The people gathered in the venue were all suspicious of their own ears.
A refreshing laughter broke the silence.
It was Ixion.
He had suddenly followed behind Duke Phaeraton and erupted into a grand laughter.
“Viscount Winchern, you’re quite skilled at chika-chika, aren’t you?”
Ixion wiped away the tears that had gathered in the corners of his eyes and spoke.
Viscount Winchern’s face turned sour.
“Why. Ah, because I entered through this door? Isn’t it all right since I came in with you?”
Ixion shrugged his shoulders casually.
In the end, Viscount Winchern couldn’t escape the false accusation of not being able to perform chika-chika.
Ixion walked in a carefree manner and plopped down in his empty seat.
Upon seeing that, the vassals exchanged glances with each other.
“Master Ixion attending the conference…”
“How long has it been?”
Return of Duke of Phaeraton.
The rapid rise of the youngest miss.
Moreover, Ixion attending the conference.
It seemed like there was a brewing change within the Duchy of Phaeraton.
“Well then, let us begin this year’s final regular monthly conference.”
With that solemn declaration, the meeting of those who hid their intricate deliberations began.
* * *
I quietly observed the atmosphere of the conference and reopened a quest I had previously confirmed.
⟨Avenging Magpie (2)⟩
The culprit of the kidnapping incident, former butler Allen, confessed during a newspaper interview that he received Nicholas Tarenka’s bribe.
In reality, he received a substantial amount of funds from Nicholas and commissioned the kidnapping of our dear reader.
But what is this unsettling feeling?
Such a dangerous crime happened right within the Duke of Phaeraton, and no one noticed?
Please find out, dear reader!
– Condition: Find the people related to the kidnapping incident.
– Reward: 2000 cash lottery ticket, activation of hint for quest ⟨???⟩
– Hint: You are not alone now.
Allen had planned this at the instigation of his uncle.
Perhaps it was the final act of the former Marquis Taranka.
I understand why he didn’t tell me reluctantly.
You can’t say things like ‘your uncle tried to kidnap you’ to a child, hmm.
‘By the way, I thought the case was already over.’
There are still people involved. Who could it be?
The Phaeratons turned out to be much larger family than I thought.
It would be good to ascertain the factions at today’s conference.
〈You Must First Manage Your Household (2)〉
You seem to be conquering the Phaeraton family well!
If you are a romance-fantasy novel reader, you may have guessed who the next target is.
– Condition: Be recognized as a member of the family by Ares.
– Reward: 5000 Cash lottery ticket, increased influence in the Duchy of Phaeraton, and access to the linked quest〈???〉.
I was confident about this quest.
‘I wonder if I can break the record for clearing a quest in the shortest amount of time that I set a while ago?’
Since it didn’t automatically complete, it seems like I have to talk to Ares directly.
‘I’ll talk to him after the meeting. There’s also a quest to eat something delicious with Ares.’
[As the related quest has been opened, the quest 〈???〉 will be revealed.]
〈Clean Up Thoroughly! (1)〉
Dear reader, you are sharp!
You have been at Marquis Tarenka’s place for about 3 years.
It can’t be that Duke Phaeraton, who used to pay a hefty amount of childcare expenses every quarter, didn’t supervise anything, can it?
Even if Duke Phaeraton was absent, it’s unreasonable to think that way!
The Duke is not so easygoing or careless!
So, the conclusion is clear: there was someone on the inside.
There are all sorts of parasites and mold in the Duke’s house, which has been vacant for three years.
Let’s clean it up!
– Condition: Identify the traitor who collaborated with Nicholas Tarenka.
– Reward: 3000 cash lottery ticket, increased influence in Phaeraton.
〈Clean Up Thoroughly!〉was a quest that came up when I suspected what Nicholas Tarenka believed in and did.
At that time, it was marked as unavailable because the linked quest was not open.
‘Now that it’s been revealed, it means that this quest is related to other quests.’
Being recognized as a member of the family by Ares and uncovering the person involved in the kidnapping case.
It’s obviously related to the latter, right?
