Author’s Note: Well… I managed to get a new chapter of LSPL out. And on the same day that Dark Jackel got out a chapter of Anubai Hero too. Read it when you get the chance. But for now, please enjoy the latest release of “But She’s my Little Sister… from my Past Life!”?
Chapter 13 – Demerits and Prestige?
Well… that was a frightening night. At dinner, the atmosphere was awkward. Especially with three girls staring at me when not glaring at each other. Chloe didn’t eat at the table due to her status as a maid, but Miyuki and Ana would still exchange glares with her each time she offered to refill my drink. Sadly, dinner wasn’t the end of it. I ended up having to sleep while sitting down on the floor with my back against the door so they wouldn’t enter. All three of them made attempts and even got into arguments with each other when they would find another out. For once… I’d like to enjoy a comfortable bed when I do get the chance to sleep on one!
The next morning, breakfast was just like dinner when it came to atmosphere. But afterwards, it was time to get back to the talks. I remembered Sir Fredrick’s words well about how founding Libertalia could be treason. But… I had a plan. We all arrived in the meeting room, both the King and I at opposite sides of the table.
“Count Niko, you founded Libertalia?” (King)
“Yes, you’re majesty.”
“Then I must remind you that nobility claiming territory without permission of the crown is legally an act of treason.” (King)
Okay, here’s where to use to law to fight the law.
“I was informed, you’re majesty. However, was it really treason?”
“What do you mean?” (King)
“If I recall, you said nobility claiming territory without permission of the crown. But at the time of founding Libertalia, I wasn’t nobility.”
“What are you saying, I had made you the Count of Evergreen?” (King)
“Oh, I know. However, was my name added to the Nobles’ Registry?”
I then laid down a current copy of the Nobles’ Registry on the table. If you’re wondering what that is, it’s a book that list all members of nobility. It documents every member of both Wintergreen’s aristocracy and nobility and their relations to one another. Even though I couldn’t find Ana’s mother in it, I could find that her grandfather on her mother’s side was from the Earl Willow house. Anyway, the King picked it up and skimmed through it.
“My word… Sir Fredrick?” (King)
“Yes, you’re majesty?” (Fredrick)
“Why isn’t Niko’s name in our Nobles’ Registry?” (King)
“Well… I don’t know. I was sure that… I will be back.” (Fredrick)
Sir Fredrick then then ran out of the meeting room before coming back with a document. As haggard as he was, I was sure that he rushed everything.
“This was the paperwork that would have granted Niko’s peerage of the Count of Evergreen. However, it lacks his signature.” (Fredrick)
“That’s because I was abducted before I had a chance to sign it. Anyway, without that document being signed and given an official seal… I was never granted peerage in the first place. Therefore by law, I was not of Wintergreen nobility when I founded Libertalia.”
This was my plan all along. I may had been both an orphan and a commoner, but even I knew about the Nobles’ Registry. I had to think back on it, but Ana told me that I would have to be registered when I received my peerage from her father for training Miyuki. It all came back to me when I was talking to Sir Fredrick yesterday and he was practically gloating about Libertalia belonging to Wintergreen. And now… I could see him and the King both sweating bullets. They must have really banked on this?
“I see… it was my mistake. Niko, I am sorry.” (King)
Whoa, don’t be apologizing! You’re the king for crying out loud!
“It is all right, your majesty. However, I am still here as both Libertalia’s leader and representative. And I’m sure that you remember that we are here for negotiations, not to argue laws.”
“That’s right. Well… even I had prepared terms of annexation before finding out the identity of the ‘Silver-haired Wraith’. Would you like to hear them?” (King)
Crap… I forgot about that. My original reason to visit other than to rat out Issac was to petition the King for a treaty instead of surrender. So that meant he had counters for me beforehand.
“I will listen.”
“If Libertalia will accept annexation into the Wintergreen Kingdom, we will keep our promises of legally freeing all it’s still enslaved citizens and give pardons to everyone. And we will make you, Libertalia’s leader a baron. But… as you’re still supposed to become a count in the first place, we will grant you that title instead.” (King)
So far… so good. But it does lead to questions.
