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The Greatest Estate Developer

The Greatest Estate Developer

Fantasy ・ Science Fiction

BK_Moon

COMPLETED
1.1M
9.9

Suho Kim, a broke college student struggling to make ends meet, is desperate to turn his life around by earning a degree in civil engineering. But going from rags to riches will be easier said than done—especially after Suho suddenly wakes up inside the fantasy novel he had been reading every night as Lloyd Frontera, one of the worst side characters. Lloyd is a lazy, hot-headed drunkard whose family is on the brink of ruin due to an enormous amount of debt. Lloyd may not be the most reliable guy, but Suho isn’t ready to give up so easily—he refuses to live in poverty again. Luckily for the Frontera family, Suho has something up his sleeve that may end their financial woes: his studies in civil engineering! With the heart of an entrepreneur and the brain of an engineer, can Suho finally build a better life for himself?

ReincarnationFantasyProgressionTranslated Fantasy/Sci-fiIsekai/Portal

Chapter 1: I Become a Villain in a Novel

Something that seemed like a work of fiction happened to me. When I opened my eyes, I was in The Knight of Blood and Iron; an epic novel about the indomitable leadership of ice-cold protagonist Javier Asrahan. I’d been sucked into the grandiose realm of the book, as the drunken young master whom Javier served in his unremarkable early years. At the time I couldn’t imagine that this would be the beginning of my own epic story. How could a mere civil engineering student become the guardian of this world?

***

[RP (relationship point) system activated.

You can earn RP by improving your relationships with the main characters.

You can acquire special skills in exchange for RP.]

[Current RP: 0]

A strange message rang in his head like an alarm, and he wondered what this RP and skill development was all about. I’m tired and sleepy. Suho scowled as he lay back on the bed. It was annoying, but it was typical.

He attended classes during the day. He worked hard at a part-time job in the evening. Meanwhile—in an attempt to change his mood–he spent all night reading a novel. So, it was only natural that he felt tired. Actually…it was more like karma.

But I still finished all my assignments. I can sleep in for thirty more minutes. The very thought put a smile on his face. However, Suho’s smile didn’t last for long.

“…up, please.”

He heard an unfamiliar voice. The voice was cold and direct. Is this a dream? Assuming he was hearing things in his sleep, Suho flopped over onto his other side. But the adjustment didn’t block out that urgent voice.

“It’s late. It’s time to get up, Master Lloyd.”

Huh…? It wasn’t a dream. The voice was definitely coming from right next to him. But how?

He suddenly emerged from his confusion and came to his senses. This was a dorm room of just over seventy square feet, and he always kept the door locked. Yet somehow, someone was in his room talking to him?

Suho cautiously opened his eyes. His body involuntarily tightened up.

“You are awake sir. You woke up right away today, I see.”

A handsome man with silver hair sat patiently beside the bed. He didn’t look a day over twenty years old. His face revealed not one ounce of laughter in it, which nicely matched his figure—which resembled a sword of ice carved from the top of a glacier.

“Javier… Asrahan?” Suho mumbled involuntarily.

It was certain. This was the book he spent all last night reading: The Knight of Blood and Iron. The illustration of the epic’s hero—Javier Asrahan—looked just like him. They were identical. Even his smirk was as stylish as that painting.

“So, you finally remembered my name. Thank you, sir.”

His expression, however, didn’t look the least bit thankful.

“But what am I doing here?” Suho blurted out loud.

Javier’s smirk deepened a little more. “Master has put me in charge of escorting you.”

“His Lordship? Escort?”

“That is correct.”

“Why?”

“To prevent events such as last night from happening again.”

“But last night, I was…”

“You were so drunk you couldn’t walk. Three tables, five chairs, nineteen dishes, and six candlesticks were damaged when you threw a fit at the pub. Ah, and the pub owner’s precious ornamental buffalo horn table was also destroyed entirely.”

I’m innocent… Really. I was just reading a book in my room. But then he felt a throbbing pain in his head. I didn’t even drink, yet I have a hangover? Well, that’s not fair.

“Hmm. Then first, get me some water.”

He wanted to get his mind back in order. While taking sips of the water Javier fetched him, he looked around the bedroom. It was unfamiliar, yet it was large and tidy. It was on a totally different level from the grubby, tiny dorm room and its scruffy yellow walls. This is pretty awesome. He wondered if he really was reincarnated into a literary character. Nobility, at that! Suho accepted this “reality” in his own way. This was heaven compared to the miserable, lonely life in the dorms.

