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When we returned to Gran-san’s mansion, Meshun-san came out to greet us.
「Welcome back. I didn’t expect you to return so quickly.」
「We ran into a bit of trouble.」
Meshun-san stared at me.
It wasn’t my fault, okay.
Well, they had noticed us because of me…
「We ran into an annoying brat called Randall, from the Salbert family. We came back early because of him.」
We had wanted to stroll around for a while longer, but none of us had been in the mood after that encounter.
Meshun-san’s smile disappeared when I mentioned Randall.
「Randall-sama, you say? Did he do something to you?」
「He harassed Misa.」
Meshun-san quickly turned to Misa.
「Misana-sama, did he hurt you?」
「Big Sis Yuna protected me, so I’m okay.」
「I see. Yuna-san, thank you very much for protecting Misana-sama.」
Meshun-san said with a deep bow.
「So, the families really don’t get along, huh?」
「Sadly, yes. Our relationship has been bad for a few years now, but it got even worse recently, especially Randall-sama’s remarks towards Misana-sama.」
「Has nobody complained to their family about his behavior?」
「We have, but it seemed to have had little effect. Before, they always told us things like, ‘We’ll keep a better eye on him,’ or ‘We’ll scold him about it.’ Lately though, they just say that parents shouldn’t involve themselves in their children’s arguments.」
This must have been the difference between how the bully and the bullied looked at the situation, huh.
「In that case, shouldn’t we report it to Gran-san at least?」
「Yes, that might be a good idea. Just talking to the parents isn’t doing much, but Gran-sama might have more luck with it.」
「So, can I speak with him right now?」
「Hmm, since it’s regarding Misana-sama, I think you should be able to. He’s currently having an important discussion with Cliff-sama, however, and he told me not to let anybody near his study.」
It would be best to just go and try to speak to him now, and if he said no, I could just come back later.
I told Misa and the others to head back to their rooms while I went to meet Gran-san.
「We’re going too.」
「I’ll be fine on my own. It’s been a while since the three of you have been together, so why don’t you go play in our room?」
I managed to convince the three of them then headed to Gran-san’s study with Meshun-san.
「Gran-sama and Cliff-sama are in this room.」
I knocked on the door and entered when I heard a reply from inside.
Cliff and Gran-san both look at me, surprised.
The two of them must have been discussing something, judging by the documents spread out all over the table in front of them.
「Is something wrong?」
「I came to talk to you about Misa. I considered coming later, but this was important enough to come right away.」
「Did something happen to her?」
「We ran into an idiot named Randall, from the Salbert family.」
Their expressions changed when I mentioned his name.
「Was everything okay?」
「No one got hurt, but he did make fun of Misa.」
Though, even verbal abuse was probably quite hurtful to a child like Misa.
Gran-san muttered, sounding annoyed.
「I only heard a bit about this, but are your relations with the Salbert family really that bad?」
「It’s bad, and has gotten even worse lately. This harassment began a few years ago. It was very minor at first, so nobody really knew who was doing it. That’s why we have been ignoring it until recently, but now, they harass us without even trying to hide it, like Randall bullying Misa openly for instance. I complained to his parents about this, but they just told me not to interfere with mere children’s quarrels.」
Gran-san told me, obviously frustrated.
Did Randall’s parents not understand that words could hurt as well?
Some people could never recover from bullying, and a few even ended up killing themselves over it.
「So, does that mean you are getting harassed yourself, Gran-san?」
It seemed like the conversation would get long, so I took drinks out of the Bear Box for the three of us.
The two of them gladly took their drinks and took a long sip.
「The Commerce Guild master is now under the control of the Salbert family.」
「Didn’t you try to object to that?」
「We did, but without any real evidence…」
「How did you find out about it anyway, then?」
「Ah, that’s because more and more merchants are working for the Salbert family.」
Cliff, who had been just silently listening till now, cut into the conversation.
