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Chapter 10: The Fourth’s Era

The Fourth's Era

Within the Jewel.

Worn and ragged, I clung to the Fourth in tears.

"I can't go on any longer. Is there any chance you could lend me your knowledge?"

It was almost two weeks since the start of cultivation, but the results were terrible.

Failure, and failure. Even if things were going well it would fail, and starting again from scratch over and over again was what made up the time.

In the round table room, the ancestors and Milleia-san made expressions as if to say, 'oh dear', as they looked at me.

The Fourth stood, and beckoned to me.

And he started off towards his room of memories. Looking around, the ancestors just motioned for me to go.

Milleia-san was smiling brightly, waving me goodbye.

"... He could've at least said something."

Murmuring to myself, I headed for the room, and rounding the door, I found the scenery different from before.

The Fourth's room of memories generally displayed a one-way road that extended beyond the horizon. But today, there were carts, and men, and a young Fourth Generation Head commanding them.

The young Fourth... Max issued orders to those around.

But the atmosphere wasn't very pleasant.

[What is the meaning of this!? Just what did you use a majority of the prepared resources on!?]

The ones being told off were the people of the new addition to the territory. One of its leaders came forwards as a representative to speak with Max.

[The truth is, the villages needed some resources themselves. What we're doing here isn't particularly urgent, so we lent it to them. If the need arises, we'll definitely be able to prepare more.]

In his teens.

Young, and having just become a Baron, Max was being made light of. Normally, even if he was younger, as long as he was a feudal lord, one wouldn't take on such an attitude of contempt.

Standing before my side sometime along the way, the Fourth looked at his past self, and sighed.

[Good goddess, thinking back, just what was I doing?]

"Why did it come to this? Whatever the case, that isn't an attitude to direct at a feudal lord. Arbitrarily using up resources is..."

That was a crime where you couldn't complain if you were executed on the spot. It wouldn't even be strange if whole villages were to be punished for it. But before an annoyed Max, the other party smiled.

[It's not like this project will go well anyways. If it's going to be wasted, then it's best to put it to effective use.]

[The Walt House is an upstart House after all. I can understand why they'd feel impatient.]

[Now then, we're busy, so we'll be taking back some of our manpower.]

The people acting of their own arbitrations were being glared at by the people behind Max. But there was a difference in numbers.

"... Those who were residents of Walt House land from the start, and the ones included in the newly expanded territory. It looks like a ditch had formed between them."

It was a terrible plot of land.

While there were rivers flowing over the place, the banks had collapsed, and unable to mend them, the water started flowing down.

The villagers who dragged themselves out of the flow looked at Max in annoyance. There, one of the Walt House's knights put a hand on the hilt of the sword at his hip.

Max held him back with a hand.

[Max-sama! You plan on overlooking that attitude of theirs!? Those were materials prepared by the Walt House. They've even boldly declared their theft of it!]

I could hear similar voices of opposition from the surroundings.

The Fourth made a bitter smile as he looked upon the scene.

[How truly unreliably. Back then, I thought all territories would be the same as my own. Starting from our founder, I was the Fourth Generation Head... the Walt House was already splendidly put together. At baronet scale, we were small, but we had a city, and were relatively prosperous. But you see, when the territory suddenly expanded, none of the rule we had at the time would get through in the slightest.]

It wasn't just the representative. To get together the area's smaller-time feudal lords, Max was too young. And for better of worse, the citizens of the Walt House recognize the House as their lords.

[It was hell. It was able to get by to that point, but the territories where the Walt House had no credibility made it look easy to make light of us. I troubled my head over how to deal with them, and the paperwork that multiplied itself all at once... no, it really was hell. It's not like the people of old Walt Territory could just say, 'I stole some resources' with a smile. I was really confused over whether he was trying to make some elaborate joke there.]

I couldn't determine just what the Fourth was trying to show me. I understood it was a harsh time, but what relation did this matter have to the current predicament, I wondered.

"Um, how is this memory related to this time's cultivation matter?"

There, the Fourth smiled.

[Lyle, what do they say about me in your time?]

"The one who spent the longest term as lord in Walt House history, adept in domestic administration."

In all actuality, the Fourth had carved the foundation for the Walt House that had risen to baron status. Unlike as Baronet, where he had a central city, and some towns and settlements around, the one who first had to hold an outlook on a vaster territory, and work on developing it was the Fourth.

