062 Before the storm p.1


Translator: yAmi

Leaves were beginning to dye in the colour of autumn. The autumn harvest was just around the corner. Likewise, the appearance of the Lord’s office began to change. Tapestries on the walls were replaced with banners with the family crest, and small furnishings were replaced with fancier equivalents.

Today, I was welcoming a visitor to such an extravagant office.

"Lord Tullius. Congratulations on your appointment as the head of the family and as a count."

"Welcome, Margrave Doldran. It's a pleasure to have you come all the way for your congratulations."

The guest could only force a smile as he listened to what was probably an indifferent reply from me, Tullius Shernan Oubeniel. Perhaps the listless expression on my face made it too obvious.

I'm sorry that he had to come all the way to Marlan, but my promotion was not that big of a deal. After all, brother, the previous head of the family, went insane and lost consciousness. Society must find the whole chain of events unsettling.

I, personally, am not happy about it at all. I would be most satisfied if I could spend all my time on alchemy research. Just being the lord of a small area like Marlan was enough trouble. There was enough work to do as it was. Fortunately, I've been told that a visit to the capital could wait since the harvest season is near. The reasoning was that the running of the territory should be stable before the end of the year.

"The new Count looks exhausted."

"Yeah, it's really unbearable."

As I was saying this, I was reminded of my duties the past few days.

Entertaining royal envoys who were here to grant me my official title. Gathering documents related to the administration of the entire province. Integration of my current vassalage with the direct vassals in the main family. And the list goes on.......

Handling the vassals was a particular headache. The old Oubeniel family vassals do not get along well with mine like Laubert, Victor, as well as Due, who was my headmost military officer. They must underestimate my vassals, assuming their main roles were to babysit the second son. There was also a sense of repulsion at the thought of having their properties and interests taken away. There was no way they could all get along.

Rubbing my temples in melancholy, I offered the Margrave a seat and took my own by the desk.

"Speaking of which, aren't you moving to Volden?"

"No way. I'm more comfortable at Marlan, and it’s troublesome."

There was no formal obligation that I have to move to Volden, the capital of this province, just because I was the count. I'm going to stay in Marlan. I've spent a lot of time and effort to build a land effective for my alchemy research. There was nothing beneficial in moving to Volden, blessed with its wines.

"Besides, it would be better for the reorganisation of the vassalage if Marlan is made the administrative center."

"Indeed. If everybody has to follow your instructions from Marlan, the men in Volden would eventually submit to you."

That's what I'm talking about. Without the approval of me, or the head of internal affairs, administrative matters could not proceed. I would set up a system to handle the administration like this. This way, the rebellious new vassals would have to bow to Marlan, no matter what they thought of this place. What if they act without my approval? That would be an intolerable act of defiance against the lord that could set the perfect stage for a purge. If some incompetent people tried to do something like that, Laubert would happily seize incriminating evidences and fire them. If they are competent or could be used, I could call them into Marlan using their rebuke worthy deeds as a pretext and then do the usual to force obedience on them.

If it were only my selfishness that kept me from moving the base, Laubert and the others would have shown more annoyance. In addition, Marlan was rapidly developing into a city for adventurers. This city would be impossible to handle for a random bureaucrat to take over in a moment’s notice. Laubert and Victor would have to take care of this city for a while. Judging from the growth the city is experiencing, it is very likely that there would be work in the future.

And now that we have gone this far in this topic...

"Excuse me. Here is a drink for the Margrave."

Uni arrived with a cart full of wine and a few snacks.

The Margrave's eyes flickered.

"Oh, that wine is from Volden. Man, I was thinking it would be nice if I could try that—"

"You like it very much, don't you? Don’t blame me if your liver starts to get worse."

"You don't drink, do you? If it’s distilled liquor, it can be treated as water. Oh my, it would be impolite to say such a thing about such an excellent wine."

"I am weak to it so...... Uni, tea for me."

"Yes, master."

I couldn't hide some disgust that crept into my tone. We were in the middle of a serious conversation, after all. As an ex-Japanese, I couldn't help but feel unimpressed by the idea of drinking alcohol while the sun was still high up in the sky. Well, I guess it's one of those cultural differences.

The Margrave enjoyed the famed wine slowly, but after finishing his first glass, he tightened his expression and asked.

"So, as for the future, am I correct in assuming that you will be working together with the Centralist faction?"

He asked, squarely.

This must be his main reason why he came to visit. As the coordinator of my faction, he has come to discuss the intricate matters that could not be done through normal communication. I know it's a hassle, but running a large organisation requires close communication. This was why the entire Opus series would be involved in review meetings after a major operation.

While it is a problem to have too many useless meetings, it too was a problem to not hold any meetings at all. No matter how much a brain is modified, human beings are not so mechanical that they can function with a one way communication channel. A sense of solidarity can be fostered through dialogue. On the other hand, stress builds up when a person simply receives instructions without being explained why. In addition, important instructions were less likely to be misinterpreted if they were given face-to-face.

"I intend to, for now."

"Huh? That's unusually ambiguous of you."

"Why thank you. In any case, I'm afraid progress at the royal capital is not going well."

I said, shrugging my shoulders.

Lavallee was made to take the blame for my brother and lost his position, and in his place, the Count Langogne took over the helm. He had been led by us to think that he could ingratiate himself with me, since he had gotten rid of brother and Lavallee, both of whom I had a feud with.

The plan was successful. Count Langogne had been going around telling his allies to work with us to pressure the Decentralists. But what happened after didn't go so well.

"The young people under Count Langogne are confused, but they seem to be generally on board. However, the rest of them seem to be reluctant."


The Margrave put his hand on his chin and appeared to be thinking about something. At the same time, he lifted his glass to ask for a refill. ...Hey, hey, don’t get carried away, mister.

He took a small sip of the second glass before saying.

"I don't understand. I can understand a hard-headed man like Count Mearbahn being unwilling, but a profit seeking man like Count Chambery too?"

"Count Chambery?"

As I recall, he was an aristocrat with a bad reputation, though not as bad as mine. He was notorious for being a bat who chased after small gains. It was somewhat surprising that the Margrave would mention this man.

As I thought, the Margrave gave a small laugh.

"You think he's an insignificant figure, don't you?"

"Am I wrong to think so?"

"......Not wrong. A man like Chambery is indeed insignificant."


I couldn’t fully understand the point he was trying to make then. So why are we focusing on an insignificant figure?

"He is like a weathervane. A weathervane can only move in the wind’s direction, but from its movements, we can tell where the wind is blowing."

"Oh, I see."

A small person who was just being carried along by the momentum was somehow going against the flow. That's why he found it unnatural.

"So you're saying that the wind is blowing from the opposite direction of Count Langogne?"

"I suppose so. No matter how infamous you are, an alliance is an opportunity for the Centralist faction to overwhelm the Decentralist faction. For Chambery to oppose it…...it must be a rather strong headwind."

I pondered for a moment.

Count Lagogne was bending to our will. He might dislike Count Mearbahn, but I'm sure he did not resent him enough to prevent him from making politically rational decisions. Count Chambery did not have enough power to create a flow large enough to compete with Count Langogne on his own. So, who was the mastermind behind this?
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