「More and more goods are being supplied only to the districts owned by the Salbert family, making other people unable to buy them anywhere else but there.」
「Yes, and because of that, my districts began to suffer.」
「Did you try to talk to the Commerce Guild about it?」
「Yes, and the merchants said that they are free to sell their products wherever they want to.」
「Well, your residents should still be able to buy things, right? They just have to go to one of the Salbert districts.」
「Yes, but that hurts the merchants in the Faren Gramm districts. Some are even moving to the Salbert districts.」
「Do guild masters really have such influence?」
「It’s less about influence and more about corruption. If one of the shops here tries to purchase something from the Commerce Guild, they are offered only ridiculous prices.」
「And, that’s why merchants are migrating to Salbert area, since it is now the only place to get normal prices.」
「What a low move, making competitors from another area unable to buy things.」
Cliff then reacted to my comment in an unexpected way.
「Yuna, you… Did you already forget what you did to me?」
He asked with a stunned expression.
I had done something to Cliff? I didn’t recall anything, though.
I tilted my head, not understanding what he was talking about.
「Why you… You actually forgot? You asked Mylene not to sell any eggs to me.」
I clapped my Bear Hands together.
Ah, I had done something like that.
If I remembered correctly, it was because I had thought that Cliff had been the one responsible for reducing the monetary support to the orphanage.
Yes, that was it. How petty of him to bring up something from so long ago.
Well, I did understand what Cliff was trying to tell me. If you got on the guild master’s good side, they were more likely to help you out.
「Well, this is pretty much the same thing as what you did to me. Still, the scope of it here is much bigger, which makes it much worse.」
「Also, more and more influential people are starting to support the Salbert family, even further increasing the strain on my districts. Cliff and I were just discussing what could be done about it.」
「Old Man Gran, you should really have mentioned this to me earlier.」
Oh, so that was what they were talking about before I had barged in.
「I’m sorry, but I didn’t want to trouble you with this.」
「Even so, with the situation having degraded to this point…」
「I didn’t think that they would actually go all out and try to ruin us like this.」
Gran-san lowered his head towards the much younger Cliff.
「By ruin, you mean your family, right?」
「Yes. Without our income, our family is well on the path to ruin. We’ll have to forfeit our lands to the king and be forced to give it up to somebody else.」
「It is very likely that the lands will fall into the hands of the Salbert family. Just by looking at the reports on their revenue, you can see that they are doing an excellent job as lords of their area.」
Obviously, since their income was going up, the Salbert family looked good on paper.
Tax records didn’t show what kind of illegal things they did to increase it, after all.
「Anyway, we are trying to find a countermeasure against this. We’re sending in some goods from Crimonia, but being on the bad side of the Commerce Guild is a real problem.」
「That’s why I’ve invited many important merchants and wealthy people to my party. We cannot let the Salbert family’s plan go through. We cannot let his son inherit everything that is to this town.」
「We have to oppose them by winning some of the merchants over, or we are done for.」
「Yes. The guild master won’t stay put if he learns of our plan.」
So that was the purpose of this grand party.
There was more to this than just the argument between Misa and Randall.
From Randall’s perspective, Misa’s family was an opponent who they could steal the territory from. His way of speaking implied that he thought his family had already won. He had even said that he would make Misa his maid. If Misa ended up being kicked onto the streets, I would take care of her; there was no way I would let that idiot have her.
Of course, the best way to do that was to make sure that Gran-san’s family won this fight against them. From what I had heard, it seemed that Gran-san was losing in numbers, though.
Would Cliff lending his assistance be enough to turn the tables, maybe?
Well, if my assistance was necessary, I would make sure to help in any way I could. Not much I could do in this situation, however.
At the very least, I should be able to help out if it comes to an all out fight, but persuading merchants wasn’t really my thing.
The most I could do right now was protect Misa.
Our conversation ended, and just as I was about to get up, there was suddenly a lot of noise coming from the hallway, and Meshun-san barged into the room without knocking.
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