[Vol 1] Chapter 1 – The Girl who Swims in the Fountain of Mists



1-1

Don’t go into the depths of the forest——

Even though people have told this to her time and time again, the girl still went deep into the forest.

“Let’s compete to see who can harvest the most wild strawberries!”

The children had decided on the competition, and so they started picking nearby the town——But she got gotten separated from her friends while concentrating on harvesting the wild strawberries. When she realized, she had already gotten lost.

Due to her running around anxiously, she had no idea where she was.

Carrying the basket with a hill of wild strawberries, she surveyed her surroundings worriedly.

“Where is… everyone…?”

Her fearful voice started to tremble.

Since they had left in the early morning, it wasn’t even noon yet. Yet, no matter how high the sun rose in the sky, the depths of the forest was still filled with danger. This danger didn’t change regardless of day or night.

There was a certain radius around the town where wild beasts would not approach due to the “Belfry of Beast Avoidance” within. But the effective range of it did not cover the deepest parts of the forest.

The confused girl raised her volume.

“… Everyone! Where are you!?”

Nearby, someone heard her voice.

Sadly, this was very unfortunate for her —— the being wasn’t a “human”, but a ferocious beast that inhabited the area. Even more unfortunate, it had an empty stomach.

Noticing the roar of the beast from behind, the girl’s body stiffened.

A huge wolf appeared from the shades of the trees. It had a physique comparable to that of a bear.

The girl held her breath.

That was the black wolf that stood at the top of the foodchain. Even though the black pelt of this ferocious beast could sell for a very high price, hunters rarely attempted to hunt it.

The black wolf pressed its paws into the ground.

The girl twitched her body due to a bone-chilling fear, she couldn’t even utter a sound.

The scene perfectly portrayed the natural law of survival of the fittest.

Following that, the black wolf prepared to pounce onto the pitiful girl.

At this moment, an unforeseen obstructor appeared.

“Ahhhh —— I was planning to nap till the evening.”

A very calm voice without tension came down from the trees.

Hearing this, the girl couldn’t help but look up.

The black wolf also noticed that it had missed a prey, and became more vigilant.

However, they were unable to see the figure due to the overgrown branches.

The owner of the voice went “En” without showing his face.

“A starving black wolf and a cute girl carrying wild strawberries —— Then, for a gentleman, who should I support as a companion?”

The black wolf let out a low growl.

The terrified girl collapsed onto the floor.

The voice let out a snicker.

It wasn’t a sneer, nor was it a laughter.

It would be better described as a bit lonely —— the voice once again calmly laughed.

“My lady, your luck is pretty good. It looks like I have no room for hesitation, it has already recognized me as an enemy. Since it has become like this, there is nothing left to talk about —— being a ‘sorcerer’, I can only accept a challenge.”

After the cool voice resounded —— a black shadow jumped down from the trees.

The paralysed girl stared blankly at the shadow.

In an instant, her vision was obstructed by a “shadow”.


1-2

There was a beautiful fountain beside the town of Misthound.

From ancient times, it had been called the “Fountain of Rising Mists”, it had become famous as a summer resort for the royalty.

Their visits stopped since a certain time. Now it had become a rural area whose population is no longer increasing, but at least the beautiful scenario faced no destruction.

The clear underground water gushing out of the fountain was covered by small particles of white sand. As the morning sun rose high up into the sky, the sand would emit a dazzling light under the reflection of the spring water.

The morning sunlight caused the white sand and the clear water to stand out; at dawn, the water will be dyed red by the setting sun; and at night, the water will shine blue under the glow of the moon.

A hundred years ago, a poet once praised this fountain, ever shaped by the movement of time, describing it was “the happiness and sorrows of an enchanting young woman”, and because of the refreshing taste of the water, it was called “moon drops”.

(… But not matter how you think about it, these metaphors were far too exaggerated.)

It was now noon.

Apprentice pharmacist Selo sat idly by the lake, silently judging the deceased poet.

The fountain reflected in his eyes had no difference compared to before.

Selo grew up staring at the fountain, and it has always just been an ordinary fountain. It was only a slightly larger pool, changing its color along with the light. The taste of the water wasn’t anything special either.

It was rather convenient to treat the water here as drinking water, but everyone usually just draw the underground water from the well. Even though the water here was exaggeratedly called moondrops, it was still the same water as any other. It wasn’t as if this fountain had heaven’s blessing.

Moreover, despite how this huge fountain was about a hundred meters away from the opposite shore, it was not a suitable fishing ground, since the water is too clear for the fish to inhabit here. This was a disadvantage which he had paid heed to.

He never wanted to complain about the deceased poet, but, travelers and locals would always differ in views.

“ —— Ahhh, there’s no helping it. After you get used to it, even beautiful things will seem normal…”

Selo’s mutterings as he gazed at the fountain did not hold any special meaning.

A girl is currently leisurely taking a bath there.

Her tender and beautiful body floated on the clear water, she stretched her limbs delightfully while closing her eyes.

Her wet, light colored hair glistened on the surface of the water.

The girl wore shorts and a bathrobe which covered her chest, but only a thin cloth was tied on her waist, leaving her shoulders and legs exposed.

Selo tried hard not to stare, but she had an extremely strong sense of presence.

Although it was disrespectful to stare, putting the girl at the back of his mind would make him a failure a guard.

The girl enjoying the bath was the noble which Selo served —— Ordoba·Misthound·Doriarudo’s adopted daughter. To be more precise, the relationship between the noble and her is that of an uncle and a niece.

After losing her parents at a young age —— Firiano·Misthound·Doriarudo was adopted by her uncle and grew up in this area.

She was 16, older than the 14 years old Selo by 2 years.

Since “Firiano” was too long of a name, and she didn’t like it much, everyone that lived in the town called her “Lady Fino”.

Suddenly, Fino who was in the fountain waved towards Selo with her slender arms.

“Nee, c’mon Selo, it feels great to be unrestrained.”

The girl’s invitation was filled with a carefree atmosphere.

Selo continued to avert his eyes and answered.

“I’m good, I don’t want to get my sword wet.”

“Can’t you just put the sword on the side?”

Fino asked surprisingly. This caused Selo, who came as a guard, to feel a bit helpless.

“Then I have no idea why I came as a guard. I also didn’t bring a change of clothes, nor a towel to wipe myself dry…”

It’s fine, Selo is a boy. Even if you’re topless it would be fine. As for the towel, I’ll lend you mine.”

Hearing Fino say that natural, it made Selo quite troubled. It seems like she didn’t have the self-conscious that she was the daughter of a noble.

Recently, Fino had matured very quickly. After turning sixteen, not only had her body grown, her bearings and facial expressions became more feminine.

However, to Selo who she grew up with, she didn’t change how she acted. In fact, she became even more caring.

