Who told you to mess with my wife?!
Nadia glanced at Anna, who came with her to Altair’s office, hoping she would back her up.
But it seemed the maid had misunderstood her as she just smiled and stepped back.
“You two just take your time and talk comfortably.
I shall take my leave.”
You don’t have to…
But Anna didn’t recognise the cry in her heart, as she quietly closed the door and left.
With only the two of them left in the quiet office, the air was full of awkwardness.
It was hard to look directly at Altair’s face, so she diverted her eyes here and there, and the first thing that caught her attention was the papers on the desk.
Come to think of it…
Altair had had a lot of work lately, and he seemed pretty tired.
Every day he would return to the bedroom and fall asleep right away.
It might just be me, but his face looks a bit haggard.
“Aren’t you…overdoing it?”
Altair touched his face with his hand and lightly cleared his throat, as if he found the pair of eyes carefully examining his complexion burdensome.
“Looking at the papers doesn’t really suit me, it would have been easier if I was told to wipe out the magic beasts.”
“Take a rest.
If there’s anything I can help with, let me know.
I’m confident in looking through documents.”
“I can’t leave the lord’s job to you.
It’s my job.”
Altair leaned back in his chair, rejecting her offer at once.
“You seem to have worried enough about me, so now tell me your business.”
“If you have come to me first, it must be an important matter.”
“It was not urgent.
I just wanted to ask for permission…”
Altair’s eyebrows twitched as if the words were a bit jarring to him.
“It will be the meeting of the eastern nobility soon.
I thought a lot of preparation would be needed, so I should have the clothes tailored… I thought I’d ask for permission in advance because I’d spend a lot of money on that.
There is also the issue of castle repair.”
As she observed Altair’s complexion whilst pouring out her words, his expression became more and more subtle.
“It’s not a matter that requires my permission.
You don’t have to ask for my consent, since issues concerning the castle are all up to you.
Besides, we don’t have to worry about money anymore.”
Altair sighed and held out the document he was looking at a moment ago and tapped it with his finger.
It meant for her to look at the contents, so Nadia moved closer and took a look at the document.
It was a contract with various clauses.
The ink was not completely dry, presumed to have just been signed.
The most noticeable thing was, of course, the phrase ‘Magic Stone Delivery Contract’.
“You have finished the contract with the merchant?”
As Nadia smiled and raised her head delightedly, Altair slightly raised the corner of his mouth and affirmed.
“I signed an exclusive supply contract with the Silver Fox Merchant.
For the monopoly, they called for 500 million gold as a down payment.”
“Oh my gosh…!”
The Silver Fox Merchant was a gigantic merchant guild boasting the second-largest scale in the Empire.
They had a huge distribution network throughout the empire, so they would make a very good partner.
Besides, 500 million gold was such a big amount of money that even a wealthy marquis like the Vine would spend as per budget for several years.
“They are competing against the Black Panther Merchant.
Thanks to that, the conditions gradually increased… the situation is in our favour.”
If the Silver Fox Merchant was the second in the Empire, the Black Panther Merchant was the first.
It seemed that the two guilds, which had long been in competition, had a major confrontation over Aylesford’s Manastone Mine.
Through the magic stone mine, the Black Panther merchant guild wanted to maintain an overwhelming first place, while the Silver Fox wanted to prepare a stepping stone for a reversal.
Of the two, the Silver Fox Merchant would have been a little more desperate, so they would have emerged victors in the end.
“As for the distribution of profits, it is a very good condition, and the silver fox guild decided to take this share to which we sell.
Generally, it is six to four, or seven to three if it comes out good.”
It was something Nadia started because she wanted to be recognised by Altair, but if the people of Aylesford, who had taken good care of her in this (now) rich land, could live in peace, there would be nothing more gratifying.
But Altair didn’t seem all that happy.
Altair was looking at her with an undefined expression.
It made her wonder what was on his mind.
Nadia wondered why, but when she looked at Altair with her joyful heart subsided a bit due to his mood, he got up from his seat and came towards her.
Nadia’s shoulders flinched slightly at the daunting shadow.
Subsequently, Altair reached out his hand as if to reassure her and stroked her hair.
“It is all thanks to you.”
Nadia blinked in daze at the sudden compliment.
Altair chuckled at the sight and ruffled her hair a little rougher.
“I don’t know what the hell is going on in this little head.”
“It-, It’s making me a little dizzy…”
At her protest, Altair stopped.
Before she knew it, he was looking at her with a serious expression, his smile was also erased.
“Thank you very much.
This is a sincere thank from me as the lord of Aylesford.”
It was unexpected.
She was thanked by the villain.
Not once in her lifetime had she dared to imagine something like this.
Somehow when I actually met Altair in person…
She thought he was very different from the villain in the novel.
It was both strange and surprising, so she was unknowingly staring at Altair’s face.
He then immediately removed his hand from her, and took a step back.
“Every time you give me that kind of look, I feel weird, I feel tingling inside and I don’t know what to do…”
“Umm…then should I not look at you?”
“That’s not it-…!”
Altair, who was about to shout, saw Nadia wince and shut his mouth at once.
He seemed to have a lot to say, but in the end, what came out of his mouth was a deep sigh.
“…When are you going to get the clothes made?”
“I also have to think about the production period, so I think the sooner the better.”
