Black Cat Chapter 165: Yearning

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 After the funeral of the knights, I was summoned by Viscount Lagart.


 The reason was that the condition for the talk with Caballero was that the talk would take place every other day, with a day in between to talk with the Viscount.



 When I went to the room to which the knight led me, the viscount indicated with a hand gesture that I should take a seat across the sofa and table on which he was sitting.


 On the table were papers that he had apparently been looking over before my arrival.



Now, Nyango. Tell me your honest impression of talking to the perpetrator.” (Frederick)


“Of course… I realized how immature I am.” (Nyango)



 Hearing my reply, the viscount’s stern expression relaxed a little.



“Huh, what is it?” (Frederick)


“I lost my cool under Caballero’s provocation and just voiced out my own rebuttals, but I couldn’t get anything out of him.” (Nyango)


“What did you think when you heard what they said?” (Frederick)


“They didn’t go into detail, so I got the impression that they were having a hard time making ends meet… but that doesn’t mean I agree with their assertion that the world would be better off without the aristocracy.” (Nyango)


“Hmm, from the looks of it, you don’t seem to be impressed.” (Frederick)



 The Viscount nodded slightly, his expression loosening further.



“So… I have a meeting with Caballero tomorrow, but I would like to call it off.” (Nyango)


“Are you done?” (Frederick)


“Yes, I probably just get angry and argue back, and I feel like I can’t really get the important point across.” (Nyango)


“That’s right. I heard from the knight of the Duke’s family who was also present that he had a strong reaction to the other person since you were also a catkin. As for the interrogation, it would be better to leave it to someone who is more familiar.” (Frederick)


“Yes…” (Nyango)



 The viscount bundled up the documents spread out on the table and held them out to me.



“While we were holding the funeral, the duke’s family conducted an investigation.” (Frederick)


“Do you mind if I look?” (Nyango)


“I don’t mind, because it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter yet. Still, it will give you some background on the incident.” (Frederick)


“Then please let take a look.” (Nyango)



 The documents recorded the statements of each perpetrator interrogated, and the reason the handwriting looks different is probably because the person in charge was different.


 When I looked over the contents, I found that all of the perpetrators who gave statements were residents of the Grobrus territory.



“The transcripts are verbatim transcripts of what the perpetrators said. It’s not corroborated at all, and it could have been a prearranged script.” (Nyango)


“Most of them were second or third sons of peasants, and it sounds like they joined the raiders because they couldn’t make ends meet.” (Frederick)


“That’s just what they are saying…” (Nyango)


“Oh… that’s right, I haven’t confirmed it yet.” (Frederick)



 I’m not very good at doubting people from the beginning.


 And it’s even worse when you’re making statements like after struggling to make ends meet.



 As I was reading the statement, I found one word that stuck out to me.



“What is this ‘auction’…?” (Nyango)


“I’m still not sure… I have yet to confirm this, but it seems that in the Grobrus territory, land rent is decided by an auction.” (Frederick)


“What, don’t the same fields get used by the same people every year?” (Nyango)


“As far as I know, that’s the way it works in all of the territories, but apparently in Grobrus, there is an auction, and that’s what drives up the cost of land.” (Frederick)



 In the auction, a minimum price is set for each plot of land, and those who want to use the land apply for it by writing their desired price on a piece of paper, and the one who offers the highest price gets the right to use the field.



“This was started around the time when the landowners were killed, and Andreas had land they owned put under his direct control. At first, the lowest price was offered, which was much lower than what had been offered before, so the residents were happy to bid on the land.” (Frederick)


“Just hearing that, it seems like there is no problem…” (Nyango)


“Nyango, suppose you are a peasant who cultivates a small field. Wouldn’t you want to have a bigger field if the rent was much lower than it was before?” (Frederick)


“That’s what I would normally think. …Oh, so that’s where they started competing with each other.” (Nyango)


“That’s right. If the land rent is low, they would want to expand the field and will bid on other fields. …As a result, someone will be deprived of a field. The next year, they set the land rent higher in order to get the fields back. …Then the rest of the process repeats itself.” (Frederick)



 At first, the bidding system was supposed to be a relief measure for farmers, but it seems that it suddenly turned into a system that put pressure on farmers’ lives.


 When the land rent went up, the minimum price was raised the following year, and the price of the land went up continuously.



“Then, is the annual tax amount within the range stipulated by the country?” (Nyango)


“I am not sure if someone found something. Well, from the information we have, it seems to be very doubtful.” (Frederick)


“The rising cost of land and the collection of the annual tax that exceeded the national limit was driving the residents into a corner, weren’t they?” (Nyango)


“That’s what we see… we don’t know how exhausted the residents actually were or how much money they were strapped for.” (Frederick)


“Are you going to conduct an investigation?” (Nyango)


“I have no right or obligation to investigate other territories. I will make a report, but it will be up to the royal family to decide what action will be taken afterward.” (Frederick)



 Viscount Lagart’s words may sound quite callous and cold-hearted, but if other nobles give their opinions on the management of their territories and cause conflicts, it may lead to a civil war in the worst-case scenario.


