Kuma – Chapter 44

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Cliff’s Perspective (Feudal Lord)


The quantity of eggs seemed to be gradually increasing.
When I went to the village, I caught more birds.
Since it was inconvenient to do it close to the village, I went to a place a short distance away from the village to catch them.
Thanks to that, the number of Cluckers had increased to almost 300, and moreover, chicks were raised from the eggs.

On one such day, the feudal lord, Cliff, came knocking on the door to my house.

「Welcome, Cliff-sama. Is there something you need?」

For the time being, since he was a feudal lord, I greeted him politely.

「Yuna, there is something I want to ask you.」

「What is it?」

「Why won’t you sell Clucker’s eggs to my house?」

Cliff’s Perspective

I finished my morning’s work and took a short break.
Although it was just looking over and signing some documents, there were a lot of them, so it was a pain.
While I was resting, the butler, Rondo, entered the office.

「Excuse me for intruding during your break.」

「What is it, urgent business?」

「No, it’s not serious, but I think it’s advisable for you to hear it.」

If Rondo said so, it probably wasn’t anything serious after all, but it was still something to be concerned about.

「Recently, Clucker’s eggs have begun to enter the town in large quantities, but it is a bit strange.」

「What is strange about it?」

「Yes, at first, I could not figure out where it was circulating from. After that, if I gave out the name of the house Foschurose, they would not sell it to me.」

「Haa? What is that supposed to mean?」

「Every time I asked the person in charge of stocking the ingredients, I only got vague answers, and even after spending some time to ask politely, I didn’t get a response. Then, if I went to the other shops normally, I could procure it, but if I phrased it as a request from the Foschurose family, they would “run out of eggs”, it would be impossible without a reservation, or I would simply be declined.」

「What is this about?」

「Other than that, nobody wants to sell eggs to the Foschurose family, I don’t know why. Even if I inquire at the Commerce Guild, they don’t seem to know anything about this. No matter what I do, I cannot get a response.」

It wasn’t like it was a problem if eggs specifically could not be eaten, but it didn’t give a good feeling.

「There wasn’t any pressing work in the afternoon, right? Do you want to go take a look at the Commerce Guild?」

I finished my break quickly and headed to the Commerce Guild.
Although I didn’t make any appointments, I was able to meet with the guild master immediately.

「Well, if it isn’t Cliff-sama. What kind of business do you have today?」

The Commerce Guild’s guild master, Mylene-san, turned a suspicious smile towards me.

「Today, I’m not here to talk about work. There is something I came to inquire about personally.」

「Is it something personal?」

「It is about the matter of the Clucker’s eggs.」

「About the Clucker’s eggs, is it?」

Mylene repeated the question back to me without changing her expression at all.

「That’s right. Why does it seem like nobody wants to sell eggs to me?」

「There’s no such thing going on.」

「Don’t lie. There is evidence.」

「The Clucker eggs are popular, so they were sold out and I wasn’t able to buy any, due to an overflow of advance reservations.」

「A merchant selling eggs said the same thing, you know.」

「Then, that is the case.」

「Do you think I’m just going to go along with that?」

「Something like eggs, isn’t it fine even if you don’t eat it?」

「I’m offended that someone I don’t know is doing such a thing out there. I also want to be able to serve eggs to my daughter.」

「In that case, do you want to bring your daughter’s portion home with you?」

「There isn’t any for me?」

「There isn’t.」

Mylene gave me a sweet smile.
What an annoying woman.
One of the few people capable of opposing me.

「Do you intend to not tell me, no matter what?」

「Due to a promise, I am unable to sell eggs to Cliff-sama.」

「Is it necessary to keep that promise, to the point of breaking down the relationship between us?」

「That’s right. If the problem this time wasn’t due to you being bad, I might have been your ally. However, this time I am that child’s supporter, because I like that child’s idea.」

「I’m the bad one?」

「That’s right, a lot of children have suffered this time because of you. That child is the one who saved them. It might have been the right choice for a feudal lord, but it was a mistake from a human point of view.」

「Suffering children?」

「As a merchant, I also understand your way of thinking, but I plan to side with that child this time.」

「For you to get that involved is rather unusual.」

「That’s because she’s an interesting girl, that one. I’ve seen many different kinds of people until now, but it’s the first time I’ve been unable to see through a child with that kind of power, action, and way of thinking.」

