Be the Householder - 2

Side Story - Chapter 19

"Now the East also grows wheat..."

Perez muttered as if to remind himself.

The eastern part of the empire, which is very different from other parts of the empire in terms of topography and climate, cannot produce wheat, the main food.

That was the common sense of the East, which had continued for a long time, and the biggest weakness of the East.

Because of that, they always had to keep an eye on the central and other regions.

But now it's changed.

Because the East also had the technology to produce wheat on its own.

"In the meantime, Larane has been through a lot. She was studying wheat production that fits for the East while avoiding the eyes of others in such a distance from Luman."

Larane blushed slightly at my compliment.

"I didn't do it alone. Without the scholars of Lombardi sent by Tia, I would not have dreamed of it."

But I shook my head.

What I said was not empty words.

Even after having a leak along the way, Larane did not stop researching wheat production methods.

It was a pain started in the carriage coming here from Luman, so I said everything.

"Scholars are literally just people who have knowledge and do research. It's Larane who has brought those people together and led them all the way here, so you don't have to be too humble."

"...Thank you, Tia."

As she answered, Larane smiled wider than ever before.

At that moment, I remembered what my grandmother, Soura, once said.

"There are flowers that grow better in other places than where they were originally born and took root."



Larane, who left Lombardi where she was born and came to the East, was in full bloom.

As if she had finally found a place to take root.

I put my hand on Larane's shoulder and turned towards Perez.

Still half-dazed, he was still fiddling with wheat with his fingertips.

At the same time, his gaze could not leave the ripe wheat field.

"In the meantime, Patriarch Luman has been through a lot."

"Patriarch Luman?"

"He needed a trick to do research here and there secretly. So he had to pretend he was completely on Chanton Sushou's side."

How pathetic his eyes that secretly looked at me whenever we met at the conference.

It wasn't once or twice that I almost burst into laughter whenever I looked at Patriarch Luman like that. He looked similar to Avinox, but was much more blunt.

"Ah."

"Yes, Perez."

"This, the wheat production in the East will make a big impact."

"That's right."

It's not unexpected.

It was just the change that would happen immediately.

"First of all, Sushou's influence on the East will be greatly reduced. Because Luman will no longer have to depend on the South for food."

Now, the Luman family was ready to jump into the central political arena as one of the main pillars of the empire in earnest.

It's something they've been longing for for a long time.

"And their dependence on Eastern trade will also decrease. They no longer have to bring food from outside."

"But that will make it difficult for not only Sushou, but also Lombardi to deal with Luman."

In the meantime, it is true that the East was superficially under the influence of Sushou, and in reality, it was under my grasp.

If it wasn't for the Pellet trade ship and cruise that connects the East with the Central right now, they would be isolated again.

However, with the production of food, the East will soon be self-sufficient.

Just like Ivan in the North, who has an abundance of minerals and has independent political power.

In other words, it meant getting out of my grasp.

"You're right, Perez."

At my calm reply, Perez wrinkled his brows as if he did not know the reason.

"Do you want to know why?"

"I don't understand it. Even the scholars of Lombardi are moving and intervening in something that doesn't beneficial to you."

"Well, because..."

How should I explain this well?

After pondering for a while, I chose a simple and straightforward path.

"I am also the Matriarch of Lombardi, but soon I will become the Empress of the Empire."

"...Tia."

"If the East has independent power, your work will be much easier in the future. Don't you think so, Perez?"

The emperor's authority comes from force and wealth.

However, how he maintains his authority depends on how much he keeps the nobles under his control in check and balances the breathtaking power.

"Think of it as a kind of wedding gift, Perez, and come to think of it, you gave me the amendment bill to the Empress Succession Act and the ring while proposing, but I didn't do anything."

I said so jokingly, but Perez still just stared at me.

"I still have something to show you, so you shouldn't make that face already."

"...I'm scared now, Tia."

"Exaggerated."

After I glanced at Perez once, I asked Larane.

"Should I follow this road to the north?"

"Yes. If you go over the hill over there, you'll see it right away."

"Thank you. I'll be right back."

After waving a small hand to Larane, I began to walk along the straight road.

But the back is empty.

There is no sound of footsteps following.

I just turned my head and looked back.

And I urged Perez, who was still standing in place as if he was nailed.

"What are you doing? I still have more to show you."

***

Climbing the hill after Florentia, Perez wiped his still dazed face with the palm of his hand.

East's independent wheat production.

Tia explained everything, but he couldn't understand.

'How could that be?'

Her action was like putting down the weapon she had in her hand.

If she could control the East, she could have unwavering power as the Matriarch of Lombardi and as the Empress of the Empire.

But she untied the leash on the East side and said it was a wedding gift.

It was almost as if Perez would rather laughed in vain at the huge gift that was suddenly in his arms.

"Oh, I guess it's over there!"

When he entered the wooded area, Tia's voice, which was especially clear and refreshing, woke him from his thoughts.

"Hmm, it looks like this. It's definitely a little different in person."

As he followed the green eyes that spoke to himself, where he couldn't understand the meaning well, there was a wide field just like before.

"That's..."

Perez's eyes became sharp.

It resembles the wheat field he encountered a while ago, but a completely different scene unfolded in front of him.

"Why is one side all dead wheat?"

The structure of the wheat fields laid across a road was similar.

However, the difference was that all the wheat on the left had withered to black in the direction looking down.

All the wheat that had not yet ripened was lying on the floor one by one.

It was like looking at the farmland left behind after a rough horse's hoof had swept it once.

"Do you know why the nobles look at Chanton Sushou so desperately these days, Perez?"

It is not a day or two for the lords of an area in need of food to panic in front of Sushou, who owns the granary.

But recently, the degree has become even worse.

No matter how close the harvest season was, Perez secretly ordered an investigation because something was unclear.

And the report he received just a few days before leaving for this trip.

"Plague"

An unknown disease, originating in the southeast, was killing all the wheat.

The disease, which spreads like wildfire, said that none of the previously known methods worked.

Even experienced farmers thought this was a punishment from heaven and put down their agricultural equipment.

Also, the disease is worse than other grains. It caused great damage to wheat crops.

So, naturally, the wheat production in the South would decrease compared to the last time, and nobles of pro-Sushou, who noticed it earlier than anyone else, had no choice but to try to win Chanton Sushou's favor as fiercely as the reduced wheat.

However, unlike the nobles who fight only for this harvest right now, the disease of wheat farming has come even greater for Perez, who rules the entire empire.

"You know, right? If this continues, the entire empire will be in danger."

"Because it's spreading so fast. By now, the central part of the South must already be affected."

Perez's complexion darkened.

The central plains in the South were where the granary areas of Sushou were concentrated.

Even if we were lucky enough to pass this harvest season, we didn't know what would happen next.

After receiving the report, he hurriedly planned to dispatch the Academy's scholars to the South, but the outcome was not guaranteed.

As such, the momentum of the plague was so terrifying.

"If this continues, there will be a famine throughout the empire."

Florentia, holding his back, said with a sigh.

"And many people will die, Perez."

It was a simple prediction, but Perez got goosebumps.

It was because he felt strange power from her murmuring words.

From an instinctive perspective, Florentia was still looking at the wheat fields.

But Perez thought it might not be.

Her gaze was not because of the wheat field in front of her, but because she seemed to be looking further into the future.

It was when Perez opened his mouth to ease Tia's anxiety.

"Tia, don't worry too much..."

"So I found a cure."

"...What?"

"Wheat disease. I found a cure."