“You’re majesty, there is something that I’ve been meaning to ask. What kind of title is the “Count of Evergreen” anyway?”
“Oh… that. As Evergreen Village rests in territory of the Royal Family, your title would have been no different than nobility in the capitol. I mainly chose that title for you because of where you’re from.” (King)
Go figure… it’s one of those titles where you’re a “noble in name only”. In the capitol, there are many assholes who hold those kind of titles. Yeah, you’re legally recognized as nobility. However, you have no fief to call your own. And yes, I looked up what kind of nobility that Ana’s mother was from in the Nobles’ Registry. The Earl Willow house had sold their land to their neighbors before Victor Wintergreen took the throne and were switched from nobility with land to nobility in name only. Sadly, I could only get so much information from the Nobles’ Registry. However… there is something fishy about it. I’ll be sure to ask Sir Fredrick about it later.
“In that case, which would I be if I accept your terms? Would I be the Count of Evergreen? Or the Count of Libertalia?”
“With the exception of the aristocracy, no one can hold two titles of peerage. Though you would be Libertalia’s lord, your official title would still be the Count of Evergreen.” (King)
“I see. Well… the terms do sound good, even without the offer of peerage.”
“Then do you accept our terms?” (King)
By the glint in his eye, I can tell that he’s sure that I accept those terms. However… I still came here to petition.
“Not necessarily, you’re majesty. Other than not discussing the taxes and your own plans for Libertalia, I did come here to offer an alternative.”
“An… alternative?” (King)
“That’s right. My original intention was to petition a treaty of alliance between the Kingdom of Wintergreen and the Free Nation of Libertalia.”
“A treaty? Interesting, what are the terms?” (King)
So he’s interested, eh?
“The terms are that you recognize our claim as a nation. And in turn, we will offer navel aid whenever Wintergreen calls us. Not to mention we will forbid attacks on any vessel baring Wintergreen’s flag.”
“Anything else?” (King)
And now he’s getting greedy.
“We will offer trade to Wintergreen in resources such as food and alcohol. We grow many different fruits that cannot sustain Wintergreen’s natural climate. And most of them can be made into alcohol.”
I then laid a water skin on the table that is filled with one of our original concoctions. Well… another thing developed with my knowledge of my past life. Turns out some other reincarnated already brought the technology of distillery to this world. And since we acquired the isle that became Libertalia from the rum runners that used it as the base of their operations, we got some distilling equipment along with our spoils. Sugarcane grows naturally on the island, so we ended up farming it for distilling rum. After some trial and error, we made coconut rum from coconuts that also grow in Libertalia. And I watched as Sir Fredrick himself did a taste test for the king.
“My word… this is delicious.” (Fredrick)
“It is. What is this drink?” (King)
“Rum made with coconuts, or just coconut rum. Made in Libertalia with locally grown ingredients.”
“Rum? Does this mean that you grow sugarcane in Libertalia?” (King)
“Yes we do, you’re majesty.”
“Niko, please reconsider and accept our terms?” (Fredrick)
This ain’t how it was supposed to go. I was talking to the King in the first place, not Sir Fredrick. What is he up to?
“If you accept our terms and Libertalia becomes a territory of Wintergreen, the possibilities are endless.” (Fredrick)
“But… what about my petition?”
“Niko, you do not understand. Libertalia is a tropical island that can grow commodities such as coconuts and sugarcane. Not to mention it’s in a prime area for trade and tourism. If we were to accept your treaty, it would be it’s own sovereign state. However, there are demerits as well.” (Fredrick)
“That’s right. As Libertalia would be it’s own sovereign state, that means it will be open for invasion from other countries. And due to the same possibilities I have mentioned earlier, many bigger countries will want to annex it for themselves.” (Fredrick)
“But… we can defend ourselves.”
“Can you replace your ships or increase your fleet without commandeering other vessels?” (Fredrick)
“Well… now that you mention it Sir Fredrick, not by ourselves. We do not have the lumber.”