 Viscount Lagart and Count Grobrus are separated by the Marquisate of Escalante, so direct combat is unlikely, but it is apparently taboo among the nobles to interfere in other territories.



“So, nothing will be done against Count Grobrus?” (Nyango)


“No, I’ll make a report. I’ll report that we know what we’ve investigated, but… I won’t take any obvious action.” (Frederick)


“Is there a reason for that?” (Nyango)


“Me and Count Crobrus warring… that’s what they’re planning.”



 The reason why Viscount Lagart’s party was attacked this time can only be described as a coincidence.


 Count Grobrus, the man in question, is confined to his heavily guarded mansion and rarely comes out.



 So, it seems that Viscount Lagart’s party was targeted instead, after giving up on targeting the Count as we visited the Grobrus estate.


 Moreover, Derrick, the son of Marquis Escalante, was in the group.



 They thought they could draw a confrontation between the two houses just by attacking one group.



“Their aim is to collapse the aristocratic system so that they can seize power and suck the sweet juices. Oh, don’t get me wrong, even though we are aristocrats, life is not as easy as it looks.” (Frederick)


“But aren’t there people among the anti-aristocrats who genuinely want to improve their country and their territory?” (Nyango)


“That’s right. The trouble with the anti-nobility faction is that some people with evil purposes incite pure people to lead them in the wrong direction. The purer the thoughts are, the more likely they are to be radicalized in thought and action. Otherwise… you wouldn’t think of exchanging your life for the cause.” (Frederick)


“Then, the catkin who blew himself up and Caballero…” (Nyango)


“I guess they are being taken advantage of.” (Frederick)



 It would be heart-warming to hear that those who have lived oppressed lives at the bottom of society would sacrifice themselves to prevent the creation of more people in the same situation as them. I guess this will end up happening.



“This is only a guess, but those who are at the bottom of society and have no hope for the future will not easily reject sweet words such as paying their families after death or improving the lives of their fellows. That’s why… I must keep myself calm, fight, and not forgive those who want to cause strife.” (Frederick)



 The Viscount’s fist, clenched hard on the table, is trembling with anger.


 When I had previously requested him to improve the lives of those living in villages deep in the mountains and catkins, he revealed to me his pained feelings that could not be easily solved even though he was aware of the problem.



 This is why he is so angry at those who take advantage of the problems that cannot be solved overnight and those who are suffering for their own gain.



“What should I do? What can I do?” (Nyango)


It’s simple, be an active adventurer.” (Frederick)


“Oh, that won’t solve anything, will it?” (Nyango)


“That’s outrageous. If Nyango, a catkin, establishes himself as a successful adventurer, many catkins will see you and think that they can do it too.” (Frederick)


“But it’s not easy for a catkin to become an adventurer.” (Nyango)


“You’re really saying that? Even though you know it’s not easy, you’ve reached your position with effort and ingenuity, and aren’t you trying to rise even higher?” (Frederick)


“That’s true, but…” (Nyango)


“Listen, Nyango. Not everyone can have the future they want, but if you don’t look for it and aim for it, nothing will happen. To become an adventurer, you must have the desire to become an adventurer, then think about what to do and take action. The first step is… yearning.” (Frederick)


“Yearning…” (Nyango)



 When I heard that one word, the scene of my triumphant return to the guild after taking down a big fish as a member of Chariot came to mind.


 The way the young adventurers look at Laius, Serge, Gad, and Shure is yearning itself.



 There is no doubt that their driving force is the yearning that someday one and all of them will be able to take down big things like that.



“The reason we nobles continue to live a good-looking life is to make the people of our domain want to live a better life and think about what they can do to make it better. The nobles must be symbols so that they can see with their own eyes what a good life looks like. Nyango, if you want to improve the lives of catkins, be a symbol of a successful catkin. You must become someone to yearn.” (Fredrick)


“Someone to yearn.” (Nyango)


“Well, there’s no need to think too hard about it. As long as you continue to be as active as you have been, the environment surrounding the catkins should move in a positive direction. There’s no need to worry, I’ll do something about it… Else you’ll just fit into someone they expect to be.” (Frederick)


“Yes, I understand.” (Nyango)



 Viscount Lagart had dinner with the knights in the dining room used by the knights, not in the dining room for guests.


 He sat at the same table with the knights, ate from the same menu, and reminisced about the knights who had passed away.



 The conversation was not limited to the knights themselves but extended to memories of their families.


 It was clear how closely the Viscount was connected to the knights and how strong the bond between them was.



 Naturally, the viscount’s gaze is not limited to knights, but must also be directed toward the many people of his domain.


 I must not make the mistake of joining hands with those who would consider killing such a man in place of a reclusive, corpulent aristocrat.




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