At Rwan’s question, the other person replied with a solemn face.

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“…Not good.
Everyone has become very frantic when it begins to concern their lives.”

“What if all those idiots gave up?”

“Then……we can only offer 200 million marks from our shares.
Since requesting for the castle would be too much.
I think we can offer 200 million at most.”

“You have to be more persuasive! It’s 100 million marks each! Do you think those assholes would be able to touch 100 million marks in their lifetime?! It’s alright to give up our shares, so try to tempt them more! I’ve brought us this far.
We can’t just give up like this! Where the hell did it go wrong? This was the perfect plan!”

“I wondered about it too.
I heard that the Valruga’s intelligence team was disbanded a long time ago.
No, even with an intelligence team, how did they figure out it was a trick?”

“That’s what I don’t get! Her grace had a hard time secretly planting the IOU of money that they never borrowed in the first place! They never even noticed it for the past 30 years! So how……!”

This was it! The information master wanted!

Bircher became excited.

Now that the information the Madam wanted was obtained, all that was left was to go and get praised.

*  *  *

When we heard the information Bircher had obtained, Naol and I were astonished.

“We never even borrowed money?! How is that possible?!”

“This is my first time hearing it.
How on earth could that be possible? Why do we have IOUs of money we had never borrowed?!”

“I assure you that is what they said, Madam.
To be more precise, he said ‘Her grace had a hard time secretly planting the IOU that they never borrowed in the first place! They never even noticed it for the past 30 years!……So how……!’ was what he said.”

Bircher said, imitating Rwan.

“Wait, wait…her grace? Who is ‘her grace’?! Do you know of any noble woman from the Fox Merchant Association?”

“The Marquess of Reholas……”

I grunted.

“The former married lady who is now the Marquess of Reholas…and the Fox Merchant Association that was originally founded by Marquis Reholas……!”

“……!”

The former Duchess was involved in the fraudulent claim and stole the family’s seal.

This is why supervising the seal was important.

Fan translation by Dropped Inks.

Unlike Bircher, who quickly calmed down and quietly lowered his eyes, Naol couldn’t erase his shock from his eyes for a while.

“W-wait a minute! So, does that mean the previous Duchess manipulated the IOU in the first place?!”

“Even if she wasn’t a Duchess, she was definitely involved.”

“That……that’s ridiculous! How?! Even so, she was married to the family so……Why……”

[pr/n: there there Naol.
bishes like that aren’t worth your time.]

“It must have been a better choice to side with the Reholas who were rising.
Rather than the Valrugas, who has been collapsing even before they were married, right?”

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“Come to think of it, the previous Duchess had returned to the Reholas as soon as the Duke had passed away.”

At Bircher’s words, Naol staggered in shock.

Despite the collapse of the Valruga Family and being casted out of the castle by Frug, even he did not leave the Valruga.

Since he was a loyal man, it must have been hard to accept the fact that the Duchess had betrayed the Valruga Family.
Naol buried his face into his hands and remained still for a while, sighing deeply.

“I……I see.
Alright.
Betrayal is something I have to come in terms with but I will deal with this matter first.”

Fortunately, Naol was a man who knew his priorities well.

Initially, he may appear to be tired and pale but just in 10 minutes, he seemed to be 10 years wiser.

“The former Duchess, no, I don’t even want to call her the Duchess anymore.
The fraudery trick would have been easily accomplished if Lady Reholas was involved.”

Naol continued heavily.

“In the first place, the previous Duke wouldn’t have taken a look at those documents.
At that time, even when the Valruga Duchy was in disorder, 50 million marks was nothing big.
It was not a huge amount and the repayment date was due 30 years later then.
It would not be that hard to detect any suspicion.
Besides, he wouldn’t have imagined that his trusted wife would secretly steal the seal and make a fake IOU.”

“I think so too.”

It was a plan that lasted for several decades.

That was how persistent Marquis Reholas had been in preparing to overthrow the Valruga Duchy.

Come to think of it, these bad guys really were persistent.
I’ll need to get rid of them before Ruth grows up.

Of course, the adult Ruth would destroy them in the future, but I still wanted to lay a flowery path for my little one.

“This is really……if it weren’t for the Madam realising it, I wouldn’t have ever figured it out.
I thought they would have manipulated the amount of money at most……”

Naol stared at me with touched eyes.

“Indeed, Madam must be our family’s guardian! I had always believed in you, my lady, but from now on I will be even more loyal!”

“I will be loyal too!”

Beside him, Bircher also bowed his head.

It was all thanks to the original story line.

Otherwise, I too might have also been fooled by Marquis Reholas’ scheme.

“Now that it has been confirmed it was indeed a fraud, we should take care of it quickly.
If we look at the Duke’s ledger, it would be revealed that he never received 50 million marks from Marquis Reholas.
Once we find the evidence, we should contact Marquis Reholas as soon as possible.”

“Then……”

“Since they cheated, wouldn’t they have to pay double the compensation?”

Naol’s expression brightened.

“Madam! I’m really glad you’re our Madam! Truly glad!”

He proceeded to bow with an emotional face.

“Thank you so much for coming to the Duchy.”

Seeing his sincere face, I felt somewhat embarrassed.

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I replied while rubbing my neck awkwardly.

“No, well it’s fine.
I’m hungry, so I’ll go eat now.
Take a break before you start working again.
And Bircher, put the Merchant Association in prison.
We’ll have one last talk tomorrow.
Hmm, speaking of…”

My smile turned eerie.

“I hope the merchants will cooperate well with me.
Do you understand what I’m saying?”

