An Unexpected Talent
I gave a quick rundown of the situation to everyone and teleported to Sagami Co’s office in Straheim, leaving behind the minimum number of people. Aquido and his group were obviously surprised, but I think there was also a bit of resignation mixed in.
For now, I split everyone up into four groups.
First, the restructuring group, stationed just in front of Sutherland’s north gate at nighttime. They dug deep trenches there and focused on various construction projects. For this job, I had Tote’s security squad take on the responsibility. Incidentally, the reason I assigned them to nighttime was so that they would be noticed by as few people as possible. I was fed up with those court nobles (hindrances) finding fault in everything we did.
Second was the group that acquired new spells and mastered them. Right now, the Scarlet Phoenix was just too weak. As there were undead that could appear at will, spawning more undead from behind, they’d need to learn at least several high-rank spells in order to survive. So, I had Satella and the others train them until they acquired and mastered those spells.
Third was the gadget creation group. Fortunately, we were already creating something interesting using the technology in developing coal mines, so I just reused that. Although rather than create, it might be better to say I was testing it out.
The clock already rolled around to 6:30 pm; it was about time to accompany Lilinor home.
I stepped into the central lab room of the first research lab, when I heard, “I’m telling you that’s not how it is! You should focus on this part!”
“But I think this part is more important!” 
The rest of the employees just stared at the two, completely fed up.
“But Master, the piston’s movements open and close the valve, so I think Lily-chan has a point,” one employee spoke up.
Leroy stared at the blueprint for a while before folding his arms and groaning.
The heck are you doing. They……and isn’t that blueprint not of a watch, but of the steam engine’s power source that we’re currently developing?
This steam engine is an amazing piece of technology invented by humanity, serving as the pillar of the Industrial Revolution. If completed, people will be able to use power wherever they want without relying on windmills and watermills.
It’s truly one of the grandest inventions in the history of humanity. Leroy and his employees, who are still in a magic mindset, still can’t readily comprehend the steam engine and have faced many obstacles during its development. So as a novice, Lilinor shouldn’t have been able to comprehend anything with just a single glance.
“Leroy-san, there’s only a month, you know. Stop fooling around and hurry up and teach her,” I said.
“Hmph! I’ve long completed that toy,” Lilinor said, scowling as if I had just derailed her train of thought.
A toy… A novice shouldn’t have been able to create that, even if there was a blueprint. Which means Leroy must have made it for her. He wasn’t supposed to someone who half-assed his job, though.
“Leroy-san, that’s no good; there’s no meaning if Lily herself doesn’t make it,” I said.
“Idiot, I’d know that even if you didn’t say anything!” he shot back.
“President Grey,” an employee began. “I still can’t believe it, but Lily-chan assembled the watch in just three hours after looking at the blueprint. Finding this amusing, Master presented several other blueprints to Lily-chan.”
Honestly, I’m speechless. It’s a 3-D object represented in 2-D space. You need quite a lot of experience just to look at the blueprint the right way. Leroy is able to decipher it instantly, but that’s because he’s built up experience looking at them. Being able to assemble the watch after looking at the blueprint just a single time passes the level of genius and into the level of plain absurdity.
“Putting that aside, Grey, where should you focus on this blueprint?” Leroy pointed at the blueprint.
“Ah, the most important part is the valve. Its development is our current project,” I said.
Leroy hung his head and began laughing.
“Interesting! That’s interesting! Lass! You better come tomorrow! Let’s talk together again!”
“Okay!” Lilinor’s eyes glittered as she nodded.
Seriously? They’ve hit it off with each other. To think Lilinor was able to pinpoint the valve. That means she understands the principles behind the steam engine? No, that’s impossible. It was probably just her intuition, but that still means she’s got quite the sense. As someone who values knowledge over everything else, I really don’t want to get involved with a monster that has developed this bizarre kind of sixth sense.
“So where’s the completed watch?” I asked.