The Fourth looked around awkwardly.

[Yep, now that's embarrassing. But while I may be referred to as such, it was really a buildup of failures as you see here. Failing as I attempted work beyond my hands, I watched my credibility fade away.]

And the scene changed.

In a room of the Walt House, facing a desk, Max was processing documents. Taking a peek, it seems the town leaders had reported quite the dubious matter.

"... Is it just me, or have they raised a report of a child's quarrel? "

When I said that, the Fourth laughed.

[Hey, those actually come quite often. The feudal lord is supposed to judge them, but this sort of thing also puts money in the vaults, so you can't be negligent with them. However, there really are a lot. At the time, the territory suddenly swelled up, and I didn't have enough retainers, so it was nothing but work.]

As that was happening, a middle-aged man entered the room with his head held high. From his looks, I had to assume he was the Forxuz house's head of the time.

[Max-sama, you canst push yourself so hard. Your mother is worried for you.]

Max raised his face, and after identifying the man as the Forxuz head, he nodded.

[I understand... no, I already knew that.]

Revising his words. They took on the form of a superior conversing with a subordinate. The Fourth explained.

[Up to then, it had been romping around the neighborhood. But since we were Barons, those around us suddenly became vassal-state like existences to us. There were territorial changes going on at the time, so in the vicinity, there weren't any lords of large territory besides us. The land we were to manage kept growing, and we had to look out for our parts. Truly a trial, that was. ]

The Fourth was definitely laughing, but I couldn't see it as a situation anyone could laugh at. From this situation, the Fourth built up the Walt House... the fact he formed the House's foundations for baronhood was starting to look like a miracle.

The Fourth looked at the Forxuz House's head, with a little sorrow.

[... The reliable neighborhood uncle suddenly became my subordinate, so I had no idea how to interact with him. What's more, he was really, really cooperative. So I can't help but think of returning the favor whenever I hear the Forxuz name brought up.]

The scene changed.

It was a small village. But it was quite devastated. The fields were a mess. The buildings collapsing, some places on fire.

Max gathered up hands, and assisted the recovery effort.

Once that ended, and Max was leaving, the villagers looked exceedingly thankful.

The Fourth spoke.

[It's a steady buildup from the small things. If you can't even get cooperation, why would you think something big would succeed... I saved a village assaulted by monsters. To me, it was just a small job. However, next, those villagers were the first to take the initiative in supporting me. And maybe I got some to think I wasn't such a bad feudal lord after all? They gradually got more cooperative. It was at that moment. I learned the importance of piling up small successes.]

What he wanted to show me, and what he had said before.

The Fourth turned to me, and spoke as such.

[Lyle, there's knowledge, and there's technique. Both of those are in a position to cooperate with you. Who do you think is responsible for this continuous stream of failures then?]

I looked down.

"I am."

[It's mostly your responsibility. I once taught you to leave to others what can be left to them, but this time, how about I teach you to properly manage your own charge? That balance is an exceedingly difficult thing.]

The Fourth changed the surrounding scenery. There, what was shown was the spectacle we had worked on for the past two weeks.

When I thought over if such a thing was possible for a room of memories, I looked at myself, and began to feel embarrassed.

Clara drew close to that me.

[Lyle, this point will need this much materials. I do think money is important, but the fundamentals are vital.]

And next, Adele-san closed in.

[Do you seriously think we have that sort of money!? When we still have future plans, continue with nothing but failures, and our budget won't hold out. You have to cut down on what you can, or you won't be able to work in the first place.]

Hearing both opinions, I had been unable to decide, and returned a half-hearted answer.

My nervous figure, seeing it from a third person perspective, I felt my own fecklessness.

The Fourth looked at me, and laughed.

[Clara-chan has a tendency to fixate too much on knowledge. But in this case, you should've adopted her proposal. Adele-chan is... you know, she's strong in paperwork and money calculations, but she can't help but be negligent when on site. Managing money is important, but because she didn't know enough about the worksite itself, it dragged her feet, perhaps? Well, if you're asking what I'm trying to say... at the starting block, you made a mistake in your personnel selection.]