(To Fino, I must feel like a worrisome little brother——)

Being younger than her, Selo felt like that quite often.

The people in the mansion told him, “You’re not a child anymore, you have to be aware of your own status”, Fino should have also been warned by the adoptive father Ordoba.

Even so, she still stubbornly wanted to keep her original relationship with Selo.

To Selo, this made him feel very happy, and at the same time uneasy.

Fino looked up towards the sky and closed her eyes, slowly drifting on the water surface.

It was by chance that there were only the two of them left today. Normally, this was a great location where the local children played with water.

The deepest part of the water was only up to the waist, and there was also a sandy shore at the edge of the fountain. That was where Selo was sitting. Even though this wasn’t the sea, it still possess such a unique geographical feature.

This geographical feature had been here since the ancient times.

This place used to be a barren land without a water source. A sorcerer that came here must had recreated it based on his ideal paradise.

It was said that the fountain was the first thing he made.

He used magic tools to scoop out the land, covered it with white sand, then drew out the water from the underground.

Because of this, the forest started to grow around the fountain, and people began to inhabit here, eventually developing into the town of Misthound.

The descendants of the sorcerer once ruled the town, but his bloodline had long died out.

The mayor was a noble sent by the government, who also controlled the Belfry of Beast Avoidance.

Fino’s adoptive father Ordoba·Misthound·Doriarudo was the noble who came here at a young age and became the mayor.

Even though he had a peerage, but because he was from a branch family, he didn’t inherit any territory.

His middle name “Misthound” was also named after the city. A sorcerer’s middle name was usually their territory, birthplace or organization name. It wasn’t unusual to have it change multiple times in a lifetime. Most noble sorcerers followed this tradition.

There were also some strange people who chose to use names of non-existent places, or used a name that they fancied.

Both the adopted daughter Fino, and the adoptive father of the Doriarudo family were the same, using the name “Misthound” as their middle name.

Fino had a considerable amount of strength as a sorcerer. She didn’t need Selo as a guard to protect her —— But her careless and defenceless attitude made Selo rather anxious.

Fino didn’t seem to notice this, every time she went out, she was sure to make Selo tag along.

The morning light was slowly fading away, the sun rose higher into the sky. Noon was already nigh.

Selo called Fino who was always submerged in the water.

“Fino, it’s about time to get back to the mansion. Don’t you have guests in the afternoon?”

“Ahhh… Then… let’s escape from it.”

She muttered annoyingly.

Selo wasn’t unable to understand her feelings, although he didn’t know who the guest was, he understood that Fino disliked socializing with other nobles.

But she was still Ordoba’s adoptive daughter, Doriarudo family’s ojou-sama, this is the unwavering truth.

“Escaping wouldn’t solve the issue. If Fino doesn’t go home on time, I would become the primary suspect.”

“That isn’t too bad! Let’s elope together!”Fino said in a laughing manner, splashing water everywhere as she stood up in the water.

The droplets of water on her body dazzled under the sunlight. Selo was mesmerized seeing the scene before him.

“Never mind, making Selo become the primary suspect is too pitiful—— It can’t be helped, I’ll return.”

Fino closed one eye and spoke condescendingly.

Selo lightly hung his head. In a certain way, his fate was within her grasp.

Stretching herself as she swam to the shore, Fino took the towel from Selo’s side and began to wipe her body.

“Selo, can you wipe my body for me?”

“… Recently Fino’s jokes have stopped being funny.”

She giggled.

Perhaps having enough fun, Fino put on her clothes. Meanwhile, Selo gazed towards the forest.

The forest on the other side of the fountain was thick and wide.

The Belfry of Beast Avoidance became ineffective further on from here.

Selo gazed alarmingly towards the front, a rustling sound from someone stepping on a dry branch was heard.

He quickly placed his hand on the sword that was attached to his waist in surprise.

He didn’t have much confidence in the sword. But unable to use any magic tools, it was one of the few things that could protect himself from the harassment of wild beasts.

Fino also heard the sound. Not long later, a small figure come out from the shadows of the trees.

Seeing the figure, Selo relaxed his grip.

“… Ehhh? What happened, isn’t this Marill?”

It looks like it was one of the local children. The girl was very young and always chased after those older than herself, but today she was all alone.

“Ahh! Selo! And Fino-ane!”The girl’s face instantly gleamed up, she rushed over quickly. In her hands was a basket that had a small mountain of wild strawberries.

“Marill? Why are you all alone here? It’s very dangerous!”

Fino, who had just finished dressing up, immediately hugged Marill. Even though she was a noble, the worrisome Fino is loved by the local children in town, and was treated as an older sister, she is very well-received in their hearts.

Marill who was tightly hugged by Fino excitedly said.

“That. That! Just now…!”

She suddenly stopped.

“Ahh… I promised I wouldn’t say anything. Sorry, but I’m alright!”

Hearing this blatant lie, Selo raised his eyebrows. Marill wasn’t a lying child, so someone must have stopped her from speaking the truth.

“No, that’s impossible. Did you go into the forest by yourself?”

“Noo, I get separated with everyone else. Then.. it’s a secret!”

Facing Marill, who was all smiles, Selo and Fino looked at each other.

She who got lost in the forest was helped by “someone” —— it looks like that’s what happened.

“… Who do you think it is?”

To the whispering Fino, Selo vaguely answered.

“Saying it would only cause trouble. That must be someone who was skipping work…”

“Or maybe a couple that was on a secret rendezvous——? Never mind, it doesn’t matter who it is. Follow me, Marill. Everyone must be worried about you.”

Fino held Marill’s hand and let out a concerning smile.

Selo didn’t know any noble ladies apart from Fino. But, he still understood that she had a unique personality among nobles.

The children in the city also noticed this, so they naturally got close with her.

Selo gazed into the basket that Marill is carrying.

“Speaking of which, Marill, there are a lot of wild strawberries here, did you harvest all of them by yourself?”

“Yeah, while I was harvesting, I didn’t pay attention and went deep into the forest…”

Fino sighed, and lightly stroked Marill’s hair.

“That’s scary… Marill, don’t go into the forest so casually. If you were caught by the goblins or black wolves, you could even lose your life. The Belfry of Beast Avoidance’s effective range doesn’t cover this far.

She scolded Marill lightly, Fino then retrieved a small wooden horse that could fit within her palm from the pouch that Selo was guarding.

Fino named this cute black horse with a red saddle “Liquorice”.

“Awaken——“

The small wooden horse glowed with a pale light, accepting her will.

She lightly tossed it towards the sand, the wooden horse remained exactly the same, but its size had become equivalent to that of a real horse.

Its rounds legs floated in the air.

The horse-shaped magic tool was the “Celestial Wooden Horse” made by Selo’s grandfather, it was given to Fino as a birthday present.

