…And thus, we finally arrived at the fief. Naturally we felt nostalgic after being gone for long, however, having reached the destination with no further incidents genuinely overwhelmed our hearts with a wave of relief.

“Welcome home, Milady.”

Led by Sebastian and Sei, every servant who stayed behind at the fief turned up to greet us as well.

“We are aware of what happened during the trip. By all means, please take your time and enjoy a good night’s sleep.”

“Thank you, Sebastian. Everyone too, thank you for your reception.”

I took up Sebastian’s suggestion without reserve. Probably due to the pressure continually built up along the way, I was thoroughly exhausted. Now that my mind has been calmed, it seemed like the burden was lifted all at once.

I headed to my room while being escorted by Sebastian. Upon entering, I took a shower, then changed into a more comfortable attire. Resting on the chair afterwards, I drank the herb tea prepared by Tanya.

“It has been a long day for you, Tanya. Please have a rest now. I am going to sleep right away.”

“As you wish.”

Tanya was also tired as expected, hence she willingly accepted my suggestion and retreated to her room.

Phew… letting out a sigh, my body quivered while I tightly embraced myself… Honestly it was frightening. Although I didn’t have to confront the assailant directly thanks to everyone… to be reminded of the fact that my life was targeted, even now, still make my blood run cold.

Nonetheless, just because it is frightening doesn’t mean I am afraid to make a move, and it would be ridiculous should I walk away from this. I need to find out about the origin of those bandits in haste, and there would be a heap of things to study thence.

But for today, I should rest myself fully… and thus, I was in deep slumber soon after lying in bed.

Next morning, I woke up at the usual time. Getting asleep early last night, I thought I would be an early bird in the morning though… Well, I wonder if I was worn out that much yesterday. Thanks to that, I feel immensely refreshed now.

A perfect morning routine started with me practicing yoga, taking a shower then putting on some proper attire. Eventually I went to the dining hall, having a nostalgic meal in the fief after quite some time away.

“…Iris-sama!”

Rimé came in while I was enjoying the postprandial tea time. Even though she showed up to welcome me back yesterday, we hadn’t had an actual conversation so it was somewhat sentimental seeing her this time.

“Ah, Rimé. What’s the matter?”

What’s the matter, you say!? I was worried to death! Thank goodness you are safe after all.”

“Thank you for your concern over me. As Rimé can see, I am perfectly fine right now, so please don’t cry so much like that.”

“But…”

While sniffing constantly, her tears just wouldn’t stop rolling down her cheek. Somehow it brings back memories… Rimé was also weeping hysterically like this the last time I went back home after having my engagement with Ed-sama broken off.

“I’m terribly sorry for making you so worried, Rimé. You can stop crying now… If you calm down, we are gonna have plenty of talk later on, okay?”

“O-Okay…”

…That’s right, calm down… It was not just Rimé’s feeling here though.

“…Milady.”

“Uhm, Sebastian. I will start working right after this. Though I have received your report by mail, it would be great if I can have a look at individual report of each department. I would also like to have an audience with the respective person in charge, if necessary.”

The top priority is to grasp the current situation as well as settlement of documents piled up while I wasn’t here. Now that I am back in the fief, this is what I ought to do for the time being. Upon entering the study, what lies before me is a mountain of sorted documents placed on the desk.

“Well, I will take my time reading the documents first. Please come when I call.”

“As you wish.”

“Also, please summon Ryle and Dida for me as well.”

Those bandits from yesterday need to be investigated, and since the process will take time, I had better issue the instructions in advance.

I began tackling the documents after Sebastian left the room… How long will it take to finish examining everything, I wondered… Just when I was lost in thought for a moment, someone knocked the door.

“Come in.”

I had expected Ryle and Dida to show up, but the one arriving turned out to be Dean.

“Dean!”

I was mildly surprised by the appearance of the unexpected visitor.

“It has been awhile, Milady.”

“Certainly it is… During the time I was in the royal capital, you must have been here quite occasionally, I guessed? Thank you so much, Dean.”

“It is my pleasure. Leaving that aside, I have heard the news. Is it true that you got attacked on the way home?”

“…Yes. But where did you…?”

Don’t tell me the rumor has already spread across the fief… I inquired Dean out of curiosity.

“It has become the talk of the town just late. For Milady to safely return is a wonderful thing to know.”

Hence, I was slightly relieved upon hearing his response.

“Thanks to the members of the guards, we have made it somehow… By the way, I have a few questions for you Dean…”

“No problem. Since I want to report several matters as well, without further ado let’s get down to business.”

Our short-lived greetings thus ended. I asked Dean about some unclear points emerged from what I had been reading so far. It appeared that while I wasn’t here, Dean and Sebastian were both in charge of running the business, so I felt truly grateful for him to stop by at this timing.

“…So, the land readjustment project in the fief’s capital is completed. Regarding the family registers, we have finished drawing up every neighborhood within the fief’s border, therefore what remains is only the cost of ownership for land plots outside the fief’s capital.”

This was the progress confirmation of the work implemented before I headed to the royal capital. Land ownership is a straightforward concept in the fief’s capital, due to having a considerable number of residential plots here. Exchanging standard contracts when conducting real estate transaction has long become a common practice. However, if one were to deal with land outside the fief’s capital, such convenience would diminish. It is not unusual for the kinds of rural districts to not have a detailed record of plot location and ownership.

“Exactly. For clarification’s purpose, the east region is almost completed. As for the south region… particularly the cacao-producing villages. Since their land ownerships have already been sorted out when they signed contract with Azura Conglomerate, this will take only a bit longer… Problems are the west and the north region.”

“Hmm… At this pace, there is no choice but to go and have a talk with the citizens in those regions as soon as possible.”

“Yes. Currently, the public affairs department is putting their highest priority on the task. At the same time, they are also undertaking the creation of residency certification in the fief’s capital.”

“I see. Please proceed as planned from now on.”

As I was getting back to the mountain of documents, there was another knock on the door.

“Please excuse us.”

Entered the study this time were Ryle and Dida.

“We apologized for being late.”

“It’s all right, you two… Well then Dean, I’m sorry but can you step back for a while?”

The nature of the following conversation was not something that even Dean was allowed to take part in.

“No problem. In the meantime, I will carry on with the tasks as discussed with Milady earlier today.”

Dean quickly made his way out of the room.

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