Category Archives: Rinkan no Madoushi

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Update on Project Gender Bender

[Vol 1] Color Illustrations



 

The ojou-sama of Doriarudo: Fino

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

 

Apprentice Pharmacist: Selo

“Hurray, the flowers have bloomed splendidly.”

Small particles of light from the petals finally begun to raise into the night’s sky ——

 

Captain of the Royal Magic Knights 8th Squad: Helmbekt

“It is ‘you’ the girl has her eyes on.”

“Why me? I’m just a common apprentice pharmacist…”

 



[Vol 1] Chapter 5 – Dark Words



Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

5-1

At the town centre——

Exactly one hour after Alcain and Helmbekt talked, an alarm rung through Ordoba’s mansion.

Helmbekt, who had increased security beforehand, didn’t feel a sense of unease when he heard this.

This was the human-sensing magic tool that was installed everywhere in the mansion “Airmuse’s Alarm” —— it was a magic tool that one of his subordinate was proficient with. It was able to tell the installer the precise position and situation of the visitor.

“Alcain is here——!”

Helmbekt smiled joyfully, and asked his subordinate that was controlling the alarm.

“Where did he appear? The back door?”

A middle-aged knight revealed a wry smile. He was older than Helmbekt, but did not “Magic-fy”. If this mission was completed successfully, he will be able to receive the “baptism”.

“No, from the front door. It is like Helmbekt had said.”

Alcain would boldly walk in through the front door —— This was what Helmbekt predicted.

Perhaps happy due to guessing it right, Helmbekt walked out of the room.

The suppression of Ordoba’s mansion had finished. The master Ordoba was treated as a hostage, the other servants were shut in rooms, right now he only left Selo at his side, to act as a shield against Alcain. A rope was tied on Selo’s mouth, so he was unable to speak.

Lieutenant Elsie lightly said as she carried Selo.

“This is good, Selo. Alcain arrived within the agreed hour. This meant that no innocent people need to die.”

Ignoring Elsie’s soft words, Selo looked up and gazed at Helmbekt angrily.

From his expression —— He has already planned to kill everyone in the mansion, after defeating Alcain.

Helmbekt became even more happy, after seeing Selo’s hateful gaze.

Elsie had said, she wanted to present Selo to her master Lunastia.

She didn’t seem to do this to flatter. Elsie didn’t care about fame and glory. She seemed to only obey the orders of her master that loved youths, and only thought of handing Selo over to complete her mission.

(So weird…)

Helmbekt thought this. Although he swore loyalty to his superior Lunastia, but that wasn’t from his heart. One day he would climb to an equal position as Lunastia, even above her —— That was his ambition.

Lunastia should have vaguely sensed his ambition, that was why she allowed Elsie the role of “monitoring” him.

(… She needn’t worry, the current I will honestly obey. Only when I can use more powerful magic tools, will I continue climbing ——)

Helmbekt had a clear understanding of his powers. Although large ambitions and desires were weapons, but realistically speaking the powers he possessed were far below that of the Magic Race leaders that were led by Lunastia.

The origination of his middle name “Souleater” —— was the “Soul Eating Ring”, a magic item that Helmbekt treated as his main weapon.

This allowed him to steal his opponent’s life force or mana, turning it into his food —— In other words, it was a weapon that could consume sorcerers. Helmbekt’s power also increased the effects of the magic tool by a lot.

Originally it was a magic tool used to temporarily absorb a small amount of the target’s mana, but in the hands of the Magic Race, it became a powerful magic tool that could instantly take lives.

However, with just that weapon, they were no match for the Alcain back then.

Now he possessed the “Protector of the Earthen Veins”, a magic tool stolen from the royal family.

After getting used to using “Misthound” that was taken from Ordoba, it will also become a very useful weapon.

Clearly feeling his own powers growing, Helmbekt’s body started to tremble.

Before getting rid of the cat, he couldn’t afford to be careless. But, he would be able to fulfill this wish tonight.

Helmbekt walked to the courtyard, the black cat was already standing there unmovingly.

The subordinate knights surrounded him from afar.

Before ensuring that the “Ring of Backflow” was safe, they couldn’t make a move yet.

The black cloaked cat gazed over at Helmbekt solemnly from underneath its hat.

“Hello, Helmbekt —— Like we promised, I arrived within an hour.”

Although Alcain’s voice was bright, animosity could be heard from it.

“You have my admiration. I was originally worried if a cat would get here on time.”

Helmbekt said casually, but he started feeling anxious.

To deal with this cat, Alcain, he definitely couldn’t afford to be careless.

Alcain once used powerful magic and brought Helmbekt and his companions to the brink of annihilation. That memory was like a nightmare, causing Helmbekt to feel disgusted even when he sees a normal cat.

But, Alcain had already lost the magic tool that gave him such an immense power.

When a certain member of the Magic Race was fighting against him, that magic tool was successfully stolen —— That was the report Helmbekt received.

Although Alcain escaped, but no matter how excellent the sorcerer is, if there isn’t a “suitable” magic tool to use the power, they were equivalent to trash. Of course, this applied to the Magic Race as well.

Alcain may have gotten hold of a new powerful magic tool, but if this was real, then the troublesome exchange an hour ago wouldn’t have happened.

Alcain was clearly “buying time” then. He should have be weakened to the point that he could not fight against Helmbekt, and could only wait for his companions.

Recognizing the situation, Helmbekt solemnly spoke.

“Okay, hand over the “Ring of Backflow”.”

“I hope you can release Selo first. Or, did you already take everyone in the mansion, or everyone in town, hostage?”

Alcain took the silver bracelet in his hands and fluttered his cloak.

A small black bird appeared from within the cloak, and it stopped on Helmbekt’s arm.

Following that, Alcain placed the bracelet on the bird’s neck.

“If you do anything weird, I’ll let this little bird run away——“

Hearing Alcain’s threat, Helmbekt signaled to Elsie to put Selo down onto the floor with his eyes.

Elsie complied. She knew that letting Selo go was only temporary.

“Selo, are you alright?”

Alcain asked softly, and Selo, who was on the floor, struggled to raise his chin.

He seemed to be saying “run away”, but was unable to due to the foreign object in his mouth.

Alcain walked over, and used the pastry knife to cut through the ropes binding Selo’s limbs.

Helmbekt watched the exchange silently.

His subordinates had already surrounded the area, Helmbekt also held the “Protector of the Earthen Veins” in his hands.

Now, he just need to get hold of the “Ring of Backflow” from Alcain, before attacking them.

Having the ropes released, Selo used his hands to take out the foreign object in his mouth and lowered his head towards Alcain.

“Alcain, I’m sorry…! I dragged you into this ——“

“It’s okay. I have to settle the score with Helmbekt sooner or later. Furthermore —— this wasn’t your mistakes, the sorcerers of the Fandal faction including your grandfather may have been too careless.

Even in this situation, Alcain’s voice was still very calm.

Helmbekt, who was watching from the sides, felt a sense of unease.

“I’ve already returned Selo to you. Hand over the “Ring of Backflow” quickly ——“

“This? Of course I’ll give it to you —— After Selo escapes.”

Alcain lightly said. After that, a young girl jumped out from the small backpack on his back.

The sudden development caused Helmbekt to be speechless. There shouldn’t have been any space to hide someone within the bag the little cat was carrying.

(Is the bag a spatial increasing type magic tool!)

The girl had already grabbed Selo’s arm when he had noticed.

“Fino!?”

Selo exclaimed surprisedly.

“Selo, this is good! Hold on to me!”

Fino revealed a sweet smile that she would never show in front of Helmbekt, and hugged Selo tightly.

“W-Why did Fino appear from that kind of place…!”

Without letting go of the surprised Selo, Fino placed down the “Celestial Wooden Horse” in her hands.

“Awaken!”

The wooden horse reacted to Fino’s voice, and released a pale light, gradually increasing in size.

After pretty much pulling Selo onto the wooden horse, Fino reached out towards Alcain.

“Alcain! Quickly!”

The black cat used Fino’s hands and jumped onto the head of the Celestial Wooden Horse. At this moment, Helmbekt revealed a smile.

As if having lost his initiative, Helmbekt ordered.

“Don’t let them leave! Surround them!”

Alcain smiled.

“I won’t run. But, I have to ensure their safety first.”

Alcain swung the pastry knife like a sword, and he pointed towards the opposite direction towards Helmbekt.

The “Celestial Wooden Horse” under Fino’s control glided with full momentum. Its wind-like movements were faster than a real horse. Furthermore, it could do so without moving its joints while floating, this allowed it to glide without slowing down at all.

As if playing around with the knights that wanted to capture them, the wooden horse glided towards the areas with less knights.

However, despite all this, they were still unable to breakthrough the solid encirclement.

There were three knights blocking the wooden horse. Their steps were as powerful as a horse, and was comparable to the Celestial Wooden Horse. At the same time, there were also five knights that were approaching with the same speed.

The “Military Boots of the Steed” that they wore were very expensive, it wasn’t given out to everyone. The utilization of this type of magic tool was very difficult, and those who were unproficient would trip, but the knights had already been trained and overcame this weakness.

The knight standing in front was wielding a sword cladded with flames, while the other two raised short bows from his flanks.

Even with the hidden support of Fino and the Celestial Wooden Horse, the enemy’s formation still made escaping difficult.

“Everyone surround them!”

Helmbekt’s fierce order resounded in the garden of the mansion in the dead of the night.



References

  1. N/a

[Vol 1] Chapter 4 – Hunting Hound of Mists



4-1

When it was nearly dusk, Fino finally opened her eyes.

After she got up, the nightmare had provoked a sense of disgust.

(… Such a scary dream.)

Fino pouted and let out a long sigh.

In her dreams, Selo was attacked by wild beasts, fell down a cliff, then swallowed by the darkness.

Fino reached out her hand, but wasn’t in time to catch him. She could only helplessly watch Selo fall.

The temperature wasn’t hot, but she was covered in sweat.

“… Did Selo return?”

Using a tired voice to mutter to herself, Fino quickly got dressed and left the room.

Kardena was waiting in the corridor.

“Ojou-sama, you have awakened?”

“En… Selo?”

Seeing the expression on Kardena’s face, Fino could immediately predict her answer. But, she still asked.

The young maid had a sullen expression and shook her head.

“Still haven’t returned. The knights haven’t contacted us either.”

“Is that so…”

Fino helplessly murmured, and wobbly paced around in the corridor.

“Ojou-sama, where are you going——?“

“I’ve rested enough, so I’m going to find him.”

Fino said like it was a matter of fact, but Kardena still hurriedly grabbed her arm.

“Please don’t go out. The sun is already setting.”

“… What are you saying, Kardena?”

Fino replied with a sweet —— an incomparable sweet smile.

Kardena’s expression stiffened. Seeing the lack of smile in Fino’s eyes, she couldn’t help but feel terror.

Fino uncaringly used her rotten expression to stare at Kardena.

“You really want to let my Selo stay in the mountain alone tonight again? If you want to stop me, even you——“

“P-please calm down a bit! I’m in the same boat as ojou-sama!”

Noticing the terrified Kardena, Fino finally awoke.

“S-sorry! I was still sleepy ——“

—— She accidentally revealed her true self.

Fino tried to hide it using a guilty and naughty smile, and grabbed Kardena’s hand.

“Isn’t this great? Since this is an emergency situation, only tonight…”

“I won’t let you go out.”

Perhaps he heard their conversation, Ordoba walked out from the library.

He glared down at Fino, his solemn expression slightly twisted.

“Fino, leave Selo to the knights. Today at noon, Helmbekt-san and I talked over it, Selo might have left you by choice——”

Hearing this, Fino’s eyes opened wide.

In the morning, her adoptive father had also stated this possibility, now she finally understand the “basis” he made this judgement on.

Fino seemed to forget to blink, and used doll-like eyes to stare at her adoptive father.

“… Father, did you say something to Selo?”

Standing at the side, Kardena’s shoulders trembled.

Ordoba had not yet noticed Fino’s change.

Since they were not blood related father and daughter, the two rarely conversed. It was precisely because of this, he had never noticed Fino’s true demeanours.

Ordoba sighed, and once against said words that stimulated Fino.

“I advised him —— to maintain a distance from you. Although I didn’t tell him to leave, but Selo is a smart child. He definitely…”

“—— Unforgivable.”

A black substance within her body started to surface.

Fino gave into that magic creature, and stared at her adoptive father.

“Why did you say that to my Selo? Father ——“

Ordoba knitted his eyebrows.

He finally noticed his daughter’s aura —— No, it’s more accurate to say craziness.

Ordoba raised his hands in confusion, his vision started to shake.

“… Calm down, Fino.”

Fino silently nodded.

“En, I’m very calm. Because I have properly controlled the impulse of immediately chopping father to death. I am already so calm, but why does father have to say such things?”

Fino revealed a smile without her “killing intent” hidden.

Seeing that terrifying smile, Ordoba couldn’t help but feel a shiver creep through his heart.

He moved his sight towards the equally scared Kardena, seeing the maid’s knees tremble as she looked towards the floor, he took several steps back.

“Wait… Wait a moment. This isn’t certain yet. It is only my prediction, he might just be lost.”

Ordoba who tried to explain himself in a flurry clearly contrasted what he said previously, Fino replied with only a calm and quiet voice.

“If it was because father had something, causing my Selo to get into an accident —— I won’t forgive father. Where is Selo?”

Cold sweat begun to surface on Ordoba’s forehead. Fino’s eyes stared at him without blinking, as if seeing through his lies.

Her eyes —— The eyes containing the “Seed of Ortaff” that Fandal had brought, caused Fino’s aura of craziness to become even more wild.

Ordoba reached his hands into the pouch that contains a protective magic tool and took several steps back, putting more distance between him and Fino.

“I, I really don’t know —— Really, how would I know! I only said ‘it might be so’, and it was never proven. I also want to know why Selo had disappeared.”

Seeing the fazed Ordoba —— Fino returned a soft yet wicked smile.

“… Father is so weird. There was no need to be so nervous —— It’ll be fine, I’ll find Selo. Then, see you later.”

“Ah… Ahhhh.”

Fino politely curtsied, then turned her back towards Ordoba.

The maid Kardena stood at the side with a pale expression.

Fino smiled towards her, but her body violently shook, and her teeth clattered.

“Kardena, what is it? Are you actually worried about Selo too?”

“Ah, no… no no! Yes, yes ——“

Hearing her weird reply, Fino smiled sweetly.

“Calm down, Kardena. I don’t get your position if you speak like that. Then I’m off.”

There was no one left to stop Fino.

She took several absentminded steps out of the door and took out the Celestial Wooden Horse.

Fino injected mana into the black wooden horse.

The wooden horse named Liquorice was gifted to her at a young age by Selo’s grandfather Zerdonato. She used to ride it often with Selo, despite how it was originally a magic tool for a single person to ride, lately the chances for it got less and less.

Fino prayed that the wooden horse could take her to Selo’s side, and let out a painful sigh.

The wooden horse glided across the courtyard.

The sun gradually settled, and the dark night started to descend.


4-2

The adoptive father Ordoba that was left behind by Fino wiped the sweats, and gazed to the figure of his leaving daughter.

The maid Kardena didn’t say anything, and only stood stiffly in place.

(That kind of Ojou-sama… It was my first time seeing it…)

Kardena’s shoulders shivered unstoppingly.

Seeing the normally naïve Fino, no one could have imagined her showing such an attitude just now.

Kardena treated Fino kind of like a younger sister. Compared to other servants, Fino was also closer to Kardena, who was of a similar age.

Despite so, she turned into a completely different person when it concerned Selo. Kardena also knew that Fino and Selo’s relationship was great, but the current problem didn’t merely stop at that level —— Fino clearly held excessive feelings for Selo.

Ordoba was also very troubled.

He took a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders.

“… Kardena, can I ask you something?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Did —— Did I make a fatal mistake?”

Kardena couldn’t understand the meaning behind this question.

“I am very sorry. I don’t understand what you mean ——“

“… No, it’s fine. I should have separated Fino and Selo earlier. Did the kindness I showed to Selo due to Zerdonato get wasted?”

Ordoba tiredly pressed the corners of his eyes and prepared to return to the library.

At this moment, the Knight squadron leader Helmbekt that went searching for Selo appeared.

Despite having gone out for so long, he didn’t look tired at all. He walked to Ordoba’s side.

Fino showed complete disgust for this youth commander cladded in military uniform.

To Kardena, she didn’t understand the reason for Fino’s disgust for him. Helmbekt’s attitude didn’t seem weird at all.

“Ordoba-sama, did something happen?”

“Ahh, Helmbekt-san. Aii, Firiano went to search for Selo again. That child was completely ignorant of her status as nobility. Perhaps it’s because she grew up in the countryside, I don’t know how to handle her.

Helmbekt nodded in pity.

“Is that so —— Firiano-sama is the proactive type. I had planned to have a chat with her after tonight’s dinner. What a shame. But, Ordoba-sama had raised her by yourself, it must have been tiresome right?”

Helmbekt said with a hint of regret, and comforted Ordoba.

Ordoba smiled towards the youth commander cladded in military uniform embarrassedly.

“No, it wasn’t too bad —— Compared to this, Helmbekt-san, thank you for your hard work. About Selo ——“

Hearing Ordoba’s question, Helmbekt returned to his calm expression.

“Yes. We didn’t find him. There were some weird blood traces underneath the cliff, but that might have been left behind by wild beasts, and we didn’t find any of his belongings either —— So, I will continue searching with my subordinates tomorrow.”

Kardena felt something indescribable from his words.

She had thought that he was worried about Selo, but his voice sounded hesitant, it didn’t feel blunt enough.

“Did you find something? No matter how trivial, is there anything you can tell ojou-sama?”

Kardena couldn’t help but ask, thus Helmbekt turned towards her.

“It is regrettable, but there is nothing right now. You are Kardena-san right? How is Firiano-sama?”

Kardna silently shook her head.

Helmbekt seemed to have guessed the current situation from her actions, his expression showing immense pain as he pressed the area between his brows. The fluent actions of this youth seemed like a painting.

Ordoba spoke to the youth seriously.

“Ah yes, Helmbekt-san —— the matter regarding ‘letting Fino become a royalty’s mistress’ from a few days back ——“

“En, I can suggest it to my boss, but it will take a little time…”

“No, about that, I hope you can give me some time to think it over. That child, how to put it —— is very dangerous.”

Kardena let out a sigh in her heart as she heard their conversation.

Fino probably doesn’t know that she will become the mistress of the royal family, but the news had already spread between the servants. This wasn’t impossible with Fino’s looks, and Ordoba also had his ambitions.

Compared to being the mayor of a rural town, he preferred to work in research agencies, and research magic tools in a comfortable environment.

That’s why, he wanted to use Fino to take the first step —— But, seeing Fino’s attitude just now, it was only natural for Ordoba to give up this idea.

Becoming the mistress of the royal family, this should be an honor for Fino, any normal noble maiden would jump at this ‘rare opportunity’ —— But, judging from Fino’s attitude just now, Ordoba could only relinquish his well-thought-out plan.

If she did something like ‘kill’ a member of the royal family, then as her adoptive father, Ordoba could not escape punishment.

Ordoba seemed to be scared from the depths of his heart, his face turned pale.

Helmbekt watched his expressions from the side.

“… Is that so. Although this is slightly rude, but you are currently unsure of how to handle your daughter right. Then how about this, Ordoba-sama? May I have a chat with Firiano-sama?”

“With Helmbekt-san…? No, but ——“

Kardena, who couldn’t watch any longer, interrupted.

“Ehh, I’m very sorry —— Ojou-sama is very confused right now, please do not disturb her, it would be better to allow herself to calm down——“

Hearing Kardena’s advice, Ordoba also nodded.

Originally when their master were conversing, servants should not interrupt, but the current him would not scold her. After all, Kardena also tasted Fino’s dark side.

“Yes. Helmbekt-san, I’m very sorry. I’ll leave Fino to Kardena for now. She has served Fino for a long time, so she understands Fino’s thoughts quite well…”

She had thought Helmbekt would give up after hearing Ordoba’s words, but he unexpectedly continued.

