t run ‘nymore.”
“…Horus?” Chrono frowned.
Horus cast a fleeting glance in Chrono’s direction, his eyes full of anticipation.
“Lizad, toss water at him.”
“N-No way! Even you’ve started sayin’ such things, Lord Chrono!?”
“Running or water, which do you prefer?”
“Lookin’ at me like a filthy bug is goin’ way too far!”
Probably not wanting to have water poured on him, Horus got up and resumed running.
“Captain, that was outstandin’ leadership.”
“Make him run until he stops being a slacker.”
Chrono sighed lightly and let his eyes wander once more.
“…Is Snow okay?”
“She’s runnin’ ’round full of energy.”
Chrono scanned the grounds, wondering where she was. Thereupon――
Snow waved a hand from atop a wall with a height of around five meters.
“Watch out! That’s dangerous!”
“Yer worryin’ too much.”
Just as Mino said, Snow got off the wall without a care and started to sprint. Chrono felt like this wasn’t good for his heart.
“Yer concerned about Layla’s child?”
“Adjutant Mino!” Layla shouted.
Chrono supposed they were talking about the time when Fay had strangled him unconscious.
“Ah, my bad.”
“Geez, please don’t bring it up anymore,” Layla rebuked Mino.
Chrono found that part of hers cute as well.
“By the way, Captain, what did ye come here for?”
“I thought I should take a look at the training. Seems like it’s quite hardcore.”
“It’s somewhat tough, but in the end it’s only trainin’. If bandits or some such appear――”
Given that Mino started saying something dangerous, Chrono pretended to not hear any of it.
“Oh well, don’t go too far, okay?”
“Of course, I won’t make any such blunders as lettin’ them die. It’s the basics of trainin’ new recruits to keep them on the verge of death.”
“O-Okay, I leave it to you.”
Praying in his mind that no one is going to die, Chrono left the parade ground.
Chrono and Layla headed south along the wall ― towards the reclaimed land. Suddenly their view opened up.
“That is incredible, Lord Chrono.”
“I also didn’t expect it to be so vast,” Chrono agreed with Layla’s praise.
They had arrived at a vast plain. It was overgrown with grasses with occasional bushes in the mix. You could also see rocks, which a person would barely be able to carry with a hand, lying about. In spite of the reclamation having only started less than a month ago, fields had already taken shape. They were crowded with young trees which would later become the raw material for paper. Moreover, next to the tree orchards, the cultivation of new farmland had been proceeding.
Roughly ten people were busy mowing grass and picking up stones. Some were also tilling the ground while using horses.
Layla stepped forward so as to protect Chrono as a man carrying a wooden box approached. As his face was downcast to an extent, they couldn’t quite read his expression.
The man lifted his face which was covered with plenty of facial hair.
“Ooh! Lord Chrono!”
Carrying his box, Goldy approached with a clattering. Apparently feeling relieved, Layla breathed out.
“Since I didn’t see you at the workshop, I thought you’d taken a day off.”
“Today I have been checking the state of the farming tools.”
Given that Goldi was holding out the box in his hand, Chrono took a peek. Inside he spotted sickles and other farm tools. Those tools had been made at Goldi’s workshop.
Chrono had the dwarves make many other items, too. For the sake of technological development, but also to enrich his own fief.
“How’s their evaluation?”
“They’re very popular as they cut well and are easy to use. But,” Goldi looked down at the box. Taking a closer look, all the tools were damaged as they had been overused, “Keeping a balance between sharpness and durability is the next challenge.”
“I’m counting on you. Well, that’s all I can tell you anyway, though.”
“That encouragement is more than enough for me. Well then, I’m going back to the workshop.”
With a bright smile, Goldi passed Chrono.
“What is it?” Goldi stopped and looked back.
“As a matter of fact…an invitation to a ball has arrived.”
“Oh, okay. So you’re going to need a box-shaped carriage, I take? Hmm, I see,” Goldi nodded.
“Did we actually have a box-shaped carriage?”
“There’s the one which the previous Marquis Erakis used.”
“That’s good to hear,” Chrono felt relieved. “Is it usable?”
