The End of a Journey
The unprecedented crisis that struck the empire ended with the empire skirting by with victory.
But although they won, the northern portion had been almost completely destroyed, and their national power severely reduced. On top of that, the local clans were the ones who had been governing the lands that had fallen to destruction. It was obvious that the court nobles’ power would only rise from here on out.
And to nobody’s surprise, the court nobles pressed for a reward, claiming that the battle’s success was due to the efforts of the army and especially of Duke Cyrus who had fought on the front lines.
I think a gag order had probably been issued, because at first, the streets were overflowing with bards who only sang praises of the army’s. This was exactly what I, who didn’t want to receive recognition, had desired, but things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Suspicion of Duke Cyrus’s betrayal flowed through the streets. Many concluded Duke Cyrus had been aware of the incoming attack onto Thermax and had fled the lands with his family assets without making any countermeasures, something made clear though the testimonies of Duke Cyrus’s servants and the torturers he had hired. One of his servants had even provided clear proof that completely annulled his achievements.
This exposure set off a chain reaction of rumors that Duke Cyrus had wanted to cover up, like the unreasonable and sometimes even illegal deeds he had committed in Thermax and the other areas that he controlled. The rumors quickly spread throughout Sutherland and even incited the citizens to a riot. In the end, it reached the point where the Department of Justice had to step in.
The Commerce Guild then delivered the coup de grace by banning all trade with Duke Cyrus. There was not a single person in this world who conducted business without any affiliation to the guild. It didn’t get more accurate than that; as long as you were affiliated with the guild, you could expect safely and fairly conduct business and earn profit. Moreover, the registration fee wasn’t even that high for merchants, so even stalls on the street became affiliated with the guild. Basically, the Commerce Guild’s prohibition of trade with Duke Cyrus meant he couldn’t even buy things out in the open. Naturally, he could still purchase goods off of other nobles or servants, but if the guild were to find out, they would probably extend the prohibition to those nobles and servants as well. Nobody would want that, so I found it hard to believe that anyone would continue associating with Duke Cyrus in the future.
You could say that it all manifested out of Duke Cyrus’s arrest and trial.
The court nobles and the imperial government probably bargained a lot, but in the end, the court nobles decided to cut off the proverbial tail.
Working off of that decision, Yukihiro the Hero spilled the events surrounding the murder of the Radol, of which he, Mawlek Cyrus, and Viscount Dolt Magotta were a part of. Soon after, supporting testimonies began to appear left and right.
And so, the dishonor that had been cast upon us had finally been cleared.
I had protected the honor of my comrades. That was a wonderful thing, but honestly, this was quite unexpected.
“Grey Millard, I grant you the title of Baron,” said Prime Minister Elle, reading a document aloud next to the emperor.
“With all due respect, I refuse.”
That wasn’t a joke. I wanted to eliminate Archive’s nobility system in its entirety, so accepting a peerage would only be setting a bad example.
I also couldn’t think of any good reason they would have to give me a peerage.
“A man as wise as you may have already guessed, but I’m sorry, you have no right to refuse,” said Prime Minister Elle, hanging his head in apology.
The prime minister’s awfully respectful attitude towards me drew in curious gazes from the knights and officials around. In contrast, the emperor just looked on in amusement.
“Are you telling me to restore the lands damaged by the undead?” I asked.
“I want you to oversee the lands to the very north. You can do that, right?” emphasized the emperor without answering my question.
“Please don’t change the question. Whether I can or can’t has no relation to this matter. There’s no way everyone will accept this absurd reward you’re giving me. It’ll definitely engender strife.”
“I could say the same back to you. I mean, there’s been strife since way back. It’s almost hopeless at this point. A little increase here or there means nothing.
As I recalled, the northern most lands contained an area of high mountains unsuited for the Millards to develop, and over 80 percent of the people living there were Radols. Judging from the court nobles’ actions, their dissatisfaction towards the empire has accumulated to the point where it could detonate at any moment now.
“I understand. I accept. However, I have several conditions.”
“Say whatever you please.”
He was definitely doing it on purpose, but this No**ta of an Emperor’s  pompous attitude really struck a nerve.
“Once I start developing the land, you can’t take requisition it and just slap on a random reason. I want a document that clearly defines this land as mine from here on out.”
Although I didn’t know how useful that document would be in this empire.
