Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi: Chapter 343: A Merchant's Determination

–Aegir POV–

「It looks ready to burst at any moment. It's so big.」

I stroke Melissa's belly.
Knowing this inflated stomach contains my child makes me feel emotional.

「Ahaha, the doctor said it won't be strange if our child was born soon.」

Melissa also strokes her stomach, though she seems a little gloomy.

「……maybe my stomach really is weird after all, I don't know what to think……」

Melissa's insides were damaged in the past by a violent incident.
She was later healed by the dragon's blood and was able to get pregnant again, but her worries hasn't gone away.

「Don't be ridiculous, everything should be fine considering how big it's gotten. Plus, you can feel lots of movement, right?」

「I felt movement today too. However I was apparently supposed to give birth last month……」

I pat Melissa's head.

Pregnant women can easily become emotionally unstable.
Nonna tends to go on a shopping spree for expensive items, Carla gets angry at other girls and argues with them.

「You don't have to worry about anything. I'll be here with you at all times.」

Melissa buries her face into my chest and lets out a big sigh of relief.

「Thank you…… fufu, I'm sorry. I felt scared just now.」

Melissa's warm smile soon changes into a mischievous grin and then she fiddles with my pants.

「Hey now, you sure about this?」
「Mhm. I can't f.u.c.k you right now, but I can still use my mouth.」

Melissa sits in a chair while I stand in front of her.
This way, she won't put any burden on her stomach.

「You're going to be sucked off by a pregnant woman.」
「Hearing you say it like that turns me on.」

Melissa drops a kiss on my already erect d.i.c.k and then takes the tip into her mouth.
She was about to take me deeper after looking up at me and hearing me groan, but then something happened.

「Ah!?」
「What's wrong? Did it stink?」

I already used it once today, however it should be clean now.

「No! I-it hurts! My stomach hurts……! Oww!」

Melissa holds her stomach.
Giving me a b.l.o.w.j.o.b must have triggered her labor pains.

「I'll go get someone right away.」

I rush out of the room as soon as I finish my sentence and grab the first maid I see walking in the corridor.

「Kyaa! G-go ahead……」

The maid screams in surprise but then, seeing it was me who grabbed her, turns around and flips up her skirt.

「I'm not here for that. Melissa is going into labor so I want you to make preparations!」

That reaction must be because I hurried outside with my d.i.c.k sticking out.
There's no time to worry about that though.

「After ten minutes, the midwife should come too. Hold on for a bit longer.」
「I-I can try…… but it hurts…… I might not be able……」

Melissa groans and holds her belly at the signs of her first birth.
I know little about how it feels, but Nonna has described it as “pain like the world is ending”, so I'm sure it is incredibly painful.


「I-I can't, I'm dying! If I die, at least cut my stomach open and save the baby――!」
「Don't say that. Here, grab onto me. I don't mind if you scratch.」

Melissa squeezes the hand I hold out with all of her might.
Her nails dig into my skin and draws blood, but that's nothing compared to what she is feeling at this moment.

「The midwife is coming soon! Hang in there!」
「Women are made to bear children so you'll be fine!」
「You were embraced by the feudal lord-sama, so you should have a safe delivery!」

Hearing the commotion, maids call out to encourage Melissa, though the pain seems to be overwhelming her senses.
I can't blame the normally composed Melissa for acting this way.

「I-I can't――!!」

Melissa bites down on my arm.
If that will help to ease her pain, she can bite me as much as she wants.

「Ah, she gave birth!」
「Wait, you're kidding. Already?」
「It hasn't even been five minutes……」

All of a sudden, I hear the sound of a baby crying and Melissa panting heavily.

「Sorry to keep you waiting! Wait, the baby has already been born!?」

The midwife let out a disappointed sigh.
Well either way, I'm glad both the mother and child made it through safely.

「Baby…… a baby girl…… so cute……」

Tears drip from Melissa's eyes as she cradles her crying baby.

「I thought I would never give birth…… now a baby…… my baby……」

She looks truly happy.
She won't make this face even if she climaxes ten times consecutively.

The other girls of the family come running into the room late.
It happened so fast after she felt the contractions that they couldn't make it in time.