“It’s a smith’s job to make unusable things usable.”
Goldi straightened himself as if telling Chrono to leave it to him.
“For sure I didn’t expect that the day when I’d be able to reform a carriage would come so fast.”
“I’m sorry to put a damper on your enthusiasm, but we don’t have that much time until I have to leave, so I think it’ll be difficult to reform the carriage.”
“I will be troubled if you look down on me too much. Any excellent smith will answer the demands of his customer.”
“I’ll be fine as long as it’ll allow me to safely reach the capital, though.”
“Hahaha, Lord Chrono, you sure love to joke,” Goldi laughed Chrono’s objection off.
“Okay, can I count on you then?”
“I will show you that it will definitely be done in time.”
“Okay, I’m going back.”
With those words, Goldi ran off. Contrary to what his outward appearance suggested, he was quick on his feet. In no time Goldi was out of sight.
Once Chrono looked at Layla, she was downhearted.
“…So you will be going to the capital.”
“Sorry. I should have explained it earlier. As a matter of fact, I received an invitation to a ball.
“Is…that so? How long will I not be able to see you?”
“I don’t plan to stay there for long, but I guess it’ll be around twenty days.”
“So long…” Layla pulled a sad face and her eyes became teary.
Normally, it’d take around one week from Harshel to the capital. But, ultimately that was limited to a normal trip with nothing else happening. Since troubles were an essential part of any travel by carriage, it was safer to assume that a roundtrip would take twenty days.
“You’re not going to come to the capital together with me?”
“No, that is…,” Layla faltered to continue.
Very likely she’s interpreting it as mixing up public work with private affairs. If I had frankly told her about having received an invitation, the conversation would have gone much smoother. That was my blunder.
When Chrono and Layla came back to the marquis mansion, Cain and others were having a friendly chat near the well. As might be expected from their bandit past, their appearance was questionable at best, but their work ethic seemed to be decent.
Cain noticed the two, interrupted his conversation, and approached the two.
“Lord Chrono, I heard you have some business with me?”
“There’s a little something I’d like to ask you. As a matter of fact, I received an invitation to a ball in the capital.”
“Haha, so you’re going to ask me how many cavalrymen I can spare, eh?” Cain observed while rubbing his chin.
“It’s a big help that you’re so quick on the uptake. So, how many could you afford to dispatch?”
“Let’s see,” Cain folded his arms, apparently pondering, and averted his eyes from Chrono for but an instant, “I think around five men should be okay. You might feel uneasy about such a low number, but as long as you don’t take any side roads, that number should be plenty.”
“Who did you think of?”
“Fay is set in stone. I’ll choose another four suitable candidates in a bit.”
“Will that be okay?” Chrono asked reflexively.
Cain answered with a wry smile, “Despite her appearance, Fay is damn skilled, you know?”
“I’ve already had the pleasure to personally make sure of it,” Chrono unconsciously placed a hand on his neck as he recalled Fay strangling him into unconsciousness.
“What’s your assessment of her?”
“I can’t beat her when it comes to swordplay,” Cain honestly admitted.
He seems to hold her in surprisingly high esteem, but――
“What about her other skills besides swordsmanship?”
“I could win against her nine out of ten times if I used all the tricks of a mercenary.”
Cain answered just as before ― quickly and decisively. He probably meant he could win against her even while being aware of their respective abilities. It was a statement distinctive of a veteran mercenary.
“What’s your reason for recommending Fay?”
“In the future, at times when we’re going to work together with foreign battalions, things won’t mesh well if the cavalry captain is a commoner.”
“I don’t really mind though?”
“Even if that might be true for you, Milord, many folks in this world care about such formalities.”
“So you’re saying you want to foster Fay into becoming a commander for such occasions?”
“Well, yeah,” Cain lightly shrugged.
I wonder whether that’s really true. To me it sounds like he’s going to disappear into the wilderness one day, saying 『My job’s done here』, once Fay has learned everything she needs to, but even if I point it out, he’ll likely just deny it.
“Are the other four going to be alright with that?”