“Then let Elsie chat with her. That girl is around Fino-sama’s age, and is a thoughtful knight. She can also serve as Fino-sama’s guard.”

Kardena had seen lieutenant knight Elsie. When they arrived the previous day, Kardena had took her around the mansion under Fino’s orders.

Although she was a bit cold, the girl was very frank, she should have a lot of talent as a member of the military. Furthermore, her age was younger than Kardena no matter how you looked at it.

(The lieutenant of the Magic Knight Squadron is such a young girl…)

Kardena couldn’t help but have these thoughts.

Ordoba murmured hesitantly.

“Yes —— But, Fino has already left. This can wait until after dinner.”

“Okay. Then I’ll see you in a moment.”

Helmbekt casually left.

Towards her master deep in thought, she timidly asked.

“That, director-sama —— Did those knights of the Magic Knight Squadron come to aid you in your research?”

Ordoba nodded.

“En. Also about Selo, but there has been no progress about that —— Why?”

“Actually, there has been rumours between us servants about what kind of research it is.

Kardena thought she would be scolded harshly by Ordoba, she didn’t expect him to just sigh.

“I don’t have anything to hide. They seem to be very interested in my thesis which was published in the royal capital last year. I summarized the successful progress to restore ancient magic tools, but the restoration process was all Zerdonato’s doing. They probably wanted to see the now deceased Zerdonato.”

Selo’s grandfather —— Magic tool craftsman Zerdonato had passed away three years ago.

Kardena also attended his funeral. Although they served the same master, they had nearly no communications.

That old man Zerdonato always stayed in his workshop, aside from the young Selo and Fino, as well as his master Ordoba, not many people had the chance to talk with him.

Ordoba seems to hold his techniques in high regards.

Although there were a lot of differences with Fino, who is in her prime, Ordoba was very honest for a noble, and did not have many unreasonable requests for his servants, he is a very reliable master.

The old Zerdonato also seemed thankful for Ordoba’s shelter, aside from being in a master and servant relationship, they could also be said as research partners.

Ordoba hugged his thick arms and squinted his eyes.

“… But, I’m not certain if the knights’ goal is actually the results of that thesis —— They seemed to have other things to take care of. It seems like there is a need to have a good talk with them these two days.”

Ordoba said to himself, and walked back into the library.

Kardena, who was left alone in the spot, fell into deep thoughts.

However, there was nothing she could do as a servant. She only knew that it would be unsettling to leave Fino alone.

Although she couldn’t catch up to Fino who was riding on the flying Celestial Wooden Horse, the next time she comes back, Kardena ought to be more concerned about her thoughts.”

“…Where did Selo go… It would be great if ojou-sama finds him.”

Just as Kardena finished muttering to herself, her body shook violently.

If Selo is already dead, and Fino found him——

Then, Fino would likely break.

Kardena prayed for the two’s safety as a servant, and returned to finish her work in the mansion.


4-3

After sunset, Selo wasted some time before he finally began to move towards the town from the forest.

There was not a person in sight in the town at dusk.

The town of Misthound was on the border, and as soon as night falls, there wouldn’t even be a shadow. There was even less worry of bumping into someone in an alleyway.

Selo prayed that he wouldn’t be seen as he quickly ran towards the location of the secret passage.

There is a church near the mansion courtyard —— The tunnel hidden underneath the floorboards was a shortcut that led to the Doriarudo house.

There was no one living in the church, only during wedding ceremonies or funerals would the inhabitants come.

There was barely anyone who knew of this passage’s existence now. Although people knew that there was an underground space underneath the church, they seemed to assume that it was just a normal underground storeroom.

Without important incidents, no one would deliberately come to this dark and filthy place.

Selo tried to quieten his footsteps, and walked into the ancient church.

After passing through the large door inside the church, there was a staircase that led to the second floor.

Underneath the staircase was a storeroom, and it also served as the exit for the secret passage of the mansion.

Originally it was an exit for the Lord to run away when riots happened.

Selo lifted the floorboards, and opened the pitch dark exit, the air that was moist underground touched his cheek.

(This probably had never been used as an escape passage…)

He wasn’t too familiar with the history of Misthound, but he at least knew that since this mansion was built, there has never been any large scale riots.

And Ordoba only lived in the mansion after receiving the orders to move here, he shouldn’t have noticed the existence of this passage.

Although its original purpose was completely neglected, to Selo, this passage was filled with memories.

There was no time to carry a lantern.

The inside was only a straight narrow path, there was no worry of getting lost, so Selo started moving forwards as he used his hands to probe around.

When he was younger, he often used this passage with Fino to go out of the town.

The security of the mansion had always been tight, so they could not easily escape through the main gate. Thus under the influence of the adventurous nature of children, the two used this passage.

Sometimes he held her hand in the darkness, sometimes his hand was held by her. Selo still remembered that intense heartbeat he had at that time.

The last time this was used, when was it ——

Within the pitch dark tunnel where he couldn’t even see his own fingers.

Selo used one hand to support himself on the stone wall as he continued walking while reminiscing about the past.

(… Ah, it was after grandfather passed away.)

Several days after Zerdonato’s funeral. Fino used this passage, and took Selo out to the church.

It wasn’t because she had something to say.

Fino only stood by him, and tightly embraced the depressed Selo to comfort him.

After losing his grandfather, his only family, Selo only overcame that intense loneliness due to Fino.

After that, three years had already passed.

Both of them grew taller, and Fino’s status as a noble lady also became more apparent.

Ordoba had scolded him, and Fino also knew, one day the distance between them will be pulled apart. Thinking to this point, his determination to see her started to waver.

(… But, Fino really liked to worry.)

He didn’t want her to show a miserable expression, and so, hid without doing anything. He could also imagine Fino’s current state of not even wanting to eat.

After walking in the dark passage for a while, he finally neared the exit.

This hidden passage was connected to the underground storage in the mansion.

After opening the door, Selo’s cheek could feel the fresh air that was different from the sullen underground.

There were naturally no lights in the storage. Selo used his hands to trace the wall as he walked towards the exit.

Passing through the organized ingredients, wine barrels, etc, Selo climbed up the stairs. The moonlight leaked in through the gap in the door at the end of the staircase.

Selo poked his head out to check if anyone was outside.

It was the time where everyone should be sleeping, Fino should be in her bedroom.

Her room is on the second floor.

Selo tried to eliminate the sound of his footsteps as much as possible and walked up the stairs, arriving in front of Fino’s room. The mattress on the floor absorbed the sound of his footsteps.

He had thought the knights would be on guard everywhere, but there was no sign of them here.

“—— Fino, are you there?”

Selo used an almost inaudible voice to ask, as he turned the doorknob.

It wasn’t locked.

The mansion was completely silent, and it made the creaking sound that came with the opening of the door a little scary.

As the door opened, Selo smelled Fino’s scent.

There was a clear scent of sweetness, with a hint of sourness. The smell in this room shocked Selo. He hadn’t entered Fino’s room often even when they were younger.

“… Fino.”

Selo called quietly and approached the side of the bed.

There were no problems thus far. No one discovered him in the mansion. As long as he took her away, that would guarantee her safety temporarily. Although Selo was also worried about Ordoba and the others, he was the most worried about Fino.

Since the window was closed, the room was almost pitch dark. On the dark bed, the blanket had been wrapped into the shape of a human.

Just when Selo reached out his hand, and was about to shake her shoulders——

He realized something was off.

—— There was a scent mixed in that did not belong to Fino.

When he retraced his hand in surprise, a gust of wind blew past his eyes.

The figure lying on the bed sat up, and pierced the edge of the “scythe” towards Selo.

At the same moment, the closed door was suddenly opened and Selo froze in shock as he turned around to look.

“… That scared me. I didn’t think you were really still alive.”

Standing outside the door was Helmbekt of the “Magic Race”, who smiled as he observed Selo.

Then, the female knight Elsie got up from the bed and pressed the ice-cold blade on Selo’s neck.

She wasn’t wearing a military uniform, instead she was wearing the same black costume that she wore the previous night when she attacked Selo. Her appearance reminded him of a beautiful devil or shinigami.

As if being stared at by a carnivorous beast, Selo didn’t even flinch.

“Why… Fino, where is Fino——?”

Selo asked in a confused manner, causing Helmbekt to snicker.

“It’s truly awful to have missed her by just a hair length. She left to find you. She probably won’t return until morning. I had Elsie wait here to talk with her —— But, this was only one of the reasons. It was because I was thinking that you might return.”

Selo bit his lips. He had thought Fino would definitely be in her room at night, it seems like he predicted Fino’s actions wrongly.

“… How did you know… That I was still alive?’

Helmbekt smiled wryly. His smile was very rational, without a hint of honesty.

“I had no solid proof. This morning, we searched underneath the cliff, and although we saw blood, the most important thing which is a corpse, was missing. There wasn’t even any pieces of personal belongings or clothes. The blood was also faked right?”

It must have been his savior, Alcain’s doing.

“I thought your corpse must have been taken away by wild beasts, but there was also the possibility of you hiding some sort of magic tool —— Most importantly, you are that Zerdonato-san’s grandson, falling down that easily, this made me vigilant.”

Helmbekt’s evaluation of Selo was clearly too high. If Alcain hadn’t saved him, Selo would have definitely turned into a corpse lying underneath the cliff.

“But, your luck seems to be bad. If you escaped, then you wouldn’t need to die. What a shame.”

Helmbekt sighed deliberately, and the tip of the scythe also trembled.

“—— Should we take care of him here?”

With waving black hair, Elsie asked coldly.

(I will definitely be killed this time ——)

In front of the frightened Selo, Helmbekt slowly shook his head.

“Wait a moment. From the perspective of cleaning up afterwards, it would not be wise to leave any blood traces in the room. Also Selo, can you tell me how you were saved?”

Helmbekt’s reply clearly contained a mocking tone, at the same time it also contained some authority behind it.

Being terrified was only natural in this kind of situation, but Selo angrily stared at Helmbekt.

He had almost never disliked anyone before, but concerning the young knight in front of him, Selo felt the same sort of disgust as Fino had.

Helmbekt didn’t mind his stare.

“Are you so scared that you can’t speak? Falling from that height, how were you saved? In other words, you must be hiding some sort of magic tool —— It really piques my interest.

(… Oh yeah, Alcain gave me a charm ——)

Recalling that item, Selo didn’t reply, and took out the blue stone from his pocket.

Helmbekt squinted his eyes.

“… What’s this? Isn’t this a “Resonating Stone”? This sort of thing, how did you…”

“This isn’t mine —— A cat I met in the forest gave it to me.”

After Selo finished ——

Helmbekt’s expression twisted unnaturally.

“… You said… a ‘cat’?”

There was a little tremor in his voice. This unexpected intense reaction made Selo very surprised.

“Did you say a cat? Did you meet a monster cat with black fur with a hint of azure —— as well as a pair of golden eyes?”

Helmbekt snatched the blue rock from Selo as he walked over. Selo had no means of resisting since there was a scythe on his neck.

Helmbekt placed the rock on the palm of his hands and injected a bit of mana into it.

Under Selo’s gaze, the rock begun to let out a blurry light.

It looked like shimmering stars, causing Selo to widen his eyes.

Finally, a fist-sized ball of light appeared above the rock, and a smiling “cat” face appeared within.

He was the one who saved Selo, a miraculous cat with black fur ——

Alcain.

“Hello, Helmbekt. It’s been a while.”

He raised his paws and smiled.

Alcain’s friendly voice made Selo feel a sense of desynchronisation, and Helmbekt returned a hateful gaze to him.

“You are Alcain ——! The one who saved this brat must have been you!”

Helmbekt roared with anger, and didn’t care about his voice resounding in the residence.

Elsie knitted her eyebrows in annoyance, but didn’t stop him.

“Why did you come to this rural place!? Is it to mock me!”

Alcain stuck his tongue out.

“En. This is not a bad way of having fun, but compared to this, my friend is there right? Are you okay?”

Getting called, Selo pressed his face close to the rock.

“Alcain, this is…”

“Ahhh, it’s good that you’re alright. This is a magic tool to communicate from afar. Did you see Fino?”

Selo bit his lips.

“She seemed to have gone to find me, so I missed her… Alcain, please protect Fino. She should be inside the forest ——“

“That’s the end of it. Alcain, what do you want?”

Selo didn’t finish, and Helmbekt placed the rock closer to his own face.

From the light the blue rock was emitting, the black cat with golden eyes stared at Helmbekt.

Just like that, Helmbekt’s body became stiff.

Although Selo heard that Alcain and him had some disagreements, but from the looks of it, It seemed that Alcain probably left him with some terrifying memories.

“Why are you helping this brat? This should have nothing to do with you right?”

Hearing his question, Alcain smiled.

“I’m different from you, I don’t have any interest in murdering children, and also, I’m not interested in leaving a child on the brink of death. Despite my appearance, I’m a gentleman.”

Helmbekt retorted unhappily.

“You really know how to bullshit. If a distasteful fellow like you counts as a gentleman, then those wild cats must be royalty and nobility.”

“You’re not wrong. Wild cats are unexpectedly noble. Their manner of survival in comparison to the thug that turned to the Magic Race, and does bad things depending on his boss’s mood, is far closer to nobles.”

As Helmbekt listened to Alcain’s mockery, his eyes were filled with blood.

Alcain smiled like he enjoyed this bickering.

“You are still so narrow minded. Ever since you lost that magic tool, you could no longer fight against us as normal, yet you are still trying to obstruct me —— Do you want to waste those nine cat lives?”

“You’re so boring, you’re still so childlike even when conversing with a cat. Cats only have one life.”

Seeing the snickering Alcain, Helmbekt became even more agitated.

“Just a cat had caused us to suffer so much——! Since you are here, then I’ll say it now. Appear immediately and see how I chop you up and feed you to the birds!”

Although the words were very lame, the feelings behind it were real. From another perspective, this also revealed his fear of Alcain.

Alcain casually raised a paw.

“Never mind, the current me cannot fight against you guys. But, since that child is caught, I cannot not do anything. Then, shall we make a deal? Helmbekt·Souleater——” (Note: The middle name is written in English in the raws)

Selo noticed Helmbekt’s middle name was different to what he had heard. It seems like him as a member of the Magic Race and him as a Magic Knight, had different names.

“Deal? A despicable cat like you, would ——“

Alcain’s figure that was reflected in the rays of light smiled slightly.

“The ‘Ring of Backflow’ —— Ahh, this is a very interesting magic tool right?”

Hearing Alcain making fun of him, Helmbekt’s body stiffened.

Within the light, Alcain’s gaze moved away. His gaze moved to “something that should not exist”, attracting Helmbekt’s attention.

“Alcain… Where did you get that?”

Seeing the fazed Helmbekt, the black cat sorcerer showed a mischievous expression.

“Didn’t you remember that the now deceased Zerdonato-san and I are both people of the Fandal faction? There are many hiding methods that only we would know. It didn’t take too long to find. Although I did doubt its existence —— But, it seems like it succeeded, even I’m shocked.”

Saying this, Alcain showed off the thin silver bracelet in his hands.

(It really… exists.)

Selo was also very surprised. Alcain had clearly said to him, that it is “a delusion that cannot exist”.

Helmbekt scowled.

Yet Alcain revealed a soft smile towards him.

“I know you really want this, but it is not the type of magic tool I like. If you want it, then I’ll give it to you. Of course, I won’t easily give it over directly.”

Alcain raised his paw and waved the bracelet around, then winked.

“—— Then, Helmbekt. Let’s make a deal? You have three choices.

One, forcefully take it from me.

Two, give up on getting this magic tool.

Three, obtain it through a deal with me.

—— You know I would suggest you choose the third option right? But, from my perspective, it’s better for you to run away.”

“… Tell me the contents of the deal.”

The long silence implied that Helmbekt had in internal conflict.

Seeing Helmbekt’s serious expression, the black cat’s smile became even more carefree.

“My condition is for you to retreat from here. Don’t harm Selo, Fino, the people in the mansion or the people in town. Just leave like that. In return, I will hand this ‘Ring of Backflow’ to you. Although it is a rare magic tool, but you know what my affinity is.”

Helmbekt wailed like a wild beast.

“The method of exchange?”

“Ah yes. I want to prevent any commotion in the town as much as possible, so move to the southern plains first. Then, I will hide the Ring of Backflow somewhere outside town, then use that rock to tell you the location of it. After you retrieve it, then it is all over. It’s a pretty sweet deal right?”

Helmbekt laughed coldly.

“No way. After we leave town, you will just run away with it.”

Although sweat had appeared on his forehead, his thoughts were still calm.

Alcain squinted his eyes into a single line.

“No, you guys possess combat power. If I don’t hand the magic tool over, you will attack the town right? I don’t want that to happen. But, as long as you achieve your purpose, you don’t need to stay here anymore. In simpler terms, I don’t want you to cause any trouble here. So, I think it is fine to hand the Ring of Backflow over. If you need time to consider, then contact me later.”

Helmbekt didn’t reply and only silently pondered.

He solemnly looked at Elsie, then allowed Selo to stand.

Just at this moment, perhaps hearing Helmbekt’s loud voice from earlier, the footsteps of servants could be heard from the corridor.

“What happened! Are there intruders again…”

That was the servant with a great relationship with Fino —— Kardena’s voice.

Selo couldn’t help but yell.

“Kardena-san, don’t come over!”

“…Alcain, that is my reply.”

Selo’s low yell overlapped with Helmbekt’s speech.

As the door opened, the youth knight gave Elsie a cue.

The girl that came out from the bed wielded her large scythe.

In front of Selo, whose head had turned around, Kardena was standing in shock at the door.

Selo immediately leaped towards her side.

After thinking about it, his body moved on its own.

To protect Kardena from the giant scythe Elsie was wielding ——

A thought flashed across his mind, and so he pushed her onto the other side of the corridor.

A gust of wind blew past his head.

The maid saw Selo who was lying on top of her body, and widened her eyes.

“Se-Selo!? You’re alright…!”

“Kardena-san, run! Quickly…!”

The cold blade’s edge was on his neck.

Kardena, who was underneath Selo, held her breath.

Selo also realized his position and froze.

Elsie’s giant scythe didn’t move.

She used one hand to organize her messy hair and said.

“… I’m very sorry, Helmbekt-sama. Should I kill him this time?”

Helmbekt let out another sigh.

“I didn’t think he was this fast —— Just leave it at that, Elsie. We have to prove our goodwill —— right, Alcain?”

  

Helmbekt looked towards the rock with a faint smile.

From where Selo was, he was unable to see Alcain’s expression, but his silence seemed to be worrisome.

Helmbekt seemed to be very happy.

“I have seen through you. Telling us to move, wasn’t to ensure their safety, but to buy time right? Who’s going to let you have “time to call your companions”. We must resolve this before tomorrow morning ——”

Hearing Alcain’s thoughts getting seen through, Selo clenched his teeth.

That sorcerer with a cat’s form said, “fighting alone would be difficult”. If he could delay the trade for several days, his companions should be able to make it in time. Because he moved on his own whim, Alcain’s plans were ruined.

Helmbekt smiled sickly, he walked over one step at a time and grabbed Selo’s hair from above.

Then, he pushed Selo who had knitted his eyebrows in pain beside the rock.

“Listen up, there are plenty of hostages to kill in the city. Alcain, come over immediately! After one hour, I will start killing the people in the mansion one by one. If you bring the “Ring of Backflow”, I will not raise a hand against the people in town, and I will even let you go. Bring that magic tool over —— Now!”

Helmbekt no longer tried to dampen his echoing voice in the mansion, and laughed loudly.

The rock let out a faint glow, Alcain squinted his golden eyes.

“——Then, I will be there in an hour. Don’t regret this, Helmbekt.”

Alcain’s voice contained no emotions, causing even Selo that was listening on the side to shudder.

The Magic tool —— Resonating Rock lost its glow, and the figure of the black cat also disappeared.

Ending the conversation, Helmbekt pushed Selo to the side and loomed over Kardena.

The maid Kardena seemed to tremble in fear at this sudden incident, and could not let out any sound normally.

Even so, she still forced herself to sit up straight, and lightly asked.