Although the creator Zerdonato passed away three years ago, the wooden horse could still move. Although it wasn’t as strong as a real horse, but it could still transport people and fly at low altitudes. It was a true masterpiece that allowed the rider not to worry about the geographical features underneath oneself.

Fino always cherished this wooden horse.

If not used properly, the magic tool was unable to last long.

By pouring mana into the magic tools, they could develop just like a living thing. Even if it was an excellent magic tool, whether or not its full potential could be brought out also depended on the sorcerer themselves.

Seeing Fino treasuring his grandfather’s wooden horse, it made Selo very happy.

011 They first let Marill climb on, then Fino sat behind her.

“Selo could sit too, we have to send Marill back to everyone before we go back home, so we’re a bit rushed.”

Selo calmly shook his head.

“I’ll pass, its too dangerous riding with three people. Since we came all the way here, I should pick some herbs as I walk back.”

Fino revealed a disappointed expression after hearing his reply.

“Is that so? Then see you later.”

Selo’s refusal wasn’t by chance. Just two days ago, they were seen riding together by the people at the mansion and he was scolded a lot.

Gazing at the fleeting wooden horse, Selo began to walk.

After taking a few steps, he noticed something behind him and turned back to look.

From where deepest parts of the forest where Marill had come out from——

Selo felt the presence of “something”.

“… Is someone there?”

At that moment —— several birds flew out from there.

Selo relaxed a little and laughed bitterly by himself. It seems like his instincts were wrong.

He turned his back to the fountain once more and started to head back to the town.

——Selo didn’t notice.

From the depths of the forest, the pair of eyes that gazed at his back——

Saving Marill from the wild beast, the miraculous existence that sent her here——

The meeting between the owner of the gaze, it’ll have to wait a little longer——


1-3

After dropping off Marill with the other children that were harvesting wild strawberries, Fino immediately returned to the mansion.

This mansion was not the property of the Doriarudo family, but rather the official living quarters for “generations of the mayors of Misthound”. In other words, this was essentially rented. But after staying here for so long, Fino felt like it was no different from her own home.

To Fino who had moved here at a young age, this was also where she first met Selo. Back then his grandfather —— magic tool craftsman Zerdonato was still alive.

Selo was only six back then, and Fino was eight. But thinking back, Selo already had a mature atmosphere surrounding him.

His black hair and deep blue eyes, and his slightly pale skin. These were very different to the locals of this area.

Fino had nearly mistaken him for a girl the first time she met Selo.

Back then, his face was cute like a little girl’s, and had a hint of loneliness on his face, but his clear eyes always looked forward.

Although he “couldn’t use magic tools”, the calmness and intelligence already made him the centre of attention among the children.

Since their age were quite close, and could emphasize with each other about their now deceased parents, Selo and Fino quickly got to know each other.

Although their social status were different, but the status of “nobles” didn’t mean anything special to the children.

However, it was possible that Selo no longer remembered about what happened long ago.

These were very important memories to Fino, but he definitely forgot. Although it was regrettable, there was no helping it.

Fino, who was older than Selo by two years, also couldn’t remember what happened when she was six —— so it was unsurprising for Selo to have forgotten what happened back then.

Furthermore, he probably forgot what happened a few years back as well. This is because when becoming an adult, people tend to gradually forget about their childhood memories.

Thinking about Selo when he was younger, Fino giggled on the wooden horse.

The once cute young boy is now becoming more valiant. Although he is still shorter than Fino, in a few years time, Selo will surely grow taller than her.

Though happy for his growth, she began to feel a little lonely.

Watching the maturing Selo, Fino always felt unease. She tried to wish numerous times so that time could stay still, but her wish was no longer able to be fulfilled.

Fino got off the horse in front of the mansion and placed her hands on the saddle.

“—— Sleep.”

The Celestial Wooden Horse reacted to her clear voice, instantly shrinking back to its original size.

Fino tucked the small wooden horse into a pouch hanging by her waist and was just about to walk through the front gate.

At this moment.

The overlapping sound of hooves could be heard slowly approaching the mansion from the street in front of it.

“Ahhh, this is bad…”

Realising that it was the guest, Fino frantically rushed through the gate and ran towards the mansion.

At the same time, the butler and servants in the mansion also walked towards the outside to receive the guests.

A maid called Kardena grabbed Fino’s wrist.

“Fino-sama, where did you go? Please get ready immediately, I will prepare a change of clothes for you.”

The maid Kardena angrily shouted. She was only twenty this year, but had been Ordoba’s maid since she was a young girl, because of this she had been in the mansion slightly longer than Fino.

Also, she was also the first maid to start taking care of Fino when Fino first moved here.

A calm brick-colored hair and neat features gave people a sense of capability. In reality, she was also deeply trusted by Ordoba.

Furthermore, although she was a maid, to Fino she was a trustworthy older sister.

“I’m sorry, Kardena. But isn’t the time earlier than expected?”

“What are you talking about, it’s already noon. Fino-sama had returned slightly later.”

It looks like they stayed a little longer in the fountain than they imagined, when she was with Selo, time seemed to pass by so much quicker.

Fino was just about to rush into her room when her adoptive father Ordoba suddenly appeared in the hallway.

Seeing Fino who just got back, he nodded.

“This clothing isn’t too terrible. You don’t have to change, just fix your hair as we walk.”

The maid Kardena obeyed his orders and took a comb from inside the room.

Ordoba·Misthound·Doriarudo was a brilliant sorcerer in his fifties.

He had a physique far larger than the common sorcerer’s, his shoulders were as tough as that of a warrior.

He looked fearless, and just by standing in place would exhibit his dignified atmosphere.

Even so, his personality was not as strict as he looked. He didn’t interfere with his adoptive daughter Fino too much, nor was he harsh towards his servants, he was a good master.

However, regardless of good and bad, he still possessed the mindset of a noble, and drew a clear distinctive line between himself and non-nobles. This was the major difference between him and Fino.

As they walked side by side, the adoptive father frowned and asked.

“Speaking of which, it was good that you managed to come back on time. Did you go out with that apprentice pharmacist again?”

“No. Today I was with Marill. Selo’s not home?”

Fino held her head up and feigned ignorance.

Her tone of speech was completely different to when she was talking with Selo earlier.

Uninterested in Fino’s lie, Ordoba said quietly.

“… It’s about time you two separate. Having a noble like you by his side, it’ll cause him a lot of trouble. You know you are from different worlds right?”

“Yes I understand. Please don’t worry, I’m Ordoba’s daughter.”

Fino replied for the sake of it.

She had no interested in quarrelling with her adoptive father. Their point of views were parallel, never meeting at the same point, and from the standpoint of a noble, what her father said had its merits.