“But of course. Work away for my empire.”
When I look at this emperor who’s beaming away without any knowledge of what hardships his people will have to go through, I seriously want to punch him.
“Also, about me—”
“There’s no cause for concern. Oi, Elle.”
Prime Minister Elle began reading the rest of the contents of the parchment aloud.
“Sir Grey, we entrust to you the northern territory, formerly known as the David Territory. In accordance, we bestow upon you the name Ines Navarro.”
“How about it?” the emperor chimed in. “As of today, you are no longer Grey Millard, but Baron Grey Ines Navarro. We’ll also be giving you your rewards under the name Ines Navarro.”
“What are you scheming?” I asked.
“It’s just simple kindness, Grey. You’re too suspecting of everything. Rely on us adults more.”
If I found someone actually trustworthy then I would. This emperor was quite the sly dog, and I wasn’t so happy-go-lucky to cling to an imaginary hope.
“Let’s leave it at that. I take it this discussion is over?”
Prime Minister Elle gave a bitter smile, and that blockhead of an emperor complained with, “Don’t get so worked up.”
“Well then, I’ll take my leave.”
I straightened my posture, bowed, and turned on my heels.
“Ah, that’s right. Do you know the conditions for obtaining a peerage,” he asked.
Conditions for obtaining a peerage huh.
“If your father is also a noble, then it’s handed down through military achievements or inherited?”
As I recalled, if your father is a noble, you could obtain a peerage through military achievements or inheritance. Other than that, only knighthoods were handed out in this day and age.
My father was, more or less, Rais Millard. A noble. Not only were there no age limitations for obtaining a peerage, I should have fulfilled the condition of a military achievement.
“Formally, yes. However, there are some exceptions when it comes to granting one through military achievement.”
Another one of their tightfisted customs. I honestly felt only disgust.
“What is it? Please spare my from any further annoyances.”
Prime Minister Elle and the other officials awkwardly glanced away, and the emperor laughed as if he were a brat who had just succeeded in a prank.
“They need to have graduated from the empire’s Magic Knight Academy.”
Hey, hey, really……
“Once you hurry and finish all the procedures for entering the academy, I’d like you to head over to the capital next month. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely pass.”
I have so many things to say.
“You know, who’s going to manage the land while I’m in the academy?” I asked.
“You’ll be going to the academy as an Ines Navarro while managing the land at the same time, of course.”
“What? I thought my obtaining a peerage banked on my graduation?”
“No, as long as there is sufficient need to manage a territory and you have the governments approval, they can be granted a peerage on the condition that they graduate within ten years.”
“There’s no way that such an oddly specific system is in place!”
“There is. It’s customary after all. I don’t really mind, though.”
Then throw that custom down the drain!
I desperately held in my urge to scream and settled my raging mind. In negotiations, those who lose their cool always lose, something you could say history has proven that time and time again.
“The new territory is in the northernmost part of the empire. Do you think that’s possible?”
Even Prime Minister Elle knew about my teleportation, so there’s no way the emperor wouldn’t. I knew this was a futile struggle, but I asked anyways.
“I do. As long as it’s none other than you,” the emperor declared with a smile of satisfaction as if he had just won.
His pushiness was starting to tire me. I had half a mind to just up and leave this country.
“Greyyy” said a silver-haired girl who appeared out of Cyril Villa. Upon seeing me, she burst into a face full of smiles and started waving her hands.
“Lily, don’t fall over.”
Without betraying my expectations, Lilinor completely fell forward, so I grabbed her by the waist and embraced her.
This would probably make a lovely picture if I were an adult, but it was really more of a brother being embraced by his older sister. How pitiful.
“I said to be careful.”
Lilinor hung her head, her face completely red, so I reached up to pat her.
“Well, take care.”
I separated from Lilinor, waved my hand, and began walking towards the Millard tent. Tonight, I would leave Sutherland with my grandfather, Dimer McGwire. Lilinor was a princess and I had heard she was going to an exceptional school for noble ladies. This would probably be the last time I, who had become a mere low-rank noble, would associate myself with someone of her stature.
It wasn’t that I was sad or anything, but I a lot of problems had been pushed onto me. I was probably better off not associating myself with Lilinor, who had the makings of a troublemaker, any more than necessary.