“Tell Pavel to call a tailor within a week.”
She was relieved that she had been given permission.
When she looked at Altair with a smile, Altair’s face became strange again.
She didn’t want to trouble Altair, but when she intended to turn her head away, suddenly there was a commotion coming from outside the window.
It was a situation in which she felt a sense of déjà vu.
“Baron! Baron Aylesford, please meet me!”
Huh? Isn’t that Count Gallard?
It wasn’t just the situation that made her feel deja vu.
The visitor was also the same as then.
He fled in a hurry not too long ago, so why is he doing this again all of a sudden?
Nadia tilted her head in confusion, but Altair just smiled leisurely as if he had predicted this would happen.
“Since the count has asked me to meet him, a baron like me should be obedient and go greet him.
Don’t you think so?”
Obedient…? What of this wickedly smiling face is obedient…?
However, she could not have the courage to bring up such thoughts.
As she nodded in agreement, Altair smiled.
“Then shall we go?”
When Nadia went out of the castle with Altair, Count Gallard was walking around with an anxious face at the entrance, and the knights of Aylesford were guarding the entrance so that he could not come inside.
He looked completely different from that time when he showed up at Aylesford Castle not long ago, screaming and fussing.
Now, his skin looked dull, and his cheeks felt hollow and haggard.
As soon as Count Gallard saw Altair, he approached him with delight.
Altair greeted him with a stiff posture and a slight bow of head.
“It’s been a while, Count.
How did you come to set foot in this shabby estate again?”
“Shab-shabby? Who could say that about Aylesford?”
“I guess you don’t remember. You did, five years ago, it was like that not too long ago too, that is yet to include the letter you sent me.”
The Count was sweating profusely, his eyes flitting here and there in anxiety.
It seemed that Altair’s point was not wrong.
“If I have offended you in the past, I apologise! I was narrow-minded.
So if you can kindly open up…”
“No, how can the Count be narrow-minded? You are a count.
Everything the Count said is true.”
“Don’t-don’t say that… please…”
Count Gallard had been facing Altair with a submissive attitude the whole time for some reasons unknown to Nadia.
“Please help our estate.
If we keep going like this, the beasts will ruin the orchard and the farming this year! There are fruits that have been promised to be delivered to the imperial family… If we break the promise, His Majesty the Emperor will be very angry!”
Come to think of it, grapes were a specialty of the Gallard Territory.
Their grains were famous for being big and sweet, so the emperor enjoyed eating them.
Most of Gallard’s wealth came from selling those grapes.
But did he say that the beasts appeared in the orchard where the grapes are grown?
That must have been why he made a request to Aylesford.
However, it seemed that Altair rejected the request due to the recent incident.
“I feel sorry for the Gallard Territory, but I was seriously injured after returning from slaying a dragon, so it’s hard for me to accept requests of dealing with beasts for the time being.
It seems that you would have to look for mercenaries instead.”
“I already looked for them! However, no one was skilled enough to deal with Griffin!”
Griffin was a beast with the body of a lion but the head and wings of an eagle.
Since it could fly around in the sky, it was difficult to deal with it with just normal skills.
“Of all things, it’s a griffin! Our orchard is far from the griffin’s habitat, so there’s never been a time like this before… how come…”
Count Gallard stumbled, devastated.
“My only hope is the baron.
Aren’t you strong enough to slay a dragon? If it’s you and the knights of Aylesford, you will be able to take down the Griffin with ease.
Please accept my request!”
Altair turned to look at Nadia while touching his chin as if he was troubled.
As she blinked in surprise at the sudden stare, he asked, tilting his head to one side.
“Nadia, what do you think?”
“Should I accept the Gallard Territory’s request? I haven’t fully recovered yet, but I think I’ll change my mind a little if it’s my dear wife’s request.”
She couldn’t answer right away, so she hesitantly looked at Altair and Count Gallard.
Nadia couldn’t understand why he was asking her about such an important matter.
She looked at Altair to see if there was a certain answer he wanted from her, but he just stared at Count Gallard with an incomprehensible look.
Before long, Count Gallard, who was looking alternately between the two of them with much nervousness, knelt down in front of Nadia and grabbed the hem of her skirt.
“Please convince the baron! If the baron doesn’t help, our land will be doomed!”
“Don’t do this and get up, Count.”
“Please forget about all the rudeness I’ve committed in the past! I will apologise for it all!”
Confused, Nadia tried to get the count to stand up, but instead, he fell flat on the ground and begged for her forgiveness.
The sudden commotion startled the onlookers gathered around the castle, as they all caught their breath in astonishment.
Normally, there would not have been this many people gathered at their estate, but it just so happened that numerous merchants were staying in Aylesford due to the manastone mine problem.
Besides, how coincidentally, these were people who roamed all over the Empire for trade.
Rumours of the count kneeling before the baroness and begging for her forgiveness would soon spread throughout the empire through their word of mouth.
It was obvious that the Count’s ridiculous appearance would be further exaggerated by the talks of the merchants.
Who told you to dare mess with her?”
Altair smirked and gestured to the knights behind him.
With no delay, Blan approached him, as if he had been waiting for it and bowed to Altair.
Altair whispered in his ear in a small voice that the count would not be able to hear.
“If he has done this, I assumed he has come to his senses.
Address the problem concerning the orchard.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
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