“Right here!” Lilinor said as she pulled out the latest style of women’s wristwatch, the self-winding model. So she really used this amazing blueprint. Leroy, looks like you really went all out teaching her.
“Then we can’t just leave it like that. Let’s wrap it up.”
At the packaging department in the first research lab, we placed the watch in a special box and wrapped it with a ribbon.
Lilinor carried the packaged watch with extreme care as I teleported us to the back alleyway in Sutherland.
As I glanced at her nervously fidgeted her hands and staring at me with puppy dog eyes, I could already guess what she was about to say.
“I don’t mind if you go again tomorrow,” I said.
That way I wouldn’t have to constantly supervise her.
“But like you promised before: not a word to anyone. If you break this promise you’ll never see me again, regardless of who said what,” I warned and gave a bitter smile to Lilinor, who was about to jump for joy.
“Then all’s good.”
As Lilinor told me all about her day, I sighted a troublesome group of people on our way back to the emperor.
That ikemen hero, Yukihiro, flashed his white teeth and approached us with his knight-like female followers and said, “Hey, Lily. You’re as beautiful as ever.”
“……Thanks,” Lily mumbled, hiding her disgust. From how she’s acting, it seems that she abhors this hero.
Still, Lilinor looks to be only 13 or 14 years old. Is Mr. Hero a lolicon? He keeps giving her flirtatious glances. No, Mr. Hero is 17 or 18 years old at best. It’s only a 4 to 5-year gap, so would calling him a lolicon even be the correct term?
Or so I thought as my mind needlessly wandered about, when Yukihiro finally noticed my existence, knit his eyebrows, and said, “So you’re here again.”
“His Majesty has graced me with the duty of serving as her Highness’s knight,” I explained.
For some reason, Lilinor cast her eyes downward, her face dyed red. How is what I just said embarrassing? As I thought, children’s thoughts are a complete mystery to me.
“This skinny brat is a knight he says. Hilarious, right guys?” he laughed as his followers began sneering. “Your Highness Lilinor, you’ve been invited to Sir Cyrus’s party. I’m sure he would be most delighted if your Highness were to attend. Here, leave that poor noble’s brat alone and come with me.”
I stopped him there and said, “I’m very sorry, but I should have said that I’m her knight. I ask that you please take your leave today.”
“A low-ranking noble like you as her Highness’s knight? Do you realize how disrespectful that is?”
You say that, but if I don’t fulfill this duty, I’ll be charged with lèse-majesté, you know.
“I’m aware, painfully so,” I said.
“This guy kinda pisses me off,” he said angrily as he furiously scratching at his neck and glared at me in a way unbecoming of a hero.
“A short temper, huh,” I whispered to myself.
Looks like Mr. Hero is quite undeveloped in the mind department, despite his growth in the physical department.
“Well said. I’ll at least praise your recklessness,” a girl with short, red hair cut in and gripped her sword handle as Yukihiro was on the verge of exploding. I didn’t sense any killing intent, so it was probably just a performance, but why is every last one of them so imprudent.
“Thanks,” I said sarcastically.
“Taking me fucking lightly—” Yukihiro finally yelled all the onlookers focused on us. I didn’t want to stand out, but I wasn’t so patient as to just take this all standing. I’ll just exercise some of my rights.
I cast the special-rank magic, 【Invisible Labyrinth】on Lilinor and myself.
Now these fools wouldn’t be able to put so much as a single scratch on either of us. Actually, they’d get a glimpse of hell if they attacked hard enough. It was a bit childish, but I planned to cancel the spell before they died, so they’ll have to bear with at least that much.
“Hey, it’s Grey-kun and Hero-kun,” a cheerful voice called out from behind in this explosive situation. I’ve heard this voice before. I turned around to see a prominent oddball of the empire exiting the carriage—one of the few monsters that moved wealth on a global scale.
“Rainer-san—” I began, but he gestured that he would handle it, so I cancelled 【Invisible Labyrinth】.
“Hey, Lily, long time no see,” Rainer said.
“Uncle Rainer-sama, it’s been a while,” Lilinor replied.