“Please don’t worry. They share my opinion about bringing up Fay. Well, as far as I can, I’ll choose considerate folks with decent manners. But,” Cain continued, “I’d like one more to go with you.”
“Didn’t you say moments ago that five people would be enough?”
“It’s for the sake of supporting Fay. I’d like to add some insurance, in other words.”
“Okay, that makes sense.”
“Accordingly, I’d like to request Miss Layla to tag along as guard, if possible…”
“Me?” Layla widened her eyes in surprise.
Earlier he had averted his eyes from Chrono, but that served as a measure to gauge the situation from Layla’s expression. Chrono was baffled just how considerate this guy was.
“But, I am…”
“I’m also aware that I’m putting you in a slightly difficult position here, but the work of a guard isn’t just done as long as you protect your charge. You also gotta keep the state and health of your guard target in mind.”
“In that case, even if I don’t…”
“It’d be ridiculous, if Lord Chrono reached the capital, but got all depressed on the way. As far as I can tell, he’s trusting you the most, Miss Layla. Could I have you act his guard while thinking of it as a favor for me?”
“Lord Chrono?” Layla looked Chrono’s way with her eyes seeking for help when Cain lowered his head.
“I don’t have any problem with that.”
“In that case, I will gladly take up the duty of acting as guard.”
“That’s wonderful news. I was already worried what I should do if you declined,” Cain lifted his face, looking relieved.
Chrono believed that it was all an act, but he didn’t sense anything unnatural about it.
“I’ll inform Mino about it.”
“That’s fine with you?”
“Me passing it on won’t create any bitter feelings, right?”
“Well, you might have a point there.”
Certainly, I feel like Cain informing Mino about it might have more persuasiveness.
“Okay, I’m off then. You guys, stop chatting around like blabbermouth, get back to the lodging house, and prepare everything for the meeting!” Cain turned around and yelled.
His men stopped chatting and got moving again.
As if having timed it, the entrance door opened, and Alyssa came out. After gracefully walking up to Chrono, she bowed respectfully.
“Master, welcome back.”
When Chrono thanked her, Alyssa became puzzled for a moment.
“Look, it’s about the matter with guards. Thanks to you, we got it sorted.”
“No, I just did what is expected of a maid.”
“About the preparations for the journey: Layla is going to join as my guard.”
“As you wish. What should we do about a dress for Lady Layla?”
“…Hmm, please take care of it,” answered Chrono finally after hesitating for a bit.
Then again, he simply wanted to see Layla wear a dress.
“Please wait a moment!”
“Umm, I am a guard. A guard doesn’t need a dress…besides, it is questionable whether I will be allowed to enter the venue,” Layla said with a very feeble voice while casting her eyes down.
“It’ll be okay. We’ll simply go back when they don’t allow you to enter.
“Then I will only cause trouble to you――”
“If they complain about anything, I’ll properly tell them to stuff it, so don’t worry.”
Layla nodded somewhat reluctantly after Chrono reassured her with a smile.
“Alyssa, I leave it in your capable hands. Ah, if possible, take care of the dress choice as well.”
“As you command,” Alyssa bowed and turned on her heels.
As she disappeared in the mansion, Chrono remembered something.
He faced Layla, and asked, “Which reminds me, you said you have some business to take care of. What is it?”
“I wanted to borrow a book.”
“Then I forced you to make quite a detour.”
“No, it allowed me to stay together with you, Lord Chrono. Besides, I enjoyed this date-like situation.”
Layla hung her head in shame, looking embarrassed.
At night, when Chrono was lying on his bed alone, he heard banging sounds. Someone was hitting the door to his room. Only one person other than Tilia would use such a rough way of knocking. He raised his body and sat up at the bed’s edge. The banging gained in intensity, before suddenly stopping altogether. And then――
“Why won’t you open!?”
Accompanying that question, the door was flung open. The one standing in the door was Elena, wearing a negligee.
“I thought I’d test how loud the knocking would become.”
“You seriously suck.”
Elena slammed the door shut and drew close to Chrono. Planting herself in front of him, she adopted a daunting pose. Her hair was glistening as she had apparently taken a late bath.
