Chapter 5 : Marquis Barksch

I sat in my office reading the reports of the domain. My cousins have started to get too showy even for my tastes with their crimes. However, they were family. I couldn’t arrest them. If I did the domain would lose almost all of its officials. Even if I was to debase myself by hiring commoners they wouldn’t have the education to do the job. A knock on his door occurring.

[ Come in. ]

The door opened to reveal the house’s steward.

[ Master Barksch, the envoy from the Capital has arrived. ]

I nodded my head and straightened up. In a few moments he returned with the envoy. I couldn’t hide the dissatisfaction on my face. The Queen herself was my cousin and yet the one she sent to check on the domain was one of the King’s Royal Knights. The handsome youth entered the room.

[ Marquis Barksch it has been awhile. ]

I moved to sit down at the couch and table. A maid had come in with them serving snacks and tea.

[ It has Sir Kyle. How is your father? ]

The miserable knight was nothing more than low born who gained his position by having a commoner father trick his way into the position of Prime Minister.

[ Troubled by the movement of Swordland as usual. ]

I nodded my head.

They may be worse than having a commoner for a Prime Minister. He was easy to kill but a militaristic country with bad social practices was harder to regrasp freedom from.

[ I see. Thankfully, they have not made any unusual movements on our side of the border. ]

He nodded his head in agreement.

[ That’s true. The Queen was quite distressed for the domain after ‘bandits’ ransacked some of the villages in Count Wicker’s domain. ]

[ I heard. We sent some supplies over to the villages. They were so close to our domain. Some of our knights will be sent next week to help guard that part of the border. ]

Sir Kyle relaxed into the couch.

[ I am relived to hear that. The Count’s daughter Lexia has been promised to the Duke’s son. It seems She has made quite the impression on the young Jacob. ]

Tch. The Count was whoring his children as usual.

[ Yes, I hear she is quite the beauty. My own sons had to be kept away from her just in case. ]

He cracked up laughing.

[ Does a Count’s daughter not meet your standards? ]

[ I would be blessed to welcome a Count’s daughter into my house, just not that one. ]

He nodded his head.

[ That’s true. A reformist sending his daughter to one of the heads of the Traditionalists would cause quite a problem. ],

Commoners, they all had the worst social tact.

[ It would. Is this perhaps why you have come here? ]

He shook his head and was about to speak when one of my brother’s knights came running into the room. Behind him was most of the house’s staff and guards. However, he seemed to be in a complete panic and held up two heads.

[ Lidge! ]

The knight fell to his knees holding the heads.

[ Master, master it is awful! ]

I stood up quickly.

[ Was it Swordland! Did they manage to find a way through the Forest! ]

He shook his head no.

[ It is worse! The Forest of Mist has awoken! ]

Sir Kyle stood up as well.

[ What do you mean the forest has awakened! The entire side of the Forest is covered in mist and miasma. ]

The Knight gripped on to the head of his friend.

[ We went to collect the tax, but there was an argument. The villagers refused to hand it over. They said they could not pay it completely this year. Clint’s young son Cliff stepped in front and tried to get involved. Kip was about to swing his sword in warning when a monster appeared. ]

He started to shake and cry.

[ The monster said he was the Old One Alskare, the Stallion of the Queen of Spring. The Water of the Mountain Valley. ]

[ What nonsense is this! ]

More tears streamed from his face.

[ Water surged around the man. It turned into blades that chopped off their heads. He only let me come back to tell you to stop threatening the Children of the Mountain or they will return blight on our lands. ]

I turned to Sir Kyle.

[ We must organize a subjugation quest at once! There are monsters in the forest. ]

Sir Kyle looked at the knight.

[ You are telling us a monster appeared out of nowhere to protect some villagers and Cliff? ]

He shook his head no.

[ There was a girl! We had never seen her in the village! He said he didn’t want her to see such sights! ]

Sir Kyle crossed his arms.

[ A girl you say? ]

The Knight nodded quickly.

[ Beautiful. Blonde-haired green-eyed. Maybe nine years old… She appeared with Cliff and Clara. She didn’t seem to know what tax collection was or what was going on. But she stepped in front of Cliff when Kip went to swing his sword! ]

What was this!

[ This girl was she human? ]

He nodded his head.

[ Yes. I think so! It seems the monster was concerned she would get struck by the sword. ]

I turned to Sir Kyle.

[ A rogue mage? A summoner or tamer? ]

He crossed his arms.

[ Knight what do you think? ]

He gripped the head tighter. The Knight’s hands turning white.

[ There was no magic from the girl. I don’t think she was a mage or summoner. And the creature didn’t seem to be there because she wanted it too. It surprised her too. She even seemed to ask it not to destroy things. I think it was watching her. ]

I glared at the knight.

[ This is utter nonsense! ]

The Knight crumbled onto the floor and bowed his head.

[ Please, please master. Do something about the monster. ]

Sir Kyle looked out the window.

[ That Mountain Valley has always been unusual. Not only are there four dungeons in it they all have always seemed related. The Dwarves have always been able to get material from the other dungeons when no one else could. ]

I looked at him exasperated.

[ Monsters from Dungeons don’t grow attached to humans or leave the dungeons. ]

He nodded his head.

[ As far as we know. We don’t know much about dungeons. Everyone has different theories about them. The only thing we do know is that they appear and they sometimes have Masters. Perhaps, there is another dungeon in the Mountain Valley that had remained closed to us. The Master could be this Queen of Spring. ]

I looked at him shocked.

[ Then we have to send a subjugation force right away! ]

He looked at me annoyed.

[ You want to send our forces into a possible dungeon with unknown strength which is not only surround by a forest of mist and miasma but could have the four other dungeons- including a neutral country full of top tier goods, that may come to support it. ]

I clenched my fists.

Why is this happening in my domain…

[ Then what do we do? Swordland is already pressuring us. ]

[ I’ll send a letter to the Queen and King. Tell them what I heard. After that I will ride ahead alone to meet this girl and hear what happened from the villagers. Send in three days’ time a small gathering of knights, your son and some officials. We may have to meet the other party in a more official manner. ]

I couldn’t help but nod my head.

Worse case scenario I can not only kill Sir Kyle and the creatures but cover it up by killing the annoying villagers and some of the knights.

[ Understood. ]

Sir Kyle bent down and put his hand on the crying knight’s shoulder.

[ You did well getting here and telling us. We shall bury your friend with honors. ]

He looked up at him with eyes full of gratitude.

Pathetic commoners.

[ Thank you, Sir Kyle. ]

[ Go rest now. ]

He looked at me and I nodded my head. The house staff and the guards who had been stunned listening helped him get up and leave.

[ Sir Kyle. ]

He turned back to look at me.

[ Do not worry Marquis. The King and Queen have much faith in you. ]

Yes, he’s right. My cousin Shera was always a weak-willed girl.

[ Please, protect my domain. ]

Sir Kyle nodded and left the room. Everyone clearing out except my head steward.

[ Master. ]

With my back turned I sighed.

[ Assemble the forces. Tell my son that it is time he proves his worth as my successor. ]

He bowed to me and left the room.

I will not have such monsters in my domain.

A slight stir occurring in his shadow.    

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Arifureta is Awesomely Bad

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