"Nina! Where are you?"
"Bwaah!" A child jumped out from behind a closet and screamed out loud.
The mother of the child yelped and fell to her back, the floorboard below creaking wildly. In the next moment, the young mother puffed her cheeks and pouted.
"Nina, bad girl!"
"Ehehe..." Nina, the child scratched her cheek and wrapped her arms around her mother.
The mother smiled and hugged her child back. "Nina," she said. "Don go out to play now, the sun is about to set. Its too dark in the night to even stay in the home."
"Yup, I also moved any small things from the floor before you came."
A smile tugged at the lips of the mother as she started stroking the childs head lovingly.
"Well go out and eat with the entire village later, around a biiig campfire."
Nina pulled back from her mother and spread her hands to the side "Biiiiig campfire?!"
The mother spread her arms even wider than Ninas and repeated. "Biiiig campfire!"
"We have a lot of food now, so eat your fill, ok?" saying that, the mother embraced her child again, wiping away the small drop of tear that glistened near her eye.
It was sundown by the time we reached back in the mansion. Today was a free day from the classes anyway since I and Keith had decided to spar. Just the day before, I had already finished multiple of my courses and their teachers had left. Now, only the magic, music, and discipline teachers had any business with me.
As we stepped out of the carriage, Maria decided to move first and check exactly how much Keith had given away while I, Lily, and Keith went up to the study in the mansion.
We opened the door to the study and the wide room with red carpets and mahogany walls entered our sight. I walked over in the light of the setting sun seeping in from the window that covered the entire wall and settled down on the sofa. Keith took a spot on the double-seater sofa adjacent to mine while Lily pulled out a box of matches and started lighting up the candles in the room.
"Brew some tea instead, would you? Have this jackass help you."
I snapped my fingers and a small spark spread through the room, lighting up all the dozens of candles one after the other.
"Fucking magic control monster..." Keith left a sour remark as he walked over to Lily. I had no reason to use my magic like this other than to piss Keith off. What else did he expect from someone whos control was good enough to remove all impurities from his body? I even had my experience as Yujin, I didn mean to brag, but I was the very best in this field.
I smirked and closed my eyes again.
We were close to the border, that was certain. But it wasn close enough to see another country or even be in any danger, that place was handled well by the Margrave in his territory that was actually adjacent to it. The territory of the Hall fiefdom was about a week away from the mansion, but the counts and barons in the way there were direct subordinates of the Hall Marquis. In a way, it was this specific territory around the mansion that was close to the Margraves territory, and by extension, the Ediab forest that was between the Schwarz and the adjacent country.
The underdevelopment of the villages around didn make that much sense to me. Most certainly, for two people of equal rank in the kingdom, there would be fierce competition. It wasn like we were from the theocracy or something, the people here were hellbent on one-upping each other, and what was a better way to do so than by showing off your might at the border itself?
I stood up and walked over to the closet in the study, after retrieving a map, I spread it on the table in front of the sofas and stared at it. It wasn a very detailed map, but it did the trick for now. I had seen the map multiple times, but this would be my first time observing it with a goal in mind. Just the change in mindset revealed a lot of details one would generally miss.
Surely, the villages around and the mansion itself were rather small when it came to the big scheme of things. Moreover, the two fiefs shared another border further up north with a strait passing through them and moving into the Duke of Mirxas territory. The Margrave would naturally keep the commerce side of his territory near the strait, and that was also where the territory of our direct subordinate count.
Still, for them to completely ignore this place to the point of people facing starvation. It wasn the Marquis fault, but rather the responsibility of the baron ruling the next town over. Marquis fief or not, that guy was obviously tasked to take care of this distant land on top of his own. But would the Marquis ignore it just because the baron wasn looking after it?
I crossed my legs and thought some more.
To have your people be pushed this far, you would either have to be a hapless fool or a helpless one.
I noticed something odd in the map right then.
I had been talking about the labyrinth found in the Hall territory and the labyrinth city being made around it, but there was not a single mention of the place on the maps.
"Hey, Keith..." I called out.
"No, actually, I can take you to a brothel, even to drink."
"Heh!? Young master, thats a no-no! You absolutely can go to such a place!"
What the hell were they on about. Before I could speak up, the door to the study opened and Maria sneaked in. I could see a black cloud rising from behind her.
"Keith bastard! You are trying to sully our young master!?"
"Haah, Keith. When was the labyrinth in our territory discovered?" It was better to ignore these clowns.
"Hm? Five years ago. Not in the map?"
About the same time that the situation started deteriorating here. Now things made more sense.
"Oh wait, before that!" Maria shouted, remembering something. "HOW CAN YOU GIVE AWAY ALL THE FOOD, DUMBASS?!"
"Lets just catch something!"
I was going to have to hunt today.