002 – Good News? Bad News?
Clip. Clop. The clap of horseshoes echo.
A horse trots on the hardened ground. On its back was a splendid man.
「How about it, Pastry? This is the land you’ll inherit. This is your first time seeing it, but look. Isn’t it vast?」 (Casserole) TLN
In front of the man nestled a small child. Despite being an infant he was riding at the front of the horse.
On their flanks, slightly burnt fields of brown wheat extended outwards.
「Father, the wheat doesn’t seem too healthy」 (Pastry)
「Even a kid like you can see that huh? That’s right. Our territory is rather barren. It’s an uphill battle from here, but I’m afraid I’m going to ask you to share this burden.」 (Casserole) TLN
A bitter smile escaped the father.
His son’s innocent observation was much too precise.
「Have you tried growing anything other than wheat?」 (Pastry)
「Hnn? Other than wheat, rye and wild oat. Also every house grows their own vegetables. From here on out, we are going to make this land more fertile.」 (Casserole) TLN
「How about sugar and fruits?」 (Pastry) TLN
「There is no room for such luxuries. The wheat, even before your birth, doesn’t grow that well. In the south, apparently they (sugar and fruit) grow in the wild but around here they have to be cultivated.」 (Casserole) TLN
「Then, what about sweets?……」 (Pastry)
「Fine, fine, the next time I have errands to run in town, as a present I will buy you some.」 (Casserole)
The boys face shows sorrow. Moments later, it morphs into a face filled with determination.
「In that case, then I (boku) shall, someday, fill this land with sweets.」 (Pastry)
「Ha ha ha, it’s nice to have a dream. That’s right isn’t it, by the time you come of age, I’ll show you that I can turn this into a bountiful land.」 (Casserole) TLN TLN
The boy, who for the first time revealed his dream to his dad, began his journey thusly. TLN
At this time, Pastry was 3 years old.
The sound of metal striking metal.
「What’s wrong? Is that all you’ve got!!」 (Casserole)
「Gu, (mada made) Not yet！！」 (Pastry)
Two men face each other.
In each of their hands, a sword.
Of the two, one was great man in the prime of his life.
Even from a bystander’s point of view, you could tell he had a lean physique.
His toned muscular physique, despite being covered by his clothes, exuded an overpowering aura.
And the other.
To call would a man would be bit of stretch.
He seemed less than 10 years old.
Sweating profusely, with all his might he swung his sword.
Sometimes, when a sword becomes one with oneself, the resulting movements would flow like water. But he seemed to be middle of his growth.
Rather than using the sword, he was being used by the sword.
「Oi, your grip has weakened. Grasp it firmly」 (Casserole)
「That’s good. Even if you make a 1000 slices, grasp with the intent of never letting go. To lose you sword on the battlefield is the same as death.」 (Casserole)
An exchange of sword between 2 men.
Viscount Molten, and his son, Pastry Mil Molten, were in the middle of their daily swordsmanship lesson.
This daily lesson was something that Pastry had been doing every day since he was 5 years old.
Nicknamed ‘Pace’, originally he had selfishly asked for lessons, but in due time, they became part of his daily routine.
Although his body isn’t there yet, he can wield the sword well, thought the father. The unique traits of his son were pronounced.
Bruises started to spread over his body.
Due to the large sword, to counter his feet getting tangled he would step hard on the ground.
In an era of peace, such training could be called child abuse. A voice calling for a break intervened.
「Boss. Boss. Are you here? Ouch. Yep, its here.」 (Sheets)
「What Sheets? Its my son’s training time now.」 (Casserole)
The man entered the area where the 2 men were swinging their iron weapons.
The man named Sheets was a friend of 20 years and a loyal retainer of the Viscount, Casserole Mil Molten. He was also the leader of the territorial army.
However, the strength of the army was only 2 people.
Sheets glanced charmingly at Pace, then turned to face his father.
「General, its time for breakfast. There is also a report, please report to the ‘office‘.」 (Sheets) TLN
「Is that so? Ok Pace, let’s stop here for today.」 (Casserole)
The father slowly sheathed his sword.
At that moment, the son sagged at the spot.
「Th-.. Th-.. Thank you very much!」 (Pastry)
「Quickly clean yourself and go to your mother. Keep her waiting and you’ll be done in, as usual.」 (Casserole)
「Eh, then I need to hurry. Father, I’m going to excuse myself.」 (Sheets)
The boy held a sword taller than himself.
Watching him leave, the father and his friend both stared at him endearingly.
「Sonny’s pretty good huh? You’re raising his arm strength huh? Even though he’s a kid his growth is fast.」 (Sheets) TLN
「Well, it’s ok. He’s my son, so he picks it up fast. He is surprisingly masterful and questions my understanding all the time. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow.」 (Casserole) TLN
「Ah its out, your doting side. You shouldn’t place so much expectations on him. A 5 year old miko, a 15 year old nobody. There is a saying like that too.」 (Sheets)
「Pace, by the time he turns fifteen, may become someone of note.」 (Casserole)
At the sight of his friend’s doting side could only shrug and swallow the “yare yare“ that he was about to say. TLN
Afterwards, they set off towards the office with their army of 2. However, to call it an ‘office’ was ironic.