“That is my point. Even if you got lumber from Wintergreen by trade, Libertalia will not be able to make it’s own ships as it does not have that much of a populace. But if you accept the annexation, we can guarantee that Libertalia can prosper better as one of Wintergreen’s territories than it would as it’s own sovereign state. Of course the taxes will be different from the other territories due to it’s size. But if Libertalia were to grow from one island to the whole archipelago, it would have more land for more opportunity. Not only could a base for Wintergreen’s navy be built, but the extra land can be used for farming, trade, and even tourism. It could be wealthier than any of the mainland fiefs.” (Fredrick)
Okay… even I didn’t think of all that. I mean, all I ever thought of before was my cause. To me, all Libertalia was in the beginning was a place where all were free. But to believe, it can be so much more? Still…
“I have one more reason to decline the offer.”
“Oh? Do tell.” (Fredrick)
“The reason I founded Libertalia is so that all men have a place to be free. Not just humans, but demi-humans as well. It is a land where slavery and serfdom does not exist. If I were to accept your terms of annexation, then it will have been all for nothing. Sure, everyone would get official freedom and pardons. But… what’s to protect them after annexation? Wintergreen is still a country that allows slavery and serfdom after all.”
I could see both the King scratching his beard and Sir Fredrick scratching his goatee. Even though things would be better if I were to accept annexation, there’s still the freedom of my people that I have to protect.
“Niko, do you know of local laws?” (Fredrick)
“That’s right. You see, slavery is not legal at the national scale; just locally. Lords are allowed to set the laws for their own fiefs. Meaning that if you were to accept annexation and become Libertalia’s lord, then you can ban slavery there. It is a national law in Wintergreen that the local laws of each fief have to be respected by the other fiefs. Like for example, someone from one fief were to break a law in another fief. Despite the fact that it is not against the law in the fief they were from, they are still punishable by the law of the fief where they had committed the crime. So if someone from the mainland were to start capturing and selling slaves in Libertalia, then by Libertalia’s local laws that person can be legally punished.” (Fredrick)
I see what he means. But Sir Fredrick is forgetting something else.
“What if the person committing the crime were from another country?”
“Then as long as said person does not have diplomatic immunity, then they would be punishable by local law.” (Fredrick)
“Does that count for foreign nobility?”
“That varies from country to country. But if you hold foreign nobility under arrest, the kingdom must be notified. And it is up to the kingdom to communicate with the foreign noble’s homeland and negotiate with them. Most of the time it ends with the foreign noble being sent back to their country and being judged by their laws.” (Fredrick)
Go figure. Still… I did forget to ask something.
“What if a noble from another fief in Wintergreen were to break Libertalia’s laws?”
“That will be judged by the crown. However, we make our choices depending on the circumstance of the crime as well as the evidence given.” (Fredrick)
Sounds fair… but full of flaws at the same time. Then again, Wintergreen does have better laws compared to most medieval clichéd countries in media. Hey, don’t think that I’m gonna stop breaking the fourth wall now. That’s the only thing that this story has going on for it… other than the title.
“It sounds good and all. But… if I were to accept the terms of annexation, then I would be going against my cause.”
“Your cause?” (Fredrick)
“Yeah. I founded Libertalia as a place where slavery and serfdom do not exist. My cause is to end both slavery and serfdom in general.”
“I see. Niko, you should separate your ideals from your responsibilities.” (Fredrick)
“Yes. You see Niko, your ideals are noble. However, you are still the leader of Libertalia and could possibly become it’s lord. As leader, you have to make your decision whether to accept the terms of annexation or not. Now, we’re out of time for today. Hopefully we can come to an agreement tomorrow.” (Fredrick)
I was then dismissed from the meeting room. Still… what the hell am I supposed to do? I mean, I want to end slavery and serfdom. But I’m still responsible for Libertalia. For the people’s sake, I should just bite the bullet and accept annexation. But what about my sake? Should I just abandon my ideals and sell out? Just… what the hell am I supposed to do? But before I could do anything, I was waken up from my stupor thanks to getting a surprise kiss while walking around.