The people in the mansion thought so as well, Selo seemed to have been reminded by the other servants privately.

To Fino, she didn’t want to cause trouble for Selo. The more she argued, the worse it became for him.

That’s why she chose to remain silent.

Kardena tidied up Fino’s dry hair and brushed down her skirt.

In front of the mansion owner and the ojou-sama. The gate finally opened.

In front of everyone was a tall and handsome young knight.

To Fino who thought that all the guests would be middle-aged men, she was quite surprised. Although her expressions didn’t reveal her thoughts, these guests truly surprised her.

It was a handsome man with blond hair and amber eyes, an image that seemingly came out of a picture. If he was to go to the market, he would surely cause a lot of heads to turn.

The military uniform on his body was new and coupled with his fresh expression, it gave people a very clean and gallant impression.

Despite this, the gaze Fino used to glance at him was very cold.

From her perspective, the self-confident look that he had seemed strangely unpleasant.

Behind him were his subordinate knights.

Although they were also wearing military uniforms, but because their positions were different, the young man at the front wore a black uniform, the others wore a dark green one.

Within these people were also a few female knights.

The leading young knight swiftly bowed, and looked towards Ordoba and Fino.

“This is our first meeting. I am the Captain of the Royal Magic Knights 8th Squad, stationed at Lonbordo, Helmbekt·Sanelfowl ·Redafurio. I have come for a mission, it is a pleasure to meet you two.”

He said sincerely, with a tone full of pride that only those serving the royal would possess.

“Sanelfowl” was a middle name that only soldiers serving the “Nelfowl” royal family could have.

Fino and her adoptive father bowed to their guest.

Ordabo welcomed him in a deep voice.

“The journey must have been long. Welcome to our humble home. I am the mayor of the city, Ordoba·Misthound·Doriarudo. Speaking of which, after the journey you must be tired. I have prepared rooms for your knights, please relax and wash away your tiredness. We can do the greetings later——”

At this moment, Fino noticed that her adoptive father and the captain named Helmbekt exchanged glances.

She pretended not to notice, and used a tone befitting of an ojou-sama.

“Helmbekt-sama and fellow knights, please come this way, I shall lead the way.”

“Thank you very much, uhmm…”

“My apologies, I’m Firiano, Ordoba’s daughter.”

Fino greeted him like nothing happened, and Helmbekt only smiled while nodding his head.

“Being led by the ojou-sama is an honor. But I didn’t think you would have such a beautiful daughter… I had thought Ordaba-sama was single, so I’m a bit surprised.”

Ordabo smiled wryly.

“Actually she’s the daughter of my now deceased younger sister. I adopted her when she was little.”

Hearing this, Helmbekt raised his eyebrows.

His face showed as expression as if he “said something out of place”.

“That was very impolite of me. Please forgive me.”

“It’s okay, it’s a thing from the past.”

Fino couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.

Father’s and Helmbekt’s speech did not seem to answer each other fully.

There was no meaning in this string of speech. Although it was no different from formal speech, it made people feel uncomfortable.

More precisely, it was as if he already knew about Fino’s circumstances and only acted like he was sorry.

{What did these people come here for——}

This question obviously appeared in her mind.

“What business do you have here today?”

Fino asked as she walked in the front. Helmbekt replied with a gentle smile.

——She didn’t know why, but his smile made goosebumps appear all over Fino.

“For a part of the mission, we hope to secure the aid of the famous Ordoba-sama… This is our wish.”

Ordoba once against smiled wryly.

“What are you saying… I know my own limits. Fino, Helmbekt-sama has come to help me with research. The following few days, we will talk more in detail.”

When their gazes crossed, Ordoba and Helmbekt seemed to be trying to pry into each other’s true intentions.

Fino felt disgusted from the depth of her heart.

Secret negotiations and arrangements between sorcerers were very weird, she couldn’t help but dislike it. Adults often seemed to act like children even in the adult world.

Having arrived in front of the room, Helmbekt once against politely bowed and naturally grabbed Fino’s hand.

“Lady Fino, it has been a pleasure. See you later ——“

Before she reacted, Helmbekt had already lightly kissed the back of her hand.

A shiver went down Fino’s spine.

She returned a smile and instantly left the scene.

Fino tried to use her clothes to wipe her arms, but no matter what she did, the feeling didn’t disappear.

For a noble greeting, Helmbekt’s actions were not out of place. Even understanding this, Fino still felt a strong sense of disgust.

(Selo would never do something as revolting as this.)

She couldn’t help but think this.

Just as she was sighing, a female in military uniform walked towards her. She was one of Helmbekt’s guard knights.

A beautiful girl with blood red eyes and long black hair.

She was around Fino’s height, but her slim body made her look young. However, she may actually be the same age or younger than Fino.

The girl solemnly paid her respects towards Fino.

“Please take care of me in this period. I am the lieutenant Elsie. Due to security reasons, I wish to implore you to show me around the mansion——“

“I understand. Then… Kardena, I’ll be counting on you.”

Pushing the matter onto the maid, Fino quickly left the scene.

Although it was a short greeting, she didn’t know why she was so tired.

From her back, the female knight pointed towards the courtyard and started asking about the buildings other than the main mansion. The house Selo was living in was deeper into the forest, and couldn’t be seen from here.

(… Has Selo returned?)

Thinking about it, Fino naturally walked towards that direction.


1-4

In this world, there were no humans who can freely use magic ——

This was the harsh truth that all children knew and was common knowledge between all sorcerers.

Magic is only referring to special powers that were given to beings such as fairies.

What humans could do was only “craft magic tools” and “use magic tools”. Because of this, humans will pursue stronger and better performing “magic tools”.

Like its literal meaning, magic items were tools to direct magic. Even for sorcerers, they were unable to use their powers without magic items.

“Craft” magic tools and “use” magic tools were dependent on ability.

Excellent users were not necessarily excellent craftsmen.

On the contrary, excellent craftsmen were not always excellent users.

Only those who possessed both abilities could be named “sorcerers”, those who were more skilled in the “crafting” aspect were usually referred as “magic tool craftsmen”.

Everyone living in this world could use magic tools, but the ability varied from people to people.

However, “craftsmen” were rarer than those who could use magic items. Ability, experience, inspiration, determination, luck, and mana, these were all necessary components.

Selo’s grandfather Zerdonato was one of the magic tool craftsmen.

Although he wasn’t known throughout the world, he still created excellent magic items, because of this he was hired by Ordoba and became his private magic tool craftsman.

Within Ordoba’s mansion there were three magic tool craftsman, they would work in the workshop to create magic tools used for sales. Although their master Ordoba’s skill was nothing spectacular, he was a craftsman as well as a sorcerer.

Apprentice pharmacist Selo made his living by harvesting the herbs they needed.

