Say, in days bygone, nobles wanted statuses and ranks corresponding to the actions they did, right?
I was currently in the lower fifth rank. The upper fifth rank had essentially been guaranteed to me, though! How did things come to this?
The kingdom was basically saying that they had expectations for me now.
I had been put into a very difficult position. In addition to the contributions and other such things regular nobles had to do, I also had to do a suitable amount of work in the event of a war. Promotions were grave matters.
If a war sprung up, it would difficult for me to reject a request to depart for the front, even if I was a student. Due to that, I had decided to carry out a few preparatory steps.
So, I was currently in a pub, gathering with boys of the same group as me and having a good time there.
“Leon, do you really have airships?”
“I’m envious. They’re warships, right?”
“Just having an airship alone is desirable. My household doesn’t have any.”
Heirs of noble households from the countryside had gathered at the pub, with me being the leading guest of the banquet.
People were envious, and there were also those harboring jealousy. ──That was within expectations.
“They’re in maintenance right now. Though as a matter of fact──I’m actually troubled by how many I have.”
When hearing that, the boys stared daggers at me.
“You guys want them?”
Raymond immediately stood up.
He desperately wanted an airship since it meant being able to succeed his house in the future. There was a big difference between having one and not having one. However, it would cost a lot of money to buy one.
The maintenance costs were nothing to sneeze at either.
Many barons used cheap, old airships.
“W, what are you playing at?”
Everyone knew the value in state-of-the-art, superior airships made by the principality. They knew that they couldn’t just selfishly take them. Rather, I held good will towards them and their inability to simply tell me to hand them over.
Everyone’s gaze surrounded me as I leisurely held my drink to my mouth.
“In fact, I’ve decided to set up a factory in my household. That’s where maintenance for the ships will occur. If you entrust ‘everything’ to me in terms of their maintenance──perhaps I can offer them to you for free.”
The boys’ gazes immediately swarmed around me.
“A, are you really saying something so opportune?”
“Could it be that they’re defective?”
“But they’re airships from the principality, right? They’re not defective as long as they can move.”
I sincerely confronted the boys, who couldn’t help but feel uneasy.
“I want you guys to be relieved. I also have something to gain here too. Besides, I vow not to swindle you guys through shoddy repairs or anything similar.”
I hated the tactic of offering cheap products that came with expensive maintenance costs.
Even so, that didn’t clear their doubts, causing me to sigh.
“I get it. I’ll also add in four units of armor per airship. Armor from the principality, mind you. I can guarantee their quality.”
Raymond tried to dizzily approach me while Daniel held him back.
“W, wait, Raymond! This is Leon we’re talking about. He’ll suck you dry to the bone!”
My delicate heart screamed in response to the cruel evaluation my friends had of me.
The others also had looks of suspicion towards me. It seemed isolating to find that fellow groupmates were treating me coldly, even when we all came here to have a good chat.
“Sorry. I just thought it make for good publicity to give you guys airships. I understand. I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
Daniel stopped me.
“Wait! I, is it really free? You’re not going to charge us afterwards or give us anything defective?!”
“I want your trust. I am not a man who spews lies.”
It was sad how several boys replied with “Liar,” but the truth was that I wasn’t lying.
I was planning to do proper business.
I was prepared to have a factory at my household, and I would be the owner of it. For the future, I was thinking about using my earnings from the factory to make contributions to the kingdom. Getting promoted was a grave matter. I needed to earn money.
Perhaps some would claim that I had enough from remunerations. That would be incorrect, though. There was no point in banking on temporary money when asked to make a contribution every year. I would have nothing left before even a decade passes.
I definitely had to make money.
No matter how much thought I put into it, the floating island I owned would only be able to earn at around the level of a semi-baron house.
I even thought about having it be a tourist spot, but this was a dangerous world filled with monsters and sky pirates. There would be few customers.
Therefore, I had thought about setting up a factory in other to increase my sources of future income.