‘Then, could it be that the person involved in my kidnapping case is a traitor in league with Marquis Tarenka?’
If this is true, it’s quite important.
The fact that the same person could be responsible for both cases is a significant clue.
At that moment.
“I plan to officially launch Ruatisha’s staff.”
I suddenly lifted my head at the sound of my name.
But the response that came was not from my mouth, but from the mouths of others.
“Your Excellency! Isn’t this too hasty a decision…?”
“The young lady is still too young! She will only turn five in a few days.”
“How old was the second master when he first formed the Advisory Council?”
“…He was four.”
“And the first?”
“He did it when he was three.”
“The third was at about the same time as the youngest. He formed it at the age of five, insisting that it was the duty of the Duke’s direct lineage, even though Ixion disliked it.”
Duke Phaeraton’s red eyes glanced around the room.
“All of you.”
The nobles fell silent.
But they too had definite reasons for opposition.
“The lords cases are different from the young miss. Phaeraton’s remarkable growth and excellence are due to innate magic, aren’t they?”
“The youngest lady is not significantly different from an ordinary child. How small she is even now. Smaller than an average four-year-old.”
However, when there are those who oppose, there are also those who support.
“What ordinary child would reveal her uncle’s fraud at the mere age of four, and reap the reward!”
“If the princess had not exposed it, wouldn’t we have suffered the humiliation of being accused of participating in the scam? The princess protected the honor of Phaeraton!”
The nobles who knew me from the Duke’s mansion in the island and were familiar with me and heard about my story.
A sharp confrontation.
During the ongoing dispute, I nodded my head.
Honestly, I understand the opposing view as well.
At a glance, the Duchy of Phaeraton comes from an astonishing lineage that is of the standard seen in novels.
Since I was not born with that special power, it’s only natural that I can’t be entrusted with the family’s affairs as a child.
At that moment, one of the nobles raised their head and asked my father,
“Your Highness, since you have returned, there is a need to reorganize and rearrange our duties. Are you planning to allocate a part of these responsibilities to the young lady by establishing the Advisory Council?”
It seems like they are worried that I might take away the plate of food they were eating from.
“I have no intention of letting her take over existing businesses. Not yet.”
“What the youngest wants is the mana stone mining operation.”
“You mean the mana stone mine that Nicholas Tarenka swindled?”
At those words, the noisy hall suddenly fell silent.
“It wouldn’t hurt for the young lady to gain some experience too.”
Those who had been rebelling against the idea of not sharing their rice bowls suddenly acquiesced.
Of course, there were still some who opposed.
But they were only against pursuing a business that was sure to waste money by mining empty mana stones.
Then, those who had been opposing before but were now actively supporting the idea were the most suspicious.
‘Even if they know it’s a terrible business, if they’re not opposing it and instead giving it their wholehearted support, it’s like they want it to fail.’
The traitor colluding with Marquis Tarenka would certainly not want my standing within the family to become stronger.
I should remember their names. Oh, there’s also that Viscount Winchern who pretends not to care, but seems to be bothered by it. He pursed his lips like a goldfish every time he spoke.
I glanced up at Dad.
‘What if Dad already knows?’
That there was a traitor in league with my maternal uncle, Nicholas Tarenka.
Until now, I have been constantly going back and forth to my father’s office.
So I know.
‘My dad is a boss.’
There’s no way he didn’t notice.
After quickly comparing the documents, my dad even managed to expose several moldy ones that had been stealing from him and accumulating wealth.
‘Not only did he realize the existence of the traitor, but he knows exactly who it is.’
Seeing the quest appear, it means my dad didn’t eliminate the traitor.
If that’s the case…
‘…Was it just a whim to bring me to this conference?’
I mentioned wanting to do a mana stone mining business at the office before, and my dad had already discussed it with the elders at that time.
Of course, now it’s an official statement at the conference venue, so it might carry a different weight.
Back in the office, there were only a few individuals who reported to me.
‘But there were enough people to relay the message to others.’
Those who failed to dissuade my dad would have sought out other influential people.