“We’ve been barely slipping by each other due to work recently, after all.”
“Yeah. I’m glad to see you here.”
“Are you on your way back? Then hop in, I’m on my way to Georg’s anyways. You too, Grey-kun. I’ve got some stories that have been piling up.”
He just casually dropped the emperor’s name. And Uncle? So Rainer’s one of the emperor’s relatives.
“That’s okay, right, Hero-kun?” Rainer confirmed as the hero’s group were taken aback.
“Go,” Yukihiro said. He spat on the floor and turned away with a grimace before walking away.
And so, Lilinor and I hopped onto the carriage and headed off without further ado.
Together with Rainer, we visited the emperor, where I thought I’d finally be released from this job but was forced to eat with them. Still, there’d at least be a silver lining if we were just peacefully sitting around a table, but reality was different.
“All of my talented personnel are being taken away by the Commerce Guild, recently,” the emperor muttered. “I’d really like it if you would stop.”
However, Rainer kept chewing on his meat and kept his usual smile plastered on his face.
“You know, it’s human nature to chase after profit,” Rainer said. “You need money to provide basic needs. You also need money for education. And for marriage. And to raise children. And to open up a shop.
That’s right. The thing that really rules the world isn’t love, pride, or loyalty. It’s profit.”
That fact that he can say all this is quite amazing in a sense.
That said, I basically agree with Rainer here. However, the only difference is that the final product brought forth by money brings even more money to Rainer, whereas it brings more knowledge to me.
“It’s your bad habit to dodge the question, you know? What are you trying to say?” the emperor asked.
“Hmm, then I’ll say it straight. If you were a normal person, you wouldn’t let some incompetent noble, moreover an ignorant boy, flaunt his lineage and do as he pleased, right? He should be wanting to step foot in our world, which basically values true ability over everything else.”
He’s definitely talking about the hero and his group, but Rainer usually doesn’t talk smack about others. It’s not only meaningless in business, but it can also be counterproductive. So for him of all people to say that much must mean that the top of the empire is filled with people like that.
“We’re not idiots,” the emperor said. We’ve rid every division of the meaningless and counterproductive lineage-first mentality to the best of our ability.”
“But isn’t that why you were arguing with Sir Cyrus?” Rainer shot back.
“Ah, that’s because this empire needs that.”
“He doesn’t—no, the majority of nobles don’t desire that. If you mess it up, you could die, you know?”
“If I could be killed by an accessory like him, that just goes to show what kind of man I was. I invite the fact.”
So he repudiated the lineage-first mentality and set up the principles of ability first. Basically, he would employ commoners to important positions, which means we might start seeing a shift into an actual government.
“Are you sane? If you were to die, we’d truly be back to square one, and the ridiculous lineage-first mentality would continue to rule this empire.”
“And I plan to reconstruct everything from scratch so that doesn’t happen. In order to create a system of government, I need talented people.”
What a turbulent atmosphere.
“So is that why you called me here?” Rainer asked.
“That’s right. Give Grey to the empire.”
“No. He is our compass and our hope. Our company will operate with him in the spotlight. I’m not so out of it that I would let him be sacrificed for this tightfisted empire.”
I’ve already lost my will to argue back. Why does every adult here always ignore my opinion.
Leaving that aside, fortunately it’s now’s the time I had promised Sieg. I can finally leave this gambling room-like place.
“Well I have a promise with Sieg-dono, so I’ll excuse myself here,” I said. As I stood up and bowed, Lilinor, who had her eyes closed until now, opened them.
“Grey, I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow,” she said while yawning, and she waved me goodbye.
It was quite unusual to see that kind of quarrel between those two. She seemed to have nodded off halfway and didn’t hear anything dangerous.
I glanced at the two who ignored Lilinor’s reaction and resumed their quarrelling, and I exited the room.
↑ Based on the way this line is said, it’s immediately obvious that the speaker is a girl and, by extension, Lilinor. For those who are curious it ends in ですわ
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