Chapter 71: Interlude II: Edgar Henry
I’m not sure how the Dellarose Earldom’s governing bodies were arranged before, but towards the end of Sir Bolther’s term, much of the power had been shifted around until no one really knows who is supposed to do what.
And the Dellarose Earldom is such a large territory to begin with.
To have the government in such large disarray, I think we were fairly lucky that only two barons were corrupted enough that we had to remove them from their positions.
Even if we’re dissatisfied with the performances of other barons and major officials, it can’t be helped that we have to leave some of them in their posts.
Just replacing two barons is going to be a massive headache.
There were also many other officials that we had to cut loose aside from the two barons, so it would be inadvisable to swap out the people who didn’t absolutely have to be cut away from the Dellarose Earldom.
Ah… I am the youngest person to ever take the position of an Earl’s Steward, but right now, looking at everything that has to be done, I have a slight impulse to quit!
It’s just the slightest impulse, though.
The reason there’s too much for me to do is all thanks to Sir Bolther leaving the guts of the Earldom in this sort of state.
To be honest, forcing him to retire while secretly confiscating almost all of his assets seems like too merciful a decision, but it can’t be helped.
Revealing that the Earl’s Steward was involved in a scandal that involved trying to tear down an Earl is like revealing the Duke or one of the Ministers was trying to destroy the Crown.
We simply can’t make things too public.
Haa… what a headache.
There were so many other officials involved with the conspiracy, and they all have to be chased out and imprisoned.
After replacing these official, all I need to do is sort out the governing bodies…
‘All’ I need to do.
Of course there are people resisting the changes, especially when the changes are being made by a young man like me, but if I give up now, the Dellarose Earldom will really be lost.
The territory is simply too big to let things take their natural course!
If the government isn’t in working order, how are we to make certain that everyone is doing what they should be doing?
For now… I chose the most responsible people, made them into the heads of each office, and told them to sort out their office’s personnel.
I hope they’ll understand that it’s in their best interest to do a good job and put their people in the most suitable roles instead focusing on personal acquaintances.
Of course, adding new personnel and removing old personnel are still things that have to go through me anyway, but I do hope no one gets any bright ideas to abuse their power while I’m so preoccupied with other things.
Come next Spring, there will be a thorough analysis and review of every single department and office’s movements, so the smart ones should realize that this is all just a test to see if they would be allowed to KEEP their positions.
Luckily, with all the ruckus and sacking of many people recently, most wise people are aware that this isn’t the time to be attracting attention to themselves.
Even if someone does start getting bold, they’ll likely be cautious enough that they can’t do too much damage come Spring, and I find it hard pressed to believe that anyone would be able to keep all their actions a complete secret, especially now that we’ve taken in Lysander, and a number of his associates.
At any rate, although I had to deal with restructuring the Earldom’s government right away, I had to delegate the finer details of the restructuring for one simple reason.
Thanks to My Lady, the Dellarose Earldom is going through a massive industrial boom.
Thanks to My Lady, all of Valed have their gleaming eyes glued to Roseat, the Capital of the Dellarose Earldom.
Thanks to My Lady … there are many companies, artisans, nobles – there are many people with official business who want to submit official alliances and proposals to partner with the Dellarose Earldom.
The problem is that the official story is that the lace, jewelry, and dresses are all being produced in the Dellarose Earldom.
Strictly speaking, that is the case.
However, when they’re asking which ateliers have devised these things, who the geniuses are that are working on it, and which region of the Earldom they all came from, it’s apparent that everyone thinks of these things as having been well-established, with many ateliers and artisans working on a regional specialty together.
As these people are looking for where to direct their discussions of business to, it’s very difficult to simply say, “Our Earl’s Lady’s wardrobe maids are the ones standing at the forefront of these trends.”
After all, we had implied that the lace and other fashion trends were a small but growing industry in the Dellarose Earldom.
Now, I have to quickly make that lie a reality before suspicious people realize that it’s just a handful of maids teaching one atelier all the ins and outs of lace making and fabric dying and … well, all the things the Young Lady has been coming up with.
