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*Petchi Petchi*, *Petchi Petchi*.
I was sleeping nicely until something soft began tapping my face.
As I opened my eyes, I saw Hugging Bear’s paw in front of me.
Oh right, I had to leave first thing in the morning today.
I looked out the window and saw it was still dark.
「Thank you, Hugging Bear.」
I thanked Hugging Bear and petted its head before getting out of bed.
Doing so, I woke up Fina, who sat up immediately.
「Big Sis Yuna, are you leaving now?」
「Oh, did I wake you up? I’m sorry, Fina. You can sleep in a bit more.」
「No, I wanted to see you off, so I asked Swaying Bear to wake me up too.」
I was pleasantly surprised by her response.
I thanked her and changed into my usual Black Bear Suit.
「Well then, I’m leaving now. If something happens, call me using your Bear Phone, and I will return as quickly as I can. Otherwise, please wait for me here without going outside since that could be dangerous.」
I felt a bit anxious knowing I wouldn’t be around for a while. Well, as long as they stayed inside the mansion, they should be fine.
Taking some precautions, like the Bear Phone, wasn’t a bad idea, though.
「Okay. I’ll call you if anything happens. Big Sis Yuna, you have to be careful as well, okay?」
I patted Fina’s head, unsummoned Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear, and headed out onto the balcony.
Stopping just long enough for Fina to send me off, I jumped onto the roof.
This place should do, right?
The center of the roof was a good blindspot, so I set up the Bear Gate there.
I laid it down against the roof, so nobody would be able to see it.
Checking one last time, I opened the door below me, and transferred to the Bear House at the capital.
As soon as I passed through, though, I fell down due to the direction my body was facing.
It felt like jumping down a hole on the other side, but since I exited through a normal door here, I ended up buckling down.
It didn’t hurt at all, but it was still rather embarrassing. I was glad nobody saw me.
I had breakfast at my Bear House then headed to the castle when the sun hit the sky.
It was still early morning when I reached the guards at the castle gate.
「Hello. Can I head inside?」
「Yes, feel free to enter.」
Just as I was about to head inside, another guard ran over to me.
「Please wait a moment.」
The guard told me.
「I’m not here for Princess Flora today but rather want to see His Majesty and Eleanora-san. Would that be okay?」
「Oh. Please wait a moment, anyway. Eleanora-sama has already arrived at the castle, but I don’t know where she is right now. As for His Majesty, unless you had a prior arrangement…」
Well, it made sense for me not to be able to meet the king on such sudden notice.
Still, they didn’t know where Eleanora-san was, so I wondered what was she up to now.
「Could I talk to Zelef-san, then?」
「I don’t have the authority to permit that either, unfortunately.」
Could it be that I only had permission to visit Princess Flora?
Maybe it would be quicker if I just went over to her room like usual and waited for the king and Eleanora-san to show up there?
Just as I decided to do so, I noticed Eleanora-san heading over to me.
「I knew I saw a bear from far away. It was you after all, Yuna-chan. How rare for you to come here this early, though.」
Usually, it was a pain when Eleanora-san appeared out of nowhere, but it was rather useful today.
「Eleanora-san, I have a small favor to ask for. Is now a good time?」
「What is it? If it’s okay with you, could we discuss it while walking? It’s part of my daily routine to take a stroll in the morning and patrol the area.」
I accepted her request, and we began walking towards the castle.
「So, what is it? It’s rare for you to ask me for a favor, Yuna-chan.」
「Well, I asked you, but it’s really meant for the king.」
「Oh, is that so?」
「Do you think I could borrow head chef Zelef-san for a few days?」
「Zelef? May I ask why?」
I proceeded to explain about the situation at Sheelin.
「Oh, Cliff did mention something about this in a letter to me. The Salbert family, huh. I haven’t heard many good rumors about them.」
So, there really were bad rumors about them.
「Sorry, but I can’t give you permission to borrow Zelef without consulting His Majesty first.」
Well, he was the head chef of the royal family, so that made sense. I had to get permission from the king himself, then.
「So, shall we go and see His Majesty right away?」
「Would that really be okay?」
「Yes, no problem. I have to report to him that you have arrived, anyway.」
Was that a rule around here? That everyone had to report me coming here to him?
Well, I was okay with it now, as long as I could meet him. Following Eleanora-san, we headed deeper into the castle.
As we passed by various people, they all bowed and greeted us. Eleanora-san responded by only giving a light greeting each time. Wow, she was rather popular around here.
Heading down a hall, we reached a door guarded by two soldiers.
「Oh, Eleanora-sama. Could the person next to you be the rumored Bear Missy?」
What did he mean by the rumored? I wanted to question him about it but decided it was probably better to ignore it as I could already imagine the reason why.
Weird rumors would continue to spread anyway, whether I knew about them or not.
「Yes. We have some business with His Majesty, so can you let us pass?」
「Please wait a moment.」
The guard knocked on the door and got confirmation from within.
Receiving permission to enter, Eleanora-san and I walked into a spacious room, where three people were working on something. One of them was the king himself, then there was a man of similar age standing next to him, and sitting by the desk on the left was a handsome man in his mid-twenties.
He resembled the king for some reason.
「What’s the matter? You came here so early in the morning, not to mention to see me.」
「I just have a small favor to ask of you. I would like to borrow Zelef-san for a couple of days.」
Talking to him was a bother, so I cut straight to the chase.
「Zelef? What for?」
I had to explain the same thing as I had done with Eleanora-san all over again.
「The Salbert family and Faren Gramm family, you say?」
The man standing beside the king spoke up.