「Oh my, how cute!」
「You're right…… her face is so similar to Melissa's.」
「She has Aegir's eyes.」

I don't think I'm needed here anymore.
I'll leave the rest to the girls.

「Everyone, please move! We need to get the baby in warm water.」

「Ah, I'll do it.」

When the midwife was about to let the baby have her first bath, Melissa unexpectedly stands up.

「Uwah! Melisssan, you mustn't stand!」

「You can stand already!?」

「Yes, my stomach did hurt so badly I thought I was going to die. It was really painful.」

「As a midwife, I a.s.sure you that a delivery in five minutes is the most uncomplicated birth I've seen, the quickest of the quick. Normally, women would struggle a hundred times more than you did during labor!」

「As expected, it's all because of Aegir.」

「Aegir-san's thing is honestly even larger than the baby's head…… right?」

After they chat noisily, everyone looks over at me.
Are they praising me?

I pull up a chair in the corner of the room and sit down.

「I'll be here for the day. Let me know if you need anything. I could go if you think I'm in the……」
「No, stay! Please stay!」

When Melissa raises her body, the maids quickly hold her down.

Alright then.
It isn't like I can do anything, I just want to thank her for giving birth to my child.
I'll stay beside her when she sleeps and talk with her when she's bored.

Reading the atmosphere, the girls not required to stay, essentially everyone except the midwife and maids, take their leave.

Even Celia, who was sitting beside me, was taken away by Myla and Carla, each of them holding one of her arms.
Seeing Celia pout as she gets carried out makes me laugh a little.

「Anyways, I gotta say Melissa, you're really energetic.」

Nonna was out for a whole day after she gave birth, and even Carla and Mel who had safe deliveries felt so tired they stayed in bed for a while. Yet, Melissa is caressing her baby and would be out of bed if not for the maids.

「Mhm, I'm completely fine. More importantly, why don't you give the baby some more attention.」

The midwife stops Melissa from getting up again.

「Hmm, she's a baby alright.」

Melissa laughs, asking me “what kind of comment is that?”
Even if she asks me…… I mean I'm used to praising beautiful women, it's just babies are different.

「Look, it's Papa, isn't he big~」

Melissa prompts the baby in a sweet tone, although having been born not too long ago, her eyes are still closed.

When I try to touch the baby, the midwife grabs my hand and wipes it thoroughly.

「I haven't touched anything dirty today.」
「What about other girls?」

I did touch them. A lot of them.
When I said that, my hands were wiped once more.

「Look, Papa's finger is big too.」

The baby grabs my finger, feeling around it before letting go as if it wasn't what she wanted.

「Ahaha, this is what you want, right?」

Melissa gives the baby her mother's milk.
The baby sucks on her juicy t.i.ts.

「So your b.o.o.bs belong to this child from now on?」

I don't think she'll let her baby have the right breast while I take the left one.

「Ufu, I'll be sure to share with Aegir-san if I have some to spare.」

The midwife watches closely for any issues during the breastfeeding, then after determining there is nothing to worry about, decides to take a rest.

「The mother and baby both seem healthy and lots of milk is coming out. I think you'll be fine for now, but call me if anything happens. After that, you just need to take it easy on your body…… having s.e.x immediately is absolutely not allowed, even if it's a mistake! It is prohibited for a month.」

「Understood.」

I'm not some fiend who f.u.c.ks women who have just given birth.
What does the midwife think I am?

「――the back hole isn't allowed either.」

The midwife stares at me right before leaving the room.

「I know!」

The impression people have of me is strange. I need to do an investigation around Rafen.

The baby fell asleep after drinking her fill of milk.
Now we're the only ones in the room.

「Finally…… you gave birth to a baby.」

I pull my chair up beside the bed and chat with Melissa.

「The family I lost…… I can make another.」

Tears fall from Melissa's eyes as she strokes her baby.
One teardrop falls on the baby's forehead, causing her to stir.

「Yeah. This is our child.」

I brush away Melissa's tears with a finger.

「I'm cruel, aren't I. Maria and Carlsan have been treating me well and here I am saying “I made a family”.」

I can only rub Melissa's hand in comfort.

