Hmm, if you can’t tell, this arc will be focused on preventing Nibelheim’s destruction rather than defeating the phantom beast. Might seem boring to you, but this arc is necessary both for Erica and Harold, and for future world buildings.
ED: clover, eristol
It was around noon when we reached the small square in front of the Water Palace.
Harold and I went through the gate of the palace from the front.
Inside the palace, there was a tense atmosphere in preparation for the arrival of the Ignitia party tomorrow.
Led by Harold, we went through the corridors where the guest rooms were lined up.
It was a place I saw for the first time, because it was in the opposite direction from the room I was staying in.
The Water Palace owned by the Turm family is a huge building with 500 rooms.
Instead of staying at a neighboring nobleman’s cottage, they always have a room prepared for him to stay during events and business negotiations.
Harold explained so.
I gradually became uncertain about where I was going.
At that time, Harold finally stopped in front of a white door.
“Is it here?”
“Aah, this is the room they lent to my father.
If he doesn’t stay here, well, I will go and visit the rooms of his business partners one by one.”
Harold knocked on the door quickly, opened the heavy door and immediately entered the room.
“Tou-san, are you here? There’s something I want to talk to you about!”
Earl Nibelheim had a surprised expression at the sudden appearance of his son.
It seems that he was about to go somewhere.
He was wearing impeccable aristocratic clothes and had a coat and a document bag in his hands.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I’m busy right now. I wonder if it’s fine to talk about that matter later.”
“It’s absolutely not fine. It’s a big problem for the Nibelheim family!”
“Ah, I know. It is a big problem.”
Earl Nibelheim and Harold were staring at each other.
Unlike yesterday when he was extremely excited and happy, right now he feels withdrawn as he turned quiet and inconspicuous.
I wonder if that happy personality was some kind of acting to throw people off guard, or perhaps only something alchemy-related can make him switch to that direction.
Earl Nibelheim turned his gaze towards me and nodded while smiling to conceal his internal distress.
Somehow, I could sense deep fatigue from his complexion.
“Thank you for this, Erica-sama. It seems that you are friendly to my son, I am honored.
……I see, Harry also noticed this issue thanks to you.”
“Then, you noticed it too, Tou-san?”
“Aah, I was talking to the Duke of Aurelia about the mines of Argene territory, but there was something strange.”
I see, so the name of Argene territory came out during the business networking.
I am concerned about how it was communicated to my father.
“T-then this conversation will be quick. We need to find the fraudster right away—”
“The fraudster, huh……that’s right, of course, we will check it.
But, there are other issues that have to be prioritized. I have important business negotiations.”
“If you wait for too long, the fraudster will escape!”
“Harry, my business was helped by various people.
I can’t be gone from my seat at a moment’s notice, there are meetings with some people that cannot be postponed.”
Earl Nibelheim’s reasoning also makes sense.
If the related party to the incident becomes upset and neglects the deal, his reputation will be ruined.
If his unrest is seen on the surface, people around him will see him as someone who can’t deal with crisis and take advantage of his weakness.
He needs to look as if business is as usual.
Even after surviving this incident, if he wants to continue commercial transactions with Knot Reed, he needs to maintain his reputation.
But, Harold has his own logical reason.
It is the polar opposite to Earl Nibelheim’s reasoning.
Before my eyes, Harold had an expression that I didn’t know whether he was sad or irritated.
“So you still have the time to talk to the creditors of each territory, while the fraudster hasn’t been caught!”
“It’s fine, only Duke Aurelia and I know about this incident.
I have been keeping a long relationship with all of the investors in this case.
First of all, I have to speak with some of them, or I cannot advance forward.”
“Aah! Jeez! Fine, you obstinate person!!”
Harold shouted loudly and stopped talking with his father.
He slammed the door open in his irritation and left the room.
I hesitated about what to do.
I had to pursue Harold, but—
“Erica-sama, I apologize for causing you trouble this time.
But, whatever the outcome of this matter is, I will not hurt your honor.”
“Regarding the matter of fraud, I have already arranged for my steward to start investigating.
Please tell my son that as well.”
“Thank you very much, Erica-sama.”
Earn Nibelheim gently lowered his head.