「For you to say so much about that person, it seems like it’ll become another thing not involved with the eggs that I have to look into.」

「Though, I don’t have any intentions for you to meet them.」

「Will you at least tell me what I did?」

「I can’t. If I talk about it, you will understand the connection with that child.」

「In that case, can you return the loan from last time to me?」

「Loan?」

「You weren’t able to prepare a tribute for the king, right?」

「Are you saying that now?」

「Isn’t that the Commerce Guild’s responsibility?」

「Speaking of that, has the tribute for the king already been decided?」

「Yeah, I plan to hand over a Goblin King’s Sword that I received from an adventurer.」

「A Goblin King’s Sword?」

「Ah, it entered my possession when a girl with the appearance of a bear defeated the Goblin King.」

「Yuna-chan?」

「Do you know her?」

「The newbie who defeated a hundred goblins, indiscriminately hunted wolves, subjugated the tiger wolves, and recently defeated a black viper. A cute girl who looks like a bear.」

「You’re frightfully knowledgeable about this.」

「It’s because she is a promising rookie. Even though I’m part of the Commerce Guild, she caught my eye, but to think that she obtained a Goblin King’s sword when the group of goblins were subjugated.」

「In this way, I obtained a gift for the king. If you cannot procure a tribute for the king, can you return the loan to me?」

「How underhanded. But, to think that Cliff was also acquainted with Yuna-san.」

「More or less. My daughter was also interested in her. It was my first time seeing such an interesting adventurer.」

「But, to have been disliked by that adventurer, Yuna-chan, hmm.」

「…What did you say?」

「The one providing the eggs to the guild is Yuna-chan, you know. The one who set a condition for the guild to not sell eggs to the Fochurose family was also her.」

「So it was Yuna.」

I’m being disliked by that Bear Girl.
The moment I thought about it, a bad feeling ran through my body.
When I met her for the first time, I thought that she was an interesting girl.
I was even allowed to ride on one of her summoned bears.
She was also the one who gifted me the Goblin king’s sword.
I also went to see her rumored Bear House.
I heard the rumors about her defeating the Black Viper.
She even saved a village.
This time, I had thought about meeting her and giving her a reward.
I also had a good impression of her character.
To be hated by that kind of Yuna…

「Can I hear the reason?」

「Please go ask the person in question yourself, as I personally cannot say who is the bad one here.」

If I asked any more than this, I probably wouldn’t get any answers.
This woman was that kind of person.

「I understand. I’ll go meet Yuna.」

I left the Commerce Guild and headed to the Bear House to meet Yuna.
Before my eyes was the house that looked like a bunch of bears.
It was a building that was becoming famous in this town.
I stood in front of the Bear House and called out to Yuna.

「Welcome, Cliff-sama. Is there something you need?」

「Yuna, there is something I want to ask you.」

「What is it?」

「Why won’t you sell the Clucker eggs to my house?」

I got straight to the point.

「What are you talking about?」

「I forced it out of Mylene, so don’t get angry at her.」

「I’m not particularly upset. If it’s going to be an issue for the guild, it’s fine for them to talk about me.」

「So, why did you set up instructions to not sell eggs to me?」

「Because the eggs are being produced at the orphanage.」

「…?」

「That’s why I decided to not sell eggs, since I was a bit resentful.」

「Why did it become that, just because the eggs are produced at the orphanage, they cannot be sold to me?」

「Are you really saying that? You slowly reduced the amount of money allotted to the orphanage, before finally cutting it off. Certainly, the orphanage doesn’t contribute to the town, but even so, I don’t think it’s good to corner children with futures into a life-and-death situation. I like children, and it’s not like you aren’t a parent yourself. I don’t like that you cut them off, just because you say that they aren’t necessary.」

I have no idea what Yuna is talking about.
While I was taking my time to think it over, Yuna continued her lecture.