Originally, the sovereign territory of Molten acted as a buffer to the neighboring nation. As the land declined, even wheat could not grow in this reddish wasteland.
The land was gifted to a knight for his distinguished service in the war – this knight was Casserole. Hence, by possessing land, he become a noble and adopted the name of Molten.
A land with nothing. No woodland to speak of. 3 years until it can become fertile.
With less than 10 people, they persevered for 3 years with the goal of self-sufficiency.
After that they slowly began to cultivate the land.
As poor the land was, the home of the feudal lord was just as frugal. In the fashion of a knight, it was made extremely simply. In short, it was destitute.
In another land, it was equivalent to the house a farmer.
Even though, we are nobles. This thinking led to them building many rooms.
Inside one such room, a door which was just a plank of wood, a once beautiful sofa and a reception desk constituted the afore mentioned ‘office’.
No threat of thievery, no fear of burning furniture thought Sheets.
Sheets and the 2 others entered the room.
The furniture in this room were all the assets that this noble possessed,
The noble obviously sat behind the desk but there was a stool next to the desk where his subordinate would sit.
Sheets took his place at the table in a joking mood. The breathing of the 2 retainers could be heard.
「Okay, about the report, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?」 (Sheets)
「My breakfast is still inside, so don’t bring me bad news. Is what I want to say but its not like I can’t not hear either of them. Start with the good news.」 (Casserole)
「OK, so the good news. It’s about the harvest of vegetables. As the boy said, we can expect a bountiful harvest. If we go at this rate, we should be able to survive the winter without any worries.」 (Sheets)
「Hoho, that’s wonderful.」 (Casserole)
Viscount Molten’s had a great reputation as the feudal lord.
In order to live in the barren land, he maintained, prepared and cultivated the land, all so that his subjects could eat.
Now fielding 3 villages with 40 people in each village, The Molten family is well on its way to becoming a respectable aristocracy. Moreover, due to their recent expansion, their fame only soared.
As a new experiment, 3 years ago they started to cultivate bean crops and their success in harvesting bean crops made them famous. Even though there was a nationwide drought last year, there was not even a single person selling themselves into slavery due to starvation. The rumour of this exploit abounded in the salon (noble’s rumour mill).
As a matter of fact, this chivalrous act was mostly a result of the territory’s son’s suggestion. Although the people who knew of this matter were few.
No one would have thought that a child less than 10 years old would be able to draft such inconceivable groundbreaking political measures.
Casserole publicising the achievements as his son’s saw the people who saw his as an doting parent reduce.
Furthermore, as he was a doting parent most of the time, this only served to make announcement less plausible.
「Then, I shall report the bad news.」 (Sheets)
「Well, we can’t finish without hearing it…」 (Casserole)
The atmosphere changed.
The 2 of them being military men, their facial expression immediately hardened. TLN
The previous nonchalant atmosphere, at a breath, became tense.
「Ah. It seems Count Lettuce’s suppression of the thieves failed. The official notice states that there were considerable escapees. Well, the official notice says that they successfully repelled (italicise this) the thieves. The fact that they escaped is a fine nuisance.」 (Sheets)
「If they decide to come here, how much time do we have left to prepare for it?」 (Casserole)
「Based on when the official notice was sent, if they decide to head straight towards us, we have about 10 days. If they pillage the surroundings, then about 1-2 months.」 (Sheets)
「(yabai) That’s pretty bad」 (Casserole)
A noble has many duties. Of those, there are 2 that require tacit compliance.
One is the duty pledging loyalty to the king.
This duty advocates a noble’s authority and is guaranteed by the royal authority and influence, an obvious duty.
A trespass committed on this duty can be grounds for dismissal and allow the king to confiscate your land and property, award it to other nobles, thereby, turning one into a criminal of the state.
And the other, is the duty to defend the nation.
When accepting peerage (the territory from the king), the earnings due to you privilege and the taxes you collect invested in the military power is specifically for a time like now.
From the standard knight who offers himself, to the duke (rank below the king) who has a standing army, this duty of protection, is the same.
For the land under your jurisdiction, in order to maintain peace and stability and in the worst case scenario, defend the land from any threat, the army has to be well furnished.
Due to these duties (of care), the governing nobles can collect tax, working nobles are paid wages.
Suppression of thieves also falls under this duty of care, and to do so is inevitable.
But there is no concept of success in such matters of the state.
After all, there are no standards to success and failure.
When there is a disaster, if one were to rescue the majority of the victims, one should be proud that the disaster relief was a success.
However, if even 1 human died, there would be bereaved family who would see it as a failure.
In the response to an emergency, ascertaining the difference between success and failure is difficult.
This time, based on the communication from the Count, from his point of view, it falls under the category of a success.
The thieves pilfering the territory were driven out. In future, these thieves will not harass the people of this territory. Hence, it falls into the category of great success. But that’s just from the point of view of the Count’s territory.
When the expelled thieves freshly start pillaging other territories, the blame falls on the afore mentioned. From the point of view of the ones being pillaged now, it can be seen as a remarkable failure.