It can’t be helped that I have to spend most of my attention on expanding the Office of Industry and Agriculture.
The industrial boom of fabric, fashion, and jewelry is getting so big, I’m beginning to think it might be better to split the office into the Office of Industry and the Office of Agriculture, but I’ll reserve that idea for the future.
I want to at least foster dialogue between the two offices in the future, so letting them continue to work together for now, before the one office gets too big, will hopefully plant that seed.
Thankfully, I had listened to My Lady and instituted an Office of Public Relations, because by the time I had barely returned the Dellarose government to some semblance of working order, the Summer Festival had already come and gone.
I am very, very thankful that I had managed to pick capable people for that. Really. Truly.
Through the Summer Festival, Lady Estella’s reputation has made a complete reversal, and her clearly friendly relationship with Lady Priscilla has become well known.
The Lady has also taken an interest in the direction of the Dellarose’s industry that has to deal with luxury items, and, although she’s not an intellectual woman, she is the worthy wife of an Earl, able to retain information and separate the things that should be said versus the things that shouldn’t be said.
Frankly, I’d rather the Earl’s wife have that quality than any sort of prized talent that the other noblewomen like to flaunt.
Music, embroidery, genius – what use is it if you don’t know how to keep the secrets of your family safe?
It doesn’t hurt that Lady Estella is a genuinely beautiful woman, enough that society easily forgives her lack of girth in the right places and has begun to pay attention to everything she wears and everything she does.
As advertisement, Lady Estella has become a model that any atelier would die to sign on.
Speaking of which, naturally, I haven’t forgotten Prestin Portere.
Perhaps I had overestimated him.
I asked Lysander to keep an eye on him, or arrange someone to keep an eye on him, but the man didn’t even make it to the Dellarose Estate before self-destructing.
Atelier Taylour immediately expelled the man, out of fear of retribution no doubt. Perhaps they were also dissatisfied with the man’s lack of vision.
Many of Portere’s clients … that’s not correct. All of Portere’s clients abandoned him.
If the man was a little smarter, he might have been able to win everyone back with his talent, but …
After looking over Lysander’s report, I can’t help but think I understand why Atelier Taylour cut him loose so easily.
He’s been resting on his past successes for so long, I don’t think he remembers how to design anymore.
I honestly didn’t think there was anything left for us to do to ruin the man, but it would be damaging to the Dellarose Lady’s dignity to allow him to go without any sort of retribution for his blatant, and public, disrespect.
… In the end, I just slapped a hefty fine onto him, which would undoubtedly worsen his life considerably now that he was practically without work, but now that the one he ridiculed has soared to such a great height while he was sunk below, the sheer disparity between our statuses make it a little beneath us to continue to torment him to death.
Also, it would be a waste of resources.
I suppose there was also the option to force him to pay reparations with his abilities, but no thank you.
I’m sure no one, not the Lady Estella nor the Lord Earl, wants that kind of a man around. And as for the man’s talents, apparently quite a few of Lady Estella’s wardrobe maids could give him a run for his money, so what would be the point?
Although I decided to have Lysander file a request to keep monitoring the man through the Dark Guild, just in case the man completely loses his mind and decides to do something stupid, from what I’ve heard, it’s only a matter of time before Prestin Portere does himself in.
He never lost the habit of acting like a bigshot, but previously, he had the backings of many nobles.
Now that he’s lost them, I think it’s pretty understandable how the man will end up.
At any rate, now that the Earldom’s government is … more or less under control, the industrial growth is … also mostly under control, and the reputation of the Earl’s family is … pretty much good, my next main task at hand is establishing that facility My Lady wanted.
The labora-something or other.
Although some of the head officials were against spending so much money and recruiting so many people just for the Young Lady’s interests, but I truly believe that the Young Lady’s vision is something that will pave the way to our future.
Not that this idea would be possible to explain to the officials that opposed. This kind of thing isn’t a matter of being able to be made to understand or not.
Either you could understand it or you couldn’t; there’s no real middle-ground for thinking that goes beyond public sense.
There are many geniuses often called fools before the future proves them correct, after all.
