Chapter 21: Fluvia’s Steward Lays a Foundation
A majority of the Dellarose Household has traveled to the Capital at this time.
Due to the severity of the issue of Her Majesty’s assassination attempt, all the major nobles have been called into the Capital.
Officially, it’s to celebrate Her Majesty’s recovery, but unofficially – how can things be that simple?
For that reason, Edgar Henry felt the tension of all the major nobles, as their best and their brightest trailed along behind him.
Truthfully, this was something that Edgar had hidden from Young Lady Fluvia.
After all, at this critical, nerve-wracking time of an assassination on the Queen, there were people with power within the Dellarose Household that can be suspected of disloyalty! As it was, Edgar was already over-relying on a 5-year-old child, wasn’t he?!
The girl even had poor health!
Even so, he was already beginning to regret not telling her about it.
After all, this was something that he couldn’t afford to remain quiet about, for the good of the Dellarose House, but at the same time, there was no one who would believe him other than Young Lady Fluvia.
It’s not like he WANTED to rely on the child. It was because there was literally NO ONE ELSE he could rely on.
What made him feel relieved was that, although it wasn’t being passed around, the Queen’s savior was that very Young Lady Fluvia.
Although it was unlikely, even on that rare chance that people within the Dellarose House were involved with the assassination attempt, the suspicion wouldn’t be placed on them for a good while since the daughter saved the Queen’s life.
A little bit of a grace period for him to work in – Edgar calmed the trembling in his chest.
He didn’t know if it was because he was excited or terrified of the current circumstances.
But now was the time for him to act.
“Excuse me, Head Butler Gernoit. Can I take a few moments of your time?”
Edgar didn’t miss the flash of dismissal on Head Butler Gernoit’s face.
At this point in time, Edgar didn’t mind. It was a lot better than the sneers from other people.
Seriously, just when did he allow his reputation to fall this far?
Edgar threw all thoughts of pride and reputation out of his mind to concentrate.
Winning over Head Butler Gernoit was integral for him right now.
“I think you’re aware that I’m currently running business for the Young Lady? Due to my lack of experience, I was hoping to get your input on a few things…”
Gernoit’s face changed from the neutral, passive look to a surprised look. His voice held true curiosity in it as he asked,
“Is that so? I believe this should be Sir Bolther’s line of work, though?”
“Yes, that’s true. However, Sir Bolther has been … excuse me, Sir Bolther told me to think of things myself. However, I have never been instructed on the Dellarose House’s affairs, so how can I do something like a business contract based on my own thoughts? I’m not even aware of the extent of our assets, or even the Dellarose House’s goals and focuses!”
Smearing someone’s name in dirt? Edgar Henry could do it as well, and he was much better at it!
“Although I’m not sure why it’s become like this, I’m sure you’ re aware of my reputation. Is this really something that I should be left alone to do? I also have those thoughts, but I wish to fully shoulder the Young Lady’s expectations.”
He wasn’t an idiot. He was fully aware of the inconsistencies of Bolther’s actions, as of late, and furthermore he had a small grudge against the Steward.
“Indeed. I question Sir Bolther’s actions to leave you to your own devices, since he insists that you… that you are not as capable as he had hoped.”
Gernoit carefully altered his words in order not to offend Edgar, but at this point, Edgar wouldn’t have cared.
“And that is why I thought the Head Butler, who helps oversee the tributes and taxes to be sent to the Capital would have some insight –“
“That… I’m no longer in charge of that.”
Gernoit replied with a bitter look.
“…! I-is that, so…”
Edgar feigned surprise.
There was silence for a moment, as Gernoit felt humiliated at having to admit the cut to his authority.
As for Edgar, he was pretending to be thinking deeply.
After a bit,
“… I cannot proceed without understanding the situation of surplus to tribute. Head Butler Gernoit, is it possible to send several errand runners to check on the situations at several high-producing towns? It just so happens that I was hoping to check on their situation as well, so this might not be so inconvenient.”
“I can compare the taxes taken from the towns to the taxes sent out to the Capital versus our Reserve to determine the surplus I would have to work with, although it will only be an estimate based on money, compared to knowing the full harvest versus the reserved harvest, versus the sold amounts. It’s unfortunate I don’t have time to do such a conclusive study…”
Edgar’s voice sounded like it was full of regret, but in truth, he desperately needed the monetary information, not the product information.
Gernoit was pleasantly surprised.
Although he wasn’t well-versed in who had what useful information, he knew enough to understand what Edgar wished to do, and that it was certainly not the worst idea in the world.
Also, to ask the Head Butler about the suitability of people to run the errands – even though the Head Butler was a position that specialized in such micro-management of personnel, it had been far too long since he was last consulted about it.
“What were you originally going send people to find out from the villages?”
“Yes, that’s… Young Lady Fluvia is a very compassionate girl. She does not wish for our profit to be at the expense of our citizens, so she wished to ascertain whether or not the farmers had the surplus to spare from the farmers themselves. It may only be the concerns of a child, but I think that she has a lot of potential, if she’s able to be concerned to that degree.”