He might be a person who is easily misunderstood from his appearance or words.
But, surely he is a fundamentally sincere person who won’t deviate from his own principles.
Aah, but, this is the source of the trouble from the previous problem.
With this, it is painful for me not to say that ‘your death flag will rise’.
I won’t feel comfortable living now.
I also lowered my head and followed Harold.
First of all, I have to solve his misunderstanding and tell him that Earl Nibelheim is also investigating the fraud.
I arrived at the exit while becoming dazzled by the white and gold decorations scattered throughout the palace.
At the corner of the square, I found Harold standing upright.
Harold looked at my face and showed an apologetic expression.
“Have you been waiting?”
“Sorry……I forgot about you and left you behind.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“I, far from convincing my father, I lost my own temper.”
“It cannot be helped. Let’s go back to the store first.”
Anyway, we have to meet up with Gilbert.
I hope there will be a result that can turn this situation around.
Both of us got into a ferryboat and returned to the Crucible Street.
On the boat, I told Harold that Earl Nibelheim was investigating the fraud.
Hearing that, Harold seemed to regain his calm.
We sneaked into the Wunderkammer of Turm Wand Store from the back door.
Inside the room, Gilbert was talking with Tirnanog.
When we came back, they noticed us and turned towards us.
“Welcome back. Ojou-san, Botchan.”
『I’m surprised, that was quick.』
“Sorry, Tir. I suddenly changed the schedule.”
『No, I have heard the circumstances from this guy. Something seems to have changed suddenly.』
First of all, the four of us surrounded the table and we reported the situation in the Water Palace briefly.
Harold finished talking and asked Gilbert with an anxious expression.
“How was it on your side, Aniki?”
“Ah no, about that. I was talking about it with this mister too……”
“It sounds like something very bad happened on your side.”
Gilbert nodded with a glum expression.
Sighing, he conveyed the story he had heard in the Notary Guild.
“It seems that the merchant who sold the mining rights to Earl Nibelheim is no longer here.
It was only three days ago.
Every family member and servant of the merchant seems to have disappeared overnight.
They seemed to be in such a hurry that they left in the middle of making soup.
They had set up a store in this town for more than a decade, their assets and credits were also stable.”
It is as if they were abducted by fairies.
Somehow, I feel something really ominous.
No matter how I think about it, that merchant was……
“The detailed circumstances of this story has yet to spread, but it’s just a matter of time before the story of the fraud leaks out.”
“However, they had no reason to commit this fraud.
There is no way a business partner of 10 years will do such a thing.”
Did Earl Nibelheim get betrayed by a trusted business partner?
Moreover, even if we try to locate those people, perhaps we won’t be able to find them anymore.
And, as three days have already passed, it will be difficult to pinpoint the real culprit.
With this, he won’t be able to recover his funds.
This situation already seems to be heading towards a rather bad direction.
“It seems that the document for the mining rights of the Argene territory used for the contract was cleverly counterfeited.
Perhaps, a highly skilled mage was involved.”
『So, is Hafan involved behind the scenes?』
“I wonder. If it’s only magic, people of other lands can also learn how to use it.”
『So that can’t be used as a clue, huh……』
“Oops, I have learned of the person Earl Nibelheim borrowed money from.
It was none other than Harlan Lucanrant, the Margrave of Urs.”
If we call him according to the northern patronymic customs, it should be Harlan Slayson.
Officially, he is a man called Harlan Lucanrant, Margrave of Urs.
When he heard that name, Harold’s face was drained of blood even more.
So, in Lucanrant they follow patronymic customs to name themselves, rather than a last name. Just like in Iceland, which is patronymic, Harlan Slayson means he is Harlan, the son of Slay. And if my guess is right and Lucanrant is this world’s Iceland, then for the daughters, there will be ‘dottir’ in their name.
Although in this story, since they don’t have a last name, they adopted their country’s name as their official last name, which is Lucanrant. That’s why, even if they seem to have the same last name ‘Lucanrant’, Harlan and Chloe (the game’s heroine) may not actually be one family. About Claude (the last capture target)……, well, who knows? XD
Btw, this guy had been mentioned before by Ann in ch 18.