「Everyone is my precious family. I mean that…… everyone is more precious than anything…… but Aegir-san and this child are special even among them. I feel like I can understand what Mel-san feels.」

Melissa grips my hand in return.

「It really hurt when my insides were messed up, however the hardest part was the time after standing up. That was when I digested the meaning of the words “not able to give birth anymore”…… and that was when I thought I would forever be alone.」

“It's over now. You have me and the kid now.” Those were the feelings I was trying to convey through the patting of her head.

They must have gotten through as Melissa responds by interlocking her fingers with mine.

「Papa, Mama, big brother, I can't meet any of them anymore, but now I have a new family.」

Melissa grew up in a merchant family. That family went bankrupt and was torn apart, Melissa herself being sold to a slave dealer.
It happened a long time ago, so not only is it hard to search for her family now, there isn't much point to do so.
I'm sure neither party desires a reunion after Melissa was sold off.

「That's right. You're not alone.」

I let go of her hand, then hug Melissa before she could make a sad face.

「I will protect this child even if I have to sacrifice my own life. I also don't want Aegir-san to die. I don't want to lose anymore family. I can't bear to watch them go.」

I don't reply.
Dying is something I don't want to do either, but a stray arrow on the battlefield is all it takes.

Still, it makes me a little relieved.
Even though something might happen to me, Melissa will have her child. She won't be alone.

The baby cries out when we hug.
Melissa once again gives her milk.

Our daughter was named Jennifer.

The Next Day.

The celebratory mood in the mansion has yet to clear.
Family and servants show up in Melissa's room one after the other to congratulate her.
There were so many visitors that the midwife had to stand in front of the door and block people from entering to allow Melissa and the baby to rest.

That's how much Melissa is loved.
I don't think I've seen anybody, man or woman, hate her.

「Lord Hardlett, I have something to discuss.」

That ends my time of relaxation.
Adolph comes to the office with a serious expression.

When we head to his workplace…… the head of domestic affairs department room, Claire and Laurie also happen to be there.
Now then, Adolph and the girls should have a tense relations.h.i.+p seeing how one is the tax collector and the other is the taxpayer.

「I received notice from the head office of the Flitch company.」

「Heeeh, what company was that again?」
「Claire-san's company. The one located in Stura.」

Oh, that one?
I forgot because I thought it was Claire's company all this time.

「Hm? I swear I wrote it down as Claire's company though.」
「Celia and I have been correcting it.」
「Pardon me, is it a good time to begin?」

Claire smiles before continuing.
If she's interrupting our banter, she must have something serious to talk about.

「The head office of the Flitch company―― they have decided ……to withdraw from the northeast region of the Central plains hereafter.」

「What?」

That's surprising.

「They will be selling off all their a.s.sets and interests as well as dismissing all employees.」

I nudge Adolph.

「Isn't it because too much was squeezed out from them and they ended up in the red? Maybe someone should have held back a little.」

Claire shakes her head.

「The details are secret, but please be a.s.sured that their profit was at a level where withdrawing was out of the question.」

「Then why are they withdrawing? Isn't it too sudden?」

They aren't peddlers, plus they could have said something in advance.

「The head office did not consult with anyone. That includes me, the person in charge of the region!」

Anger can be seen in Claire's expression for a split second.

「As long as they weren't too unprofitable, they wouldn't do something like liquidating the entire district.」

Claire drinks some tea and her tone of voice returns to normal.

「With that said though, I'm not an idiot. I already grasped the course of events.」

Let's hear it.

「The head office received from Queen Wilhelmina―― from the newly founded South Yuguria Empire, a request to provide a huge sum of money. Of course, a suitable…… no, an excessively large compensation was presented in return.」

Wilhelmina's name has come up again.

「In order to not let other companies take the opportunity, the head office needed to get as much money as possible. Even if that meant liquidating the branch in my region, which was completely in the black!」

Adolph folds his arms.

「A new nation was just created. No amount of money will be enough. Even Goldonia, which was once rich, fell victim to a shortage of funds after the rapid expansion of domain…… however, won't they be worried about getting repaid if they loan such a large sum?」

「Supposing they are anxious about getting money back, they could get promises to other collateral. It can range from exclusive commercial rights to a designated area or exclusive rights to agricultural produce.」

Adolph and Claire start talking back and forth…… with nothing for me to do, I call Laurie over, but she rejects me saying it's a serious discussion.