Edgar did not hesitate in singing – and fabricating – Young Lady Fluvia’s praises.
As for why he down-played Young Lady Fluvia’s brilliance was because he had been caught by Healer Martin on the way out of the House of Healing.
“I’m sure you noticed it, right? You don’t want the Lady Fluvia to face persecution, do you? A five-year-old child can be bright, but Lady Fluvia can no longer be assumed to be ‘just bright’.”
The Healer firmly warned Edgar so, and Edgar agreed.
At the same time, he thought it would be a waste of the Young Lady’s abilities if they restricted her.
5-years-old might be too young, but it would be fine if she was recognized as a young genius later on, right?
Laying the foundations for uncovering embezzlement, laying the foundations for regaining his footing, and laying the foundations for raising up the Young Lady’s reputation – Edgar was going to be a very busy man!
Working together with Gernoit on who could be trusted with sensitive information, like taxes, as well as who was capable at horse-riding to make the trips, and which towns were worth going to, Edgar finally let go of the nervousness that had been roiling in his stomach as he began to enjoy the work.
After arranging for both the errand-runner and a guard from the militia to accompany him for 5 different towns, Edgar finally said,
“Um… this… won’t get to Sir Bolther, will it? Although I will certainly report your help in my report to the Lord Earl, I don’t … that is …”
Edgar sighed and hesitated, although his hesitations this time were fake.
After working with Edgar for this much, and after not working with Bolther for so long, he had his own ideas about Bolther.
“Hmph. Let him know and let him get involved? I wonder how much we’d be able to get done, then! Forget it. We can inform Sir Bolther of our movements after the fact. There isn’t anything against us doing that, is there?”
After thinking about it, though, Gernoit asked with some worry.
Edgar shook his head.
“No, he certainly told me to think for myself, so as long as I properly report my movements afterwards, there will be nothing against us. I’m mostly afraid he’ll accuse me of not doing it alone.”
“Is it possible to fully do anything alone?”
Edgar shook his head.
“Personally, I think it’s much better to rely on others who can do things better than you, if you’re at a loss. I want to show my capabilities in this field as well.”
Could Gernoit be worried that Edgar would steal the credit for his work?
Not really, since Edgar requested for Gernoit to sign off on the personnel orders as well.
Indeed, whether Edgar would steal the credit, or push blame off on the Head Butler was non-existent, since both of their names were written on the orders.
In that respect, Gernoit was a bit impressed.
With Edgar’s reputation it was hard to say whether people would take his work orders seriously, but with Gernoit backing him – this Steward Apprentice had rather good judgement. Sir Bolther must be senile to judge this young man as hopeless.
It’s over for Bolther. It’s much better to support this Steward Apprentice.
These were Gernoit’s true thoughts as he went off to call the Dellarose Militia Commander over to discuss the guard assignments for the errand-runners.
Of course, Gernoit didn’t have to call the Commander over for such a minor assignment, but the Head Butler was thinking that it would be better for Edgar to meet the Commander face-to-face at least once before the Steward Apprentice took over.
As for Edgar, he felt the burden on his shoulders begin to rise as Gernoit had obviously taken an interest in him, going as far as to help him begin to make connections within the Household.
Even though this should be Sir Bolther’s job…
But even though he had such thoughts, Edgar had long since given up on that man.
As he waited for Gernoit to come back from instructing someone to call the Commander over, Edgar gave a bit of a sigh and glanced at the ‘shadow’ he had begun to have since the day he had met with the Young Lady Fluvia to discuss her business.
“… Are you watching my actions to report back to the Young Lady?”
Edgar asked the guard, who had originally been explained as a guard for Edgar’s own safety.
Guard Jordan coughed at the sudden question.
It was the truth. Rather than a guard for Edgar’s own safety, he was definitely more of a spy for the Young Lady.
“… And if I am?”
Guard Jordan adopted a stern, intimidating air after he had recovered from coughing.
“Nothing much. I’m actually relieved. Don’t just report, though. If I’m doing something against the honor of the Dellarose House or the Young Lady, do stop me. I’m not getting any guidance on this point, after all.”
Guard Jordan stared at Edgar Henry in surprise.
“You wish for me, a mere guard, to correct you?”
Edgar turned to directly look at him and smiled.
“I cannot afford to learn by making mistakes the hard way. If I want to be of use to the Young Lady, I must learn in the most efficient way possible. And therefore, I will be in your care.”
<A/n: Oh dammit. I didn’t think this far into the Queen’s assassination attempt. Let’s see where this goes…
It seems this story insists on conspiracy theories even as I’m trying to manipulate it to go more slice-of-life.
That said, I think it was too naive for me to assume the timeline would be slice-of-life => major tumult=> important events+slice-of-life => other major tumults.
In a ‘derail the plotline’ type of story, it kind of makes sense that there would be major tumultuous events more towards the beginning before the MC can take a break and sigh in relief, huh?
The good news (for me) is that it’s literally just swapping two parts of my timeline. After this mess the slice-of-life will come, the bad news is that the mess keeps escalating out of my expectations!
Looks like Fluvia might actually be more of a problem child than Jun…>