“You, you guys —— What are you doing, why…”

Helmbekt and co. who was supposed to be with the Royal Knights nearly killed her —— Kardena seemed to be in chaos due to this irregular incident.

Selo was also tricked by them last night, and nearly died, so he could understand Kardena’s feelings.

Elsie’s scythe lightly waved for a moment, and Selo once again stood in front of Kardena.

“…Alcain will be here in an hour. Then, please don’t raise a hand against her.”

Helmbekt smiled.

“Is that so. Although young, he’s quite brave. Alcain must have seen this in you. Or is it after nearing dying once, you made some sort of weird resolution?”

Helmbekt joyfully said, and reached his hand into his pocket.

He took out Selo’s grandfather’s remnant that was originally placed in his home ——the “Black Rock”.

The first time Selo met Helmbekt, he was very focused on this magic tool. It seems like after Selo left, he stole it.

Although he didn’t know what magic tool it was, it might be a very precious item.

Noticing Selo’s expression full of hatred, Helmbekt showed a satisfied expression.

“Although I hate that distasteful cat —— But, I don’t hate an honest kid like you. Because there is no worry of being tricked. I will let you live on, as long as Alcain fulfills his promise —— But, I don’t think that cat will fulfill our promise.”

“… This is because the Magic Race are evil people?”

Selo deliberately said so. This is because he felt a sense of danger, if he didn’t attract Helmbekt and co.’s attention from Kardena to himself, they might kill her while chatting.

Helmbekt didn’t value anyone else’s lives. They would be allowed to live if they had any use, those that obstruct him will be killed —— That was his way of survival.

Helmbekt didn’t scowl at these words, instead, he became more happy.

“It is exactly so. But, those that would make deals with these evil people, are also extremely evil people. It’s only that, that fellow was unable to become a completely evil person, so we took his place.”

Helmbekt tied up Selo and Kardena’s arm and ordered his lieutenant.

“Elsie, call the knight squadron over. Alcain will be here in an hour. He is different from those guys from before, you cannot afford to let down your guard against this cat. This time —— This time, I must kill him.”

Selo quietly asked Helmbekt that revealed his bloodlust.

“What is the conflict between you and Alcain?”

“… I have no reason to tell you.”

Helmbekt answered coldly, and Selo wasn’t sure of what to say after that.

It seems like to this man, Helmbekt, talking about that memory was forbidden.

“Elsie, this fellow is the best hostage to use against Alcain. Move this servant in another room like the others.

Lieutenant Elsie nodded, and retracted her giant scythe temporarily. She hung the magic tool-turned jewel in front of her chest, and used her ice cold hands to caress Selo’s face.

She whispered beside the ears of the trembling Selo.

“Such a pretty boy —— Helmbekt-sama, can you leave this kid to me? I want to gift him to Lunastia-sama as a local product.”

“… Ah? Lo-local product as in ——“

Selo stood up frantically, and Helmbekt turned his body back in interest.

“After using him as a hostage for Alcain, do whatever you want. Especially since this guy doesn’t have any use.”

“Yes, thank you.”

Elsie lightly placed Selo on her shoulder. Her strength in no way reminded you of a frail young girl.

Because his limbs were tied causing him to unable to resist, Selo clenched his teeth.

After that, Elsie used another shoulder to carry Kardena.

“Se-Selo… This…”

Selo looked over at the terrified Kardena.

“Please honestly obey their orders for now, Kardena-san. If chaos arose… It would be dangerous.”

Kardena held her breath and nodded.

Elsie carried the two people, and followed behind Helmbekt.

They passed through the long corridor under the moonlight, towards the staircase.

“Hembekt-sama. What should we do about Ordoba? He is also a sorcerer. To prevent him from fighting together with Alcain, we should take this chance and seal his actions ——“

“Yes —— But, he seemed to have taken the initiative to come over.

Hearing Helmbekt’s words, Selo and Kardena were shocked.

“… Ordoba-sama!”

Just as Helmbekt had said, Ordoba alone was standing in the living room at the bottom of the staircase.

He wasn’t wearing pajamas, his tall stature was cladded with a purple robe befitting that of a noble sorcerer.

“Isn’t this Helmbekt-san—— It’s the middle of the night, why are you so loud?”

His voice was sullen.

Ordoba seemed to have noticed Selo and Kardena’s existence, his tone clearly indicated that he had already treated Helmbekt and co. as the “enemy”.

“Ordoba-sama! Please run away! These people aren’t normal sorcerers…”

Hearing Selo’s scream, Ordoba’s gaze sharpened.

“I heard your conversation upstairs. Originally it was for Fino’s safety, I didn’t think an incident would occur.”

Perhaps surprised about the foolish behaviour of the knights, Ordoba let out a long sigh.

Helmbekt and co. only stood on the staircase looking at Ordoba.

He had no intention of finding an excuse and an expression belittling Ordodo was shown on his face.

Helmbekt used a sullen gaze to cast an angry at them.

“… Helmbekt-san, I had wanted to persuade you to leave —— However, it seems like I don’t have the ability to discern people. But ——!”

Ordoba clenched two sticks whose ends were like dog heads in his hands.

This was the magic tool that he was most proficient at, and was also the “Mist Hounds” that Zerdona had specially made for his employer —— Ordoba held the most famous weapon in the town and put on the posture of a warrior.

“In this mansion, illegal actions are not permitted. Helmbekt-san, if you don’t want to get hurt, then please give up.”

Due to Ordoba’s tall stature, he showed a lot of authority.

“Since it has come to this, then it can’t be helped —— Elsie, be his opponent.”

Helmbekt ordered.

Selo predicted the reason he told the lieutenant to fight.

This was within the mansion, where there was no “soil”. He guessed that Helmbekt’s magic tool that created soil dolls could only be used where there was soil.

The black haired girl placed Selo and Kardena onto the floor, and jumped down from the stairs quickly.

The jewel in her hands released a glow, and instantly transformed into a giant scythe.

The sharp edge of the “Scythe of the Thunder Beasts” was aimed carefully at Ordoba.

Ordoba squinted his eyes, and knocked the sticks in his hands together.

“It’s hunting time, ⌈Mist Hounds⌋!”

After the command to activate its effect resounded, white mist blew out with an unbelievable speed from the dog heads on the ends of the sticks.

The mist became two wild beasts, and attacked the girl that jumped down from the stairs.

Elsie waved her scythe, but because her opponent was mist without a solid form, the blade cleanly passed through.

At the same time, the sharp claws of the mist beasts tore her clothes.

Selo, who was lying on the floor, was very surprised.

Able to nullify their opponent’s attack, and could still hit the opponent with their own —— Possessing such a good magic tool, it wasn’t surprising for Ordoba to show such confidence. Although it was the magic tool made by his own grandfather, in this peaceful town of Misthound, it was the first time he saw the “Mist Hounds” used in combat.

It seemed like it was also Kardena’s first time seeing her master’s weapon, her eyes opened wide.

The body was the hounds were just white mist, but the mouth, teeth, and limbs were very real, from the first glance it looked like it existed for combat.

Seeing this unexpected ambush, Helmbekt cursed under his breath.

This way, Elsie could only fight as she retreated. The two beasts chased after the fleeing girl.

Ordoba once again knocked the sticks together.

As if stimulated, the wild beasts became even more ferocious.

“Did you look down on nobility that was sent to the countryside? What a shame, the thing I have most is time. I never slacked off from research and practice of the magic tools.”

“So that’s why —— It really was a pity to leave such talent and magic tool in the countryside.”

Helmbekt murmured as if understanding something.

During the battle, he politely lowered his head to Ordoba from the staircase.

“… Then how about this, Ordoba-sama. If you become our companion, then we’ll help you get into the research institute in the royal capital.”

“What nonsense are you spouting, you are only fakes using the name of the Magic Knight Squadron. Didn’t you say things like ‘Magic Race’ before ——“

Helmbekt smiled.

Selo also noticed Ordoba’s misunderstanding.

It seems like Ordoba only heard the conversation just now, and did not know about the Nelfowl royal family being replaced by the Magic Race.

If he found out that Helmbekt and the rest were the real “Royal Magic Knight Squadron” ——

“We are the real Magic Knight Squadron. The Nelfowl royal family is now in alliance with the Magic Race.”

Hearing this, the actions of the Mist Hounds slowed.

After that, Helmbekt used his silver tongue to sway Ordoba’s confused heart.

“There is no advantage to us fighting. Opposing us right now, is equivalent to opposing the royal family’s decisions. If you want to keep your position as a noble, then you should ally yourself with us.”

“Royal family and the Magic Race…? How am I supposed to believe that ——“

Saying this, the Mist Hounds stopped their movements in conjunction with Ordoba.

Then, Helmbekt immediately said.

“This is the truth. If you want to remain loyal to the royal family, then the action you should take is obvious —— Don’t continue to fight against us, and become one of us.”

Selo already noticed, Helmbekt’s act of showing honestly is only a trick. But, looking at it from Ordoba’s perspective, it was understandable that his heart started to waver.

If the royal family and the Magic Race were truly allies, then resisting Helmbekt and co. would lead to danger for Ordoba’s positon as a ‘Noble’.

Selo, who served the nobles, could understand his feelings.

—— He didn’t plan to blame Ordoba from stopping his attacks. Their most important things were different depending on the people.

Ordoba knitted his eyebrows, and suddenly laughed.

“… Is that so —— If it is true, then the action I should take is obvious.”

—— As long as Ordoba retracted his weapons, his life could be spared. Thinking that this was the best course of action, Selo closed his eyes.

But, Selo was wrong.

Clang, clang… A loud sound was heard form the magic tool “Mist Hounds” in Ordoba’s hands.

The two wild beasts that stopped moving growled.

Helmbekt was really angry, Ordoba looked up at him solemnly said.

“—— You seem to have a misunderstanding about nobles and the royal family. When the king loses his rights to be king —— The nobles had the responsibility to uphold what is right, and not just blindly follow orders. Although we are in the same boat, us nobles are not the subordinates of the royal family. It doesn’t matter how our strengths waver, it doesn’t matter as time moves forward, those that forgot about this pride, has no right to be nobles. Remember this, brat ——!”

His unexpected actions shocked Selo. Kardena also held her breath and watched her master’s movements.

Helmbekt let out another exaggerated sigh.

“… Such foolishness. If you wanted to live a good life, then you should choose a long lasting method.”

“I won’t refute this. If my personality could be a little more smooth, then I wouldn’t have been transferred to this kind of rural area to become the mayor.”

Ordoba lightly smiled, and continued to hit the sticks together. As the sound vibrated through the air, the Mist Hounds also became full of energy.

“Right now, I’m only going to do what I can do, and that is to capture you who tried to harm my retainers, then hand you over to the jurisdiction. If they let you go without punishment, then I have no reason to continue being loyal to these corrupt royals. Whether what you say is true or false, let us use this method to find out —— Okay, the hunting starts once more.”

Having receiving Ordoba’s orders, the two Mist Hounds once against started running.

Elsie dodged the hounds’ attack and continued to agilely retreat.

Her back was stuck against the wall.

“Pincer attack!”

Ordoba shouted. After that, Elsie who had reorganised her condition waved her scythe.

“O brave Thunder God Nemuare, please aid your humble servant——“

She chanted in a priestess-like voice, and wild beasts Selo had saw at the flower field rushed onto the surface of the scythe.

The thunder shaped wild beasts and the Mist Hounds were entangled together.

Neither had a solid shape, and couldn’t attack each other, so it looked like they were entangled together. He had thought that they would pass through each other, but electricity and water seemed to be affecting each other.

The moment the Mist hounds were entangled, several more wild beasts appeared from the giant scythe.

These beasts were different from the hounds and could fly in the air.

“This isn’t good! Come back!”

Ordoba knocked the sticks together. As the loud sound rang out, the hounds turned around, but it was already too late.

The thunder beasts had already arrived in fornt of Ordoba like arrows.

The wild beasts bit onto Ordoba’s thick arm.

Feeling the impact of the sudden shock, Ordoba widened his eyes. The sound of static electricity could be heard in the air, and Ordoba shouted afterwards.

“Ugh!?”

With a scream of pain, his giant body jolted up, and the sticks in his hand fell onto the floor.

After that, Ordoba fell onto the floor with a puff of dust and stopped moving.

“Director-sama!”

Kardena let out a sad wail beside Selo.

Losing their master, the “Mist Hounds” dissipated like mist.

Selo stared at his employer, and clenched his teeth.

The place bitten by the thunder beasts didn’t bleed, nor did his clothes tear. But, the moment he was bit by the beasts, a surge of electricity coursed through Ordoba’s large body.

Elsie took away his magic tool from the fallen Ordoba’s side.

Grandfather’s work “Mist Hounds” was also in Helmbekt’s hands now.

Beside Selo who was trembling due to the unwillingness of resigning, the young knight faintly smiled.

“… It is a pretty good magic tool. Local products increased again. The two hounds that this man controlled was probably the limit —— But, if it was used by us, probably ten could come out. These type of magic tools that requires skill to use, we must spend some time practicing with it, so we can’t use it immediately.”

Helmbekt said happily, and looked down at Selo.

“—— It’s not bad being a member of the Magic Race, boy. You seemed to be bad at using magic tools, if you turned into a member of the Magic Race, then you might be able to use it.”

Selo glared at him angrily. Becoming Helmbekt’s companion? What a joke.

He didn’t want to become whatever a Magic Race was, but Helmbekt’s words caught his attention.

“Turning into a member of the Magic Race… What do you need to do, to become that?”

A smile surfaced on Helmbekt’s face.

“—— Accept the Baptism. That’s all.”

Selo who gazed up at him trembled even more due to his expression.

To obtain a strong power, one must give up something important —— He had a seemingly crazy smile like this.

Helmbekt was smiling.

As if there was nothing more ridiculous than this; looking down on everyone else, but it was a ridiculous smile that seemed pitiful in other people’s eyes.

Carrying Selo and Kardena, Lieutenant Elsie looked over at Helmbekt coldly, then started walking uncaringly.

He couldn’t understand this female lieutenant either.

Although she wasn’t so hateful like Helmbekt, she gave people a feeling of emptiness, and this made her very weird.

“You… Are you also a member of the Magic Race?”

Hearing Selo, who was being carried on her shoulders, ask this, the girl didn’t agree nor deny, she only showed an ambiguous smile——

Then she caressed Selo’s cheek once more.


4-4

In the pitch dark forest, Fino’s Celestial Wooden Horse was gliding along like it was sprinting.

(Selo… Selo…)

She called out the youth’s name in her heart, and frantically looked around.

From when she had left home to find Selo, a long time had passed —— But she didn’t know exactly how long ago.

Perhaps it was a long time, but she also felt that it was really short, she even thought that no time had passed.

She often had hallucinations about Selo standing safely in the darkness, the place would be empty when she got closer, and then she when she looked into the darkness once more, a hallucination of him would be there —— The repeated cycle cause her mind to tire.

“Selo! If you can hear me, then answer!”

In the forest at night, Fino’s hoarse voice rang out. Her voice was almost a wail, and it echoed endlessly in the forest.

Then, replying to Fino’s scream, wasn’t Selo, but another existence.

“—— Ojou, excuse me.”

The bright voice above her head scared Fino, she hurriedly stopped the wooden horse.

When she turned around, she saw a black figure jump down.

Underneath the lighting of the light magic tool in Fino’s hands —— the “Light of the Night”, stood a black cat.

It was a prideful cat, with beautiful fur, his golden pupils contained a mysterious light.

He was wearing a feathered hat, a short sword was adorned on his waist, and he wore military boots as well as a black coat, which made his figure seemed like human.

Meeting with the resolute gaze of his golden eyes, Fino shook in surprise.

“… Were you the one who just talked?”

The cat standing on its hind legs slowly nodded.

“En, it was me. You are Fino right?”

“… En. Yes I am… But, this is bad. It is my first time meeting a hallucination and hearing it speak, what should I do?”

Fino asked confusedly as she got down from the wooden horse.

She had read from books that there were wild beasts that could understand human speech, and there really seemed to be this kind of wild beasts far away. But, a talking cat seemed to only exist in fairy tales.

Fino thought she had fallen asleep and was in the land of dreams.

The cat smiled.

“Since you are in the land of hallucinations, then are you willing to trust an unknown cat? Although I say that, but this isn’t your hallucination. Selo is in danger, he needs your help.”

Hearing this name, Fino leaped towards the black cat.

“You know Selo!? Where is he——!”

She grabbed the cat’s paws and raised him from the ground.

The black cat’s soft body was stretched out, and he squinted his eyes.

The black cat revealed a confused expression and used her paws to lightly tap on Fino’s arms.

“Ahh~ Calm down a bit, calm down a bit. Also, this is very uncomfortable, you should be more careful. Suddenly raising an unknown cat up is also against common etiquette…”

“This type of things doesn’t matter! Where is Selo!? Is he alright!?”

Fino shook the black cat’s body and continued to ask.

The unique cat cried out in pain.

“Uwhh, very… very painful…!”

“Ah, I’m sorry.”

Fino quickly stopped and let him back down. She finally got information on Selo, she was just scared of missing this opportunity.

The black cat awkwardly shook its head and let out a long sigh.

“…. What an impatient child. Never mind that, we really don’t have much time… Selo is fine. At least for now.”

“Really!?”

Fino, who had already imagined the worst scenario calm down temporarily. But, the black cat had said “at least for now”, triggered her unease.

The cat pointed towards the wooden horse.

“I won’t run, I hope you can let me ride on the wooden horse, and take me to town. I will tell you the details on the way.”

“But, Selo he…”

Towards the emotional Fino, the cat squinted an eye.

“Selo was caught by bad guys when he was trying to find you. He is in the Doriarudo mansion right now. Now, I must go and save him ——“

Hearing this, Fino widened her eyes.

“How! Then we missed each other…”

As if trying to calm her down, the black cat lightly chuckled.

“Isn’t the relationship between humans just like that. Precisely because of this, the joy of seeing each other would increase. Okay, now, let’s get going. That fellow Helmbekt is already mad. You’re also a sorcerer right? I hope you will also help.”

The cat that was placed back onto the floor fluttered its cloak and jumped up onto the back of the wooden horse.

“Helmbekt, is it that guy from the Magic Knight Squadron…?”

The black cat nodded on the back of the wooden horse.

“His real identity is one of the “Magic Race”. He has targeted Zerdonato-san’s magic tools, and wants to kill Selo. It was I who saved Selo. After you left, Selo and the people at the mansion were captured as hostages, they want to lure me out ——“

Hearing this unexpected turn of events, Fino was shocked.

She was already vigilant of Helmbekt, but what the black cat had said far surpassed her imagination.

“I’ll save the details when we’re on our way. If we don’t get there in thirty minutes, he will kill a person. Especially because that man —— has deteriorated.”

Fino hesitated for a moment, but still chose to believe his words.

The black cat’s golden eyes held a rational sage-like aura. At least she didn’t feel the same disgust that she felt towards Helmbekt.

Holding the soft black cat, Fino rode behind his back.

She immediately allowed the Celestial Wooden Horse to fly, then accelerate towards the city.

The breeze fluttered her hair, and Fino asked by the black cat’s ear.

“You know Selo?”

“En, I just met him yesterday —— I am Alcain·Darkferido·Lomnalius. I became like this under special circumstances, I am also a sorcerer. Please take care of me.”

His turned face was very friendly, yet also possessed a noble aura that made him seem hard to approach.

Fino returned a greeting to the cat named Alcain, and also said her name.

I am Firiano·Misthound·Doriarudo. Since my name is too long, please call me Fino. You said you saved Selo… Is that true?”

“En. I saved him when he was pushed down a cliff. But, despite how hard it was to save his life, he still wanted to go to somewhere dangerous. It seems like you are very important to him.”

Hearing Alcain’s teasing words, Fino forgot about the situation, and her cheeks turned a peach red colour.

“Did Selo say anything about me?”

“I didn’t hear about anything special. But when I advised him to run away, he said ‘I can’t leave Fino behind’ and ran back, that’s why he got caught by those fellows. Originally I thought he could succeed, but I was too naïve. Helmbekt may not be as foolish as I imagined.”

Alcain murmured like he was reflecting, and turned his back towards Fino.