But something caught his eye.

“What’s that?” Suho pointed at the cupboard on the other side of the bed. A conspicuous red piece of paper was stuck to the cupboard. And it wasn’t the only one. They were on the large desk, the refreshment table, on the bed where Suho lay, and even the chair on which Javier sat. Every single piece of furniture had a red ticket stuck to it.

Could it be…? Absentmindedly, Suho swallowed.

Then Javier replied to Suho’s inquiry, “Have you forgotten already? They are repossession notices from yesterday.”

It was a terse response. Suddenly he recalled the fact that, at the beginning of the novel, the baron who hired Javier had fallen into ruin.

A con artist fools the baron and baroness. They lose their estate and their land and then take their own lives. And Lloyd, their eldest son? His alcoholism makes him sick, and he dies. Javier makes a grave for Lloyd and then leaves the fiefdom. That’s when Javier Asrahan takes his first steps as the star of this grand epic.

So, I’m possessing the body of that brutish young master who dies from alcoholism at an early age? That’s me?

His joy at becoming a nobleman quickly fizzled out. Either way, it was a big problem.

***

“Ugh, it’s true. It is actually true.”

Some hours later, Suho…no, Lloyd looked at himself in the mirror. His full-length mirror also had a red repo tag attached to it, just like all the other furniture. A sleek, dark-haired man stood there looking back at him.

It was Lloyd.

So that’s me now. He still had trouble accepting the reality of what had happened. Yet, he didn’t hate it either. Honestly, he kind of liked it. His life back in South Korea was only full of hardship.

I did nothing but suffer.

Suho was the only son of an ordinary family. He’d passed the college entrance exams and become a civil engineering student. But trouble came while he was serving his mandatory duty in the army. His parents were cheated out of their lives as victims of a real estate investment scam. The only thing they left him after they died was colossal debt. Their house and all of their property were seized. To avoid taking on the remaining debt, he had to give up his inheritance.

Without the scholarship money for low-income students, I would never have been able to attend school.

He was diligent in his studies, but the cost of living was a separate matter from tuition. He bounced between several part-time jobs, but it was no easy task to keep up good grades while working. His dorm room was no more than a cramped closet. He would get seven nosebleeds a day. The free kimchi and rice served at the dorm were the last defense keeping his body alive. With only that, Suho managed to tightly cling on to life…up until yesterday.

But to think that I became a nobleman from an old book I picked up. Now I can truly breathe.

He wasn’t even as grand as a duke or a count. He was a mere baron in charge of managing a countryside fiefdom. However, that made being Lloyd appeal to him even more.

I probably won’t be getting into any kind of big mishaps, like a rebellion or something. That was always the problem in any historical or medieval drama. It didn’t matter if you were a well-off aristocrat. Once you got tangled up in a rebellion, it was over. There was no room for excuses, and you were beheaded in one fell swoop.

I’d much rather be the baron of some remote area. It’s like its own niche market. No big conspiracies, just the countryside and a sweet life of affluence. He could live a life of ease if he held on to his comfortable, stable status. Although, that can only happen after the baron’s debt is settled.

That was the problem.

Why now of all times?

He recalled Javier’s explanation. Those repo tags were placed yesterday. So, what could’ve happened if he’d possessed Lloyd’s body a month or two sooner? He could have prevented the baron from being conned. Now he felt like he wanted to grab the author by his shirt collar.

Well, it’s already happened, so now I must fix it. If he didn’t, by next year the baron and baroness would commit suicide. Selling this house and fiefdom would make him into a beggar.

Just like back in Korea.

That was a nightmare of a thought. He rejected the very idea of it and had no interest in a repeat. So somehow or other, he had to come up with enough money to cover the baron’s debts.

He looked into the mirror for a long time. Then suddenly, something popped into his head. Turning to the frosty Javier beside him, he asked, “Hey.”

“Yes, Master Lloyd.”

“Does our estate have a lot of money?”

“Sir?”

“If I asked the people for money, how much would it be?”

“Are you referring to a tax?”

“No, not that.”

“Then?”

“Something like a gold collection campaign…ugh, never mind.”

Lloyd shook his head. If he gathered funds from the people, it might help. But thinking about it more, it didn’t feel quite right. Obviously, without a good reason, asking the people for money would result in dissent. I wouldn’t be able to pay all of it off with that amount anyway.

He thought about the introduction from the novel. The time limit to pay off the debt was two years. But before the time was up, the baron and baroness commit suicide. The pressure of the debt continued, and the interest kept growing. The pathway to settling the debt was a dark, murky swamp, and the couple drowning in that debt let go of their hope.