‘Those influential people would naturally come looking for my dad.’
They would have objected, protested, or done something to stop me from forming my own council.
I looked around.
The conference venue was spacious. I could barely make out the faces of the men at the last row.
Of course, the closer to Duke Phaeraton, the host, the higher the seat.
So I could tell right away.
‘The elders have been silent since earlier.’
All the elders were watching the situation.
When I take charge, new forces emerge in the struggle for power.
There may be changes in the succession structure if the ball is set in motion.
‘So, shouldn’t the elders be the most fiercely expressing their opinions on this matter?’
Not all of them are holding weight, and the elders are still in active service.
‘Ah, I see!’
The plot has already been set.
I chuckled to myself.
‘What’s important right now is not whether they establish an advisory council for me or not.’
That’s just a bait thrown to those who are consumed by jealousy.
At the same time, it is also a method to establish a power base for me after this.
The important thing is–
‘Revenge is in my hands. Cleaning up is for the messy ones.’
—it’s a test for me.
To see if I, who was never born with magic, am capable of handling the affairs of House Phaeraton.
‘The elders came looking for Dad. They said it was too early to entrust the family affairs to me.’
Dad must have made a deal.
The internal traitor who colluded with Nicholas Tarenka to torment me.
That bastard will be caught by my daughter.
A proof of my ability.
The elders must have nodded their heads under those conditions.
They might have thought I couldn’t do it, or maybe they thought I couldn’t be stopped if I had that much ability.
It’s unfair for Dad to tell me to find the traitor.
‘So that’s why you brought me to the conference.’
My dad thinks I would notice.
Actually, I noticed.
Oddly enough, the corners of my mouth were curling up.
My heart is pounding.
‘I didn’t know I had this.’
A desire to prove myself.
Excitement dispersed through my lips.
To be recognized and anticipated.
To have an opportunity to demonstrate my abilities.
That was truly amazing.
* * *
Duke Phaeraton looked down at his well-behaved daughter during the competition.
Plump cheeks. Big, gentle eyes.
She had an innocent and soft face, but in reality, she was like a predator waiting for her prey, concealing her presence.
Those who mock this child based solely on her appearance will surely pay the price.
Will there be another child as extraordinary as this?
I couldn’t help but smile.
“Well then, I declare this meeting adjourned. Thank you for your hard work.”
And finally, when the meeting was over.
Ruatisha tightly gripped Duke of Phaeraton’s collar.
The onlookers who were getting up from their seats were taken aback by the mischievous child.
It was a heartwarming sight, but it also made their hearts tremble in a different way.
But there was something even more shocking to come.
The youngest princess planted a kiss on her father’s cheek.
And she whispered something in his ear, giggling softly.
Whether it was the child’s radiant smile or the faint smile that appeared on Duke Phaeraton’s cold face, it was a touching moment.
“I heard the rumors, but I didn’t think they were true.”
“More than a few people have been spared the death penalty thanks to a few words from the youngest lady during the previous kidnapping incident.”
Duke Phaeraton tightly hugged his daughter at the sight of the vassals.
As if to show off.
In an instant, the vassals’ expressions turned pale.
With a triumphant smile, Duke Phaeraton playfully pinched his daughter’s plump cheek.
‘What’s, what’s this…’
Due to the magical energy exuded by the young masters, there was not a single child in the vicinity, let alone in the vast castle.
In other words, Ruatisha was the only child around.
‘—I do want to pinch her cheek just once.’
The vassals couldn’t help but have such a thought as they watched Duke Phaeraton walk away without looking back.
* * *
‘Thank you! Thank you for believing in me!’ I whispered, and smiled.
As expected, my thoughts were right.
I happily slid out from my Dad’s arms.
From easy quests to challenging ones, it’s time to move quickly!
I spotted Ares’ back as he exited the conference room and rushed towards him.
“Let’s have a cup of coffee together! With marshmallows and chocolate, it’ll be nice and warm!”
Ares, who was walking with others, turned back when he heard my call.
When I saw Ares’ face, I was taken aback.