Until the previous year, they had hired an elder pharmacist aside from Selo. But this pharmacist received news of his sick family and rushed home. Because of this, only Selo was left to inherit this job.

He had a slightly heavy responsibility. But until now, he was grateful that Ordoba-sama didn’t fire himself.

He was only an apprentice and not a true pharmacist, he had no value to be hired in the first place.

(If I could at least craft magic tools… Perhaps I may be of use to Ordoba-sama.)

He often thought like that.

Selo was the grandson of a magic tool craftsman, but he was unable to craft or use magic tools.

He couldn’t even use magic tools that beginners could use with ease such as the “Lighting branch” or “Lamp of the Night”. If it was used by Selo, they would be destroyed mysteriously.

He was often envious of the children that could use magic tools, and did a lot of pointless practice.

Finally, he understood the harsh fact of how “there were things that were impossible in the world”. Because of this, Selo followed his grandfather’s advice and walked down the path of becoming a pharmacist.

Having said farewell with Fino and Marill, Selo left the path and searched for herbs as he slowly walked towards the town.

Misthound was centred around Ordoba·Misthound·Doriarudo’s mansion that had the “Belfry of Beast Avoidance”.

The Belfry of Beast Avoidance raised the vigilance of wild beasts that went near the town, causing them to run back to the forest. The closer they got to the center, the more powerful the effect. Also, wild beasts larger in size were also more easily affected.

Having left the forest and returned to town, Selo gazed up at the towering belfry, letting out a sigh of relief.

Although the area near the fountain was within the effective area of the belfry, it still made people feel safer when they were at places where they could see the belfry directly.

From far away, it looked just like the belfry of a church, but it was actually situated at the Doriarudo’s mansion.

The bell itself wasn’t huge, and one would easily wrap both arms around it. But the belfry didn’t ring the bell.

Its effective area wasn’t a precise circle, rather it was dependent on the geographical shape. One needed to consider the place and geographical location of the belfry, and had to place it where it could affect a larger area.

But relying on a human’s instincts, it was very hard to predict the actual safezone.

At places where there were not gigantic wild beasts, the belfry was basically useless. But at the town of Misthound that was near a dense forest, people could not sleep at night if they didn’t have the Belfry of Beast Avoidance.

Selo slowly walked on the stone-paved road, using his time to check the amount of herbs he harvested.

First it was the seasonal crop wild strawberries, but it didn’t number that much. If he harvested too much, he would be robbing the children of their fun.

He also harvested some neolamprologus grass, the sweetness and texture of it when eaten was pretty good. Compared to herbs, this should be counted as a type of vegetable as well. It could also be used as fertilizer.

He also harvested two batches of vanilla that could be used as spice, or for making perfume. Additionally, it also had the miraculous property of easing joint pain. Selo had prepared this medicine for his grandfather Zerdonato.

Although he found a small patch of fairy blossom, he only memorized its location and didn’t harvest it. Because those fairy blossoms were still growing. It was likely that their number would have increased when the next spring comes. After all, this was a valuable herb that was beneficial to the liver.

Selo only harvested for a short while near the town, but he still managed to harvest plenty of herbs.

“Oh, Selo. Did you just return from harvesting herbs?”

The one who conversed with him was an old man living in a birdhouse. Underneath his bald head was a face of wrinkles that showed a pleasant smile.

The old man looked like he had returned from fishing by the lake, he was carrying a drenched basket that seemed very heavy.

“En, I went to the forest. Old man, you seemed to have gotten a good harvest from fishing.”

“It’s okay, it’s about the same as usual.”

The old man replied humbly and showed a happy expression. He took out three fish from the basket.

“Here, take it. It’s about time for dinner.”

“Wow, thanks! I’ll make salt grilled fish.”

Nowadays, Selo was living alone in the small wooden hut where he had stayed with his grandfather. It was made for the hired craftsman, so it was built within the courtyard of the Ordoba mansion, but he still had to take care of his own food and drinks.

Because of this, getting some gifted food made him happy from the bottom of his heart.

The old man patted Selo’s head.

“You do help me get medicine a lot. Oh yeah, are you not with ojou-sama today?”

“… En. Recently, I haven’t been spending much time with Fino-sama——“

He was about to feign ignorance with the old man, but was cut short.

“Lies. Just now you were swimming by the fountain. I didn’t bother you, you should feel grateful.”

Selo became anxious.

The old man silently laughed.

“Did the people at the mansion warn you? The director-sama is also quite strict in this area. An apprentice pharmacist and a noble ojou-sama becoming too close would cause headaches for people —— But that’s just for now. I won’t tell others, so don’t worry.”

Looking at the old man’s back as he was walking away, Selo lightly lowered his head.

There weren’t many adults as understanding as him within the town. Regardless of being adult or child, they were used to building a wall with the nobles.

Even if the noble Fino joined the children —— Selo still feel like nobles “were different people compared to himself”.

Selo took the fish he just received in his hand and walked towards the town center.

The scene in front of him was the same as normal.

The stone paved roads were surrounded with neatly lined brick buildings, the leisurely striding carriages and the protective trees nearby the road —— in a rural town, there was nothing special.

The town of Misthound wasn’t too prosperous, but they weren’t in poverty either. The population wasn’t too high and the south also had a large farmland.

The mountain was full of fruits and wild vegetables, aside from wild beasts there were also fishes in the river. Since the area didn’t allow for easy access to luxurious things, money didn’t have much use, so a relaxing atmosphere surrounded the town.

Beside the shop displaying the seasonal fruits was a dessert shop that the kids commonly visit. The young sorcerers used magic tools to make shaved ice, then added fruit and syrup on top, finishing the dessert for sales.

Since it wasn’t tea time yet, the shop didn’t have any customers.

“Yo, Selo. Have a portion.”

Someone called him, so Selo turned to look. The young sorcerer, who was responsible for settling children disputes from a few years ago, had a kind smile on his face. Having grown up, he inherited this dessert shop which also has an open area in the summer.

For children, his little shop was a good gathering location in this town lacking of entertainment.

“I didn’t bring any money, maybe next time.”

“I don’t have much business now. Since you live in the mansion, there isn’t too many things to spend your salary on anyways.”

The young sorcerer jokingly said, and started to put shaved ice into a container. A magic tool could be used to freeze water, but shaving the ice needed to be done by hand.

The youngster used a hand to spin the handle and waved towards Selo.

“Then take it as my treat. In exchange, I want to ask you something.”

Selo walked over.

Receiving the shaved ice in a cup, and poured some syrup from the shop onto it.

“What do you want to ask?”

The young man lowered his voice.

“There were some people that entered the Doriarudo home, what did they come for?”

“Ah, you must be talking about the guests. Although I don’t know who have come, but Fino said that there would be some important guests coming today.”