「The South Yuguria Empire certainly has a large territory now…… so you're saying they have more to take than just money?」

「Yes. Besides, that country will need a lot more money in the future. If they fail to pay back the debt, their reputation will drop and they won't be able to procure funds from not just that company, but all the other companies.」

I'm bored so I casually peel one doc.u.ment off the top of Adolph's stack and glance over it. I return it when my head starts to hurt.
Seeing such a jumble of letters and numbers will give me nightmares.

「……so in the end, they have no choice but to believe in Queen Wilhelmina. Don't you think it's unnatural for such trust to be placed in a newly founded nation?」

「Yes. In ideal conditions, the Flitch company would judge this as a high risk investment, and even if they were to lend money, they would start small and increase the amount in stages. At the very least, they would not loan an amount which would empty their safe. However they don't have a choice at the moment. The company's sales are in the black just because of me and that is slowly decreasing…… with not much prospect of recovery. They must want to try their luck on the appearance of a new nation in the south.」

Please Laurie. Entertain me, I'm feeling lonely here.

「……fuu.」

She comes over while maintaining her focus on Claire.
I pat her head and rub her a.s.s with a smile.

「Still, I have something I don't understand. The head office has many people on the careful side, people who want to wait and see. And yet, they switch their stance after receiving one invitation from Queen Wilhelmina, now wanting to send as much money as possible to her.」

It's because Wilhelmina is beautiful. I'm sure of it.

「Aaah, nnh……」

I move my finger more when I hear a cute moan escape Laurie's lips.

「Well, the particulars are trivial. What's important is whether you will be leaving or not.」

To be honest, that would be troublesome.
Claire conducts lots of business in Rafen and Lintbloom.
Her activities aren't limited to selling and transporting, she also takes care of providing fuel supply and arranging for workers.
It will be a big blow to us if we need to look for her replacement.
If her work gets thrown onto Adolph's plate, he'll become bald again.

Besides, having Claire leave is the same as losing a woman.
If Claire leaves, Laurie goes with her, so that would mean losing two women. What a tragedy.

「I'm not going to leave! How much money do you think I invested in the development of Lintbloom's mine and the establishment of a trade route! I won't sell off what I worked hard for and withdraw!」

It's been a while since Claire has yelled so loudly. It brings back memories.

「But instructions from the head office……」
「I'll ignore them. Head office also knows this issue won't be solved with a single letter in just one or two days…… I'll hold out as long as I can.」

「So what's your end goal after drawing it out?」

Claire resolves herself before declaring.

「I will split from the company and go independent. I'm not going to hand over anything I earned to the south queen. Laurie and I will start our own company.」

Laurie runs away from my hand and nods beside Claire.
When I show her the sticky thread pulled from my finger, she looks down and blushes.

「I'm no merchant so it's hard to ascertain, but is that something you can settle without fuss?」

Claire smiles in response to Adolph's question.

「Of course not, it'll be a war.」

That's dangerous.

「I say war, but it's a war between merchants. We'll be competing over suppliers and customers instead of territory, and using bribes instead of projectiles.」

I don't know if that sounds more or less dangerous.

「It goes without saying that I can't help you. The domestic affairs official of a feudal lord must stay neutral.」
「I'll do everything I can to help. Ask me for whatever you need.」

When I speak at the same time, Adolph sighs with an astounded face.
You're heartless, staying neutral is impossible when one choice is Claire and the other is the Flitch company which we've never met before.

「Fufu, it will be fine. Laurie and I aren't going to lose so easily.」

Of course, it may be entirely possible they don't need help at all.

「However, going independent means we won't know what method the head office will use. The battle may be between merchants, but it's possible that someone will sneak up with a knife in the dark. When that happens…… could I ask for your help?」

「Sure. I'll keep the public order in the territory…… as a pretense and actually guard you tightly.」

When I look over at Adolph as if saying “that shouldn't be a problem, right?”, he nods reluctantly.

