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Jillian and Jerna were seated in the lounge room where we had drunk tea just the other day. They had been playing chess but the problem was that Jillian’s face was covered in soot from the charcoal, while the count was maintaining a handstand position.
“Welcome Johra, Ugh!!!”
When they finally realised that I had entered the room and had been standing idly, they all greeted me with different expressions. The count was red faced, struggling to maintain the handstand. Jillian looked at me like I would be his savior while Jerna had a mischievous expression of a kid who had just been caught doing something naughty.
“Just what has been going on here?”
“Hahah it is….!”
I heard the story from Sion who explained it in full from his upside down position.
Jillian and the count had gotten really into playing chess and despite having played several games they didn’t want to stop. They even skipped dinner time when the servant came calling. Finally Jerna arrived to put an end to their madness because she was very hungry.
Still, they didn’t listen to any of her requests, so she stayed to watch them play and soon began commenting from the sidelines to help her brother out. As a result, Sion lost the game and he challenged his daughter to get his revenge.
From then on both Sion and Jillian lost all of their games against Jerna. Since she soon lost interest in the game because she won too easily, they had to entice her into playing more by bringing up a new punishment rule. This is what led to the ridiculous situation before me.
“If you designed this game then you must be able to beat my daughter!”
“Please calm down count.”
“No I can’t do that, a noble doesn’t easily go back on a promise. If you feel bad for me, then please win against my daughter to bring an end to my punishment. “
“Why don’t you just stand up?”
“There is no such thing as going back on your word in this family, it would be the greatest dishonor.”
I just barely caught myself from asking him what honor could he possibly have left after covering his face in charcoal soot and maintaining a handstand like a clown.
I took Jillian’s seat and looked at the game. I had to win back the count’s face. Of course I also had to win for myself so as to not be subject to the same penalty.
Judging by the board position it wasn’t that Jillian had been playing poorly, but rather it was Jerna who was too skilled for him.
‘Tch! She only learned the game today, how could she play so well?’
At first I had thought that I could easily turn the tables on her but it appeared that it wouldn’t be so easy.
“Would you prefer to start a new game?”
I shook my head, since I had to win this one in order to absolve the count from his promised penalty. Still, I was black and there wasn’t much room to maneuver.
“Johra, move the King from K6 to K5.”
Luckily I had the greatest cheating ability possible. Normally moving the king wasn’t a good move, but according to Lena’s instruction I had to move the King diagonally in order to avoid the checkmate from Jeran’s knight. Gaining some momentum by playing unexpected moves I was able to push my way through to her side and she wasn’t able to block my sequence.
Jerna got up and ran away crying, while the count had regained his confidence and usual air of authority.
“Thanks to you I could save some face.”
“Wait, is it ok to just let her run off crying like that?”
“It’s fine, one can grow after suffering from defeat in a duel.”
While father and son spoke to each other, I was worrying about how Jerna would get her revenge for this loss.
‘I noticed that the previous ??? skill in Jerna’s status had now changed to [Wisdom Lv1]. It seems like a rare talent has bloomed due to her exposure to chess.’
“Could we play a few friendly matches Johra?”
Since that time we played chess until 3 am without hardly any breaks. We would only take a small rest to nibble on some food before returning for more games.
‘Should I not have taught them chess?’
It seemed that the count and Jillian both had a personality that made them very drawn towards the game. No, it might just be the fact that there is very little in the way of entertainment in this world.
‘I might be able to make a surprisingly amount of money with this.’
Early next morning I met with the count.
“Have you come to a decision Johra?”
Looking at him with a bright smile on my face I said.
“I would gladly accept the position of knight.”
“Oh, I’m incredibly glad, you’re a rare talent that seems to have it all. I should throw a feast.”
“Yes… but I do have certain conditions.”
“If it was what you mentioned to Jillian last time then there’s no need to worry. I don’t have any intention of limiting your freedom.”
“Actually I have three conditions.”
Seeing my earnest face the count was put off but rather was waiting expectantly for me to continue.
“Tell me and I’ll try to accommodate you as best I can.”
“They aren’t too demanding. The first you already know which is not to restrict my freedom.”
“Of course this isn’t even worth mentioning.”
“Second I would like to open up a store and would be relying on your manpower and money.”
“Oh, so it was something small like that? It won’t be any problem, if anything I’m worried that you won’t find any talented people among those in my employ.”
“It’ll be fine, and I will choose only from among your serfs.”
“Are you sure they are competent?”
“It’ll be fine, I can teach them well.”
“How about splitting the store profits 70:30?”
“Actually I wouldn’t mind it even if you wanted all of the store’s profit. I would be more than content with the 30 percent.”
“30 percent was my share.”
“No way, how could I treat my benefactor in such a way?”
“70:30, I can’t take any more or I wouldn’t I feel comfortable becoming your knight.”
“No no, how about we split it 50:50. I can’t possibly take any more than that.”
The count was quite stubborn. so we finally agreed on splitting the profit evenly.
“My last request is that I’d like to teach your kids.”
“Wow! Really? If you did I would really appreciate it. In fact, I wanted to ask this of you, but I thought it would be too burdensome. My deceased wife Leone would be so happy to hear that the kids are receiving a great education.”
His eyes became watery as tears began to fall. I knew he was a doting parent, but I never expected it was this much.
The very next day I began searching among the serfs to find ones which had a special talent.
“I don’t think it would be useful for you to search among such lowborns.”
The one who was grumbling beside was Levin, the count chief bookkeeper who was viscount Laheart’s second son. Despite not having a title he was one the smartest retainers in Sion’s household.
