ll you in person?”

After speaking, Barrymore stroked his mustache and narrowed his eyes.

“You’re so excited.
I’ve never seen you smile like that before.”

* * *

Hugo Les Baskervilles.

He was still sitting at his patriarch’s desk, his face expressionless.

But Vikir could sense an alien aura emanating from him.

It was.

“……Well done, son.”

It was uncharacteristically warm.

Hugo set today’s morning paper down on his desk.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The results of the popularity poll of the citizens were on the front page of the newspaper.

“You’ve done a great job.”

“You did what you had to do.”

“There are a lot of dumbasses out there who can’t do what they’re supposed to do.”

Hugo looked at Vikir, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“Illegal slave trading is a felony punishable by death for both buyer and seller.
Your actions have been commended by the Imperial Court.”

“I am honored.”


“This is your chance to dispel the myth that Baskervilles are only good with a sword and bad with their heads.
You’ve done a great job.”

Vikir’s special law, his performance in proclaiming it, and his vigorous enforcement of the law set a precedent for all the cities under the Baskervilles’ control, and even the imperial family.

Hugo’s unorthodox appointment was rewarded by Vikir’s unorthodox performance.

One of the Baskervilles’ customs is to be sure of reward and punishment.

If you do well, you get rewarded; if you don’t, you get punished.

Vikir had done an outstanding job and should be rewarded accordingly.

And today, Hugo had summoned Vikir to the main house to discuss the reward.

“Admission to the Academy.”

The Colosseo, the Imperial Academy, the place where every elite in the world dreamed of entering.

Hearing that, Vikir asked.

“Isn’t it customary to enter the academy at the age of 20?”

“If you’re good enough, there’s no age limit.
You can be an early adopter or a late adopter, as long as you fulfill the following conditions: no more than 25 years old when you enter and no more than 30 years old when you graduate.”

“……I will live up to your expectations.”

Vikir interjected with a short testimonial.

Hmm?

Hugo, who normally would have ended the conversation at this point, showed a rare willingness to continue.

“I’m sending a few people, including you, to the Academy, but I haven’t gotten around to organizing the entries yet.”

“……?”

“Do you have any close brothers who would like to go with you?”

The question was completely unexpected.
Didn’t it sound like something a father would ask his son?

“Uh-oh.
You’re a father.

But then Vikir remembered something he had forgotten himself.

He is Hugo’s son, after all.

He hadn’t been treated like a son for so long that he had forgotten.

Vikir hesitated a moment, then spoke.

“I’m best friends with the triplets, Highbrow, Middlebrow, and Lowbrow.”

What’s the big deal about being best friends, if you want them around, you’re best friends.

“……Is that so?”

Hugo’s eyes widened a little in surprise, but then he nodded in understanding.

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

That was the end of the conversation about the academy.

Vikir had just finished his chaplaincy and was about to leave.

“Oh, by the way.
Son, stay a minute.”

“……?”


Vikir stopped in his tracks and turned around, and Hugo rose briefly from his seat.

Then he spoke in a low voice.

“I’ve been looking over the laws of your underdog city.”

“They are …… immature.”

“You’ve made quite a few changes to the agricultural laws.
You’ve done a very efficient job.”

“That’s very flattering.”

Vikir had once reorganized the laws governing the large farms on the outskirts of Underdog City, in the area where the Red and Black Mountains met in the lower reaches and wide open plains.

In addition to the ruby mines, there are many fields of sugar cane, tobacco, cotton, and other crops.

They were mainly worked by savage captives.

Is that why? The savages who occasionally raided across the border often targeted farms on the outskirts of Underdog City.

Hugo said.

“Why don’t you take a quick tour of the estate before you enter the Academy? See if the laws you’ve established are being followed.
It would be good experience.”

“As you wish.”

Vikir obeyed, still unwilling to argue.

Then.

Hugo, who had been watching the scene with satisfaction, suddenly asked.

“By the way, are you going alone?”

“……?”

Vikir scratched his head.

So he’s going to go on a territorial tour by himself?

When Vikir looked at Hugo with a puzzled expression, he settled back into his chair and spoke in a relaxed voice.

“This is a joint operation.”

At Hugo’s words, Vikir remained silent.
It was an indication that he needed a little more explanation.

Understanding that, Hugo got down to business.

“Do you remember the operation you organized when you were eight years old? Why, the ruby mine.”

“……Of course.
I seem to recall that it involved leasing the Ruby Mines area to the Morg and driving the barbarians towards it, keeping the two factions apart untouched.”

Aka the carnage map.

The idea was that if they wanted to expand their borders, they’d have to deal with the barbarians anyway, so they might as well use the Morg to get rid of them.

Hugo’s mouth curled into a wry smile.

“The plan worked.”

“And by worked, you mean……?”

“The Morg made the first offer.
Very low-key.”

Hugo hadn’t looked this happy in a long time.

He turned to Vikir.

“They’re talking about a joint war of attrition.”

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