Apprentice pharmacist Selo didn’t know much of the details.

Selo used a bamboo spoon to place the cold and sweet ice into his mouth. The red syrup was of pomegranate taste, so it carried a hint of sourness.

The young man raised his eyebrows and then said in a even lowered voice.

“Hey… Those people were from the Royal Magic Knights. Did Ordoba-sama do anything wrong?”

Hearing the young man’s question, Selo blinked in surprise.

The Royal Magic Knights were chosen from the most capable of the sorcerers and knights that served royalty.

They were the guards of royalty, and acted for public order as well as banning of certain sorcerers. They were a step above normal knights and sorcerers, and were little in number.

Selo had only heard of them and never actually seen them.

“Royal Magic Knights… Did they come from the royal capital? “

Because Misthound was near the border, if they came over from the royal capital, the journey would have took a month.

Hearing this, the young man shook his head.

“No, they carried little. They should have been stationed near Lonbordo. There was around two carriages and thirty cavalry… Did you really hear nothing about this?”

Selo nodded.

Going to Lonbordo on foot took two days. It was a larger city within the area, and was an important fortress on the border since the ancient times.

“Fino didn’t seem to know much about it, and I wouldn’t know anymore. But they shouldn’t have come to capture or investigate Ordoba-sama, since Fino had said they were ‘guests’.”

“That’s good. I don’t like the type of people carrying swords everywhere. The people in town are also restless.”

The youth smiled wryly, and lightly patted Selo’s head.

Hearing him say that, Selo noticed that there were actually not much people on the streets. The citizens were probably scared of the cavalry and hid away in their homes.

“Be careful when you return. People like knights are violent. It’s better not to get involved with them.”

Selo nodded and handed him the empty cup.

On the way back to the mansion, he thought about a lot of things.

(Royal Magic Knights. What did they come here for…)

He was completely clueless on this. A few days ago, the servants started becoming very busy on something, but that was probably because the guests numbered many.

Or maybe they were treating this town as a middle stop and needed to go elsewhere afterwards.

Selo thought with a blank expression, and quickly returned to the Ordoba mansion.

The mansion covered a large area, within the courtyard was a vegetable garden. Selo would grow some harder to find plants at the corner of it.

There was a one called the Quat tree, a short tree that only increases its trunk radius and nothing else. In early summer, the tree will bear yellow fruits.

The fruit contained qualities that made it useful as an antidote, and its effects were apparent. But it was very sensitive and easily wilted, so it was hard to grow. Because of this, the fruit could sell for a very high price.

Selo had inherited the tree from the previous pharmacist. Today, the tree had also bore fruit, but maybe because the soil wasn’t right, or the method of growth wasn’t suitable, the condition of the tree’s growth was not ideal.

(Did I pour too much water… I think it might also be influenced by the atmosphere…)

Selo was feeling down as he felt that he wasn’t mature enough as a pharmacist and walked through the front gate.

In the courtyard before him was a large number of military horses. Just like the young man at the dessert shop had said, they numbered around thirty.

The cavalry acting as the sentry exchanged glances with him, but seeing Selo was only a child, he moved his eyesight elsewhere uninterestedly.

The maid of the mansion Kardeno immediately ran to Selo’s side.

Although she was a young maid, she was very experienced among the servants of the mansion, and was trusted by both Fino and Ordoba. She had always treated Selo kindly and would sometimes share some snacks with him.

The bundled hair shook lightly and blocked Selo’s path.

“Selo, did you see ojou-sama?”

Hearing her ask, Selo was surprised. Them going to the fountain was supposed to be a complete secret to the mansion.

Did they get found out? Have Fino not yet returned? These thoughts made him feel uneasy.

Kardena didn’t wait for Selo’s reply and continued.

“She returned once just now, but disappeared after greeting the guests… The director-sama told me to quickly find her, if you see her, please inform me.”

Kardena quickly finished her request and walked out of the gate to search in the town.

Seeing her leave —— Selo immediately walked towards his home in the mansion.

Selo’s home was more like a small hut in the mountains compared to a home. It was the wooden hut situated deep in the dense forest of the wide courtyard.

Returning to the hut, Selo tried to ask inside.

“Fino, did you come?”

No answer. But Selo had his suspicions.

He opened the door and walked inside.

The hut was already very old.

Compared to the other houses in the town, this one was much less spacious. The wooden walls were also quite worn down and had gaps everywhere.

The hut wasn’t big, but to Selo it was the home he was familiar with.

After entering, you could see a living room that was combined with the dining room and kitchen, on the left was the workshop for mixing herbs and medicines, and on the right was a small bedroom.

The workshop used to be where his grandfather crafted magic tools, but after he passed away, Selo started using the area.

At first glance, Fino was not in the room. Every time she sneaked here, she would most likely take the initiative to sit in the kitchen and start drinking tea.

Selo scratched his head and peaked inside the bedroom.

The sunlight was unable to reach the bed, the blanket was wrapped into a human shape. If you were to listen carefully, you would hear a faint breathing.

He suddenly lost all strength in his body.

“… Fino, get up quickly.”

Why did she sleep here? Her actions recently were quite incomprehensible.

The blanket on the bed started to move. Fino rubbed her eyes and appeared from within.

“En…? Selo?”

Selo nodded. It seemed like Fino wasn’t fully awake yet.

“Good morning, did you send Marill back?”

“… Ahhh, en. That side’s sorted.”

Acting like she was in her own room , Fino pointed towards the kitchen.

“Can you brew some red tea for me? I want a lighter taste.”

“Compared to that, why are you sleeping here?”

Selo asked as he followed Fino’s request, lighting the stove and started preparing to brew the red tea.

Fino sat up straight and stretched.

“… En. After swimming you would really want to sleep, right?”

“No, that’s not what I’m asking you about.”

Since you wanted to sleep, why didn’t you sleep in your own room. It should be more comfortable there. Fino didn’t have to come here just to take a nap.

“Miss Kardena is still trying to find you. Also, the guests you talked about were people from the magic knights? If you don’ get back quickly, wouldn’t you get in trouble?”

“It’s fine even if I’m not there. Father is with them.”

Fino replied and rubbed her hazy eyes.

The relationship between FIno and her adoptive father Ordoba wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t the same kind of trust between a biological father and daughter. Although she was thankful to him for raising her, she still maintained a distance in her heart.

“Then why are you sleeping here?”

Selo asked again, and smiled towards her.

“En, because I was wondering why Selo hasn’t returned, I decided to wait for you here. Then it was like I was cursed, so I wobbled towards the bed and fell asleep.”

“This isn’t something you can explain with just “fell asleep”. You aren’t a child anymore…”

Selo said helplessly to the girl older than him by two years. Although Fino looked like an adult, but these careless actions were still kind of dangerous.