After pondering for a while, Bircher smiled broadly in realisation.

“Yes! It will be taken care of!”

*  *  *

He felt his heart burning up.

This was the Madam of the Duke’s family.

When he first heard about her discovery of Frug’s embezzlement, he had simply thought she was a girl with a bit of luck.
As he had been loyal to the Valruga family, he thought it was natural to do his best to be loyal to the Duchess as well……

That was no longer the case anymore.

Take the bomb operation for example.

It was his first time hearing such a term, but the Madam had led the operation brilliantly.

Of course, it was risky.

If the other party had been thinking rationally, it would have been difficult to make them falter.

So the Madam trained the wild soldiers of the Duke’s castle to create an atmosphere that brought fear.

It was still hard to believe that the Merchant Association, who had regarded the Madam as a mere child, had trembled in fear.

Even thinking about it again made him laugh.

How dignified she looked as she confidently strode towards the Merchant Association from the chair!

She was truly a person who did not lack the abilities to rule a family.

Contrary to her lovely appearance, she had the spirit of a monarch on the inside.

“I can’t believe this kind of person was only 15 years old……”

What a great person Madam would become once time passes by and she comes of age.
Although he had devoted his loyalty to the Valruga, he had never expected the family would be able to regain its former glory.

He thought it would be alright to just live moderately without starving.
But for the first time, he became greedy.

With Madam on their side, the Valruga Duchy may reclaim its former glory.
No…it would become even greater than before.

Naol saw hope in the Duke’s castle for the first time.

*  *  *

After rummaging through the records, we quickly found the evidence that we had not borrowed any money at all.

The next day, I took Bircher with me to the prison.

“Euk.”

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The moment I arrived at the prison’s entrance, I barfed.

The musty smell was felt as though it was directly piercing into the brain rather than the nose.

“What’s with this smell?”

“I couldn’t manage the prison for a while so I stopped……”

Bircher said with a frown.

Oh, right.
Since the family didn’t have any money, there was no way he could have managed the prison.

After all, the prison was a place where bad guys were placed, so there was no need to spend money when there wasn’t enough.

Every member of the Fox Merchant Association was placed into prison.

Although one day had passed, their faces appeared as if they had been locked up in a haunted house for a month.

“Sp-spare me Madam! We really didn’t know anything!”

“I-it was all his idea! I will do anything, so please spare my life!”

“Madam! I was wrong! I was blinded by greed!”

Their hands reached out to me over the bars and begged.

Hearing their pleas never made me feel good.

But I had made up my mind.

I couldn’t show them any empathy.

Please do not repost.
Read only at Dropped Inks.

Even if they were swayed by greed and deceived, they still had attacked our family.

If I hadn’t been able to stop them…it would be Ruth, me, and the people of our family who would be behind those bars.

I noticed two men staring at me, their stares contrasted with the people that were begging.

In particular, Rwan was staring me with murderous eyes that could kill a person into eight pieces.

“You don’t need to beg me for your wrongs.
I will deal with this in accordance with the Empire’s Law.”

At my words, the people cried out.

“Madam! We can’t pay you back!”

“Please spare me, Madam!”

Of course they had no way to pay the 2 billion marks, so my words meant their death.

I smiled with a calm face.

“Why would you need to pay with your own money? Isn’t your master the Marquis of Reholas?”

Confusion flashed on the faces of the merchants at my questions.

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On the other hand, Rwan’s face appeared stunned.

He rushed toward me.

“Y-you……!”

When he reached out his hand in an attempt to attack me through the prison bars, Bircher grabbed his hand and twisted it.

“Aaargh!”

I spoke as his screams echoed.

“Your master is the Marquis of Reholas.
So it would be natural to claim the compensation from the Marquis.
Don’t you think so?”

*  *  *

The merchants instantly became confused when they saw Felia smiling before them in the prison.

What do you mean Marquis Reholas?

They couldn’t understand her words at all.

However, at any case, their lives was about be sold as slaves.

Marquis Reholas was wealthy, so he could easily repay the 2 billion marks.

They still don’t quite understand the situation, but seeing how the Duchess had mentioned the Marquis’ name, she probably had a plan in mind.

If they testified that the mastermind behind all this was Marquis Reholas, they wouldn’t have to die at the hands of the Valruga or pay the compensations.

Of course, they could still be killed by Marquis Reholas, but they had no idea how the little girl would be able to seize anything from the Marquis.

More importantly, their first priority was to avoid the danger that was in front of them.

The young man’s face that was smiling next to his master looked obedient, but to them, it resembled a devil smiling.

Coming to a conclusion, the merchants shouted in unison.

“T-that’s right! It was Marquis Reholas who had sent us here!”

“Marquis Reholas sent us!”

“Shut up! That’s nonsense!” Rwan shouted at merchants.

“W-what? That’s right! It was Marquis Reholas’ doing!”

“Come to think of it, you’re also suspicious! Turns out you were Marquis Reholas’ underling after all?! That’s why you brought us here!”

They might have roughly guessed it, but that was indeed the truth.

“Madam! I’ll tell you everything! I’ll tell you anything you want, so please just spare me!”

The Fox Merchant Association relentlessly clung onto their only saviour.

Rwan and his ally tried to calm the people down and cover their mouths, but they couldn’t stop those who had their lives as well as their families’ lives at stake.

The tables have turned against them.

When the Fox Merchant Associations testified and the evidence from Rwan’s as well as his ally’s room was gathered, there was no room for escape.

All that was left was to confront Marquis Reholas.

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