“I heard the news. It seems like they’re going to hold a ball at the capital.”
“Yes, but what about it?”
Elena’s eyebrows went up in response to Chrono’s question. But, she didn’t get angry or shout. She humbly placed a hand on her chest, and repeatedly breathed in deeply. And then, as if having made up her resolve, she blurted out, “I’d like you to take me with you to the capital.”
“Isn’t that obvious!? To get revenge for my mother!” Elena raised her voice.
Chrono had already suspected that it might be about this, but was now proven to be correct. It wasn’t said that Elena’s enemies were participating at the ball, but――
“Nope, I refuse.”
“Why? I won’t cause any trouble to you, Lord Chrono.”
“You say that while requesting to be absent for a month as the one in charge of accounting?”
“T-That’s…I’ll somehow manage that part too!” Elena faltered at first, but then became defiant. “So, are you going to take me with you or not?”
“Let’s see,” Chrono folded his arms.
He wasn’t hesitant about taking her with him. It wasn’t said that Elena’s enemies would be at the ball, and as long as he had Fay look out for her, she should be able to prevent Elena from causing trouble.
“Elena, come here.”
“What is it?”
When beckoned by him, Elena drew closer while lacking any wariness. Without a moment’s delay, Chrono placed his fingers on her collar.
Immediately following, Elena looked so frightened that you’d doubt her attitude up until now. Her knees were shaking and it appeared as if she would flop down on the ground any moment.
“W-What are you doing?”
“Your behavior is bad.”
“You’re going to apologize?”
“Yes! I’m sorry! Forgive me for acting high and mighty!” Elena frantically pleaded for forgiveness.
She looked at Chrono as if to butter up to him while fidgety rubbing her thighs against each other. It made it difficult for Chrono to tell whether she was apologizing or hoping for more.
“Not there,” Chrono pulled on the chain linked to her collar when she tried to sit down on the spot.
He didn’t put all that much power into it, but it caused her to stand on tiptoes.
“On my feet.”
“Your fee――s-sorry! Forgive me for defying you! I will sit! Yes, I will sit down right away! So please don’t glare at me like this! It’s scary!”
Once he stopped pulling the chain, Elena timidly sat down on Chrono’s feet. Maybe because she was just out of the bath or for another reason altogether, Chrono could feel a dampness from his feet.
“Anyway, I’m not against taking you to the capital.”
Elena was about to get up again, but immediately sat back down when Chrono scowled at her. Her cheeks were flushed red, and her breathing was rough. She repeatedly fixed her sitting posture, apparently feeling uncomfortable.
“That just now was not how you ask others for a favor, was it?”
“W-What should I do?”
Elena asked him with upturned eyes.
“What, so you didn’t come here after preparing yourself for making a request?”
“I-I did. I prepared myself.”
“Tell me, which are you going to use for making your request? This one…?”
“That one’s out of the question! I want to cherish it!”
Elena begged when Chrono raised his heels.
“Then you’ve got no choice but to go with this one here, right?”
Chrono moved his toes. But, Elena only cast her eyes down, her face bright red.
“Come on, hurry up and make your request.”
Chrono looked down at her. Then he raised his feet, causing Elena to sit on her knees. Next he started to rub the area between her legs with one foot’s instep. Each time his foot slid past her nether region, she trembled with a start.
Somehow he felt like the dampness down there was getting more prevalent.
“If you don’t hurry up, I’ll decide for you which hole to use, you know?”
Elena put strength into her thighs when Chrono warned her while strengthening the force behind his rubbing. She probably wanted to suppress his movements as much as possible, but it had the opposite effect as the impacts were passed on to her body even stronger than before.
Chrono stopped rubbing her as it couldn’t be helped, but Elena didn’t try to release the tension in her thighs.
“So, which one? I want you to let me use the front one soon, you see?”
“…………Back,” mumbled Elena after a long, long spell of silence while pursing her lips as if sulky.
“What about your back?”
“I-…I will stro…service you with my back hole. So, please take me with you to the capital,” Elna croaked intermittently.
“I’d say words are chape.”
“W-What else are you t-telling me to do?”