“As if I would sell a broken airship. I would lose the trust I need for future business. I would instantly have no customers for the factory. So, I have to make some concessions in order to get customers. Fortunately, I’ve got some airships that I picked up.”
I promoted the deal while remembering how it was done in my previous world.
“Right now, I’ve got airships and armor free of charge, a grand total of zero dia! No need to worry about the maintenance! I’ll take care of it! I promise to charge reasonable prices. I’ll even put it down on paper.”
One by one, the boys raised their hands.
“I, I’ll do it!” “M, me too!” “Me too!”
With a smile, I prepared contracts and handed them to the boys.
“Yes, write your name down on this field and I’ll send them over to your household. You’ll have to explain it to your parents as well. Oh, and if you have any old airships, I’ll buy them.”
Seeing everyone cheerfully taking the documents, I grinned.
“Everyone──let’s keep in touch as pals.”
──Thanks for taking the initiative on the freebies.
Gentlemen, I hope you will continue to do your very best from now on. My airship maintenance schema was within reach, and now that I had some loyal friends, a smile appeared on my face.
There was a duke residence within the royal capital.
Anjie had been summoned to her older brother, “Gilbert”, on a holiday.
“Brother, is there a problem?”
Gilbert made a slightly troubled expression.
There was a document on his table which he showed to Anjie.
“This? This is a contract about the buying and selling of airships, right?”
“Right. It seems that Leon has been handing them out to baron households.”
Hearing that, Anjie felt an ominous premonition. She wondered if the duke household had any qualms with Leon’s conduct.
“S, sorry. I’ll stop him at once.”
“There’s no need for that. The circulation of airships isn’t the problem.”
She was relieved after hearing that there was no problem.
However, Anjie wondered why she had been called.
“Then what is this about?”
“It seems that he had set up a factory at his household. It seems that he’s doing rapid maintenance on airships and offering them to baron homes for free. Perhaps his goal is publicity──but don’t you think it seems a little too hasty? I’m worried about what someone like him, who single-handedly thwarted the principality, is thinking.”
Gilbert told Anjie that the kingdom was lightly thinking about this matter as well.
“The royal palace isn’t taking the principality seriously after it had been knocked down by students. Even though the principality has been hindered, it seems that the kingdom is being quite careless towards them. However, the person who fought in the battle is now strengthening his vigilance. What do you think of this?”
He had asked Anjie if there was anything she had to say.
“I, I don’t know. It’s just──”
“It’s just that──he has in fact suddenly been busy. Since then, he’s been training diligently and visiting the dungeon frequently.”
Leon told her that he lost confidence after getting beaten up by the Black Knight, and that he was working harder because of that, but Anjie thought about it.
(Is he being cautious about the principality? Even when the royal palace isn’t?)
It seemed that the kingdom didn’t think of the principality as a threat since they had been beaten by students of the academy.
When they heard that the Black Knight had lost as well, they dismissed him as a famous knight who had grown old.
Gilbert tapped the desk with his fingers.
It seemed to Anjie that her older brother was irritated.
“I wonder if we should be alert. I’d also like to discuss the matter of the principality in full later on, but right now the Redgrave family has little influential power. Keep in mind that we are falling behind.”
Anjie then remembered about Hertrude.
“How was her Highness Hertrude dealt with?”
“Dealt with? I can only say that it was naive. It turned into discussions about her studying abroad in the kingdom. Father did oppose it, though. I heard that there was a marquis who didn’t yield.”
Anjie’s eyes widened.
(So father’s influence has fallen by that much. Hearing that a marquis can overshadow him──is troubling.)
Anjie was alert about the expanding influence of the opposing faction.
“The marquis said that it was an opportunity to learn about the country’s strength within the academy. It seems he wants to use this opportunity to take in her Highness the princess and make the principality a subsidiary of the kingdom once more. It seemed that he also tried to condemn us for the matter of the Olfery earl household, but that was quickly cut down.”