“I also have some responsibility. Fino, I leave protecting Selo to you. I will get those people’s attention, then take him and run. But, it would be good if you can release the people in the mansion as well.”

Towards his determined words, Fino was very surprised.

“Wait. You can’t be planning to fight those people of the Magic Knights alone? Although it is just a squadron, they are real magic knights right?”

Alcain showed a slight smile.

“I don’t plan to fight with them till the end. When you and Selo escape, I will also retreat. Only ——“

A small light flashed across the black cat’s eye.

“… No matter what, I will get rid of Helmbekt. As long as I defeat the commander, they will be unable to return to Lonbordo.”

Boldness could be felt from his voice, and a sense of inexplicable unease jolted through Fino’s body.

She was worried that if Selo and herself had brought the black cat they just met a whole lot of trouble.

As if seeing past her thoughts, Alcain showed her a warm smile.

“I have to bear the responsibility for letting Helmbekt go. Also, Selo is Zerdonato-san’s grandson. I visited here under such conditions, might be due to the deceased Zerdonato-san’s guidance.”

“You know Selo’s grandfather?”

Although Fino didn’t know the black cat’s age, Selo’s grandfather passed away three years ago, and he had lived a secluded life before. If they knew each other, then that means this cat was far older than his appearance showed.

Alcain squinted his pondering eyes, and shook his head.

“We never met. He seemed to be my master’s old friend. I didn’t know that Zerdonato-san had passed away, and wanted him to tell me something, that’s why I came here…”

“Who is your master?”

“En.”

Alcain lightly smiled.

“‘Majin’ Fandal —— One of the Six Sages.”

Hearing the name he said, Fino was shocked.

Just last night, she had heard this name from Helmbekt.

When they were eating dinner, Helmbekt had mentioned the disappearance of the ‘Majin’ leisurely with laughter.

Fino quickly asked.

“Ne, is the disappearance of Fandal-sama true? When I was a young kid, Fandal-sama helped me…”

“Oh, you met master? That is rare. Master usually wouldn’t get involved with people from the outside world.”

Hearing his thoughts, Alcain took a deep sigh.

“… As opposed to disappearing, it should be said that his location is unknown. Did Helmbekt tell you this?”

“En, but he said that it is only a rumour…”

“We are already setting off to find master’s location. Helmbekt and them should be in the same boat as us, and are searching for Fandal-sama. Ah, a lot of things happened after all.”

Speaking to this point, Alcain’s eyes revealed signs of loneliness. Fino didn’t continue this topic.



References

  1. N/a

[Vol 1] Chapter 3 – The Black Saviour



3-1

He heard voices.

Voices that were unknown to him.

He only heard voices——

“—— You said a living magic tool?”

The foreign man murmured surprising.

The other man replied enthusiastically

“Yes, you could also say that the magic tool fused with a person…”

He heard a deep sigh.

“… That is a forbidden method which has been confirmed to end up in failure. Give up. I’ve never heard of a successful case, doing so is only a waste of time.”

“No, it won’t be a waste of time. The creation of magic tool should not cause it to become impossible.”

“There is a line between things you can and can’t do. Which pregnant woman are you choosing to be your guinea pig?”

“Don’t use words like “guinea pig” to describe it. The person that really wishes for it is actually my wife.”

There was a long pause.

Both men thought about what they were going to say next.

The first to speak was the older man.

“That foolish girl. I’m not sure who she takes after, but her obsession with new magic tools is surprising —— However, listen up Luffis. Both you and my daughter are excellent sorcerers, and because of this, I cannot forgive you. Your father Zerdonato should also be opposed to this.”

The man’s voice sounded very solemn.

“Do not fuse life and magic tools. Magic tools are just tools, and lives are lives. Fusing these two things together is forbidden —— and will lead to a tragedy.”

The younger man heard the retort, and became even more worked up.

“But, Fandal-sama, using this method can allow the unstable ‘Ring of Backflow’ to enter a realistically stable state…”

“Stop it. Even if you want to do so, I will stop you. Even if —— I have to kill you.”

A serious silence descended.

Some sort of noise rang beside his ears, covering up the following conversation.

Then, he couldn’t hear anything.

Trapped inside darkness, he began to ponder.

(—— When was this memory from——)

He couldn’t think of anything, and deduced it as only a dream.

In the meantime, he could not help but think that it was an image of something that occurred.

(… After that, what happened…?)

In this helpless situation——

His consciousness fall into the depths of darkness once more.


3-2

—— The sound of moving water could be heard beside him.

Selo slowly opened his eyes, his vision was covered with a layer of blue mist.

Dawn had just arrived, so the surrounding was still rather cold.

His shoulders couldn’t help but shiver, and his face touched the soft mattress.

“… En?”

Selo awakened from his slumber and rubbed his eyes.

He felt a sense of warmth from the burning fire that was not far away. It was letting out sparks of fire.

Two sweetfish were hung up beside the fire. It appeared to have only been placed on it recently, and was still raw.

Selo slowly recalled what happened the previous night as he sat up.

In the flower field of Night Weeping Grass, he was attacked by a strange girl ——

Then, he was tricked by Helmbekt and fell down from a cliff.

“Ahhh….!”

Thinking about last night made Selo open his eyes wide open.

He was sleeping at a river bank that he has never seen before.

This was not beside the cliff.

He couldn’t have walked here on his own two legs, so he thought that someone must have moved him here.

If not —— Then this would probably be “that world”.

Selo stood up unsteadily, and surveyed his surroundings.

The mist was thick, and the Sun had not risen yet, because of this the area around the fire was pitch black.

In the dark, Selo saw a small figure.

He had originally thought that it was a child —— But, that figure was even shorter than a child.

The figure that sat by the river wore a very wide hat, adorned with a feather.

He seemed to be fishing, as the fishing rod was slowly vibrating.

Selo worriedly asked.

“Excuse me…”

“Ah, you’re awake. Good morning, boy. How are you feeling?”

It was a clear and proud voice.

The figure let go of the fishing road and stood up.

Clearly seeing the figure that has turned around —— Selo couldn’t help but doubt his own eyes.

Selo saw a pair of long and beautiful golden irises.

The calm and subtle smile on the corner of the mouth was very elegant one could feel a strong willpower from it.

An air of authority could be sensed from his speech and actions. The sword he was carrying, as well as the hat, the military boots, and so on made his figure seem very majestic.

The only problem was——

“… Cat, the cat talked…?”

In front of Selo was a cat.

The dark blue fur that was closer to black was the color of the night sky, and it looked very smooth and soft. Although he was standing up on two feets, his height was not up to Selo’s waist, and the sword being carried was about the length of a short sword.

The cat that was fishing just now retained his posture of standing on two feets, and gleamed with his smiling eyes.

015 “Ohya, did you not know? The cats in the city know how to speak. It’s only because the cats in the countryside have too heavy of an accent that they don’t speak the human language.”

“Ahh!? … R-really?”

The cat said calmly. Selo couldn’t help but give this kind of reply.

The black cat’s shoulders trembled and laughed.

“Is that so. You thought ‘really’? This makes me very happy.”

“Ah, no, I didn’t mean it like that…”

The black cat calmed down and picked up the black cloak.

At that moment, a smile surfaced on the black cat’s face, as logical as a sage, and as pure as a pranking child.

The cloak suddenly flew up gracefully and fluttered like a wave as it covered his body.

“First of all, as a talking cat, I should make a self introduction ——“

Just like an actor, the black cat stood up with his chest up high.

“My name is Alcain·Darkferido·Lomnalius —— The disciple of Majin Fandal and also the sorcerer titled ‘Dark Words’.”

—— At this moment, wind started blowing.

Matching his movements with the wind, he took off his hat and placed it in front of his chest, the black cat then respectfully bowed towards Selo.

Majin Fandal —— The name Selo had heard last night.

That person was the leader of the Six Sages, the Sorcerer Supreme who protects the staff of Magic God Orlaido ——

He possesses a name that overshadows any king, and with the combined forces of his disciples, they could easily wipe out an entire country.

The black cat, who lifted his black cloak, that appeared in front of Selo seemed to also be one of Fandal’s disciples.

Selo couldn’t help but be speechless, at the corner of his vision, the fishing rod suddenly shook.

“… Ah, got one.”

The black cat calling himself Alcain went towards the fishing rod, and using the pad and claws, he nimbly picked up the fishing rod.

Looking in detail, there was a trout about the size of a carp hanging on the fishing hook.

“Hey ~ yo!”

The moment after he raised the fishing rod, the large trout flew towards Selo.

Selo hurriedly caught the fish with both hands, he desperately tried to restrain the large trout, and thus fell onto the floor.

Seeing such a large fish was a rare sight in town.

Turning his head, he saw Alcain laughing out loud while raising the fishing rod with one hand.

“That’s a nice reaction. Now, we have enough for a breakfast for two.”

Hearing his cheerful tone, Selo also returned a smile.

A talking cat was surprising, but he didn’t look like a bad cat. Apparently there are other wild beasts that can understand human speech, furthermore he is also Selo’s savior.

Placing the large trout on a boulder, Alcain unsheathed his sword.

Selo couldn’t help but blink several times.

What he assumed to be a normal short sword had a wave-shaped edge, and the blade itself was unnaturally thin.

Selo pointed to the seemingly familiar blade and asked.

“Ah? That sword…?”

“This isn’t a sword. As you can see, it is a pastry knife. The sharpness makes it very useful.”

The pastry knife held by the pads danced in the wind.

The trout on the boulder was quickly dissected into eight chunks. The pastry knife originally wasn’t a blade for cutting fish, but with Alcain’s techniques, it could be described as an art.

Selo opened his eyes widely, while Alcain already used this time to place the trout on the metal net and started barbecuing it.

The sweetfish beside the fireplace was nearly ready.

The black cat took one and handed it to Selo.

“One for you.”

“… Thank you.”

Receiving the roasted barbecued fish, Selo stared at Alcain blankly.

“… Excuse me.”

“What is it?”

“You saved me?”

Hearing his question, Alcain lightly closed his golden eyes.

It seemed like he was smiling, while it also seemed like he was thinking.

He reached out a paw and raised three fingers.

“I helped you for three reasons.

First, I dislike the methods of the ‘Magic Race’.

Second, you are the grandson of Zerdonato-san.

Thirdly —— You needed help. If I say it like that, you can understand right?”

At that moment, Selo’s body became stiff.

The words ‘Magic Race’ and his grandfather’s name came out of the black cat’s mouth, he couldn’t help but become vigilant.

But, Alcain smiled in a way that made it seem like he had seen through Selo’s vigilance.

“Don’t worry, don’t be so stiff. I have no intention of harming you. I saved you yesterday partly due to a coincidence. Ever since Helmbekt and his men disappeared from the mansion, I followed the smell —— Then I saw you fall down the cliff. En, I was pretty surprised then.”

Alcain said like it wasn’t a big deal, but Selo didn’t give up asking.

“Yes, I fell down the cliff. Although you easily said that you saved me, but how did you do it… I fell down from such a high place.”

“That is a secret. I can’t reveal too much about magic tools.”

Alcain replied as he took the cooked sweetfish away from the fire.

Understanding that he couldn’t get any information about the magic tools, Selo changed the topic.

“… Are you not eating that sweetfish?”

“No, I am. But with a cat’s tongue, I’ll have to wait a bit till it is cooler.”

Hearing an answer that he didn’t expect, Selo stared at him blankly.

Judging from the fur, he definitely seemed like a genuine “cat”. Although his fur was slightly too long, and he looked a bit short and stout from the outside, but this created a rather unique style.

He wore a leather belt with the pastry knife’s sheath hanging on it, on its feet were military boots made from soft cloths. This combination allowed movement when all four feet were on the ground, and made him seem rather unrestricted.

Alcain sat by the fire, and casually barbecued the trout pieces.

“… Can’t you eat it raw like normal cats?”

“I’m scared of parasites that the fish from the river may have.”

Although he was a cat, his reply was one full of a human’s common sense.

Selo stared at this unique black cat and tilted his head.

“…Come to think of it, I haven’t told you my name. I’m Selo.”

“En, I know. I heard from Marill.”

That was the name of the girl living in town.

Selo couldn’t help but be surprised. Alcain revealed a happy expression.

He was like a real cat, using a paw to comb the hair on his face.

“Yesterday, I met with her in the forest. Didn’t I send her off to where you guys were beside the fountain?”

The things that happened yesterday, Selo couldn’t forget it.

,Marill, who appeared from the forest at that time did not mention the name of her savior, so Selo had assumed it was someone in the town ——

“Then, the one that told Marill not to say anything —— !”

“If that girl said ‘there’s a talking cat in the forest’ out loud, she will definitely be treated as a liar. On the other hand, if someone believed her and started a commotion, I’ll be in a difficult position.”

Alcain chuckled and pointed at the sweetfish in Selo’s hands.

“Not eating? It will get cold.”

Hearing his words, Selo started to chew on the barbecued sweetfish.

Yesterday’s dinner was also the sweetfish that he had received from the reclusive old man from the bird house. But, perhaps due to a psychological effect, the sweetfish this morning seemed to taste different.

Selo began to recall what happened last night as he ate.

Until now, he hasn’t thought through everything that happened, whether or not Helmbekt was speaking the truth, he still couldn’t make a judgement.

He, who has only been an apprentice pharmacist and has been living a normal life until now —— was nearly killed for no reason.

Looking at Selo’s serious expression from the side, Alcain lightly smiled.

“Did you get scared recalling the events from last night? Was it your first time experiencing what it was like to have your life targeted by someone?”

Selo nodded.

Alcain used his golden eyes to softly look at Selo.

“You are already used to a life of happiness, this is inevitable. Happiness is the lack of concern for what is guaranteed, only in the balance of danger would it seem important. In this world, there are a lot more tragedies. It is because of this that you must value every little ounce of happiness.”

Alcain lectured him like a philosopher, and used the metal net to barbecue the trout while taking the cooled sweetfish into his hand.

Seeing his movements, Selo hurriedly took the metal net from Alcain.

“Ahh, thank you. Don’t get too close to the fire.”

Alcain used the pads on both hands to press the fish skewer from both side, and chewed on the stomach of the sweetfish.

He munched on the delicious skin and soft meat, then said honestly.

“Take an example, human happiness is like fishing.”

Selo tilted his head.

Alcain smiled and closed one eye.

“Firstly, the fish you catch is the most delicious.

Secondly, the fish you failed to catch will appear much larger.

Thirdly, even by catching a lot of small fish, you will feel happy.

It can’t be helped that you can’t catch a lot of big fish, people can’t be too greedy.”

Selo nodded, using one hand to hold the skewer and chewed on the sweetfish in his mouth.

Alcain smiled kindly towards Selo and asked.

“Delicious?”

“—— En, very delicious.”

“That’s good.”

A man and a cat sat on the misty river bank, and leisurely ate the roasted fish.

Finally, the trout had been roasted, and Alcain gave half to Selo.

Sprinkling a pinch of salt on it, the faint saltiness made the roasted fish all the more tasty.

Selo ate, and stared at the unbelievable black cat.

The cat who called himself Alcain, he had a lot that he wanted to ask. Including himself, Helmbekt and his companion, the Magic Race, the magic tools that the Magic Race was looking for, and so on ——

But, staying by his side like this, seeing his leisure attitude, Selo also felt a remote sense of relaxation.

Although he shouldn’t have been in such a calm situation, he still naturally wanted to treasure this time.

The weird sorcerer who appeared as a cat, Alcain.

Apprentice pharmacist teenager, Selo ——

It was like this, that the two people met here and now.


3-3

This morning, Fino, who couldn’t sleep for the entire night, welcomed the dawn.

—— Selo still hasn’t returned.

When Fino had gone to the flower field of Night Weeping Grass to get Selo, the scene that she saw was unsightly.

Unnaturally dug up soil were everywhere, and there were a lot of burnt flowers.

She couldn’t comprehend the situation, but without a doubt “something happened”.

Fino searched through the flower field in confusion, and found a basket that belonged to Selo next to a soil mound.

There were still Night Weeping Grass leaves inside, so she concluded that Selo faced an incident during the harvesting process.

After that, Selo rode her Celestial Wooden Horse, and searched within the mountains. She occasionally went back to the mansion, to check if Selo had returned, before going back into the mountains.

The result ——

Until this morning, Selo had still not returned.

Having the situation develop to this stage, even Fino’s servant Kardena begun to worry. She didn’t scold Fino, and only stayed by her side.

The intruder the previous night hadn’t been caught either.

Fino gazed at the front gate without uttering a single word, and Kardena cautiously said to her.

“Ah, ojou-sama —— You haven’t rested yet right? When Selo returns, I’ll wake you up, so please take a rest ——“

Fino didn’t reply.

In her current state, Kardena’s voice was unable to reach her.

Selo knew the mountains very well, he couldn’t have gotten lost. Moreover, giant wild beasts wouldn’t appear at the place where the Night Weeping Grass grows either.

Where exactly is he ——

Thinking to that point, Fino’s thoughts came to a halt.

She couldn’t imagine what was next.

“… I’m going out.”

Fino murmured, then took out the Celestial Wooden Horse once again.

Kardena grabbed her hand from the side.

“Please, you should take a rest. We will look for Selo instead ——“

“… I’m sorry, Kardena. Let me look for him. If something happened to Selo, then I…”

Fino slipped, and Kardena immediately caught her.

Since she had gone all over the place controlling the Celestial Wooden horse the previous night, she had used up her stamina and mana. Although she was still young, the usage of magic tools required concentration, and couldn’t be used continuously.

Just at this moment, the adoptive father Ordoba appeared in the mansion.

Last night, he also waited till very late for the report of the intruder. Perhaps due to the lack of sleep, his expressions looked very tired.

He casted a strict glance towards Fino and Kardena.

“What, Fino? Did Selo not return…?”

Fino nodded her head. Ordoba placed his hand on his chin and asked lightly.

“… Fino, tell me the truth. The intruder you saw last night, was he similar to Selo——“

Fino almost lost all her strength to reply, and only sighed.

“… Although Selo is still a child, it’s impossible for him to be that small. Perhaps it was about the size of a dog, cat or maybe even a rabbit. However, it looked like it carried a weapon…”

Ordoba snorted.

“Is that so. The amount of food stolen last night has been counted already, only a few pieces of bread and cheese were missing, those were just food meant to be used for breakfast.”

Hearing this, Fino finally understood her adoptive father’s thought process. Selo had been scolded due to his relationship with Fino, and couldn’t bear it anymore, thus stole some food and left the mansion —— It seemed like the adoptive father was considering this possibility.

But, Fino clearly knew that Selo wasn’t that type of person.

“Please don’t say things like that carelessly. That is impossible. The flower field of Night Weeping Grass was all messed up. Selo’s basket also fell there. Selo must have encountered something —— “

Ordoba snorted once more.

“Then what do you think Selo encountered? What other reason could there be for his disappearance ——“

“—— No, I think he was in some kind of incident. For example —— hurting his foot somewhere.”

That voice suddenly rang out from Fino’s back.

Fino didn’t notice the person approaching, so she got scared and grabbed Kardena’s arm.

The one who entered the conversation was the Captain of the Magic Knight Squadron Helmbekt.

He was wearing a neat military uniform early in the morning and worriedly looked at Fino.

Following behind Helmbekt was lieutenant Elsie. She silently nodded. Those red pupils were very empty this morning.

The handsome youth knight suddenly grabbed Fino’s hand.

“Firiano-sama, I can understand your feelings. You must be worried about that youth ——“

“… En.”

Hearing his words, Fino nodded, but still did not let down her guard.

The youthful military commander with a terrifying expression continued.

“Even if I say that, I don’t agree with letting someone with a status such as yours go and search by yourself. No matter what happened last night, if something happened to Fino-sama, that pharmacist boy would also feel grief.”

Hearing this, Ordoba also nodded.

“Helmbekt-san is right, Fino. The flower field of Night Weeping Grass is deep in the mountains right? Also, it is barely within the effective range of the ‘Belfry of Beast Avoidance’, so it is not a place where a young girl like you should be wandering around at in the middle of the night.”