That’s exactly one year from now.

And five months later, Lloyd dies vomiting blood in the pub where he was a regular. The very beginning of The Knight of Blood and Iron describes all of this.

Dammit. Is this some kind of déjà vu? It was basically a mirror image of what happened to his family back in Korea. Thinking about it spoiled his mood.

“Hmph. Let’s take a walk or something.”

Walking is the best way to clear the mind. Even back when he was still Suho Kim, walking was part of his routine. Actually, it was pretty much the only comfort he had, since it didn’t cost any money.

So, he and Javier left the room and entered the hallway. Just then he encountered a woman approaching from the opposite end of the hall. The woman carried herself with sophistication and elegance. She was a beauty who’d aged gracefully into her middle years.

Could it be…?

Suddenly a name popped into his head. Marbella Frontera. She was the baroness. Lloyd’s mother. She was the only middle-aged woman in this estate who could have that kind of air about her.

Lloyd gulped dryly. Of course we would run into each other.

Is there a parent who does not recognize their child? He worried that she would catch on to the fact that he was a fake. Thankfully (?!), he worried in vain. As soon as the baroness looked his way, she clicked her tongue at him.

“Did you go out drinking again?” That look she had in her eyes… It was full of heartache and worry. Was it because her son was unseemly—drinking his life away and raising hell—all while their home was being torn apart? There was no way of knowing.

“You should enjoy it in moderation. It is not good for your health.”

The baroness sighed quietly and brushed past him. Lloyd was left assured. I didn’t get caught. But should I really be happy about that? Lloyd Frontera. A guy who drank the moment he opened his eyes in the morning. Thanks to that, even his own mother had such a poor opinion of Lloyd. That’s pretty sad, though.

Then Suho recalled his time as a freshman; back when his family was still affluent. Back then he was rather ignorant. He remembered drinking every day, be it at lunch or on a class trip. Each time, his mother would cook haejang-guk for him… Hangover soup. However, it had become a part of the past.

Humph. Lloyd bit his bottom lip. His stride lengthened as he left the house. That could be why the townsfolk he met along the way scurried off to the side of the road as soon as they noticed him. They all hung their heads to avoid making eye contact. One woman trembled while she squeezed her hands together tightly. Some of the villagers grew visibly pale. Was he coming to grips with his situation within that short span of time?

Right, this is the kind of guy Lloyd was.

The story flashed through his mind. The Beast of the Frontera Barony. That was Lloyd Frontera. He got drunk and would occasionally throw or break things. It was a given that he wrought abusive language and violence upon those below his station. Simply put, he was the worst kind of troublemaker. Human gutter trash.

That’s why they’re all so spiteful. I’m completely despicable. A bitter laugh escaped him.

“Hey,” he whined to Javier beside him, “what’s with all of them? It’s not normal to treat a lord’s son that way.”

It was common sense that the lord’s son was the most powerful man in the region. So, unless the lord’s son was some kind of a dirtbag… They usually tried to smile and at least pretend to respect him. Like the store owner who kindly served the landlord’s son their fried chicken. Or like a senior manager who became overly lenient to the president’s son when he started as a new employee. Shouldn’t the son of this estate’s owner be the same to its villagers?

“Normally, but.”

“Normally… But?”

“Yes.”

“Then what about now?”

Javier replied coldly, “It’s a state of emergency.”

“Emergency?”

"It refers to the appearance of a being who poses a threat to the livelihood, welfare, and safety of the people of the estate."

"And…that being is supposed to be me?"

“That is correct.”

“That was quite the comeback.”

“What is a comeback?”

“Uh…like cutting someone to the bone with facts.” Javier stared intensely in his direction. His expression showed confusion over the nonsense he’d just heard. And yet, like a painting, he was cold and stately.

Sure, that is the kind of guy Javier was. A noble, honorable knight. A man relentless against injustice. He was a hero and the epitome of knighthood. In the novel, Javier becomes renowned throughout the entire continent of Lorasia. Naturally, just because he was still unknown at this point, didn’t mean his personality was any different.

“I’m unsure what to do in this situation. I’ve not once been disloyal to you, Master Lloyd.”

“Not once?”

“Never.”

“So, you’ve never heard of a fact attack?”

“I know nothing of it.”

“Have you ever detested me then?”

“No. Never.”

But…it definitely seemed that way from his expression, Lloyd realized. This guy hates me too.

