We stopped in the town several times on the way to the capital of the Kingdom of Vallatenear, where the royal castle is located.

I roamed around the town freely, where there were a lot of upscale inns and restaurants that served local delicacies.
But I don’t see any libraries or bookstores.
No maps were being sold either.

When I asked this to His Highness Aglia, he laughed awkwardly and scratched his head.

“We don’t have a paper manufacturing system in this country, so we still use parchment or wooden slips.
If only we could get the citizens to use paper…”

“I see… You did not obtain paper through trade?”

“Yes, paper is not part of the traded goods.
Neither is ink.
Since we don’t use them very often…”

I thought for a moment.
The Kingdom of Vallatenear has vast forests, and if anything, they grow crops on the plains between the mountains.

None of their mountains and hills were barren, and the dense coniferous forest1 was easily recognizable even from a distance.
To produce paper, there would be no need to cut down that many trees.
Besides, if we reforest it right away, the forest would return to its former glory in less than ten years.

We also have to consider the damage caused by wild animals if we are going to cut down the forests gradually to make paper, since there are people who make a living from grain and dairy farming.
Though I have the knowledge, this matter wasn’t something where I can just say, “Let’s do it.”

I can’t make any bold claims until I learn more about the Kingdom of Vallatenear.

“I like books.
I looked at general stores in this town and I believe that paper processing technology wouldn’t be a problem.
We’re still going to have to clear up some issues… But, it’s not impossible to make papers more widely available in this country.”

And I would love to read a book about the oral knowledge of this kingdom.
I would gladly read it.

His Highness Aglia looked at me blankly.
Perhaps he was taken aback because I had suddenly started talking about spreading paper.

“M-My apologies, I didn’t mean to overstep…!”

“No, that’s not the case.
That’s not it, Claire.
You… Do you know how to make paper? And the necessary equipment?”

“Huh? Um, yes, I can draw the plans as well.
It’s not that difficult to construct—”

I didn’t manage to finish the rest of the sentence.

I was frozen in place, my face furious red from embarrassment, when His Highness Aglia suddenly hugged me.

I had read most of the books in the palace.
Its contents are all in my head.
If you have parchments and woodcuts… I escaped reality, desperately wishing for him to release me.

With a pat on my back, he finally released me.

“You’re amazing, Claire! I’m really glad you came! Let’s talk more about the paper again at the royal castle.
Ah, also if there’s anything you want, please let me know.
I’ll make it happen as long as it’s within my power.”

“…?? I-I understand.”

I’m really happy, but… it’s still strange.

I can’t get used to His Highness’ “I’m glad this, I’m glad that” attitude.

But this was only the beginning.

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