Chapter 3-19 : Unexpected Visitors Ⅱ
「Taking me back home…? Are you kidding me…?」(Iris)
Iris-san was confused when she heard that but Kate-san’s reaction was more fierce. She stood up and banged her hands on the table.
「What do you mean by taking Iris back!? We talked about this before we left, right!?」(Kate)
「Kate-chan, calm down.」(Katerina)
Katerina-san put her hand on Kate-san’s hand and tried to calm Kate-san down with a gentle voice.
「You’re being rude to Adelbert-sama.」(Katerina)
「Uu… I-I’m sorry…」(Kate)
Kate-san bowed to Adelbert-san and sat back on her chair.
「No, it’s okay. It’s only natural that you’re mad at me, but… I want both of you to know that things have changed…」(Adelbert)
Adelbert-san said that with a bitter expression.
Katerina-san, who was sitting next to him, had a similar expression.
Apparently, they’re in a bad situation right now.
「Umm, it seems like you guys are talking about your family situation, so I will step out for a while.」(Sarasa)
I felt like I shouldn’t be joining this private conversation, so I was thinking of stepping out, but then Iris-san stopped me.
「No, Store Owner-dono, please stay. I still owe you a debt, so I want you to know what is going on.」(Iris)
「…Alright, if you say so.」(Sarasa)
Now that she mentioned it… Although I trust her and told her that she could pay her debt to me anytime, it will be difficult for her to pay if she leaves.
「So, Father, what the hell is going on? I left home with Kate to make money so that we can pay the debt, but we haven’t made enough money, so why do you want to take me back home all of a sudden?」(Iris)
Hm? She’s not talking about her debt to me, right…?
「Wait a minute. I’m sorry for interrupting… Iris-san, do you have a debt to someone other than me?」(Sarasa)
「Aa… A-Actually… Yes… I’m sorry I never told you!」(Iris)
「To be exact, it’s not Iris who is in debt, but the Lotze Family.」(Kate)
I see now…
So the reason why Iris-san left her home with Kate-san and became a Collector is to pay her family’s debt.
「Just like Kate said, my family is in debt. As the head of the family, I feel ashamed…」(Adelbert)
「But there was a great famine in our region at that time, so it can’t be helpeー」(Iris)
「ーStill, it’s my fault! It was because I wasn’t competent enough as a lord and let my people starve!」(Adelbert)
Adelbert-san shook his head with a regretful face.
But, famine, huh…
The way each lord responds to famine is different from each other.
Evil lords will keep mercilessly collecting the usual amount of taxes even if their people are starving, while good lords will reduce taxes or not even collect taxes at all during famine. There are even good lords who sacrifice their private property to provide food for their people.
As far as I heard, Adelbert-san is without a doubt a good lord.
However, no matter how small a noble house is, I don’t think they have to borrow money from someone else.
I might be rude if I said this but I guess the Lotze Family is so poor that they had no choice but to borrow money.
「So, you guys became Collectors to make money and pay the debt little by little?」(Sarasa)
「Yeah. At that time, we were inexperienced as Collectors, but since we can fight, we thought we could do this job well.」(Iris)
「If we don’t do something, we won’t be able to pay the debt after all.」(Kate)
Aristocrats mainly have two incomes: the annuity paid by the government and tax revenue from the people in their territories.
The amount of annuity paid is determined by the nobility rank. However, it’s rarely paid to knights, especially, the knights who have lands like Adelbert-san.
The tax revenue will increase as your territory grows, but since Adelbert-san only governs two small villages, I don’t think he makes much money from taxes.
Aside from those two main sources of income, you can also earn money from side businesses. However, there are only a few aristocrats who earn money in this way because it requires talent and knowledge. Without them, you won’t be able to succeed in business.
「Umm… Do you mind if I ask how much money your family owes?」(Sarasa)
「Store Owner-dono, I owe you money, so you have the right to ask… If I remember correctly, it’s about… 65,000,000 reas. Am I right, Father?」(Iris)
「I see… Thank you for telling me, but… Why did you borrow that much money? I don’t think you need that much to only provide food for people in two small villages.」(Sarasa)
Normally, for commoners with a family of six people, you only need about 100,000 reas or less to survive for a year.