「I can't overlook a.s.sa.s.sination within the territory though. I pray that Claire-san doesn't get jumped. If I see anything, I'll contact Mylsan.」
「And I'll crush them.」

Adolph once again looks at me, somewhat disgusted.

Then he clears his throat.

「To reiterate, I will ultimately stay neutral because of my position. However…… after knowing you for so long, I hope that you come out victorious.」

「Fufu, thank you for your kind words.」

Claire presents a box to Adolph. It looks heavy.

「Alright then, let's finish up here.」

It makes a pretty loud jingling sound.

「I'm not going to take a bribe!」

Adolph gets angry at Claire's joke, while I laugh.

No matter what Adolph says, I'm going to protect Claire.

「Um…… it's not much, but do you need to be bribed as well?」

Laurie presses her modest chest against me.

「Of course, I'll gladly accept.」

Tonight, I'll pretend to be the corrupt feudal lord who was given a young innocent girl.

After Claire leaves, I stay in the room and think with my arms folded.

「Hmm, I can't let things go on like this.」

Lately, Wilhelmina has been involved in military and domestic affairs.
On the other hand, I know nothing of her and the land she rules over.

「I should probably go check out the south at least once. I guess I'll take a little trip.」

「South? To a pioneer village? Or maybe border security?」

Adolph asks.

「No, to the South Yuguria Empire.」

It took a while before a gasp of surprise was heard.

I want to see if the people are rich or poor, whether they are filled with hostile intent or easygoing…… I'm not the smartest so I won't understand anything unless I see what's going on with my own eyes.

If it is what Leopolt and Adolph are saying, then I will eventually clash with Wilhelmina.
I have to confirm whether it's the truth or whether there is some misunderstanding.

「In that case, preparations need to be made immediately. Let's gather the luggage.」
「Luggage…… you're hunting for a place to stay? I will accompany you.」

For some reason, Celia was there when I opened the door.
It feels like she's sticking to me more than usual these days.

「No, I'm going down to the South Yuguria Empire. I might meet Wilhelmina so I need to prepare a formal uniform and some contraceptives.」
「Eeeehーーー!!?」

Celia's loud scream attracts everyone.
I wanted to go quietly and return quietly…… oh well.

Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Winter.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Elf Mediator. s.e.x King of White City.

Family:
Nonna (legal wife), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Miti (concubine), Maria (concubine), Catherine (concubine)
Gretel (dog wife), Melissa (mother's happiness), Kuu (lover), Ruu (lover), Mireille (lover), Pipi (? rider)
Casie (awake), Rita (head maid), Yoguri (playwright), Alice (a.s.s lover), Leah (lover)
Marceline (lover), Daughters – Stephanie (lover), Bridget (lover), Felicie (lover)
Natia (adventuring elf), Sofia (lover), Sekrit (heckler)
Sebastian (butler), Dorothea (capital mansion supervisor), Claudia (lump of meat), Clara (female attendant)
Celestina (preparing), Monica (preparing), Adela (pro lover)

Subordinates:
Celia (adjutant), Myla (security unit), Marta (aide), Irijina (commander), Peticheri (sweetheart), Luna (commander), Ruby (bow cavalry), Gido (cheating escort unit), Polte (domestic affairs official)
Leopolt (staff officer), Tristan (staff officer), Adolph (head of domestic affairs), Claire & Laurie (determined to go independent)
Lilian (actress), Kroll (servant), Alma (servant)

Non-humans:
Brynhildr (vampire), Lammy (lamia), Alraune (bare), Mirumi (mermaid)
Pet:
Pochi (giant lizard), Messerschmitt (worthless dog), Schwartz (horse), Felteris (erofu)

Citizens: 205,000. Refugees: 10,000
Major Cities – Rafen: 36,000. Lintbloom: 6000. Special Cultivation District: 14,000.

Army: 13 700 men
Infantry: 10 000, Cavalry: 1500, Archers: 1300, Bow Cavalry: 500, Cannoneers: 400
Cannons: 60, Large Cannons: 30, Dwarven Cannons: 16, Chariots: 60

Other
Reserve Army: 4000 men. Security Unit: 200 men.

a.s.sets: 13,000 gold

s.e.xual Partners: 567, children who have been born: 67 + 555 fish

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