When he pointed out that not in work, I had mistaken my personnel selection, I opened my mouth in silence. Because he didn't tell me I had failed somewhere on the job, but had failed somewhere beforehand, I found it unexpected, and was unable to react.

The Fourth spoke complaints about my selections.

[It would even have been better to drag Eva-chan along. There's a forest nearby, and you could put her to good use in that field. Other than that, Novem-chan and Miranda-chan perhaps? If you had one or the other on you, they'd casually be able to get this group together, I think.]

"... I'll change it tomorrow."

[If you make an alteration at this point, Adele-chan is going to have a lot to think about. That child will definitely come to believe you chose Clara-chan over her, after all. Rather, Clara-chan's that, isn't she... she's surprisingly skillful at interacting with her surroundings, but when it's something related to her hobby, you can't pull her at all. Anything else, and she's just fine, though.]

In that case, it would come down to pushing work forward with my failed personnel selection. As I dropped my shoulders, the Fourth awarded me a special plan.

[Now then, it's time for my advice to such a failure. Of course, I won't say a word about the work itself. Failing is an important experience. So anyways. This is an extremely important thing, but...]

The Fourth's advice. It was...

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"Clara, get all the necessary resources down on paper. After that, I'll leave it to Adele-san to secure those resources. If we don't succeed here, we won't be able to press onwards, and I'll listen to the monetary sum and so on afterwards. Maksim-san... make sure not to leave your station. Aria, go with Leold-kun... No, Leold-sama, and deal with the forest's monsters. When you do that, don't move ahead, and properly follow through."

First thing in the morning, I gathered everyone, and confirmed the details of the day's work.

Looking around, everyone seemed to have something they wanted to say, but as I'd decided on a clear plan, they didn't speak out to it.

It seems that since there wasn't any room left for failure, Adele-san didn't object. Of all else, it was quite clear that absolutely no progress at all was worse as a result.

But Aria...

"Hey you know, Lyle... wouldn't it be easier to make me and Maksim-san the main force, and rotate around some to follow? That will definitely let us finish up faster."

I smiled.

"Who ever told you to annihilate all the monsters in the forest? Just take them on to an extent where they won't get in the way of other work. When we're trying to let Leold-sama pile up experience, what does having him follow you accomplish?"

Follow. When Aria said follow, she meant baggage carrying, and stripping off monster materials.

But does the heir to the Grand Duke House need such technical ability?

Thinking over it, while it's true it's something he should experience a few times, having him stuck on that duty would be troubling.

(This country's character is its muscle-brained thought process, so saying he took care of monsters as he succeeded in internal administration will definitely afford him a higher evaluation.)

From the start, this cultivation had an objective of making achievements for Leold-kun. I thought there wouldn't be a problem as long as his reforms succeeded, but I hadn't been considering the local colors at all.

(Start in one place. Have that succeed, and in the next domestic issue, have him take command again.)

Aria looked a little awkward, so I was going to follow through for her later.

Looking around, I confirmed there weren't any question.

"Now then, today we'll be cleaning up the broken materials. They'll be in the way for the next piece of work, so remove all of them at once."

The Fourth's advice. It was something quite simple.

Up to now, I had only been ordering my comrades with larger objectives. But the personnel with bad affinities each worked based on their own thoughts, pulling each other down. An overly terrible situation.

I should have given more detailed instruction.

And even if I spoke of larger objectives, I didn't take how such roles would be understood by individuals into consideration.

I mean, when I told Aria to make sure monsters didn't get in the way of work, she even seemed to take it as an order to leave no survivors. It made me draw back. If I had to say what made me draw back, it was how the current Aria actually had the ability to actualize such a plan.

I wrung out my voice a bit.

"You got that? First make this job succeed. Otherwise there won't be a next."

Start at point a.

Have it succeed, or at least not turn up a tremendous failure. If we do well, we can use that success as a reason to gain greater assistance from the surroundings.

... The Fourth's advice.

It was [greet everyone in the morning]... in other words, a [morning assembly].

Up to now, Novem, Miranda or Monica had been with me, so a unification of will had naturally been formed.

We had been in small enough numbers that things worked out. But even if our numbers increased, the Valkyries had a line with me. They executed my orders, so these such morning meetings had been in form alone. No, in the first place, I didn't attach enough importance to them.

(The fundamentals really are important.)

Another day passed by where I reaffirmed that fact.