To be honest, having the laboratory made for the Young Lady doesn’t need to go through the Departments, or even the Dellarose Reserve.
Technically, the Earl’s own personal coffers would be able to erect a facility, hire people, and provide supplies without ever having to dip into the Earldom’s funds.
However… thinking of the future, how can I let such a potentially good thing fall through the cracks?
Although My Lady’s involvement … involvements with the recent growth of the Earldom are kept fairly quiet, there’s no way the officials of an Earldom could be foolish enough not to notice that she was involved somehow.
At least, those that might have been dimwitted enough to not notice were also dimwitted enough to be involved with treasonous affairs, so they have just been recently purged.
Regarding the Young Lady of the Dellarose Household, at the very, very least, people were aware of her close relationship with Queen Henrietta, and although the secret of the lace’s origins is being carefully guarded, there are already rumors of the Young Lady’s unique vision in fashion spreading about.
With this many people involved in the ‘secret,’ it’s impossible to keep it completely silent, after all.
Lysander and his growing cache of Dellarose covert operatives have been keeping an ear about, both in Roseat and in the Capital, for bad rumors about her, and will nip any potential rumors that get too close to the truth right in the bud.
Using this as a basis, during the hearing for the laboratory facility’s proposal, I launched into a rather impressive speech on the vision of our country’s youths, and how we needed to allow them to try new, maybe even outlandish ideas that they have in order for Valed to soar to great heights in the future.
However, should the elders, the wiser and most experienced of our country’s greats, allow these risky things go on without providing both guidance and support?
In order to allow Valed to soar to even greater heights far into the future, it is now that we must act to allow young minds to build on the foundations set by their elders and wisers!
This facility will not just be a plaything for the Young Lady; it is a shining beacon towards Valed’s glory!
… I also never knew I could spout so much complete rubbish at will, either.
As expected, my greatest opponent was the Head of the Dellarose Reserves, complaining that it was a waste of money and a betrayal to our Earldom’s populace since we would be spending a grand amount of money on a venture that promised no profits, but in the end, even if I didn’t fully convince everyone, I at least ground down their resistances until Lord Earl’s insistence broke through and the proposal was passed.
Thankfully, the Earl’s word is still the heaviest among all of the officials, and he did dote on his daughter.
Although he could have just strong-armed the rest of the officials into approving of the facility using his authority as the Earl, it appears that it goes against his personal principles.
I was reminded once again of how unusual an Earl the Dellarose Earldom’s Earl is, as well as understanding why he the rumor his dimwittedness had spread as well as it did.
Although many of the rumors that circulated about the Dellarose House were smear campaigns to damage their reputations, there was a kernel of truth in each rumor, after all.
However, rather than being indecisive and dimwitted, I feel that the Earl is just prone to overthinking.
He takes every objection very seriously, and considers them deeply.
I also feel that Lord Earl wishes to find a solution to every objection before proceeding, and that is certainly a trait that might sabotage his reputation as an Earl, but I don’t think it’s something that needs to be squashed out completely, and having a reliable board of officials is certainly a great way to bypass those disadvantages.
Honestly, I would much prefer a thoughtful leader compared to one that merely exercises his decisiveness without any consideration whatsoever, so I agree with My Lady.
There is much, much more one can do at the side of an Earl like this without having to resort to sneaky, or insubordinate actions.
A shame that Sir Bolther and the other officials were so blind that they went down that route regardless.
Thanks to Lord Earl’s authority, My Lady’s facility went up quite in almost no time, and the researchers she was looking for to be Miss Mayse’s contemporaries were quickly rounded up, thanks to a combination of good advertising and Lysander’s own legwork.
Although I had misgivings about including a poison expert, but Lysander himself had assigned quite a few covert operatives to closely watch over the boy’s movements, so I decided to let it slide for now.
The only problem was that, although we managed to secure funds for the building and initial population of researchers, I couldn’t see the board of officials agreeing to continuing public funding in the future.
At least, that was the case until a few months later, when ‘profits’ turned up quite unexpectedly and the Dellarose industrial boom that was directed mainly at fashion ateliers, textile raw material suppliers, and gemstone mining exploded, enveloping nearly all of our agricultural industry and giving birth to a new apothecary branch; cosmetics.