‘Shifting baggage from left to right can’t be called tidying up’ is also a sound argument.
From viscount Molten’s point of view, it’s clearly the latter. Envisioning the trouble about to follow was enough to cause a headache.
「And so, how many did they let escape?」 (Casserole)
「About 50 people」 (Sheets)
「If they get here, would it be too much for you?」 (Casserole)
「With just 3 men, how am I supposed to fight 50 men. It won’t be a situation where we fight head on.」 (Sheets)
A group of 50 thieves, it’s a rather large group of thieves.
Just from the size of the group, one has to acknowledge that given his might, it took all that he had for Count Lettuce to drive them away. This was the harsh bitter truth.
「Even if we gather the men of the village and arm them with wooden spear and slings, its unreasonable.」 (Casserole)
「At best, we have 30 people. Even if we entrenched at the entrance to the moat, that would be as much resistance as we could muster. If we talk about the other 2 villages, there is this and that, but in the end, there are no defences in place and when attacked the damage won’t change. If this becomes an extended fight, then we have no reserves. If we decided to make it a short term decisive battle, that would also be a bad idea.」 (Sheets)
「In the time that we siege, what if I call for reinforcement?」 (Casserole)
「If its boss, I know that you can do it, but there are many problematic points in that.」 (Sheets)
「Even with the count’s reinforcements, overturning the opponents is hard. Even though we have our hands full with repelling them ourselves, if we finished them here, it would not be well received. With that said, if the reinforcement just repelled them, then they would just return to the Count’s land. After pillaging what they can, in the end, if they returned to the count’s land , it would be a funny story. If we fail, it likely that Fubark territory’s Count will then lead his troops to wipe our asses. They will then push all the responsibility of failure of suppression on us. If we do badly, there is also the possibility of them intruding. Other Viscounts, may not be as accommodating as you.」 (Sheets)
This is Viscount Molten’s reason for saying ‘the Count is a failure’.
Surrounding the Count’s land are nothing but small territories belonging to Viscounts.
Of course, in the knights land is indeed poor, and the standing army including Sheets consists of 3 men.
Possibly, no one would have thought that the thieves would slip from the Count’s hand.
「How about reinforcements from the royal capital?」 (Casserole)
「If we can’t rout them here, the burden too much. To say nothing of the case when Count Lettuce will boast about driving them away. Will you then hold a grudge against him?」 (Sheets)
「Even if I were to resent it, at the cost of protecting my subjects, I wouldn’t mind it. As this land is a frontier land any reinforcements that would arrive would be minimal. However, we can’t leave this problem as it is.」 (Casserole)
「I don’t want to die either, so I’ll leave it to boss」 (Sheets)
Being close friends, there was mutual trust in each other’s abilities.
From the “office”, their voices leaked beyond the thin wooden walls over to the next room.
「Other than that, do we have a better hand (to play)?」 (Sheets)
Sheets had serious look in his face.
Casserole gestured with a demeanour of a feudal lord.
「In the worst case scenario, I could stand alone……」 (Casserole)
「Boss, for you to go by yourself is a last resort. If boss dies, then it’s the end.」 (Sheets)
「Aside from that, enclose the village with a deep moat and distribute spears to each household.」 (Casserole)
「I’d rather do that. (than the suggestion made before that)」 (Sheets)
Furrows appeared between each of their eyebrows.
「I have an idea though.」 (Sheets)
From the voice from his subordinate, Casserole looked surprised.
「At any rate, a sink or swim strategy is necessary in this battle. A suggestion – how about making that boy our trump card?」 (Sheets)
「What do you mean?」 (Casserole)
「If we bet on your victory, in that case, I don’t know if boss would play an active role. According to my gut feeling, I feel that doing so would be best.」 (Sheets)
「I can’t very well go and ignore your feeling can I……」 (Casserole)
I’ll make my son our trump card.
According to that matter / viscount was confused. In the first place, he didn’t understand the meaning behind it.
No matter how talented he was said to be , he was barely 7 years old. There is no way he would posses the power to change the tides of the battle.
However, Casserole was caught by the word ‘magic’ (italicise this).
At once, he understood what Sheets was trying to say.
A single word muttered , was distinctly heard.
「Ceremony of consecration?」 (Casserole)
This day, Casserole’s decision , would cause a shift in the gears of the world’s fate.
The first of many to come.
Couple of untranslated sentences. If anyone who reads it gets what they mean, feel free to post in the comments.
The TLN tooltips. There is no support on mobiles for them. So I’m going to be appending them at the bottom of the page IF the information contained is absolutely necessary.
Just to clarify, hopefully they will not contain any crucial information and will only be flavour text. Anyway, give it time and I’ll see if I can come up with a more elegant solution.
Feel free to comment on this matter more – it’s not set in stone.
Someone last week suggested that I make a list of TLN and add local links in the page to hop to the bottom. I takes me 30 minutes to format the HTML and make the tooltips. Making the links would take significantly longer, so depending on how many people really want that feature I may edit it in later posts.
Other than that, this chapter was really long (3 times as long as the first) so sorry about the late release. Will try to make more accurate estimates in future and stick to the schedule.