Fino smiled shyly, then laid face-up on the bed.

“Isn’t that great. This bed has Selo’s smell, so it feels great. I’m tempted to exchange rooms with you.”

Fino bluntly said this kind of thing that would make people’s heart race.

Knowing that she was only teasing him, Selo only sighed.

“You’ve seen the knights? What were they like?”

It was now Fino’s time to sigh.

“… Er, squad captain Helmbekt was very young, but he felt disgusting ——he kept on staring at my chest and waist. He seemed like an idle guy…”

Fino rarely showed such blatant disgust for someone.

Hearing Fino say this, Selo looked at her.

On top of her chest was a necklace that Selo has given her before. This was a normal accessory that he had made with his grandfather, the design of it was very crude.

At the front of the necklace was a small spherical stone, but it didn’t look like anything valuable.

At Fino’s thin waist was a pouch holding Heavenly Wooden Horse and several other small magic tools.

“… Is Selo mindful of it?”

“Ah?”

Thinking that Fino noticed his gaze, Selo started worrying. But Fino was actually looking towards the ceiling.

“It is very weird. Why did the Royal Magic Knights come to this rural area —— Father didn’t do anything wrong…”

Fino showed an unrelieved and anxious expression, then lowered her voice.

Selo also felt a small sense of unease.

The Royal Magic Knights are definitely not a squadron that would move for negligible matters.

If Misthound was only a middle stop in their journey then it wasn’t a big deal, but if it was the destination, Selo was quite mindful about their goals.

“I heard them saying something about father’s research… But I feel like it isn’t that simple.”

Fino’s answer was quite ambiguous, maybe she didn’t notice it, but “I feel like” made it seem quite unreliable.

“If it’s not that simple, what else do they have to do?”

Hearing Selo’s question, she smiled wryly.

“I don’t know either. But it doesn’t concern us, and it doesn’t matter. Compared to that, Selo ——“

Her voice suddenly became sweeter.

This scared Selo a bit.

Maybe she wasn’t fully awake yet, Fino turned her passionate gaze towards Selo.

“… W-what is it?”

“Can I sleep here for a bit longer? I won’t disturb you…”

“No.”

Selo immediately replied.

He didn’t consider it from his perspective at the mansion, rather it was to save his own skin.

Just for a moment —— just a tiny moment, Fino’s eyes showed a dangerous colour.

Maybe she didn’t think that she would be rejected immediately, Fino’s expression turned sour and complained loudly.

“Yaa~! Why, you meanie!”

—— When she regained her composure, the calmer Selo slowly gave his reasoning.

“No, sleep in your own room. If Fino doesn’t appear even at dawn, the whole mansion would become rowdy. Furthermore, the red tea has already been brewed, you should hurry up and drink the tea.”

“Ah, en… Then I won’t hold back.”

Seemingly like she forgotten, Fino slowly sat up.

At the same time, the door of the hut was opened.

The surprised Selo turned his head and saw a face with a frown, the man with a warrior’s physique was standing right in front of him.

“…Father?”

Fino asked quietly.

The man standing there was undoubtedly Selo’s master —— Ordoba·Misthound·Doriarudo.


1-5

In front of his employer, master and savior Ordoba, Selo didn’t know what to say.

He alternated his gaze between Selo in the kitchen and Fino on the bed.

He wasn’t too surprised, but took a deep sigh.

This tame reaction made Selo feel scared.

Behind him was a youth that Selo didn’t know, dressed in a military uniform. From the looks of the uniform, Selo guessed that he was a member of the Magic Knights.

Fino nodded blankly at the two guests.

“… So you are here, Firiano.”

Ordoba deliberately asked with a lowered tone and a serious expression. The military clad youth let out a faint smile, but his smile seemed to be a mask that saw through everything.

In front of the confused Selo, Fino stood up, her face showed a sweet smile.

“Iyaa, if it isn’t Father and Helmbekt-sama —— what business do you have with Selo? I had a headache so I came for some medicine.”

Seeing her reply so calmly, Selo was quite surprised. The change in her expression was so fast that it made him feel a little scared.

Ordoba sighed deeply once more.

“… Go back to the mansion first. Helmbekt-san and I had something to discuss with Selo.

Walking through the door, Ordoba stood in front of Selo and glared at Fino.

Fino smiled calmly.

Selo couldn’t tolerate the tense atmosphere between the two. But if he was to speak up as an employee, it may actually anger Ordoba instead.

“En, I was planning to return, can I return with father? Before Selo and father finish discussing, I’ll just wait here.”

“Go back. It’s Helmbekt-san that has something to discuss.”

Ordoba’s voice was a bit stiff.

Fino was just about to argue, when Selo gave her a look.

She undoubtedly wanted to shelter Selo. But, Ordoba wasn’t an idiot, there was no easy way for her to trick him.

“Fino-sama, I don’t have any issues, please return quickly. Please only take this medicine when you have a headache.”

Selo took a pack of medicine from the shelf and gave it to Fino, pressing her to leave.

They passed by the young knight named Helmbekt and stopped in front of the door.

“But, Selo…”

Although FIno’s voice was low enough so that it was inaudible for Ordoba and Helmbekt, Selo still pretended that he couldn’t hear anything.

“Please rest for a while. If you have a fever, I’ll get some other medicine for you.”

Speaking like an employee, Selo lightly pushed her back.

Fino showed a face full of worry, but she still left helplessly.

During this, not a single word was spoken between Ordoba and Helmbekt in the living room.

Selo had already prepared to face the rage of his master as he returned to the room.

This situation was terrible. Even though nothing happened, the daughter was lying on a servant’s bed, his heart must be in turmoil.

“Ahh, Ordoba-sama ——“

Before he could explain or apologise —— Ordoba who was sitting on a chair had already deeply bowed his head.

Seeing this unexpected thing, Selo became nervous.

“Ahh, ahh! Ordoba-sama!?”

Hearing Selo’s voice become sharper, Ordoba used a bitter voice to reply.

“… I apologise for Fino troubling you again. That child has not yet develop the consciousness to be a ‘noble’, please forgive her.”

“Noo, I wouldn’t! This is a misunderstanding…”

The word “misunderstanding” came flying out of Selo’s mouth.

But Ordoba remained cool-headed and calmly continued.

“—— It’s okay, I didn’t misunderstand. When you came back, Fino had decided herself to take a nap here —— It’s just that right?”

Selo nodded, but didn’t utter a sound.

Ordoba leaned back onto the chair and raised an eyebrow.

“You’re so honest. I didn’t believe you would do anything to Fino. So I wasn’t going to reprimand you. The one in the wrong here is Fino, it seems like that child still doesn’t understand her own standings —— This is regretful.”