“Miyuki got you.” (Miyuki)
Why that little…
“Miyuki, what the hell?”
“Onii-chan was wide open.” (Miyuki)
“First of all, don’t call me that. And secondly, do you even take my feelings into consideration?”
“Miyuki may be the hero, but she’s also one of the heroines.” (Miyuki) (AN: Nice narrative 4th wall break, Miyuki)
“For the love of… I don’t want to get into a relationship with my little sister from my past life.”
“Too bad, this is ideal for Miyuki.” (Miyuki)
“Look, how many times do I have to tell you to stop speaking in third person?”
“Don’t try changing the subject.” (Miyuki)
“Fine… what do you mean that it’s ideal for you?”
“Simple, we’re no longer blood related. Meaning that we can get married and have babies without being judged.” (Miyuki)
This is why I was trying to avoid her… she’s too much of a brocon.
“Look, I’m not in the mood right now.”
“Then will you be in the mood tonight? Miyuki got a new negligee that she thinks you would like.” (Miyuki)
“That’s not what I meant!”
“Oh… sorry. And I almost forgot, Ana wants to see you in the garden for tea.” (Miyuki)
“Wait… she wants to have tea with me?”
“Well… it’s more of a private tea party where we’re both invited. Let’s go.” (Miyuki)
She then grabbed me by the hand and dragged me all the way to the garden. I will admit, the garden itself was beautiful with all it’s different flowers. However, there was a table setup with snacks with Ana sitting at it. There were two more chairs, those had to be meant for us.
“Niko, you’re late.” (Ana)
“Hey, I didn’t know about the tea party. I just got out of the meeting.”
I then took a seat after holding one out for Miyuki. Hey, I still gotta be a gentleman. Anyway, Chloe served us all tea. I took mine with two lumps of sugar. I’m not really much of a tea drinker, but it would be rude to refuse it at the moment.
“So Niko, how did the meeting go? Has it been settled?” (Ana)
“Well… not yet.”
“And why not?” (Ana)
I then explained everything that happened in the meeting. From where the King and Sir Fredrick were banking on the law but failed due to a technicality to where the meeting ended unresolved.
“And that’s how it went.”
“I see. So you’re conflicted on how you can still fight for your cause while doing what’s best for your people?” (Ana)
“Niko, you’re still a fool.” (Ana)
“Princess, Niko is not really a fool.” (Chloe)
I almost missed that exchange.
“Chloe, she’s right this time. I’m a fool for not figuring out a solution.”
“Niko, have you tried thinking about why you cannot do both?” (Ana)
“That’s right. Even if you’re to gain peerage, you’re still too green. So no one is going to listen to you and think of your ideals as foolish. However… if you had prestige, then people will listen to you.” (Ana)
“Wait, if I had prestige they would listen?”
“Both nobility and the aristocracy think differently from commoners. Even a higher ranked ducal house will listen to the words of a knight house if the knight has gained enough prestige to back him up. It’s not just from generations that the knight house has been around, but by the merits that has given the house prestige in the first place. So even if the knight’s house is of the lowest rank in nobility causing the ducal house to look down on them, the ducal house will still at least listen to the words of the knight house. You’re a commoner about to become a count. Because you have no prestige, no one is going to listen to what you say. But if you can gain prestige, then your words will be heard.” (Ana)
Wow… what a lengthy explanation for something so simple? Still, she’s right. I’m about to be an upstart noble in a kingdom that’s been around for hundreds of years. Yeah, I’ve won a bunch of navel battles. However, those were acts of piracy and I wasn’t fighting for the kingdom. Yeah, I helped train Miyuki. But, that’s not enough of a merit in the eyes of the other nobles.
“All right, I need to do something that will gain enough prestige to get the other nobility to listen to me. Something that will cause my name to go down in history as more than a legendary pirate who founded a small island nation.”
“A legendary pirate?” (Ana)
“Ana, don’t ruin the mood. Still… what can I do to gain enough merits to get the needed prestige?”
“Well… there’s two ways you can go about it.” (Ana)
“Please, tell me?”
