Milli tilted her head curiously as Alice ran towards her.
“Nice to meet you, Mother. I am Alistair.”
Alice grabs the hem of her skirt and politely curtsied.
The gesture is elegant, but this situation is strange. When did Milli become your mother? Possibly, does she mean mother-in-law?
As I thought this, Alice grabbed her hair ornament and removed it.
I can’t tell from behind, but I’m guessing the color of her eyes has changed. Her hair ornament has inscription magic on it, by removing the ornament the true color of her eyes is revealed. Milli and Michelle both gasped.
“Those eyes……are you one of the legendary high elves?”
“I’m a genetic throwback, so I have the powers of a high elf. Please, call me Alice.”
“No, just Alice is fine, Mother.”
“About you calling me mother…..”
And Milli quickly glanced at me.
“Yes, I’ve become very intimate with Leon.”
Muaaaaa, this girl, she’s filled the outer moat! It’s too late the damage is done! (TN: “filled the outer moat,” basically means lowered one’s defenses.)
Milli happily began to talk to Alice with a, “Is that so!?” As I was watching them with a bitter face, Alice came running to my side.
“Leon, introduce me properly to your mother.”
I shouldn’t introduce you at all. Don’t think I’ll forgive you just because you’re cutely tilting your head to the side.
“Hey, hey, hurry up.”
“Wha-, stop pulling on my arm.”
Even though I’m struggling, Alice dragged me in front of Milli.
“…..Leon-sama, it’s been a long time.”
I still couldn’t bring myself to say anything — As I stood there speechless, Alice poked me in the side with her elbow.
Wh- that hurts, that hurts a lot! Alice forcibly jabs her elbow into me, we’re right in front of Milli, ah, is she laughing at me!?
Ah, mou, I get it, I understand!
“Ahem…….It’s been a long time. Also, you don’t need to use honorifics, umm….. Mother.”
Milli held her breath at my words. Now that I’ve started talking, I’m just going to tell her everything.
“Though you’ve probably heard from Michelle, many things have happened since we last saw each other. Many good things, and even more terrible things, but there is no longer any need for you to pretend to just be my caretaker, Mother.”
“…..Leon? Really, is it really okay?”
“Yes, it’s the truth, Mother. For everything……I’m sorry for all of the hardships I’ve caused you.”
“Aaa~! Leon, Leon!”
Milli hugged me tight.
Michelle had brought Milli to me, at the instructions of Claire.
I thanked Alice for pushing me to talk properly with Milli. I let myself enjoy Milli’s warmth, which I hadn’t felt for several years.
After the emotional reunion.
Once we had calmed down some, we decided to talk while having some tea.
“Milli, you’ve spent the last few years in your hometown, how has it been?”
“Hmm, have you already stopped calling me Mother?”
“…..Maybe at a different time.”
It makes me embarrassed to think about hugging and crying with Milli. My appearance may be that of a ten year old, but my mental age is nearly thirty.
Alice knows this and I’d feel embarrassed while she’s around.
Ah, but I can just say I cried to fit the childish body I’m in. Yeah, I can just tell Alice that.
“So, how was life in your hometown?”
“Oh, right. Fortunately, I had some money saved up from working at the mansion, so this was able to cover my living expenses. I spent most of my time there helping the village Chief.”
“Helping the village Chief?”
“Yes. I helped out doing various things around the village. I did similar work while I was your maid, Leon.”
Milli knows maths and is able to read, so she could be considerably helpful to a village. After all, the education level of this world is quite low.
“When I went to pick you up, you were surrounded by men from the village, right?”
I received an unbelievable shock from Michelle’s words.
With Milli — the shadow of a man with my Mother? No, my father, Robert, is no longer in this world. Besides, Milli had been neglected for a long time because she was Father’s mistress.
If Milli wants to start a new family, should I support her? No, if they’re after Milli’s money or her body, I can’t permit it.
First I’d need to put them through a test to determine if they’re a suitable partner — Ah, but that would be just like being forced into a political marriage, disregarding Milli’s own wishes!?
—-Kuu, should I leave the decision to Milli? But that makes me feel uneasy about it! Uwaaaaaaa, what should I do!?
“Leon? What’s wrong with you?”
“No, I haven’t prepared myself for this conversation yet.”
“I’ll be here to watch you grow up, so you don’t need to worry about anything, okay?”
“I’m happy, but then Milli’s happiness…..”
Rather, is Milli happy just watching over me? But that may just be me conveniently interpreting her words. Thinking about Milli herself —
“…..Otouto-kun is suffering as usual.”