“Think about it for yourself.”
“Ugh,” groaned Elena before standing up.
Then she put her hands beneath her negligee and pulled down her shorts.
Chrono turned his eyes downwards.
“W-What are you looking at!?”
“Well, I just wondered whether they’re stained.”
“O-Of course, t-they are not!” Elena exclaimed with her face beet red.
And certainly, her shorts weren’t stained, but――
“Oh well, whatever. Please go on.”
“Kuuh,” Elena lamented and then climbed on the bed.
Kneeling down while facing away from Chrono, she curled up her body like a turtle. With her upper body lowered while lifting her lower body with her knees, she thrust out her butt. Unfortunately, her important parts weren’t visible due to the negligee, but her posture still stirred Chrono’s imagination.
“P-Please use m-my le-..wd…b-but…le as you l-like.”
“Where did you learn those words?” Chrono said, flabbergasted.
“You taught me!” Elena yelled while lifting her body.
Her face was glowing crimson by now.
“So, how about it?”
“Well, I suppose you get a passing mark. Okay, take the same position as moments ago.”
“Ugh, you’re going to do it, right!? Then get it done!” Elena shouted, her voice teeming with desperation, as she pointed her butt towards Chrono.
Next, a hearty slap resounded through the room.
“Ouch! Why did you hit my butt!?”
“The angle is wrong.”
“Uuhh, I got it.”
“You got it?”
“I-I’m sorry! Forgive me for using the wrong angle with my butt!”
Elena lifted her butt high up while apologizing. Chrono stood up, thinking that he had to ask Alyssa to get a dress for Elena later.
Three days later, Chrono stared at a box-shaped carriage. It was the one which Goldi and his dwarves had upgraded. As he was at its undercarriage which was reminiscent of a four-wheeled car, Goldi came up next to him.
He shouldn’t have gotten much of a rest ever since starting to improve the carriage, but his expression was as bright and calm as usual. Each time Goldi said that no one had died from overwork, Chrono thought that it couldn’t be true. Of course, those feelings of Chrono still applied now. He wanted the dwarves to get a proper break to recover.
But, watching Goldi, Chrono started to wonder whether dwarves possibly couldn’t die from overwork in the first place.
“So what do you think?”
“You’ve separated the undercarriage and the passenger area, haven’t you?”
“Right on!” Goldi shouted all of a sudden, and then rattled on full of excitement, “By separating the undercarriage from the passenger part and thus lowering the contact areas between both, it prevents a transmission of the vibrations to the passenger’s seats! Moreover, we installed standard spring boards on the undercarriage! The passenger’s seats have also been equipped with a mechanism to alleviate the vibrations! At this point, it’s already revolutionary! A carriage revolution!”
He was the perfect example of someone talking himself into a rage, albeit a positive one.
“I am terribly sorry about getting all agitated about this.”
“No, it’s fine.”
Chrono could totally relate to Goldi’s feelings as he also got excited when he saw that undercarriage. It was the very definition of an OOPart after all, making Chrono believe that Goldi came from the future.
Suddenly he heard a bang from above his head. Once he looked up, he spotted the maids placing luggage on the carriage’s roof. As he was staring at them, wondering whether it was really smart to do such heavy lifting while wearing maid attires――
“Ah, y-yes? What is it?”
Turning around, he found Alyssa standing behind him. Relief spread in his chest.
“I-Is something the matter?”
“No, I just thought I would come to bid you a proper farewell. I shall be praying for your safe travel, Master,” Alyssa said with a respectful bow.
“Thanks,” answered Chrono while thinking that she was a truly fine maid, “Oh, and thanks for preparing Layla’ and Elena’s dresses, too.”
“No, we just had to adjust existing dresses to fit. Besides, for me to spend so much money――”
“We asked for a big favor from the tailor, so it’s inevitable that they’ll charge extra.”
“It gives me a peace of mind to hear you say that,” Alyssa said with a gentle smile, and then moved away from the carriage.
“Now then,” Chrono let his eyes wander.
Thereupon, he saw Cain drawing close. He wasn’t alone either as Fay and four men were following him.