Who was he? This was the first time I had seen him; I was pretty sure of that. Well, him being here meant that he was an important person, right?
「Splitting that territory… Grandfather really did something quite unnecessary.」
The king said, sounding annoyed, and leaned against his chair.
「Well, it can’t be helped now. It must have been the best option, given the situation at the time.」
「Still, it turned into the situation we have today because of that. What a bother.」
I wondered if he had also said that to the previous king who had decided to split the territory into two.
Still, I agreed with how he felt. If that king hadn’t split it, we wouldn’t have had this problem now.
「Did you already know what’s happening there right now?」
「I have a basic understanding of it, based on the reports I have received. If I’m not wrong, the Salbert family is responsible for some nasty harassment, but that is about it, as most of the small details don’t reach the capital.」
「The Salbert family’s revenue has gone up lately while the Faren Gramm family’s has plummeted. Although the Faren Gramm family has been submitting their reports, they did not record anything specific in regards to the reason as to why that is happening.」
Well, to put it simply, the reports had made it seem as if the Faren Gramm family was failing to attract as many customers while the Salbert family was doing their best to procure as many as the could.
That, in return, had raised question as to what the Faren Gramm family was even doing.
「Turf wars between noble families happen everywhere. Although it is cruel to say this, the Faren Gramm family is powerless against them.」
It seemed that way to me as well.
Could Gran have played it out better?
The more I heard about it, the more it felt like he had already fallen too far behind in the beginning rounds.
「Still, there really are some bad rumors going around regarding the Salbert family.」
「Embezzlement, coercions, violence, all sorts of bad things, yet there isn’t any tangible evidence of their deeds. Without it, we can’t act against them.」
Well, that was how bureaucracy worked.
Even the king himself couldn’t act without any real proof. So much for justice.
「There’s also a rumor that the Salbert family is affiliated with the Bornard company.」
The handsome blonde man, who had stayed quiet till now, cut in.
He definitely looked similar to a certain someone.
The king noticed me staring and realized why.
「That reminds me, Yuna, is this your first time meeting Elnart?」
I had never heard that name before.
When I tilted my head, the handsome man laughed.
「To think that there is somebody who often comes in and out of the castle but does not know who I am. I am the legitimate child of King Furott, Elnart. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Yuna-san, the Bear.」
Ah, he resembled the king, or better he was the prince.
「You know about me?」
「I’ve heard about you from Father, Mother, and Flora. Not to mention that, every time you come to the castle, Father pushes all of his work onto me.」
His smile was scary for some reason.
Was it my fault?
I only came to see Princess Flora and never called for the king to come as well.
I would prefer if he didn’t blame me for this.
I glared at the king, who cleared his throat before speaking up.
「The Bornard company, you say.」
Oh, he changed the conversation.
He used one of my best techniques, the hidden move ‘Topic Change’.
Well, I was curious about the Bornard company, so I inquired with Eleanora-san.
「You’ve never heard of them, Yuna-chan? The Bornard company is the biggest company in the capital. They employ many merchants and do business all throughout the land. Their influence is so powerful that even nobles don’t dare go against them.」
「Yes, but with all the good rumors come the bad as well.」
「Could it be that they are behind the actions of those merchants as well, then?」
「There may be somebody pulling the strings from the back, but it’s also possible that they are completely unrelated.」
「Although, I heard that the Bornard company seems to be aiming for Gran-san’s territory, which could be a problem.」
Well, if they used their many merchant pieces in the right way, they could easily corner an entire town. Then they just had to keep them on defensive, until their economy ran dry.
Did this world have an underground world of some sort as well?
Well, if the Bornard company and the Salbert family were indeed related, then it would most likely be difficult for Gran-san to get those merchants and influential people he was hoping for to his side.
The party wouldn’t be able to change the outcome at this point as it had already been decided.
Still, if the party failed as well, the ruin of Faren Gramm family would come even sooner. Well, it was possible that the Salbert family wasn’t related to the Bornard company, but according to the information we had, that seemed to be quite unlikely. Either way, we needed a chef for at least the party to succeed.
「Well then, are you going to lend Zelef-san to me or not?」
Even though I now knew that Bornard company might be involved, there was nothing I could do about it.
The one thing I could do, however, was to bring Zelef-san to Gran-san’s mansion.
「Let me think. I can’t act on their chef being attacked, but since this is for the birthday party of the Old Man of the Faren Gramm family, I can permit you to borrow Zelef.」
Yeah, one chef being attacked wasn’t enough for the king to be able to take action. It was just the chef of a noble family who had been attacked, not the noble family members themselves. We didn’t know who was the culprit, either.
The Salbert family was the most suspicious, of course, but they weren’t found as the direct culprit.
The king couldn’t deal with every small problem other feudal lords might bring him; he didn’t have time for that.
It would be like complaining to the prime minister and asking him to investigate some suspicious people just because some people got attacked in their neighborhood.
It was Gran-san’s job to find the criminal. If they were a commoner, then they could be judged appropriately by him. Only if there was proof that the Salbert family was involved could Gran-san bring this matter before the king.
「However, I will process this as a request from Eleanora. Is that okay?」
The king said, turning to Eleanora-san.
「That’s fine. Cliff will be at the party as well, so we can use that as an excuse if any nobles complain.」
It would be a waste of time to stay here any longer, so I decided to head to Zelef-san’s kitchen once I was excused.
The prince finally appeared (He plays only a small part in the story, though. w)
By the way, he’s already married (Since I’m sure I would get some weird comments otherwise.)
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