Until now, apothecaries dealt in all forms of medicinal concoctions, including those meant for beautification, but most beautifying agents were simply some form of raw material, whether herbs or fats.
At the most, rouge and powders were made by pulverizing various components together.
However, under Lady Fluvia’s personal interests in effective and safe beautifying agents, apparently the concoctions spun out knowledge that went far beyond what an apothecary would normally learn for medicine, and thus a separate branch was formed, and the laboratory itself had a separate cosmetics department.
Of course, the laboratory didn’t deal only in cosmetics; that was what simply garnered the most attention among the nobles.
In actuality, the necessities of cosmetic research expanded far beyond just the industry of cosmetics.
The agricultural department, visited every few months by Lady Priscilla, began to study how to produce the best yields of various crops. Olives, which had previously only had a mediocre sort of demand, were booming, and various other herbs that were in low enough demand that they were often foraged for instead of raised, were now suddenly hot commodities.
Under Lady Fluvia’s caution to avoid overtaxing the earth, the agricultural department studied the idea of ‘crop rotation’ and fertilizers, utilizing plots for long-term experiments to see if there were any negative effects on both the crops and the earth that would only appear after a long time.
Naturally, food research was also conducted due to the agricultural department influence, and many forms of food preservation, cooking methods, and new edibles were slowly being discovered at a rate far less, but not unnoticeable, to the agricultural department and the cosmetics department.
In no time, rose water became the Dellarose Earldom’s main specialty product, farmers were finally able to move their surplus crops, the tax increased greatly without any raise in tax rates from the Earl, and there was now a small budget set aside by the Reserves to fund the continuation of the laboratory’s activities.
There are even plans to expand the laboratory’s facilities to better accommodate metal working researchers and the strange ‘inventors’ group that, honestly, only seem to cause trouble, but My Lady seems to hold in high regards.
At first we had some problems managing that budget, but it was quickly sorted out in no time, and after I appointed Rolin Litman to oversee the entire operation, the laboratory really became something beyond what I had expected.
The only small side problem that appeared after that was the testing of products on humans.
The Young Lady was adamant that slave contracts were not to be allowed to be made for people who wished to become product testers, and after thinking about it, I agreed.
Only the person himself could sell himself to be a tester.
At first glance, that rule seems unnecessary. Right now, only cosmetic formulas that were tested and approved by the laboratory were allowed to be sold, and most of the shops and production facilities followed the rules strictly.
Furthermore, there was only one laboratory to be found in the country, and that was ours.
It should be relatively easy to make sure testers weren’t being taken advantage of even if there was a slave contract.
However, Lady Fluvia didn’t back down.
“These ideas are still new, so it’s inevitable that everyone’s following the rules now, but once they’ve gotten used to how things work, in the future, who knows. I don’t know if those businesses who specialize in production will make their own laboratories or if there will people who erect their own research facilities, but I think we will regret things in the future if we don’t lay down some rules for what laboratories can and can’t do.”
Since it was easy to imagine how selling others to be testers could be abused, there was no objection to making guidelines on who could and couldn’t be testers, and when human testers could and couldn’t be used.
We set age limits and consent requirement codes for the testers, as well as the extensive requirements and procedures all human testing had to file before being granted permissions.
Before I knew it, I didn’t even have time to think about my previous days of idleness and despair.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few more proposals to look through before overseeing the prerogatives for the southern regions of the Earldom.
When considering the southern regions, we should also begin to consider improving the ease of travel across the Earldom. If there’s an ease of travel, there will also be an increase for the demand of permanent members of the Guards and Militia to increase the security between towns. If that’s the case, perhaps we should contact all the Barons to question their interest in promoting ease of travel … …
<a/n: Tying some more loose ends together~.
I hope it’s obvious now that Fluvia is here to empower the isekai natives, not introduce a ton of things out of nowhere. I mean, yeah, there were some liberties taken at the beginning, but now that she’s kickstarted the stagnating industries, they’re off and running mostly on their own… ish.>