“A good morning to you, Lord Chrono!” Fay shouted before Chrono could even finish his own greeting.
Cain and the other four smiled wryly.
“Ah, morning to you too,” responded Cain to Chrono’s second attempt at a greeting.
“Is something the matter?”
“Since I’ve got the chance now, I thought I should introduce this trip’s guards to you. First, this is Sub.”
Having his name called out by Cain, one of the four men straightened his back. He was an unshaven guy with an eyepatch. He was around as tall as Cain, but his body was one size bigger. He packed some edge, making him appear scary.
“Lookin’ forward to work with you, Sir,” Sub smiled broadly, revealing his teeth. The front row was missing one.
However, just that action alone transformed Chrono’s impression of him into regarding him as an amiable guy.
“Sub is an old acquaintance of mine. He looks like a thug, but he’s a diligent and caring lad.”
“Bah, calling me a thug is awful, Boss.”
“Stop it with the boss, dude. We’re cavalry under Lord Chrono’s command now.”
“Do you really?” Cain frowned.
“The remaining three are Alba, Glov, and Gainer.”
“””Pleased to work with you, Sir!”””
The three men bowed simultaneously.
“Sub will act as coachman, so if there’s anything…”
Cain stopped at that point since Fay, who was standing next to him, looked at him as if she wanted to say something.
“If there’s anything, please talk to Fay,” Cain sighed.
“Please leave everything to me, Fay Muhlifain!” Fay yelled with her back straight.
“We’re gonna support the missy. Aight, guys?”
“””Ayes! We’re going to protect Missy to the death!”””, the three men replied to Sub.
Chrono touched the hilt of his sword, realizing that he’d need to protect himself. Apparently having noticed that heroic determination, Cain placed a hand on Chrono’s shoulder.
“No need to be so tense. The territories you’re going to pass have reasonable public order.”
“The route is going through Kado County, Trace Barony, Bawties Barony, Xenugis Barony, Neckar Viscounty, and the Kai territory under the direct control of the emperor, right?”
“You have a good memory to remember all of these,” Fay admitted in admiration when Chrono listed all of the territories while counting them down on his fingers.
“Fay, you’ve memorized the route, right?”
“It is just go west, go south, and then go east.”
“That’s true, but still…” Chrono groaned upon hearing Fay’s indifferent tone.
It got him extremely worried.
“We’ll support her with all we’ve got!”
Sub, Alba, Glov, and Gainer huddled into a circle and yelled.
It’s great to see them so pumped about this, but it just makes me increasingly anxious about this whole endeavor. Is it still possible to call this whole thing off?
Just as Chrono was pondering about this, Layla approached him.
“Lord Chrono, we are ready to depart at any time.”
Looking up to the carriage, he noticed that the maids were gone.
“If nothing happens, it’s going to take one week to get to the capital, huh?”
“Please count on me when it comes to guarding. I will make sure to protect you, no matter what comes, Lord Chrono.”
Chronos sighed out in relief. Hearing that reliable line from Layla alleviated some of his worries. Layla walked up to the carriage, and opened the door.
“Please come inside, Lord Chrono.”
Once he climbed in, he found two couches facing each other. On one of them slept Elena while lying sideways.
“Why is she sleeping in here?”
“Because she wouldn’t be able to get up early, the maids tossed her inside yesterday evening.”
The one answering Chrono was Goldi.
“She’s quite the sleeper to stay asleep through all the work around the carriage.”
“He has been sound asleep. She must have been quite exhausted, I suppose.”
Goldi answered earnestly, but Chrono felt like Elena was plainly cheeky. Putting a small amount of strength into it, he hit Elena’s butt, causing a hearty slap to resound through the carriage.
Elena groaned lightly, but didn’t show any signs of waking.
Suppressing the urge to write meat on her forehead, Chrono sat down on the opposite of where Elena was sleeping. Layla boarded the carriage after him and closed the door.
“Excuse me,” she said before sitting down next to Chrono. Of course, she had her mechanic bow and a quiver with her.
A little while later, the carriage started to move. But inside the carriage, they almost didn’t feel any vibrations.
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