This is just my calculation but with 65,000,000 reas, you can support about 650 households, and I don’t think two small villages have that many households.
Even if it includes interest, that amount of debt is just too much for a lord who only governs two small villages.
「Actually, I didn’t need to borrow money at first, but the thing is… The rumor about me providing food for my people spread very quickly and reached the neighboring territories. Because of that, many migrants came to my territory and the population grew dramatically. That’s why I needed to borrow a lot of money…」(Adelbert)
If you live in a territory that is in a state of turmoil, it’s only natural if you want to move to Adelbert-san’s territory where people were provided with generous protection.
Because the number of people living in his territory has increased, not only did Adelbert-san need to provide them with food but also places for them to live in.
「We also need to pay the interest that keeps growing… Because it’s been quite a while since we borrowed the money, we have to pay much more than the amount we borrowed.」(Katerina)
「Yeah… That’s right…」(Adelbert)
When Katerina-san added an explanation, Adelbert-san sighed heavily.
「A few years after I borrowed the money, we finally overcame the famine, and I could make money from taxes again. However, the interest keeps swelling and increases the amount of money I need to pay, and it’s hard for me to pay it off from my income alone. Thanks to Iris and Kate sending us the money they made, we could reduce the debt little by little, but…」(Adelbert)
「Ever since you saved me, I stopped sending money to my father.」(Iris)
Iris-san’s words shocked me a bit.
So… Iris-san decided to prioritize paying her debt to me over helping her father pay their family’s debt?
「Iris-san, I told you you could pay me anytime. Why didn’t you send money to your father first? You can pay me after paying off your family’s debt.」(Sarasa)
「No, I can’t do that! It’s my family’s precept to always pay back the people who help you, so it’s only natural that I prioritize you! Isn’t that right, Father?」(Iris)
「That’s right! You’ve grown, my daughter. I’m proud of you!」(Adelbert)
「Thank you, Father!」(Iris)
Ughh… It seems that there’s no point in persuading this stubborn father and daughter…
When I was stuck on words, Kate-san looked at Adelbert-san with a frowning face.
「Adelbert-sama, then why do you want to take her back home? We still haven’t paid off our debt to Store Owner-san.」(Kate)
「…I know, but the situation has changed.」(Adelbert)
「Kate-chan, Adelbert-sama was told to pay off his debt at once.」(Katerina)
Iris-san and Kate-san were shocked by Katerina-san’s words.
But… What kind of person can tell an aristocrat to pay at once? Could it be…
「Adelbert-san, did you borrow the money from another aristocrat?」(Sarasa)
「Yes. He is the lord of this region. He governs the town of South Strugg, this village, and many other towns and villages around here. His name is Baronet Yorke Kirk.」(Adelbert)
Baronet Kirk? I see…
Iris-san knows him, that’s why she looked kinda angry the moment she heard that name when we were discussing the investigation mission with Erin-san a while ago (chp 3-7).
「The territory my father governs is close to this territory, so he didn’t have a choice but to borrow money from that jerk… He took advantage of us by charging us high interest on the loan! And he told us to pay at once? Screw him!」(Iris)
「Iris, that’s enough.」(Adelbert)
When Iris-san shouted angrily, Adelbert-san calmed her down with a calm voice and shook his head.
「The repayment deadline has long passed, so we can’t complain. I tried my best to borrow money from somewhere else to pay off the debt, but because the scale of my territory is small, no one believed that I would be able to pay them back…」(Adelbert)
Adelbert-san only governs two small villages, so his income isn’t much compared to other aristocrats who have large lands. It’s only natural that no one wanted to lend him 65 million reas.
「Fortunately, we finally found someone who is willing to lend us money not long ago, but… There’s a condition…」(Katerina)
While saying that, for some reason, Katerina-san turned her gaze to Iris-san.