Although her adoptive father wasn’t wrong, Fino still bit her lips.

“Didn’t Selo, who just turned fourteen, also go alone there? If I knew things were going to turn out like this, then I should have followed from the start…”

While Fino was feeling repentance, Helmbekt placed his hands on her shoulders.

—— Fino’s body shuddered in disgust.

Helmbekt didn’t seem to have noticed Fino’s reaction, as he just revealed a worried expression, and said with an admiring tone.

“Fino-sama is very caring —— How about this? About the search for him, why not leave it to us? Encountering this incident while we’re staying here could also be said as fate. It’s better to have more people for the search.”

Calmly thinking, this was a thankful suggestion.

But, Fino was still hesitant on whether she should nod her head or not.

(This person’s eyes —— feels weird…)

It was hard for her to describe how Helmbekt was “actually different” to others, she just felt that his figure bore an ill omen.

Fino lightly massaged her eyes.

Fino’s “eyes” aren’t normal eyes, but magic tools that Majin Fandal installed for her to save the blind Fino, which resulted in directly influencing her sight.

Fandal called the magic tool the “Seed of Ortaff”. It was said that Spirit Ortaff who ruled over light was a very pure existence, as soon as it felt the human’s malice or bad intention, it would immediately change color.

Fino poured power into her eyes.

Since this pair of eyes were a magic tool, they would react to everyone’s mana.

She used this pair of eyes to look into Helmbekt’s eyes ——

 

Deteriorated.

Fino replied with an uncertain smile.

“No —— Although I appreciate your goodwill, it is unneeded. I will find Selo.”

As if her rejection was very surprising, Helmbekt revealed a confused expression.

“But, with more people ——“

“The knights also have a mission to accomplish here, right? Please complete the mission first. There is no need to trouble you over this matter.”

After Fino rejected politely, she suddenly realized.

Fino was unclear about what their “mission” entails. She heard that it was “Collaborative Research with Ordoba”, but if it was only that, then there wasn’t a need to bring the other knights.

(Selo’s disappearance may be related to these people…)

Thinking to this point, her body trembled.

She couldn’t think of a reason for Selo to be targeted. But, Selo might have found out their “secret” coincidentally, and to silence him ——

As her thoughts without evidence reached this point, Fino stopped thinking.

—— Just thinking in a pessimistic way was no help to the matter. She could only believe in Selo’s safety and prioritise searching for him.

“Fino, don’t say that, how about letting Helmbekt-san and co. help? It is an act of goodwill ——“

Her adoptive father Ordoba’s voice entered the conversation, it seems like he still thought that his daughter was only being polite.

Fino was hesitating on how to answer, when the lieutenant girl standing beside Helmbekt said in a quiet voice.

“Firiano-sama, since it is like that, if permitted, how about travelling with us? We are worried about Firiano-sama’s safety as well. It is the same for Ordoba-sama. Compared to searching alone, it is safer with us——“

Helmbekt revealed a smile.

“Haha, this is good as well. Apparently the intruder last night wasn’t caught yet? If you stay with us, then nobody will raise a hand against you”.

Fino quickly shook her head.

“Can’t take action with him ——“

She didn’t know why, but she had this intuition.

“No, there is no need to do this for me——“

Fino mumbled, and intentionally pretended to be standing unstably.

Kardena, who was standing by Fino’s side immediately grabbed hold of her.

“Ex-Excuse me, Kardena——“

Kardena lightly caressed Fino’s hair.

“Ojou-sama, you really shouldn’t continue to act by yourself. Using the magic tool throughout the night has caused you to reach your limit. Even if it’s a few hours, please rest in your room. During this time, why don’t you leave the search to the knights?”

Although she didn’t notice Fino’s intentions, Kardena still created a perfect ending, this allowed Fino to not need to act with them.

Fino showed a thankful expression and lightly nodded.

“… I’m very sorry. Then, please allow me to rest for a moment. During this time…”

Helmbekt naturally nodded and said.

“Yes, please leave it to us. The sun has already risen, we will leave immediately.”

Helmbekt turned and ran towards his subordinates, lieutenant Elsie also followed behind.

Respect could been seen in Ordoba’s eyes, as he watched Helmbekt’s back.

“He is a pleasant youth. And also very sympathetic.”

Fino didn’t have any strength left to reply, and only ambiguously nodded. She knew that her adoptive father lacked the “eyes to see through human nature”.

“Father, could you tell me about something…”

“What is it?”

“What is Helmbekt-sama’s ‘real goal’?”

Weird things had started happening since the previous night, but now this was what she was most concerned about.

Ordoba was shocked.

“It doesn’t matter even if you don’t know. It is something to do with research.”

Although he said so, Fino still did not back down.

“Please tell me, I think —— It can’t be something to do with Selo right?”

“Selo…? Hey hey, how is there any connection, he can’t even be considered a sorcerer.”

Ordoba revealed an astonished expression with a tint of anger, and tilted his head.

Seeing this, Fino couldn’t help but reflect.

—— I might be overthinking this.

Thinking to this point, she frankly lowered her head.

“I said something impolite. Please forget about it.”

“No, it’s fine. After he disappeared, you are the one who has been the most worried. Rest for a while.”

Ordoba lightly patted Fino’s shoulders and pointed in the direction of the mansion.

Fino nodded, and returned to the mansion with Kardena’s support.

Seeing her back, the adoptive father Ordoba let out a long sigh alone.


3-4

The cat and youth, that finished their breakfast at the riverbank, were staying in the inconspicuous forest.

(Fino must be worried about me——)

Thinking to this point, Selo couldn’t help but wish to return to the mansion sooner. But, the one who tried to murder Selo —— Helmbekt and co. were also there.

“Okay, let’s organize the situation.”

Alcain said that and took out a set of tea cups and tea pot from the small black backpack that was even larger than the backpack itself.

Selo was shocked.

“Alcain, I was wondering just now… What is that?”

Alcain’s backpack was very special. Just now at the river bank, Alcain had placed the metal net for roasting fish, the fishing road, the blanket for Selo, all of it into the backpack.

Naturally those weren’t small enough to fit into one backpack.

Alcain continued to take out other items from the backpack. It was bread and cheese that had already been cut.

“This one? This is a space enlarging magic tool called “Marian’s Equipment Storage”. The things that are placed inside will become very small. To be more precise, within the backpack is a special space about the size of a room —— Essentially, a lot of stuff can be put inside.”

Alcain explained uncaringly, but Selo still widened his eyes. He never heard of this kind of magic tool from his grandfather.

(Alcain… Might be an excellent sorcerer.)

Sorcerers that own unique magic tools often succumb to the danger of getting robbed by other sorcerers. Due to this, “owning” unique magic tools was also an important factor in proving the ability of a sorcerer.

There were a lot of sorcerers like Ordoba that focused on collecting magic tools, in the end it originated from “the qualities and quantities of the magic tools owned were proofs of strength” this kind of thinking.

Alcain placed the table cloth on the grass, and then placed the teapot and teacups, bread and cheese on top.

The teapot also seemed to be a type of magic tool, there was no need to brew the tea, and red tea could be poured out.

Alcain’s mood seemed pretty good.

“There must be time to drink tea after eating. Would you like some sugar?”

“No. This is good.”

“Is that so, then I’ll have two pieces.”

The black cat used his paws to chuck down the sugar, the golden eyes seemed to soften.

Although it is said that cats cannot taste sweetness, it seemed like that did not affect Alcain.

“Cheese and bread… That is made in Misthound right? It is the same type as what I usually eat.”

“Ahhh, I took this from a mansion last night. There isn’t any way of buying as a cat. As a substitute for money, I left behind several fish, I don’t know if they noticed yet.”

Selo blinked several times.

“Was it… the Doriarudo mansion?”

“En. Actually I went in to scout the Magic Knight squadron’s movements, but no one was there —— After that, I followed their scent and found you who was nearly killed.”

Alcain said in a matter of fact attitude and lightly took a bite of cheese.

“Then, I’ll dispel your questions. What do you want to ask?”

Getting control of the topic, Selo couldn’t help but become anxious.

There were lots of things he wanted to ask. Although it was so, the first to surface on his mind was still Alcain’s purpose.

“Err, then… Why is Alcain here?”

“I came to see your grandfather.”

Hearing this sudden reply, Selo became very confused.

Grandfather died three years ago.

Before he pointed this fact out, Alcain squinted his golden eyes.

“You should know that your grandfather was Majin Fandal’s friend right?”

To Selo, he had heard this fact from Helmbekt last night.

“Last night, Helmbekt also said this —— This is the truth?”

“Of course. Before Fandal-sama inherited the position of ‘Majin’, Fandal-sama and Zerdonato-san were already friends. We only recently found out about Zerdonato-san… Because of a certain reason, I came to see Zerdonato-san, it is a shame that he has passed away. Although I had such a hint of suspicion about this before.  After that, as I was arriving, I noticed the Magic Knight Squadron —— I was worried about what would happen, so I remained vigilant, it seemed like I was right.”

Alcain used elegant motions and tilted the teacup, sipping the red tea with a pleasant aroma.

Selo also drank the warm red tea. Although he didn’t understand the types of tea leaves, the taste was slightly different from the tea in this area. The texture was very fresh and a pleasant aftertaste would be left after drinking.

“Then, what did you want to find grandfather for?”

“En. It’s about the restoration of a unique magic tool, and Zerdonato-san seemed to be a very knowledgeable person, so I thought I might find out the ‘method to return to original’ —— Eh? What is it?”

Selo fixed his gaze at Alcain.

——He had completely treated Alcain as a sorcerer who was originally a “cat”.

“… So in other words, Alcain is actually human?”

“Of course. How can normal cats talk?”

Alcain smiled as he lightly tapped Selo’s shoulders with his paws.

“Never mind, I can understand your surprise. This kind of curse doesn’t have many examples since the age of myths. So, I don’t know the way to dispel it. It really causes a headache.”

Like he was talking about other people’s affairs, Alcain combed the hair around his face using his paws. Looking at his actions, it really would make people think that he was a cat from the start.

“Then did you embark on the journey to return to normal?”

“My purpose is not only this. Let us talk about other things when we get to know each other better.”

Alcain smiled mischievously, and pushed the brim of his hat while squinting his other eye.

“I, with those that attacked you —— have some conflict. But, the current me will find it difficult to face them by myself. Yesterday, I contacted my companions, they are on their way here.”

Selo blinked.

There were about thirty-odd people in the Magic Knight Squadron, and they were all supposed to be talented sorcerers. You definitely could not look down upon those who can fight on par with them.

“Companions as in Fandal-sama’s other disciples? How many people are there?”

“I don’t know when they’ll arrive, but only two people.”

Alcain replied casually, and Selo also nodded. It seemed like they didn’t plan to confront them frontally.

The disciples of Majin should all be excellent sorcerers, but with only these people, it should still be quite difficult to face off against the elite Magic Knights.

(I suppose it can’t be helped. The opponent is the Royal Magic Knight Squadron ——)

Thinking up to this point, Selo was reminded of Helmbekt’s words.

He seemed to have mentioned something about the “Magic Race”.

At the start, Helmbekt had explained to Selo that the scythe girl was one of the Magic Race, and the knights were Selo’s comrades —— But in reality, the girl and Helmbekt had worked together to deceive Selo.

“Alcain, do you know about the ‘Magic Race’?”

Alcain squinted his eyes.

“Did they proclaimed to be called that?”

“No, they said the ‘Magic Race’ had targeted me —— Then are they members of it?”

Alcain let out a “heh” and drank another mouthful of the sweet red tea.

“About them, there are still many things that are currently unclear. In these last two years, some sorcerers had some kind of change —— And ‘Magic Race’ is used to refer to the sorcerers that have changed. Helmbekt is also one of them. Apparently, they had already taken the powers of the Nelfowl Royal Family. I had originally planned to ascertain the truth of that after ending my business here.”

Alcain’s voice was very cool, but Selo’s heart was unable to calm down.

It wasn’t out of loyalty to the royal family, but rather the Doriarudo family that Fino was a part of, was a very important existence for him.

Before Selo had fell —— Helmbekt had also said.

“It’ll be alright, everything will go smoothly  —— Just like when ‘obtaining the authority of royalty’…”

Alcain nodded.

“To us, we cannot leave this be. However the opponent is the royal family, and we don’t have enough manpower, thus we cannot confront them. This is on the borders, as such ——“

Speaking until here, Alcain closed his mouth.

He fell silent for a moment, finished the red tea, and raised three fingers.

“Let’s not talk about it for now, back to the topic about the Magic Race. Normally, their appearances has no difference with that of normal sorcerers. From what I know, the Magic Race has three characteristics.”

Alcain seemed to have paused for a moment to grab Selo’s attention.

“Firstly, the Magic Race were originally normal sorcerers.

Secondly, their ability to ‘use’ magic tools skyrocketed.

And finally, they lost the ability to ‘craft’ magic tools——“

Alcain said emotionlessly.

To Selo who was not a sorcerer, what did this change mean, he didn’t understand. A lot of sorcerers were not good at crafting magic tools, and Selo couldn’t even use any.

Alcain looked at Selo for a moment, before continuing.

“In other words, The Magic Race lost the ability to ‘craft’ magic tools, and got the ability to ‘surpass limits when using’ magic tools in exchange. For example —— the Lighting Branch that could only start a small fire originally, could become an explosive weapon in the hands of the Magic Race.”

“I don’t really understand… But, can you say that they are uninterested in the crafting of magic tools?”

Hearing Selo’s straightforward thoughts, Alcain revealed a slight smile.

“It can’t be said like that. Although there are differences between each individuals, it was very likely for the majority of the Magic Race to enter an unstable mindset. Their desires would also increase, and could cause them to lose their conscience, or it could be said that they seemed to have sold their souls to the Devil —— And these actions would cause them to become troublesome people. We’ve known about their existences for less than a year, but have already discovered that their actions seemed to be organized. They are likely to develop into troublesome opponents from now on.”

“Was Alcain cursed by them?”

Facing this sudden question, Alcain helplessly nodded.

“It is so. It really is vexing.”

Although he said so, there was no sense of distress in his voice.

Selo fell into deep thoughts.

“Hearing you say that, I can finally understand. They seemed to have targeted grandfather’s magic tools. If they cannot craft any, then they would want to take the magic tools from others —— It was because I said I didn’t know about that kind of stuff, that I was pushed down the cliff by them.”

Alcain revealed a wry smile.

“Sorcerers will all think about robbing magic tools from others. It isn’t uncommon to take magic tools through murder. However, these fellows’ desire for powerful magic tools may be outrageously strong.”

Alcain casually said, and hugged his arms.

“Speaking of which, about the magic tool that the Magic Race wants. Isn’t it part of that noble Ordoba’s collection?”

Alcain asked curiously, and Selo thought back to what Helmbekt had said.

“En, he seemed to have said ‘Ring of Backflow’ or something like that…?”

“… What did you say?”

Alcain’s golden eyes suddenly squinted.

Feeling the danger of being attacked, Selo’s shoulders begun to tremble. Alcain’s atmosphere completely changed at that moment.

Selo timidly repeated once more.

“It seemed like… Ring of Backflow, I might have misheard.”

“That kind of thing would appear here?”

Alcain’s voice showed a terrifying tone that it had never contained before.

Selo was very confused, but he still explained what he had heard from Helmbekt again.

“I have no idea, grandfather didn’t tell me anything about it.”

He honestly answered, and Alcain’s glare finally softened.

“Did that person receive false information? The Ring of Backflow should be a magic tool that only exists in legends.”

Towards Selo, who was tilting his head, Alcain closed an eye.

“The Ring of Backflow, it has only appeared in ancient text, and is a magic tool that was never realized. It is a production of an “it would be great to have a magic tool like that” delusion. I’m not sure of the details either, but even Fandal-sama couldn’t craft it. Most likely it is an impossible existence.”

Following that, Alcain used his paws to cover the corner of his mouth and lightly laughed.

“They are looking for a non-existent magic tool. That is truly unbelievable. Although I don’t know why they are deliberately looking for that, but it sounds foolish. What do they want with it?”

“This isn’t funny. I nearly died because of it. Moreover, the Doriarudo family…”

Selo said as he felt terrified from his own association.

Those knights are at Fino’s side right now.

He didn’t know what kind of action they would take next, but if they thought that “the magic tool that they are searching for is hidden by Ordoba”, then the Doriarudo family might be attacked.

In order to make them aware of the dangers involved, Selo wanted to get into contact with Fino as fast as possible.

Perhaps guessing Selo’s thoughts, Alcain murmured thoughtfully.

“I have planned to continue staying here, waiting for my companions —— The problem is what you are going to do. They think that they have killed you already, and even without finding your corpse, they would think that you were eaten by wild beasts. The area you fell down is the habitat of the black wolves. If you leave like this, you can still be saved.”

“Stop joking around.”

Selo immediately answered.

“I don’t plan to waste this life you saved —— But, I cannot leave Fino alone. She is my friend. Furthermore, she must be worrying about me…”

If he didn’t let Fino know that he was fine, she will definitely show a terrifying expression in the future. An angry Fino was extremely terrifying from any perspective.

“Also, Ordoba-sama had hired me all this time, and he has been my savior. I don’t want to let the other people at the mansion get into danger, so I cannot escape alone.”

Selo replied strongly, and the black cat lowered his eyelids.

“Is Fino the girl that was with you at the fountain yesterday? —— Then, let me sort out the situation, you can choose these three options. No —— there are the only three options.

First, escape. Escape from the claws of the Magic Race, and live a stable life. But you rejected this choice.

Second, wait with me for reinforcements. Before my companions arrive, although we cannot guarantee the safety of the Doriarudo family, this is the safest option.

Then finally the third option, is that even after knowing the dangers, you still head towards the mansion, and contact the girl named Fino about the danger closing in. If you are really worried about her, then taking her with you is fine. —— However, this would provoke Helmbekt and co., and it may cause the opposite effect. What are you going to do?”

Hearing Alcain’s explanations, Selo fell into a deep ponder.

Since he couldn’t leave it be, he could only choose the third option. But, if doing so causes Fino and the rest to face danger, then it would lose its meaning.

Those knights were stationed at the mansion right now.

“If I could see Fino without being noticed —— Ah, could I ask people in the town to help pass on a message?”

“Passing on a message is too dangerous. Helmbekt is very crafty. If the people in town were dragged into this, they might even attack the entire town to prevent word from leaking out. Because they would suspect the one “who” saved you.”

Alcain, who pointed out the problem, stood up.

He placed the tablecloth and the tea set into the small backpack, while he raised his head to look at Selo.

“If they don’t recognize me, I can still go in for you as a cat —— But, unfortunately, my identity has already been exposed. About three months ago, Helmbekt and I met in another country. That idiot seems to be taking the responsibility of that incident and was transferred to here.”

“Ah? Isn’t that person a knight of the Nelfowl royal family?”

Alcain scratched his fluffy chin.

“Even I don’t know his real background, and only heard that the Magic Race had taken control of the Nelfowl royal family, so he must have changed his background to the adopted son of nobility. At least, he wasn’t a knight before, and was just a normal sorcerer. But whether his subordinates had all been turned into the Magic Race, or are just ignorantly obeying his orders—— This can’t be confirmed, but if we treat it as the worst situation, it would be the former.”

Selo knitted his eyebrows.

Helmbekt’s appearance was a handsome youth that suited the military uniform very well, Selo had thought that he must be a knight with an impressive background. If he never had the pride of nobles and loyalty towards the royal family, then Fino who was a noble would make people worry even more.

Alcain used his short hands to push his hat, and casually glanced towards Selo.

“I apologise, I cannot help you. The current me will find too much trouble dealing with that number of people. If you have to go, then you must have the resolve to go alone.”

Selo frankly nodded. Since the very beginning, he didn’t plan to drag Alcain, who had nothing to do with this.

“Then it is decided. Thank you for saving me, Alcain. It would be good if we could meet again.

Selo stood up simply, and Alcain’s golden eyes blinked multiple times.

“Eh? You are really going?”

“Because I cannot leave Fino alone. If she thought ‘I died’…”

Selo’s shoulders trembled.

He didn’t know what that girl who had deep faith in him would do.