「The children were hungry to the point that they were scavenging for people’s leftovers. The caretakers of the orphanage spent every day lowering their heads and begging for food scraps from the inns and shops. The children’s clothes were the same, day after day. The house they slept in was drafty, and there were no warm covers on the beds. Why must the children, who are doing their best to look after the troublesome birds that lay the eggs, be forced to give you eggs to eat?」

「…」

「It’s not like you can’t live on if you don’t eat eggs, right? As the feudal lord.」

I didn’t understand what Yuna had been talking about at all.
Was the aid money to the orphanage cut off?
Were the children scavenging for food?
A lifestyle that relied on food scraps?
A house perforated with holes?
No clothes?
No bed covers or sheets?

「When I heard that, I wanted to have some revenge. In the first place, Miss Director was already grateful to you just for providing a place for them to live.」

In other words, when Yuna saw the appearance of the children at the orphanage, who were troubled over food after I had cut off the money to the orphanage, she got angry.

Yuna gathered the children and gave them the work with the Cluckers, and was currently selling the eggs to the Commerce Guild, huh?

As revenge, though small, she had refused to sell any eggs to me.

Mylene was saying that, while it might have been right as the feudal lord, it was wrong as a human.

In other words, did she want to say that it might have been correct for the feudal lord to not uselessly spend money on things that weren’t profitable like the orphanage, but to abandon the troubled children was a mistake as a human?

Before that, the troubling thing was that the idea that I cut off funding for the orphanage seemed to have already spread.

I did not discontinue the money for the orphanage.

Why did it become this way?

「Yuna, you might not believe me, but I didn’t cut off the funding for the orphanage. I’m going to go and confirm things now. I will come back as soon as I figure it out.」

I returned to the lord’s manor in a hurry.

I didn’t walk, but ran back.

Why was the orphanage not being given money?

I returned to my office and called out for the butler, Rondo.

「Have you returned, Cliff-sama?」

「Rondo! Please investigate what has happened to the money that was meant for the orphanage, immediately!」

「The aid money for the orphanage, is it?」

「That’s right! Search for the person who made me look like a cold-hearted feudal lord!」

「I understand.」

Rondo bowed and left the office.

The afternoon work irritated me and I wasn’t able to work.

That night, Rondo came to my room.

「Is now a good time, Cliff-sama?」

「Did you find something, anything?!」

「Yes. The person who was managing the money for the orphanage was Enzo Roland-sama.」

「Enzo, you say?」

Is that so? That fellow was in charge?

To not have known of such a thing despite being the feudal lord makes me want to hit myself.

「Enzo-sama seems to have been embezzling the money that was for the orphanage.」

「Embezzlement!」

My job was to supervise the jobs assigned to various people.

If an application for funds for the orphanage came in, I signed off and offered a subsidy.

Since it came every month, I had been signing it without thinking about it at all.

In that case, it could not be helped if Yuna got angry at me.

「Though I have not examined the specifics in detail, Enzo-sama seems to have only been moving around money to appear as if he was taking care of the work he is responsible for. In reality, it seems that he was embezzling the money. Furthermore, he seems to have some debts.」

「Why does he owe money if he’s embezzling?」

「It looks like he spends large amounts of money to play around with women excessively, while his wife avidly buys and collects precious jewels and her favorite items at every chance. The son is just as bad as the father.」

「You’re kidding me!」

That’s the town’s money!

「Making a fool of me! Rondo! Immediately! Right now! Take some soldiers and head to Enzo’s house! Absolutely do not let them get away! Don’t kill them though, I want you to bring that entire family in front of me!」

「Yes, I understand.」

Rondo left the room.

An hour after that, Enzo, who had gotten fatter and flabbier, and his entire family stood in front of me.

The entire family bulged substantially in an ugly way, making me feel like throwing up.

「I say, Cliff-sama, to even send forth soldiers to collect me, what kind of business do you have this late at night?」

「Right now, I feel like killing your entire family, so you better answer me honestly.」

「…」

「Did you embezzle the money for the orphanage?!」

「No, I didn’t do such a thing.」

「Then why is the orphanage saying that they aren’t receiving any money!」

「That is what the people from the orphanage are saying, right? They probably think if they say they are not getting the money, that more will be given to them. Filthy human trash.」

You are the ones who are human trash!

「Most of the work I left to you seems to have been barely touched. It doesn’t seem like you’re doing any work.」

「I’ll be doing it in the near future; it’s just a bit late.」

「You also seem to be deep in debt, too.」

「It’s just a small matter, I’ll be paying it off very soon. It’s not something that Cliff-sama needs to be worried about.」

It doesn’t look like he has any intention of telling the truth.