“You could just marry me and become the next king of Wintergreen? As king, the nobility would have to listen to you.” (Ana)
REJECTED!!! It’s bad enough that you’re getting glared at by both the Hero and your own maid.
“The other method?”
“Simple, you can join the Hero Miyuki’s party. If you were one of the ones to defeat the Demon Lord, then your words would hold more weight than even those of a ducal house.” (Ana)
Wow… why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, I wanted to stay separated from those three. Ana’s a tsundere, Miyuki’s a severe brocon, and Chloe… she’s my childhood friend and a problem starter. Wait… three clichés? Damn it, I really was reincarnated in a novel with a harem tag. Oh well… I’ll be fine as long as there are no yanderes or a token loli. Or worse, a yandere loli. Just thinking about that makes me shiver.
“Are there no other ways?”
“Niko, you will get a small amount of prestige when word spreads about the last battle with Diva. Especially since you ordered your men to save our sailors. However, it won’t be enough to get the other nobles to listen to you.” (Ana)
Damn, I forgot about the battle with Diva. Still, Ana does have a point. Most nobility run around like morons trying to rack merits in order to increase their prestige. And I’m sure that a lot of nobles have tried to join Miyuki’s party to get it. Hell, Ana told me during the battle with Diva that all the adventurers who tried to join Miyuki’s party did it for the prestige of just traveling with her. I’m sure even that trio I met back in Evergreen Village only had the prestige on their brains. As much as I don’t want to join them… it’s the only way to gain the prestige needed to get the other nobles to hear my words. Well… it’s the only way to get them to hear me without marrying Ana.
“Fine… I’ll join the damn party.”
“Onii-chan, get!” (Miyuki)
“Wait… were you hoping I would join the party?”
“Of course, Miyuki always wanted Niko to join the party. And that was before Miyuki found out that Niko was onii-chan. Since Niko is onii-chan, then it makes to twice as great!” (Miyuki)
Ugh… why did I have to be reincarnated into the world that Miyuki was summoned to? Was Pauline trying to punish me for something I did in my past life? I will admit, Miyuki has grown to be a beautiful young woman. If it weren’t for her severe brother complex, starting a relationship with her wouldn’t be so bad now that we don’t have the blood relation. Wait… she’s still my little sister though. I may no longer be Katsu Fujiwara, but that connection’s still there.
Right there, everything went black. I couldn’t see anyone else around. Hell, the garden and the table disappeared. My chair didn’t disappear until I got up. Just… what the hell is going on?
No one answered my words. It was as if I were in this world of black by myself. Eventually, another figure appeared. He had spiky bottle-blond hair despite clearly Japanese and piercings in both his left eyebrow and ear. He wore a black gakuran just like any other high schooler. But… I’ve seen this face many times before. A face that could make any child cry just from looking at it. Every time I looked into the mirror in my past life, I saw that face.
“Who are you?”
“What, don’t ya recognize your old reflection? I’m Katsu Fujiwara.” (Katsu)
I REALLY need to steal someone else’s catchphrase right now…
“But… that’s impossible. I was Katsu Fujiwara. I died as him!”
“Really? Are ya sure? I mean, I’m standing right here.” (Katsu)
“You’re not Katsu Fujiwara!”
I then put some ki and mana into my right fist and tried to hit him with a Fire Bullet Number One. But… he caught it!? This guy just seriously caught a ki-enhanced fist that was literally on fire.
“That won’t work on me.” (Katsu)
He then did one of my signature gut punches from back in the day. I fell over, but I was no longer in the world of black. I was back in the garden, on the ground. My chair from earlier was knocked down and the girls were calling my name. But… I blacked out for real this time. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the message that Lost Justice relayed from the Oracle about. That man who called himself Katsu Fujiwara… was my Phantom.
After Note: And that was chapter 13 of LSPL, folks. I know, the end seems to be yet another intrusive plot. But… it’s something that I’ve had in the works since I started writing LSPL. What are “Phantoms”? That my friends will be explained later… when I work on the next chapter. I’ll be working on a chapter of TOG next.