Alcain tiled his head. He didn’t think Selo would be that resolute.

“No, but, this is really dangerous——“

“Underneath the Doriarudo home is a secret tunnel, even the people at the mansion forgot about it. Using this at the middle of the night, I think I can avoid the knights. It’ll be fine, I will be careful.”

Leaving behind Alcain, who had more to say, Selo walked towards the forest.

It was an area where the Belfry of Beast Avoidance didn’t have any effect. The sorcerer Alcain shouldn’t have any problems, but Selo must take this opportunity to go back near the town while there was still daylight.

Then, he will wait till the middle of the night, and sneak into the mansion.

Just when he took a step, Alcain’s paws suddenly made contact with his leg.

“Wait a moment, Selo. Take this.”

In front of Selo’s turned head, Alcain took out a transparent blue rock.

The size of it was similar to that of a biscuit, if it was turquoise then it would be worth a lot.

But, it felt a bit lighter than a rock in his hands, causing people to feel like it was hollow inside.

The surface of the stone had a layer of skin-deep pattern, it was an engraving of a double ring. (Note: it is ◎ shape)

“This is… Magic tool?”

Selo asked. Alcain lightly nodded.

“That’s right. If anything happens, it will definitely come into use.”

“—— Thank you. But, I cannot use magic tools.”

Selo smiled in return for Alcain’s thoughtfulness, and returned it to Alcain.

Looking at Selo from below, Alcain showed an expression of surprise.

“Cannot use magic tools…? Really? Aren’t you Zerdonato-san’s grandson?”

From a young age, the people surrounding him had asked him this question countless times.

He had hated other people’s scorn and pity at the start, but he didn’t mind it so much now.

“En, I can’t use nor craft magic tools. Grandfather said, I may just have such a constitution —— As long as they were used by me, any magic tool would break. Even beginner magic tools, such as the Lighting Branch, I can’t use it.”

Alcain squinted like he was pondering about something. Although his expression became very cat-like, there was still some sort of charm.”

“… Oh? That is uncommon.”

“It can’t be helped, I gave up already. So, I decided to become a pharmacist.”

Just when Selo was about to turn around, Alcain placed the blue stone into Selo’s hand again.

“But, you should still carry it. Even if you don’t use it like a magic tool. If you were caught by Helmbekt, then take this out, say that ‘a cat you met in the forest gave it to you’ ——“

“What is it…”

“A rock blessed by the God of Belfry Ledisma. It is a charm that can protect your life.”

Although he didn’t know what was going on, Selo still received the blue rock.

Under the sunlight, the pattern of the double ring seemed extremely clear.

“This is really pretty. Is it worth a lot?”

“No it isn’t. It is just very convenient. Be careful.”

Selo nodded towards Alcain, who was waving and smiling at him, and walked towards the town alone.

Obviously, he didn’t want to be discovered by the knights. Although he didn’t know if he could return to Alcain, he had to let Fino know first that he is safe —— Then after receiving her permission, he has to take her and escape out of the mansion.

Selo was impatient  and travelled through the forest quickly, he rushed towards the town of Misthound.


3-5

Watching the figure of the youth leaving, the black cat sorcerer smiled.

Selo’s appearance as he disregarded danger was a bit unreliable, but he still admired Selo’s qualities. He also hoped that this child wouldn’t die.

“…So young.”

Alcain couldn’t help but mutter to himself, and then squinted his eyes and put on his cloak.

This cloak that was the same colour as the dark night fluttered with the wind, and “darkness” would be created inside.

From that endless darkness, a small black bird flew out.

“I’m going to nap till the evening, if anything happens, wake me up.”

Alcain stretched lazily and said, then he used his claws to climb up a tree.

The bird let out a clear chirp and stopped on a nearby tree.

Although it didn’t look that different from a real bird, this bird was not an organism, but a magic tool that was used as a sentry.

Alcain treated it as an alarm.

Alcain lied on the tree as he thought back to Selo’s words.

“… A child that cannot use magic tools——“

From the depths of his squinted eyes, a dark light could be seen.

From what Alcain knows —— In this world, there doesn’t exist anyone that “cannot use magic tools”.

—— Because it was an impossible existence.

Mana was directly linked to one’s life force. As long as one is alive, the person can use their life force as “mana”.

Due to the difference of understanding its usage, the ability to use magic tools differed greatly between people. But, not being able to even use beginner magic tools, this was too abnormal.

In a sense, the usage of mana was similar to the usage of the brain.

All humans had a brain.

Due to this, as long as there is no special reason, no matter who it is, they will all think and feel. What they think about will differ between people, there are academics in the world, and there are those with excellent athletic senses, but there is no one without a brain.

The ability of a sorcerer, was like thinking, not everyone would become a first class sorcerer, and just hard work in one area can also be futile.

Zerdonato’s grandson should have the qualities to become an excellent sorcerer.

However, he couldn’t even use normal —— using the brain as an analogy, even magic tools that were as simple as single-digit calculation were “unable to be used”, something was clearly not right here.

“… If it was just a low mana pool then that would be normal. If it’s another reason ——“

Alcain stopped thinking and closed his eyes.

He could only sleep now, and prepare for the night. Selo would also take action in the night.

Alcain prayed that he can return unharmed, and fell into a slumber.



References

  1. N/a

[Vol 1] Chapter 2 – Beast of the Night



2-1

When Selo was a child, his grandfather always reminded him.

“Wild beasts lurk in the darkness of the night.”

Zerdonato did not say these words just to scare Selo.

For those harvesting herbs, this was a valuable experience.

“—— Listen up, Selo. The effectiveness of the herbs will differ between night and day, depending on what time they are harvested. Sometimes, even the actual effects will differ. Once you become a pharmacist, you will often go into the mountains at night. So you must remember. Even if you can’t see them, wild beasts lurk in the darkness of the night ——“

His grandfather had a very serious expression when he told this to Selo.

“The type of wild beasts that this old man is talking about, is not just those ferocious wild beasts that attack humans. No, most wild beasts actually fear humans and wouldn’t approach. But those that lurk within the night are existences that cannot tell the difference between friend or foe —— If it’s an enemy, then kill them; if it’s an ally, then help them; if it’s of no relavance, then ignore them. But you can’t identify the ones who lurk in the darkness of the night. That is the biggest issue.”

After that, Zerdonato used his rough hand to caress Selo’s head, while letting out a long sigh.

“Selo, you must be overcome your fear of the dark. At the same time, don’t forget to be vigilant. There are things in the dark. You might try to avoid them, but when you cannot avoid the darkness, you must remember to use your eyes to identify friend from foe. Have you remembered this?”

Everytime he heard his grandfather say this, the young Selo would lightly nod his head.

He didn’t fully understand the meaning behind his grandfather’s words, but he understood the dangers of the night from his natural instincts, and kept the vigilant of “what could be there”.

“Wild beasts lurk in the darkness of the night——“

Bears, boars, wolves, dryads… Even humans were a type of wild beasts.

Don’t show weakness towards your enemies.

Don’t raise a hand against your comrades.

Do not agitate unrelated people.

His grandfather’s words contained these meanings, and it was naturally all from his experience.

Perhaps grandfather Zerdonato understood the essence of darkness.

Although he was someone unsuited to small businesses, a stubborn and cold man, to Selo he was a kind grandfather.

Although his skills as a craftsman was not amazing, his hard working attitude earned recognition from his employer Ordoba, and became deeply trusted.

Because of this, the current Selo was able to reside within the mansion and continue working as a pharmacist.

Selo’s employer was a noble, and was also one of the most distinguished sorcerers on this land.

Different from the races like fairies, humans are unable to use magic without the use of magic tools.

And due to this, humans possess both the ability to “craft” and “use” magic tools.

People have different strengths, the ability to create and use magic tools also differ from person to person. There are sorcerers that can only use maic tools, and there are craftsmen that can only craft magic tools—— But, most sorcerers are also craftsmen, and most craftsmen are also sorcerers.

The difference between the two depended on “which side they leaned towards”, using or crafting.

But unfortunately for Selo, he had no talent for neither.

He couldn’t be like his grandfather Zerdonato and craft magic tools, he couldn’t even use them.

Any magic tools would be miraculously destroyed when they are used by Selo.

Using magic tools require talent and practice, it wasn’t uncommon for people to just be able to barely use magic tools. But there were barely any that couldn’t use magic tools even after practicing as much as Selo.

Among his friends of the same age, those who have the talent of using magic tools had already entered schools in larger cities. Those who are unable to become sorcerers have also found their own path, and would go on to live independently. For the arrival of that day, harvesting herbs was an important source of income, it was also an important round of training.

And so, Selo also headed into the forest today.

“Wild beasts lurk in the darkness of the night——“

Thinking back to his grandfather’s words, he found himself in the depths of the darkness.


2-2

The dense forest blocked out the weak traces of starlight, darkness surrounded Selo.

The apprentice pharmacist cautiously trod through the forest, relying on the dim light of his oil lamp.

The forest and mountain at night is a place you cannot let your guard down. Selo may be young, but he understood the dangers.

The left the main road, and stepped on the branches that had fallen onto the ground. His destination tonight was where the “Night Weeping Grass” were growing.

The effects of the Belfry of Beast Avoidance extended to around this area, if one was not a hunter, there was no way of entering the dense forest further away from where the Night Weeping Grass were growing.

Finally, a field of white bell shaped flowers appeared in front of Selo after climbing on top of a slope.

Because there were no trees in the flower field, the starry sky could be seen.

Seeing the open sky, Selo calmed down a bit and let out a sigh of relief.

“Hurray, the flowers have blossomed splendidly.”

He muttered happily. All of the “Night Weeping Grass” were already blooming with beautiful flowers.

This type of Night Weeping Grass was a type of herb that could only be harvested deep within the mountains.

The effects of harvesting it in the morning or night were different. When it was picked as a bud in the morning, it is a nutritious herb, while picked at night in full bloom, it would become an ingredient for vitality potion.

It can be used as cigarette when it is rolled up within a piece of paper or a leaf after mixing and drying it with other medicinal herbs, then drying it again after a period of fermentation.

Since it could be used to raise one’s concentration, it was a type of herb favored by many sorcerers, but because it was complicated to process, buying it from elsewhere would cost a lot.

So, creating the tobacco used in the Ordoba mansion became Selo’s duty.

Selo didn’t smoke, but for his master Ordoba and the craftsmen, smoking was a hobby that was hard to get rid of.

(… But, grandfather said that it was bad for the body.)

Fino also said that “it smells disgusting”, and so avoided tobacco.

He once attempted to convince Ordoba to control the use of tobacco, but it seemed like this type of herb was related to the crafting of magic tools. Thinking back, his grandfather Zerdonato used to smoke as well.

After arriving at where the Night Weeping Grass were grown, Selo sat down in the shade where he could see the entire field of flowers.

He couldn’t pick the leaves yet.

The Night Weeping Grass which blossomed at night has a special trait, and that was where its name originated from.

After midnight, when human and fairies have fallen asleep, this plant would let out “shushu” sounds like a little animal.

Apparently it was the the screeching of nocturnal insects within the area, but this theory was never proven to be true. But altogether, when the sound resonated, that was when the Night Weeping Grass would exhibit its effects.

Collecting it when it was weeping would make it an excellent herb.

Selo quietly waited for that moment to come.

He leaned back on the tree and gazed up into the night’s sky.

The stars shone brightly as well tonight.

At the corner of the night’s sky was “Kramkram’s garden”, where the stars gathered, an area of with all the colors in profusion.

Rumours said that it was where the gods lived, they had come here to create this world, then returned there.

Holding his hands up towards the sky, just within the area where his palm covered, was a world of myths.

When he was younger, Fino often told him about it.

The hardworking Fino who was also a sorcerer was very knowledgeable of the origins of the myths and the legends of gods. Teaching Selo who was younger than her may have been a way of revising what she had learnt.

The goddess of crops, Kelen, and the goddess of harvest, Elekna, dragged other gods into their sibling quarrel.

The legend of how Nirwario The Artisan God’s disciple, Lulubu The God of Crafting, disregarded godhood to become a human.

The reason for the forced separation of the goddesses of gemini, Ketica and Shutika, who loved each other deeply——

Fino told him all sorts of stories.

There was also a legend about the Night Weeping Grass.

“Selo did you know? Night Weeping Grass would cry because it is waiting for the deceased lover that will never appear no matter how long it has waited ——“

Until now, Selo still remembered her lisp, and the look on her face as she told the story.

About one to two hours later, when Selo was drowned in his memories, the sound of “weeping” could be heard beside his ear.

The sleepy Selo that heard the sound hurriedly stood up.

Shu —— Shu —— The surrounding Night Weeping Grass wept loudly.

They didn’t all start weeping at the same time, but after a few seconds, the number of weeps gradually increased.

The sound of weeping spreaded around like a wave.

At the same time, the top of the flower field was covered with a milky white light.

Little particles of light rose up from the flowers into the night sky.

Not long later, the scene started to look like a waterfall of light rising up towards the sky.

The power of spirits undetectable by humans is stored within the Night Weeping Grass. The moment when the power stored in the morning is released at night —— that was the most suitable moment for harvest.

Selo hurriedly harvested the leaves around him with his hands.

The chorus of Night Weeping Grass echoed throughout the night.

The weeping continued, and began to seem like a commotion of merriment.

It was rather loud.

The white bell-shaped flowers slightly vibrated, some of them also shook as if they were dancing.

Within most of these shaking flowers were insects.

To flowers, insects were important symbionts that carried their pollen. The pollen would stick onto the insect as it rolled within the flowers.

Selo felt a pang of headache from the noise created by the weeps of the Night Weeping Grass, and the friction between the stems and the leaves, so he quickened his pace to harvest.

The duration of weeps was only five minutes, there was no time to leisurely wait around.

He concentrated on his work, and placed the harvested leaves into the basket.

Right now, his concentration was only on the Night Weeping Grass.

Because he was too concentrated with work, Selo didn’t notice his surroundings.

—— So he didn’t realize something approached him from “within the darkness”.

Their footsteps were covered by the weeping of the Night Weeping Grass. “That shadow” approached Selo as if it was gliding.

A wild beast hidden within darkness ——

That existence stared intently at Selo.

The beast stared at the unknowing Selo, and pulled its bow from afar.

The arrow in its hand stored the radiance of thunder, without an arrowhead or a fletching, it didn’t even have a physical shape.

The weeping of the Night Weeping Grass covered the presence of the shooter.

And so, the shooter shot the arrow of thunder towards Selo without hesitating.


2-3

Tonight, Fino sank into her overly soft bed, gazing blankly at the dark ceiling.

She had dinner with her family tonight after a long time.

To tell the truth, it wasn’t that happy.

The only other person present with her adoptive father was that squad captain called Helmbekt, and he was very good at starting a conversation.

He spoke a lot on topics that many noble ladies loved to hear, such as the trend of clothes and playthings in the capital, and the production by the Royal Theatre. If the listener wasn’t Fino, then they would definitely be very impressed.

But to Fino who didn’t care much for trends, these topics didn’t matter, she had to continuously put up a courteous smile to muddle through.

Fino didn’t hate the trend, but always felt like it was irrelevant to herself who was at the countryside.

But she wasn’t completely uninterested in what Helmbekt was talking about.

When eating dessert, Fino became very interested in a topic he brought up.

“Speaking of which, Ordoba-sama. Did you know? In the far west, there are rumours of the disappearance of the Majin Fandal and the ‘Staff of the Magic God’ ——”

Hearing what Helmbekt said to her adoptive father, Fino’s eyes blinked a few times.

Father seemed surprised as well, the fruit knife he was using was also dangling in midair.

Majin Fandal ——

To those wanting to become sorcerers, this name was a kind of belief.

This world had “Six Sages”, existences that protected special magic tools.

Majin, Gakujin, Seijin, Kojin, Bujin, and Ryujin ——  

They were responsible for managing and guarding the magic tools that the gods had left on this land —— the “Divine Tools”.

The “Magic God’s Staff” that holds the power of creation.

The “Music God’s Harp” that can waver hearts.

The “Sacred God’s Stone” that was imbued with the god’s blessing.

The “Artisan God’s Golden Hammer” that can forge everything anew.

The “War God’s Blade” that can slice through what cannot be seen.

And, the “Dragon God’s Horn” that the Dragon God broke off himself.

Majin Fandal is the current sorcerer that guards the Magic God’s Staff.

His background is unknown, all that is known about him is his outstanding talent shown in his teens. As an elder now, he has become the most talented sorcerer known to man.

According to the rumours, this kind of person had gone missing, this was unbelievable.

“How.. Is this confirmed?”

Towards Ordoba’s question, Helmbekt revealed a bitter smile.

“No, this is only a rumour. This is after all a rumour from afar, it’s very difficult to determine its validity. But, if this was true, then there’s going to be a lot of trouble.”

Helmbekt replied using an intrigued tone. This was a weird incident in a faraway foreign country, to him it was only “interesting and weird news”.

Ordoba nodded seriously.

“That’s true. Sacred items have been stolen by heartless people before —— if it wasn’t handled properly, another “Sin War” may occur. I hope this is only a baseless rumour.”

Fino could empathize with her adoptive father.

Rumours were something very irresponsible, and were often exaggerated.Even interesting things would lose their original meaning after being exaggerated.

The rumours that started this spring were also very exaggerated.

“A deal between the royalty and Magic Race, slaughtering all their relatives——“

For a rumour to become like this, it could be viewed as adverse.

There was also no method of determining the validity of Majin Fandal’s disappearance.

Even Helmbekt who brought up the topic only said it was a baseless rumour.

“Majin is old, so if the rumour said that he passed away, it would be more believable, but it said “disappearance”, that’s really weird. However, among the remaining Six Sages… No, aside from Majin Fandal, it should be Five Sages, there is a rumour that their servants are starting to search for Fandal’s whereabout. I hope nothing happens.”

Hearing his words, even the sweet dessert started to lose its taste.

Fino actually knows this sorcerer named “Fandal”.

But, she never brought it up to her adoptive father, and of course there was no way for Helmbekt to know.

Before moving here, when she was living with her mother —— “Majin” Fandal once visited Fino.

Fino doesn’t remember what he looked like —— actually she couldn’t even see.

At that time, Fino had lost her vision due to the sequelae of her high fever,

The one who cured Fino’s eyes was Majin Fandal.

Mother and Fandal seemed to be acquainted, Fino still remembered her mother happily thanking the Majin.

Before the bandages were taken off Fino’s eyes, Fandal had already started his journey and they never saw each other again after that.

That’s why to Fino, Majin Fandal is a great benefactor.

(That grandpa… is missing?)

Fino laid on her bed and let out a sigh.

Because she had never seen his face, his appearance didn’t appear in Fino’s mind. But, she still remembered his soothing voice.

“Little miss, allow me to grant you a new pair of eyes ——“

That affectionate voice had saved the younger Fino.

“… No, I can’t sleep.”

She had assumed her being unable to fall asleep was due to the rumour Helmbekt mentioned, but now that she thought about it, its because she had taken a nap on Selo’s bed earlier today.

Noticing this, Fino sat up.

In these restless nights, she had gotten used to go and find Selo to improve her mood. However, it seems like he wasn’t here today and the shawl she had left there had been handed to her by Kardena.

(Since he was giving it back, it would have been better if Selo gave it back to me directly——)

Although she was thinking as such, Selo had just been scolded by Ordoba, so he probably didn’t want to get into even more trouble.

Kardena seemed to have said that Selo was going into the mountains to harvest some herbs tonight.

He was only a fourteen years old teenager, and Fino was worried about him going into the mountains at night by himself. Although the “Belfry of Beast Avoidance” was still in effect, Selo was unable to use magic tools and wasn’t proficient at handling a sword.

Most importantly, Selo had a cute face like a girl’s that would make people want to prank him. Seeing those trusting eyes would even make Fino waver.

Selo didn’t seem to notice her worries.

Thinking about the young man in the mountain, Fino let out a long sigh.

—— He cannot become a sorcerer.

He can’t use magic tools.

He was unable to use even the simplest magic tools that children can use.

“That’s why, he is undeserving of your friendship——“

She did know when Ordoba had once said that to her.