“Yeah, see you,” she quietly said. I turned my back to her ominous words and headed to the tent.
Right now, we’re heading to the McGwire estate.
“Thank you for tagging along, Margrave McBurn.”
“It’s not a big deal. I had some business around here anyways, so I’m killing two birds with one stone.”
A bad lie as usual. I found it hard to believe that a margrave who always spent his time in the capital would suddenly have reason to visit here.
“We’re almost there. I’ll send a horse over to notify our imminent arrival,” said my grandfather, Dimer McGwire, who turned to Margrave McBurn for confirmation.
“Hm, that should be fine.”
It seemed that my grandfather hadn’t been able to calm down for a while. He’s probably deliberating about my mother.
Upon seeing the seemingly normal rye fields, an inexplicable surge of emotions burst forth.
Once I understood that they were the happy memories inside Grey Millard’s brain, I could more or less explain these emotions.
However, these memories were merely recorded in my brain for safekeeping. It was like watching a video of intermittent events of another person’s life. Could that really have moved me this much?
Even though I had lived in this world for several years after reincarnating, I felt absolutely no love for my family.
My shitty stepmother certainly played a large factor, but she wasn’t the only one living in the Millard estate. In fact, I think I’ve actually built a good relationship with everyone besides her and her followers. And yet I felt an intense alienation and an intense purpose, even almost a duty, to leave the land. Those feelings had felt like chains restraining my arms and feet.
My grandfather jumped out of the carriage the moment it stopped. I followed after him and exited the carriage.
He immediately began running towards the estate, even though Margrave McBurn, a guest, was present.
“Sorry, Margrave,” I said.
“No, no. I’m fine. Hurry and follow after him,” he said with a beaming smile.
At the estate I was greeted by the people who used to be my family.
A kind, young man with red hair and the woman next to him who had golden hair were my uncle and aunt. At least, that’s what I thought. There were also my cousins next to them.
“Are you Grey?”
This is a good opportunity. I’ll inform them that I’m not participating in the battle for the succession rights of the McGwire family.
“Yes. I’m Grey Ines Navarro. It’s been a while, Uncle.”
“Ines Navarro? Weren’t you a Millard?”
As expected, my statement raised a few eyebrows.
“Yes. It was never my intention, but his Majesty forcefully bestowed me a peerage so my name’s been changed to that.”
I’ll make it the emperor’s fault for now. He’s thrown so many problems my way already, so it’s time for me to put him to use.
“His Majesty bestowed you a peerage? Father, I can’t even begin to understand……”
Well. The emperor was quite friendly, but there was normally a huge gap between your average noble and the emperor. They could only take it as a strange joke.
“Grey has already obtained a peerage and territory. Thus, he will not be involved in the McGwire family’s succession rights,” said my grandfather, sending help my way while I was trying to figure out how to explain everything.
Still, the two continued to stare at me as if doubting my sanity.
It seems I’ve failed to communicate once again. No wonder I’ve lost my normal ability to stay calm.
That also doesn’t seem to be here.
“I guarantee Grey-kun’s status,” said Margrave McBurn who was late to the party. Time seemed to finally begin to move again, and my grandfather motioned towards a maid who bounded up to the second floor.
I heard a forceful yet desperate voice come from the door, where I saw a pink woman looking down at me from the stairs.
I finally pinpointed the source of my intensely swelling emotions. It was a feeling that I had never experienced in my past life.
“I’m home, Mother,” I squeezed out as I desperately tried to wipe away the snot coming out of my nose.
The pink-haired woman almost tumbled as she descended down the stairs and embraced me.
“So this is the warmth of a parent.”
And so, I, Grey Millard, have come to the end of a journey.
I didn’t resist the raging emotions of happiness and cried aloud for the first time in my life.
↑ The blurred-out word is Nobita from Doraemon. He’s basically referring to the emperor as a blockhead here.
Thanks for reading through the chapter! This is effectively the end of the Millard arc, although there’s a small interlude coming out next week. I hope you’ve enjoyed this arc and stick around for the next one!
If you enjoyed it and want to read more or support me, feel free checking out the Patreon below where you can read up to 6 chapters ahead.
If you want to be notified about chapter updates or talk about the novel, consider dropping by our discord.
Also, if you could leave a review over at the novelupdates site, I would appreciate it!
Most importantly, though, just hit that next button and keep reading!