“Levin how about focusing more on this.”
“Woooo,I am bored. Meeting these poor farmers is not at all interesting.”
He had a very lazy personality and would quickly make up excuses if it involved work. Also, he didn’t show the proper respect to those in higher positions.
“Johra how about that kid from before?”
Still his observations skills are quite sharp. I was looking for someone with the [Carpenter] skill and had finally found the first one in a 14 year old boy.
“Yes I think I’ve found the one.”
Most of the day had gone by as I had inspected almost 60 different people, but it was all worth it in the end as I had found the right one. The next day I had the boy with the carpenter skill named Jiden summoned to the manor where I showed him the chess board and asked him to make a similar one. I handed him blocks of wood and some tools before leaving him to experiment and coming back to check on the results two days later.
“Wow, what do we have here?”
“Was that some praise?”
“Yes, it’s much better than I expected. I should give it to the count as a gift.”
“I put the count’s crest on the backside of the board”
I stroked his head dotingly
“You’re amazing, I definitely want you working for me.”
“Yup, for every set you make I’ll pay you 5 silvers, it’s not bad right?”
“Oh no that’s too much! I’m happy to be helping out the Lord with his work.”
“No no, properly rewarding hard work is a principle of mine.”
The chess board crafted by Jiden was greatly praised by the count. If one was to pass there hand over it, the result would be some smooth gliding. It was clear that it had been very carefully made.
“It’s quite exquisite. In fact Johra I was thinking of gifting a chess set to the King. What do you think about my idea?”
“Uhm… are you sure?”
“Of course. If we gain the King’s favor, then we can receive exclusive selling rights.”
“Ah, then I’ll work hard to prepare our best work.”
“Good, can you try to prepare two additional sets for our royal visit next week? I think we should give one to each the King and Duke”
I asked Levin to call Jiden over.
“Please do your best in making two more chess sets.”
I didn’t mention anything about the King and Duke. I worried that if I would bring it up it would put a lot of pressure on him.
Later that day in the afternoon I began my first lesson with the count’s two kids. To start off, I taught them simple arithmetics. Jillian was a bit slow to catch on but tried hard. Jerna however was very quick to learn and would absorb all knowledge like a sponge.
“Good job Jillian, you’ve done well.”
“Ah, sorry for being a little slow.”
Next to me Jerna was pulling on my clothes, wanting some recognition.
“You also did well Jerna.”
I didn’t want to praise her too much for fear that it would go to her head and she wouldn’t focus as much on her studies.
Four days later Jiden presented me with two gorgeous chess sets. It was such great artwork that not even on Earth had they designed such a beautiful chessboard. It was fashioned in such a way that it appeared like a real battlefield.
“Well… I can’t praise it enough.”
“His face turned red in embarrassment. I took out a gold coin from the money I had received from the count and handed it to him.
“This is a small something to encourage you to continue working hard.”
“No way! This is far too much money!”
“It’s the natural compensation for the work you’ve achieved.”
I forced the gold coin into his hands before sending him on his way home. Levin who had been watching from side grunted in disapproval.
“If you praise him that much then he will begin to slack off.”
“Oh Yeah~ then how about you? Did someone praise you too much?”
“I’m an exception since anyways I’m naturally lazy and wouldn’t take it to heart”
“Well… then I guess the only way is to inform Sion”
“Yaaawn I’m sleepy but don’t worry I’m yours to command!”
His attitude wasn’t good, but he still managed to complete any task I gave him.
Four days later I successfully framed Jiden’s chessboard with gold and iron, before coating it with a thin layer of oxide film to protect it from wear and tear. Of course the solution for the liquid coating had been mixed according to Lena’s instructions. She had become much more useful since we had solved her power issue.
The day before our departure Jiden handed me the case which would be used to transport the chess set. Once it was all carefully packaged I handed it to the count.
“It’s quite heavy, wasn’t it made out of wood?”
“Yes it is indeed made out of wood but it has a metal framing.”
“Oh… it sounds cool. Could I open it up to take a quick peek?”
“It would be best to leave it gift wrapped as is because it would take quite a bit of time and effort to rewrap it.”
“O…Okay I’m really looking forward to seeing it.”
After seeing off the count on his visit to the royal palace, I could finally go back and focus on something which I had been putting off lately.
‘Time to level up some more.’
In order to be prepared for any future events I needed to make sure that my strength was sufficient. If I wanted to be able to stop a large scale war between two empires my current ability was far from enough.”
“Levin join me in interviewing more people.”
“Ugh… again? how annoying.”
“What was that?”
“Ah, nothing let’s go”
Despite his lack of motivation Levin performed well during the interviews, but despite going through 200 people in 4 days the results were quite disappointing.
“Uh… just kill me now”
“I’m already dead sir Johra.”
“Levin, you just watched me working the whole the time”
“Yeah, but our endurance limits are worlds apart, I feel like I’m going to drop dead any second.”
I had conducted many interviews, but the only talents we had found so far were one of [Metalworking], [Carpenter] and [Jewel Crafting]. Everyone else had no special skills.
‘It seems like skills are quite rare among humans.’
I was surprised because previously I had seen many people with skills, but now it seemed that among the commoners it was far less prevalent.”
“Did you want to call it a day and head back?”
“If someone were to resurrect me then maybe… right now I’m dead and can’t move.”
“To the count’s….”
“Okay fine let’s go.”
I knew that I could always get Levin to do something by bringing up the count.