“You’re not a child anymore, keep that in your mind.”

“You and him live in different worlds.”

“One day, you will marry into another house, don’t always say some irresponsible things.”

Every time Fino got scolded by him, she would rebut him and run to Selo.

——Recently Selo seemed to take the initiative in keeping a distance from me. I feel so lonely.”

“Selo seemed to have forgotten ——the things from the past.”

Fino muttered, then feeling thirsty, she walked out of her room.

Her eyes had already accustomed to the darkness, and so she didn’t feel any unease walking in the dark corridor. She walked down the stairs without a lamp.

At this moment, some kind of footstep could be heard.

(A servant…?)

Thinking this, Fino shouted.

“Is anyone there?”

——There was no answer.

But, she definitely felt someone there.

The surprised Fino walked forward vigilantly. Although the mansion didn’t allow unauthorized personnel in, but the Magic Knights Squadron were here today.

She got ready and peeked her head over the corner of the corridor——

A small figure dashed into the room next door.

It looked like a child, but not a human. But since she only caught a glance of the shadow, she couldn’t make sure, judging from its posture though, it looked like a wild beast with four legs.

An animal like a dog, cat or rabbit.

But —— At its waist seemed to be a very short “sword” sheath.

A short stature and carried a weapon, it could be a young goblin.

Goblins are short monsters that live in the forest, they have no language to communicate with, but have the knowledge to use simple tools, and lived in a horde. They won’t appear within cities or towns, but would attack travellers to steal their weapon and food. They were one kind of wild beast that people have to take care against.

However, as far as what Fino has heard of, they stood on two feet like humans, and they were not as agile as that shadow.

“Someone! Wake up!”

Fino shouted and walked backwards.

It didn’t matter if the other party was a wild beast or something else, if they were hostile to herself, then they must attack with caution.

After that, the sound of a window opening could be heard.

Fino chased from the rear and halted in front of the open window, then she bit her lips.

Right now, she didn’t have any magic tools for self defense, she can’t chase recklessly.

“Someone! Come here quickly! There’s a thief!”

After shouting “thief”, Fino knitted her eyebrows. She couldn’t tell if the escaped figure was a thief, she wasn’t even sure whether if it was a human or a beast.

“Ojou-sama! What is it!”

Soon after, several servants that heard the commotion rushed over. Ordoba also showed up not knowing what happened.

Fino used her hands to suppress her racing heart, and said to the servants.

“Just now there was a weird figure here —— When I approached it, it escaped from the window in the room. Check if anything is missing. Also, please increase the security around here, we aren’t sure if it was human.”

Hearing Fino’s words, Ordoba’s expression darkened.

Speaking of the items that are most in danger, that would be Ordoba’s important collection —— Those rare and valuable “magic tools”.

Those who had their eyes on magic tools won’t only be human. In this world, there are many other races aside from humans, although Fino had not met any of them, it was said that among the wild beasts, some could also speak human language.

It didn’t matter what the intruder was —— From the small footprints on the mattress in the room, it was likely to be non-human.

Ordoba and Fino opened the window and looked outside.

There were weird footprints underneath the window. They traced through the courtyard and went towards the town, but the footprints disappeared in the middle.

A servant’s shout could be heard from the corridor.

“Master! The lock on the kitchen door is broken! There are also traces of disarray on the racks in the storage room——“

Fino’s body stiffened.

This was the first time she encountered a thief ever since she moved into this mansion.

“I understand. Continue chasing the thief, I will check the laboratory.”

Fino quickly passed by her adoptive father’s back.

“Father, do you have any ideas…?”

“Are you talking about the backgrounds of the thief? How is that possible. But I have an idea of what they have their eyes on. If it was really a thief, then they should have their eyes on my collection.”

Ordoba clicked his tongue and quickened his pace towards the laboratory, then he stood in front of warehouse door nearby.

There was a lock that keys can’t open here —— A magic lock called “Admonition of the Ancestors”.

It looked just like a stone tablet that was fixed onto the door, there was no resemblance of a lock at all.

However, there were seals carved on top of the tablet, any sorcerer could tell its purpose.

Fino didn’t know the method of opening the lock. One could randomly set the unlocking sequence upon installing this type of special magic lock. It could not be opened without fulfilling the pre-set condition.

It could be opened with a chant and resonation with another magic tool, it could be through fingerprint or voice checks, it all depended on the user.

To Ordoba who lacked any relatives outside of his adoptive daughter Fino, the magic tools protected by this lock were akin to family.

There were naturally no signs of the lock being opened. But, the cautious Ordoba wasn’t satisfied without seeing the actual items, so he reached his hand towards the lock.

Then, he used a soft voice that Fino couldn’t hear to say several words, and quickly moved his fingers around.

The stone tablet on the door slowly floated up and separated in two halves as it shone brightly and became uneven.

Ordoba illuminated the room with a lamp.

Seeing the neatly arranged precious magic tools, the adoptive father let out a sigh of relief and locked the door once again.

Even Fino was not allowed into the warehouse, she didn’t know what type of magic tools were inside and was not interested.

“Was there no problem?”

“En, seems like it wasn’t destroyed. Apart from me, no one can open this door.”

Although his tone was firm, he appeared to be very anxious previously. Ordoba had a large physique, and a serious expression, no one would expect that he was surprising sensitive.

Just then, Fino noticed something.

It didn’t matter how much commotion the servants made, or how brightly lit was the mansion——

The guests did not show up.

The Magic Knight Squadron was living elsewhere, but their captain Helmbekt and his guards were staying in this mansion.

“… Did the people of the Knight Squadron not appear?”

Ordoba lightly muttered.

“What are you saying? Unless you think the thief’s identity is…”

“I didn’t say anything.”

Fino calmly replied, but Ordoba helplessly lowered his shoulders.

“Helmbekt-san and the rest said they would go out just now. They will come back later. Don’t hold such weird suspicions.”

“Go out —— At this hour?”

Fino became more skeptical, but hearing his daughter’s words, he knitted his eyebrows.

“He probably brought his subordinates to the bar. I heard that the knights continued to train during the journey, so they may have gone to train as well. No matter what, they shouldn’t have any relationships with the intruder. Unless the thief looked like a knight?”

Hearing her father’s question, Fino shook her head.

“No, it looked like a small beast with four legs, but because it was too dark… I couldn’t see all too clearly.”

Ordoba knitted his eyebrows in surprise.

“You said beast——? Then it seems like it isn’t the ‘Magic Race’.”

The words that came out of her adoptive father’s mouth made Fino tilt her head.

“Magic Race? The Magic Race which appears in legends?”

The Magic Race did appear within the world of legends

In the ancient times, the gods created everything in this world, calling it a “gift”. Aside from the six Divine Tools, the many difference species of animals and plants as well as the land itself, even feelings and fate were all gifts from the gods.

But, the world also created things that were not the “gifts” of the gods.

Side products, leftovers, twisted, useless thing, evil force, cursed existence —— Scholars have many hypothesis for these existences. But, these beings without the blessing of the gods, they were called the “Magic Race” in the world of legends.

This concept only existed in legends and had no solid evidence.

That’s why, Fino was undoubtedly confused when her adoptive father mixed up reality and legends.

Fino looked up at Ordoba, a bitter smile appeared on his face. Knowing that his precious magic tools were safe, he seemed to be at ease.

“Haha, you didn’t know. ‘Magic Race’ is a code between fellow sorcerers. They have no official name —— Recently, there is a weird rumour. But it doesn’t matter. It’s rather late, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

Fino was quite interested in the content of the topic, but Ordoba immediately ordered the guard to increase the security of the mansion.

After her adoptive father left, Fino surveyed around uneasily.

Although nothing was stolen, Fino still walked into the corridor without the servants knowing.

She walked towards Selo’s home.

Selo went to harvest Night Weeping Grass, and so he might return very late at night.

He shouldn’t be back yet, but Fino was still worried whether his home was messed up by the intruder earlier.

Fino turned around to the new servant and said softly.

“I’ll look around the mansion, if there is anything then report to father.”

She couldn’t say that she was going to Selo’s home.

If she said it to Kardena, she would have replied “It’s too dangerous”, and stop Fino. But the new servant was tried by Fino’s strong attitude.

Holding a portable lamp, Fino arrived at the courtyard, the surroundings were darker than she had imagined.

In the sky above the mountain, a large moon rose from the east, it should brighten up the night a while later.

Fino passed through the small forest in the courtyard and arrived in front of Selo’s door.

It was pitch black inside the small house without its owner, even Fino who has long become used to this felt a little fearful.

She opened the unlocked door and walked inside.

Although she was just here at noon, but it still looked terrifying on the outside. Now inside, she could feel at ease. Because she can smell Selo’s scent, Fino stopped and uttered.

“Selo—— It seems like he’s not back yet…”

Fino muttered to herself, and placed the lamp on the table.

This lamp was also a magic tool, the official name being “Light of the Night”. It was a beginner’s magic tool for lighting, even children could use it.

It wasn’t a high class magic tool that could be used for prolonged periods of time, as it will deteriorate over time, it must be changed after a year of usage, thus it could be treated as a consumable. For any magic items used in daily lives, it wasn’t uncommon for them to be thrown away after usage.

But, even if its magic tools like these, the moment Selo tries to use it, it will miraculously break.

Everyone says that it’s because he has no talent for it, like it’s his weakness, but Fino could not agree with such an analysis no matter what is said.

Although hearing people speak poorly about Selo annoyed her, she had a feeling of dissonance that everyone missed something.

(Selo… really can’t use magic tools?)

Fino thought this to be unbelievable. Especially since Selo’s grandfather Zerdonato is an excellent magic tool artisan.

Since Selo inherited Zerdonato’s bloodline, it was very unnatural that he was unable to use magic tools.

Fino surveyed Selo’s room.

The suspicious person didn’t seem to have come here, the room was no different from its usual state.

It’s just that the magic tools Selo’s grandfather had left behind were placed on top of the table.

Because Selo couldn’t use magic tools, these things were just “the deceased grandfather’s remnants.”

The Bell of Beast Avoidance, Key of the Snake, and the unknown black rock——

Selo couldn’t use any one of them, but he treasured these magic tools.

Anything important to Selo, Fino would value just as much.

Fino used her delicate fingertip to lightly tap the black rock.

It was neither cold nor hot.

The rock had a normal temperature, it was smooth like a person’s skin, but also very hard at the same time.

But, most importantly —— “What kind of magic tool was it”, nobody knew. It might still be unfinished, or it’s a rock with a special purpose.

Using her fingertips to tap the rock, Fino begun to wait for Selo’s return.

—— She was kind of worried about the incident this afternoon.

She was discovered here by her adoptive father, then —— Selo was most likely warned again.

Fino could imagine what her adoptive father said, she also knew Selo must be in a sullen mood. Because Fino understood his careful personality.

But, compared to Selo who was both a servant and a child, Ordoba’s anger was more towards Fino who was his adoptive daughter and a noble.

Ordoba was very dissatisfied with her actions as a noble, his younger sister, Fino’s mother also had a similar personality and had discarded the family name of Doriarudo.

As a result, before her mother died, Fino didn’t know her own family background, and did not know that noble blood flows within her veins.

(It was originally not such an amazing household——)

013 Although she was quite apologetic towards Ordoba who was very concerned with the appearance of nobility, Fino really thought so.

In simpler terms, Fino knew that their views were different, and having her own views restricted would cause her to suffer.

Selo’s existence to Fino could be said as a type of salvation. As long as she was in front of him, Fino could be herself and not the “ojou-sama of nobility”.

Leaning forward with her elbows on the table, Fino used her fingertips to tap the black rock.

“Selo, why aren’t you back yet…”

Her chest was rather restless tonight.

And so, Fino continued to wait.

She stopped applying mana into the lamp, and so the “Light of the Night” lost its radiance, the room was soon shrouded with darkness.

Fino caressed the black rock, and about an hour later, she was already half asleep —— At that moment, the door creaked.

“Selo!”

Fino reflectively stood up and ran towards the door.

However, the person standing there wasn’t Selo, but Kardena the maid.

Seeing Fino in the room, she knitted her eyebrows and sagged her shoulders.

“… Ojou-sama, I saw that you haven’t returned to your room, and thought you might have come here —— Now, follow me back. Before Ordoba-sama finds out, let’s go.”

Kardena grabbed Fino’s elbow and pulled Fino with a lot of strength.

Fino was confused, but still left Selo’s home reluctantly.

“You actually discovered me here, Kardena.”

When she was sleeping in Selo’s home at noon, Kardena seemed to have seen her. Fino heard later that heard that when she was sleeping, Kardena only called her name and didn’t enter the house.

Kardena sighed.

“It’s not about knowing or not, in the middle of the night, ojou-sama couldn’t have gone anywhere else… Seriously, this will cause trouble for Selo. That child is already fourteen, if he’s always with ojou-sama, he wouldn’t have any time to himself.”

Hearing Kardena’s complaint, Fino also sighed.

She needed Selo, Selo also needed her —— Fino had deep faith in this.

So she wasn’t happy with Kardena’s comment.

Furthermore, Fino had no intention of being a hindrance to Selo or hold him back. She was just worried about Selo tonight, and did not stop him from harvesting herbs.

As long as there was still time for the two of them aside from that ——She only hoped to treasure the time they have together.

She thought that Selo also shared that feeling, no matter how small.

Kardena pulled Fino’s hand and led her back to the mansion.

The commotion caused by the suspicious person seemed to have ended, and silence returned to the mansion. There was still no sight of the knights.

Gazing out of the window, the giant moon had reached its peak.

Other stars merely seemed like small specks of light. In comparison, only the moon gave people a clear impression of being “nearby”.

The moon was larger than the faraway mountain, if the image in front could be painted, then about a quarter of the painting would be covered by the moon.

Seeing the height of the moon —— Fino felt a sudden sense of unease. 

“Kardena, do you know what time it is?”

Because she slept a while at Selo’s home, her concept of time was very fuzzy.

Kardena lightly tilted her head, and whispered.

“It’s just past midnight… Is there a problem?”

Fino didn’t know how to answer that.

Selo should be back by now.

No matter how slow, if he wasn’t back within an hour, then it would be weird.

“Ne, Selo went up into the mountains. Will he be alright…?”

Kardena nodded to the worrying Fino.

“Selo will be fine. Even if he encountered the intruder that ojou-sama discovered he will be fine —— That child’s luck is pretty good and he’s quite brave.”

These words made Fino even more worried, she held down on her own chest.

“Selo, he isn’t “brave”, just “slow”. Can I go to meet him?”

“Of course not, it’s already so late.”

Kardena immediately stopped her.

This was the natural reaction as Kardena was both her maid and her security guard.

Fino thought for a moment, and continued to say using a dejected tone.

“Then can I go on a ride using the Celestial Wooden Horse? Taking a walk at night is very pleasant.”

“—— Ojou-sama, why can’t you give up. No matter what, I won’ allow you to go out. Selo will be back soon, don’t worry about him.”

Kardena replied using a tone unlike that of a servant and pushed Fino into her bedroom.

Originally thinking that she would stand guard in the corridor, Fino didn’t expect her to follow inside.

This troubled Fino. Compared to before, she was far stricter tonight. It seems to be the result of her nap at Selo’s home.

“Hey! Are you going to stand guard until I fall asleep…?”

“Yes. Tonight, I will not let ojou-sama escape from the window.

Kardena calmly repled.

“… Nnngh.”

Fino didn’t know what Kardena was thinking about ——

While she reached her hand into a small pouch on the table.

“——Nevermind, it can’t be helped. Then good night. Kardena.

“Yes, please take a good rest, ojou-sama.”

Facing the relaxed Kardena, Fino revealed a saint-like smile.

“No, the one who will sleep is you.”

“Ah?”

Fino pointed the defensive magic tool in her pouch —— “Fainting Perfume” towards Kardena’s nose tip, and lightly sprayed out a bit of mist.

This wasn’t a normal drug, but a magic tool that needed a small amount of mana input to use.

Kardena’s eyes soon became cloudy and weakly fell onto the floor.

“… Sorry, Kardena. I’m really worried about tonight’s circumstances.”

Just now, Fino had an unexplained sense of unease.

She wasn’t completely confident in her own intuition, but was just too mindful to fall asleep.

Letting Kardena sleep on her own bed, Fino changed into more comfortable clothing to travel in.

She knows the location of the Night Weeping Grass. Although it was kind of far, she would arrive without much trouble with the Celestial Wooden Horse.

And so, Fino silently left the mansion under the moon.


2-4

In the field of Night Weeping Grass, Selo was harvesting the leaves.

The small particles of light rising from the flowers caused his vision to blur.

The weeping sound had not stopped, and he started to feel paralyzed, the sound began to seem like endless ringing in his eardrums.

If it was only a patch of Night Weeping Grass, then the “shushu” sound would seem like the weeping of sadness, yet the chorus only sounded like unwanted noise.

In the echoing weeps —— Selo suddenly heard another sound.

“Danger! Take cover!”

As the young man’s voice rang out, the ground beside Selo suddenly stood up.

The ground became a rectangular wall, and the sound of cracking could be heard from the other side.

Selo didn’t know what happened and stood dumbfounded.

“Selo! It’s too dangerous there, come here!”

The sound seemed to meld with the weeping of the Night Weeping Grass.

Turning his head, he saw a military uniform clad youth ——

In his hand was a staff shaped magic tool as he ran towards Selo.

“Ah? Helmbekt-san?”

Confirming it was the captain of the Royal Magic Knight squadron he had met today, Selo was even more confused.

Just as he was unable to understand what was going on, a loud crack could be heard from the stone wall next to him.

“Come over here quickly! The wall won’t hold on for much longer!”

Helmbekt shouted, and stabbed his staff into the ground.

As he pulled out the staff once again, another stone wall erupted beside Selo.

The Night Weeping Grass let out a “Ss! Ss!” sound as they were uprooted. On the other side of the wall, the third crack could be heard.

Selo hurried over to Helmbekt’s side.

He immediately grabbed Selo’s back and waved his staff-shaped magic tool. The arrows of light from within the forest were vanquished by his staff.

Although he wasn’t sure what kind of magic tool that staff was, Selo recognized those incoming arrows.

“Bow of Spring’s Thunder” —— It was a beginner magic tool often used by hunters. When hit by the arrows, the victim will suffer a shock of electricity.

Its precision was dependent on the archer’s ability like a real bow. The arrows are just electricity, and would not pierce through the victim’s body.

The victim will usually lose consciousness due to the paralysis —— If they were unlucky, then the heart may be paralysed. In simpler terms, this is a weapon used to seal the enemy’s movements and not for killing.

The archer was hidden within the forest, and couldn’t be seen. Perhaps sensing that the rock wall has not fully cracked, the flurry of arrows stopped.

Helmbekt, who suddenly appeared and saved Selo, showed a relieved smile.

His handsome face was covered in sweat.

The young military commander lightly patted Selo’s back.

“It’s great that you’re alright. It was really dangerous just now,”

Not knowing what happened, Selo was very confused. However, it was true that Helmbekt had just saved him.

“Yes, oh right —— Thank you very much. But, why are you here…”

“Of course it was to protect you. Although I do feel apologetic, but I had been following you.”

Hearing his reply, Selo was speechless. This means that he had already predicted the possibility of Selo “getting attacked”.

“Protect me, why? Also, who was the archer just now…”

“I’ll explain later —— Incoming!”

Helmbekt grabbed Selo’s elbow tightly.

Immediately, “Lightning” fall upon Selo’s location.

“What!?”

Although weaker than real lightning, getting hit by it wasn’t a laughing matter either.

“It seems like that person is proficient at thunder-type magic tools. Not bad!”

Helmbekt exclaimed, using his staff to tap the ground several times.

“Rise, Rock Dolls!”

All around the flower field, dolls created from the soil responded to his call and stood up.

Their movements were slow, but they numbered many.

However, compared to the number of dolls, Selo’s consciousness was elsewhere.

“Ahhhhhhh! The flower field of Night Weeping Grass…!”

Since the roots were uncovered along with the ground, the rare Night Weeping Grass habitat was reduced to a sorrowful ruin in a few moments.

