7526-chapter-71-2

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‘Well, there were crossword puzzles and number games. Playing those helped pass the time.’

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Beyond that, there were quite a few horrific, even tragic incidents. They described events not covered in the novels, and Grace was considerably shaken by them.

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“…Hm, there were more brutal incidents than I expected. But more than those, there was a kidnapping case…”

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As Grace was about to talk about the content she had read, the carriage jolted fiercely, shaking its interior.

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“…Are, are you okay?!”

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The Viscount, visibly alarmed, gazed at a flustered Grace. Fortunately, thanks to Benjamin’s quick reflexes, grabbing her as the carriage rocked, she was unharmed.

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“Yes, thanks to His Excellency.”

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“What happened? Did the carriage break?”

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Benjamin, quickly releasing his hold on Grace, peered out of the window. The Viscounty’s street seemed more crowded than usual, almost filled with carriages.

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With an awkward smile, the Viscount explained.

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“It’s the time when traders move vigorously within the Linden territory for business, so it gets crowded. Grace, you used to love this time when you were a child, didn’t you?”

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Perhaps trying to lighten the tense atmosphere from the sudden incident, the Viscount turned the conversation to Grace. She nodded in agreement.

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“Yes, I think I did. There were merchants who brought fascinating items, after all.”

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“Right. You always ended up buying some useless stuff back then.”

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“… “

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“I’d love to hear directly from My lady about what she purchased.”

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“…Really?”

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Grace wondered if Benjamin’s comment was just polite conversation. She worried that if she actually detailed each purchase later, she might end up looking quite silly.

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โ€œYes, really.โ€

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Yet, Benjamin, seemingly sincere, nodded slowly and then tapped in the direction of the coachman.

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“The carriage is still a bit shaky. It seems the wheel might have loosened from that earlier jolt.”

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Eventually, as the carriage came to a halt, Benjamin was the first to step out, extending his hand to Grace.

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“We’re not far from the Viscount’s residence now. How about taking a stroll through the marketplace?”

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Grace looked down at Benjamin with a surprised expression.ย 

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“My Lady doesn’t want to?”

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“No, no, it’s not that. It’s just… quite unexpected.”

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“I got curious from our conversation. I was wondering what might interest My Lady around this time of year.”

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Benjamin smiled brightly.

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“If I pay attention now, maybe next time I’ll score some points with you. Don’t you think?”

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“What points are you trying to earn exactly?”

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Grace asked, teasingly. Still, Benjamin responded calmly.

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“If you’re curious, how about taking my hand?”

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“…”

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In the end, Grace found herself unable to resist taking Benjamin’s hand. Not that she had any real intention of refusing.

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The mild jolts from the carriage had been uncomfortable, and given the influx of merchants, her curiosity had been piqued.

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‘Now exactly was ‘that’ time of the year.’

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Every year, the Linden Viscounty had periods when merchants would stay for an extended time. It was the Viscounty’s prime moneymaking season and was almost like a festival.

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‘Most of the residents of the Linden Viscounty probably preferred this period of the year over the actual festivals.’

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It was a difference in perception, shaped by infrastructure.

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“It won’t be that exciting, especially when compared to the festivals in the capital. Because it’s of a smaller scale.”

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โ€œIt would still be more fun than the Northern Nights.โ€

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“That feels a bit unfair when you put it that way, Your Excellency.”

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“Haha.”

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As Grace alighted from the carriage with Benjamin’s escort, a familiar landscape greeted her.

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The Linden Viscounty was situated in the southwest. It was quite remote, so it wasn’t actually a hub for trade, but this very remoteness fortuitously shielded it from the dominance of larger trade factions.

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โ€˜Should I say it attracts merchants with unique items, or perhaps merchants trying to offload less in-demand goods?โ€™

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The intertwining of these factors meant that while the Linden Viscounty had a relatively active merchant trade, its overall development lagged behind.

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โ€˜Maybe they’d make more money by capitalizing on the local lake legends and diving into tourism.โ€™

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Regardless, the Linden Viscounty was fortunate to remain unaffected by the western contamination incident. Its land was still vibrant with life, and the faces of its inhabitants appeared cheerful.

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โ€˜Thatโ€™s really a blessing. The Viscounty’s main asset is its land, after all.โ€™

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Grace surveyed her surroundings and approached the nearest stall. The vendor seemed to have stepped inside for a moment and was out of sight. She pointed to something on display.

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“Look at this, Your Excellency.”

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“What is it?”

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“Well, it seems like preserved fruits. They also appear to sell seeds and plantlings.”

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The preservation suggested that the climate or region might not be ideal for selling the fruits as they were.

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โ€˜But why does it look familiar?โ€™

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Though Grace was certain neither her current self’s memories nor the original story contained any mention of this fruit, she felt an odd sense of dรฉjร  vu.

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