“Forgive her for such a small misconduct, Ordoba-sama.”

The knight behind Ordoba interrupted his complaints.

“Fino-sama is very kind, to her, the friendship with this youngster must be very important. She’s only sixteen, still a child.”

He nonchalantly said a few nice words for Fino and reached out a hand towards Selo.

012 “It seems to be a bit late for me to introduce myself. I am Helmbekt·Sanelfowl ·Redafurio —— the captain of the Royal Magic Knights 8th Squad. Please take care of me, Selo.”

“Ahh… Hello.”

They lightly shook their hands, Selo observed this young man named Helmbekt.

(This is the person Fino was talking about…?)

The knight that Fino displayed a strong sense of disgust towards seemed to be him.

But from Selo’s perspective, he didn’t feel any disgust. Actually, he showed a strange charm with his courteous attitude and handsome features.

Ordoba, who was deprived of his complaints by the guest, asked quietly.

“Selo, Helmbekt-sama is interested in the magic tools that your grandfather Zerdonato left behind. Could you let us see them?”

Hearing his master’s order, Selo was very surprised.

The magic tools that his grandfather left behind —— the ones that were made for selling had already been given to his master Ordoba.

The only magic tools that were left behind were an inheritance for Selo, he didn’t felt like it was anything special to show to the captain of the Magic Knights.

“Although we say it is an inheritance —— But, because I can’t use magic tools, and grandfather knew about this, he didn’t leave items worth seeing behind…”

Helmbekt revealed an amiable smile.

“No, don’t worry about such things. I’m only curious. In fact, I was lucky to see the “Hunting Hound of Mist” that Zerdonato-san had left behind, that was a splendid magic tool. That’s why I had a sudden spurt of interest for other magic tools. If you are willing, just showing them to me is fine.”

“Hunting Hound of Mist” was a magic item Zerdonato made under the instructions of his employer Ordoba.

“En… If it’s like that.”

Selo took the few remnants out of his workshop.

There was a cute bell, a straight wooden stick and —— a black stone that nobody could make sense of.

“There are only three here. “Bell of Beast Avoidance”, “ Snake’s Key”, and —— I don’t know its name, but it was a work in progress.”

The Bell of Beast Avoidance was a version of the “Belfry of Beast Avoidance” designed for a single person. Although it was a rather precious items for nobles embarking on a journey, for his grandfather, it was not a magic item within his area of expertise, thus he only made one for show, and never sold it.

To a pharmacist that always goes into the mountains, this was a very handy magic tool, but because Selo couldn’t use it, it was commonly left at home. From the size of it, it was just right to preserve it as a remnant.

The Snake’s Key is able to work with any locks, a special key that could change its shape. Of course, Selo couldn’t use it either.

The third item is the black stone, the purpose of it was unclear. It was about the size of a fist, it wasn’t shiny and was a rock as ugly as coal.

Helmbekt stared at the stone and lightly tilted his head.

“Bell and key —— other craftsmen can also make these items, so its not anything special… But what is this stone?”

Hearing his enquiry, Ordoba smiled wryly.

“About this magic tool, other people nor I have ever seen it before. Is it lacking something? It looks like coal, but its really hard.”

“I see, it makes people very interested——“

A smile surfaced on Helmbekt’s face —— this made Selo feel a shiver down his spine.

It made people seem endangered, but only for a moment. Soon the sense of incongruity was hidden once more.

The expression disappeared from Helmbekt’s face, and calmly asked Selo.

“Selo, if its possible, can I borrow this rock? I want to take it back to study it.”

Selo didn’t know how to reply.

If Ordoba had said “give it to me”, he had no reason to not comply. Being grandfather’s master, he owned any magic tools that was made on this piece of land.

Regarding the knight called Helmbekt, just after seeing his smile when they first met, Selo was willing to give him the magic item.

But after seeing the dangerous smile flash across his face a moment ago —— Selo felt uncomfortable with giving it to him.

“… I’m sorry. But this is grandfather’s remnant to me, so I try not to take it out of here.”

Selo suddenly voiced his reason and rejected Helmbekt’s request.

Ordoba, who was standing beside Helmbekt squinted.

“Selo, this can’t be said so casually. I’ll prepare a suitable reward…”

“No, it’s fine, Ordoba-sama.”

Helmbekt who wanted to borrow the item cut off Ordoba’s suggestion.

This surprised Selo.

“I won’t force Selo. Giving an important remnant of one’s grandfather to an unknown knight, this can’t be done so easily. I’ll give up this time.”

He replied in a gentleman-like manner and stood up from his seat.

Ordoba also stood up and stared at Selo.

“I’m sorry to bother you. Also, there’s another thing I want to tell you ——“

His prideful eyes seemed to contain a slight gloominess.

“If you were truly thinking about Fino —— I hope you would keep a distance from my daughter.”

—— Selo didn’t reply.

Ordoba’s request was reasonable, but because it was so, Selo didn’t didn’t say anything.

Ordoba continued like he didn’t care about his reply.

“You’re smart so you should understand. Fino is the daughter of Doriarudo. Judging from her talent, she’ll marry into a good family. Some people believe she can become the concubine of the royal household… But considering that she is still sixteen years old, we can take our time before making a decision. But one day she would marry into a family far above the Doriarudo family. If you wish the best for her, then for Fino, keep your distance from her.”

Ordoba finished and followed Helmbekt out of the hut.

Before the door closed, he turned around to face Selo.

“Ahh, yes. Selo, the tobacco is nearly finished. Please replenish some.”

Taking this chance to order him for work, Ordoba left.

Selo, who was left alone, sat onto the chair disheartenedly.

He was only a hired apprentice pharmacist right now.

This reality made him feel a bit lonely. But it was also a reality he couldn’t do anything about.

From a young age, he already knew that he and Fino stood at different places.

They couldn’t continue to be friends forever. Fino had a future as a noble, and Selo had a life as a pharmacist.

They would surely traverse onto different paths in the future and would never cross paths again.

Having calmed down, Selo surveyed the room, and found what she left in the bedroom.

Maybe it was in the way when she was sleeping, the shawl she was wearing had been rolled up into a ball, and hidden under the mattress.

—— The possibility of her intentionally leaving it here, just so she can come back again couldn’t be denied.

(Keep your distance ——)

Fino clearly didn’t plan to do so.

This made Selo very troubled. He always treated Fino like he used to, but starting from now, maybe he needed to be more mindful.

From the warm bed, Selo picked up Fino’s shawl.

He had to give it to the servants in the mansion before Fino comes here herself.

Also, his master Ordoba had just ordered him to replenish the tobacco, so he had to go into the mountains to collect the ingredients.

He’ll return the shawl to the mansion on the way out. Selo started preparing to go into the mountains.



References

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