“Isn’t that obvious!? Of course, I want Milli to be as happy as possible! But, I’m not the one that will make Milli most happy! I have to entrust that to someone else! It’s so frustrating — wh- Claire!? When did you get here!?”
I finally come to my senses and realize Claire is now here.
“I came with Michelle. I read the mood and decided to stay quiet.”
“Is that so….”
Was I saying “Mother, Mother” near Claire? It’s only been about two months since she lost her parents.
“Claire. Umm…..I’m sorry.”
“Hmm? Oh…..my family is Michelle and you. So, don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”
She says this and laughs a little lonely. What is this? I’m still worried about her.
But, if I keep pushing her, it will probably make Claire even more sad. Well…..this time I’ll take advantage of Claire’s kindness.
“Umm, anyway, Michelle, thank you for bringing Milli.”
“Your thanks is more than I deserve. But, there is news I’d like to share with you. Things I’ve seen and heard while on the road to pick up Milli-san.”
“Hmm? Did something happen?”
Actually – and Michelle told us about events happening in the Grances territory. It seems that there is a food shortage, and so there are cases of children being sold into slavery to reduce the number of mouths to feed.
“What is the cause of the food shortage?”
“In addition to a lack of rain this year, there is another outbreak of influenza, due to this the food stores are almost completely exhausted.”
“…..Because of the influenza outbreak, the food is running low?”
I don’t understand how the two are related.
“Isn’t it because the main food source during winter is from hunting?”
“It is as Alice-san says.”
Ah, that makes sense. The food stores would be increased by hunting during the winter, but with the number of people requiring bed rest increasing, there is much less food being brought in by hunters.
“We could try lowering taxes…..but that wouldn’t help with the current situation. — Are we able to provide food in anyway?”
The last part I direct towards Claire.
“The food shortage is only affecting the Grances area and its surrounding territories, so we could buy food.”
“Well, this time we can get through this by purchasing food……Why was the amount of crops harvested so low? Shouldn’t there be measures taken to prevent this kind of situation?”
“I hope we can implement some later, but now they usually just clear the dead crops and replant the same crops in the same field. Most likely the harvest will decrease again in a few years.”
“Then, is that…..repeated cultivation damage?”
I asked Alice this after hearing Claire’s explanation, and she gave me a small nod.
So that is the case. I wasn’t sure, because I don’t fully understand this world’s agriculture, but Alice has travelled this world for years, so it must be true.
“Umm, what is repeated cultivation damage?”
Claire asked a question that appeared to be on everyone’s mind.
“Roughly speaking, if you continue to plant the same crops in the same field, the yield will decrease. There will also be nutritional deficiencies, but there are ways to fix this.”
“I’ve never heard of it, but….if otouto-kun says so, it must be true.”
“Right, Alice should be able to give you the information needed to prevent it. Now, the real question is what to do about the children that have already been sold. Even if we are able to provide the people with food, the children that have been sold can’t be returned….”
After I said this, Michelle looked puzzled.
“Why? If they have food, can the people not use the money they got for selling their children, to buy them back?”
“Slavery is still a business. I’m guessing there will be an increased price for the cost of keeping the slaves alive. I doubt they’d be able to buy them back at the same price.”
On the contrary, they sold their children out of desperation. If they sold them for dirt-cheap, I’d guess they would cost more than double to buy back.
“Then….could you purchase them to become a servant of the Grances family?”
“If it was only a couple people, it may be possible. But, for so many? No matter how you look at it, it’s not possible. Besides, I can’t hire dozens of people when there is currently no work for them to do. If I were to do something like that, everyone would think they can just bring their children and have the Grances family take care of them.”
Michelle looked down while biting her lip. I can empathize with her, but I wonder what she saw when she went to pick up Milli.
There definitely seems to be something on her mind……would it be okay to just ask her directly? Maybe I can ask Claire about it later.
So the problem is, what to do about the children. I can’t calm down knowing these children have been sold into slavery. I need to go back to the Grances territory and seriously think of some solution.
“I’ve decided. I’ll return to the Grances territory the day after tomorrow. Once there, I’ll find a way to help those children.”
“You can…..help them?”
“Just like I said at the beginning, the problem is what to do about the children. The problem isn’t simple enough to be solved with just money, but I will try to think of something else. So, please wait for a little bit.”
If I was thinking about the children as my first priority, I should go back now and find a way to help them. But, Sophia is important to me. I can’t just leave Sophia as she is.
So, tomorrow I will dedicate all of my time to Sophia. Once Sophia is saved, I will return home and find a way to save the people of the Grances territory.
And so, mission complete.