Although there were sufficient harvest tonight, the growth of the Night Weeping Grass was endangered.

“Stop it! If you continue, these precious herbs will…”

“Now’s not the time to worry about that!”

Helmbekt’s rebuttal became one with the wind ripping sound.

A sudden wind blew over Selo, who was protecting his head with both hands.

Immediately afterwards, the freshly made rock dolls were split into two and crumbled onto the ground.

Selo raised his head and saw the shadow of the assassin at the corner of the flower field.

“…. Ah? A girl…?”

Selo stared at the shadow surprisingly.

Standing there was a girl in all black with a cold mask across her face.

Knee length boots and short skirt, gloves that covered her arm and mask that covered her face, these were all black.

Aside from her white shoulders and waist that was revealed, the most eye catching thing was the giant “scythe” in her hands.

The length of the handle was about her body height.

The curved blade had a black engraving that seemed like traces of blood, making it terrifying at first glance.

Under the moonlight, Selo couldn’t help but link the scythe in front of him to that of the Grim Reaper’s. Her eyes were covered by a mask with a thin line, strengthening his imagination.

On the girl’s back was a bow.

That was most likely the “Bow of Spring’s Thunder” that had been used to shoot Selo.

The shattered rock dolls that Helmbekt had just summoned was still moving. Even though they were split in half, they could still use their two limbs to creep forward.

The masked girl swiftly waved her scythe.

Her clear voice rang out between the chorus of the Night Weeping Grass.

“O brave Thunder God Nemuare, please aid your humble servant——“

Hearing her whisper, Helmbekt’s expression darkened.

“Selo, you still have some strength left right? Let’s run.”

“Ah, yes——“

“Then let’s retreat here!”

The moment Selo’s elbow was pulled, countless traces of light flew across the flower field.

Beast-shaped lightning flew out of the girl’s scythe, and pierced towards Selo’s fleeing back.

All around him, the rock dolls were engulfed by the lightning, breaking into smithereens. The basket in Selo’s hand also fell onto the ground, but he had no time to pick it up.

(If I get hit by the lightning——!)

While running, Helmbekt squinted at Selo.

“I apologise for only coming to save you now. She seems to be an enemy that’s hard to handle.”

The young Magic Knight waved the crude staff.

The pieces of rock from the golems followed his movements and became an obstacle to stop the lightning.

The beast-shaped lightning seemed to have seen its prey and destroyed those rocks.

Using this moment, the two of them escaped the flower field.

As they were running in the dark forest, Selo asked Helmbekt.

“What was that just now! How can magic tools be so strong…!”

“That was “Scythe of the Thunder Beasts”. It’s a treasure stolen from the royalty a while back. However, to wield it to this level, it seems like that person is a follower of the Thunder God.”

Helmbekt replied calmly.

When combining magic tools and the user’s “faith”, its power will increase. If you wished to increase the power of the magic tools, increasing your faith with the god related to the magic tool was a shortcut.

“But, we can’t wait around aimlessly. Escape with me. My subordinates has set a trap in front.”

Selo, who couldn’t use magic tools could only comply.

Helmbekt seems to be relatively familiar with the forest, his steps did not show any hesitation.

The two of them ventured deeper into the forest without sensing any pursuers.

“… The girl just now doesn’t seem to have followed?”

“She must be being cautious. But, the girl has set her sight on “you”. We cannot afford to be careless.”

Hearing this, Selo became very confused. He has never been targeted by anyone with such a powerful magic tool.

“I wanted to ask just now, why me? I’m just a normal apprentice pharmacist…”

“It is so, but the problem lies with your grandfather.”

Helmbekt slowed his steps, and remained vigilant. Selo took in deep breaths, and could barely catch his breath.

They had arrived at the deepest parts of the forest. The “Belfry of Beast Avoidance” could not affect the surroundings, the nocturnal wild beasts were terrifying, so was the girl with the scythe.

The young knight whispered.

“Your grandfather Zerdonato-san, was a great magic tool craftsman. You naturally know this right?”

Hearing his question, Selo lightly tilted his head.

“He wasn’t exactly great… Only a normal artisan. I think grandfather was a hard working magic tool craftsman, but his skills wasn’t much better than the others.”

“—— Is that so. Then after escaping here, it seems like he really hid

Helmbekt lightly said, and raised his hand.

It seems like his subordinate knights were waiting in the dense forest.

Helmbekt gave a cue to them, and led Selo deeper into the forest.

“… Are we not meeting up with them?”

“They are creating a boundary. After all, our mission is ensuring your safety.”

Helmbekt smiled once more and tugged Selo’s arm.

“Zerdonato-san brought you up right? Didn’t you notice anything ‘weird’?”

From what Selo knew —— His grandfather Zerdonato’s lifestyle was indeed somewhat mysterious. Although he didn’t know what happened in the past, he could guess there was a particular reason for that.

“I don’t know anything about grandfather’s past. So even if you tell me that he was a excellent craftsman, I wouldn’t know anything.”

Selo replied truthfully.

Hembekt scratched his chin as he walked.

“Is that so —— As a matter of fact, your grandfather Zerdonato-san was a friend of the Majin Fandal, they seemed to have crafted magic tools together in the past.”

Selo was shocked. Although he wasn’t a sorcerer, Selo still knew the name of “Majin”.

The Six Sages protecting the Divine Tools gifted by the gods —— Generation after generation, those people who took upon this responsibility had more power than the king of a country. Even the authority of the royalty was useless in front of them.

The silent Zerdonato had such an impressive past, this made Selo not sure how to react.

“What.. My grandfather. He…”

“This is a fact. We only recently grasped this information. Also, about the assassin just now…”

Helmbekt squinted his eyes and stared at Selo.

“That girl is most likely one of the “Magic Race” —— In order to obtain the magic tools left behind by Zerdonato, she wanted to get some information from you.”

“Maigc Race…? Ah, the Magic Race as in the one that appears in myths?”

Helmbekt showed a faint smile.

“They only named themselves according to the legends, they aren’t the real Magic Race. They were only called so by someone for convenience, but it has now become a common term. All of them are excellent sorcerers and collect powerful magic tools from everywhere. Although I don’t know how they are organized and why they collect magic tools, the treasury of the royalty was robbed a few days prior —— Like I said before, the weapon in her hand was stolen from there.”

He said without a hint of care.

Although name like this was very exaggerated, but to sorcerers, taking inspiration from myths and legends was very common.

“So—— You are trying to catch the ones who have robbed the treasury…?”

“No, that is the job of other squadrons. Our duty is to protect the “remnants of magic tool craftsman Zerdonato” —— At the same time, protect his grandson. Because we predicted that those rascals would have targeted you.”

As they walked, the forest in front of them suddenly disappeared.

This was a cliff that would make people’s limbs tremble in fear. Selo had never been close to anywhere so dangerous.

“Helmbekt-san, the cliff is in front, is there no method of passing…”

“I know, don’t worry. My subordinates will protect us, so those people won’t reach here.”

Helmbekt stopped his steps and gazed towards the night sky.

Selo also looked in the same direction.

On the other side of the cliff was plains and forests, with some mountains mixed in between. Above their heads was a huge full moon.

Although Selo was used to seeing moonlight like this, to view it from this kind of clearing was still overwhelming.

Bathed underneath the light with traces of blue, Selo’s shoulders suddenly shook.

—— At that moment, he felt an unknown source of evil.

Helmbekt looked towards Selo.

“… Let us continue. You are targeted by them. The reason is the magic tools left behind by Zerdonato-san. As it is, you can understand as his grandson right?”

“Are you… Talking about the black rock I took out in the morning?”

Apart from that, he couldn’t think of anything else. From the magic tools he inherited from his grandfather, the magic tool whose purpose was unknown was only the black rock. Other magic tools have been given to his master Ordoba.

Helmbekt squinted his eyes.

“The rock is very rare, but the thing they have set their eyes on is not that. You really don’t know——”

Helmbekt paused for a moment and clasped his hands on Selo’s shoulders.

“… Selo, as a member of the Royal Magic Knights, I wish to protect you, as well as secure Ordoba-sama and Fino-sama’s safety. The reason we have been sent here is to retrieve that magic tool before the Magic Race does. They only set their eyes on magic tools —— So, as long as you hand it to us, they will no longer attack you.”

Selo was confused, even if Helmbekt says this, he still couldn’t think of what “that magic tool” might be.

“Grandfather only left those three magic tools to me. The rest were all given to Ordoba-sama —— So might that magic tool be in Ordoba-sama’s collection?”

Helmbekt knitted his eyebrows.

“You might have heard about it from Zerdonato-san —— That Magic Tool is called the ‘Ring of Backflow’. It is a very dangerous magic tool, and must be controlled. The Magic Race have set their eyes on that. So if it’s not found, the Doriarudo family might be in danger.”

“What!”

Hearing the name of a magic tool that he has never heard of, it frustrated Selo.

If the matter with his grandfather caused Ordoba any inconveniences, he wouldn’t be able to keep his composure.

“Is there no other way!? The Doriarudo family had nothing to do with this right?”

“But the one making the judgement is not me, but the Magic Race. Anything is fine, has Zerdonato-san never told you anything, such as a hint to a hidden location, when he was alive?

Hearing his question, Selo frantically searched through his memories. Yet, he was still unable to think of anything related.

“… I never heard of anything. They might be mistaken. I have always thought my grandfather was a normal magic tool craftsman——“

“… Normal magic tool craftsman are unable to create a ‘Piece of Darkness’.”

Helmbekt’s voice suddenly sounded a lot deeper.

Noticing the change in his atmosphere, Selo was shocked.

Helmbekt knitted his eyebrows.

The honorable face he worn had completely disappeared, now his face was completely cold.

This change made Selo doubt his own eyes.

“Ahhh —— I’ve won over your trust. Yet it’s useless. I didn’t think you really don’t know anything. It’s really surprising, it seems like your grandfather didn’t trust you at all.”

Selo placed his hands on the sword by his waist.

——Wild beasts lurk in the darkness of the night——

This phrase that his grandfather taught him suddenly floated into his head.

People often could not tell whether the wild beast in the darkness was friend or foe, or totally unrelated. Grandfather once taught Selo, to always make sure of this.

Selo placed some distance between himself and Helmbekt, then he clumsily raised his sword.

Captain of the Magic Knight Squadron, the knight called Helmbekt —— It seemed like he was a “foe”.

“Not just the Magic Race —— You also set your eyes on grandfather’s magic tool right?

Hearing his question, Helmbekt laughed coldly.

“You seem to be smart, but is unexpectedly slow. Never mind, you are just a fourteen years old child, that’s that —— Elsie, that’s enough.”

From the depths of the forest —— The black clothed girl wielding a huge scythe walked out from the darkness.

She had discarded her mask and revealed her beautiful face.

Long black hair and ruby red eyes that coldly stared at Selo.

Helmbekt saw the reaction on Selo’s face and let out a chuckle.

The girl who seemed like the Grim Reaper bowed emotionlessly.

“Although it’s a bit late, but let’s make an introduction. She is my lieutenant Elsie. I had her wear a mask just in case, but it’s still your first meeting right?”

Selo knitted his eyebrows and exerted more strength onto the hand that was holding the sword.

It seemed like this was all an act to gain Selo’s trust and obtain information.

Selo had no confidence in his sword skills, and could not use magic tools. He knew that he was only a half-baked pharmacist and had no power to oppose them.

“… The stuff about ‘Magic Race’ was also a lie right”

“Who knows. It isn’t related to you anymore.”

Helmbekt thrusted his staff into the ground.

Before he could react, hand-shaped rocks appeared beside Selo’s leg.

“Uuu, uwah!”

The sword that wanted to cut the rock was stopped in midair.

It was unknown when the girl had closed in and blocked tip of Selo’s sword with the scythe.

A smile appeared on the young knight’s face.

“Goodbye, Selo. Don’t worry about anything from now on. It’ll be alright, everything will go smoothly —— Just like when ‘obtaining the authority of royalty.”

Selo’s eyes opened wide at Helmbekt’s speech, and in the next moment ——

The ground beside his feet tilted and Selo’s body was tossed into the air.

This was on top of a cliff ——

His frail body fell towards the rocky pit from an unbelievable height.

(… Fino, I’m sorry…!)

—— Before he died, the image that floated to Selo’s mind, was the older girl’s face.


2-5

“… Was there really a need to kill him?”

After the apprentice pharmacist fell down into the bottom of the cliff, lieutenant Elsie posed such a question.

Helmbekt sighed with a smile and replied.

“Torturing weaklings really pains me. But, letting him live was quite dangerous. Although he is still a kid, he’s still Zerdonato’s grandson, and also Luffis’s son. There will come a day that he becomes a problematic enemy. We should eliminate the threat while we can right?”

Elsie lightly nodded and didn’t retort.

011 Although she was cold and expressionless, she would never allow Helmbekt to do anything rash. This made her a talented lieutenant.

Helmbekt walked to the side of the cliff.

He couldn’t see the bottom of the cliff due to the darkness of the night. Judging from the height, he will surely not survive the fall.

“The apprentice pharmacist youth who came to harvest herbs in the middle of the night, he slipped and fell from the cliff —— What an unfortunate accident.”

Helmbekt pretended and squinted his eyes.

If the corpse had too many wounds, then they would be suspected when it gets discovered. Although there were other ways, but it was too troublesome, so making it seem like an unfortunate accident was far more convenient.

“He was a cute kid. Elsie, did you really want to keep him as a pet? You hesitated while pointing the Bow of Spring’s Thunder against him.”

“That’s because I was waiting for Helmbekt-sama to reach the predetermined location. Please don’t push your own misunderstandings onto me.”

She easily denied his assumptions.

“If we were to talk about it, then Helmbekt-sama, you are interested in that ojou-sama right?”

“Yes, she is really pretty. Especially when she’s crying. She seemed to have treated the youth as a younger brother, so after finding out about his death, she will definitely feel very depressed.”

Helmbekt’s voice contained an uncontrolled happiness.

He enjoyed seeing sadness of people’s faces.

Inserting himself into those gaps in their soul gives him some sort of pleasure.

Being kind towards a weak girl, and gaining her heart and soul, then giving them despair —— For Helmbekt, there was no greater joy than this.

Although Elsie still casted him a cold gaze, he wasn’t going to give up.

The despair of humans was the sweetest thing Helmbekt had ever tasted.

“Okay, isn’t it about time we head back to the mansion? If we are away for too long, they will start getting suspicious. However, not getting any news about magic tools was a bad prediction on my part.”

That young man probably doesn’t know anything. If he wasn’t here, then he wouldn’t have been wrapped in this incident.

“Did Zerdonato really not say anything to him?”

“He seems to be bad at using magic tools. Passing magic tools to his incapable grandson would only cause the treasure to be destroyed. Thinking about it this way, is it hidden by Ordoba, or hidden elsewhere? —— Now, how should we look for it?”

Beside the pondering Helmbkt, the scythe in Elsie’s hand gave off a faint light. In just that moment, the scythe became a yellow jewel. Excellent magic tools usually had this kind of transformation ability.

Elsie wore the jewel as a pendant on her neck and corrected her posture.

“Did Zerdonato hand out that “Ring of Backflow”? If not to his grandson, then to a sorcerer he trusts for safekeeping.”

“The only ones that are qualified to take care of that tools is just Fandal and the other sages. Fandal doesn’t seem to have it, but we have to check on the other sages, it’ll be impossible with just us. We should first finish the search here according to orders.”

Helmbekt did not deny that they might end up doing things for naught, and just turned his back towards the cliff.

If they didn’t managed to get the important item, they cannot return empty handed.

The black rock the young pharmacist showed him at noon —— The moment he saw that, Helmbekt had let out a sigh.

Now that the pharmacist boy is dead, he could take away that rock. Ordoba didn’t seem to have realized the value of the item either.

Despite never meeting Zerdonato when he was alive, but from the way that rock was made, he was undoubtedly an excellent craftsman.

Helmbekt checked his staff, then began his return with his subordinates.

This magic item called “Protector of the Earthen Veins” was a magic item he received from his superior before the mission.

Although he hasn’t used it for long, he was already familiar with its usage. The combination between them was quite good, the staff felt like an extension of his limbs.

When he received the magic item, his superior said this to him.

“Fandal’s disciples have started moving. Although they probably won’t go to these rural areas, you should not leave any trace behind.

Helmbekt snickered by himself.

With Elsie’s “Scythe of the Thunder Beasts”, and his own “Protector of the Earthen Veins”, he didn’t think he would lose against even Fandal’s disciples.

The opponent is only a sorcerer ——

It was impossible for him to lose to them as a member of the “Magic Race”.



References

  1. N/a

[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.

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.

011 “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

  1. N/a

[Vol 1] Introduction – The Myth of Creation



Long long ago, in the time of legends ——

When they created this world, they set three rules.

First, the gods cannot bring their war into this world.

Second, no gods are to excessively intervene with this world.

Third, all gods had to give this world a “gift” ——

One god created “humans” for this world.

Other gods prepared “soil”, created “trees”, gave “water” and “air”, left behind the spirit powers of “fire”, “water”, “thunder”.

These gods also created many ferocious beasts, as well as many non-human races such as goblins, naiads and fairies.

When all of them had presented their gifts, it was finally the turn of the new gods.

However, everything the world needs were already prepared by their predecessors.

Due to this, these new gods each gave the world one of their possessions.

The magic god, Orlaido, gave out his valuable staff.

“The one who possesses this staff shall have obtain the power of creation. As for how to use this power, that will be left to this world.”

The music god, Letia, gave out her beloved harp.

“This harp can touch the hearts of many. For what purpose will it be used for, it too shall be left to this world.”

The sacred god, Iska, handed over the jewellery that was being worn.

“This pearl holds my blessing. This power will become a divine protection that supports the people that lives on this land.”

The artisan god, Nirwario, presented a used hammer.

“Then let me give out this golden hammer. It holds the power to reforge anything. Whether the owner will be able to use it freely, that is not my problem.”

The war god, Seshi took down the blade on his waist.

“I shall give out a weapon used for protection and warfare. It doesn’t hold incomparable power like everyone else’s gifts, but it will definitely come in handy.”

Finally, the dragon god, Draukairas, pondered a moment, then broke off his own “horn”.

“I don’t have any items on me like everyone else. Because of this, I shall hand over one horn.”

The dragon god was intent on giving out a present at the cost of harming his own body. This action triggered the respects of the other gods.

And so, dragons were born from the horn of the dragon god.

Due to this, dragons are revered as the sacred beasts of this world.

It is said that no matter how many humans there are, none will be able to trespass into their territory.

From then on, this world began to revolve.



References

  1. N/a

[Vol 1] Prelude



Please look——

There is a parchment here.

Under the blessing of time, the tiny characters written on the parchment seemed somewhat blurry, many of the characters were hard to differentiate.

On the middle of the parchment was a picture that resembled a child’s doodle.

This was a ring drawn using slanted penwork——

Since ancient times, power normally dwell in ring shaped objects.

Bracelets were symbols of power, rings were proofs of contract, necklaces were brandings of loyalty, and the crowns were evidences of authority.

But the “ring” drawn here was not any one of those.

Due to the crude penwork, it was hard to identify the materials of the ring. Since there were no reference, its size could not be determined. Additionally, the absence of humans (in the drawing), made it impossible to tell if it was an equipment.

Furthermore —— from the moment this ring was drawn onto the parchment, it had already became a non-existent item.

Actually, this was just the design of a special magic tool left behind by a certain sorcerer.

At the time, many sorcerers thought it was impossible to bring about this magic tool. In fact, even the sorcerer who had come up with the design had passed away without making it a reality.

From the bug-eaten description, the power stored in the “ring” was not beyond understanding.

However, looking at it from various point of views, it had too many contradictions.

The name of the ring was “The Ring of Backflow” (Solid Torus).

Since it was never realized, there is barely anyone that knows this name. Even those with an immense knowledge about the history of magic tools will tilt their heads and give a bitter smile.

However.

If this design was to become reality ——

At that time, all sorcerers will be shocked and terrified.

“The Ring of Backflow”

To the magic tool craftsmen, it was a legend as well as an unsolvable problem.



References

  1. N/a