Being the virtuous knight that Javier was, he emphasized the importance of honor. So, it was certain he hated a churlish dirt-bag like Lloyd. And yet, he was the kind of guy who’d stay loyally by his side until the day Lloyd died. It seemed he upheld his obedience and loyalty to his master the baron until the very end. An amazing guy, at any rate.

And one of the best swordsmen in the history of the Lorasian continent—an unprecedented grand master. And now this guy was his faithful guard.

Lloyd walked along with an odd feeling until he found himself in front of a shabby building.

"Where are we?"

"This is the pub."

"The pub?"

"Yes. You spend more time here than at your own home, Master Lloyd."

“So, this is where I’m a regular?”

“Of course. Unless you have been frequenting another place without my notice, that is.”

Good gracious. Inside his head, Lloyd was clicking his tongue.

He’d only been walking aimlessly, yet his feet brought him to his regular pub of all places. How often did he come here that even when possessed by another spirit, his body automatically found its way here? Is this like a homing instinct? Am I a carrier pigeon? A spawning salmon? Or a lost dog that somehow travels a hundred miles back home? He chastised the original owner of this body, the baron’s eldest son.

He turned away. Either way, I shouldn’t be day drinking. Lloyd might have enjoyed it, but Suho no longer did. Besides, he couldn’t drink when he already had so much to figure out. He had no other thoughts besides that.

“Are we going back then?”

“Certainly,” he answered Javier assuredly. However, Javier’s reply was unexpected.

“In that case, what a disappointment.”

“Huh…?”

“It is just as I said. You, Master Lloyd, are a disappointment.”

“Were you really expecting me to indulge in some day drinking?”

“No.”

“Then…?”

“I was under the impression that you were here to apologize and make restitutions for the chaos you caused here last night.”

“So, you’re disappointed I turned away?”

“That is correct. A nobleman has the duty to take on the responsibility that equals their status.”

This punk has been throwing zingers all day. That one he just threw probably exceeded one hundred miles per hour. Javier had a strange talent for giving his helpful advice in a blunt and stinging way.

“The proprietor has been managing this pub his entire life… Even if it is a shabby old saloon. Last night, you caused a ruckus in this precious place and damaged the furniture here. Besides, as you may know, Master Lloyd, he’s caring for his elderly mother all on his own.”

“He is?”

“Yes. Her health has declined quite recently. The owner is gravely concerned.”

“So, I caused trouble for this poor fellow?”

“That is correct.”

It wasn’t even me who really did it. However, Javier continued to sting him.

“Actually, sir, he pleaded with me last night. He told me that, with his mother’s suffering in the winter cold and now the trouble you’ve caused, he’s deeply saddened and longs for death’s sweet embrace. You cannot turn a blind eye. After all, someday in the future, this estate will be under your care, Master Lloyd…”

“Hold on. Stop right there.”

With that, Javier’s speech was cut off. Was it because Lloyd couldn’t bear to hear any more? No. Javier’s words suddenly put an idea in his head.

“The owner’s mother suffers in the winter cold, you said?”

“That is what I said.”

“Then wouldn’t it do to have heated floors?”

“Sir?”

“Do the people here really…not know about heated flooring?” They really didn’t know; you could tell by the look in his eye. Something else popped into his head. Come to think of it, even the bedroom in the baron’s house didn’t have heated floors. He was a civil engineering student, so it was his habit to examine the structure of the buildings wherever he went. He could quickly analyze the construction of the baron’s house.

The baron’s had neither heated floors nor any kind of central heating system. Instead, a single fireplace occupied one side of the room. The pub owner’s home was likely the same design. Unlike the nobility, who would have a fireplace in every room, this man probably had a single fireplace to heat the entirety of his house.

It surely would be cold. Compared to a heated flooring system, a fireplace has a significant amount of heat loss.

Of course, heated floors weren’t without their cons. To get a heated flooring system, you’d have to either rebuild or entirely replace the floors. You must also insulate the building against heat loss. They likely consume a great amount of firewood here.

But those two cons… They can be overcome. Well, actually, they can be taken advantage of. For me, it’s possible.

If Lloyd made use of Suho’s college major, he would have a way of paying off the estate’s huge debt and escaping a bleak fate. With that incentive, he devised a plan that could make him tons of money.

He was certain. He could see it coming together.

This is it. It won’t end with the pub owner’s house. It’ll be even bigger! It will be a large-scale business. My chances of success are high indeed.

His mind was made up. The plans in his head would become a reality.

He took off straight toward the pub.