「In that case, there isn’t any problem if I investigate your house, correct?」

「About that…」

「Although, I’ve already examined your house.」

「Do you think you can get away with doing such a thing?! I’m going to tell my older brother in the royal capital!」

「This is my town. And since I’ve assembled the evidence, I’m going to execute you. Put these three in the dungeons!」

「Wait! Let me contact my older brother in the capital!」

「Silence this thing’s mouth. I feel sick.」

The soldiers bound the three people’s mouths with cloth and took them to the dungeons.

A short while later, Rondo, who had been examining the Roland house, returned.

「Did you find anything?」

「Yes. All the evidence of the embezzlement was there too.」

Rondo’s facial complexion was bad.

「What’s wrong?」

「Enzo-sama’s conduct was excessively atrocious, so…」

「That bad?」

「Embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, violence, murder, illegal business transactions; there were too many to count.」

「Even murder?!」

「Yes, there were a lot of corpses in the dungeon. That was also terrible, but there were signs of people doing unspeakable things to them.」

——————————-

The story I heard from Rondo was too terrible.

Young women came from the countryside to be hired as servants.

It seemed that they were violated until they died, and their corpses were disposed of underground.

Since they came from the countryside, nobody would notice if they went missing.

If a lover or a family member came looking for the girls from the countryside, they would be invited to the mansion, imprisoned, and killed.

Apparently, such actions were repeated over and over again.

——————————-

Enzo’s wife would buy up all the jewelry she could. If there was no money, she would borrow it.

Enzo was embezzling and misusing funds for the sake of paying off those loans.

The son had been raping women by force in town, and had been using the power of money to cover it up.

It was common for him to eat and drink without paying. If the shop defied him, he would rampage in the store and force them to shut down.

Why wasn’t I informed that this was happening?

An obvious reason is that Enzo was probably silencing it.

Even though he was only part of a branch family, perhaps it was due to the influence of his older brother in the royal capital?

However, this town is my town.

I won’t let him do as he likes.

「Execute him.」

It wasn’t possible for me to put up with this any longer.

「Is that alright? There’s Enzo’s older brother in the royal capital…」

「I don’t care. Let it be said that a robber invaded his house, and he was murdered.」

I executed the Roland family.

We secured the evidence of illegal actions.

Confiscated the assets.

Rescued the remaining survivors in the dungeon.

For those who still had places to return to, we made preparations for them to return after their treatment.

After I finished everything, I headed towards Yuna’s place once again.

「I am deeply sorry.」

I lowered my head, and explained the situation surrounding the money that was cut off from the orphanage.

Normally, I wouldn’t speak of such matters to a commoner.

However, I had a feeling that I had to tell this girl.

「My subordinate has been embezzling the money without my notice. I will start re-sending the aid funds for the orphanage immediately.」

「It’s not needed.」

「・・・・・・・・」

「Everyone is already doing their best to work hard, so the aid funds aren’t necessary.」

「But, in that case-」

「If the money is still there, why not use it in an effective way?」

「An effective way?」

「Like making a surveillance department to ensure that such an idiot won’t appear again.」

「Surveillance?」

「A job to confirm whether or not money is being used according to your directions. The orphanage, for example. You would have someone head to the orphanage to check the situation once a month. Are the necessary expenditures being used properly? For things that are being purchased, are they being charged reasonably? If there is such a person investigating, then things like embezzlement and misuse of funds would not be as easy to do, right? Of course, if the investigator is a criminal to begin with, then there’s no meaning.」

「In that case, what should I do?」

「Isn’t that kind of thing already decided? If not a person that you trust, then ask someone who would be willing to stake their own life to earn your trust. Don’t you have at least one person like that?」

「…Yes, I do.」

Rondo fits.

「Is that so? That’s good.」

Yuna only said that and nothing else.

「You really are sure the orphanage will be fine?」

「It’s fine.」

「You saved me this time. The children weren’t left to die. I’ll repay this favor in the future for sure.」

I left Yuna’s house, and went back to the lord’s mansion.

There was a mountain of work to do.

I’ll have Rondo act as my right hand in between his butler work in the meantime.


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