The Olfery earl household belonged to same faction as that marquis household.
However, they were quickly punished after the matter of the sky pirates, and their status as nobles, their assets, their territory, and everything else had been forfeit.
The earl daughter who picked a quarrel with Leon had lost everything.
She had done dirty work, and was soon cast away when she made a blunder.
(At this point, I might start to pity that woman.)
Anjie felt a bit of sympathy for the earl daughter. After all, the path awaiting her was not an easy one by any means.
Gilbert changed the topic.
“This may be off topic, but it seems that you’ve gotten along rather well with the honor student.”
As Anjie hung her head, Gilbert continued.
“You have no reason to get along with people any more than necessary.”
Anjie sent Gilbert a look of strong will.
“Sh, she is my friend. This does not concern you.”
Gilbert quietly gazed at Anjie, but soon recognized that his sister wouldn’t back down.
“Do as you please.”
“I, is that fine?”
“If you’re going that far, then I won’t interfere. Besides, Father and I both feel indebted after this matter. However, if she is your dear friend, then you must protect her yourself.”
“In addition, we need to reselect the people who will stand by you.”
“──What will happen to those two?”
When asked about the two girls who had betrayed Anjie, Gilbert made an eerie smile.
“Do you want to know?”
“──No, that was a foolish question.”
Anjie understood that the two followers, who she knew since childhood, wouldn’t be let off without retribution.
However, she felt complicated on the inside.
Though she had emotional wounds from the betrayal, more prominent to her were Leon and Livia, who had risked their lives to save her.
(──Perhaps I have been blessed.)
She thought as such while comparing herself to the earl daughter, who had excessively coerced those around her into obeying her.
Once Gilbert finished talking about Earl Olfery and the two traitors, he asked a question, as if prying a bit into something.
“Also──what do you think of Leon?”
“What do I think?”
“Yes, correct. I haven’t heard about who he has decided on for a marriage partner. He has done many things and gotten promoted. I believe it would be a problem if he got married to a bad partner.”
Anjie knew that Gilbert was thinking about taking in Leon. Indeed, it would be very helpful to have Leon as an ally.
Furthermore, there was also a side of him that was easy to control.
Him offering state-of-the-art airships and armor from the principality was evidence of that.
If they monopolized this factor, their own war potential would increase, but on the contrary, it would also be a hazard.
Both the royal palace and duke household would probably be on guard.
Even though he was a baron from a remote region, his numerous airships would become a threat. In the blink of an eye, he could instantly take control over other floating islands and become one giant force.
There had been many worries about him capturing surrounding territories and bearing his fangs against the kingdom.
Gilbert and the others seemed to recognize that Leon wouldn’t do that.
(I was planning to warn him if he got carried away, but since he’s just distributing them to barons, my brother isn’t even considering him a threat.)
It seemed that he was strengthening his connections, but both the royal palace and duke household judged that what he was doing wasn’t a problem.
What Leon had on hand were broken airships and armor. He had presented the ones in good condition to the royal palace and duke house──to the point that it made them say “Are you really okay with that?!”
It seemed like he was a knight who selflessly disregarded profit, and some even gossiped that he was the duke household’s new loyal dog.
Anjie reported Leon’s search for marriage to Gilbert.
“Since he has been busy recently, he hasn’t seen any women. T, the girls hate him.”
Gilbert held his hand over his forehead.
“I don’t understand. Why aren’t they looking at him? He’s a knight who will soon get promoted to the upper fifth rank, and yet women aren’t looking his way──”
Anjie began suspecting what Gilbert was saying.
“Brother, isn’t Leon in the lower fifth rank? I heard that he would get promoted after graduation, though.”
Gilbert looked at Anjie, and felt slightly embarrassed that he had forgotten to tell her.
“Sorry. I forget to tell you. The truth is──”